Fake is not part of our Faith

Many Christians are drawn to signs, wonders, and miracles. Indeed, over the ages, faith and belief has resulted in countless healings and miracles. Promoters and fans of the spectacular are then often puzzled and displeased when the church is wary and cautious about these unusual events.
This caution in the church is because of reports of gold dust falling from church ceilings, mysterious scents filling auditoriums, light discs whizzing around the platform, and concealed microphones prompting false prophesies.
Christians worship a God who never changes; and they accept a Saviour who is the same forever. Their sacred book is the Word of their Lord, which is established forever in heaven. These are eternal truths. They outlast every quest for some grand next attraction, something new and impressive, and the demand for continuous change in the church.
The required and ultimate change is for every follower to resemble Jesus – the model for our character and lives. In pursuit of this, Christians must live by faith; believe without seeing, and rely on the Lord not only to increase their faith, but also to perform His Word and answer their prayers.
Supernatural manifestations and experiences fascinate most people. They stir curiosity and grip the interest. Besides attracting the attention, they present new experiences and offer an escape from the ordinary and from boredom.
Certain signs and wonders might not be of God. Jesus himself warned of this dire possibility. Satan can counterfeit spiritual gifts and mislead believers to think that the lying wonders and signs are from God. The scheme is to have Christians follow deceiving spirits, and slowly draw away from the faith, and from God.
To be blasé about the costs or dangers of deception is not just careless, but reckless too. So shepherds who care about the spiritual welfare of their flocks, study the seven types of churches in the book of Revelations and look to God for answers. “Where does my congregation presently fit?” They ask, “What is required to safeguard this flock?”
Clearly, hirelings or preachers motivated by fame, money or other hidden agendas do not have these concerns, responsibilities, or tests.
Even if a messenger seems like an angel straight from heaven, you have a responsibility to beware of what you buy, or what you believe. Fake looks real or sounds smart, and carries all the right markings; its price is less demanding and is easier to pay. Fake is not part of our faith.
Cut the possibilities of being deceived. Allow the voice of the Holy Spirit within you, to keep the true Christ and true gospel in your heart and mind. As you pray, read the bible and worship the Lord, listen to the Holy Spirit who will show you truths of the will, and the ways of God.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Mike Abel
Mike is the Founding Pastor of Oasis of the Lord. You can follow Mike on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WiseForLife?ref=hl and Twitter https://twitter.com/OasisName

This article by Mike Abel first appeared in My Christian Daily on the 28 February 2013, and is acknowledged with Thanks

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When will we ever learn?

Many years ago, American folk singer Joan Baez sang ‘Where have all the flowers gone?” It was a song about the cycles of war and young widows, and unmarried young men dying. The compelling refrain throughout the song was, when will they ever learn?

The recession of recent times has taught us that economic activity does not benefit the entire community. In the church, either we were not taught, or false teachers have caused many to unlearn, that Christians must live godly lives and that, we share a common destiny in the return of Christ and then heaven.

Many Christian leaders have shifted the message from living godly lives and waiting for the return of Christ. People in this age want to be aroused and kept interested by more than that original shared common destiny. So the call is for dynamic leaders who can reveal a fresh motivational brand, and more reality-based purposes for living.

Angels are interested in our salvation and rejoice when even one lost soul is saved. If angels are also required to report on the goings-on in the church and among Christians today, could it be that they say, the preachers avoid all talk of heaven, hell, sin and obedience to God, because these things make listeners awkward or feel bad.

To attract and hold people, pulpits tolerate worldly indulgence and rational formulas for progress and happiness. Give the followers what they want to hear, blend in with their preferences. Let the narrow way adapt into the broad way. And so it is, that the precepts of God are re-fashioned, and scriptures are bent to the shape of today.

If we consider those who propagate and defend the faith as flowers in the Kingdom garden, then let them bravely reveal truth where false teachings blossom. If other flowers are bunched with those who have left the faith, then let us learn and remember: it is the Father who initially draws, and it is He who decides whether those who have left are integrated later.

The church has no mandate from Christ to alter its spiritual basis, structure, function, or compromise the truth of the gospel message. Many flowers have gone, because false teachers have come in like an army and attacked our simple faith and hope, using vain philosophies. Professing to lead Christians to the truth, they have led many astray.

The church will survive and multiply without the need to fit into the continually changing environment. The reason is simple: it is because of the connection to, and the spiritual legacy of its founder, Christ. This shapes the resilience and zeal of the faithful and the recruits, and guarantees the successful survival of Christianity.

As long as we faithfully follow Christ, God will keep us, even though the designs and schemes of evil purposes are within our ranks and surround us. Besides, the Master taught us and we must remember that the wheat will grow with the tares. St Paul and St Peter taught and we must remember; that by His grace, we are to defend and maintain as true everything revealed by the gospel.

Christians share a joint destiny in the return of Christ and bliss. Your life is dear and you just get one chance at it. You can’t pray for light and help to those who push their smooth fads and sly, short-lived ideas. God is always there to guide you. Jesus is the Truth. The good news of the gospel is simple and ample for your life now, and for the life to come.

Mike Abel
Mike is the Founding Pastor of Oasis of the Lord. You can follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/OasisName and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WiseForLife?ref=hl
This article by Mike Abel appears in My Christian Daily and is reproduced with acknowledgement and appreciation.

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Go somewhere special in your life

People value independence and self-reliance and oppose others meddling in their lives and interests. When Google officially started in 1998, it received 9800 searchers per day for answers, information, and advice. In 2012, it received 3 trillion search requests. So, someone, somewhere gets told what to do with his or her life. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others.

All of us want to enjoy life and be happy. We each want to go or end up somewhere special. Christians try to work out answers to life, in terms of their beliefs and practises of the faith. This is a lifelong quest. There is, or should be a readiness for God to work on us over a lifetime, and move on our wills – to make us willing and able, to do what he would have us do.

Obviously, people who do not believe in the existence of a deity or deities, or who see themselves as self-sufficient gods in their own right, will make their decisions about what to do, without any reference to God.

To hear or listen to instructions and then to follow them, without reluctance, upsets our natural bias to please oneself. Even children of all ages, challenge the dictates, wisdom, or wishes of parents. What is it about human nature generally, that puts relationship at risk in this way?

Is it rebellion, arrogance, or lawlessness? I think that at the root is a sense of self-importance that resists voluntary submission to the will of, and authority due to another. The kind of obedience and humility suggested here does not mean you become a wimp. Jesus was meek of spirit, yet he chased the money-changers out of the temple; and he always put the will of God first. He lived to please God.

This generation looks for the outcome of a process before they even consider embarking on it. They want to know the most important or fundamental aspect of a religion before they try it. They want to know the relevance of believing in God for the most appropriate solutions to life’s challenges, issues, and problems. Albert Einstein said, “When the solution is simple, God is answering”.

Well, in the simple, final analysis, all the answers lie in three connected godly pursuits. Firstly, to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Secondly, to practice faith, hope, and love – these are the only lasting virtues after other spiritual expressions vanish. Stacked with these is the third way to a life peace and satisfaction; the ongoing quest to make your will subject to God’s will.

Like any voyage of discovery or real journey in life, you need directions. Don Williams, Jr. the American novelist and poet said, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”

Life’s journey goes well when you adopt the three connected godly pursuits mentioned earlier. Refer to the bible and the words of Jesus regularly along the way, for further detailed directions to the right place. May God prosper your journey!

Mike Abel
Mike is the Founding Pastor of Oasis of the Lord. You can follow his blog http://mikeabel.blog.co.nz/ on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/WiseForLife?ref=hl and Twitter https://twitter.com/OasisName
This article by Mike Abel appears in My Christian Daily and is reproduced with acknowledgement and appreciation.

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You have an impact on your world

Impact on your world

Impact on your world

Our pressures and pains and the pace of life so blitz our minds, hearts and bodies that we’re not in any mood to fret over what happens outside our own little worlds. Let the scientists and governments fix the global economic woes, the world food shortage that is already happening; and the real shortage of drinkable water for the world population.

Some people will say, “It’s not going to help me or the world if I worry about it. Besides, I’ve got my own concerns and life to look after”. Different people respond in different ways. Others will say, “No man is an island. We are part of all that we have experienced. Everything touches everything – we are all interrelated.” So where do you fit and what part do you play, in the wider world in which you live – the world outside your private world?

You have a role in your family, your workplace, among your friends or in the community where you live. Whether or not you conform to the expectations of these circles, in different degrees – you are a known person. Your college friends knew you differently to how your present set of friends and connections and circles know you.

You make your presence felt in life mainly by your nature and your beliefs. Your nature is your essential characteristics and qualities and temperament. Your beliefs are about what you hold to be right and wrong, and what is true and false; what you stand for. These aspects make you interesting and entertaining, but most importantly, your nature and your beliefs let you offer that something special you have – to those in your various circles.

You are living on this planet – a part of the human race – and all your experiences here determine how things appear to you. By the same token, those with whom you interact, decide on how you appear to them. So what are you known for? Are you known for your negative attitude or honesty or bad breath? Are you known for your beliefs such as all people are created equal; God exists and is the supreme creator.

It might not matter to you about what your circles will think of you after you die – but the truth is that how you live your life defines how people view you and relate to you. Whether you care or not, it also predicts what they – including your family – will remember of you when you are gone.

Mike Abel

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Gangnam Style and the challenge for Christian music

This article by Mike Abel appears in My Christian Daily and is reproduced with acknowledgement and appreciation.

The message in Gangnam Style pokes fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they are not. The message in Justin Bieber’s song and video Baby is one of the persistence of a guy trying to get back a hard-to-get girl. Contemporary Christian singers and groups like Israel Houghton, CeCe Winans, and Michael W Smith – do not come anywhere near the YouTube audiences of Gangnam Style ( one billion) and Baby (800 million). To explain the supremacy and sway of secular pop music and its idols one has to see the patterns and devices behind this reality.

The chance of making money is a definite aim and relies upon various factors for success with movies and pop music. I think movies succeed because of the popularity of the stars, their fan bases, publicity and advertising that keeps the movies in the public mind. On the other side of the entertainment coin, I think that pop hit records succeed mainly on the song lyrics and then on the tempo and tunes. Most of the songs that make the pop charts and get airtime have lyrics that imply or openly proclaim strong sexual desires or intimate acts. For example, the girl in Gangnam Style gets hotter when the night comes – and is sexy and bares it all. Christian artists will not record songs containing such themes and lyrics, because of their deep Christian beliefs and values.

Contemporary Christian music survives on many fronts, especially against world systems that actively operate against any Christian effort. Closer home within the church, contemporary Christian music faces criticism that it is nothing more than entertainment. With regard to the label of entertainment, the quest of any Gospel genre must be to influence the lifestyles, beliefs and spiritual insights of the supporters and fans, beyond mere entertainment. By its nature, entertainment is perishable. Unlike goods and services, entertainment lasts only as long as we are experiencing or watching. Experiences also change and diminish in importance, as time passes.

I have often said that the spirit of a song is in the spirit that inspired it, and the one who sings it. This is the main divide between secular and Christian music. The Holy Spirit inspires and backs all songs and music that bring themes of the good news of salvation and God’s plan for this world and the universe. The spirit of this age churns out and plugs lusts to widen the gulf between light and dark, truth and trick, good and evil. There are billions that search in songs and dances like Gangnam Style, for true joy, entertainment and for a new world. Becoming more spiritual is not their most important goal in life; yet music can be a key source of more than moral guidance.

Pray that the new breed of Christian song artists continue to reach out in every godly way to this huge audience, with a direct message that inspires listeners to bond with Jesus Christ, on a lasting basis.
Mike Abel

Mike is the Founding Pastor of Oasis of the Lord. You can follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/OasisName and http://www.cross.tv/profile/282017?go=about&aid=19376

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2013

Thank you for following my Wise for Life blog.
May you find encouragement and inspiration as you receive the new postings sent directly to your e-mail address; or whenever you visit my Blog.
I sincerely pray that 2013 turns out to be a year of great achievements for you. I pray this short excerpt of M L Hasknis’ poem encourages you.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Many Blessings
Mike

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Little lives lost

Sandy Hook Elementary School

The place of pain

And so you’re gone my precious child; out of our lives and out of your future.
But never out of our hearts and fondest memories.
We’re numb with pain, angry, riled; what can undo the deeds of that creature?
We’re lesser now, made empty by Lanza’a atrocities.

Who can we blame who is at fault; should I have acted on my early eerie feeling?
A million “what ifs” flood our tears and dash our hopes.
They won’t let me hear your living voice, tussle your hair or stop me from reeling.
Did you cry, did you call for mommy, how did you cope?

Is the licence to carry a gun or the lobby that sustains that right the slayer?
Is it our nation’s eroding moral code that left you cold?
All I know is that no one’s sleeping in your bed; no good night kiss or prayer.
For our precious darling child, the bells have tolled.

Mike Abel

http://mikeabel.blog.co.nz/

15th December 2012
In honour of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School

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Three coins for the time of your life

Three coins

Coins for life

When I was in my early twenties, building castles in the air was a daily pastime. The first lesson I learnt was this: Castles in the air (and hopes and visions) are good. However, life happens and things begin to happen, only when you put foundations under those castles in the air. The second lesson I learnt was this; Life doesn’t happen like you want it to – if you postpone things, or procrastinate. The third lesson I learnt was – don’t forget that while you’re busy dreaming and hoping – life is carrying on. If you don’t get up and get going – life will pass you by.

LIFE HAPPENS
Jesus our Lord lived with clear expectations of what he had to achieve in the different stages of his life (Heb 12:2). He prepared for his entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21:2), as carefully as he prepared for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8). It is a clear vision of your purpose that directs the preparations you make, and actions you take.

Not everyone has this future outlook to life. In recent times human culture has been influenced more by the idea of living for today, than by the ideal of living for tomorrow. A future perspective is part of our faith (1 Peter 5:7). This future outlook is anchored in some 8000 promises in the Bible – covering every possible aspect of life; and stimulated by over 1800 predictions of future events. Paul the Apostle describes believers who do not have a future perspective, as worse than unbelievers (1 Tim 5:8).

TIME OF YOUR LIFE
My first lesson was about building castles in the air. Everything starts with an idea, a hope, a dream or a vision. In short, you form internal pictures or images of objects that you desire but don’t physically possess or experience. This is imagination at work. In addition, you have a wholehearted belief and desire that the intangible things you hope for and dream about will happen in your life. This is faith. I refer to these two truths as the coin of Prayer; for the simple reason that nothing that is promised; prophesied, hoped or believed for comes out of heaven, without prayer. Jesus our Lord, the Apostles and Elijah taught us this (John 16:24; Phil 4:6-7; Acts 10:9-23; James 5:16; 1 Kings 18:42-45). So prayer is one of three coins that can bring you into the time of your life.

The second lesson was: Life doesn’t happen like you want it to, if you postpone things, or procrastinate. The way things happen has to do with our choices, and God’s will. Often we go through tough times because of our own choices. Often we enjoy the time of our lives because of Holy Spirit inspired choices. From the time we’re born to the time we die, we live by our choices and God’s will for our lives. As regards postponing and procrastinating – these speak of Timing. There’s a time and season for everything (Eccl 3:1), including the real-life appearance of things you desire (James 1:17), and the entry and exit of challenges and temptations (Matt 4:1-11). Success or failure often depends on how you align your choices to God’s timing for your life. It’s not enough to know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. It’s crucial also to know when to stand still, and the time to act (John 2:4; 17:1). I call this second coin: Timing

The third lesson: don’t forget that while you’re busy dreaming and hoping – life is carrying on. If you don’t get up and get going – life will pass you by. The passing by of life is about the cycles and events God sets in motion – in nature, the galaxies and in people: ageing, gravity and destiny etc. In this setting, we dream and hope mainly about our own lives. So the third lesson made me think: why would most people want all they can get out of life and heaven, with no thought of others? I thought -how much of my life is about what I can give to God, and to people in this world? On considering these questions, you will be moved – as I was – to get up and get going to make a contribution, to make a difference in the lives of others. I call this coin: Sacrifice. The beauty of sacrifice is that you do what you must, with little or no thought of fame or reward. You’re just doing what you know is the right thing; and deep within, you finally learn that this is what you were born to do.

CONCLUSION
I don’t claim that Prayer, Timing and Sacrifice are the only three coins in life. I’ve used them repeatedly for life’s journey. They are coins you can use to have the time of your life.

Enjoy the journey!
Mike Abel©

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Christianity alive and well

After his obituary was mistakenly published in a well-known journal, Mark Twain the American author and humourist sent a cable from London stating, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Christianity too is very much alive and well, and thriving all over the world.

According to the World Religion Database, 48 per cent of Africa’s 1 billion inhabitants are Christian. 82.24% of the Latin American countries are Christian. Christianity may be waning in Western Europe; but it is the predominant faith in five Asian countries, the Philippines, East Timor, Armenia, Georgia and Cyprus. In South Korea and Vietnam, Christianity represents the most widespread religion. There is explosive growth of Christianity in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch says, “Conflict in religion is inevitable and usually healthy – a religion without conflict is a religion that will die, and I see no sign of this with Christianity.” The U.S. conference of Catholic Bishops strongly endorsed Pope Benedict’s statements on the threat to the Church’s moral witness in public life. Some conservative Christians in America consider that the country has gone astray, seduced by the sirens of money and power. Charles Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington says that religious liberty is in great jeopardy in America. These are not signs of Christianity on the way out. They are signs of a resurgence of Christianity, ready to oppose the errors of every age in order to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

In modern times, the leftist world media and entertainment corporations lead the aggression against Christianity and the church. The various forces within the secular world have moved the opinions and perceptions of society away from traditional norms and religious heritage. The evil ploy is to portray the world as less religious. The continual message is that Christianity has withered; that the church has nothing significant to contribute to society in this century – unless it compromises its beliefs. Undeniably, much of that compromise has happened.

It is not the end of the faith when Franklin Graham – son of Billy Graham, referring to, the legalisation of same sex marriages and other things, says that he believes that America is on a path of destruction. It is not ‘bye ‘bye Christianity when research finds that America is less fervent in faith than ever before. The more telling statistic is that 78.4% of Americans are Christians – or identify with Christianity. Besides, it is a mistake to measure Christianity worldwide by events among the Christians in America. Yes, there are Christians who abandon the faith, especially in Europe. There are churches that have become apathetic. Indeed, false teachers have crept into the church, and the voice of the church might seem relegated to that of a minor player in the world. In spite of all this battering, the church stays alive.

This endurance is not because the church produces present day icons with huge social power in the world or society. It is because of the connection to, and the spiritual legacy of its founder Christ. This shapes the resilience and zeal of the faithful and the recruits, and guarantees the successful survival of Christianity. In all of history, the world has craftily presented the church as a custodian of ethics and morality. That is its ancillary purpose. Its prime purpose is to preach the gospel throughout the world and make disciples of all people. Far from dying on the vine, Christianity is very much alive and doing pretty well. The bells that toll are not the death knell of Christianity, but the jubilant peals of a firm faith, on a forward march towards three billion Christians by 2050.

Mike Abel
I wrote this for the mass circulation paper My Christian Daily; published December 10th 2012

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The future is bright

Hostilities in the First World War formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. The world annually remembers that day and the time, as Poppy Day or Remembrance Day. Sadly, that has not stopped nations from subsequent wars. So, no matter how auspicious the event, our memories fade and we even fail to recall our vows or promises.

We’re coming up to 2013 and traditionally there will be New Year’s Resolutions; which resolutions most of us never keep; so many of us don’t make resolutions any more. What all this tells me is that we have the heart to want to do the right thing; but the will to go through and follow-up to completion is lacking. Jesus observed this of Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked them to pray with him, before his betrayal and crucifixion. These disciples were honoured and happy to pray with him but their tiredness or flesh, wanted to go in another direction. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt 26: 36-43).

For much as one wishes to achieve something, the frailties of the human body often make it impossible. We also skip our weight control diet and exercise. We eat the wrong things – things we know we shouldn’t eat. But it’s not just the flesh which seems to have a mind of its own (Rom 7:19-21). Either most of us lack discipline or, the goal is not flamed deep enough in our hearts and minds – to keep the body under control and motivate us forward. So it is, that had half of us kept to the good resolutions and admirable promises we made in the past, we would be different people today. In all probability, you would be a different person today. Moreover, the world would be a better place.

We’re never too old or too young to change for the better and do better or greater things, with our lives. Perhaps it is in the nature of human beings that we look for an auspicious calendar date and a time to launch the change we want to make, or the goal we plan to fulfil. If that is true, then there’s 12 o’clock on the 12th of the 12th of the 12th coming soon – 12/12/12; or midnight between the 31st December 2012 and the 1st January 2013. Give yourself another personal opportunity; to do something special or great in 2013. This time round, lets pray that our memories thereafter will be jogged by a fresh new discipline and determination. The future with a new resolve is always bright.

Sincere Blessings and Best Wishes.

Mike Abel©

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