We get lots of questions because of the name. So, I thought it might be a good idea to post a brief explanation of who we are.
Apostolics are Pentecostal in experience. That means we believe in receiving a personal infilling of God’s Spirit evidenced with speaking in other tongues, just as it happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 and in numerous other places in the Scriptures. Our worship is joyful and expressive, because we take very literally the Bible’s instructions to clap our hands and shout to God with the voice of triumph (Psalm 47:1), to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, come before His presence with singing, enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100), and to praise Him with different musical instruments and dance for joy in His presence (Psalm 150).
We’re called “Apostolic” because we believe and preach the same doctrine Jesus’ apostles preached after He sent them to make disciples of all nations. In Acts 2:38, Peter commanded his audience to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and promised them that God would fill them with the gift of the Holy Ghost. We preach, believe and practice the very same thing!
We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that it is correct in every way. We accept the Word of God as the final authority for every point of doctrine, and we love to study the Word.
Apostolics are easily distinguished by the way they dress and appear. We believe the Scripture gives clear guidelines for how God wants His people to live, dress, speak and look. Men honor the Lord by presenting a clean-cut and modest appearance that accentuates their masculinity in a godly way. Ladies wear modest dresses that declare their femininity, and they have beautiful uncut hair — which, according to I Corinthians 11:15, is their glory. After all, the Bible tells us God has chosen us to be kings and priests unto Him! This is a great privilege, but with every great privilege comes great responsibility. God put it this way: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). We do these things not because we are bound by some legalistic system, but because we consider it a privilege to glorify God in our appearance.
Different? Sure. But then again, God called us to be different! In 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible says we are called to be a “peculiar” (different) people. And in Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul warned us not to be conformed to (pressed into the mold of) this world.
The Bible says in Acts 2:42 that the early believers “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” This describes Alamo City Apostolic Church! Come visit one of our services and get to know us. Without a doubt, you’ll find Apostolics to be the happiest, most fun-loving and most uplifting people you’ve ever been around.
See you Sunday!
Been under pressure and taking a lot of heat lately?
Carbon must be subjected to four days of 1500-degree Fahrenheit temperature and 850,000 PSI pressure — equivalent to 100 8,000-lb. elephants standing on a coin — to turn into a diamond (http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0201-man_made_diamonds.htm).
As painful as the process is, God just might be turning you into something far more valuable than you could ever become on your own…and there are no shortcuts to pressure, heat or the pain they cause.
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
When it comes to goals, most are achievable. The question is not our ability to reach them…it’s whether achieving the goal is worth the price we will have to pay.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20)
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36)
There are many venues available — mostly online — where the beliefs of Oneness Apostolics are discussed, generally by individuals purporting to themselves be Oneness Apostolics.
However, all too often the tenor of these discussions is caustic and is derisive of any standards of separation from the world. Time-honored and Scripturally-based standards of dress, appearance and lifestyle are scoffed at as “legalism” and are summarily dismissed or relegated to the realm of “hardliners” and “extremists.”
I’d like to caution us, though, to do as the Word enjoins — to “try the spirits.”
The direction of a conversation often reveals its origins. That which proceeds from God builds up; that which proceeds from the enemy of our souls tears down.
Jude 20-21 urges that “…ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Notice that? BUILDING UP. Not tearing down. Not diminishing the importance of cleansing ourselves from ALL filthiness of the flesh (outward) and spirit (inward), as instructed in II Corinthians 7:1. Not making demeaning remarks about standards loved and cherished for generations. No…building UP.
The preceding verses (Jude 17-19) reveal the spirit of the world that motivates the efforts to tear down: “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”
Think about the direction of your words, arguments and ideas. Are you building UP?
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
It’s interesting to note that the Galatians’ big problem — and the focus of the entire epistle — was the temptation to give in to legalism; to trust that their adherence to the Law somehow equated to righteousness. Conservatism in doctrine and standards is, I believe, absolutely essential — but never, ever confuse conservatism with righteousness…as the letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation proves, you can have all the details right and still have your candlestick removed because your spirit is wrong.
Paul prefaced his remarks with an observation: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He then proceeded to warn them against spiritual cannibalism.
“Biting” and “devouring” are expressive of the pack or mob mentality. Predators in a feeding frenzy mindlessly fall on their prey, spurred by the actions of their companions. People in mobs do things they would never do alone; the actions of their peers destroy their inhibitions.
