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Who Shall Roll Us Away The Stone?

Apr 20th, 2018

Paul Mooney

 

 

by Paul Mooney

“And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” (Mark 16:3).

It was a “great stone” that sealed the tomb, and those coming early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet spices were discussing the obvious question: “Who could roll it away?” It was an obstruction and a stumbling block – a hindrance against what they had come to do. The stone had to be moved.

This is, in essence, the same question that faces the Church today. There are obstacles that seem to keep us from completing the calling and purpose upon our lives and ministries, and it is easy to feel defeated against such great obstructions. So we question, “Who will roll away the stone?”

Christians, especially in Western culture, are living in a new era of anti-Christian opposition and moral decay, much of which is sustained by extreme political agendas, an educational system dominated by liberal biases, and an amoral entertainment industry. The consequences for sharing one’s testimony, public witnessing, and praying in schools are disconcerting. It is alarming to observe many in public office so lightly suggest changes to our laws that will suppress or even eliminate the religious freedoms upon which this country was founded. Christians are more and more reluctant to acknowledge their belief in Christ for fear of losing employers, business relationships, friends and family. This tension-filled atmosphere becomes a stumbling block even among Spirit-filled believers. And sadly, it’s not just those in the secular world that are taking a casual response to the floodtide of carnality, worldliness and compromise.

The world is downplaying the ignorance and wickedness that pervades modern life. It is not a small thing. Just a few days ago, we remember the shooting in a public school in Florida that killed 17 people, the majority of them just teenagers. The staggering number of friends and family who are ignoring God’s sovereignty and turning away from the values of faithfulness, righteousness and holiness should cause us concern. Satanic oppression is increasing, as are false prophets. We should ponder carefully what we would be without the infilling of the Holy Ghost. What will we be without a firm belief in the Bible as the inspired “Word of God”? George Steiner of Cambridge University wrote: “Bible literacy is passing quickly in the deep freeze of academicism.” This is a dangerous thing — let us not be so callous to believe that we as Apostolics are isolated from the effect of this societal transformation.

We must ponder, “Who shall roll us away the stone?” We cannot be deceived into the arrogant belief that by our human might or power we can do much to counteract great evil. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Let us humbly approach our callings and our challenges and the pressing need for revival. “Who can roll away the stone?”

Self-reliance traps us in our own abilities and ideas. No matter how sincere the attempt, merely applying our knowledge of the latest secular business strategies, implementing great marketing plans or imitating corporate leadership schemes will not move the great stone. I am not suggesting that we not strive for excellence and professionalism, but that alone cannot be the goal. It cannot take precedence over the Spirit. Men do not possess the answers or know the way, but we do know if we act outside the wisdom of the Spirit, we will be lost.

The Church will not move the stone of confusion, wickedness and sin by imitating the world’s entertainment and the world’s methodology.

Consider this poignant quote from Justice William O. Douglas written in 1976. “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

We know that night comes. But Jesus is the light of the world and the light of our lives. Our strength lies only in the anointing and power of the Holy Ghost. Have faith!

“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great” (Mark 16:4).

Lion Lights

Apr 3rd, 2018

Robert L. Rodenbush

 

 

by Robert Rodenbush

Richard Turere, like many Masai Tribe boys in Kenya, was sent to guard and herd his family’s cattle at just age nine. Protecting the cattle and livestock is an important job in this area of Africa, as these valuable animals represent the majority of the family’s livelihood and survival. At night the cattle are corralled into small fenced areas called “bomas” and are particularly vulnerable to attack by larger, predatory animals that roam the plains of this spectacular country. Turere particularly hated lions. The hungry animals would often find their way into the bomas to attack and eat the goats, sheep and cows that his family depended on.

In 2013, Turere was brought to the United States to deliver a TED Talk discussing his creative solution to his problem with lions. Turere had tried many things to keep the lions away. He tried building a roaring fire, he made a scarecrow but nothing was working. So Turere, who loved tinkering and taking apart radios, fans and other electrical gadgets and household objects, made a great discovery. Turere invented “lion lights.” He rigged his fencing with flashlights, solar lights and other pieces of scrap that kept light moving around to different areas of the pin, so to the lions it looked like someone was there at all times. It was quite a discovery and families all over Kenya began to use the idea to save their animals.

The very idea that an American father would send his son to guard an animal against a lion is foreign to us. But the Masai teach their sons at a very early age to defend their property and fight off intruders. As we move into darker and darker times, and as the enemy tries his best to come after our precious children, it becomes imperative that we teach them to fight and guard against the enemy.

A scarecrow representation of our faith will not fool the enemy. Simply setting up something that looks like the Spirit is not going to work. And, a fire in our hearts is good, but unless we get it moving in our hearts, in our families and in our churches it will be of little consequence. We transfer the Apostolic message and the fire of the Spirit to the next generation. They must have a real, moving, life-changing experience with the Holy Ghost.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Is it Better to Call Ourselves Simply “Christians”?

Mar 27th, 2018

Bobby Killmon

 

 

by Bobby Killmon

A new convert asked, if the Pentecostal movement has only come into existence in the past two centuries, why should we call ourselves Pentecostal? Wouldn’t it be better to call ourselves simply Christians?

First of all, there has always been an Apostolic Church. Further, the NT Church was started on the day of Pentecost (this is why we use the term Pentecostal) and was led by the Apostles whom Christ chose (which is why we say we are Apostolic). You cannot be “of Christ” without following the Apostles doctrine.

There are a few great resources to show there’s always been a Church that stood for what the Apostles defined as necessary for anyone to be saved (repentance, baptism in Jesus name, and the infilling of the Spirit evidenced initially by speaking in tongues). From Jerusalem to Great Britain shows this well, even citing three Popes that endorsed Jesus name baptism. Marvin Arnold’s Apostolic History Timeline shows the same type of evidence. Thomas Weisser’s book After the Way Called Heresy is a short but good resource as well. History clearly shows multiple examples of this. For example, Martin Luther, in his work the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, discusses some baptizing in Jesus name. Or when we see multiple times where Catholic leadership is trying to “reign in” monks who dare to “baptize in the name of Jesus only” throughout the Middle Ages. This clearly shows the truth of God having an Apostolic witness throughout Church history. There is always a faithful remnant somewhere, even if it got down to just eight souls in Noah’s day.

Stone with Jesus written on it

It really is true that other man-made doctrines came later and are not original to the Bible (the trinity, being saved at repentance only, infant baptism, sprinkling as opposed to immersion, praying to Mary, communion as necessary for salvation, etc.). Many have rejected salvation which God gave us on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and “do church” in a way foreign to the way the Apostles did. This is why we define ourselves as Apostolic Pentecostals. It simply means we are biblical Christians. There are others who reject reading and implementing the Bible in a way that’s true to Jesus and the Apostles, and even their name gives this away (Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc.).

The term Christian is so widely used today; even other groups define themselves by other terms. It helps identify what’s important to them, and this enables us to state beliefs clearly when we share our beliefs with friends. Even non-denominational means something as a term. There is a criterion to call yourself that. So these are short-cut ways to define ourselves theologically. They’re helpful to start meaningful conversations about what each person who uses the term Christian believes. If the term Christian wasn’t misused to represent views that remove people from what Jesus endorsed and the God-ordained Apostles taught, then the term Christian would be enough. It was in biblical times but that’s because they were Apostolic in doctrine and Pentecostal in experience.

We Will Become One Thing Or The Other

Mar 7th, 2018

Paul Mooney

 

 

by Paul Mooney

Abraham Lincoln, kicking off his campaign for the United States Senate on June 16, 1858, presented a radical statement. The speech is noted in Donald T. Phillips recently authored book, Lincoln on Leadership for Today. Lincoln had chosen an expression from Mark 3:25 to describe the state of the Republic at that moment. His campaign managers were advising him against the possibly inflammatory remarks. With conviction, he responded to their hesitancy: “The proposition is indisputably true, and I will deliver it as written.”

“‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.Lincoln memoral It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

Phillips described Lincoln’s address as “bold, morally courageous” for the time. I believe there is a possible application to Lincoln’s remarks that we need to consider. I am hoping that our dear readers will take my thoughts as an appeal to contemplate the consequences of disunity as a matter that determines our ability as a body to succeed together. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation” (Matthew 12:25).

The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out the devil by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Jesus responds by saying, do you really think the devil is divided against himself? “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). Therefore, there is no cooperation with the devil’s agenda. The objectives are incompatible. Bible commentator John Phillips says on this passage, “(Jesus) argued that what the Pharisees had just said in their jealous rage was inconceivable, inconsistent, and incongruous.”

Kingdoms divided against themselves fall. Division destroys all kingdoms, all nations, all churches, all businesses, and all families. However, Lincoln’s fear was not that the country would be dissolved necessarily, but that it would unite under slavery.American Flag on a fence As he put it, “It will become all one thing or all the other.” Because, only in some position of unity or agreement could the nation go forward. Unity was and is necessary to survive. Allowing disunity, especially as it pertained to this issue, was an accommodation of evil, and a half-free America was not a free America at all.
To ignore the division or the division’s cause was a step closer to destruction.

Note Jude’s admonition: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Contend for that “one” faith. Lincoln might put it this way — if we don’t stay unified under that “one” faith we will unify as something else. Eventually, if we haven’t already, our movement will decide – we will either be unified as Oneness, holiness, believers of the essentiality of Jesus’ name baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost or it will cease to unite us — and we will be something else.

One of Lincoln’s most profound quotes, in my collection, is this:  “Pulling people back from the extremes is one of the most difficult jobs a leader can undertake, Presidents in particular.” As a pastor, friend and an organizational servant, I have found that the possibility of pulling someone back from an extreme position doctrinally or ethically is exceedingly difficult. Often to my sorrow and failure. The spark of disunity must be addressed immediately or we risk the flame of destruction. We cannot accommodate dualities for too long in our thinking, our expressions of faith – we won’t pull it back.

We do indeed “become one thing or the other.” On the command of Acts 2:38, holiness, worldliness, the matter of the Godhead and so on, we become one thing or the other. The prophet Amos put it another way: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)

Raising Counter-Cultural Kids

Mar 6th, 2018

Jaye M. Rodenbush

 

 

by Jaye Rodenbush

Youth culture is incredibly fast moving. The news, trends, fashion and the digital media that accompanies it all are purposely fluid and difficult to track. Even the most dutiful researchers, parents and pastors are behind before they even realize it. It is a moving target of influence that is molding and shaping the minds and hearts of our children and young adults.

Discussing current events can be difficult as the 24-hour news cycle and a content-obsessed society moves from one crisis to the next so quickly that it makes events seemingly irrelevant before they can even be properly processed. For example, in January of 2018, six teenagers took their own lives in one small rural school district in Ohio. It has been labeled “suicide contagion,” and the phenomenon is a growing concern.

It seems we are witnessing the act of suicide becoming contagious among young people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that since 2007 the rate of suicide has doubled among children ages 10 to 14. The CDC also states that overdose deaths among teens doubled between 1999-2015, and this number is only predicted to rise. But . . . the news cycle passed, America shed a collective tear and returned to its media obsessions.Monochromatic picture of man looking out window

Instead of examining the social factors at work in many of these tragedies, it seems that television, media, celebrities in movies and music are dedicated to normalizing “alternative” lifestyles. A great number of Americans are determined to push ahead the extreme social experimentation with an arrogant bias that assumes and dismisses the potential for destruction that will accompany it. So transgenderism, polyamory, homosexuality, multi-sexuality are portrayed to our children as equally valid and morally equivalent to the Judeo/Christian values our country was founded on, despite evidence that these social groups suffer greatly from depression, mental illness and are at great risk for suicide.

Lest we think these things are just a passing fad, or over-dramatized topics that won’t really change our culture, a recent survey found that young people are moving toward the middle when it comes to sexual attraction and nearly a third of young Americans now see themselves somewhere in between 100% heterosexual and 100% homosexual (Time, March 2017).

This generation is being offered few counterbalances to the digital and social status quo. There is a deep sense of powerlessness against this revolution and it is likely why so many leaders and parents simply choose to ignore the crisis altogether. We ignore the devastation and the immorality. We try not to see the desperate emptiness found in the hollow eyes of the teenagers who mutilate their bodies with tattoos and piercings. All the while, Satan keeps us distracted and distressed by the cares of life, luring us into obligations that don’t really matter until we are consumed by our own business and busyness.

What frightens me most is the possibility that we will assume that these issues won’t affect “our” kids. I fear that the desire for our kids to stay current, trendy, and not perceived as too “Pentecostal” will lure us into complacency. So…our kids will be exposed to these same influences, offered unguarded access to social media, secular music and movies and we will foolishly expect that the enemy won’t use this opportunity to sway them from the altar to the alternative.

In the book, “How to Raise an American,” authors Myrna Blyth and Chriss Winston talk about a startling statistic. When asked, “one in four young Americans under thirty say they would rather live in another country.” In response, they quote Theodore Roosevelt, “We want to make our children feel that the mere fact of being Americans makes them better off…this is not to blind us at all to our own shortcomings; we ought steadily to try to correct them; but we have absolutely no grounds to work on if we don’t have a firm and ardent Americanism at the bottom of everything” (Random House, 2007).  Similarly, our kids must have a firm and ardent Apostolic Pentecostalism at the core of everything if we have a hope of making them want to continue to live an Apostolic life. We cannot merely assume they will love this way; we must do our best to teach them to do so.

Father walking toddlerWe have got to work every day to educate our children’s minds against the deluge of anti-Christian indoctrination that they are facing. The enemy has come in like a flood and it is our job as parents to start bailing the water from out of the minds and hearts of our kids. Nearly everything about living a Christian life goes against the politically correct mindset of America today. We are asking our kids to live completely counter-culturally.

This is no easy task. It means they have to reject most of the ideology that comes with public education. It means they have to reject the immorality and depravity of media and entertainment. It means they will not fit in. It means they will stand out. They will be different. They will be targeted for ridicule. They will face opposition. It’s a complete war for their mind. They need answers to hard questions. They need support and guidance.

We cannot wait until we are brought to our knees to get on our knees and pray. We’ve got to pray for our families, our children, and our nation. Pray a hedge of protection around them physically and mentally. Pray they can walk in peace, not in trepidation. Pray that they receive spiritual discernment, that they may see for themselves what is good and what is evil. Pray that they have the courage to reject the enemy’s attempt to define decency, modesty, morality completely downward until there is no decency, modesty, or morality at all. We must pray that they have a boldness of heart and passionate spirits that help them to indeed live counter-culturally, without embarrassment or shame. Pray they learn to love the Oneness doctrine, to love scripture, to develop their own commitment to holiness and separation from the world.

This will not be accomplished without great diligence. It will require us to guard our homes from carnality and worldliness. It will require that we put them into a church environment that allows them to really feel and be touched by the Holy Spirit. They need the power and anointing that comes with a true infilling of the Holy Ghost – this essential experience cannot be substituted for emotionalism. It cannot be manufactured or imitated. It cannot be fabricated by worship that glorifies personalities rather than Christ. It cannot be carnally replicated or contrived without repentance, conviction and conversion. That is our job: to teach, love, train, talk and to be sure we take them to where we know they can be spiritually fed, nurtured and led by spiritual authority. But, ultimately, we must remember it is their walk with God and we must yield our desires for their lives and their accomplishments to His direction and His calling.

“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

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