7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Church or Congregation

  1. Bigger is not necessarily better. Although big Churches may have excellent programs, praise and worship, and other things, they tend to let people fall through the cracks. People come into the Church; get fired up, yet because there is no one to disciple them they leave weeks, or months later. Big Churches aren’t set up for retention, and many people leave because of lack of personal interest in their lives, either from leadership, or other members. It’s better to find a small Church where everyone gets to know you by name. You will also be more accountable to a smaller congregation than a large congregation where the people may never get to know you.
  2. If the Pastor, or leader isn’t confronting sin, but preaches or teaches things to tickle our ears: prosperity gospel, name it and claim it, or other non-working beliefs, then don’t go there. Many Christian adults and teenagers are caught in addictions and need help. Speaking to your wallet or bank account saying, “Money cometh to you!” is not the way to get the healing you need. It will never come. If we are caught in addictions, more money means more money to spend on our addictions. We don’t need more money, we need a relationship with God.
  3. If we call it ‘Organized Religion’ then our service should have an element of organization. The problem is that in many congregations God is restricted in moving because of the order of the service. I’ve seen bulletins that outlay the whole service from start to finish, with no room for God to move. I’ve seen up to 18 parts of the service listed in the bulletin from opening prayer, doxology, prayer before message, prayer after message, praise and worship time, childrens service, etc. There is no freedom for God to move; we’ve put Him in a box.
  4. There is no follow up with new converts. They are handed a pocket Gospel of John, and sent on their merry way. There is no discipleship in most Churches. Bible studies are usually not pertinent to a hurting person who has just come into the flock. Truly, God won’t trust His new born babes to faulty incubators. This is the reason why there is very little ‘fresh blood’ in Churches. It’s the converted speaking to the converted. Find a Church where they put new converts in high priority.
  1. If you go to a Church and they talk incessantly about tithing, and other issues with giving money, take it as a red flag. Out of the mouth speaks the abundance of the heart. I’m not against people paying their tithes, or offerings, but I have been in a Church where the senior Pastor would give a mini sermon on giving and money every week just before the offering. This may pad the Church’s bank account, but it spiritually bankrupts the congregation members.
  2. If the leader is involved in pornography, or sexual immorality you will NOT grow under their ministry. They are blind guides, and they will lead you into a pit. You have every right to ask a Church leader if they are involved in anything that is sexually immoral, or are involved in pornography. Watch the way they answer, and if their answer raises a red flag, be sure to avoid them, and their Congregation.
  3. When at the Church, watch how the leader’s family behaves. Is the Pastor’s wife rude to the Pastor in front of the congregants? Are their children well behaved? Do you sense genuine love from them? Do they show an interest in you and your family? Do they express a willingness to help you and your family? It is EXTREMELY important to test the spirits. Not every minister has your best interest at heart, watch carefully how they behave and conduct their affairs with you and other members.

Many Churches have a ‘dark’ side to them. I have heard of stories of Pastor’s committing adultery with their flock, children being sexually abused, and the list sadly goes on and on. Not everyone who says they are a Christian are Christian, and that includes Church leaders. Take the time to get to know the Pastor and his family. When you pray to God, do what He tells you to do, and listen to that still small voice of His. Remember if you haven’t grown in the past year it may be because of the failure of your Church, or Congregation to meet the needs of you and your family. It may be time to move on.

Incidentally, I have found that once I left a congregation I was never contacted by anyone there ever again. They totally ostracized me, and wrote me off. If this happens to you, you can rest assure that you were in the wrong place. Any decent Pastor should be willing to support you as you transition to another congregation. If they get angry with you or your family for leaving, or try manipulation, then be nice to them, but avoid them, and sever all contact with them. They do not have your best interests at heart.

I can’t stress enough the importance of testing the spirits. Do not go headlong into a Church because it makes you ‘feel’ good. The Kingdom of God is not based on our feelings. Feelings come and go, but it’s more important to have solid teaching than the ‘butterfly’ feelings that come with some Congregations.

