Words of Wisdom

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (Psalm 127:3 KJV)

There are few joys to compare like that of the birth of a child. I still recall that proud moments when both my son and daughter were born. That is not to say that they haven’t brought me much grief and woe; however all that fails in comparison to the joy and pride they bring me. Another defining joyous moment in my life was the birth of my grandson. Although I told my son that I was too young to be a grandfather, I wouldn’t trade that bouncing bundle of joy for all the wealth of the world. Even when he is cranky, which is when he is usually hungry, he still lights up my life. Therefore, since I am thinking about my grandson, I ask myself what wisdom would I impart to him?

God Is Real

I believe the most important thing one can impart to their children and grandchildren is the belief in the one true living God. Scrpture tell us, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. (Psalm 53:1 KJV) Increasingly society is bombarding our children with an atheistic philosophy, and we sit by and do nothing to counter it. We need to stand up for the Lord especially where our families are concern. If we fail to instill the belief in the true living God in our children, then we might loose them for all eternity.

Jesus Loves You

We live in a loveless society. You can’t imagine the number of times I have heard someone say, “No body loves me.” It breaks my heart when I hear of some child taking their own lives because they were bullied and felt that nobody liked or loved them. I don’t my grandson growing up not feeling loved. I love him; however, my love fails to compare to the love our beloved Jesus has for him. Christ not only loves us but He also died for our sins in order to reconcile our broken relationship with Him. Is just as the song says, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

Jesus Died to Save You From Your Sins

We have to communicate not only the love of Christ but the purpose of His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection as well. It has been said that Christianity is only one generation away from extinction. Well it is true. We are called to reach our children and grandchildren with the gospel of Christ. Scriptrue tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 KJV)

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Are Pentecostals Being Led By the Spirit?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalm 37:23 KJV)

Each religion has its own lingo, and that is especially true of Christianity; however, not all Christians speak the same dialect. There are certain catchphrases that are prefered amongst various theological persuasions within Christendom. Some of the favorite Pentcostal catchphrases are Spirit-filled, full gospel, the Spirit-filled life, and of course being led by the Spirit. Recently, I attended a service of a church from a different theological persuasion than that of a Pentecostal. I was somewhat taken back with they kept using in context the catchphrase “being led by the Spirit” although I know it is not indicative to Pentecostals only. However, it did get me to questioning what it means to be led by the Spirit and to ask if today’s Pentecostals are truly being lead by the Spirit?

By way of definition, to be led by the Spirit and also living a Spirit-filled life means daily living one’s life as being sensitive to, reliant upon and submitive to the leading or prompting of the Holy Spirit. If someone is truly being led by the Spirit, then every decision they make throughout the day has been bathed in prayer. They know were the Lord stands upon the issues they face and choose to follow the Lord’s will in every situation no matter the cost. Contrary to some people’s belief, there is a cost involved if one is to be led by the Spirit, and the first cost is our own freewill. Just as the Lord sacrificed Himself for us, He expects us to sacrifice ourselves if we are to follow Him. Our beloved Jesus said, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 KJV)

Here is the problem that I, as an old-time Pentecostal preacher, have noticed. A vast majority of Pentecostal people aren’t reliant upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in their everyday lives. We have moved from the realm of being a people who are led by the Spirit to that likened to the children of Israel in the book of Judges were Scripture referred to them as “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.’ (Judges 21:25 KJV) What we actually done is made our daily walk with Christ subjective to our own will. The apostle Paul referred to this type of Christian as being carnal. He wrote, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8 KJV) So I ask the question, “As Pentecostal Christians, are we truly being led by the Spirit?”

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Spirit Filled Or Merely Religious

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5 KJV)

As mentioned in a previous post, I am alarmed at the number of individuals and churches who adhere to the Pentecostal faith that appear to have a “form of godliness” and yet have forsaked the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives and church services. For example, it used to be the norm in Pentecostal churches to experience the “manifestation of the Holy Spirit, in virtually every service as He poured out His gifts upon the church. Pentecostals expected the gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecies, divine healings and the miraculous to present in every church service. Today, it seems we are content with the motions of church rather actually encountering the presence of God. When the routine is accepted a normal over actually encountering God, then we have a “form of godliness.”

