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

Lying Prophets and False Teachers

How-Long-Will-You-Waiver“The earth groans to bear such wicked men, and hell is fitted for them…one day divine justice will hang them up in hell as the greatest malefactors, unless the physician of souls graciously delivers them.” (Thomas Brooks)

They may have started out as men of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). 

This is the saddest part of these false teachers and false prophets. They were once gifted, on fire for God, used greatly by the Holy Spirit but now have subtly cooled off in lukewarmness, “mellowed with age” that is, this present evil age (Gal 1:4) and have conceded on many issues that go against scripture. They have known the right way, they may have been or seemed to be true gospel preachers but then they start copying and imitating the ways of the world. They are backsliders in heart (Prov. 14:14) and have an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (Heb. 3: 12). It is my hope that God will break their hearts in repentance and then heal their backsliding as a testimony to God’s restoring grace.

They are agents of Satan masquerading as ministers (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Notice how Satan masqueradesangel himself as light, illumination or new understanding! These false teachers wormed their way in, slipped in unnoticed into churches and gained popularity (Jude 1:4). They pretend to be something they are not and they have no life and blessing to give others, “they follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.” (Jude 1:19). They advertise themselves and their ministry as liberating, animated, imaginative, vibrant and attractive but they are repackaged stale product-unstable, disappointing, lifeless and full of sin (Jude 12-13). These false teachers, people who were never really Christians only pretended to be and “went out from us, but they were not really of us.”  (1 John 2:19).

gal 110They are men-pleasers (John 12:43).

This is the most distinguishing mark of a false teacher. They do not care about people’s souls just how much people like what they hear (Isa. 30:10). They are religious marketers who preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart and the end up as Thomas Brooks says, “soul poisoners” (Jer. 23:16, 17).  They make lies so attractive, like an unfaithful wife who kills her husband with sweet desserts laced with poison so she may commit adultery with another man whom she will poison as well. People who do not love Jesus love themselves and their deranged religious fantasies. They work overtime to convince people they are right and they care more about people liking them rather than offending them with truth because they care about their souls. In the end, this is no better than desiring people  to worship them, just like the devil.

They distract Christians from obeying the truth of the gospel (Gal. 5: 7).

Running in a race was an illustration of obedience. But false teachers came in and distracted them and cut them off.331938156_640 With all the false grace teaching today people are being told they don’t need to confess their sins, repent and worry about obeying God, “saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (Jude 1:4). The gospel gave us life, the ability to run in freedom from slavery to sin and to please God.  They sell and market the vomit of their own idolatrous minds and hearts (Jeremiah 14:14; 23:16) and create division and distraction from Christ and God’s glory.

They are wealthy or preach about financial wealth being a major part of God’s blessing (1 Tim. 6:5).

They are so greedy that will make up lies to pick pocket people under their ministry (2 Peter 2:3). “False teachers are the great worshipers of the golden calf.” (Jer. bewareofpickpockets6: 13). They are shepherds who feed themselves! (Jude 1:12). These false teachers have an agenda of their own. They make churches into businesses that sell their books and videos and make people think that is how they obey God by supporting them. They preach an ideal life-the new legalism based on self-esteem that will get you the best spouse, position, health and wealth. Of course, they must exemplify this is gathering as much wealth for themselves. But like the rich man who did not even give scraps to Lazarus they will bake in the heat of hell always thirsty and full of regret.

More later on how to be rescued from the dangers of deception and false teaching.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

CHARGED WITH GUILT

download (11)I will be merciful when they fail, and I will erase their sins and wicked acts out of My memory as though they had never existed.” (Heb. 8:12 The Voice).

As I have said, I prayed a lot. I read the scripture a lot. God was answering my prayers. But I still struggled with terrible guilt and remorse for breaking God’s laws. I knew of God’s forgiveness but in my own mind and conscience I saw myself as doing so many things wrong and making so many mistakes and if I did not confess them God would not answer my prayers and not fellowship with me.  At that time I also believed I could lose my salvation. I knew this would happen if I continued in unconfessed sin but I lived as if it was just one sin. So I based God’s forgiveness on my incessant confession of sins.

I was told keep “short accounts” with God, to repent right away and I was good at that. This made me believe God was cataloging my sins against me and that he would refuse to listen to me unless I confessed each one. I heard much about, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.”  (Psa. 66:18) and especially, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…” (James 4:3). While I was taught there was a difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit (showing you some sin) and the condemnation of the devil (accusing you of past sin) I confused this two unknowingly.

As ridiculous as it sounds I remember going to church to pray one time and I crossed the street when it said, “Do not Cross” I felt I broke the law and wondered if I should go to the police station to confess my crime. I was haunted by guilt despite the fact God was blessing me and using me to win others to him through the gospel. I was melting under the white hot flames of I what I perceived as God’s holiness and righteousness. My mind was charged with guilt.

I wanted God to hear my prayers so badly. I needed him to answer me because I believed the souls of people to whom I was preaching were depending on my prayers. This was good and bad. It was good because I think people diminish the quintessential aspect of prayer as the agency through which God works in this world. But it was bad because somehow I thought I had to earn God’s favor through praying a certain amount of time or expending much energy in prayer.

I was sincere. A friend of mine heard me stop worshiping during a service and I thought I might be attracting too much attention to myself (I was not).  So I would say to God, “Lord I don’t want to be a Pharisee and worship you to be seen of men.” My friend Kevin standing next to me must have overheard me and after worship patted me on the back and said, “Steve you are a good man.” But guilt had caged my heart and it was frustrating. It was draining my prayers of life and joy until it was hard to pray. I would have to worship 45 minutes before I could pray.

I felt condemned by the criticism of the elders and pastor. Someone from the Port Authority called the church and told them we needed a permit to pass out literature. We were handing out tracts near the train station with a Christian man we just met from the navy.  It was exciting. It was the first time I ever passed out tracts publicly (brief literature about the Bible and Jesus). The tracts had our churches name on it and so they called the church. The pastor bawled us out!  I cried. It was confusing. I was knowledgeable, I prayed, but after all I was just fifteen. I was a fiery young convert and I had a blazing fire in me that they could have turned into a focused laser, making me more effective but they did not.

In fact, when the Pastor asked my brother where I was one time, Mike said, “He is praying in the sanctuary.”

The pastor replied, “What a nerd!”

Another time my knees would hurt from praying so I brought a sleeping bag for a cushion. While praying, I heard the back door unlock and it was dark in the sanctuary and  an elder  came in. He never came before this time for prayer, so I was happy to see him but then he accused me of sleeping in the church and told me about the sleeping Levites, a story from the Talmud not even the scripture! If they slept on duty their clothes were burned (they used their overcoats for a cushion) and they were left naked. Here I was praying and I never saw this elder come once to prayer. I was amazed at his insensitivity. I wish just once, just once, a brother, a Pastor, or an elder just would have put their arm around me and explained to me the things of God, or encouraged me and trained me in love. I know God used the negative experience in my life to harden me against the opinion of man, but no one wanted to take the time just to say, “Brother Steve, I think I can help you with this.”

The Lord’s Supper made me afraid because of the possibility of partaking unworthily. What did scripture mean, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”  (1 Cor 11:29)? We were given a moment of silence to examine ourselves and see unconfessed sin or not being right in relationships and then partake. I loved taking the Lord’s supper-why did it seem people portrayed God as keeping me at arms length when I was his disciple.  No one ever explained it or they did not do it well.  Once again, it seemed that people were misinforming me that Christ died to make me feel guilt for how rotten as sinner I was rather than removing my guilt.

All my experiences up to this point, salvation, baptism in water and the Spirit contradicted these feelings of guilt, but my mind was being held captive in a constant maze of attempting to unburden myself of guilt.  I would attempt to show the Lord my sincerity by weeping or yelling to let him know I meant my repentance but it was more like penance. I was back in the state of mind that I was when I was a Roman Catholic! I was still afraid I might go to hell if I did things wrong. The message of God’s love was not a topic for me, it was a lifeline that I desperately needed and was being strangled by a sense of being rejected by him. My life was charged with guilt and I was living in misery even though I was saved.

To be continued…

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

GOD AND GOD’S BROTHER

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

After the night of the tent meeting, when I was baptized with the Holy Spirit, something changed in me, it was what I called holy boldness. I was a quiet kid and the Holy Spirit gave me a lion like quality when I talked about Jesus. I was gaining more confidence in God’s Word and was studying and learning that as a believer God sent me to preach the gospel, heal the sick and evict devils.

When I went back to school the nutty kids were all making out-kissing near the lockers all the way down the hall to my homeroom it was like they were having an orgy with their clothes on. Drugs were for sale on the side of the school and the type drug was signified by the color bandanna the dealer was wearing. I remember feeling angry and sad at the condition of my friends whom I saw as living on the precipice of hell and did not know it. 

