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Archive for February 2010

Intercessory Prayer, We Miss You!

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Intercessory Prayer, We Miss You!

This is just a line to let you know how things are since you’ve gone. It’s not the same without you, nor will it ever be. Although our lives seem shallow and empty when you’re not here, we’ve learned to make up for you in other ways. We’ve learned to live without you.

We now run the aisles, leap for joy, jig to the music, sing catchy choruses, and tap our feet in time to the rhythm of the drums. We use sticks, banners, black lights and our sign teams do a tremendous job acting out recorded music. We’ve learned to worship without you.

The prayer rooms are mostly silent now. Those that do go there, for the most part, come away dry-eyed. A lot of praying now is chanting and singsong style. That’s how we know we’re in the groove. We pray memorized phrases that come automatically. We love what we call Prayer Walks. Most of us don’t even close our eyes anymore during prayer. We just walk and pray while we look around. We pray because it is required. No one prays till they break through anymore. We just pray till our ten minutes are up.

Family altars are almost unheard of now. You can’t imagine how busy we are and how hectic our schedules have been. It’s unbelievable. We get up in the morning and never stop till we go to bed at night. We do try to make it to church most services and get some praying in there during the service, but prayer at home is kind of out of the question. That may be another reason you haven’t heard much from us.

Oh sure, we still believe in prayer, as such. But not very many of us are anxious for you to come back. (You were always the polite type, you know, never forcing yourself on anyone. You never came uninvited. You only left because you were ignored.)

The sad truth is you’re not really needed anymore. You see, most of us have hospitalization insurance now. (It sure takes away that old desperate feeling we used to have.)  So now, there’s no need to pray more than the few minutes it takes to drive to the Emergency Room.  Also, we don’t have to ask for our daily bread like we used to. We now have better jobs with good benefits and government programs to fall back on.

If we lose our jobs, there is always Unemployment or Welfare. If we retire or become disabled, Social Security now supplies our needs.  So, you can see, we’re doing OK.  Other things have filled the void in your absence. Sure we miss you. But we’re getting over it some how. Actually, we’re too busy to entertain you right now, even if you tried to come back. I hope you understand.

We are having revivals now without you. It’s not hard. The pastor fasts and prays, along with a couple others. The evangelist preaches mostly just to sinners now. Most of us try to get to church in time for the first song or two.  We justify the fact that the number of new converts is down.  Yes, there seems to be diminished conviction, less lasting victory, fewer miracles and many young people are backsliding. We agree, however, that it’s not us that are at fault here; it’s just the times we’re living in. It’s like this everywhere.

As your friend, I’m writing this to you, knowing how much it must hurt you to have folks say they miss you…  and yet in their material and intellectual progress, they’ve weaned themselves away from the haunting memory of you.

What hurts, I know, is that we were children you personally raised. You were always there when we needed you. (But now… we don’t.) You taught us about faith. You taught us about miracles. You taught us about a move of God. You taught us about revival. You taught us about how to touch God. Thank you for that, but you see, this is a new day and we are trying to go to the next level. Our services are structured differently now.

Do you know… can you believe, that now when you are ever mentioned in church, everyone gets real quite?  They all feel guilty I’m sure. It’s like they experience a momentary twinge of guilt while they consider their part in your disappearance.  Once in awhile some even get misty eyed when we talk about the old times you shared with us. But all that feeling vanishes along with the pizza right after church.

No, Intercessory Prayer, your coming back really wouldn’t work right now.  We’re too blessed. We’re doing too well.  We’re comfortable. In your day, you served your purpose, but the sentiment of most today is that we can manage OK without you now.  We’ve got better clothes, cars, homes and prettier and bigger churches than ever.

