Archive for January 2011
Is God Ugly?
I don’t mean for this question to sound like it borders on blasphemy. It is important for me not to be flippant or sacrilegious about things that are Divine. With that being said, I will ask the question one more time. Is God ugly?
The Prophet Isaiah makes an amazing prophecy about the coming of the Messiah. He describes him and portrays him in a very uncomplimentary manner.
Is. 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Is. 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
When man makes a grand entry, he normally tries to ‘put his best foot forward’. Why then did Jehovah choose to wrap Himself up in human flesh that apparently wasn’t the best He could make?
The mind of man would think, ‘Why He could have gotten more followers if He’s had some ‘great’ looks. People will follow someone that’s easy to look at. That was not how God planned to present Himself.
When God came to earth in the flesh, there was nothing beautiful about Him. I want to talk about that very thing. Look first at the Old Testament.
1. Noah’s Ark – The wood was covered with pitch. It looked ugly on the outside. No one in Noah’s generation outside of his own family was able to get past the ‘Ugly’. They all perished.
2. The Tabernacle In The Wilderness – The outside of the Tabernacle was covered with dyed badger skins. To those that had been there, they KNEW the real beauty was on the INSIDE. It was on the INSIDE that the golden vessels were displayed. It was on the INSIDE that the beautiful Veil hung concealing the Holiest of Holies. INSIDE there was the Shekinah, the Glory of the Lord.
Once the Israelites got past the Ugly, they found the real beauty.
1Pet. 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1Pet. 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
1Pet. 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
To those that take the time to Know Him and Believe, He is Precious.
- If Living for God is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Worship is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Giving God the Tenth of your income is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Holiness is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If the preaching of Doctrine is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Long Hair on Women and Short Hair on Men are Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Standards are Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Separating yourself from the World is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If the Prayer Room is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
- If Winning Souls is Ugly to you, you just don’t know Him very well.
And the list goes on…
When living for God is longer attractive to you, you don’t really know Him very well. It tells me that you don’t really Believe. It tells me you are Disobedient. (1 Pet 2:7)
Can you get past the Ugly? If you can, He will become Precious to you!
She Doesn’t Want To Live With Him
Is. 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
As a young man this scripture seemed unbelievable. I could not fathom a scenario where seven women would be desperate enough that they would fall all over themselves to have some man’s name.
I was thrilled to find one woman who wanted to take my name. But Isaiah speaks of a seven to one ratio. That’s a lot. I understand the literal interpretation of the scripture in it’s context. However, I see that verse in an additional light today.
The number Seven in Scripture may refer to more than just a number. It may also include in it’s meaning, things like perfection, completeness, and fullness.
In the Book of Revelation the number SEVEN is used throughout. There are SEVEN churches, SEVEN Spirits, SEVEN stars, SEVEN seals, SEVEN trumpets, SEVEN vials, SEVEN personages, SEVEN dooms, and SEVEN new things. SEVEN symbolizes Spiritual Perfection. All of life revolves around this number. SEVEN is used over 700 times in the Bible. It is used 54 times in the Book of Revelation.
All of that is impressive, but what about today? Christianity is demonstrating that verse in a very vivid manner. It’s quite easy to see it everywhere.
Many denominations believe in prayer and healing. They believe in miracles as well. They also pray invoking the name of Jesus to heal, to save, and to deliver. Some even believe in the Holy Ghost.
Most stop short of Holiness and the complete Acts 2:38 experience. Some have left the Acts 2:38 experience and turned their backs on Holiness and separation from the world.
It’s as if they are saying to the Lord:
We want your permission to use your Name in Prayer and in everyday life. But:
- We want to set our own standards.
- We want to workout our own life style.
- We want to dress like we want to.
- We want to make our own rules.
- We want to live the way we are comfortable with. Without undo interference in our life from your Scriptures.
- We don’t think all of your requirements are necessary.
- We ONLY want your Name.
- We don’t care to really LIVE with you.
And there, in my opinion is the sad story of this modern-day. They love the Lord and say His name. They wish to use it when they need it or get in trouble. They just don’t like ‘Living’ in His Word or in His world. They wish to continue in theirs.
Is. 40:3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Is. 40:4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.”
The Old Testament saints understood the Prophet’s words. He referenced the custom of Kings requiring that their chariot rides were to be made on smooth roads. Servants of the King spent much time maintaining the roads for their master.
If the season’s rains had washed out the road, it was important that the potholes and washouts be filled and leveled. All bumps were to be removed also. The road was to become straight… or level.
John quoted Isaiah and warned his generation to prepare the way because the King of Kings was coming.
