Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Friday, November 30, 2007

What did JESUS teach about MONEY?


Luke 16:13 (NIV) "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Mat 6:19-21 (TEB) "Do not save riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, save riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are."

It is easy enough to "explain away" one or two verses to come to the conclusion we want. But what you are about to read is more than one or two verses: Scriptural teaching about money is clear, consistent, and radical. All is required, and the flesh must die to obey.

Be Content With Your Needs Being Met - Beware Of Materialism
Heb 13:5 (RSV) "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have."

Ps 37:7,16 (NAS) Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way... Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked.

Prov 23:4-5 (NIV) Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

The Test of Riches and The Test of Poverty
1 Sam 2:7 (NIV) The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.

Prov 30:8-9 (NIV) ...Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

If poverty is accompanied by physical dangers, prosperity is accompanied by spiritual dangers. God will often move us through both for the purpose of testing us.
Phil 4:11-13 (Phi) ...For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry--of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.

Phil 4:12 (NAS) I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

Phil 4:12-13 (Jer) I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich, too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.

Will We Follow if Jesus Asks Us to Enter Poverty For a Season?
Mark 10:21-27,31 (Jer) Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, "There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, "My children," he said to them, "how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." They were more astonished than ever. "In that case," they said to one another, "who can be saved?" Jesus gazed at them. "For men," he said, "it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God... Many who are first will be last, and the last first."

Is it likely, with all of his contacts and experience, that this man would have remained poor for long? And yet he was unwilling to obey Christ with all these advantages, even temporarily.

Loosening Your Grip
Acts 2:44-45 (Phi) All the believers joined together and shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need.

Acts 4:32,34-35 (NIV) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had... There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

God is calling all of us to let go of our possessions. We may even get to use them in the future if we "loosen our grip". If we do not do this willingly ourselves, God will. It is a sure sign that we are sons. We should thank the Lord when He wrenches a dangerous thing from our hands. Maybe we could even cooperate a little! If we don't, moths, rust, and thieves will do their job.

A.W. Tozer: "Never Own Anything--Get Rid Of The Sense Of Possessing!"
Luke 14:33 (Phi) "Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple."

Luke 14:33 (TEB) Concluded Jesus, "none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has."

Luke 14:33 (RSV) "Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Luke 3:11 (NIV) John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

Luke 6:30 (Jer) "Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you."

Jesus Gives Investment Advice...
Luke 16:9-11 (Phi) "Now my advice to you is to use 'money', tainted as it is, to make yourselves friends, so that when it comes to an end, they may welcome you into the houses of eternity. The man who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the big things. So that if you are not fit to be trusted to deal with the wicked wealth of this world, who will trust you with true riches?"

Play Money
Luke 16:9-12 (NIV) "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings... If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?"

Luke 14:12-14 (NIV) "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Mat 6:24 (NIV) "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Luke 12:33 (NIV) "Sell your possessions and give to the poor... "

He Who Dies With The Most Toys... Loses!
Luke 12:15-21 (Phi) ..."Be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions... A rich man's farmland produced heavy crops. So he said to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have no room to store this harvest of mine?' Then he said, 'I know what I'll do. I'll pull down my barns and build bigger ones where I can store all my grain and my goods and I can say to my soul, Soul, you have plenty of good things stored up there for years to come. Relax! Eat, drink, and have a good time!' But God said to him, 'You fool, this very night you will be asked for YOUR SOUL!...' That is what happens to the man who hoards things for himself and is not rich in the eyes of God."

Luke 16:19-31 (NIV) "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus... The beggar died and angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died... In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up... 'I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony...' 'Then I beg you... I have five brothers... warn them so that they will not come to this place of torment.' 'They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.'"

Ps 49:16-19 (NIV) Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed--and men praise you when you prosper--he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life.

Ecc 5:10-15 (NIV) Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune... Naked a man comes from his mothers womb, and as he comes, so he departs...

Prov 11:4,28 (NIV) Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death... Whoever trusts in his riches will fall...

Money as An Insulation From God

Christians hope in eternal security, and God would have us give up "carnal security" to get it. The flesh wants the security of money. It wants to be in control, to be master, to "be god". So we dream of and cling to money because we don't want to be totally dependent on God...
Job 31:24-25,28 (NIV) [Job:] "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,' if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained... then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high."

Encore, Encore!

C.S. Lewis writes in Perelandra, "This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards... was it possibly the root of all evil? No: of course the love of money was called that. But money itself--perhaps one valued it chiefly as a defense against chance, a security for being able to have things over again, a means of arresting the unrolling of the film."
Eze 28:2-10 (NAS) ..."Thus says the Lord God, 'Because your heart is lifted up and you have said, 'I am a God...' yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God... You have acquired riches for yourself... and your heart is lifted up because of your riches--Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you... and they will draw their swords... and defile your splendor... and you will die... Will you still say, 'I am a god,' in the presence of your slayer, although you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you?'"

What in The World is Wrong With The Televangelists?
1 Thes 2:5 (Jer) ...Never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery or a cover for trying to get money.

2 Cor 2:17 (NEB) At least we do not go hawking the word of God about, as so many do...

2 Cor 2:17 (NIV) Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.

2 Cor 2:17 (LB) We are not like those hucksters--and there are many of them--whose idea in getting out the Gospel is to make a good living out of it.

1 Tim 6:5 (Phi) ...among men of warped minds who have lost their real hold on the truth but hope to make some profit out of the Christian religion.

1 Tim 6:5 (TEB) ...They think religion is a way to become rich.

1 Tim 6:5-9 (NIV), who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

1 Tim 6:10-12 (NIV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

The Nobility of Poverty?
James 1:9-11 (Jer) It is right for the poor brother to be proud of his high rank, and the rich one to be thankful that he has been humbled, because riches last no longer than the flowers in the grass; the scorching sun comes up, and the grass withers, the flower falls; what looked so beautiful now disappears. It is the same with the rich man: his business goes on; he himself perishes.

James 1:9-11 (Phi) The brother who is in need may be proud because God has raised him to the true riches. The rich may be proud that God has shown him his spiritual poverty... Just as surely will the rich man and his ways fall into the blight of decay.

The Risks Of Wealth...
Mark 4:18-19 (Phi) "Then there are the seeds which were sown among the thorn bushes. These are the people who hear the message, but the worries of this world and the false glamour of riches and all sorts of other ambitions creep in and choke the life out of what they have heard, and it produces no crop in their lives."

Luke 8:14 (Phi) "And the seed sown among the thorns represents the people who hear the message and go on their way, and with the worries and riches and pleasures of living, the life is choked out of them, and in the end they produce nothing."

Luke 9:25 (NIV) "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

The Prosperity "Fat Cats" Bite The Dust...

Many of us have been fervently praying that God would turn the church upside down and vigorously shake it (Heb 12:25-29). When this happens, those who love money and have lost their grip on the truth will be the first to fall.
1 Cor 4:8-21 (NIV) Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings--and that without us! How I wish you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!.. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless... Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children... I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with punishment, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

James 5:1-3,5 (TEB) And now, you rich people [see James 2:2-7], listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you, and eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days... Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter.

