If you are wondering about what to pray for when it comes to the church in Africa, do pray for faithfulness to the message of the gospel. Conrad Mbewe a local pastor in Africa in his recent newsletter from Kabwata (Zambia) laments:
[This post was first run here in 2012] I came across a pamphlet today. It was given to me at the traffic lights while waiting for the lights to go green. It read as follows:
My name is Stella Mwanza from Sinda (Eastern Province). I used to read in newspapers and listen to the radio about how different people were testifying concerning Pastor Elijah and I was so impressed with his healing powers that I decided to try him as I had a lot of problems.
First, my husband was divorcing me as he accused me of having an affair with another man and even doubted our lastborn child. Pastor Elijah prayed for me and this calmed down my husband and now we’re happily married with our kids.
I introduced a friend of mine to the same pastor who had an unstable marriage because her husband was sexually weak and had a tiny manhood. She was going out with other men to satisfy her sexual desire though she loved her husband. Pastor Elijah invited the couple to his place and prayed for both of them. Now they are back in a good relationship. Thanks to Pastor Elijah. …Read More!
Matthew 28:1-2: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Mark 16:2-5: Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
No, not necessarily. Jesus in his new resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:35-49) could go through walls and doors (John 20:19, 26; compare Acts 12:10). So, I do not feel a stone was any kind of obstacle that he could not go through. The stone could have been rolled back strictly as evidence that he had risen (and rise he did, Acts 2:32; 1 Cor. 15:1-4), not that it had to be moved so he could rise.
These are just a few interesting quotes I came across from To Every Tribe. Hop over there and take a peek at what God is doing in previously unreached lands…
Remember, when you see a missionary coming home broken in body and weary in soul, it isn’t the privations or dangers or things he’s done that leave a deep hurt; it’s the things he couldn’t do that break his heart.
I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – Villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.
Robert Moffat, 1795-1883 Pioneer Missionary to South Africa
We do not truly understand the gospel if we spend all of our time preaching it to Christians. The gospel is a missionary gospel. It is a communication of Good News to people and in places where the name of Christ is unknown.
“If you neglect to instruct (your children) in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.” – John Flavel
I used to believe in Word of faith and prosperity gospel. I feel quite relieved that I have come a long way and now understand some things a lot better like God’s sovereign control of events and circumstances around me and the world. I am also grateful for His providence and looking back I am more rested now knowing that He is in complete control of everything. How puny my thoughts were when I thought that if I sowed a bigger seed or made a positive confession or regularly said prayers breaking generational curses then these would keep me from ‘afflictions of the devil’. John Berrige has an interesting letter to a Christian friend under severe affliction. I hope it helps some one struggling to understand afflictions:
I grant that your circumstances are very severe and difficult—but let me beg of you not to construe your afflictions as a token of God’s displeasure, or a sign of your not belonging to Him. This is an old temptation of Satan’s, with which he often assaults the afflicted Christian; but take the shield of faith—that you may quench the fiery darts of Satan.
Alas! Crosses and afflictions are the common lot of the people of God in this present world. Our Lord has told us, that in this world—we shall have troubles! Every saint has his own particular difficulties, temptations and conflicts to grapple with. …Read More!
Ever watched a mime perform and wished that he would clearly articulate the message he is dying to bring across? The audience a mime has will interprete his gesticulations with a degree of error because most of it is shrouded. But if he speaks and articulates his message, then the listeners are illumined. They are then not in any doubt of the original intention of the message bearer. A good message bearer delivers what he is entrusted with, without subtracting or altering it and leaves his audience with the intended message so that they are without any excuse. This is probably why miming (though is truly entertaining) falls short in many ways in delivering the Gospel message (which requires the hearers to know the name and person of Jesus Christ). Speaking of incomplete messages there’s one other thing….(ha ha look what I just did there!)
There are many conferences going on around us that supposedly are ‘bringing hope’ to the world or ‘happiness’ to the community. These in themselves are not bad but if it comes in the name of ‘Jesus’ then it has got to be clear in it’s intended message. Hope – why does the world need hope? …Read More!
Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. . . Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive. That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church.
Todd Bentley is eccentric in his practice. He loves being the charismatic preacher he is and will draw a crowd and will definitely continue to do so. I have watched and listened to his ‘revivals’ all the way from Lakeland to South Korea and now in Uganda. Most of these trail blazing show men draw crowds because they preach a message that most of the people they attract want to hear. He promises sensations, manifestations and signs and wonders and indeed he does get to mesmerise hundreds with his showmanship. But at what cost? It is at the cost of the gospel.
One time in my life, a curse was broken that I didn’t even know was on me. It doesn’t mean that there was a witch doctor or a warlock practicing magic or sorcery like we see in the movies that was specifically cursing me. That’s happened, too. I’m not just talking about someone out there with a voodoo doll and putting pins in it. These things happen. I believe in that (sic)….
[So Todd tells of going to a Ugandan town called Jinja where “a curse came over the city for many years-nobody was getting saved, nobody was getting healed, and nobody was getting delivered” till he made an appearance]
I got up on the platform [in Jinja] and I started to break the power of witchcraft, and 1,835 people at the same time started manifesting demons and fell to the ground writhing like snakes. We counted 1,835 people vomiting, rolling in the mud, writhing and hissing on the ground like snakes. …Read More!
Jim Bublitz (who went to be with the Lord last year) had a blog The Old Truth from which I learnt alot in my early days as I came to understand Calvinism/Reformed Theology. Here is an interesting snippet from 2007 of a Q&A post with a reader called Joshua from Malaysia.
Joshua: “Here is a common phrase…..Ask Jesus to come into your heart or life…..is that how calvinists do it? … From a calvinist point of view….. When a sinner is convicted by the Holy Spirit, is there any “sinner’s prayer” to recite? If not…what would be the normal reformed way of doing this? Does “accepting Jesus into our heart” in line with reformed teachings? If not…how would you explain the steps of salvation? I know that it is GOD who chose and justified the sinner…how do you explain to the sinner that he needs to accept Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior? At this point of conversion, from my old arminian school, I am confused that we ‘invite’ Jesus into our hearts….and later was told it was the Holy Spirit… Could you explain this part? As I am now leaning strongly to reformed doctrine, I do not know how to explain this part from the reformed view…“
Jim Bublitz: Joshua, as you may know, some of the most noteworthy soul winners in church history have been Calvinists, and you can look through the writings of many of them including George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon to see the kinds of things they said. The emphasis is much the same as the Apostles as they preached that people should obey the Lord’s command to repent and believe. …Read More!
You’ve got to love the preachers of these days! They are more in tune with the pulse of pop culture than what their good old Bible says. It’s therefore not surprising that when it comes to being quizzed on moral issues they will stand with the drift of popular sentiment than say ‘ Thus sayeth the Lord’.
Enter Sean Hannity whose show featured a fascinating exchange with Terry Jeffrey, a news editor from CNS News Service, and Rev. Oliver White, a pro-same sex marriage pastor. Because Hannity is not constrained by the limitations of a TV news schedule and the need to change subjects every 5 minutes, as is so often the case on cable news, he was able to allow the on-air debate over the scriptural basis for marriage to naturally unfold to the point where the lack of scriptural foundation for same-sex marriage was laughingly evident.
This exchange in particular was the most glaringly infuriating as White, a proponent of same-sex marriage who angered his own congregation recently because of his adamant belief that Christianity supports such a practice, went so far as to agree that Jesus Christ was wrong about His position on marriage being defined as one man and one woman, and if Jesus were alive today he would, in fact, support gay marriage.
I came across an interesting website off the beaten track. It has a few useful links to help you if you have lost your zeal for evangelism. Mark Edward Sohmer has a couple of helpful notes:
I am a member of Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. In 2006, I was given the privilege and honor to lead an Evangelism class from The Way of the Master ministry. The class is called the Basic Training Course. You can learn more about this class at: http://www.wayofthemaster.com/btc/. I am making available my notes and other files that may be valuable here, so that anyone can download them. My prayer is that Christians will be edified and equipped to fulfill our purpose: to be used by God to seek and save that which is lost.
