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“Preparation for the Time”

Note: Portions of this article have been edited. With a surprise visitor present, Pastor Vince Giardino reminded us, by reading Psalm 100, to be joyful and thankful to the Lord. And how could we not be after a blessed weekend at Gospel Light, which included the much anticipated (and highly successful) Youth Rally this past Friday evening. Our Pastor called for individual testimonies of thanks from his flock and many gladly spoke.

As mentioned, this was a evening and we were greatly blessed by the presence of one of our church’s great friends, Charlie B. Most of us know his younger brother, the local piano teacher Brad, with whom many among us have taken lessons from.

With great admiration for his evident passion for the Israeli people, we listened to Charlie detail his plan to return to the that nation with his wife and family in order to pursue charity work.

The lights were dimmed, the big screen lowered and a slide presentation was given of Charlie’s previous visit to Jerusalem. We saw many Israeli people and the streets of Jerusalem. He gave testimonies of the many doors opened in Israel and of the people he interacted with to spread the gospel message. His method of approach on the streets is that of engaging in conversation. He spoke of how Orthodox Jews are very well versed in the Old Testament. Likewise however, the entire Bible to our missionary friend is as familiar to him as the alphabet. Thus, with intelligence and Spirit-driven compassion, Bro. Charlie was often able to direct the conversation to Christ and His sacrifice. “Jews require a sign”, Charlie said, and showing you care about the people and their country is surely a sign that works.

Charlie began a sermon from the book of Esther (2:7-8,10, 4:13-15), that he titled “Preparation for the Time”. We read how Esther, blessed with beauty and grace from God, went from a slave to being chosen queen of Persia. God had prepared Esther for this purpose. God brought her to a place in time where she could help save the scattered nation of Israel. It was hard to misunderstand where the sermon was going: God will put each of us in a position to do something for His glory and purpose … if we allow it. We were warned that our potential to do God’s purpose is diminished, if not destroyed, by our bad testimony. With sin and skeletons in our closet, then there can be no glory for God.

Thus, how do we get to that place where we can fulfill God’s purpose for us? How can we be sure that we will be able to do what God wants us to do with the position He puts us in? We were given a four step process to “Prepare for the Time”:

  1. Daily Devotions – Daily reading greatly help to stay in the Lord. God to speaks to us through His Word.
  2. Careful Communication – Read Titus 2:1-2. We need to watch our speech, keeping it sound and pure. Be discreet even in computer texts and tweets. “People are going to want to find a reason you are dirty”, we were told.
  3. Strive for Mastery – Whatever you do for the Lord, do it well. And with everything you do, do it as a testimony for Christ.
  4. Realize Our Purpose – Read Rev 4:11. The purpose of our creation is to please God. “Our goal should be to live every single day for God … we serve a higher being”, Brother Charlie taught.

It is not hard to appreciate and admire the man, Charlie B. But he would be the first to tell you to appreciate and admire our Lord, who is working through this faithful man to bring the truth to foreign lands. Nevertheless, thank you Charlie for choosing to let God work in you.

Pastor’s Letter: “A Moment in Time” Youth Rally

Dear Brethren,

Gospel Light is looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do one week from today! Last year the Lord fed over 400 souls and 400 hungry tummies so please get there early.

For a seat. Many churches are talking/praying and social networks are buzzing with many in expectation of a blessed time in the Lord!

Philemon 1:20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

A lover of good men, Bro. Vince Giardino

April Fools Follow-Up

We must assume that Michael Giardino has returned to his previous position at Gospel Light (please look back at this blog’s posting from April 1st). He was observed at last Sunday evening’s service launching people (and the Pastor) to tears with his inspirational performance at the piano. Is it not marvelous the number of people here at GLBBC who develop and use their God-given talents to praise and worship our Lord Jesus Christ?

House to House Ministry

H2H
House to House Lessons
taught by
Steve D & Gabriel G
written by Darryl M.

I recently attended the H2H class given at Gospel Light March 26th taught by Steve and Gabriel. There were Eight participants who benefited at this class, nice job men! I recommend that if you plan to knock on doors this year that you get your hands on the notes or better yet ask Steve and Gabriel for another opportunity in a classroom setting. It was a rich experience being it prepares you for things to come while knocking on strangers doors.

I was especially encouraged by such a small number of participants taking in account that our church is a bible believing church and many members already are prepared for door knocking; as our church is obedient to the scriptures IE: Matt 28:19&20 where we are commanded by Jesus to go out and spread the Gospel throughout the world!

There are three opportunities for door knocking this year. Tuesday evenings, Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, plus there will be special days set aside for Rochester events. These events will mostly be Saturday mornings and will be announced well in advance. I’ll be looking forward to seeing many of us out there ‘saving souls’ for Jesus and fulfilling our Christian duty by being obedient to Jesus. Amen

Brother Vince Massa at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church

Pastor Giardino took notes during the March 4th Sunday night message that Brother Vince Massa preached to Gospel Light. Here are some of the major points.

  • In order to serve the Lord, you must submit yourselves to Him!
  • We must worship God! God is seeking individuals to worship Him!
  • God wants worship. “If your not saved here tonight, you may become a worshiper of the anti-Christ.”
  • For the most part, the great sin of our churches is “self” sitting on the throne.
  • The book of Matthew was used to learn some things of Jesus Christ.

Worship requires submission and an acknowledgment of the Lord in His person! His person is this:

1. His Rule and His Deity:

  • If your going to learn how to worship you’d had better learn how to give!
  • The disciples realized the Lord’s deity through the calming of the storm! When you recognize who He is, then you’ll have to worship Him and submit to Him!
  • We know that Jesus is God. Do you realize this is God in the flesh?
  • If He is God in the flesh, then I must worship! We have eternal life because He is the son of God. We have a witness in ourselves. The Holy Ghost tells us.

2. His Word:

  • Are you willing to submit to what God is saying to you through His Word, or do you make excuse for yourself?
  • Use this prayer: “In me dwells no good thing. Cleanse thou me in my mind and in my spirit. Help me to worship thee, what thou sayest I will do!”
  • Pray this also: “Lord I don’t have the sense to run my life! I’m not wise enough, smart enough, to run this life.”
  • We need to submit and hand over the reigns of our lives to God.