Jer 5:27-29 (NIV) ..."They have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek... they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor. Should I not punish them for this?" declares the Lord.

Advice on Security Investing
1 Tim 6:17-19 (Phi) Tell those who are rich in this present world not to be contemptuous of others, and not to rest the weight of their confidence on the transitory power of wealth but on the living God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in kindly actions, to be ready to give to others and to sympathize with those in distress. Their security should be invested in the life to come, so that they may be sure of holding a share in the life which is real and permanent.

Luke 12:29-34 (Phi) "You must not set your heart on what you eat or drink, nor must you live in a state of anxiety. The whole heathen world is busy about getting food and drink, and your Father knows well enough that you need such things. No, set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course... Sell your possessions and give the money away to those in need. Get yourselves purses that never grow old, inexhaustible treasure in Heaven, where no thief can ever reach it, or moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!"

1 Tim 6:8-10 (Phi) Surely then, as far as physical things are concerned, it is sufficient for us to keep our bodies fed and clothed. For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into a trap and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind.

Jer 9:23-24 (NAS) Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom... let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this, that he understands and knows Me... "

Now You Know...
1 Jn 3:16-18 (Phi) We know what love is because Christ laid down his life for us. We must in turn lay down our lives for our brothers. But as for the well-to-do man who sees his brother in want but shuts his heart against him, how could anyone believe that the love of God lives in him? My Children, let us love not merely in theory or in words--let us love in sincerity and in practice! (2 Cor 8:9)

Luke 12:47-48 (NIV) "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Prov 28:20 (NIV) The faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

Rev 3:17-19 (Phi) [Jesus] "While you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need,' you have no eyes to see that you are wretched, pitiable, poverty-stricken, blind and naked. My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is refined in the furnace so that you may be rich, and white garments to wear so that you may hide the shame of your nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes to make you see. All those whom I love I correct and discipline. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent."

Why do we worship on Sunday?

In the Old Testament, God stated, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you," (Exodus 20:8-10, NASB). It was the custom of the Jews to come together on the Sabbath, which is Saturday, cease work, and worship God. Jesus went to the synagogue on Saturday to teach (Matt. 12:9, John 18:20) as did the apostle Paul (Acts 17:2; 18:4; ). So, if in the Old Testament we are commanded to keep the Sabbath and in the New Testament we see Jews, Jesus, and the apostles doing the same thing, then why do we worship on Sunday?
First of all, of the 10 commandments listed in Exodus 20:1-17, only 9 of them were reinstituted by in the New Testament: (six in Matt. 19:18, murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, honor parents, and worshiping God; Rom. 13:9, coveting. Worshiping God properly covers the first three commandments) The one that was not reaffirmed was the one about the Sabbath. Instead, Jesus said that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8).
In creation God rested on the seventh day. But, since God is all powerful, He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t need to take a break and rest. So, why did does it say that He rested? The reason is simple: Mark 2:27 says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." In other words, God established the Sabbath as a rest for His people, not because He needed a break, but because we are mortal and need a time of rest, of focus on God. In this, our spirits and bodies are both renewed.
The Old Testament system of Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that sense. In order to "remain" in favor with God, you had to also keep the Sabbath. If it was not kept, then the person was in sin and would often be punished (Ezekiel 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Deut. 13:1-9; Num. 35:31; Lev. 20:2, etc.).
But with Jesus’ atonement, we no longer are required to keep the Law. We are not under Law, but grace (Rom. 6:14-15). The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus. He is our rest. We are not under obligation, by Law, to keep it and this goes for the Sabbath as well. It is not a requirement that we keep the Sabbath. If it were, then we would still be under the Law. But, we are not.

Evidence of the Change of Days can be Seen in the NT

Within the New Testament is ample evidence that the seventh day Sabbath is no longer a requirement.

Rom. 14:5-6, "One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God."
The entire section of Rom. 14:1-12 is worth careful study. Nevertheless, the instructions here are that individuals must be convinced in their own minds about which day they observe for the Lord. If the seventh day Sabbath were a requirement, then the choice would not be mans’, but God’s.

Col. 2:16-17, "Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."
Notice here that time sequence mentioned. A festival is yearly. A new moon is monthly. A Sabbath is weekly. No one is to judge in regard to this. The Sabbath is defined as a shadow, the reality is Jesus. Jesus is our Sabbath.

Acts 20:7, "And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight."
The first day of the week is Sunday and this is the day the people gathered. This passage can easily be seen as the church meeting on Sunday. It has two important church functions within it: breaking bread (communion) and a message (preaching). Additionally, Luke did not use the Jewish system of counting days: sundown to sundown. He used the Roman system: midnight to midnight. This is a subtle point that shows the Jewish Sabbath system was not the one utilized by Luke.

1 Cor. 16:1-2, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come."
Notice here that Paul is directing the churches to meet on the first day of each week and put money aside. It would seem that this is tithing. So, the instructed time for the church to meet is Sunday. Is this an official worship day set up by the church? You decide.

Rev. 1:10-11, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
The New Bible Dictionary says regarding the term, ‘The Lord’s Day’ in Revelation 1:10: "This is the first extant occurrence in Christian literature of heµ kyriakeµ heµmera. The adjectival construction suggests that it was a formal designation of the church’s worship day. As such it certainly appears early in the 2nd century (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, 1. 67).
In many churches today, the term "The Lord’s Day" is used to designate Sunday, the same as it was in the second century.

I hope this is evidence enough to show you that the Bible does not require that we worship on Saturday. If anything, we have the freedom (Rom. 14:1-12) to worship on the day that we believe we should. And, we no one should judge us in regard to the day we keep. We are free in Christ, not under law (Rom. 6:14).

What does it mean to be slain in the Spirit?

The term "slain in the Spirit" is used in the Charismatic circles of Christian Churches to designate a supposed movement of the Holy Spirit upon a person. The claim is that the Holy Spirit moves with such power on a person, that the person is "slain." This does not mean the person dies, but that he/she is so overcome by the presence of the Spirit that he/she falls down to the ground being completely overcome.
Many evangelists have televised meetings where Christians gather. Some of these meetings have special times of healing or "receiving the Spirit." This is where the "evangelist," who is supposedly anointed to be able to do this, goes around putting his hand on peoples' foreheads causing them to fall down -- to be slain in the Spirit -- as they are overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit. This display is unfortunate since it is unverifiable, ostentatious, and could very well be nothing more than the overcoming power of emotions of a person.
On the other hand, it is possible that the Holy Spirit could move so powerfully on a person that he/she is overcome. After all, God is incredibly powerful. But, the problem is not with this possibility, but with whether or not it is biblical. We must always seek to remain as close to the word of God as possible and let it our word and practices. So, let's look at the Word.
Perhaps, the closest that we can find in the Bible to being slain in the Spirit is the occurrence of where Paul the apostle fell to the ground when Jesus appeared to him:

"And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:3-4).

