And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:

Like in so many things there is always that moment of fear before you start something, fear of how it will be perceived, fear of the reactions, fear of the unknown. I have known this fear every time I’ve sat down to pen anything, every time I’ve stood before someone to speak, and sometimes even in my own head when trying to come to terms with a profound thought. We’re taught the power that words have to hurt each other, but we often fail to use that power to heal and help each other instead. A lot of the people I’ve known inside and outside the Message fall silent to prevent either outcome. In most situations when we are unsure of the truth or what we believe, we would rather someone else be our absolute or authority on our beliefs rather than risk speaking for ourselves.

I learned public speaking from the pulpit; I watched my father and so many others use it to bring the audience along a biblical journey with them. His sermons consistently began by relating to the audience that he was lost too, that he was on equal grounds with them, I picked up this relationship to speaking.  I always believed that they were like-minded and open to everything I had to say because I was a part of them. We were based in the same knowledge, the same doctrine, the same scripture, and especially the same prophet. The Message gave me the foundation to stand on when I spoke and the belief that God was speaking through me. Leaving it forced me to better understand my beliefs and words because I would never again find an audience that agreed with me before I even had a chance to speak.  I had to be sure of what I believed and taught, because so many questioned my certainty and my faith in leaving. My words became the subject of many debates in my Sunday School lessons and in my talks with my pastor, and I realized that my audience, those that I spoke to during that time, were no longer on my side, what I had to believe was the Bible’s side and that alone.

I’ve seen a lot of destruction come from the Message and its followers, who base their teachings on accusations and guilt  to convince people of the dire need for salvation. The degrading speech that they use forces us to judge the believers and nonbelievers and destroys the very love that God tells us to have for each other. They’re taught a judgmental and angry God from those that evangelize with hate speech and calling people abominations. Their violent God is not what brings people to true faith, rather an obedience to them out of fear. I still shudder remembering how much I believed in their methods for a long time, not realizing my own self destruction in the way I spoke to people, the way I preached, and the way I was taught. I remember saying amen to the words of Branham when he described women as lower than animals and said that they were a byproduct of creation. Any man who claims to love his wife, his daughter, his mother, or any other woman in his life could never truly believe Branham speaks for the Lord and also tell her he loves her and she is meaningful to him. To love a woman would be to love something lower than an animal by Branham’s words. God made woman to be his companion, to be beside him in all things.

“There is no hog, no dog, or no other animal, designed like her or can stoop as low as she can stoop. Now, that is true.”

– Branham, 65-0221M

When I saw the post on SeekYeTheTruth, it hit home as it usually does when I see those that speak with the Lord’s name in destructive ways, not with teaching or understanding, only blaming and accusing those for not believing like them. I wanted to share this today because I look at the words now and struggle to comprehend how I ever taught his words when I was supposed to be teaching God’s love.

The article referencing the men I spoke of, you can find here:

For more you can find the sources here easy to reference;

For My Yoke is Easy, and My Burden is Light

          A large portion of sermons begin with the “humble” recognition that we are sinners. They begin by lowering all of us, so that we will listen to their answers. When we base the entire experience of church and of developing a relationship with God on guilt, on feeling insufficient for His mercy, we lose the love that He promised us first. We wear guilt with us every day to atone for our actions and to remind us to not turn back towards sin, but God said ask and you will be forgiven. The one thing that Jesus accomplished across the board was making those He encountered feel the love that God has for us before the guilt. I’m not coming to punish you. I want to fellowship with you. I want to talk with you. All that other stuff fades away, just lets you and me talk and walk together for a bit. He always let people come to Him and welcomed them before ever asking for a confession or for repentance. Jesus made sure that we didn’t associate Him with the church’s additional doctrines or guilt-tripping to increase attendance and tithing.

         In a lot of our current prison systems, we have the same mentality. We convince them that they are paying for their crimes without teaching them about reform, about being better people or how to manage their situations without resorting to drastic measures. In both instances, we don’t ask what they were missing that put them in that situation. A lot of times we are lost and don’t know where to look or where to start with the Bible, but rather we google verses or follow devotionals. But these aren’t always the answer or the problem that we’re struggling with in our lives.

          Prayer does not guarantee a direct answer. It barely even guarantees that we know what we are saying or asking for. However, He asked us to speak with Him, to come to know Him better, and to bring all of our problems to Him. We’ve all been told to pray at certain times or that if we prayed longer that we would get the answer we hope for, but that isn’t His plan; it’s ours. We have to work to communicate with Him, but primarily to become better Christians, not for fear of guilt, but for our love of God. If we focus on the wrong side of the equation, on the “Reformed Christian” and think we can build a system on how to turn A into B, we will always be lost: those that are in the pews and those behind the pulpit. Jesus was here to give us the grace and love and joy that transforms us in the first place. If we’re peddling heaven like a million dollar lottery ticket, trying to get everyone to buy in, in case they’re the lucky one that buys enough tickets to get in, we’re not following Jesus’ path. I never want to be a salesman or a magic man with his tonics. I’m a blood-bought son of God, speaking from a place of freedom and from God’s love. The truth has a way of selling itself, and we can only find reformation through that love.


These People are Not Drunk, As You Assume

        Sometimes the most comforting thing is to realize that everyone around you is just as lost as you are. Most of my most honest discussions with fellow Christians have been humbling in understanding that we all lose that fight, that we all need second chances, that we all have something to learn. I think every true believer has a moment in their lives when their faith changes them, where it challenges them to be bigger than they have been and they rise to meet God half way. For me, it was learning to be bold in my faith. Part of realizing that the Bible was the only faith and foundation I could trust was learning to stand firm on it as well. It put me at odds with several groups, because we so rarely learn directly from it, preferring interpretations or sermons. I wanted to know that I had the actual word of God behind me and that empowered me to actually defend myself and my faith.

         Jesus made a point to change the lives of those around him. Many were miracles, but a few were just through his acceptance and love of people just as they were. Often, he would pass through a town and in talking with the locals, sinners and religious leadership alike, his fair treatment of everyone around him would change the people he came into contact with. Peter has always been my favorite story of the difference Christ makes in our lives. He was one of the first called into the ministry as a disciple. He was outspoken and bold, like when he spoke for the group and called Jesus the Messiah. But the same man dealt with doubt, famously telling Jesus he’d never leave but denying Christ in his time of need. Peter was known as one of the truest believers and Jesus’ closest companion, but when he was alone,  maybe fishing or walking and praying to God, would have looked lost and doubtful of everything he had experienced thus far.  When Peter is finally and truly changed by Jesus, after his death and resurrection, he finds the faith he needed to stand firm in God and to defend Jesus and preach the word, free from doubt. I fought for a long time to find my moment. He took my fear and my doubt in arguing the Word and in teaching with any authority and changed me to help those who need to hear his message. Once I was bold enough to argue solely on God’s words and to teach free of their doctrines, my shadow was never to darken the door of my church home in the Message again. I’m here speaking now because God gave me the power to do so. What has God changed in you to better use you for His plan?

Different Stories

          The church had given me two main priorities when I was ordained into the position of Youth Minister: to get the youth engaged in church and give them an understanding of the core Message doctrine to give them a closer understanding of why we were separate from other forms of Christianity. I felt that I had to find the Tim-way of doing this so that they would be safe from the doubts and frustrations I had. I wanted to bring the Bible into their lives as they’d never seen it before, making it real to them. A big part of that was to dig up every article and fact I could about the people in it and taking artistic license to bring it into modern terms for them to understand.

              The youth group that had been my sole focus in church for years taught me about being accountable for everything I believed. While tapes and sermons were inspiring and powerful for a congregation, frequently, they failed to explain many of my questions. This was in part because I could not begin a conversation with them and ask things of it when I was lost. I could have researched the transcriptions of William Branham’s sermons, but regardless of how deeply I searched, many of his most famous and referenced quotes rarely followed with grounding and explanation, especially rarely with explicit Biblical support. The one place that always gave me an answer or a direction was the Lord’s Word, so I set the youth group on that same path. In some ways, it was my own failure to find answers for myself within Message doctrine. My inability to continue to follow it, which led to my departure from the Message, was the beginning of the youth’s falling out as well.

            On several occasions, the church leadership asked me why I taught primarily the Bible to the youth group, in place of our more exclusive Message doctrine.  In consideration of tapes and quoting William Branham, they had memorized and and learned almost nothing, because  he was so rarely the answer to their questions, when it came to breaking things down for them.As they participated more in the Question and Answer services, they wanted to know more and more about Biblical concepts to apply in their lives, replacing much of the Branham’s teachings.  Finally he came in my classroom early one Sunday when it was just staff preparing for the service, and told me that I needed to be including Branham’s sermons into my lessons. That’s why I was there to be their youth pastor, and I needed to teach them the Message, and that they would learn the Bible through William Branham, as that was the right way to reach God.

            I was afraid of questioning my faith in the Message for many years, because all of my spiritual leaders, my father and pastor and the deacons that I had come to know so well, couldn’t see what I was learning. When I backed up, asking things of Message doctrine and William Branham’s teachings that the Bible had answered for me and that deep prayer and desperate conversations with God had opened up for me, I found so much out of place. When I compared the two and one came up short, I could see no other answer than to take time and develop my own direct relationship with God outside of the Message and many of its spiritual leaders. I always believed, even as I left, that if the Message was true and best for my spiritual journey, God would’ve led me back to it in a way I could understand.