- John 1:23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
We modern-day Pentecostals have an understanding of the words of the Prophet and of John the Baptist. The arrival of the Messiah was being announced. His servants were preparing the way.
There is one scripture that is often overlooked in the book of Proverbs, however. The same word is being used about man who is used about Kings. The word ‘straight’ is spoken concerning our personal life.
- KJV Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
- KJV Prov. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
- NIV Prov. 3:6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
- GOD’S WORD® Translation Prov. 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.
The wisest man in the world understood that if we trust in the Lord:
- Don’t allow our own intellect to solve our problems,
- Allow God to take control.
- He (The Lord) will make our paths straight.
- He will smooth out our road.
Is your road a little bumpy right now? God is willing to make your life smooth.
The Night Shipment Of Tears
“The Night Shipment of Tears has arrived. We need to sort them first, according to the sender’s name, and then secondly by the fragrance of the prayer or tears. Make sure each golden bottle is properly sealed and labeled. They must be preserved and readily available for the 24 Elders when they bow before the Throne.
“Then, on this Leger here, I want you to enter today’s date, the sender’s name, and also the subject of their prayer, so we can sort these vials according to their specific odors.
“I don’t have to remind you to hurry, we’ve got more shipments on the way. A backlog is not acceptable.”
“The tears and the prayers of the saints have been captured on earth by our Angels and sealed into golden vials. They are Earth’s most prized possessions. There is nothing that the Lord counts more valuable than these.
“The tears of each prayer type have odors that only He can discern. It is the only earthly thing allowed to enter into this, the Holiest of all places.
“In a few more days, the Four and Twenty Elders will come and bow before His throne. They will bring their harps and they will bring these vials before the Lord.”
Michael the Archangel looked around at his fellow Angels. They all nodded their acceptance of the requests and turned to busy themselves.
They took each bottle and attached a small label that had this notation:
The vials were then stored in a large room of innumerable vessels holding the tears and the prayers of the saints. Their odors were a sweet-smelling fragrance that could only be enjoyed by the King of Kings.
(Your prayers and your tears are not unnoticed. They are not treated lightly. Heaven captures your tears and puts them into golden vials. Their fragrance will become the aroma around the throne of God.)
Psa. 56:8… put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Rev. 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
He Fell A Lot, But The Bible Called Him Righteous
Can you imagine the Holy Bible calling an apparent failure, a righteous man? That surely is stretching it a bit far.
- Everyone can see the man’s got a problem.
- His behavior was so bad; folks began to count how many times he fell.
- Look at him. He can’t stop apologizing.
- It’s like the guy can’t go a day without falling down.
- Some act like they don’t want to be around him. He’s got problems
- Unbelievable! He’s fell down Seven times, and yet the Bible called him Righteous!
English Standard Version (©2001)
Prov. 24:16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
Prov. 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
New International Version (©1984)
Prov. 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.
There’s Hope! Get Back Up!
We Failed The Pentecostal Credit Report
(Imagine what it would be like if you had to pass a “Pentecostal Tithes Credit Report” to Join or Transfer to another church.)
“Harold! We’ve just been denied membership into the First Pentecostal Church,” Maggie said as she set her bags of groceries on the counter..
“Denied? How can they do that? Why would they do that?”
Maggie turned and faced her husband.
“Well, when we filled out the Application for Membership, we had to grant them permission to do a Credit Check on us and…”
“Oh, that still sticks in my craw that they would require us to do that. This is not how they use to do it!” exclaimed Harold.
“Anyway,” Maggie continued, we were denied membership. I asked the Church Secretary to give me a reason why. Maybe there are laws or something, you know, against them doing that.”
“What did she say?”
“The way she explained it was, if we bought a car, or bought a house, bought a cell phone, or even rented an apartment we would be subject to a credit check.
“She said people are turned down all the time because the seller or the landlord sees you have a poor or late record of payment. They become leery of selling or renting to you.”
“Well, what on earth does that have to do with us and the Church?” Harold wanted to know.
“Everything.” She said.
“Back in 2011 when we transferred to another Church, we didn’t have that problem, why now?”
“The Secretary said that lately, all Pentecostal Churches have been doing a Credit Check of a different sort. Every Monday, all Church Secretaries have to send in a report. All those that pay tithes are given a good rating and those that don’t are given a bad rating. Those that miss giving their tithes regularly are viewed as unacceptable members. They are ‘non-contributors’ she said. They are not viewed as a desirable transfer.
“Now days Pastors review prospective transfers and they request a report on each one. That is part of what they base their decision on.
“We haven’t been faithful our tithes in the past, so they would prefer if we go somewhere else. We failed the Pentecostal Credit Report.”
Results of a Critical Spirit
(Guest article by Pastor Mark McKinney, Indianapolis, Indiana.)
23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
Tongue: law-shone; fig. (speech, an ingot, a fork of flame): — + babbler, bay, + evil speaker, language, talker.
- Keepeth his mouth.
- He who is without sin.*
- You can’t whitewash yourself, by blackening others.
When a sinner is converted they enjoy:
- Bible Study
- Prayer Meetings
- Church in general
- Thinks everybody loves one another
- All seems to be wonderful
Then Critical Spirit Develops:
- Pastor doesn’t seem capable anymore
- His decisions not as sound as before
- He stands smaller in esteem
- Sermons don’t seem to have effect anymore
- Saints are hypocrites
- Bad feelings causes divisions
A Critical Spirit Denotes:
- A deficient Prayer life. (Pro. 28:9)
- A bitter spirit. (He. 12:15-17) *
Bitterness: Painful to the mind or body; Unpleasant to accept, hard to bear, distressful. Harsh as cutting words, cruel, characterized by intense animosity
Results of Bitter Spirit:
- God won’t bless over the mess
- Feelings of others will get involved
- Valuable ground has been lost, may never be regained.
- Spirit like a virus (highly contagious)
- Revival hindered (repentance and confession in order)
*Where it all Leads*
- Rumors ‑ Tale bearing
- False accusations (the devil is the accuser of the brethren)
- Evil imagination (second guessing) *
- Slander: A false tale or report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of another
- Critical spirit will not accept council.
- (Pr.9:8‑10, 15:32‑33, 19:20‑23)
- Guilty of self‑justification
- (f) Raising a generation of cursed children
- Cursed by their own parents spirit
- Faith in church gone
- Lack of confidence in Pastor’s life
- Ministry, and prayers
- Loss of love for Saints and church.
* Charity *
I Co. 13:1‑7
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
~ Bro M. S. McKinney
How To Quit Sinning For Dummies
- Can I actually stop sinning? YES!
- Don’t I need the Holy Ghost to stop sinning? NO!
Up until the 1980’s, America had spent an astronomical amount of taxpayer’s money trying to discover ways to stop Drug usage in children, all to no avail. They later came up with a plan that was unbelievably simple. The name of the new program was simple too. The Government’s advice was “JUST SAY NO”.
Eventually, this approach was also expanded to deal with violence, premarital sex, and any other vices that young people might try.
The slogan was created and championed by First Lady Nancy Reagan during her husband’s presidency according to Wikipedia.
Imagine the solution was to just say, NO!
There are many examples of the Word of God in the Old Testament telling us not to sin. Even Jesus told people not to sin BEFORE the Holy Ghost was given.
SINNING IS A CHOICE
- No one makes you.
- You do it because you want to.
- The Bible says you can quit.
QUITTING IS EASY
- Even a Dummy can quit.
- No experience required.
- No 12-step program required.
WHAT DO I DO?
- The First thing you must do is Repent. Ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you!
- Then quit sinning.
- Isn’t that overly simplistic? NO! It’s exactly what the Bible says to do.
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES
1. JUST THROW IT OUT
- Gen. 35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
- Josh. 24:23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
2. TURN YOUR BACK ON IT
- 2 Chron 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
3. CEASE AND DESIST
- Psa. 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
- Is. 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES
4. JUST STOP IT
- John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
- John 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
- 1Cor. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
5. DROP IT LIKE A HOT POTATO
- Heb. 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
6. RUN FROM IT
- 1Cor. 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body.
- 2Tim. 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
7. JUST DON’T DO IT
- James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
TO STOP SINNING IS NOT ENOUGH
- You must be Born Again
- You can’t go to Heaven unless you are.
How Do I Become Born Again? A large crowd of people asked the Apostle Peter that on the Day of Pentecost. His advice was to the point.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- Repent. Tell Jesus you are sorry. That’s your job.
- Get Baptized in Jesus Name. That’s the Preacher’s job.
- Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. That’s God’s job to give it to you. (You will speak in tongues when you receive it.)
NOW, GO DO THE RIGHT THING!
He’s Worse Than A Stalker
When I was a kid, this guy I knew kept getting me in trouble. At times we had a lot of fun, but things turned ugly a time or too. My parents talked to me about him. The talks helped, it seemed like they didn’t do much lasting good.
It was like I couldn’t get rid of him. He kept getting all up in my business and everything. He followed me everywhere. He was worse than a stalker.
He went to our church. He would talk to me sometimes during the service. During worship he would occasionally smirk at me with disapproval when I lifted my hands. He would try to intimidate me. In the prayer room he sometimes tried to distract me and shorten my prayer time.