Is this being slain in the Spirit? No, it is not. But it is an instance where people fell to the ground when the presence of the Lord is strong. In fact, my own subjective experience includes a time where the power of the Lord was so strong that I was forced to bow my knee and be laid low to the ground. But the result was worship and adoration, not a lack of bodily control.
Nevertheless, let's look at some additional scriptures used to support being slain in the Spirit:

"And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; 4 and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men," (Matt. 28:2-4).
Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and *said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back, and fell to the ground," (John 18:3-6).
"at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads," (Acts 26:13-14).
We can see that in the presence of God people fall to the ground. This is natural and proper given the majestic holiness of God compared to our sinfulness. Falling to the ground in the presence of the Lord is to be expected. But, does this mean that being slain in the Spirit is biblical? .
When someone is slain in the Spirit, he or she is usually touched on the forehead by a pastor or teacher or evangelist, etc. This touch alone seems to be the compelling means by which a person receives this movement of the Spirit. The person is then incapacitated for a period of time. Again, is this biblical? Apparently not since there is not a single instance in the New Testament where someone is touched on the forehead and falls to the ground due to the presence of the Spirit.
Furthermore, the danger in this phenomena is that it can set up the teacher as some special "anointed" individual with the power to cause the Spirit to move on people who then congregate to this individual and view him/her as a specially anointed person. This is inherently dangerous, especially given the numerous theological errors taught by many of the TV evangelists.
Now, I am not saying that the Spirit of God cannot knock someone down or that the Spirit of God does not move today. I wholeheartedly believe that the Spirit is still very active in the Church. But, given the sensationalism in the TV church, the numerous unbiblical practices and teachings that occur there, and the over eagerness of people to be slain in the Spirit, I would conclude that this phenomena is to be frowned upon.

What is the Church?

What is the church?

The Christian church can be seen in two ways: the visible and the invisible. The visible church is comprised of all who claim the name of Christian and who gather together for worship and participation of the sacraments: the Lord's Supper and Baptism. The members of the visible church claim the name of Christian (excluding the cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.). The visible church contains both believers and non-believers; that is, there are people in the visible church who are not really saved.
The members of the invisible Church are the actual body of believers. They are the ones who are truly regenerate and have trusted, by faith, in the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The true Christian is indwelt by the Lord Jesus (John 14:23) through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Christian church is figuratively said to be the body of Christ.

Rom. 12:5, "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
Eph. 4:12, "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ."
The word "church" comes from the Greek "ekklesia" which means "gathering" or "assembly." Therefore, the church is the gathering of the believers who come together to participate in fellowship with one another as they worship God and hear from His Word, the Bible. The church as a whole has been equipped by with people possessing different spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:5-8). The purpose of the gifts is "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ," (Eph. 4:12-13).
The Christian church was founded by Jesus and He is its head and Savior, (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23). Being in the church, the Christian is subject to the Lordship of Jesus (Eph. 5:24) through the administration of the Word of God.
The Bible does not provide a detailed method of Church government. But, it does state that there are to be elders who govern in the church. These elders are appointed by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). They to be able to teach sound doctrine and refute error (Titus 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:2).
The purpose of the church is to both glorify God and to inform the world about the work of Christ as Redeemer.

"How Can I be Delivered from Demonic Influence?

Top ten questions to ask concerning your deliverance

When trying to locate the source or root of a bondage, these top ten questions can be very helpful and save a lot of time. Think of this as a miniature deliverance questionnaire.

1. What kind of bondage are you facing? (Fears, depression, voices in your mind, mental illness, physical illness, mental torment, spiritual torment, etc.)

It's always important to clearly identify the problem, so you know exactly what you are dealing with.

2. Do you remember when the bondage started? What was happening around the time this bondage started?

Many bondages can be easily traced back to a particular experience in one's life. If you can get the person to remember when exactly their bondage started, they will likely remember what happened that 'triggered' the problem in the first place.

3. Can you see any 'open doors' where the bondage may have entered through?

Give the person you are ministering to a chance to see if they can come up with anything. They may not be able to come up with anything, or they may be completely wrong, but it's definitely worth a try.

4. Have you or your ancestors been involved in the occult or any false religions? Including secret societies such as Freemasonry and also seeking occult power or knowledge from others, such as having a fortune told, etc.

Countless bondages are rooted in some sort of occult involvement, either by the person or by their ancestors. False religions are a red flag as well. Freemasonry is well known for bringing people under demonic bondage.

5. Do you have ancestors or family members who have suffered from a similar kind of bondage?

This is a good way to begin looking into the possibility of a spirit being handed down through a generational curse or iniquity.

6. How do you see yourself? (Do you feel guilty, low self-esteem, confident, etc.)

This can help reveal problems with guilt, strongholds, rejection, self-rejection, etc.

7. Is there anything in your life that has been or is currently troubling you?

This is a great conversation starter to help them open up about what's on their mind, and can be a great way to reveal the struggles they are facing mentally and spiritually.

8. Do you feel truly loved by God for who you are? (Be honest!)

This is a great way to identify a very common stronghold. Many people don't see God as a loving Father, and it hinders them from feeling God's love in their life, which gives the devil a lot of room to play havoc.

9. What things have negatively impacted your life? (Traumatic experiences, deeper sins, bad relationships, etc.)

Finding out what things have negatively affected a person's life can reveal many doors that the devil has gained into their lives. Bad relationships can cause bitterness and cause people to become emotionally built up inside. Unforgiveness is a known way for a person to become defiled, which is an open door to the devil. Deeper sins may or may not have been put to rest in the person's mind. If the person still continues to beat themselves up for it, then they would do good to confess the sin, forsake it, and receive God's forgiveness of it, as well as forgive themselves for it. A clean conscience is important to a person's spiritual freedom, but if a person is unwilling to forgive themselves, they hinder their conscience from being cleansed.

10. What was your relationship with your parents like when you were growing up?

Many bondages begin in childhood, because a child is much more sensitive and easily damaged than adults. If a person has had a rough upbringing, it can result in a lot of unresolved problems later on in life. Any hurt feelings towards ones parents must be brought out into the open, confessed, then forgiven.

What does the Bible say about pornography?

Even though the Bible does not say anything about pornography, specifically, pornography is still wrong. Pornography deals with photography and/or illicit paintings and/or cartoons that are designed to arouse sexual passions in the viewer. It is certainly possible that at the time when the Bible was written that there were various art forms that depicted sexually explicit things. But apparently this phenomenon was not sufficiently prevalent enough for the subject to be addressed in the Bible. Nevertheless, we can derive an accurate conclusion from scriptures that deal with other issues and apply them to the issue of pornography.

