A Testimony of Faith

A poem written during the nascent days of The Reformation.

By Margaret of Valois, duchess of Alencon, France,th

sister of King Francis I, a persecutor of The Reformers.

Is there a gulf of ill, so deep and wide

That can suffice but e’en a tenth to hide

Of my vile sins?

Well do I fell within me is the root,

Without are branch and foliage, flower and fruit.

My God, thou hast come down on earth to me, –

To me, although a naked worm I be.

Word Divine, Jesus the Salvator,

Only Son of the eternal Paer,

The first, the last; of all things renovator,

Bishop and king, and mighty triumphator,

From death by death our liberator.

By faith we’re made the sons of the Creator.

Though poor, and weak, and ignorant I be,

How rich, how strong, how wise I am in Thee!

In spirit noble, – but in nature slave;

Immortal I am, -tending to the grave;

Essence of heaven, – and yet of earthly birth;

God’s dwelling place, – and yet how little worth.

What does Pastor Saeed believe?

It is very comforting to know that Pastor Saeed is no longer in harms way of the Iranian government. Many have already spread the good news via social media and other outlets. But while we stand by and praise God for this man’s safety, do we know what he believes? Have Christians not made the same mistake before in standing by certain preachers, politicians, celebrities, or movement leaders only to have a black eye later on because we did not endeavor to know their doctrinal stance?

This article is not assuming to know what Pastor Saeed believes. As far as I know, there are no public statements that have been posted concerning this topic. However,  there is background information that may give some indication to the kind leanings that Saeed may have. DISCLAIMER: This is not a condemning post! I repeat. This is NOT a condemning post. This is purely informational, although I have my personal concerns. I do not believe that Saeed is not Christian. I do not have any evidence to make such a conclusion at this time. I am merely challenging us to always consider who we are supporting and ask ourselves if our own convictions will allow us to do so. The following is just a series of links I discovered when trying to figure out what Pastor Saeed believes. Although I found nothing on Saeed, did find other somewhat relevant information.

Pastor Saeed is an ordained minister from the American Evangelistic Association (AEA)
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2012/december/aclj-calls-on-iran-to-free-american-pastor/?mobile=false

AEA was started by John E. Douglas Jr in 1954 and several other pastors who became independent in order to form this organization. http://wordpress.aeaministries.org/history/

What AEA believes can be found here: http://wordpress.aeaministries.org/this-we-believe/

It is possible that many of the pastors could have been affected by the “Latter Rain Movement” in the 1940’s as well as preacher A.A. Allen.

  1. http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3274100062/other-pentecostals.html (Scroll down, find “American Evangelistic Association,” and click link)
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=_Qtv7gJMIFUC&q=American+Evangelistic+Association#v=snippet&q=American%20Evangelistic%20Association&f=false (if link does not work when you click on it, copy and paste to the URL box)

Source 2 above reveals that Douglas Jr. was a convert of A.A. Allen who was one of the more popular “faith healers” of his day and a very controversial figure.

The “Latter Rain Movement” was one of the many baseline movements for the modern charismatic chaos witnessed today.

Douglas Jr. hired John Douglas Sr. to be radio spokesperson for AEA and started the international ministry World Missionary Evangelism (WME). http://wordpress.aeaministries.org/history/

WME is now overseen by John G. Cathcart in Dallas. Some of his writings can be read here: https://wmedallas.wordpress.com/

The Statement of Faith for WME can be found here: http://www.wme.org/statementoffaith.html

Before Douglas Jr. died, John Rienhold was made CEO and President of AEA ministries. http://wordpress.aeaministries.org/history/

Rienhold has been working with Iranian evangelistic ministry “ELAM” and believes that God is not just working through their evangelistic efforts, but is also taking “shortcuts” because of Iranians seeing “visions” of Christ. http://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/218-peopleevents/news/2373-iranian-church-growth-mind-boggling

What ELAM believes as a ministry can be seen here: http://www.elam.com/page/statement-faith And their endorsers are here: http://www.elam.com/page/endorsements

Once again, all these links are not to insinuate that Pastor Saeed is not a Christian. It is good to know those that labor among us, especially if we plan to support them. This is purely informational and is meant to bring awareness to the kinds of beliefs Pastor Saeed may hold. While I am happy Saeed is freed, I am tired of professing Christians making the same mistake over and over again and not doing their homework.

