Addressing Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation Music, Church and Doctrine


I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I have been singing for the Lord for a little over 20 years. I don’t listen to much music around the house or in my car. In my car I mostly listen to Talk Radio and some sports. I don’t keep up to date on any music. Every now and then I hear a song that grabs my spirit and those are the songs I enjoy singing. 

I have been out of music ministry for some time now; I honestly prefer teaching God’s Word. As I returned to singing in church, I noticed very quickly that, is about impossible to be a part of any “contemporary” church and escape Hillsong, Bethel and Elevation music. Well, little did I know, that each one of these names represents the names of three Mega Churches. Little did I know that these three churches are teaching heresy:

Hillsong Church

This is an Assemblies of God Church located in Sydney, Australia under the leadership of Pastor Bryan Houston with a membership of over 20,000 members. They started making music in 1983. Bryan Houston strongly subscribes to the Prosperity Gospel. They adopt a Joel Austin approach to the Gospel. This is a watered down gospel of self-help that avoids addressing sin. Please watch the following video for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6nSe8tPYw0.

Bethel Church

This is a charismatic non-denominational mega church located in Redding, California under the leadership of Pastor Bill Johnson with a membership of over 11,000 members. They started making music in 2001. My Lord, this guy is crazy! Bill teaches that Jesus was all man when he came to earth, not God and, that Jesus’ perfect relationship with God gave him the power to do all the miracles he did. They also practice Grave Sucking: this is the idea that you can go to the grave of whomever and suck the anointing out of their remains. How did these folks come up with that stuff? Please watch the following video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SmYzDIXekk.

Elevation Church

This is a Southern Baptist Denomination church located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The church started in February 5th, 2006 under the leadership of Pastor Steven Furtick with a weekly attendance of about 25,000 people. Steven Furtick denies the trinity; he teaches that Jesus was transformed to the Holy Spirit. This guy is extremely talented in twisting the Bible and making it sound intelligent and entertaining. Young folks love him! For more details on the heresy or this church please watch the following videos, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKuP9BJ3448 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvKrO-hYpyE

We have to particularly pay special attention to music. The big problem with music is that is closely related to our worship and worship flows out of the innermost part in us, our spirit. If I corrupt my worship, I am corrupting everything else. Jesus stated in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NASB).

Some folks may say, “but Angel, they have some good songs that are biblical.” I am sure they do and, I expect for them to do so; after all the devil is a deceiver (Revelation 12:9).  The devil does not tell us 100% lies, he mixes in truth with lies; that is why he is effective in deceiving people. These three churches are dominating Christian music around the world. To support their music is to support their ministry and to support their ministry is to support the false gospel they are preaching.

The Apostle Paul stated in Galatians 1:8 that “…even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (NASB) After doing my research on these churches I will no longer sing any of their songs; not because I feel that I am holier than anybody, but because I am already a mess in certain areas in my life and, I don’t need to knowingly, add anymore.  

Recommended Video:

https://angelcasiano.com/2020/09/07/pastor-explains-why-after-researching-he-no-longer-allows-hillsong-bethel-or-elevation-music-in-his-church/

An Incomplete Message


My ministry

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Acts 20:27 (KJV)

A lot of what we do as ministers has to do with talking. We are indeed communicators. I understand that the Bible also tells us that “…faith without works is useless.” James 2:20 (NLT). However, we can’t ignore the power of the things we say. With our mouth we can bless or curse (James 3:10).

If you are a believer, you must deal with the reality that your good behavior is important, but is not enough, that your good deeds are appreciate, but they are not enough… at the end of the day “faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:7), we must talk, we must communicate something! The question is what is it that we are supposed to talk about?

In my journey from Florida to North Carolina, to Alaska and now Arizona, I have to say that almost all preachers I encountered are preaching and teaching the Word. The problem is that they focus on one topic or doctrine and, they stay in that box. That is the reason why we ignore so much of God’s counsel. That’s the reason our message is consistently incomplete; because we rather control the message than to allow the Holy Spirit to speak. A local church must cover the following talking points:

  1. Preach the gospel:

The gospel is a message that focus on the good news, the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and the salvation available through Christ. The gospel is a call for repentance. (Mark 16:15) You can’t teach about a particular topic that has no connection to the gospel and then at the end, made a call for folks to accept Jesus. The preaching of the gospel is the preaching of Jesus on the cross. The preaching of the gospel is not about making friends and expand membership; it confronts the listener with his sinful condition. The gospel, my friends, is offensive. Peter says of Jesus that he is “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE. I Peter 2:8 (NASB) Don’t be a cheeseball and preach the gospel, preach the truth, call sin… sin!!!

  1. Teach Sound Doctrine:

Sound doctrine is not deep; is not even controversial; is simply teaching the believer how to think, how to behave and how to live; how to treat each other, etc. (Titus 2:1)

  1. Word of Wisdom:

This is one of many gifts that flow directly out of the Holy Ghost. This is a word that provides divine wisdom; it gives people direction about a particular situation they may be facing. (First Cor. 12:8)

  1. Word of Knowledge:

Another gifts of the Spirit that is about ignored in local churches. This is a word given with specific divine knowledge and insight about a particular situation. This is concerning a situation that, without the Holy Ghost, there is no other way to know. (First Cor. 12:8)

  1. The Gift of Prophecy:

This gift involves two parts; one is to declare a message from God; a now word! The other is foretelling future events. Paul said of this gift, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.” First Corinthians 14:5 (NASB) Prophecy is nowhere to be found in many of our congregations. Foretelling future events is not existence and sadly in many local churches the pastor already knows what he is going to preach with weeks and at times months of anticipation. I was a part of a church that prepared the series for the whole year. Really?????? With everything that is going on around the world with this Coronavirus, politics, Hollywood, our culture, sport figures, etc.  and we don’t have a now word? (First Cor. 12:10)

  1. Discerning of Spirits:

This is the spiritual gift that recognizes whether something comes from God or the devil. These folks are extremely important in our congregations; they protect us spiritually from foolishness; but many times, in the name of LOVE, these guys and ladies are not allowed to speak and point out problems or potential problems. (First Cor. 12:10)

  1. The Gifts of Tongues:

This is speaking an unknown language to you. I must point out that this is the most minimized gift of all because is really for our own edification, not the Body. In terms of the congregation this gift is not much help without the Interpretation of those tongues, (First Cor. 12:10) This is the supernatural interpretation of a supernatural tongue spoken in the congregation. Let us remember that Paul encouraged the interpretation of tongues because it was also useful for the edification of the Body. (First Cor. 12:10)

Some focus on preaching the gospel Sunday after Sunday, so if you are saved, it gets old after a time. For others is all about prophesy, yet for others is all about doctrine, etc. As ministers we have the responsibility of ministering the whole counsel of God just like the Apostle Paul did. I am afraid that we are not even coming close to that. We overdo some areas while ignoring others. In my own experience they all sin with the same sin; the sin of personal agendas and denominational politics.

 

Quenching the Holy Ghost


Fire-Extinguisher-blaze

The Holy Spirit was central in the creation of this world (Genesis 1:1-2). The Holy Spirit was central in the lives of the Old Testament prophets as he came upon them and they utter life changing words, declaration, miracles, signs and wonders. The Holy Spirit plays the central role in the functioning of the church from the very beginning (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit comes from the Father with the central agenda of testifying of Jesus (John 15:26), a job that nobody can do better!

From the Holy Ghost we get our gifts (First Corinthians 12) and, from the Holy Spirit we get the fruit of the ultimate character… the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit is truth (John 16:13), he is our Helper (John 14:26) and even our intimate fellowship with God belongs to the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14). So, why do we, mare men, insist in going on by our business and limit the Holy Ghost to just a sidebar? Why do we resist the full influence of the Holy Ghost?

Beloved, if you don’t have time for the Holy Spirit to move in your ministry, who is running your ministry? Is it even worth it to run a ministry without the Holy Ghost? I have been in many churches; the great majority of them are clearly not controlled by the Holy Ghost, they are controlled by one man… the pastor! Everything is so structured that there is no room for the Holy Spirit to do anything; there is not one drop of spontaneous anything…everything is programmed and predicted.

We as a church, have big problem with quenching the Holy Spirit. I can go in many directions, but for the sake of this article let me focus on the gifts of the Spirit. First Corinthians 14:1-5 tells us,

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the churchNow I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. (NASB)

We are called to pursue love; love is our focus… always! Yet, we are also called to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are not to be ignored. First Corinthians 14:1-5 tells us what the main function of gifts are for; they are for the edification of the church.

These spiritual gifts are for us and should be manifested amongst us in our congregations. First Corinthians 12:8-10 mentions 9 Spiritual Gifts. there are more[1], but let’s start by focusing on these 9.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (NASB)

  1. Word of Wisdom: This is a word that provides divine wisdom; it gives people direction about a particular situation they may be facing.
  2. Word of Knowledge: This is a word given with specific divine knowledge and insight about a particular situation. This is concerning a situation that without the Holy Ghost there is no other way to know.
  3. Faith: A divine trust in God in spite of the circumstances. Is an assurance that God will work things out; a complete trust in God’s judgments.
  4. Healing: This one focus on the psychical health of a person; a cure a complete supernatural healing without any doctor or medicine intervention. This also includes healing of the soul.
  5. Miracle: If it can be explained is not a miracle.
  6. Prophesy: This gift involves two parts; one is to declare a message from God; a now word! The other is foretelling future events.
  7. Discerning of Spirits: The gift that recognizes whether something comes from God or the devil.
  8. The Gifts of Tongues: This is speaking an unknown language to you. (This is the most minimized gift of all because is really for our own edification)
  9. The Interpretation of Tongues: This is the supernatural interpretation of a supernatural tongue spoken in the congregation.

Notice that out of these 9 gifts 5 are directly connected to our speech. So, it should be normal amongst us as believers to gather and see these giftings move through folks. However, many churches do not allow this kind of freedom. Discerning Spirits is the best Security we can have in the church outside of God himself. A person with discernment protects the church from physical and spiritual danger. Faith is uncheckable; in a way, a person with faith is not so much about talking is about keeping his/her peace or joy no matter the circumstances. Healings and miracles are the visible manifestation of God’s power.

So, if amongst ourselves we are not observing these gifts what are we doing? What is the problem? Beloved, we are quenching the Holy Spirit… that’s the problem. First Thessalonians 5:19 tells us, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  (New American Standard) The word Quench is the Greek word sbénnumi meaning “To extinguish; to hinder, to repress, as in preventing the Holy Spirit from exerting His full influence.”[2] We don’t need a little of the Holy Spirit influence, today more than ever, we need HIS FULL INFLUENCE!

There is absolutely no excuse for leaving the Holy Ghost out. Covid-19 is not the most physically deadly spirit in the history of humanity, but spiritually speaking, this virus is packing a punch that have never seen before.  Covid-19 is the Goliath of our day and we better face this thing in the name of our Lord. We better release the power of the Holy Ghost amongst us. Without the Holy Ghost we are like Laodicea Church, a physically rich and wealthy church, but Jesus says of this church “…you are a wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…”

 

[1] (I Corinthians 12:8-10, Isaiah 11:2-3, Ephesians 4:7-13 and Romans 12:3-8)

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

Denying Our Struggles


Prideful man

A man who does not acknowledges his own struggles in his own life, does not understand his own nature. Nobody is exempt from the nastiness of his own flesh. The flesh is NEVER Born Again, renew or restored. The flesh will NEVER cooperate with the plan of God. The flesh will always resist God. Galatians 5:17 tells us, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…” There is an inner struggle taking place in the heart of every believer. Paul described his struggle very well when he states,

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:21-23 (NASB)

Some argue that Paul is describing himself back in the day when he was an unsaved Pharisee; but this cannot be further from the truth. This is a man of God who understood himself. We are spirit, soul and body. Jesus told us in Matthew 26:41 that the Spirit in us is willing, but the flesh is ALWAYS weak; this is a biblical truth. The spirit in us is the ONLY part of us that is Born Again. In John 3:5-8 Jesus says,

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (NIV)

We can say that our willingness to do good flows out of our spirit. Something else flows out of spirit and that is, the greatest honor we can give to God, our worship (John 4:24). That is why we are encouraged to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The Bible points at the direction to take, but that does not mean that there is no struggle.

The flesh does not go away! On top of this we have to deal with our soul. In our soul we find our mind (the way we think), our will (our decision making) and, our emotions (how we feel).  The soul is going through a divine restoration process, we are changing the way we think and our decision making and, as the direct result of these changes, our emotions are affected positively. John stated in 3 John 2:2,

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (NASB)

David understood this principle when he states in Psalm 23:3, “he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (NIV) It is actually scary when I hear a man speaking as if he has no struggles because that is totally against Scripture. He is setting himself up for a great fall and he is potentially, spiritually, killing folks around him with the Word of God. People with this kind of mentality are a weapons of condemnation in the Body of Christ. They are, without knowing, living by the law and when we do so, they carry the curse of the law. Galatians 3:10 tells us, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (NIV)

We are all struggling; we don’t use that struggle as an excuse to sin, but we know the Holy Ghost is working in us and through us. Romans 8:26 acknowledges our weakness as the Word tell us, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;” (NASB) The Holy Ghost is doing a work in us and He does give us victory and deliverance, but as soon as we get victory in one level, he takes us to the next and we discovered more garbage… this is the PROCESS of sanctification.

Positionally speaking, the Born-Again man walks as if he or she is perfect and without sin before God, not because of our works, but because of Jesus. We are made right with God because of Jesus (Romans 3:22-26). At the same time, the Holy Ghost, as established before, is working in us. Beloved that is the Good News, that is the Gospel; John wrote it this way, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16 (NASB). There is nobody exempt from grace; we have all received grace upon grace. To deny your struggles is hypocrisy, to deny your struggles is denying your need for grace and, to deny your struggle is to deny the cross and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

The Best Gadgets and Gear for Grandparents This Year by Mary Shannon


Seniore

By Guess writer, Mary Shannon

Seniors are, unfortunately, the most at-risk demographic for loneliness and the mental and physical health decline that goes along with it. And while many can turn to the church for spiritual and emotional support, sometimes, the elders in our life need earthly tools to stay connected with the ones they love in the here and now.

If you are looking for ways to keep your own senior in a position to communicate with their friends and family and to stay safe and healthy, keep reading. Here, we will look at a few technological innovations that are ideal for seniors.

Video communication devices

The GrandPad, Google Nest, and Amazon Echo Show are all excellent additions to a senior’s home, particularly for those with grandchildren who would like to video chat. These and similar devices make it easy to enjoy a conversation with loved ones, all while seeing their faces and expressions. Keep in mind, however, that these rely on a strong internet connection, which may not be available if your parents or grandparents live in a rural area. Most places still have access to LTE Wi-Fi services, which work well for video calling.

Smart pill reminder

According to HCP Live, the average senior citizen takes five prescriptions at any given time. This would be difficult for anyone to manage, but is especially so for older people who may have trouble with cognition or muscle control. A smart medicine distribution system, like MedMinder or Vaica, is a great addition to a senior’s home. The Digital Apothecary explains that these devices can dispense medicines and even track when they’ve been taken. Some can alert family members when meds have been missed.

Medical alert system

A medical alert system is essentially a piece of wearable technology that can help a senior get help if they experience an accident or crisis at home. According to Caring.com, these work by instantly contacting a monitoring center, where an experienced agent will make voice or video contact with your senior loved one. They will ask if they need help, and then will contact the appropriate authorities and family members to ensure that it arrives expediently.

