LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

OUR GOAL: ALWAYS PROVOCATIVE - ALWAYS BIBLICAL - ALWAYS EDIFYING. If you haven't already, please log on to our Kingdom Gospel Ministries website for a lot of info and a new drama each week - www.kingdomgospelministries.org

My Photo
Name:
Location: Phila Metro, Pennsylvania, United States

Tentmaking Evangelist (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 31st year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of two weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many programs on the Internet. John is also a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 38th year working on a wide variety of projects. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 50 years and served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on It's Your Call TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GUARDING OUR FAITH





In Spain, Austria, and Poland, Jehovah's Witnesses outnumber evangelical Christians.  The Pacific is full of Mormons - Tonga has a higher percentage of Mormons than ANY country in the world! In Africa, the New Apostolic Church, created in Europe, claims 80% of its followers.  All these and more have compromised views of scripture and of the eternal deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is worship, there are nice people doing nice things, but they do not teach the truth. In the case of the NAC, it is highly authoritarian with many apostate beliefs. It is dangerous because it looks just like another church on the outside, but it teaches doctrines of demons and puts people in deep bondage. There are services three times a year to which the dead are invited - their beliefs in this area track closely to pre-Christian beliefs in Africa.  If you really need to know more, just ask me. Unfortunately, there is a lot to tell. There are many more entities to beware of, and then you have to consider the churches and denominations whose statements of faith on the Internet look essentially Orthodox but whose actual practices and emphases are far from the way God operates in the earth.

Nonetheless, there are sincere people of faith in all these groups who like the ambiance, like the people, and who really have no clue what the official beliefs are.  How many people who go to Biblically accurate churches actually know their faith and can explain it?  Unfortunately, precious few - and I did an experiment on this which proved the point and brought me great chagrin and sadness.  That is why we have to let the tares grow with the wheat so we do not pluck up a genuine saint of God.  That said. I would NEVER, EVER, discourage you from speaking to people who are part of ANY group that has cultic characteristics.  We are to be prepared to answer questions brought to us, and we need to educate ourselves as to what the official beliefs are of these groups so we can present them accurately to bring freedom.  Many people are attending places where they have real doubts - YOU might be the one to enable them to make what is often a very hard decision - to leave.

Conversely, if you are a gatekeeper in the house of the Lord, it is CRITICAL to guard the faith and not let in just anyone who says "lord, Lord".  EVEN IF THEY CAN CAST OUT DEMONS AND HEAL THE SICK! Read Matthew! The Apostle John himself in his first epistle admitted than MANY Anti-Christs had gone out from among them! That is one reason he wrote to tell who was truly in the faith.  So many churches have morphed into something their founders would not recognize.  It is often to please people who have come in who have few true spiritual roots. Just like the NAC in Africa, American churches are catering heavily to the PRE-CHRISTIAN ROOTS of people! Worldly practices are being ported into the church.  Whatever happened to "Old things have passed away, behold ALL things have become new?"  Putting new wine in old bottles is not a Biblical idea! "Book Studies" replace Bible studies. "Purpose" is used to interpret the Bible - the Bible is of NO MAN's private interpretation!  I taught over six hundred Bible studies on the radio and what always stood out to me that when I was done, I could go back and teach it again - the Bible is so rich and so deep, its treasures are inexhaustible, and we can never limit it in any way! Kids perform Rap Music on the pulpit - and I saw this JUST LAST WEEK - in a program allegedly to exalt Christ, as they were dancing to the music which included very sustained, very bass tones which didn't seem to have anything in common with worship, one of the girls put her back to the audience and started shaking her rear end!  Is THE MESSAGE changing us, or are we changing "THE MESSAGE"?  

So often, what really occurs that we are worshiping ourselves using Christian terms instead of asking Christ what he wants to hear. While many of the words seemed OK, though said so fast it was almost impossible to really get much of the message, the hostility and negativity of the rap culture infected it all. The voice of the accuser was discernible in the harsh assessments made. I was speaking to a highly skilled church pianist who was at that Rap event and she agreed with me it is not just Rap, though it had given her a headache (do you get headaches when God is being glorified in the Spirit? I haven't - In fact, if I HAD a headache, it is likely to go as Jesus is exalted!  Classical Music where the words are not discernible benefits no one. "Christian Swing" simply imports a worldly beat that appeals to the flesh and inserts Christian words.  Ditto Heavy Metal, Country, or many other genres,  Worship is supposed to be directed AT GOD, not simply talking ABOUT him.  Christian worship should be unique, and all these other practices do NOT bring people into a close and holy relationship to God - rather they feed the flesh - and flesh can be good OR bad.  We know that anything FLESHLY, whether bad OR good, cannot please God! We need a whole new paradigm of pleasing God and not men.  If we work to please the tastes of people, the salt will quickly lose its savor, and instead of the lost becoming saved, the saved will become lost!

