Running wild?

“Elephants belong only in the wild…”

“They let that child run wild…”

“I am just wild about Cajun cuisine…”

Wild cherry trees dot the edge of our wood line…”

“Wild” brings images to mind of roaming free and being master of one’s own destiny,  being uncontrolled and undisciplined, being enthusiastic past the point of ordinary constraints, or simply being sheltered from the effects of human hands. It certainly has its good and bad connotations. Here are some to ponder.

Flowering beauties

Our family loves roses.  I recall the running variety in the edge of our yard when I was a child. They seemed to bloom just in time for Mother’s Day year after year, providing this little girl the means of presenting Mom a bouquet of her favorite flowers.  Those faithful plants forged a special place in my heart.  Years passed, we moved, others had that home. Eventually, though, I moved back to an adjoining piece of land and built a home of my own.

On my place lies a spot where another home once stood — one that was torn down and gone before my living memory.  Nothing was really there to show for it except a couple of large pecan trees that rarely brought forth usable pecans any more. As the first seasons rolled by on our land recently reclaimed from hedges and brambles, I began to see evidence of that long-gone family’s preference for flowers:  multitudinous shoots of crepe myrtle,  enthusiastic daffodils and narcissus, and wild running roses.  Each Spring I get another glimpse of what is left of their well-tended garden, as a few rose and crepe myrtle blooms peek through the wild hedges that threaten to crowd out everything but their own bland greenery.

Those plants have persisted possibly a hundred years, getting such soil-nutrients, water, and sunlight as are available to glean.  They grow, they put on leaves, they bloom, they shed, they winter, they start over.  Nature allows them to do that.

A couple of years after I moved here, my mother settled on land she owned next door. Her home now sits just across the drive from that old home place. A couple of Mother’s Days ago, my nephew’s family gave her a two rose bushes and carefully planted them by the front steps. They exploded with red roses this year and brought her much joy as she admired them from her easy chair through the glass storm door. She was able to savor their beauty well into what should have been Fall around here.

This past weekend, I noticed the floppy appearance of the bushes.  I’m no gardener, but my nephew was there while I assessed what was needed, and gave me some tips for bringing out their beauty again. I put a pair of clippers to them and began to drop stems and leaves in a somewhat orderly pattern.  When I was done, there were lots of snips on the ground, and less of the plants to be seen.

The process

Pruning is a common practice for people with a green thumb (which I do not claim to have).  But thinking of its parallels in our own lives, imagine with me for a moment if they were literally conscious and able to communicate as we doWhat would those plants have said if they could have talked? Would they express their preference be left to themselves as their cousins in the woods nearby? If they were capable of getting away would they have stood still for this pruning process? In a few weeks, the result of that bit of tending, paired with some fertilizer and weed-pulling,  will hopefully be evident, barring some damaging event. A balanced, controlled beauty is expected to emerge.

There are those who believe their highest end in life, even in living for God, is to be their own person, to do their own thing, to follow the path they believe is good, not to have someone telling them what to do differently.  Sure, they realize they should go to church (in some cases), and that having someone expound on the way to do better is worth some of their time. But to see themselves with a need to have one with the authority vested by God speak into their lives goes deeply against their grain. Submitting themselves to one who would possibly advise against the direction  they are headed would seem particularly grievous, especially if they believe they are serving God in what they are doing. The value of hearing one whose God-given responsibility it is to tell them of actions that will bring undesired results if not altered is simply not a path they value.  Perhaps such people view that option as only for the weak, for those unable to find their own way without help. If the truth be known, that tendency runs inside any of us who are truly human. It’s all in what we do with it, though, that matters.

The Word of God warns us repeatedly that this is a tendency to be fought, rather than to be hailed as the mark of true greatness.  No more than the plants in our gardens can reach their full potential without a gardener to tend them can a man or woman be what God intended for them to be in the Kingdom without one to tend their souls. And my friend, that can’t all be about enhancing the soil for nourishment and watering in just the right amount, though we surely enjoy those times.  We must realize our need to have some things addressed in our hearts — to receive the pruning that only can be administered by the preached Word of God being delivered to us under the anointing of the very God who gave that Word to men He chose to have write it under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

It isn’t for the faint of heart to watch what may have been your favorite “branch” — thought, idea, or plan — fall useless and discredited onto the ground beside you as the Word goes forth and challenges what you felt so good about in your own heart and mind.  It helps to keep in mind that “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)  “Every way of man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) What we most need to hear, we will not tell ourselves.  What we most need to receive, we will not see by simply looking into the Word on our own — we’re simply not capable of being that honest with ourselves. We require a gardener, a God-given pastor, to watch and care for our souls.  How can we trust someone to do that? It is clear that not everyone who claims the title of “preacher” or “pastor” has our soul’s best interest at heart. What are we to do? How do we discern who is looking out for our interests not just their own?

How it works

Please understand that the anointing that produces the true “surgery” our souls crave cannot be produced outside the context of fully submitting to the gospel that was once delivered to the saints through the preaching of the Apostles.  That is the foundation from which we must begin to build. I emphasize this point, because I want it to be clear as to what type of preaching I am referring. If a man who is called a preacher of the gospel will not first find and obey the original gospel (Acts 2:38), he has no right to address my need for being shaped and formed into the godly person I was intended to be.  (Paul said, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7). This may be a new concept for you,  one you’ve previously considered and rejected, or one you’re curious to know more about.

It starts with doctrine, though often we are geared to think that shouldn’t be brought into the discussion among people comparing their religious experiences.  But notice how changes in the doctrine officially recognized by the Church paralleled other changes that were not for the better. Most people would agree that things are not the same as they were in the early church.  A few who have studied the record of that time, as contained in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles,  notice that early baptisms were done in the name of Jesus, not in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Few realize that the departure from this was not approved, allowed, or even intended by Jesus or the Apostles, who all prophesied and warned that after their departure many would come preaching another doctrine. Paul goes on to say in Galatians, “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.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

Doesn’t it follow that we should be absolutely sure that what Paul, Peter, and the others preached, we would stand for and cling to?  If Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom for his revelation received that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, shouldn’t his words and direction about salvation be the absolute standard we measure our doctrine by? Acts chapters 2, 8, 10, and 19 contain accounts of actual baptisms that were all done, directed and commanded to be done, in the name of Jesus.  Paul re-baptized believers in Ephesus who had not yet received the Holy Ghost, though they had been baptized unto John’s baptism. He insisted that baptism was necessary for the completion of their salvation, and that it be done in Jesus’ name, and when they obeyed this they were filled with the Holy Ghost.  Does your pastor insist on that? How does Galatians 1:8-9 indicate that departure from this teaching is viewed?

Who’s cutting?

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,  of the joints and marrow,  and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 11:12) If we are to sit under the authority of someone with the task of wielding the sword of the Word in our lives, do we really want that sword in the hands of one who won’t receive that most basic of revelations about what God has designed for His church? It is not my intention to offend, but neither is it my intention to be vague about where one should find their direction for living for God.

I was not raised in this type of church. My earliest faith memories are of a denominational church with teachings I’ve referred to above that were from offshoots of the original apostles doctrine. Did I have a sense that walking with God is what I needed to do? Yes, but how to do that was the question.  God worked to bring me to a time of seeing that the way of the Apostles — as expressed in Peter’s sermon the day the Church was born — was where He wanted me to be planted, bloom, and bear fruit.  It would be easy to dismiss that as being nice for me, but…or just intended for those want something “higher” or more serious, or have some “gift” for living holy and separated from the world. Listen to what Peter said to the crowd of thousands on the day the church was born:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to them that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Did the part where he said the promise is “unto you…your children…them that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our god shall call” leave anyone out?  I submit to you that it did not.  I further challenge you to consider that it is for you, and that He is calling you to come into His garden, where He can put you into the care of a gardener He called according to this gospel, so that He himself can receive of the fruit you bring forth. There are many references in the Word of God to His having a garden or a vineyard or a plant of some description that He has planted, and how He interacted with that and what He expected. You see, we are the “plants” that choose whether to run wild or become part of the vineyard, the garden God will look for fruit in.

