Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tenn. Schools Encouraged to Celebrate Christmas amid “Ridiculous” Threats

On Monday, 137 Tennessee school districts received letters from the Alliance Defense Fund encouraging them to continue to recognize Christmas despite threats from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ADF letters informed the superintendents that teachers and students have the constitutional right to recognize Christmas and offered free legal assistance against possible lawsuits.

“Urban legends about the offensiveness of Christmas are clearly out of sync with the American people, common sense, and the Constitution. The ACLU’s conclusions are without merit and are part of a tired, worn-out, and disproven campaign of fear, intimidation, and disinformation,” ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman affirmed in a statement.

Last week, the ACLU of Tennessee sent letters to the school superintendents concluding that school Christmas celebrations are a violation of the separation of church and state.

The ACLU-Tenn. letter cited several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, explaining that “while public schools can teach about religion and religious holidays, public schools may not engage in indoctrination. Thus, comparative religion courses can be taught but endorsing religious doctrine or sponsoring religious activities is unconstitutional.”

The ACLU's letter went on to state that celebrating one holiday, such as Christmas, without celebrating other holidays such as Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Kwanza, Eid al Adha, and Winter Solstice amounted to indoctrination and would alienate those who did not celebrate Christmas.

Cortman denounced the argument as “ridiculous.” Instead, he asserted, “An overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas and are opposed to any kind of censorship of it.”

His assertion is supported by a Rasmussen Reports survey that was released in November. The national survey of 1,000 respondents revealed that 69 percent of respondents preferred to see holiday retail signs with the greeting “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.”

Other polls have shown similar results. A 2008 Gallup poll found that 93 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. And a 2009 Rasmussen poll found that 83 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

For those who do celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, Cortman and other ADF attorneys all insist that the Constitution recognizes and protects their right to express their beliefs in the public square and in school.

“No court has ever ruled that the Constitution demands school officials to censor Christmas carols, eliminate all references to Christmas, or silence those who celebrate Christmas,” the ADF letter concluded.

The letter was signed by nearly 1,900 ADF alliance attorneys in agreement with its contents.

ADF, launched in 1994, is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.

[By Stephanie Samuel|Christian Post Reporter]

Don Brock in Brazil



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Don Brock in the Dominican Republic



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Don Brock at Hackleburg, Alabama



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Monday, December 13, 2010

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting - January 1-21, 2011

I’m sure there are many reasons, but the following three hindrances are ones that I have found to be common among many Christians and have had to fight in my own life:

Pride—Like a little child who wants to care for his own needs without help, we sometimes have too high of an opinion of our ability to solve problems. We don’t recognize God’s superior power, and we think we can handle our lives on our own.

Unbelief—Sometimes, we simply don’t believe that God will answer if we did pray. Instead of bringing our requests before the Lord, we worry over them, disregarding the hundreds of promises in God’s Word that He will hear us and help us when we pray.

Busyness—It’s all too easy to fill our lives with important activities and ministry while neglecting the most important activity of seeking God’s face and power.

[by Pastor Paul Chappell - http://www.radicalislive.com/]

What Pastor Rick Warren tells his church members.

“I often tell you that I love you because I do. But let me explain how that impacts how I lead our church family.

1. Leading you is a RELATIONSHIP. It is not a position or title. If I did not trust and love you, I could not lead you. If you do not trust and love me, you won’t follow my leading. Real leadership is based on love and trust, which is earned through a track record of serving and sacrificing that gives credibility.

Thank you for placing your trust in me as I’ve tried to do what I believe is God’s will and in your best interest.

2. Leading you is a STEWARDSHIP. True leaders know they own nothing - it all belongs to God - but they will be held responsible and accountable to Him for how well they managed it. Some leaders give the impression that they own everything - facilities... finances... and followers. But godly leadership has the exact opposite attitude! The greatest leader - Jesus - literally owned nothing. Saddleback is GOD’S church, not mine, and I’m simply a steward of whatever God wants to do through HIS church.

3. The only way TO LEAD anyone is TO SERVE them. Jesus was crystal clear that leadership is about service, not “serve-us.” It’s not about me. It is about fulfilling God’s purposes in your life. My job is to see what God sees in you, then help you become that person - even when you can’t imagine it yourself.

4. Leadership is FUTURE-FOCUSED. Most people are too busy with the present to think ahead about the future - but that’s OK - as long as someone you trust is thinking ahead for you. It is a leader’s responsibility to think ahead when others can’t, so I’m always thinking and looking at your life from the long-term perspective to help you maximize your future.

5. Leadership is ALWAYS BY EXAMPLE. Leaders lead by doing it first. I am to show you with my own life, not simply tell you. If I don't lead by example I don't lead at all. For 30 years I’ve lived by the principle of Jesus: I will never ask you to do anything that I’m not already doing. I will never ask you to serve or sacrifice more than Kay and I do.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;” Jeremiah 29: 12-14a

January 1-21, 2011

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't Do Christmas on Credit

Christians Against Poverty is urging people not to give in to the temptation of a loan to cover the cost of their Christmas celebrations.

The U.K.-based debt counseling charity says it is not out to kill the festive season but that it wants people to have a clear spending strategy to see them safely into the New Year.

CAP Chief Executive Matt Barlow believes such a strategy is wise as yet more economic uncertainty looms on the horizon.

“These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say 'at least we’ll have a great Christmas' and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got,” he said.

“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear."

“The New Year is full of uncertainty: job losses, VAT will be going up, benefits are changing, energy bills are rising and we don’t know what interest rates will do," he noted. “If we were ever going to get our spending under control at Christmas – it should be this year.”

The charity said that around half of its clients with “out-of-control” debt had taken out a loan at some time to help cover the cost of Christmas.

It warned that many of them went on to lose their homes, suffer mental health problems, contemplate suicide and find themselves unable to feed and clothe their children.

“We’re not party poopers," Barlow said. "We just want people to enjoy Christmas and not be anxious about whether they will be able to pay it all back.”

The charity has released its top ten tips for avoiding festive debt. In addition to never taking out a Christmas loan, they include being honest with family members if things are tight, not buying gifts for others out of obligation, and collaborate with relatives to buy the kids’ presents.

Full list:
  1. Decide what you have to spend. Make a list and be realistic. Paying in cash may help you keep control. Let your children see your careful planning – you’ll be teaching them a valuable life-long lesson.
  2. Manage expectations early. If things are tight don’t be afraid to say so to family members. You’ll probably all be in the same boat and it may lead to a happier Christmas for them too!
  3. See if relatives will club together with you to buy children what they would like, rather than individually over indulging them and all feeling out of pocket.
  4. Buy fewer presents but more cheaper trimmings like paper chains and crackers. They all add to the fun without costing very much.
  5. Never take out a Christmas loan! Remember the possible consequences could be disastrous for you and your family.
  6. Give ironing or baby-sitting vouchers or make presents as opposed to buying them. For example, delicious homemade biscuits, chocolates and fudge make a lovely gift and show you've spent time and care.
  7. Remember, you can't buy love. Don't feel guilty if you can't afford the latest present for your children. Your love and affection will last longer in the memory than any toy can.
  8. Don't fall into the trap of reciprocal gift giving and don't buy out of obligation.
  9. Don't overspend in the January sales, in spite of how good a bargain you might see. Make a budget and stick to it and if possible, leave those credit cards at home.
  10. Enjoy all the low cost things on offer – the lights in town, get togethers, making mince pies, playing family board games, seeing your kids in the school nativity – and have a very Happy Christmas!
[By Charles Boyd - Christian Today Reporter]

First Sunday of Advent 2010

NOVEMBER 28, 2010

OLD TESTAMENT
Isaiah 2:1–5

1 The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.
5 Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.


PSALM
Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents, of David.
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
3 Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
4 To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD—
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 “May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.


NEW TESTAMENT
Romans 13:11–14

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.


GOSPEL
Matthew 24:36–44

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

[Revised Common Lectionary. 2009. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent

Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1.

Advent typically starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. We believe that the season of Advent serves a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

This Sunday, November 28, 2010 is the first Sunday of Advent this year.
  • November 28 - First Sunday of Advent
  • December 5 - Second Sunday of Advent
  • December 12 - Third Sunday of Advent
  • December 19 - Fourth Sunday of Advent
An Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, five candles are typically arranged. During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Set on the branches of the wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. In the center of the wreath sits a white candle. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle," represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

Back Home

It has been an honor and a privilege to minister outside North America for the past several weeks. The world has become a smaller place with a need for a true and living God everywhere. The Great Commission still includes the ends of the earth, all nations and all peoples.

While the challenge seems great, there is a great revival underway in South America. To God be the glory.

As Thanksgiving passes and Advent arrives, we will go back to work providing resources for Pastors and churches on the Blog. It is an exciting time of year.

If you ever need us, we are just a phone call away.

Friday, November 5, 2010

On To Brazil

I will be in Brazil next week.

You can follow me on Face Book and Twitter.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Personal

Please pray for us as we minister in Dominican Republic this week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Christians Should Vote

  1. Voting publicly recognizes that we submit to the authority of the political system in our nation as established by God. Romans 13:1-7
  2. Voting recognizes the equality of all people and their right to speak and be heard. Deuteronomy 10:17-19
  3. Voting is one way that we can obey God's command to seek the good of those around us and our nation as a whole. Jeremiah 29:7
  4. Voting shows that we care deeply about who our leaders are as we are urged to offer prayer and intercession on their behalf. 1 Timothy 2:1,2
  5. Voting is a simple yet significant way we can do something about politics in our nation. 'All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing', Edmund Burke. Psalms 34:14
  6. Voting makes a difference the way a grain of salt makes a difference, and that is how we are to influence our society for good. Matthew 5:13
  7. Voting is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Those of us who reap the benefits of living in a democracy should play a part in upholding democracy.
  8. Not voting is a form of voting, as it will influence the outcome. We need to take responsibility for our actions, as well as our lack of actions. Luke 10:25-37
  9. Voting is part of our stewardship to use all the resources we have been given in ways that honor God; to waste a vote is to squander a gift.
  10. Voting is Biblical. The Bible contains numerous references to "casting lots." (ex. Proverbs 16:33) Acts 14:23 shows that the early Christians elected elders by voting.
[Source: Adapted from "Factfile: Top Ten Reasons to Vote" by Kandiah Krish in "Just Politics."]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October - Clergy Appreciation Month

Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the church and the community. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments – the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.

That's why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.

"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).

The good news is that we can make a difference! Clergy Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need. Be sure to lead your church in Clergy Appreciation Month!

5 Reasons Christians Should Vote

1. God has granted us authority. All authority belongs to God, but He has put human beings on the earth as caretakers. What is our task? According to Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, we are to go out and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey God in every area of life. This includes politics. We must disciple people to make godly decisions about government, and promote the efforts of those who are already doing so.

2. We need to stand against evil. St. Augustine said those who are citizens of God's kingdom are best equipped to be citizens of the kingdom of man. The alternative is unthinkable. In the 20th Century, atheistic and secular humanistic leaders gained control of nations all across Europe, Asia and Africa. What was the result? According to historian R. J. Rummel, almost 170 million men, women and children have been brutally murdered by these governments, all in the name of human progress. These facts led historian John Hallowell to note,

“Only through a return to faith in God, as God revealed Himself to man in Jesus Christ, can modern man and his society find redemption from the tyranny of evil.”

3. Christian values contribute positively to society. The Bible’s solutions make sense. It is Christian involvement in government through the ages that gave us hospitals, civil liberties, abolition of slavery, modern science, the elevation of women, regard for human life, great works of art and literature, a workable system of justice, education for common people, the free-enterprise system, and much, much more.

When we see the good that results from applying God's principles, and the horror that results from rejecting them, doesn't it seem cruel and irresponsible to keep Jesus teachings about truth, love and compassion to ourselves? At very least, we should vote to keep OUT of office those who attempt to oppose God's authority.

4. Obedience to authority demands good citizenship. The Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 13 clearly states that we must obey governmental leaders because all authority comes from God. Here's the catch: in America, the people are the leaders! Here, at least, we express our obedience to God by exercising our rights and privileges as citizens. That means voting.

5. Good citizenship sets an example for generations to come. Those who apply God's principles to government pave the way for generations of blessing. In 1768 a Christian minister named John Witherspoon became president of the College of New Jersey, now Princeton. While there he taught biblical principles of government to his students.

Of the 478 young men who were graduated during his tenure, writes author John Eidsmoe,

“114 became ministers; 13 were state governors; 3 were U. S. Supreme Court judges; 20 were U.S. Senators; 33 were U. S. Congressmen; Aaron Burr, Jr. became Vice-President; and James Madison became President.”

As a Christian, Witherspoon exerted an enormous influence on the direction of American government.

You and I may not have the gifts of John Witherspoon, but we can still make a big difference if we put our minds to it. Pass this on to friends and family, and encourage them to vote in the every election!

[Author: Jeffrey L. Myers, Ph.D. / from his book Vital Truth: Christian Citizenship (February 2003). Copyright 2002, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the author.]

Monday, October 18, 2010

God's Instrument

(This pastor appreciation poem is about how God uses pastors in our lives. October is Clergy Appreciation Month. Please let your pastor know they are appreciated.)

I see the hands that hold God's word
And fold in prayer to seek His will.
I see the feet that walk the path
And offers of praise as from lofty hill.

I see the hands that serve Him well,
The ears that seek to hear His call,
The mouth that speaks truth and wisdom,
The busy feet that carry the message to all.

I see the heart that was priked and entered
When God's man answered the gospel call
And yielded His life as a humble servant,
A man who is willing, as was Apostle Paul.

I see all of this as he stands in the pulpit,
An instrument through which God speaks
The words of wisdom, of love and peace,
To lead and guide all those whom God seeks.

[by Judy Crowe]

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strong Vibrant Local Churches

A happy, healthy, growing church cannot continue to widen the base of its constituency without an adequate support system in place to assist its Pastors. One or two Pastors can only care for a limited number of people in this fashion. Beyond that point, without some additional help the quality of the care to that congregation will begin to diminish. As the church grows, so do the needs of its congregation.

[H. B. London]

Monday, October 11, 2010

"2020 Vision" Strategic Plan

The Church of God of Prophecy has been working on a new strategic plan for the organization for several months, and the plan was presented as "2020 Vision" at the recent International Assembly in Greenboro, NC.

As a part of strategic planning, all of the church's assets are being reviewed. To assist with that process, ARKS Inc. was consulted. The asset review was released on Oct. 6, providing the Church a clear picture of its property value and presents multiple options for implanting the church’s 2020 Vision strategy.

Findings of the report were presented at a special meeting attended by the General Presbyters, members of the Assembly Standing Committees (BDP, F&S, and Administrative), the Tomlinson Center Board, and the International Offices staff.

Before releasing the report, General Overseer Randall E. Howard noted the findings would propel a process that would include acting on options suggested from the consulting firm as well as the input received from the membership of the church.

The study suggested the Keith Street campus, a 6.3-acre office complex which includes the International Offices, the Communications building and the White Wing Publishing House, should be sold for a fair market value. Church operations should then relocate to a new International Offices complex built on the former Tomlinson College campus on Lee Highway.

The study also suggested the former Tomlinson College campus, a 94-acre-lot, should be redeveloped for more functionality, including the new International Offices complex, new and repaired Tomlinson College buildings used for leadership development in the new Tomlinson Center, and income-generating rental housing which could include senior citizen housing and apartments.

“Options for Tomlinson Center are wide and include development of a college on the campus to considering strategic partnerships with other accredited colleges,” Howard added.

The study suggested the approximately 200 acres Fields of the Wood biblical-theme park near Murphy, N.C., be closed and developed or sold to alleviate a current $100,000-a-year budget deficit, which does not currently include repairs and restoration.

2020 Vision, presented during the 96th International Assembly this past July, stresses three core values of the Church, including prayer, the harvest and leadership development.

During his annual report to the Assembly, Howard said, “The General Presbyters and Administrative Committee felt it would be highly beneficial to hire outside expertise to do a comprehensive study and analysis of our properties and the best uses for these. This is a part, a small component of our Vision and Strategic Planning process going on now.”

“We are grateful to our friends from ARKS for their detailed analysis of our assets,” Howard said. “Their findings are only recommendations that must be discerned over the next few years. We invite prayer and input from all levels of the field through this phase of decision-making.”

The report is part of a future vision and not the result of any type of “crisis” situation, Howard added, but a strategy for growth and avoiding future economic challenges.

“We are not in a moment of crisis,” he said. “The financial status of the International Offices has remained solid even in the midst of economic downturn, only due to our faithful churches, leaders and members, as well as conservative investment policies.

In June, Raleigh, N.C.-based ARKS, Inc. was commissioned to evaluate the denomination’s three main campuses — the International Offices office complex on Keith Street in Cleveland, the former Tomlinson College campus in Cleveland, and the Fields of the Wood.

The report summarizes its commission by stating, “Today, with a renewed commitment to the enhancement and expansion of leadership training, and the financial pressures facing every level of the church in every country it serves, COGOP has recognized the potential for more effective utilization of its Cleveland assets.”

After months of reviewing documents, interviewing staff, inspecting buildings, factoring in external influences and analyzing alternate actions, the group presented recommendations to COGOP leadership during the October meeting.

“Options for the Fields of the Wood include everything from sale, to finding ways to make it self-sustaining through offerings or profit endeavors,” Howard added.

“We do want to guarantee in the discernment process that we aim to maintain and augment our heritage in the Shearer School House where the Spirit fell before 1900, the First Assembly House, and other locations, as well as historical writings, film, video, and other materials that would secure our heritage in years to come.”

Howard also explained the history of the Church of God of Prophecy extends far beyond Fields of the Wood.

“We believe our heritage is far wider than only the Fields of the Wood property and therefore our commitment to heritage includes dedication to secure, preserve, and promote our history and heritage in its varied forms.”

After the presentation, ARKS representatives answered questions from those in attendance on how they arrived at their findings and recommendations.

Bishop Howard once again explained the recommendations are the first step in taking action, a process that will include plenty of time for membership interaction.

“This information is not going to be kept from anyone,” he said. “We want every member of this church to know that they have a voice to express on this subject.”