Don’t be looking for signs and wonders. The children of Israel walked between two heaped up walls of water, and in a very short time later made a golden calf and worshipped it. Don’t seek the sign, seek the Giver of the sign.

Watch for my discipleship course I will be starting up later next month. It will cost 18 dollars a month which comes to less than sixty cents a day, less than a cup of coffee. It will run for twelve months. In it I will teach you how to have a right relationship with God, and come to the place where you actually start to have fun with God. That’s right. Fun! God Bless you, and have a super week.

Straight Talk on Addictions

If you have ever had an addiction you know what it’s like to be under its control. The addiction dictates to us, where, how, and what time we will act out. In the beginning an addiction beckons to us with a very devout promise: If you let me in your life I will make you happy, and I will take away all of your pain.

It may start off slowly, and it catches us unaware, it creeps up on us like a lion to a gazelle, but once it gets us in its clutches it will tear the life out of us.

For those of us who have addictions I will tell y0u that the solution to the problem is very simple: We are unhappy people who use addictions to make us happy, but it never works, as it just adds to the unhappiness. We get stuck in a cycle of looking for our fix, getting our fix, coming off the fix, and then looking for another one. We may say to ourselves, “This is the last time, I’m sick and tired of doing this stuff, and I’m going to stop!” Sadly, for most of us, we never follow through, why? It’s because nothing has changed to make us happy. We’re miserable in our addictions, so why would we want to change. If we gave up the temporary relief of the addiction we believe we would then have nothing, and that would be UNBEARABLE.

So what has to happen is that we have to make better decisions which will affect our happiness. If we could be happy without the addiction, then why would we need it? Right? The question remains then, how do we get happy? We’ll it doesn’t come from drinking, drugs, gambling, pornography, or any other one of our addictions. It involves making peace with our Creator. He is the only One who can make us happy, and He can break an addiction as quickly as it takes a thought to cross our mind.

Some people are under the mindset that we have to get all our ducks in a row before we go to God. The irony of that belief is that God knows everything about us, warts and all, and wants us to come to Him for healing, peace, and deliverance from our addictions. If I told you that for  5000.00 I could set you free from any addiction you would most likely pay it, but God does it for free. He doesn’t expect anything from us, talk about a kind person. He loves us so much that He understands exactly where we are, and is willing, if we let Him, to heal our pain, make us happy, and get rid of every addiction we have, every last one of them!

To date I have been free from the addiction I had for over five years. God also helped me to lose twenty four pounds since last August, he helped me bring my blood sugars down to 5.5 for the past three months. He showed me how to reduce my cholesterol, and I reduced it by one point so far, and that is in just a little over two months, and that is with no prescription medication.

I am very happy! I don’t have any addictions, and I absolutely love my life! I was talking to God the other night, and I told Him, “Abba I know that you are really blessing me, but I think at some point I will ask you to stop, because I can’t keep up with everything you’re blessing me with.” Yes, right now He is blessing me financially, spiritually, and materially.

This all started about six months ago when I started to spend fifteen minutes a day with Him. I found that as I started to give Him the time of day, He started to give me the time of day. Jesus said, “Seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added unto you. The problem with many of us is that we want things from the hand of God, instead of a loving relationship with Him. We seek His pocketbook instead of His face. This really hurts Him. Think about it, if a friend only came around on your payday to get what they could from you, and dumped you until the next time you were paid, how would you feel? That is how God feels. He wants to bless us, but all we want is the blessings, and to hell with Him.

I’m not trying to criticize, judge, or condemn anyone, but we’ve got it all wrong. We’ve put the cart before the horse. Yes, God delights in the prosperity of His servants, but those are the servants who have a loving, vibrant relationship with Him. It’s out of that relationship with Him that everything comes together. I don’t care about the money, or the things He gives to me; it’s Him I want. He’s so funny, loving, off the wall, and a downright interesting person. If you are willing to take one small, tiny, minuscule baby step towards him He will take 10000000000+++ giant steps towards you. Why? Because He truly loves you, and wants His highest and best for you.

If you have an addiction talk to Him about it, brainstorm with Him about how you can overcome it. Do something different with Him, talk to Him for a few minutes, tell Him your favorite joke, even though He knows the punch line He  will laugh with you. He knows everyone of your hurts, and will heal them ALL, if you let Him. I encourage you to start a fun relationship with Him. Yes, fun. God wants us to have fun with Him every day. I’m having more fun with Him than I ever had with anyone else. Once you are having fun with God EVERY addiction He will remove. I wish you all the best with this. I am not talking a theory here, this is a true experience with my Maker. He works!!!!

10 Reasons Why God Will Say No

Have you ever really wondered about your life,  what will happen after you take your last breath? There are people slipping away into eternity as I am writing this, and they will wake up to hear God say, “No, you can’t come into my kingdom.” The prospects after Him saying that don’t look too good for us. Let’s look at ten reasons why God will say no to us:

1) We never took the time to fall in love with Him. It’s going to be pretty hard to persuade Him that we love Him when we never took a single minute to get to know Him. Busy, busy, busy, time for this, and time for that, but no time for Him.

2) We had multiple masters, that is: addictions, greed, lust, over-eating (our stomach was more important than our relationship with God), our jobs were more important than Him, etc.

3) We disobeyed His commands. Do we think God told us not to commit adultery, lie, steal, murder, covet… because He thought we couldn’t keep these commands?  We cared nothing for keeping His commands, and Jesus said, if you love me you will keep my commands. So, by not keeping God’s commands, we show him no love, and this is grounds for Him to say, “No.”

4) We didn’t keep the Torah of God. That’s right, Jesus did n0t nail the Torah to the cross, as some people believe. The Law or Book of Instructions is pertinent, and up to date, both now, and in the future. “Not one jot, or one tittle,….”  Many believers don’t care  about what God says in His Torah. They are New Testament believers only. This attitude grieves the heart of God which will make Him say, “Depart from me you workers of lawlessness, or working without Torah,…I never knew you.”

5) We profaned God’s Holy days. I’m not talking about man’s holidays, like Christmas and Easter which are not once mentioned by Jesus to observe. I’m talking about working on the Sabbath, not observing Yom Kippur, not observing the Feast of Tabernacles or the Passover. These Holy Days were meant to be observed perpetually. By not obeying His commands to observe these Holy days, He will say, “No.”

6) We didn’t help those less fortunate than ourselves, and we kept our money and possessions for own use, and we didn’t share our resources with others. We didn’t help the hungry, the thirsty, clothe the naked, take in a stranger, take care of the sick or  visit the prisoners. For failing to do these things, Jesus said he would cast us into hell.

7) We started out on the right track, but fell away and turned back because of hardship or persecution. Jesus talks about this in the parable of the sower. He mentions it in the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews. “For there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins….

8 We died before our time because we didn’t obey His commands to avoid eating scavengers like pigs, lobsters, shrimp, squid, octopus, crabs, scallops, mussels, clams and the like. We became sick, died, and blamed  God saying that it must have  been His will. He told us in Leviticus chapter 11 not to eat such things, therefore we disobeyed His command to eat a Kosher diet, and again, He will say “No.”

9) We made Jesus (His real Hebrew name is Yeshua, which in English means Salvation) out to be a pork and shellfish eating, Christmas and Easter observing, Torah denying, Holy day defiling, long haired hippy, prosperity gospel honoring, and down right UN-Jewish Savior. For these things He will definitely say, “No.”

10) We honestly did not want anything to do with His chosen people the Jews. Hundreds of millions were killed in crusades and holocausts. They were denied access to Canada, The United States and Cuba during World War II. We erected signs on some of our beaches in certain cities that read, ‘No dogs or Jews.’ We’ve made fun of them, derided them, and basically wanted nothing to do with them. Martin Luther, who brought about the Protestant Reformation, grew to hate the Jews because they wanted nothing to do with his Jesus. Can we blame them? The Jews have won more Noble prizes than any other people group on the face of the earth. They have done more than any other people group to enhance the life of which we are living today. Yet they are hated by Islam, misunderstood  by Christians and ignored by many other people.  Truly for us turning our backs on His people God will definitely say, “No.”