Although the occult has more influence now than ever, I did not realize the influence of witchcraft over teenagers and teachers even back in the 80’s. I remembered a substitute teacher who could hold articles of clothing or jewelry and employed a spirit of divination or clairvoyance. Somehow toward the middle of class they got on the subject. He was telling their fortunes with great accuracy. I was indignant in the Spirit.

He was holding someones ring and about to use his demons powers when under my breath I kept repeating, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” 

He said, “I don’t know why but for some reason I cannot tell you anything.” I quietly praised God. I learned that day by experience that I had authority over demons.

You have to remember I was a young convert and I was still new at conveying the gospel. I remember one girl, who smoked incessantly arguing with me, saying she did not believe in God. I was shocked and not sure how to answer her.

So, I pointed at her pack of cigarettes and said, “There’s your god.”

She was surprised at my response and said, “You’re right.” 

Well at least she was going to think about quitting smoking.

I was witnessing to everyone at arm’s length. So was my brother. We attended different classes but we had one thing in common we had had rooms with satanists in them. They even brought their satanic bible with them to school written by Anton LaVey. You can’t even get the wimpy Christian kids to bring their Bible to school today. They loved listening to anything they saw as satanic like Iron Maiden or Ozzie Osbourn.

I remember that they would see us and say things like, “Praise Satan!” and we would respond “Praise God!”

Sometimes they would see us and snicker saying, “There goes God and God’s brother.”

Or they would call us, “The Jesus Brother’s”

Man, I felt like Elijah on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal and Asherah all around us.

One time the Satanist head honcho came into my home room and he had his satanic literature with him. A kid named Scott was in my homeroom and he was being influenced by him. They were wondering if I was afraid of their devil bible and was scared of touching it-I was not. I took it and paged through it non nonchalantly. Then as I handed the it back to them I looked at them and said, “The highest reward Satan can give you is hell.”

Scott was freaked out and said to the devil worshiper, “Man, I don’t wanna go to no hell.” God had his way. Sometime after graduation, I led Scott to the Lord in front of a church I was visiting. It was exhilarating.

We would do all kinds of things to get the gospel message out. We would buy Chick Tracts and one time I “accidentally” dumped them on a table with kids sitting in the library.

They were like, “What are these?

I said, “Cartoons about the Bible and Jesus.”

Many of the kids took them and read them. Some were asking for more each day I saw them. I heard that one kid took bunch of them and read them in his basement all day. I was getting excited. I saw this as sowing the seed of the Word.

My science teacher passed by my desk one day and saw the symbols for Alpha and Omega written on my jean loose leaf cover and said playfully, “Gibney, you’re weird.”

One time another science teacher was teaching and to make her point she said, “Hey, this is gospel truth, just ask Gibney!” God had allowed my testimony to reach the teachers. Even my homeroom teacher called my family at home one night and was wondering why were were so “into Jesus.”

Health Class was interesting.  I boldly protested unbiblical teaching. The kids thought I was crazy or a fanatic. One time we had to do oral reports. I decided to do mine on depression. You should have seen the look on their faces and their disgruntled sighing when I said, “Now the only solution to depression is Jesus Christ.” They had to listen to the gospel in class and they could not do anything about it and I knew it.  Later on the teacher got saved.

One of those kids saw me on the bus and called me a Jesus freak. 

I touted back, “God doesn’t turn people into freaks he turns freaks into people.”

He was stunned and left stuttering. Hey man, don’t rumble with the gospel.

I remember one kid who they used to call “Peach Fuzz.” He was short and well he was very blonde. He would debate with me about evolution, prophecy and Jesus all the time. I felt he was hopeless and like I was beating my head against the wall. 

Then one day he stops me in the library and says, “Stephen, I believe I am born again!” I was shocked.

He said, “After you would talk all I could think about was God and the devil. Creation versus evolution. Heaven and hell.” I would go back to my classes and go home and it is all I could think about.”

He told me he got hold of a Bible and as he opened it in bed one night, God opened his heart to Christ. I was amazed and thrilled and learned not to judge by people outward rejection to the gospel. the Holy Spirit could be working on them and we not know it. I learned to tell people, “After we are done talking, my friend the Holy Spirit will be showing you the truth and you cannot hide from him.”

I had opportunity to witness and lead people to the Lord. God was on the move in my school.

Soon, God was going to get the entire schools attention. But he first he was going to teach me some things.

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

THE GOSPEL CAN BREAK THE SATANIC BLOCKADE

gospel_unleashed“Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thess 2:18).

In this verse you see the apostle Paul himself was hindered from being able to minister to the the saints for a period of time. He literally says that Satan cut in front of him impeding the ministry of the gospel. Satan will stop at nothing when it comes to hindering the message of the gospel. Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:3-4) and he takes them captive at his will (2 Tim. 2:26).  Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can break open the prison cells of those captive to sin and remove the darkness of their hearts by its all-powerful light. The gospel has power in and of itself; Paul calls it, “the power of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1: 16).

Satan is an enemy of Jesus Christ and anyone who serves him and many Christians today are being hindered by the devil especially those in ministry. The obstacles for unbelievers is one thing but hindrance of believers in Jesus is a much longer list. Today, divisions in churches, distractions of this world and depression of the emotions block the furtherance of the gospel. I also believe the gospel is being hindered because people are getting “spiritual” feeding from false ministers who have distorted the gospel rather than the personal study of the Bible under the illumination of the Holy Spirit (Gal 1). The gospel is an awesome power against the forces of darkness. Many people look at the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 as something for personal protection but they forget that the armor has shoes that are called “the gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:15). So what we stand upon; what we move in, what we walk in, what we run in-is the gospel.  This understanding gives great clarity to our mission. Everything we live for is Christ and his gospel. As I’ve said before to others it’s time for us to use the weaponized version of the Bible (Heb. 4:12). This means to unleash the gospel in all its force and full strength by speaking clearly and forcefully the truths of the gospel and letting the Holy Spirit have his way.

I believe that The Lord whispered in my heart a few weeks back something to the effect that if we are going to stop the tide of evil that is sweeping across this land we are going to have to have the attitude “All for the gospel. All for Christ.” Only those that have surrendered to the gospel can call for the surrender of others to the gospel. And no doubt the gospel is an unconditional surrender of the sinner to the demands of the gospel.

Our strength, our fortunes, our very lives must be offered as a sweet smelling savor in sacrifice in order for the gospel to take its full affect. There is no other way. You don’t have to read the Bible for long to see that the men and women of the first century church were deeply and radically committed to Christ. The apostle Paul had a motto, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  (Phil 1:21).  And I say, it is impossible for the gospel to be spread without a complete and total willingness to give everything for the gospel by every individual who calls himself a Christian.

The gospel is not just an idea but it is the idea of God. It is the genius of God that seems like foolishness to the world (1 Cor.  1:18, 25). There is nothing that can be compared to the gospel. The reason for the rise of Islam in the world today is because of the reasons that I’ve stated above. If the plain gospel is not preached it is giving Satan liberty and license by both spiritual and natural enemies to terrorize the world.  Satan is a master at religion.

The Bible says he has his own ministers he even has his own churches. They appear to be Christian but they are not (2 Cor. 11:13-14). One man said years ago the one thing that’s worse than a world without the knowledge of God is a world with a perverted knowledge of God. We cannot defeat the foes of the gospel through the methodologies of man. It is ridiculous at best and satanic at worst! When Peter thought like men think he was called Satan (Mt 16:23). Jesus would say no less of those who garble and mangle the preaching of scripture and the gospel. This world system dominated by sin and Satan are much too powerful and only the Son of God could defeat them when he died on the cross and rose from the grave.  We cannot lay claim to his promise, “I have overcome the world.” if we do not preach the gospel (John 16:33).  We will be hindered and miserably defeated. May God help us today.

GOD’S REAL MINISTERS MAY BE IN HIDING

elijahravens“Next to the bestowment of His Word and the Holy Spirit… the most valuable gift He grants any people is the sending of His own qualified servants among them,

And that the greatest possible calamity which can befall any land is God’s withdrawal of those whom He appoints to minister unto the soul.

The removal of the ministers of His truth is a sure sign of God’s displeasure, a token that He is dealing in judgment with a people who have provoked Him to anger.

Ah, my reader, little as it may be realized in our day, there is no surer and more solemn proof that God is hiding His face from a people or nation than for Him to deprive them of the inestimable blessings of those who faithfully minister His Holy Word to them, for as far as heavenly mercies excel earthly so much more dreadful are spiritual calamities than material ones.

Through Moses the Lord had declared, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass,” (Deut. 32:2).

And now all dew and rain was to be withheld from Ahab’s land, not only literally so, but spiritually so as well. Those who ministered His Word were removed from the scene of public action, (cf. 1 Kings 18:4).

If further proof of the Scripturalness of our interpretation of 1 Kings 17:3 be required, we refer the reader to: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers,” (Isa. 30:20).

What could be plainer than that?

For the Lord to remove His teachers into a corner was the sorest loss His people could suffer, for here He tells them that His wrath shall be tempered with mercy, that though He gave them the bread of adversity and the water of affliction yet He would not again deprive them of those who ministered unto their souls.

Finally, we would remind the reader of Christ’s statement that there was “great famine” in the land in Elijah’s time, Luke 4:25, and link up with the same: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11, 12).” (Arthur Pink)

FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES

imagesThen I said, ‘I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.” But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9). 

A fire has been burning deep within the earth and anthracite coal fields of what used to be a small community called Centralia, Pennsylvania since May 27, 1962.  The temperature exceeds 1000°F and emits poisonous gas. There has been no success in extinguishing the fire and eventually the whole town was evacuated in 2012. At this rate the fire will burn in the earth for another 250 years. This is quite a phenomena.

It is like what we see in this passage.  Jeremiah does not want to preach anymore. He feels like a failure and no one is listening. One man said that Jeremiah is suffering, acute “prophetitus” because not only are there no results in his ministry but people are getting worse.  God seems to be giving him no words of encouragement at all.  Jeremiah said that he wanted to forget about preaching God’s words but there underneath the earth of his being there was a fire in his belly, a burning in his bones and he had to speak.

God told Jeremiah early in his ministry, ” I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.” (Jer 5:14). God also describes the characteristic of his word, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29).  The word was like fire and there was not some dichotomy, some separation from what was in his mouth and what was in his heart.  The Word was a fire and He was on fire with the Word. The word in his heart was heaven birthed and nurtured and God deployed it from this man. He was made to do this. The more he held back- the pressure of the divine furnace in his bones began to force its way out of him.  He was worn out from holding back what was in his heart-he had to speak it!

A Christian, especially a preacher should be a person on fire for God. This does not refer to melodramatic public speaking but they are men who have been touched by the Holy Spirit’s fire. A Christian is deeply affected by the permanent work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth and being made right with God by faith alone.  Also, a person is deeply impacted by the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it comes with its life-giving wind and purifying fire.  But there comes a time for some when they realize the call of God to gospel ministry and preaching is God’s will for them.  There is nothing like it in the world. There is no vocation like it. You cannot think about doing anything else.

Those who have the call of God in their life to preach are precious and few. A man of God should be like a burning and shining light (John 5:35). When the Holy Spirit speaks through them after prayer and as they deliver the message their heart burns (Luke 24:32). The scripture is illuminated to them (Ps. 119:130), the anointing comes upon them (Isa. 10:27)  and Christ speaks through them and elevates their words (Luke 21:15). They become soul doctor’s to the needy and weapons against the forces of the devil. Satan and his emissaries will cease at nothing to hinder these agents of the gospel and discouragement and depression are his most powerful tools against them (1 Thess. 2:18). Thus he must use the sword of the Spirit to battle against those forces personally (Eph. 6:17; Heb 4:12).

A gospel preacher is very serious about what he says in the Lord’s name and he expects others to take it serious. If the man behind the pulpit believes that what he says is only a sermon and he does not believe that he should let God speak through him he obviously has not taken his responsibility as a messenger of God seriously (1 Peter 4:11). They need to get on their knees in prayer and ask God for his mercy to reveal his message through them (Dan 2:18). God says, And I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be speechless and unable to rebuke them, for they are rebels. But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!…” (Ezek. 3:26-27NLT).

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries. Give credit where credit is due.

JESUS AND GRAVITY

ascension of ChristI never seen anything like it. At first, I thought I was seeing things or hallucinating.

One moment he is standing talking with us answering our questions and then the next moment he begins to…rise in the air.

How could this happen? Why is this happening?

It was if gravity lost its power for a moment. He did not float it was though a invisible power pulled him upward.

He waved goodbye and became smaller and smaller and then he vanished in the clouds. All of us were stunned. It was like a dream.

I felt like shouting, “Don’t leave us!” But he was gone.

We just kept staring at the clouds wondering if he would come down again.