We used to live in a neighborhood with a lot of Quakers. In fact, out son went to a Quaker school for two years, and I had been trained a few years before by The Quaker Project in nonviolent resistance (you can learn a lot about me reading what I write!). The wife taught at Germantown Friends School.  What her husband said is that the Quakers started out believing one thing.  They then stressed abolition in the days of slavery, opposed child labor, and so on.  People came to Meeting NOT because they had any real interest in Quakerism, but because they wanted to be involved in those social movements.  So many did this that within a generation few Quakers had ANY spiritual qualities, and such is the case today.  If churches have hard rock, gospel, rap, country, quartets, or ANT genre where it is more about the music and the performer(s) and the personalities than about Christ, the SAME THING will happen to them.  It has happened THOUSANDS OF TIMES!   Churches lose their salt, and in the end, the people they tried so hard to cater to will move on anyway because someone else can always do the FLESH better!  What is left is a disaster.

Now not all change is bad, but be sure that when change happens, it is because of pleasing GOD better, not because we want to please MAN. We must not be "Man-pleasers"! We are a Holy Nation, A Royal Priesthood.  GOD's Own Possession!  We are NOT our own, we were bought with a VERY HIGH price - the blood of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, glorify GOD with your bodies.  Friends, only what is done for CHRIST will last!

Before we go, I would be remiss not to mention the warnings in Mark 4, Matthew 13 and other passages that our message can be choked by the worries of this life, by the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things. Too often instead of the message being simply "GOD", it is "God AND". God and money. God and self esteem. God and security. God and fame. God and achievement. God and political liberation. Our God is a jealous God, and we must guard our OWN faith so that we do not fall by the wayside. Satan sows tares into our lives so we have more time for our favorite TV shows than we have for Christ and the work of his kingdom.  We spend more of our time pursuing wealth than seeking the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness. We even spend more time in CHURCH because we like being around God's people instead of being willing to leave the 99 to search for the one lost sheep or to intercede intensively for the needs of the hour. You know, I have noticed that so often we get waylaid - by competing interests, by our desires for the world, and to increase our own comfort. It is truly hard to be single-minded for the Lord, but wasn't that the entire gist of Jesus' instructions to us? We are also to guard our hearts and follow sound doctrine (see my Pamphlet or Life in the Spirit blogpost on DOCTRINE for many scriptures that deal with that subject). So many today are camping around a single doctrine, and often a doctrine that is suspicious at that - not part of the foundation for our faith, but something someone preached convincingly.  You know what?  I have observed that people who camp on a doctrine like that almost always begin to lose their faith in the REAL foundational doctrines of the Bible.  They jettison them one by one until finally the person is fully in left field.  It is discouraging to watch, but that is how sincere but misguided people end up in cults.  Note the following characteristics of a cultist I had posted on one of my blogs:

•      UNQUESTIONING LOYALTY TO PEOPLE OTHER THAN CHRIST! 
•      DISMISSAL OUT OF HAND OF ALL CONCERNS!
•      STRANGE INTERPRETATIONS OF SCRIPTURE NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SOUNDNESS
•      EXTREME PRIDE IN ONESELF! 
•      INABILITY TO BE APPROPRIATE IN COMMUNICATIONS! 

I have seen Satan's end game in this - a groupie of false teachers who ended up in a shelter - she castigated everyone in sight, considering herself in elevated terms but unable to even be civil. She was so mean to a Christian trying to help her, the police carted her away.  That is where this leads. I know people in earlier stages of this evil progression, and it is not pretty.  We are talking about people who had sincerity, who loved Christ, who were considered mature.  However, they did not GUARD THEIR FAITH, allowed Satan to sow tares into their personal field, and proceeded to produce foul fruit.  GUARD YOUR FAITH, my loved ones.  I am trying to do that with all my strength, and I know I need God to do that myself. Be SURE to be SINGLE-MINDED to the Lord and know that if you can turn someone from the error of his or her ways, you will cover a multitude of sins. May God bless you!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

GET SERIOUS

I'd like to share a word with you that the Lord gave to me last month...

The Lord would surely say that the church needs to move beyond what religion is. The rituals of gatherings and fellowships and good times.  It has to include the sound teaching of the word, but must also include the equipping of the saints – the impartation of the power of God and the demonstration of the miracle power of Jesus Christ through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.   The church is still in its infancy in terms of being my body in the world.  Nonetheless I applaud those of you who have remained faithful to the word of God and who have not compromised with the spirit of this world – the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. I want to build on that with close attention to doctrine so that there will be no man-originated doctrines or practices among you – adding to the word of God that which sounds good or that which is expedient for the finances of ministry. My word is really quite simple – to walk justly and humbly with your God, and to treat people the way I did.  If you have my Spirit fully in work in you, you WILL treat people the way I did – soft when soft is needed, hard when hard is needed, encouraging when encouragement is needed, and rebuke when rebuke is needed.  People you encounter need different touches, so learn of me how to respond to each and every person I bring into your life.  Most of all, learn how to accept the ways I deal with YOU, which may seem harsher than how I deal with others.  Every son I accept is scourged, and the Father allowed me to be scourged worse than them all.  Know that as you share in my suffering, you will become my closest brothers. You will not complain about any deprivation or any rejection. Rather, you will exalt my Father that you were considered worthy to suffer for my sake.  Be earnest in season and out and contend for the faith.  Do not look for the approval of men, but be fixated on being approved by the Father.  You will be approved as you are full of the grace and truth that I will lavish in your life through my Spirit.  Simply speak what I speak, and love how I love, and the doors that I want opened will open before you – as the automatic doors in a Supermarket – the doors will open as you approach because I have ordained your entrance into all I have prepared for you to do.