Are You a Carrier?

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is the message of the reality of being reconciled to God – my sin can be paid for by Jesus’ death. Yes! We can be made right with God — it is possible because of Jesus and what He has done! Through that death he has worked it out in me personally, and given me life and made it possible for me to have a reconciled relationship with him and that means I can be on the right path that leads to eternal life and sharing in the divine nature. (See 2nd Peter 1:4) Most Christian would agree with those statements. Jesus paid for sin on the cross to save and bring people to God. Where they stop short is actually becoming carriers of the message, at least in a purposeful way, keeping it foremost in their minds and hearts. They slip back into obligations, and habit, and doing life the way they always have.

I do not believe that you can do that for very long and not hear from God about it. The truth is if you let Satan steal the seed of the message of reconciliation before it actually germninates you are just as lost as though you had never heard it. Likewise if you do not allow that seed to germinate down deep you will be baked by the sun of trials and temptations and again you will not be any better off for hearing the message. (See Matthew 13:18-23 for Jesus’ explanation of what it means to be saved Biblically) So, some people fall back because they were never really born again (Biblically) and made a new creation in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:17 just a few verses ahead of our passage for more on that).

The only way to “become the righteousnes of God” is to let the message sink down and take root and grow sustainably. By “sustainably” I mean able to be sustained. It is the same thing as when Jesus said “abide in me, for without abiding in me you can do nothing and are only good for being cut away and thrown into the fire.” (My paraphrase) I fear that in our day many qualify for the fire and few qualify for fruit bearing. (See Matthew 7:14 & John 15:1-26 The Bible does not know of “saved” people who only believe for a little while…that is a lie of the watered down gospel!)

The good news for believers is that John 15 ends with the promise of the Spirit of God that gives us the power to witness faithfully for the Lord though the world hates us and opposes us. “He will bear witness of me and you will bear witness.” The Spirit not only waters us, and guides us into truth so we can grow but He also gives us the ability to testify about Jesus’ plan and continually testifies of Jesus to us and the world at large — so we grow in our relationship with Jesus, even as we are sharing Him with others.

The passage that precedes the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that explains what it means to be reconciled — namely that God purchased our redemption by Jesus’ death — is this (from 2 Corinthians 5:18–20)

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”

So as Jesus taught those first disciples — that the spirit would empower them to be witnesses for him (John 15:26) Paul reiterates this by saying “all this is from God” or in other words – God’s plan was to empower us, enable us, help us, so we can become pipelines of the message that people can be reconciled to God thorugh Christ. In other words this is our job and He has made a way for us to be capable in that job. He has entrusted it to us and made us able to complete it. God is making his strong appeal through us “be reconciled to God.” So, we can say with Paul “we do not come just in word but in power.” The power is the working of the Spirit of God inside of our temples — our bodies. We are housing the message of reconciliation. The message — should we lose sight of it is — “for our sake he made him to be sin…so we might be made the righteousness of God.” He did it for us. He did it for our benefit and blessing. In ancient times God came to a man named Abram and promised him that the seed of blessing would come through him and make him a blessing to all peoples. That has happened for the seed is Jesus. Now, we are the Abrahams. The message — Jesus Himself is carried about in us. We carry the message. We are the ones entrusted to carry in ourselves Jesus and what He has done for the world.

There is power in this proposition. What I mean is there is great authoritative power. This is not small talk. This is the serious business of heaven. This is the mandate for every true Christian. The normal thing for a Christian is a most holy appointment — ambassdors for Christ. Deputized by God. It is time to do this, not in the flesh, not with fleshly methods but in the power and direction of the holy Spirit of God.

Brothers and Sisters: people are looking for answers, and yes, of course they are looking in the wrong places — but let us not get bogged down in figuring out which swamp they are stuck in, and how bad that swamp is, and how the old swamps were not as bad as the new swamps, trying to become swamp experts. Let us become Reconciliation Message Experts — experiencing Christ and knowing Him — and then simply sharing Him and the message of reconciliation with everyone in our path. For Paul it meant becoming all things to all people that he might win some of them to Jesus. Are you willing to do this. Are you willing to let the world beat a path to God, walking on you to get there?

It is our sacred duty. His business has now become our business.

Let’s go!

On Putting Away Lying – Speaking the Truth in Love

On Putting Away Lying and Speaking the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away lying,

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth but what is good.

Do you ever find that it is far to easy to be distracted with the “here and now” and to then talk only about what is happening around you? Especially in times of trial and difficulty when things are rough we center on what is wrong and bad and in a way we have to. It is normal to talk about the trauma and tragedy and it can be a good thing. But not if we lose sight of what is really important and really good and what must remain our priority as believers in Jesus. Right now, I find it very easy to be distracted with present circumstances. I have been evacuated from my house because of a wildfire (along with our entire church family and many of our neighbors in Lewiston California.) But we are called to a higher life. We are called to and citizens of a higher city. We have been raised and seated already in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus!

The context Of the two verses quoted above is the new life that is our inheritance in Him described in chapters 1-3. We were dead in our sin and through faith have come to be rightly related to God and have begun the journey towards heaven and eternal life with Him in the heavenly places. Paul’s practicum (the practical portion of a study) begins in 4:1 with a call to walk “worthy of the calling with which you were called.” His plea begins with an exhortation to being lowly and gentle, and with long suffering, bearing with one another in love with an eye to “keep” the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

He is making the case that we survive in this life together – with others who are on this journey with us, or most likely we will, at the least, fall into grieving the Holy Spirit and we will not grow up into maturity. (4:13-14, 30) The “one body” facet of our spiritual life will lead us into further hope and a showing forth of the awesome glory of God through oneness. There is no other way!

To that end; spiritual gifts were poured out on the church in order to bring us into “unity of the faith” (4:13) and into spiritual maturity (4:13-14) and spiritual protection from the trickery of men who seek to destroy the unity of the church as well as individual believers. All must do their share and contribute to the growth and building up of the body in love. (4:16)

It is in this context, our wonderful salvation and the continuing pursuit of true spiritual unity within the Body that Paul exhorts us to “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds.” By saying that he is saying it is possible to go backwards and walk like we did before we knew Jesus. We all used to be only guided by a mind influenced by the “course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” What an indictment of those in the church – the called out assembly who would fall back into the natural, and be guided again by the devil – using only their empty heads – not seeking the guidance of the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:20 says that the creation that surrounds us and of which we are a part “was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope.” If you think about that, it gives the believer hope. The creation is a mirror to us that without God we are futile beings. If we step out of fellowship with Christ we are empty of purpose, useless, and empty of meaning.

Just lately we witnessed the empty and purposelessness of the wrath of the creation (subjected to futility) in a wildfire that has consumed over 154,000 acres in just 13 days. At least seven lives have been lost and over 1100 homes destroyed. Beautiful landscapes have been left like the moon, empty and ugly and almost lifeless. Many of us residents in the fire zone are beginning to realize that in our lifetime, we will not see those landscapes like they once were. There is no good purpose to this fire. It was random in the way that it struck. It went north and then south, then turned around and doubled back with a vengeance to the north and finally back around on itself. We are told it will burn for six months until the rains come and finally snuff it out. But, we also know that God will bring new beginnings and new life next spring, even into the middle of the worst of the devastation. There is always hope will the sun still shines on this planet!

Ephesians 2 talks about the spiritual devastation that has ravaged us all and calls it out as death itself. Sin kills, but God brings new life. He long ago plotted a plan to redeem us from spiritual death and the eternal consequences of sin. Praise to His name! He has made a way. His own Son was the cost so we know He has held nothing back. But….One day He will come in judgment with a fury played out on a global stage – that will make these current fires look like nothing. So, time is of the essence and right now there is hope because of Jesus’ work on the cross. “But, God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ!” Yes, even us who “were by nature children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3-5) We, who were already empty, stuck in eternal purposelessness have been redeemed “by grace through faith” and now must discover that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

Oh what an escape we have been provided in Jesus! As bad as the fires of judgment and hell would be, the knowledge that your existence will never have a purpose would be an equal horror. To never know the satisfaction of pleasing God and knowing Him personally would undoubtedly lead to unending weeping and constant gnashing of teeth.

Oh to glory more in what we have escaped and rescued from fellow disciple! That thought alone should draw us out of the doldrums and into a life of praise and holiness! It should draw us into wanting all that He has died to make possible in us. We have been raised up into Him and into the heavenly places in Jesus! Therefore, remember (4:11) that though we were aliens and strangers without hope we have been brought near through the bloody of Christ!

Why talk about these things? Why rehearse again what we have been delivered from? If we remember rightly, we will purpose today to walk worthy of this stupendous calling. So remember and then obey. Do not lie but instead speak truth with your neighbor. (4:25) “For we are members of one another.” Anger must go and surely must not lead to sin. We must not give place to the devil! We must not steal but must labor in order to give to the needy. We must speak so that we “give” by our words something that actually will lead to the building up of others in the faith. So much of the time our speech is trivial at best. Many spend countless hours on social media sharing their life or other’s lives without ever speaking on behalf of Christ. By hiding our light under the bushel aren’t we lying in a way? If Jesus is the best thing about us, and if we do not share the best and most important person with others are we not guilty of lying about ourselves? To “speak the truth” about the truth we know and that has saved us who were without hope is commanded in Ephesians 4:25.