Smartphone

We all have them, but many seniors don’t know how to fully unlock the capabilities of the smart device in their pocket. Fortunately, with a bit of coaching, even the most tech-resistant grandparent can learn to love their mini computers. Senior-friendly smartphones are popping up all over the place, and these devices are scaled down for seniors that don’t need unnecessary apps preinstalled. With their phone, they can make calls, send text messages, and even stay connected via social media, all from the comfort of their favorite chair.

Video doorbell

Ring and similar video doorbell cameras are great for seniors. Not only will it let them look to see who’s at the door no matter where they are, it’s also a great deterrent against burglary. They are cost effective and, once installed, extremely easy to use. And if your senior loved one has a pre-existing smart home control, such as the Echo or Google’s smart home hub, their doorbell can be connected to that, making it even more convenient.

Technology makes the world a much smaller place, which means that seniors have more opportunities than ever to reach out when they need a listening ear or some help. The technology above can help them do just that without a significant cost or learning curve. Our seniors deserve the opportunity to stay connected with their friends and family, and a few simple devices can help them do just that and more.

Musical Prejudice


I was a young Christian when an old Cuban lady told me that Congas were of the devil. I respected her so much that I wandered if she was right. A couple of years after that I was talking to a few coworkers at work. One of those coworkers was the wife of a senior pastor in a Baptist Church. Her and her husband were Anglos and, I am almost sure the church was all white. She stated that they did not allow drums in the church. I asked why; she stated because those were not Godly instruments. I asked her what kind of music the worship team plays. She proudly stated, Southern Gospel.

As the dialogue with this lady continued, I asked her if Southern Gospel was the official music in Heaven, and, if it is, where can I find it in Scripture. Obviously, she was left with no answer.  I guess as a Latino man with African descent I always resent minimizing and/or eliminating percussion and rhythms from our musical expression. Let’s look at a list of instruments mentioned in Scripture.

  1. Shofar (Jeremiah 4:19)
  2. Cymbals (2 Samuel 6:5)
  3. Bells (Exodus 39:25)
  4. Wooden Clappers (2 Samuel 6:5)
  5. Trumpets (Numbers 10:1-2)
  6. Drum (Exodus 15:20) Crotales, “and David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to them appoint some of their brothers as singing men with instruments of song; harps, lyres and melodic cymbals for lifting up with the voice for joy”(1 Chronicles 15:16).
  7. Rhythm Bones (2 Samuel 6:5)
  8. Reed-Pipe (1 Samuel 10:5)
  9. Lyre (Psalm 98:5)
  10. Harp (Psalm 144:9)

As you can see there is a great variety of instruments in Scripture. Now the other aspect of worship music that irritates me is that, for the most part, Christian music is not powerful. Christian music should be the greatest, most expressive and passionate music in the world. It should not be for show, it should be an honest expression of praise to God. Never about us, never about fame; but as people watch us they should see us pointing at Jesus. The Old Testament tells us very clearly what music was useful for. In 2 Chronicles 20:21 the Bible tells us,

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.” (NIV)

From this verse we see the following musical characteristics:

  1. They sang songs of praise with a focus on the splendor of God’s holiness: Music should focus on God, not on us. In the Psalms there is a degree of honesty and transparency concerning our inner struggles, in dealing with the sinners, suffering, etc. that has a place in Christian music; but the focus should always be God and his holiness. 2 Chronicles 20:21 tells us,“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (NIV)
  2. The music was so powerful that, in battle, the musicians were ahead of the army. (2 Chronicles 20:21) 
  1. Behind the Psalms and many of the prophesies of the Old Testament there was an anointed musician: We know many of the prophets, but not the musicians. Musicians were never made for fame; but to serve the Lord with their instruments.

