Friday, May 16, 2014

The Preacher Who is Changing My Family With the Word of God

A couple of months ago or so (I think) as I was browsing on YouTube looking for videos on Christian topics, I discovered a Bible teacher/preacher/missionary who speaks from the Word of God in the way I knew many years ago and have not seen in almost as many years since.  Honestly, I believe the Holy Spirit led me to these videos just as He has led me to so many other things that increased my learning and closeness to God.  All these years I have been searching and searching and didn't know what it was specifically that I was searching for, only that I knew that I was not finding it in any church I was attending.  Always there was something crucial missing and I would leave each service at whatever church I happened to be attending at any given time feeling as though I had gone to a great feast only to be fed a cheap appetizer.  I couldn't even put into words what was missing.  I just knew that these churches were doing something wrong.

Over the years, I've read and heard about how in America the Gospel has been so watered down and sugar-coated that it was rare for anyone to hear the true Gospel being preached or taught anymore.  I KNEW this was a problem, yet I didn't understand the problem until I found these videos.  The more I watched, the more I learned.  The more I watched, the more I felt that finally I was being fed of the Lord.  So I shared the videos with my son and his wife and gradually they began watching as well.  Now we are into these videos for a maybe a month or more and with more and more regularity we are finding more to watch.  The whole family is sitting down together to watch the videos together and then discussing what we've heard afterwards.  All of us agree that we've never heard such truth being preached as we are hearing now.  This man is not intimidated by governmental threats or threats from those in a congregation that he should not preach this way.  He fears no one but God and in so doing, does his best to make sure that what he is preaching or teaching is directed by the Holy Spirit and is straight from the text of the Bible.

Who is he?  His name is Paul Washer.

Paul Washer's preaching is sometimes thought of as controversial by those in the Church who want to make salvation a simple thing to achieve. He sometimes makes people upset when he says that salvation is not something that can be gained by only saying a simple prayer asking Jesus to come into our hearts if that person praying has not been taught about the Holiness of God and the depravity of man because of sin.  And the thing is, Paul Washer is right about it.  If people are not shown that all mankind are sinners, and shown what all that means, they will not fully understand the gift of salvation and what it cost God for Him to allow His Son to suffer and die on the cross for us.  If people are not taught what was in that cup that Christ prayed asking if it could be taken from Him that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, then they will have no understanding what Christ did for us on that cross.

All these years I have watched and wondered what was wrong with the churches and why people were not getting saved like they used to.  I wondered why those who professed salvation did not live like they were saved.  I wondered why there was so little power in the church and I took it for being something else as the problem because I just did not know what the true problem was.  Honestly, I believed that the problem was a lack of faith in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that caused the lack of power in the churches.  I wondered why revival services were so short and right to the strict schedule instead of lasting for days or even weeks after the start of the revival.  I wondered why there was no revival with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like there were in other times past, such as in what was known as The Great Awakening, where towns and cities were so taken by the Holy Spirit that even the bars and saloons closed their doors as their owners and workers found Christ.  How I've longed to see that type of revival in America during my lifetime!  But why wasn't it happening?

After watching only one Paul Washer video, I realized something.  Back when I was in college there was this man who was what you would call a "street preacher" and he was just standing there on campus preaching the Gospel.  But he was talking about the wages of sin and hell and really laying it on about how sin was causing this rift between us and God.  He told of how Christ was the only way back to God.  What I remember most about his preaching was that there were very few listening and of those who were, some were criticizing him about all that "hellfire and damnation" preaching.  I remembered other times when I was still a young Christian not quite out of my teenage years that I attended other churches where the pastors, or maybe guest pastors would preach in this way.  And as in any crowded room, you can hear the mumblings and grumblings of those around you as they whisper to those sitting next to them about how they do not appreciate all that "hellfire and damnation" preaching.  Some would even get up and walk out.  What I remembered mostly, however, was my own day of salvation and how that came about.  It didn't happen through any little booklet such as "The Four Spiritual Laws."  It happened when I was just 14 years old as my neighbor and best friend at the time, who was 13, took me aside one day as we were playing our girlhood games, and asked me if I had ever been "converted."  Well, I had never heard that terminology before in my young life.  What did she mean by "converted" anyway?  So I asked her and she began explaining in as simple of terms as any 13 year old child would be able to about sin, and hell, and how all of us were sinners, etc.  She didn't leave anything out.  She told me about how Jesus Christ went to the cross for my sins so that I could be saved and spend eternity in heaven with God instead of in hell.  She explained to me about being "born again" which I also had never heard about before.  I was not in church at that time.  In my younger days I loved Sunday School and I also loved Jesus.  By the end of 4th grade, however, I had quit going to church due to certain classmates who were bullying me in school that were also in my Sunday School class.  No one in my family that I knew of actually went to church other than the children going to Sunday School.  If we did not go any particular Sunday morning, we knew that we would not be allowed outside to play until after lunch because our parents didn't want neighbors to know that we children were not in church.  This was not just in my home, but also in my cousins' homes and in other children's homes.  But all those years, I grew up loving Jesus.  Only I had never been told these things my friend was now telling me.

Over the next few weeks, as we continued on with our childhood games, we would often go back to that discussion and I would ask more questions.  Finally, one night, Thanksgiving night, after I was in my bed, before going to sleep, I understood it.  And I prayed that I might also be born again and converted so I could spend all eternity with the Jesus that I loved.  But I did not go back to church right away.  At some point in high school, I started attending the youth group at the church.  Even there we didn't talk about the things I had learned from my friend.  But even there, I knew that I had something different, or that I was different, than most of the others.  I knew it because of how we all talked.  I just thought and talked differently, I guess.  It's hard to explain, but it was like when I spoke, the others did not comprehend what I was saying.  After high school as I was trying college, working, and just being able to grow up, I would go to this other town where my great aunt lived to visit with her for weekends.  I loved that town.  The spring of the year before I turned 19, I got a job working in a nursing home there where my aunt had been taken due to decreased health.  There I met a woman who was 70-ish and we became great friends.  She inspired me concerning my future career as she was the Activity Director there.  I moved to that town (which is also where I currently live) and through my silly kitten, I met a neighbor who invited me inside.  She and I sat and talked for awhile about Jesus (which was actually my favorite subject of all) and she told me about her church and about a group they had for young unmarried adults my age.  She made arrangements for me to go there one evening to meet the leader of the group.  When I walked into the church I was overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit even though there was no church service that evening.  I knew that I wanted to go to that church.  I went there whenever I could even after I moved back home with my mom, and even later on in life.  In 1976 I joined the church after having membership class where I learned even more about salvation, sin, hell, heaven, and the Bible.  I remained a member there for the next 24 years even though I did not always attend or join in the activities.

Anyway, I do not mean for this to be my testimony here, but more of a background for what I've seen over the years.  At some point, and I don't remember exactly how or when, but I was still young--maybe even still a teenager--I joined up with some others in what was called the "I Found It" movement.  We had classes on how to witness the Gospel or the Good News to others, and we used a little tract called "The Four Spiritual Laws."  Being so young, I didn't know a lot.  To me the whole thing was wonderful and I wanted so much to help others find salvation as I had.  "The Four Spiritual Laws" seemed to simplify the message in such a way that anyone could easily understand that we were sinners in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ.  Through this I was introduced to "The Sinner's Prayer" and believed that this would work wonderfully to bring people to Christ.  Then we set out two-by-two to go door-to-door giving this message and telling our testimonies to all who would invite us in to listen.  Then we learned how to do the same by telephone.

From that time on, outside of the church I had been going to, I never heard anything other than this message.  Even this church would use that tract along with others to help bring people the Gospel message.  But at least for awhile, my church pastor was still preaching about hell, sin, being sent to hell because of our sins, and that Jesus Christ could turn our lives around and we could be born again and go to heaven with Him.  But that pastor eventually retired, and over the years as I went away to college, got married, and moved out of the area, I rarely went to church.  I would look for a good church but always felt out of my element no matter where I went.

In 2000 I was divorced, and was looking for a new life.  I knew I had strayed from church and wanted to go back but just didn't know where to go or how to fit in.  But eventually I found a church and left my previous church to join this one.  By this time, I was really trying to find the answers to the questions I wrote about earlier in this post.  I was seeking the teaching that I had had all those years before, but just could not seem to find it.  Anytime it got even close to it, the pastor, or maybe the evangelist for annual revivals, would just shut it down because of the time on the clock or the date on the calendar.  I became so frustrated because I was not seeing the moves of God I had seen so long ago when I was first saved.  But I didn't know why except for that the calendar and clock seemed to be in control instead of the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that churches were controlled by so many different factors.  My mom had told me something about the original church where I had gone to Sunday School and that every time they got a good pastor in, there would be people in the church who would run them off.  I started to see this trend in churches I was going to as well.  I would hear the grumbling and criticizing if the pastor started preaching about certain topics.  I also started seeing how pastors were afraid of the government and would say that they could not preach about anything the government did not like, namely political topics.  I saw the damage done as one pastor would leave and another pastor would come in.  The churches would sometimes split because some people did not like this new pastor or that new pastor.  Some split over the evaluation of candidates for pastor!  Revival services would come and go with evangelists and the churches not allowing the Holy Spirit to be in charge.  Revival services would be nothing more than something to temporarily recharge the church-goers rather than something to bring a community to salvation.  Like appetizers at a fancy restaurant, my appetite for God would make me more hungry during different services, only to have the main course, the whole meal be cut short because time ran out and it was time to close the doors and send everyone home.  So we would appease our appetites with earthly foods instead of the meat of the Gospel.

When I got sick and had to cut short my attendance at church and church activities, that was when I learned the hardest truth about church and church membership.  Rumors abounded as to why I wasn't there anymore.  My friends who did not even attend my church would hear the things said about me, especially that I must be going to some other church since I wasn't going there anymore.  Hardly anyone seemed to notice or even care that I was very ill, even though my name had been on the weekly prayer list for months.  Those friends I had spent many years with did not even inquire about me, or call to see how I was doing.  Earlier as I dealt with health issues I realized that people picked and chose who to visit and help out more based on popularity than on need.  I also realized that as long as I had a good income and could participate with the others on their outings, I was one of the group.  But when my income would evaporate, I had to almost beg just to get transportation.  No, this was not church the way it was supposed to be as taught by the disciples.  It was very frustrating all around.

What made all this even more difficult for me was that outside of the church was a different thing than inside the church.  Some in our group called me "the church lady" because I tried to keep certain activities within Biblical guidelines.  For example when we would have game nights where we played various types of table games, one game in particular could tempt players to say and think things that were impure.  I suggested we either not play that game or leave those question cards out of the game.  Nobody agreed with me until our group pastor and his wife joined us.  Once they left again, it was back to the impurities.  I had a very, very difficult time making friends throughout all my church life for the reason that I did not fit in with the others.  I wanted to honor Christ.  Apparently, even though it wasn't like they went out to the bars or anything like that, the activities were not always so Christ-honoring.  I had other friends outside the church that I fit in with much better, even though they didn't even always know anything about salvation and Jesus.  My life was what some called sitting on the fence between two options--with one foot in the world and the other in Christ.

My children, although they both accepted Christ according to the simple "sinner's prayer" method, have also spent most of their lives fence-sitting like me.  Only they usually had more of a worldly leaning than I did.  Then my son and his wife started watching Paul Washer videos with me and on their own.  And our home is changing from the inside out.  Their lives are changing.  I am watching and praising God.  Even the children seem more at peace and there are not so many issues between the adults and children or between the children themselves as there used to be.  The Bible is becoming a center of conversation.  We are changing what we watch on television, the music we listen to, the books we read.  Only tonight I saw my family relaxing in the living room as they listened to the audio Bible videos on YouTube while my daughter-in-law was on the floor reading along.  Almost every day at some point there is a Paul Washer video being watched somewhere in the house, either me watching on my computer, or the family watching on the big screen tv with which they can watch the YouTube videos.  So far at least once or twice a week we all gather together to watch and talk about the messages.  My son and his wife continually exclaim that they have never heard this kind of preaching before.

What are the pastors and church leaders so afraid of?  I don't know.  But maybe they should be more afraid of God than of our government and those within the church who give the most money.  It's time to bring the whole Gospel back.  For so many years I have tried to make sure I was in a church that taught the "full Gospel" which for them meant that they did not gloss over the gifts of the Holy Spirit as some churches do.  What I did not understand until now was that most churches today, even if they do teach about the gifts of the Spirit, are not teaching a full Gospel as taught by our church fathers.

I know this was lengthy.  That's part of who I am. I find it hard to keep things short because I don't want any part of the meaning to be missed out on.  But now I will post a few videos that I feel are important to start with.  You decide.

This was the first video I watched. I've watched it now at least 2 more times. Many videos I watch over and over again because I want everything I can get from the Lord and I just cannot get it all in one viewing.

I've never considered myself a Calvinist, or any other -ist, other than that I do not follow any particular denomination. I am non-denominational. There are criticisms out there that Paul Washer is a Calvinist. I know he himself says he is a Baptist. I don't know Calvinism from any other -ism other than that I have been told that Calvinists take the meaning of predestination in the Bible to mean that God decides who will be saved and who won't be, so there is really no need to evangelize. Paul Washer evangelizes. He does speak once in awhile in these videos very briefly about election and that he believes what Jesus says that no one can come to the Son unless the Father first draws them. But he also states that God wishes everyone to be saved. If this makes him a Calvinist, so be it. However, what I believe is that those who do not like him preaching the way he does about hell, damnation, sin and man's depravity, will take anything and criticize him. Check out what he says by the Bible. I have yet to find him out of step with what the Word of God says. What I do find is that he tells it like it is, straight from the Bible, just like the apostles told it. I have not found anything to argue about in his teaching. What I have found is the meat I have hungered for all these years. I've found the teaching I've been looking for all these years. And I've found what this country needs most to survive the current onslaught of depravity today. I leave you with one more video and this link to his website where you can find even more sermons to either watch via video or listen to via audio. This last video I have watched at least 4 times and continue to watch because the message is so important to me.

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