And you won’t leave here like you came in Jesus’ name
Bound oppressed tormented sick or lame
‘Cause the Holy Ghost of Acts is still the same
You won’t leave here like you came in Jesus’ name (David Ingles; You Won’t Leave Here Like You Came (In Jesus Name))

Webster defines religion as: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. One can be religious without ever encountering the holy presence of God. It is those encounters with God that changes an individual’s life. It is uncommon to see people getting saved, healed and filled with the Spirit in our altars, and so we wonder why we are not experiencing the mighty moves of the Spirit of yesteryear. It is because religion doesn’t change lives in the same manner that encountering the presence of the Lord can. Remember the how the Bible tells of a cripple at the pool of Bethesda. He was religious; however he remained unhealed until he encountered Christ. (John 5:1-15) We must adhere to our religious beliefs at the same time seeking to encounter the Lord’s presence.

Our church services must not be merely about the religious ceremony but rather about encountering the God of the ceremony. As Pentecostals, we must set aside our complacency and seek the presence of the Lord. Scripture says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NKJV) It is time that we, as Pentecostals, once more exerience the power of God in our lives and live a Spirit-filled life rather than being merely religious.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

What Happened to Pentecost?

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49 KJV)

I was once privy to a conversation two elderly Pentecostal preachers had concerning the moving of the Holy Spirit in days gone by. I love hearing the church stories of yeasteryear. As the two ministers reminisced of the powerful moves of the Holy Spirit that they had experienced, the reminiscing soon turn to lamentation as they pondered why our churches no longer experiencing that type of moving of the Spirit. An interesting read would be a book about the rise and fall of the Pentecostal Movement. In fact, such a book could be written about any movement in the church, i.e. the holiness or Methodist movements. So what has happened to the Pentecostal Movement?

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 KJV)

The Pentecostal Movement has always been dependent upon the Holy Spirit. For the most part, Pentecostals have recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the triune Godhead, as essential to every church service. They were totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit. They weren’t interested in just having church services, but rather saw the church services as a means to encounter the Spirit of God. It was because they sought Almighty God’s presence in both their services and lives that they were able to experience the powerful moves of the Holy Spirit.

You might think that calling the Holy Spirit the “forgotten God” is a bit extreme. Maybe you agree that the church has focused too much attention elsewhere but feel it is an exaggeration to say we have forgotten about the Spirit. I don’t think so. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can. (Francis Chan & Danae Yankoski; Fogotten God)

So what happened to the Pentecostal Movement in that we are no longer seeing those powerful divine moves of the Holy Spirit in our church services? The harsh reality is that most Pentecostals are content with hearing a sermon, singing a song or two, giving in the offering, saying a prayer then going home. The Holy Spirit’s presence is no longer viewed as essential to the church service. We have grown content with having church while not experiencing the presence of Almighty God. Unless we once more begin to view the Holy Spirit’s presence as essential in our church services and lives and therefore begib to earnestly seek His presence, then we will not experience the divine powerful moves of the Holy Spirit that we did in days gone by.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Will the Real Pentecostal Please Stand Up!

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 KJV)

“We need a revival!” I have heard it preached numerous times; in fact, I have preached it myself. When Pentecostal preachers speak of revival, they are referring to a divine move of the Holy Spirit that transforms lives by saving the lost, delivering those spiritually, emotionally and physically oppressed, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that which occurred on the day of Pentecost. Pentecostal are willing to shout down the house when one preaches about a divine move of the Holy Spirit, but the harsh reality is why those sermons are being preached in the first place. Pentecostal churches are not experiencing the moving of the Holy Spirit as they once did. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Why?”