But now bring me a harpist.” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha 16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says: I will fill this valley with pools of water.17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” 20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water. 2 Kings 3:15-20 (NIV)

  1. Anointed music has power to bring peace to a soul: Soul was not even a believer, but when David played the harp, the Bible say, he would feel better and the evil spirits would leave him. “Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spiritwould leave him.” 1 Samuel 16:23 (NIV) 
  1. Specifics Characteristics of a Christian musician: First Samuel 16:18 tells us,

One of the officials said, “I know one of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem who can play well. He’s a courageous man and a warrior. He has a way with words, he is handsome, and the Lord is with him.” (NIV)  

a. Able to play: In other words, he or she has talent. This idea that anybody with a heart for God should be involved in music is not biblical. Psalm 33:3 tells us, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (NIV)

b. Courageous: Folks who are all nervous while leading worship are not ready to lead anybody into the presence of God; he or should have confidence in the Lord. First Corinthians 14:8 tells us, “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (NIV)

c. Must have the heart of a warrior: This is not a physical fight, but a spiritual one. Must be in tune with the Holy Ghost to fight the fight God’s way.

d. Ability to speak the Word of God

f. Handsome: I think is important that he/she take good care of himself.

g. Above all, Anointed.

6. Open for spontaneous song (Psalm 33:3)

In the Old Testament these singers and musicians and even prophets did not enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; we do. So then why most of our music is so weak and boring? Why most of our music is not powerful? Why do we play instruments as if they are made of thin glass, why do we sing like we have fresh plastic surgery in our faces? You look at this singers and musicians in the world; they leave it all on that stage for the sake of money and fame and, here we are, singing for God with no passion.

I am aware that we have different cultures in the world, but for the Lord sake, why are we all singing the same songs? Why is it that our church music in the USA is divided between Hill Songs for whites and black music? Where is the creativity? Where are the new sounds? In many instances we are two steps behind the world Christian Rock, Christian Rap, Christian Salsa, etc.

See, music in the New Testament should be the most anointed music because it should be Spirit led. If we follow the Holy Ghost in everything we do, including music, we will be able to open up for some spontaneous songs and spontaneous sounds. Christian music should be like Jazz, free and powerful. Stop the prejudice in music; open your ears and hearts for the new sounds in heaven; don’t be afraid of new styles and be sensitive to the anointing over entertainment. That’s what our music is all about!

 

The Leading of the Holy Spirit


holy-spirit

I am not talking about acting weird and nothing like that; I am saying that for those who are all about the Word, without the Holy Spirit you are nothing and you are doing nothing, even when you think you are. The Holy Spirit is 1) at the heart of the written Word and 2) if we truly follow the Holy Spirit, we will get the correct interpretation of Scripture. In First Thessalonians 5:19-20 the Apostle Paul tells us, “Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances.” (NASB)

The word quench is the Greek word sbénnumi, meaning; “To extinguish the fire.”[1] We need the fire of the Holy Ghost; that is not a Pentecostal thing, that is Biblical thing. Some ministers get into their little man-made prophetic zone or man-made teaching zone or man-made evangelistic zone, or the happy zone, or the funny zone, or the sad zone, etc. while totally ignoring the Holy Ghost. You probably have seen that, the Spirit is moving; you can see folks weeping, but here comes the pastor with the church announcements and completely extinguish the fire of what God is doing at that time.  Beloved we are called to follow the Holy Ghost. Romans 8:14 tells us, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (NASB)

I am not talking about divorcing the Holy Ghost from the Word of God, Jesus also states, “…If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine. (NASB) What I am proposing to you is that you and I do not even have the ability to use the Word properly without the Holy Ghost. Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us, “who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (NASB) The Word is compared to a sword and, as with any weapon, if used incorrectly and irresponsible it can also cause harm and even kill.   You may think that you are doing something good and Godly by focusing on the Word while ignoring the Spirit, but you are not; it is arrogant and irresponsible to do so.

You can be stock on Logos (The written Word) and that’s ok, everything goes back to Logos, but you could be ignoring the Rhema Word, that is the message… the revelation of the Logos. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus stated, “…Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (NASB) The word Rhema is the Living Word; that is what God is speaking now; the MESSAGE for now. Have you noticed some preachers and teachers who seem to just read the Bible and when they are done you are left scratching your head because you did not hear a message? That is because they open the Scripture without any revelation.

