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Posts Tagged ‘Assemblies of God’

           Each devotion in Godcast begins with a verse and ends with a prayer.  In between will be thoughts and anecdotes with a point, usually related to church or Christian living.  The articles are not deep, or set on expositing Scripture.  Its strength is application.  Generally this is a good book, though lighter than my preference.  And there were some frequent points that made me frustrated. 
 
          This book could be summed up with the following oft-repeated statements:
 

God has given us all the resources: physical, mental, spiritual, monetary to do
what He wants us to. 
 
The only critic who matters is the One
with nail prints in his hands. 
 
You must tithe. 
 
Get involved in missions: if you can’t go overseas, then pray and
pay for people to go overseas.

  
 
            The first statement is the real value of this book.  My favorite of the one-page chapters all dealt with the bigness of God, freeing me to depend on His grace. 

            But the third and fourth statements, which I’m not kidding, show up word for word about every fifteen pages, bother me.  I know that there is a large segment of Christianity that believes tithing is still God’s plan.  But it just isn’t in the Bible.  The Old Testament is filled with descriptions of the tithe, and rules about tithing.  Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, written to the Jews.  It calls the people thieves for not bringing God’s tithe into the storehouse.  Malachi wrote for Jews, under the law, with 400 plus years to go before the law was fulfilled and the new wine of the covenant was poured into new wineskins.  The author of Godcast claims that the church is the New Testament equivalent to the “storehouse,” because from thence we get spiritual nourishment.  He goes so far as to say that donations to other ministries cannot be counted as a tithe.  (He’s a pastor of a huge church with lots of staff and a multi-million dollar building.)  Each prayer on these chapters is unobjectionable, asking for a spirit of faith and giving and that God would give us wisdom to use His resources for His purposes.  I am all for giving, and was both blessed and challenged by his admonitions to a lifestyle embracing sacrifice. 
            Associated with this emphasis on regular, budgeted tithing to a single local church are some typical mega-church priorities with which I disagree: large congregations (in the thousands), expensive buildings, seeker conformed methods (A disturbing chapter is on needing bait as fishers of men, but the bait isn’t Jesus and life and salvation; it’s coffee!), professional staff, overly-planned and programmed worship services.  In a denomination like Assemblies of God, with its emphasis on the Holy Spirit, it is strange to me that they want to keep so much out of His control and fitted into a mold of traditional church structure.  On a positive note, the priority of his ministries seems to be people more than things or organizations. 
            Missions is obviously something to which every Christian is called, but we are not necessarily called to the easy task of being a missionary of supply.  Mr. Betzer is from the Assemblies of God, and I’ve been raised more or less in the Baptist tradition, but where I come from, we’re not given the excuse of saying that we send missionaries, but don’t have to preach the gospel ourselves.  There is just as much a mission field here in America as there is internationally, and so if you are not called to go overseas, you have a huge work here in your own city.  I believe that Mr. Betzer lives this way, though his lingo is misleading.  
             One other large concern to me is the focus on works and human responsibility.  If we do not preach the gospel to our friend, God is unable to save him.  If we fail to take our children to Sunday school, their lives will not be set on a godly course, and they will miss their calling.  Such are a few of the points made in this book.  
            To end on a better note, one of the chapters (#213) I read on election day was about Abraham Lincoln, and encouraged us to pray for our government, whether we agree with it or not.  How appropriate.  You can never pray too much, nor trust God too much. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I am fascinated having read chapter 197 of Godcast.  In it Dan Betzer makes a point from silence (not the best foundation for doctrine, but making for an interesting story).  Where the Bible is silent, we see a point being made.  Michael Card writes that when John is silent on events of Jesus’ life that the other gospel-recorders included, we should pay special attention.  John was substituting something else, a living parable.  In John 8 as John records Jesus’ encounter with the convicted adulteress, it mentions Jesus silently stooping to the ground before requesting that those without sin cast the first stone against the sinful woman.  What impact in his silence! 

 

So this Assemblies of God pastor communicates the impact of the silence covering 33 years of Abraham’s life after Sarah’s death.  Though they had their rough patches, during Sarah’s life Abraham was the faith father, involved in all sorts of actions, journeys, acquisitions, encounters, prayers, promises, and fulfillments.  Immediately after her death Abraham sends the head of his household (not just any old servant) to great distances to find a wife for Isaac.  This was very important to Abraham.  Why?  Maybe because his wife was very important to him.  He wanted Isaac to be blessed by a woman whose worth was far above rubies. 

 

And after that, we have a paragraph recording the last fifth of Abraham’s long life.  He married again and had more children.  But as far as we know he was the spiritual giant during his marriage to Sarah.  I caution again putting too much credence in this narrative factor. 

 

Pastor Betzer titles this chapter “Do Women have a Place in Ministry?”  If you think about Sarah’s support of her husband as her place in ministry, or if you consider the impact that her presence had on her husband’s faith, you get a beautiful picture of what I believe is a woman’s place in ministry.  (Sarah is also held up as an example to other women, especially in the way she submitted to her own husband.  I believe that women have a more direct ministry to other women as “teachers of good things.” – Titus 2) 

 

I shouldn’t be surprised that the semi-charismatic denomination has produced a man who, rather than interpreting the significance of the Sarah factor in Abraham’s life in light of biblical directives to women to submit, nor to teach or have authority over men; takes this beautiful picture of helpers meet for their husbands and finishes with a praise of the female ‘ministers’ and ‘pastors’ who founded very large, spiritual and missions-minded churches.  These women, he says, have positively impacted him.  Though he often mentions his wife in other chapters, this author fails to mention here her help in his ministry, which would be a more honest and biblically sound application of the Sarah principle. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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