Matt. 5:27, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."
1 Cor. 6:18, "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body."
Col. 3:5, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry."
As you can see the Bible tells us to be sexually pure. This is why Jesus even tells us to guard our minds. Note that He said in Matt. 5:27 that to even look on a woman lustfully is to commit adultery with her. In viewing pornography, nakedness, and explicit sexual displays lust is not only given the opportunity to rise (thereby enticing since) but most often lustful passions and thoughts are triggered in the heart and mind. This is obviously sinful and clearly demonstrates that pornography is sinful. Add to this that oftentimes pornography involves viewing sexual intercourse between unmarried people, and or homosexual and lesbian activities, and we have a very clear case of it being sinful. Even if the pornography does not involve viewing sexual intercourse between two people, it involves the viewing of naked individuals which is properly reserved for a husband and a wife.
Now someone may ask "What about art? It often portrays the nakedness of men and women? Why isn't that pornographic?" The difference between art and pornography is the difference between beauty and lust. In art the nakedness is intended to be a display of beauty and wonder. Pornography does no such thing. It's intent is to entice a person by arousing the person's lust. But then, someone may say that they view pornography as an art form and that it is beautiful. But this is nothing more than an attempt to justify sin.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What is the Anointing?

You have the anointing of God flowing through you when God's heart touches another person's heart through your heart. The anointing of God is the Holy Spirit. He flows as a river of love, from the throne of grace, through the hearts of believers, bringing life to all that receive His touch.

God anoints people that love Him more than they love their own lives, and that love others as themselves. As we open our hearts to love others God's anointing flows through us. When we close our hearts to others and grieve the Holy Spirit the flow stops.

(1 John 3:17 NKJV) But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

(Proverbs 4:23 NKJV) Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is given through people to demonstrate God's love and power. Christ means the "Anointed One". Because Christ is in us the same anointing that He had on earth we also have.

(Luke 4:18-19 NKJV) "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; {19} To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

1. The anointing is given to preach the gospel to the poor
2. The anointing is given to heal and restore people
3. The anointing is given to proclaim freedom to the captives
4. The anointing is given to open blind eyes
5. The anointing is given to set people free
6. The anointing flows in God's timing and proclaims God's timing

1. The anointing is given to preach the gospel to the poor, to bring the revelation of God's love to those who are seeking.

God's anointing flows to those who are hungry for a touch from His Holy Spirit. The anointing has less to do with the person that it flows through than it does with the person who receives it, and the One who sent it, God Almighty.

(Luke 6:19-20 NKJV) And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. {20} Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.

(Matthew 5:3 NKJV) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The term poor here is the Greek word, ptochos which carries the implication of being a beggar, in this case a spiritual beggar hungry for the Spirit of God.

The anointing can be stifled if the people refuse to receive it from the person that God is sending it through. Things such as pride, envy, bitterness, and unforgiveness against an anointed person can prevent the receiver from accepting it. The anointed person must go to people that can receive it.
(Matthew 13:57-58 NKJV) So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." {58} Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

(Matthew 10:13-14 NKJV) "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. {14} "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.

2. The anointing is given to heal and restore people

(Acts 10:36-38 NKJV) "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ; He is Lord of all; {37} "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: {38} "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

3. The anointing is given to proclaim freedom to the captives

(2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, {25} in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, {26} and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

4. The anointing is given to open blind eyes

(2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, {4} whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(Revelation 3:18 NKJV) "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

5. The anointing is given to set people free

(Isaiah 10:27 NKJV) It shall come to pass in that day That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, And his yoke from your neck, And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

(John 8:36 NKJV) "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

6. The anointing flows in God's timing, and also proclaims God's timing

(Ephesians 2:10 NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. As we walk in the anointing of God we go where God wills, do what God wills, and say what God wills.

(John 8:28-29 NKJV) Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. {29} "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God
(John 4:10 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

(John 4:13-14 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, {14} "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

(John 7:37-39 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

(2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NKJV) For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. {21} Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, {22} who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The anointing gives wisdom
(1 John 2:20 NKJV) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

(1 John 2:27 NKJV) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

(Isaiah 11:2 NKJV) The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

(Daniel 12:3 NKJV) Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

(Proverbs 11:30 NKJV) The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.

(Psalms 90:12 NKJV) So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

The anointing is the river of life that flows from the throne through your heart and penetrates other people's hearts
(Psalms 36:7-9 NKJV) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. {8} They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. {9} For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

(Psalms 46:4 NKJV) There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

(Revelation 21:6 NKJV) And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

(Revelation 22:1-2 NKJV) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. {2} In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

(Revelation 22:17 NKJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

As we continue in the river of God's anointing it intensifies until we are carried by it.
(Ezekiel 47:1-10 NKJV) Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. {2} He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. {3} And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. {4} Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. {5} Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. {6} He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. {7} When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. {8} Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. {9} "And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. {10} "It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. Wherever the river goes it brings life. The fish in the above passage represent lost souls; the sea represents the sea of humanity, peoples and nations that need the gospel message to come through God's anointed people.

The anointing is given to intercede for people
(Isaiah 59:16-21 NKJV) He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. {17} For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. {18} According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay. {19} So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. {20} "The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," Says the LORD. {21} "As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore." (Isaiah 60:1-2 NKJV) Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. {2} For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.

The free flowing anointing of God's love brings joy to God and that joy is felt by the person He flows through. Love is the joy we get from God when we put His benefit and the benefit of another person before our own.
(Psalms 45:3-7 NKJV) Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, With Your glory and Your majesty. {4} And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things. {5} Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; The peoples fall under You. {6} Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. {7} You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

(Isaiah 58:6-12 NKJV) "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? {7} Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? {8} Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. {9} Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, {10} If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. {11} The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. {12} Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

Although there is great pleasure and joy in the anointing, because it is the presence of God, we are not to seek the joy, we are to seek God, and the benefit of others, the joy is a natural result of these things. The anointing is not given for the vessel it flows through; it is given for the one it flows to.
(Psalms 16:11 NKJV) You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(James 4:3 NKJV) You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Everyone in the body of Christ is anointed with the Holy Spirit, and we all need to give from God's anointing to each other, and we all need to be able to receive the anointing that comes through other Christians.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-12 NKJV) There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. {6} And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. {7} But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: {8} for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, {10} to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. {11} But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. {12} For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

(Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, {12} for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, {13} till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; {14} that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; {16} from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The anointing is sacred, the anointing is the Holy Spirit, and all believers in Christ have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We must be careful what we say about our brothers and sisters in Christ.
(Matthew 12:31 NKJV) "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

(1 Chronicles 16:22-24 NKJV) Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm." {23} Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. {24} Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

"Do dreams have spiritual significance?"

Summarizing the Importance of Our Dreams

God has chosen to communicate with mankind through dreams. He guides and counsels us through our dreams. He establishes covenants with us through our dreams. He grants us gifts in our dreams. He utilized dreams from Genesis to Revelation, and declared that He would continue to use them in the last days. When you total up all dreams and visions in the Bible, and all the stories and actions which come out of these dreams and visions, you have about one-third of the Bible, which is equal to the size of the New Testament! Dreams are a central way God has chosen to communicate with us, and thus they must be given great weight!

Five Things You Can Do to Help Recall Your Dreams
Say to yourself, "I believe dreams contain a valid message."
This is a signal to your heart that you are taking it seriously and want to hear what it has to tell you. You are giving it permission, and even asking it to awaken you after each dream. Your heart will do exactly that. You see, if you do not awaken within five minutes of the dream ending, you will not recall it. If, however, you

tell your heart that dreams are leftover undigested pizza, then you heart lets you sleep through the dream and doesn't awaken you after it is over, and thus you do not recall it.