Until we go home.

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

Our worship leader prayed for the persecuted Church this morning and, as he did so, I couldn’t help but think of what I have heard about the persecuted Church praying for us, that we will experience persecution so that the Church here can grow. That may sound funny since it seems like there is a church building on almost every corner, but there is more to being a part of the Church than just walking through the door of a building once or twice a week.

The fact is, it is too easy to say you’re a Christian in this country. Although we are becoming a minority, many people still respect “religious” people so we’re okay. If Christianity were to suddenly be illegal, I wonder how many of us would boldly say, “Yes, I’m a Christian.”

Before you raise your hand and say, “I would,” evaluate the way you live your life. Have you truly surrendered every area to Him, making sure everything you do, say, and watch pleases Him? Sometimes I think it is easier to die for Him than it is to live for Him and, yet, if you don’t live for Him now, how do you expect to stand in the midst of persecution?

Like most Americans, I have a pretty comfortable life. My needs are provided, I have a family who loves me and, therefore, much to be thankful for. I am very grateful that I don’t have to fear for my life, or the lives of my family members. At the same time, there should be nothing that I am unwilling to give up if God asks me to. Trust in God means knowing that He knows what’s best for me, and He has a plan whether I understand it or like it … or not.

persecuted

So today, I too am praying for the persecuted Church. May God continue to encourage them and give them grace to stay strong in the midst of the persecution. May He use them to draw others to Him, and may He have mercy on America. May we use our freedom, not for our own pleasure, but for His honor and glory. If we don’t, we very well may experience the horrible things our Brothers and Sisters in other countries are going through. Then we won’t be able to live lukewarm lives. We will either be on fire for God, or we will do what we need to in order to keep our comfortable lives and, in doing that, we will lose them.

Please don’t wait until you are forced to make a decision. Decide today that nothing is more important than pleasing the Father who gave His only Son so that you could spend eternity with Him. He has given so much for you. Today, He asks you to give your life and everything you own back to Him. I pray you will say Yes.

What’s coming.

“Maybe at the present the authorities smile on the church of God; but within a while it may frown, and the storm of persecution arise. There was a time when the churches had ‘rest throughout all Judea’ (Acts 9:31). It was a blessed time. But how long did it last? Alas! not long.”

– William Gurnall
1617 – 1679

Is Your Life in Line With God’s Will?

A friend sent me some Scripture verses this weekend. I have been reflecting on all of them but one she sent was Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” I especially noticed the first part of this verse: “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes.” That is scary, Folks! The “if it feels good, do it” mentality is not Biblical. It brings to mind another equally scary verse: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity'” (Matthew 7:22-23).

It is sobering to me to think about how many people think they are serving the Lord when in reality they are simply serving self. They are living a life where all men think well of them. They shrink at the slightest sign of persecution. They are too busy serving God that they no longer have time for the God they claim to serve.

servinggodbyserving

In Luke 19:13, Jesus told a parable about a nobleman who told his servants, “Occupy till I come.” I believe this is God’s word to us today. It goes along with His call to His disciples: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Just because you are doing good things does not mean those are the things that God has called you to do. It is so vital that we draw near to God, hear His voice, and obey Him. This week, I am praying over the things I am doing and trusting God to show me those things that are fulfilling my calling and those things that aren’t. This may entail a job, a relationship, people I hang out with, etc. If there is anything that is right in my eyes but not in God’s, I pray He shows me those things so that I can switch gears. It is never too late to do this.

The Pilgrim’s Journey

The Pilgrim’s Journey  9781601783875

A review by Stuart Brogden

I first heard of Jeremy Walker a few years ago when I happened upon a most wonderful book he co-authored with Rob Ventura – A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. That book confirmed in my desire to serve the Lord’s people as a pastor and also put the fear of that responsibility in me. This new book by Walker, Passing Through, is subtitled Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness and has vignettes from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress throughout as our author makes compelling case that our Creator sees us as aliens, sojourners – pilgrims. I confess reading this book convicted me on several points and I think any honest Christian will be able to admit the same as we all tend to seek comfort in this world, though it is not our home, living in practical forgetfulness of where our citizenship lies.