We must start by sharing within our own “city.” By that I mean those who live in fellowship already with Christ with us. They are the neighbors Paul is talking about in 4:25 because “we are members of one another” is the context. I am not a member of another person who is not in the family of God. If I have not the boldness to share with other Christians the glory of Christ how will I share it with an unbeliever? We must “practice” with each other in this “speaking the truth in love” and then we will have the ability to proclaim Christ to others. WE must “let all bitterness, wrath, clamor, and evil speaking be put away” and not allow “corrupt” words proceed out of our mouths with and among the church of Jesus Christ. In Philippians we are commanded to do all things without grumbling and disputing. It is the same thing in Ephesians. Corrupt talk is talk that is corrupted with worldly and sinful desires. It is self motivated and if we let it in we may be the spark (by our tongue) that sets a whole forest on fire. (James 3:5-6)

So, the bottom line is do not lie. Tell the truth in love. Cut out corrupt talk. Do not complain. Do not dispute and argue with your fellow disciples. Control your tongue! Speak what is true and what is lovely and honorable and pure! Speak about Jesus, what He has done and is doing! Speak His Words! Do not speak out of anger or fear. Put off the old man “which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” This is a new attitude – a new “air” and the air is the Spirit of God! Be filled with the Spirit and you will most certainly not grieve Him! Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking go “and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”. (Eph. 4:31-32) That is it isn’t it? We speak truth and hope and grace because and “as” Christ has forgiven us!

Hallelujah for the cross where Jesus removed us from the wrath to come. All we have to do is abide in Him and live it out in fear and trembling. Tremble once more as you hold a hand so so firm, so secure that no one or not thing can pluck you from it! We must get to the point where we can declare that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Abiding in the vine we can do this. By God’s grace, power and provision – purpose to obey the command of Christ – love one another!

Never let go of His loving hand!

Don’t “lie” but tell the truth.

Tell the world.

Start… by telling others who hold the same hand.

There is so much good to share!

Believing in the Bible as God’s Word

There are a lot of people who would say they think the Bible is the “good book.” They would say, “there is a lot of good stuff in there.” However, they might not say without equivocation, that it is God’s Word. T’hey might even say it “has God’s Word in it.” But that is different than saying that every word is inspired of God. We get the real lowdown on that subject from this verse – 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” All means all. This verse goes on to say that this “Word,” Scripture, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Then, verse 17 says, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Words of completeness are aplenty. “Complete” and “every” are used to reveal the truth that all we really need, as far as wisdom and knowledge, is God’s holy Word, the Scriptures. So, you could say that the Word of God is something we can really believe in and put our trust in and rely upon – that it is really and truly the Word of God. We have an internal witness – the Bible on the inside claims to be the Word of God. WE put our faith in that statement, and then read and study it and commit to memory and abide in it and meditate upon it.

But God has also given us many external reasons to put our faith in the Bible as being God’s Word. Let me show you some of those, and maybe you can think about many more.

1. The Bible agrees with what we know about history and archeology.

Now, I cannot prove to you that the Bible is true. That is something we still need faith for. But, I can give you reasons for the hope I have in the Bible. History and old pieces of history – like the walls of Jericho that have been discovered to have fallen down, (just like the Bible says,) give us great reasons for our faith.

The Bible also talks about a world-wide flood. We have evidence of that, which has been excavated in the layers of earth around the world, including seashells in the desert in many places. Also, we have old records that have been discovered that are 600 years older than the manuscript of Genesis. These were written down on clay tablets and discovered in 1853, and give incredible details about a the great flood. The details correspond in several ways to the story we find in the Bible. A man was approached by a god and warned of a flood. The man was told to build a boat for his family. He was even told in this account (called the Gilgamesh Epic,) that he was to use pitch to seal the boat. This story, quite distinct from the Bible, says that everyone in the world perished in the flood except for the man and his family. For years critics have scoffed at the idea of a world-wide flood, but one of the oldest history books in the world agrees, on many details, with the Biblical account.

The Bible includes many details about old nations and areas of the earth that historians have proven true. In fact the very nation that the Word of God says that Abram was called out of – the Chaldeans- is verified in many archeological tablets, and these primary sources give credence and validity to the Biblical record. The Bible describes the exact nations: Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, the Sumerians and many city names that are found in today’s best history books.

Bottom Line: the Bible is accurate and can be trusted and is verified by history and archeology, astoundingly so.

2. The Bible agrees with the need for a “beginning” in creation, and the way things are.

Over the last several years scientists changed their ideas about what had to happen for our world and the galaxies to be as we find them. They basically agreed that there had to be a beginning to our universe. They changed direction from what had been thought for many hundreds of years – that the earth and stars had always been. They said “no” to that, and that there had to have been a beginning. Their offering for this came to be called the “Big Bang.” Since none of us were there, I suppose that what we find in Genesis could have caused a Big Bang. We know that when a lot of energy is released it makes a loud noise, as in an atom bomb. What we can know is that the Bible is clear-the cosmos did start on one day and definitely has a beginning. That is the name of the very first book of the Bible – Genesis. Genesis means beginning. It literally means, according to Websters dictionary, “the origin, or coming into being, of something.”

Not only that, but the Bible describes the earth in terms that no human being knew about at the time it was written, but agrees perfectly with what we know from science in modern times. Isaiah 40:22 says this: “it is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heaven like a curtain.” There are at least two things we can learn from this verse found in God’s Word. For one thing, it says that God sits above the “circle” of the earth. For many years, scientists had no clue what our earth looked like from the vantage point of space. God tells us that it is round – a circle. This information is found in Proverbs 8:27. But that passage in Isaiah also says that God is currently stretching out the the heavens like a curtain. Scientists have discovered that the heavens are indeed expanding – they are stretching outward. This information tells us the way things are, and it only took our race around another 2700 years to figure out what the Bible was revealing to us.

Another facet of the way things are is this: if we are incredibly complex organisms (along with many other parts of creation,) then a creator would have to be way more intelligent. He would have to be way “above” us in every conceivable way. He would have to be more powerful, more wise, more creative, more knowledgeable- in a word, he must be “higher” than us. Isaiah 55:9 says “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” The Bible reveals that the real God – the God who exists – is “higher,” both in his ways and in his thinking process. He is on another plane, far higher than our level of understanding. That has to be the way it has to be, because we know that the creator of something wonderful is not less than his creation, but much, much more. He is the planner, the designer, and has the abilities to think through the process, and then the ability to carry out the creation.

We see a creation that is incredibly complex, and even more than that, it is beautiful in many regards. The picture below is a simple moth found in Southeast Asia. It is 10″ from wingtip to wingtip. In North America we do not normally think of moths as that special – but this one is very special, and its markings tell of a creator who cares about detail, and about beauty, even for a common species like a moth.

When we consider the workings of the human eye, or the inner ear, or even on the level of living cells in our body, we are completely stunned as we see the wonderful design play out on a grand scale. What kind of God is capable of doing this? Is random chance a better fit with what we know about our world, and about what we are learning through new scientific discoveries being found almost daily? Or, is God – the God of the Bible – a better fit. The Bible reveals, in Psalm 139:14, that the works of God in creation are “wonderfully” made – they are “marvelous,” it says. Isn’t that the exact truth as we are seeing it unfold through science and explorers on this planet, and out in space? The pictures available from the Hubble telescope are just amazing. The picture below is of a whole galaxy shot from the Hubble telescope.

Our God is a God far above us – and rightly so – much of his creation is above us!

Interestingly many still refuse to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. To the believers that Paul wrote to in 1 Thessalonians 2, we find this verse – “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectively works in you who believe.”

We can mentally assent to this truth, but it won’t work in us effectively unless we believe it. It is a choice. It still takes faith, but it is a reasoned faith. We continue to find more and more truth about ourselves, our world, and about the way things are, that prove that God’s word is really God’s word. The Biblical prophet Daniel was given this information about the future in Daniel 12:4 – “But you Daniel, shut up your words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Global travel has become and is becoming more and more common. Airline and high speed rail, and the proliferation of the automobile, in the last one hundred years allows us to “move about the cabin” freely, and relatively cheaply. More people travel farther than at any other time in history. No one could have dreamed about the way the globe would shrink in the days of Daniel, when they did not even know about a steam engine, let alone a combustion engine, or jet engines. We have been to the moon, and are planning on going to Mars. Someone has said that 80% of the world’s total knowledge has been brought forth in the last decade, and that 90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today. The Bible predicted it.

These considerations just scratch the surface of how we can know that God’s Word is trustworthy and ultimately worthy of our trust. IT is clear! The Bible is truly the Word of God. The question is, what will you do with this information? You can choose to still ignore the Bible. You can choose to believe it. Jesus, speaking of himself, said, “the Scriptures are they that testifies of Me.” (John 5:39) If you read the Bible cover to cover, it is simply a love story of how God created the world and humans, and then how people rebelled against him and fell into sin. It is obvious that our world is in chaos, and has been growing in that chaos up until this very day. But the second person of the Trinity – Jesus, called the Word, in John’s gospel – took on human flesh and offered himself up in our place on the cross of Calvary a little over two thousand years ago, just outside of Jerusalem. This, too, was prophesied in the Biblical books of Isaiah and Daniel. In Daniel it is forecasted to the very year that we know Jesus was crucified. Indeed, the Bible is really about Jesus Christ and the gift he made possible when he broke out of heaven and came down to earth to make our salvation possible. The question is: what will you do with Jesus, and the gift he is offering you today? Is this gift real? Will God keep his promise to save you if you turn away from your selfish ways, and put your trust in him alone for your life and your future? The Bible says you can trust him to do what he said he will do. Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It really comes down to faith – simple trust in Jesus for new life, but it is a reasoned faith isn’t it?

What do you believe? Trust Jesus, he will fill in the blanks, and the rest he will give you peace about along the way, in his time.

The Spirit Given

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. – 2 Corinthians 5:5

have you taken some time to pray and think over this…have you truly mediated on this friend? Chew it over with me for a minute.

1. The context is the earthly tent we groan in and that will be and is being destroyed. Ouch! Painful. Hard. Tiring. But, temporary…

2. We have a “building” from God not made with hands! Yay – no flesh or blood can inherit – no more tear ducts – they won’t be needed.

3. But right now we are still here groaning and “burdened” with the desire to see death swallowed up by life.

4. The giving of His Spirit to us is a “guarantee” of the future promise’s fulfillment – he reminds us by His Spirit that we are the children of God. See Romans 8:16 – and that reminds us we are not yet completely back in Dad’s house.

One of the hardest things is to face conviction of the Spirit of God on a particular issue that we have messed up on in our everyday life. We feel ashamed and sad. We feel so unworthy, and outside of Christ we sure are! But God’s Spirit is one with our Father who always with the conviction brings the reminder – the heavy hand of His love resting on our shoulders – that indeed, we are the children of God.  I have a guarantee. God’s Spirit in me – Christ in me the hope of glory. My Father has given His Spirit, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, that comforted Jesus in the garden, the Spirit that hovered over the waters at creation, the Spirit that birthed the church at Pentecost – yes that Spirit – the Holy Spirit has been given to me – and if you are in Christ – to you also!

Jump for joy – shout a praise – raise your hands and sing to Him for He is worthy!

Live for Him today with gusto – steadfastness – commit yourself to to meditate “on all His benefits” Psalm 103:2

How sweet dear Lord is your Word – you have given us yourself – via Your Holy Spirit!

Psalm 103: 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! – Psalm 103:9-20

Free Choice vs “Free Grace”

“Free Grace” is a term I used to use when I hung around with a Calvinist and was under that pastor’s teaching. For a time, I was influenced by his definition of that meaning. I still believe in the Biblical meaning of grace but not in the way the Calvinist of today would take it. It is free because grace is a gift, but it is not determined that I be saved by a distant act outside of time called predestination. I believe that God has given me in time a choice and given me the freedom to make it despite my sinful nature. Left to myself, without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the gospel I would not be able to make that choice but the Spirit has come and the gospel has been proclaimed. That gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all without exception. God is no respecter of persons so he has opened the invitation to the whole world that he loves and to whom he has demonstrated that love through the death of his son Jesus.

Sadly many have been pulled into the clutches of an increasingly popular set of beliefs called simply, Calvinism. But, it is more than the teachings of John Calvin, it is a systematic of salvation based on Augustine’s views on determinism which simply stated means; God decrees all things meticulously and without that decree nothing happens at all. But if you take that seriously and some Calvinists do and some don’t, you come up with God causing evil – even though Calvinists will say he is not somehow responsible for it because we do what we want to do. But, that means that he decreed for me to “want to sin.” Now we have a big problem and hence the debate.

If you simply let Scriptue speak without imposing on it an Augustinian slant you will see free choice everywhere from Genesis to Revelation. You will see it in Deuteronomy, and in Joshua and in 1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” Jesus is standing at the door of the church in Revelation knocking! He is asking the person on the other side of the door to choose to open to him. Paul weeps over people’s refusal to believe, even being willing to trade his own life for theirs. Why would he and Jesus weep if it was God’s will for them not to. Wouldn’t they glory in his will?

God is Sovereign but we must define Biblically that term or it becomes a problem and a snare. We will be tempted as some are to fall into the traditions of men. We will be tempted to make a god in our own image. We must not make God into the “control freaks” that some of us are tempted to become. God has ordained and decreed freedom for his creatures. Eve had freedom and chose wrongly. She had a choice. Adam had more information but still chose to sin. God had a choice and always has choices but only according to his character and nature though – because they, his choices, are governed by his own persona as God. He always does what is right. He does not violate his nature and go outside of himself. He does whatever he pleases and he has chosen to give freedom, though now our freedom is affected by our sinful choices and marred by fouled consciences.  But, there is still the ability to chose the gospel by us sinners when it is the simple and pure and therefore powerfully proclaimed gospel that is accompanied by the Holy Spirit’s work.

I originally wanted to write an introduction to a video of a debate held that brings the discussion of free choice vs “free grace” out into the open for all to see. Please watch the debate with open eyes, pray for discernment and have your Bibles at the ready. If you watch it then comment on it below if you can. I would love to know what others in the Body of Christ think about it. Do you think someone won the debate? Do you think this is a good way to discuss the issues here? Was it helpful? How did the arguments line up with the Word of God? Who demonstrated the love of Christ and whose arguments showed real skill in rightly dividing the word of truth?

Here is the link:

Here is some more helpful info at one of the debater’s websites. Dr. Leighton Flowers. http://www.soteriology101.com

God bless you!

Rod

Romans 9

I would like to take a look at this chapter because I believe it is one of the most misunderstood passages of the Bible. I believe it has been highjacked from its context and made into something that it is not intended to mean, i.e. that God decides who is saved ahead of time and then hardens the rest and they go to hell without having a real chance to repent and turn in faith to God and be saved.

I tell people from time to time that we have all the answers in the Bible and that it is ok to read the end of the story to “cheat” if you need help in understanding what you are reading. Of course that does not mean that you should not read what comes before as well, and discover the setting of the story or teaching that you are reading. That can make all the difference. But in this case the summary that is made by Paul at the end of the chapter really laser-focuses our attention on the most crucial truth that no one can afford to miss. That focus is born out in this paragraph from the end of Romans 9 and I encourage you to open your paper Bible and read it. (Paper Bible’s do not have notifications, unless you realize that God is notifying you of something and that is the whole point isn’t it?) However I have included it here in the ESV which I find many of my reformed brothers are using these days. (Reformed is code for “they believe in one or more reformed doctrines such as Calvinism or Covenant Theology or Infant Baptism) I read from the ESV sometimes because I was in a church that became more and more Calvinistic over about a five year period and that was the pastor’s favorite translation. I prefer to use the NKJV as I memorized so many passages in the KJV growing up and the new one is more readable but close enough to what I was taught out of. However the ESV is very easy to read as far as a modern translation but it also footnotes passages that I would prefer to see left in the main text. (But this is all an argument for another day that I will not get into any further – Selah)

Here is the ESV on Romans 9:30-33

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith;

31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.

32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,

33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 9:30-33

Notice vs 30 brings the argument to the subject of righteousness as if to say “without holiness no one is saved” which is the argument from Hebrews 12:14. But Paul has already stated that there are “none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) How did the Gentiles get righteous who were not even trying to be? It is by faith that they came. Notice in this summary nothing is said about being elected to be in faith or elected to even desire faith. Yet we know that the Holy Spirit is needed on the earth to bring to someone’s mind the knowledge of sin and the conviction of it. So we know God must be at work. We also know from the next chapter that someone needs to proclaim the Gospel to a man so that he can put faith in God’s Word of grace and be saved – see Romans 10:9-15.

So what is all the talk about election in the previous part of this chapter 9? Whoa. Hold your horses and we will track back – circle back as the cowpokes say, and get there. But first one more thing. Verse 31 says that Israel, as a whole, except for a few (because we know that individuals did believe as in Abraham who is called the father of the faithful – and so did many other characters like David and the prophets and Esther and Ruth and on and on we could go) rejected the good news. Many believed but the larger part were left dead in the wilderness of rebellion and stubbornness and sexual sin and idolatry and acted in some cases worse than the nations around them. They could not see their way clear to simply believe God and “enter the promised land” like the two good spies Joshua and Caleb. Paul’s summary tells us the exact reason; they pursued righteousness by means of keeping the law. (Which they failed at in the end, terribly) Why? Well, verse 32 is the hammer down verse; “Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.” They were not saved because they did not believe. (The word believes is actually in verse 33.) Again, election does not come into play here except as God interfering in human’s lives so that the gospel message could be carried out through “chosen” Israel.

So with that out of the way what is the rest of chapter nine talking about? Think about it for a minute. The whole of Romans is unfolding the concept of the “gospel by faith alone.” You cannot earn salvation. This book rocked the reformers minds (and yet sadly most of them did not allow God’s work to have a very full work but remained in many ways very Roman Catholic, and did some pretty nasty things to Christians including persecuting them and putting people to death for not believing the way they did – in another words they thought they had everything worked out because they believed Romans 1-8)

But, here is the question that has come up at the beginning of chapter nine of Romans; “has God’s Word failed” because Israel as a whole has rejected the gospel of grace through faith? See Romans 9:6. Also see Romans 9:1-5 where Paul says he has unceasing anguish over unrepentant and lost Israel as a whole. Why would he cry for them not being saved if what the Spirit is leading him to write is that salvation was a matter of being elected to it. Would Paul cry over God’s sovereignty if this is what sovereignty really meant here? No. He would rejoice over it. Paul is crying over people’s rejection and then over the hardening that God brought, even though that hardening had a purpose to allow Jesus to be rejected and crucified; that ended up being His purpose in sending the Messiah in the first place.  That plan was hatched in the foreknowledge of God before the world was made because God knew all things then; as He always does and will. See Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2 for more evidence of foreknowledge. (but understand this, God’s ways are higher than ours and that goes for foreknowledge as well)

Here is the bottom line of what God has done on His own for us. God has sovereignly acted to bring about the salvation that he foresaw that we would need and so in grace and mercy he acted. He built a boat, an arc according to a blueprint, a pre-planned way to be just and still be the Justifier through the death of His beloved son. Romans 3:26

You cannot read about God choosing servants to carry the gospel; i.e. the prophets of old or the actual line of the Messiah Jesus where God supernaturally protects and calls and speaks to these folks in ways that almost none of us will experience this side of heaven and not wonder, “God, why not me? Why don’t you speak to me with an audible voice? Why did you choose Abe and Isaiah and Jacob and David and Ezekiel? I want to carry your message and have you show up like a man in all white robes glowing in my room! But can the pot rightfully say to the potter why have you made Joe to do one thing and me another – all the while allowing me the ultimate freedom to choose you in the first place. Yes God sovereignly planned to give us freedom to choose Him. That choice is hampered by sin, and our choices many times do not line up with what is best for us but we can choose to stop and think about the gospel when it is proclaimed to us and that gospel is the power of God that can set us free to choose Him. But I digress.

Guess what? We do now get to carry His message if we choose Christ and put our faith in Him alone for salvation. Is it any less glorious that we can freely choose to get on the boat which is Christ? That gift is a gift to choose – to all who desire it. That he would allow a people who are not a people to get on the boat and become part of the chosen; isn’t that just so amazing? It is glorious and we are “chosen” if by faith we step onto God’s pre-planned way to be saved. How did we get there? Again, it is by simple faith that caused us to see our need to repent of our old ways and renounce ownership of our own lives and turn to Christ. Then, just like those who turned from their horrible condition of living among the snakes (who they loved but were biting and killing them) look at God’s solution who died on a cursed stick for our sins in order to save us by faith through His matchless grace.

But isn’t an unsaved man dead in his trespasses and sins? Yes. But so was the prodigal in the story that Jesus told about how to come back and how to truly honor our father. He was dead because he was separated completely from the father’s presence which is a picture of spiritual death. When the father saw his long lost son he cried out “my son who was dead is alive.” Luke 15:24. That man had a choice to make. It was not even the most pure of motives. Jesus said if we have faith as mustard seed that is enough.  Our faith, when we come to Christ, is no work. It is born of humble desperation of sin and a realizing that God has made a way to be saved and it is our only hope. The realization that we are separated is obvious. That is why it is so bad when someone continues to sin and has his conscience seared. He has locked himself up in the sin for good and has become so hardened that he will likely die in his sins and be lost forever. Every baby I have ever seen is soft and pliable at birth. If they were not the Moma would die and they probably would to in the birthing process. It seems that callousness or hardness of heart is “time-sensitive.” That is why it is so important to instill the gospel in our little ones at the earliest possible age. That is why young people can make great believers if they in childlike faith grasp on to the Father’s hand and in simplicity never let go. That young person can truly abide in Christ and see Him begin to work in his life and grow and grow and become a mature believer who becomes a healthy reproduction specialist in reproducing what God has born in him. That is the essence of discipleship. Growing up so you can live and breath in Him, and proclaim the gospel that you owe your very life to.

There is much more to say about Romans nine. If you want to read more check out a brother in Texas named Leighton Flowers, and read some of his articles there. He has a search box at www.Soteriology101.com and if you type Romans 9 you will see a very detailed outline of the chapter. It really helped me have a reasoned and Biblical understanding of this intense and rather deep, but totally wonderful part of God’s word. In the mean time, keep looking up. Your redemption draweth nigh! (There I go again repeating memory verses I learned as a little kid from the Old King James.) On well – it just means it – the return of Jesus is coming soon and I am reverting back to my childhood. That is good news that Jesus is coming soon! But for some it will not be – so I want to use every way I can to spread the good news and see more people become slaves of Christ instead of bond-men or women of sin and sorrow and to get out of living and eating the slop of this world.

Will you join me in this pursuit? Email me at rod.page@gmail.com. If you want to support Reasoned Hope I will point you to a place you can. If you could pray for our ministry here in Lewiston I would so love it. Like many of you – probably all of you  – we are working in fields that are white unto harvest but the workers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest. Is God calling you to work in His harvest today? I would love to hear about that. Also you can write if you have questions or comments. God’s Word has all the answers and he has graciously given us His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. ON Him – we can all depend. Jesus is our sure rock and hope and our all in all! Amen!

Striving together for the gospel,

Rod

We are Church – Part One

Last Wednesday I woke up at 2:30am by using an alarm that I do not normally have to use. But being that I needed to leave the house at 3am and I might wake up at 4 or 5am I set the dreaded alarm. It called and I, blurry in the eyes as I was drug myself into the shower.

I drove for six hours to a destination I was not at all sure I wanted to get to. I was supposed to be going to Church Intensive. I had “street viewed” the address I was given and it looked more like a haunted house in a not too good part of San Francisco with a banner on the building that said “Open Soon – Huli Huli Hawaiian Grill.” The building looked old and a little sketchy but you never know about Google being all that good of picture, so though I was a little unsure I headed out the door into the pitch dark night of cozy little Lewiston.

I went down to check out some ways to help us with discipleship and with the dream I have of being truly involved in planting churches some day. This group started about five years ago and has been multiplying pretty fast so I was intrigued enough to see how they were doing it and what I could do to see more people get saved before it is too late and to see them discipled.

To be open and honest, I have listened to Francis Chan and read a couple of his books and even taught out of his book (Multiply – co-authored with another fellow) a few times. I was wondering if the pastors there would talk about what was in that book or talk about his other books such as “The Forgotten God,” a book about the Holy Spirit. Also, to be honest, I was told in the literature and the syllabus they sent me – and that was to be completed by the time we got there, that I had to know that I would not be coming down to meet with Francis; he was not a “speaker” during the training and had to acknowledge that before coming. Yes, it was not to be about meeting another Christian celebrity. So I went down with that understanding. Truthfully, I have had to learn the hard way not to put people on pedestals and I knew that Mr. Chan had left a mega-church behind in So Cal so he would not be famously appreciated and/or made into a Christian idol, and I respect the man for that. So, enough about that – unless it comes up in another article on my experience, which it might.

Here is what I learned: that their ministry is about the gospel before anything. We Are Church believes that. By the way, that is the name of their church. They are really striving to be the church and not to just go to it. They have tried to simplify everything and so, decided not to buy buildings (though they rent them sometimes or borrow them on occasion for trainings like ours.) I latched on to this truth that the Gospel comes before everything, as it has been relentlessly instilled in me by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit who reminds me all the time to brings things back to the proclamation of the gospel as being the key to seeing people saved and sanctified. The Gospel and the implications of it are what keeps us disciples on the right path, growing and abounding in love and being missionary minded as Jesus commanded as he was leaving us and ascending to the Father. (see Matthew 28)

The other thing that impacted me was the simplicity of their meetings. We talked a lot (as pastors tend to do about the subject they love most – the church) BUT we talked in a very simple and humble environment. We started talking on the patio on hard, cold and somewhat moist benches outside of Huli Huli Hawaiian Grill. Yes, the restaurant is “live” and is a popular place for people to meet in the neighborhood. It is owned by Project Bayview which is a “Teen Challenge” type of ministry that is housed upstairs from the restaurant. The people in Bayview and a women’s house a few miles away support the ministry by working at Huli Huli. The ministry is part of Crazy Love – a non-profit started by Francis Chan to funnel book sales into ministry instead of into the pockets of the author.  But even at Bayview – our second venue in their “conference room” that was more like a couple of people’s medium size offices – was very simple and laid back. They have a strictly run program where people can apply to come and live for a year who want to follow Christ and get their lives back together after drug or alcohol or other major and life dominating sins have ruined them. We talked about doing practical things to help people but the ministry is really founded on the power of the gospel to save people and the power of the Word of God to transform them via the Holy Spirit’s work.

Then we went up about three blocks west to a park. I was wondering…”hummm why a park?” There is an old cement bench amphitheater in the park that was the sight of our third talk. The other eight or nine people there for Church Intensive sat and listened as one of the pastors of the church , a guy name Rob whom I came to truly love and admire in only two days shared what their once a month “Big Church” meetings were like – which wereheld right where we were sitting. They even meet in the cold fog outdoors. They have sat through rain, but sometimes, if they know ahead of time they rent a hall for the day to stay dry in. Simple gatherings of the church. Sometimes a little uncomfortable but very cheap for sure. Their worship gear is a guitar and maybe a keyboard and two or three mics on a portable system. Almost no money is used to support over 200 people who gather most of the month in homes of 10-20 people with one to two pastors per group. No pastors are paid in the church. None. Nada. Zip – Zulch! Yikes. Scary. They are not against paying them and may someday pay some of their pastors they told me – but for now – not. They want to multiply and keep growing and send their tithes to the mission field. They send large amounts to the foreign field and use some to meet local needs that are gospel centered in San Francisco. It frees up a lot of cash. Plus they never think about money but only about spiritual things and having godly leaders, to shepherd the folks, when thinking about splitting large house gatherings in two.  I think this has merit but also know the Scriptures in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 that we should not “muzzle the ox.” Since my family has been paid for serving the church in Lewiston for six years this kind of concerned me until I found out that the ministry that I had paid money to attend was part of Crazy Love and that they were paying the pastors that led it – so in affect some of their pastors are paid, just not from the church.  Possibly more on that later.

We ate lunch back at Huli Huli which is really good quality food. We continued sharing and then went to a rented little church a few miles from there for more teaching and sharing about their disctinctives about making disciples and what is commanded in Scripture re the church – and what we “do” that we call church. The white board we filled up had a lot of stuff that I am still unpacking. Some of the right side – the side of things that  the American church does we don’t do very much of in Lewiston. One of those things was the “excellent service.” You know, laser sighted chair rows, and perfect carpet and perfectly undisturbed meetings of long monologue preaching where every word is scripted and proper. Where it is almost perfect but not always Spirit-led. An “excellent service might include a fog machine for the young church or all older than 1900s hymns for the old one. It might be pleasant and comfortable or the music might be really “relevant” and up to date. As we shared we all realized that we all did things at church that were not commanded in Scripture. They were not necessarily bad. Some were perfectly fine and others I think are just worldly. Some can stay and some really need to go. We would talk a lot more about that “white” board later.

Then, I went to a wonderfully simple prayer meeting later that night. It was all done in and through and with prayer. We had two simple songs by a fairly “new” guitar player who sat on a chair playing to us in a very old upstairs house that is home to what looks like two to three families. (Remember, housing is mucho expensive in SF) Then we went to prayer. The whole evening was in prayer. There was a little prophecy – that nailed me. Yes, I believe it was for me and no – I am not telling you much about that because it was for me. At least not now do I want or feel that I should share that. Some things are personal and need to stay that way. Most of the prayer meeting was for others in the fellowship – who asked for it and are part of this house church. I found out that night that we could still have a prayer meeting and young people in their twenties can come and take part in prayer. There were portions of the Bible that were shared but that was mostly out of their daily Bible reading. Everyone in the church commits to a year long, “through the Bible” reading plan. So everyone is kind of on the same page so to speak. That was really cool. I would like to try that with our fellowship.

There was so much love. That made the prophecy and the prayer and the sharing of the Bible even more convicting and not any less. A spoon full of sugar really does help the medicine go down. Praise the Lord for His mighty name – but thank him even more for his boundless love that has been poured out in our hearts – see Romans 5.

A wonderful pastor in the group prayed for me. We had a connection. He was a former gang member that had been won to Christ in prison. He is seven years old in the Lord and is now a pastor full-time and an elder in the church. I have never seen such wisdom, godliness and love in so new a believer. He was proven in his service and faithfulness – he was not a newby put into leadership too soon. He grew fast on purpose. He was discipled. He obeyed the Lord and after a few years of growing and “proofing” and his gifts being evident to the elders was put into this place of responsibility. He is a brand plucked from the fire and he loves to share his amazing testimony but he does it will all the “brag” on Jesus. That brother blessed the socks off of me. I ALMOST was tempted to wear flip-flops the next day but it was so cold and foggy that I put on shoes and socks after all. Some excellent things are also practical. Haha

Hopefully I will get to PART TWO of this experience tomorrow.

In the mean time – think about what you do as a member of a local church that shows beyond a doubt that you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Rejoice over those things. Now think of this; do you fully realize that you are the church? Think about how this should be our thinking. Think about what the Bible says the church is to do. Make up your own white board. Left side is to include what is commanded in Scripture and the left is what we do in America, what we do at our home “church.”

Until then – may the Lord bless your socks clean off!

In Jesus – Rod

 

The Bethel Church Upgrade

(author’s note – this is not a condemnation of the people who are in this movement and are remaining there because they just don’t know what the movement is really all about. I would much rather spend time talking about our fellowship around the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross and the implications of being His disciples. But, I am concerned that many have been inoculated against the true Gospel of Christ. They have been seduced by a false gospel that includes a host of other teachings that all lead away from being born again. This article is to help expose what is really happening, what happened to me and my family and how we need to get back to the “faith once for all  delivered to the saints.” My message is not about condemnation but about conviction. It is not even about heresy but about hope. Hope is found in Christ alone and in the Bible alone.  A paraphrase of Isaiah 8:20 is this: “look to God’s instructions and teachings, People ho contradict His Word are completely in the dark.” (NLT) If my hope is in signs and wonders then I will eventually be drawn away from the true miracle of miracles – the life and death and burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second miracles is so precious – that we can be born again – raised from spiritual death to life in Christ. Anything that leads away from the gospel is not gospel it is from below and not from above. I exhort you to be a good Berean (Acts 17:11) and abide in the doctrine of Christ! (2 John 1:9) I pray this little article will warn you of the dangers or the movement it describes. I wish someone had warned me many years ago as it would have saved me from much grief.  However God causes all things to work out for good to those who love and obey Him and I have been so thankful for His grace and mercy that leads us to the Light – which is Jesus! I pray that is where you are and will stay!)

 

Unholy Signs & Cash Flows

Bethel’s example of Church working with Corporate and State

By Pastor Rod Page

“I dedicate this book to my children’s children’s children’s children. Though we will not meet until we get to heaven, I wanted you to know that I had you in mind as I wrote every word of this book, and I continue to hold you in my heart. You will become the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my prophecies. By the time you read this book, I will be watching you from heaven (see Hebrews 12: 1).”[1]

This quotation above is the opening dedication to Kris Vallotton’s upgraded book called Heavy Rain. Its former title was How Heaven Invades Earth. At the outset it sounds like a way to soften, or even spiritualize, the more militant sounding “invade” language in his book from six years ago. I believe this change is part of a new effort to say the same thing in a more sophisticated, and yet more palatable, way in order to attract a wider audience.

In this day and age where everything is seen from a marketing standpoint, as far as publishers and agents and business in general, it is no surprise that this would happen from within the headquarters of a now worldwide movement—Bethel Church in Redding, California.

I am writing this from Redding as it is the closest city to where we live for groceries and doctors. It is also where I lived for several years. It’s a pretty typical town in most aspects, with a Costco and an old converted theater downtown, and a mix of working people and retired folks looking for the sun…. It is even sunnier in Redding than Phoenix!

But Redding is actually quite special in regard to what is happening in Christendom. A phenomenon has grown up here. There is something almost “magical” about the effect that Bethel has had on this community. The city has fallen in love with this “church”. Is this even possible in our day of hysteria over “separation of church and state”? It is not separate in Redding. Bethel bailed out the Civic Auditorium and is running it well from all indications. Bethel is also becoming a major property owner. They have bought and improved several commercial properties and hope to increase their School of Supernatural Ministry to 3000 students in the next few years. (It is currently around 1400.) They want to build a museum of revival in Americana and have spent around $40,000 to purchase one man’s memorabilia collection of articles from major “moves of God” going back into the 1950s.

Bethel is growing while the city of Redding has endured a decline in many facets. Crime is up. The housing market is flat at best. Homelessness is rampant. But Bethel is doing really well. I believe they know why. I think they have discovered a secret to moving forward at this time in their history. Before I get back to this subject let met tell you why I am writing this report.

The Bethel “cash flow” agenda, cited HERE

Why I Write 
Before becoming a full time pastor in 2011 I spent over 30 years being a regular Christian, with a regular secular job, raising a family with my wife of 37 years. Before we moved to Redding we attended a church for 10 years beginning in 1994 in Yuba City, California. We noticed after almost 7 years in that church that the teaching was changing. We heard things that shocked us, but because of intense loyalty to the leadership we tried to justify things we should have checked out immediately. We were told that spiritual warfare was calling out demons by name and defeating them in the atmosphere, and thus allowing our city to have a mass revival. We were told it was always God’s will for us to be physically well. We were told our children were a chosen seed to bring in the great harvest of all time—that they would do miracles greater than Jesus or the Apostles. These things came in slowly, like a steady drip. We were told that Christians have demons that need to be cast out. We were to go on “prayer walks” that would run the devil out of neighborhoods and out of families as we took dominion over our city.

The problem is it didn’t work, and we could not find a good Biblical reason to swallow all of this new teaching. Young people would go to the church’s new “discipleship” school and come out on the other end bewildered by a lack of power, not blaming the leaders who taught them but God, who they thought did not keep up His end of the bargain. We looked at our Bibles and saw texts that were clearly meant for the next world being brought into ours, with no concept for context or proper Biblical interpretation.

It took us almost 3 years to realize we needed to get back to the Bible. Then we found the Discernment Ministries’ Herescope blog (www.herescope.net). God led us to this small cadre of folks who had been writing for years about different new teachings, that were really old things wrapped up in new and upgraded lingo. As Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

Then, because of a job, and a ministry opportunity to take what we were finding about Satan’s schemes and warn younger believers, we moved to Redding to start a new job and work with a couple we thought truly were wanting to warn others. Sadly, within a year we found out we were not on the same page with the very people we were supposed to serve with. Shortly after this we began to attend a church where the Bible was taught verse by verse. God put us away in His waiting room where we could get our thoughts and hearts in line with His precious Word.

We began to serve the Lord in humble but useful ways. We helped clean the church each week, emptying waste cans and vacuuming the carpet. Later we taught Sunday School. We truly had many glorious times with our 4th grade class teaching through the entire Bible line upon line. Eventually I was asked to teach in place of the pastor when he was out of town. We were asked to shepherd a part of the congregation and had a “home group” of over 40 people in our home each month. What I found in those days was that God is gracious. When we seek Him and His ways for His glory, He provides all we need. His Word has the answers we need to communicate. We don’t need to make up anything fancy to attract attention to it.

I had heard the Lord calling me to ministry when I was 12 years old. I had, because of fear, chosen not to follow His call for many years. Finally at 50 years of age I answered that call. I began to seek the Lord, and asked others to pray with me about going into full time work. I assumed it would be in a ministry to young people, as that was the reason I moved to Redding. I wanted to warn them of what the enemy was trying to do, both within the church and without it. After another year of waiting, just when I began to give up, an opportunity came as the Lord opened up a door for ministry. I have been serving as pastor at a small community church in Lewiston, California, ever since. I live within 35 miles of Redding in the mountains. God is gracious indeed. It is the hardest, and yet most fulfilling job, I have ever had.

But Bethel is still a thorn. I suppose it reminds me of what happened to us in Yuba City. But it is far worse. It is a leader, a worldwide and dominant leader, in a movement rife with error. This is grievous to me personally because it goes after, and actually targets, young people in a huge way. This is why I write. These young people (and old people, too) are precious to our Savior. This movement is swallowing them in ways I never could have imagined even 6 years ago when I lived within a mile of Bethel Church. This church is more sophisticated and more “excellent” in an alarming way.

Kris Vallotton, Sept. 14, 2016 (source)

The New Upgrade 
A few weeks ago I listened to a message by Kris Vallotton, who is the number two leader at Bethel. Kris is known for saying things that are edgy and even shocking. What struck me about his “message” was the new angle of reasonability and normalcy that it seemed to emulate. Back when the “Toronto Blessing” was inundating congregations with outlandish barking and howling, and people falling out in gatherings, where “holy laughter” was taught as a new thing that the Spirit was doing, Bethel embraced it whole hog. (Pun intended.) At that time in early 1996 there was a mass exodus from Bethel church. They went from two services on Sundays to one. But within a couple of years they began to grow again. Like other churches they didn’t divorce themselves from the teachings behind the manifestations. Instead they changed the outward appearances to be more settled, more reasonable, more attractive. (Although I would say that there still are, and always will be, outlandish worship activities that are nothing but sensual in nature and do not bring glory to God within their meetings, it is just not as “out there” as it used to be.)

This new upgrade season, that is indicated by Kris Vallotton’s recent message, is just one in a series of attempts to bring legitimacy to a movement that I believe wants to be believable and acceptable, not only to their peers within the charismatic world, but even wider into the evangelical world as well. In the end, I think they want to impress the world around them. They believe they already are a “city on a hill” and that they are defeating the “religious spirit” of the old way of doing Christianity. If you would like to see the documentation and history of Bethel Church, and others they are connected to in the New Apostolic Reformation, there is much written on this movement on Herescope’s website. By the way, in Kris’ upgraded book titled Heavy Rain, C. Peter Wagner (New Apostolic Reformation) gives a hardy endorsement. For more information on Wagner search Herescope as well.

Let me illustrate my point with some quotes from Kris’ message, “God, Government, and Prosperity.”[2]

Promoting the bringing of Heaven to Earth (Source)

On Earth Now
Upgrade #1 – Being More “Biblical”
In his opening prayer Kris says, “God make a message out of this mess.” But in mixing together “God, Government and Prosperity” he begins in Matthew 28:18 where Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” We believe it is given to Christ alone in that passage. But Kris says, “In Heaven and on earth would have been a revelation to the Hebrews, but not just in heaven, if he had left out on earth.” What Kris is implying is that we in our day have been restored to some kind of dominion over the earth in a physical aspect. We are now Lords of the earth, and we must take control of it, as if this is why Jesus came—not to deal with sin, but to restore our rulership over this planet. The evangelical church has always argued this is to be a reality, but only during the millennium after Jesus returns. Kris, however, is advocating for “Kingdom Now” type theology, but it seems kinder and more “reasonable.” In reality it is the same old thing.

He then says since we were made in God’s image we are already “like God.” In Kris’s eyes we were little gods, but through our failure in the garden, we lost our god likeness. He believes we lost our authority over the earth, so that Jesus had to go into hell sometime during the crucifixion and take back the keys of authority from the devil. Kris is saying that we have those keys, and that this somehow means we are not to make disciples of the people of the nations but we are to make disciples of “the nations” (countries). This is an astronomical jump in logic!

There is a big difference here from the plain teaching of the New Testament. Jesus said clearly, in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” He said this standing in front of Pilate. If the kingdom was coming in a physical form, why didn’t Jesus say, “But in a few hours I will take the elevator down to hell and steal those pesky keys from the devil and then you will see my disciples fight and win!” In fact, we are never told to fight in a fleshly or carnal way. In the Garden of Gethsemane Peter was commanded to put away his sword. Now the only weapon we have is the revealed Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit. Even with ourselves we don’t sledge hammer the sin out of ourselves with whips or chains as the Romans Catholics are obliged to do. We take every thought captive with truth, making it obey Christ with the spiritual power and true authority we have, based on the Word and the faith once delivered to us, the saints. Our spiritual blessing in heaven is ours, but that leaves off many physical blessings that will be ours in the kingdom to come.

ElijahList advertisement for Vallotton’s book, 6/10/11

Kris loves to spin this old idea of us being little gods, and that being restored to dominion through the keys or the tabernacle of David equals us being restored to dominion in some mystical kind of way. And then, as a result of being restored, having a power ministry as we speak physical realities into existence—all the while calling this methodology “faith” and “power.” They call anyone who does not go along with it all an “another Gospel” proponent. (In fact, Bill Johnson has made the same allegation about all who don’t major in miracles and so- called power evangelism.)

Kris makes an upgrade claim right away in his talk. He says that the Muslims are running five nations and Christians are taking dominion over zero nations. All of my Christian friends and colleagues deplore what ISIS is currently doing. But we look at the situation from a totally different perspective. Jesus said that the world would hate us. In fact, He says that evil men would wax worse and worse, up to the very point when He returns. Those that “disciple” nations are bound to fail. Yet Kris demands (and is not below using shame manipulation) that we capture nations and governments for God, and that if we don’t we are failures and God’s hands are tied.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is blasphemy! Though I fully believe in man’s free will and responsibility for his actions, I believe that God, too, has a plan and is executing and using our free choices to bring out His glory-filled end to the existence of this planet and its inhabitants. We play a part, but that will never change God’s ultimate plan to bring about the completion of His prophetic Word.

Bethel Church has an outward form of power. They talk about power, write about power and blog about it all day. Their meetings are “powerful” in the realm of music and lighting, drama and artistic creativity. All these things are outward forms. This is the root meaning behind the exact description of the end times apostate church movement described in 2 Timothy 3. After describing perilous times where the culture is in deep bondage to sin, and is described as lovers of themselves (Kris loves to say about his own preaching, “That is a really good word”), lovers of money (Bethel is a money machine, as are most connected ministries and churches in their sphere), boasters, proud, blasphemers, etc., the aging apostle Paul says in verse 5, “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” True godliness has a spiritual power that defeats sin and brings about holiness, sincerity, humility, and an ability to powerfully proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. A holy life is a powerful life, not a life that twists the promises of God meant for a future time and holds the church hostage with a carrot of constantly changing new things, paradigms, methodologies, and new signs and wonders.

Bethel is saying the same things they and others have been saying since the Latter Rain movement was hatched in 1949, which was soundly refuted by leaders of the Assemblies of God who found it to be spurious and extra-biblical in nature. No “wonder” that Bethel Church broke away from the AOG ten years ago last January. They wanted no real oversight.

Kris Vallotton is speaking the same message that other false teachers have been speaking for at least 68 years. It is nuanced now and made to sound more “biblical.” He quotes from Romans 4:17, saying, “Abraham is not the father of Israel, but the father of nations.” He says this means we are to be fathering nations—that if the church does not father, lead or commandeer (I suppose) the nations, we are not following in Father Abe’s steps, as he believes the New Testament teaches. (The New Testament does not, of course, teach this.) Missing the whole point of the reality, the beauty and the majesty of the revelation in Romans about the wonder of our salvation and the righteousness imputed to us by faith, seen in its root form all the way back to Abraham—having missed all that truth for a silly and obtuse vision of a mighty Joel’s army now taking dominion by “fathering” nations, Kris devolves into error. But he is attempting an “upgrade” here. He is attempting to be seen as more Biblical so he can drag unsuspecting denominations and individual churches and precious people of God, along with weak-willed, unskilled and struggling Christians into his camp of error. Using Kris’ perspectives, you will never come to a knowledge of the truth because you are being tricked by a “form of godliness”that has no power. (See 2 Timothy 3:5-9 please!)

I remember the first time I opened a book by a Bethel leader, titled When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. I remember the tremendous emphasis, not on the Word of God, but on word of faith, on signs and wonders and so- called power ministry. Now, it seems, they are countering criticism for their neglect of the teaching of God’s Word in their church, and are trying to gain acceptance by quoting more verses of the same Bible that they have seriously dissed for years. I have been to their meetings and seen firsthand that most attendees do not even carry a Bible with them because they don’t need it very often. Usually they “worship” for an hour or so. Then someone comes and starts with the Bible, and then it is time to share the “new thing God is doing,” which includes testimonies of so-called

miracles and signs and wonders.

I believe in the present work of the Holy Spirit in the earth. I believe in miracles and have experienced them. I believe some have a gift of faith and I have witnessed it being used for the glory of God. But I believe that anything we have or know can be turned into an idol or, at the least, an obsession. Bethel obsesses over miracles. Bill Johnson for years has modeled this emphasis. It is the modus operandi of his church. Kris Vallotton and all the other leaders of the movement have to fall in line or they are out. Nothing has changed at Bethel but they are talking slightly different now…. trying their best to put a Biblical stamp of approval on their tired theories and “new” ideas, many of which have more roots in the New Age movement than in the Gospel of Jesus.

I know these are tough words. They are not meant to be tough but to wake up some. One of the problems with Bethel saying the same thing over and over and over is that people get used to it, and are worn down, and then begin to accept it. Many have in Redding—the numbers don’t lie— Bethel is getting bigger and their influence is growing throughout the world. I am concerned and must warn the flock to beware. Do not listen to strung-together verses pulled out of their proper interpretation by those who don’t care if it is properly preached, but care more that their agenda is accomplished. Don’t be made captive to false teaching, no matter how normal it may sound, by those who use flattery or sophisticated behavioral techniques to deliver their message.Kris Vallotton says that we are children of Abraham so that all the promises given to him are ours. Is that true in a physical sense? Does everyone who comes to Christ by faith have a baby of promise? God told Abraham he would have a son, but not everyone has a baby, and some have only girls. I know that sounds silly, but is it sillier to make such a blanket statement like Kris does at every turn in his message? Abraham was a rich man. Is every Christian blessed in that way? It sounds good to those who are anxiously wanting physical blessing to be poured out on their failing business, or their empty nursery, but it is false on its face. It is not good doctrinal teaching that accords godliness. I am reminded of this timeless truth from 1 Timothy 6: 3-6:

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Years ago Bill Johnson was not content with his faith. He had been to John Wimber’s place and saw some miracles and realized all he had was “doctrine.” He spent the next several years trying to find the power. He ended up at Toronto and “found it.” It split his church in two as people began barking, howling and crawling on the floor, and calling it worship. But he says it was worth it. I don’t think it was. I think it possibly shipwrecked his faith. It certainly has done that for many. I have personally watched many young people be in this movement for a few years but come out so disgusted, and so let down, and so confused that they give up and fall headlong into the world. It has affected some who are very close to me like that. It is because of this that I cry out for discernment in these last days. I am not the only one. There are a few others, and though it is not “cost effective” to speak out, we must. Some think we are just mean or old or jealous. Those are unjust charges. The Old Testament prophets had similar opposition. They were told to prophesy “smooth things,” but they could not because God had not told them to. They had to say the truth. It was a fire in them that boiled with holy zeal. That sounds exciting, but it is indeed a heavy burden to bear. God’s Word is being tampered with. It is being used to say things it was never meant to say. Far from being more biblical, though they may appear so to their following, Bethel church continues to move away from the Bible.

In the message by Kris Vallotton, he admits openly that he doesn’t like the book of Leviticus. All the killings bother him. Yet it is the death of the Lamb of God that is pointed to in that book. Every lamb points to Jesus and the atonement for sin. But that is not the point of Bethel. The Gospel of the precious blood of Jesus is not the focus of their outreaches or their expansions or of their school. They call it revival, but can there ever be true revival without confession? Is redemption possible without teaching Christ’s blood being spilled? No. It is a waste of time. A biblical church teaches the whole counsel of God. Bill Johnson refuses to answer questions that come from the book of Job, as though sickness is not a reality in a fallen world, because he teaches it is always God’s plan to heal everything. This is not a biblical church at all. God’s Word deals with all of life, and all of the affects of sin, and still points us to Jesus who died for us a violent death so we may have life eternal. There will be a day when all will be made right but it is not this day.

Kris Vallotton – “Your Identity as Sons of God” (Source)

The Bold Eschatology
Upgrade #2
Kris Vallotton has been saying for some time that he refuses to accept an eschatology that says things have to get worse in order for Jesus to return. To Kris’ credit he loves the story of Joseph. But what he likes so much is that Joseph “profited Potiphar’s house.” “If you put a prince in a prison it will become a palace,” he says. He then goes on to dreams and declares, “Pharaoh is dreaming again.” He says Joseph knew how to interpret dreams because “Joseph was raised in a dreaming family, having been taught the supernatural ways of God.” Then he says again, “Pharaoh is dreaming again and the world is dreaming again.” God is not lifted up, but the dreamer is. He says that the light is turned on in a room, but we don’t come in the room to look at the light, but you come in to “see.” Friends, the Light is what we are to look at. Jesus is the Light of the world. Kris is teaching that self-realization is the goal. Seeing what is around us is the most important thing to him—so we can “see” the dreams. He says, “If we don’t dream then the world dies.” In his eschatology, then, it is all dependent on us. We will save the world if we dream. You must hang with the dreamers here at Bethel, he is implying.

He then moves to the prophecies of Jesus being king in Isaiah 9. This is where he builds his “eschatology now” doctrine. He rips partial verses from the context of the Bible and declares that God’s government is on earth now, in our time. He also declares that God is not “ashamed of humanity” because “His shoulders” are us. Secondly, he says that the government now is increasing and we must advocate for this increase. You might think he means to advocate for a spiritual increase of God’s kingdom. But, there is a bait and switch coming. He leaps from God ruling in His people to talking about government that “actualizes your personhood.” This sounds like the liberal politicians and psychologists today, as though the government is responsible for making us fully developed people. That is not what Isaiah teaches at all. That is not even good American talk. He is emphasizing a New Age idea, right in the middle of a precious part of God’s Word. He has not studied prophecy apparently. He does not realize that God does things in different periods of time. There are two comings, not just one, Kris. Maybe that is why, in another book of the Bible that he does not like, he has not taken this to heart: Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 says:

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal”

From here Kris continues to “build” an eschatology where he simply justifies the governmental take over, albeit in an altruistic sense, of the “spheres” of the society (i.e., dominion), by people and movements and churches like himself. His case in point is that Bethel is running the Civic Auditorium in Redding.[3] This sounds like it is just the beginning of many “good things” to come. “Great government empowers you,” he says, as though an empowered unsaved person is still a good thing. He then points to Korea as a great illustration of why government is the answer. It is a false argument because he holds up democracy in the south as some kind of an endgame for the church’s mission. The only difference is “government” he says. But more government is what has doomed the north, not less. If South Korea is better it is because of “less” government, as we have proved in our own country. But he says, “Government is powerful and meaningful.”

Vallotton then goes on to twist his dominion theology into a misplaced understanding of Isaiah 61, going beyond what Jesus read as He began His ministry there in Nazareth. Jesus stopped reading at exactly the point where He intended to because the rest is for a later time. Read Luke 4:18-20 where Jesus closed the book exactly where it needed to be closed for now. In Kris’ eschatology, there is no need for heaven because through Christians taking dominion over the “spheres” of society we can bring it down now. Look at their website, www.ibethel.org. “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” is their motto. What they mean is for the Kingdom to come now, exactly in all of its fulfillment, NOW! It is not according to the timing that God has set forth, but according to Bethel’s understanding—ALL FOR NOW!

Is this a place we want to send our children or grandchildren in order to learn the supernatural ways of God? No, this is natural, fleshly, and is man centered.[4] Kris says, “I don’t know what your eschatology says, but mine says that ‘God cares about cities.’” Does He? Doesn’t He care about individual people in the cities? Isn’t it better to be accurate when we make blanket statements? Does God care about sidewalks or paths people take to class at the Shasta College, like Kris declares in his illustration about how we should be smart as we govern every part of our society? This is pragmatism and “kingdom now” theology married together! It is silly talk.

There is no Gospel here except the gospel of man. “Your job when you get well is to help everyone else get well,” Kris confidently asserts. The question is, “Well, from what?” If he were talking about getting well from sin through the shed blood of the cross of Christ, I would be all in for that. But he is talking about the ills of society, and that is just not deep enough to be called Bible! That does not go far enough. That is only scraping the surface and does nothing for the soul of man to be truly well. There is no cure for society in this age, but there is a cure for sin found only in the finished work of Christ at Calvary where He willingly poured out His precious blood for atonement for sin. God is angry with man and his sin but He placed that wrath on Jesus for our sakes. But if we don’t receive that gift we are under condemnation. That is the simple Gospel. It is a good news of love, but it cost our Savior His very life as foretold by all those sacrifices of old, in Leviticus.

1 Timothy 4 is an explicit warning for our times. It is opposed to the cozy picture that Bethel Church preaches that is couched in hope of their “kingdom now” type eschatology. I must end share this warning in hopes that

some caught in this movement will hear its words:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times
some will depart from the faith,
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
speaking lies in hypocrisy,
having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Bill Johnson with leading 7 mountain dominion advocate Lance Wallnau

Years ago a friend of mine developed throat cancer. He had a family and a wife and was in the prime of his life. He loved to serve the church we attended by doing practical help for anyone who was in need. If a car needed repair, he would find a way to fix it. If someone needed a ride, he provided it. He loved the Lord and yet he got very sick. Our church at that time declared that he would recover—that God had told them he would beat the cancer. It did not happen that way. My friend died from the cancer, an agonizing death witnessed by his kids and wife and by all of us. A few months afterwards we were talking with some friends who happened to also be on the church staff. They told us that my friend had given up the battle and his lack of faith was the reason he died. Those words burned in me. They disgusted me. They maligned my friend’s memory and character. The church had lied.

Likewise, Bethel is lying today when it says the same types of things. If you look closely at the leadership there, they are living a lie. They are living a lie in hypocrisy because their current pastor needs glasses and the son of the pastor is still deaf. So whose fault is this in their scheme of things? People in Redding and at Bethel get cancer and still get sick, so is the problem with God or with their faith… or with Bethel’s defective teaching?

Budweiser furthers the kingdom agenda?!
The ends justify the means in dominion theology.

In 2016 Kris Vallotton rewrote a book from 2010 because he said it was now more relevant than ever. In this book he talks extensively about how the church has failed at transforming society, and how his church has begun to succeed at it. I want to conclude this exposė of Bethel Church’s “upgrade” with a direct quote from Kris’ book and a screenshot (above) from their website. (Notice the advertisement for beer!) Upcoming events at the Redding Civic Auditorium are referenced in the quote below. My question for the reader to ask is this: what does any of this have to do with the Gospel mandate that Jesus so clearly gave in Matthew 28? Is this the “new” goal of Christianity? What government role should the church “take over” next? What further compromises in content and marketing will the church make in order to win the praise of the public and government officials?

Here is the quote from Vallotton’s book:

“We wanted to run the Redding Convention Center the same way our students beautified our city. Our goal was to make it an excellent experience for everyone who came into the building. We spent $500,000 remodeling the building and installing a state-of-the-art ticket system. We replaced all the seats, installed a new sound system and remodeled the entire interior of the building. We hired an almost entirely new staff, employing only friendly people who had a heart for excellence. It took us two long years to learn the entertainment business, but we were passionate about getting it right. At first we lost money on many of the shows. To make matters worse, in our zeal to make sure the venue stayed secular and not “Christian,” we booked some acts that were pure filth… actually nearly porn. At times things were tough, but we knew we had to climb or die. For the first two years, the community (led by the media) scrutinized everything we did and cut us no slack. But as time went on, their fear of a ‘religious takeover’ evaporated in light of the obviously improved experience our community was having in the convention center. We were hosting as many shows and events as ever, while still meeting the needs of our school there. In our third year of managing the building, we finally began to win the praise of our community. In fact, many of the people who had protested against us that night at the city council meeting came back and apologized to our team. And our city manager and his team have since said openly, ‘This is the best the convention center has been run in 43 years!’”

Where is the truth in all of this? 
It is found in God’s Word. It is found in the true God of the Bible and not in god we make according to our own dreams and desires. It’s found in the One who has given us His Spirit through the new birth in Christ, who will lead us into all truth. It is found in churches that, though they may be small and are certainly not perfect, are preaching and living the whole counsel of God in humility and by His power. It is found in the holy lives of the people of God who seek not the glory of an earthly kingdom but who are waiting for this one:

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16)

Much more can be said about this movement that is Bethel Church. Though it is constantly upgrading its message to bring more and more people and churches into its orbit, please beware of the dangers in its teaching. The “upgrade” is really a downgrade—a sophisticated and well- marketed ploy to repackage the old Latter Rain heresy of the 1940s that has roots deep in the darkness of the old Gnostics that were plaguing the church at the time the New Testament was being written. Certainly the preacher of Ecclesiastes was right: “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Do not let anyone lead you astray to anything less than the glorious truths found in God’s Word, even if it sounds innovative and relevant, and has really good music high up on the iTunes charts (Bethel’s rock group Jesus Culture). Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! Keep looking up for your redemption draws nigh! Beware, beware, beware and don’t settle for anything less!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
(1 Peter 1:3-5)

THE KINGDOM DOMINION (physically) WILL BELONG TO THE LORD at His glorious return!

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
(Daniel 7:13-14)
Then the seventh angel sounded:
And there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms
of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and ever!”
(Rev. 11:15)

Endnotes:
1. Vallotton, Kris, (2016-08-02), Heavy Rain: How to Flood Your World with God’s Transforming Power, published by Chosen Books – From the Introduction of the Kindle Edition. Emphasis added.
2. Link is https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bethel-church-sermon-week/id76583739?mt=2&i=374737430
3. Screen shot of Convention Center article photo is from:http://www.redding.com/news/bethel-church-will-run-redding-convention-centerep-375592385-354729071.html
4. Herescope articles about Bethel, Jesus Culture, its youth movement, and its popularity in evangelicaldom include http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-significance-of-youth-filled.html. Also see: the associated article at: http://apprising.org/2013/01/02/louie-giglio-passion-2013-and-jesus-culture/ and the 6 part series that begins here:http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-passion-of-presence.html

This article was originally in the Discernment Newsletter, Vol. 27, No. 4, Sept./Oct. 2016. It is reproduced here in its entirety with additional graphic exhibits supplied by the author, Pastor Rod Page, with comments. Other exhibits added by the editor for the purpose of documentation.

Poverty and the Church – What Can We Do?

UPDATE TO THIS POST – THERE ARE NOW Three PODCASTS ABOUT THIS SUBJECT –  and you can hear THEM on the Podcast page of this site or iTunes or Google Play podcast apps.

I might have added several more lines to the questions above…all of this to say I am interested in what you brothers and sisters think about this subject. This will be my next podcast.

  • What should we do?
  • What does the Bible say? (verses that have impacted your thinking?)
  • How would doing something (not assuming you are not already doing something) enhance our witness to the world?
  • What have you done about it?
  • What would you like to see done?
  • What do you know about poverty in the U.S.?
  • Could “doing good” in this area negatively influence our gospel centered approach?

In case you didn’t know the latest stats of our area – in Lewiston California – 29.4% of our people live below the poverty line. I am sure there are many underlying reasons for this figure – but that is high nonetheless.

You can comment below by providing an email address – or email privately to me. Thanks for helping in this.