In the year leading up to the 2012 International Assembly, convening in Louisville, Ky., Howard said members can express their thoughts to his office, members of the Administrative Committee, and their local/state/regional/national leadership. A special e-mail address, Vision2020@cogop.org is also available for members.

The executive summary of the ARKS report, which includes a variety of additional suggestions for each property, is available to leadership and members on the Church’s web site, www.cogop.org.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Forgiveness - Accountability

Some of us confuse forgiveness and accountability. When a perpetrator has committed a crime against us, he or she breaks the laws of God and of man and will suffer the consequences for it, whether in this life or the next.

Is it possible to forgive someone for a rape, for example, but still take them to trial and prosecute them? Yes! Not only does the rapist need to be accountable for his crime, but other women need to be protected from his assaults in the future.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

COGOP Overseer's Only Son Dies In Plane Crash

An investigation is underway to determine what caused a Cessna twin-engine aircraft to crash into a lake in the Bahamas shortly after taking off from the international airport.

The incident yesterday resulted in the deaths of all eight people on board – the pilot and his seven passengers. All of them were Bahamian.

It was around 12:20 pm when the plane, which took off from the international airport in the capital and was headed to San Salvador in the southern part of the Bahamas, went down in Lake Killarney.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham extended condolences to the families and friends of the victims and promised a probe.

“All relevant government agencies are lending their assistance in this tragic matter. Further, a thorough investigation of the crash will be conducted by the relevant authorities,” he said.

The aircraft was registered to Acklins Blue Company, an air charter company based in the Bahamas.

Condolences are pouring in from all over the world for those who died in the plane crash in lake Killarney, Bahamas.

The Cessna 402 driven by veteran pilot, Nelson Hanna, crash-landed just after takeoff at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. A member of the advance lighting team of the popular group Visage were headed to San Salvador along with others for an event during the island’s homecoming weekend. The event is to kick off on Friday night.

The passengers included Nat Williams (pictured), the son of Bishop Clarence N. Williams, overseer of the Turks and Caicos Islands for the Church of God of Prophecy.

“We are saddened to hear of Nat’s tragedy today. He is a dear friend and loving husband. The couple had recently welcomed into the world their first child. This is a sad story indeed,” a friend of Williams said.

Meetings at the International Offices of the Church of God of Prophecy in Cleveland, Tennessee were interrupted yesterday to announce the tragic news. The General Presbyters, BD&P Committee, F&S Committee, Tomlinson Center Board of Directors, and the Administrative Committee (Corporate Board of Directors), are all meeting this week. Everything stopped for prayer for the families of all victims.

The other victims are BEC technician, Cory Farquarson, set setup technician, Devin Storr, Sasha Mildor, Lavard Curtis and Delon Taylor. The last victim is still not confirmed at this time.

The aircraft is submerged in waters off the runway in Killarney where the air Cessna 402 broke apart on impact shortly after noon yesterday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Holiness - Faith & Living

The Pentecostal Theological Seminary is offering a special class on Holiness - Faith & Living.

Order Your Textbook NOW - Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology [Paperback] Mildred Bangs Wynkoop (Author).


Lodging: Mountain View Inn (formerly Holiday Inn on the hill) in Cleveland, TN is offering a special room rate of $49.99 per night with FREE buffet breakfast for each person in a room.

Mountain View Inn
2400 Executive Park Drive NW
Cleveland, TN 37312
(877) 747-8713

The normal cost for a one hour course, $455. This special course, the price - $100. For those who might need to miss a portion of the course, for those who are registered, arrangements can be made.

This class that deals with Holiness - Faith & Living will have reading requirements so register early.

You may register by going to the Pentecostal Theological Seminary http://www.ptseminary.edu/

You will see the second role over about the course, that takes you directly to - http://www.ptseminary.edu/cogopenr.html

The school has a special program that will allow ministers who are thirty-five years or older with fifteen years or more of ministry in a special program that allows you to work on your masters. The school has more information.

If you are involved in a graduate (masters) program, this course could transfer for credit being a fully accredited offering.

Dr. Steven Land, president of the Seminary and recent special guest for the 2010 International Assembly of the COGOP, will be leading this special Seminar Course in theological studies exclusively for Church of God of Prophecy ministers, students and those interested.

"Holiness: Doctrine and Practice" can be taken for audit or Seminary credit (1credit hour).
Classes will meet Tuesday-Friday, November 2-5, from 1:30-5:30.

There is a place for you in the new PTS!
  • At the heart of Pentecost is Holiness
  • Your entry into cutting-edge seminary training
  • "Be ye holy" is not a Christian option!
  • "Peace" and "Holiness" reflect two sides of the same person
COURSE DESCRIPTION:

A. Description: Central to the mission of this Seminary, its sponsoring denomination and the history of the Pentecostal movement is the holiness or Wesleyan interpretation of and approach to Christian faith and ministry. The vision statement of the Seminary asserts that our model for ministerial development "was drawn from the Scriptures and the heritage of Wesleyan-Pentecostalism."

This course will develop the substance and implications of a holiness hermeneutic in order to facilitate a deepening of the understanding, wisdom, experience and way of life associated with the doctrine of sanctification. Biblical, historical and pastoral perspectives will be brought into dialog with critical (Freudian, Marxist) and liberationist concerns in order to serve the ministerial needs of the contemporary missionary movement. The systemic, theological, personal- formational and Church polity-process implications will be addressed through a process of reading, reflection, case studies, class discussion, lectures, and spiritual exercises.

B. Outcomes: That each student:
1. Be able to research and inductively synthesize biblical and historical sources in order to arrive at working definitions of perfection, holiness and sanctification;
2. Be able to make "systemic" connections of this doctrine to other key loci (doctrines) of our faith;
3. Develop in his/her ability to do Wesleyan-Pentecostal theology-ethics in relation to actual pastoral cases and everyday concerns (special attention will be given to narrative-virtue ethics).
4. Undergo an encounter which deepens their knowledge of the Holy One.

For more, contact the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, info@ptseminary.edu, 800-228-9126.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Holiness Seminar

The Holiness Seminar at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Clevaland, Tennessee is fast approaching. If you have not registered, now is the time to do so. Go to (www.ptseminary.edu) to the flashing panel (item 2). Complete the Registration Form and click to send it.

