CLING TO THE CROSS

At 6 o’clock one Sunday morning Clare Gant was going to church and not even the torrential rain outside would stop her. But she never expected that her vehicle would be suddenly caught in floodwaters near a lake.

Her car stalled and then began to float away with the powerful force of rushing water. She knew she was in trouble. She called 911 and no one answered. She finally called her grandson who was on his way to rescue her.

Her car shifted and went backwards into a field and she thought, “Dear Lord are you taking me home right now?” But he was not.

By the time her grandson arrived her car had been washed off the road into a church yard. Her car had stopped besides a huge red cross. Her grandson, Travis, came with a deer harness off of a deer stand and some rope he says somehow he got the jammed door open despite the rushing waters and his grandmother out of the car and they both grabbed hold of that cross and held on for five hours until someone came and rescued them.

Gant said, “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross…Jesus is my savior. This story is not about me, this is about what he did to save me.”

I want to ask you dear friend are you clinging to the cross of Jesus? From the story you can tell that that was all they could hold on to. It was such a wonderful illustration of our own bankruptcy spiritually, or like the hymn says

Nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling.

Although we may be good people as far as culture is concerned. We have certain things that are admirable and we do many moral things that make us basically good people – but as far as God is concerned spiritually we have nothing to offer him but our sin. Not only our sin but even our good works disqualify us from heaven. That’s why Jesus came.

God bankrupt heaven for bankrupt sinners so that they could be saved. They could not hold on to their good works, that they are a giving and loving person or a good parent or a good son or daughter or a good provider – nothing of that matters with God when it comes to entering heaven. The only way that you can enter into heaven is completely embrace what Jesus did on the cross as payment for your sins.

He died to save you. He lives to love you.

This is the Jesus that we preach. Some of you today like that woman in our story have bumped into this article like her car bumped into that red Cross. Would you not consider that God is showing you that the only way you can be saved is through Jesus Christ? Receive God’s love gift today. Make a 180 degree turn from what you’re doing now and ask God to save you through what Jesus did on the cross. Believe that Jesus died for you, especially you.

It’s simple trust- just knowing what he did and basing your entire life on the fact that Christ died and rose again from the dead for you. Then you will truly know what it is to cling to the cross.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

FOR THOSE WHO WAIT

There’s a deep agony of heart, that is worse than pain in the body. It is a hope, a desire, a dream that is unfulfilled.

It can be nagging of the mind, a gnawing of heart, that refuses to be comforted. It is a scent of the spirit, a sound beyond what anyone can hear but me.

Lord, only you can say the word and I will be healed. Pound thy gavel, Righteous Judge let the courtroom hear. Like Samuel anoint me in the midst of thy brethren.

Feed me by angels hands, meet me in that cave that is so dark yet alive with your voice send me to the mountain that is shaken and rocked by your lightning so that all that is false is driven from my land and my heart.

You know that I desire to be what you want me to be. Do not withdraw thy hands from this frail clay vessel. Let thy skilled touch be evidence you are with me.

Let me be fashioned and formed into a vessel of honor and filled with thy glory and poured out in your sight and the voice of last drop utter thy will be done.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

HYPNOTIC

bigstock-Hypnosis-7337942-300x300“…Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? (Gal. 3:1). 

I am sure you have heard about the Florida school board who settled with three families for $600,000 dollars over the death of their children.  It is very sad. I grieve with them. But these teenagers were not shot by some madman, nor were they the victims of domestic terrorism. They died because of hypnotism. 

North Port High School Principal George Kenney was practicing hypnosis on students who were struggling with grades, anxieties due to tests and their athletic performance. He may have hypnotized over 70 students. His actions introduced an element into their lives for which they were not prepared-demonic activity.

Hypnosis causes a trance (an altered state of consciousness) in which the hypnotist can make suggestions to the subconscious of the person being hypnotized. Back in the 18th century occultist Franz Anton Mesmer from whose name we get the word word mesmerize—was a man who practised the occult in the name of alternative medicine. In fact, the above passage uses the word bewitched which means to mesmerize by magic arts, to fascinate, charm and take away the power of resistance. This stuff is demonic and you should stay away from it and warn your family and friends about it.

