Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Monday, June 6, 2016

Questions and Insights Into the Body of Christ Today - The Activation Of The Holy Spirit In Our Hearts

     I have been involved with social media for the past 6 years or so, and have learned a lot. I have collected a lot of new recipes. I have learned how to take care of animals and plants. Added up together, I may have even had access to learning as much as if I went to college (if I had the time to do all the research on my studies!) In fact, I did go to school and took college credit classes.

  Not everything has been good though, that I have learned. One thing that I constantly see is professing Christians tearing others down. It is one thing to expose false teachers when we see them. They are dangerous, and need to be exposed. But it needs to be done properly, if it is going to be effective.

    The other concerning thing I see is professing Christians who limit the power of God. It kind of ties in with the activity of those professing Christians who are on a hunt to catch the false teachers. Many of those who are exposing false teachers, also are those who seem to limit the potential for God interacting in the lives of His people today.

   While we have to expose false teachers as the opportunity presents itself, the Bible does not actually talk very much about this. We find Paul mentioning the names of a few, but the Bible does not put a strong emphasis on doing this. We are to expose the works of darkness, and furthermore, we are to bring light and truth to those in darkness.

   One thing we can do, is to spend our time teaching people how to be discerning. But instead, we are trying to do the discernment for them, ourselves. We do this by picking out a person we don't like (Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, for examples) and we tear them apart on Facebook or Twitter, thinking we are doing a service for others, when in reality, we are practicing sanctified slander. We think it is justifiable to slander people we don't agree with and we call it, 'warning' people about their evil.

   The other problem that ties in with this is that many of these people who slander other well-known Christians, is that they (not all though) are also practicing Christian Deists. What I mean by that is simply that these people are the same ones who do not believe God can speak to our hearts today. They accuse Pentecostals and Charismatics of hearing God's voice outside of the Bible. This is just not true though. When God speaks to our hearts, everything He says will be based upon His word.

   The spiritual gifts are for today, and they are not adding to Scripture when they are in use properly. But if we believe that God's power is not available today for us, or that God does not work through the gifts anymore today, (even though God always showed His power in the Old Testament and at the beginning of the church age, as well as in eternity), we are going to be powerless Christians and will end up defeated or deceived. Christians can be deceived as well as those who don't know the Lord. If we put God in a box, (a box of our own making and belief system) then when He is at work, we will miss Him because He does not fit into our ideas of who He is. We don't even know how to interpret His word, because that takes the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and that is considered, by many, to be extra Biblical.

   The way this works is that God reveals Himself to us through His Holy Spirit. The word of God comes alive in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. God opens up our hearts and minds to the Scriptures by revelation of the Holy Spirit. God quickens our dead souls and makes them come alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth by the Holy Spirit. By God's Holy Spirit, we can learn to separate the truth from the lies. We can grow in discernment. This is where the crux of the matter is, I believe.

   Bottom line is, at least from what I see, is that we are tending to replace the work of the Holy Spirit, by our own understanding (or what we think we know about) of the Scriptures. We are rendering God powerless and we are not experiencing the relationship with Him that He desires, simply because we are trying to find everything personal (if there is anything) right out of the Scriptures. Everything God is, is written in Scriptures, but you will not find your name in the Bible! The Bible tells about who God is in relation to who man is, and how man can be reconciled back to God, and how people can have a growing relationship with Him. But it is not a step by step instruction book for that with our names in it. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. The Holy Spirit activates God's word in our hearts and makes God real to us. The Holy Spirit makes the word of God alive to us. The Holy Spirit reveals the power of the Cross to us, and helps us to overcome the enemies we have (sin, the world, the devil, evil).

   We cannot just learn the word of God and think we have arrived. We put our trust in our theological understanding and knowledge, but the Holy Spirit helps us apply God's word to our hearts. If we don't apply God's word to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are useless in the kingdom of God. When the word of God is only knowledge to us, and not applied to our hearts, we will be defeated and deceived! (Of course, if we are deceived, we will not know it because that is the nature of deception)!

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." 
James 1:22-25 ESV

Just remember; the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in us! He can be trusted.

"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11, 12 ESV

Saturday, May 21, 2016

If The Gospel Is The Power Of God Unto Salvation, Then Why Are We So Powerless Today?

