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24 August, 2018 11:41

August 24, 2018

A CULTURE OF HONOR

I believe it was Spurgeon who made the statement. ‘The Church has suffered more from its exponents than its opponents.’ With over fifty years of ministry behind me I’ve seen the Church survive one well-meaning teaching trend after another.

Take the teaching of covering or the heavy-handed discipleship movement, which gave its leaders unbridled authority while reducing its followers to mere serfs. While these teachings have a certain basis of truth behind them, that truth is too often stretched beyond what God intended. John warns us of this when he wrote ‘Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God…’ (2 John 9)

Ask any high-wire performer about the importance of balance and they will tell you it’s a matter of life or death. Which brings me to the latest trend or teaching regarding the culture of honor. A church I’m well acquainted with began asking the congregation to stand every time its leader stood to minister. Now this may seem like an honorable thing to do as we are told to ‘appreciate those who labor among you and have charge over you.’ But this can also lead to dividing the Body between clergy and laity. The laity being taught to ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ thereby making the leader immune from any wrongdoing or loving criticism; not to mention tempting him to become proud of his position and new found popularity.

Take for example Levi and his sons who presided over the house of God at Shiloh during the time of young Samuel. Levi’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were abusing their authority by demanding of the people the portion of the sacrifice that belonged to God. Not only would they not listen to any correction, they seemingly used their authority to sleep with various women on the ‘ministry team’. God’s response to all of this was in the form of a stern rebuke to Levi for ‘honoring your sons above Me.’ Here is a clear example of where the culture of honor was perverted and the laity suffered. God later destroyed them for their actions.

I’m well aware of Paul’s instruction to young Timothy that those who rule well be considered worthy of double honor. Which incidentally doesn’t mean double pay, but rather the honor first of all in being given the responsibility of leadership and secondarily, being paid to do so. Paul however also addresses the church as a body stating that those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor…but God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked; that there should be no division in the body.

(Let’s face it. When was the last time someone said to you. ‘You have the most beautiful kidneys.’)

Jesus sought to lay a foundation of what He considered to be of utmost importance among His disciples when He girded Himself with a towel and began washing His disciple’s feet. No doubt they were all shocked and embarrassed by His actions. This was not the ‘culture of honor’ they were accustomed to. Masters never washed the feet of their servants. Jesus before His death and departure was leaving them with a powerful lesson of how they were to take the role of servant leadership in His kingdom. This was in contrast to the position of power they envisioned for themselves prior to this.

Seldom do you hear of a church taking up a special offering for the poor among its members. Every year we pass the plate to honor our pastors by sending them away for a few days of rest and relaxation. No, I’m not complaining about having to give a few extra dollars to bless the pastors. I just don’t want to honor them above the rest of His body. James talks about the guy with the Rolex or gold ring that was ushered to the best seat in the house while the rest were treated by a different standard. I can hear the Master say, ‘It shall not be this way among you.’

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9 July, 2018 16:55

July 9, 2018

I recently received an email from a friend who I considered a father in the faith. The email cautioned against a trend within a few Charismatic circles toward what some consider as astral projection or out of body experiences. I wholeheartedly agreed that this is a dangerous area to pursue. To me there is little point is travelling to where you already are; ‘seated with Him in heavenly places.’

What really troubled me about this man’s email was the statement made at the end of the article he forwarded. Here is what was written.

‘Astral Projection is not a practice supported by the Holy Scriptures, and yet is a practice supported by a wide swath of the Occult, which is the Father of modern day Charismaticism.’

This blatantly biased assumption that the Charismatic movement was fathered by the occult, is tantamount to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. We certainly know who fathered the occult and that is the devil. But to suggest the devil is the father of the charismatic movement goes way beyond the pale. After checking into the site promoting this material I found that the writer has come out against just about every major leader in the Body of Christ, including some leading evangelicals.

Now while I applaud those who seriously seek to defend the faith I can’t stomach those who ‘whip before they weep.’ You recall the passage in Luke chapter nine where the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who did not receive Jesus. Jesus however turned to His disciples and rebuked them saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” What especially disturbs me about these doctrinally correct individuals is that they can ‘strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’ and think nothing of it. Jesus said if you have something against your brother first go to your brother etc. They happily swallow this camel and then nit pick some minor issue they don’t see eye to eye on.

Some of the most helpful words of wisdom I ever read, came from the writings of Dr. G. Campbell Morgan in his book ‘The Letters Of Our Lord.’ In the first chapter dealing with the Church of Ephesus he wrote the following.

