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Archive for December 2017

The Cracker Barrel New Year’s Sermon

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The Cracker Barrel New Year’s Sermon

 

 

Near the Savannah, Georgia exit 102 on I-95, sits a Cracker Barrel next to our motel. The chalk-written New Year’s message is plain for all to see. It says:

 

“Cheers to New Beginnings and Old Traditions”

 

May this New Year be a time for all of us to start afresh. Regardless of past failures or yesterday’s disappointments.

We need to leave our paradigm of failure-thinking and begin again. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had to begin again. What you have been through was neither your final chapter nor your epitaph.

 

Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:

 

It’s not abnormal for good people to make mistakes and have to start over or begin again. Even Paul said he died daily. He started over every day.

 

 New Beginnings:

 

 Has your Bible reading been almost nonexistent lately?

Begin again.

 

How about your prayer life? Been busy? Hard to get to pre-service prayer for some reason or another?

Begin again.

 

Got out of the habit of responding during the worship service?

Begin again.

 

Has there been an absence of you saying amen to the preaching lately?

Begin again.

 

You haven’t taught a Home Bible Study in a long time?

Begin again.

 

How long since you made it to midweek service?

Begin again.

 

How about your tithes? If you’ve quit giving tithes and offerings…

Begin again.

 

Have you resigned or quit participating in your church?

Begin again.

 

Have you stopped kissing your spouse good morning, good night, and good-bye?

Begin again.

 

Been awhile since you said, “I love you” to your spouse?

Begin again.

 

Been awhile since you said I love you to your parents?

Begin again.

 

Been awhile since you said, “I am proud of you,” and “I love you,” to your children?

 Begin again.

 

Have you stopped saying, “I love you” to your in-laws?

Begin again.

 

 

Begin again In God. Recover yourself.

 

2 Tim. 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

2 Tim. 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

 

Traditions

 

Traditions make homes and churches special. When our large family gets together, there are always certain meals everyone can count on.  You just know that there will be gumbo one day and enchiladas and tacos on another. And the morning we all have to leave, there’s s special breakfast restaurant we go to. It’s our custom. It’s just how it is in our family.

Churches have customs and traditions too. It’s a huge disappointment to go back to your ‘home’ church and find out how different it is or that they have changed.

 

Hold fast to the old Apostolic Pentecostal Traditions.

When backsliders and those who have had to move away, come back to visit… Let them that see your church is still holding on to the old-time ways!

 

And, as Cracker Barrel would say if it was preaching this sermon,

“Cheers to New Beginnings and Old Traditions!”

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 30, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?

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Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?

 

A brother, in the Bible, is not necessarily someone who is connected to you by earthly DNA. He may not even like you, or you like him. At first glance, you may not even think you have that much in common. Imagine having a brother you don’t know, don’t want to know, don’t want to like and sure don’t want anything to do with him. What if he’s a jerk? What if he’s irritating? What if he’s too odd for you to feel comfortable around. What if he has strange convictions and non-biblical standards?

 

Part One:

 

Rom 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

The Apostle Paul forces us to focus on the first and last portions of this verse. He wanted us to remember that though we may differ with our brother on some things, that Christ died for him too, just like He did for you.

Yes, some folks are harder to like than others. Many adults have acquired a bias or some prejudice over the years. Some put people in categories. They even have names for people they don’t like.

  • Redneck
  • Yankee
  • Trailer Trash
  • Stupid
  • Liberal
  • Ultra-Con
  • Democrat
  • Republican

Sometimes it’s hard to believe Jesus would actually die for someone like that. But, if Jesus died for him, how then can we hate him and say we love Jesus? 

 

We say, “But Lord:”

  • He’s a grumbler.
  • He’s a complainer.
  • He’s a fault finder.
  • He’s rebellious.
  • He’s irritating.

 

  • He has an attitude.
  • He’s a Pharisee.
  • He’s carnal.
  • He’s bitter.

