Thursday, July 30, 2009

BLAST from the PAST: WD SrCamp 97

A twelve year old photo of Tawnibelle (18) and me (16), pictured after the last night of the Western District's Sr. Youth Camp in Santa Maria, CA. The photo is circa 1997- I was skinny, and she was Shoemake - we fixed both of those problems a little over seven years ago, haha! It was there that she stole my heart. A few months later a freshman in college told a High School sophomore suitor that it 'would never happen.' As the saying goes, 'never say never!'


I still have the bow tie I'm wearing, and trying to bring back (below) - but most importantly, I still have the girl and she still has my heart.


Maybe we'll provide a pictorial step-by-step 'how to' tie a bow tie. Maybe if more fellows knew how to tie them they'd sport them. Think Winston Churchhill. Bishop Curtis Young (he told me when he first started preaching that's all he would wear!).
Now, I can't guarantee that bow ties will help open ministry doors for you, book a revival, get you the girl you want, or help you keep her, but they are classic, timeless, nonetheless.

BLAST from the PAST: Pics from PEAK 08

Altar response to Rev. Jason Calhoun's message during day session of PEAK 08


Mob-like altar calls, youth swarming around altars and evening evangelist Rev. Cody Marks!


Another shot of nearly 1800 young people at PEAK 2008

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Simple Profundity & Berean-like Nobility


Say this out loud, 'DON'T QUESTION MY AUTHORITY!' There, you said it. Now think about what you just said...

It's not just a play on words - it's profundity made simple. You plainly articulated the revelation of the cyclical 'power of submission.'

See how that statement can be taken two ways simultaneously? To question my authority is to question my authority! What or who is my authority? Where do I derive or get my authority from in the first place? The extent of your power is stipulated by the source of your submission.

In just the past two days I've had the occasion to share this with three very different young people; the first was over coffee with a young person who aspires for ministry and is addressing the challenges of our day, the second instance occurred during our altar service tonight with a young person who recently ran away from home, and the third opportunity took place with another young person who happened to be en route to a meeting with authority (good timing!).

In each case this simple statement seemed to resonate, connect, raise their hackles and cause goosebumps to piggyback on top of other goosebumps. More important than the emotion they felt was their subsequent actions. The young student is determined more than ever before to establish what it is that he believes, the prodigal son promised to return home and submit to authority, and the latter entered his meeting with a humility that was missing before.

None of us have all the answers, but we have the Book. It is interesting, however, that all the self-proclaimed subject matter experts (be it a teenager or 'theologian') with all of the answers are the very same one's with all of the questions! Questions breed questions, but I've never known anyone who stuck their nose in the Book to get hung up on doctrine. When you question your authority, you bring your own authority in question. When you are outside the umbrella-like covering of authority, you're outside of the Book - and when you're outside of the Book (and into other books or blogs), well, therein lies the root of the problem.

So, don't be so apt to question your authority. Come on guys - this should be second nature by now. Don't ask for directions until you've read the Map for yourself! Then, when you must ask, make sure the spirit behind your question is right. Are you asking the 'inquisitive' question out of a sincere desire to learn and know, or are you asking the 'interrogative' question argumentatively, to debate, to undermine?

Preachers are just as guilty of talking 'shop' and sharing tools and 'tricks of the trade' as anybody - and who doesn't enjoy the occasional clash of a theological sword and the iron-sharpening peer debate sessions? But, all frivolity aside here's some solid history and sober advice for students of the Word and or those who claim to be God-called, chosen 'men or women of the cloth.'

Scripture reveals that the Berean saints were 'more noble' than the Thessalonians because they had a predisposition to believe what was preached, but verified everything against The Book (Acts 17:11)! 'Nobility' connotes one's having kingly blood, or being heir to the throne. My, my. After all, we are kings and priests unto God. Furthermore, 'It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings to find out a matter' (Prov. 25:2).

Before questioning your authority (your Pastor, your shepherd), check in with THE Authority (The Word) and put into practice the noble, New Testament, Berean-like habit of 'searching the Scriptures daily' to find out for yourself 'whether those things are so.'

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Devil's in the Details

Hahaha. Nevermind that young people received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or that they repeatedly preempted worship services with their own handclapping and a capella praise, vacated seats and flooded the altar space without being solicited or that thousands of lives were obviously changed by the challenging messages preached.

I have people texting, emailing, calling - wanting to verify the details. No, no, they aren't concerned with how many received the Holy Ghost, or what exactly was preached. They want to verify the apparent discrepancy in attendance, and clarify the conflicting reports. They want to know just how many sermons were preached 'on holiness' or 'separation' - belittling a core, fundamental truth that, although it was not harped on at PEAK, no man can see the Lord without. But, let's not be concerned with conviction or actually taking up our cross - they're more concerned with just how bad the accoustics were, and terrible the sound must've been in an arena that size.