Ask God to speak to you through dreams as you fall asleep.
God does answer prayers, especially when prayed in accordance to His will!

Put your journal beside your bed and immediately record your dreams upon awakening.
You will forget most of your dreams by the morning, so get up and write them down when you awaken.

Get eight hours of sleep, as the entire last hour will be dream-time.

Awaken naturally, without the use of an alarm clock, as alarms shatter dream recall and blast tidbits of dreams into oblivion where they are never found.

If you will do the above five things, you will recall dreams every week.

Seven Foundational Principles for Interpreting Dreams
Most dreams are symbolic (including biblical dreams), so view them the same way you would view a political cartoon. Throw the switch in your brain that says, "Look at this symbolically."
You can learn the art of communicating symbolically by playing the game "Pictionary" or "Bible Pictionary."

The symbols will come from the dreamer's life, so ask, "What does this symbol mean to me?" or, if working on another's dream, ask, "What does this symbol mean to you?"
For example, Joseph was a shepherd, and he dreamed of sheaves and sun, moon and stars bowing down (Gen. 37:1-11). These images surround a shepherd boy who lives in the fields. Nebuchadnezzar, a king, dreamed of statues of gold (Dan 2:31ff), which surround kings who live in palaces.

The dream generally speaks of the concerns which your heart is currently facing. So ask, "What issues was I processing the day before I had the dream?"
For example, Paul was wondering where to go next on his missionary journey and had a dream of a Macedonian man motioning for him to come on over (Acts 16:6-11). Nebuchadnezzar was thinking his kingdom would go on forever (Dan. 4:28-33) and he had a dream of a tree being chopped off at the roots (Dan. 4:9-27). Once you know the thoughts that were on the dreamer's heart when he fell asleep, it is much easier to draw out the meaning of the dream.

The meaning of the dream must be drawn from the dreamer. Realize you know nothing about the dream, but through dependence upon the Holy Spirit and the skillful use of questions, you can draw the meaning of the dream out from the heart of the dreamer.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (Dan. 1:17).

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out (Prov. 20:5).

The dreamer's heart will leap and "witness" and say, "Aha!" when it hears the right interpretation, so never accept an interpretation that does not bear witness in the dreamer's heart.

Dreams reveal but do not condemn. Their goal is to preserve life, not to destroy it (Job 33:13-18).

Never make a major decision in your life based only on a dream without receiving additional confirmation from the other ways that God speaks to us and guides us (peace in our hearts, the counsel of others, illumined Scriptures, God's still small voice, prophecy, anointed reasoning, etc.).

Discerning Dreams About Yourself
At least 95% of your dreams will be about you -- your inner self, your current situation, your relationships. Your dreams come from your heart and will express the things that are important to your heart. The most common area your spirit will reveal will be your emotional, heart struggles and sanctification issues, expressed symbolically. Body and health issues are also important to your spirit, so they may be revealed, again in a symbolic way. Your relationships to other people are important to your heart, so these may be conveyed in signs and symbols. And the circumstances and events that surround your life, ministry or vocation are also important to your heart, so these may be portrayed symbolically in your dreams.

Because the vast majority of dreams are about your inner self, begin the process of interpreting your dream with the assumption that it probably is about something you are or should be dealing with in your own life right now.

Isolate the feeling of the dream first. How did you feel upon first awakening? Was your heart pounding in fear? Were you confused, frustrated, angry, rejected, or threatened? Did you feel loved, excited, happy, or content? Did you feel exposed, unprepared, or disappointed? What was the overall emotion that the dream evoked? In what aspect of your life are you also feeling this emotion? If it is not immediately obvious to you, ask the Lord to reveal it to you.

Look at the action of the dream next. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the symbolism of the action. For example, if the symbol in your dream is that your car is going backward, ask, "In what way do I feel that I am going backward, that I am not moving forward in this area of my life?" If someone else is driving your car in the dream, ask, "In what way is this person driving or controlling my life (e.g., my reactions, attitudes, behaviors) at this time?" or "How is the characteristic that this person symbolizes controlling me?" (See the section below on the symbolism of people in your dreams.) If you are falling, ask "In what way do I feel like I am falling, losing ground, or out of control in my life at this time?" If you are soaring, ask, "In what way or what area of my life do I feel like I am flying, that I am rising above my problems or my abilities?" If you are being chased, ask, "How and why do I feel like I am being pursued or hunted?" If you are naked, ask, "In what way do I feel like I am exposed and vulnerable?" If you dream of dying, ask, "What is dying within me?" (This may be a good thing, for perhaps you are dying to pride, or to self, or to workaholism.)

Remember, actions in the dream are to be viewed symbolically. If your dream wanted to really show you that you were going to die, it would picture that event symbolically. For example, just a few days before his assassination, President Lincoln dreamed of a casket.

Once you have used the feeling and action of the dream to identify the aspect of your life that it is revealing to you, the rest of the symbols will be much easier to identify.

The people in your dreams often represent characteristics within you. You can determine what facet of yourself they are representing by simply asking, "What is the dominant personality trait of this person, as I know him?" The answer will tell you what aspect of yourself you are dreaming about. For example, your heart may want to show you the entrepreneur, the hospitable host, the administrator, the class clown, the spiritual leader, the laid back one, the workaholic, etc. that is within you by the appearance in your dream of an individual who epitomizes that kind of person to you. Your pastor may be the spiritual part of you; a president or king may symbolize other leadership qualities within you; a policeman, judge, or dictator may be the authority figure in you; people in uniform (nurses, waiters, choir members) may represent your desire to conform.

It is also possible that the person's name may be the point that the dream is trying to bring out, especially if that name is spoken within the dream. Dreaming of a friend named Charity or Joy or Grace or Joshua or David may be your heart's way of calling your attention to the qualities that are seen in the meaning of the name. Or the name may actually sound like the message the dream is trying to convey. For example, dreaming of "Sharon" might be your heart's way of pointing out an area in which you should be "sharing" something you are not, or should not be sharing something you are. One person reported dreaming of a friend named "Anita Cook" and finding the interpretation to be "I need to cook."

It is also possible that the Lord Himself or one of His angels may meet you in the dream.

Animals often represent your emotions. Ask, "What emotion might this animal be symbolizing to me?" This will depend on your geographical home, your personal experiences, your knowledge of the Bible, and your own culture. For example, a bull might be anger (an "angry bull"); a fox, craftiness; a cat, curiosity; a dove, peace; an eagle, freedom; a snake, subtlety; a lion, royalty, and so on. Keep in mind that in the Bible, a lion is used to represent both Christ ("the Lion of the tribe of Judah") and satan ("as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour"). Therefore, you must maintain your dependence upon the Holy Spirit to reveal what the animal represents in your specific dream.

When you face the animal representing your emotions in your dream rather than running from it, you may find that the animal changes into a different one. It is good to face your emotions.