What will make Him say yes, you may ask?

1) Take time out for Him every day, and get to know Him.

2) Get rid of any master that replaces Him-the love of money, food, lust , power, etc.

3) Obey ALL  of His commands, from Genesis to Revelation.

4) Keep Torah.

5) Observe and keep His Holy days; not man’s holidays.

6) Give our time, money and resources to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

7) DON’T give up on God.

8 Eat Kosher.

9) Get to know the True Savior. His name is Yeshua. Jesus is not His name; there is no ‘J’ in the Hebrew alphabet, and the name of Jesus has only been around for the last 500 years. Before that He was called Yeshua.

10) Take time to love a Jewish person. If we want a blessing from God, we need to love His people.

Where is the Discipleship?

I believe that some people in certain circles are not being discipled properly, and I noticed that there is no continuity in the information presented in the bible. If we have been hurt deeply before coming into an assembly; will a study help us with our hurts? Will it be hit or miss? Have we been good Bereans, and looked up what we are being told?

We’ve been commanded to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.  Have we done that?

What I have decided to do is this: to write a discipleship course that lasts for twelve months, and is priced at less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day.

If you come on board with me I will disciple you, and show you how to grow to maturity. It will require a minimal investment of twenty-five dollars a month, that’s about eighty two cents a day. Most of us spend that monthly amount in one day by going to eat out, or purchasing other items. This small investment will change your life forever.

You will be surprised, if not shocked, at how little we know about life, according to the bible. I will take you gently by the hand and show you how to have a productive, vibrant, happy, and prosperous life.

Watch this site for information on this up and coming course.

When We Rush Into Friendships

I’m sure you have heard the expression, love at first sight, but have you ever heard that love at first sight can be very detrimental to us, if we are not careful. This concept does not only apply to romantic relationships, but to any new person who comes into our lives. We may be willing to share deep personal secrets with a person before we have tested them to see if they are really trustworthy. I researched the Internet before writing this article, but found very little information for this subject that affects us so profoundly.

When a person comes into our life we have two ways of looking at them: 1) What are they looking for from me? 2) What am I looking for from them? If we are looking for a friendship whereby we need someone to confide in about our personal life then we have to question our own motives: Am I confiding in this person because I need to do that, or is it because they impress me, and I want to share with them so they will accept me, love me, and be my friend?

It is very important to avoid rushing headlong into a relationship with someone without knowing them first. On a personal note I have suffered greatly by confiding in people who I should have kept on the periphery of my relationships. I brought them into my close inner circle of friends too quickly, and I was damaged greatly. People can promise you the moon, and stars, but never deliver. They use cunning manipulation to get from us what they need, with no regard to what we need or are looking for in a friend. When this happens we find ourselves at a loss, not knowing what to do with the shattered pieces of a broken, and betrayed friendship.

Remember it is crucial that we test those who say they want to be our friends. Don’t divulge too much information to someone who we know nothing about. For some of us we have given everything, our time, our finances, our possessions, and many other things to those who only have in mind to use, and betray us. I’m not saying that we can never trust people in our lives, but go very s-lo-w-l-y with someone new, and wait until we know for sure that they are who they say they are, then we can open up about ourselves. This is a process that takes time and diligence on our part. Although we may want to share with a new person our deep dreams, aspirations, and sensitive personal information, but if we go too quickly we may wreak havoc on ourselves by not listening to our gut instincts.

The Fatherless Generation

The generation we are living in is known as the Fatherless Generation. For many of us, our fathers didn’t have the time for us, and may have abused us to the point where we developed addictions, and other dysfunctional behaviors. The treatment of our  fathers ingrained in us deep seated resentments, bitternesses, and unforgiveness. The hurt from the past comes to haunt our present, and our future. How do we escape the hurt? Is there anyone we can turn to to trust? Is there anyone who loves us?

Very few people know what love is, and for many, “I love you” is used for manipulation to get what we want, be it sex, money, status, or other things. We search for this love because we are trying to escape the hurts incurred from our formative years with our dads. The drug, porn, gambling, and alcohol industries are making money hand over fist because of the poor relationships we had with our fathers. We use these vices to numb the pain, but it never works.