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the Easter message was well summed by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon:
He suffered all the horror of hell; in one pelting shower of iron wrath it fell upon him, with hail-stones bigger than a talent; and he stood until the black cloud had emptied itself completely. There was our debt, huge and immense; he paid the utmost farthing of whatever his people owed; and now there is not so much as a doit or a
farthing due to the justice of God in the way of punishment from any believer; and though we owe God gratitude, though we owe much to his love, we owe nothing to his justice; for Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because he suffered in our stead. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Many times we hear some one say, “God loves you unconditionally” or “God loves you no matter what you do”. This usually may reflect a relative theological naievity in the speaker. It most times shows that the person doesn’t know what the lifeless bloodied body of God on the cross signified. It also makes the hearers take home a false notion that God doesn’t really care much about sin and you can live your reckless life without any care. But then….
If there ever was an obscenity that violates contemporary community standards, it was Jesus on the cross. After he became the scapegoat and the Father had imputed to him every sin of every one of his people, the most intense, dense concentration of evil ever experienced on this planet was exhibited. Jesus was the ultimate obscenity.
So what happened? God is too holy to look at sin. He could not bear to look at that concentrated monumental condensation of evil, so he averted …Read More!
My generation has seen one of the highest number of people calling themselves Christians than ever before. On one hand this has been good -on the other hand it has been frankly nauseating. What with all that is going on in the name of Christianity on television? Christians especially where I hail from have become complacent. We hardly have any zeal for the things of God unless it comes wrapped around the wrist of a pastor jumping out of a helicopter with the flash and bang of a Hollywood special effects production team. There is no other fitting message for my generation than the letter to that ‘self sufficient’ lukewarm church that nauseated Christ -the Laodicean church in Revelations. I do hope this excerpt wakes up some….
In His letter to the church of Laodicea, Jesus warns us about the danger of self-sufficiency. Laodicea was a wealthy banking center and proud of her rich resources. In AD 60, the city was destroyed by an earthquake. Rather than accepting aid from the Roman Empire, the people of Laodicea refused any help and rebuilt the city themselves with their own resources. They did not need anyone’s charity.
Yet, while Laodicea appeared to have everything, it actually lacked the most basic of resources — water. Unlike the mountain towns that had cold water streams or nearby Hierapolis that had access to hot springs, Laodicea had no water supply of its own. Water had to be piped in through aqueducts. By the time it arrived, the water was lukewarm and full of sediment. Cold water is good for drinking, hot springs were reputed to have healing qualities, but lukewarm, sediment-filled water neither refreshes nor heals. It is disgusting. …Read More!
[First posted March 2011] Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays most people take for granted but know very little about. And that is because its origins are as mysterious as love itself. While hopeless romantics clutch red flowers and trudge on to impress unsuspecting yet eagerly expecting conquests, I am seated here mauling over the fact that Saint Valentine was a martyr. But how do people reconcile such a violent end to one’s life with the romantic paint brush of modern times? Speaking of love stories take a bite into this recent story of a husband whose life was saved by a soup ladle.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A woman in a jungle region of northern Malaysia rescued her husband from a tiger attack by clubbing the beast on its head with a large wooden soup ladle and chasing it away, police said Monday.
The tiger pounced on Tambun Gediu while he was hunting squirrels Saturday near his home in a jungle settlement of the Jahai tribe, a police official in Malaysia’s Perak state said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements. Read More
A hundred to two hundred years ago (just like two thousand years ago) there were bold preachers who preached with Bibles laid wide open and read aloud the text for the people to hear the word of God. Most of these stood on street corners and market places and they reasoned and persuaded men to consider their ways in light of the holiness of God. In more recent times most ‘men of God’ prefer to be popular and few now preach on sin or even call people to repentance. It’s actually more lucrative to hold motivational lectures on personal self esteem and significance. These are topics that have fifty one shades of grey and are liked by the main stream audience.
Recently one popular conference speaker and pastor, Louie Giglio, was hand picked to offer his pastoral blessings and benediction at the soon coming presidential inauguration. An apparent invitation too big to turn down for the popular man of God. However what happened next can only be described as a comedy of errors. Sexual liberation groups picked on an old sermon preached over fifteen years ago on “repentance and sin” leading to Louie being dis invited (or did he dis invite himself?). Some pastors like John Piper were quick to tweet and call him “a hero” but was he really?
Pastor Louie later [as noted by Ken Silva Apprising Ministries and Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith radio in link and audio below] seemed to reluctantly admit that he no longer is keen on stressing some of the things he was passionate about: …Read More!
Harvard University used to be a place of astute academic excellence. The key words there are “used to be”. These days the academics are either gullible or lazy. Speaking of which Harvard has lazily made its way into the news again. BBC reports…
[A Harvard divinity professor] Karen King unveiled [a supposed 4th-Century Coptic script] at a conference in Rome. She said researchers had identified the words “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife'”, which might refer to Mary Magdalene.
Christian tradition holds that Jesus did not marry – but Ms King said in early years it was subject to debate. The provocative find could spark debate over celibacy and the role of women within Christianity, she added. But the announcement sparked scepticism from some theologians.
Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: “A statement on a papyrus fragment isn’t proof of anything. It’s nothing more than a statement ‘in thin air’, without substantial context.”
Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist attending the same conference as Ms King, said there were “thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” and many questions remained about the fragment.
Ms King said the document, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, is the first known scripture in which Jesus is reported to cite his wife. She said the 4th-Century text was a copy of a gospel…
[This post was first published in March 2012] Yes, we have heard the chuckle by some vocal ones, “I was born this way”. Jim rightly adds…
Except the ‘this way’ referred to has nothing to do with sexual orientation or anything of the kind. It has to do with the fact that all of us are born totally depraved and that we remain intractably so until and unless the grace of God in Christ aids us to betterment.
As D. Martyn Loyd-Jones puts it
[What does the phrase ‘total depravity’ mean? It means that ]… man in his fallen condition has an inherently corrupt nature, and the corruption extends through every part of his being, to every faculty of his soul and body. It also means that there is no (observe the adjective) spiritual good in him. Yes, there is plenty of natural good, there is natural morality, he can recognise virtue and so on. But there is no spiritual good whatsoever. That is what it means.
Yup, you were (and so are we all), ‘born this way’. Dead in sin, spiritually bankrupt …Read More!
I while ago my friend Andy wrote a very interesting piece on the consequences of ignoring the Atonement. Was Jesus’ life simply an example for us to follow or did he come as the Lamb of God to take away sins of those who would believe?
[Andy writes] In the early days of liberal theology, it was the vogue to claim that Jesus’ death was the result of His zeal. He shot His mouth off too many times about religious and moral truth, until, finally, His opponents could take no more and had Him assassinated. The theological axe-to-grind of this view was their rejection of the atonement as an objective, meritorious, vicarious sacrifice – in short, as a substitionary death.
Evacuating Christ’s death in such a way, all that remained was His example. Not many evangelicals (a term I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with) would espouse such a radical view regarding Christ’s death, but the accompanying view of His life as merely a pattern or example, has clung on with tenacity in the best of circles. …Read More!
Well Todd Bentley is in South Korea. Many are flocking for what signs and wonders they can get and sure enough he is giving it to them. From his latest update he even got a healing prayer room. One enthusiast he prayed for got “baptized in the holy spirit and said she felt Jesus for the first time”.
Todd Bentley and the Fresh Fire team had the incredible opportunity to hold a meeting at a cancer treatment center in Seoul, South Korea. The president of the center invited Todd to come and share about supernatural healing and pray for all those with terminal cancer. This was an amazing time in the Lord as they prayed to impart healing to over 100 patients with terminal cancer, some who had been told they had only a couple days to live. We are expecting reports of healing and look forward to sharing these testimonies with you as we receive them.
