Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What About Demons?

The subject of demons has mystified humanity for centuries. Every major religion has in their belief structure beings that embody evil. From the Judeo/Christian belief structure they are called demons or devils. The Muslim calls them Jinn. Humanist say they are a figment of our imagination. Whatever name you call them, they do exist! This booklet is based upon the Bible and it’s description of these evil spirits, or fallen angels.

Demons are disembodied spirits that were once angels that fell when Lucifer decided to rebel against God. Demons are mans enemy and are constantly seeking mans downfall. The Latin definition of “demon” is “Those that divide”. I really believe they seriously try to cause division in the church.

Often demons are portrayed as hideous creatures, Usually with fangs, forked tongues, bat-like wings, and serpentine features. I have never seen a creature that looked like that. I have seen on three occasions in my life shadow-like beings move swiftly before my eyes. Twice in church services, and once in my apartment. I will tell you about the encounter in my apartment first. I was in the Air Force for over 23 years, and I traveled a great deal. I was in Somalia for 3 weeks back in 1986. While in this oppressive country I brought back souvenirs. One of the items was a wall hanging of animal horns and another was a spear. When I got back home I hung them on the wall of my apartment. In addition to the African artifacts I had some Martial Art trophies and oriental wall hangings I got in Korea. Well to make a long story short, I felt strongly impressed by the Holy Spirit to take all of the material off of my walls one evening, I knew it was the Lord talking, but I decided to take a nap and do it later. I fell asleep on the couch and within the hour something gripped me in my sleep! I was choking and paralyzed. I tried to scream and I couldn’t. I knew this was a demonic attack! I eventually was able to scream JESUS! At that moment I was released, but that’s not all. I woke up immediately and saw a shadow like figure walk out of my living room and down the steps. I believe God allowed this to show me the seriousness of disobeying Him.

The other two times I saw similar manifestations were in church services, Once at a small Primitive Baptist church in southern New Jersey. I was in the pulpit praying before I had to preach and I had an eerie feeling come over me. The Lord let me know there was terrible sin in this church and to preach accordingly. I rose to walk to the podium and I saw this same shadow like figure flee down the stairs to the basement. Demons hate the Word of God! The other incident happened at a military chapel, in the same fashion the shadow like figure left through the rear door just as the praise service started. Demons hate the praises of God! In the chapel incident I was not the only one that saw it! Another brother saw it as well, so I didn’t feel like I was losing it.

Now from this point on I will share what the scriptures have to say on this subject. I share the personal experience to give you an idea of what we are dealing with. Chances are you will never see a demon. But that doesn’t mean they are not there trying to cause you destruction. Demons usually function in the dark and don’t want you to know they are real, but they are. Be encouraged saint of God, The Greater One lives in you!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Real Deal on Prosperity

The fact is, these people can find only ONE verse that mentions "Prosperity" in the whole New Testament (-and it is of dubious help, as we shall see). And there are dozens and dozens of verses in opposition! But which one do they choose to quote again and again? Here it is in the King James version (-which is the only translation that helps them in any way): "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2). Now, it is interesting to note what this word "prosper" really means in this verse. Renowned Greek scholar W.E. Vine says that it simply speaks of "the prosperity of physical and spiritual health." So it's not about MONEY at all!

And thus we find that in all the later translations, this meaning is made clear. For example, the NIV translation says: "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John 2). Isn't that interesting?

As I said, this is one of the ONLY VERSES that these Prosperity teachers quote in the entire New Testament. If they are honest, they will admit that most of the rest of the NT is squarely AGAINST THEM.

What I would encourage anyone to do, who wants to research this subject, is to get a Concordance and look up EVERY VERSE in the New Testament that contains these words: (1) Rich or Riches, (2) Money, (3) Poor, (4) Mammon (5) Possessions, (6) Treasure, (7) Sell or Sold, etc.

You will be absolutely amazed at how strong the NT Scriptures are on this subject. I did this exact search year ago, and was astonished at what I found.

When you look up the word 'Rich' you find Scriptures such as this: "Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation" (Lk 6:24) and "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Lk 18:24-25, NIV) and "People who want to GET RICH fall into temptation and a trap" (1 Tim 6:9) and "You rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you" (Ja 5:1). There are many more along similar lines. Go and look them up, and you will see!

We find that when Jesus was preaching kingdom principles he was very strong in this area. When the 'Rich young man' came to him, He told him: "SELL your possessions and give to the POOR, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21, NIV). He also told his own disciples to "SELL your possessions and give to the POOR" (Lk 12:33).

In my recent article on "Tithing" we discussed the whole issue of 'Giving' in the New Testament. The fact is, there is no "law" telling Christians to give 10%. In fact, what the NT makes clear is that EVERYTHING we have literally belongs to God. Many people claim that "All I have is God's" but they do not act like it! In the New Testament it is clear that it was EXPECTED for Christians to sell any spare possessions, land or houses, to give to their needy brothers and sisters - especially widows and orphans. They certainly weren't giving their money to wealthy preachers on TV! And neither were they giving it to erect a new church building on the corner! (-Such things did not exist). They were giving from their HEART - and while some of it went to support the ministry, MOST of it clearly went to feed and clothe the POOR. (See Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37).

Some people today want to go back to the Old Testament and use people like Solomon and Abraham as examples of RICH people to emulate. But what they fail to realize is that the Old Testament is a 'type' or a "SHADOW" of the New. (Col 2:16, Heb 10:1). The Old was a "physical" covenant, with a "physical" temple and rituals, etc. The "blessings" of God were also mostly PHYSICAL and material. But today we have a "spiritual" covenant - a "heart-based" covenant, with mostly SPIRITUAL blessings. That is why we should not seek Old Testament wealth today. -We live under a different covenant.

It is very obvious from the New Testament that there is NO SUCH THING as a 'Prosperity' gospel. In fact, it is the exact OPPOSITE. Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are POOR, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Lk 6:20). And James declared: "Has not God chosen those who are POOR in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (Ja 2:5, NIV). Jesus clearly stated that you "CANNOT serve God and Mammon" (Mt 6:24) and yet it is obvious that many Christians today are trying to serve BOTH. The 'Prosperity' teaching clearly encourages this. It is a very dangerous and harmful fallacy.

The glaring hole in these false and perverted messages that tie your blessings and prosperity to how much money you give is that you have to give to the person delivering the message! They have set themselves up as God's trustee for your blessings and prosperity. I guess that means if you believe their message and choose to give your gift to some other work of God you won't receive the same blessings or be as prosperous.
The other glaring hole is what if you don't have anything to give? Does that mean you don't qualify for God's blessings? Does that mean you will never be prosperous? Does that mean you have no faith? I guess God doesn't love those who follow Jesus in India, or China, or Africa, or in most places on this planet where people have little if any material possessions. I guess that means a man or woman in Texas who loves Jesus and is serving Him each day but is living in a one-bedroom apartment and driving a 20-year-old car have no faith.
Here is the problem with these messages that are designed simply to raise money. They use some truth from God's Word but pervert that truth by tying it all to how much money you give. The Bible DOES teach us to have faith in all things, including our finances. The Bible DOES teach that God will bless us and prosper us as we are faithful, and that includes being faithful with our finances. The Bible also teaches us to be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to our care.
ALL we have is from God, He has simply given us stewardship over whatever resources we have during our brief journey through this life. GOD DOESN'T NEED OUR MONEY! We give to God as an act of worship. We give to God as an act of obedience. We give to give as an act of sacrifice. When you read the Bible, the giving of the tenth or "tithe" in the Old Testament was part of the Old Treatment Law. We are no longer under the Old Testament Law. 100%, not 10% of everything we have belongs to God. So when we give, we are simply giving back to God what is His already out of obedience and as an act of sacrifice and worship!
The Bible teaches us to give according to our ability to give. We are also taught to give cheerfully. Don't get so legalistic in your giving that you lose the joy of giving.
I counsel people all the time to sit down with God and decide how much you can give to His work each week. Agree with God and than be faithful to give that amount. As the Holy Sprit leads you, you may be led to give over and above that amount to those works of God He lays on your heart.
There will be times God challenges you to give sacrificially, as an act of faith. Again, God will prompt your heart on those occasions and those are the opportunities in life to really take a stand of faith and trust God. YOU DON'T MAKE THE SACRIFICE TO GIVE BY FAITH EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. YOU MAKE THE SACRIFICE TO GIVE BY FAITH TO SIMPLY BE OBEDIENT AND TO PLEASE GOD!

Monday, February 16, 2009

How the Early Church was Financed

How the Early Church was Financed

It should come as no surprise that the early congregations of Christianity were financed the same way the early Israelite society was financed—through a free-will offering, which according to Moses, was more than ample to provide that which was needed.
"Men and women, as many as were willing hearted, brought bracelets, and earrings, rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold ...the children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord ... They brought yet unto him (Moses) free offerings every morning ... the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." (Exodus 35:22, 29; 36:3,7)
When our Father’s people give according to His heart and do the work He has called us to do in His way, those offerings of the heart will be sufficient and more than sufficient. The keys are the willing heart and the proper work!
Church historians make it very clear, the early Christian congregations were not financed by tithing of any kind. Apparently tithing promoters do not read very much early Christian history. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that "The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members." Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church says, "It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenths of possessions, for sacred purposes did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors." The Americana declares: "It (tithing) was not practiced in the early Christian Church." Even the Catholic Church, notorious for its many finance raising schemes, says in the New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The early Church had no tithing system ... it was not that no need of supporting the Church existed or was recognized, but rather that other means appeared to suffice."

The recently published Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us that in "the New Testament, the words ‘tithe’ and ‘tithing’ appear only eight times (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42; Luke 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-6, 8-9). All of these passages refer to Old Testament usage and to current Jewish practice. Nowhere does the New Testament expressly command Christians to tithe."
It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church, which brought many Old Testament traditions and rituals back into the church in modified forms, at first did not partake in usury, that is, in interest on money. They felt usury was un-Biblical because of passages such as Exodus 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 23:19-20; Nehe. 5:7,10; Ps. 15:5. To finance their building programs and wars, the popes and kings assigned Jews in their court to do that kind of "dirty work." That was perhaps one of the leading contributors to the Jewish people becoming prominent in banking, that is, through being the Christian’s money lenders.
Isn’t it interesting that those who quote the Old Testament to support tithing for Christians mysteriously avoid scriptures dealing with charging interest as being unlawful? These same tithe promoters usually have plenty of money stashed into all kinds of interest bearing bonds, savings accounts, etc. As a matter of fact, every time a bullet or bomb is dropped to kill someone, thousands of churches across America make a profit. How so, you might ask? Churches and denominational headquarters have billions of dollars which are invested in hundreds of different profit-making or interest-bearing ventures. Most churches invest in conservative mutual funds with portfolios composed of Blue Chip companies such as defense contractors. Some of these same conservative companies are even controlled by religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church. When these defense contractors, like McDonnell Douglas, sell their war machines to our government, the stockholders, thousands of which are churches, make a profit. War machines are made to kill people. The church invests in many companies that make all kinds of products that kill or are harmful to humanity. One would be shocked to find out how much Christian organizations earn from the world’s military industrial complex. (For more information on this subject write for the audiotape The Church is a Rich Prostitute.)

It was not until after Constantine (fourth century A.D.) made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire that the free-will offering was replaced with various forceful means of raising money. Constantine began a huge building program, constructing churches and renovating pagan temples for use in what would become Roman Catholicism. Prior to this time, believers did not need ornate buildings. After all, they knew that they were the true temple of God, not some buildings constructed in the very same form as the pagan temples only with some Biblical themes added to them. A study of the things Constantine and his mother did to pervert Christianity would be a very worthwhile study.
So, back to New Covenant financing. Matthew through Revelations is really full of Scriptures that deal with proper giving. There are really too many to put into such a small publication. But a few will suffice.
Throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New, the God of Christianity makes it clear that He is really not interested in our "offerings of sacrifice."
"Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." (Psalm 50:7-15)
"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:16,17) "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure." (Hebrews 10:5,6; Psalm 40:6-8)

Our Father makes it abundantly clear that we have nothing that does not even now belong to Him already. Offering 10 per cent of His goods or 90 per cent of His goods or all of it, means nothing to Him. He knows it all belongs to Him. We are the ones who seem to have the problem of forgetting that. What He is really after is our sincere thankfulness, our gratefulness for what He has given us!
Every person knows in their heart that God does not need stained glass windows, steeples, plush carpet, gaudy looking crosses, and a host of others things "tithes" are used to purchase. He would probably prefer a bull to a steeple. At least He made the bull, he didn’t make nor authorize church leaders to make much of the "stuff" those tithes are spent on.
Let me ask you, "How did Jesus send out the disciples? Did He give them a Cadillac or an American Express Card in the name of the ministry like many modern American evangelists do today? No, He sent them out with nothing and they were provided for with all they needed as they went.
"Go your way; behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor script, nor shoes ... and in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the labourer is worthy of his hire ..." (Luke 10:3,4,7)