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 KJV)

It was on the day of Pentecost that those in the upper-room experienced the promise of the Father for the first time. Later that same day, the apostle Peter declared that what they had experienced was “what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.’” (Acts 2:16-17 NKJV) It was because the pioneers of the Pentecostal Movement experienced the same type of outpouring of the Holy Spirit the the term Pentecostal was coined to describe those who experience this modern day outpouring of the Spirit. Over time, the term Pentecostal come to define the churches where Pentecostal believers gathered more so than the individuals who has experienced a similar outpouring in their own lives. It also began to define a theological persuasion more than the experience itself.

To Tell the Truth was a popular game show in the late 50s and 60s. One person’s story would be told, then that person and two imposters would try to baffle the celebrity panal as to who the real so-and-so really was. The tagline of the show was, “Will the real so-and-so please stand up.” The same should be asked today. Will the real Pentecostals please stand up. So who are the true Pentecostals. Are they those who adhere to Pentecostal theology? Are they the individuals who attend a church of the Pentecostal persuasion? Maybe they are those who have experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit similar to the apostles and the early pioneers of the modern day Pentecostal Movement.

And it befell [Forsooth it was done], when Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul when he had gone the higher coasts, he came to Ephesus [came to Ephesus], and found some of the disciples. And he said to them, Whether ye that believe have received the Holy Ghost? And they said to him, But neither have we heard, if the Holy Ghost is. [And he said to them, If ye have received the Holy Ghost believing? And they said to him, But neither we have heard, if the Holy Ghost is.] And he said, Therefore in what thing be ye baptized? And they said, In the baptism of John. (Acts 19:1-3 Wycliffe Bible)

Scripture holds the answer to exactly the real Pentecostals are. The question that the apostle Paul posed to those he encountered at Ephesus was whether or not they had received the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He did not ask whether or not they adhered to Pentecostal theology nor if they attended a Pentecostal church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is an experience one has with Almighty God. There are those who attend Pentecostal churches but they are not actually a Pentecostal. Pentecostalism is about the experience rather than adhering to Pentecostal beliefs or attending a Pentecostal church. There are many assuming the role of a Pentecostal because of their theological persuasion or church attendance, but in all honesty they are not a true Pentecostal because they have yet to experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into their own lives. Pentecost is an experience.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Sunday Is On the Way

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord. (Psalm 122:1 KJV)

Today is the day that most love to see roll around. The weekend offically begins at five o’clock today. I love the weekends too but for a different reason than the majority of the populace. The beginning of the weekend means that Sunday is at hand. I look forward to Sunday’s arrival because the church gathers for worship, discipleship and fellowship. Some will claim it is because I am a minister of the gospel; however, I loved going to the house of the Lord well before I ever recongnized and heeded the calling of God on my life. My going to church is not due to my calling but rather my relationship with the Lord.

One of the problems people have with church attendance is that they view it as an obligation. Although we have an obligation to the church and one way we fulfill it is through our faithful attendance, the true purpose for church attendance is to draw closer to our beloved Savior. Our relationship with the Lord is what is truly important. Whereas some will claim that we created to worship the Lord, we were actually created to have a relationship with God. Scripture proclaims how much God loves us rather than how much He desires our worship. Christ died to reconcile our broken relationship with the Lord.

Sunday is coming. It is the day that we set asided to spend with the Lord. Whereas some will defile it by doing whatever they want, I will utilize it to have quality time my my beloved Jesus.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Sound Doctrine

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)

I recently went to a church where the pastor was preaching a sermon series on church doctrine. In many of the churches where I was the pastor, I did the same thing. In one church, as you walked through the doors, one had to pass a banner with our statement of faith. While teaching about what we believe, I asked how many points in our statement of faith. Sadly, no one knew. I dare say that the same is true in many churches.

