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Archive for November 2010

The Sin Of Finding Fault

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The Sin Of Finding Fault

Prov. 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

Prov. 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Prov. 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

Prov. 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

God hated the first six things mentioned here. The seventh one… He hated it so much, He called it an abomination.

“The sowing of discord among brethren.”

If God calls it an abomination, then it’s a bad sin.

1. ‘The Sanballat Syndrome’. – (He wanted Nehemiah’s work to fail.)

  • It hinders growth
  • It divides
  • It sows discord
  • Critics do great damage.
  • Do you want your church to fail? Then don’t kill it with criticism.
  • Many are destroyed by criticism.

2. What makes people criticize? There is always a motive!

The reason Judas became critical of Mary washing the feet of Jesus and breaking the expensive alabaster box with perfumed ointment, is because he wanted it to be sold so he could get his hands on the money. He was a thief!

John 12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

John 12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

There is a reason, a good reason why people say what they say.

What makes you criticize? At the very least, it’s a spirit that is using you to bring disruption into the Kingdom. Your actions hinder unity at the very least.

3.  Biblical treatment of critics.

Railers are critics or fault finders that make little snippy comments. Sometimes they even make harsh indictments.

Luke 23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

2Pet. 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

4. Paul said, don’t even eat with a critic. Don’t sit at the same table. That spirit will get on you.

1Cor. 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

5. Murmuring in the wilderness

It brought the judgment of God.

  • The fiery serpents.
  • God keeps track of your complaints.
  • He reminded them that they had murmured 10 times.
  • God said that by murmuring, they had tempted Him to destroy them.
  • Complaining is criticism.
  • Don’t make God want to get rid of you.

6. Almost every church has at least one critic.

They make comments about:

  • The temperature
  • The noise level.
  • The drums
  • The songs
  • The sermon
  • The sermon length
  • What someone wore
  • The worshipers
  • The youth group
  • The youth leader
  • Those that pray too loud
  • The preacher, his wife, his kids
  • The offerings
  • The tithes

7. Fault Finders:

  • Have a self–righteous attitude.
  • They have a sense of superiority.
  • They have pride issues.
  • Refuse to admit what their doing is wrong.

My father had a sign in his pastoral office that said: “You can’t white wash yourself by blackening others.”

8. Like the Pharisee praying in the Temple with the publican,

They thank God they are not like other men. Yet unknown to them, God is not hearing their prayers.

9. Haman could not see the thousands bowing down before him.

All he could focus on was the one that didn’t. That fault led to his eventual downfall and death. He could not enjoy what he had. He could only see what wasn’t going his way.

10. To those that battle with this problem, there is hope.

  • Paul mentioned that he had learned in what so ever state he was in to be content.
  • It’s possible to learn to be content.

Contented people do not criticize. They are content.

  • May there be peace in our spirits and in our church.
  • Contentment is a friend of unity.
  • Unity preceded the Holy Ghost outpouring in the book of Acts.

Barnabas was an encourager. He was an edifier.

May God give us more men like Barnabas. We desperately need them.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

If You Had A Mule!

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If You Had A Mule!

In early American history, frontiersmen eked out a meager existence, in the harshest of times. Often, survival was directly connected to hard work, and the kindnesses of Mother Nature.

At best, one man by himself could barely grow enough food to last him through the long winters.  He was glad to just get by.

But if he had a mule, life took an immediate upturn. More work was accomplished. He often was able to plow his 40 acres and harvest enough for himself and have enough left over to sell or trade.

It was by the help of the mule, that many a man moved from the survival mode to a more comfortable lifestyle.

The homesteader took very good care of his mule. His success was directly tied to the mule. The mule needed to be healthy, and to keep it healthy, it must be cared for.

  • After working in the field all day, the mule was rubbed down with a burlap bag.
  • It was curried with a brush.
  • It was watered first, before the man.
  • It was fed first, before the man.
  • The man, would check to see if it needed shoes.
  • Even if the man didn’t have good shoes, his mule did.
  • If it needed shoes, that was a first order of business. It was a priority.
  • After the mule was taken care of, the man then focused on his own needs.

(That was how I started a Bible Study many years ago, as pastor of Christ Temple Apostolic Church in South Bend.

I said, “I risk angering all the wives here tonight with my unkind comparison of them to a work animal. I apologize ahead of time.