What now?

So where are you with this? Are you content to grow and wild in your vague ideas that somehow you are serving God, even though the thought of submitting to a true man of God rubs your spirit the wrong way?  Or are you willing to present yourself week after week, service after service, with a heart set to truly hear and receive what you need — whether or not it is what you want to receive? You will never be truly fruitful in the work of God until that is what you will do. Your choice: enjoy your nondescript existence among hundreds or thousands of other wild shoots that continue to multiply year after year, or allow God to set you in a special place under the eye of a watchful caretaker whose job it is in the Kingdom to see that you bloom and and bring forth fruit.

I suppose I am one of the original “free spirit” types.  “I must be who I was meant to be, without following the plans of others” was my mantra as a young person.  Give me a little credit: I grew up in the 60’s when the world beyond our door was changing radically, and freedom of thought was the highest order of mankind according to the philosophers (or the hippies) of that day.  But my desire to be “free” was in itself a type of wildness that led me to some interesting places.  I cannot point to any of them now as examples of my finest hour or highest achievements.  Paul said it well: “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.” (Romans 6:21) Running wild just isn’t all it’s rated to be in the eternal scheme of things. Many realize too late that their independence cost them the best fruit life could offer.  Will you?

I urge you to consider these things.  Pray over them.   Then take a step in your consideration of them to place yourself where the taming of your soul could happen, by being present where the Word of God is preached by a man of God who holds to the Apostles’ doctrine — one who will bring what God has for you to hear, without fear or favor.  Your soul desires that, whether you’re brave enough to fight your flesh and seek it or not.

I submit that those wild plants I mentioned earlier would trade places with the tended ones so nearby if they had a consciousness of their situation and the will to choose, even if it meant trading off some of their freedom for pruning that might not be pleasant at the time, for the beauty that only comes from submission to a skilled and caring hand.

Don’t move that Bible for me!


“Don’t move that Bible for me! I don’t get that many chances with God!”

We were headed to lunch when I scooped up my Bible from the passenger seat to clear a spot for the social work intern to sit. Her protests would have amused me, except she seemed in dead earnest. In the ensuing discussion she described her upbringing in a strict Catholic tradition. Her earliest faith memories had stuck, as a perspective of “As long as I don’t mess up and offend God too badly, maybe He will let me into Heaven.” Those early experiences were her only concept of God.


When did the Gospel change?

Is the church today supposed to be like the church in the Book of Acts?

If not, when did it change?

Some things very obviously changed from the Old Testament to the New:

1) sacrifice for sin was completed by Jesus’ work on Calvary (Hebrews 10:1-18)
2) eating foods prohibited under the Law of Moses was clearly done away with by the Lord (Acts 10:15; 1 Tim. 4:3-5).

Other examples may exist of changes for the New Testament believers, but the point is that we know of these because they were clearly outlined in scripture: by commandment, by teaching, and by recorded practice of the Apostles and their converts.

Was the change for good?

Few argue that we should still be sacrificing animals for sin or abstaining from eating certain meats. God, through His word, changed the way humanity was to serve Him before the Cross to the way we are to serve Him since the Cross. The Cross is the Great Divide of history. Nothing since has been, or ever will be, the same.

But to compare the practice of the general church world today with that of the New Testament church, whose founding and practices are recorded in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, one would think there had been a second Great Divide.

The early church believers were baptized in the name of Jesus when they believed, as recorded in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19. But millions base their salvation and that of their family on the idea that somehow, somewhere, the adamant insistence of the Apostles on the Name of Jesus for baptism (see Acts 19:1-8) became obsolete.1

Secondly, the salvation experience of the New Testament church was always accomplished by believers receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Acts 2, 10, 19 clearly specify this and no scripture indicates any converts were saved without it. But the general church world today fights the idea that tongues are the required evidence that the Holy Ghost has come in, and that salvation is incomplete without it2..

More changes?

My question is this: where and when did that Gospel message — first preached by Peter at the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost — change? Can you point to the second Great Divide that changed history forever–again? And where in scripture are we prepared for this new method of salvation? Where are we told that we were to scrap the Acts 2:38 message and go with something else?

The Cross was foretold in virtually every book of the Old Testament. The outpouring of the Holy Ghost was prophesied in Joel and Isaiah. With all this preparation for the first Great Divide, where is the preparation for the change many are living under today, with a doctrine that says that is no longer necessary?

And what about a new doctrine? Some people obviously are following a new one because they are unwilling to do the first works they Apostles did. Where are there references in the Bible to the doctrine changing in the future?

You will find the scriptures giving many, many warnings about false teachers, false Christs, and a perverted Gospel3. If you do your research on church history (which is where you have to go to find anything about people baptizing in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, because it didn’t  ever occur in the Bible), you will find this change made by a council of men in Nicea, over 300 years after Jesus came.

How safe is your plan?

SO, you can believe that was the plan of God, without any reservation: that this gospel of the kingdom, which Jesus said was to be preached unto all nations and then the end would come, was only in effect for the first 300 years, and then was summarily changed by a council of men? Although no prophecy in Scripture prepares us that there would be a later version of the gospel that was equally valid and more effective than the first, you’re comfortable believing that somehow what happened for the early church was for them only and that this change was the will of God and in his original Divine plan? You’re perfectly OK with staking eternity on that?

Want to know more?

If you would like to delve deeper into the scriptures and see for yourself what they say, a personal Bible study is a great way to connect. Leave a comment below or use the comment section of the site to request more information.


Why do many fight against the notion that the Name which is above every name — the Name of Jesus — must be called over converts being baptized? They base an entire doctrine on the one scripture that is meant to explain why the Name of Jesus is the one needed for baptism: Matthew 28:19-20 tells us that by baptizing in the Name of Jesus (as the Apostles did exclusively), we are baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That’s exciting!

2 The scriptures in 1 Corinthians 14 — where Paul is explaining the role of speaking in tongues in a church service to Christians who obviously have spoken in tongues when they received the Holy Ghost – are mistaken by many to override his other statements saying: 1) Tongues are for a sign (14:22), 2) Forbid not to speak with tongues (14:39), and 3) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all (14:18).  Jesus himself said tongues would be one of the signs which would follow them that believe (Mark 16:18) — he didn’t say, they would follow for a while or until a new doctrine came along.

Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 1:6-9 are only a few of the many references to false teachers, false apostles, false Christs, and a perverted Gospel.

Why haven’t I seen that before now?

Now you see it…

Have you ever been driving in a familiar area, and noticed something you’d never seen before, though it obviously was there all along?  I recall this happening once as I drove my daughter and a friend through very familiar territory near the friend’s home.  As we turned onto the oft-traveled country road, all at once, as if scripted, we all three looked to the right and noticed a horse grazing in a beautiful rolling pasture of green.  There was a brook at the bottom of the hill, and another hill rising up behind that one.  I’ve seen framed art that wasn’t as captivating as that scene was.  We all commented on the fact that we’d been by that spot many, many times, and never really noticed the beauty that was waiting there that day.

How could that happen?  Why didn’t we see it before?  There was no problem with our vision that suddenly had been corrected. Did the scene itself change from unremarkable to remarkable?  There could have been some changes, of course, in the hues and obviously the location of the horse, but the landscape itself had been there in some form since the dawn of time.  What changed?  I submit that a moment occurred wherein all the necessary conditions were met that allowed three people to simultaneously be struck by the same beauty.  Not being a believer in randomness at all, I am sure God had a purpose in crafting that experience ahead of time.