Pastor’s Recap of the Men’s Prayer Breakfast

Dear Brethren,

The 100 men that attended this morning’s Men’s Prayer Breakfast at Gospel Light experienced the unity of the faith (Eph 4:13)!

15 pastors, evangelists, missionaries received a $25.00 gas card to take the sting out of “taking a ride” to this event. We also gave out $5 gifts cards to those that texted me that were coming… ‘easy money’ …in a economical down-turn-time! Pastor Joe Perticone (Trinity Baptist Church) brought his men in the middle of their Mission’s Conference this morning along with his guest preacher Evangelist Ronnie Morrison (All Point Baptist Mission)…. that’s the spirit Pastor Joe Perticone!

Bro. Mateo Vasquez led us men in spirited hymns and the special music from the Gospel Light men’s group (plus Evangelist Tony Saxton) and Pastor Steve Baer and his sons, Jason & David (Calvary Bible Baptist Church) got the men settled in for the sermon.

Pastor Vince Massa sermon out of Exodus was a hit….out of the park….WOW! A full altar and a “valley of decision” for many of us. The Lord will indeed get some mileage out of this one.

As announced we took an offering for Pastor Mike Stout (Grace Baptist Church, Groton). Pastor Scott Strobel (First Bible Baptist Church, Lockport), and Pastor Nate Gipp (Emmanuel Baptist Bible Church) prayed for several needs as we finished up today’s Men’s Prayer Breakfast.

The spirit of unity amongst many churches was so edifying and encouraging. There is no reason why our region won’t experience some impact from this gathering.

It has been my prayer and heartfelt love of men gathering without pretense to see the Lord speak, us to listen and IGNITE us to IMPACT our families and churches. Once again I’m humbled and honored to have anyone come and partake!

Here’s a sampling of responses from my e-mail I sent out last Saturday:

  • Pastor Dickson Beam (Grace Baptist Church, Medina) writes in a text message: Hey Brother-ur email about YA (Youth Ablaze) was GREAT. I am believing God 4 a great break thru in the breakthru department!
  • Bro. Mark Luce, Youth pastor (Walker Bible Baptist Church, Walker): Well said Preacher!!!! “Charity…rejoiceth in the truth”, RIGHT???? Plan on joining “ye all” on Sat……Appreciate you!!!! GLORY to GOD!!!
  • Evangelist Bill Matthews (Rock of Ages Prison Ministries): AMEN & AMEN!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Unfortunately some don’t come because THEY aren’t in control of such events.

Regarding today’s Men’s Prayer Breakfast… this could be the very thing to keep a saved man going for the Lord! Philemon 1:20 “Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”

A lover of good men, Bro. Vince Giardino

What Really is the “Greatest Love of All”?

This past Sunday morning at Gospel Light, Pastor Vince Giardino began his sermon by reading I Sam 18:1-4. Here is a passage showing the splendid relationship between David, who was not yet King, and Jonathan, who was the son of King Saul and the heir apparent to the throne. “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David” 1 Sam 18:1. Pastor made these analogies:

  • Saul was a type of old man in the flesh.
  • David was a type of Christ, a picture of Jesus Christ.
  • Jonathan was a type of Christian, a believer torn between allegiances.

Thus we see Jonathan caught between love for his father and love for David. Jonathan’s choice? “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul” 1 Sam 18:3.

Pastor made mention of the recently deceased Whitney Houston who grew up in a Baptist Church. Her life and career showed that she loved Christ, but she was also in love with the world. Like ships that have gone down at sea, we can be raised to walk as Christians, but find ourselves on the wrong path and on the way to ruin. Whitney Houston “cast her pearls before swine”, our pastor preached. The lyrics of her chart-topping song, “Greatest Love of All”, spoke of love of self as that greatest love. We know that the greatest love is “the love of Jesus Christ”, Pastor Giardino declared. Whitney Houston made the wrong choice and failed to make a covenant with Christ.

“Will we make the wrong choice?”, we were asked. Pastor directed us to 2 Sam 1:24-26 where David laments over Saul, who lavishes his people with worldly goods, and over the recent death of Jonathan in battle. Pastor then exhorted his flock to “make the choice to go against the Sauls in your life” and choose to use your God-given talents for Christ. The relationship between Christ and the believer surpasses any love that exists on earth.

So the People of Nineveh Believed God

On the evening of February 5th, Gospel Light was host to a missionary soon to be traveling to Iraq as a minister to the Muslim people. Imagine the courage in answering God’s call to this mission field! Discretion suggests we don’t mention names in this web blog. Nevertheless, the following sermon outline will give you some idea of the message this missionary blessed us with that evening.

Jonah 3:1-5 So the People of Nineveh Believed God

The story we have heard all our lives is not really the story of Jonah and the Whale, but rather of ‘God and Jonah’, as we shall see …

The people of Nineveh were very wicked people. The name of ‘Nineveh’ struck fear in the hearts of people. You didn’t mess with these people. In Jonah Chapter 1, God says that the wickedness of the great city of Ninevah has come before Him. However, God was willing to give them one more chance and sent Jonah. Jonah had other ideas, however, immediately flees the face of God. People do this every day! We don’t run from problems, we run from Jesus; we say NO to God.

God delights in mercy and longsuffering. He is the same God when He is just and a justifier. This gives hope to those who are lost. God had planned that Jonah be the vessel through which hope was given to the people of Nineveh. Thus it was that God dealt with his rebellious prophet by way of a hungry whale (Jonah 1:17).

After Jonah’s prayer of repentance in the belly of the whale, he was delivered “upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10), offering Jonah a second chance. “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord (Jonah 3:1-3).

God saw more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11). Who can not tell right from left? Young children! God saw the innocence of the children and did not want to destroy the city because of them!

The Hatred of the Prophet

Why did Jonah initially flee from God? He was mad at God, but more than that, he hated the people of Nineveh. He hated them so much he would rather die than see them saved.

Is that our heart toward people? Do we look at those we view as hopeless, maybe someone who is steeped in false religion, and say “I hate those people”? (Or perhaps we fear them too much?) And because of our own hate, we withhold the promise of the Saviour from them?

