Truth Incorporated

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATruth is kind of a big deal to me. Maybe because knowing the truth has always been the best way for me to have peace of mind! It can be considered knowledge,and of course knowledge is power! Power needed to overcome the fear and anxieties which accompany it’s antithesis of lies and confusion. Over the year’s I’ve become frustrated with how unnecessary and manufactured that confusion often seems to be. Businesses use deceptively simple premises that sound good on the surface to entice people into becoming customers. Then when they’ve got you in the door they employ some form of a “bait and switch”. To my way of thinking, this sort of marketing strategy is little more than legalized falsehood…It seems as though you can lie in the large print if you tell the truth in the small!

That’s Corporate truth!

Over my lifetime I’ve been taken in many times by such tactics, which are, like any successful scam based on the greed of it’s intended victims. You have to present a “something for nothing” scenario in order to peak the selfishness of the intended “mark”. Because I’ve been burnt before, I’ve become quite sensitive and even resentful towards any institution or corporation that attempts to use this method to engage me. I’m leery of any offer which seems overly generous or “too good to be true” and rightly so I’d say!

Christianity can also be misrepresented to people. They’re told that after trusting in Jesus Christ as their Saviour they’re born again and that their burdens in life can be laid down there at the foot of the cross. Most people understand that to mean that life as they know it is going to get easier but if you’ve been “around” at all you know that’s not really true. I’m not saying that it never happens or even that it can’t happen, what I am saying is that it’s a process. One that requires a lot of hard work over time. One that you’ll need lots of help with! People who are mature in their faith know this is true. If you think that Satan is just going to stand by and watch while someone grows in Christ you’re dead wrong! Nope, he’ll attack anyone who’s moving in the opposite direction that he is! Truth is, if you’re not encountering his handiwork maybe you should consider which way you’re headed!

According to data I’ve looked at, Christianity is in decline in the United States. Why? I think it’s because we’ve totally underestimated our enemy! We don’t believe we’re in a spiritual battle and that lives are at stake. No, either we’ve somehow been convinced that half measures and playing Church is God’s purpose for us as His ambassadors or perhaps we just don’t care.

There’s a lot more to being a Christian then just walking down an aisle and saying a prayer! That’s just the start! But if you want to live a victorious Christian life there’s a lot more to it. I’m talking about discipleship,which can’t sail without relationship! Relationships that run much deeper than shaking someones hand on Sunday morning and that aren’t put off by the walls that people have built around their hearts.

2888670193_949c834e3aThis symbol appears through the Ancient Ephesus. This symbol, a code unknown to the Romans was used by the Christians to indicate they were followers of Christ

Somewhere along the way the church’s priorities have changed from operating in the five fold ministries they’ve been called to in Ephesians four to instead function more like a business whose goal is warm bodies in pews paying tithes. God’s Spirit won’t occupy and empower that…but without His Holy Spirit they’re selling a product that doesn’t really work! Maybe that explains the large number of dissatisfied Christian consumers who’ve left the church seeking something they perceive as being based more on integrity.

These types of marketing strategies don’t work on people who,because of their sense of integrity,see them for what they are. Who aren’t only interested in their personal gain or benefit but also in that of the other parties involved. They seek true value, to pay a fair price for any goods or services because they understand the interconnection that exists between all members of an economy and have an uncommon respect for what’s known as “parity”.

The last time I was in church the pastor made fun of people like me who write blogs critical of the church. He said it was like saying “Lord I love you, but Your bride? Not so much” I understood his point but maybe not all church’s deserve that title…

Gandhi didn’t think so!

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not just here trying to be critical or condemning, I freely admit that I’m struggling just as much as anyone to try and understand what we as the church should be doing.

When I ask myself that question it seems to become less about “what” and more a matter of how can we do it?

By what power?

Again, we know the answer…by the Holy Spirit!

Okay,how do we “get that”?

What does the Bible say?

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

I read this quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks…

 “I am Pentecostal by necessity, not by choice.” Dick Brougdan

I do know this much…LOVE is the answer!

The answer to any problem as I see it is to simply figure out a way to get closer to God, Who is love!

And then we won’t be able to not love others in a genuine way just as He loves us!

Now that sounds like the truth to me…

Not “Truth Incorporated”

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Stitches In Time…

Hello! My name is Jeff Brown and I’m with the Vineyard Ministry fellowship and Outreach Center in Doniphan,Mo. We’ve rented the old Ben Franklin building on Washington St. and we’re in the process of establishing an ongoing ministry there centered around supporting people with drug and alcohol addictions in their efforts to find deliverance by establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ. As God allows we’d also like to expand into other areas including couples counseling and helping people dealing with depression. I’d like to tell you why I feel as though this is a vitally important undertaking, and why I feel as though it’s something that all of us should be concerned with.

Most of us are familiar with the expression “A stitch in time saves nine” It simply means that to deal with things now can prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem later. A stitch in time can save nine, it may even save 900,or even 9000, depending on it’s location the impact of that one stitch can be huge!   My parents were divorced when I was nine, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my mother confided in me that the problems they had in their marriage were in fact actually very minor. I’m left to wonder what kind of a difference “a stitch in time” might of made to everyone in my family.