I was reading this morning the story of when Solomon died and his son Rehoboam took over his reign. Rehoboam was an unwise man. He sought counsel from those who gave counsel to Solomon, and asked how he should treat the people. The wise counselors told him that if he were to treat the people with kindness and servitude, he would have their allegiance forever. Instead of following this advice however, Rehoboam chose to treat the people with a heavy hand. Many decided to leave Israel and live without a king over them, at least for a while. The ones who stayed faithful to Rehoboam were the ones who lived in Judea.

I was thinking of how we as Americans might respond to the evil that is now being manifest in our country's top leaders. We live in a country where there still are people who want to do what is right. I remember the incident a couple of years ago when the owner of Chick Fil A wrote a letter saying that he believed marriage was made of one man and one woman. The uproar was amazing. Those who stood on the right side decided to encourage those who believe marriage is made up of one man and one woman to support Chick Fil A by visiting this restaurant. The Chick Fil As were flooded the next day. But the other side also was angry. They decided to protest Chick Fil A by going there the next day and showing support from their side (not by ordering food, but by being on the property and causing a rukus). The next day, there were very few who turned out.

But why do the righteous seem so powerless? Why do the evil seem so strong? Why does a judge who has the 10 Commandments on his courtroom wall get removed from the bench? Why do florists and bakers who will not bake a wedding cake or provide flowers for a gay wedding be penalized? Why do companies like Target continue their aggressive pursuit of providing restrooms where people can choose to go into, based upon their sexual preference instead of their genitals, without relenting their stand while losing an enormous amount of money and customers?

There are probably a lot of answers to this question, and we cannot tackle them all here, but, regardless of the reasons why evil is so successful, is primarily due to the fact that we have not been fighting well in the spiritual battle we are involved in.

Many professing Christians come to Christ by asking Jesus into their hearts. They think it is ok to continue to live selfish lives and have not been told that they need to repent and turn to the Lord, as well as trusting in Him for salvation. Many aren't really trusting in Jesus as their Savior from sin because they don't really know what sin is and how it affects their relationship with God. Their trust is in the fact that they have asked Jesus into their hearts, and now they think they are good to go, or at least they think they will be in heaven one day. Many do not realize that they are in a real spiritual battle, and they need the power of God to fight the Enemy with. If we don't get this right, we will lose. The Enemy is too powerful for us to fight against on our own. We must be empowered by the Holy Spirit and use the weapons God has given us to fight with. One of those weapons we can use is prayer.

We think, many times, that we really are praying. But what are we praying for? Do we look at God as some kind of Genie in the Bottle? Can we push the right buttons and make Him do what we want? Or, is there a bigger picture of our lives that we are missing, which includes prayer as a spiritual defense? There's nothing wrong with praying for our needs, as long as we are abiding in Christ. God promises to take care of us, and we should ask for what we need. But if we are living for ourselves instead of for Him, then how can we pray and expect God to hear our prayers?

We need to pray that God will unravel the network of evil-doers who are planted in our government. We need to stand up for what is right and true, and defend those who are standing up for the truth. New laws are being written and the basic laws that our country was founded upon are being rewritten. We need to promote God's word and do the work of evangelism, so our country can be saved, and so we can continue the work of the ministry here in our country, to serve us, but also to serve those in other countries around the world.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Meditation: Good Or Bad?

  I have to admit, I am not an expert on meditation, chakras, and other such things in this category. Many articles are written about meditation, and how to meditate properly and get the most benefits from doing so.

    Much of this stuff seems to be tied in with Eastern medicine and medical practices. For many, this is a way of life, and this is what the gurus teach in order to help them function well.

  One time, I was listening to a coach teaching us how to do business selling essential oils. Well, I have to be honest, there was not much about the essential oil aspect. She wanted us to get a candle out first, then empty our minds and meditate on something particular, having to do with our greatness. These people really do trust in a higher power. It doesn't appear that the higher power is the God described in the Bible. The coach taught us to have a focal point, which (she says) could be Jesus, or the universe. So, what or who are we trusting in to change us?

   Why do we need change? The symptoms of needing help are revealed in the fact that we don't get along with each other. We usually think the other person is to blame for the difficulties in the relationship. Because each one of us has a fallen nature (see Genesis 3), we are, by default, self-centered. Self-centered people do not get along with others.