Numbers in dreams generally represent the identical number in real life. However, the number will probably be linked to something which needs to be interpreted symbolically. For example, when Joseph dreamed of eleven stars, the eleven was literal but the stars were symbolic and actually represented his brothers. Joseph was dreaming about his eleven brothers (Gen. 37:1-11). Likewise, the cupbearer's dream of three branches stood for three days (Gen. 39:12), and for the chief baker, the three baskets represented three days (Gen. 39:18). In Pharaoh's dream, the seven cows were seven years (Gen. 41:26). So expect the number to mean that exact number of something. It will take prayer, discernment and the revelation of the Spirit (confirmed by the leap in your heart) to determine what it means.

Continue to move through the dream, seeking revelation on symbol after symbol, until you sense in your spirit that the interpretation is complete.

Occasionally you may have dreams that relate to more than your personal, inner life. If you have examined the dream carefully, in full reliance upon the Holy Spirit to bring the interpretation, and you cannot see how the symbols of the dream apply to you, seek the input of your spiritual counselors. They may be able to see your blind spots and recognize the message your heart is trying to give you.

If your counselors agree that the dream does not apply to your inner life, you may then consider the possibility that it is a dream for or about others. One indication that this may be a dream for another rather than you is if you are an observer of the action of the dream, rather than a participant.

Following are some biblical dreams that demonstrate this principle:

Gen. 15:1-21 Abraham in interaction with God & sleeps = dream about himself

Gen. 20:1-18 Abimelech and God in interaction = dream about himself

Gen. 28:10-22 Jacob being spoken to by God = dream about himself

Gen. 31:10-29 Jacob and God in interaction = dream about himself

Gen. 37:1-11 Joseph and brothers in interaction = dream about himself

Gen. 40:1-23 Cupbearer and Baker = dreams about themselves

Gen. 41:1-49 Pharaoh's dream of 7 cows = dream for others

Gen. 46:1-7 Israel in dialogue with God = dream about himself

Judges 7:9-18 Loaf of bread hitting camp = dream about himself

1 Kings 3:5-28 God and Solomon interact = dream about himself

Daniel 2:1-49 Statue hit by stone = dream about others

Daniel 7:1-28 Four beasts = dream about others

Daniel 8:1-27 Ram and goat = dream about others

Daniel 10:1-12:13 Terrifying vision = dream about others

Matt. 1:20-25 God spoke to Joseph = dream about himself

Matt. 2:3-15 God spoke to Joseph = dream about himself

Matt. 2:19-23 God spoke to Joseph = dream about himself

"How I Find a Good Church?"

Finding a church can be a difficult, time consuming experience. It often takes a great deal of patient persistence, especially if you are looking for a church after moving into a new community. Usually, you can only visit one, or possibly two churches a week, so the search for a church can drag out over a period of months. Here are some practical steps to remember, along with questions to ask yourself, as you work your way through the process of finding a church.

Here's How:
What denomination am I looking for?
There are many to choose from, such as Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, and the list goes on and on. If you are interested in a Non-denominational or Inter-denominational church, there are many different types of these as well, such as Pentecostal, Charismatic, Fundamental, etc.
To learn more about Christian denominations visit this study of the various Christain faith groups.

What are my beliefs?
It’s important to understand the doctrinal beliefs of the church before joining. Many people become disillusioned after investing a great deal of time in their church. You can avoid this disappointment by looking closely at the church's statement of faith. Before joining be sure the church effectively teaches the Bible. If you’re not sure, ask to talk with someone about this. Some churches even offer classes or written material to help you understand the church’s doctrine.

What type of service structure do I prefer?
Ask yourself, “Would I feel more comfortable with a structured liturgy, or a more informal service order?”

What type of worship best suits me?
Worship is the way we express our love and appreciation to God, our awe and wonder of His works and His ways. Consider what style will allow you to most freely express your worship to God. Some churches have contemporary music, some have traditional. Some sing hymns, others sing choruses. Some have full bands, others have orchestras and choirs. Some sing gospel, rock, hard rock, etc.

What types of ministries and programs are offered?
You want your church to be a place where you can connect with other believers. Some churches offer a very simple ministry approach and others extend an elaborate system of classes, programs, productions and more. If you’re single and want a church with a single’s ministry, be sure to check into this before joining.

Do I prefer a small or a large church?
Some small church fellowships are unable to offer many ministries and programs, while larger ones can support an array of opportunities. However, a small church can provide a more intimate, close-knit environment that a large church may not be able to cultivate as effectively. Becoming relational often requires more effort in a large church. These are things to consider when looking at the size of the church.

What type of attire would I be most comfortable wearing to church?
In some churches tee-shirts, jeans, and even shorts, are appropriate. In others a suit and tie or dress would be more appropriate. In some anything goes, so ask yourself, "What is right for me - dressy, casual, or both?"

Call before visiting.
Next, take some time to list specific questions you would want to call and ask the church before visiting. If you take a few minutes each week to do this, it will save you time in the long run. For example, if the youth programs are important to you, put that on your list and ask specifically for information about them. Some churches will even mail you an “information packet” or “visitor’s packet,” so be sure to ask for these when you call.

Visit church Web sites.
You can often get a good “feel” for the church by visiting their Web site. Most churches will provide information about how the church got started, doctrinal beliefs, a statement of faith, plus information about the ministries and outreaches they offer.

Make a checklist.
Before visiting, make a check list of the most important characteristics about the church you hope to find. Then rate the church according to your check list when you leave. Keeping notes will help you compare and decide later. If you are visiting many churches, as time passes you may have trouble keeping them straight. This will help you keep a record for future reference.

After visiting at least 3 times, ask yourself these questions:
Was the church a place I can connect with God and worship him freely? Did I learn about the Bible? Was it a place where fellowship and community are encouraged? Are people's lives being changed? Is there a place for me to serve in the church and opportunities to pray with other believers? Does the church reach out through missions (sending missionaries and financial giving) and local outreach?

Begin your search now.
Here are online resources to help you start your search for a church right now!
Attributes of a Good Church
Christian WebCrawler Church Directory and Search Engine
Net Ministries Church Directory Search

Should a Christian Have a Tatoo?

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos? Is it a Sin?
Besides looking into what the Bible says about tattoos, together we'll consider the concerns surrounding tattooing today and present a self quiz to help you decide if getting a tattoo is right or wrong.
A. The answer, I believe, is yes and no.

To Tattoo or Not To?
This is a question many Christians struggle with. I believe tattooing falls into the category of "disputable matters" where the Bible is not clear. There's no commandment - "Thou shalt not receive a tattoo." For this reason, tattooing raises many doubts and questions.
There are Scriptures, however, to back up the idea that God is not in favor of tattooing. Robert Henry is a Christian with several tattoos. In Prodigal Son Magazine, Henry's article, Tattoo: Is it a Sin?, discusses the argument beginning with this verse in Leviticus 19:28 - "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." (NIV)

Henry states, "Now, this seems pretty clear cut and to the point, until one reads a little more of the context ... just a little earlier in the chapter we see that it says in verse 9, "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest." And still more, in verse 19, it goes on to say, "Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed." Now, I am not sure how many farmers are reading this, but one must be a little taken back by this prohibition. As well, in verse 26 it says, "Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material," and "Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it." And in verse 27, "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard." Now we know this is a little more ridiculous for us to abide by. Accordingly, we would all be willful partakers in sinful acts all the time."