So, here are the answers you asked for.
1) Spirit Bank Event Center will seat between 4500-4800, by their own account (google it).
2) There were 1800 pre-registrants, not including the mile-long line out the door at 6:45pm Wednesday night of those who had not yet registered and were waiting to do so. Last year, there were only 300 pre-registered; this year's totals more than quintuppled last years!
3) There was an estimate crowd of between 3500-3600 in attendance on the first night, which more than doubled the estimated largest crowd durin the last night of PEAK last year estimated to be at 1700.
4) The 2000 figure mentioned was in reference to those who were flooding the altar areas during worship service(s). Even so, peruse previously posted pics - there aren't many vacant seats.
5) There were multiple organizations present for PEAK; the WPF is not just about the WPF - it's about apostolic fellowship with people of like precious faith. People who are found in the UPC, ALJC, COGIC and on and on and on. One word, metanoia.
6) For the record, there weren't any sermons on holiness. When the Spirit of Holiness is there both in spirit and in practice, you don't have to preach on it.

So there you have it. I love you, we'll hang out, but you're wrong and looking for negativity. Now, I've been involved in both church and secular politics long enough to know that the facts won't ever satisfy the naysayer - that's just what I am proving yet again by responding here. Because, you see, the devil is always in the details.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Pics and a Clip of PEAK

A quick point and shoot of of the platform from our seat during the first night. Thanks to everyone from the Chairman to the Youth Council, to every Volunteer, Pastor, Youth Pastor, parent and young person who made PEAK not only possible but successful!


Tawni and me at approximately 2am - after Thursday night's service. This was the longest we'd been without Rori Lane - next year we're bringing her, ___ (and the grandparents).


One minute clip during Friday night worship service - the empty seats are only so because their occupants flooded the altar area already. Pastor Young and Bro's DeVon Mills, William Brown and Randy Williams are incredible worship leaders - what talent & anointing!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tawni and I got up this morning, showered, packed & checked our TRGYC entourage out of the hotel. After completing an inter-review for an audio-visual PEAK journal our multi-media team is compiling, we bee-lined for Cracker Barrel. After a series of consecutive days with no more than 5 hours of shut-eye a piece, there was only one mission in mind: kill the sleep deprivation induced headache with caffeine and cholesterol. Thankfully, consuming a sacrifice of chicken fried chicken, biscuits & gravy, country hashed browns, bacon and coffee did the trick. Whoever said Pentecostals don't get hangovers haven't partied with our young people or lo'oked at the average waistline of our movement, ha! Next, we boarded our plane in Tulsa. It fell our lot to sit right behind Bro. Larry Booker and next to Bro. & Sis. Stephen Buxton. In a matter of minutes, the great elder's seat reclined. Jacob slept upon a rock. Bro. Booker prefers a Thompson Chain for his pillows. Bro. Buxton and I enjoyed using our iPhones to photographically capture the process of osmosis, by which I am sure he uploaded ancient Hebrew history and conference sermon material, right before my very own eyes (literally). I'll post a pic later, maybe.
Now we're sitting in Phoenix, enduring a two hour layover. The motley crew that is Drew Morton and TRGYC's own Sarah Short and Chelsea Scott have joined me and my netbook in the boarding area. I will limit what I say about them, for one, noone ever likes to read good about anybody else, and second, they have just sat down right next to me, LOL. In the meantime, I am playing security guard over my wife's carryon, patiently waiting while she compares the caloric possibilities and weighs the pros and cons between a Starbuck's Frappuchino and a Wendy's Frosty. It's amazing how an incredible youth conference, inordinate lack of sleep and musty airport terminal can reduce life for the moment and simulate the survival of the fittest. Well, we're about to board and head home to Sacramento, CA. Our apologies, this is all you get untilw e get some sleep, lol.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wow. My hero and Pastor preached a relevant Word - and a revelation out of the book of Jonah. 'A Wind, a Whale and a Worm.' Altar call just concluded a few moments ago, but change is still happening in the hearts of thousands of young people. The ground floor was strewn with the prostrate bodies of young people who, like Isaac, willingly laid themselves out as an offering on the altar (alter) made of self sacrifice and obedience to the voice of God. If the could freeze the tears that now stain the concrete, they could probably play ice hockey during tonight's late night event. Then again, the Holy Ghost heat would probably evaporate it before song service even gets started. If you aren't here - make plans to attend and be a part of PEAK/Apostolic movement next year!
My hero has just taken the pulpit and introduced his title, 'A Wind, a Whale and a Worm.' Preach Pastor Young!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Special Prayer for Pastor

Pray for our Pastor (C. Myles Young) as he will be delivering a Word from God during tomorrow mornings 11am session. Those of you back home in CA who were unable to make it to Tulsa in person, please be in prayer for Pastor, on your way to work, or as you are able, at approximately 9:45am PST when he will take the pulpit for PEAKs final day session. Pray for Pastor's voice too (he has been out late, up early, working hard, emcee'd and led worship during services already).

More info and updates to follow. For real time updates, follow us on twitter: jdeTRGYC

PEAK, Pei Wei & Power Naps

Pei Wei was a precursor to an attempt at yet another power nap. That nap quickly fell prey to prevailing ideas, deeper thoughts, a replay of concepts discussed over Chinese food with a great friend, and a replay of sound bytes from this morning's message.
What a morning, what a message. No morse code, Rosetta Stone or debate over private interpretation necessary - it was clear, 'Defy the Decline.' If there were critics who noted the sirname and dismissed the messenger altogether, well, mark them - and it should come as no surprise when they 'arrive' without the 'Message.' Complimenting a revelatory Word with sociology, hilarity and a great spirit, Pastor Nathan Morton (Chico, CA) preached a timeless word to a generation with an appetite for the eternal. Several statements more or less summarized the conclusion of the whole matter: Stand strong. Search the Scripture. Have Conviction. Pursue Truth. Be radical. Say what you believe. Don't be bullied by the numbers. Fight back, and don't be ugly. It's easier to 'reign in a radical' than to 'fix the wreckage of compromise'. Resisting compromise is only a prerequisite - take territory and have unprecedented revival in your heart, in your youth ministry, in your church, online and around the world!
Of the nearly 3500 in attendance, approximately 1000 young people initiated an unsolicited altar call (I prefer to spell it 'alter') before the completion of the sermon. In more than one way, their collective motion symbolized a societal response and spoke volumes on behalf of a missing voice. It is time for a Holy rebellion and radical revolution that includes separation unto. I know, 'they' say you you can't preach that way because 'they, don't want it. Hmmm, who are 'they?' 'They' weren't anywhere to be found in Tulsa this morning - and that may be just the problem.

Thursday night service begins in 1 hour and 20 minutes. For more uodates, follow on Twitter (you must have an account to follow): jdeTRGYC
3500+ back for first PEAK day session...listen live @ HolyGhostRadio.com - 'Defy the Decline' a progressive, Apostolic message by Pastor Nathan Morton (Chico, CA)!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Thank Heaven for 7/11



What do you get when you have 1800 young people attend the last night of an incredibly successful, albeit inaugural youth event in Tulsa, OK in a down economy one year? You go from the Green Country Event Center to the Spirit Bank Arena and have more than 3500 show up in an even worse economy a year later on the opening night! Every shuttle run to the airport, rental van, car, coach and bus speak to the excitement that has built over the past 12 months for PEAK. Thousands of young people flooded the arena, and by sheer force of number made history for Pentecostals. Church service, scheduled to start at 7:30pm did not begin on time...it started early - 28 minutes early with nary a musician, singer or service leader on the platform! Bro. Stringfellow spoke a Word of deliverance from the past and titled his message, 'Let's Get it Right This Time!'
It's 2:04am and the last of TRGYC have finally retired for a short respite. At this hour, I'm singing the well known convenient store jingle, 'Ohhhh thank Heaven (and the WPF Youth Council) for 7/11.' That is, service at 7pm and 11am! Check back tomorrow morning around 11am for more PEAK updates.

For more frequent sound bytes and picture updates, follow us at PEAK on Twitter: jdeTRGYC
Over 1500 registered & line still out the door. Another first for Pentecostals - church didn't start on time, at 7:30 as planned...it started early! Hear that? That isn't a thunderstorm - that's incessant applause & worship that's continued for nearly 25 minutes already! Here we go!!!

PEAK UPDATE #1

PEAK, Tulsa OK: pregistration crew onsite at the SpiritBank Event Center - more than 1000 preregistrants (triple the number of preregistrants from last year) crashed the relatively infantile WPF registration site like a crystal chandelier in the middle of a red hot revival service. Great looking groups of young people, tour busses from SoCal to Kansas, Florida & North Carolina. Singers & musicians also on station, rehearsing excellence for opening night of PEAK 2009. 2 hours 17 minutes til...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Redhead!

Today my girlfriend of 9 years, heart throb & redheaded love of my life turned 30. We celebrated modestly - by waking at 4am to board flights to Tulsa, OK where we locked arms, laughed, reminisced, kissed, drank diet coke, ate peanut M&Ms & shared a book, enjoying eachother's companyfor several hours on Southwest Airlines. After patiently waiting for me to prevail against the Prince of the Air @ Enterprise Rentals & the Renaissance Hotel (30 rooms), we made the best of a birthday in Tulsa (lol) away from family & friends by eating dinner &watching a live Broadway performance of WICKED (the other side of the story of The Wizard of Oz - a future blog post waiting to happen).

Tawni Lynn, thanks for putting TRGYC first & letting me get away with the minimums until after PEAK. I love you from the bottom of my (your) heart!

Our Departure


Our departure begins. It's 3:49am and in a few minutes we're putting our lives and luggage into the trunk of an Element, and traversing towards the Sacramento International Airport. If you know me, you know there's only one good reason I'm awake at this hour - because I have to be. I wouldn't be blogging if I was up in response to intercessory prayer either. If we caught a later flight we would'nt land in Tulsa until late. We're going to exorcise every demon in the Renaissance Hotel before our young people arrive. Anyway, warm that cinnabon up my dear brother whoever you are behind that inevitable counter, because the frosting on that man-made, manufactured cholesterol bomb could be the difference between my attitude and Heaven and Hell at this hour of the morning, haha!

All hilarity aside (yeah right!), follow e-luminations.blogspot.com on Twitter over the next four days and join us in Tulsa, OK for LIVE UPDATES from PEAK 2009!

Twitter name: jdeTRGYC

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Random Sunday Night Thoughts




Getting ready to retire for the night. Plum tuckered, whatever that means. Makes me feel like Chick Bowdrie. Rori doesn't ever go down easy - she is in denial that sleep is a necessity until it she's dreaming. My little Rori Lane Sugar Cane Candy Rain Punkie-noodle Snickerdoodle mascot. Nice abstract 2 yrd old artwork. Wish I could fall asleep as easily as Tawni - must've been the goodnight kiss. Forever in Love with You. What a Sunday. Pastor's message, 'From the King to the Worm.' If you're lucky you'll hear it or get a hand on the cd. God's repeated reach never ceases to amaze me. What a God. What a man. Thank you sounds cheap. Happy 40th birthday to my dear Pastor's wife - we'll celebrate some more in Tulsa. TLE & SRY are Superwomen - celebrating their 30th & 40th birthdays at PEAK. Our band is awesome. Lonny you're a natural. You too Boss. Memory lane with Bishop & Sis. Wilson. Brick by brick, we don't know how blessed we are at The Rock Church. Have you ever seen an Eiffel Tower out model made out of Panera Bread and a peanut butter fountain? I have. They taste good too. LeSharon you rock. Pippi's red velvet chocolate cake, mmm. Twitter updates. Need to get shoes shined and pack for PEAK. Tulsa, OK. Thunderstorms or humidity, that is the question. I'll be kind to my RDouglas. Two bow ties this year - Winston Churchill, not Orville Reidenbacher. What a Sunday. Going to take it with me tomorrow. Monday is here. Opportunity. Big appt at 11am. Blessed to be a blessing. Too hot today. Lost weight today without working out. Time for cold sheets and pillows. If you need the light on, call Tom Bodett or check in later for more e-luminations.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Conviction: Tonight's General Session Notes Transcribed



The 'middle of the road' is no place for a Christian. Unless, of course you could guarantee and maintain perfect control of both the 'left' and the 'right', simultaneously mitigating the tandem pull of their polarities to the same, exact degree – which of course you can’t.
Otherwise, without changing anything, the change around you by itself, will alter your position, causing it to be uprooted, in a perpetual state of flux, to vacillate from right to left and left to right, by virtue of the constant geographic, political, philosophic and spiritual variance around you. The foolish man built his house upon that sand, and lost everything with the first ‘shift.’ That is why the wise man builds his foundation upon the sure, solid, definitive Rock. That Rock is the same, yesterday, today and forever!

There are a lot of Christian’s who take positions – calling yourself a Christian is taking a position to begin with - but what makes you a Christian, a Pentecostal, an Apostolic? What makes you different from the rest of the ‘Christian’ world?
The first things that rightfully come to mind are: 1) doctrine and 2) standards. Right? So the question is, do you know the doctrine – do you know why you ‘keep’ those standards? If you don’t know and aren’t ‘sure’ why – without sinning against God (list) - you are in immediate danger of losing your position in Christ!
We call that loss of position ‘backsliding.’ But, where does a backslider start – the shifting, sandy slopes of compromise.

Compromise begins with conscious consideration, continues with calculation of the costs and concludes with a willingness to concede.
Compromise is deceitfully dangerous! It is imperative that all non-negotiable positions –our doctrine of salvation & separation- are secured. David said ‘thy Word have I hid (secured) in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.’

People often ‘mask’ their compromise, or defend their ‘new’ position by justifying it as being ‘middle of the road’ - but the middle of the road is unsafe, because it is constantly moving!
Even so, such conscious compromise is not the root cause for loss of position (whatever that position may be) – unconscious compromise is. What do I mean? ‘Evil prevails when good men (and women) do nothing’ – Jesus said, ‘to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not – to him it is sin!’ More Christians lose their ‘positions’ and young people backslide today, not because of things they do but because of things they didn’t do. You didn’t start backsliding by doing something because you thought it was ok – you knew it was wrong! You had a position, but you lacked conviction.

Conviction comes from knowledge. Conviction is not just a word, it is the Word (John 1:1). You have to get in the Word to get the Word in you. You don’t stumble across conviction. You seek it out. If you’ve been convicted during a message before, it was because conviction was passed down from authority – but how? Faith coming by hearing – you heard the preacher, the sermon, the lesson – but conviction didn’t come from hearing the preacher, it came from hearing the preacher pass down the Word of God!

Conviction is not a cute noun to be inserted in a casual conversation, Sunday sermon or sales pitch. Conviction is a place, a destination, a graveyard you only dare go after having passed the scrutiny of the cognitive and liability of the affective. Conviction is not moved by majorities. Conviction is not deterred by temptation. Conviction does not cave in to pressure. Conviction is not concerned with opinion. Conviction is the hill you die on before giving up your position.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I, I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
(by Robert Frost)

Jesus said, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it'(Matthew 7:13-14).

Conviction is where we want to be – a place where we are secure, rooted and grounded, like a tree – unlike ‘the middle of the road’ that is moved by whatever the left or the right or others might do.

Conviction might be a bean patch, a moral, a principal, a truth, a cross, a passport leading to a loss of popularity, a visa exclusive to ‘the road less traveled’ - but, for the sake of the world, our nation, our families, the Church and most importantly YOUR SALVATION, find a place called conviction for yourself, at any cost!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Introduction to Conviction



Whether its campaign politics, policy legislation, personal philosophy or pure religion undefiled - the 'middle of the road' is no place to be. Unless, of course you could guarantee and maintain perfect control of both the 'left' and the 'right', simultaneously mitigating the tandem pull of their polarities to the same, exact degree. Otherwise, without changing anything on your part, your position would be uprooted, in a perpetual state of flux, vacillating from right to left and from left to right by virtue of the constant geographic, political, philosophic and spiritual variance around you.

Compromise begins with conscious consideration, continues with calculation of the costs and concludes with a willingness to concede. It is imperative that all non-negotiable positions are secured.

However, this is not the root cause for loss of position (whatever that position may be). If evil prevails when good men (and women) do nothing, then more positions are squandered today due to lack of conviction than by anything else.

Conviction is not a cute noun to be inserted in a casual conversation, Sunday sermon or sales pitch. Conviction is a place, a destination, a graveyard you only dare go after having passed the scrutiny of the cognitive and liability of the affective. Conviction is not moved by majorities. Conviction is not deterred by temptation. Conviction does not cave in to pressure. Conviction is not concerned with opinion. Conviction is the hill you die on before forfeiting your position.

Jesus said, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it'(Matthew 7:13-14).

Conviction might be a bean patch, a moral, a principal, a truth, a cross, a loss of popularity, a visa exclusive to the road less traveled - but, for the sake of the world, our nation, our families and the Church, find that position at any cost!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Things Are Absolutely Necessary


The Absolute Necessity of Water Baptism in Jesus’ Name

Recently I was asked to write about the necessity of Jesus Name baptism. I have had the prior fortune of being able to present the necessity of baptism by complete submergence before a secular, community college class without creating expected controversy. Surprisingly, most of the students admitted 'they had no idea.' Perhaps we will revisit that experience in a subsequent post on baptism, in general. However, due to limited space, a few assumptions have been made as this particular post was written. First, I have assumed that the reader believes the Bible to be the infallible Word of God. Second, the reader is assumed to be asking ‘inquisitive’ questions rather than ‘interrogative’ questions regarding baptism, out of a sincere desire to discover truth. Lastly, I am assuming that the reader already believes in water baptism by complete emersion – excusing the need here for further focused proof.

It is my attempt to rightly divide Scripture to reveal truth, and persuade the reader that baptism in Jesus’ Name is absolutely necessary in order to obey and complete the second essential step of salvation, and for one’s sins to be remitted.

For the sake of context, we are obligated to consider at least a very brief portion of church history. This insight will better enable us to assimilate the date, time, origin and reason for the existence of the controversy (if there can possibly be any) surrounding baptism. After saying “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18), Jesus instructed His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The argument made by proponents of ‘title’ baptism stems from their sole focus on and misinterpretation of the ‘Great Commission’ recorded in Matthew 28:19 – a verse that many scholars believe was inserted by the Catholic Church, and not part of the original canon. This is a key mistake, as one of the principles of hermeneutics is that ‘every Scripture on any given subject must be considered in the light of every Scripture on that subject.’ If this principle were correctly applied in the subject area of baptism, there would be no question. Nonetheless, we will assume that Matthew 28:19 was in fact part of the original canon, acknowledge and attempt to answer the question at hand.

The question we will aim to answer is, “What did Jesus mean when He said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?” Although there is no other Scriptural evidence for baptism in the titles, Trinitarians would argue that Jesus meant for the church to literally baptize converts pronouncing, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Oneness believers refute that argument by recognizing the obvious, which is that titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names at all – a pivotal point, as there is power in the Name! Listed below are several Scriptural excerpts of Christ’s exact teachings. The context of Scripture provides a pure platform for advocacy and strict adherence to baptism in Jesus’ name by revealing to us the Oneness of God, and the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

In John 10:25-26 Jesus said, “I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me (Jesus). But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.’ In John 14: 9 Jesus said, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” Future reference in this post to Philip’s subsequent preaching and mode of baptism practiced proves Philip understood that Jesus was the Father.

In John 6:69 Simon Peter answers Jesus by saying, “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” We will return to and expound on Peter’s revelation of Jesus.

In John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Not only does Jesus mention that the Father (whom we’ve established to be Jesus) will send the Holy Ghost in His name (Jesus), He ascribes gender (He) to the Holy Ghost, and gives him animation, so to speak, by saying that the Holy Ghost will teach you all things. The implication here is that when Jesus ascends in to Heaven, it will be His Spirit that returns and brings to the remembrance of His disciples His previous teachings.

In Luke 24:47 Jesus said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name (Christ’s name – Jesus) among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48). Again, here, Jesus clearly articulates that repentance and remission of sins – which is accomplished through baptism – should be preached in His name, not in his titles, roles or anthropomorphic modes of revelation! As an aside, church history is a tremendous compliment to Scripture – and there are numerous writings by early church fathers dating back to AD 160-AD 220 which substantiate water baptism in the name of Jesus as the authentic formula used by the New Testament church (Tertullian, Augustine, etc.).

Ironically, the generic formula for baptism in the titles (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) was not officially accepted until A.D. 325, when the Catholic Church organized the Nycean Council in an ecumenical effort to universalize (the word Catholic means universal) baptism itself. If we are basing our doctrinal belief on a timeline of truth, we must trace truth back to its origin and not compromise for a more modern, acceptable, contemporary evolution.

I will concede momentarily that traditions are difficult to part with, particularly when they have been established over hundreds of years. This is why Paul said, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him (Jesus Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Colossians 2:8-9)! Nonetheless, our quest is not to justify or even to eliminate tradition, but rather to search out seminal truth.

The sixteenth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew records a series of iconic questions that capture an exchange between Simon Bar-jona and the Son of the living God. Ignoring what everybody else called Him and the various cases of mistaken identity referenced by the other disciples (Elijah, a prophet sent from God, etc.), Jesus specifically asked Simon “Who do you say that I am?” When Simon verbalized his revelation and identified Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” his own identity was transformed. In one conversation the foundation for the church was laid and the identity of the I AM forever revealed. In one encounter, Simon took on a new name (Peter), and the three keys to the kingdom of Heaven were placed into his possession.

Shortly thereafter, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a convicting message of promise and responsibility that pricked the heart of his audience, spurred them into action and compelled them to ask “What shall we do?” Their interest afforded Peter the opportunity to then furnish three, newly acquired keys for the first time. Eloquently, and under the anointing, Peter unlocked the door to salvation and answered their question by exhorting the upper room gathering to; 1) “Repent”, 2) to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” and 3) to “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” – acts of faith and obedience that would empower them to effectively save themselves from the present “untoward generation” (Acts 2:38, 40).

The very next verse (Acts 2:41) reveals the results of the profound simplicity of the power of the preached Word when coupled with belief and action. Everyone within ear shot was convicted by Paul’s message– but not everyone received the word. It is worth mentioning that the Gospel is confrontational – it challenges the status quo of ecumenical religion and confronts the convenient doctrine of relevance and community acceptance.

In one of Jesus’ parables, the king said “many are called, but few are chosen.” This precise statement was made after the king disposed a wedding attendant into outer darkness for failure to put on garments appropriate for the occasion (Matthew 22:14). Then, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to this parable! Later Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Many are called, but few are chosen, yet much of the selection process has to do with choices we make after the initial call. In the same vein James wrote, “be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves” (James 1:22). Just as there is a difference between hearing and listening, there is a difference between hearing and receiving. To hear is to acknowledge sound, to listen is to recognize words, but to receive is to believe those words. James admonished the New Testament church to guard themselves against getting to the place where they could hear the Word, and abstain from acting on what they had heard. Such ability is the art of ignorance (the state of those who either lack knowledge, or choose to ignore it), the result of rebellion, and the beginning of the end for those who deceive themselves beyond belief.

As the book of Acts will show us, the power of the Gospel is displayed when the Word is received. As established, to receive is to believe. Thus, belief brings with it required behavior – or action. Once again, it was James who said “faith without works is dead” – and who compared faith, or belief, apart from action, to a dead and spiritless body (James 2:26)! James also said, “I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Sure, it’s possible to act out of obedience, and not truly believe – but it’s impossible to sincerely believe and not act accordingly! This is why Apostolic preaching always demands a verdict (leads people to a decision) – and is why those who received the word (or believed), obeyed Peter’s doctrinal instruction and were baptized according to his prescription. Amazingly, approximately three thousand souls were ‘added’ to the church in one day! If there were any questions as to the method of baptism and the appropriate name to be pronounced in baptism, you would think someone would have questioned Peter. At the very least, surely one of the other eleven would have provided clarification and, if the clarification were needed, undoubtedly it too would have been recorded in Scripture!

Not only were throngs of people baptized in Jesus’ name, they “continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), further indication of their belief. Their receiving the Word was not temporal or conditional, it was continual, and the faith (or belief) they professed was substantiated, made manifest and sustained by their behavior, obedience and action.

The book of Acts, which records the actions of Jesus Christ through the Apostles, is replete with many infallible proofs. Likewise, “when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). Later on in the same chapter, “when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John” (Acts 8:14). When Peter and John arrived in Samaria they discovered that the Samaritans had not received the Holy Ghost yet, and had only been baptized “in the Name of the Lord Jesus” up until that point (Acts 8:16). It was after Philip read the account of Calvary and preached about Jesus that the Ethiopian eunuch stopped his chariot by certain water and asked Philip to baptize him. Philip agreed to baptize him on the condition that he believed with all his heart. It was only when the eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”, that Philip agreed to baptize him - and they “went down both into the water” (Acts 8:29-38).

There is no record of Philip indoctrinating the eunuch with the unknowable mystery of a triune Godhead. No! He simply and unquestionable preached to him, Jesus. After all, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)!