We wanted intimacy with our dads, but never received it, so now we look for it in other places; in the dark side of humanity. It’s in the darkness that we carry out our deeds; continually looking for something better to fill the aching gap in our souls, yet never being satisfied. The alcoholic is always looking for another drink, the drug addict, for another high, the porn addict, for another image, and the gambler, for another bet.

It’s never too late to make the necessary changes to bring healing into our lives. When the process of healing is completed we will find we have more peace, contentment, prosperity, and better emotional, mental, and physical health. These things are achievable, once we decide that enough is enough, and we’re not going to settle for second best anymore. We have the ability to change, and it starts with our attitude: We have to adopt an attitude that makes us willing to learn new things, and be taught by anyone, or anything.

Though our dads may have damaged our past, and affected our present we look to the future as being the best days ahead of us. Yes, dad may have been cruel to us, but we are not going to be cruel to us. We will love ourselves, encourage ourselves, and discipline ourselves to do great things we never thought we could do. Whether our father is living, or has passed away, keep in mind that we can, and will become a successful person.  * Adapted from The Hurting Person’s Guide to a Happy Life, by Paul Moore. This soon to be released workbook is concise and to the point, and will help us to become happier people. Watch this site for more details.

 

 

Friendships That Grind Us

Friends are one of the greatest gifts life brings our way, and without friends we would have a very lonely existence. There are many reasons why we are given friends, but I believe one of the main reasons is to polish us. All of us six billion people here on earth are one big family whether we like it, or not. Our roots go back to the first two people on earth, Adam and Eve. Since we are family, we have the responsibility to encourage, motivate, and correct our friends. This process is known as grinding, and it hurts sometimes.

The Greek word for family means ‘to grind,’ and it’s through grinding that we become a polished gem, without any flaws or burrs. For some people this process may never happen because of hurts that hinder us from trusting others in our lives. We cut people off out of fear of being hurt any more. Let’s look at this in more detail:

When a friend says, or does  something we don’t like we have several options:

1) We can take it as an opportunity to learn from the experience.

2) We can examine ourselves to see if there was anything we did wrong to create the situation, and if we did, be willing to make amends.

3) If we feel the person has hurt us by what they have said and done, then that leaves us with a few options as well:

a) We can forgive them.

b) We can set boundaries with them.

c) We can choose to distance ourselves from them, or limit the time we spend with them.

d) We can cut them off.

I believe cutting a person off is a very drastic measure to take, but if we are continually being abused by another person there may be no other way to deal with the situation. Keep in mind that if we cut someone off, and  they contact us to say they have repented of their behavior, then we should be willing to accept them at a distance. By that I mean test them to see if they have sincerely repented of their behavior. If they have, then we have our friend back; if they haven’t then we may need to continue to keep them out of our lives. Remember although they have hurt us, they may genuinely care about us, but don’t know how to show it. By cutting them off, especially without an explanation, it may hurt them very deeply. Use care before you decide to take this step.

Boundaries are a helpful way of dealing with negative behavior from our friends. They enable us to set limits on what we deem as acceptable, or unacceptable behavior. When the boundaries are crossed we have to deal with it, nip it in the bud, before it festers inside us, and becomes a resentment. If a person continually over-steps our boundaries then we may have to look at more drastic measures which may include cutting them off.

The principles described here all contribute to the process of ‘grinding.’ An argument, or disagreement is a good opportunity to clear the air, and express that which is unpleasing to us from the other person. It’s a two way street; what we expect from our friends has to be tempered with what they expect from us. This is a two sided way of interaction with our friends, and the process is known as giving, and taking. If our relationships are only one sided then we have to address the situation with the other person, if they listen we have won our friend back, but if they don’t listen, then measures must be taken to protect ourselves. Disagreements, arguments, boundaries, and correction are all tools of grinding. If we use the tools correctly we will have greater peace and happiness. *Adapted from The Hurting Person’s Guide to a Happy Life, by Paul Moore.