The Return of The Older Minister

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

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

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

Surprised? I am not.

I wrote this article after hearing a leader in a certain denomination say that they want younger men to pastor because older men are set in their ways. That is so disrespectful and unwise! For example, Moses was eighty years old when he started leading Israel and pastored them for 40 years! Caleb was 85 years old when he began to venture out in battle to take his inheritance. I think if I had the choice I would love to be young again, but not to be inexperienced again.  It is my conviction that the middle-aged man is the best candidate for being the Lead or Senior Pastor of a church today.  In a day when men are being dishonored or demeaned, needless the offensive manner in which seasoned citizens are being treated by society this is when a minister is at his best. In fact, it should be the biblical model for us to follow. The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. It refers to an older, seasoned Christian who presides over a church as a pastor.  No wonder the church has more and more issues because of the sophomoric mistakes of younger preachers who are getting job experience in pulpits that in which seminary could never prepare them. Responsiblity is learned through experience. 

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

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SAMSON: A WARNING TO THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS

maxresdefaultIn Samson we see an impersonation of Israel.

Like him, the nation was strong so long as it kept the covenant of its God.

Like him, it was ever prone to follow after strange loves. Its Delilahs were the gods of the heathen, in whose laps it laid its anointed head, and at whose hands it suffered the loss of its God-given strength; for, like Samson, Israel was weak when it forgot its consecration, and its punishment came from the objects of its infatuated desires.

Like him, it was blinded, bound, and reduced to slavery, for all its power was held, as was his, on condition of loyalty to God.

His life is as a mirror, in which the nation might see their own history reflected; and the lesson taught by the story of the captive hero, once so strong, and now so weak, is the lesson which Moses taught the nation: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things: therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck” ( Deut. 28: 47, 48 ).

The blind Samson, chained, at the mill, has a warning for us, too. That is what God’s heroes come to, if once they prostitute the God-given strength to the base loves of self and the flattering world.

We are strong only as we keep our hearts clear of lower loves, and lean on God alone. Delilah is most dangerous when honeyed words drop from her lips.

The world’s praise is more harmful than its censure. Its favors are only meant to draw the secret of our strength from us, that we may be made weak; and nothing gives the Philistines so much pleasure as the sight of God’s warriors caught in their toils and robbed of power.”  

–Alexander MacLaren

HE COULD NOT LOOK HIS CHURCH IN THE EYES

1362883975_man with head down“He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.” (Isaiah 42:2-3).

began working in the vending business and started attending a church near my home a few months after my denomination closed down our church with apologies. A situation that was actually an ecclesiastical shell game. What I mean by that was they said they closed down the church but actually sold the building to another church in that denomination. But at least now, I had a good pastor and church to attend. Strange enough years before I met him after helping an older couple in a parking lot outside a hardware store who were having car problems. I told them I was a minister and gave them my card and they said they would tell their Pastor about me. He called me and we became friends.

While I was still at the Warehouse of Praise Church he invited me to come and preach one Sunday Night. I preached on The Divine Burning- a message on the fire of the Holy Spirit and God moved. Many of the elders said that they had not heard a message like that in years, it reminded them of old time preaching. By the way, what they call “old time preaching” is what they used to call biblical preaching.

Pastor was a good man, he built a beautiful church building and loved Jesus, but I noticed immediately when he preached he never made eye contact with the congregation. I encouraged him to look at people but he never could. I asked him why he was like this and he explained he had a horrible experience when he first arrived at this church and it beat him up so badly he never looked people in the eye when he preached.  Something had broken within him. I loved this man and believed in his ministry.

I remember one time that I began to prophesy (spontaneous scriptural exhortation) and called his congregation to repentance in the middle of the service. He was skeptical of my actions at first (for good reason) but people began to flood the altars to pray and God began to move and people began to cry out to God. He told me later that he did not know what to think at first but when he saw the Holy Spirit move like that he knew it was right. He was a good Pastor and he let me teach Sunday School and even preach a revival in his church. I will always be grateful to him.