 

  • He’s annoying.
  • He’s mean.
  • He’s proud.
  • He’s unthankful.
  • He’s halfhearted.

 

  • He’s lukewarm.
  • He lays out of church.
  • He’s hit and miss.
  • He runs hot and cold.

 

  • He’s undependable.
  • He’s got a personal agenda.
  • He’s working against me.
  • He doesn’t like me.

 

  • He’s not right.
  • He’s really weird.
  • He’s crazy.
  • He’s messed up.

 

 That May Be True… But He’s Still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

It’s hard to believe that the Lord would die for someone like that. We can’t imagine dying for them. Our heart experiences dark emotions and horrible opinions in dealing with some people. We sometimes experience dislike, racism, bias, prejudices, name-calling, and avoidance. But He’s Still, “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

 We may struggle with the idea of including him into our fellowship, our inner circle, our church, and especially our home. But He’s Still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

The Apostle Paul wrote this charge to the church in Rome.

He, like the all the Disciples, had to get past to his Gentile prejudices.

Paul even had problems with Demas and John Mark. He also had to deal with the saints who sinned and all those with moral and spiritual problems in the churches in Asia. What gave him a center of balance in his handling these difficult people was that he understood… they too were people for whom Christ died. He couldn’t hate them and be saved. Neither can we.

 

Matt. 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

Matt. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matt. 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matt. 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

You know that person who you wouldn’t think of inviting to your church? The one who is not like you? Christ died for them too. Open your heart’s door to them, and the doors of your church, too. Jesus is watching because he’s still “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

 

Part Two

 

I Am Your Brother

Psa. 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

 

(Here are some things that your “brother” has often wanted to tell you… but was afraid!)

 

Dear Brother:

We really didn’t have any choice.  God somehow in His wise providence, has chosen to put us together, for our mutual benefit.  I am your brother.  Here is a list of things that have been bothering me.  I plead for your understanding.

  1. I have problems with myself. I know it and I don’t like it either. Be patient, please.  I am your brother.  I am still working on myself.  Thanks for your tolerance.

 

  1. In recognizing my own problems, and knowing how much I loathe them, I know they must bother you and others too. Please bear with me while I’m trying to get the victory over myself. Just like I am bearing with you.

 

  1. It frustrates me too that I’m not perfect. I want to be. That’s my prayer.

 

  1. Sometimes it frustrates me that you’re not perfect…. but that’s when I remember, I’m still your brother!

 

  1. There are so many good qualities in you. I gain strength from them all. I just hope that some of my good qualities can also be seen.

 

  1. I hate the fact that Satan tries to capitalize on our shortcomings and magnify them in the eyes of others. My hope is that you’ll be able to see the good in me and not just my faults.

 

  1. Thank you for respecting my feelings even when you didn’t understand them. (Sometimes I don’t understand my own feelings either.) I wish to make every effort to respect yours too.  I am your brother.

 

  1. I guess I’ve wanted to put you into my mold and make you exactly like I wanted you to be. That just doesn’t work. Neither can I fit into your mold.

 

  1. As my brother, I allow you the liberty to pick friends of your own choosing, and have good times with them, (even without me), and not be resentful or jealous.

 

  1. Likewise, I may choose some friends and occasionally be with them. From time to time I’d like to have fun and fellowship with them and not worry about slighting you.

 

  1. However, you are welcome wherever I am. Don’t ever feel you are ever intruding. And please don’t “hang back” if you weren’t personally invited by me to join the crowd.  You also belong.  You’re my brother.  Your friendship is highly valued and enjoyed.  There will always be room for you in my world.

 

  1. Thank you for the security I feel between us. Even if we haven’t talked for a while, when we do, it is a comfortable conversation and picks right back up where we left off. I like that.

 

  1. Those you love can hurt you the most. Let’s be careful in our treatment of each other, lest we do irreparable damage to ourselves. We must never grieve the Holy Ghost to the point that we’re both damaged, bitter, or lost.

 

  1. Let’s not have a “hot and cold” relationship that changes with the weather. We need to be able to count on each other. Brethren are supposed to have the next-to-the-closest relationship in the world.  Only Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  I am going to stick by you.  I am your brother.

 

  1. I pledge to defend your name and honor during your absence. I am your brother.

 

  1. Likewise, I know that I can depend on you to do the same for me.

 

  1. As long as there are people, there will be rumors, criticisms, remarks, opinions and second-guessing. When my back is turned, you are my only defense. I need you to watch my back, as I will watch and guard yours.  You can trust me.  I am your brother.

 

  1. I love you, brother! Not just because I must love you, but I really want to love you!! (If I say I love God and don’t love you, I am called a liar)

 

1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

 

  1. Brother, if you see me and can tell that I have a problem, don’t go tell the world, help me. Don’t be afraid. God put you in my life to help me make it.

 

Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

 

  1. Brother, I “prefer you”. I pray for your success and blessing. I pray that all your efforts receive their due honor.  (Without my harboring any jealousy or envy.)

 

Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love:  In honor preferring one another. 

 

Please!!  Should I ever be blessed or promoted above my fellows, it would kill me to think my brother was jealous.  I want to ‘prefer’ you.  I want to be happy with your successes.  So please be happy with mine.  I am your brother.  We’re on the same team.

 

  1. It is God’s will that the law of kindness guides us in our relationship. He wills that we be kind to each other.

 

2 Peter 1:5-8 And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to your virtue… brotherly kindness… for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

I can’t thank you enough for your kindnesses to me, nor can I tell you how much I truly appreciate them.

 

  1. Brother, God won’t hear my prayer if I’ve got something in my heart against you! If I ever need to ask forgiveness or apologize, please forgive me. Then, don’t crucify me and alienate me because I was trying to be conscientious.  Realize we’re both just two brothers trying to be saved.

 

Here’s what we are supposed to do if you have a problem with me, or I have a problem with you:

 

Matt. 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Matt. 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

 

  1. Too often, lines are drawn in our minds between ourselves and our brother. We choose not to fellowship him because he is UPCI, WPF, ALJC, or Independent. (What if God is in fellowship with those you choose not to be in fellowship with. Will you have to explain to God on the Day of Judgment why you were too good or too holy to fellowship a brother whom Christ died for?)

 

More than ever, I appreciate you.  I thank God for allowing us to lean on each other.  I need you like you won’t believe.  Don’t fail me.  I will not fail you.  I am your brother!

 

I Love You Brother!!

 

Part Three

 

Now, Let’s Have Revival!

 

Revival only happens when there is unity. Something wonderful happens when God’s people are gathered together for one purpose. Being in one mind and in one accord was the major ingredient on the Day of Pentecost. It is still the key to continual revival today.

  • Unity only happens when men choose to overlook each other’s differences and choose not to be offended.
  • Unity happens to those who forgive their brothers and prays for them.
  • Unity happens when brethren unite for one purpose or goal. Even if there are only two or three who are gathered in His name, God chooses to be in their midst.
  • Pray for unity and God will give you revival.
  • Unity is no accident.
  • Unity brings peace.
  • Unity creates an atmosphere for Worship and The Word.
  • Unity opens the door for a major move of God.

 

Just like parents who are happy when their children love one another and get along. Our Heavenly Father is well pleased when His children love each other, too.

 

Hey, You Know That Brother You Don’t Like?

Never Forget, He’s “Thy Brother… For Whom Christ Died.”

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 29, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Your Performance Interview With God Is Coming!

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Your Performance Interview With God Is Coming

What if God called you on the carpet? What if He asked you some personal questions about your conduct… spiritual and otherwise?

Employees of many companies are given performance interviews on a scheduled basis. Some of the questions asked by the interviewer are similar to some of those I once found at www.jobinterviewquestions.org.

Performance Interview Questions

  • Tell me about your last position and what you did.
  • Tell me about the last time you made a mistake and how you corrected it.
  • If you don’t leave your current job, what will happen there? How far can you advance?
  • Of all the work you have done, where have you been most successful?
  • I see you were unemployed for a period of time. Tell me about it.
  • Give me an example of when you’ve demonstrated your customer service skills.
  • How do you define continuous improvement? What is the last new procedure you integrated into your job?
  • What makes you stand out among your peers?
  • What have you done to reduce your department’s operational costs or to save time?
  • What would your current supervisors say makes you most valuable to them?
  • If I asked your boss to evaluate your performance, what would he or she say?
  • Have you held positions similar to this one? If so, tell me about them.
  • What is the most important thing you learned at a previous job?
  • What did/do you enjoy most/least about your last/present job?
  • If there were two things you could have changed about that job, what would they be?
  • How did your job change while you held it?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you successful in this field?
  • What have you learned from previous jobs?
  • Describe a typical day at work.
  • How have your previous positions prepared you for this one?
  • What parts of your job do you consider most important?
  • What job tasks do you feel most successful doing?
  • What special skills or knowledge have you gained to help in this job?
  • Describe an important project you worked on.
  • You have a lot of experience. Why would you want this job?
  • What do you consider your greatest strength?
  • What is your most significant professional accomplishment?
  • What was the last job-related book you read?
  • What was your favorite job? Why?

As 2017 comes to a close, so does another year of living for the Lord. If He were to ask us about our performance in His Kingdom this year, how would we do? Could we answer His questions easily? Would our heads have to drop after the Lord asked us a direct question? Here is a list of possible questions He might ask:

The Lord’s 2017 Performance Interview Questions

  • What if He asked about the Spirit and Attitude we manifested this year?
  • What if the Lord asked us about our obedience or our Submission?
  • If the question of Soul-Winning came up, how would we score?
  • If questions about our involvement in Worship were asked, what would the answer be?
  • What would happen if the Lord asked us about our Prayer Life in 2017?
  • Would the answer be favorable to you if there were questions about paying your Tithes
  • and giving in Offerings?
  • Faithfulness in church attendance is sure to be asked. How would you do on that one?
  • Surely, a question about any unwillingness to Forgive will be asked.
  • Would He ask about the display of the Lusts of our Flesh?
  • Would Jealousy or Envy be mentioned?
  • A lack of Brotherly Love, or not Preferring One Another, will not sit well with Him.
  • What if the Lord asked us about our lack of Sacrifice in service, or in giving?
  • Would any questions about our involvement in Gossip put us in a bad light?
  • What if the subject of Tale Bearing came up?
  • If we were asked about Criticizing our Pastor, what would the answer be?
  • Surely the Lord will act questions about our showing any signs of Loving Pleasure More
  • Than The Things Of God.
  • What is He asked us about our Love of the World?
  • Do you think He might ask us why we had a problem with Holiness?
  • Would there be any questions about Loving Our Neighbor?
  • What if He asked us if we Love Him with All Of Our Heart, Our Soul, And Our Might, And
  • Our Strength?

I pray that you do well in your Interview with the Lord. (He already knows the answers, before He asks.)

If you’ll pardon me, for a while… I think I’ll have a talk with Him right now. I need to before He talks to me later!

There is coming a Day when we shall all stand before Him, as we are judged. That Interview will be both an Entrance Interview for some, and an Exit Interview for others!

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

(May your Performance Interview of 2017 end with Joy, and not with Grief!)

Join me in pledging to do better and do more for Him in 2018! May we all hear Him say in that day, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

“Go Play With Your Doll”

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“Go Play With Your Doll”

 

“Don’t touch that right now, baby. Daddy’s not done, yet. I don’t want you to break it!” Three-year-old Melina Ballestero quickly pulled her hand back. Her daddy was too slow in her opinion. The Princess Castle being assembled was just too pretty not to touch, and it was taking too long to put it together.

“What do you need to do?” Her daddy asked.

The well-taught toddler said, “Be patient.”

Just because she knew the words and how to say them… in reality, it didn’t completely help solve her impatience.

Andrew, her daddy said in exasperation, “Melina, go play with your doll.”

The little girl obediently found her little doll and it momentarily distracted her attention. Before too long The Princess Castle was complete and little Melina was thrilled to be in charge and allowed to enjoy her long-awaited treasure!

Things never really change much for us as we mature and grow older. We pray for a certain thing to happen for us. Then our Heavenly Father begins to work on our project and as soon as we see His handiwork in progress… we want to put our hands on it. God, knowing that men easily mess up His workings, sometimes has to distract us and give us something else to concentrate on while He finishes our castle of dreams.

Don’t be offended if God orders you to go play with your toys. It just means He’s almost done and He wants it to be perfect for you.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

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The Danger Of Being Too Friendly With The Evangelist.

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The Danger Of Being Too Friendly With The Evangelist.

 

On occasion, your Pastor will invite a guest speaker or an evangelist. He wants you to like them and enjoy their ministry. It’s a compliment to his good judgment of preachers and ministries if you do.

Where there becomes an issue that is uncomfortable for your Pastor and his friends are when you give the guest preachers nicer and more frequent compliments than you give to your own Pastor.

After all, he’s the one that worries over you, prays for you, counsels with you and answers to God for you. Not the others. They may like you, they may like you a lot, but there is a line that must be drawn between them and you.

Make sure you give better compliments to your own Pastor than you do to anyone else.

It’s kind of like a man giving another woman a compliment and he doesn’t even compliment his own wife. Something is very wrong in their relationship. Something is very wrong in your relationship with the Man of God if you are guilty concerning this.

A seasoned evangelist can often spot those who have a problem with their Pastor and then try to give the guest speaker the personal attention and honor that belongs to their Man of God.  That is just so wrong.

 

It even gets more complicated than this…

 

There are many Godly, precious people who dearly love their Pastor and would never knowingly do a thing to injure him. In innocence, they attempt to interact with another preacher they admire and sometimes feel put off or hurt because of the lack of warmth in his response to them. Actually, in good conscience, he can’t. So, don’t take it personal. He does like you and appreciates you, he’s just trying to be careful. His allegiance is to your pastor.

In the day of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger, emails and text messaging, don’t try to personally interact with other preachers (unless they are family) no matter how much you like them. It easily becomes quite an uncomfortable position for ‘ethical minded’ preachers.

Don’t expect him to respond to your emails or private messages. His loyalty is to your pastor. Do you realize that if word got out that an evangelist was having conversations, exchanging emails, phone calls, private messages on Facebook, and text messages with saints, that his days as an evangelist are numbered? It’s not right for you or him. Don’t give him your information and don’t let him give you his.

Any contact with other preachers should be directed through your Pastor. If he sees fit to pass your message or request on, then fine. If he doesn’t, then trust his judgment. He knows what he’s doing and why. Your spiritual safety is his greatest concern. Work with him on that.

Guest preachers who ‘work the crowd’ by lingering long with each saint, buttering up them, and learning personal things about their world should raise everyone’s eyebrows. Why would he make comments on your Facebook posts all the time? What’s his motive? Ethical evangelists know to stay on the platform after service or near the Pastor to protect themselves and for proprietary’s sake.

If you don’t understand why, imagine you as a woman contacting, calling, writing or leaving messages for a male acquaintance of your husband.  Or maybe it’s him calling you. Your husband would have serious questions for you both, and rightly so.

If he didn’t run when you attempted to contact him, then if he has even part of a conscience, he would not be comfortable around your Pastor anymore because of guilt. He’d know he had crossed the line of ministerial ethics. His days would be over. It’s not worth it for him or you.

If you love your Pastor then protect him. Protect how he feels about you. Protect his relationship with other preachers. Protect yourself. He’ll love you all the more for it too.

Don’t try to private message other preachers. Don’t force them to cut you off, block you or ignore you. They want you to like them, sure! But they hate it when you push them into an uncomfortable situation.

Don’t walk up and hand them gifts, or even money. If you want to give an extra offering to the evangelist, then talk to your pastor and he will guide you through a process that is comfortable to him.

Any evangelist that would contact you and ask for money or any favor is unethical. They are to be ignored, blocked or unfriended. Their actions should be reported to your pastor immediately.

Your Pastor is to be loved, respected and honored. His office as Pastor is above all others, and I personally thank you for loving him. He’s God’s gift to you and your church. Love him. Show it by your loyalty, and your respect. Let no other preacher, family or not, come between you and your pastor. That is a sacred area that should never be defiled. It is a line that must not be crossed.

 

On his behalf, I thank you.

 

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm

The Skid Row Church

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The Skid Row Church

A flashing red neon sign interrupted the dark.  The Salvation Army Rescue Mission across the street was hard not to notice. The homeless drifted up and down the sidewalk looking for a hand-out. The window of the new storefront church had a hand-scrawled welcome sign inviting one and all to come in.

As the door opens, the smell of fresh paint announces the recent renovations. Battleship Gray paint was on the walls, the old wooden floor and on the home-made benches. Everything in the church was painted gray except the pulpit and the piano.

The piano had been pushed up against the wall on the main floor. Sitting close to the six-inch-high platform. It was positioned to the left of the pulpit. The pastor’s wife played sweetly. It was like she was anointed. She sat facing the wall, but when she looks into the antique mirror fastened on the old upright, she can see her husband, the pastor and watch for his direction. Oh, how they sing! They sang with all their heart. The presence of the Lord was easily felt.

There were no songbooks or microphones. A tambourine and the rhythm of hands clapping complemented the evening worship service. The pastor’s small children sat respectful and quiet. They knew not to play during church.

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There are five children in the pastor’s family. The oldest was barely in his teens. They live in a migrant farm workers camp. The one room, clapboard shanty has been their home for a year. The shack they live in has no running water, no electricity, but it does have a wooden cook stove. The restroom facilities are about 200 feet away. One double bed, a built-in bunk bed, and pallets on the floor provided sleeping arraignments for them. Their little “house” looked just like the 75 or so others in the worker’s camp. Unpainted, no lawn, no porch, just shelter.

The whole family had picked apples in the local orchards when they had first arrived. It was harvest time. The ladders that the fruit pickers used, leaned tediously against the tree limbs. Canvas bags were strapped around the laborer’s necks that held the apples and became very heavy very fast. It was not easy work. It was piece rate labor.

Everyone one else living at “Schwarter’s Station was Hispanic. Their light skin stood out. The pastor finally got a day job at Libby’s Cannery and his wife worked nights at Del Monty’s Cannery to help make ends meet. Their 14-year-old son learned to help cook for the family on the old wood cook stove.

An older retired couple had lived in town for several years and had not gone to church anywhere because there was not a Jesus Name church in the area. They had grown cold spiritually. Now, they had rejoiced over the prospect of having a church in town. They were more than glad to help the new pastor start a church.

They found pails of old gray paint in the barn and felt, that though it might not look pretty, at least it would make the place look clean. There also was enough lumber in the shed to make a small platform and eight benches.

Counting the old drunk on the front row that only came inside because of the weather, there were ten people present and five of them were children. The drunk awoke during the altar call and left. The faithful few gathered around the front. They were disappointed that one got away. There was always the next time, if Jesus tarried.

 

The small group had no support from anyone, just a burden for souls.

This was Home Missions 1958.

(The Skid Row Church was in Yakima, Washington, and is still thriving today.)

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 15, 2017 at 9:20 am

The Downspout In A Bucket Church

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The Downspout In A Bucket Church

 

Eleven people sat quietly in the dank, poorly lit basement room. There was enough seating for about 30 people, but no one could remember it being full.

It had a bit of an odor too. The bare concrete block walls were unpainted and unprotected light bulbs hung from the ceiling by two bare strands of wire. The benches appeared to have not been professionally constructed and the flooring was an unpainted concrete slab. There were no windows in the room either.

This room took up less than one-fourth of the unfinished church basement area. The upstairs, where the main sanctuary was to be, was not completed. Actually, there had never been enough money to even get it started.

Work had stopped on the building many years ago. About 4 or 5 rows high of concrete blocks were all that had been laid for the walls and they sadly showed where the work had stopped. There was no roof. The unprotected flooring was exposed to the elements and left the basement completely to the mercies of what Mother Nature decided to do for the day.

When it rained or when the snow melted, most of the water seemed to just sit in puddles on the flat floor that served as a roof and also as a ceiling for the basement. The basement had leaks everywhere.

It was not advisable to even walk through the other parts of the basement in the rainy season. Only the small area where the services were held had even basic protection overhead from the elements.

The blueprints showed a beautiful church building on this location that would seat several hundred people. Up to now, only the pastor had that vision and no one had any money. All of the saints were poor, they were very poor.

The pastor’s wife was a saint. She sweetly did whatever she could to help make ends meet. There was never enough money coming in from the church to support them, so the burden of being a foster parent in her later years was added to her duties. She played the organ, worked in the garden out back, and kept the old two-story house looking pretty. Every preacher’s wife loved her. She was working and worrying herself into an early grave.

The pastor had grandiose ideas and plans for the church.  He would spread out stacks of blueprints to every visitor that came into his home. He was very personable, but his gifts of envisioning and dreaming never put a lot of bread and butter on the table. There was never enough money to go around.

He had come from a big church as a young saint. Before he pastored he had even been on the trustee staff in another big church in another state.

Somehow, nothing was coming together for him here. The city was big enough to support several churches. Others seemed to be able to grow here, but he somehow just struggled. In the 25 years or so of being here, he couldn’t get passed the feeling he was just spinning his wheels.

The sad-looking building was nearly an eyesore to some in the neighborhood. The neighbors no longer spoke kindly to the pastor who lived next door. Behind his back they made comments. Petitions had been circulated. Inspectors had come.

The cold winters always ate up most of the church budget just for heating. There was minimal insulation at this point.

But the pastor and small flock were faithful.

No one had ever shouted in this church the whole time he had been there. Joy was not a word that was often heard in a testimony service. Victory was just a word in the dictionary. The services were not exciting. Visitors seldom ever came. If they did, more often than not, they rarely came back.

A lady in the church watched the foster children for the pastor’s wife while she played the organ. The pastor’s children were grown and had already moved away.

No new choruses ever made it into their worship here. The worn songbooks had always served wonderfully for 25 years and always would.

Tonight, was a special service. A guest minister was going to preach. (There was never enough money to invite special speakers. This one had already said he wasn’t going to take an offering.) The people were very excited he had come.

It was raining very hard outside and the stairwell that led into the basement’s side door entrance was gathering a fair amount of water. Some of the water began to stream into the small auditorium. No one seemed overly bothered. This had happened before and was taken in stride.

The song service and testimonies had gone well. It was now time for the guest preacher to be introduced.

He stood and came to the small pulpit and made his opening remarks. As he talked he could hear the fast drip-drip-drip-drip of water into the 5-gallon bucket in the middle of the small aisle. It sat at the base of a metal post that ran from the ceiling to the floor.

Fastened to the post was a downspout that emptied the water into the 5-gallon bucket. The bucket filled up several times during every service when it rained. Replacement buckets were always handy.

The downspout was connected to a 10-foot piece of gutter that hung down about a foot from the ceiling. Someone had used old coat hangers to wire it into place. It had been strategically located to catch to the largest amount of drips in the sanctuary area, and it did.

Despite the resounding drip-drip-drip-drip-drip, the anointing came and the preacher preached great! The saints all gathered around the front for the altar call and ignored the dripping of the water into the bucket. God’s will was once again accomplished despite the distractions.

This Too Is Home Missions.

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 9, 2017 at 8:33 am