   I remember looking into getting fish a long time ago. We learned that Siamese Fighting Fish do not get along with each other. They have to be alone or they will hurt each other. We are much like the Siamese Fighting Fish. We need help so we can stop loving ourselves and start loving others.

   The greatest command is to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. The next greatest command is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We can only do that if we have the power of God living in us. We can only have this power when we are born again. Otherwise, we will continue to live in darkness and think we are really good and loving when we are really only selfish and self-seeking.

   The practice of meditation seems to focus on what's inside the person. It doesn't look at sin, and it looks for good things inside us. Meditation will supposedly bring out the good things and make us feel good about ourselves. This is sad. It is a deception.

  My concern is that this teaching on meditation seems to be all over the Internet. I get several emails a day from different health groups, and there are a lot of articles out there on meditation. I went to one tonight to try to understand what meditation really is all about. I don't want to assume I know everything about this, so I looked at a couple of articles as well as the testimonials. Many seem to think this is the answer to problems such as insomnia or bad relationships. Doesn't the Bible have any answers for problems like these?

   Listen carefully to what I am writing here. The Bible actually tells us to meditate. But we are not to meditate on lies about ourselves. We are to meditate on the truth of God's word. That is our only help and hope for life's problems and dilemmas.

   Meditating on God's word (and actually thinking about what it says to my heart) is how we grow spiritually. This is entirely different than meditating on certain assigned things dictated by a guru on the subject.

   While we do not intend on making fun of people who do wrong things, we do have to show others what they are doing and why it is wrong. Here is an excerpt about a man named Charlie Noles. See if you can see the problem here, looking through Biblical eyes:
Charlie Knoles is a Vedic Meditation teacher and the director of The Veda Center. He was taught Vedic Meditation at age 4 by his father, Maharishi Vyasananda Thom Knoles. Following in his father’s footsteps, Charlie‘s has devoted his life to innovative teaching. He studied at the Australian institute of Music, The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and attained his degree in Biology at Maharishi University of Management, where he helped create their multidisciplinary degree in Sustainable Living, now one of their most popular programs. In his decades of teaching, Charlie has helped thousands of people learn the practical steps necessary to become the change that they wish to see in the world. He has worked with people from all over the world, in a wide range of professions, and his clients include teachers, nurses, A-list actors, and Fortune 500 CEOs.*

This is not a practice to bring us closer to God. It appears to be intended to find answers within ourselves. 

Here is another excerpt from a woman named Suzanne Heyn. Again, we are not making fun of these people. We are pointing out that there is nothing that they are doing that points us to the Cross and our need of a Savior. 

I typically practice my signature technique, the Feeling Awareness Meditation. It’s a process of focusing my awareness on my heart center and tuning into whatever emotions or energy is present, entering any areas of density or heaviness as if they were a fine mist.

It’s commonly said you’ve got to feel it to heal it, and the Feeling Awareness Meditation is a powerful way of feeling objectively, without the story that keeps so many people trapped in pain. It’s also a powerful way of heightening your intuition and amplifying the whispers of your heart, making them easier to hear.**

We do need to be careful in both the Eastern medicine studies and religions that seem to be infiltrating our land and churches. Some churches have picked up on using meditation, yoga, and the like. Whenever we see these things pointing to an 'energy' or inner power, we need to back off. The word of God needs to be incorporated in everything we do. If God's word does not fit into the practice, then don't practice whatever it is that is so highly recommended. Let's learn to discern!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bethel, Again

I don't want to sound like I am complaining again. Sorry if it comes off that way. Lately, I have seen a lot of blogs and articles on the Internet slamming well known churches and Bible teachers.

Tonight, I went to one of those pages, posted by a friend on Facebook. The article is intended to discredit Bethel Church, in Redding California.

I'm not going to copy and paste the article here because of space, but, I do want to note what the problems could be. You see, I keep going to these pages finding out what in the world is the beef these people have with this churches and other people they are criticizing.

First of all, I noted that there seems to be a assuredness that it is ok for us to call a church either false, false teachers, heretics, or non-believers. In the article I read tonight, the author said that he or she had prayed about this subject, and does not feel the need to contact Bethel because Bethel is not made up of true believers. Is this right to do? I think not.