‘Is it more than likely that their very opposition to false men and doctrine partook of the nature of lack of love? I would speak very cautiously at this point, for the Lord commended these things, and they were right, but I am quite sure that there may be right things done in a wrong spirit. I seldom find men strenuously fighting what they are pleased to call heterodox teaching, and in bitter language denouncing false doctrine, without being more afraid for the men denouncing than for the men denounced. There is an anger against impurity which is impure. There is a zeal for orthodoxy, which is most unorthodox. There is a spirit that contends for faith, which is in conflict with faith. If men have lost their first love, they will do more harm than good by their defense of the faith. Behind the denunciation of sin there must always be the tenderness of first love if that denunciation is not to become evil in its bitterness. Behind the zeal for truth there must always be the spaciousness of first love if that zeal is not to become narrowed into hate. There have been men who have become so self-centred in a narrowness that they are pleased to designate as holding the truth that the very principle for which they contend has been excluded from their life and service. All zeal for the Master that is not the outcome of love to Him is worthless.’

By the way I appealed to my friend about my concerns; but he has failed to respond to my email or correct what he was promoting. This is a sad day indeed for the Church. We desperately need true fathers. Men who know how to weep before they whip!

15 May, 2018 14:00

May 15, 2018

WHY IS JEZEBEL SUCH AN OBSESSION?

I graduated from Bible School in 1964 and have been in full time ministry ever since. For the first thirty years of ministry I barely ever heard the name Jezebel mentioned; but all that changed about twenty years or so ago. Jezebel suddenly became the queen of spirits spiraling to the top of the charts in record time. Ever since then she has taken on a life of her own surpassing all other spirits, and to this day remains by far the most popular and feared of all spirits.

What is so amazing about this unprecedented rise to fame is that nowhere in the Bible do we find such a spirit ever mentioned. Yes, there was a so called prophetess and teacher in the Church of Thyatira who taught a false grace message that produced immorality, rather than sanctity in the lives of her followers, however God gave her time to repent . There is no mention of her having to be delivered of some spirit. (Yes, I do believe there are spirits at work today and that as believers we have the authority to see people set free through the triumphant and glorious name of the Lord Jesus Christ.)

What really concerns me about this whole fascination with Jezebel is that we are falling right into the hands of the enemy by our obsession with her. Years ago I vividly recall a message by the late Judson Cornwall in which he shared openly how God had dealt with him regarding his own congregation at the time. He explained that every Sunday the worship leader would stop the service after the first or second song and announce to the congregation that there was a spiritual battle going on. He would then bind the spirit of heaviness or call for Judson to pray against it and then proceed with the worship. This became a regular part of the Sunday morning routine until one day Judson heard the Lord say to him, ‘Why do you give the Devil the place of honor in your church.’ or words to that effect. Judson was stunned by what he heard and began to explain to the Lord how much they loved to worship. The Lord then said ‘But you always give honor to the Devil before you honor me.’ Suddenly Judson got the message. The following Sunday when he was asked to rebuke the spiritual oppression he explained to his congregation what the Lord had spoken to him. He told them that from that Sunday on they were never going to give top billing to the Devil.

I believe there is an unhealthy obsession with Jezebel that is working to the enemy’s advantage. She loves all the attention she is getting. It’s time to move on and focus our attention on the one who alone is worthy of our praise. Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt HIS name together. So let God arise and Jezzie will soon bite the dust!

8 April, 2018 18:07

April 8, 2018

DELETED!

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is due to appear before Congress this week to answer questions regarding the company’s massive data leaks and any role it played in the presidential election. According to various news reports Facebook allowed some 80-100 million subscribers personal information to be used by third party players for their own ends. Needless to say people are worried about having their personal information pass into the hands of possible unscrupulous players.

The fact is, we live in an era where virtually everything we do is recorded or monitored by some company or government agency. Anyone with a credit card, drivers license or passport has already given away their personal information that could be maliciously used against them.

Imagine though having everything you have ever done, said, thought or imagined recorded. Thankfully there is no such machine, computer or nation capable of such a massive collection of material. That may well be true except for the fact that God declares in His Word that, “all things are naked and bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” God knows every detail of your life and mine. Every thought, motive, and deed, along with every fear, worry, pain or failure are all known by God.

It’s only natural to want people to know of our achievements as it boosts our ego and self worth. Our sins and failures on the other hand we tend to keep hidden, hoping no one will ever stumble across our personal data that could ruin our reputation or be used against us in some way.

People will go to extreme lengths to rid themselves of any incriminating evidence that could be used to destroy them. Hillary Clinton went as far as smashing her BlackBerrys, acid washing her email sever, and then lying to Congress in order to escape the possibility of punishment. Let’s face it, we would all like to have our sordid personal data erased or deleted and the opportunity to begin all over again.

