God gave me a vision of our Church back in the early 90’s. In this vision I saw our old store-front church building floating on a sea. The waves were moving up and down but the water was not rough. Our old building had a long covered porch all the way across the front. There was a member of our church out on the porch watching the waves. After a few minutes he ran inside the building up to me and said, “Bother Mark, come and see, there is a storm coming.” I ran out on the porch with him and looked but I did not see the storm at first. “Where is the storm, I do not see it?” I asked him. He pointed out to the sea and I looked and on the top of the water was little miniature twister (typhoon) that was not even knee high, and I thought to myself that was not much to fear. Then right before my eyes that little twister began to grow until it towered over the Church. The waves began to splash all around us, the wind was howling, and our little Church was bucking up and down in the storm. All we could do was hang on and pray. That was how the vision ended. I did not realize all that this dream meant until a few weeks afterward when a small matter in our Church grew out of control and caused our Church to go through a terrible storm. This vision was God’s way of warning me and sending me to my knees to pray.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
God gave me dream on December 28, 2000 early in the morning. In that dream we were in a Prayer Meeting at our Church (Pentecostal Lighthouse). I stood up and shared this dream with the Church in my dream. It was a dream within a dream. I saw our Church, Pentecostal Lighthouse, all wrapped up in huge chains from top to bottom. The chains all intersected at the top of the building on the roof and there was huge padlock keeping them all together. In my dream I was standing in the parking lot looking up at these chains and the padlock. Then I asked the Lord out loud, “What does this mean?” Then a huge hand, larger than our Church, came out of Heaven and touched the padlock with one finger. The padlock and the chains all disappeared and then I heard the voice of the Lord say, “I am the key to whatever binds you”. When I related this vision to those in the prayer meeting they all began to run around and shout. There were even some backsliders in the Prayer Meeting. Jesus did not hold the key, He is the Key!
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Holiness & Modesty
1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
This scripture has been used tens of thousands of times to excuse immodest dress and behavior. People have often said, based on this scripture, “It does not matter what I wear because God sees my heart.” And it is true! God does see our hearts, but make no mistake about it, it does matter what we wear. What God can do, man cannot do. Man cannot see our intentions, our motives, or our desires. Man can only see what is on the outside.
The sad truth about this scripture is that it should produce just the opposite effect in people. It should compel us to live modestly in this world rather than immodestly. Because man can only see the outward appearance we must make sure that the outward appearance is presentable to men.
Man can only see our outward appearance, he cannot look into our heart and see what is lurking inside, therefore he must make conclusions about people based on what he can see, and that is our outward appearance and actions.
The fact that man can only see our “outward appearance” should compel us to make sure that our outward appearance is the best that it can be. Who are we trying to be witnesses to anyway, God or man? The obvious answer is man. The Bible tells us to, “Let your light so shine before men”. What are men going to see? Our outward appearance and actions!
If men can only see our outward appearance, as the Bible clearly states, then we have an obligation to men to make sure that at all times our outward appearance reflects Christ-like dress and behavior. There is no excuse! We have a solemn duty to be witnesses to mankind that can only see the natural things that we do.
The last part of this scripture should also give us pause as well. “The Lord looketh on the heart”. What does God see? He sees our hearts. This means that nothing is hid from God. All of our thoughts, our motives, our desires, and our intentions are clearly seen by God. He sees it all. This should compel us to strive to be holy in our hearts and to allow that holiness to shine outward in all that we are and do.
Of course we understand that the heart is the most important thing. But what good is a holy heart if mankind cannot see the fruit of it in our outward appearance and actions? If a holy heart is hid inside a worldly vessel then its power to be a witness is completely lost. Man cannot see a holy heart because “man looketh on the outward appearance”.
Someone once said erroneously, “I don’t care what people think about me. I am only trying to please God.” Is this the correct attitude? Certainly we are trying to please God and that should be our first obligation, but we are also trying to win as many lost people as we can. Whether we like it or not, we must care what people think about us. Of Jesus it was said in Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Jesus thought that it was important to be in favor with both God and man and we should to. It does matter what people think about us.
Basically everyone falls into one of three different groups on this subject. The first group is what I call the Inside Yes – Outside No group. Their philosophy is the outside does not matter at all. They can wear whatever they like because only the heart matters.
The second group is the Outside Yes – Inside No group. They place great emphasis on the outside but neglect the inside. They look outwardly holy in dress and appearance but inside their hearts they are selfish, unkind, unforgiving, bitter, hateful, and a host of other things. They have spent so much time on the outward that they have forgotten to prepare their hearts. They would never admit to this philosophy but it is true nonetheless.
The third group is what we should all aspire to be a part of. This group is the Inside Yes – Outside Yes group. They know that the heart is the most important thing but they are also well aware that what is in their heart must be reflected in their outward appearance and actions. They take time to pray and search their hearts to root out any thought or attitude that is not pleasing to God. When they go out in public and among their brethren they also consider how they will be presented to them and take careful consideration that what men see of them will only speak of Christ. This is the proper attitude.
We need to look at another scripture on this subject. Jesus addressed one of the most religious groups of his day with these words:
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
This is another scripture that has often been cited as an excuse to dress immodestly. This group of religious people was a part of the “Outside Yes – Inside No” group. In no way was Jesus saying that the outside was unimportant. He was telling us that the outside was less important than the inside and if we would get the inside, which is our heart right then the outside would clean up as well.
The progression in the New Testament is from the inside to the outside. In the Old Testament men would try to apply rules to their lives in hopes that it would sink in to their hearts but in the New we start first on the inside and allow the changes that have taken place inside of our hearts to work their way outward to our appearance. Remember that it is heart first, followed by what is on the outside.
What God is looking for is a balanced Christian, one that has equally committed to the influence of Christ in all of their life. Remember that a “false balance is an abomination to God”. We need to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
The Culture of Christ
We that are in the church have a unique culture. The culture of Christ transcends and supplants all other cultures. Once you become a Christian you become a part of a new culture.
Each of us has an ethnic culture that we were born into but when we were Born Again we took on a spiritual culture. Our ethnic culture may come in conflict with our spiritual culture from time to time but in all of these cases the spiritual culture is superior. Your ethnic culture may allow a certain level of immodesty and even immorality but your spiritual culture will never tolerate such behavior. This is what it means to be Born Again – the new birth takes precedence over the old – the new birth is now what defines our life.
Our spiritual culture has its own unique characteristics. It has its own way of dress, which is holiness, it has its own language, it has its own customs, and it has its own distinct way of life. This culture is not American, European, Asian, or any other ethnic variety – this culture is heavenly. I met a man once in a Pentecostal church that had very long hair and he said to me, “I wear this long hair because I am an American Indian and it is our culture to have long hair”. It is great to be an American Indian but it is even greater to be a Christian. Whatever our culture may have been at birth at the second birth it is now spiritual. Any other consideration of our prior birth is backsliding. This great culture that we are now a part of outshines all other cultures.
I was with a church member one day and we visited a flea market. There was a man there that this member introduced me to. I stuck my hand out to shake his but he did not stick his hand out to shake mine. He asked me, “Do you preach that holiness junk down at your church?” I replied, “If you mean us coming out of the world and being separate, and if you mean living like Jesus, then the answer is yes.” He never did shake my hand.
Why is it that people have such a resistance to living a holy life? There can be but one answer to this question: carnality. A man or woman that is in love with Jesus will have no difficulty whatsoever in living a holy life. There is nothing that Jesus would ask of them that they would ever refuse. Their love for Jesus will be greater than any requirement.
Holiness is not junk. God tells us, “Be ye holy for I am holy”. The word of God also tells us without holiness no man will see God. We know that holiness is derived from our connection to Christ but at no time does this diminish our responsibility in living above the world. When Christians live selfish lives and dress and act any way that they choose, they are certainly not walking in obedience to God. Christ’s righteousness demands our righteousness.
When Moses fled to the deserts of Midian he met a group of girls at a well attempting to water their herds. It seems that every day when they did so the other shepherds would run the girls off and they would have to wait until everyone was through before they could get their turn. On this day Moses was present and he defended the girls. When the girls returned home early their father asked them how they were able to get home so quickly. Do you know what they said? They said, “An Egyptian delivered us (Exodus 2:19)”. Moses was not an Egyptian. He was an Israelite of the Tribe of Levi. Why did they think he was an Egyptian? Because of the clothes he was wearing! His dress, manners, hairstyle, and such led them to make a wrong guess about who he was. If you are tired of people calling you and Egyptian then quit dressing like them! If you are tired of people saying you are worldly then quit dressing worldly! It took 40 years for all of Egypt to wear off of Moses and it was then that God sent him back to Egypt as a Hebrew to lead His people to the Promised Land.