I talked straight to him many times. I told him how I hated what he did to me. I told him how I hated how he got me in trouble all the time. How he let me take the blame for his stupid ideas. I told him I didn’t want him messing up my life anymore.
My Pastor read him the riot act too. My Parents even told him they disapproved of his conduct. My Friends talked about him. It was unbelievable. He still never went away.
He was nice enough and apologetic. But he somehow always slipped back into his old ways as soon as the pressure was off.
We went to the same school together and he got me in trouble there too. I was dumb enough to do most of the things he dared me to do. He would tell me stuff and when I repeated it, it got me into a lot of trouble.
I spent a lot of time in the Principals Office and in Detention because I did what he told me to do. It was like I couldn’t help myself. I was weaker than I thought. He brought me much shame and embarrassment. I paid dearly.
My friends got frustrated and sometimes put some distance between him and them. My family tried to not hurt his feelings, but I can tell, he sometimes maxes them out.
I’ve even taken him over to the Prayer Room several times and told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted to pray him through. And a few times I did.
This dude has interfered into my life more times than I can count. The Police won’t arrest him for stalking. They haven’t been successful with running him off either. He ignores restraining orders. It’s like I can’t get away from him. Every time I look into the mirror, he stares back at me.
Rom. 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom. 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom. 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom. 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom. 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom. 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom. 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
When Is It A Bad Time To Call Your Pastor?
“Don’t call me to ask if you should change the baby’s diapers. It’s God’s will. Don’t call me to see if it’s OK if you to go to K-Mart. You don’t have to call and ask permission, it’s OK.
“Don’t call me if your cat has pups. Well, actually if your cat has pups,” He said, “Call me. I’d like to see them.”
Every pastor has been ‘blessed’ with untimely phone calls. There apparently is a button on the pastor’s behind that makes the phone ring when he sits down for a family meal. He knows what it’s like to get calls in the middle of the night as well.
Too often, phones ring 24 hours a day in a Pastor’s world. Not only does he have a house phone, his cell phone makes a tether that ties him forever to the needs of everyone.
Some callers only focus on their needs and feel like calling the Pastor is somehow equal to calling Directory Assistance. It’s there, so why not call if the thought strikes you. They feel that Pastors are paid to answer all their phone calls.
When is the best time to call? When is it ever a bad time? I would never advise someone not to call the Pastor when they really do need help. But I do ask that your Pastor’s personal life be respected.
- Is this call an emergency?
- Are you sick and need prayer?
- Do you just need advice or have a question that needs to be answered?
- Are you going on a trip and need to let him know?
- Do you have to miss the church?
Cell phones were invented in the 1970’s. Phone Mate introduced their Answering Machine in the 70’s. Caller ID was invented about the same time. Until that time, Pastors only had house phones and if they were out, you had to wait until they came home.
Now days, we have somehow developed the idea that he is at everyone’s beck and call 24/7. No wonder the stress level in the parsonage rises above acceptable levels at times. At some Pastor’s homes, it seems the phone never stops ringing.
Society regards your Pastor as a Professional. He is treated by the outside world with deference and respect. We should do the same. Speaking of Professionals…
What hours do Professionals accept phone calls from their patients, clients or contacts?
Doctors have office hours, something like 8:30am to 4:30pm. And, do not call during lunch because it will go to directly to voicemail. After hours, your call to the good Doctor will connect you with his Answering Service. They determine if it is a worthy enough message to pass along.
Lawyers and Private Detectives follow suit.
Government Officials like State Representatives and Congressmen do the same.
Bankers, well you know about them.
Even the Mayor will get back with you in the morning.
Yet we unknowingly invade our Pastor’s personal time and rob him of family moments on a regular basis. It’s wrong and unfair. His wife and children are often robbed of one on one time with him because of the phone calls.
Please, before you pick up the cell to call or text your Pastor, look at the clock. Then ask yourself if the call is really that urgent. Can it wait? Be considerate. If it’s mealtime, don’t call at all.
If it’s after supper, realize he too enjoys his home and his family. Let him. Let him have time to rest and recoup from the day. Call him during the same hours you would call any other Professional.
A rested and strong Pastor will always be able to serve your needs better. Thank you for remembering and being considerate.
God bless you for your thoughtfulness, and God bless your Pastor.
By The Way… If you happen to have your pastor’s cell phone number or his private line at home, do NOT give it out unless he has made that number public. Guard his privacy. Thank you!
(On the other hand, I’m an Evangelist, and Evangelists are willing to receive phone calls and invitations and from Pastors any time of the day!)