Secondly, I notice that there is a foundational belief that is erroneous in these critical people, and that erroneous belief seems to be one of the things they spring out of in supposedly exposing the error of the church they are criticizing. The critical people do not believe there are apostles today, because apostles lived on during Jesus' time on earth and during the early church age. So, if a church such as Bethel is expressing the fruit of the gift to the church of apostleship somewhere, Bethel is in error, according to the critics. Anything that springs out of that action is considered heretical.

But what does the Bible say? In Ephesians 4:11-13, we read these words, penned by Paul to the Ephesian church, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (ESV))
Here is a passage from 1 Corinthians 12. "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the higher gifts." (ESV)

Are we going to argue with Scriptures? Are we going to reinterpret them? Just because someone doesn't have the spiritual gifts doesn't give that person the right to make Scripture out as if the gifts no longer exist.

Why do we have the spiritual gifts? The Bible is clear that they are for the edification of the body of Christ. What if a group of professing Christians is using the gifts in a wrong way? Does that invalidate the fact that God gives spiritual gifts today to those who are in the church? In no way does that mean that the spiritual gifts aren't real or genuine. 

The Corinthian Church is a perfect example. Paul never said that they should stop using the gifts. Neither did Paul every insinuate that the Corinthians were false converts. He treated them like Christians who were astray. He rebuked them, not for using the spiritual gifts, but for using them in a selfish way. What the Corinthians did was not honoring to God, nor was it benefitting those who were in the church at Corinth. In fact, Paul encouraged them to continue to use the gifts, but he made sure that they used the gifts out of the basis of love (see 1 Corinthians 13). 

Also, though there is the gift of apostleship taught by Paul, this gift is not the same thing as the Apostles in the New Testament who knew Jesus personally. There were 12 original Apostles, which had a specific calling and function during a specific time. This fact, in no way, violates the truth that God gives apostles to churches. The two are just not the same thing, although there are some similarities. 

Thirdly, when I read these blogs from the critics, they take things out of context. Here is a quote from Vallotton, one of the chief leaders at Bethel. (Note: this is just one of many paragraphs where I see this taking out of context action.) 
"We certainly have made our share of mistakes, both as a leadership team and those who follow us. And we have such a high value for freedom and risk that it has created a kind-of research and development culture where people are encouraged to take risks. I think this stems from the fact that we view ourselves much more as pioneers than settlers. Therefore, we celebrate creativity, revelation, invention and innovation above comfort, safety and security.” – Vallotton

Here is the author's response to Vallotton's quote: 
"After reading over his comments, I did not laugh nor mock, but more than anything shed tears. It appears that Bethel desperately desires to “mainstream” their church but cannot synthesize Scripture with their ministry. Their words display a desire to be spiritual but it is quite apparent they have no systematic interpretation process for the Scriptures they attempt to use. Therefore, not only are the positions false, they are theologically immature."

Sorry but I don't see the connection, or maybe I just don't understand what this critic is saying in relation to Vallotton's quote. My guess is that Bethel uses 'creativity, revelation, invention, and innovation' and I guess, just maybe, Scripture does not allow for that?

The really big issue I struggle with when reading these critical blogs is that they take the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy, and make it into something it is not. For example, if someone uses this gift, even if it is done correctly, these critics will say that it can't be from God because prophecy is adding to Scripture. This makes no sense at all. Yes, prophecy is a revelation gift. God still does reveal Himself to people. God is not silent. He is actively involved in the lives of those who are trusting in Him and they do hear His voice. I know this is uncomfortable for some people to hear because perhaps they do not hear from God and assume He doesn't speak to us today? I don't know, but one thing I see in common in all their criticisms is that they think that those who use the prophetically gifts are adding to Scripture. Scripture is the only revealed word of God and the canon is closed. But if prophecy is adding to Scripture, then there were a lot of people in the early church who were adding to Scripture, but what they received from God never got put into Scripture. (Think of Phillip's 4 daughters, the Corinthians, Timothy, to name a few). If God only gave prophetical words to make up what we have as the Bible today, then a lot of those prophetical words were never canonized. 

Here is another quote from Vallotton. I get what he is saying. I will post the critics comment after the quote.
"A supernatural lifestyle is articulated, demonstrated and replicated by Jesus and the apostles, as well as everyday believers from the book of Matthew to the book of Revelation…Yet some Christians choose to live with less than Jesus paid for, and that is their prerogative…” – Vallotton

Critic's response-"Finally, the statement that, “Some Christians choose to live with less than Jesus paid for” is the quintessential line of a False Prophet. It assumes that there is, “Hierarchy” in faith and that some Christians receive the “In” on God’s blessing while other are “stuck out in the cold of their faithless existence.” It assumes that this leader with the “In” can help others get “In”. Peter explained that it is greed which drives such teaching (2 Peter 2:3, Jude 1:16). To state that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is more meaningful for one than another, based on earthly profit or benefit, is to diminish the very substitute itself. How dare any man say such a thing?"

Does this response make sense? Jesus died for our sins, and we are very grateful for that. When Jesus died, many things were accomplished. For example, Jesus disarmed the powers of darkness when He died. We can now have all the benefits that a son has, with God being our Father. It is not a matter of being 'in' or being higher up spiritually. But, I guess if you believe that God does not give anything else besides salvation, then that would make sense. 

I have to believe that there are many who profess faith in Jesus Christ who have no idea how great and powerful God really is. They render themselves powerless and ensure that others who profess faith in Christ are rendered powerless as well. They act like Christian 'Deists' who believe God is really out there, but almost as if He is impersonal. 

What is interesting is that these people believe God did wonders in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament as well. I'm sure they believe that God will do many wonders in the future and throughout eternity. But for now, we are living in the 'church age' and God has taken a vacation from being Himself, glorious in power and might. He no longer works in supernatural ways, nor does He perform wonders, at least not through His people today. Does this make sense?

Do churches like Bethel need correction? Absolutely. Any genuine church should be related to other churches. But do you see the problem here? Christian critics will not become related to churches like Bethel, for they do not consider churches like Bethel genuine churches. Bethel either is or isn't a church. If professing Christians decide whether someone is a true believer or not, based on their belief system concerning the use of spiritual gifts today, then we have missed the Gospel. We need to look at our own hearts and see what it is in us that is off. Then we can deal in a better, more effective way with Bethel and other churches that operate like they do. 

I could go on and on with examples like this, but I would like to make my blogs a little shorter and more easy to read.

I think Driscoll was right on in his quote (when referring to those who are fans of 'Strange Fire'). He was talking about the 'New Trinity' that seems to be prevalent today. The New Trinity is made up of 'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible'.

(I am not writing this blog in defense of Bethel. I am writing it in response to the fact that we as believers in Jesus Christ think we are helping the church by 'warning' or 'exposing' people who are evil. But the problem is, we are really just warning and exposing those who we fundamentally disagree with. This is not what the Bible tells us to do. This is not how we handle a situation like Bethel or any of the others who have been criticized recently.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Familiar Spirits And Open Doors To Satan

   OK where am I going with this one? This has been on my heart for a long time. But first, let me explain a few things. I don't believe there is a demon under every rock, and I also do not have answers to the problems I am seeing and analyzing right now. But I  will share with you some things on my heart concerning this issue.

   I see a lot of problems in homes. In fact, most homes have a touch of the problems I am going to be writing about. Granted, some have serious problems with this issue.

   Let me go through a true story, that might help us understand what is at stake. When I was in my 20s, my husband led a fellowship group at out house. Our group had mainly young people, like us. A new couple started coming to our group. I got to know the woman through many conversations, which were 99% one way conversations. Through the conversations, this woman expressed a lot of bitterness toward her husband. The husband really was very patient with her though, which was amazing. They seemed to be committed to marriage, no matter what. But the woman continued to pick her husband apart continually. She was bitter toward others as well, but mostly toward her husband.

    Through the course of getting to know them, I learned a little bit about the woman's background. Her parents were not Christians, and her father was very controlling. He expected her to have a college degree in a specific category. The woman's mother let this man walk all over her. She never responded, which made my friend angry. At one point, the woman actually said, 'No man is ever going to treat me like that!".

   I get it. She had a father who was controlling her and making her life's decisions. In her mind, men were tyrants. Sadly, when a parent treats their child as this man did, the child will respond. If the child is mature enough spiritually, he or she can usually be patient and see that there is a problem. But most children are not mature spiritually and do not understand what is going on. So, they react to the problem.

   In my friend's case, she had to protect herself from the tyranny of her father. When she married, she assumed her husband was the same person and in order to protect herself from him, she degraded her husband. People tend to think that the sex of the person they are violated by is represented by all who are that particular sex.

   Imagine years down the road. Her sons will grow up. She will respond to them in a way that is similar to the way she responds to her husband. "No man (this includes her sons) will ever treat me like that." How do you think the sons will turn out when they are adults? How will they look at women? They will have been degraded by their mom because she has to protect herself from all males who are a perceived threat to her dignity.

   People don't have to respond this way to life's situations. But most people are not even aware of what is going on around them. This is reality to them. People will instinctively protect their dignity. The parents' responsibility is to protect the child's dignity and to set accurate boundaries for them. But some of these parents, probably many of them, were treated this way when they were children. It goes back many, many generations.

   When we respond to life in such a way as my friend did, we open the door to Satan. We believe the lies he tells us, and the garbage he throws at us. We assume these lies are true. For example, let's say a parent is very critical of their child. Or even worse, let's say a parent calls his child, 'stupid' or other choice names (I am not talking about a one time incident, but a continual repetition of name calling and criticizing). The child will grow up thinking he or she really is stupid. God, of course, does not want people to think that way about themselves, but how can you not believe the words of a parent?

  We give Satan a foothold, then we build a stronghold around us to protect us from perceived danger.

   I think we can even cast spells on people by the way we respond to our children. I remember my mom telling me about her mom's grandmother. She was a perfectionist. Sometimes, you would do something that didn't please her and she would give this glaring look. Whenever someone was a recipient of that look, it meant trouble, and those who were the violators had to respond. What is another name for this? Could it be.... manipulation? Manipulation is another word for witchcraft.

   We can also lead people to believe things about us that are not true. The Enemy loves to lie to us and make us believe things that aren't true at all, even concerning other people. The Enemy plays the divider in many families. Rumors appear to be true, and someone is sure that another family member is really doing things that are suspicious or has traits that the person really doesn't have. The Enemy may even whisper that one family member hates another one. We need to be ahead of the game and see through the schemes of the Enemy.

   So, what is the answer to all this? I don't know. I do know that praying is effective. Praying is one of the spiritual weapons God gives to believers. Praying can also help disarm the Enemy.

   We can't do the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's heart, nor can we open their eyes to things unseen. Most people who are operating in response to how they were treated by a parent have no clue what they are doing to their families. The key for all of us is to be open to the fact that we really could have faults and issues that we are not aware of. We have to humble ourselves  and look at our own hearts first. Not to condemn ourselves or make us feel less than human. But we must look for any blind spots that we have so that they can be dealt with. We are primarily responsible for ourselves, not for everyone else. As we look at the issues in our own hearts and as we deal with them, others may want to do the same.

  As with anything in life, humility is the key. God will respond to us when we can be honest with ourselves and not try to hide our faults or pretend they don't exist. Humility, honesty, and a praying spirit are needed for change. There are probably many more ways we can respond, but for now, I will leave it here. Maybe in a couple of years, Lord willing, I will have more clarity and direction with all this. When that happens, I will post it.

   And remember, humility is not the same as humiliation. Humiliation destroys the dignity of people. Humility recognizes what is true about us and about God. It is an honest evaluation of who we are before God and it provides the means for us to ask for help.

  I hope this is helpful for my readers. I pray that this blog will serve many. We cannot be ignorant of the devil's devices. We need to be spiritually equipped to fight the Enemy and serve the King of Kings.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Can We Call Outreaches and Service Events Evangelism?

   I have struggled with this subject because there are so many angles to it, and if we don't clearly define the fine lines, this could be misunderstood.

    This subject is hard to tackle, in some ways. It ties in with 'friendship evangelism' which many throw the baby out with the bath water.

   Let's start with some questions first. Is it wrong to have a Thanksgiving outreach from your church where you serve food to needy people? Of course it isn't. The Bible tells us to do this. We are to take care of those in need (This is different than allowing needy people to manipulate the church. Another subject for another time)

   Is it wrong to have an event where elderly people are served by those in the church taking the task of fixing up their homes and repairing or upgrading their houses, where the owners are not capable of doing? Nope. It is a good thing to help those who are older, especially widows. Again, we are to help those in need.

