Saturday, March 23, 2013

Celebrity Status In The Kingdom

When I was asked by a dear friend of mine to participate on a program entitled Celebrity Status in the Kingdom and how we got to this state in the body of Christ, a thousand thoughts ran through my mind. The first thought was what I’d shared with a friend on Twitter: More people in the pews equal more income for the leader/church staff.

If you were to watch a certain TV station from 5:00am to 7:00am, you’ll find so many followers, while the leaders offer gimmicks to the congregation/TV viewers truthfully to fleece the flock. One thing that bothered me was on Friday mornings was to see a man, who claimed to be a prophet, come on the TV screen offering to read you a prophecy for $29.99. The first thing that came to my mind was Miss Cleo (for those of you who might remember her). Its people like them and leaders in churches who typically carry themselves as if they are to be worshiped and the congregation better get in line. They typically carry an entourage and the congregation is not to get too close to the leader. They will demand a speaking fee, receive an honorary degree and even demand a five-star hotel, first class ticket, etc. I remember in my former church in my Men’s Bible Study where our pastor wanted us men to have gun permits so we can protect the pastor from anyone who makes threats to the pastor (now mind you, the pastor used to call women whores and that the men were nothing if the woman ran the house; to the women, they were to be quiet and be a domestic slave, produce sex when a man wanted it, etc. – all during a church service).

There are a few traits I’ve come to learn when a leader (and some Christian/Gospel artists) is prone to fall to the sin of “wanting to be a celebrity” – truthfully, it’s just wanting to be worshiped. If the celebrity has to defend his lifestyle (sinful or not) by making threats like “touch not my anointed,” that’s one trait. When the gospel is compromised by making service after service a lesson on giving to get blessed (or delivering a message to itch the congregation’s ears by saying what they want to hear and the congregation is lacking while the pastor/leadership staff is hoarding all of the funds, living large, with a personal chef, etc.), that’s the second trait. Now if all of that came from the pastor’s salary, I don’t have a problem with that.

I need to detour for a moment, because I can’t shake this thought: I can’t help but to think about the Worldwide Church of God in the 80s and early 90s. When Herbert W. Armstrong was over the church, the church grew massive (considering his teachings were SDA, he self-proclaimed himself a modern-day prophet – almost all of his prophecies did not come to pass). When Herbert passed, the leaders started questioning his teachings and decided to teach the Biblical truth. Of course, the membership fell, and income fell in the church. What’s the message here? In most cases, when there’s a big following, there’s a strong chance that God is not being worshiped, but the leader/prophet is (dead or alive). Sadly, we make that leader/prophet a celebrity (and this can happen inside or outside the church, cultic or non-cultic church).

Continuing on: A leader will become a celebrity when there’s a compromise of the gospel (where the pastor’s teachings become the Word of God and judgments of not following the leader’s teaching). I’ve even heard where leaders throw temper tantrums when they’re not treated like royalty whenever they go places (such as out to eat as a simple place). It’s like a title is thrown out so that the red carpet is put out for them. If Paul were alive, he would seriously frown at that.

When I think about church splits, it wouldn’t surprise me that the majority of the splits are not because of false doctrine, or because it’s led by God. I would suspect that the splits are because the leaders break off for attention and want the glory for themselves, so they don’t have to punch a clock.

And without belaboring this topic, I’ll close with this question: are you following God, or the leader who’s putting himself out as a celebrity? If we’re following the latter, Christ is not being glorified and that’s dangerous.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author Spotlight (Diane Simmons)

The beauty of social media is that you can meet people in different groups. We met in one group and we became instant friends. She's the author of The Moth's Flame and has a story for you. I'll let her share - and with that, show your love for my sister & fellow author Diane Simmons.

I was born June 17 in Cincinnati, Ohio to 15 year old parents who did the best they could raising my siblings and I. At the age of 12 my father was taken away from our family for protecting us and by age 16 our mother had abandoned me.

From the ages of 12-18 I was sexually assaulted by 3 different men; 2 in whom were cousins and 1 who is now my mother's husband. I have forgiven everyone involved and use the pain that I once felt to reach out to other children, teens and adults.

By the age of 21 I experienced my first heartbreak by the only man I thought I would ever love. Because I had become mentally ill with those that I loved the most leaving me I began to develop trust issues as well as sexually abuse myself. Due to my low self-esteem and inner pain I was shielding I became involved with a man who wanted to use that against me.