Once you join in a slanderous conversation, you’ll quickly lose your restraint. Before long, the rush produced by the salty taste of blood will drive you on until the image and dignity of your victim are nothing more than shreds.
“Take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
I’ve been saddened for years how so many believers have a brand new set of friends every 2-3 years. That’s simply because that’s about as long as they can get along with anybody.
The problem with biting and devouring each other is that pretty soon we won’t have any friends left…and the only thing worse than dying bitter is dying bitter and lonely.
God help us to put our spiritual bloodthirstiness on a permanent fast. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)
31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32 Remember Lot’s wife.
The mercy of God is one of the most abused resources that exists.
We live in a permissive society where there are no absolutes, and where God – if His existence is even accepted as anything more than a fairy tale – is regarded as a merely a tolerant, open-minded (and somewhat simple-minded) being who really doesn’t care about the details of our lives and behavior. Moral absolutes are outdated; any rational being knows that God is inclusive and benevolent, and that all judgment should be avoided.
Sadly, though, those who espouse this philosophy are tragically deficient in their knowledge of this God about whom they so airily pontificate. As Jesus once observed, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures…” (Matthew 22:29). Goodness is most certainly one of the attributes of God; but the Apostle Paul was quick to remind us that there is another side to God’s nature…severity. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
We have trained our society to believe in entitlement. We are entitled to be happy. We are entitled to convenience. We are entitled to an easy life. Marketers have scored a home run with the pandering message, “You deserve the best.”
Really? Why do we “deserve” the best? What have we done to merit anything more than anyone else?
It was this attitude of entitlement that cost Lot’s wife her life. She “deserved” the comforts of Sodom. God was being unfair by rudely yanking her from her home and the comforts of her daily life. Resisting with every fiber of her self-actualized and autonomous being, she was literally dragged out of the city. And nobody – not even God Himself – was going to tell her she couldn’t take one final, longing look back.
So God – who had exercised great mercy in sending angels to rescue her from the fiery destruction of the wicked city – now exercised His sovereign right to make an example of her.
Thousands of years later, in a sober discourse on the events of the time of the end, that same God – now made flesh – underscored the critical importance of keeping your will under submission to God and refusing to flirt with the world.
“Remember Lot’s wife.”
Mercy misunderstood. Instead of smiling tolerantly at her pettish rebellion, God looked ahead at countless thousands who would struggle to remain faithful when the world was melting down around them. Out of mercy for them, He decided to send a message that would burn itself deep into the souls of those who read it. And in one fateful second, God answered her rebellion with swift and sure judgment.
Unfair to her? Oh no. To have an angel of God plead with you to be saved is far more mercy than any human being ever deserves.
Today, God’s mercy is poured out, service after service, countless times more than it is ever deserved. When a person chooses to walk away from God after He sent an “angel” – a preacher – to plead with them for their souls, don’t be surprised if the Spirit of God restrains the preacher from chasing after.
Remember Lot’s wife.
I had always subscribed to the idea that God prepared the world in all its beauty in anticipation of His crowning touch — the creation of man — and that man was “born” into a lush green world prepared just for him. But on reading Genesis 2 in Portuguese this week, a different scenario jumped out at me. I confirmed it by comparing with various translations in English. The King James conveys this as well, just not as clearly. Here’s from the ESV:
5 When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It appears that at the time He created man, though God had already placed the seed of every plant and tree in the ground, those seeds had not yet sprouted! It even leaves some room for conjecture as to whether the Garden of Eden had already grown…or whether it was merely a latent promise awaiting man’s tilling (verse 15). I certainly wouldn’t argue the point one way or the other, but it’s food for thought.
Either way, it caused me to think of the way God still operates in our lives. We would love for God to drop us in the middle of a ready-made paradise…but often our first encounter with the situations of life reflects nothing but barren fields. It takes faith to accept that these situations are latent promises — that God has already placed seeds in the ground and arranged His own unique system to water them.
It’s interesting to note that one reason God had not allowed the plants to grow was because “there was no man to work the ground.” Sometimes the promises of God have not been allowed to sprout simply because there was no individual in place to see to it they were not wasted. May God give us the courage to face the barren fields of life with the knowledge that God was waiting on our arrival so He could set things in motion to transform them into green pastures!
Alamo City Apostolic Church is celebrating its 4th anniversary this weekend…and we want you to be there! We are planning an exciting, action-packed series of services. Our special speaker is Pastor Steven Schwing from Lafayette, LA.
Friday, October 26:
- Celebration service at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 27:
- Seminar on the Oneness of God from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (presented by the Leadership Training Center – http://www.ltcedu.org)
- Celebration service at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 28:
- Celebration service at 10:30 a.m.
We are expecting a mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Don’t miss it!
So back to my visit to the ranch (you’ll have to read Part 1 to get the back story)…
Seeing a horse kick a Doberman across the ranch yard was not the only notable behavior I observed that day. No, the dogs held yet another lesson for me.
Three dogs — two large and one small — became the protagonists of this next episode of my education. The object of their attention was not a horse; it was a very large bone.
The two big dogs were, naturally, the key players in this drama. Much bristling, snarling and circling. Here a feint, there a quick step forward…tensions were escalating, and it looked like war.
The two opponents faced off with the bone in the middle. Suddenly, all formalities were past and the fight was on.
Lunging, biting, growling, snapping, clawing…no quarter asked, and none given. Soon the lunging turned to rolling and wrestling, each dog intent on proving once and for all his dominance.
Enter the little dog. Earlier, he had stood back, knowing the folly of even appearing interested. But now that the two alphas were otherwise engaged, he saw a golden opportunity and took it. One quick dart and the bone was gone…and so was the little dog.
When the two gladiators finally came to a panting halt, they discovered their efforts were pointless. While they were distracted, someone had stolen the prize.
Joseph was aware of the danger of distraction when he instructed his brothers to not fight along the way as they went home to bring their father to Egypt to escape the famine (Genesis 45:24). He knew how quickly interpersonal problems can pull us away from the main thing…and the survival of his father and his family depended on making it to where Joseph was.
Paul also worried about missing out on the main thing. He mused about the danger of, having preached to others, he himself becoming a castaway (I Corinthians 9:27).
How’s your focus? Are your eyes fixed firmly on the prize, or have you allowed yourself to be drawn into petty squabbles and other distractions that will leave you no better off when you’re done…while someone else chews the bone?
The older we get, the less we like to see what stares back at us from the mirror. The temptation might be to simply deal with the problem by smashing the mirror.
I’m not superstitious, but breaking a mirror CAN bring misfortune. Not bad luck — rather, hardships and bitter experiences in the future.
The Book of James describes the Word of God as a mirror. We look into it and are made aware of the harsh realities of our flaws and failures. But the answer is not to break the mirror, as so many choose to do. This only sets us up for pain and misfortune down the road. The answer is to turn to our Creator and ask Him to change the man in the mirror.
Many years ago I went along on a visit to a ranch in South Texas. While others were discussing the business at hand, I stood off to one side and got an education in life skills from a pack of ranch dogs.
By “pack” I mean at least three or four….there might have been more, but those are the only ones I really remember. Each of them was different in size, shape and personality — and all of them were walking object lessons.
First there was a Doberman. He was young, strong and feisty, and everything about him spoke of how much he would enjoy a good tussle. No doubt he had a reputation around the ranch as one who was not to be messed with. But a dog — or a man — driven by the need to build a reputation can sometimes allow ego to surpass wisdom. One of the basic rules of engagement is that you should think twice (or more times than that!) before you tangle with an opponent that is significantly bigger than you. Dobie wasn’t remembering the rules of engagement today, though.
The object of his displeasure happened to be a horse.
The horse didn’t seem to be particularly bothered by what was to him no more than a mere Chihuahua nipping at his heels — much to the consternation of the Doberman. The longer the horse went on peacefully cropping grass, the more agitated the dog became. In and out he darted, barking and snapping at the horse’s legs.
The horse never looked up. Without missing the rhythm of a single chomp of his jaws, he merely drew one hind leg up and planted a game-ending kick right in the middle of the Doberman’s chest. The dog wasn’t seriously hurt, but I’ll never forget the spectacle of him rolling across the yard like a cart wheel, end-over-end. I’ll also never forget the sudden change of attitude he experienced, or the new-found humility he displayed from that point forward.
Proverbs 26:4-5 (Contemporary English Version) says this: “Don’t make a fool of yourself by answering a fool. But if you answer any fools, show how foolish they are, so they won’t feel smart.”
The horse didn’t waste time by trying to reason with the dog. He never looked up from his business. But he also knew that the dog needed a life lesson, and the only lesson he would ever understand was one that left a hoof-shaped bruise.
Maybe “horse sense” isn’t just a saying….
Check back soon for Part 2 of “Lessons from a Ranch Yard.”