If you have a minister friend nearby, perhaps you could call and invite him/her, and travel together You may order the required reading books. Book prices will be sent with the syllabus.

This seminar is especially designed for the Church of God of Prophecy, the Church of God, and other interested parties. We look forward to this historic gathering to discuss a doctrine we mutually embrace.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What is happening to clergy in America?

It seems today that the church and its leaders are experiencing a genuine and increasing attack by Satan. Why is this? It might be due to stress or burnout in the lives of clergy, or it could just be carelessness. Whatever it is, it is sin and it must be addressed. What we have found most often is that moral or ethical failure can be partially categorized in three phrases.
  1. A lack of accountability and too much power.
  2. Unresolved conflict at home.
  3. Limited time spent along with God.
Failure to address any one of these three challenges can lead to great sorrow and ministerial failure.

[H.B. London]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pastor Eddie Long Denies Accusations

The famed pastor of a Georgia megachurch said Sunday that he will fight allegations that he lured young men into sexual relationships, stressing that he’d be back to lead the church the next week.

Addressing a New Birth Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary packed with thousands, Bishop Eddie Long declined to discuss specifics of lawsuits filed against him - or flatly deny the accusations. But he drew thunderous applause when he told his church that while he’s not perfect, the picture painted by the allegations is far from accurate.

Long told the crowd that his lawyers had advised him not to “try this case in the media.” While the remarks were short on details of the legal case, Bishop spoke at length about enduring painful situations.

“We are all subject to face distasteful and painful sitauations. Bishop Long, Eddie Long - you can put your name in that blank - will have some bad situations,” he said. “The righteous face painful situations with a determined expectancy. We are not exempt from pain, but He promises to deliver us out of our pain.”

Long is scheduled to speak again at a 10 a.m. news conference and 11 a.m. service.

About 100 people waited at the doors of the church more than an hour before the first service. Some held signs of support, while others prayed for their embattled leader. A small group sang the hymn “White as Snow” while outside.

Members in their seats clapped and swayed as the service began around 8 a.m., with several people with microphones singing on stage. Later in the service, hundreds began dancing and chanting, “Jesus, Jesus.” A small group of young people held Apple iPads high over their heads, with the screens scrolling white letters against a black background reading, “It’s time to praise him.”

Long took the stage to loud applause from the crowd.

The lawsuits claim Long - who is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage - lured the four into sexual relationships with gifts including cars, cash and travel.

Long, a married father of four, previously denied the allegations through his lawyer but has not spoken publicly about them.

Over the past 20 years, Long became one of the most powerful independent church leaders in the country. He led New Birth as it grew from a suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 to a 25,000-member powerhouse with a $50 million cathedral and a roster of parishioners that includes athletes, entertainers and politicians.

He flashed his prosperity by wearing diamonds and platinum jewelry, while building strong political ties and a close relationship with the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The 2006 funeral for King's widow, Coretta Scott King, was held at New Birth. Their daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, is also a pastor at Long’s church.

Bernice King took the stage at the first of Sunday’s services.

Three of the young men who filed lawsuits this week live in Georgia, while the other was a member of a satellite church in Charlotte, N.C., run by Long.

Two of the plaintiffs were once members of a youth program called the LongFellows Youth Academy, which teaches teenage boys lessons on financial discipline and sexual control. In their lawsuits, the men say Long used the program to groom them for sexual relationships and lured them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash.

The other two plaintiffs make similar claims that Long served as a mentor, gave them gifts, then convinced them to engage in sexual acts.

[AOL News]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pastors in the Chattanooga Area

J103 radio is hosting a 4 state wide pastor breakfast at the Chattanooga Convention Center on October 12th from 7am to 10am. This is a total free morning set aside to show appreciation to shepherds in the J103 listening area who faithfully devote their lives to Kingdom building.

Click on the link below to RSVP. Each church can have up to 4 represent at the breakfast.

Clark Thompson
Church & Ministry Relations Director
J103-Partners for Christian Media
423-424-1291 (office)
423-580-6058 (cell)
423-892-1633 (fax)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you hope your co-workers will think about you after you've transitioned to another job or into retirement?
  • What would you like your spouse to say at your funeral?
  • What legacy do you want to leave your children?
  • How would you want your church or community to describe your involvement in it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Koran Burning: How Dare the Muslim World Lecture America on Religious Tolerance

Let us first be clear on one point lest there be any doubt. The plan to burn copies of the Koran by Pastor Terry Jones in Florida was immature, insensitive, crass, and vulgar, and is to be condemned by all right thinking people.

However for significant parts of the Muslim world to react as it has – and no doubt will continue to do if the burning goes ahead – is the grossest hypocrisy known to man.

We have had Pakistan attempting to get Interpol to stop the burning, and the Iraqi Prime Minister and the Indonesian President have called on President Obama to ban the burning.

Meanwhile protesters in Afghanistan and Pakistan have already taken to the streets with their chants of "Death to America!" and have, perhaps ironically, taken to burning U.S. flags and effigies.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that the burning of the Koran would "be used as a pretext by extremists for more killings and retaliatory killing," while Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the burning would jeopardize "international peace and harmony."

One might think that they were talking about a conspiracy to launch a terror attack or perhaps a plan to invade Iran or some other unsavory regime. But no, they are talking about the actions of around 50 people at a dubious church in Florida who are bizarrely planning to show their love for their neighbor by burning that neighbor’s holy book.

Mr. Jones defended his actions saying, "We are burning the book. We are not killing someone. We are not murdering people."

This is perfectly true, but the sad fact of the matter is that when a crazy Christian decides to burn books, crazy Muslims (who, it has to be said, seem to be rather more numerous) decide to burn people. This, no doubt, is why so many people are begging him not to go ahead with his grotesque stunt.

This is precisely why the Muslim world has absolutely no right to ask Obama to deprive a U.S. citizen of his First Amendment rights – even if he chooses to use that right to offend others. Rather they should be preventing their own citizens from performing much worse acts.

In Iraq, an ancient and once-numerous Christian community has all but disappeared since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Those who have survived being murdered by Islamic militants have more often than not decided to leave for Europe or the U.S., where it is considerably safer.