“It is no secret that some men would take better care of a mule, than they would their own wife.” I continued…)

Men, I know this is over a hundred years later, but you’d be still in the survival mode without your good wife. It would be impossible for a man to list all of the duties and chores his wife routinely accomplishes for the betterment of his home. Too often, she does a hard days work without a word of praise or thanks.

She is ordered around, and treated far beneath her pay grade, which too often, is nothing at all. The man pockets the money, spends what he wants on himself. She has an empty purse. Some men spend $50 or more on a golf game, fishing supplies or a days hunt.

His wife has to ask him for money for hairspray, hose and personal items. God forbid she would ever ask for a pair of shoes or a dress. For her, it is demeaning to have to ask.

She made him a home. She sacrificed her health, her youth and her life to raise him a family. She does his cleaning, his cooking, and attends to his whims. Yet she is not allowed to enjoy the bounty and fruit of her labor on the same level her husband does. Shame on you sir.

If you had a mule, you would take better care of it, than you do your own wife!

At that point in my Bible Class, a chunk of plaster about as big as a pie pan fell from the ceiling and landed on Bro. McKinnies’ head.

As soon as I saw that he was not hurt, I pointed at him and said, “It’s you I’m talking about!”

We all laughed.

My sermon was over…

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm

“That Scripture don’t work for me!”

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“That Scripture don’t work for me!”

Those of us who knew ‘Tucker’, never heard what his first name was. We just called him by his last name, Tucker. The group of us that were ‘40’ something, never failed to enjoy his oddball humor. Tucker was maybe 55 or 60 and a local folk hero of sorts.

He was just an old bachelor that didn’t seem to be blessed with many social graces. No one ever saw him chatting with the ladies, or even the men very much, for that matter. Tucker was a loner. We usually only got to see him when we visited a friend’s church anniversary service.

His clothing probably never received many compliments. His thick-framed glasses always sat askance on his nose. The lopsided glasses attracted our attention. We were fascinated. How could anyone be comfortable with their glasses sitting whomperjawed on their face? It never bothered Tucker.

To complicate the matter, he held his mouth kind of funny when he talked. It looked like he was talking out of the side of his mouth. He never talked fast. He drug out his words in a near monotone voice. Whenever he testified in church, we gave him our full attention.

Tucker always sat on the front row.  When he stood to testify, he stood with an open Bible, just in case he needed to read a Scripture.

His testimonies were often memorable. One of my favorites was, “I thank the Lord that I’ve been save five-fourths of my life.”

One night, Tucker stood and waited his turn. When he was called on, he took his time and read a verse from his big Bible.

‘Is. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’

He stressed the ‘run and not be weary’ part with his voice. With all eyes on him, Tucker laid the Bible down and took off running. Well, kind of lumbering really. He ran laps around the church. He ran long enough that the organ started to play a chorus. The people sang.

After what seemed like 12 laps or so, Tucker crumbled on the floor in front of the pulpit completely out of breath. His chest was heaving, his face was red and he didn’t move for several minutes. When Tucker finally struggled to his feet, the organ and the singing stopped.

Tucker continued with his testimony. He looked at the congregation, shrugged his shoulders, he then turned toward the preacher, and while holding his arms out in a sign of failure, said: “That Scripture don’t work for me!”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

Posted in Testifying

Bring Them Up To Pitch

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Bring Them Up To Pitch

The home going of Brother C. M. Becton is a great loss to us all. I will be among those that will truly miss him.

The first Camp Meeting I ever heard Bro. Becton preach, was Michigan’s in the 1970’s. I wish I could remember the exact title but I cannot. It was something about ‘Bringing Them Up To Pitch.’ I can remember his message though. It was one of those unforgettable messages. Here are some of his sermon points:

1. The Reader’s Digest told a true story about a shepherd that was lonely. He had no company but his portable radio and his violin. He wrote a letter to CBS and asked if they would play an ‘A’ at midnight on a certain night for him, so he could tune his violin. They did. It was important to him that his violin could be in tune. It’s always important to be in tune.

2. A piano has 88 keys. When it gets out of tune, it is not thrown away. A piano tuner is called. He has tuning forks, tools and instruments necessary to bring the piano back up to pitch. Then once again the instrument is looked upon with pride and it’s music becomes a joy.

3. Bro. Becton called the camp’s organist, and keyboardist to the platform. He expressed how noticeable it was to be off even one half of a note. The musicians were asked to play  ‘Amazing Grace.’ in ‘A’ flat. It sounded beautiful. He then asked the organ player to play the song in ‘A’ flat and the keyboardist to play it in ‘A’. There was only a half note difference, but it was very unpleasant to the ears. It’s important to be in tune.

4. When Apollos first came preaching, his doctrine was off-key. Priscilla and Aquila did not throw him away or call him a false prophet; they just took him home and brought him up to pitch.

5. It is easy to discard people who are not just like us. (He was not talking about compromising the doctrine or doing away with holiness.) However, differences are everywhere. If you are quick to throw people away because they are not just like you, then remember the story of the piano being brought back up to pitch.

6. There are some things most commonly believed among us that are written in black and white in the Bible, and should never be changed or tampered with. On the other hand there are some things that are not essential for Salvation, and yet men have separated fellowship rather than bring them up to pitch.

7. Don’t be quick to throw people away if they seem a bit off-key. Just bring them up to pitch. It opens the door for unity.



(Thanks to Sister Jana Allard, she has supplied me with the sermon title.)
“Someone referred to this message on FB and said the title was “A Certain Sound.”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 18, 2010 at 11:41 am

Posted in Death, Unity

Are The Heroes Here Yet?

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Are The Heroes Here Yet?

Pastor Brandon Hartzell is my son-in-law. He’s just the best one a father-in–law could ever have. I love him.

He was not raised in a pastor’s home, yet he deeply loves and respects the ministry. He treats me with more honor than I deserve.

He’s often had his picture taken with great men he’s revered. In his office there are pictures on the wall or on his desk of men like Bro. J.T. Pugh, Bro. Wayne Huntley and others who have made positive influences in his life.

Bro. Hartzell deeply loves the ministry and the godly men he has met. He also has a great gift of remembering what they taught him.

Pastor Brandon Hartzell & Ainsley

He also tries to instill into his children and his congregation in Cary, North Carolina that it is a privilege to have these great men of God visit their church and minister to them.

Pastor Hartzell openly tells his people that these men have given their lives to the Gospel and are modern day heroes of the Faith.

He recently announced to his church that the next Sunday, a Missionary would be in visiting in service with them.

Ainsley, his four-year-old daughter, wanted to ride to Sunday School with her Daddy that morning. Upon arriving early at the church, she walked into the auditorium and looked around for the Missionary. She didn’t see anyone she didn’t already know. Little Ainsley looked up at her daddy and said, “Daddy, are the Heroes here yet?”

(Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Pentecostal kids felt that our Missionaries were Heroes? Maybe they would, if we taught them.)

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

The Day Brother Buddy And Sister Bobbie Had A Fight!

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The Day Brother Buddy And Sister Bobbie Had A Fight!

Brother Buddy wanted me to know. He was embarrassed by what he had done, but enough years had passed that he felt comfortable telling me about his moment of shame.

He sat in the back of his 16ft ‘Deep V’ aluminum fishing boat. His advanced age only allowed him so many outdoor pleasures. Bro. Buddy excelled as a fisherman. The main reason I was in the boat with him, I wanted to see how he caught so many fish. He always seemed to catch them left and right.

Sis. Bobbie had passed away quite a few years ago and Bro. Buddy, now almost 80 years old, lived only to fish and to go to church.

He pondered about how to begin his confession of sins. Presently, he decided on the appropriate avenue and began.

“Bobbie and me never had a lot of arguments. She was a very good wife and mother. I did my best to provide for her. I loved her. She loved me.

“One day back in the fifties, Bobbie told me that she wanted a new wash machine. I couldn’t believe it! The one we had worked just fine.

“I asked her what was wrong with the one we had, and she said, ’Nothing.’

“Well, if nothing is wrong with the one we have then why do we need a new one?”

“The one we have,” she said, “is old. It works fine but it’s old. The new ones have more wash options on them for different types of clothes, and I want us to get one.”

“I told her no. We don’t need it. It’s a waste of money.”

Sis. Bobbie said, “Buddy, the kids are grown. The house and car are paid for, we have the money in the bank to pay cash for it, and I want us to buy a new one.”

“I said, No.”

“She said, Yes.”

“I said, No.”

“She said, Yes.”

“Well pastor,” Bro. Buddy said, “I got so mad at her I took my fist and punched a hole through the sheet rock in the living room.

“While I was trying to pull my hand out of the wall, the telephone rang. Bobbie answered the phone. It was Sis. Jones. You know, Sis. Ray Jones? She was the former pastor’s wife.

“She told my wife that she needed to talk to her about some Ladies Auxiliary project.”

“Bobbie said, ‘come right on over.’

“Well, I was in a rush trying to figure out a way to cover that big hole in the wall. Sis. Jones only lived 5 minutes away, so I had to hurry.

“I looked in the hall closet and found one of those hand stitched word pictures. I grabbed a nail and a hammer and covered the hole with the picture. I was just finishing up when Sis. Jones knocked on the front door.

“Bobbie invited her in and as they came by the area where the new picture hung, Bobbie said, ‘How do you like our new picture?’

“She swung the picture to one side and showed Sis. Jones the big hole behind the picture.

“Buddy and me had a fight. He got mad and punched a hole in the wall with his fist and tried to cover up what he did with this picture.

“Bro. Ballestero, I was so ashamed.”

I smiled as my mind played the little story and I tried to imagine the moment he described. I couldn’t see this kindly old man being that upset. Curiosity got the best of me.

“ What did the sign say?” I asked.

That’s when he really got that sheepish look on his wrinkled old face. He lowered his head and mumbled.

“What?” I asked, “I couldn’t hear you.”

“Christ Is The Head Of This House.” He said.

I laughed till I cried.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 9, 2010 at 11:53 am

Posted in Marriage

“It’s A Sin For Preachers To Wear Colored Shirts,” He said.

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“It’s A Sin For Preachers To Wear Colored Shirts,” He said.

“A preacher should never wear colored shirts to church, much less preach in them. Apostolic preachers should only minister while wearing a white shirt and preferably, a dark suit.” That’s what the consensus was at the closed session Ministers Meeting.

Rev. Carl Ballestero

The occasion was a Morning Ministers Question And Answer Session at the Anniversary Services of Christian Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bro. Paul Jordan was the pastor. My Father, Carl Ballestero, was the moderator for the discussion that day.

The questions for ‘debate’ were written on pieces of paper and placed on the pulpit. Opinions were strong and unrestrained.

The last question of the day was: “What about these young preachers wearing these colored shirts?” My father read the question to the audience and waited for their response. Ninety-nine percent seemed opposed to the idea of young preachers wearing colored shirts. It was a disgrace they all said.

One must remember that this was basically a meeting of ministers within the Apostolic Ministers Fellowship. However, several men from the United Pentecostal Church were also present.

I was 32 years old and pastored in South Bend, Indiana at the time. What brought the discussion a little closer to home, was that I was sitting on the front row, wearing a gray suit, a light blue shirt and a tie with both colors. My Father had given me the blue Arrow Dectolene shirt just the week before.

I sat beside Bro. Jack Langham mainly because he also was wearing a gray suit with a blue shirt just like mine. Bro. Langham and myself were the only two men wearing a colored shirt at the meeting. All eyes kept glancing in our direction.

After many minutes of comments explaining how unprofessional, how ‘Charismatic’, how disrespectful to God, and how horrible it was that preachers were leading the youth astray by wear such attire, I stood up.

I turned around, pulled my coat jacket back where my blue shirt could be seen as I stuck my hands in my pockets and smiled. I began, “The question is, and I quote: “What about these young preachers wearing these colored shirts?”

I pointed at Bro. Langham, a former missionary, just 3 feet away from me, and said with a giant grin on my face, “My question is, what about these old preachers wearing these colored shirts?”

A few chuckles relaxed some of the fervor and tenseness in the room. No one else had anything to say.

After an awkward silence, my Father finally said, “Gentlemen, thank you for your participation in the discussion today. Your opinion is appreciated and your carefulness is to be commended. I would like to remind all of you however, that when the Priest ministered in the Tabernacle, he was to wear blue, purple, scarlet and white linen breeches (britches). Actually, I fear that we got the tradition of wearing black and white to preach in, from the Catholic Church.”

(“After that, no man durst asked him any more questions.”)

The meeting adjourned.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm