What Are The “Spiritual Gifts” and Do We Still Have Them?

Spiritual Gifts are the gifts given to a member of the Body of Christ and would include the gifts of; teaching, leadership, prophecy, healing and preaching as well as a few more. The Apostle Paul said told us that we must exercise that gift that you have been given. 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11;

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

You may not know what your “gift” is and it may take a lot of living and life experiences to determine your gift. There are two perspectives with the belief or non-belief of having these said gifts;

The Argument AGAINST Spiritual Gifts:

We don’t need the gifts anymore as the main point of having gifts was that they were instrumental building blocks in the construction of the body of Christ.

The argument SUPPORTING the continuation of the Spiritual Gifts:
We still require the gifts of administration, teaching and leadership to maintain the body of Christ for its perpetuation.

Tongue Speaking:

This seems to be the gift that is most controversial not only with the unbeliever but also the believer. Speaking in tongues is also known as “speaking an unknown language” and is only found in the New Testament. Some of the controversy is sparked as some believe you are required to speak in tongues as a sign of Salvation, this is not true. It is not true as gifts are “spread out” among believers and no one gift is any more important than another. Read 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

I believe that we still have the gifts. Whatever gift you believe you have, and it is likely the thing you do best, exercise that gift and pray for guidance to exercise that gift to Glorify God! As all we do is from Him and for Him!

God Bless

Brian Mason

Buddhists Extremists Taking Christians Hostage

This is so troubling to me, especially from such a self-professing “peaceful religion”. Just more hatred toward the Christians of the world. Please pray for the “oppressed” and the “oppressors”. I wonder why Jesus Christ is so offensive to Buddhism?

Pastor, two others held in pagoda in attempt to force them back to Buddhism.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, April 23 (World Watch Monitor) —Buddhist members of an armed rebel group and their sympathizers are holding three tribal Christians captive in a pagoda in southeastern Bangladesh after severely beating them in an attempt to force them to return to Buddhism, Christian sources said.

Held captive since April 16 are Pastor Shushil Jibon Talukder, 55; Bimol Kanti Chakma, 50; and Laksmi Bilas Chakma, 40, of Maddha Lemuchari Baptist Church in Lemuchari village, in Mohalchari sub-district of the mountainous Khagrachari district, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of Dhaka. They are to be kept in the pagoda for 15 to 20 days as punishment for having left the Buddhist religion, the sources said.

Local Buddhists are considered powerful as they have ties with the United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF), an armed group in the hill districts.

After taking the Christians captive on April 16, the sources said, the next day the armed Buddhist extremists forced other Christians of Maddha Lemuchari Baptist Church to demolish their church building by their own hands. The extremists first seized all blankets, Bibles and song books from the church building.

The sources said two UPDF members went to Pastor Talukder’s house at 7 a.m. on April 16, telling him to go to a Buddhist community leader’s house in a nearby village. The Buddhist leader also ordered all members of the Baptist church to come to his house, and about 15 Christians did so.

After a brief dispute, the Buddhists chose the pastor and the two other Christians and began beating them, seriously injuring the pastor. They then took them to a nearby pagoda for Buddhist baptism, shaving their heads and dressing them in saffron robes as part of a conversion ritual.

The sources said Pastor Talukder was bludgeoned nearly to death.

“The pastor was beaten so seriously that he could not walk to the nearby pagoda,” said one source. “Buddhist people took him on a wooden stretcher, which is used for carrying a dead body for burial or cremation.”

Pastor Talukder was treated in the pagoda with intravenous, hypodermic injections that saved his life, the source said.

The Buddhist extremists were said to be forcing other Christians to undergo Buddhist baptism in the pagoda and to embrace Buddhism.

A source in Khagrachari district told Compass that local UPDF Buddhists had been mounting pressure on the Christians since their church began in the area in early 2007.

“They gave vent to their anger on Christians in a violent outburst by beating the pastor and two others after failing several attempts in the past to stop their evangelical activities,” the source said. “They took them into a pagoda to convert them forcibly to Buddhism.”

In June the Buddhists had threatened to harm Pastor Talukder if he did not give up his Christian faith. The pastor escaped and hid in different churches for two months. Later he came back in the area and began his pastoral and evangelical activities anew.

“They also made threats and gave ultimatums to three or four other churches in the locality to try to force them to come back to Buddhism,” the source said.

‘Social Deviation’
Regional Sub-district Chairman Sona Ratan Chakma told Compass that the “three renegade Buddhists” are being kept in the pagoda for religious indoctrination.

“They became Christian, and they were breaking the rules and customs of the Buddhist society, so elders of the society were angry with them,” Chakma said. “That is why they were sent to a pagoda for 15 to 20 days for their spiritual enlightenment, so that they can come back to their previous place [Buddhism].”

Chakma said the Christians have not been tortured but given punishment proportionate to the gravity of their “social deviation.”

“They were punished so that they can come to their senses,” he said.

Under Siege
The Rev. Leor P. Sarkar, general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship, told Compass that the UPDF’s ultimatum was of grave concern.

“This armed group issued an ultimatum that by April 30 all Christians should come back to Buddhism, otherwise all of them will face the same consequences,” said Sarkar.

Christians are virtually in a state of siege by the UPDF, he said. None of them go to church buildings on the traditional worship days of Friday or Sunday, instead worshipping in their own houses.

Sarkar added that the tribal Christians do not have any political conflict with the UPDF.

“They simply persecute them for their faith in Christ,” he said. “Their only demand to us is to go back to Buddhism.”

The UPDF’s order to give up their faith is a matter of life and death, Sarkar said.

“A ripple of unknown fear gripped the entire Christian community there,” he said. “Everybody took fright from that menacing cruelty. The everyday life of Christians is hampered, beset with threats, hatred and ostracism. So it is a social catastrophe.”

The church leader urgently appealed to local government officials to come to the aid of the kidnapped Christians.

The UPDF is one of two main tribal organizations in the hill districts, the other being the United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, or PCJSS). The PCJSS, formed in 1973, had fought for autonomy in the region for 25 years, leaving nearly 8,500 troops, rebels and civilians killed. After signing a peace accord in 1997 with the Bangladesh government, the PCJSS laid down arms.
But the UPDF, a political party founded in 1998 based in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, has strong and serious reservations against the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord signed 1997. Claiming that the agreement failed to address fundamental demands of the indigenous Jumma people, the UPDF has pledged to fight for their full autonomy.

Last year the PCJSS demanded that the government ban the UPDF for their terrorist activities in the hill districts.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts region comprises three districts: Bandarban, Khagrachuri and Rangamati. The region is surrounded by the Indian states of Tripura on the north and Mizoram on the east, Myanmar on the south and east.
*http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org

God Bless

Brian Mason

When Does Life Begin? At Conception or Birth? Is There a Third Option?

I will start with objections from the so-called “Pro-Choicer” (abortion supporters) and attempt to answer them.

The first objection I always hear is “It’s a woman’s choice to abort, it’s her body and no one has the right to say what she should do with it.” Well that is all nonsense unless her body has suddenly grown two more arms and legs.

Second, the Fetus is not human, just an unviable tissue mass. This simply is a false premise that the fetus not human until he/she is fully developed. This is ridiculous as the “baby” has human DNA and is alive. Size does not determine life.

So when does “Life Begin?” I believe life is BEFORE conception and “continues” at conception since the sperm and the egg are both alive, and came together, thus producing a fertilized egg. Suggesting that the “thing in the womb” is alive, even if it is a zygote or a fully developed baby it is still ALIVE! The nature of it is then human. If it has human DNA and is alive it would be considered MURDER if it was ABORTED!

In Canada abortion is legal and on demand. These are at least to me startling and obscene statistics from statistics and reporting from the University of Ottawa:

It is estimated that 40% of all pregnancies in Canada are unplanned. Of these, about half are carried to term; the other half are terminated. There are about 31 abortions per 100 live births: 330,000 live births and 100,000 abortions each year. Roughly half are performed in hospitals, half in clinics.
In 2003, 103,768 abortions were recorded in Canada, about 15.2 per thousand women. The number appears to be declining by about 1% per year. There are about 39,000 abortions each year in Ontario, delivered in 76 hospitals and 6 clinics.
An exception is Quebec, where abortion rates are among the highest in the Western world. From 17,000 abortions per annum in 1978, they rose to 29,000 in 1998, and 31,000 in 2002, or a rate of 38 per 1000 births. School sex education programs are not universal in Quebec.
All the while abortions in Canada are provided on request and funded by Medicare.

Unbelievable!

Please God I pray for your justice!

God Bess

Brian Mason

The Patristic Era…

This is a common question…”What is the Patristic era?”

It comes from the Greek term “pater”… (Fathers), which pertains to AD 100-750, after the writings of the New Testament. That “era” began after the death of the Apostles of Christ. The middle ages fell after that.
There are a few authors of writings that were during that time period such as; Augustine, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Tertullian.

God Bless

Brian Mason

The “Religion of Peace” at its ‘Best”?

A recent report dated March 26, 2013 from MidEast Christian News:

Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse.

Such stories have become increasingly common as tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts mount, but in the latest case, mosque officials corroborated much of the account and even filed a police report. Demonstrators, some of whom were Muslim, say they were taken from the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in suburban Cairo to a nearby mosque on Friday and tortured for hours by hard-line militia members.

“There is no longer anything to hold them back. The floodgates are open.”
– Shaul Gabbay, University of Denver professor on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

“They accompanied me to one of the mosques in the area and I discovered the mosque was being used to imprison demonstrators and torture them,” Amir Ayad, a Coptic who has been a vocal protester against the regime, told MidEast Christian News from a hospital bed.

Ayad said he was beaten for hours with sticks before being left for dead on a roadside. Amir’s brother, Ezzat Ayad, said he received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. Saturday, with the caller saying his brother had been found near death and had been taken to the ambulance.

“He underwent radiation treatment that proved that he suffered a fracture in the bottom of his skull, a fracture in his left arm, a bleeding in the right eye, and birdshot injuries,” Ezzat Ayad said.
Officials at the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque said radical militias stormed the building, in the Cairo suburb of Moqattam, after Friday prayers.

“[We] deeply regret what has happened and apologize to the people of Moqattam,” mosque officials said in a statement , adding that “they had lost control over the mosque at the time.”

The statement also “denounced and condemned the violence and involving mosques in political conflicts.”
The latest crackdown is further confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood’s most hard-line elements are consolidating control in Egypt, according to Shaul Gabbay, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver.
“It will only get worse,” said Gabbay. “This has been a longstanding conflict, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, it is moving forward to implement its ideology – which is that Christians are supposed to become Muslims.
“There is no longer anything to hold them back,” he continued. “The floodgates are open.”

Gabbay said the violent militias that allegedly tortured Ayad work hand-in-hand with police and may, in fact, be beyond the control of increasingly unpopular President Mohammed Morsi. While he may benefit from roving bands that attack demonstrators, they also undermine his claim of being a legitimate leader.

“Egyptian society is split over the Morsi regime, and it is not just a Coptic-Muslim split,” Gabbay said. “The less conservative elements of the Muslim society are increasingly uneasy with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Christian Copts are an easy target, but they are not alone in their mistrust of the Brotherhood.”

Experts agreed that the Copts, who comprise roughly 10 percent of the nation’s 83 million people, are not alone in their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, which took power in hotly contested elections following the 2011 ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Moderate Muslims and secular liberals are increasingly uncomfortable with the Islamization of the government.

Sheikh Ahmed Saber, a well-known imam and official in Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments, has blasted Morsi’s justice ministry for allowing persecution of Copts.

“All Egyptians in general are oppressed, but Christians are particularly oppressed, because they suffer double of what others suffer,” Saber told MCN.

Please pray for our oppressed Christians! Jesus is a name that strikes terror into the hearts of non-believers! Let us also pray for our oppressors, that the Holy Spirit convicts them.

God Bless
Brian Mason

Great Crucifixion Quotes

We are coming up to Good Friday and I have compiled for you a list of crucifixion quotes from Biblical and non-Biblical sources. I have left the best one for last!

“The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ’s death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ’s baptism lives in the strength of Christ’s death.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“[Jesus] tilted His head back, pulled up one last time to draw breath and cried, “Tetelestai!” It was a Greek expression most everyone present would have understood. It was an accounting term. Archaeologists have found papyrus tax receipts with “Tetelestai” written across them, meaning “paid in full.” With Jesus’ last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin cancelled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or…or…or…nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. He paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever.”
― Charles R. Swindoll

As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Josh McDowell

Nobody’s perfect. The only one that ever was, was crucified.
Loretta Lynn

[There should be plenty of visuals to watch, including realistic depictions of the way Christ was tortured before his excruciating crucifixion. Caviezel, also a practicing Catholic, spent 15 days on the cross during shooting and was scourged so realistically that he dislocated a shoulder at one point.] There’s an immense amount of suffering on this, … Fortunately, God is helping me.
~ Jim Caviezel

It is a crime to put a Roman citizen in chains, it is an enormity to flog one, sheer murder to slay one: what, then, shall I say o f crucifixion? It is impossible to find the word for such an abomination.
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Marcus Tullius Cicero

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.
Jean Cocteau

In a profound sense we may say that the crucifixion, however else we may interpret it, accuses human nature, accuses all of us in the very things that we think are our righteousness.
– Sir Herbert Butterfield
History and Human Relations.

And finally the prophesy of the crucifixion 1000 years before it happened:

Psalms 22:11-18 (HCSB)

11 Do not be far from me, because distress is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong ones of Bashan encircle me.
13 They open their mouths against me—
lions, mauling and roaring.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You put me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced[g] my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people[h] look and stare at me.
18 They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.

God Bless

Brian Mason

“Passover” What Is It?

The term “Passover” comes from the Hebrew “pasch” and translated into English it means “to pass over”.
So what is the story behind Passover?

The Egyptians had enslaved the Jews and Moses was raised up by the Lord to be the Jews “deliverer”. Moses had announced to Pharaoh that plagues would come over the Egyptian people if God’s people were not freed. Pharaoh refused and so the plagues walloped Egypt.

Because the Jews were inside Egypt, they too would be subjected to the plagues onslaught. The Lord though, would provide a guard against the plagues for the Jewish people. This protection was put in place by taking the blood of a lamb and applying it to all doorposts of their homes. Thus the Lord would “pass over” them and the firstborn male of the house would be spared (the last of the plagues killed the firstborn male of all who lived in Egypt).

Read Exodus 12:12-13:

12 “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. I am Yahweh; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. 13 The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

The blood of the lamb was obviously the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Thus God’s judgment was not delivered to those who were under the blood of the lamb.

God Bless

Brian Mason