Some people have misconceptions about counseling or psychology and when they hear either term concerns arise as to their real value or even if they’re something the church should be involved with at all. This is a valid concern because some of what secular psychology has to offer is in contradiction to basic Christian beliefs.  It’s important that we  understand where the two part ways and stick to what Gods word teaches.

As an example, a few years later when I was twelve I was caught selling drugs at my Jr. High school. One of the results of that was my being referred to a psychologist for counseling, I met a wonderful man who I know cared a great deal about me and who I’m sure would’ve done anything to help me. I’m not saying he didn’t help me at all, perhaps he may of kept me from careening off of some precipice but despite seeing him continuously for several years I continued to us drugs. He simply didn’t know how to reach me, and despite all of his endeavors to rebuild my shattered self esteem I believe they failed because I simply wasn’t buying the idea of my being worth loving. His therapy fell short because it’s success hinged on my acceptance of something my worldly perceptions showed me to be false. Would it have made a difference if he had shown me in Gods word that it was because of His great love for me that God had sent His son to die for all of the things I hated so much about myself ? I can only speculate as to the different effect it might of had if he would’ve told me that God had a wonderful plan for my life and that He  wanted to have a personal relationship with me.  If, instead of trying to convince me to love myself despite the mess I was, he would’ve helped me to see how much I was already loved, and encouraged me to allow Jesus into my heart what a difference it might’ve made!

When I’m counseling a young couple with marital problems I think about my own parents and what I wish someone might have told them about the far reaching ramifications of what they’re contemplating.

When I talk to a young man struggling with his identity who has chosen to hide who he really is behind drugs I can tell him about where that took me and help him to understand that there’s a much better choice available to him.

All of my years of people watching have taught me something important and that is, “Where people are concerned, things are seldom what they seem”. Peoples outward behaviors seldom reflect their true feeling’s or tell the real story of what’s happening on the inside. And while that may sound complicated it’s really as simple as understanding that every one of us is just trying to be loved! And because we may never have experienced what that truly means I think that I can say without any qualification that it is without a doubt the most confusing aspect of life and that it’s the primary cause of all of mans problems. Following a trail of lies left by our enemy we’re drawn into a myriad of dead end streets strewn with broken glass and other garbage that we’re willing to ignore if we believe that in doing so it might bring us this elusive prize. We seek it out in substances like drugs and alcohol, dysfunctional human relationships, of course material possessions, all of which have the habit of leaving us empty and unfulfilled, some of which leave us dead.

I want people to know that God loves them!

As I see it, there are only two kinds of people. Those who have been greatly blessed by the presence of mentoring relationships in their lives and those who have greatly suffered as a result of not having them. If you’re in the first category, It honors the memory of that person who helped you to “pay it forward”and be that person in another s life.  If you’re the latter, it’s a sacred thing to reach out to people in an effort to keep someone else from making the same bad choices you did and perhaps from suffering the same consequences.

What has God done for you? What barriers did He have to patiently wait for your consent to remove from your life even while it caused Him so much pain to watch as you needlessly suffered?

The story of God and man is a story of love and of redemption; it’s a story of a creator and His rebellious creation and the extraordinary lengths that He’s willing to go to reach them.  In Gods word He goes into detail as to the lengths He’s willing to go to in showing us His love.

John 3:16-17

16For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

I purposely included the 17th verse, because it breaks down any excuses I could possibly have to not be doing something to reach out to a world in bondage to ignorance, pain, and evil, with the love, redemption, and deliverance of Christ! When we choose to see ourselves and others as God see’s us, with compassion, it’s then that we can begin to understand the life changing power of Gods love and it’s there that we can be “convinced” as the reality of what Paul stated in his epistle to the Romans.

Romans 8:38-39

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’ve said all of this in an attempt to explain to you why I’m doing what I’m doing but most importantly, I’m saying it out of my own personal gratitude for what’s been done for me! Many people considered me a lost cause; they saw me as a no good drug addict and told me I’d never amount to much. But praise God it was a loving savior who spoke truth into my life and made me see the lies of the enemy and all of the weapons which were formed against me, It was Jesus who reached out a hand to me and showed me my own self as He saw me, Who lifted me up out of the broken glass and garbage I was in and gave me hope and faith that because of His love for me those weapons would not continue to prosper against me, that I was somebody very special in Christ, because of His love for me!

What, if anything, could I ever do in return to show my gratitude or to show how much I love the Lord?

Matthew 25:35-40

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

If we as the church are to have the impact on this world that God has called us to we’re going to have to make some stitches where people are injured and bind up some wounds to heal the brokenhearted. We must do it now while we still have the opportunity,  in time for it to make a difference. I’m asking you to join us in this undertaking, that it might become an overtaking victory for the sake of Gods kingdom and in the name of Jesus The Christ!

Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised

Matthew 16:19

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Ezekiel 34:16

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.