The hypnotic spirit of antichrist that has been attempting to lure people away from Christ for two millennia and hypnotize them to oppose the gospel (1 John 4:1-3) by all means possible. The real cure of the gospel message about Jesus Christ is seen as that dangerous by the Devil because it breaks the spell of the devil. That is why the Bible warns believers to be careful.

With the Christians at Galatia, Satan used teaching, yes teaching. It is called the teaching of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Satan is actually speaking hypnotically through some teachers because they have abandoned the scripture for the philosophies of the world and apostate religion. The Galatians were hypnotized by legalism the idea that says you can get to heaven by doing good things. Instead of what the Bible teaches that human beings are sinners and only believing in Christ and what he did on the cross as the sole means to go to heaven. They gave up their liberty for the false security of doing religious things rooted in self righteousness instead of learning how to be empowered to live for Jesus by the Holy Spirit to obey God and love Jesus in any and all circumstances. They ended up hypnotized by a false gospel, an erroneous view of Christ and a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:3-4).

Many people don’t realize that some of the most popular “preachers” today could very well be the duped agents of Satan in deceiving millions (2 Tim. 3:13) because they do not preach the raw truth of the Gospel (Gal 2:14). Some of these so called ministers endorse “prayer practices” that are actually a form of hypnosis and they are dangerous. As far as I am concerned they need to be rebuked continually and repeatedly so they will repent.

Satan can hypnotize and introduce his thoughts as well through other means. You would never guess most of the time who is under his spell. You see them at work, at church even at home. He can use entertainment and media of all kinds. He has been using the Harry Potter saga, Twilight trilogy, movies about the Ouija Board even Annabelle the demon possessed doll.  As idiotic as some of these horror movies are they may introduce spiritual darkness into the thinking of unsaved people and Satan can even assault lukewarm Christians and have them spinning in circles.

Lately, the fascination with the occult, demon possession, vampires, humans changing into animals and zombies are all part of Satan’s last day strategy just to enslave the thoughts of people. The thoughts of sinful men in the media are communicated unknowingly to the mind and spirit of those who open themselves to them. Christians should think twice about going to movies, what they see on the internet, cable or satellite television. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord.” (Prov. 15:26).

The devil can do this as well through drugs and alcohol. Sorcery (pharmakeia) is the abuse of drugs that can cause an altered state of consciousness (Gal. 5:23, Rev. 18:23). Alcoholism alters the personality and its no wonder people used to call it spirits. It is my belief that if enough alcohol is consumed not only does it create addiction but opens the persons spirit to demonic influence. The Bible overwhelmingly takes a negative tone concerning alcohol (Prov 20:1).

Satan, of course, can use our own weaknesses against us if we are not careful. He loves when we defeat ourselves before he can even get to us. If we get fixated upon worldly things and allow a carnal mind it will detract from the life and peace of the Spirit God wants us to have and brings death (Rom. 8:5-6). No Christian can be demonized or possessed by Satan. that is false doctrine.  But a believer in Jesus can leave their mind open to his hypnotic suggestions. But we should throw down thoughts against God (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Like Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We need to put on the helmet of salvation to protect our thoughts and give us mental toughness during trials (Eph. 6:17).

Satan wants us to distract people from Christ and place their focus on self or circumstances. He wants to traumatize people, take away their sleep, steal their health or introduce addiction through sex, drugs, worldly entertainment and alcohol. He wants to hypnotize you with, “…craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (1 John 2:16NLT). He wants you to be at peace with him and the world’s way of doing things. Did you not know there is a war going on? (Eph. 6:10-12). Have you forgotten? Are you going run away from the sounds of war (Psa. 78:9)? You cannot turn the evil days of battle on and off. Like it or not you are in a fight for your soul and the souls of your family and friends. Satan is fighting hard in these last days and it seems more and more Christians and their leaders are asleep at their posts, some are even changing sides joining Satan’s campaign (Gal. 1:6). It’s time to wake up!!! “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:12).

