Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keep Your Fork

Keep Your Fork

There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given 3 months to live. So, as she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

"There's one more thing," she replied excitedly."What's that?" came the pastor's reply."This is very important," the young woman continued."I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked. Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor. 

The young woman explained. "My grandmother once told me this story and, from there on out, I have always done so. I have also always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement." 

"In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.'" 

"It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful and with substance!" "So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork ..........the best is yet to come." 

The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral, people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor and heard the question. "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her.The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care.

Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time to "Keep your fork." Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share ... being friend with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility. And remember to keep your fork.

Fellowship of the Unashamed

(An African martyr's last words)

I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line.

The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.

I'm finished and done with low living, sight-walking, small planning,

smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,

mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven,
my road is narrow, my way is rough,

my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up,

paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." [Romans 1:16]

This was the last will and testament of a man whose passion for souls grew from his love for Jesus.
PRAYER: Almighty God, Thank you for the opportunities that you place before me. Thank you Lord, that I don't "got to" do anything, but more so that I "get to" share your Word with those you place before me. Make me a more effective and obedient servant for your Kingdom. Use me to educate, encourage and edify others for your Glory. Father, you have prepared a way, The Way, and I know this. Take away my selfish thoughts, and instead replace this with a selfless outlook, that I may be more effective in the urgent matters of your work and your kingdom. Make me to be more like you, Lord.  In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ten Questions - Bible Verses

Ten Questions - Bible Verses:

Question 1:  Is there a direct command for it or against it in the bible?
Exodus 24:7
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people.
They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will

John 14:15
15"If you love me, you will obey what I command.

Question 2:  Could this cause others to stumble in their faith?
Romans 14:21
21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else
that will cause your brother to fall.

I Corinthians 8:13
13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will
never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

Question 3: Is this activity necessary?
I Corinthians 6:12
12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial.
"Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by

Question 4:  Does this activity harm my body?
I Corinthians 3:16-17
16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's
Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will
destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Question 5:  Does this activity rob me of my freedom?
Could it be addictive?
I Corinthians 6:19-20
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who
is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Question 6:  Does this activity promote evil?
Romans 12:9
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

I Thessalonians 5:22
22Avoid every kind of evil.

Proverbs 8:13
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.

Question 7:  Can I ask God's blessing on this activity?
John 8:28
28So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you
will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my
own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

Question 8:  Would I act differently if Jesus were standing next to me?
Proverbs 15:3
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

2 Chronicles 16:9
9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish
thing, and from now on you will be at war."

Question 9:  Can I glorify God in this thing?
I Corinthians 10:31
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the
glory of God.

Question 10:  What would Jesus do?
I John 2:6
6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

LIVE Episodes vs. Pre-Recorded Episodes

So I tried my hand yet again, at doing a LIVE episode.
I was moving outside my comfort zone, for sure.
Alot can happen during a live episode...
notes can be lost, computer issues, phone issues, and more.
To add to things, I was using a USB headset, running on a 
slow net-book. 

A Pre-Recorded episode, is relaxed. You are in control of how and where your journey for that episode comes together. You are in control of the recording equipment, and it's capabilities.
If you screw up, you simply edit it out, or do it over again; til you get it right. I did not take the easy way out, this time.

That's right, I did not utilize my podcast equipment at all.

So today was a lesson and a labor of love.
From here on out, LIVE or Pre-Recorded...
Podcast equipment will be used.

I'm sure I will do another live episode in the future.
And I will be better prepared, for all those maybe's I described.

We shall see what next week's episode has in store for us.

Thanks for checking us out, and for listening to our episodes.
If you have an interesting idea on a topic for a later episode;
feel free to let us know.

We can be reached at: or email us at


- J

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Some Things You'll Never Do in Heaven

Something to think about and to
give us a different perspective on

Inappropriate in Heaven
• You probably did not realize it, but likely
today you've been involved or soon will be
involved in activities that would be
inappropriate in heaven.
• Not sinful things (hopefully), but little
things that remind us we are not at home
in this world.
• What are some of these things?

We will not:
• Observe the Lord’s supper---that was
given to us to remember His death and
sacrifice—UNTIL HE COME.
• Take up a collection.
• Pray
• Listen to a sermon
• About the only thing we will do is sing.
• But it will be new songs, not the ones we
sing here and now.

We will not:
• Go to the medicine cabinet.
• Here we have to deal with headaches,
arthritis, disease, and a million other pains.
• There are no drug stores in heaven!
• There will be no tooth-brushes.
• John wrote, ". . . neither shall there be any
more pain . . ." (Revelation 21:4).

We will not:
• attend any funerals.
• There are no hillsides dotted with the
markers of loved ones "across Jordan."
• You won't find silent cities of the dead in
heaven, for no one ever dies there!
• There won’t be flowers or words spoken.
• John wrote, ". . . there shall be no more
death . . ." (Revelation 21:4).

We will not:
• Turn on a light switch.
• There is no darkness there ". . . for the glory of
God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light
thereof" (Revelation 21:23). "There shall be no
night there" (Revelation 21:25b), so there will be
no street lamps, no nightlights and no light
• No incandescent, fluorescent, or neon lights and
no light for the TV screen.
• The sun and the moon and star have been

We will not:
• Face a temptation.
• We face temptations daily in this life because the devil
and his workers are very busy (1 Peter 5:8).
• Oh how we wish we could lay our armor aside and just
rest from the constant battle of faith (Ephesians 6:13-18).
• That day is coming! In the land where we are staking our
claim, the devil has no passport!
• In fact, he will have been cast down into the lake of fire
and brimstone (Revelation 20:10). His helpers, too
(personified as the beast and the false prophet by John),
will be cast into that lake (Revelation 19:20).

We will not:
• Visit a sick person.
• We try to get by to see the sick in hospitals or at
home, but we'll never do so in heaven.
• All the ill effects of living in a sinful world,
including sickness, will be reversed in heaven.
• There will not be any doctors or nurses in
• We won’t have to listen to people complain
about their aches and pains and problems.
• John said, ". . . the former things are passed
away" (Revelation 21:4).

We will not:
• Lock our doors.
• We live in a wicked society. Every night the news tells us
about those who were robbed, raped, beaten and killed the
night before.
• We rush to fasten our windows, bolt our doors and secure our
• But, have you considered that there will be no bad news in
• The doors on those mansions have no deadbolts, the
windows have no locks and the homes have no burglar
alarms. In fact there will be no doors or windows or homes.
• "And there shall in no wise enter into it nothing that defileth,
neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but
they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation
• The wedding feast is by "invitation only" and nobody crashes
that party!

We will not:
• See an old person.
• We daily see the aging process in ourselves and our
loved ones. We watch our children grow so fast.
• Skin wrinkles; vision dims; strength fails; hearing goes;
energy wanes (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:3-7).
• But in that land there are no retirement homes or nursing
facilities because there are no old people! (Well, we'll all
be old, but no one will show it.) We will receive new,
incorruptible bodies (2 Corinthians 5:1-6). Spiritual
• Neither will there be nurseries or day-care for children.
The only children will be the children of God.

We will not:
• Shed any tears.
• Hardly a week goes by there is not some
sadness mixed with our blessings.
• We face heartaches, and sometimes
heartbreaks, far more frequently than would be
our choice.
• But did you know that the Bible says, "And God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,
nor crying . . ." (Revelation 21:4).

• The human experience is not very
pleasant a lot of the time.
• Yes, there are moments where we can
experience joy and happiness and peace.
• We must realize and know that everything
in this life is physical,
• And heaven is spiritual.
• So let us prepare to enjoy that place called

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Clearing Your Conscience

Clearing Your Conscience
'Jesus did not come to bring division, he didn't come to cause God's chosen people to fall. He came to LOVE them into the Kingdom'

Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
English Standard Version (ESV)
Food Offered to Idols
Now concerning[a] food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.[b]
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating[c]in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged,[d] if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers[e] and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

I think it's true to say that the Corinthian Church to whom Paul was addressing the words that we heard a few moments ago, was not a perfect church. Despite the fact that it had not been up and running very long, and the words of Jesus were still ringing in the ears of contemporaries, it was a church with problems.

Paul spent a year and a half or more in Corinth during his 2nd missionary journey, arriving probably in the winter of 50-51AD, staying at the home of Aquila and Priscilla while he carried on both the trade of a tent-maker and the mission of an evangelist.

There's no doubt that Paul cared very deeply for the spiritual and moral well-being of the people of Corinth, which was itself well known for being a morally corrupt city. It appears that several reports had reached Paul concerning the difficulties that the Church was facing, including letters from Church members raising all sorts of questions about Christian lifestyle and doctrine.

Paul's reply, by way of this letter, was his way of ensuring that the various congregations and sections within the church at Corinth understood fully the implications of their faith and the way that this faith must be separate from the accepted behavior of the day.
In chapter 8 which we heard read Paul deals with two separate issues, one briefly and the other at more length.

Firstly, there had obviously been a question posed….. 'Which spiritual gift is the better to possess? Is it knowledge?'

Paul doesn't waste many words on this issue, as he knows he's going to discuss the matter later, spending a lot of time talking about spiritual gifts. Here he contents himself with merely saying that there is something far better than knowledge, which can be divisive, something which all people can possess and which knows no class or educational boundaries, and that is LOVE - because love builds up the person and the fellowship.
It's not a simple 'aside comment' here that Paul allows himself though, because what he has to say next reflects on this particular viewpoint as well.

Paul spends the rest of this chapter talking about food. Not a subject that you would have thought could be a point of division between Christians, but then we approach it from 21st century western civilization. For the Jew, and certainly for an orthodox Jew, food is a very serious business, and as was the case with most of their life, the Jewish religious leaders had written a whole host of do's and don’ts regarding what was considered acceptable for consumption.

There was an added complication in that Corinth played host to a variety of different forms of worship, and many of them were certainly not Christian and included sacrifices. Now the practice was that only a part of an animal that had been offered for sacrifice was actually burned, and the rest eventually found its way onto the butcher's counter. Which probably sounds quite acceptable to us - rather than wasting a whole animal make use of what's left…….. eminently frugal.

Unless of course you are a recently converted Jew who still carries within you the fear of breaking those rules which until then had played such an important part of your life.
The dilemma of course was that this meat had been offered as a sacrifice to idols. Now, every good Christian housewife knew that idols were a load of nonsense, just bits of carved wood, of no value at all, and of course the gods to which they were dedicated simply didn't exist did they? After all, there was only one God.

But….. maybe she shouldn't touch the meat just in case idolatry did cast a spell over the food, and by this making it 'unclean' and unfit for consumption by believers.
Somehow it brings the debate over should we or shouldn't we eat Beef on the bone into perspective.

Would you fancy tackling the subject? What would you tell the Corinthian housewives who raised this matter with Paul? Should they eat this meat or not? And if not, then why?

Well, Paul handles it in a very clever way by looking at both sides of the problem. Firstly he agrees of course with the affirmation that there is only one God (big 'G'), even though the general population were used to being surrounded by idols and statues dedicated to a multitude of gods (small 'g'). So if there is only one real God and one Lord, Jesus Christ, then all those statues and idols - call them false gods if you will - are meaningless because the object of their followers devotions simply doesn't exist.

So, does that mean that this meat can be eaten without worry, then?

Well, hang on a minute, says Paul. It's not quite as simple as that for a true Christian. Why? Because of those few words with which he started the chapter. Head knowledge is one thing, but the really important thing is to understand and know 'love'.

It's fine for us, says Paul. We're strong and confident believers and know all this to be true now, but what about our friends and others with whom we have contact. Do they all share this same confidence about what is right and what is wrong to eat? Hardly, he replies, there are lots of folk around for whom this is a very important matter. Some of your congregation are so used to being surrounded by idols in their daily lives that they would still somehow feel contaminated by being forced to eat food that had been offered for sacrifice to idols.

So, says Paul, rejoice if you must in the freedom you now feel about eating such meat, but be sensitive to the views of others, because your new found confidence might inadvertently be a stumbling block to someone like this, someone whose faith is not yet strong enough to feel totally separated from the worldly values of your society. Some people's faith is strong, others a little weaker.

In this way your knowledge could cause the downfall of another, Paul tells his readers, and that is most definitely wrong.

In fact Paul goes on to say that this is more than just a case of being insensitive to the needs of others. If this is the way that you act towards others, he warns, then you are in effect treating Christ in the same way. Here Paul echoes the words of Jesus himself.
If it’s going to cause my brother to struggle with his faith, then I'd rather give up eating meat altogether, says Paul.

Of course there's no real relevance to today's church in this reading, is there? Sacrifices went out of fashion a long time ago, and people are free to eat whatever they want, or whatever their consciences allow them to eat.

But as in most readings of this type, it is quite easy to apply the truth within it to our own situation.

Take for example the very opening words again, where Paul talks about the relative importance of knowledge and love. Within the Church at large, and this church in particular, there are Christians whose faith is strong - built on a very firm foundation that has been tested over the years and found to be steady in the face of temptation and questioning. There are others who have only recently found that sureness of faith that can uphold them through the darker times in their lives, and there are yet others whose faith is vulnerable - who believe and yet are constantly searching for unanswered questions - and who can be easily distracted from the narrow road that the gospels talk of.

How easy for those of us who feel confident enough to speak out about issues of faith, to actually place a stumbling block on the road of someone else's journey. To do exactly as Paul warned the Corinthians not to. Saying the 21st century equivalent of
'Of course it's Ok to eat that meat, for goodness sake. You're not worried about the effects of non-existent idols on the texture, are you?'

We're never insensitive are we? We never criticize the religious viewpoint of another Christian, do we? We never abuse our freedom to say what we want on matters relating to our faith, even though it might upset someone else, do we?

If we do, says Paul then we need to be rather careful. If by our actions or words we cause someone's faith to be weakened, and for them to fall away…….. then it's to God we answer.

Jesus was the prime example to follow when it comes to handling tricky subject areas of faith. He was never, ever insensitive to the needs of others. If he had to get a point across that meant someone acknowledging that they were wrong and he was right, then he did it in a loving and sensitive way. Yes, he did shout now and then, but only where it was appropriate. Jesus LOVED people into the kingdom. He had more knowledge in his head than any man - he could have argued people into the kingdom if he had chosen to, but that was not in his nature, and that is not the way that he expects his disciples to behave.

Knowledge is one thing, says Paul, but it can be a dangerous thing if when used it causes someone to stumble. Love never caused anyone to stumble.

We would do well to remember these words of Paul within the church today. So often people seem to feel excluded because they find, perhaps, certain aspects of the church's doctrine difficult to grasp. I can't help but feel that Jesus must weep when he sees such things happening.

Jesus did not come to bring division, he didn't come to cause God's chosen people to fall. He came to LOVE them into the Kingdom, and that should be the example that we follow. If we're about to say something that we know will cause offence, if we're about to state our opinion on a doctrinal matter in such a forthright manner that others might start questioning their faith, then we need to be careful because that puts a very big responsibility upon our shoulders. Our conscience should be our guide. The great theologian and writer C S Lewis in one of his books explains how he believes that our conscience is not only a God-given gift for helping us to discern what is right and wrong, but it is even a proof of God's existence. It is certainly something that should not be ignored as happened in our reading from the Old Testament. The Pharaoh knew what was the right thing to do, his conscience told him, and yet his heart persuaded him otherwise.

Mother Theresa had a very simple policy when it came to her dealings with other members of the human race, whatever their particular beliefs, caste, condition might be. She treated each one as if she were dealing with Jesus himself. And it seems to me that Paul is saying something similar to us here.

In all things, in our dealings with other Christians especially, sensitivity and love are the key words.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's All About Forgiveness

'When a person forgives someone, they respond to wrong by going beyond what normal justice would seem to demand,'

Read GENESIS 45:1-15 and MATT 6:6-15

 Genesis 45:1-15

English Standard Version (ESV)
Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family
45 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

Matthew 6:6-15
English Standard Version (ESV)
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.[d]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There’s an enduring image in my mind of the Vietnam War, a picture taken by an American cameraman of a young Vietnamese girl running along a road. There is terror and excruciating pain expresses in her eyes, and her body is on fire with napalm. Even if she were to jump into a river the napalm would continue to eat into her skin, and the picture left little to the imagination as to the likely outcome of this indiscriminate bombing attack. It shocked the people of all over the world when it was published, and may well have been a catalyst in the stirring up of anti-war feelings within the United States.

The surprising thing was that the young girl survived, albeit terribly scarred. More surprisingly she was featured not so long ago in a magazine article.  Now grown up, she has come to terms with all that happened on that dreadful day, and is able to say that she feels no hatred towards the crew of that plane.

Do you remember Gordon Wilson who lost his daughter in an IRA bombing on Remembrance Day a several years ago, and the immense courage he was able to show both then and later, as he sought not retribution for what had happened, but love and forgiveness - and through that love was able to do a great work towards peace in Northern Ireland.

In our reading from Genesis chapter 45 we find that the tables have been turned dramatically on Joseph’s brothers. They’d sold him into slavery for 20 shekels of silver to a band of traders on their way to Egypt, and now because of famine they were at his mercy and feared for their lives. Joseph could, no doubt, because of his position have had them put to death or imprisoned, after apparently accusing them of being spies, but he rewards evil with good. His acceptance of them is surely one of the bible’s great stories of reconciliation and forgiveness.

No doubt Joseph’s thoughts were directed towards a reunion with his father and younger brother, who had not made the journey to Egypt, but there was a wider purpose in his mind based on his knowledge of his heavenly Father’s will for his life. He could now see that it was God’s will that had brought him to Egypt, and his brothers’ treachery had been a part of that wider story. A little later in chapter 50 we have Joseph telling his brothers ‘You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good.’

The several Hebrew and Greek words which translate as ‘forgive’ fall into two general meanings. The first one refers to financial dealings, and deals with the canceling of a debt. Like today, people got into debt for a variety of reasons, but as far as loans were concerned the lender had discretion whether to show ‘grace and favor’ when approached with a request. Any terms agreed would naturally enough depend on the relationship between lender or borrower, but God had instructed the people of Israel to be generous in their lending. The second meaning is much more frequently used, and this is concerning the making right of a relationship that had been harmed through some misdeed.

Both meanings are used in the bible concerning God’s pardoning or canceling of people’s sins, and if we look at one of the most well known of passages in the New Testament where Jesus talks to his disciples about prayer, we find in Matthew’s gospel a version of the Lord’s Prayer which says ‘Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ and then if we turn to Luke’s gospel in chapter 11 we read ‘Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.’ and within these two meanings lies the overlap that the Israelites too often felt or were reminded about. That through Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, a debt was incurred which required the people to show their appreciation of God’s love to them by the kind of life that they led. Failure to comply with the terms of repayment by forgetting all that God had done for them ultimately led to Jesus dying on the cross for the sins not only of God’s chosen people, but for the sins of the world. And at this point it touches us as well.

The Lord’s prayer as we have it handed down says ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Do you notice the subtle difference between these words and those as translated in Luke’s gospel? For in Luke it doesn't say ‘as we forgive’ but rather ‘For we also forgive everyone who sins against us.’ The implication is that this forgiveness comes naturally to man.

So what did Jesus mean when he talked about forgiving people and being forgiven?

Jesus told the story of a servant who had got into serious debt to his master, and was now faced with the prospect of having to sell all that he had in order to service the debt, or go to prison. He went to his master and pleaded to be released from this burden, and no doubt to his surprise was granted his request. When a person forgives someone, they respond to wrong by going beyond what normal justice would seem to demand, and act in sheer grace - and what is grace, but ‘undeserved favor’. It doesn't mean that the wrong or sin is considered as unimportant, rather that the relationship is far more important.

Chew on that for a bit. I encourage you to research for yourself, the core info shared in this post; allowing scripture to be the ultimate authority. Amen.

- J

Doctrinal Error - Prayer In Agreement

DOCTRINAL ERROR – Prayer in Agreement

By far, the favorite doctrine of all Word of Faith teachers, used over and over again by those asking for money to fund their organizations, is claimed to be found in Matthew 18:19 where the following is stated:

"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (NAS)

The claim is made that if two or more Christians agree about a specific issue, then whatever that issue might be, when stated to God in faith as a prayer request, it must be accomplished by God according to the wishes of the believers. This is claimed to be the Prayer of Agreement or "bringing our faith into agreement with yours" or "releasing the power of the prayer of agreement." When used by the leadership of Word of Faith organizations, it is stated that they and their associates or organization will agree with the prayer requests that are made known to them, and that the power of their Prayer of Agreement with those requests will cause those requests to be fulfilled by God, according to what they claim is stated in Matthew 18:19. This is a remarkable claim and, if it is true, would place tremendous power into the hands of Christians worldwide.

However, is the Prayer of Agreement what Matthew 18:19 actually teaches? The premise sounds so good and is based on the Scripture, so how could anyone disagree with that teaching? The difficulty with the Scriptural foundation is that many Word of Faith teachers base their doctrines on "proof" texts which they claim support their beliefs. In many instances the single verse provided appears to confirm the teaching, but on closer examination it is revealed that the verse has been pulled out of the context in which it was given and the verse is claimed to say what it does not. A fabrication is perpetrated, which covers an ulterior motive by the teacher, and the Scripture is used in order give credibility to what is being taught. This is true in the case of the Prayer of Agreement. Sadly, many people have been deceived by the claims and have expressed disillusionment because of the false promises that have been made, using the doctrine of the Prayer of Agreement as the basis of authority.

Matthew 18:19 is not a verse isolated within itself, because it is part of a group of 6 verses, beginning with Matthew 18:15 and ending with Matthew 18:20. These verses deal with a single subject, are a single unit and comprise a teaching spoken directly by Jesus Christ to His disciples, so it is imperative that leaders present the verses as Jesus Christ intended and taught. If the verses are claimed to teach what they do not, then the teachers are claiming that Jesus Christ was a liar and they are speaking the truth, which assumes that they are of better moral and spiritual character, and have greater understanding than Jesus Christ. This is not acceptable. Verse 19 cannot be separated from that unit of six verses and must be interpreted within the confines of that unit.


1. Verse 19 has NOTHING to do with requests to God by a believer, in relation to health, wealth, happiness or any other aspect or desire in their own life.

2. NO request is made to God by the individuals in the verses.

3. God is NOT asked to agree with or grant any request that is made.

4. The subject of verse 19 is NOT about prayer and prayer is never mentioned.

5. The two persons of verse 19 are NOT individual Christian believers making requests for themselves.


1. It is part of the unit regarding the subject of the DISCIPLINE of sinning Christian believers, introduced in verse 15.

2. There are FOUR people in verse 19, not just 2 - there are people who ASK and people who AGREE. It must be determined:

Who are the people who ask?

"...about anything that THEY may ask..."

The subject of THEY refers back to verses 15, 16, 17 18. Jesus is speaking to His disciples and they are the subject of THEY and are identified in verse 1, "At that time the disciples..."

Chapter 18 is entirely dedicated to teaching by Jesus Christ to His disciples. The people who ask are His disciples who are placed in the teaching, as examples, in the roles as leaders of the church.

To whom do they make their request?

"...that if two of YOU agree..."

The subject of YOU refers back to the previous identification in verses 15, 16 and 17. Again, the TWO are the disciples in their example roles as leaders of the church.

For what do the people ask?

Verses 17 and 18 provide the answer in relation to the sequence of events in verses 15-17. They ask in relation to the sinning brother introduced in verse 15, and their request is for the approval of the means of discipline to be administered by the leadership of the church.

To what do they all agree?

Verse 19 is the answer, "...that if you agree on earth about anything that they may ask..." It is the request for the type of discipline to be applied against the sinning brother that is to be agreed to by the leadership of the church.

So, when the text is actually read and verse 19 is properly retained and viewed within its context, the passage reveals its true meaning, as it is seen that the unit refers to the method and process by which a sinning Christian is confronted by other Christians and the manner in which church discipline is to be administered by the leadership. There is a specific process and order to be followed when the administration of discipline is found to be necessary.

The order is as follows:

Verse 15 - Sin is recognized by a fellow Christian in the life of another Christian, and that person goes to the sinning individual and confronts that individual regarding the sin. If the sinning person repents, all is forgiven and well. If the sinning person does not repent, then:

Verse 16 - The fellow Christian is to take ONE or TWO more other Christians and confront the sinning individual again. If the sinning person repents, all is forgiven and well. If the sinning person does not repent, then:

Verse 17 - The entire fellowship church is to be told. If the sinning person repents, all is forgiven and well. If the sinning person does not repent, then:

Verse 17 - The person is to be exiled from the fellowship of the church. That is the meaning of the binding and loosening on earth (verse 18) that is also taken out of context by Word of Faith and most charismatic teachers. The leadership had the power to exercise discipline and their decision was final when based on the proper application of the disciplinary process. Witnesses were available and testified as to the facts of the case, the words of the sinning Christian were stated and a judiciary decision was made by the leadership of the church, in relation to that person's connection with the fellowship. It was NOT A DECISION IN RELATION TO THE SALVATION OF THE SINNING CHRISTIAN, but only in relation to their association with the fellowship.

Verse 18 is a comment by Christ indicating the authority granted to the leadership of the church in relation to establishing the final judgment against the sinning Christian who refuses to repent. Their decision was binding and their authority was just as great as if God had made the same decision in heaven.

Verse 19 - The AGREEMENT is in relation to the process employed in verses 15 through 17 that results in the decision to expel the sinning person from the fellowship. A decision was made after meeting with the sinning person by the TWO individuals who accompanied the first Christian to confront the sinning believer. Their decision was in regards to the disciplinary measures to be applied to the sinning believer. These TWO individuals then made a request, based on the decision that they made (verse 19), to the other TWO individuals mentioned in the text, the leaders of the fellowship, who are the ones that must AGREE (verse 19) about what the other TWO have ASKED in relation to what disciplinary measures should be taken against the sinning believer.

It is the TWO Christians (who confront the sinning believer) who ASK, and it is the two DISCIPLES (the leadership of the church), who must AGREE as to what was asked by the other two. If the principles of discipline were followed correctly and the DISCIPLES (the leadership of the church) agreed as to what the request for discipline required, then the request was granted, applied and carried the same weight as if it had been spoken in heaven by God, based on the authority given to the DISCIPLES in verse 18, regarding the binding and loosening. The binding is the discipline applied and the loosening is the discipline removed when the sinning believer repents and is restored to the fellowship.

So, it is the two or more Christians who ASK the leadership of the church to exercise a certain type of discipline against a sinning believer, and it is the leadership of the church who must AGREE as to how appropriate the request for discipline is, in relation to the sinning believer. If the leadership AGREES with what the two or more Christians ASK, then the discipline is applied.

There is NO Prayer of Agreement being taught in these verses. In fact, there is no prayer noted or described at any point in the entire passage. The two or more Christians do not ASK in relation to requests for themselves, but in relation to disciplinary measures to be applied against a sinning believer. The leadership are the ones to AGREE, but they must AGREE, not in relation to personal requests by the two or more believers, but as to the propriety of the request for discipline which the two or more Christians had ASKED in relation to the sinning believer.

Those Christians who continue to accept the teaching of Word of Faith leaders at face value, are lacking in discernment, because they do not search the Scriptures to see if what is being taught is truly what is stated in the Scripture. In the case of the Prayer of Agreement, people are deceived by the teaching of Word of Faith leaders, because they willfully refuse to read the Scripture to see what it plainly states. Lack of discernment always leads to self-deception.

It is a dangerous circumstance when teachers misapply the Scripture in order to support their own teachings and attribute to God actions in which He is not involved. Word of Faith leaders, who claim to be anointed teachers and healers who speak for God, deliberately ignore the true message of Matthew 18:15-19, preferring to teach a false message regarding the direct words of Jesus Christ, and by such action reveal themselves to be false teachers. Teaching the Prayer of Agreement from Matthew 18:19 is not just a simple error or difference of interpretation, but it is a deliberate, premeditated and intentional presentation of a falsehood that is claimed to be truth.

God is not forced, and will not be forced, into fulfilling the desires and requests of Christians based on the "power" of some "agreement" between two or any number of persons. If one wishes to believe that He does operate on those principles, then the doctrine must be found elsewhere in the Scripture, because it is not taught in Matthew 18:15-19. Those who use Matthew 18:19 to teach that God grants prayer requests of any type based on the "agreement" of two or more Christians, or that it teaches the release of spiritual power regarding some alleged Prayer of Agreement, deliberately teach false doctrine. The number of religious leaders who teach this doctrine are legion, but among the more recognizable are, Sarah Bowling (daughter of Marilyn Hickey), Morris Cerullo, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch (TBN), Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Marilyn Hickey, Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Richard Roberts and R. W. Schambach.

The Prayer of Agreement doctrine fits in very well with the Word of Faith assertion that the words that Christians speak in faith have force and authority that is so powerful that even God must obey the request that is made. It is taught by them that Christians can create a world unto themselves by learning to use faith and words, and assuming the right faith and the right words are used, God is subject to that faith and to those words. This is seen in the teaching of Kenneth Copeland:

"Those things are governed by law and the thing that governs those laws are words, say it with me, we've been saying it in our daytime class 'faith filled words', say that, 'faith filled words dominate the laws of death', now say it again 'faith filled words dominate the laws of death'."

Kenneth Copeland's teaching states that there are certain laws that are superior to God, one of those laws being faith. In fact, the law of faith is so superior, that God had to use faith to create the universe, according to Kenneth Copeland. When it is seen how things begin to tie together in Word of Faith doctrine, then the logical conclusion is inescapable. If there are laws that are superior to God, and Christians can learn how to use those laws, then Christians can at least cause God to supply every want and need, and at best those Christians can become gods themselves, possibly even being superior to the God of the Bible.

Leaving the theological nuances of those doctrines aside and dealing with the practical aspects of Word of Faith teaching, it becomes quite apparent how the system operates. The core is the Prayer of Agreement doctrine. If God is subject to the law of faith and to the law of words, then Christians, agreeing with each other, praying in faith with the right words, can make God into a spiritual genie in which every desire must be fulfilled by Him. When coupled with the "Seed Faith" doctrine, in which money given to a Word of Faith ministry will activate the faith used in the Prayer of Agreement, and the money given will be multiplied and returned to the giver many times over, then the reality of the goal is seen. The ulterior motive behind the teaching of the Prayer of Agreement doctrine is to obtain money from adherents. Money is the goal and heart of virtually every Word of Faith "ministry".


Special Thanks for Check and Balance by Gary A. Hand - On Doctrine