SATAN’S ISLAND IS IN DANGER

jonah_24“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown…These are the words of the One who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live, where the throne of Satan sits.” (Jonah 3:4; Rev. 2: 12-13)

YES I SAID IT. I called Staten Island, Satan’s Island. Now before you think I am just using a pejorative to describe a place known for having the world’s largest garbage dump, bear with me. Now I am not pretending to prophesy anything but this is more a general observation that no person, no place is safe without Christ. I am sure this message could be easily applied to other places. What I don’t want anyone to think is that some disgruntled person is bitterly spouting off in a blog. But calling some place Satan’s Island or a reference to a place being where Satan’s seat (as offensive as it is to your delicate ears) is not unprecedented. Hey, New Jersey is no better. Christ himself in the book of Revelation (Rev 2-3) also used the term Jezebel and Balaam in reference to the other churches or the people in them. Just like ancient Pergamum Christ points the sharp two edged sword at the churches and its pastors with a scathing reprimand-I know where you live is where Satan lives. Their compromise with the world has caused an unholy alliance and cease fire between them and Satan because when a preacher or church deviate from the scriptures they side with Satan. 

I see Staten Island as “Nineveh” most days because like Jonah. I don’t want to go there. I am just being honest. Jonah did not want to go to Assyria for many personal reasons. Staten Island is like my Ninevah, the only difference being I have more of a love hate relationship with it.  Although there are people I love there, and know there are good brethren, Staten Island is a place full of “know it all” rebels trying to pretend to be sophisticated using scripture and religious excuses to rationalize their spiritual ugliness and stupidity.

What is worse and frustrating is that churches are blind to the peril of compromise and sinners to the approaching eternal storm that no one can escape from without Christ.  

Staten Island IS in danger. Do you care? People are lost and churches are backslidden. Do you see it?  You say, “Not my church or Pastor! I say, “Yes, YOURS! You spiritual cheerleaders will not escape God’s rebuke for your “half gospel” church and pastor.

“For the time for judgment has come, and it is beginning with the household of God. If it is starting with us, what will happen to those who have rejected God’s good news? It is written in Proverbs, ‘If it is hard for the righteous ones to be saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners? (1 Peter 4:17-18 Voice).

Notice that? God deals with the church first before the unbelievers! There are what we call temporal judgments on cities, nations and even continents ever since Christ died and they still happen despite the prevalent pseudo-grace theology. But what does the Apostle Peter warn us about? 

The severe trial which would determine character. It refers to such calamities as would settle the question whether there was any religion, or would test the value of that which was professed. ” (Barnes Notes)

The indictment I have against pastors on Staten Island is that they are supposed to be training their people to be ready to face not just the temptations of Satan but THE TESTS OF GOD! This article is a warning that God is coming in visitation to his church as he has done in history many times to test and try it. They are NOT ready.  An article like this as well, can test what is in your heart and your reaction will reveal much. 

I wonder why God would want me to address a people who don’t seem to care, or shun from having me preach in their pulpits. Why can’t God be like he was in Hosea’s day and just say, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hosea 4:17). I am no prophet. I just am just a preacher the Word, a scripture man. But Staten Islander’s have allowed their souls to become such deserts they can’t even shed a tear over their spiritual condition. What a sloppy, fairly tale culture some Christians have developed as they chant in the dark with colored lights and unscriptural lyrics.

The misguided fundigelicals will praise the acidic politics of Donald Trump but Godhqdefault forbid if their pastor called them stupid, lazy and illegal aliens to the kingdom of God -that would not be entertaining at all for them. They would be insulted and outraged and would leave to fall in the arms of Pastor Lovemetenders church. This nonsense has gone on for years! They will have to stand before the Thrice Holy God one day and they will shiver in his presence and all their words and thoughts will exposed.  God help them. 

As I visit Staten Island I feel a great darkness. It is like walking over dry long bridge of dead body parts and bones everywhere. After yet another troubling dream recently, where the Island was about to be hit by some kind of wave that would destroy it I woke up with my heart racing, frustrated.  To be honest, I was thinking-enough is enough God. They don’t want me there and why should I have to say something to these churchians who go to a place where their Pastor coddles them right into eternal fire and they like it that way.

Yet, I feel sad, wondering the fate of the people of my hometown. Why do they refuse to listen. I am distressed about churches and pastors that I have cautioned face to face to abandon false doctrine, church growth sales tactics because they are Satan’s way of seducing the church away from the pure gospel. These Staten Island people are mutinous against their captain Christ and would rather float in the Bay with a religious flotation device rather than get on board and be committed to be obedient to the command of scripture and their commander, Christ.

I will never forget when I read that one night the great evangelist D.L. Moody asked his congregation to evaluate their relationships to Christ and return next week to make their decisions for Him. But that night the city fire bell began to ring. At first, no one thought much about it. But that crowd never regathered.  The Chicago fire destroyed that city.  Many of them died in their sins without Christ.  Moody was able to rescue and relocate his family but he was never the same. The fire forced him to reevaluate his ministry. 

After 9-11 and then Superstorm Sandy, one would think that most preachers and churches would have reevaluated their ministry to some degree. People died.  Worse, people went to hell. For a while we gave people, canned goods,  wet vacs, blankets and underwear but were people were too busy to consider Divine discipline. Would something like this storm change the spiritual atmosphere of the area. IT DID NOT! It became worse.  

Worship-lights-megachurch-facebookAh, I can see it, Staten Island has its so called Sunday expression, or worship celebration where people in worship centers sing in the dark, with a dance club atmosphere and loud religious pop music (the only thing missing is an open bar). Then a nerd trying to be cool guy gets up  to talk about God. Maybe some of these Staten Island preachers think they are preaching against sin because they speak about the acceptable evangelical hot topics of liberal politics, homosexuality and abortion but they cough and snort because they are allergic to topics such as, alcohol, listening to worldly music, immodest dress, fornication and adultery, going to R rated movies, and ugly tattoos that say John 3:16!  What about preaching about the rapture? They don’t believe that anymore. How about hell? Well, they have redefined it or excluded it not to hurt the feelings of their tithe payers. God’s wrath against sin? Nope. The Staten Island Church is in danger of losing their testimony and Christ threatens such people with removing their candlestick of gospel witness unless they repent. 

It is although they preach God loves everyone “as is” and act as if He never wrote a law against anything they do and everyone goes to heaven by default. 

Staten Islander, and wherever you live I have a question for you: “What if these things taking place today are a sign of God’s judgment?” They belittle or ridicule such a question coming from what they perceive to be legalistic old school thinking wondering, “How dare I ask that question!”  I can hear the protests of leaders on trying to appear theologically well bred, “Why this is the devil, or just the groans of creation or just a weather pattern!”  They are bluffing their people. They don’t know the signs of the times! Their silly, heartless, thoughtless preaching is a worse tragedy than any terrorist act or disaster.  They have lost their fire, their sense of urgency and market their vapid flavorless messages to souls who do not know any better. They do not preach in light of eternity and those that do are made to feel like they are fanatics or unbalanced.  

I realize the Northeast, especially Staten Island is one of the most difficult areas to be called to pastor a church. The evangelical churches on Staten Island are a hodge-podge of people who have been recycled from church to church and they either slow down the work or sometimes are just plain destructive. A growing number of the church people of Staten Island are becoming more fickle, critical, jaded and stupidly rebellious to their own harm. When they become dissatisfied with the Pastor they begin to attempt to discredit him. They refuse to do the will of God and stay put and these wandering stars should repent of this nasty habit. 

These punks scamper to another church cry about how bad it was in their last church and are received into membership in yet another church by some witless pastor desperate for tithes.  Oh I pray Jesus Christ does not say of them, “Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14).

I have news for all of you Staten Islander’s: God will not send revival to Staten Island no matter how many time you quote 2 Chronicles 7:14. The block parties, carnivals and movies won’t do it. It is amazing at the selected scriptures they use without the ones that they should be using the convicted scriptures they show them their error. Since they are so good at quoting scripture to fit their own needs-here is God’s evaluation of the whole matter: “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.”  (Isa 63:10). I can hear all the people say but we live in a time of grace and they starting singing their favorite mantra chorus, “I am a friend of God.” NOT IF YOU DISOBEY HIM!  “If you love me” Jesus said, “you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). You are no friend of Christ if you throw his words out like you have the old hymn books. 

The drug problem, poverty, crime is seen by many pastors as still a social problem. They are too sophisticated to call it a sin problem.  There are some ministers who are like the godfather’s of their area and raise their legs and mark their church people and real estate like feral beasts. They bicker and argue like a bunch of old women fighting over a bench. All the while storms gather and they leave their people unprepared and hell yawns with delight and gathers in the damned souls who are left without Christ.  I never seen Christians with more opportunity to reach the lost, yet they sell out to religious marketing and like Jezebel paint their face to attract its new comers or act like prophets-for-hire like Balaam. Oh repent now! Turn from your sins back to the God of the Christian scriptures. 

Staten Island is in danger. Oh backslidden people return to God! if you don’t Peter says, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Peter 2:21). Who will seek to restore the reputation of God in the eyes of jonah-and-big-fishthe world? What about the unsaved? What about the lost? Oh dear God, multitudes descending into the fires of hell! Staten Island is like Death City! Satan is gaining ground wanting to bring souls to hell with him. The Island is like Nineveh unaware of the spiritual danger in which they are and Jonah has not yet been vomited out of the belly of some Staten Island Ferry to even walk the shores of Satan’s Island.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

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WRESTLING WITH THE DEVIL

Be-Strong-in-the-Lord“So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.” (1 John 3:10). 

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are engaged in spiritual war until the day we die. When I was a young convert I had a dream that has stayed with me to this day. I was wrestling with the devil himself. He was mean, ugly and strong. I wanted to beat him, badly.

I felt pure hatred for this destroyer of souls.

The dream was detailed and in slow motion.

We both ending up choking each other at once. I could feel my arms straining to subdue him and he was not able to choke me. While engaged in this battle I looked up and I saw the handle of a sword in a low cloud cover. It was a pearl handle covered with precious jewels and gold.

I yelled, “I need that.”

At that moment I had to strength to push my enemy a few feet back. I looked up and to my surprise the sword was within my grasp. The devil rushed me and I took the sword and I split him down the middle head to toe. The dream was over and I woke up worshiping the Lord! A short time later I read the passage of scripture that said, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12). God had introduced me to the most powerful weapon in our arsenal -the spoken Word of God.

There is no doubt in my mind we are engaged in a fierce, bloody warfare.  War is fraught with danger. It is no joke. It is no game. It is not a movie or a book. It is real. People live or die in battles. There will be near escapes and exciting adventures. There will be incredible victories and terrible defeats. Some will escape death by the skin of their teeth and others will be casualties.

Spiritual war does not stop because you are a child or senior citizen. It does not stop if you get sick or if you are healthy.  There is no cease fire whether you are rich or poor. He does not care if you are free or you are in prison. It does not matter whether you sit in the pew or stand in the pulpit. It does not matter whether you have served the Lord a few days or many years. It does not care about the color of the skin.  It does not matter whether you are married or single.

In this battle there will be people who are heroes and people who are villains. There will be loyal friends and there will be traitors. There will be honor and there will be disgrace.  There will be medals and there will be courtmartials. There will promotions and there will be executions.

When you became a Christian you changed sides. You find this the day you get saved. There is a grim truth many preachers won’t tell you today, you used to serve the devil (John 8:44). Now your Father is God (Gal. 3:26). With all the flowery, sugary preaching today you would think once you become a Christian everything will be a paradise. It will not. You will be on hell’s hit list. Satan has assigned assassins to sabotage your Christian life. He wants to steal from you, kill you and destroy you.

When you decide you are going to get more serious about God, it is not just consecration but a declaration of war.  As Christ was Satan’s enemy, now YOU are Satan’s enemy. He is determined to discourage and deceive you. That is what Satan does (Rev 12:9).

One thing must be clear: you cannot win this in your own strength. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph. 6:10-11NIV). All you are: your intelligence, verbal skills, physical strength, knowledge and influence are absolutely impotent and useless in spiritual warfare.  God has secured his strength, might and power for us who are his children.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney give credit where credit is due

Preacher in a Basket

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Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” (Acts 9:25). 

Paul was turned persecutor into persecuted. He who was once a terrorist was now a preacher.  Now he was on the other side and very quickly Paul got a taste what it was to be on the run from hostile anti-Christ crowds. At first they must have thought this was just another way to capture the Christians but then after a while they must have realized he was not pretending, especially when the people he was preaching to were getting baptized and converting to the way of the wonderful Nazarene. He was preaching the gospel so powerfully he was confounding the Jews and proving that Jesus was the Messiah. So the Jews at that time decided that he would have to be killed. A governor who was appointed by Aretas an opportunistic ruthless king of that area (so powerful he defeated Herod Antipas’ armies) assigned a garrison, to arrest and kill Paul (2 Cor 11:32-33).

But the followers of Christ in that city decided to lower him out of a window in a basket so he could escape. Much like Moses who escaped by a basket (Ex. 2:3-5) so Paul would escape with his life. It was not easy, it would have to be a big enough basket to lower a man who could have weighed from 150 to 180 pounds without dropping, injuring or killing him. But his life was like that, always in the balance. It would seem he was a preacher in a basket teetering on the brink of life and death every day.

Paul’s resume looked more like an intelligence report from the NSA in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. People thought Paul was insane. He had to bear the weight of responsibility in taking care of churches which most likely gave him many sleepless nights. He lacked clothing, many times he did not have enough food to eat. He was in danger wherever he went.  He was in and out of prison and he was publicly beaten within an inch of his life by lashes and with wooden rods. Who know how many times he almost died. One time he was stoned and they thought he was dead and they dragged his body out of the city (Acts 14:19). He was shipwrecked and floated at sea for a day. He was robbed and almost drowned. He was persecuted by Jews and Gentiles and those who claimed to be Christians and were not. Eventually, according to tradition he would be decapitated for his faith in Rome. Yet he says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24).

What is my point? Here we have Paul writer of fourteen books of the New Testament who lived life on a razors edge. He was seen as a basket case (2 Cor. 5:13) because he saw his ministry as a fearful responsibility and knew the terror of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:11). Who are we to think we are any better than him? Paul’s problems were not random, he caused them! Paul had an energetic passion for Christ fueled by the Holy Spirit and this got him in trouble with the law and religious people more than once. Although he lived in purity, showed understanding, patience and kindness (2 Cor. 6:6-7) he was treated like garbage by the people of his day and he even saw himself as the scum of the earth (1 Cor, 4:13). He was treated like a nobody and some thought he was an impostor. This was the great Paul the Apostle.

Let me ask you a question? Are you gospel scum? Yes, I am serious. Are you greater than your Lord who was defamed and harassed? (Mt 10:23-25). While no one sees being irrational or mentally deranged due to delusion as glorifying to God-does the world system and backslidden church people see you as a basket case for the gospel? Is your desire to minister the gospel so motivating you are treated like garbage and even the enemy of the state? Has Pentecost “cost” you anything except sitting tired, yawning in a church or making a roast for pot luck suppers or having to teach VBS once a year?  You drink booze, dance, watch godless movies and then wonder at your ineffective witness-that is if you care. You commit adultery, divorce and remarry and then parade against the GLBT crowd. Ah we know how to crank out certain issues to get our jack in the box “amens” from the pew forgetting such were some of us! Self-righteous snakes and religious reptiles beware-only those forgiven much love much.

Maybe you are just a “nice” Christian? You are just so agreeable with everything and everyone. You hope people will accept your precious little faith and develop a taste for your lukewarm religion.  You don’t want to offend anyone and although you say you do not compromise the truth (which today means a firmly held opinion not fact) your words and actions reveal that you are a part time salesman and convert to the new discipleship that makes you a pleasant agreeable marketer attempting to populate your CEO’s church (what we used to call a pastor) with more clientele.

The gospel was a threat to all society especially the idols of established religion and false patriotism. The evil world system run so long by the prince of the power of the air Satan, greatest fears were realized with what Paul was preaching: CHRIST THE PROPHET, PRIEST AND KING was and is real and he was and is taking back what belongs to him. While it is noble to get people food, shelter and clothing-is it right that we infect them with a diseased form of Christianity?

The gospel Paul preached is diametrically opposed to the present evil age and the worldly religion of moralism, psychology and the philosophy of lawlessness. Real gospel preaching opposes all sin and anything that attempts to eclipse God’s glory and his way of salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Preaching law offends the lawless. Preaching grace offends the moralist. Gospel preaching is not palatable to the world and what I mean by the world is not the lost and dying in this context but the world system intermixed among so called Christianity and a social, behavioral moral code gospel that is powerless to save.  Can you hear the satanic laughter at the futile efforts of today’s form of Christianity and evil runs amuck in our land, yes our world? Look, boy and girls- cowards never can serve God and are left outside heaven.

Before I close, you say that Paul was a special man? Not everyone is like him. True. Yet I wonder if he was so special why don’t you preach and emulate his teachings in context then? The book of Romans and the book of Acts should be side by side. One is elaborate Christ centered doctrine. One shows you the practical side of faith and what happens when you preach pure doctrine. Christianity is not a cultural experiment-it has already been tried and proven. Abandon, yes, repent with torn hearts of your religious tourism, marketing and souvenirs and just preach Christ (that is if you know him)!

If not, as always, in the foreknowledge and predetermination of God there is no lapse or mistake. Christ our master architect and builder will stand up! He does not give sleep to his eyes as he builds the church and will God will have a people for himself! He has heard the prisoners of sin groan and seen those on spiritual death row heading to hell and if these lukewarm people do not respond to the clear call of the truth-they will end up being castaways! He will raise up a people yet to be created that they may praise the LORD! These will be a people willing in the day of his power, full of the vitality and dew of heavenly youth.

May the Lord fill his basket with many who have the unleavened bread of sincerity in their hearts and feed the world with the bread of life-JESUS!

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due

 

Experienced Soldiers Wanted

The Bible speaks of the, “men of Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty.” (1 Chr. 12:33).

You may have been wondering why Christians, God’s very own children, go through so many difficulties in life. You would think there would be some level of immunity some perks for the Christian. While there are many advantages in being a child of God we are not free from trials and dangers.  I think that is why the Bible has so many battle scenes within its pages. In a way it is a comfort knowing that life has battles, so as Peter says to, “not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12). God’s plan for your life is still on track despite your problems, this is nothing extraordinary or odd.

All these things are taking place to make you an experienced soldier. You have gained skill through practice. Do not think because you have scratches, bruises or wounds that you somehow have failed as a solider. This only is proof that you have been in some battles and you are prepared. We are at war and you are one of God’s seasoned fighters, “an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21).

Christ your General deploys you in his gospel campaigns because you are prepared for battle. All of your trials have been monitored by God (1 Cor 10:13) and are part of a special process to make you more like Christ (Rom. 8:28-30). How can you lose, when Jesus is walking by your side through the mud and grime of the battle field? You are a well armed, intelligent, trained soldier. You are a solider in the army of the Lord God who owns the grid iron of the universe (Ps. 24:1-2). God always has home field advantage and only uses the best on his team,his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Rev. 17:14). 

You are a royal soldier and God has raised you up for his special purposes. That is why the Christian has at his disposal a heavenly arsenal with every type of weapon (Eph. 6:10-18). God gives you his strength to fight, Christ’s mind for strategy, and the Spirit’s illumination to detect your enemies. William Gurnall said, “Humble souls are fearful of their own strength.”  When you know the Lord you cringe from your abilities because they are flesh and have no advantage at all (John 6:63). It is not our human tactics, carnal abilities and worldly talents that win the day! It is humble dependence  on the strength of Jesus Christ that overcomes the world system of evil. Oh that we would open the Bible and treat it as a cache of weaponry designed to foil the enemy at every turn.

You have an undivided loyalty to the royalty of Christ.  Here is where you great strength lies! You do not have an allegiance to this world system and to God’s ways. It is your love for God and more than that his love for you.  Your power and ability is in the covenant Christ has made with you and part of that covenant is giving you the desire and power to do his will (Phil 2:12-13).  We love him because he loved us first (1 John 4:19) AND he directs our hearts into His love (2 Thess. 3:5) AND He pours his love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Christ is our covenant (Isa. 42:6; 49:8) and he is our strength and power and makes our way perfect (Psa. 18:32) because his way was perfect (Heb. 5:9). We have a spirit inspired undivided loyalty through the power of the blood of Jesus, the authority of his spoken Word on our lips and the ability of His Spirit burning in our hearts.

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries, If you share this article just let them know about us and where it came from.

The Armored Brain

“O LORD, I say to you, “You are my God.” Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy. O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle— do not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud.” (Ps 140:6-8).

Cry out to God today in the midst of the fierce battle you fight and and he will answer with his mercy. You and I are the objects of God’s undeserved, unearned mercy. He delights to rescue because you he delights in you (Psa. 18:19).  He loves and He likes you enough to save you and position you for victory in this battle (see 1 Chr. 28:4AV).

There is no doubt that there is a battle for the hearts and minds of men. In fact, this war is within the heart and inside the mind against spiritual and sinful desires and we are never free from this battle until Jesus comes and rescues us from the presence of sin (Gal 5:17).  It is a war of emotion and thought. That is where the bloodiest most vicious attacks of Satan take place. Here the armies of Faith and the reserves of Mercy battle with the massive hordes of hell with their Generals Anxiety, Fear and Doubt.

Yahweh is seen here as literally the God of deliverance or salvation who covers the warriors head.  The battle referred to here is actually the day of armor.  There is no doubt that this Psalm refers to the piece of armor called “the helmet of salvation.” (Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8). It is this salvation “around the head” that gives us our focus on God’s ability to save and gives calm to a once troubled mind.  You have an armored brain. Your head is covered and no weapon formed against you will prosper. Praise God for that! When the mind of the child of God begins to reason and evaluate adverse circumstances with God’s salvation in view- that is when God gives them perfect peace of mind (Isa 26:3). Attempting to work things out in our own strength leads to anxiety, frustration and anger (Ps. 37:1, 8).

Salvation here is the child of God’s soul security despite adverse circumstances. The first thing the devil attacks is that you are loved by God and then he attacks your identity making you doubt that you are a child of God loved by God when things go wrong. The devil is a master deceiver and liar and he hates anyone God likes.

In this passage we also see how important for the child of God to see victory in their life because people who do not know Christ as Savior must see their need of God or they will become proud.  The proud person is one who is so conceited they mock God, and arrogantly make fun of people who have faith in Christ (Prov 21:24). In a world of countless political, social, economic agendas there are winners and losers. There are people in this Psalm that MUST LOSE so that they do not become proud and so that they see their need of God and are converted to Christ! The Christian MUST WIN and cannot accept anything less than victory and when God blesses his children with victory, “Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” (Psa. 40:3NLT).

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries, If you share this article just let them know about us and where it came from. 

Stuck on the Steeple

Recently two men were stuck at a height of 122 feet in a construction bucket which stopped working and lodged against a New Jersey church steeple for hours before they were rescued. These men were working on a restoration project, according to the church’s pastor. Not even the fire department could help them.  As surreal as it seems, the New Jersey State Police dispatched two helicopters to assist those men! After about three hours, the men were taken down by a basket hooked to a crane. The Pastor was thankful and even prayed with those that helped.

I wonder what it would be like to listen to these men tell the story to their friends and family about the day they were stuck on the steeple.

I am not here to blame the pastor for that nightmare, and the breakdown of equipment.  I am not against church repairs. But for the sake of illustration, I wonder about pastors who are more like religious business owners and whose focus is on how tall the “steeple” of the church more than the souls of their people.  There is a sermon  here in fact, it is very possible churches and church goers are stuck on the steeple. I am prompted to advise pastors with the scripture,

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.” (Prov 27:23)

This passage encourages the pastor to know the faces or the state of his sheep, to put his heart into the condition of those that God has entrusted to his care. The pastor has a job to know the condition of the souls of the people he pastors, nothing else is more important. Soul work is hard work and all the work done in a church should flow the condition of people’s hearts.

Pastors today feel the lure of the new models of religious marketing and church growth. That shining serpent beckons to them and promises them freedom from “old religious ways”  and to attract more crowds to church in the name of love and healing. I am concerned that they may have forgotten their true call, to care for their sheep.  I have seen pastors and churches advertise and market programs and go light on preaching. When they do preach, they are sloppy on the gospel.

There is a possibility of involving people so much in “God’s Work” that they get end up in a dangerous situation. In seemingly thriving churches I have seen adultery, drug abuse and financial controversy. How could this happen? They are stuck on the steeple. Pastors may be putting people  in danger, because their agenda has become their gospel.  We shuld love helping the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry we should do it without a second thought but these things are NOT the gospel. Man cannot live on bread alone. Full stomachs can result in anorexic souls.

I have been part of churches where Sunday after Sunday they push small groups, leadership programs, denominational conferences so much that it becomes forced. It is like an arranged marriage to an ugly partner. The religious peer pressure kicks in and you either get left out or singled out.

The bottom line is not the project it is the condition of people souls! Their souls are more important than any agenda you may have. Is what you are doing, contributing to a dangerous situation for them spiritually?

Many of these pastors seem promote membership and Churchianity.  They preach with passion the importance of attendance and faithful tithing. If only they would preach the cross and exposit scripture with such fire! They quote Hebrews 10:25 and have the nerve to shake their finger at people for neglecting the fellowship. But I wonder, what is the sense of going to church when they nauseatingly preach a man centered message to a gospel hardened people?

I have heard messages that were not messages at all. I have heard pastors talking about sex until it bordered on soft porn. I have hjerad them use vulgarity when preaching. I have heard them preach on finances until you felt like you were going to work and they were about to sell you a new 401k plan. They act like stand up comedians who use the Bible as a punchline. Many look like slobs and act like slobs. They will show movies, plays and concerts in place of what used to be Sunday morning worship. This is a bad dream and “Ouch!” that pinch hurts when you realise you are wide awake.  It breaks my heart. When you confront these things all you hear from these same people is that you are “religious” “judgmental” or pharasaical! That gets old fast mainly because it is so unoriginal.

How many more churches and preachers must be exposed for their malpractice until they repent!  Some men see people problem and clear themselves of the blame saying it is this or that person’s fault. But they say that are praying for them. Oh you will pray for them? Ah, to little too late. 

Recently, the Michael Jackson wrongful death case was blazed in the media. Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty.  He gave drugs to this troubled man who was depressed, full of anxiety and despite all his success and charity was empty inside. The man that should have helped him heal, created the perfect storm in his body and killed him. We do not know all the wherewithal about this case still, but we know that a Doctor who was supposed to keep an oath to care for the welfare of his patient literally gave him the drip of death. We are aghast at this! Yet how much more those who give the drip of death to the soul.

You are being charged with malpractice by the Surgeon General of Souls! If you continue to go against the scripture or only use scripture as a garnish for the toxic candy you serve people God will remove your license to practice. The salt is in danger of losing its savor. Repent now, help those people stuck on the steeple you have made!

Imagine your people stranded to the point where the world has to come in and “rescue” them. We surrender our problematic people and flock to the programs of men, their philosophy, their psychology and counsel. We exalt the counsel of the wicked to help them and because we have laid aside God’s Word, his true grace, true love and true forgiveness. The repair of their souls cannot be found in the hands of those like Absalom who kiss them and steal their hearts from the Lord. People who call themselves Christians live dangerously close to the world and not for the gospel. I watch them dabble in all sorts of witchcraft, violence, idolatry of all kinds and I wonder what are they hearing in church? Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?

Stop using the pulpit for idiocy! You are endangering the souls of your people! Stop being an activities director, a marriage counselor or financial guru and start looking at the faces of your flock. Look at them burned out on the steeple, forced  to work in man-made vineyard and yet neglecting their own spiritual vintage. Start preaching and ministering to their hearts.  Look at your people, they are miserable, on the verge of spiritual collapse stuck on the steeple you sent them to repair. They trusted you as their pastor and you are more like a taskmaster.  Repent now, your candlestick is in danger of being removed!  Look to God’s Word for your guidance. He will show you the path and he will make it clear how to minister to your people. He loves them. He will rescue them. Let God’s glory and their spiritual welfare be your goal. Let God speak to them through you by his Word, and he will rescue them from being stuck on the steeple.

God is sending help to rescue these people from these taskmasters and their steeples. Just like in the Garden of Eden he will expose these lies for what they are and all your fig leaf suits and hiding behind your Bible won’t stop his presence from exposing it!

 (c) 2011 Soul Health Care Ministries, If you share this article just let them know about us and where it came from.

The Lord Has Made Me Empty

“I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? ” (Ruth 1:21).

FEW  of us have had to suffer such loss and trial like that of our friend Naomi. These are the words of an afflicted soul, a soul who like Job has suffered and has nothing left.  She went out a wife and a mother and she comes home a widow and childless. She went out pleasant and came back bitter.  The trials came in waves and billows and just would  not give her a chance to stop and breathe. What is worse are all the questions. You are a child of God, you love Christ, but where is the favor of God? Where is His mercy? Where are the tokens of his love?

It is not the trial, so much, it is over. It is time to pick up the collateral damage and pieces of a broken life. As she does it, she finds unsatiable emptiness.  She is empty. There are some even now, where you feel just like her, there is nothing left that brings a sense of relief. There is no spark of joy and your body is sickly and weak. She has reached the point where life has lost it’s meaning.  She feels like a failure. All she knows to do is go home. 

Do not be too harsh upon our sister Naomi. Pain is a language all its own and sometimes we should learn to be fluent in it. Doctors would give pain killers to anyone who was in extreme physical pain, but what numbs the pain of the heart, the agony of the soul and mind? We should be patient with those who are going through difficult times and are at the point of giving up. 

What a crushing blow this was but it is THE LORD that brought her home empty. God is in charge. She can deal with that, but now she is empty. Empty!  Oh my friends have you felt this recently?  Has everything exploded and then imploded. The tears won’t stop.  You are around people, but you feel isolated. You are angry that no one helps. When you are alone, you wonder where everyone has gone? The joy has gone out of life. I grieve with you! Everything reads “E” -whether it is your job, family, church and health and you are empty.

“Naomi heard that, “the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.” (Ruth 1:6). She was hungry. She was not just hungry but starving. When this happens there is sense of powerlessness to control circumstances and we desperately try to put a lid on Pandora’s box. This may annoy and even anger some of you: but the emptiness has been placed there by THE LORD! It is that hunger that drives you even now back to Christ. This does not mean that you have backslid, but everyday we must be reminded that Christ is our sole resource and so need drives us to him! You are empty for a reason. It is in your makeup, after you are born again that you become a person that only God can satisfy! This explains this disappointment, heartbreak and misery! You soul is parched and dry and your stomach is full of pain for God alone!

You think this trial will never end?  The old Puritan Richard Sibbes says, “Is it not an unreasonable speech for a man at midnight to say, “It will never be day?” So it is an unreasonable thing for a man that is in trouble to say, “O Lord, I shall never get free of this; it will always be thus with me.” Glory follows afflictions, not as the day follows the night but as the spring follows the winter; for the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.” No afflicton is without purpose and trusting that God has “sanctifed to us our deepest distress” meaning that once the trial is over and it will end, the song you will sing is,

“If God should let me there review the winding paths of earth I knew, it would be proven clear and true : “Jesus led me all the way. “Jesus led me all the way, led me step by step each day. I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down, “Jesus led me all the way.”

Naomi began to move in the direction of the city of Bethlehem or Beyth Lechem which is called “the house of bread or food.” Is not your heart deeply touched by this idea? Naomi who calls herself Mara or “bitter” and feels the chastisement of the Lord has come home empty and yet He already has provided a way to secure her future and family by learning that she can be fed in the house of bread! Ah yes, dear Christian there is a place where God feeds his own precious people, even when there is famine all around us, God says, “there will I nourish thee.” (Gen. 45:11).

I am sure you realize that Elimelech and Naomi had no business living in a pagan country and allowing her sons to marry pagan wives.   Let me say for the record: those who have failed and those who see those that have failed returning to the Lord and the church: let the past go! Tragedy is not as bad as the bad advice and criticism of fellow Christians. We should see others and be warned and merciful for as Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Cor 15: 10).

It was written that, “…All the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?” And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:19-20). As strange as this may sound there is nothing more precious than a person who has returned fresh from God’s chastising hand. Call her pleasant, she feels bitter right now but call her pleasant. Weep with them, mourn with them as if it were your own sins and trouble for you shall see them restored for God’s glory and all our benefits! While it is true that she and her family at one time, “despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word.” (Ps. 106:24). She will be full once again and her sweetness will return! She will see her lines fall in pleasant places (Ps 16: 6).

I beg you, treat these wandering sheep as if they never left, for in God’s heart he has placed a hook in their jaw (Ezek. 38:4) and hedged up their way with thorns (Hosea 2:6) and he has detoured them from the troughs of the pigs (Luke 15:5) back home to be treated sons and daughters! God promises that in “returning and rest shall ye be saved” (Isa. 30:15) meaning they show evidence that they belong to God in coming back. They have had it with trusting the world and now they rest at home where they belong in God’s care. Let us with God give them the ring of honor and robe of fellowship and receive them as Christ has to the glory of God.

Hear his promise today! “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jer. 31:25).  That is good news to some reading today and yes, God does speak through his written Word in our time! Let your emptiness drive you home to your Father who awaits and will rush to your rescue and help, as a Father who loves his most precious child. He who made you empty, will fill you with  fulness of joy.

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care

 All material may be reproduced and distributed for edification, just leave a note that it was our article, please.

Come O Thou Traveler Unknown

This is an old hymn By Charles Wesley. I have never read lyrics like this-SG

Come, O thou Traveler unknown, whom still I hold, but cannot see! My company before is gone, and I am left alone with Thee; With Thee all night I mean to stay, and wrestle till the break of day. I need not tell Thee who I am, My misery and sin declare; Thyself hast called me by my name, Look on Thy hands, and read it there; But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou? Tell me Thy name, and tell me now. In vain Thou strugglest to get free; I never will unloose my hold! Art Thou the Man that died for me? The secret of Thy love unfold; Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal Thy new, unutterable Name? Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell; To know it now resolved I am; Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know. ’Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue Or touch the hollow of my thigh; Though every sinew be unstrung, Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly; Wrestling I will not let Thee go Till I Thy name, Thy nature know. What though my shrinking flesh complain, And murmur to contend so long? I rise superior to my pain, When I am weak, then I am strong and when my all of strength shall fail, I shall with the God-man prevail.

My strength is gone, my nature dies, I sink beneath Thy weighty hand, Faint to revive, and fall to rise; I fall, and yet by faith I stand ;I stand and will not let Thee go Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know. Yield to me now, for I am weak, But confident in self-despair; Speak to my heart, in blessings speak, be conquered by my instant prayer; Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, And tell me if Thy Name is Love. Tis Love! ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me! I hear Thy whisper in my heart; The morning breaks, the shadows flee, Pure, universal love Thou art; To me, to all, Thy bowels move; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love. My prayer hath power with God; the grace Unspeakable I now receive; Through faith I see Thee face to face, I see Thee face to face, and live! In vain I have not wept and strove; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

 I know Thee, Savior, who Thou art. Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend; Nor wilt Thou with the night depart. But stay and love me to the end, Thy mercies never shall remove; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love. The Sun of righteousness on me Hath rose with healing in His wings, Withered my nature’s strength; from Thee My soul its life and succor brings; my help is all laid up above; Thy nature and Thy Name is Love. Contented now upon my thigh I halt, till life’s short journey end; All helplessness, all weakness I  On Thee alone for strength depend; Nor have I power from Thee to move: Thy nature, and Thy name is Love. Lame as I am, I take the prey, Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome; I leap for joy, pursue my way, and as a bounding hart fly home, through all eternity to prove Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Walk with Me in the Dark!

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”  (James 5:10-11).  God is calling us to endure, to be patient, to believe him when there are no explanations and no resources to save ourselves from our trials.  To trust him in the times of affliction, loneliness and pain.  When our bodies are in weakness, our reputation is attacked and we suffer personal losses-this is when we learn to walk with Him in the dark.  Isaiah asks, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isa. 50: 10). Who will be faithful to God, lean upon God alone for support and walk with him in the dark?

Where are those who will acclimate their “eyes of faith” while in the dark? Remember God’s friend Abraham? He walked with God in the dark.  He had no light at all for many years in his life. He was as good as dead (Heb. 11:12) and his wife was childless (Rom 4:19). In himself  he could produce nothing, only failure at best and futility at worst.  In the midnight of his life,  it was THEN that God spoke, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, ‘So shall thy seed be.’ ”  (Gen 15:5).  These are the stars of God’s promises to him. He could not see them unless he was in the dark.  The more he was in the dark, the more he stared at heaven, the more stars he could see!  It was when a horror of darkness (Gen. 15:12) gripped him he saw God’s faithfulness, pledge and oath and covenant in Christ!  Do not despise the eye-opening chastening of the Lord!  The eyes of your hearts will see and understand the promises of the scriptures like,  “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (see Eph 1:17-18; 1 Pet 1:19-20).

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and learned what it was to, “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; darkness of the pit.” (Psa. 107: 10). The Bible says, “whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron. Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psa. 105: 18-19).  Ah how so many hear God’s promises and acknowledge they are true but do not want the word of the Lord to test and refine them. But when we bottom out in some crater of betrayal or we feel shackled and unable to move in our circumstances-it is then, like Joseph, our eyes become more accustomed, more sensitive to light as we are in the dark. The longer the period of darkness, the more stars one can see. The promises of God that seemed dim and distant now take on a brighter magnitude and become “exceeding great and precious!” (2 Peter 1:4). Do not worry night will not last forever. Richard Sibbes asks, “Is it not an unreasonable speech for a man at midnight to say, “It will never be day?” So it is an unreasonable thing for a man that is in trouble to say, “O Lord, I shall never get free of this; it will always be thus with me.”

In the dark our desire steadily becomes focused on Christ rather than deliverance.  What was blurred becomes plain as day as we embrace Christ our light and our salvation (Psa. 27:1-2).   This is where we must be like Moses for “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb 11: 27).  Moses for so many years was unseen by men, and known only to God. Is this such a grievous thing to you dear child of God, to be unknown, or even despised by men?   The Bible says, “He made darkness his secret place.” (Psa. 18:11). Do you understand this? The dark can be better, and to him that ears to hear, we learn much in the darkness of obscurity as God hides us in the thick cloud of his presence.  God is in the darkness and he obscures the godly whom he has set apart for himself (Psa. 4:3).  What is the temporary pleasures of the sinful world and its short lived fame to the child of God who would rather, “suffer affliction with the people of God…esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches?” (Heb. 11:25-26).   Even if a thick darkness rests upon the entire earth, God’s glorious light will be seen upon us (Isa 60:2). We walk in the light of God’s fellowship always, despite our dark trials (1 John 1:5-7). Scripture testifies, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Ps 84:11).

Job described his trials in terms like, “he hath set darkness in my paths.” (19:8).  Paraphrasing Job 17 he was just resolved to die. That is real pain my friends, where death is preferable to life even in the heart of an elect child of God.  Everything went wrong, “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.” (30:26).  Darkness! He had lost all hope, his plans were smashed and his heart was broken. His only comfort was a well-built coffin so at least when he dies he could have a family reunion with the children he has lost. The picture of his friendship with God was like the old negatives of photos that when developed in the darkroom the result is the beautiful color pictures. It seemed like all was darkness around him, so many trials, it seemed so negative and yet we see in the end the picture developed into  bright colors of God’s mercy and tenderness the whole time.  Job’s help was only coming from God. He must learn what God had to teach him in the darkroom of the soul. He walked with God in the dark. Now there are times, when for some unexplained reasons we will look for Christ and find he has withdrawn himself and the sense of his presence is not there. You call to him in prayer and he does not seem like he is there (Song 5:6). We begin to seek him in the dark times, not relying on feelings, circumstance, opinion or any resource of the flesh and will we will not rest and until we have found him and restrain him (Song 3:1-5). We must apprehend him who has apprehended us! (Phil. 3:12).

The darkness makes us concentrate on where we are going. Your focus is not on peripheral things, it is paying attention on making progress and maturing spiritually and not tripping in weakness. God has ordained both light and darkness (Gen 1:4). The darkness and light are alike to him (Ps 139:12).  He employs both in his plans. In the dark we must rely on God’s Word which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:1-5) and not be blinded by the good times when we are tempted to rely less on God.  Seeking Jesus Christ must be our priority. He is the author and editor of our faith, including the affliction of trial and relief of the trial where patience has her perfect work in our hearts so that we are growing spiritually (James 1:4).  In the dark we read God’s promises by the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching and to ponder his words, set our attention upon it, let his words supply our life, health and resource! The Bible promises, “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Prov 6:22-23). This sorrow you are experiencing carries a special blessing! The gift of tears comes with the promises of the God of every comfort.  Our hearts become strengthened as we wait upon God alone (Ps 27:14).  He who works in darkness and mystery has a given you his heart in a friendship sweeter than anyone can describe. The half has not yet been told! This is when God will bless you. In the dark times, when it does not matter if you see help or hinderance, friend nor foe, angel nor devil! All that matters is when you can see God and his promises and then walk with Him in the dark.

© 2011 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

All material may be reproduced and distributed for edification, just leave a note that it was our article, please.

Depth of Mercy

Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me? Can my God His wrath forbear, Me, the chief of sinners, spare? 

I have long withstood His grace, Long provoked Him to His face, Would not hearken to His calls, Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

I have spilt His precious blood, Trampled on the Son of God, Filled with pangs unspeakable, I, who yet am not in hell!

I my Master have denied, I afresh have crucified, And profaned His hallowed Name, Put Him to an open shame.

Whence to me this waste of love? Ask my Advocate above! See the cause in Jesus’ face, Now before the throne of grace.

Jesus, answer from above, Is not all Thy nature love? Wilt Thou not the wrong forget, Permit me to kiss Thy feet?

If I rightly read Thy heart, If Thou all compassion art, Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow, Pardon and accept me now.

Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood! He disarms the wrath of God; Now my Father’s mercies move, Justice lingers into love.

Kindled His relentings are, Me He now delights to spare, Cries, “How shall I give thee up?” Lets the lifted thunder drop.

Lo! I still walk on the ground: Lo! an Advocate is found: “Hasten not to cut Him down, Let this barren soul alone.”

There for me the Savior stands, Shows His wounds and spreads His hands. God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Pity from Thine eye let fall, By a look my soul recall; Now the stone to flesh convert, Cast a look, and break my heart.

Now incline me to repent, Let me now my sins lament, Now my foul revolt deplore, weep, believe, and sin no more.