In Pakistan, where the government has complained the loudest about the Koran burning, Christians are often not so fortunate as to be able to just leave. Generally among the poorest in society, they are often treated as sub-humans by the more ruthless of their Muslim neighbors, who are often their employers.

A Pakistani Christian may find that his Muslim employers decide not to pay the wages with which he supports his family. In extreme cases, if he complains, he will be murdered by his employers for his insolence.

The abduction and rape of Christian girls in Pakistan is also becoming increasingly common, with one 12-year-old being raped by seven or eight students from a madrassa in Rawalpindi who wanted to "teach these Christians a lesson." When the father of another girl of 16 suffered a similar fate (this time at gunpoint), he was kidnapped and tortured for reporting the crime. This all in the last couple of months and far from unusual but, unlike Mr. Jones, they did not get in the papers

If any country is to lecture America on the religious tolerance of its citizens, it should not be Pakistan, whose own authorities often take their time when dealing with such complaints and sometimes don't act at all until the local population protests in large numbers.

Egypt, which has also been warning about the Koran burning, faces similar – although not quite as severe – problems to Pakistan, while in Indonesia extremists content themselves just with disrupting the services of other religions and defacing churches.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to many of Islam's holiest sites, has been relatively quiet on the matter. Why? Perhaps because while it is well known the country regularly confiscates Bibles from visitors, it is perhaps less well known that the regime has been accused of shredding the Bibles, as presumably they have no other use for them.

Despite all this, and the fact that citizens of these countries are often found to be plotting terrorist attacks (does this not threaten "international peace and harmony," Mr. Malik?), such countries presume to tell Americans how to behave. Are they serious? We should be telling them.

[by William Dove, The Christian Post]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Simple Praying

Remember when the Psalmist David wrote, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth" (Ps. 86:11)? He was probably referring to the things he learned both through experience and meditation after he had prayed. He seemed to keep asking God to "Hear my prayer."

I learn a lot through my private prayer life, especially when I can just grow quiet and talk to the Father as a son would talk. Do you? It's after the prayer, when I reflect on our conversation, that I most often "hear" from God or, at least, find direction.

When I pray, I find myself somewhat removed from the norm of my everyday activity. All formality aside, I just communicate my feelings and often my frustration. In the end, I don't ask for much. I just talk and, then, when it is over (my part), I listen.

There were a lot of years in which I was guided by the "A-C-T-S" formula for praying. But as the years have passed, my time with the Lord is less emotional, not as animated, and much more conversational. I still wonder why we make such a "show" of prayer in public and why we need to pray so predictably.

I read again today Matthew, chapter 6, and our Lord's instruction regarding simple prayer. Remember what He said before He taught them how to pray?

"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. Here's what I want you to do: find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace" (Matt. 6:6 — The Message).

I find that the wording of Matthew 6:6 in The Message says it the way I need to hear it. It will say about the same in whatever Bible you read. Keep it simple!

[by H.B. London]

Prayers for Spiritual Awakening Marked 9/11 Anniversary

Christians nationwide marked the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by gathering at their county courthouses to pray for God's mercy and a spiritual awakening in the U.S.

The third annual Cry Out America attracted participants from every state and more than 830 counties. Grassroots supporters prayed from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at their county seats, repenting and crying out for revival in their regions.

"The American church is being called to experience and lead a contemporary awakening so that new generations of Americans can know the power of Christ's love and this nation can be preserved," said the Rev. Billy Wilson, a Pentecostal minister and executive director of the Awakening America Alliance, which is sponsoring Cry Out America.

In Washington, D.C., a cross-section of Christian leaders—including Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Global Day of Prayer U.S. coordinator Bob Bakke—also prayed for the nation as they gathered at the Pentagon for a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the 3,000 victims of 2001 attack.

Wilson believes Sept. 11 was a prophetic sign of what was coming in the 21st century—including the collapse of structures thought to last for generations, the encroachment of non-Christian religions and terrorist acts that incite fear.

Nine years later "we see that replicated over and over in our nation," he said, pointing to bank failures in recent years, the spread of Islam in the U.S. and random shootings on college campuses.

"In many ways, 9/11 was just a loud prophetic sign, and we feel like it's very appropriate on that day to come before God to say in the 21st century, in this kind of environment-with the encroachment of other religions, an environment of fear and terrorism, an environment of collapse and uncertainty - that we need Jesus more than ever in America," he said. "We united together to cry out for that help and for that covering over our nation and, of course, for a new spiritual awakening."

In a prayer guide posted on its website, the alliance listed 20 indicators of spiritual awakening such as increased conversions and baptisms, a stronger emphasis on prayer and fasting, healthier marriages, and a greater Christian influence in media, politics and other cultural spheres.

Wilson believes the church is "on the precipice of seeing a fresh breakthrough." He says he's already seeing signs of awakening, including more talk of the need for spiritual renewal, unprecedented participation in his group's annual 21-day fast in January, and a growing emphasis on church planting and evangelism.

"Obviously the Holy Spirit is stirring the nation toward a new awakening," he said. "What will push us over the edge will be united intercession and this deep hunger that drives us to go beyond where we've ever been before with the Lord. And that's one of the things we hope Cry Out America on 9/11 demonstrates — the spiritual hunger in the American church and our desperation for God's help."

The Awakening America Alliance mobilizes prayer for the U.S. and is partnered with such ministries as the Assemblies of God, Aglow International, Youth With a Mission, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Intercessors for America.

[by Adrienne S. Gaines, Chrisma News Online]

2 killed in Afghan anti-Quran-burning protest

KABUL, Afghanistan – Two protesters died and four were injured as Afghans protested for a third day Sunday against a plan by an American pastor to burn copies of the Islamic holy book, despite his decision to call off the action.

Mohammad Rahim Amin, chief of the Baraki Barak district in eastern Logar province, said the deaths and injuries occurred when Afghan soldiers opened fire on hundreds of protesters who were trying to storm the local government headquarters.

During recent protests against the Quran burning, Afghans have regularly targeted the pro-Western government.