He has disappeared before and we thought he would reappear. So we just waited.

All of a sudden two beings that came from nowhere-heavenly messengers beautiful and powerful stood by us and spoke up. I thought I would have a heart attack. They told us,

“Galileans why do you keep staring into heaven? This SAME JESUS that was taken up from you into heaven will come again back to earth in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

I was excited and sad. I missed him already.

The Conveyor Belt of Guilt

The picture that you see is an X-ray of a unnamed 36 year old Norwegian man who passed out and curled up into a fetal position on a baggage claim belt at a very busy Rome airport in August 2012, and inadvertently received this full body scan in the process.

He had arrived at the international terminal with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand and when he went to check in for his flight he found nobody on duty at the airline desk. So, he jumped over the counter and went to sleep.

Eventually, the belt began to move and took the man for a ride. It is believed he traveled for 15 minutes before his body was spotted by shocked officials in an X-ray image on their screens.

Officials say it was difficult to wake up the snoozing traveler, who was still clutching his beer as he went through the scanner and traveled 164 feet on it before anyone noticed.

If you have any kind of sense of humor this is quite the story to tell around the office.

But as I heard about this story I immediately began to think of how we are laying in a fetal position on a conveyor belt of  another kind. Did you know that when a certain people suffer extreme trauma or distress, they resort to a fetal position. It seems this is a natural reaction of the brain and the body to protect itself  and when they are no longer able to cope-the mind just shuts down for a time. Drug addicts during withdrawal or even people suffering from extreme anxiety resort to a fetal position.

This is the dangerous conveyor belt of guilt and misguided self examination on which some believers in Jesus have been crippled and traumatized by the wrong view of God and sin.

Paul says this, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor. 7:10NIV 1984).

There is a godly sorrow. There is a worldly sorrow. There is a sorrow that results in repentance and salvation. There is a sorrow that results in death.

There is a healthy repentance and there is a toxic regret and remorse. Repentance is a special grace, a gift of tears, a result of seeing our sin in light of the Cross. Where sin abounds grace abounds even more. The gospel offers God to the ungodly and forgiveness to the unforgiven. Repentance is a God-kind of change. Your thinking changes and the direction of your life changes as a result. You were moving away from God and His love brings you back home.  It is the gift that God gives when He releases the human will from the confinement and chains of sin and enables a person to turn to Christ for salvation.  That is repentance after a godly manner. It is a change only God can bring about.

Many Christians due to bad teaching have a caricatured view of God, a distorted view of sin and a toxic view of obedience. They actually should repent of their thinking when it comes to who God is! That is the deepest repentance one can have. They way you see God must be through the scriptures especially in light of the finished work of the Cross and New Covenant. God loves you and it is not his will you walk about in sorrow all the time.  He has forgiven you and offers a clear conscience to you and complete open access to him and his gifts.

You do not have to live in regret and call yourself a sinner all the time. Do you think that pleases God? Walking around all day thinking how unworthy and undeserving you are? It does not please God at all  that you are going around and around on this conveyor belt with the baggage of guilt. God is not hostile to you, nor does he treat you like a stranger. You are a warmly welcomed, dearly loved child of your Heavenly Father.

All this is real change is it not. It is a changed life, with a changed heart and a changed destiny.

Sadly, some Christians are dominated by a guilty conscience and consciousness. They attempt to earn forgiveness and acceptance with God by saying, “I am sorry” over and over again confessing their sin as if they were an legal accountant and there is always simmering in their heart a sense of guilt and hurt because they think God will reject them when they fail. It seeks to make such an account of sin that it must name each individual sin specifically to satisfy their conscience and God. But can one confess sin perfectly? We always leave some sin out. We cannot even do this  correctly. I get exhausted just thinking about the way I used to confess sin. This so called form of repentance is “worldly”  it is spiritually suicidal  not Christ-centered nor founded on the biblical fact that God offers forgiveness at the point of failure and mercy when we crash and burn. He gives beauty in exchange for ashes. He takes off your dense heavy overcoat of sorrow and replaces it with the light linen fabric of joy! All you need do is ask and he has answered “forgiven” before the words are on your lips.

Some of the oldest “Christian” churches in their tradition are nothing more than a mill for legalism. The conveyor belt of guilt is incorporated in their rituals. They are taught to ask for God’ mercy over and over again as if by mere words and repetitive chanting God will hear them. Ever wonder why legalistic people are so mean? Because people who feel unloved get angry. Oh that they knew they were loved by God!