Men & Women
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
None of us would argue that men and women are the same. The differences between the sexes are evident. The Bible recognizes and encourages that these differences be maintained. The Bible also says that it is an abomination if they are not. The Pentecostal churches are frowned on by others outside our ranks because the women in our churches wear dresses instead of pants.
It is not that we in the Pentecostal Church believe that a woman wearing pants is committing a mortal sin, but we believe that it is important for us to keep the distinction evident for the health of the Body of Christ. Look at the traditional bathroom symbols for “Men” & “Women”. What are they? They show a picture of a man in pants for “Men” and “Woman” in a dress for “Women”. At one time even our society recognized, and I dare say honored, the differences between men and women.
The differences between men and women do not make one sex greater or lesser than the other. The human race is totally dependant on both sexes. We cannot exist without both! The modern feminist of today mistakenly believes that if she is made to be a “Lady” that she will be inferior to men. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women are the mothers of the Human Race. Nothing could ever be greater! All successful men were taught by a mother!
One woman that I pastored years ago got angry with me about women needing to wear dresses. I rarely ever say anything about this. She came to me and asked about this subject and I told her what the Bible says. She refused and said the Church was not going to get her to give up her pants. I really did not care – it was her problem, not mine. A few weeks after our conversation she moved to Beaumont and she went to work for Beal’s Department Store in the Mall. Later I bumped into her and she said, “I have to buy a bunch of dresses for work”. I asked her “Why?” and she said that it was the policy of Beal’s Department Store and that all women that worked for them were required to wear dresses. It is a sad day when a department store has a higher standard than the Church.
Why should it even matter that men and women should dress and act differently? We are living in a time of gender confusion – homosexuality and lesbianism is on the rise. Young boys and girls are growing up in homes without clear male and female role models and this is causing confusion in their young minds. Years ago it was easy for a young boy to find clear masculine role models to pattern his life after. Girls could also easily find ladies in their family and community to look up to. Today this is just not so. Because of this lack of clear demarcation between what is male and female we have a society in confusion.
The goal of the liberal and the feminist is to eliminate all distinctions between the sexes. They are attempting to create a unisex society – a society that is completely genderless. The church rejects this ideology. One of the simple things that God has put in place to safeguard us from this attack is for men and women to maintain their distinction in dress and hairstyle.
Every Scripture in the Bible supports a separation of the male and female in dress and hair style. From the Old Testament prohibition of men and women dressing alike to the New Testament Scriptures that teach women to have long hair and men to have short hair, all of these Scriptures support the holiness view of the Pentecostal church.
1 Corinthians 11:14-15
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
The Line Must Be Drawn Somewhere
I have heard it said by some that we in the Pentecostal church are majoring on minors and minoring on majors. This is not true at all. The line between the church and the world must be drawn somewhere. If you choose not to draw a line of distinction between the two then the lines between what is holy and what is not become blurred. Someone must have the courage to draw the line and remember where you draw the line will determine how far people will go. I heard brother Clendennen say once that those of us in the ministry just about have to quit drinking coffee and tea to get some people to quit drinking wine. People will always push the limits of what is or is not allowable.
Years ago on a Sunday night I had a church member request prayer for their neighbor. She was very upset because her neighbor had pierced her tongue. She spoke for several minutes about how terrible it was for a person to stoop that low and to mutilate her body so. While she was speaking I could not help but notice that she had her ears pierced and an earring in each ear. And why is it any less wrong for a person to pierce their ears than their tongue? There is only three of four inches between the two. Years ago the Pentecostal church viewed ear piercing and with the same trepidation that they view tongue piercing today. What has changed? God has not changed but the view of the Pentecostal church in this present world has changed.
The Need for Standards
Is there a need for standards within the body of Christ? If there is a need for standards within the body then who sets that standard? The answer to the first question is yes, and the answer to the second question is the word of God. It is absolutely essential that we govern ourselves by the Bible. Our holiness preaching must be Bible-based. So much of what is preached on this subject is more personal opinion than the word of God.
A uniform standard of dress and behavior is a unifying principle that is recognized the world over. Take a look at our military for instance: each soldier is required to dress alike, to eat the same foods, to live in the same barracks, and to conduct themselves in a similar manner. This uniformity helps to forge these soldiers into a distinct unit that will work closely together to overcome any enemy. From this example, and there are many others as well (sociologist report that schools that require their students to wear uniforms have less discipline problems), we understand that a common standard is a powerful force that will unite any people.
The Danger of Standards
I do not want to contradict myself now but I do want to say that there is also a danger in standards. Standards are wonderful when they are Bible-based but they can be oppressive and sometimes even ridiculous when they are not governed by the word of God.
Also we must understand we are not living by the letter of the law but we are living by the direction of the Holy Ghost. The Bible tells us, “The letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life”. Under the Old Testament Law the worshipers of Jehovah were required to live by rules and laws. Now we are under the New Covenant and this covenant is greater than the first. God has written his laws within our hearts—these laws are not written in stone but on human flesh. The leading of the Holy Ghost is greater than the law.
Are we to go back to living exclusively by the letter of the law? Absolutely not! Our lives must be governed by the word of God and we must be led by the Spirit. This does not mean that we are Anti-Nomian, meaning we are against the law, but it does mean that the law of God will be directed by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are not governed by the law but we are governed by life.
I do not want anyone to take the words that I have just written and use that as an excuse for immodest behavior. There is no excuse for a Christian to parade themselves around immodestly. There is no excuse for a Holy Ghost filled believer to refuse to live a holy life. If someone claims to be filled with the Holy Ghost and refuses to live a holy life then they prove by their actions that they are not being led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to obey the word of God. Jesus said, “If ye love me keep my commandments”.
A Call to Holiness
There has never been a time in the history of the church where the need for holy believers is more needed than now. I submit to you that we must follow the teachings of the Word of God and we must be led by the Spirit. One of the hallmarks of the Spirit led life is holiness. So much emphasis today has been placed upon the evidence of speaking in tongues but another great evidence of the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost in a person’s life is holiness. The Holy Spirit lives within a holy man or woman.
My fellow believers I implore you to seek God with all your heart and ask Him what he would have you to do. Do not be afraid to live differently than the rest of the world. Seek to be full of the Holy Ghost - for in that fullness there will come holiness.
Monday, January 24, 2011
VICTORY ON A HALF ACRE OF LAND
This is a very simple message of encouragement to anyone that is fighting a battle of what may seem like overwhelming odds. God gave me this message back in 1988 when I was going through tough personal battle. This message gave me strength then and has helped so many others over the years in the revivals that I have preached.
1 Samuel 14:4-14
4And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
5The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
6And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
7And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
9If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
10But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
11And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
12And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Jonathon and his armour-bearer found themselves between a rock and a hard place. The path to the Philistine Garrison was between two sharp rocks. One rock was named “Bozez” which means, “Bleached white” (as in a skull). The other rock was named “Seneh” which meant “Thorn”. They were between the Skull & the Thorn. Isn’t it just like the devil to maneuver us between a rock and a hard place? We may bemoan the hardships but we can see God’s best work in us during the hard times.
Are you between a rock and a hard place? Is it tough at home? This is just the atmosphere that God works best in! Instead of trying to find an easier way, go ahead and take the battle to the devil and see if God will not come through for you.
The Philistine Garrison was the headquarters of the Philistine army in that area. It was the Stronghold! It was where the General and the Captains planned their strategy. It was the place where their weapons, supplies, food, and horses were stored. This was the strongest place in their army. It was the key to their whole campaign. Because of the apparent strength of this location it would be the least likely place to attack, especially for only two men. This is just the place that Jonathon wanted to attack.
A garrison is defined as a fortified place of defense for troops, supplies, weapons, food, and commanding officers. So you see, this is not the ideal place to attack. Often we wait for a good opportunity to attack. Why wait? Attack the devil at his stronghold. Two things will happen: One, you will catch the enemy off-guard, and two, you will put yourself in a position to see the power of God.
2 Corinthians 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
The garrison, the stronghold of the enemy, is exactly where Jonathon decided they needed to attack. If you are going to do anything for the Lord then you are going to have to be bold. John the Baptist said, “The axe is laid to the root of the tree.” We would get better results if we went to the root of the problem. Often we find ourselves just trimming limbs when we ought to be attacking the root! Jonathon and his armor bearer went to the root of the problem in Israel. Instead of attacking the effect they went to the cause. Instead of treating the symptom they went to problem.
A bold plan is what is needed today. Instead of waiting for the enemy to come and attack our churches we need to go out of our buildings and take the battle to the devil. True victory will never come to the timid. True victory is achieved by the bold.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
JONATHON & HIS ARMOURBEARER
The way a professional soldiers fought in that day was to send his armor bearer ahead holding up a shield as the warrior came behind. Jonathon did things differently, he turned tradition upside down. Instead of coming behind his armor bearer, Jonathon went before him. He must of said to his armor bearer, “I’ll knock them down, and you come behind me and finish them off!”
This is so much a type of Jesus and His Church. Instead of Jesus sending us ahead into danger, He went ahead and led the way. Jesus knocked the enemy down now we must come behind and finish him off and enforce the victory of Calvary. The Church is most definitely the armor bearer. Look at what the scripture says:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Jesus is the Warrior and he went before us, we are the armorbearer and we are coming behind. Jesus knocked the Devil down and we are to finish him off! Jesus has already defeated the enemy at the hill he climbed. Now we climb up that hill and enforce the victory of the cross.
Jonathon had a plan. It was to “Discover themselves” unto the Philistines. Has the Devil discovered you yet? We must reveal ourselves to the enemy by attacking the enemy at his garrison, at his stronghold.
There is a Stronghold in your city! There is a stronghold in your area. We need to attack the Devil’s Stronghold and bring it down! Don’t hide yourself! Show yourself brave! Reveal yourself unto the devil.
Paul revealed himself to the Devil and the devil cried out, “Paul I know and Jesus I know!” Only through bold warfare will the devil ever fear the Church. Jonathon and his armor bearer brought the battle to the enemy and today we read and preach it. Why? Because they revealed themselves to the enemy.
Two men attacking a Garrison! This was unheard of. It was the audacity of their faith! They were willing to take on the impossible! They were willing to do what no sane person would have ever considered. They took on the stronghold and overcame the insurmountable odds.
When we finally quit crying and take on the impossible then we will see the impossible done! It takes daring faith to commit daring acts!
Not only did they attack the fortified garrison but also they had to climb uphill to do so! The one with the “high ground” always has the tactical advantage. This military advantage meant nothing to God. God will always be able to turn the worst situation into victory. All God needs is someone bold enough to step out and do His will.
“COME ON UP AND WE WILL SHOW YOU A THING”
This was the sign that the Lord had given to them that the Garrison would fall. When the soldier cried out to Jonathon and said, “Come on up and we will show you a thing”. Jonathon said to his Armorbearer, “Let’s go up and show them a thing!”
Then they began to climb. Jonathon went before and knocked the enemy down and his armorbearer came behind and finished them off! God was with them! They made it to the top victorious! Against all odds and against all tradition, these two men were given the victory.
I am glad that Jesus has already climbed to the top of the Hill (Calvary) and knocked the Devil down! I am his Armorbearer and am coming behind him with victory! We must go up and show the devil “a thing”.
VICTORY ON A HALF ACRE OF LAND
All of this took place on a “Half Acre of Land.” Do you know what Jonathon said, “That is Israel’s Half Acre! God deeded this land to us way back when he forged a covenant with Abraham. Those Philistines are Squatters on our land! We are going to take back what is rightfully ours!”
Jonathon and his Armorbearer defeated the enemy and had “Victory on a Half-Acre of Land”! The devil was a squatter on God’s property. Jonathon and his armor bearer knew this and they dared to take back what was theirs.
Is the devil on your half-acre? Then run him off! I promise you that Jesus will go before you! You will come behind with victory! Go home and tell that Devil to get out of your house! No, not your husband, but the Devil! Go home and tell the devil, “This is my half-acre! I pay the rent! I pay the electric bill! I pay the taxes! You are not welcome here!” Take the battle to the devil and stand on the word of God. God will bring help to the faithful. God will strengthen the cause of the righteous. You can have victory on your half-acre!
Pastor, you can have victory on our half-acre of land at the Church! March around it and run the Devil off! Stand in the pulpit that God ordained for you and preach the Word. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be bold, be firm, and be faithful. God will give you victory on your half acre!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
THE “COME AS YOU ARE” GOSPEL
1The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
THE “COME AS YOU ARE” FAD
The “Come as you are” fad is a relatively new development in Christianity. What we see commonly today was not so common as little as forty years ago. The idea suggests that coming to Church requires no forethought whatsoever, that God is so eager for you to worship Him that he has no requirements at all to impose on the worshipper. This fad, which has spread all over America and I am sure to other countries, is so prevalent today that it has become the mantra of most mega-churches and is the slogan of modern church growth gurus. Why it is not uncommon to see a banner hanging outside a worship facility with these words boldly proclaiming, “Come as you are.”
Churches today are so desperate to capture another warm body to fill a spot on a pew that they will stoop to any level to achieve this go. They say to the masses with banners and slogans, “Come as you are”! They are telling them: “We don’t care how you dress – just come to church. We don’t care if you have a hangover – just come to church. We don’t care if shave or comb your hair – just come to Church. We don’t care if you wear a rock-n-roll t-shirt – just come to Church. We don’t care if you wear a mini-skirt – just come to Church. Shorts? No problem! We just want you in our Church. You do not have to change. No one is going to put any pressure on you. You can join the choir. You can teach a Sunday school class. You can even serve on the board. Come as you are. We will love you and no one will ever hassle you.” Folks, this is no longer about reaching sinners this is the philosophy of those that “think” they are saved.
I want to examine these questions: Where did this come from? What does it mean? Who started this? And, why is this idea destructive to true worship?
Here are a few examples that I have seen:
1. Charismatic church in my local area with a banner across the front that says, “Come as you are. You’ll be loved.”
2. Lutheran Church with the bold words across the top proclaiming, “Come as you are.”
3. A “Cowboy Church” had these words spelled out on its lettered sign, “Come as you are. Let’s worship the Lord.”
Right about now you are probably thinking, “What is wrong with that? Are we not supposed to tell the sinner that they do not have to clean their lives up to come to Christ? Isn’t the Church a place where people can come “as they are” and have Christ change them?”
I want to make one thing emphatically clear that I am not saying that a person has to clean themselves up before they come to Christ. I have heard the old saying all my life, as I am sure you have, “You have to catch the fish before you clean them”. Unfortunately, the “Come as you are” fad is no longer targeting sinners but now appeals to worshippers. We now have a whole generation of worshippers that believe they can worship God, and might I add, live for God, any way they please. They mistakenly believe that God will take them just like they are or He will not have them at all. I heard B. H. Clendennen say once, “Then God will not have you at all”.
This “Come as you are” slogan tends to confuse people about the nature of God. People have lost their reverence for God, respect for the House of God, and honor for the things of God. I believe much of this can be traced back to this casual, lazy idea that we can approach God any old way that we want to. Because of this people are confused about how to worship and serve the Lord.
The questions must be asked: Can people really come as they are? Are we free from any preparation when coming to God? If we must prepare ourselves for service to the King then what preparation is there?
THE INITIAL APPROACH TO GOD: COME AS HE IS
The initial approach of the sinner to God is certainly, “Come as you are”, but it is only in the sense that we can do nothing in ourselves in order to please the Father. We cannot work hard enough to please Him. We cannot give enough of our money, time, or efforts to please Him. There is nothing we can do in our flesh that would ever please God enough to save us.
The initial approach to God is based on the shed blood of Jesus or else God would kill us on the spot. A better saying than “Come as you are” would be, “Come as He is.” For it is Christ, and Christ alone, that enables us to come to the Father. Without Jesus no one could approach the Father.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
No man can come as “he is”. He must come through who Jesus is. Our approach to the Father is solely based upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. To “come as we are” is a fleshly approach. Every person that comes to Father must come on the basis of what Jesus did at Calvary. It tell you again: It is not “Come as you are” but rather “Come as He (Jesus) is” that will get us access to the Father’s mercy and grace.
DOES THE BIBLE UPHOLD THE “COME AS YOU ARE” THEOLOGY?
We need to look at the Word of God and see how men and women approached the Holy God so we can better understand our approach to God. Did they come as they were when they approached God? I want to give you two examples from the Old Testament. I know already some of you are saying the veil has been rent and the Old Testament no longer applies, but we must remember that Calvary did not change God – His nature is still Holy – Calvary changes us.
Again let me say here, the come as you are ideology may have originally been targeted at sinners but today we see that it has washed over into the Church. People come together at Churches with the intention of worshipping God any old way they want. They come in shorts, tank tops, pants with holes all in them, pajamas, and, what else? The list goes on and on. You need only go back forty or fifty years ago and things were a lot different. As soon as the “Come as you are” idea came into the Church people began to readjust their thinking about worship.
Look with me now at two glaring examples in the Old Testament:
1. The Priests could not come as they were to offer sacrifices to God- God gave them strict guidelines on how to dress and how to cleanse themselves in order to approach God. Look at this scripture:
17And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
19For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
20When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:
21So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
2. Moses could not come as he was to the burning bush- God would not allow Moses to approach the burning bush with his shoes on. God’s command to Moses was “Put off thy shoes”. There has been much speculation by many preachers over the years exactly what this referred to but the point is, Moses had to change something about himself before he could approach a Holy God.
4And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
THE CORRECT WAY TO COME TO GOD
The text at the beginning of this message says if you want to ascend the hill of God and stand in the Holy Place that you must make preparation. These scriptures have correctly been applied to Christ, for He is the holy lamb without blemish. But, we as well must have “clean hands” and a “clean heart” if we intend on “ascending” to God in worship.
If people would spend time preparing their hearts to come and worship then God will surely send revival to the Church. A prepared and holy heart is going to be reflected in our dress, manners, and attitude.
This is the correct way to approach God:
1. Holy- They that approach the Lord must be holy. The following scripture your about to read is not just something you do it is something that you are. We must worship God by giving Him praise but we must also live a life that is pleasing unto the Lord. Such a life is a life that has beautified by holiness. So we understand it is not just how we act in corporate worship, it is how we should be all the time.
1 Chronicles 16:29
29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
2. Fearfully- We must approach the Lord with fear and respect. What happened to the fear of the Lord?
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever
3. Humbly- We should never be arrogant or proud, but we should be humble.
15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
4. Faithfully- It is useless to approach God without faith.
6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
5. Boldly- If we have done our part then we can be bold. A man that has something to hide, sin, cannot be bold.
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
6. Patiently- We should be patient when seeking an answer from the Lord.
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
7. Consistently- God wants us to be consistent in our seeking Him.
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
During my time as a Youth Pastor, in 1986, I came under the attack of the enemy with nightmares. I began having nightmares four or five times a week and would be exhausted the next day afterward. I began to fast and pray. Finally I told the enemy that I had dedicated my waking mind to God and if God could control my mind while awake then he could do so while I slept. God blessed me and to this day I have never once had another nightmare (2011). Brother and Sister there is no way you are going to convince me, as doctors and psychologists teach, that nightmares are a natural part of the human mind. God gets no glory out of us being terrorized by the Devil. Fast and pray to God. Bind the enemy. You can walk in victory, and you can sleep in victory.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
When I was a boy from age 13 to 15 I sought for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. During this time I tried to hang on to God with one hand and a part of the world with the other. I was listening to rock-n-roll music. One night at the Polk County Campmeeting I was sitting outside of the tabernacle on one of the benches that were stationed next to trees throughout the grounds. While the preacher was preaching God spoke to me and said, “Son, if you will give up that rock-n-roll music I will fill you with the Holy Ghost.” I went home that night and my Mother and I broke those records and threw them in the garbage. That was a Friday night. The next morning there was a prayer meeting scheduled at the tabernacle. Our family went and I headed to the altar determined to receive the Holy Ghost. Those Holy Ghost filled women gathered around me and prayed Heaven down. In those days, when you sought for the Holy Ghost it was a serious thing. I knew that either God was going to fill me with the Holy Ghost or those women were going to kill me. I have heard young ignorant preachers make fun of the way the past generation prayed for people to receive the Holy Ghost by reciting things like: “One prayed for God to send the fire, and another prayed for God to send the rain; one told the seeker to hold on, and one for them to turn loose.” Every time I hear such preachers mocking I reply that we cannot knock the way they prayed for they surely saw more results than we are seeing today. I am sure that some of them prayed that way for me. Oh, what a blessed day! God gloriously filled me with His Holy Ghost. I have never been the same since. That very same morning at that same altar God also filled Sister Susie with Holy Ghost – she has been a dear friend of our family for all of those years and I have had the privilege to be her Pastor for over 20 years. There may have been others, but I do know that on that day two lives were forever changed when the Great God of Heaven filled us with the Holy Ghost.