Philip was not the only one who preached the necessity of baptism in Jesus’ Name. In Acts chapter ten Peter preached “To Him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). To underscore the point previously made that belief requires action, virtually everyone in Christendom would agree that baptism, in one form or another, is required for atonement, the washing away of one’s sins. Contrarily, no one with any credibility would conclude from Acts 10:43 that anyone who merely believes in Christ, whether they are baptized or not, can receive remission of sins. This would make null and void the necessity of baptism, and completely contradict Peter’s Day of Pentecost sermon, not to mention the emphatic letter he wrote to Timothy saying “baptism doth also now save us” (I Peter 3:21). The implied and agreed upon action or formula, required by the believer for remission of sins, following repentance, is baptism. To confirm and quell any doubt, verse 48 documents that Philip “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). Most denominations accept a baptismal formula using three titles, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but what about the apparent, face-value mandate by Philip to baptize in “the Name of the Lord?” Is not Lord a title also? Of course it is, but the argument is moot when you correctly acknowledge that the initial instruction was to baptize in “the name of the Lord,” not the title itself.

There have always been those who ignorantly reject and oppose the propagation of the gospel through private interpretation. This is how Saul, prior to his conversion, could imprison New Testament Christians in the name of Christ! Even with the tables turned, on the other side of the revelation of who Jesus Christ was and is, Paul (formerly Saul) found himself imprisoned, along with Silas. His firsthand experience dolling out persecution on the saints was not enough to deter him from preaching a message of truth - because there is power in the Name! Like the response of those who “gladly received the word” from Peter on the Day of Pentecost, the guards also asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved”’ Their response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31). Outside the Catholic Church, no other protestant believer would interpret this verse to mean that one could believe and secure salvation for someone else. This would conflict with Paul’s writings to the Romans, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him (Jesus Christ) by baptism…that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). Obviously, Paul and Silas’ statement included further instruction. Verse 33 demonstrates that the jailor’s acted on his belief in the Lord Jesus Christ by having Paul and Silas baptize him and his entire family!

While in the city of Ephesus, Paul inquired of a few who professed to follow Christ as to whether or not they had received the Holy Ghost. To Paul’s surprise, they had not even heard of the Holy Ghost before. So, he worked the plan of salvation backwards, step by step, and asked if they had at least been baptized. When they assured Paul that they had, according to John’s baptism of repentance, Paul preached to them that they should “believe on Him which should come after (John the Baptist), that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-5).

In Acts 9:34 Peter said unto a man named Aeneas, “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed,” and Aeneas arose immediately. In Acts chapter 16 there is a record of a young girl who was possessed with a demon. Paul and Silas prayed, and the spirit came out the same hour’ after they commanded it to depart “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Evidently, the possessed girl must have been in debt as a frequent client and contributor to the local soothsayers’ profitable business, for when they saw that she was delivered, and realized that the hope of their gains was gone, they turned Paul and Silas into the magistrates. Notice the timeless irony of their indictment, “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans” (Acts 16:16-21). Here again we have an instance where the Romans (birthplace of the Catholic Church) were unable to receive the Word, regardless of the powerful results.

I am very intrigued how mainstream Christianity can out of the corner of one side of their mouth recognize the healing power of His Name when it comes to physical ailment and the delivering power of His name when it comes to demon possession, but out of the other side, deny the power thereof when it comes to water baptism and remission of sins.

Paul was adamant about the name of Jesus Christ. Apparently, his reputation as a man of God in the city of Corinth caused certain followers to follow him. So much so, that the church loyalties were divided between Paul, Apollos, Cephas and even Christ! We see this today, a form of preacher religion; thousands of Christians fill pews on Sundays and follow popular televangelists and church pastors, never taking the time to search the Scriptures for themselves to sort out what they believe. Paul quickly put a halt to this practice saying, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you…lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name” (I Corinthians 1:12-15). The inference Paul makes is that he did not die on the cross, Jesus did, and he did not espouse the heresy of baptism in the name of anyone other than He who was crucified! We catch a closer glimpse of the radical revelation Paul had about the Name, when we read where he said, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Can there be any doubt then as to what name Paul baptized in?

Nowhere in the Bible can you find one instance, outside of Matthew 28:19, where anyone was baptized in the titles. Yet, we have just explored multiple instances where the apostles preached the Name and where believers were repeatedly baptized in the name of Jesus!

The Scriptures we have dissected during this short discourse have answered the question as to the necessity of baptism in Jesus Name. That being said, I realize that for some, even having considered Christ’s teachings, weighing all that is in the balance and eternally at stake, the simple truth is still too difficult to believe.

Regardless, the Gospel always demands a verdict, and exposed truth always leads pulls its audience towards a decision. The question is not about the necessity of water baptism in Jesus’ Name, but rather whether or not the plain, fundamental truth of water baptism in Jesus Name is too difficult for the inquisitive to receive. Or, is it that the admission of one’s folly, the sacrifice of one’s pride and the prospective (for some inevitable) pain of separation from one’s family, church and tradition, at the heart of the matter, too great for the argumentative to admit and difficult for the interrogative to deny? That is a legitimate question also.