It is part of Satan’s plan to attack the mind’s of people and enslave them to his power. Satan wants to breakdown your resistance. He wants you to focus on financial hardship and sickness, personal attacks on your reputation, troubles at work and home all to make suggestions that God is lying to you, holding back from you. The Enemy wants you to be hypnotized with thoughts that God does not love you or he will not help you. The devil and his agents want you full of anger, fear, anxiety, self-pity, discouragement and loneliness. Satan wants you to ruin your testimony for Christ and keep you from helping others!

You can fight back and stand your ground against Satan and he will run away terrified (James 4:7). You must get your focus off your problems and on the wonderful love and strength of your Savior Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:1-3)! The victory has been ours since the days Christ washed away all our sins. God’s promises of victory in the scripture is to the one who believes in Jesus and they have already overcome the world (1 John 5:5). Christ who lives in us is greater than Satan and his emissaries in this world (1 John 4:4). Now we can go in Christ’s authority and reprimand Satan in the name of Jesus Christ and tell him you will not be hypnotized by his lies.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

The Return of The Older Minister

moses-19“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1 Tim. 5:17). 

Have you ever heard the term-respect your elders? “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:32).  Did you notice the motivation in respect of godly elders in that verse-the fear of God? God takes very seriously how we treat our elders and will punish those who do not respect them. We are to see them greatly honored and blessed by God because of the length of their life and the experience and wisdom which they have acquired. That is what the Bible teaches. That is God’s design for leadership in the church. Even outside of the church people realize the value of older workers.

Companies see the benefits of hiring older workers. They statistically exert a detail oriented, higher quality work. They are focused, punctual, organized, less rattled with problems and have pride in a job well done. They know how to train other workers and communicate better than those younger than them.

Surprised? I am not.

I wrote this article after hearing a district official of my former denomination say that they want younger men to pastor because older men are set in their ways. That is rubbish!  I say maybe older ministers are not recommended because they cannot be fooled by denominational politics. The middle aged man is the best candidate for being the Lead or Senior Pastor of a church today.  In a day when men are being dishonored or demeaned, needless the offensive manner in which seasoned citizens are being treated by society this is when a minister is at his best. In fact, it should be the biblical model for us to follow. The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. It refers to an older, seasoned Christian who presides over a church as a pastor.  No wonder the church has more and more issues because of the sophomoric mistakes of younger preachers who are getting job experience in pulpits.

In the past few decades, men and women have been entering the ministry at older ages. Most had another career before going to seminary, and by the time they settled into the role of minister they tended to be middle-aged. In a recent study, the median age of senior or solo Protestant pastors was 51. The median age of senior or solo black pastors was 53.

A church would have a great advantage having the Senior pastor training and mentoring younger ministers, who assist him in his ministry and church work. By doing this they gain training and experience. But the bottom line (with some few exceptions) the man leading the church should be no younger than thirty five years old which would give him at least 20 years experience in ministry training. Some of you whippersnappers are rolling your eyes. But I am telling you that churches that look for younger pastors are setting themselves up for the many mistakes of inexperience and youth.  Now people will tell me that Paul told Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12). But he was at least 35 years old, maybe forty when he pastored Ephesus. We also have to take life expectancy of the times in view-but I think wisdom and experience trump youth and idealism any day of the week.

The Bible teaches older men should lead the church. “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders…” (see 1 Peter 5:1-14). I cannot say it any clearer churches today should desire that their leaders be elders-those who have acquired wisdom with age. 

In this day when we have so many still droning on about the Paul-Timothy relationship it seems we have the Timothy’s trying to tell the Paul’s that they are old schooled albatrosses because the elder reflects the sound doctrine of the Bible from past years while many younger men pant like a teenagers with their hormones out of control for new ways of doing things. I am so taken back by the stupid wet behind the ears attitude of men who say the methods have to change but the message stays the same. The message is the cross, the method is preaching. If these young fools would read their Bible they would know that, but they are full of silly misunderstandings. 

I know many ministers feel useless in the fifty and above crowd. But this is just the devil. God wants to bless others through your life and do not forget it, Your time will come. You stay in the Word and prayer and walk with the Lord and you will grow in wisdom and be a blessing to many of those in need of a fatherly person who can help them grow in Christ.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney