The Land Called Beulah

Where God Turns Ashes into Beauty

Tag: Holy Spirit

Why Kim Davis’ Marriages are the Most Important Part of Her Story

kim-davisYou would have to be living under a rock to not be familiar with the Kim Davis story these days. Headlines are all over the internet–and not just about why she made the news–for standing up for her religious beliefs and refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses–but about something completely irrelevant to the story–her personal marriage life.

In a nutshell, she got married, had two children with her husband, then got pregnant by another man and divorced her husband. The man who fathered the twins she became pregnant with was reportedly abusive so she didn’t stay with him. She then met her current husband, whom she married. This marriage also ended in divorce. She then married the father of her two youngest, which didn’t work out and led to divorce as well. Finally, she remarried her second husband who is her current husband. (Whether this is accurate I don’t know–I don’t know Kim Davis–all I know is that this is what is being said on the internet.)

What does this have to do with her being jailed for following her religious beliefs? Absolutely nothing, unless you are trying to find dirt on her to disprove her case that she should have religious rights in the workplace.

That said, I personally believe that Kim Davis’ marriage history is the single most important thing on the news in regards to her story.

Hear me out.

Whether you agree with her stance or not, there’s no arguing that all of the talk about Kim Davis is about–well, Kim Davis. “Kim Davis stood up for our rights!” “Kim Davis is a homophobe.” “Kim Davis is an example to Christians everywhere.” “Kim Davis is a bigot.” “Kim Davis stood up for our rights as Americans!” “Kim Davis is a hateful person.” “Kim Davis is what bravery really looks like!” “Kim Davis is a coward.”

And yet, in the small 1 minute or so clip that hit news stations everywhere of Kim Davis making a speech of thanks with Mike Huckabee, she comes out, lifts her hands in worship to God, and then when the crowd starts chanting “We want Kim!” she responds, “I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people. Just keep on pressing. Don’t let down, because he is here. He’s worthy.” Her focus was not on herself, but on God.

People can argue about whether or not what Kim Davis did was glorifying to God–depending on your stance the answers will differ greatly. But nobody can argue that God took Kim Davis’ life–a life with failed marriages, with sin, with disappointment, and turned it around to make a woman who is faithful to both Him and to her faith in Him.

“She’s a hypocrite,” her opposers say. Not according to the Bible. Take a look at the Apostle Paul, who is known as possibly the greatest evangelist in the history of Christianity. Paul didn’t start out as a faithful Christian. No, he was a Pharisee, a strict Jew who hated Christians. His mission was to rid the world of Christians, killing and imprisoning as many as possible. He stood and watched as Stephen, a godly man, was stoned to death. The Bible says he breathed out “threatenings and slaughter” against the church. Ananias, called of God to lead Paul to the truth, was scared of him.

Yet God spoke to Paul (whose name was Saul at the time) and confronted him about killing the Christians who were just as much His children as the Jews. Paul came to the realization that Jesus was God come in the flesh and converted to Christianity. He then began to evangelize and tell as many people about Jesus as possible, despite being persecuted himself.

So was Paul a hypocrite? No, because his sin against the Christians happened before he became a Christian. He realized the error of his ways and worked toward getting his life right. No doubt he probably had guilt his entire life for what he did before he became a Christian, but he had to realize that God is merciful, a forgiver, and that he was free from the sin of his past. Being an evangelist–who stood strong in the face persecution–also didn’t mean that Paul never sinned. On the contrary, Paul himself said that he was the “chiefest of sinners”. That didn’t mean that he was going out and living a double life. It meant that he was trying the best he could, but that everybody fails. The Bible says that if a man says he doesn’t sin he is a liar. All Christians sin. We just realize that God is a forgiver of sins and we try our best to change.

Kim Davis’ marital history does not make her any more of a hypocrite than Paul’s murderous history. Kim Davis was not an Apostolic Christian when the marriages and divorces occurred (but even if she was, again, we have to realize that Christians are not perfect–they make mistakes just like everybody else). Saying that she is a hypocrite would mean that we all are. We all lived in sin before choosing to live for God. A hypocrite is someone who says, “Yeah, I am going to judge other people for doing the same exact thing I’m doing, and I don’t care if I say I don’t believe in it, I’m going to do it anyway.” That is hardly the attitude Ms. Davis is displaying. (I also want to say this: hypocrisy is also a sin that can be forgiven. If you feel that you have been a hypocrite it is never too late for you to ask God for forgiveness and change your ways.)

What makes this the most important part of her story on the news, I believe, is that Kim Davis’ forgiveness and restoration after her life of sin and failed marriages shows the world that God can take someone who lived such a life and heal them. He can help us overcome our past mistakes. He is a great God, merciful, and ready to forgive the moment we ask. Her marital history and her testimony of overcoming her past and living a fruitful life for God speaks volumes to people who may be looking at their own lives and thinking, “I’ve failed too much. I’ve made too many mistakes. God can never make anything out of me.” God can. Going through three divorces is hardly the worst thing someone can do. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Paul demanding the imprisonment and deaths of people for their faith is definitely worse.

Kim Davis’ stand for her faith is definitely a commendable thing (and whether you agree with her beliefs or not, if you are a United States citizen you should agree that we are entitled to our religious rights), but in the media it is all about Kim. Kim this, Kim that. The media is not printing headlines that say, “Glory belongs to God.” However, her testimony of how she overcame her life and now lives for God is all about God. It’s about God’s power. God’s saving grace. God’s ability to take a sinner and save them and help them lead a better life. It’s about how God can save me and how He can save you.

Her testimony is about God.

“And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”  -John 8:11

It Happened at a Crowns Concert

September 1st was the fifth time I had been to a Casting Crowns concert and while I had always been blessed by the music, I had yet to see God work in the way He did this time around.

I went onto Facebook to ask about purchasing tickets for the Crowns concert at the Evergreen State Fair up in Monroe, WA when a complete stranger sent me a private message and blessed my husband and I with free, 5th row tickets. I was excited over the generosity of this stranger but when we arrived at the concert area we almost forfeited our seats to go up to the “nosebleeds” for one reason: it was pouring rain and the good seats didn’t have a covering like the nosebleeds did.

Now, you have to understand that this wasn’t just your typical rain shower. No, this was hardcore, Seattle, torrential downpour. Fair employees were volunteering to dry our seats with paper towels, which, by the time the employee moved for the concert-goer to sit down, the seat was already wet again. Fortunately for my husband and I, we had our umbrella which offered some protection. Until the concert started, that is. At that point all umbrellas would be required to go down. We discussed moving but decided, “Nah, let’s just praise Him in the storm” (ha ha). We decided 5th row seats was worth getting soaked.

This was when the total God moment happened. One of the fair employees, a very sweet woman who we had chatted with several times before the concert, came over to dry off the seats of the people in front of us when a man across the aisle jokingly said, “Come on, God, what’s with the rain?” to which the employee responded, “Yeah, aren’t all of you guys supposed to be praying for Him to make this stop?” I guess it didn’t occur to me up until this point, but not all of the employees working this event were Christian. Based on this comment about us praying, I made the connection that this woman likely wasn’t.

Truthfully, in my mind I was praying for it to stop. I didn’t want to be soaked and cold even though I would’ve put up with it if necessary. All of a sudden a thought came to mind, though. God, if you made this rain stop it would be a great testimony to all of the non-Christians here. They would see what a powerful God You are! Lord, show this woman that You have the power to stop this rain. If she has any doubts, show her that You exist.

It kept raining harder and harder.

When 7:30 hit and the members of Casting Crowns started to come out on stage it was still raining and I thought we would just have to deal with it. Then Mark Hall (the lead singer of the band) stepped up to the microphone, everyone’s umbrellas came down, and just then, the rain stopped.

Not a single drop fell through that entire concert.

Okay, so big deal, it stopped raining.

It was a big deal. After the concert as we were walking away I heard that employee exclaiming to someone else, “Did you see that?! The rain! It stopped!”

It reminded me of two passages in scripture:

In I Kings 18, Elijah challenged the followers of Baal to prove who was the one true God. Was it Baal, or was it Jehovah? God proved Himself in this passage. The followers of Baal could not get their god to start fire to the sacrifice, but God–Jehovah–who would become Jesus in the flesh to die for the sins of the world, despite Elijah drenching the wood in water thus making fire “impossible”, proved Himself.

The other passage is Mark 4:37-41. Jesus and the disciples were in a boat when a massive storm hit. Jesus was sleeping while the disciples were panicking. They woke Him up and asked how in the world can He be sleeping at a time like this! Didn’t He care that they were all going to die in this storm? Jesus wasn’t concerned though. He simply got up and spoke to the storm. He said, “Peace, be still,” and the storm stopped.

The literal storm in Monroe, WA stopped in that very moment. At this precise time, God stepped in and proved Himself–He showed both the believers and non-believers that He controlled the wind and the rain. In the same way, He also spoke into my life (and countless others I’m sure) that He also calms the proverbial storms. The internal storms I was dealing with that night. The pain of rejection. The fear of loss and failure. The doubt of “God, don’t You care that I might perish?” Perhaps He spoke into whatever personal storms that employee was going through. The storms of the cancer survivors who all stood when Mark Hall gave tribute to them. The blind man and his wife who sat one row over from us. The people who sung on stage.

In that moment, at that concert on those little fairgrounds, God said, “Peace, be still.”

“I know the Peace Speaker, I know Him by name. I know the Peace Speaker, He controls the wind and the waves. And when He says “Peace, be still,” they have to obey. I know the Peace Speaker, yes, I know Him by name.”

Q&A: Pentecostals (Apostolic)

A fun fact about WordPress is that in many cases it allows someone to see what search terms are used for someone to find your page. Reading through these I’ve learned that there are a lot of questions people have about Pentecostals (Apostolic). Here are some answers to those questions.

Side note: these are not sorted by topic so if you’re looking for a specific topic, on most computers using the search function ctrl+f will allow you to search the post. Also, there is a search bar to the right of this page but it will search all posts not just this one.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

“Things Pentecostals Can’t Do”

My answer to this is “nothing”. Here’s my reasoning. People look at Pentecostals and think that because many tend to live a certain way, whether it be in clothing, hairstyles, places they will or won’t go, etc., that we are required to do so. What you will find is that many Pentecostals live what we call a “holiness lifestyle”. We look at principles in the Bible and try to follow them best we can.

For example, the Bible talks about setting wicked things before your eyes. Because we don’t want to do this, many Pentecostals will not watch tv because there is a lot of profanity on there. By choosing not to watch it, we are taking a step to prevent putting anything wicked before us. That said, there is nothing that a Pentecostal “can’t do”. Our pastors do not scrutinize our lives. Our churches don’t have dress codes (I once had a friend who assumed you had to wear a dress to go to my church–this is not true! We want everyone to come to church regardless of how they dress!). Now, you will find that those who are in leadership in the church do follow the “holiness standards” of that church. The reason for this is because within each church there is general agreement on what the Bible teaches is holy and how we will live that out. The leaders will follow these standards because one, we actually agree with them, and two, we don’t want there to be confusion as to what we teach and why some in leadership don’t follow it.

All in all, we are not forced to live a certain lifestyle. If you meet a Pentecostal who lives a certain way it is because they want to. (Exceptions being maybe kids who live that way because their parents do or someone who has chosen to follow them regardless if they believe them–in which case, they would probably have their own reasoning as to why they do it).

 

“What does it mean to be Apostolic Pentecostal?”

To be Apostolic means that you believe the same things the Apostles taught (in other words, the Bible). We don’t have extraneous creeds, doctrinal statements or statements of faith. The Bible is truth and we do not pick and choose what we will follow. If the Bible says it that settles it. The Apostles taught baptism in Jesus’ name; we do the same. The Apostles taught repentance; we do the same. The Apostles taught that the infilling of the Holy Ghost is a distinct experience from believing in Jesus as Savior–and that speaking in tongues was the initial evidence of receiving the gift; we teach the same. They preached a holy lifestyle; we do the same. They preached that we should reach the lost; we do the same. If you want to know what Apostolics believe, just read the Bible!

To be Pentecostal means that you believe that the same experience the early church had on the day of Pentecost is real today. People still receive the Holy Ghost (as a separate and distinct experience–keep in the mind those in the upper room already believed in Jesus. They did not receive the Holy Ghost til later. The same with the church in Acts 19–see verse 2). It means you believe in the gifts of the spirit: the gift of tongues, of healing, of faith, etc.  Again, if you want to know what Pentecostals believe, just read the Bible!

 

“When is Pastor Appreciation Day?”

Not a question about Apostolic Pentecostals directly but I’ll answer. The 2nd Sunday in October is designated as Pastor Appreciation Day. The whole month of October is also considered Pastor Appreciation Month.

 

“What does the Apostolic church believe about women’s clothing?”

The Bible instructs us to dress modestly. I Timothy 2:9-10 and I Peter 3:3-4, Romans 12:1-2, Deuteronomy 22:5 are some verses on apparel.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answers to this question because “holiness standards” vary from church to church, the most common you’ll see is this.

Women will typically not wear clothes that are tight enough to show off private parts. We typically wear skirts that fall below the knee while standing and sitting so that while doing either someone can not look up your skirt. We also typically wear our sleeves below the elbow–depending on who you ask the reasoning might change, but I’ve always done so because if I lift my arms up and my sleeves are loose you wouldn’t be able to see up them to my underclothes. The elbow also, in my opinion, is like the knee of the arm. I prefer to keep my upper legs covered and prefer the same with my upper arms.

The Bible talks about not adorning yourself with gold, pearls, or costly array. For this cost most Apostolic women will not wear jewelry. Some will wear wedding bands because they feel it serves a purpose: showing others you are married. The same with watches.

Many Apostolic women also will not wear makeup. The reason we don’t is because typically in the Bible when it mentions having your face painted it’s talking about a harlot. Jeremiah 4:30, 2 Kings 9:30, for example. We also teach our girls that God has made them “fearfully and wonderfully” and that they don’t need to wear makeup to improve themselves.

Lastly, you will find that most Apostolic women wear skirts or dresses all the time. We do this because in Deuteronomy 22:5 it talks about men not wearing women’s apparel and women not wearing men’s apparel. We also do it for modesty reasons (wearing a skirt does not show off the body like pants do). Some will argue that pants are women’s apparel today. But think about it: if you go to a public bathroom and can’t read, how do you know the difference between the men’s and women’s room? The woman wears a skirt, the man pants.

Here’s a fun activity you can do to see if people truly associate pants with men and dresses with women. Ask a few people to do an experiment. Give them each a piece of paper and pen and tell them they have 20 seconds to draw two figures, a boy and a girl. There are no rules. They can be stick people, blob people, anything. Chances are, the boy figures will have short hair and be wearing pants. The girl will have long hair and be wearing a skirt. It is human nature to associate short hair and pants with men, and long hair and dresses with girls.

 

“Why do Apostolics think TV is wrong?”

In Psalm 101:3 David wrote that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes. We choose to do this as well. Because of this, we don’t watch TV because most of what is on TV these days is what the Bible labels as sin (profanity, nudity, swearing, violence, premarital sex, drinking, drugs, adultery, lying, stealing, cheating, etc). By not watching TV we are choosing to not be entertained by the things the Bible labels sin.

“But not everything on TV is bad”. You’re right, but as my former pastor would say, “You wouldn’t dig through the garbage to get a steak at the bottom of the trash can.”

As an additional note, because many will argue that the internet is worse: This is true. The setting no wicked thing before your eyes doesn’t just apply to TV. We also teach that we need to be careful of what we look at on the internet, what we read, what video games we play, etc. There is more control over the internet because you have to type in what you want to find. On TV it is a mixed bag…commercials, flipping through channels, etc. It is also advised in many churches to use a filter on your internet for extra protection against ads or unwanted sites in searches.

 

“What is the Holy Ghost?”

The Holy Ghost is God’s spirit that dwells in men. The Bible teaches that when we seek God and, according to Acts 2:38 repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus, God will give us the gift of the Holy Ghost. His spirit lives in us and gives us joy, helps up to live holy lives, etc.

Many mainstream churches preach that you are filled with the Holy Ghost the minute you believe in Jesus as Savior. This is not what the Bible teaches. The believers in Acts 2 received the Holy Ghost AFTER they believed in Jesus as Savior (it was also the first time the Holy Ghost was given to dwell in people). The believes in Acts 19 also had not received the Holy Ghost yet but had already believed. The Bible is very clear that receiving the Holy Ghost is a very distinct experience from when you started believing.

Here are some verses to read about the Holy Ghost: John 14:26, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6. Notice that something in common with these is that the sign that they had received the Holy Ghost was that they spoke in tongues. When you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost you will speak in tongues.

 

“Apostolic Pentecostal Women and Hair Curling Rules”

There aren’t any, though some Apostolic women won’t curl their hair because they feel it is vanity.

 

“Pentecostals are not saved”

All of the believers of the New Testament were Pentecostal (See question above–what do Pentecostals believe?). They were saved.

 

“Leaving the Pentecostal Church”

Please don’t. I made that mistake once and wish I could get those five years of my life back. It’s cliche but it’s true: My worst day with God is still better than my best day without Him.   Here is my story: http://beulahblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/why-i-left-the-apostolic-pentecostal-church/

 

“Lifestyle of Pentecostals”

We live like everyone else. We work jobs, go to school, have ups and downs, celebrate holidays. We do go to church, but that is not specific to Pentecostals–most Christians do. We do go on average 2-3 times a week, which is more than the typical non-denominational church. We strive to live a life of holiness (and you will see reasonings in other questions on here). Also, we are not forced to live any specific way. Many times I meet people who believe we are. We live this way because we choose to and we love it. I encourage you to check out an Apostolic Pentecostal church!

 

“Bad Things About the Apostolic Pentecostal Church”

Firstly, if you go looking for the bad you’ll find it. In any situation. That said, there is nothing wrong with the church specifically. You will always find hypocrites, always find people treating others wrong, etc, no matter where you are. Be it in any church, any job, any school, any organization. But don’t let one person doing wrong turn you away from many who are doing right.

 

“Why do Pentecostals try to get their other family members into church?”

The Bible is true and we try to live our lives according to it. The Bible is very clear on salvation and what God requires of His people. We also know from experience that living for God is a very rewarding life, full of joy and many wonderful things. We want our family members to experience the same blessings God has given us.

 

“Too Many Church Services – Pentecostal”

Most Pentecostals go to church 2-3 times a week. Once or twice on Sunday and usually one mid-week service, usually Wednesday or Thursday. Sometimes we will have “revivals” which is where we might do several special services on consecutive days. There are also many special events such as Youth Meetings, Conferences, Banquets, etc.

When you consider, if someone attends all three services of the week, and from arrival to leaving may be anywhere from 1.5-2 hours (a typical church service begins with 30 minutes of prayer before the service, about 20-30 minutes of music, about a 30-45 minute message, and a time of prayer after service known as the “altar call”–of course this varies greatly), we spend about 6 hours a week in church. In a week of 168 hours that’s not much. Most people spend more time watching tv.

Oh, and most Pentecostals you’ll meet will actually say they like being at church more than they already are. To us it is a special place, we have fun, we get encouraged, we find a connection with God and with others. I would encourage you to visit a church and experience it yourself!

 

“The First Church in Acts was Pentecostal”

This is correct. Their experience on the day of Pentecost is actually why we call ourselves Pentecostals.

 

“Change in People who Join Pentecost”

Becoming an Apostolic Pentecostal is truly a life changing experience. I’ve seen people firsthand get healed of illnesses (cancer, asthma, a baby with a hole in his heart, I was healed of a bleeding disorder). I’ve seen people firsthand get delivered from drugs, alcohol and smoking–in one night–with one prayer. Not with any 12 step program (not downing those programs if they help but God can deliver someone in one moment!). I’ve seen people delivered from depression, past experiences, and guilt. I know what it is like to feel like life is falling apart and then get one experience with God that changed my life so much that I left a service filled with joy. Left personal prayer time feeling like everything’s going to be okay. It’s wonderful and I pray you experience the same.

 

“Apostolic Pentecostal Beliefs Non-Biblical?”

Apostolic Pentecostals have no doctrinal statements, creeds, or statements of faith outside of the Bible. We only preach what is in the Bible and how that applies to our lives today. If you have a question about something the pastor preaches and where in the Bible it is, I encourage you to ask Him. He will be able to show you where what He preaches is in the Bible. The same goes for someone who may be giving you a Bible study. If you have a question ask!

 

“I feel like Apostolic Pentecostal is not me”

If you are currently in a church I encourage you to speak with your pastor. It is easy to get discouraged in today’s world but take heart! Jesus said He would help us overcome! If there is something specific about the faith that you don’t know why you believe it or don’t understand it, ask! The Bible has answers and your pastor, leaders and others in the church want to help you. If you don’t belong to a church, I encourage you to find one. You can Google answers but everyone will have a response as to why you should or shouldn’t be in church. The problem with that is that you are getting people’s personal opinions. The best opinion you can get is the Bible’s! If you need help finding a church in your area please message me and I would be more than happy to help you find one!

 

“I’m Apostolic. Where is Jesus?”

It sounds like you’re struggling! The Bible tells us that God will never leave us. It may be hard to feel God but be sure He is with You! I would encourage you to start looking up passages in the Bible about God’s faithfulness and since you said you are Apostolic I would also encourage you to speak with your pastor, pastor’s wife, or another trusted friend or leader. The best thing we can do in hard times is pray and surround ourselves with other believers. God will show Himself faithful!

 

“How many people go to a Pentecostal church?”

This question is hard to answer for two reasons: One, not all Pentecostal believe the same. I am Apostolic Pentecostal but you will also find that there are Trinitarian Pentecostals (Assemblies of God, for example). Also, not all Pentecostals belong to an organization. Some major Apostolic Pentecostal organizations are the UPCI, WPF, ALJC and PAW, but there are many people who follow the Apostolic Pentecostal doctrine because they’ve read it in the Bible and never had any connections to any organization. There are also many minor Pentecostal organizations. Because of this, there are no concrete numbers.

There is an article I found that speculates that more than 1 in 4 Christians claim to be Pentecostal of some sort: http://www.christianpost.com/news/more-than-1-in-4-christians-are-pentecostal-charismatic-65358/ . Also, a former professor of mine, Talmadge French, wrote a book that has an appendix at the end listing many Apostolic organizations around the world. It’s a great book to look in to! Here it is on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Our-God-One-Talmadge-French/dp/1888251204

 

“When Apostolics Let You Down”

Get back up! No matter where you go to church, where you work, go to school or hang out with people there is always the chance that someone will let you down. It’s just because people are people. One thing my pastor has taught me well is looking at situations from another person’s point of view. It is one of the greatest gifts my pastor could’ve instilled into me. When people let me down I try to see their perspective and it helps me realize that it’s usually not intentional. I’ve been hurt by people in church but by the grace of God He helped me get back up again and realize that it’s not God’s fault! Keep pressing on! (And try to reconcile if possible!)

 

“What do Pentecostals believe about Apostles?”

I’ve always heard that there are two definitions of what an apostle is: One, someone who has the authority to write scripture, and Two, someone who has a calling to start churches. Pentecostals believe that the Apostles with the authority to write scripture ended with the New Testament. The Bible is the Word of God and nobody has any authority to add or take away from it–to do so would being against God (Revelation 22:19) .

As far as Apostles who are people with a calling to start churches, you will find many within the Apostolic Pentecostal Church. Some people have a gift to get churches started and then when they feel called to they will find a pastor for that church and move to another city to start another church. These are wonderful people used mightily of God.

 

“Pentecostalism: Why People Leave?”

Every person will have their own reason but the reasons I see most are that they get offended by somebody in the church or they get tired of living for God. Sometimes people won’t understand why they do things and just do them because others do. This is why we encourage people to study the Bible. We want everybody to know why they believe what they do–our foundation needs to be the Bible.

 

“Why People are Joining the Pentecostal Church”

God changes lives. People join because they’ve seen the power God has had on the lives of others and they want the same. They want to follow the Bible, they want to be saved, they want to experience joy and victory in their lives.

 

“When is the right time to leave the Apostolic church?”

After the pastor prays at the end of service and says “service dismissed” 🙂

Seriously, though, never. Like I mentioned in a response above, if you are questioning leaving the church it is likely that you are struggling with someone. I would encourage you to seek God in prayer, in the Bible, and speak with your man of God. The things that can seem so huge at times that make us want to give up are usually things that can be worked through. God has a victory for you and He wants to see you through! So does your pastor and church family!

I mentioned above how I left the church for a while once. I was miserable and missed God so much. I have found so much joy living for God and could never give him up now! Here is a blog post about why I left and why I came back: http://beulahblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/why-i-left-the-apostolic-pentecostal-church/

 

“Apostolic Pentecostal Outfit Ideas?”

Haha I’m guessing you’re looking for some ways to dress fashionably yet modestly. Pinterest has a lot of ideas! There are also some people who belong to Apostolic churches who have started clothing companies. Check them out! http://daintyjewells.com/ and http://www.jademackenzie.com/ There are many more and if you know of one I would be happy to list them if you’ll comment the link below.

 

“What can an eight year old say for Pastor Appreciation Day?”

I know this isn’t an Apostolic-related question but I love these questions because it means you are teaching your children to honor the ministry–which is a very biblical and Apostolic thing!

Encourage your child to tell what things they like best about their pastor. I once had all of the members of the church write one sentence on what they liked best about our pastor and put them all in a slideshow to Scott Krippayne’s “You Changed the World”. It turned out very nicely, lots of sentiment, encouragement, and some very candid responses! (Haha our pastor learned he “Was a G”)

 

“Questions about relationship with God – Pentecostal”

First and foremost I would ask your pastor any questions who have about your walk with God. Your pastor cares for you and wants to see you succeed in your walk with God! Secondly, if you don’t have a pastor but have a specific question I encourage you to post it in the comments below. We might be able to help you find an answer.

 

“Do Pentecostals deny the godhead?”

No. We believe there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) who is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Colossians 2:9 says the fulness of the godhead dwells in Jesus. Just as you might be a father, a son, and a uncle but be one person, so is God. He is our Father in creation, the Son in redemption (Him coming to earth as a man to die for our sins) and the Holy Ghost in regeneration (in other words, He lives in us as the Holy Ghost). When the Bible refers to the “Son of God” it is referring to God in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16).

You see, in Bible times people were often given names based on their attributes. Jesus means ‘Jehovah has become our salvation’. When God became and man and died for us His name became Jesus. Isaiah even prophesied that the baby Jesus would be called the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). So when we talk about Jesus we are talking about God. God, Jesus, Holy Ghost, Healer, Protector, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, etc, are all names of the one same God.

Here is a different post I made a while back with some verses on the godhead: http://beulahblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/is-your-god-one-or-three/

 

“What does Beulah land mean in the Bible?”

Again, not a question about Apostolics directly, but it’s a Bible question.

Isaiah 62:4 says, “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

“Who invented the Pentecostal church?”

God did. The very first church as recorded in Acts 2 was Pentecostal. Every other church started in the New Testament was also Pentecostal. The Pentecostal church went “underground”, you could say, over the years due to persecution, but it has always existed. In the United States there rose a popularity and revival with Pentecostal churches in the late 1800s and early 1900s with groups of people from different denominations who read the Bible and realized that not all churches were preaching what the Bible taught as far as oneness of God, Jesus name baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.

 

“Has God already left the church?”

No, He is alive and active in the church! God is moving in people’s lives everyday and desires to do the same in yours!

 

“Boyfriend wants me to be Pentecostal”

Pentecostals live very rewarding lives and we experience so much of the greatness of God that we want to share it with everybody! Ask him to give you a Bible study or visit his church with him. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You will find that there is so much joy to experience with a life in God!

 

“What do Apostolic churches do when they leave for conferences?”

This question can be taken one of two ways. What happens at the church if most of the church goes to a conference? Services might be cancelled because the pastor and possibly any others in the church who preach might be gone as well. Sometimes the pastor will ask someone else to lead services so they can continue while he is gone.

If you’re asking what happens at conferences: It’s just like going to church somewhere else. If not within driving distance people book hotel rooms and services are likely to happen every night, sometimes twice a day. At camps they might hold different services and events throughout the day like sports games, barbecues and more. Typically conference services are formal and you will see people dressed up, much like they would Sunday Mornings at church though some will dress up even more depending on the event. Dressing up is not required though. We want everyone in church regardless of how you look or dress! Just come!

The services will be a lot like your home church only with more people. There will be prayer, worship and preaching. You’re also likely to see people very passionate about the services, with demonstrative worship (i.e. jumping, shouting, clapping, running aisles). There will also be a lot of ministers there who usually sit up on the platform and several of them might be asked to speak for moment before the speaker of the night gets up to preach. The altar call (prayer at the end of service) is likely to be packed as well. A lot of people will be there and it’s not uncommon for people to pray together even if they don’t know each other. You will meet a lot of new people and find new friends within several churches!

 

“What happens when you leave your Apostolic church?”

Apostolic churches are a lot like families. People tend to get very close with one another and develop many friendships. When someone leaves the church it is normal for many people to be sad. It feels like your best friend or brother or sister are moving away. That said, if you are moving because of a reason–getting married, entering full time ministry, or the like, people will be excited even though they will miss you!

If you are leaving because you decide you don’t want to live for God anymore we still miss you as much but there is a sadness that accompanies it. We don’t want to see you leave and there will be a lot of prayer for you. Some people might get upset but most will still desire to be friends once you leave. We want to see you get victory in Christ and continue to live for Him. We will love you no matter what but we will never stop praying for you til we see you living for God again. You mean a lot to us and we want to see you saved.

 

“What do Apostolic Pentecostals wear to church?”

Most of the time people dress up for church. Women will wear skirts or dresses and men typically wear slacks and a dress shirt or a suit and tie. That said, there is no dress code and everybody is welcome to come regardless of how they dress. If you don’t own a suit or a skirt don’t let that stop you from coming! You likely won’t be the only one not dressed that way and nobody will treat you any differently if you aren’t. (There was a guy in my former church who was a mechanic and he would come in his work clothes! Better he be there in work clothes than to miss church because he didn’t have time to go home and change!)

 

“How do you explain the sincerity of the UPCI?”

People who belong to the UPCI are genuine about living for God. Though you’ll always find people who aren’t trying their best or living hypocritical lifestyles, most are passionate about God and genuinely trying to live according to the Bible best they can.  This goes for people in the UPCI or any Apostolic church or organization.

 

“What if you have short hair and wear makeup in the Apostolic church?”

You will still be welcomed to come. We recognize that all people grow in God at different levels and people need time to work on the inside before the outside. Once someone recognizes what the Bible says about this, though, we encourage them to follow it.

Now, because most churches preach what the Bible says about women having long hair and men having short hair (1 Corinthians 11) and that the Bible does not encourage women to wear makeup (Jeremiah 4:30), you won’t typically see people on the platform ministering if they do these because we don’t want there to be confusion in the church as to what we believe and/or rebellion to the Word of God (if you see it in the Bible and don’t follow it, it is rebellion).

 

“What do you do when someone you love is in the Pentecostal church?”

Go to church with them!

 

“What is considered a worldly hairstyle to Apostolics?”

In 1 Corinthians 11 the Bible says men should have short hair (for it is a shame if they have long hair) and women should have long hair (it is a glory to her and a sign of submission to her authority). Verse 6 says it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven. Shorn means cut. So even trimming of the hair is against the Bible.

This is what the Bible says and what almost all Apostolic churches teach. Occasionally you might meet some Apostolics who feel that trendy hairstyles are a sign of conforming to the world and they will avoid those (like spiked hair, for example).

 

“How to get the Holy Ghost”

One must first recognize that receiving the Holy Ghost is an experience distinct from when someone first believes in Jesus as Savior. Also, you will read that in Acts 2:38 Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Verse 39 says “the promise is unto you and to your children and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord your God shall call.” The gift of the Holy Ghost is a promise.

If you are seeking the Holy Ghost you will want to spend time in prayer as it is in prayer that people are filled with it. Also, recognize that the one sign that followed all believers who received the Holy Ghost is that they spoke in tongues. God does not leave us doubting if we have it. We will know for sure because God will make us speak in tongues (it is not something we do ourselves or are taught–only God can cause you to do that).

If you are seeking, though it is possible to get the Holy Ghost anywhere, I would encourage you to get connected to an Apostolic church in your area and ask for a Bible study on the Holy Ghost.

 

“If I get saved in an Apostolic church am I really saved?”

If you are saved according to the plan of salvation in the Bible (repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues) and you live according to the Bible as best as possible, yes, you are saved. This is what the Bible teaches and it is the only and final authority. If you are doubting your salvation I encourage you to speak with your pastor.

 

“Do all Apostolics require you to wear dresses?”

No. Apostolic women wear dresses because we believe it is how God wants us to dress (see questions above for verses and reasons). That said, we are not forced to dress this way and because not everyone who goes to our churches is at the same level in their walk with God as everyone else, it is likely you will see some women in a service not wearing a dress. Everyone is welcome to come regardless of how they dress. Now, once you see the verses in the Bible about distinction of apparel and modesty, it is important that you follow convictions and the Bible. Always keeping in mind, too, that the outward appearance is not primary to inward holiness. Focus on getting your heart right with God first and He will bring you convictions about holiness.

 

“Apostolic Pentecostal Belief on Seeking God’s Will”

The Bible says if we seek God we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). If you are seeking God’s will it is imperative that you go to Him in prayer and then be willing to listen to the ways He speaks to His people. This is oftentimes found through the Bible, preaching, and your man of God but sometimes God works in other ways too. Be open to His voice.

 

“Why would someone not want to have Pentecostal experiences?”

I don’t know. God changed my life. As I mentioned above, I have seen and experienced people getting healed (even myself), delivered from addictions and depressions, I’ve seen people filled with joy and have their lives turned around. I wouldn’t change my experience with God for the world.

 

“Can an Apostolic woman be alone with a guy?”

Yes. There are no rules or standards against this. That said, you will meet people who will have a personal conviction not to. For example:

A dating couple might not be alone in a house to avoid temptation to fall into sin. They will mostly likely hang out in public places.

A married man or woman might choose to not be alone with another married man or woman to avoid any appearance of sinning (1 Thessalonians 5:22). They don’t want it to look like they are being unfaithful to their spouses or raise any doubts. It also prevents false accusations. If a man does not hang out with a woman alone there is no basis for him to be accused of inappropriate behavior, for example. Or vice verse, as happened to Joseph with Potiphar’s wife.

 

“What happened to the Apostolic Pentecostal church after the apostles?”

Many people falsely believe the Apostolic church died out until the late 1800s. This is incorrect. When I was in college I spent a large amount of time studying the history of the church and many documents can be found that speak of persecutions of people who were oneness (believing in one God instead of a triune God) and people who were persecuted for speaking in tongues, baptizing in Jesus name, etc. Many of these groups were underground because of persecution, but the church never died out. There was a resurgence in the late 1800s as people began to read the word and realize that what the mainstream churches of the day were preaching wasn’t full truth. They started studying the Bible and teaching what the apostles taught.

 

“What does God feel about you if you are not Apostolic?”

He loves you as much as He loves anyone else, Apostolic or not. But, He also desires that you experience the fulness of life in Him. He wants to fill you with His spirit and see you live according to His Word.

 

“What does the Bible say about being flashy / Why can Pentecostals wear big bows?”

This is a situation on church standards and personal convictions. The Bible teaches to dress modestly and not adorn yourself with gold, pearls, or costly array. Those who wear big bows or fancy clothes do not have convictions against this because it is not jewelry and they may have not spent a lot of money on it therefore it is not costly. On the other hand, some Apostolics have personal convictions against wearing flashy clothes or big hair bows because they believe it draws too much attention.

What it comes down to is that each church has it’s own set of “standards” that the pastor preaches. It is how he teaches we should follow the Word of God. Beyond that, if we have personal convictions stronger than that standard we are to follow them, but not force them upon others. As far as people who do wear costly apparel or gold or pearls or the like? Keep in mind that we are all in different places in our walk with God and it may be something they haven’t been taught yet or maybe they have and they just choose to not follow it. Don’t let one person in the church who may not follow standards affect your walk with God.

 

“Dating Someone from the Apostolic Pentecostal Church”

The Bible teaches that we should not be “unequally yoked” or rather, we should not marry people who do not share our faith. It causes a lot of problems and stresses in the marriage. Most Apostolics won’t date someone outside the faith because most date with the intent of finding someone they’d like to marry. If you are dating someone who is Apostolic and interested in learning more about it, I would encourage you to visit your boyfriend or girlfriend’s church and ask for a Bible study.

 

“Why do Apostolic Pentecostals believe their way of salvation is the correct way?”

We only teach what is in the Bible. The Bible is truth. If you’re not in an Apostolic church and/or your pastor preaches a salvation message different than what is in the Bible I would encourage to search the scriptures about salvation and get yourself into a church that preaches the whole Bible.

 

“I’ve grown up in the Apostolic church and I guess what I would like to know is what is my faith?”

I strongly encourage you to speak with your pastor. Having been raised in the church myself I know it is common for Apostolic kids to grow up living for God because it’s the only thing we’ve ever known. Somehow some of us never learned the why behind everything. Your pastor or youth leader would be great to show you where in the Bible our doctrine comes from. Everything we believe is in the Bible so if you have questions about salvation or standards ask! I don’t typically suggest searching Google because you can get a lot of mixed up answers from people not in church. If you are learning about doctrine from a source outside of your church and the Bible, make sure it is a trusted Apostolic leader otherwise you might get information that isn’t biblical.

 

“Pentecostal Guy Invited Me to a Party”

If it’s a church party go and have fun! You probably won’t find drinking, drugs, smoking, or worldly dancing there but you’ll still have fun!

If it’s a worldly party with those things at it, don’t go with him.

 

“Can older women in the Pentecostal Church date?”

Yes, as long as you are not in adultery as listed in the Bible, for example Matthew 19:9 and Romans 7:2. For the best biblical guidance on this ask your pastor. If you are single and never married there are no standards against older women dating that are common to Apostolic churches.

 

“Can a Pentecostal enter any church?”

Yes, but voice of experience says it can be an uncomfortable experience and it may feel lacking. Going from a church that celebrates the Holy Ghost and God’s goodness into one that doesn’t (for example, some baptist churches preach against speaking in tongues! Which is not good because it is the initial evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost).

 

“What do you think about the Apostolic church?”

I love it and wouldn’t dream of belonging to any other church!

 

“How to be a great Apostolic Bible teacher”

Learn from your pastor. He will be your best mentor.

 

“Things Done at Pentecostal Church”

Here is a link to a “What to Expect” page for an Apostolic church. It lists what you can expect and where we find it in the Bible. http://www.auburnfpc.com/about/what-to-expect

 

“Facial hair in the Pentecostal Church”

The Bible does not specifically say anything for or against facial hair for the church. Many churches preach against it because it was a symbol of rebellion during the 60s and can be a point of contention and vanity. This varies from church to church though and some pastors may have different insight into it. If you belong to a local congregation I encourage you to ask your pastor his opinion on it.

 

“Do Pentecostals eat pork?”

Yes. Unless they are vegetarian. Or don’t want to.

 

“Is it bad if I don’t like being around Pentecostal people?”

It’s more so sad. Ask yourself why. Keep in mind that one or two Pentecostals do not make up the entire faith and that if you don’t particularly enjoy the company of some Apostolics doesn’t mean you don’t like being around any of them! Seek out other friendships in the church and I guarantee you’ll find some more pleasant to be around than others,

 

“If you’re Apostolic why can you feel God some days and not others?”

Emotions tend to rule us many times. The Bible says the heart is deceitful. God will not forsake you, we know that. Sometimes the feeling can be a result of stress, depression, unrepentant sin, or just a time of testing. Many strong men and women of God in the Bible went through periods where they couldn’t feel God. Keep living for Him, praying, doing what you need to do and trust Him that you will feel Him again. Don’t be afraid to seek counsel from your pastor and strength from your brothers and sisters at the church.

 

Have other questions? Ask them in the comments below!

(Debates and non-biblical matter of fact responses will NOT be approved. This is not a debate forum.)

Why I Left the Apostolic Pentecostal Church

I have seen many people write blog posts and websites explaining why they are no longer a part of the Apostolic Pentecostal church (also known as the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI), Worldwide Pentecostal Fellowship (WPF), or the Oneness/Jesus-Only Church). So I decided it was time that I write about why I left the Apostolic Pentecostal church as well.

My only request is this: if you choose to read part of this post that you read all of it.

I was determined I would be an Apostolic Pentecostal til the day I died. I loved the church, I loved living the holiness lifestyle, I loved the Bible, I loved God.

But one day the discussions started. Some family members showed me several reasons why the Apostolic Pentecostal church was wrong and why I shouldn’t worry about being associated with them anymore. And one day, I reasoned, “They’re right.” So I left the Apostolic Pentecostal church. Here’s why:

-Apostolic Pentecostals believe that one must have the Acts 2:38 experience (that is, repenting of your sins, being baptized in the name of Jesus, and receiving the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues). I firmly believed this too and had experienced this and seen others experience this. However, my family members pointed out to me that for someone to say you have to follow what this verse says in order to be saved is ludicrous; “God loves everybody and wants everybody to be saved,” they said. And I reasoned, It’s true. God does love everybody and wants everybody to be saved. That’s what the Bible says.

– “If you’re female, they make you wear skirts and don’t let you cut your hair. If you’re a guy, they make you cut your hair. God looks at the heart,” they told me, and I thought, You’re right, God does look at the heart. That’s what the Bible says.

– “They also don’t let you watch tv, drink, wear jewelry or makeup, etc. Do you really think God wants you to not have fun? God is still going to love you if you do those things.” They’re right. God does want me to enjoy life and He will still love me. That’s what the Bible says.

– I later heard from another person, after I had already left the Apostolic Pentecostal church, that a problem with them is that they reject the trinity. Now, having grown up Apostolic Pentecostal I wasn’t aware that people believed differently about God than I had always been taught, but when they said this I thought, Ok, I need to look into this.

– Apostolic Pentecostals believe that anybody who does not follow the plan of salvation that they do is not saved. Well, that’s small mindedness, I thought.

With all these things together, it only made sense that I left the Apostolic Pentecostal church.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Now that you know the reasons I left, I find it only fair that I give the reasons I CAME BACK:

A year after I left the church I started a downward spiral of depression. I knew there had to be more to life. I questioned if God even existed (for if He did, why did He allow bad things to happen?). So I started seeking. I looked into several religions: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, agnosticism (not much to learn about that one), once I was even invited to join a group of people in going to the desert in Texas to find UFOs and try and contact extraterrestrials (you think I’m kidding but I’m not. Thank God I had enough sense to cut those people off immediately after the invite).

None of those made sense to me. I had experienced God’s love. I had known what it was like to stand in God’s presence. I had seen miraculous healings. I had seen people get the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. I had been baptized in Jesus name and remembered the feeling when I came up out of the water. God was real. And the only true God was Jesus.

Ok, so I had it settled that Jesus is God, no doubt about it. But now I was faced with the reality that there were many denominations out there–many churches full of people who love God and whom God loves. Yet, many of them teach different things. God cannot be controlling like those Apostolic Pentecostals were, I thought, so I knew I had to get into the Bible and find out what it really says so I could find a church that preaches what the Bible actually says.

So I started reading the Bible and researching many denominations, where they came from, who decided what they would teach, what do they teach, etc.

And what I found out was this:

-Most denominations and churches preach that the Bible is infallible and that Christians should follow it.

-The ONLY denomination I could find that taught that the Acts 2:38 experience was necessary for salvation was the Apostolic Pentecostal Church. So though the Bible says that unless one is born of the water and Spirit he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God, all denominations but the Apostolic Pentecostal church preached that baptism was optional and not necessary.

-The Bible does in fact, teach that we should repent of our sins (and none of the major denominations disputed this). It also teaches that we should be baptized by water in the name of God–that is, Jesus (Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38. Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5, I Peter 3:21) and baptized with the Holy Spirit (or “filled with the Holy Ghost”). John 3:5- “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Many scriptures throughout the book of Acts show that the one sign that accompanied the believers who were filled with the Spirit was tongues (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6).

-The ONLY denomination I could find that taught that receiving the Holy Spirit was an experience distinct from the moment you believe in God was the Apostolic Pentecostal Church. And yet,  Paul asked in Acts 19:2, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”

So my family was right, God does love everybody and wants everybody to be saved. But they were wrong to say that what the Bible says is necessary for salvation is not necessary. And sadly, most churches are saying it is not necessary as well.

– The Apostolic Pentecostal church does teach that women should dress like women and men dress like men, and that women should have long hair and men short hair. So my family was right. They do teach this. Why is that a problem? The Bible teaches about apparel in Deuteronomy 22:5. I Corinthians 11 teaches about cutting or not cutting hair. Sadly, many churches do not teach these verses. I wanted to attend a church that did.

Furthermore, I will say this (because someone will undoubtedly make a “that’s legalism” comment) i have never been to an A.P.C. that forced someone to do something. I’m not really sure how they could force someone. Furthermore, I’ve never been in a church that did not allow someone to attend because they didn’t follow a “dress code”. A pastor teaches the Bible; it is up to the believer to confirm the teaching in the Word and follow it. No pastor can force anyone to do something.

– The Apostolic Pentecostal church teaches that Christians ought not to drink, watch TV, wear makeup or jewelry. These are referred to as “holiness standards” and they do vary from church to church. As mentioned above, though, a pastor cannot force someone to do or not do something and I have yet to see someone shunned for not following any of these. But that said, my family was right. The church does teach this. But what’s the problem? The Bible refers to drunkenness as a sin, teaches us to not “set any wicked thing before mine eyes”, teaches us that we should dress modestly and not draw attention to ourselves. And few churches I looked into outside of the Apostolic Pentecostal church taught these principles. If we truly believe the Bible is infallible don’t we want to go to churches that preach the entire Bible?

An added note here: When one comes to God the outward should not be the initial focus; the initial focus should be the inward (getting your heart right and following the commands for salvation: repentance, baptism in Jesus name, infilling of the Holy Ghost). Outward holiness will follow. And Apostolic churches teach this.

– The Apostolic Pentecostal church rejects the idea of the Trinity. This is a major reason I would not join any church but the Apostolic Pentecostal church. The Bible does not teach the idea of the trinity. The word “trinity” isn’t even in the Bible. Neither are the terms “God the Son,” or “God the Holy Ghost”. Apostolic Pentecostals believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but they believe according to the Bible: “These three are one.” There is but one God. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” Isaiah 9:6 prophesied that Jesus would be called “The Everlasting Father”.

You might read articles by other people claiming that the idea of one God instead of the trinity is a new idea, or that baptism in Jesus name is a new idea, started only in the late 1800s. This is not true. The early church recorded in Acts taught this, churches throughout time taught this (and many people were persecuted for doing so). The trinity doctrine was not instituted until 325 A.D.

– The Apostolic Pentecostal church believes that people are not saved unless they follow the same plan of salvation (Repentance, Baptism in Jesus Name, receiving the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues). Galatians 1:8 says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Apostolic Pentecostals are called Apostolic Pentecostals because they follow the teachings of the Apostles and know that what happened on the Day of Pentecost still happens today.

Sadly, many churches don’t teach what the Apostles did. But there are churches that do. And that is why I came back to an Apostolic Pentecostal church.

Hide-n-Seek With Jesus

The best games of hide-n-seek are always played when mom and dad are away and the kids have the run of the house–literally. No one to stop you from scaling the stairs to get to home base safely or to tell you to slow down when you’re dashing from one hiding place to another as “It” goes from room to room to find you.

This particular night I was playing with my little brother who was 11 and my sisters who were 7 and 6. Rachel, the youngest, was “It”. To make sure she counted right we would set the timer on the oven, tell her to wait in dad’s recliner until it beeped, and then come upstairs and find us.

After playing several rounds the hiding spots were getting harder to find and as I went from one place to another trying to find somewhere she wouldn’t look I discovered I was out of time. The timer was beeping and Rachel was coming. Quickly I climbed onto the bathroom counter and sat there in the dark. No doubt she would find me but hey, at least it was worth the shot.

I heard her open the hall closet and look. Nothing. I heard her go into the first bedroom. Nothing. I held my breath. Logically, she would come into the bathroom next as it was the next room in the hallway. In she walked. And would you believe it–she walked straight to the shower, looked behind the curtain–and then turned around and walked right back out of the bathroom without even noticing me! I was the last of the three to be found that round and as I sat there on the counter waiting for her to come find me it occurred to me: how much is this like God?

He is always with us and yet sometimes, because we so expect Him to be in the places we suppose He ought to be, we fail to see Him right in front of us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In Jeremiah 29:13 we read, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Now, while we know that the Bible was written to specific people it was also written for all of mankind to come. Therefore, the promises given were not only for those present when written but also for us today. If we seek Him with all of our being we will find Him.

I remember I struggled with this concept for many years because I kept hearing the phrase “seek God’ when I would pray for direction but I never fully understood what it meant. One night before church many years ago I knelt down and prayed in my mind, “God, I need direction tonight. I don’t know what you want me to do with my life and I don’t know what next step to take. Please show me.” As the evangelist, Bro. Don Stewart, closed the service and gave the invitation to pray at the altar he said, “I don’t know who this is for but feel like God is telling me to say this. Someone here has asked God for direction tonight and this is what He wants you to know: seek Him and His will will come to pass.”

About a year later I found myself alone at my church one night praying, asking God again, “God, where would you have me to go now? What do you want me to do in this stage of my life?” As the night wore on and as I prayed I felt an urge to grab my Bible and turn to Jeremiah 29. I brushed it off because I’m not a big fan of opening the Bible and assuming God is speaking from wherever we turn to (imagine being depressed and opening the Bible to where Judas kills himself!) After about 20 minutes of trying to push the thought out of my mind to read this particular chapter of the BIble I finally gave in and read it; “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Another year or so went by and I found myself wondering again, what’s next? What will I do once I graduate from college? I had attended a live webinar class one afternoon and my professor, B.J. Wilmoth, had taught on the topic of seeking God. As I cleaned later that night it kept running through my mind, “What does it mean to seek God? Pray? Read the Bible? Live Holy? What does seeking God really mean?” So I emailed him and asked him what his opinion was on what that really meant. I never got an email back from him that night but about an hour later as I was listening to a sermon by Rev. Carl Ballestero on Holy Ghost Radio I heard him preaching scriptures about seeking God. And no joke he said, “And some people might wonder what it means to seek God. Well, I’ll tell you what it means to seek God. It means to want Him more than anything else in your life.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So are we truly seeking God?

-Asa and the people of Judah sought God in a time of rest (II Chronicles 14); is God still front and center when things are at their best?

-David sought the Lord amidst his fears (Psalm 34); is He still our focus when things are at their worst? Do we see Him even when the shadows overwhelm us?

-The apostles sought God during a time of waiting (Acts 1); do we desire God more than anything in periods of waiting? Do we still see His hands on our lives when we don’t understand His timing?

Just like Rachel had assumed that if someone was hiding in the bathroom they would be behind the shower curtain, we tend to think that if God is anywhere near our lives He must be where we expect Him to be–blessing us, protecting us from any bad thing in life, giving us our wants (in addition to our needs). This isn’t always the case, though. Life happens. We live in a fallen world. Chaos may surround us but it doesn’t mean God is not beside us. God may not be where we want Him to be but He is exactly where we need Him to be.

Will we continue to seek Him when He isn’t where we think He should be? When so many things happen and our eyes get off of our blessings, do we still want God more than anything? When we have all that we think we could ever want, is God still #1 on that list of desires? When we are struggling and fighting spiritual battles and don’t understand His ways, is He still the first and foremost thing we want?

Are we truly seeking God?

If not, what is stopping us? Remember He said, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” He’s waiting. It’s never too late to look again.

The Promise Journal

Though I saw her mention it on Facebook before I hadn’t given it much thought until this week. My pastor’s wife keeps a notebook full of promises she finds in the Bible; this was a practice her mom had that she began doing, too. 

Having struggled with getting back on track with studying the Bible and even worse, struggling with feeling God and believing His promises, I needed to find a way to make the Word come alive to me again.

So I took up this practice of writing down the promises of God. So far I’ve been doing this for only two days but, six pages later, I already feel like I’m reconnecting with God. Maybe more in the past three days than I have for several weeks.

I believe she writes them down as she reads; I’m more of a topical person (though I do believe everyone should read the entire Bible!). So what I do is make lists of ten verses for each topic–as you might have seen on some other blog posts of mine. I also underline key words so when I glance through it I don’t just see a bunch of writing but the verses will pop out to me based on key words.

I want to encourage my readers to try this for a week. Write down a few verses everyday for a week and see how you feel at the end. I strongly think you’ll keep doing it even longer than that!

The journal pictured below on the left is my pastor’s wife’s…the one on the right is mine. 

photo.JPG

10 Reminders that God Cares for Us

Isaiah 49:15 – Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

I Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Psalm 55:22 – Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:28 – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Psalm 121:2-3 – My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Psalm 8:4 – What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Matthew 10:30-31 – But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

 

Baptism: An Open Dialogue

Last year at the fair a church had a stand where if you took their one-minute Bible quiz you would get a dollar. Now the only thing I like more than free money is talking about God so this was a winner. I stepped up to the tent where two older teens greeted me. I believe their names were Jessica and Benjamin. 

They started by asking me a few trick Bible questions like, “How many of each animal did Moses take on the Ark?” And “how many commandments did Noah have?” etc. 

They then asked me to name the Ten Commandments. I started singing the Ten Commandment Boogie by GoFish (we just taught it to the kids at VBS two weeks prior so I had this one down!)

They  then asked, “Do you think you’ve done what you need to do to be saved?”

“Yes,” I said.

“You got this one wrong,” they said. “Jesus dying on the cross saved you. Nothing you could do saves you.”

“You’re right. Jesus dying on the cross is the only thing that saved me. However, salvation is a covenant God wants to make with us. Not everyone has agreed to that. The Bible specifically says there are things you must do to be saved, like get the Holy Spirit and be baptized in Jesus’ name. I’ve done what the Bible says is required to be saved.”

“Baptism doesn’t save you, it’s just a way to publicly profess your faith,” said Jessica.

“Then why did Jesus say that unless a man is born of the water and Spirit he will not enter into the kingdom of God? Or why, when the people in Acts asked what they had to do in response to the preaching on Jesus Peter told them to repent and be baptized in Jesus name and that they would be filled with the Holy Ghost?”

“God wants us to do those things but they aren’t necessary for salvation,” Jessica replied.

Benjamin got up and went to go talk to one of the adults on the other side of the tent.

“Jessica,” I said, “Do you think that once someone is saved then they’ll be saved forever?”

“Um,” she started.

“Like, if someone gives their life to God and then decides one day I don’t want to follow the Bible anymore and goes out and lives however he wants, maybe does drugs, kills someone, etc. Is he still saved?”

“No.”

“Okay, so you do agree that we have to try our best to follow the Bible to be saved.”

“Yeah.”

“So would you say that if the Bible clearly tells us to do something and we don’t do it, then we are sinning?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So if the Bible says to be baptized in the name of Jesus and we don’t do that, then we are sinning?”

“Yes.”

“And you said that you didn’t think that if someone was deliberately disobeying the Bible that they would be saved, right? Because they’re deliberately sinning?”

“Mhm.”

“So if someone doesn’t get baptized and they know the Bible says to, then they are purposefully sinning. And that means they’re not saved?”

“Yeah.”

“So would you say someone has to be baptized to be saved, like Jesus told Nicodemus and like Peter preached to the crowds in Acts?”

“Yeah, I guess you do.”

10 Reminders that God will Not Forsake Us

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” -Hebrews 13:5c

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” -II Corinthians 4:8-9

“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” -Psalm 9:10

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” -Psalm 37:25

“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” -Isaiah 62:4

“And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” -Isaiah 62:12

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

“And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” -Joshua 1:5

“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” -Matthew 28:20b