Not the first time

I had a parallel experience almost twenty-seven years ago.  Having possessed a Bible that I had read with some regularity, I had passed by the experience of the early Church numerous times, but never noticed some aspects of what happened to them, and what they said about its relevance to future generations.  I was unaffected by that portion of the Word of God, until about this time of year all those years ago, when I met someone who had been affected by it — someone who had experienced what I had assumed along with many, many others to have phased out after the era of the original apostles, years down the line.

Brought to a point of seeing something in the Word of God I’d never seen before, I had to make a choice as to what response I would give:  continuing to drive by and acting as though I’d not seen it, or incorporating the new knowledge into my overall response to God himself.  Thankfully, I chose the latter, and can say along with Robert Frost of “the road less traveled by”, that has made all the difference.

More eyes than mine

I have recently had the joyous opportunity of seeing other people experience this same phenomenon, to discover that what they assumed wouldn’t be relevant for them was in fact the very thing they’d searched for all their lives.

Often people overlook an answer because of the place where it’s waiting, that appears to them as though it simply couldn’t be anywhere they could find what they needed. This tendency reminds me of myself looking for my car keys and going over and over the only places I was sure I had been with them.  It’s embarrassing to think  how many repetitions of such a totally unproductive “solution” to my problem I’ve gone through, then to finally give up and start looking everywhere. Only then could I discover the keys in an unlikely place, and remember how something had happened to derail me from putting them where I usually do (OK,  so I admit I’m just getting really absent-minded!).

There…? Really?

A church that teaches holiness, righteous living, and separation from the world is often the very last place some would look for their answers. Once all other options are exhausted, however, and desperate to have more of what God wants for them – his answer to their life’s problem, whatever it looks or sounds like or wherever it is – they finally begin to see what he was preparing for them all the time: joy, love and power to live righteously and godly in this present world, and how to have that.

It’s at the church that is doing what the very first church did – teaching repentance (turning from our sins), water baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission (forgiveness and cleansing) of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, as actually happened to people in Acts chapter 2, chapter 10 and chapter 19, among other places.  This fulfills the birth of water and Spirit Jesus talked about in John chapter 3 (3:5), as being necessary for seeing or entering into the Kingdom of God, and was preached as being a promise “unto you, and to your children and all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Sounds like all of us forever, to me.

What do you see?

Does this just sound like so much “partisanship”  (if that term can be applied to ideas related to Christianity)? Splitting hairs?  I submit to you that I have seen with my own eyes that there is a reality in obeying this original doctrine, that it really matters what you believe, and how you practice it, though many would say otherwise.

Let me know what you think.  What have you seen that was really “there all the time”?

I’ll try to reply to each comment, or answer any questions you may have.  Thanks for reading!

Check it out!

Don’t assume anything.

Journalists preparing news for publication are given the warning to verify their sources: “Check it out! If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”. While hopefully “mother’s story” checks out, the adage has its merits.

The Society for Professional Journalists espouses a Code of Ethics including the requirement that journalists: “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.”  They’re warned to double-check sources, use more than one for the same article, and verify facts, all in order to make a strong case on evidence for what they’re about to publish. Readers rely on publications that insist on this level of accuracy, and lose faith quickly in those that don’t, and rightly so.

How important is that?

Should I apply those standards to important decisions I make?  How common is that?  The steady increase in the dissolution of marriages makes it questionable as to how much preparation is put into that decision, though the presence of many strong, godly marriages based on biblical principles stand out as being among those who do the appropriate work before making a life-changing “forever” decisions.

What about our priorities with regard to our walk with God, our connection to the eternal?  Most people have a concept that we’re not on earth for ever, that something happens after we die, and that we have options now as to how we can affect that.  How much planning is it worth?

What’s the risk?

In recent memory, a major news organization ran a story claiming documentation that proved the president in office at that time had falsely reported his military service. The “proof” was challenged and found to have been less than verifiable, at least in part because the written type more closely matched computer-based word processing (not available until many years after the document’s date) than the typewriters that were available at the time it would have been composed. The responsible staff resigned over the controversy, not because they were thought to have created a false report, but because of having failed to verify their sources for what they chose to report, and its resulting embarrassment and loss of credibility for the news organization.

The risk of failing to fully check out claims of Biblical doctrine in which one places their hopes of eternity with God are much greater than those of failing to check out an article before printing or broadcasting, don’t you agree? Yet, the prevailing wisdom on that matter often seems only as deep as looking around to see how many people are on the same doctrinal “boat” one is on, and feeling secure if there’s a crowd. “There must be safety in numbers” is the profoundly popular approach, even in the face of questions about the facts supporting one’s belief or for rejecting another belief system.

Many teachings of various churches today are based on assumptions that the experience and teachings of the early church were intended by God to only be valid through the writing of the New Testament, and were then to be replaced by other teachings.  That’s an enormous assumption to make. Is it valid?  Is it sufficient to disregard the fact that the early church experience, when people came to God, these believers received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, which occurred repeatedly in the Book of Acts?  Is it not significant that this is still alive and well among believers today who obey the original gospel message, and therefore it has not been  “replaced” at all?

How good are you?

When I finished John Grisham’s novel, The Confession, I noticed after the close of the book a note from Mr. Grisham, acknowledging that there could be technical errors,  but advising there was no need to write him and point them out.  The reason for the potential errors, Mr. Grisham stated was that he simply dislikes doing research to verify certain technical information relevant to the book he’s writing. With this approach, he will from time to time be able to expect an error or two. With his readership and quality in other aspects of his writing, he doesn’t have much to worry about — fans are going to read him anyway, because he’s that good.  The rest of us, better do our homework. 

The Word of God is our source for research when it comes to spiritual things. Is there just one source in the Bible to consider when talking about biblical salvation including speaking in tongues? Consider these references: 1) Isaiah 28:11, 2) Mark 16:17, 3) Acts 2: 4, Acts 10:44-46, 4) 1 Corinthians 14:18, 14:39.  Though there are others, these fall into four categories:  Old Testament (Isaiah) , Life and works of Jesus (Mark), Acts of the apostles (Acts), and writings of one of the founders of church, Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians).  That’s a good source of references to confirm the reality of this part of salvation.

I’ve found the simplest approach of doing due diligence in research is to focus on what the apostles said to do, and what they were recorded as actually doing, in the Bible in the Book of Acts. This is the most straightforward method of checking my sources to be sure I’m living, speaking and writing what is trustworthy.

The apostle Paul told a young man he trained for the ministry in his letter to him, “Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine…” 1 Timothy 4:15 (KJV).  It matters what we believe.

What do you think?  Have you had an experience with untrustworthy claims of  truth? Are you wary of claims of religious doctrine being verifiable vs. all-inclusive (“it’s all the same so why dig too deeply”)? Are you wondering how anyone can “know the truth”, as Jesus said we would do?  Feel free to share your comments.

Catch your drift

Things left alone in the water drift downstream, not up — nor do they stay in one place. Drift is similar to what happens when a woodworker cuts from the last piece of wood that had been cut, instead of cutting from the original pattern.  Naturally, this causes the dimensions of the pieces to gradually be more and more “off”. It might take some time to notice a difference between the finished pieces and the original. If one that was cut from the last piece and not the pattern was all you’d seen you could assume it was the original, and that the original was actually too small. Without someone proving to you which one was cut to be the pattern, what reference point would you have to know which was real? If the practice continued over time, the pieces would only continue to get larger or broader than they were intended to be (Matthew 7:13).

A parallel to this can be seen in cultural patterns based on what is accepted as being right. They tend to gradually shift, with people effectively gauging what’s alright now from the “last cut”, rather than from the original. Hollywood didn’t go from Mayberry RFD to what’s running now in one season (I prefer to skip their influence altogether).  Is this improvement?  Some think so, but most just accept it as a “sign of the times”.  I submit that it is a symptom of the dangerous “drift” in our culture.