By examining the context, Henry points out that all people today who eat non-kosher meat (meat that has not had the blood drained) or cut their hair would be guilty of sin, if we were to embrace this verse literally. The instruction from God in Leviticus was for a specific time and purpose.

So What is the Big Concern Regarding Tattoos Today?
If you are considering the question, "To tattoo or not to?" I think the more serious questions to ask yourself are: What are my motives for wanting a tattoo? Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? Will my tattoo be a source of contention for my loved ones? Will getting a tattoo cause me to disobey my parents? Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble?
In my article, "What to Do When the Bible is Not Clear," we discover that God has given us a means to judge our motives and weigh our decisions. Romans 14:23 states, "...everything that does not come from faith is sin." Now that's pretty clear!

Instead of asking, "Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo," perhaps a better question might be, "Is it okay for me to get a tattoo?"

Since tattooing is such a controversial issue today, I think it's important to examine your heart and your motives before you make the decision.

Self Exam - To Tattoo or Not To?
Here is a self-exam based on the ideas put forth in Romans 14. These questions will help you decide whether or not getting a tattoo is a sin for you:
How does my heart and my conscience convict me? Do I have freedom in Christ and a clear conscience before the Lord regarding the decision to get a tattoo?
Am I passing judgment on a brother or sister because I don't have freedom in Christ to receive a tattoo?
Will I cause a weaker brother to stumble if I receive a tattoo?
Is my decision based on faith and will the result be glorifying to God?
Ultimately, the decision is between you and God. Though it may not be a black and white issue, there is a right choice for each individual. Take some time to honestly answer these questions and the Lord will show you what to do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Does God Speak to Us in Dreams?"

Defining Dream and Vision:
Dream - "A sequence of images, etc. passing through a sleeping person's mind" (Webster's Dictionary)

Vision - "A mental image" (Webster's Dictionary)

"In a dream, a vision of the night..." (Job 33:15)

You will note from this verse the close connection the Hebrews maintained between the dream and the vision. The words are used almost interchangeably.

Both dreams and visions involve the viewing of images on the screen within one's mind. Often we would think of a dream as the flow of these images while sleeping and a vision as the flow of these images while awake.

Daydreaming is MAN utilizing the visionary process. This is not encouraged, and may be what is referred to in Ecclesiastes 5:7. It is better to present the eyes of the heart to God and ask Him to fill them with a divine flow of dreams, visions and godly imaginations.

Some Scientific Observations Concerning Dreams
Sleep laboratories have proven that everyone dreams one to two hours each night during a certain period of sleep known as alpha level, which is light sleep. Every 90-minute cycle of sleep begins with alpha, then goes into deeper sleep which is called theta, and finally deepest sleep which is called delta.

At the close of the first 90-minute cycle each night, the individual returns to alpha level sleep, where he has a short, five-minute dream period. The next time he cycles up to alpha, he has a ten-minute dream period. The third time in alpha, the dream period is about 15 minutes, and so on. If one sleeps a full eight hours, the entire last hour is essentially spent in alpha level sleep. Thus, the average person sleeping for eight hours a night will dream about one to two hours of that time.

Alpha level sleep is where one has what is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Rapid Eye Movement is exactly what it sounds like: the eyes of the dreamer begin moving rapidly. He is actually watching the scenes in the dream, and thus his eyes are literally moving back and forth, observing the action. By observing the alpha level sleep when Rapid Eye Movement occurs, researchers in sleep laboratories have determined when a person is dreaming and how much time is spent dreaming in an average night.

They have discovered that if they awaken a person every time REM begins, preventing him from dreaming, after about three nights the individual will begin to show signs of having a nervous breakdown. Clearly dreams are an inner release mechanism which helps provide us with emotional balance and maintain our sanity. Dreams can be considered guardians of our mental and emotional well-being.

Seven Reasons We Should Listen to Our Dreams
God declared that He WOULD speak through dreams and visions in the Old Testament.

And He said, "Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream" (Num. 12:6).

God declared that He DID speak through dreams and visions in the Old Testament.

"I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets" (Hos. 12:10).

God declares that He WILL communicate through dreams and visions in the New Testament.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days," saith God, "I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17).

God declares that He WILL COUNSEL us at night through our dreams.

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind (inner man) instructs me in the night (Ps. 16:7 NASB).

Rather than our dreams being fatalistic, dreams are calling us to change SO WE WILL NOT PERISH.

For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword (Job 33:14-18, emphasis mine).

God does very significant things WITHIN dreams. For example, He established the Abrahamic Covenant in a dream.

And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him....And God said to Abram....In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying... (Gen. 15:12,13,18, emphasis mine).

God grants supernatural gifts THROUGH dreams.

In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, "Ask what I shall give thee...."

"Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?"

"...Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee...." And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream (I Kings 3:5,9,12,15).

Summarizing the Importance of Our Dreams
God has chosen to communicate with mankind through dreams. He guides and counsels us through our dreams. He establishes covenants with us through our dreams. He grants us gifts in our dreams. He utilized dreams from Genesis to Revelation, and declared that He would continue to use them in the last days. When you total up all dreams and visions in the Bible, and all the stories and actions which come out of these dreams and visions, you have about one-third of the Bible, which is equal to the size of the New Testament! Dreams are a central way God has chosen to communicate with us, and thus they must be given great weight!

Five Things You Can Do to Help Recall Your Dreams
Say to yourself, "I believe dreams contain a valid message."
This is a signal to your heart that you are taking it seriously and want to hear what it has to tell you. You are giving it permission, and even asking it to awaken you after each dream. Your heart will do exactly that. You see, if you do not awaken within five minutes of the dream ending, you will not recall it. If, however, you

tell your heart that dreams are leftover undigested pizza, then you heart lets you sleep through the dream and doesn't awaken you after it is over, and thus you do not recall it.

Ask God to speak to you through dreams as you fall asleep.
God does answer prayers, especially when prayed in accordance to His will!

Put your journal beside your bed and immediately record your dreams upon awakening.
You will forget most of your dreams by the morning, so get up and write them down when you awaken.

Get eight hours of sleep, as the entire last hour will be dream-time.

Awaken naturally, without the use of an alarm clock, as alarms shatter dream recall and blast tidbits of dreams into oblivion where they are never found.

If you will do the above five things, you will recall dreams every week.

"Why So Many Churches?

