Personal relationship with Jesus Christ

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Last sunday at church was such a blessing! The congregation stayed an extra hour to discuss what they learned from our religious education director and then we talked about ways to grow our church. I was proud of the ownership of evangelism that has taken place in the church. They said they did not want to spend money on an ad in the newspaper but instead they wanted to write personal letters and personally invite people to church. They also talked about having a personal relationship with Christ, and that they want to share that joy with others. One of the teens said she is inviting her entire swim team, after she talks about her personal relationship with Christ. I personally believe church growth is about "attraction" telling others how God has changed our lives. I am so proud of the congregation, for we have no doubt that we will grow. What does having a personal relationship with Christ mean to you? Do you think it is important for church growth. I love you all dearly.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2001

Answers

Encouraging news Sister Brenda! Having a personal relationship to Jesus is another way of saying you have a personal relationship with the Living God. That's a staggering idea with an infinite number of implications. As one with a PERSONAL relationship as His child and His bride how should I live? For one thing, there are certain types of conduct below my position. I may hold a lowly position in the natural, but in the spiritual I'm royalty. Royalty shouldn't act in unseemly ways. Every time I act in a way below my royal position I'm removing my robes, donning indecent clothes, and acting like a cheap prostitute. See Hosea. Hope that motivates someone out there. It does me.

Next, we are given the privelege and incredible responsibility of operating in His Name. If we're going to operate in that correctly we must do it in strict accordance with His wishes. Otherwise we're the most foolish of servants. When done correctly the requests we make and the orders we issue carry the same weight as though Jesus Himself were the speaker. Truly what's bound on earth will be bound in Heaven. There's authority there we can barely fathom, and authority is access to genuine power - His power. When we pray like this armies of angels swing into action. Every resource required will be available at the proper time. The devil simply cannot prevail.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2001


Pastor Rob, thanks again for singling me out! I most appreciate your snide and condescending statement pertaining to my perceived ignorance of Jesus the Christ. I overstand that Jesus is a path of G-d. The issue (I believe) that you have with me is that I do not practice the exclusivity of Greco-Roman developed Christianity. A different path doesnít make me a heathen. It makes me a unique manifestation of G-d. Truth supports itself---regardless of the path, Divine Truth always leads back to the Supreme, the Absolute, the Creator, G-d, Mungo---Eternal Omnipresent Spirit. Is the concept of religious tolerance foreign to a Christian Brother like you?

In my opinion the real devil is IGNORANCE. The red creature symbolized in storybooks that pokes us with his pitchfork is a myth created to scare children. The devil is spirits of jealous, envy, chaos, hate, lying etcÖthe most deadly (in my opinion) EGO. E (asing) G(-d) O(ut) is a ferocious spirit that muzzles the voice of G- d. I believe that many preachers fear an inability to support their philosophy with historical facts, a lost of control and locating new employment. The EGO believes that the Almighty has charged them with the power to control (misnamed convert) using the inspired words of G- d as a religious shackles. They uphold their position because they BELIEVE that G-d sanctioned their behavior under the illusion of salvation and eternal life. They misname their tactics as Christianity, while spiritually, emotionally and morally abusing their congregations and the community. (Note the post from the sister experiencing control issues from her pastor.)

Pastor Rob, maybe my statements push you to the limit. I challenge the selective morals and values mis-associated with Christianity. In my heart, I donít believe that Jesus the Christ behaved this way. If I make statements you donít understand, please ask for clarification. The members of this board respect my input, treating me with love and support. I am not suggesting that you not address me. However, your innuendoes (concerning my spirituality/intelligence) are PROFOUNDLY unacceptable. In all due respect, I believe that we can peaceful co-exist, providing that we respect each otherís perspective.

In Love and Light,

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2001


To my brother Pastor Rob and my sister whom I love dearly sister Brenda, I enjoy your posts on this board for their is so much passion that you both have for your love of God and and you both have passion for discovering fresh ways to express our love for God. In rereading the post of Pastor Rob, I assumed he typed the wrong name, in his response to my initial post. I may be wrong, but I think he meant to say "Sister Denise". Pastoring a new church has been such a blessing to my spiritual life, for my personal relationship with Christ grows stronger each day! He walks with me, he talks to me, and he has taught me to respond with love. I have had death threats from the KKK, bomb threats and words of evil thrown at me in Montana, because of the color of my skin. But because of my personal relationship with Jesus, my response has been that of love, for he commands it! The people that Christ has sent to start this church have a strong personal relationship with Christ, and they are the strong foundation of our church. Sister Brenda has mentioned Gandhi in her posts, and I thank her for that, "Gandhi, said a good leader walks behind those he is leading" to encourage and empower. I agree, I have told my congregation, not to look up to me, but only to Jesus who points the way back to God. A personal relationship with Jesus means seeing the divinity in each person we come across, my prayer is that Brother Rob and sister Brenda, you will love one another as Christ has loved you both. Yes Christianity has been used to promote that which is not of God, but it is important to remember that the good of Christ is also indwelled in Christianity. Look and remember the good of our religion for it will give us the power to carry on in the name of God. Our denomination was very wise in having a time of TESTIMONY in the worship service, for it is the time to announce publicly the good that Christ is working in our lives. We all can name something bad about religion, but let us also take time to praise his worthy name. I salute everyone on this discussion board with love, and let us not be divided for we are all one in the body of Jesus Christ! May the power of the Holy Spirit rain down upon us with love and justice.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2001

Sensitivity for others

Sister Brenda

One of the hallmarks, that has served as a foundation for this discussion area, is the tolerence for others, regardless of their views, theology or ideology. Even if we are not in agreement with a person, it does not mean we treat them as less than a person even in this environment sans methodology of determining the subtle nuances that are carried by the wink of an eye, a small smile or even a frown.

Perhaps I read it wrong, but I am in agreement with sister Denise, that your name may have been called in vein, but certainly brother Rob meant you no ill in doing so. The response was clearly aimed at Sister Denise's earlier posting.

I realize in this world I will not agree with everyone I encounter. There are some that I may not even like because of their doctrine. But all I will love because Jesus loved me both first and best and it is with this love that I encourage, make that demand, we all treat one another at least when utilizing this discussion area that is under my watch care.

Now back to Sister Denise's beginning comment, each week for the past three weeks, Ihave had new members join church, not by advertisement, not by posters or leaflets but by word of mouth. Testimony is the greatest net to draw new blood to a congregation. And in retrospect it is our testimony, both in deed as well as word, that will draw the unsaved to Jesus.

If you know Jesus you can not help but tell somebody about Him and conversely how can you sell a product you have never used.

Continue the personal touch and you will surely grow!

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2001


Yep, it was a typo. I was writing to my dear sister Denise, who by the way is a person of remarkable courage. Sorry if there was a minor hurricane caused by this. As I noted before Brenda, I choose not to hold theological discussions with you. Your inputs are too far out for me.

The crux of my input to this thread is: Jesus is God. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus you have one with God. Much flows from that including your position as adopted royalty, and the authority that goes with His Name. Any points of view that don't recognize Jesus as God aren't going to be given any validity by me. The AG holds that view to be cultic. Also any arguments that don't hold the Old and New Testaments in their entirety as the ultimate authority are non-starters. We also define that as cultic. To give those points of view a shred of credibility would put my license to preach in severe danger, and rightly so. Were I on the Executive Prebytery I'd vote to pull papers on such a minister in a heartbeat.

On the Prodigy Religion BB where I mix it up with the Wiccans, cultists, and true Christians I act as a witness. I take the approach that Bible-believers are the minority on that page. Not so with the AME. My purpose here is to interact with a Bible-believing denomination that's significantly different than my own, but not so different I'd consider their beliefs abberant or cultic. Basic to that is the doctrine of the deity of Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. So far the AME has pleased me in that regard. I've learned a lot, and plan to keep on doing so.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2001



Reverend Price, How are we significantly different from your denomination? Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2001

Pastor Paris, This is long. Let me qualify my answer by saying all I know about the AME is what I've gleaned from this board, so if I say something incorrect about your group please let me know. It's unintentional.

First, we're a Pentecostal denomination, and from what I can tell the AME is not. That means we probably understand things such as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit differently. That will have implications for how we pursue programs such as missions.

Second, I've noticed a substantial number of politically liberal people here, though conservatives are well represented. My guess is you'd find very few liberals in the AG.

Third, some of the inputs on this page have noted a lack of people not of African decent in the AME. Is the AME mostly African? It may surprise you to know we are fairly well racially integrated in the AG. Much of it will depend on the makeup of the geographic area of course. I've also told you how we've left much of the work of spreading the Pentecostal message among African Americans to the COGIC, which has resulted in relatively few African American dominated AG churches, but you'll almost always find some African American families in our caucasion heavy churches. Outside that there are huge numbers of Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Spanish speaking congregations. The US branch of the AG is also smaller than some of our overseas branches. Brazil actually has more AG members than the US.

Next, I've been surprised to see how important some issues are to the AME folks that are rarely discussed in the AG. Remember we always strive to focus our activities on evangelism, discipleship, and worship. That narrows what we talk about somewhat. We rarely discuss race or the death penalty, yet there has been much said on these issues on these pages. When we discuss race it's usually in regards to missionionary activities, but the focus will lean more towards ethnic groups. There's a difference between a race and an ethinic group, and we generally seek to reach the myriad people groups of the world.

I did hear a few things on racial reconciliation when we took the men to a Promise Keeper's rally, but of course PK isn't AG. The fact is, within the AG the races have already reconciled if they ever were split at all. Racism as a sin is a given. Don't be a part of it. Case closed. Not much room for discussion. Same goes for the death penalty. We've mostly settled the issue in our minds, so it's no big deal. What's to discuss?

At the same time, issues we discuss a lot have yet to raise their heads on this page. We're big into spiritual warfare and the supernatural aspects of Christianity. We talk about the devil, demons, and angels a lot, and the Holy Spirit's Name is always on our lips. We prophesy and speak in tongues. Remember we see the Book of Acts as our model even though we do a poor job of living up to our own standard. I believe that will change soon though. Revival is coming.

Lastly there's your connectionalism, which I believe gives you some advantages. The AG however was begun by preachers who had been kicked out of other denominations for preaching the Pentecostal message. For that reason we're big into the sovereignty of the local Assembly. All except our newer churches are self-supporting, and we allow a substantial degree of doctrinal freedom. That doesn't mean churches can run wild though. The positions we do take we enforce strictly. We'll decertify a minister or church very quickly for even broaching some subjects. We regard even the debate of some things as a sign of moral rot in that individual or body, and it'll be dealt with forcefully.

Unfortunately the AG doesn't have a discussion board like this on their web site, but if it did I'll bet it would have a much less diverse set of opinions being expressed, though there would be many ethnic groups represented.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2001


Pastor Rob, thanik you for the sharing on the Assemblies of God. I'd like to take this opportuntity to address some points about African Methodiswm for you.

First, we're a Pentecostal denomination, and from what I can tell the AME is not.
I would have to say that's less than accurate. Methodism began when John Wesley came into contact with a group called the Moravians (precursors to the United Brethren church). In that experience he discovered a group that was "pentecostal", and described himself as feeling "strangely warmed" by the encounter. His infusion of the Holy Spirit into the Anglican Communion was the birth of the Methodist Movement. Early Methodist churches were quite pentecostal indeed. During the mid-1800s we saw a movement away from the praise orientation that accompanies pentecostal worship to a more education-centered worship expression, this mostly at the thrust of Bishop Daniel Payne (no known relation). In the past 40 years we have seen a rise of the pentecostal experience in Methoidst churches that is described as "NeoPentecostal". See the writings of C. Eric Lincoln, available from the Duke University Press.

That means we probably understand things such as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit differently.
Please be assured that many of our churches do teach Acts 2 to I Corinthians 14, and some even live it. :-)

Second, I've noticed a substantial number of politically liberal people here, though conservatives are well represented. My guess is you'd find very few liberals in the AG.
I would only offer caution so as not to confuse "Liberal" thinking with all the pigeonholing represented by that as a point of confusion with "Liberation Theology", which most of our churches embrace. As a church that has historically served the slaves of this nation and their descendants, we find ourselves constantly attacking the "Plantation Mentality" (See the writings of Frank M. Reid III, should be available from Amazon.com). I would agree with you that the "voices" of AME Today are more reflective of "conservative" ideals, but we are much too diverse as a people and in thought to be easily pigeonholed anywhere. (This is true not only of AMEs, but of Chirstianity).

Third, some of the inputs on this page have noted a lack of people not of African decent in the AME. Is the AME mostly African?
As a church started by former slaves in a time of segregation, the AME churches were indeed primarily segregated. Since the Civil War there have been more integrated churches. We are still overwhelmingly people of color, but we are integrated. There are white AME ministers in at least 3 districts (Roger Sawtelle in the 1st, who ran for connectional office in 1988 or 1992, Michael Barta in the 5th, others in the 10th). You will probably see a much more integrated AME church in America in the next 20 years.

Brazil actually has more AG members than the US.
Several months ago Dr. Bill Dickens called for us to be more evangelical in Brazil. This may become one of our mission fields in this century.

Next, I've been surprised to see how important some issues are to the AME folks that are rarely discussed in the AG. Remember we always strive to focus our activities on evangelism, discipleship, and worship. That narrows what we talk about somewhat. We rarely discuss race or the death penalty, yet there has been much said on these issues on these pages.
One who eats regularly is rarely concerned about where the next meal is. The Hungry Man is constantly thinking about it.

Race is still an issue for us because our daily walk shows that not all have embraced the Dream. We are still watched in supermarkets, we are still tailed in "white" neighborhoods, we are still pulled over for reasons that are not apparent to us. Until America is fully integrated, and the old racial prejudices, hatreds and misconceptions are buried forever, it will be an area of concern for us. I long for the day when my children will be embraced for their merit, not included because "we need diversity", nor excluded because "they're not like us". That day is not yet fully come.

The Death Penbalty is an issue of concern because of the disproportionately high number of black people in prison. Our historical concern is that the Monster of Lynching has now evolved to have the teeth of Law. I easily concede that the root problem is not merely the incarceration, but this goes beyond the point of your observation, and should probably be addressed in a separate thread. :-)

We're big into spiritual warfare and the supernatural aspects of Christianity.
Some of our churches have very active prayer ministries, engage in exorcism, and seek to purify the environment and the people they serve.

We talk about the devil, demons, and angels a lot, and the Holy Spirit's Name is always on our lips. br> We also speak much of the Holy Spirit. We just don't like to give the Enemy too much pub. :-)

We prophesy and speak in tongues. Remember we see the Book of Acts as our model even though we do a poor job of living up to our own standard.
same here, although with our use of bishops we have embraced the writings of Paul as well (see all the "T" books).

Lastly there's your connectionalism, which I believe gives you some advantages. The AG however was begun by preachers who had been kicked out of other denominations for preaching the Pentecostal message.
African Methodism began with a preacher who voluntarily left after being pulled up from his knees in prayer to sustain segrgation within a Methodist Episcopal service.

For that reason we're big into the sovereignty of the local Assembly.
Our Anglican roots influence our Episcopal governance.

All except our newer churches are self-supporting, and we allow a substantial degree of doctrinal freedom.
Our Book of Doctrine and Discipline assures that AME churches everywhere follow the same general worship model, or method (hence, Methodism). There are slight variances, but the root of service flow is consistent. Our churches are also generally self-supporting, but our mission work is addressed through collective economics, as are the support of our schools, the operations of our hierarchy, our publications, etc.

That doesn't mean churches can run wild though. The positions we do take we enforce strictly. We'll decertify a minister or church very quickly for even broaching some subjects. We regard even the debate of some things as a sign of moral rot in that individual or body, and it'll be dealt with forcefully.
We are not quite there, but there are mechanisms and prescriptions in place to address some of what you speak.

Unfortunately the AG doesn't have a discussion board like this on their web site, but if it did I'll bet it would have a much less diverse set of opinions being expressed, though there would be many ethnic groups represented.
Ah, the richness of African Methodism. :-) Be assured, Bro. Price, that both AG and AME serve the same God, yesterday, today, and forever. We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; the third day He arose from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He shall come to judge the Quick and the Dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church Universal, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2001


Brother Jerryl I bow before your brilliance! Thank you for responding so eloquently to our adopted brother Rob. And to Pastor Rob I am praying that you and your family will come and visit Montana. I live one hour from Yellowstone National Park. The AG church in our town is wonderful, and has been one of only two churches that has always extended the hand of friendship and love to me and my ministry. 98 percent of the churches in my town, do not want people of color in the church and have proudly said they are racists. The AG church has proudly said we are all God's people. Pastor Rob I know God put this "discussion board" ministry in the hands of Rev. Fisher for he is an obedient servant of God, he has poured money, time, and had to learn additional skills to bring this board to fruition. A board that is read literally around the world. And because of his efforts we all can come together to encourage and love one another. Pastor Rob, the Holy Spirit is telling me to tell you to pray and start a discussion board for the Assemblies of God. God sent you to this board for a reason greater than what you had imagined. (But you must continue writing on this board, that is from me, because your are my brother;-) I also believe that there is a combined ministry that the AME church and your church can do in your area. Please lift up our prophet Rev. Fisher in prayer. And I ask that all of us lift Rev. Fisher and his family up in prayer, let us ask God for financial support for his ministry, healing of his body from traveling and working three jobs, protection and healing of his family as they so generously share him with the world. My sisters and brothers I believe God is calling us for a time of REVIVAL, when all of God's people come together to fight the common enemy of Darkness. Pastor Rob you are loved on this board, and between you and Pastor Paris, you keep us jumping! May all of us wear only "The full body armor of Jesus Christ!"

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2001

Brother Bob.

I didn't expect that you would define our (The AME) position. Brother Jerryl did an excellent job on answering your comments. What I wanted to hear was what you (The AG) believe. For example, What do you think of Christ? Your mode of evangelism seems to have problems and as some former Assemblies of God pastors have claimed that it has some features racism. I will not take it to that point because I don't know. It would be interesting to hear the historical view of why then? and why continue that model now? So, if you can help me with a summary of what you believe and where I can find documents would be helpful. By the way, Our Book of Discipline is the basic document that defines what we believe and its iterations can show how those beliefs change over time. Another point, the persons on this board does not represent an adequate sample to determine what the AME's believe. The AME Church is far mor conservative in its doctrine than others in the Methodist family and other denominations outside the Methodists. Thanks and God Bless Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2001



OK, I have to address three people here. First, Brother Jerryl. Thanks for the education. It was fascinating. I want to ask: 1. What's liberation theology? I recall that term from the 80's when so much fighting was going on in Central America. It was used in connection with Catholic priests sympathetic to the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. 2. You mentioned how America isn't fully integrated yet. True enough. But does it ever seem like there's a movement to re- segregate coming from the African-American community itself? Remember the Ebonics tempest in Oakland? Is this a perception problem on my part, an articulation problem on their part, or is there really such a movement? When I see the old MLK speeches on TV I'm left scratching my head over this.

Now to Sister Denise! Always a pleasure. It blows me away that a church could be that open about racism. It's downright nervy. The Laodicean church was described as poor, blind, and naked - and unaware of it. But if you're in the center of His will in what you're doing up there..."no weapon formed against us shall prosper." Will I ever get to Montana? I have a sister in Missoula. Unfortunately we're both too poor to travel the miles between Texas and practically the North Pole, and it's been years since I've seen her. Pray for my finances! Ha ha! BTW, I do generally feel loved on this page, and I love you guys back. PTL!

Finally Brother Paris. I've never heard about any racism in our evangelism. Our strategies also seem to work quite well, so I haven't a clue what any of that's about. We've been around since 1914 though, so something may have happened at some point that was sinful in that regard. You can read our very short Statement of Fundamental Truths on www.ag.org/top/about/believe.cfm. These are our 16 basic doctrines. Each AG church and minister must hold to these in writing without fail. I sign my name every year in fact. You'll also find position papers, which aren't quite as authoritative. They are our official positions though on some issues. I haven't read all of them. Total these up and you'll find we take firm positions on relatively few issues. That adds up to an incredibly diverse body, whose ministers will take a variety of positions. Example: Some will preach against Christian rock and rap music, while others will host concerts. Each church, section, and district is also allowed to take written positions in their bylaws which can be changed by vote. These can get quite varied. Then of course each minister will have his own positions. How much force these have with the members will depend on how much power he/she is given in the bylaws. Again, quite varied.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2001


Sister Denise, all prayer always will be accepted!!! and welcomed.

In regards to position papers, the A.M.E. Articles of Religion pretty much is the foundation of what the A.M.E. Denomination believes. It is our doctrine. We all can explain what it means to us individually, but the reality is, the Articles of Religion are what we are expected to believe in and abide with as A.M.E.'s and if we are not in agreement, or if we go against them as A.M.E. ministers, we could lose our credentials.

I have not officially posted the location to the Articles of Religion but I do have them on the board as part of a new build out...but in interest of this conversation that currently is going on, I think I should unveil this piece a little early for the Articles of Religion should be used as a starting point about any discussion on the A.M.E. Church and then polity (meaning traditions we have picked up individually or collectively during the passage of time) can be woven into the mix. Articles of Religion of the A.M.E. Church or if the link does not work you can cut and past this url http://www.ame-today.com/abcsofame/articlesrelig.shtml into your browser.

I hope that this standard will ad some increased understanding and some more structure on the discussion of our respective denominations.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2001


Rev. Fisher you are very welcome, I love praying for others it increases my time with God. Since I am a new member with the AME denomination. My pastor Rev. James Defoe of Wayman Chapel, Billings Montana, gave me a wonderful pamphlet to read and write a paper on. I suggest it for all interested in our denomination. It is called "MY CHURCH A Pamphlet Especially For New Member Instruction." By Johnie Carlisle, Jr. The pamphlet includes purpose and believes of the AME church, articles of religion, catechism of faith, membership, etc. My home church requires six membership classes. I bet the pamphlet would be listed on our sunday school web page. Also to Brother Rob, I know it is hard for you to believe that churches would be so blatant with their racism, but it is true! This is the very reason the AME church was founded, and why we are needed more than ever in the 21st century. For today, it is not only blacks that are not wanted, it is latino's, migrant workers, native americans and poor people. All of the above issues are directly related to our personal relationship with Christ. And since you have a sister in Missoula, I know God will make a way for you to visit Montana! Let's put this in prayer.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2001

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