In Acts 8:26-40 we see the story of an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading a portion of the Book of Isaiah. In Acts 8:34-37 we read, “The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (NASB)

During this whole encounter the Holy Spirt was at the center of the story; the way is supposed to be, even now. That is the leading of the Holy Spirit; that is the power to transform lives. Without the Holy Spirit we are engaging in man-made religion. Stop timing the Holy Ghost and stop putting Him to the side as if you can do better. If the Spirit of God is not leading you, who is? And if the Spirit of God is not leading you, have you found something or somebody that can lead you better?

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

Beyond Capable Men


Sisyphean toil
Sisyphean toil (3d isolated characters on white background series)

When Moses’ father in law Jethro came to visit him, he saw the obvious. Moses had too much work and very little help. Perhaps that is the story of many pastors around this country. Jethro obviously cared about Moses, so he decided to give him an advice. In Exodus 18:21-22 we see Jethro’s documented advice to Moses; advice that still carries some weight today.

But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. (NIV)

Jethro told Moses to find men who 1) fear God, 2) who were capable, 3) who were trustworthy and 4) men who hated dishonest gain. Sounds like great advice to anybody; however, this advice is lacking a fundamental ingredient.

Let’s look at the word Capable. Capable is the Hebrew word, ḥayil: meaning “strength and influence.”[1] The problem is not necessarily the capable men, the problem is the way many pastors are going about choosing these capable men. Many pastors adapt the mentality of, “it is all about who you know” and developing networks. The problem is that those networks are not based on true relationships, but on what can be gained.

You see it in conferences; everybody wants a piece of the big leaders, the pastors with the big congregations, the big buildings, etc. Everybody is networking to advance their ministry. That is why so many churches end up sounding like car salesmen; they have to constantly sell the church vision to the people and keep them excited. They feel that the vision of the church must constantly be in our faces. In a way, the Coronavirus is showing us the truth concerning the quality of our ministries. Perhaps we are witnessing that many people came to our churches for the show, not for God, and perhaps we assumed that those folks were saved when they were not.

I am here to tell you that, biblically speaking, if you have a heart to advance the vision God has given you, Jethro’s advice alone is not going to get you there; not even close! That advise, as good as it may sound, will fail you as much as it failed Moses. The fruit of Jethro’s advice is clearly seen in Numbers 11:14-15 when Moses stated,

I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” (NIV)

Why was Moses feeling so alone? Why was he carrying the burden by himself? Why was Moses suicidal? What happens with all that capable help that Jethro recommended? These are the words of a person who is beyond burned-out.  In numbers 11:16-17 we see God responding with more advice…the Godly advice,

The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone. Numbers 11:16-17 (NIV)

Beloved, there is nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with men who fear God, who are capable and who are trustworthy. However, it does not matter how talented the people around you are. If they don’t have your spirit, they don’t have your vision. If they don’t have your vision you are left with a division and, with a division nothing is accomplished. In verse 17 we see the key of the matter, “They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.” As pastors you can have great elders in your church, but if they don’t share your burden, you will be the only one fulfilling First Peter 5:1-4.

Jethro’s advice was good. After all, God told Moses to choose from amongst the elders that already existed. However, Jethro’s advice needed the supernatural intervention of God. No matter the talent and no matter the degrees of the men around you; if those men do not share your burden, you will end up carrying the burden by yourself. If you are the only one carrying the burden of your ministry, you will not be able to advance the vision God has for you.

Capable men without God’s divine intervention will bring you down. They will not be with you; they will be competing against you. They will be trying to show they can do it better than you; constantly pointing out at your mistakes but lacking the wisdom to give you Godly advice. Capable men without God’s divine intervention are filled with selfish agendas; they will be there for different motives, but never the right motive.

In conclusion, wait on the Lord, he will show you those men who are divinely called to be around you for the realization of the vision God has for you, they will be there just as passionate as you are to help you carry the burden of your ministry. Wait on the Lord as he blesses you with men who are beyond capable.

 

 

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 334.