This book is divided into 12 chapters, each of which provides Scriptural Framework and Specific Counsels for the topic. I grew a little weary of this format by the end of the book, but thank the Lord for it – it is a wonderful exposition of many truths and useful counsel and encouragements we each have need of. He starts off (page 1) asking “Who are you? What are you?” and tells us on the next page that we “need, therefore, to consider our identity and our activity in the light of Scripture.” If you are in a solid church, you will be reminded of the dangers of worldliness. But if your church is shallow, it may look more like the world than one of God’s outposts in this hostile arena. He concludes chapter 2 –Strangers and Pilgrims, with this: “We like to speak of death as “going home,” and so it is to every child of God, but why do we then live as if we are already home? Such confusion betrays us.” (page 36)

I will highlight chapter 7 – Respect the Authorities, as I see all too often Christians demanding the church do “this” or other Christians do “that” in response to cultural or political events. Also, the proper respect for authorities – each in its own arena of influence – is something we all need to understand better. “The church, by divine design, is a spiritual force, a gospel organism. Her involvement in and impact upon the world socially, politically, and economically may not be insignificant, but it will be substantially incidental. The church does not exist to have a political life or role.” (page 125) The scriptural framework consists of understanding proper subjection to governing authorities (citing Romans 13:1-7), parental authority (Exodus 20:12) as earthly authorities that He established and which answer to Him – not us or the church. And while Walker agrees that role of governments is to do good as God’s ministers, he admits that they often don’t; and their failure to be good does not give us excuse to rebel. When we must disobey earthly authorities (when they command us to sin or forbid from obeying our God), we must be respectful as were Daniel and his colleagues and the disciples written about in Acts 5 were. “There language is polite and eminently respectful. Their recognition of the king’s authority is sincere and humble. Their refusal to obey is absolute. Their faithfulness to God is complete.” (page 131)

 

We are commanded to pray for our government (1 Tim 2) – who among us lives in such a hateful environment for Christians as did Paul when he penned God’s instructions on this topic? We are to live in such a way so that evil men would see the way we live, rather than speak evil of us they would glorify God (1 Pet 2). We will find ourselves disinterested and unable to have this focus if we don’t have our identity and activity lined up with Scripture. As to the proper focus of the church in the face of God-hating government, Walker brings us to Acts 4:24-31. The Jewish leaders are organized and determined to put an end to this Way that has popped up and is turning the world upside down. Peter and John were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus; But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They were respectful but uncompromising. What happened next is instructive and directly on topic with this chapter.

Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Notice this: they did not plot a protest or overthrow of the corrupt government of Israel. They praised God, thanked Him for being faithful, recognized He had appointed the evil men to rule over them, and prayed for the name of Jesus to be glorified through the service He had called them to. This is the proper posture for the church in the midst of political turmoil and persecution. “The church’s response to the assaults made on her is not a rallying cry to civic resistance or even civic engagement, but to get on their knees before the living Lord and to seek His face, crying for heavenly power to declare divine truth faithfully and fruitfully even in the face of opposition and persecution.” (page 136)

“The governing power of the saints is a heavenly one. The church takes her identity, her sense of privilege and priority, her direction for behavior, and her enduring hope from her heavenly King and the realities of citizenship in His kingdom. This conditions all our relationships with the authorities here. The men of the world set their minds on earthly things, but the citizens of Zion set their minds on heavenly things.” (page 137) Yet the saints say, Amen!

“Here is the key point: though the citizens of the two kingdoms necessarily mingle as they make their way through this world, God’s people cannot be finally identified with any nation, party, society, or institution in the earth. … It is only when the Christian understands himself to be unequivocally and distinctly a citizen of heaven that he knows how to relate to the kingdoms of the world.” (page 141)

If we want to live in accordance with God’s plan, we must have our identity and activity aligned with His Word. We must ever be growing in grace and knowledge, seeking to be renewed in our minds as we cooperate with His Spirit’s work to sanctify us and conform us to Christ. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good. We must embrace our identity as a pilgrim of God, an alien on planet earth. This is wonderful book to help us figure that out and live accordingly.