Pastoring has got to be the hardest job in the world. That’s why a man has to do it through the power of the Holy Spirit and not in his own strength. That is why I will always be a Pentecostal. Pentecost to me means that I don’t have to do things in my own strength but the power of Christ that dwells in me. No matter how weak I may be, no matter what is going on there is a river of life flowing out of me.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

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

A REALLY BAD SKETCH

tom bradyOn August 12, 2015 Tom Brady was in court faced with the infamous “Deflategate” charges and the media vultures have been hovering in circles picking off the carcase of this story until there is nothing but bones, leaving us all deflated and confused.

But today we are hearing about Jane Rosenberg. Who is she? She is court sketch artist who made an unusual rendition of the New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady that caught everybody’s attention…and scorn. It went viral! Obviously, when people look at the sketch it does not resemble Tom Brady in the slightest. His head seems almost distorted in the picture as he looked down at his phone the whole time in court. So the media and comedians have had a field day with it. On the news we have seen pictures have come out with the photoshopped image of the head on “ET” wrapped up in a blanket on a bike; the famous painting of the Munch’s Scream of Nature and even a picture of his head was placed on the late Michael Jackson in his Thriller song.

The poor artist even apologized to everyone-protesting that sketching is not an easy job, and she did could not capture how handsome he was, but we are not here to question her talent even though his head looks deflated. One has to wonder if something Freudian was revealed in her sketch or opinion.

BUT do we as Christians accept the modern day sketches of Christ without even a remark? With all the caricatures of Christ that are being presented behind the church pulpits and media ministries-I am wondering-maybe we should apologize because they are not even close to sketching a right picture of Jesus Christ. It does not seem like there is any apology for the really horrendous impersonations of the Jesus of today’s Christianity!

God demands that we do not worship false images-even images we are tempted to11709676_1141906685825663_8640431874398809008_n ascribe to him (Deut. 4:15-20). Paul warns us that there is a counterfeit Jesus, a “Jesus other than the Jesus we preached.” (2 Cor. 11:4). The Jesus sketch drawn today does not demand repentance from sin and does not preach the Cross! The modern parody of Jesus makes him one way among many ways, one religious choice among many religious choices-because its all good!  For some he is a drippy, soft spoken, wishy washy boyfriend. Others masquerade him as a heavenly politician with his own party and news network concerned with legal and social issues. Others present him as a rock star and superhero with loud music, colorful lights and lots of excitement. Other present him as the successful CEO of heaven who wants you to buy stock in his company and be a “disciple employee.”

But all of these sketches are not Jesus.  Instead He is the indescribable King of kings and Lord of Lords. He poured out his blood to pay for the crimes of despicable sinners like us. He is able to save, heal and deliver the worst people utterly and completely.  In the Bible he evicted powerful demons out of people’s bodies, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the mute! He touched and healed the contagious, set free the addict, forgave his enemies and rescued the exploited.  He is the only Savior, all powerful Lord and genuine Messiah who is feared among demons, loved by those he saves.

John 17.17Get the picture? No? You will only find the right picture of Jesus in the Christian Bible. Jesus taught,  “Search the scriptures, for in them you hope that you have eternal life, and they testify concerning Me.” (John 5:39).  When Jesus taught his disciples, “He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:47). Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of those that accept Jesus as their Savior (John 3:3-8).  The Holy Spirit gives a clear picture of Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and acts as our guide leading us to Jesus (John 16:13) as we see him as the Truth (John 14:6) in the truth of the scriptures (John 17: 17). Let the real picture of Jesus be seen today, so we do not need to make any apologies for a really bad sketch.

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

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

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

 

NO MORE PILGRIMAGES

Christian+Pilgrim+Groups+Travel+Holy+Island+LLRLn2FUUXMlPlease be careful. WAKE UP! I am a historic premillenialist like Charles Spurgeon but I am becoming aware of some troubling issues.