Is doctrine important? The nondenominational church movement of the early 90s took a firm stance against any creed or statement of faith. However, the Bible is a book of doctrine. Doctrine simply means teaching. Scripture is God’s doctrinal teaching to man. Our beloved Jesus taught sound Biblical doctrine to those who followed Him. The Pharisees and Sadducees were upset with Christ’s doctrine because it undermined their doctrine.

Scripture says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV) The Lord gave us the Scriptures for the purpose of having sound doctrine. It is the church’s duty to teach sound doctrine to its members. In doing so, we follow the example Christ set forth.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

God’s Not Dead

The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalm 14:1 KJV)

The suprise hit in theaters, at least for the Hollywood elites, is God’s Not Dead. It is a Christian apologitic film. WHereas the Hollywood elite tends to poke fun at earnest Bible-believing Christians, this film not only paints us in a favorable light, but it also elevates Almighty God beyond the myth He portrayed to be and declares the He is indeed real. Although I have yet to see it, I plan on seeing it in the very near future.

Over the years, I have defended the faith countless times; however, I have stopped trying to defend the existance of God. I have found out that the Lord doesn’t need my help in defending His existance. Scripture tells me, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 KJV) Only ignorant man in his consumed with his own arrogrance can believe that there is no God.

God is real. As believers, we need to live lives that proclaim to a lost and dying world that we serve the one true living God.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Epistles for the Lord

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3 KJV)

My family prefer I didn’t use their escapades to illustrate Biblical truths. To be honest, there is no one I know whose life is immune from becominig an illustrative sermon. I have used my 6 month old grandson as well as my own life to illuminate the Scriptures. To some, it might sound cruel to use family and friends as sermon illustrations; however, that is what sets it apart from every other literary work. Scripture is applicable to our everyday lives in today’s society as well as those of yesteryear.

When I was in school, there were choose your own adventure books which I read. The story lead to a junction where the reader was given one of three choices to choose from. Each choice lead to a different conclusion. However, our lives are to be an open book to those around us with no hidden outcome to shock those who read it. The apostle Paul referred to our lives as an epistle read by all men. I believe that epistle ought to be more of a witnessing tract rather than some kind of novel. Our lives ought to point people to faith in Christ, and if they do not, then we need to reevaluate our lives and see where we have erred in becoming an epistle of the Lord.

Boldly contending for the faith–otpp

Above and Beyond

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said,

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory.
(Isaiah 6:1-3 KJV)

Even though I have mention this in the past, it is worthy of repeating. The book of Isaiah is my mother’s favorite book in the Bible. Isaiah was a bit eccentric. Think about it; the Lord had him run around naked in order to prove a point, and Isaiah didn’t object. I would have at least had on record a very long discussion between the Lord and me. It was because of his obedience to the Lord that he was able to see the Lord in a way that we must wait till eternity overtakes us in order to behold. He records his experience by saying, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1 KJV)

Scripture says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV) I have caught glimpes of the Lord’s glory; however, I can’t begin to imagine the depth of what Moses, Isaiah, Ezekial, Danial, the apostles Paul and John beheld when they experienced the glory of the Lord. I know that we will indeed be awestruck when we behold Him just as the seraphims were.

The McKameys sang a song, Above and Beyond, that I believe best captures in lyric exactly what Isaiah beheld. The first time I heard the song, I clearly understood for the first time exactly what Isaiah saw when he wrote, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.’” (Isaiah 6:1-3 KJV)

Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up and seated on a throne,
The seraphim above Him, they covered their faces, And one called to the
other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”

Above and beyond, holy omnipotent, There is no one like Him,
His glory fills the earth;
Above and beyond, glorious magnificent, wonderful, so mighty the whole
world shakes in awe:
He is above all else, and beyond all words,
Jesus is above and beyond.

One day I will see Him in all of His glory as He really is,
With trials all behind me and nothing else to bind me,
I’ll bow at His feet and praise Him and thank Him,
And glorify the King of Kings. (Sheryl Farris; Above and Beyond)

Boldy contending for the faith–otpp