   What is the problem then with doing these types of activities? There is nothing wrong with them and Scriptures tell us to help those in need.

   The problem comes when we call these types of activities 'evangelism'. Where do I begin in explaining this?

   Evangelism is the work of those in the church who share the Gospel message with others. Evangelism is related to preaching the Gospel to those around us. A couple of problems exist with evangelism. One is, that many times, we know the seriousness of doing evangelism. But we lack the power to do evangelism, or, we do evangelism in our own strength without the right motives.

    First, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to correctly do evangelism. That doesn't mean that God can't use someone's message if it comes out of Scriptures, but God will come upon us and give us the power to evangelize properly. He will give us the words to say. He will give us wisdom as we dialog with people about the Gospel. I believe this is seriously lacking in our churches today. We see people try to do the work of the Holy Spirit by coming down hard on sinners or people making themselves out as if they are God Himself. Some of this is unintentional. Some is ignorance. A lot of this is due to the fact that pastors are just not teaching their people the need to trust God's power for evangelism.

    Second, our pride is in the way, many times. God gives boldness to those who ask for it. There are professing Christians who admire those who do evangelism. They try in their own strength to do evangelism and it just doesn't work. They do not have a bigger picture of the kingdom of God and the real reasons why we do evangelism (or why we should do evangelism). Many of these people simply have not encountered God in a strong way. They have a shallow view of who He is. But they want to be credited in doing evangelism. This is what I think is the main crux of the problem. They want to be known by others as evangelists, yet they have no depth in their spiritual understanding of the greatness and majesty of God. So, they resolve themselves to doing works of service and participating in church outreaches in order to tell themselves (and others) that they are involved in evangelism. It is a form of pride, and it is deceptive as well.

   Church leaders, as well, need to be careful to not call these acts of service 'evangelism' as well. Sometimes, terminology gets mixed up and church outreaches and acts of service can end up in the same category as evangelism, when they are really acts of service (which are necessary) and should be in the category of service.

   If we are not careful, doing evangelism can lead to pride. Even in some churches today, people are still patting themselves and others on the back when someone 'wins' another person to the Lord. Somehow, in some evangelism circles, this is a badge of honor that should be recognized. But really, it is not us who lead people to the Lord, ultimately. It is the Holy Spirit who makes God real to people and brings them to Himself. Only God can bring a person to Himself. No human being has the capability to do this.

   This whole subject is interesting because everything ties in together. We have people who are called to share the Gospel message. Some are called to serve. Others are called to do both. (Actually, we are all called to share the Gospel, and we are all called to serve). Some will be more focused on evangelism, while other are called to specific serving tasks.

   Our church has a program called, 'Neighbor to Neighbor' where volunteers go to specific homes of elderly people and widows who need home repairs done. They spend time in the homes of these people. Some are people in the church, while others are names given by the county, of people whose houses need repair work or lawn care that they are no longer able to do themselves. This is a great service of the church. Those who do this are to be commended. But, this is not evangelism. This is serving. But how this can work with evangelism can be very effective.

   Let's say that one of the families whose house is being repaired is an elderly couple. If the church has been doing evangelism as the Bible commands, then hopefully this elderly couple has heard the Gospel somewhere. The people who come to their house to serve, by painting or fixing broken windows, are demonstrating the Gospel. This will be an open door for people who are being served to have an inroad to a safe place called the 'church'. Perhaps they heard the Gospel, but never had anyone to ask further questions. Now is their chance to learn that there is a safe place they can be part of where they can learn the most important things to know; how to have a relationship with God, and, how to grow spiritually in a dark and dying world.

   This is how the body of Christ works. There are different parts to a human body, and there are different parts in the body of Christ. The arm is not the same as the eye. To call the arm, the eye, is wrong. To call people to serve in the church, evangelists, is not correct. But both are important. We need a demonstration of the Gospel and a declaration of the Gospel. People can serve in both capacities but they are still two different categories.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dealing With So Called 'False Teachers' -- Again

OK I am really irritated. I'm irritated enough to write a blog about what I am irritated about.