He was the first and last experience of an abusive relationship which lasted 3 1/2 years. During the course of our relationship I was raped several times in ways that were very uncomfortable. When I finally decided to leave him I became extremely depressed to where my needs were of an infant. If I wasn't fed, given something to drink, cleansed or had someone to comb through my hair it didn't get done.

I was the product of physical, mental, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse. The star of depression; flames within anger and no self-control. Grey hairs of low self-esteem and the STRENGTH in suicide. The capital "I" in invisible because that's what I wanted to be, to cover up the years of pain.



Author of The Moth’s Flame, The Moth’s Flame Deuces and Provisional Love With Options; each which focus on the subject of abuse. My mission is to speak out against harm done to children, men and women by educating our families about abuse through my experience and the understanding of others.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The AMCC (Part 4: The Poster Child)

If we say we love our brother, but at the same time play favorites (or treat people better cause they're part of the clique) or mock at what they're going through, is that really love? I’ve sat on this blogpost for a few weeks. Now, for the record, some people may think I’m actually being judgmental with this series (especially with Part 3). I view it simply as my perception and we are entitled to our opinions (no matter how radical they sound). When you go against what’s the norm and express your view, there’s a strong chance where you are either saying something that’s wrong (if so, please correct it), or God is giving you an awareness to what’s going around you. Now the only person we can actually change is ourselves, but if we’re to fulfill the great commission, we can only stay where we are for so long.

I want to spend this blog talking about this: when you go against the norm of the AMCC (I don’t care what type of church it is, but if it’s part of the AMCC mentality – that’s all about me, my family, and my clique) and you're becoming more aware to what’s going on, and you’re simply giving your opinion, but are ridiculed because you express it, there’s a strong chance where you will eventually become the poster child to the AMCC. It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. So what typically happens when you are a poster child?

Well, you stand out first and foremost. If you are in sin, you need to change first and foremost, but if it’s because you know without a doubt that God is called you to something great and others around you know it, it becomes a great divide between you and everyone else. The objective is not for you to be upset about it, but to learn from it. One of the bigger characteristics of being the poster child is when it’s expected of you to bring your problems to the majority so they can make a spectacle of you in front of everyone around. When you bring a problem, it’s to be a release, not something you wish you regret sharing. The sidebar to that is when others are having the same problem as you; others might weigh more heavily on theirs and give it more attention while you are made the poster child. When you are mentally challenged, you are a poster child and are off-limits to some people in the AMCC. Of course, these are risks you run when you’re the poster child. Again,it’s not always a bad thing. God is more and likely teach you something. Others will take offense because you’re going against the mindset.

Now mind you, you can easily leave the AMCC. But for some of us, we were directed to be there by the Lord and that's not a bad thing either. I wouldn’t encourage leaving until the Lord directs otherwise. Don’t grumble or complain, just observe and let the Lord Minister to you. Your work is not in vain. Never base your salvation on a man (whether a leader, prophet), it must be solely on Christ alone. Man will step on you to boast their ego and cover their hatred for you with a smile (especially if you don't think on the AMCC level). Shape your future based on the truth of God's Word. He will never fail you. Man will sell you out (and yes, sell outs can occur in your own church), so discern who you tell things to - the sellouts would be thrilled to make you the poster child. When God's anointing is on you (and if you don't bow down to the rules of the AMCC), members of the group will be threatened by you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The AMCC (Part 3: The Ostrich Syndrome)

I sat on this blogpost since the end of 2012. We had a guest preacher come to our church, and I was so glad that I was sitting in the back of the church. He delivered a message that left me no choice but to stand (and snoopy dance in a pre-dominant Caucasian church that’s about as quiet as a Presbyterian church) because it moved me to the core. Note I was near the exit in the back so no one could really see me (smile). Another brother (Caucasian) was also on his feet and we were both surprised that the church wasn’t moved to the core. In fact, 95% of the church felt as if he was either speaking Greek or he offended them because they were comfortable in their little seat in the church. Now mind you, my church (with both services combined) is about 1000 people. So, what was the sermon about? Getting off of your behind and fulfilling the Great Commission. To see the 95% respond as if they were appalled just showed me that some people (and not just in my church, but probably other churches in the world) are living in the ostrich syndrome. A person living with this syndrome doesn’t want to face reality, hear the truth, and hopes everything goes away by sticking his head in the sand. Many people who name the name of Christ are doing the same thing. The mentality of the ostrich syndrome in the AMCC is this: As long as it doesn’t bother me and my family (to include those in our Christian circle), I’ll stick my head in the sand. Tragically, it’s prevalent in the AMCC – I beg you, if you’re trapped either in this syndrome or in the church, please escape.