The Hearing of the People

The people didn’t hear because of Jonah’s great message; his message was pitiful. He gave them 8 words. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The people heard! But not because Jonah was willing to see them turn from sin.

Those we see as hopeless may be the very people who are nearest to a decision. We need God’s heart! God is not willing that any should perish, but we so often don’t feel the same way. We will avoid walking down the same aisle with someone who makes us feel uncomfortable. Shame on us when are hearts are hardened. God has dealt with us with patience and longsuffering, yet we often choose not to extend our faith through sharing the Word and charity to others?

Valentine Dinner at GLBBC: Tuesday, Feb 14th

Valentines Day is almost here. Gospel Light is having its annual Valentine Dinner on Tuesday, February 14th, from 6 PM to 10 PM. Please sign up at the back of the church or see Miss Bonnie. Note: The previous sign up sheet went missing, so you will need to make sure Bonnie knows you are coming.The cost is only $30 per couple ($15 per single). Payment needs to be in soon. Singles and couples are both invited. Don’t miss out – treat yourself and your loved one to a great night out!

Dr. Sam Gipp highlights the Men’s Prayer Breakfast

Men’s Prayer Breakfast was held this morning at Gospel Light as a warmup to the “Fight at Gospel Light”, the great debate. Our guests were fed breakfast, and after the service, were fed lunch by a Gospel Light crew led by master chef Jeremiah Rodell.

Some of the best music ever heard at GLBBC came from performers Grayson Krol, Mike Walters, and Jim Donath of Old Time Baptist Church. Perhaps Mike Giardino might have the music recorded, because what I blessing it would be to take home a copy. Speaking of must-have recordings, the Friday night sermons by Dr. Sam Gipp and Baptist Historian Jeff Faggart were highly recommended by our Pastor Vince Giardino and a DVD is available for $3.00.

Below is the beginning portion of Dr. Sam Gipp’s morning charge at the Men’s Prayer Breakfast. Sam Gipp has been a featured speaker during this week’s Bible Conference and will be preaching again this Sunday evening at 7PM. Please excuse the shakiness of the video since it was recorded using a camera. As always, the church video crew, led by Michael Giardino, records just about every event at Gospel Light. Thus, this sermon will most likely be available upon request on DVD for those who are interested.

Make Your Deal with God, Not the Devil

On this fine spring Sunday morning, all the cheery members of Gospel Light were back in the seats after a four day adventure at Family Camp. In fact, the seats are almost filled to capacity these days and Pastor reminded us that today was the day to put money in the offering to help buy 50 new chairs. If you missed this chance to contribute, please contact the Pastor. After our hymns and fitting nicely with the sermon we were about to hear, Mike Walters sang “I Bowed My Knees” at the pulpit as the music special. Mike has been blessed with an abundance of vocal talent.Psalms 78:23-25 were the key verses for Pastor Vince Giardino’s sermon, which was the second part of his message titled, “Open Shut Case for Heaven”. The verses speak of God’s blessings to man coming down from heaven. After reading the verses and praying, Pastor began with a story about the TV game show, “Let’s Make a Deal”. The show’s original host, Monty Hall, “TV’s Big Time Dealer”, would chose a member of the audience and conduct a series of deals. Explaining that Monty Hall was in control of everything that was happening, Pastor equated the host with the devil in the spiritual world. The devil will choose your door to knock on, will offer you a blind but appealing deal, and try to make you do the wrong things through lies. Pastor said, “The devil never forgets who takes the bait.”

God offers us, not a blind deal, but the best for your life. Using the Bible as our guide, we are able to discern what comes from God. Pastor said that God has no secrets and that “He wants to open up opportunities for you.” “What prevents you from getting the best of what God has for your life?”, Pastor G. asked.

There is nothing new about government persecution of the church. Pastor related the story of how Herod killed James the brother of John, and then imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:1-16). But the church prayed without ceasing for Peter. Pastor Giardino used this story to show that you don’t know what is going to happen when you pray. Consequently, an angel of the Lord led the well guarded Peter out of prison and to freedom. “Nobody has all the answers”, Pastor said, “but we must pray to get heaven’s doors open … No matter what your situation, you need to be praying.” After that same angel “smote Herod” (Acts 12:20), “the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).

Another form of persecution that the church faces is from other religions. Pastor showed this by referring to Acts 5:17-20. The apostles were imprisoned by the high priest and the Sadducees, but once again, “the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” Pastor called “go”, “stand”, and “speak” the 3-point plan. God will open the doors for us to spread the Word of God.

Pastor went on to show how God opens our hearts and our eyes. He spoke of a spiritual body piercing, where we chose to be the servant of God for the rest of our lives. The proper order in our lives was given by Ex 21:5, “the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children”. This order is kept in place, Pastor G. explained, “by you saying to God, ‘You are my Master’”. Matt 7:7 was used to provide the acronym, ASK = asking, seeking, knocking.In essence, Pastor’s message to us was a preparatory sermon for the Bible Conference coming this week. Special church services with Dr. Sam Gipp are scheduled for this Thursday evening (June 9) and Friday evening (June 10). A men’s prayer breakfast will be held Saturday morning and a much anticipated debate is scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday afternoon. Expect large crowds for both Saturday events!

Bend Your Knees in Prayer

Each month at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church, a deserving church member is presented with the “Servants Heart Award”. This is a special recognition award for a person’s faithful work in the church, work that would be sorely missed if not done. At this past Sunday morning’s service, Mateo V. presented the award to Sis. Pearl Caletz. Lydia G. was there to hand her flowers. At Gospel Light, Pearl has a well-deserved reputation of hard work, varied participation, knowledgeable mentoring, and a loving heart. God bless you Pearl.

Sanctuary” was the song that Michael G. sang at the piano. This music special moved many to come forward to the alter. Pastor Vince Giardino commented that the song “makes us appreciate what He did for us.” Pastor asked his congregation “When was the last time you came to His sanctuary?”

Our preacher for the morning, Dr. Douglas Stauffer, was introduced by our pastor and invited to the pulpit. Brother Stauffer titled his message, “Bend Your Knees” and was to show us “things in the book of Hebrews that changed my life”. His delivery was expressive and passionate throughout. A long acquaintance with his subject was apparent; his message was clear and none to difficult to follow.