Everything seemed to be cooling down from what I can tell concerning the slander in the body of Christ. But, I found a post slamming Beth Moore again and totally taking out of context something she said.

If I am to read this correctly, I believe Beth Moore is basically trying to say that we cannot contain the Holy Spirit (in other words, we cannot put God in a box). I would agree with her on this, as Jesus explains that the wind blows where it wishes, and that you hears its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes (referring to the ways of the Holy Spirit).                                

Her second statement, "Where He's carefully managed and coolly controlled, He's quenched." makes sense as well. Many professing believers today do not acknowledge the spiritual gifts as being available to the church (at least the revelatory gifts). We are ok with the serving gifts and the gift of helps, but when it comes to actually hearing from God, many shudder. They give the excuse that God doesn't speak to our hearts today, because if He did, that would be revelatory and the only revelation God gave us is in His word. That is an interesting concept, but if you look at the whole context of Scripture, you will see that this is not valid. 

Like it or not, the gift of prophecy is a revelatory gift, but when a person receives an impression or word from God, it is not equal with the Scriptures. I don't know of anyone who uses the spiritual gifts or is in circles where the gifts are used, who actually believes that prophecy is equated with new revelation that is equal to Scriptures. In the Bible, Paul encourages his disciples and those in the churches he started to use the gift of prophecy. Yet, we do not see the results of these gifts of prophecy as part of the canonical Scriptures. We don't see whatever Philip's 4 daughters received when they prophesied, in the Scriptures. We do not see whatever Timothy received as prophecy as part of Scripture. None of the prophetical words from these disciples or churches were put into Scripture, so to say that the gift of prophecy was used by the first believers to create what we have as our Bible today, is not accurate. 

I know there are abuses with the spiritual gifts, but that is not a reason to slander people who use them. My point is that many professing Christians today do quench the work of the Holy Spirit because they put Him in a box, and if something happens outside of that box, it is either recognized as the work of a false teacher or worse, the devil. It seems like we should be more careful on what or who we attribute the spiritual gifts as being operated from. 

My concern about calling people false teachers/heretics is that we are coming into a time when we really will have to deal with false teachers subtly coming into the church. If we want to pick out people and pick on them so we can feel good about calling someone a false teacher, we need to realize the price we are going to have to pay. We will be like the boy who cried 'wolf' and no one will be paying attention to us when we will really have to be dealing with false teachers. We lose our credibility with others and we are not representing the Lord accurately. This kind of attitude is actually very much like the attitude the Pharisees had when they encountered the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to be discerning and deal with the real false teachers in a Biblical way. Attacking a person because we glee over being better than they are is not dealing with a false teacher accurately. It is nothing more/less than slander. The Bible has a lot to say about slander, and God is opposed to it.

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 4:14, 15 ESV

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34, 35 ESV

" Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." 2 Peter 2:1 ESV

"You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am theLord." Leviticus 19:16 ESV

"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." Matthew 15:19 ESV

A personal thought: I loved the movie "War Room" and thought it was a major encouragement on prayer. Prayer can seem monotonous or dutiful if we do not have the right vision for it. Beth Moore had a part in this movie. All of the movie was excellent. I am sure that there are parts that I don't fully agree with, but that can be found in all of us with everything. Here's the catcher though; the devil really does not want any of us to be prayer warriors. He hates our praying. When we pray, it is a weapon used against him. Is it any wonder that he wants the reputation of someone who strongly believes in prayer (and teaches on prayer) to be ruined? Of course he does. He knows that if you watch the 'War Room', you will be inspired to pray. I don't know enough about Beth Moore to defend what she teaches, but I have heard from many that she is a strong believer in prayer and does teach people on praying. She has been highly recommended up until the point where she has been slandered. I have listened to some of her teachings and I have found them very good. I have not heard the things people are accusing her of, and I feel bad for her that her name is being slandered so much. I will continue to investigate her and her teachings, and if I do see anything false coming out of her writings or teachings, I will share my thoughts on that. Even if she is teaching questionable things, I do not have the right to slander her and show hatred toward her. My responsibility will be to tell people what it is that she is teaching that is in error, and to pray for God to help her to see what it is that is wrong that she is teaching.