A little bit more information about the ostrich syndrome in the AMCC. Peter tells us the Jews to live among the Gentiles, but those in the ostrich syndrome are focused on separating from the world in totality. Of course, this is contrary to the “in the world, but not of it” mentality. It’s interesting that when we came out of the world, we were ecstatic. Now when we see others stuck in the world, we stick our heads in the sand and try to avoid them. That’s not fair to them (and we then sit and wonder why they won’t come to church).

OK, this was the gist of the lesson (and you will see when this is over, why this would offend someone in the AMCC) – focus scripture is 1 Samuel 14:1-23:
  1. No political party will is going to ever bring reconciliation to Southeast Asia or this nation, it’s only Jesus.
  2. God calls us to not be comfortable but to be courageous!
  3. Tutoring for kids where schools have to clean dung off of cafeteria tables so the kids could have a free breakfast. Again, not a political issue, but a church issue.
  4. We must die to self so that Christ can be glorified.
  5. The church needs to step up and defend the poor and needy!
  6. The church has been chillin’ too much! What do we do, be comfortable.
  7. We base church success on buns (how many buns are in the seats), buildings (how big is the building) and budgets (how big is the budget).
  8. The world doesn’t see who Christ really is because the church is so isolated and insulated.
  9. God is calling us to get out of our comfort place
  10. In the American church, we say if we don’t have it in the budget, we don’t do it.
  11. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (it doesn’t say “without it being in the budget”)
  12. In the church, we live with the mindset that we have to have everything mapped out and there’s no room for God to work (thinking perhaps the Lord will be with us)!
  13. If you just work out of compassion, you’re going to die! If you work out of a calling, God will fill you up and take care of you!
  14. Too often in the church, we’re looking for the Red Sea experience when God is saying, “Would you just do something? Would you just put your foot in? Would you know that I am with you? Be bold and be strong and be courageous for I am with you wherever you go!”
  15. The church sits back while the world goes to hell! We sit back while our neighbor is battling through everything when we’re more worried about the leaves that blow in our yard than their salvation!
  16. If you’re chillin’ in your house, at your job, in your church, at your school, God cannot and will not use you! Stop waiting for God to give you a “Yes.” He’s told us to go and spread His kingdom, make disciples! We don’t have to wait for a YES!
  17. Summary: we must go when we don’t have the dough; we must go when we don’t know and we must go until God says no!

What Breaks The Heart of God (Part 3: The Partial Commission)

This post is dear to my heart because I know so many people want to know the Lord Jesus Christ, but they have scales over their eyes. These people are like Saul and are searching for an Ananias like us to lay hands over them and share the gospel. Here’s what’s interesting, they’re in our state, our city and in our backyard.

Now, I don’t want to bash any mission ministry in churches. I applaud missions, and I have a heart for missions. I think the focus of missions has been misguided in some churches today (where we’re fulfilling the Partial Commission and not the Great Commission). What am I talking about? Either one of two things are the focal points when missions are talked about:
  1. Talk to your next door neighbor to bring them to church
  2. We’re going to share the gospel of Jesus, but it’s going to be in different countries

Jesus (when speaking to His disciples) said in Matthew 28:19-20: Go, then to all peoples EVERYWHERE and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.

To me, everywhere includes going to people in your backyard as well as different cities, states, regions, and countries! I remember when I was a young Christian; some of us men went door to door in the city we lived in. It wasn’t to ask them to come to church; the focus was sharing the gospel, and also asking them if we could pray for them for whatever they needed. You don’t hear much about that anymore.

What created this blog was a sermon a heard a few weeks ago about this, and I thought about a conversation I had with a very good friend of mine. My friend was sharing about how churches in the area where she lives think. She said that the churches have a fire for God and sharing the gospel of Christ, but it’s in other countries. What breaks my friend’s heart (and it broke mine when she told me) is that there is a huge mission field in her area (in fact, more than 55% deny the deity of Christ and are worshiping a dead prophet). It’s been said that the churches in that region burn out in their mission work to those who deny the deity of Christ in that area; however, I have to pose a question that must be answered by us Bible-believing Christians: are we sharing the gospel on our own strength? If we are sold out for Christ and we are constantly in prayer, constantly fasting, constantly interceding for anyone who is outside the body of Christ, there’s no limit to what God can do if we would simply be obedient to the Great Commission.