In drift, each change is linked to the last one. Things that are commonly discussed in the news these days did not suddenly jump to the forefront of thought. One change broke the surface and culture processed it, thought about it, fought over it, but finally assented to it — not necessarily standing up to say “this is great, everyone should  do it this way…”, but rather “it’s ok” or “‘it’s not that bad, really”.  That is drift. It could not have happened all at one time.

Truth is exactly opposite of drift. It began when God spoke it, and is the same now. God is not waiting for the latest trend to tell you what you need to do.  Yet many people base their experiences and even their doctrine on what began as drift from the original.

How do you know the difference?

Drift has to be justified, which may sound like this: “Even though some think the Bible teaches that [x, y, z behavior] is wrong, if you take this scripture and pair it with that one, it shows that it really is not that bad.”  Truth does not require justification: Thou shalt not = that’s against God’s laws and standards.  Standards of conduct, dress, etc. that are relevant for today can be found in scripture, for those who will take them as truth, just as they are. If they are taken to mean what they say and are applied that way, then the fact is:  they work that way.

Another drift test is that if a particular belief or practice could easily be made to apply to everyone without something necessary or needful being lost, then it closer to truth.  If it’s only accepted in society, but couldn’t be applied to everyone without something being lost, then I submit that it represents drift.  One current debate is over gay marriage:  if it were made mandatory (the only type marriage allowed – God forbid), there would be no next generation.  If on the other hand, monogamous heterosexual marriage were applied to everyone (made the only acceptable standard), then cultures would be able to thrive and continue as they have for thousands of years.

There is a parallel also in the application of God’s word. When the apostles preached and taught and practiced their new faith and people responded, this is the documentation of the original (the Acts of the Apostles). First expressed in Acts 2:38, the doctrine of repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost was the only means of salvation preached in their day.  Their doctrine was practiced exclusively by the church for at least 150 years. That’s the point at which “educated men” began to teach that, as the apostles were “uneducated”, they were not the most qualified to teach doctrine, and gradually turned some of the church followers to baptizing in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost rather than the name of Jesus.  The concept that the apostles who were directly taught of Jesus were not qualified to teach doctrine could not be further from the truth, but by 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea had institutionalized the drift of the church, and the men who advocated the original were prevented from having a voice in the debate and their works burned.

This was effectively the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church, which many years later had continued to drift to the point of even leaving its own founding principles, so that a Reformation movement was begun by Martin Luther.  Though this movement did many things to remove corruption from the organized church, it did not return it to the pre-AD 150 doctrine of the original apostles.


Charles Sheldon’s classic novel, In His Steps, details the choice of a group of people to look at where they had drifted to, and decidedly turn upstream. Their choice to weigh their every action by the teachings of Jesus, and only do what they believed he would have done, took them immediately into the face of those around them: people who, only the day before, they were no different from.  Finding one’s way to the original from the drift has the same effect today.

So what do you choose? Would a return to the practice of the apostles’ original plan be going back to the pattern your spiritual experience was meant to be cut from? There are those who believe so, and live that way today.  Learn more about what they are living and teaching by clicking the link, or if you’re in the neighborhood, join us at:

First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

By the grace of God, we’re getting to experience a taste of

Church the way it was meant to be…

and glad to know there’s more where that came from!

Leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!

The show-me state…of mind

No, we’re not headed to Missouri this day, just borrowing their fine motto for a few minutes. You know — in the sense of “Back up what you’re saying”, “Prove it”, “Give me an example”, and such like. These days you’d better have some back-up to what you’re agreeing to, or you could end up in a world of trouble and loss!

One picture’s worth a thousand words.

Even if it’s a word picture, a verbal or written play-by-play of something that occurred can go a long way toward explaining an idea or making it clear. If we can see an example of what someone’s talking about, their intentions in what they were trying to say become so much clearer. We can apply that same concept, by using the simple standard of “show me where that happened in the Bible”, to evaluate most any claim about something the Bible says.