Now, have you been baptized in Jesus’ Name, since you first believed? That is the question.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Midnight, Honey Nut Cheerios & Frosted Mini Wheats





All concern with cholesterol levels aside, there is nothing like cereal just before midnight - especially with little cereal buddies. Better than the flavor of the milk once all of the honey nut cheerios and strawberry frosted mini-wheats have been eaten are the memories made during the munching. Sharing the same spoon, momentarily allowing manners to lapse, hearing our two-year old slurp and say 'this is fun Daddy!' is reason enough for a refill. In between bites, we laughed and giggled, told each other 'we wuved eachother sooo much!' and recited One God Bible verses. She melts my heart everytime she volunteers in Spanish, 'te quiero mucho Daddy!'

Thank you Jesus for the moments you have given us with our miracle. I will never cease to be grateful for the grace and mercy you showed me by sparing Tawni and Rori's lives during her premature entry into this world two and a half years ago. May we always take advantage of the moments and opportunities we have together with those we love the most. It's not Valentine's Day, but tell your husband or wife how madly in love you are with them anyway. It isn't Father's Day or Mother's Day either - but if you're fortunate to have parents in your life, call them and tell them how much they mean to you. Don't wait for a birthday to call your brother or sister, either. It doesn't always take a beautiful boquet of flowers or a restaurant reservation. Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes, a bowl of milk and some cereal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Beauty of the Beaten



Think of the ripe, tender olive that is, at varied stages of it's prime, plucked, pitted, left alone, pressed, crushed - and then beaten.


From beyond the thick badger skins of time that now veil your memory, recall the mental image you painted long ago, perhaps as a child in an Old Testament Bible study, of the golden candlestick - six knobbed branches protruding from a prominent trunk, budding into perfect almond bowls - skillfully carved with painstaking intricacy out of pure gold, one piece, beaten into shape.


Meet the rest of humanity at the Place of the Skull, and catch your own reflection in the eternal eyes of He who knew no sin, yet became sin, and hung there; stripped, stricken, plucked, pitted, left alone, cursed, pressed, whipped- and then beaten beyond recognition.


As you bow your head and cradle your temple in the palms of your own guilty hands you realize you are soaking wet, sweating profusely - only reality proves it isn't perspiration at all. Repenting, the next excruciating and painfully vulnerable moment reveals red blood, and with that revelation the condemning substance too is gone - and an aromatic apothecary instead is saturating both your hair and the hem of your garment. Amazingly, and with such grace you can somehow peer back up at an empty cross and share the smile you see through the clouds with those stumbling about beneath the weight of the rod, the spear, the mallet and the whip.

Without the 'beaten' there is no efficacious work of Calvary, atonement for sins, redemption or sufficient grace. Without the 'beaten' there is no olive oil with which to anoint the sick, the called, the sent - and without the 'beaten' the there is no ignited spirit, human candle of testimony or wick for burning worship.

The beauty of the beaten is not the anguish of the process - it is the end the result when He says 'it is finished.'

You too can learn to embrace the wave that dashes you against the Rock of ages.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

TGFF



Thank God for freedom.

Friday many will enjoy a brief reprieve from their normal work schedules, and on the eve of our country's 233rd birthday we will observe 'Independence Day.' Amidst the chaotic budget crisis California faces, we pause long enough to temporarily forget work furloughs, historic deficits and remember those who have served and sacrificed to pay the price for everyday freedoms we so often take for granted. In our State's Legislature, representatives adjourn each session 'in memory of' those who have passed away. Similarly, we will quickly mourn the passing of another 4th of July weekend. By dawn on Monday morning we will have buried our indebtedness with the immediate gratification of celebration, and return like slaves to the every day grind that is business as usual. That is human nature, I suppose - we are notorious for 'not realizing what we have until it's gone', for conveniently restricting recognition of our veterans to annual holidays, and for memorializing our heroes after they have passed. So, before you bum-rush the barbecue grill or assemble on a softball diamond, make an effort to find and salute a soldier, honor a Veteran, pray for our military families, place your hand over your heart and reaffirm your pledge of allegiance - with added emphasis on the words 'UNDER GOD' - to the greatest nation (in the world), the United States of America.

Thank God for freedom.

There is a freedom, however, that is eternal. Paul spoke of this in his first letter to the Corinthian church. In fact, it could be said that he penned the inaugural 'declaration of independence' when he wrote, 'Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received , and wherein ye stand, and by which also ye are saved' (1 Cor. 15:1-2). The original declaration of independence, of course, is the 'Gospel' - or good news - of Jesus' birth, life, ministry, death, burial and subsequent resurrection, which Paul preached. Because of the ultimate price that Jesus Christ paid on the cross, you and I can experience the abundant life and liberty - herein and hereafter - that only comes with the Independence He purchased for us. So, during our every day devotion let us be cautious not to hastily rush past the gates of His presence without first giving adequate thanks for all He has done, and for all He is doing; a sanctuary where there is safety, a local, assembled body where there is liberty, an unfettered pulpit, and an unintimidated man or woman of God with an anointed utterance.

Thank God for freedom.