Well the good new is we can! Paul in his letter to the Colossians reminds us that we were all dead in our transgressions and that all the data that God had collected against us and was hostile to us He DELETED through the Cross. Read it for yourself in Colossians 2:13-14. Hillary Clinton along with every other sinner will discover that you may be able to acid wash your computer and delete all emails but only the blood of Jesus Christ can erase your sin and mine. Everything against us has been deleted. Our rap sheet has been wiped clean, deleted, erased, cleansed, washed. Hallelujah, Thank you Jesus!

1 March, 2018 13:03

March 1, 2018

Guest Article by Thomas Littleton

A LITTLE LEAVEN…

Infiltration of the Church – Cultural Marxism and the redefining of the Gospel

This outline is to help navigate a personal investigation of dangerous trends within the broader biblical conservative evangelical church. Denominations such as the PCA and Southern Baptist Convention have been impacted as have the Nazarene , CMA ,Assemblies of God . The new wave independent, multi-site and church planting networks are a further product of the influences behind these trends.

The church is experiencing a massive infusion of new language like Community, Social Justice, Faith Based, Same Sex Attracted Christian Trans Christian and others. Theologies of Work, Vocation, Economics, and the participation of the local church in Community Development, Community Transformation, Building Community is being touted as the churches calling to equality and Social Justice. This includes the vision of providing health and social services ,disaster relief, and to operate in these capacities as part of Faith Based Partnerships (FBP) WITH State and Federal Governments, large corporations and private foundations. The main issue is not with the work itself but with the partnerships.

The origins of and dangers of FBP to both the autonomy of the church and the Gospel itself are outlined here https://barbwire.com/2016/09/22/where-is-the-conservative-evangelical-voice-in-todays-cultural-tsunami/ . The weakening of the churches resistance to progressive policies like gay marriage and the LGBTQ agenda and the adoption of radical immigration policy and participation in massive Muslim refugee resettlement are part of the FBP vision being sold to and by many denominational and church leaders.

Health Care is another area of massive problematic, long term impact by the FBP vision. https://barbwire.com/2016/10/20/faith-based-healthcare-clinics-prove-a-slippery-slope/

A Cultural Marxism Invasion and Vision Casting

A close examination of the origins of the leadership principles and vision reveal the use of Sociology, Theories and Processes of Social Change, Critical Theory, Race, Queer, and Social Theory on unsuspecting trainees ,pastors, seminary students and churches

Influential pastors who have been promoted, funded and trained by these influences now have their own organizations to train, equip, and vision cast for smaller churches and leaders as they carry out massive church planting strategies . Tim Keller’s, City to City and New York Leadership Center http://www.nycleadership.com/dr-mac-pier , and The Gospel Coalition are leading the promotion in the once conservative PCA and now reformed SBC affiliates. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Association and his Global Leadership Network, with the help of disciple Andy Stanley, reach a broad audience of both denominational and independent churches with the ideology. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven and PEACE Plan alone boast over 400,000 churches internationally involved in his network. Association of Related Churches is creating large multi-site non-denominational church /planting networks with similar vision .

Funding, resourcing and training from outside the church is making the unnatural growth of these models possible. Here is one example of such funding discussed in Philanthropy Roundtable. http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/religion/1984_leadership_network_helps_build_megachurches

A recent infiltration of evangelical and reformed seminaries with the Jesuit curriculum for social justice /liberation theology provided by Acton Institute and funded by The Kern Family Foundation began in 2013. Both Acton and Kern have very radical history with or partnered with promoters of the LGBTQ movement. These issues are discussed and extensive researched linked here http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/is-this-the-evangelical-deep-state/ and here http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/is-this-the-evangelical-deep-state-part-two/

Most disturbing are the plans to exploit the churches resources once these distortions of the Gospel and vision casting is fully in place. The Obama Era FBP tool kit shows the extent of these goals co-opting the churches mission of both local outreach and domestic and foreign missions. It is worth the investment to read it. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/faithbasedtoolkit.pdf

Little has changed so far under the Trump administrations FBP vision. Massive dangers to religious freedoms and protections still exist. Though the work of the FBP may seem attractive however the churches and ministries/ denominations involved become government contractors and prohibitions to any actual gospel ministry are in the Obama era reforms and doubled down upon in 2015 . The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution is used to validate such restrictions. The focus on dominion theology style /seven mountains / redeeming culture /cultural engagement – along with the yoking together of the church with government and extreme progressive corporate and private foundation funding goals (Warren, Hybels, Keller work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ) are and will continue to have a devastating impact on the churches eternal vision of the Kingdom of Christ in the Hearts of men. Have we have forgotten His words to Pilate “My Kingdom is not of this world “ John 18:36 or the reminder of Paul that” our citizenship is in heaven from where we eagerly await His return” Philippians 3:20 ?

These trends are not going away nor the concerns they present the faithful church and ministers of the Gospel. For more information you may contact me at revcoltom Thomas Littleton

12 February, 2018 10:17

February 12, 2018

“THE CROSS HAS THE FINAL WORD” or did it?

Yesterday was one of those cold icy February days. One look outside made you feel like spending the day in front of a roaring fire drinking hot chocolate. Yesterday also happened to be Sunday and so despite the objections of our flesh my wife and I set off for the early 9 am Church service. The roads were icy as stated by the weather service but I drove carefully only to arrive at an empty parking lot. Yes, the service had been cancelled due to the parking lot being too dangerous to walk on let alone drive on. We headed home determined to go to the second service beginning at 11am. Fortunately I looked at my iPad and found the second service was also cancelled. This was indeed going to be one of those hot chocolate days. ( Perhaps I should have listened to my flesh after all.) The email notifying us of the second meeting closing said that there would be a live broadcast available on the church website. Sure enough right on time the service began with only a handful of brave hearts that had weathered the weather along with one of the worship teams. I settled down to listen. There was one song in particular they sang that got me to thinking. The words were:

The cross has the final word
The cross has the final word
Sorrow may come in the darkest night
But the cross has the final word

Perhaps I’m just wired this way but I found myself saying that’s not true. Now God forbid that I should stand in opposition to the Cross. I too, can agree with the old hymn writer who penned those wonderful words.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

My objection was not regarding the Cross, but the words ‘has the final word.’

We sometimes forget that the Cross as incredible as it was, was altogether pointless apart from the resurrection. There was no final word if Christ had not risen. Listen to Paul’s very poignant word in First Corinthians the fifteenth chapter. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”

The Cross apart from the resurrection, would have left us still in in our sins.

The Cross apart from the resurrection, would have left us powerless over an undefeated enemy.

The Cross apart from the resurrection, would have left us without the hope of Christ’s return.

As much as we emphasize the cross, and rightly so, we need to also magnify the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who conquered the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father; and will return one day in God’s perfect timing.

Thank God for the Cross, but the resurrection has the final word!

9 January, 2018 14:59

January 9, 2018

SOUND DOCTRINE?

I consider myself Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical and Fundamental. In other words I believe in the whole council of God. As the old song states ‘Every promise in the book is mine, every chapter every verse every line.’

Growing up I would often hear my Father emphasize Paul’s words to young Timothy “Preach the word”. By the grace of God I have sought to do that throughout the past fifty three years of ministry. Paul’s admonition to Timothy concerning the last days was that teachers would gather around them followers who would turn from the truth and turn aside to myths.

While what I’m about to say may not fully describe those I’m about to refer to nevertheless, they are edging that way. I’m referring to those who add the word ‘spirit’ to something or someone. For example the Jezebel spirit. Nowhere in the Bible do you find such a term and yet in recent years thousands of tapes and CD’s, numerous books and countless sermons, have been dedicated to this teaching. I vividly recall a well-known prophetic leader in the Body of Christ who has since passed on to glory; thirty years ago he wrote a book on the Jezebel spirit. John Wimber read the manuscript and rejected it for not having a sound Biblical base. Unfortunately that didn’t stop those with ‘itching ears’ from picking up the ball and running with it. First of all we have no right to combine the Jezebel of the Old Testament with the Jezebel of the New Testament. They are two totally different people and therefore we have no right to make a hybrid teaching by combining the two.

Jezebel was a self-appointed prophetess who seemingly taught and led in such a way that her teaching led to acts of immorality. Perhaps this was a perversion of the grace message, that all future sins have already been forgiven, therefore live as you please. What we do know is that the Spirit of God told the angel of the Church of Thyatira that Jezebel had been given time to repent; not that she had a spirit that needed to be bound or cast out.

Now I know that when you place the word spirit after some aberrant teaching that it helps to sell books and CD’s but it can also damage the lives of those who simply need to repent and yet are branded as some type of witch. As a former pastor I’ve had to deal with some of the fallout this type of labeling has caused.

Only the other day I was reading an article that was warning people about the Ichabod prophets. Once again this is a figment of somebody’s imagination and not a Biblical term. According to the writer, an Ichabod prophet is someone with a harsh or judgmental word. My recollection of why the prophets were stoned to death was not due to some sugary, syrupy word, but rather a word that went contrary to their beliefs and actions.

The point I’m trying to make is that when we begin to drift away from God’s Word and begin to fashion our own speculative theories and doctrines we are treading on thin ice. Remember Paul’s admonition ‘Preach the Word’!