Disunity within Christianity:
When Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) was executed, in approximately 30 CE, his message continued to be spread by some of his followers. They formed the Jewish Christian movement -- a reform Judaism group -- which was centered in Jerusalem. A few years later, Paul founded a competing Pauline Christian group, which was aimed primarily at converting Gentiles. Finally, a Gnostic Christian movement was formed.
Jewish Christians were killed or scattered by the Roman Army when they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. Pauline Christianity was legalized in the 313 CE and became the official religion of the Empire circa 380 CE. The Gnostics were exterminated by or absorbed into the Church -- the successor to Pauline Christianity.
Strains between the surviving eastern and western regions of the Church reached the breaking point in 1054 CE when the leaders of the two groups excommunicated each other. This formally separated the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox churches. Although discussions are currently underway to bring them into unity, little progress has being made.
In 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, set out to reform the Roman Catholic church by eliminating some of its abuses -- largely involving the church sacraments and the sale of indulgences. A split followed, producing the Protestant Reformation and a series of religious wars which decimated Western Europe. Protestantism subsequently split into many movements which themselves split into families of denominations. The result was the the thousands of individual Protestant denominations and sects that we observe today.
In 1534, the British Parliament passed an Act of Supremacy which declared the country independent of foreign powers, including the pope. This separated the English Church from the pope's authority. The Church of England was created under Edward VI when the Book of Common Prayer was authorized in 1549. Mary I restored the connection to Rome in 1553. But during the reign of Elizabeth I, her successor, a second Act of Supremacy was passed and the Book of Common Prayer reissued. The Church of England has since evolved into a worldwide movement, composed of the Anglican Communion divided int Provinces, Dioceses, and individual congregations.
In 1830 CE. Joseph Smith taught that the true Christian church died out early in the 2nd Century CE, when he believed that religious leaders abandoned many of the original teachings of Jesus Christ, Paul, and the other apostles. Smith founded The Church of Christ. This faith group subsequently divided into over 100 separate denominations and sects which form the LDS Restorationist movement.
Christianity remains in a state of flux today, with new faith groups being created, ceasing to exist, and merging with others. Other denominations have difficulty adapting to change. They have experienced schism over matters like literal interpretation of the Bible, inerrancy of the Bible, criteria for salvation, the morality of human slavery, the roles of women within the family and church, etc. More schisms are expected in the future over equal rights for gays and lesbians, including same-sex marriage.

Sorting Christian denominations today:
Today, there are over 30,000 separate Christian groups in the world. 1

There is a small but growing Gnostic Christian movement who trace their beliefs back to the early Gnostics. They believe that salvation comes from possessing esoteric knowledge.

The vast majority of Christian groups trace their ancestry back to Pauline Christianity as founded by Paul in the 1st century CE and refined through various early church councils and creeds. Most regard Yeshua as a man-god, a member of the Trinity along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. A few Christians in the liberal wing of the religion view Yeshua as a prophet, not a deity, and definitely not conceived by a virgin.

One way of sorting them is into eight "meta-groups."

Roman Catholicism, This has the largest membership of any meta-group in Christianity. It is headed by the Pope in Rome, whose rulings are considered infallible in certain cases. The church is coordinated by the Curia, which is composed of one Secretariat, and 27 agencies, each headed by a Cardinal. Local administration is by Bishops and Archbishops who control activity in their Dioceses and Archdioceses.

Eastern Orthodox Churches: a communion of autocephalous, (ecclesiastically independent) Christian faith groups which forms the dominant religious bodies in Bulgaria, Belarus, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine. They play a significant role in ten other countries, including the U.S. and Canada, and have a scattered presence elsewhere in the world. They and the Roman Catholic Church formally separated from each other in 1054 CE, although they had been functioning nearly independently long before that date.

Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches: This grouping consists of five churches in the Middle East and South India. The Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and the Roman Catholic church separated from each other after the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE. The four Oriental Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church separated from each other after the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, when the Oriental Orthodox churches rejected the Council's concept of Christ as one person "in two natures." The four Oriental Orthodox churches are:

The Armenian Apostolic Church in Armenia and Lebanon;

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt;

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church; and

The Syrian Orthodox Churches which include the See of Antioch and the Syrian Thomas Christians of South India.
A fifth church is often grouped with the Oriental Orthodox churches:

The Catholic Assyrian Church of the East 4

Protestantism: This is composed of a group of independent denominations, sects, and independent churches numbering in excess of 30,000 worldwide. They trace their history back to the Reformation which was triggered when Martin Luther circulated 95 theses in which he listed what he considered to be faults in the Roman Catholic Church -- both theological and in its policies. Protestant denominations have been grouped into 13 families, according to their historical roots. There are over 1,000 Protestant denominations in North America, ranging from extreme Fundamentalist to very Liberal. Included are such diverse groups as Quakers, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists. 2 Most are democratically organized.

The Anglican Communion: This consists of 38 Provinces and a small number of extra-provincial dioceses. It includes the Episcopal Church in the US, the Anglican Church in Canada, and the Church of England in the UK. As noted above, the Church of England was created under Edward VI when the Book of Common Prayer was authorized in 1549. Its bishops meet in the Lambeth Conference every ten years, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury who is considered “first among equals.” The Communion is "bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through common counsel of the Bishops in conference" 3 Ultimate decision making power in a given province is controlled by three groups, consisting of the Bishops, the Priests, and a group of laity. Individual Anglicans range from very conservative to very liberal in beliefs.

Pentecostals: One source lists 177 separate Pentecostal denominations. In the early 1900s CE, it grew out of the Holiness movement which in turn had roots in Methodism, a Protestant denomination. A major defining feature of Pentecostalism is their belief in Glossolalia, or the ability to speak "in tongues". Another is the unusual freedom and spontaneity exhibited during their religious services. They are theologically very conservative.

The Restorationist faith groups share the belief that the "true" Christian church died out as the church abandoned many of the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), Paul, and other apostles -- perhaps early in the 2nd Century CE. This group includes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as founded by Joseph Smith in 1830. Almost a hundred denominations trace their history back to that faith group. Other restorationist groups include the Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, etc. Their beliefs and practices differ greatly. However, all believe that their group, alone, has restored the original beliefs and practices of Yeshua and the apostles. Most regard themselves as the true Christian church. Most or all are obviously wrong.

Other groups: There are probably many hundreds of faith groups which do not neatly fit into any of the above five classifications. Three of the more interesting are:

Progressive Christianity, a very liberal Christian group which does not look upon itself as a denomination. Rather they are building a network of affiliated congregations, informal groups and individual members.

A group called the Two by Twos, The Black Stockings, The Church Without a Name, Cooneyites, etc. teach that their group has been in continuous but secret existence since the 1st century. They believe that their faith group was founded by Jesus, and is the only "true" Christian church.

Gnostic Christians This movement and its literature were essentially wiped out by the end of the 5th century CE by heresy hunters from mainline Christianity. They believe that salvation comes through Gnosis (knowledge.) They are currently experiencing a rebirth throughout the world.

Disagreements over classification of faith groups:

Many theologians combine the Anglican Communion and Protestant faith groups as a single grouping.

Others consider Pentecostalism as being part of Protestantism.

Some in the anti-cult movement and counter-cult movement classify some of the smaller denominations as "cults," "sub-Christians," or "none-Christian." and not as a part of Christianity.

Some Fundamentalists and other Evangelicals do not consider liberal Christian denominations to be part of Christianity.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. LDS & The Mormons) and other LDS restorationist denominations are not considered to be Christian by most conservative and some mainline denominations.
There are probably other disagreements not listed above. From the extensive Emails that we receive, it is obvious that many individuals and groups regard their own classification of faith groups to be the only valid one.