There’s never a quiet day when Todd Bentley comes to town. “Feeling Jesus” sure sounds rather esoteric but I still hope he atleast mentioned Christ’s death on the cross to propitiate (a sacrifice that appeases) God’s wrath against sin.
Dear Todd, the message from the suffering Christians in North Korea is the same as the prayer from other Christians from South Korea and all over the world, “preach the cross and Christ crucified for sin”…No biker boots and no other ‘gospel’.
Matt has an interesting post on conversion therapy. Matt is a 23-year-old blogger who is sharing his testimony of being engrossed in a homosexual lifestyle and heavy drinking till two years ago when Matt was transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ (he is no longer a practicing homosexual by the grace of God). I would suggest you read his testimony here. He asks pertinent questions in this article. Do we come to Jesus because of the things we can get from him? Read on….
Although I fully support biblical and spiritual counseling, I am not the biggest fan of the idea of conversion therapy. Nor am I a fan of programs that lead people to focus more on their desire to haveheterosexual attractions than their to desire to know Jesus Christ (who, by the way, is the only One who holds the power to create such a transformation in sexual desires). I just can not bring myself to support the idea of putting someone through a systematic program solely in order to “re-orient” them. Now, with that said, there are many biblical, Christ centered programs out there who help sexually broken people find healing by pointing them toward the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. I would take a bullet for these kinds of ministries, being that I myself struggle with homosexuality and know how confusing and lonely it can be at times. These ministries do great, glorifying work in the Name of Jesus that help many people. They are far from perfect, but what ministry can claim perfection?
Before I became a believer, I heard about Christians who had claimed to be “cured” of their homosexuality by means of conversion therapy, but then these people would later be found in gay bars or having sex with men they met on the internet. After becoming a believer, I have seen and heard this even more frequently. I think the title conversion therapy is often erroneously placed on organizations that are not trying to sexually “re-orient” people, but rather are helping people to find healing through the means of an intimate relationship with their Creator and Savior. Those who have a sound biblical perspective on homosexuality know that the issue of same sex attraction is really just a symptom of a much deeper problem stemming from the innate brokenness and sinfulness of the person’s heart. Sexual re-orientation is not the goal; holiness in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is the goal. …Read More!
Recently there’s been a drastic decline in the numbers of snake handling pastors. Don’t guess why. The theology has been profoundly hermeneutically dodgy and even savvy pagans are out doing them in their fancy snake charming gimmicks. However in a renewed bid to show off to the rest of the world and to other lesser endowed Christians the snake handling fundamentalists are out again to drum up support and to underline the difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”. You see…
NASHVILLE – Hamblin, 21, pastor of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., is part of a new generation of serpent-handling Christians who are revitalizing a century-old faith tradition in Tennessee.
While older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood — and illegal — version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and power of their extreme form of spirituality. And they hope eventually to reverse a state ban on handling snakes in church.
Since the early 1900s, a handful of true believers in Eastern Tennessee and other parts of Appalachia have practiced the so-called signs of the gospel, found in a little-known passage in the King James Version of the Gospel of Mark:
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
While other churches ignore this passage or treat it metaphorically, serpent handlers follow it literally. Their intense faith demands sinless living and rewards them with spiritual ecstasy — the chance to hold life and death in their hands.
It began with a tingling
Brother Micah Golden felt it first while standing in the parking lot with other worshipers, waiting for church to start during a three-day revival in early May. It began with a tingling in his hands that spread over his body. Then he began to moan and pray. …Read More!
J. Lee Grady is a clear thinking Charismatic and also the contributing editor of Charisma. Having grown increasingly aware that the so-called “Spirit-filled” churches of today struggle with many of the same things the Catholic church faced in the 1500s, he says he is going to (just like Luther and the Wittenberg door) he is going to nail down his theses on the Charismatic church door. We (says Lee) don’t have “indulgences”—we have telethons. We don’t have popes—we have super-apostles. We don’t support an untouchable priesthood—we throw our money at celebrity evangelists who own fleets of private jets. Further more he laments that its past time for a Charismatic Reformation (this article was first published 26th October 2011 in honor of Reformation Day):
1. Let’s reform our theology. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He is holy. He is not an “it.” He is not a blob, a force, or an innate power. We must stop manipulating Him, commanding Him and throwing Him around.
2. Let’s return to the Bible. The Word of God is the foundation for the Christian experience. Any dramatic experience, no matter how spiritual it seems, must be tested by the Word and the Holy Spirit’s discernment. Visions, dreams, prophecies and encounters with angels must be in line with Scripture. If we don’t test them we could end up spreading deception.
3. It’s time for personal responsibility. We charismatics must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem.
4. Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.
5. Stop the foolishness. People who hit, slap or push others during prayer should be asked to sit down until they learn gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. …Read More!
With the myriad of false teachers parading in church today some say, it is unbiblical to “name names”. They add and lament that it is unloving to do so. Those who do so are summarily labelled as “judgemental” or “divisive ” brethren trying to rock the boat and should be avoided like the plague. Oh wait a minute Sir! But what does the Bible say though?
Yet, as I study the Scriptures….The authors of Scripture take false teaching very seriously and so must we. Indeed, throughout the New Testament, we see numerous examples of specific men named as false teachers—as traitors to the gospel.
Paul tells Timothy that Hymenaeus, Alexander and Philetus are among those who have made a shipwreck of their faith and swerved from the truth (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18). Their “irreverent babble,” he says, will spread like gangrene among God’s people. …Read More!
The next guest is a satirist. He is also a Christian. But one other interesting thing is that the concept behind these anonymous interviews was originally from him (chuckle) ;). These interviews are anonymous so that there is no celebrity. They are evangelistic and have been simplified so that they are easy to follow and to the point. Today my guest too will be masked as we ask him different questions about what he believes. In case you missed the previous anonymized interviews please go here.
ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. What is a typical week in your life like? CHRISTIAN: On Sunday, we go to church. Period. We have children and they know from example that it is important to give God glory because He is God and we are not. The rest of the week, I juggle work, Bible study, current event study, blog maintenance, creative writing (including humor & satire) for my blog and for others, research & writing for a missions database, Taking the kids back and forth to school, and generally trying to have quality time with family.
ATCT: Did you have any Christian influence in your youth or childhood?
CHRISTIAN: No, God saved me as a young adult. We did the lip service thing when I was a kid and it had no effect. Many church youth groups bussed us to pizza blasts and hot dog dinners but i was dry bones at that time. Praise God that he saved me and most of my family later however!
You would think as Easter approaches people would spend more time reading their bibles and focusing on Christ’s death for sinners. No, some pastors are into more hip and trendy (actually goofy) ideas…
In a hip, artsy, area of Houston, a hip, artsy pastor is taking an unorthodox approach to Lent.
Standing in front of his congregation at Ecclesia Church, a congregation he admits is different – more diverse, more urban – than many evangelical churches – Chris Seay encouraged them to do so something he said combines the ideas of sacrifice and devotion that mark the Lenten season, the 40-day lead up to Easter.
He asked them to get tattoos. Specifically, he asked congregants to get a tattoo corresponding with one of the Stations of the Cross, the collection of images that depict scenes in Jesus’ journey to his crucifixion.
“The tendency we have as Christians is to skip past Jesus’ suffering,” Seay said in an interview. “Not only do tattoos come with a bit of suffering, they are also an art form that has not fully been embraced.” …Read More!
I am grateful to God for the previous interviews and how they have been a primer for people to know more about Christians and what they believe. Today’s anonymized guest is a young man who has just been ordained as a pastor recently. He is a Christian of course, married to one beautiful woman and we will mask him first and then ask him a couple of questions to see what he believes. If you missed the previous anonymized interviews please go here.
ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. What is a typical week in your life like?
CHRISTIAN: Sunday, preaching and pastoring. Monday, chilling and chores. Tuesday, study and administration. Wednesday, pastoral visiting, study, and church meeting. Thursday, household shopping and study, Friday, very unpredictable. Saturday – family day. Throw in three or four trips to the gym and some tropical fish maintenance along with far too much net surfing, some reading, and a little television, and that is about it. Oh, apart from prayer, eating and sleeping.
ATCT: Did you have any Christian influence in your youth or childhood?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, both my parents love the Lord, and so do all my uncles and aunts, and of course, the wider church family.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if He has added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll. …Read More!
If you have missed any of the previous anonymized interviews with Christians from different backgrounds please go here. Continuing with the same format today’s guest too has been anonymized (so that the glory of the testimony) goes to God. Today’s guest has spent over 18 years working in disaster zones. He has come very close to death countless times while preaching the gospel. He is one unsung hero in many respects but today he will tell us what drives him on even when he is far from family, friends and safety.
ATCT [A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®] : Sorry you are masked from your audience today. Could you tell us what a typical week in your life is like?
CHRISTIAN: I don’t usually have a typical week. Travelling, ministering and lot’s of calls from folks around the world that the Lord has allowed me to encourage and minister to. Study, reading, Praying, meditating, talking to my bride, sharing with my kids.
ATCT: Did you have any Christian influence in your youth or childhood?
CHRISTIAN:I had basically no Christian influence in my life as a Child. I did attend a very tiny church roughly three times in grade two. I was never one who disbelieved that God existed, I did not however have a relationship with Him.
If I am master of my fate, architect of my destiny and my words contain power as the WOF (word of faith) and prosperity preachers tell me then I am pretty much invincible. I do not need to pray to God, afterall what can He do that I cannot speak into existence. I am sovereign. So, do these WOF and health, wealth and prosperity preachers ever fall sick, fill in job application forms, go to the bank for a loan, get drenched by rain or even die? Well check this out…
Here’s a rhyme, how much wood could a wood chuck chop, if a wood chuck could chop wood? Here’s another. How much deception can be seen and heard, when there is no word, and nobody is really listening?
How long will we look the other way while people are ravaged by false teaching’s promoted by men who spread their own miracle rumors?
It was E.W. Kenyon in his book the Hidden man on pg.99 wrote, “I know that I am healed because he said that I am healed and it makes no difference what the symptoms may be in my body.” An example would be if they are coughing and you say you have a cough they respond by “no I don’t, I haven’t had a cough in years.” That’s called denial of reality at best, and lying at worst. …REad More!
A while ago a YouTube video featuring a well-known Nigerian preacher, David Oyedepo, slapping a congregant and calling her a witch may have been dismissed as a one off incident. However un beknownst to many it actually seemed to highlight a silently growing trend plus the power of some church leaders. In the clip below a teenage girl kneels before the pastor, and after saying she is a “witch for Jesus” he calls her a “foul devil”, slapping her violently across the face while the congregation cheers. In a later video (see video at end of article) , he can be seen boasting “I slapped a witch here last year.”
Recently in the UK a very disturbing trial came to an end. “Child witches” and exorcism was shown not to be a problem out there but rather under reported and very present even in the UK. In particular this trial shed light on the events surrounding the life of a young boy called Kristy….
When 15-year-old Kristy Bamu left his parents in Paris on 16 December 2010, he was looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays with his siblings, visiting their sister and her boyfriend in London.
On Christmas Day he was found by paramedics in the bathroom of an east London high-rise flat. His body had been mutilated, some teeth were missing and he was covered in deep cuts and bruising. In the last four days of his life he had suffered acts of unspeakable savagery, doled out by a man he called “uncle” and one of his own sisters.
Why? Because Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu, then both 28, were convinced the boy was a witch, possessed by spirits who wanted to bring evil into their home, the Old Bailey heard. On Thursday they were convicted of murder. They had earlier admitted actual bodily harm against Kristy’s sister Kelly and a younger sister, who cannot be named.
The judge, Mr Justice Paget, exempted the jury from jury service for the rest of their lives because of the “strain” of the trial, adding it was a case “every one of us will remember”. He said: “It has been a most remarkable case and at times a very harrowing case.” …Read More!
Many times the victims of false teachings (like prosperity gospel and word of faith) are never seen. Some perish in their new found teachings with wads of green money stuck between their teeth. Others wither out in oblivion far from these churches, empty handed with promises of riches and endless frustrations. Why are popular teachers hastily given the rubber stamp of approval without due consideration of the human cost of their destructive teaching?. Thabithi Anyabwile has an interesting article in which he highlights and puts a human face to this discussion. Meet Sean, here is his story…
I am, to be really honest here, very upset by the passé attitudes [towards Jakes] of these brothers (and pastors, I might add). I’m upset for a few reasons, but If I’m being honest, the main reason why I’m so disturbed by this is because the prosperity gospel nearly killed me. Literally. I was so sick I was on the verge of death. I was lying in a hot bath with a temperature of 96 degrees, way beyond dehydrated, and literally dying with mercury poisoning. My mother was crying over my naked body, begging me to go to the hospital for treatment. “NO!” I insisted. How could I put faith in a doctor? “God is my ultimate healer! In him alone will I place my faith!” …Read More!
I have not ceased to put this information out not only to highlight the importance of freedom of worship of this young man but also that the gospel may advance in countries like Iran. Today I will highlight another aspect of the story of profound theological importance. You see…
Youcef Nadarkhani has been reported in both the secular and Christian media and periodicals to be under a death sentence for his conversion from Islam to evangelical Christianity. He was arrested on 12th October 2009, in the city of Rasht in the northern part of Iran, where he had been the pastor of the underground church there. He is reported to be the evangelical pastor of “the Church of Iran”. However, what might come as a shock to many evangelical believers is that “Pastor” Nadarkhani is actually one of the leaders in a growing cult in Iran, which is linked with the Oneness Pentecostalism (Jesus Only) cult, which is non-Trinitarian, believes in baptismal regeneration, and is very closely linked and supported by the United Pentecostal Churches outside of Iran. They greatly admire and follow the teachings of an American preacher, William M. Branham, who claimed to be the last of God’s prophets on earth, that the doctrine of the Trinity is from the devil, and only those who are baptised in Jesus’ name are saved.
This is usually the last sentence that an addict will usually say before they are willing to get help. Those of you who have family members struggling with alcohol, drugs or other forms of addiction (and yup, sin too) know what I mean. This week (again) I have had to see some one I love go through denial after denial that they are struggling. Watching these 3 clips of Jeff Allen’s story and his struggles with alcohol and later coming to repentance and faith in Christ have been quite refreshing in a way.
It was about a week after Peter’s momentous confession of Jesus as the Christ at Caesare Philippi that Jesus took him up a high mountain, together with James and John. As Mark tells the story of what happened (Mark ix. 2-8), it is not difficult to discern behind his thirdpersonal narrative the account which Peter himself was accustomed to give in the first person. If we change ‘they’ and ‘them’ to ‘we’ and ‘us’, and put the pronoun ‘I’ in place of Peter’, this is the result:
‘He was transfigured before us, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to us Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And I said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For I did not know what to say, for we were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed us. and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around we no longer saw any one with us but Jesus only.’Read More!
The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 goes: “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they [self-righteous unbelievers, probably Pharisees] saw it, they all murmured, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’ Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'” Looking closely:
Zacchaeus is so very typical of the lost. The lost are those who are yet in their sins, lost from the fold of safety and salvation.
1) Zacchaeus was lost even though he had a good name. Zacchaeus means “the righteous one.” It may have been a noble gesture for his parents to bestow such a honorable name to him, but they could not bestow righteousness itself. He was, like every other member of humanity, from the womb a sinner (Psalm 51:5; 58:3), and therefore “a man who is a sinner” (v.7). Read More