Most people who study at all can show you some scriptures to support what they believe, or at least why they don’t believe  something that contradicts what they’re familiar with. But one framework that often fails to support what someone is alleging to be true in scripture is asking them for an example of that particular thing happening in the Bible, particularly when it comes to the experience of becoming part of the kingdom of God.

The apostles said it

The apostles who wrote several New Testament books, Paul, James and Jude, referred to things that had happened in the scriptures that were available to them (what now makes up our Old Testament) as examples for the believers to whom they were writing to follow. 1 Corinthians 10, Hebrews 8, James 10, and Jude 1 all record references to examples from those who had served God before them. For us, the writings of the apostles, as well as those of the men who wrote the Old Testament, along with the documentation of their actions in the Book of Acts, provide us with examples of what they did and what they meant by the things they said.

Show me

I used Bing search engine to query “How to be saved”. You want to guess how many responses it turned up? 2.82 BILLION. Google lagged way behind with only 391 MILLION. Now, I have to say that I didn’t take time to read them all, but I can pretty much imagine they didn’t all agree with one another.  I assure you the ones I did read briefly varied widely and even wildly. Is that a problem? If I’d landed here from another culture and wanted to know what I needed, would I be able to trust whatever might turn up on Bing, Google, or other search engines, or whoever I might cross paths with? How would I know what to trust?

How about, seeing whether there are examples of those things that are touted as ways to be saved actually occurring in the Word of God, the Bible? Wait; you’re saying there are examples in the  Bible of people getting saved? Show me!

Where did all the examples of people getting saved in the Bible occur? They are recorded in the Book of Acts (the “Acts of the Apostles” is the full title, documenting what they did, including what they preached, and how people responded to it).

What examples are there?

Acts 2:  The church is born on the Day of Pentecost; Peter preaches a 3-step plan: 1) Repent, 2) be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, 3) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 38). 3000 respond by gladly receiving his word and being baptized, thus being added unto the church (no reasonable person could assert that they were documented as being “added unto them” by doing anything other than what Peter had just preached).

Acts 8: Phillip preaches in Samaria; the people receive his teaching and are baptized in the name of Jesus.  Peter and John come and lay hands on them and they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

Acts 10: Peter preaches to the household of the Cornelius, a Roman centurion an a gentile; while he’s preaching the Holy Ghost falls on all of them and they receive the Holy Ghost and speak with other tongues. Peter commands them to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

Acts 19: Paul finds believers who only knew about John’s baptism of repentance, and had not yet received the Holy Ghost.  When Paul explained to them what they needed to do they were rebaptized by Paul in the name of Jesus, and they received the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues.

So there are various examples of people getting into the church, they body of Christ, by hearing the word preached, being baptized in Jesus name, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Repentance came in that they turned from what they had been believing and practicing, and received (agreed with) the word of the apostles preaching to them, but forming the basis for the rest of their obedience to the word, not the total experience.

OK, but where is…

Where is there evidence of someone being told they could get into the body of Christ, the church by  “accepting Jesus as their personal Savior” or evidence of someone actually doing that?  I’m not trying to be intentionally rude, but I can’t find an example of anyone getting saved that way in the Bible. Ok, but is the concept there?  Well, I see the concept of our being accepted or chosen by him (“accepted in the beloved” Ephesians 1:6, “acceptable into God” (Romans 12:1), “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you” (John 15:16),  “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Is that all?

Other things you won’t find examples of people doing in the New Testament include: People actually being baptized in titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Surprised?  Look for yourself — it simply didn’t occur in the historical record.


So, just think: if some of the things commonly accepted today don’t line up to the “Show me” test, maybe you need to re-look at where your own personal experience lines up with the examples.

I heard a song this week with a line that said: “there are 35,000 versions of Christianity” (my apologies to the songwriter/artist — I didn’t catch the name, but that line stood out to me).  If that’s true (and I didn’t Google that one), how many of those “versions” do you think line up to the original?  Where does your “version” stand in that regard?

I’d love to hear what you think.  Feel free to comment, ask a question, or request more information.