Terry Jones, pastor of a small Florida church, said Saturday that "we feel that God is telling us to stop" the Quran burning, which was to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

The plan to burn the Quran stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide.
The protesters in Logar chanted "Death to America" and burned tires, attacked several shops and set election campaign posters on fire, Amin said.

"I can say for sure that this was the work of the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan who are trying to use any opportunity to disrupt the security situation" in the country, Amin said.

In a country where most people have limited access to newspapers, television and the Internet, many Afghans seemed unaware of Jones' decision to call off the Quran burning.

Meanwhile, a Taliban commander who planned rocket attacks on polling stations during elections next week and four other insurgents were killed in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said Sunday.

The military alliance said NATO and Afghan forces killed the five insurgents Saturday night in a village compound in the eastern Nangarhar province. The insurgents were killed after they "displayed hostile intent" as the forces moved in on the compound, it said in a statement.

It said intelligence reports indicated the Taliban commander was planning to conduct rocket attacks on voting centers during the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections. The Taliban has vowed to target polling stations and warned Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.
The government and its Western allies hope the elections for the lower house of parliament will help consolidate the country's fragile democracy, leading to the withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 NATO-led foreign troops in the country. But many Afghans and foreign observers fear the vote could turn bloody if the Taliban carries out its threats.

[By DUSAN STOJANOVIC (AP)]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Pentecostal Denominations Speak Out

Today, the Church of God of Prophecy and the Church of God, both with International Offices in Cleveland, Tennessee, released a large ad to the media taking a position on the controversial Koran burning. Church of God of Prophecy General Overseer Randall Howard, and Church of God General Overseer Raymond Culpepper released the Ad and statements today.

“Most of you are no doubt aware of the congregation in Gainesville, Florida which recently announced their intentions to publicly burn a copy of the Muslim book, the Koran. The activity, scheduled for September 11, has drawn international attention and been the subject of numerous op-ed columns, articles and forums across all spectrums of religious beliefs.”

“Neither the Church of God of Prophecy nor the Church of God ordinarily take a public stand on issues that cross our culture on a daily basis. However, on occasion, some events or actions generate an inordinate amount of questions, which beckon a statement, or at least an opinion, from this movement. This is particularly the case when the issue at hand is not so crystal clear.”

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, the independent church which planned the action, has withdrawn their intentions and will now not burn the Koran on September 11. Prior to the announcement, the Church of God of Prophecy and the Church of God had jointly purchased a full-page advertisement in the Cleveland Daily Banner and the Chattanooga Times Free Press which simply stated, “Burning the Koran does not exalt Jesus Christ.” The ad included information regarding the Church of God and the Church of God of Prophecy which partnered on the advertisement.

“Although we had the option to cancel it (the ad), I believe the ad gives the Church of God and the Church of God of Prophecy the opportunity to represent Jesus Christ and sends a message that we are engaged in and concerned about our society," Culpepper said.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today's Quote

"Leadership develops daily, not in a day." - John Maxwell

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moving Forward with Pioneer Vision

Pioneers are individuals who brave fierce obstacles to enter new territory and prepare paths for others to follow, and "Aunt Mollie," as she was affectionately known, was truly a pioneer. At 105, she was the oldest Christian I knew. She was also the oldest Pentecostal in my hometown.

Pioneer Passion

One of the first people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the area where my family and I lived, Aunt Mollie was a Pentecostal pioneer who blazed the trail for multitudes that followed. Eighty years later she was still overflowing with zeal for the Lord and a passion for souls. She spent countless hours in intercessory prayer and constantly told others about Jesus.

What was the secret to Aunt Mollie's maintaining her pioneer vision and press-forward mind-set, even at her advanced age? I have no doubt that it was because she constantly walked in a fresh encounter with God.

At a time when many had grown cold in their experience with God and had settled for tradition rather than relationship, one woman could not forget her initial encounter with God in a meeting under a brush arbor. Indeed, it was so powerful she could not be content to let it end there. She frequently explained that God continually drew her nearer to Himself and revealed even greater truths and understanding as she walked obediently before Him.

Although she most humbly submitted herself to the godly counsel of those over her in the Lord, Aunt Mollie was not governed by the philosophies of individuals. Rather, she searched the Word, devoted herself to prayer, and sought to be led by the Holy Spirit in all her actions.

Revering the Past

We are right to look back on our heritage with genuine respect and admiration for the profound way those before us served one another in love. But we must not, we dare not, fall into the trap of attempting to live in the blessings of yesterday.

The Holy Spirit directs men and women now just as He has in the past, and He wills that men and women continue to move forward in the freshness of His Spirit--a freshness that produces clean hearts and equips the church to reach the harvest.

At the turn of the century when R. G. Spurling organized numerous churches in the mountainous regions of North Carolina and Tennessee, he was moving against the current of organized religion's lethargic creeds and the status quo ideology of many of his neighbors. He pressed forward and broke new ground as directed by the Holy Spirit.

Insisting on the importance of fellowship within a local congregation and the New Testament as his only rule of faith and practice, Spurling was as a voice on the mountainside crying for a revival of unity and love within the Body. His vision included returning to the basics of the Bible and maintaining a personal relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit used Spurling in carrying out His plan to move the church forward in spiritual liberty and truth--much like the Anabaptists, martin Luther, John Wesley, and others before him. Had Spurling felt less passionately about his God-ordained mission, the Christian Union, which gave birth to the Church of God, probably never would have been established.

God found in Spurling an obedient servant; consequently, other men and women received the vision and continued to press forward against the tendency to exchange relationship for inert religion.

Appropriating the Example

Learning from the powerful examples of the past, the church must continue to move forward with the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ until all have heard the wonderful story of His grace. Just as the pioneering R. G. Spurling did for his generation more than 100 years ago, it is imperative that the church move beyond the focus of yesterday's tradition and align our sights on Christ.

As we enter a new millennium, it is necessary for us to gain an appreciation for diversity in all areas of ministry--which may not look or sound exactly as it did yesterday. But neither did it at the beginning of this century when our forebears embraced holiness and Pentecostalism. neither did it when the Charismatic renewal spread throughout the world during the 1960s.

It is evident, however, that each brought renewal to the body of Christ, and together they are now the fastest-growing force within Christianity. Sincere seekers must never be satisfied with tradition that has become stale, for it is in the freshness of God's Spirit that transformation is accomplished and the Great Commission fulfilled.

We cannot afford to remain still and become lost in this era of constant change. By reaffirming our dependency on God, obedience to the Word, consecrated devotion, Spirit-led living and earnest prayer, the body of believers known as the Church of God must rise to the task that lies ahead.

Through proper training, godly counsel, and walking in unity and love, the ministry (both laity and clergy) can be better prepared to overcome any physical or spiritual obstacle that would hinder the work of the Lord.

Aunt Mollie has since passed on to her eternal reward, but she left a powerful testimony and example for others. The Church of God, to which she was devoted, can gain from her testimony.

A Fresh Encounter

It is good for the Church of God to reflect on its past blessings, but past blessings will not sustain us! We must be thankful for the powerful way God has revealed Himself to us in the past while moving forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Like the pioneering vision that birthed our fellowship and has victoriously guided us until now, we must maintain the compelling force to move forward.

Our future ministry of effectively winning souls to Christ depends on the decisions we make today. We must not allow ourselves to become sidetracked in the routines of yesterday or by debating nonessential issues. Rather, let us maintain a movement mentality, walking in a fresh refilling of God's Spirit and pressing forward with the goal of winning the world for Jesus Christ.

(Editor's note: Louis F. Morgan has a keen appreciation for the church's heritage while welcoming the refreshing winds of change brought by the Holy Spirit today as he serves as archivist at the church's Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center.)

[by Louis F. Morgan - Published in the September 2000 issue of the Church of God Evangel]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Oval Office Rug Gets Quote Wrong

AOL News (Sept. 5) – When President Barack Obama ponders big policy decisions, he might find inspiration from some of his favorite quotations inscribed on a new rug in the Oval Office.

The rug’s perimeter is lined with sayings from Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt. It also has a quote that Obama has described as his favorite from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only it turns out – after the rug has already be sewn and laid down – that it's been incorrectly attributed to King.

A saying on a new rug in the Oval Office is attributed to Martin Luther King Jr., but the quote actually came from an abolitionist minister from Massachusetts.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," is a phrase the civil rights leader used regularly. Obama even referred to it in his election victory speech in Chicago on Nov. 5, 2008.

But it turns out that whenever King used the phrase, he was actually echoing another speaker a century before him, whom he admired: the Massachusetts minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker, who in 1853 said, "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. ... But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice."

The quote has often been attributed to King, but it seems Obama, his biographer David Remnick and none of the White House decorators bothered to look into its historic origins or even do a quick search on Wikipedia – which has an entry listing Parker is the original author of the phrase.

The mistake was first reported by The Washington Post, and reporters raised it with White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton on Saturday. Burton stood by the attribution to King, saying that the civil rights leader uttered those exact words on Sept. 2, 1957, according to CNN.

Another of the quotes on the new Oval Office rug is from Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address, in which the U.S. president referred to a "government of the people, by the people and for the people." It turns out that Lincoln, too, was paraphrasing Parker, who wrote in 1850 that a democracy is "a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people."

[by Lauren Frayer - AOL News and Associated Press]

Most Common Sins of a Church Leader

  1. Pride. Pontification is an easy sin. We want to be seen as wise and so we use our bully pulpit to "lead" even if we don't have a clue what we are doing.
  2. Laziness. Using the same material each year and expecting it to be fresh and valuable as the day it was thought up. And, pretending to be busy just for the sake of being busy.
  3. Defensiveness. Every critical statement made by colleagues isn't the result of their psychopathology. Leaders mess up and ought to be able to admit it.
  4. Jealousy. We tear down our more prolific/famous colleagues because it makes us feel less of a failure.

Touch Not Mine Anointed

“He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, ‘Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.’” (Psalms 105:14-15 KJV).

As a life-long conservative Pentecostal churchman, this scripture was/is quoted to me repeatedly. It is always used in the context of; do not question nor speak against those “over” us in the Lord, regardless of what they are doing or how they are doing it. In a system called “Theocracy,” you would have thought the Bible said, “Touch not mine appointed.” However, is everyone that has been appointed by man, been anointed by God? Are they today?

There is a danger of dishonoring God’s anointed people. The Lord honors those who serve Him. When we honor Him , He will honor us. The Lord honors those who love Him with all their heart. The Lord honors those who have faced shame and humiliation in their lives. He comforts them with a double blessing. He will honor us in the presence of our enemies. When we are humble and walk in the fear of the Lord, He will honor us.

If you believe in the Priesthood of all believers, isn’t every Christian anointed? Doesn’t that make all of us God’s anointed? The Christos was the “anointed one,” and Christians are likewise anointed. What about dishonoring them? The whole act of the chrism underscored this simple fact. And why not: if Jesus Christ dwells in us and what we do and have in this life that is of value is from and of God, then we too are partakers in his anointing.

“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 3:14 KJV).

“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2 KJV).

The Lord wants us to honor His messengers. When we welcome and honor His servants (that’s right, Jesus came to teach servant-leadership), we honor the Lord Himself. The Lord will surely reward us for all that we have done for His people. We must be careful not to dishonor or mistreat the Lord’s servants as the Lord will be displeased by that and we may have to face painful consequences for dishonoring His anointed messengers.

The problem arises when the text is used to prevent proper observation of what is anointed and what is not. Even God’s peasants can tell when red flags appear. When a leader speaks one way one day and another way tomorrow, when church business is done in secret (darkness), when politics rule the business of the church, when all measurements show decline, when leadership is imposed thru fear and intimidation, it is time for a closer look at the “anointed” one.

If you have watched Christian television recently, you may have noticed a very well known preacher, usually under attack for financial dealings or moral failure, who invokes this verse to stop any kind of criticism or action against him or her. Since their ministry is successful, they are “anointed,” with the implication that we aren’t and thus have no right to question or criticize what they are doing. How do we know that this or that minister is a leader, and thus deserves some kind of “special treatment?” This goes to the whole problem of authority in the church.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV)

There is no New Testament support to the idea that anointed people are beyond reproof on either side of eternity.

The sooner we get back to the Biblical concept that the anointing is the common property of all those called by the name of Christ, the happier we will all be and the more fruitful the ministry of the church will become.