Brother Stauffer said prayer is “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” 1 Peter 5:7. “God wants to hear from you”, he said. The world is “totally confused” and “wound up” he continued. The answer is to get on your knees and pray to God. Bro. Stauffer declared that “God answers every prayer you pray”, but sometimes the answer is “no”. However, the answer is always peace (please read Phil 4:6-7). We were told that the greatest gift God can give you is peace: peace of mind, peace of soul, and peace of heart.

Praying for your own wishes, rather than praying for the will of the Father, is not always wise. Bro. Stauffer warned that if we got our way all the time, we most likely would mess up our lives. The Apostle Paul had “besought the Lord thrice” (2 Cor 12:8) for his infirmities to be taken from him. God’s answer to him was “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” 2 Cor 12:9. Perhaps if Paul’s “thorn” had been removed, pride may have crept in, leading Paul to be “exalted above measure” 2 Cor 12:7.

“Just because something difficult comes into your life doesn’t mean it’s bad”, Brother Stauffer explained. A thorn in the flesh may be intended for our good and for His glory. Instead of blaming God, we should use it to get closer to God. Our God is able to deliver us from trouble; but if not, we need to understand that he still cares and loves us, wanting above all to give us peace. We were sent to Dan 3:16-18 to demonstrate this very same principle with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb 4:16. “Day by day”, Brother Stauffer said, we need to seek “God’s mercy” and find “living grace”. Our preacher outlined five things mentioned in Hebrews that we, as believers, need to have or need to do, things that will help us in our prayer life:

  • We need to have boldness – to pray and come to God, to enter into the holy place, and past the veil, boldly. God knows we are sinners, but the matter is settled since we wear the righteousness of Christ. Likewise, we need to have boldness in the world, speaking God’s truth in love and not sitting back and letting the world go to hell. Refer to Heb 10:19-20.
  • We need to have assurance – full assurance of our salvation. “Believe what you know and know what you believe”, Brother Stauffer said. Getting into our bibles each and every day is the way to obtain and maintain our assurance. “You are required to be faithful”, he counseled, by giving to and attending the local church. Refer to Heb 10:22.
  • We are not to waver – in our profession of faith and in our love for God. By reading and studying the Word of God, we can be sure that our position is defensible. We know that God is faithful and He will not let us down. Refer to Heb 10:23.
  • We are to provoke one another – to love and to good works. Be a blessing to others in the church body. Refer to Heb 10:24.
  • We are to exhort one another – and not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together”, especially “as ye see the day approaching” Heb 10:25.

Hinging On Heresy – What A Sword

Hinging On Heresy – What A Sword

Wednesday evening at Gospel Light featured an inspiring music special. Brenda D. and Derek M. harmonized beautifully to sing “I Call Him Lord”. Playing piano during the offering was Dan P. and playing during the invitation was Michael G. We thank God for the many talented musicians that help lead us in worship.
Many prayer requests came from the congregation and were added to those on the prayer list. Pastor Vince Giardino asked Kevin S. to the pulpit to lead us in prayer.
Details concerning upcoming debate between Reformed Theology and Bible Baptists were given. Pastor Scott Strobel (FBBC) and our pastor had recently met in Lockport to discuss plans. The debate will occur 1 hour after the conclusion of the Men’s Prayer Breakfast on June 12th and is open to all.Our evening saw Pastor add a twist to our Cult series of presentations by speaking about the instrument by which to dissect cults – the Bible. Our key verses were Eph 4:11-16. In them we see the Apostle Paul giving instructions and knowledge to the officers of the church and giving encouragement to the church body. Paul says to “be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” Eph 4:14. In the fulness of Christ, we need to be strong, growing up into Christ in all things, and guarding against “the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” Eph 4:14-15. The church is the body of Christ, with Christ as the head. Paul wrote that from Christ, the whole body is “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth” Eph 4:16. Pastor Giardino explained that through the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:13) is that perfect unity of the church obtained. (Refer also to Eph 2:19-21, where Paul wrote that “the household of God” is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord”.)

Pastor Giardino warned what would happen if the church did not have good teachers and used a wrong bible (i.e. “rubber sword” as Pastor calls them). The true inspired Word of God is required to get the knowledge needed to grow up into Christ. Without this, a church will not be tightly fit, the body will be disjointed and will be wide open to the “sleight of man”, deception, and wrong doctrine. It is in this environment that cults are born.Not only can the Word of God dissect cults, but it is a discerner of of men. “The bible can read you”, Pastor Giardino said. The basis for this part of Pastor’s message was Heb 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Pastor G. defined “piercing” as “going down deep … down to the very essence” of a man. Why is the Word so sharp? That sharpness is essential to process of salvation.

We were told that, before we were redeemed, we were bond servants to Satan. Pastor used 1 Pet 1:18-19 to remind us that we were bought back by “the precious blood of Christ”. “If you have not been saved, your souls and spirit are together”, Pastor explained. “You need an operation”, he said, “one much deeper than man can perform”. When we are saved, an operation takes place that pierces down to our very essence, “dividing asunder” our soul and spirit (Heb 4:12). This is the “mechanics of being saved”, Pastor Giardino revealed, where the piercing of the gospel sanctifies us and preserves us blameless (1 Thess 5:23). This also is “the faith of the operation of God” written of in Col 2:12.

“Who’s power are we under?” our preacher asked. Before we were saved, we “were by nature the children of wrath” and “children of disobedience” Eph 2:2-3. When a child becomes of age, when a child realizes good and evil, he/she becomes an indentured servant of Satan. But we are now “quickened” by the scalpel of God, Pastor said, becoming a saved, adopted child of God. We now “walk as children of light” Eph 5:8. We are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” 1 Pet 1:5.

Pastor Giardino emphasized that it is not enough to be saved. We must also be nourished by the Word, that “may grow up into him in all things” Eph 4:15. We need to grow “in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” Eph 4:13. If we don’t do this, Pastor warned that we will be “spiritual midgets”, prone to wrong doctrine or the wrong church. He further stressed that in a true church, the true Word of God is preached.

A Doubtful Mind – Part II

Who was that on piano during the offering? Why it was Joe C. pounding away at those keys at the evening service this past Sunday. Add one more to the endless parade of musicians at Gospel Light. Joe C. is a blessing in many ways in our church family.

Powerful. That’s how to describe the performance of the Ladies Quartet. Singing “He is God, He is Lord” were Koari, Lori, Melody, and Bonnie. After their performance, someone yelled out, “Sing it again!” and Pastor had them do just that. Back to their mikes they went, singing again with vigor and joy.Just as at last Sunday evening’s service, testimonies from those involved with the Youth Rally were given. Among the many thoughtful and thankful testimonies, your blogger took note of what Mike W. had said: “God just took the vision of Pastor and his son Michael and blessed it … People’s lives were impacted with this and they will remember forever.”

Pastor Vince Giardino’s title for the evening sermon was “A Doubtful Mint – Part 2”. He started with 2 Peter 3:1-4, with special note to the scoffers that will come in the last days “saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” Concerning scoffers and doubters, Jesus asked his disciples “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? Luke 12:28. People forget what God has done for them, what He is doing now, and what He will do for them in the future. Pastor said, “We expect the unsaved will doubt the second coming of Christ and the gospel.” But what of the believers in Christ? The Apostle Thomas in John 20 was not the only “Doubting Thomas”. The way we live our lives is often evidence of our own doubt. “There is a doubting throng in Christianity”, Pastor exclaimed.

Even in Peter’s mind there were doubts as to what was taking place as he saw the empty tomb, “wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” Luke 24:12. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples and walked with them (see Luke 24). Even though the two know all the details of what had happened, they still had doubt in their minds and were in need of a revival. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?Luke 24:25-26. Pastor related this to the present, saying there is “all kinds of doubting in Christianity” with people “slow of heart” and “slow to believe”.

Pastor continued with the story of the two disciples in Luke 24, showing how eventually their eyes were opened and were finally convinced. They “returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together” Luke 24:33, and said “The Lord is risen indeed … and they told what things were done” Luke 24:34-35. In verse 36, Jesus returns, but the eleven were troubled, their minds having been “messed up because they had doubt”, Pastor said. Pastor Giardino explained that they were still wondering and believed not because their faith had been stretched. Jesus did open their understanding and dispelled their doubt, telling his disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on highLuke 24:49. With their joy and belief having returned, the disciples stayed continually in church because their doubts were gone.

REPOST: Brother Vince Massa Interview – Family Camp

Vince Massa Interview

Once again, Gospel Light’s annual trek to Family Camp is just around the corner. By May 26, individuals and families from our church will be making there way down to Camp Li-Lo-Li in Randolph, NY, near the Pennsylvania border. Among those that will be preaching again this year is a man of God we at GLBBC have become quite fond of: Brother Vince Massa, Pastor of Landmark Baptist Church in Stamfort, CT. The church blog had a chance to catch Brother Massa during his stay in Rochester for Fellowship Weekend. That Sunday evening, we had a chance to lob a few questions his way about Family Camp and its significance. Here is that interview:One of the teens who attended Family Camp last year wrote in her blog, “Camp truly was a life changing experience for so many.” What can happen in a five day visit to a rustic Western NY camp that can be so special that it can change a person’s life?

You never know what’s going to happen in someone’s life. People have gotten saved at Family Camp. People have been called into the ministry. People make decisions about their family, such as to have a family alter at home and to pray more.”

How long have you and your wife Roxanne been attending Family Camp and what/who initially drew you there?

This is our ninth year at Family Camp. We came as a result of Brother Vince Giardino inviting us to preach. We had no hesitations. Vince was called to preach at the Bad Attitude Baptist Blowout nine years ago, where we met and that’s when he asked as to preach.”

Last year at Family Camp, you spoke on heaven and the return of Christ. Have you thought about the messages you will be preaching during Family Camp?

Because I’ve been going to Family Camp for all these years, it has been in the back of my mind. But not until it gets down to May, when it gets down to crunch time, will I decide what to preach on.”

Anyone keeping up with the news knows we are living in interesting times. What do Christian families in 2011 need to know about?

People need to realize that all they need do is watch the evening news or read a newspaper to see the signs of the times regarding the Lord’s return. His coming is very soon and we need to prepare for the coming rapture.”

Camp Li-Lo-Li offers a variety of fun activities for its campers, including a number of high rope events that the web site says will “have you shaking in your boots”. Have you tried any, such as “Heaven Bound” or “Leap of Faith”?

I have done ‘Heaven Bound’. I have not done the ‘Leap of Faith’. I’ve done the repelling and the wall climbing. But to me, that’s a time to lay back and relax. Between the preaching, I like to lay out in the sun and relax.”

Campers are treated to wonderful meals. Can you think of a dinner or dessert that you can’t wait to get back to?

One thing I can say about the food, it seems to me that the meals and the desserts keep getting better and better each year.” (Editor’s note – Bro. Massa diplomatically had no particular favorite entrée or dessert).

What is that one memorable moment about Family Camp that you will remember for the rest of your life?

Several years ago, maybe my second year, a young couple came to Family Camp. The husband, a Spanish fellow named Francisco, wasn’t saved. We were praying for his soul. On Sunday morning when I preached, Francisco was saved. I was preaching from Luke 15, the prodigal son message, really about the father, and he got saved that Sunday morning. He started attending the church that his wife, Lisa, was a member of. A couple of years ago, in 2007, he was in a car accident and died. I know I will see him again because he went to Family Camp and was saved 4-5 years before he died. Two years ago, Lisa was back at camp after the death of her husband.”

Look No Hands!

Few things can open our hearts to the Word of God like the enlivening hymns we hear from the music specials at Gospel Light. Case in point: with Michael G. at piano, Lori and Julia sang “ He Gave Himself” softly and beautifully, their passion being for the risen savior Jesus Christ. God has truly blessed our church with an abundance of musical talent.Pastor Vince Giardino titled his Sunday morning message, “Look No Hands”, and if you read on, you’ll see why. His key scripture passage for the sermon was Col 3:1-3, one he called “a classic Bible passage” and the basis for this year’s theme, “Hoping for Heaven in 2011”. Pastor followed with Col 2:11, which tells us our new life in Christ was “made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins”. “Man can not manufacture life with salvation”, he declared, but only Christ can save souls. Man has contrived methods to deceive people that they are saved.

Out came a model of a space shuttle orbiter, complete with fun sound effects and movable parts. Pastor spoke of the Thermal Protection System (TPS), the tiles on the underside of a shuttle which protect the craft and its occupants from the incredible heat while it pierces the atmosphere. The shuttle enters into a continuous orbit around the earth where gravity is countered by the craft’s velocity. Likewise, Pastor G. explained, “when we go into orbit in the Christian life, spiritually, there is a pull on all of us.” The gravitational pull of the world pulls us down as Christians. We need to “pierce that worldly atmosphere”, Pastor said, so that Jesus is the one we depend on.

Pastor Giardino reread Col 3:1 and asked, “Are you risen with Christ?” “Walk ye in him” Col 2:6, he used to admonish us. After reading Col 2:11, he explained that “an invisible operation occurred when you received Jesus Christ … not from man’s ingenuity but from God”. In 1 Cor 15:42-43, we see that when we were “raised in incorruption”, we were also “raised in power”. Just as it takes a lot of thrust to launch a space shuttle, so also does it take a lot of power to take us into orbit to live the Christian life. However, the gravitational pull of earthly things presents a never ending challenge to Christians. Pastor listed many “gravitational pulls” that a Christian faces, including power, money, emotions, family, status, or anything you might put ahead of Jesus Christ. “Why are these things hampering you and pulling you down?”, he asked. Citing several Bible passages, Pastor pointed out that, even as Christ was raised up through the power of the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Himself, so also will we be raised up.

The Object – of your faith. We were taught that we should be focusing our affections and mind on Jesus Christ. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” Col 3:2. We have within us the power to live the risen life because the Spirit abides within us once we are saved. Pastor Giardino said, “you have to go into orbit away from the earthly ways … you no longer need earth’s atmosphere” as we seek to do God’s work. Focusing on things of the world will only burn us up on reentry. We need not dwell on the devil’s power because the chains of sin have been broken. Pastor said we should be dead to the world and its gravitational pull. Christ’s Word should be our life, we were instructed. While on this earth, Jesus exhorted us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” Matt 6:33, and not to be concerned with earthly things. Today, our savior “Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” Col 3:1, acting as an intercessor to receive our prayers.

The Orbit – We should be in orbit (i.e. the course of our lives) for Jesus Christ. To the delight of all, Pastor Giardino produced three balls and began to juggle, (and to the noisy delight of your blogger’s son, he dropped one). Juggling demonstrated Pastor’s control of the “orbit” of the balls. Likewise then, we are God’s objects and He controls our orbits. We need to be sure we are in orbit for Christ, allowing Him to control our lives. Rom 6:14 states that “sin shall not have dominion over you” since we are “under grace”. “So why are you still sinning?”, Pastor asked, “Some of you are living a life like you are not risen with him.” Sin pulls us down into a different orbit, we were told. Pastor used scripture to show we are called “unto holiness”, we are made free, we are the Lord’s “freemen”. Pastor urged us to claim the risen life, free from the heavy chains of sin. Pastor G. offered a helpful suggestion: If we are having trouble, we should “play dead”, just as an animal might “play dead” as a defense mechanism against predators. “Lord, help me to be dead”, he suggested we pray. “We may not lose our salvation, but we can lose our rewards”, our preacher warned. Using Heb 12:6-9, he said a sure sign you are one of God’s children is “when God chastises you for the way you are living”.

The Order – Col 3:5 warns against “inordinate affection”, things that we should not be attached to. Pastor advised us to put up an “Out Of Order” sign to the world. In our minds, we should say, “I’m not going to do that anymore … I’m not going to give the world an opportunity.” In Col 3:9-10, we are told to “put off the old man with his deeds” and to “put on the new man”. “Christ is all, and in all” Col 3:11. The Apostle Paul, in Col 3:12-17, listed the attributes of the resurrected life, but writes “above all these things put on charity”. In closing then, during those time when we are down and struggling with temptation, our dear Pastor advises we hang our “Out Of Order” sign against the world.Pastor G., a “Trekkie” in his youth, recalled an episode of Star Trek where the Starship Enterprise was being hammered by the Klingons. In a military maneuver, Captain Kirk order the starship to be shut down, giving the appearance of being totally disabled. Kirk was “playing dead”. The Klingons fell for the deception, moved in close, and were zapped by phasers at the right time.

How to Spot the Lies in Cults

This past Wednesday evening (4/27/11) at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church, we were blessed by the teachings of Brother Gabriel Gonzalez, a leader in our evangelical ministries. In his usual concise and understandable way, he delivered a study on the deceptions by cults and how they manifest themselves. Relying heavily and fittingly on scripture, he opened with reading 2 Tim 3:13-17, verses which instruct us to fight deception and properly discern the truth through scripture.

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People’s eyes can be covered with false beliefs and doctrines. Brother Gabriel listed four ways that can happen, supported by Bible verses:

  • By man: Eph 5:6, Matt 24:4
  • By Satan: Rev 12:9, 2 Thess 2:8-10
  • By Ourselves: 1 Cor 3:18, James 1:22,26
  • By the Lord: Ezek 14:9, Jere 20:7, Rom 1:26, 2 Thess 2:11

Brother Gabriel then expounded on the ways deception can be seen outwardly, manifesting itself in discernible ways. He taught us several things to look for in every cult that show how people are deceived:

a.) Every cult, in some way or another, doubts the Word of God. They will claim it was inspired and written by men and not of God. They will try to point to errors in translation and imply a need for correction. They may claim that the words are open to interpretation, repudiating that there is only one true meaning. The lesson that Brother Gabriel wished us to learn was that by reading and learning the Word of God, we will see the truth and will believe.

