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In 1985, after a shipwrecked life, two failed marriages and the loss of my mother, it was time to Examine my soul. Eighteen months in Vietnam left me with a lot of pain and stress that plagued me constantly. There had to be some kind of change or it was time to check into a mental institute. Since I did not like that idea at all, thought that I would do as my EX mother-in-law suggested. She would say that there was a pew down at the church that had my name on it. So I went to see! Sure enough that was for me! Wish that I could say that ended all my problems but that would be a lie. It did give me someone to spend the rest of my life in fellowship with, Jesus.
Working midnights at a motel gave me plenty of time to study the Word of God. Our precious Lord told me what I would learn in the dark, I would use in the light. So I poured myself into the Bible every night, studied according to subjects with some reading and a lot of prayer. It was not a duty but it was fun as God just opened up the scripture like I had never seen it before. There was no confusion but not many people wanted to help me without it costing something. Normally it was a price I would not pay. Yet there was a friend or two that made a difference. These very special children of God are still there for me today some twenty two years later.
Having quite a bit of time to study, I spent hours watching and seeking scripture with TBN. This caused me to hunger for the truth and the movement of the Spirit. However in the main line Denominational churches this Holy Ghost stuff was a little too much. In a very short time I began teaching God's Word in Sunday school. Being so young in the Lord most could not understand what God was doing with me. Yet quickly after a woman that was nearly blind received a healing to 20/20 vision, they asked me to leave and go to Pentecost. The statement was, "If we wanted to be Pentecostal we would go to that church." So, I left and went to the church across the tracks with the kind of mixed feelings most get when hurt.
The pastor realized that God wanted to use me and put me to work right away. I preached the next Sunday morning and took over as Sunday School Superintendent. He also sent me into the Children's Church, and things really started to happen. Bless their hearts they had not been taught that God does not do that anymore, so miracles began to happen. We went from six children to forty-six within the two years. From the beginning we started to have trouble with people trying to prove that God was not doing the things that was spoken. There was a constant bombardment of criticism. I really could not see why the devil was in such a tizzy. I personally was not doing that much. Jesus was doing a great deal and He was working with signs and wonders, guess that was enough. Those two years there was eighty or so saved, baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. That was a great ministry for our area. Yet the deacons finally shut down the ministry by removing the Pastor. Right away God said that my ministry was over there, so I moved on with a great deal of pain.
Even though I left the church across the tracks, there were some hard lessons. Never put your faith in man. Though we should be able to trust most all people, there must be an awareness of all that is going on around us. When God begins to move the jealousy is intended to provoke people to good works. Yet so often what happens is trying to make ourselves look better by making those God is using look bad. This is to the failure of teaching the Word with true conviction and sincere knowledge of it. Can we get the idea that when we hurt someone else we hurt the Sweet Holy Spirit that lives within us? It is time we learned this lesson without the pain it can cause.
Here is one of the events that happened to me that someone may be able to explain. There was this couple in the church that had been praying for the Baptism in The Holy Ghost for several years. Maybe it was the simplicity of teaching that made this event so hard to come by or just the lack of knowledge. Either way it really did not matter to me. All I could see was that they have done all they should do to receive. After watching this man struggle so hard at the same alter for a solid week I felt that maybe I could help. So I asked if I could come over and talk with them for a little while. We went right after church on a Thursday night. There was about one hour of talk about how to receive and one thirty second prayer. This dear saint went out praying in tongues. Now after this day, this couple would not talk to me at all. Each time the preacher asked me to preach they would get up, right in front of the whole church and walk out. They refused to talk to me or anyone else. Why may be something that I take to my grave, never understanding?
In my twenty years of service to our Lord, I have found many things hard to explain and much that can not be. When these things get out of control, we must turn to the one that can do something with us, Jesus. Here is a twenty year old lesson, when something is wrong; you may be able to change it; you may not be able to change it; and or you can always pray and give it to Jesus. When we do we no longer hinder God's work and usually that is when the movement of God continues to reach souls with a new enthusiasm.
After we left this church, there were about twelve of us that wanted to gather together. Our pastor went back to his home church in the area, so we began meeting in a home for services. In our second meeting the Lord said he wanted us to begin a church of our own. With his promise that he would prosper us, we started meeting on the times of regular church services. In that meeting there was a man that had a family of three and I that was called of God to Preach. I tried everything to talk him into being the Pastor but he would not. They told me to start it and see where God leads us. So as a single man we began the church. From Wednesday night to Sunday morning the Lord had given us a name, a charter, and most of the bylaws. Since God brought all this through me, it was easy to see why they called me to pastor. Fearfully I began the work and had a blast in doing the job. This was not hard but it was fun all the time. We received our tax exemption a lot sooner than normal and everything seemed to fall into place. Moving to a store front building was the best solution for our group to serve our Lord Jesus. At least that was what we thought.
It did not take very long to receive a piano, cassette player, and an eight channel mixer. Speakers and two cheap mikes, we were in business. We had been praying and fasting for the will of God, so it did not surprise us when the Lord took off. Souls were saved, people received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and others received their deliverance. What a great time we had! Our classrooms divided up and soon we had three classes for Sunday school. With three services per weak, we were just not happy enough. There is really something to say for being hungry for more of the Lord. A Monday night bible study did seem to fill the bill. It was not long until we were running around forty people. Forty six was the highest number we had. When we reached that point something always happened and people would leave. We did not get below twenty for eight years. But it was hard fought!
In this building we found some real challenges. Prayer was the call to business on a daily bases. At first people were real reluctant to stay in a store front church. Most could not understand why we wanted to stay here. It seemed that it did not matter how we explained it not many would stay with us. Families would come in for a couple of weeks and then leave. I used to say that they got what they needed and moved on. Most people when to other churches. That usually does not bother a pastor much, as long as they are still going to church somewhere. Going to see them was usually a pleasure, and seldom was there a problem to address.
It was years on down the line that I found out that the people were not feeling at home because it was a family run church. What a shame, because we were not a family, we just worked very close together.
There were many causes for a loss of people, yet very little can we blame on anyone but ourselves. I believe that discernment was the greatest need and quite often it is the need in the churches I have visited. We do not like the idea that we did not know what is going on. So I have seen every excuse under the sun to explain the losses. Only too often do we hear that someone hurt our people? Some of it was accidental, some unintentional, but most of it was on purpose. There has to be one that lashes out to cause harm even when there is no cause what-so-ever. This one can range from the Pastor on down to the least in the church. What is really bad is that all of it can normally be avoided. Is it about time that we as a church change this into tranquility, unity and love like Jesus?
Here is one of the millions of example, we had a great couple in the church and they were very faithful. In their search for a closer walk with Jesus they started to pay allot of attention to each other's independence. In asking for the truth you would expect them to fine just that, right? Yet in her trying to find her freedom in The Spirit, she started seeing that her husband was not always right. She started questioning some of his answers and references to his behavior toward her. Maybe you have guessed it, someone jumps in there and suggest the pastor must be putting these ideas in her head. Do you realize that he left the church and nearly ended up in divorce? Because someone wanted to steel their liberty and stop such a great relationship that they had. Thank God they are still together, madly in love with each other, and do not take the other for granite any more. But there was that effort to destroy.
One of the many battles we do not want to face is the experience of a false prophet coming in to steal our liberty in Christ. Too often we tend to turn a deaf ear to what people say and do not take it serious enough. There were several people coming to me because of notes they were receiving during the services. This was very strange being a new church. It was assumed that we would not have a clue as to how to handle this problem. So according to the bible, I first went to them to see what the reason was behind the notes. This was of no effect, so I took my trustee with me. This also was no good and the notes kept coming behind my back. One morning it just seemed like this was all that The Holy Ghost was going to put up with. He prompted me to ask for all the notes that had been handed out. There were about forty some people there and about thirty notes to different adults. I started by declaring that there was no intent to harm anyone. Than I took each note and read them out loud. After I read them I asked each person if the note had any barring on their life. Needless to say none of the notes seemed to have any value. We then confronted the false prophet. This person had caused no little concern in the church, yet with this action, they left the place and have not been back. I would to God that they would have gotten right the invitation was given.
Other pain presented to the church, was that of false tongues and interpretations. You know that the gifts are for the unbelievers so it is very important to pay close attention to every word spoken in the church. This started out right and seemed like nothing was wrong with the statements at all. Every word given was to up-lift the Lord Jesus. After about two weeks the tongues started to get out of order and I called them down. Thinking this could have been their zeal for the Lord I let them continue as long as it was in order. The Holy Spirit never interrupts Himself, when that happens we should start to pray and ask why. Well I found out the next service! The tongues seemed way out, very different, and had a funny sound to them. Right off I tried the spirits to see where they were of God. Then we heard the answer as the interpretation declared that Jesus was in the room and He had sinned. If He could sin there would be no salvation! Calling the person down "In the Name of Jesus" Pleading the Blood of Jesus over the church and all at home I called out the "prophet's word" as false declared the truth and proclaiming how the tongues could not possibly be of God. That teaching became a two hour service and the false prophet has never come back. Can you imagine the amount of pain that caused the new believers and the time it took me to straighten out this mess?
This was extremely painful to so many of the younger Christians in the church! No one truly believed her yet they could not understand what caused such a thing to be allowed by God. When all you can do is hold on to the foundation of your faith, these kinds of things have a tendency to rattle your understanding. If we could just believe that our faith in the elders is steadfast and they will deal with this, then we can get past such a thing. This was my main theme of teaching on the matter. Yes, we explained every detail of tongues and interpretation, the gifts of The Holy Spirit, and the will of man to be heard, though the main need was not to trust something that was not in tune with the Bible. Anything false has nothing to do with God. Our salvation depends upon the perfect sacrifice of Jesus in the Blood Atonement and that a gift is to all who except and believe in Him. Sometimes I have found that we put too big an emphasis on a problem and not go back to the foundation to reestablish the basics.
When people want to do the right thing all the time, every time and not want to be the center of attention, we can have church without many of the fears of false tongues, or prophets. One of the largest desires to put under the Blood of Jesus is the recognition syndrome. In a church of forty you do not usually have five preachers sent to the same church. When this happens there is normally division. Since we all know that God is not the author of confusion also know that all these people can not be right. This is where politics often over rule God's intentions for that church. We often see with the eyes when God is looking at the heart and purpose. My experience with politics has left me hurting more times than not. Either for my losses or for someone else that got hurt in the process. There is a great need for holy people to fast and pray so as the will of God can accomplish the task. Only than can there be true peace in the House of God and service becomes what it should be, fun.
In a small church people see people for who they are not what they want to be. This often leaves people open for every kind of gossip and heartache. One particular way this comes is when people are a little strange and do not quite fit in to the swing of the church. With all our efforts to keep clicks from forming it still happens. When people can not quite stack up to their comparisons the pain flows even when it is unintentional, it still hurts. Example, be a woman six feet three inches tall. Then understand the weight discrimination of about three hundred and forty something. Add a little immaturity, and one that struggles with the scriptures and you see the potential of serious hurt in the church. At first everyone tries to pitch-in and make a difference in their life.
But that soon fades away to just good intentions. Also when there is demon possession and a continual battle it does not take long at all to find those truly dedicated to the Lord. Anytime this dear soul wants to be free from anything hindering them there would be complete deliverance available through the Blood of Jesus. When they need the attention of the spirits they think they controlled they walk away from the church in pain. In the defense of the church, they did try very hard for a while and the scriptural teaching was right. There is no way that this person could say they left without knowing the truth about deliverance. Jesus was able to meet every need they just did not want deliverance that bad. They rejected God, our prayers and the desire is that they will come to him before it is too late.
Excerpted from Pain in the Church by John D. Housewright Copyright © 2009 by John D. Housewright. Excerpted by permission.
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