We may criticize the Roman Catholics for their sacrament of penance or Eastern Orthodox for their view of Penthos but we have our Protestant penance we call it revivalism. We think by our efforts we will bring the church back to life do we not? There is only one problem- we end up looking like we are trying to kill the people who are alive. We are attempting to satisfy God and please God by our own efforts and there is no need to do that. God is at rest and reposes on the work of Christ his perfect Son on the cross. He calls us to lean with all our soul on the cross and what Jesus did for us.

The sad truth is there are so many Christians who are alive but they are wrapped in a shroud of guilt, they are camouflaged in the legalistic uniforms of remorse and joyless living that must be unwrapped by the teaching of God’s generous grace. God is rich in mercy and he has thrown open the door to his throne room of grace! He has already shown it powerfully in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God. Yet there are people who say they are saved and born again who never find any relief or rest in their hearts and they live in a fog of uncertainty about where they stand with God. It is a mindset that is hard to break and only understanding God’s generous grace can unravel the slavery of guilt fear and anxiety.

Don’t allow your guilt and disobedience to overshadow God’s grace! Repent!  You have become nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins  (see 2 Peter 1:9). You do not need to morbidly and constantly confess in the name of spirituality or godliness.  Your sin consciousness is working in reverse cornering you in sin and your attempts to keep the law is reinforcing sins grip over-making you feel dead. Like the shocked officials who found this man on the conveyor belt, may this article find those who are in the fetal position of guilt and wake you up out of this stupor of  remorse and regret!  Christ has given you a new life, a new heart and a new spirit.  It is time to move ahead.  God wants us to build on what he has started in us by grace! We mature spiritually not by riding in a helpless fetal position of the conveyor belt of keeping religious rules but by actively maturing and growing in the fruit of the Spirit.

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries. If you use this article tell people about us and where you found it. Don’t plagiarize.

The Real Christ and False Discipleship

Being a disciple of Christ is the life of one who loves, watches, learns and imitates Jesus by relationship through grace alone. They constantly see their existence as living in the presence of One who totally loves, accepts and forgives them. He also blesses them and empowers them freely because of that relationship.

They walk in the truth that it is no longer them but Christ and for them to live is Christ and to die is beneficial  because that would mean uninterrupted fellowship in heaven with Christ. We were chosen that we might be with him and there is summation of the Christian life.

Christ is all in all.

It is the burning focus of the disciple of Jesus Christ that they may know him intimately, dynamically and continually.

I am sad, that modern day discipleship is nothing more than proselytism in religion that plagiarizes the words of scripture and uses it for it’s own means. We read with joy the release of the slaves from Egypt by the final stroke of the blood of the Lamb. But we fail to see that Pharaoh and the priests of Egypt were skilled religionists and they made slaves out of  their citizens through their legalistic teachings, magic and powerful entertainment. The only thing that could set the people free was the blood of the spotless Lamb upon the doors of their houses as they waited for release wearing their travelling clothes.

The Jews of Christ’s day had such rigid rules based on the law they literally emptied the scriptures of their power and shut the doors of the kingdom of God with access into God’s blessings! It was only by Calvary’s Cross that the thick suffocating, unyielding veil of religion was torn and the heavens were opened to men and women. It was only by the precious body and blood of Christ that sin and the handwriting of ordinances which stood against us were taken out of the way. When the heavens were thrown open the publicans, harlots and outcasts were waiting with travelling clothes to force their way into the kingdom of heaven for forgiveness and salvation and freedom.

The mass religious marketing of today enslaves church people to a business mentality that sells church and Christianity as a product. They bash, threaten, arrest people for not keeping their principles with condemnation and hurt. They have many of us bamboozled. They take the whole joy out of living for Christ and walking with Jesus. They forget it is by knowing Christ personally and deeply people serve and change things. It is not by magic prayers, experts, books and instructional videos that we can be better Christians. It is being by loved by Christ.

When we took the preaching for the need for the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts revealing Jesus to us, we took the very transmission out of the heart of what it is to be a Christian.  We need to preach the mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit, the refreshing with which he causes the weary to rest. We need to bring people back to Jesus, especially church people.

Get your coat and shoes on. Jesus has released you from the bondage to religion by his blood. Who can stop you now? Sin has been forgiven and religions magnetic pull has been broken. Don’t be afraid to love him and serve him in his freedom of acceptance and power.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

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