Brother Gabriel then asked two very pointed and shrewd questions: “Why couldn’t God preserve His inspired Word? Do you doubt God’s ability?

b.) One method of deception by Satan is to elevate the intelligence of man. Men who started cults “thought they had a corner on the market” in truth and wisdom, Bro. Gabriel proffered. Satan tries to trick man into believing that they can be like God, as we see in Gen 3:5, “ye shall be as gods”, that they can be more important than they really are. To counter that attitude, Gabriel provided these verses: Prov 16:19, Col 3:12-14, and 1 Pet 5:5-6. We should “be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

c.) “Overemphasis of a particular pet doctrine”, Bro. Gabriel said, will lead to an unbalanced faith typical in cults. Such exaggerated doctrines could be gifts of the spirit, the gap theory, the sovereignty of God, the judgment of God, or the non-deity of God. This oversensitivity to one theological item results in an imbalance in the ministry and requires the twisting and changing of scriptures. Cults, because of pride and stubbornness, become unteachable and close-minded.

d.) Brother Gabriel taught that the Lord deceives people. This is something that occurs in all cults. Being told to examine the verses in context, we read from Ezek 14:4-9 and Jere 20:7. God will deceive people when they practice idolatry, when they love things more than God. False or misdirected worship acts as a stumbling block to being close to God. When Israel chose not to put their idols away, God gave them over to their delusions. Bro. Gabriel advised us that “what God was saying to Israel, he is also saying to us individually.” Two New testament verses were given to further back this point. See Rom 1:26-28 “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections …” and 2 Thess 2:10-11 “… for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”. God will give you the answer you want because of what is in your heart.Conclusion: Citing John 4:23-24, Brother Gabriel said that first we need to be saved, and then worship God according to the scriptures. He implored us to make sure God is first in our lives. “We need to make things right with God”, he said, “If there is something we love more than God, we need to take care of it before we can ask God for help.” The lesson concluded with reading Eph 5:8-14. Brother Gabriel declared, “We can wake up from darkness.” (Your blogger wonders why anyone would choose to be willfully ignorant.)

 

Why We Teach Against Cults At Gospel Light

The definite objective in Gospel Light’s work of examining the general history and doctrine of religions in America, with particular attention to those with cult-like attributes, is to bring to light their detrimental effect upon the eternal salvation of our neighbors and friends. Most people in today’s society are unfamiliar with the true Word of God and the way to heaven, having neither interest nor education with these spiritual matters. (Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.) Thus cults can have profound influence upon the uninformed and the naive. Having been brainwashed into believing all religions are equally valid, most Americans have overlooked plain and simple logic. Among the many faiths, each of which claims to be the only truth, in reality only one can be “true” because they contradict each other. This is even more significant when dealing with the doctrine of salvation, for this is where the rubber meets the road.

The real tragedy of false teachings, whether from a main line religion or a small cult, is when people are misdirected or deceived as to how to obtain life after death. It is easy to deceive an uninformed public, to utilize ceremonies and doctrines that appeal to the flesh in controlling their spiritual beliefs. It is in a sea of misinformation, with Satan’s hindering influence, that Gospel Light struggles to reach our unsaved brothers and sisters. Our efforts to seek out the lost and show them God’s truth through the inspired Word is continually troubled by wicked enemies with vile motives. Yet, unless this be done, souls will perish needlessly. For those with the profound and fundamental knowledge of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the gospel of grace, the failure to reach out is an act of moral negligence. We must as Christians acknowledge the importance of individual evangelism, not resting upon the efforts of others. This is an issue of highest importance with eternal consequences.Note: Brother Gabriel is leading a team of volunteers to head to the Public Market this Saturday to spread the Word. Please meet us at the church at 9:30 AM (4/30/11).

Brother Shirley Reveals the Enemy’s Tactics

Who needs to go to a Christian music concert when you can attend Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church in Gates, NY. If you want to talk “talent”, God has richly blessed a large portion of our church members with various musically skills, especially with their voices. Not only was that depth of talent on display this Wednesday evening, but our guest preacher, Pastor Tony Shirley joined in. Leading off with our musical specials was the trio of Leah and Peter B. and Michael G., who sang in 3-part harmony, “I Will Meet You in the Morning”. After a session of prayer, Grayson K. stepped forward to play “I’ll Fly Away” on his banjo, a performance that made our guest Bro. Shirley, who was raised in Kentucky, feel right at home. Next in line to sing praises were Melody and Joe C. Accompanied by Julia G. on piano, they sang “The Blood Fell” in wonderful harmony. Brother Shirley then sat at the piano to touchingly sing and play three songs: “He’s Been There”, “I Know the Peace Speaker”, and “Please Forgive Me”. During his songs, many from the congregation came forward in prayer at the urging of Pastor Giardino.

Brother Tony Shirley is the pastor at New Manna Baptist Church in Marion, NC. He enjoyed the hymns, but jokingly expressed confusion over what to shout, saying “If there is any shouting going on, I want in on it!” It turns out that shouting “sure” is popular back home for Bro. Shirley. However, they pronounce it “shore” and it is what they shout after the preacher says, “It’s good to be saved”.

To warm up his audience, Bro. Shirley told us a very funny story about an old Kentucky farmer. It seems that a Philadelphia lawyer, having heard that rural Kentucky was a great place for duck hunting, had shot a duck in flight, but the duck landed beyond a fence. Not being familiar with the area, the lawyer climbed over the fence to retrieve the duck. Upon reaching for the fowl, he suddenly heard, “Hey, put that duck down.” The voice was that of the old farmer and the land was his. After a bit of an argument over who’s duck it was, the lawyer threatened to sue, but the farmer countered by saying that things are decided in Kentucky by the “3-kick rule”. The farmer explained: “First I kick you 3 times and then you kick me 3 times, and so on, back and forth until someone gives up”. The lawyer agreed, having seen that he was in much better shape than the old man. The farmer struck first, kicking the lawyer first in the gut, doubling him over. His next kick bloodied the lawyer’s nose, who fell to the ground after the third kick struck him in the legs. As the bruised lawyer rose and brushed himself off, the farmer said, “I give up. Here’s the duck.”

I suppose one might ponder how Brother Shirley might top his “duck” story, seeing that the purpose of his visit was to preach a sermon after all. No need to wonder as Bro. Shirley provided valuable insight on the obstructive techniques of those who would be enemies to the purposes of God. Opening to Ezra 4:1-5, we read about the adversaries of God’s people. The nation of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity because they had strayed from God. God’s heart had softened toward Israel and a God-ordained plan was underway to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. A remnant of the nation was allowed to return there. The enemies of Israel, however, endeavored to make tough the work of God “to frustrate their purpose” Ezra 4:5.

Brother Shirley explained that attacks by the adversaries of God often take place after there has been a great revival, as was happening with the nation of Israel. He drew a parallel between the attacks on the building of the temple and the hurdles being faced at Gospel Light in attempting to prepare for Friday’s Youth Rally. “Whenever the people do the work of God for the glory of God, then the adversaries come out to frustrate it”, he said. Bro. Shirley was careful to point out that the enemy can rise up to frustrate God’s purposes but can never stop them. With the aim of teaching us the techniques employed by the enemies of God, Bro. Shirley highlighted the malicious tactics used in Ezra chapter 4 against Israel.

1. Manipulation – “Let us build with you”, said the adversaries of Israel (Ezra 4:2). However, their intent was to hinder the work. Their rationale was that they also worship the God of Israel, but they also worshiped many other gods as well. In today’s world, our enemies will deceptively say, “We’re all the same”, blurring and diluting the distinctions between faiths. Brother Shirley gave many example of this, but warned that we can not risk truth in favor of getting along with other faiths.

2. Accusation The nation of Israel faced many false accusations (see Ezra 4:12 and 16), being called a rebellious and bad city. Bro. Shirley warned that our enemies will “come at you personally”, criticizing your standards and doctrines. They will criticize your motives and they will criticize you to the people around you. How we handle ourselves in the midst of attack, we were told, will determine whether we are frustrated. “You don’t have to answer back!”, Bro. Shirley advised, “Don’t be ignorant of their devices … it happens because you are serving God.” When you make a stand because your heart is right, darts will begin to be thrown.

3. Confrontation – Israel was made to “cease by force and power” Ezra 4:23. “Then ceased the work of the house of God” Ezra 4:24. Americans have not had to face as much confrontation because of their faith as what occurs in other countries. However, times are quickly changing. Brother Shirley gave several recent examples of government authorities attempting to take away religious liberties. “You need to make a stand when authority tries to block you”, he exhorted. We are not to let fear destroy our service to God. Confrontation takes the opposition to another level, but it can not stop the work of God. God is able to take the workings of evil and turn it around for good. Brother Shirley urged us to “press on”, to stay in the Word, and to make sure we are right with God. And when the work of God is finished, even our enemies will marvel.

Hands From Heaven – Part 2

On April 17th, by the grace of God, the church at Gospel Light came together to worship and praise Him and to hear his most blessed Word. Your blogger fervently hopes to bring past Sunday morning’s service and sermon to light through this brief summary. Just as Pastor Vince Giardino prays before each sermon that the Holy Spirit guide and inspire his message, so to do I pray that my written words will reflect the sermon given and be a blessing to those who read it.

Pastor G. has reminded us that purpose of singing hymns is to praise God. With sincere passion, our three brothers, Mateo, Jeremiah, and Gabriel, sang in harmony to the Lord, “Rock of Ages”. Just prior to the sermon, our pastor’s son, Michael, was asked to sing (at the piano), “Word of God Speak”, so that we, the congregation, would examine our hearts and open our ears. “We need to hear from God … to ask God to speak to our hearts”, and be “hungry for God’s word”, Pastor urged.We opened our bibles to Psalms 90, which is a prayer of Moses. Pastor Giardino read the whole chapter, explaining the verses as he went. The prayer begins by acknowledging the power and glory of God and the insignificance of man. Moses then writes about our sin and God’s chastisement. He concludes by asking God to “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12) and to “let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us” (Psalms 90:17). Moses’ hope was that “the work of our hands” (Psalms 90:17) can do something for God.

Our Pastor read several quotes from this country’s past founding fathers, statesmen and public officials in order to show that “God’s hand has been upon this country”. However, in recent years, there has not been very much evidence. Pastor asked, “Is God’s hand coming off this country … loosening its grip?” Most often, those passing laws today do not have our best interests in mind. Even as the bible shows us that God’s hand has been on nations guiding them, so also should God’s hand be on our country, our church, and ourselves.

What causes God to remove his guiding hand? Pastor Giardino explained that we ourselves limit God, stepping back into the world, and failing to search Him in his Word. He encouraged us to let God speak to us by reading the bible. “Shame on you if you are not opening up the bible?” he scolded us. By reading His Word, we allow God’s hand to be upon us. “A thumb print on the bible is better than a foot print on the moon”, Pastor quipped. “What we do will bless God if we do it right”, he continued. God opens His hands and gives, but we have to have a righteous life to get things from God. “Are you limiting what God can do for you?”, our preacher asked.

The importance of thanking God was driven home by a story of a professional beggar. James Steward of Hull, England, had “Thank You” tattooed on the palm of his right hand. He knows that he has to thank those who give to him. Pastor Giardino pointedly asked us, “When was the last time you thanked God?” Because God’s hand opens up and generously gives to us, “’Thank You’ should be embedded on your mind and heart”, our pastor admonished. He then warned us against “biting the hand that feeds you” by complaining, murmuring, and foolish behavior.

The Apostle Paul, to the Ephesians, exhorted, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” Eph 4:14. Likewise, Pastor Giardino warned us of deception and trickery in churches today. There are crafty men in churches that want to con you and hide the truth. Jesus spoke of the evil of scribes and the Pharisees: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matt 23:4. There are religions today that want to burden the people with religious duties, ordinances, idol worship, and other heresies. However, Paul admonishes us to speak “the truth in love” and to “grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” Eph 4:15. We need to grow up in the Lord as Christians.

To demonstrate that “even you own eyes can deceive you”, Pastor Giardino invited his friend, Jonathan Blaze, to perform for us. We all were amazed at his very wonderful act, which used five Chinese leaking rings. With Mateo as his helper, John linked together and separated the apparently solid rings in a variety of combinations. Was there a trick behind the performance? Of course. Are you being deceived by a church that tells you heaven is earned on your own merits? Of course. The slight of religious deception leads people away from the bible and the truth. If you are not trained in the knowledge of Christ, you are vulnerable to religious con artists. And the deception goes deeper as Satan infuses his beguiling influence and lies into the body of these churches.

And so we return to the words of Paul, that we “be no more like children”, vulnerable to those that “lie in wait to deceive” and that we “grow up” in Christ. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15.