There are those of us who really care about the salvation of Israel who frown on recent ploys by some ministries to fund raise or make an end run play by Word of magic salesman to get people to go on tour in the Holy Land.

Ever get an offer for a free trip to Florida? Then when you go, they invite you to meetings to sell you time shares or condominiums?

All these religious networks and so called ministries are having pilgrimages to Israel and Jerusalem. The emphasis on the nation of Israel on television is replete in much preaching lately but their motives seem murky with all the spiritual vacation packages.

Recently, one major Christian satellite network has a new studio in Jerusalem and methinks this is their motive for Holy Land tours and there is a growing concern that they are knowingly or unknowingly exploiting those who are unlearned and ignorant.

It seems like they are selling spiritual time shares, religious condominiums or telling people they can get closer to God by going to Israel. One preacher is selling products and prayers at the wailing wall for $1000! 

Is this not what the Roman Catholic church did with the city of Rome and what Islam does with Mecca? Are we now so powerless, so ignorant of the gospel of Christ we need pilgrimages and products that get us closer to God? Does this not show error and backsliddeness of these preachers and ministries?

Is not the church one new man, of believing, born again Jew and Gentile? Not two churches. Not two nations (Eph. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Did not Jesus insist that we DO NOT need cities to travel to, trinkets or toys with which to pray, mountains in which we have retreats, to worship in temples or perform in ecclesiastical theaters? “Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” (2 Peter 3:17).

Rather Jesus our Messiah taught that the worship of omnipresent God who is Spirit has arrived and that we worship the one true God in the power of his Holy Spirit and the Truth of the Gospel! For that is the worship our Heavenly Father wants!  (John 4:23-24). 

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

THE REAL VERSUS THE PHONY

counterfeits“But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.” (1 John 4:6).

Notice the supernatural aspects of truth and error. We cannot help but see that the phrase is not “the teaching of truth and the teaching of deception” and if it was worded that way it would seem correct. But it is not worded that way here.  It is, “the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.” It shows the source of truth and the source of error.  Satan and his demons have teachings (1 Tim. 4:1) and there is also the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9). As Pentecostals we should be more sensitive to this and that is why God has given us the all the charismata or gifts of the spirit especially the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor 12:10) which is the gifting or ability to discern a true miracle (Acts 3:12-16) from lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9). While I was still pastoring my previous church in the 90’s, the so called Toronto Blessing and Brownsville Revival movements were having a major influence on various Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. Falling down, writhing like snakes, barking like dogs, clucking like chickens with people sprawled all over the floor was the norm.

I mean seriously? This has NOTHING to do with the Holy Spirit. It is NOT true Pentecost.

As I remember on a July 4th weekend I was asked to come and minister in a church in Maine. When we came we found the church at that time was into this Counterfeit Revival movement. At one time, I knew the Pastor to be a level headed man but when the service began it was wild and out of control. The church was dominated by cacophonous laughter and people lying all over the floor. The “worship” service went two hours with all kinds of craziness. I was not happy at all-and was wondering why I was there and why he invited me to preach.

The pastor knew I did not agree (probably because of my sour expression and how I just sat there motionless) and as God would have it, he had me come up to to the pulpit to preach anyway. By the grace of God I am not a ecclesiastical politician nor a coward when it comes to confronting such extra-biblical practices. I just wonder why it always has to be me. I reprimanded them sharply-just like the Bible says to do (Titus 1:13). After I spoke, the pastor was miffed. I left the meeting and went back to the hotel room thinking I was done and I should start packing for my trip back home. I was disappointed and wondered what was wrong with them? What was ironic is that I felt to preach on the biblical view of the anointing of the Holy Spirit for that weekend. I intensely studied on this subject for months and now I was second guessing myself.

They had morning seminars and then we went to lunch. You could see the pastor was still brewing over my preaching the night before. So we talked about it and I actually asked him, “When the Holy Spirit is moving in a service could you preach from any portion of the Bible?”

He said, “I suppose so…yes.”

Then I asked, “What about  1 Corinthians 14 and its regulations and teachings concerning spiritual gifts?”

He said, “I suppose not.”

I said, “That is ridiculous. It makes no sense.”

His reasoning was so flawed- yet that night the pastor still had me preach and it was powerful. I focused on the teaching of scripture about the Holy Spirit and many told me they saw more answers to prayer than they did under what the pastor was promoting. I could teach about the biblical perspective of the Holy Spirit and God took over from there. It was like a high pressure system pushing a low pressure system out. It turned about to be a great series of meetings. I learned then that the truth is stronger than lies, that the inspiration of the scripture far outweighs  the false  practices and teachings of man. I could only hope God would deal with them after that time.

God during this time began to bring my attention to the New Jersey area.  It was a slow start when we came and one day I felt compelled to leave Pennsylvania and go to New Jersey. I found a job and lived with my Mom for a time. Sarah found a job almost immediately and things came together-we had a small Bible study. I received a call from with two families in Maine who wanted to come down and help me start a church. So those things were good.

When Sarah moved up finally we went to live with my father in law for a time and would visit churches on Staten Island. Once again a preacher who I thought was a balanced man was allowing the Brownsville influence in his church. In fact, he and others were making pilgrimages to that place. His church was jammed. He was my friend so we visited his church for a few services and he let me preach. I had fellowship again. This church was at first not as wild but after attending a few services the weirdness was growing to fever pitch.

People were yelling, making weird noises, tongue talking during the preaching. I do not mean to be crass but every freakacostal and charismaniac was in attendance. I remember the day I came I was happy for my friend.  The church had grown to two services and though I did not agree with those practices I was hopeful things would turn around. After all, this was the church where I was saved. Maybe it just being welcomed anywhere after my recent hurtful experience at the Warehouse of Praise so there was a sense of relief. I also believed that if he was a man of God he would correct these practices eventually.

But these happy thoughts would not last very long-not even one day longer. My pastor friend came in and he looked angry and sour. He had a bad spirit and you could tell. I was wondering what was wrong with him. I had pastored before so I know how things happen before church and when you preach so I cut him some slack and excused it in my mind. 

That same Sunday morning God gave me a word or prophecy. It was a hard word and I had never given one like this before. But I felt the power of God to say it.  I don’t remember all of it but it was a harsh rebuke for what was going on-God was exposing the wrong practices and spiritual adultery of these people. I said some other words and as I began to speak of God offering blessing for their repentance- the pastor stopped me midway from prophesying. This was a first. Before this time, I prophesied many times in that church and I was well received. I was known of the brethren and I am careful when I speak forth prophetically. His actions were unnecessary and he was wrong. My mother was next to me and she was indignant at what happened. All of us knew what this pastor was allowing in his church was wrong and God was telling him to repent. 

We went back to my mothers house and I was hurt and confused. My twin brother was there and at first he said, “I told you not to go there!” But then he comforted me. People talk about how wonderful it is to be an Elijah or Jeremiah or any such thing. It is not-it is a life of rejection but obedience does not seek applause. The sad part was that not but a year later the same church fell apart. If only they would have listened!

I do believe in ministering under the pastoral direction I always attempt to exercise protocol and find out how to operate within the church culture. But this does not mean compromising scripture or scriptural practices. I wonder sometimes why God always seems to put me in the place of being the bad guy as it were. I have began referring to it as being an antihero. Yet I realize that a man cannot love Christ and the evil world system at the same time. Why can’t some pastors just do their job instead of allowing these things to happen to the congregation which has been entrusted to their care? Why do I have to sit in a pew and listen to their watered down message or insane ideas? Why do they have to run their churches by books and ideas written by religious marketers instead of God’s Holy Word? Is not Jesus enough? I always thought he was. 

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