So, if we have a heart for lost people, share the love of Christ to someone around you. As we continue to hang with our typical group of people enjoying our salvation and point fingers at those who are lost, dying and on their way to hell, we’re seriously breaking the heart of God when He loves those who are lost and wants them to know Him for who He really is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Breaks The Heart of God (Part 2: Selling Your Soul)

The focus of this post is not going to sit over well with some people, but I know we’re living in a time where times are hard and people are doing what they can to make ends meet. What breaks the heart of God is not relying on him, but instead turning to people who can get you through the hard times at the expense of selling your souls. Most of the times, the ones who will get you through the hard times at the expense of selling your soul won’t tell you that upfront, it’ll be masquerading in most cases of it’s a sure win and your name will be written across the sky (that can be figuratively or literally). For fame, many people will sacrifice their soul, and sadly their religion. Everything you said you never thought you’d do has all been compromised and that breaks the heart of God. Revelation 2:4 says the following (this is Jesus speaking to the church at Ephesus): But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

I look at the world, and I sometimes marvel and how many people have sacrificed their soul for the sake of money, lust and power (to have blind people worship them). If we’re not careful, we can break the heart of God by blindly worshiping those who have forsaken the truth for money, lust and power. Some of you may be thinking I’m talking around in circles, so let me break it down a little bit further.

This spirit of selling your soul has already been in the world. Matthew 4 & Luke 4 record the same situation where Jesus was in the wilderness and the devil was speaking to Jesus. I will focus this blog on one statement the devil made and how so many people have fell prey to it (inside and outside the church): The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you fall down and worship me.” This is actually from Matthew 4:8-9. Jesus’ response in verse 10 was clear and that He knew that Satan was the god of this world. What is critical is the statement the devil made. Now I’m not glorifying the devil when I dissect the verse. I want you all to understand the trap that Satan is using to get us to sell our soul and break the heart of God. Satan said that he would give Jesus the world and the glory if He would fall down and worship him. Fall down! That means to give up what you have. And then worship the devil. Now, worshiping the devil isn’t as complicated as what people make it to be. It’s just two simple words: serving self!
Most of the kingdoms of the world are self-focused (where it’s all about human works and human character) and will take whatever measure they can to ensure that you deny Jesus and His deity.

The tragedy now is the fact, that the spirit of serving self and we have groups that are all about serving self though masquerading as religious. I find that quite interesting. Because so many of us are na├»ve to what’s going on around us, many of us are yoking up with groups with good intentions. The interesting thing about the devil is that he can transform himself into an angel of light. This is why some of these groups have a beautiful code of morality good enough to deceive the most intelligent. This is why we need God’s intelligence and not rely on our own understanding. Prayer and discernment is involved before we sign any contract or swear any allegiance to anything other than Jesus Christ.

Take a moment and look at the world around you. What are entities around you that are self-serving and are breaking the heart of God that we deal with on a day-to-day basis? I’ll just simply say to look at who controls jobs, economics, politics, education, government, police, military, banks, communications, entertainment (to include the literary world) – and that’s just some, not all. It’s the god of this world!

(This part in red font comes from the following website:
Because some have sold their souls, they can now do the following:
  1. …continue to offend God, and perpetuate generational curses throughout their family lines” (Exodus 20:5)

  1. “…sustain the altar of idolatry these organizations serve, and proliferate sin thru the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:15,16)

  1. “…get the next generation to spit in the face of their slave forefathers and their sacrifice to Christ, as they turn their backs on the God who freed blacks from slavery,” (Judges 2:10,11)

  1. “…further the teaching of the universal fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man, which says all religions lead to God, and undermine the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church, Who is the only way, truth and the life” (John 14:6)

  1. “…raise up a new generation of leaders, who are just as deceived as their followers into believing they are spiritually free, when they are not, and yet are on the pathway to hell.” (Matt 15:14)

One thing I said to myself and to my editor, “I may not be a best seller to the world; as long as I’m a best seller in His eyes, I’m satisfied!”

But on a more serious note, this matter is heartbreaking to God and if we have the heart of God, it should break ours too. It’s time for us to stop pacifying the world and start evangelizing the world for His glory! Remember, what profits a man to gain the world but lose his soul!