By the way, do you remember all the folks of yesteryear coming into the sanctuary with red-rimmed eyes?  Remember the baggy looking knees in men’s’ suits?  Remember all night prayer meetings?  Remember the depth that was in worship?  Remember when sinners couldn’t sit in their pews any longer, and would run to the altar?  Remember when you could feel unity and brotherly love? When folks helped bear one another’s burdens? When the saints didn’t watch the clock? When they could hardly wait to enjoy the after service atmosphere, praying around the altar until the wee hours of the morning? Boy, those were to good old days. We call that “Old School.”

Well, it’s pretty much all gone now. But you ought to see our new Hammond C-3, our new drum set with a cage and everything. Electric bass guitars are just awesome and the electric guitars too. We use Praise Singers to help cover up the fact that our congregations don’t sing like they should or used to. We let them do most of our worship for us. Our Choirs just do terrific on the new style songs. Old saints don’t like the new songs much, but the younger crowd seems to like them. Many music directors don’t even know some of your old favorite songs, so they don’t get played much anywhere.

You would be proud of our church buildings. Carpet on the floors, there are pews now instead of benches and they are padded too, besides. The arched beams are beautiful, we also have the loveliest of imported chandeliers.  Our pastor has polish too. He doesn’t preach long. We are more concerned about sermon length now, than content. Our pastor spices up his sermons with cute sayings… but I guess that’s progress for you. “Win some, lose some.”

Speaking of “lose some”, we’re losing a surprising percentage of our young people. An unbelievable number of marriages have gone on the rocks. Many lives have been in jeopardy. But that’s to be expected I guess. Teenagers seem to be at war with their parents and want to dress more and more like the kids at the public school. Our youth meetings may not have much in the way of prayer, but we have great icebreakers, skits and games.

We have plenty of medicines nowadays to help our aches and pains. What more could we ask for?  Sure we miss you, but I guess we really don’t NEED you right now.

I hope you’re not offended.  I don’t mean for you to be.  You’ll always have a special place in my memory.  You were very kind and generous to me. You sure got me out of some hard times. I can’t thank you enough!  Still, this is a generation now that doesn’t know you at all. Your coming would probably scare them.

Remember the night when my mother sat at the piano bench and you joined her there? Remember how she wept and groaned in the Spirit and slumped to the floor during the revival service and how some tried to call the ambulance because they thought she was sick? They never knew you and her were talking.

That’s what I mean. A good many never got to know you well.  And most never knew you at all. Those that knew you personally have waited so long to talk to you that they are now, to say the least, embarrassed.

So while we are trying to work out our feelings about you, and see where you might fit into our plans in the future, you might try your luck someplace else. Try Brazil, Ethiopia, or how about the Philippines?  You might have better luck in Third World Countries, or behind the iron Curtain. You might even luck out and find someone to talk to you in some little storefront on the other side of the tracks. Surely someone somewhere needs you.

We’re terribly sorry, Intercessory Prayer, we miss you, but we really don’t NEED you… right now!

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 28, 2010 at 5:28 am

God Has A Diaper Bag!

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God Has A Diaper Bag!

One of the joys of parenthood is to take your little “precious” out of the house and show them off to family and friends We take them to church as well.

An earthly father is often pretty clueless about how much time, patience and effort goes into getting a baby ready to go out of the house. He often is frustrated that his wife and infant are not ready for church in the same amount of time it took him to shower and shave. But, that might be a story for another blog.

When they get to church, friends are quick to show the baby attention and some even ask if they can “hold it.”

Imagine then the service progressing and a friend on the same row is enjoying holding the new baby. Then something happens that distracts and demands immediate attention. The baby has just made a mess. Immediately the child is handed back to the parent that has the diaper bag.

What does mom (or dad) do now? Their ‘pride and joy’ has just made a mess. Stink is in the air (that is why you want to have a diaper pail with a lid at home). Everyone looks to see what is going to happen next. The congregation’s nose hairs are getting glued together by the aroma. All eyes are now on the parent too. How long will they wait before something is done? Where will they take the child?

Parents never say, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this child would EVER make a mess! I never dreamed on of my children would ever do something like this. I am so embarrassed. Maybe I should throw this one away and try to make another that won’t do this. I’m mortified.”

When “Junior” makes a mess, the first thing that is reached for is the diaper bag. That bag was packed before they left the house. It was probably packed before the baby was dressed for church and before leaving home. Mama was aware that babies make messes. Sometimes they make lots of messes. Mommies don’t think less of their babies because they make messes. The actually have a ready made plan to provide for such an event.

Mommy takes her bag and the baby back to the area with the changing table. She holds the baby safe on it’s back with one hand while she reaches into the diaper bag to get what she needs. Do you have a clue what all is in one of those things?


  • Diapers (disposable or cloth) LOTS of them
  • Wet Wipes (make sure they are baby wipes and not just wet wipes. Baby wipes are larger, softer, and gentler on the baby)
  • Bibs
  • Bottles and infant formula
  • Bottled water, to add to bottle
  • Snacks for baby
  • Rash Ointment
  • Nose syringe
  • Medicine dropper
  • Nail clipper
  • Baby Tylenol
  • Toys rattle
  • Receiving blanket
  • Extra set of clothing for baby
  • Pacifier, if baby uses one
  • Johnson Baby Powder
  • Baby Magic Lotion
  • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
  • Cosmetic-type bag stocked with teething aids, extra pacifier and nail clipper
  • Zip lock bags for many purposes, including storage of dirty diapers if no convenient disposal is possible

All of this is in place BEFORE the baby ever makes a mess.

After the baby has been cleaned up, it is brought back into the service. It now is acceptable in polite company everywhere. It now is clean, looks clean and smells clean. Thanks to Mommy’s Diaper Bag and her foreknowledge of what babies may do.

If we understand that concept, then why is it a struggle for us all to conceive that there is a sin or a sinner that God is not able to take care of?

There is no sin common unto man that He can forgive. Before we were ever born, God had a “Diaper Bag” of sorts. Before we ever made a mess of our life, He was already prepared to clean us back up and restore us anew. Calvary provided for all of that!

I’m happy to tell you that He doesn’t throw those away that make a mess. He just cleans them up and brings them back into the service!

Be thankful and be encouraged!

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 26, 2010 at 11:39 am

The Children Of Bitterness

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The Children Of Bitterness

The Instructor for our marriage seminar was still talking about bitterness. For 3 nights he had brought up the subject and lingered there a good while.

He said that young couples might have an argument and say something stupid like: I hate you, or I don’t love you anymore! There may be a time of repenting and forgiveness for them, but that memory will linger for 40 years. Staying resident just under the surface.

I appreciated the subject being covered for the couples, but tonight was the last night. Bitterness again was still the theme at a marriage seminar. Why? He explained that bitterness gets you in trouble with God, God’s man, and also destroys your home.

It all came together finally for me when he asked for the big chalkboard and drew a family tree down to the 4th generation.

He wrote the name Ted, at the top level, saying that Ted had attended his church for many years. He had also known all 4 generations of his family.

The reason for drawing the family tree was to point out the sad truth that none of us contain our thoughts, feelings and emotions so guardedly that no one else is affected. Like a hereditary cancer, negative emotions and attitudes can grow and contaminate others. It’s a generational thing. Unless someone breaks the cycle, there will be many injured.

“Look,” the preacher said, “at Bro. Ted’s life story.”

(My wandering mind was brought back to reality.)

“He was a hard working, middle-aged Pentecostal. He had a good wife and had 2 children. For a while their home was a haven.

“Bro. Ted was liked by the good folks in the church and was selected to be a trustee. He seemed to enjoy the job and was very active in the church.”

In the 3rd year of a former pastor’s tenure, it just seemed to him that the preaching was getting a bit too conservative and personal for his liking. His preaching felt personally directed to him and Ted resented that. He found himself feeling a strong dislike for the pastor.

It was an unmentioned fact that Ted was slow to forgive and was known to “hold” grudges for a long time. When someone hurt him, his reaction was to hurt back. He always did that.

At a church workday one Saturday, the pastor had said, “Brother, could I get you to sweep up that trash over there, please?”

“What trash?” said Ted looking in the general area, “The only trash we have around here is what stands behind the pulpit!”

God paralyzed him so that he could not move or bend and Ted was carried away like a log. Some of the men tried to put him into the car to take him to the hospital, but he couldn’t bend to close the door. He asked for the preacher to come and pray for him. Ted repented to his pastor, he was prayed for and God restored him to normal health.

I wish that the story ended there. It seemed however, that it was just the symptom of a deeper deadly disease.

Not long afterwards, he felt his wife disapproved of some of his ideas and actions. They argued. Harsh words were used. That hurt him. She needed to be hurt back, he felt. Ted found a woman at work that was sympathetic and appealing. His romantic fling with this woman shattered the marriage.

The children watched the parents argue and destroy their relationship. They saw the bitterness displayed. They heard the bitterness expressed.

Ted’s two children struggled in their relationships. The girl became an unwed mother several times before marrying. She married several times. Her brother was never faithful to his spouses either.

His grandchildren all experienced multiple divorces, affairs, had babies out-of-wedlock, and continued the holding of grudges like their grandfather.

By now, only one or two would even sporadically try to attend church. Holidays were about the only time.

All of the 4th generation, experienced similar marriage, moral, and God problems.

Their bitterness towards God was not contained at that, it had spilled over into all of their homes.

No one broke the cycle. The bitterness, the holding of grudges, the retaliation, and the desire to hurt back descended down from one man.

A few years after the marriage seminar, I went to visit that church one Sunday. Ted had been buried on Friday, two days earlier. None of his children or grandchildren went to church. Ted had died backslidden.

The truth is, children watch their parents. They know whether they forgive or hold grudges.

Openly repenting and forgiving allows children to see that Daddy was not less of a man. Not only would Daddy, or maybe Grandpa be more of a man, he might just be the key reason his children and grandchildren are still living for God and have good marriages. Forgiving others opens us all up to receiving God’s forgiveness.

Matt. 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Matt. 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

  • There’s no hope for the children of bitterness!
  • The children of bitterness don’t stand a chance.
  • How long will you let your war go on?
  • Don’t live like Ted!
  • Don’t die like Ted!
  • If you are bitter, what future does your marriage have?
  • If you are bitter, what future do your children have?

Heb. 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Children of Bitterness…What will your Epitaph be?

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

The Land Of Beginning Again

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The Land Of Beginning Again

Louise Fletcher

I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again,

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,

And never be put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware,

Like the hunter who finds a lost trail;

And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done

The greatest injustice of all

Could be at the gates like an old friend that waits

For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.

We would find all the things we intended to do

But forgot, and remembered too late,

Little praises unspoken, little promises broken,

And of all the thousand and one

Little duties neglected that might have perfected

The day for one less fortunate.

I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again,

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,

And never be put on again.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

Getting Bigger Than Your Scars

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Getting Bigger Than Your Scars

Every year in September, I go riding 4-wheelers for a week on the Kentucky and West Virginia border. Sometimes on a ridge we can actually see three states. We always come back and sleep in our house every night. At least one of my sons and several other preachers and their sons go with us. Fifteen to twenty guys is not uncommon.

There are some very respectful and kind men that live in that area who enjoy guiding our trips. They are not really guides in the sense that they charge anything. They just know “them thar hill and hollers.”  We do buy their gas and pay for their meals, so that makes them happy. We ride long hours. We ride in all weather.

On a hot day a few years ago, we stopped on a hilltop for a snack break. I was riding 2nd in line behind the day guide, Rick. Somehow as we were eating our snack, Rick a middle aged Southern Baptist, and myself started talking about burns and injuries.

He volunteered, “You know, Bro. Ballestero, when I was 2 weeks old, my folks kept me in a bassinet. Evidently I had a breathing problem of some kind. We had an old steam type humidifier. My Dad was carrying a pan of boiling water to pour into that humidifier.  Somehow he tripped on a throw rug and that pan of boiling water spilt on my leg. Because of that, I received 3rd degree burns on my right leg from my knee down.”

“Oh No!” I said as my face furrowed and grimaced in sympathetic pain. How Horrible!! After a few seconds pause, I asked a personal question. “Did you have to have any operation?”

“Many!” was his one word response.

I then was curious to know more, so I asked, “Do the scars still come up to your knee?”

“Oh no,” he said, “They only come up to my ankle bone now.”

“How can that be?” I wondered out loud.

“When you’re a new born baby, from your foot to your knee, is only this far,” he said, as he measured the approximate distance with this hands.

Rick then took off his right tennis shoe and then pulled off his sock too. Sure enough, there was a faint scar and discoloration from his toe on up one side of his foot to his anklebone. I looked with fascination.

“How come it only comes up to your anklebone now, when it used to come up to your knee?” I asked.

“Bro. Ballestero, he said kindly, (but I felt like the biggest goober in the world) Scars don’t grow. I got bigger than my scar!”

It was as if the Holy Ghost spoke a truth to my spirit. Scars don’t grow. It’s normal to get bigger than your scars. If we never get bigger than our scars, maybe it’s a sign we’re not growing.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 21, 2010 at 7:17 am

Are You A Mac Or A PC?

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Are You A Mac Or A PC?

We all think differently. We see and hear the same things, yet not always do we arrive at the same conclusion. Why is that?

Bro. Kenneth Bow told me that some people were like Mac computers and others were like a PC. He said we process the information differently. I agree.

I like computers. I bought my first one, a Commodore 64 way back in the dark ages. For most programs, insert the floppy disk and type: load”*”,8,1 (always make sure to press the RETURN key after typing in a command). Sometimes it took several minutes just to load up the program. I often drank a cup of coffee before it finished loading.

That was my introduction to the computer world. Over the years, I owned various PC’s. starting with the 286, 386 and 486. I have used DOS 5.0, Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista, and recently worked on a Windows 7.

I even taught a computer class for a couple years at HR Block. For the last 10 years or so, it has not been uncommon for me to receive 6-10 calls a week solving computer software or hardware issues. I am not a programmer, I don’t have a business. I am only a user.

In February, 2007, I was given a wonderful gift by my friend Pastor Kenneth Bow. A new MacBook. I was humbled by his extreme generosity. I have been literally thrilled with my experience. The Mac world was a paradigm shift for me, a PC guy. I was amazed that in just a couple of hours I was able to feel comfortable with my new Mac. I love it. I now have no desire to leave the Mac world and go back. I was also pleased that I could still enjoy Microsoft Word and Power Point as well on my new computer.

I have noticed however, a quirk in the Power Points made on my Mac and then played on a PC. If no animations are involved, everything is perfect. Occasionally, I will give the soundman my flash drive with my Power Point on it and the animations don’t work on his computer like it worked on mine. That’s frustrating. Confusing even at times.

It’s because, although it’s theoretically the same program, (I have Mac Office with Word and Power Point) the results are different. We have different ‘Operating Systems.’ We also have different ‘Processors.’ The same program is processed differently for each of us. The ‘Display’ is different! The ‘Display’ becomes then the issue.

We all have different ways of processing information.  Sometimes even coming up with different results and conclusions.

The difference in our ‘Processors’ And ‘Operating Systems’ is clearly evident in the discussions of Climate, Economy, Education, Civil Rights, and National Defense. Among others, there are Independents, Democrats, Green Party, and Republicans. We read the same data, and often arrive at different conclusions.

The same is true in our churches and among us as Pentecostals. For example, I read about modesty in the Bible. My ‘Operating System’ is different from some. I ‘Process’ the Word the way I do because I have a ‘Processor’ that interprets the “Modesty Language” for me.

My “Processor” lets me feel comfortable wearing long sleeves for example. A friend in warm climate may have a “Processor” that lets him wear sleeves to the elbow.

My ‘Processor’ has problems with some styles of dress, and entertainment. It also doesn’t at all ‘Process’ the Emergent Church and their lack of Holiness requirements. (There’s that pesky ‘Display’ issue again.)

We have the same program. We process the same information. We are different in that our “Operating Systems” are not the same. We process scriptures differently.

One of the last times my dying father spoke to my wife. He asked in confidential tones, “Is Marty still preaching the truth?”

“Yes Dad,” Marcia assured him.

He said, “Down here there are a lot of themes. Up there, there’s only one theme.” Those were Dad’s last words to her.

It’s easy for us all to justify how we ‘Process’ and understand Scripture. When it’s all said and done. It’s all going to boil down to how does God ‘Process’ His Word.

I want to be operating on the same ‘Operating System’ as He is! I want to ‘Process’ His Word like He meant for me too.

Down here, there’s a lot of ‘Processors’ and ‘Operating Systems.’ Up there, there’s only one.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 19, 2010 at 7:33 am

If You Are NOT The Pastor’s Son, You Have To Be Smarter Than Average!

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If You Are NOT The Pastor’s Son, You Have To Be Smarter Than Average!

When I was a very young preacher, I was asked by my Father to preach a midweek service. I preached on hell. Everyone hurriedly came to altar including my own Mother. While everyone was crying and praying, Dad invited me into the Church Office, adjoining the platform. He told me to sit down, he closed the door and locked it.

Dad said, “What you preached tonight was good and needed to be preached. But you didn’t give anyone a way out. They don’t have to go to hell you know.” I started to cry in shame. He continued, “Don’t EVER get up in my pulpit again and preach on judgment without giving people a way out. I couldn’t stop apologizing.

Six weeks or so later, I was asked to preach on a Saturday night Praise and Worship Service at our Church. I preached some little thought and the people shouted and ran the aisles. A few guys even ran the backs of the pews. I felt great because of the feeling of “high church” we were enjoying.

When I stepped out of the pulpit and turned around, I was still sweaty, and breathing hard. Daddy caught the lapels of my coat and pulled me up close to him and said, “Now what degree of consecration and study did that take? That sermon did not require any study on your part! That was just a little something you threw together. That was just some buzz words, mumbo jumbo, and shallow thinking. Don’t EVER do that again”

And then he said it again, “Don’t EVER get in my pulpit again without applying yourself. Without studying and seeking God. Don’t ever be content to be shallow. Neither you nor these people will remember one thing you preached tomorrow. If you have a choice between being an Exhorter or being a Feeder, be a Feeder because Feeders build churches.”

Now, If I wasn’t the Pastor’s son, I could have gotten a rotten spirit and attitude. I COULD have thought, “Well you just can’t make this old guy happy. You preach on hell and they run to the altar. He finds fault. You preach it sky high and a mile wide, he finds fault. There is just no pleasing him. Maybe God is trying to make me uncomfortable here. Maybe God is telling me it is time to get out of the nest and take my ministry to the next level and move on.

I understood that my Father, who was never harsh in his attempts to correct me, was trying now to help me be the best that I could be.

A Father will say things to a son he might not say to another young man. Because the other young man might feel the Pastor is dedicated to running him off. This man may not readily see that the Pastor is trying to develop his ministry so that God will bless and use him.

That’s why I think, “If you are not the Pastor’s son, you have to be smarter than average.

Whether he’s your Father or not, if he’s your Pastor, Be honored that he took the time to say anything to help you develop. Even if you can’t see at the moment the purpose or need of his correction, later you will love him and thank God for him the rest of your life. Choose NEVER to be offended by the man of God.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 18, 2010 at 7:24 am