Monday, December 31, 2007

A Thought For The New Year

God whispers in your soul and speaks to your mind.

Sometimes when you don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at you.

It's your choice: Listen to the whisper, or wait for the brick.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bhutto Assassinated... Middle East Turmoil... What is Going on?

We have a new recording by Brotha DC about the latest turmoil in the world and what the word of God has to say to us in that regard. This 30 minute message is available by clicking the icon below (or, right-click to download the MP3).

You can also download this message (and other resources) from our download site,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

R.I.P. Roby Duke

I was just listening to one of my favorite albums, “Not The Same.” Roby Duke has quite a comprehensive collection of music, including his 2004 release, “Ghost.”

Then, I hear from a colleague that Roby suddenly and unexpectedly exited the planet. Immediately I went into disbelief. There was nothing on Google or anything.

Then, finally, I got the following from Bob Bennett and Terry Clark:

Roby Duke - Sudden Departure

10:46 PM PST
Paso Robles, CA

I’m away from home until Sunday afternoon. This morning I got sad word
that my friend Roby Duke died suddenly (details are forthcoming, but it
appears it may have happened on Wednesday and discovered late Thursday
night). I've been excitedly telling folks for weeks the plans Roby and I
had to collaborate on a Christmas album for Fall 2008. I have always had
great admiration and love for him ... for his music and as a fellow
traveler. In times like these, I am most afraid of saying something
stupid, something shopworn, some pseudo-spiritual platitude tossed out
carelessly. It might be a spot of pride on my part, but also the notion
that I don't want to cheapen or minimize the difficulty of such a sudden
and, by human horizontal-view standards, a tragic loss as this. I will
only say again that I dearly loved this man. If you have heard him or
ever met him, chances are very good you feel the same. Shortly after I
found out, it was my difficult task (self-appointed, but necessary) to
call Terry Clark about this ... later in the day he and his wife Nancy
wrote a much more lucid and God-in-view response than I can manage here:

Dear Catalyst Family,

Our dear friend, Roby Duke, has preceded us into the presence of our
Savior, after a sudden heart attack yesterday, December 27, 2007.

We want to honor Roby and thank God for the life of sacrifice and
service that was itself a treasure given to those who knew him and
thousands of people who heard his music. He deeply impacted our lives
and we are eternally grateful.

Since 1993, Roby’s genius has been responsible for the production of U
Gada No, Love Heals, This Christmas, Only Believe and The PRIZE. During
those years we have become brothers.

We were so blessed to have been with him for his birthday earlier this
month, then again last Sunday as we played together at Calvary Chapel in
Thousand Oaks, CA. He kept glancing over at me as he sang his final
song, “I Shall See God,”" as if to assure me that he fully believed what
he was singing like never before. It was such a sweet and powerful
moment as the whole congregation echoed over and over, "I shall see Him,
touch His face."

Our prayers are with Brantley, Roby’s son; Anne Baldwin, his assistant
and the whole Duke family.

Thanks, Lord, for loaning Roby to us for a little while. It was way too
short, it seemed we had so much more to do. But we are absolutely sure
You know how to perfectly satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.
You've welcomed him personally to do exactly what he has been singing
about for as long as we've known him.

So long, Roby. We'll see you soon.


Terry & Nancy Clark
Catalyst Ministries
We’ve found additional information at and information on Roby’s funeral and memorial services at

Name it, Claim it? Blab it, Grab it?

(AP) -- The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor’s living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.

Photo: Evangelist Benny Hinn at a service in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2002.

And so the 53-year-old accountant from the Tampa, Florida, area pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, the evangelist whose frank talk about recovering from childhood sexual abuse was so inspirational. She wrote checks to flamboyant faith healer Benny Hinn and a local preacher-made-good, Paula White.

Only the blessings didn’t come. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and payday loan companies just to buy groceries. At first she believed the explanation given on television: Her faith wasn’t strong enough.

“I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them," she said. "I’m angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don’t watch anyone on TV hardly.”

All three of the groups Fleenor supported are among six major Christian television ministries under scrutiny by a senator who is asking questions about the evangelists’ lavish spending and possible abuses of their tax-exempt status.

The probe by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has brought new scrutiny to the underlying belief that brings in millions of dollars and fills churches from Atlanta to Los Angeles -- the “Gospel of Prosperity,” or the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches.

All six ministries under investigation preach the prosperity gospel to varying degrees.

Proponents call it a biblically sound message of hope. Others say it is a distortion that makes evangelists rich and preys on the vulnerable. They say it has evolved from “it’s all right to make money”" to it’s all right for the pastor to drive a Bentley, live in an oceanside home and travel by private jet.

“More and more people are desperate and grasping at straws and want something that will alleviate their pain or financial crisis,” said Michael Palmer, dean of the divinity school at Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson. “It’s a growing problem.”

The modern-day prosperity movement can largely be traced back to evangelist Oral Roberts’ teachings. Roberts’ disciples have spread his theology and vocabulary (Roberts and other evangelists, such as Meyer, call their donors “partners.”) And several popular prosperity preachers, including some now under investigation, have served on the Oral Roberts University board.

Grassley is asking the ministries for financial records on salaries, spending practices, private jets and other perks. The investigation, coupled with a financial scandal at ORU that forced out Roberts’ son and heir, Richard, has some wondering whether the prosperity gospel is facing a day of reckoning.

While few expect the movement to disappear, the scrutiny could force greater financial transparency and oversight in a movement known for secrecy.

Most scholars trace the origins of prosperity theology to E.W. Kenyon, an evangelical pastor from the first half of the 20th century.

But it wasn’t until the postwar era -- and a pair of evangelists from Tulsa, Oklahoma -- that “health and wealth” theology became a fixture in Pentecostal and charismatic churches.

Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin -- and later, Kenneth Copeland -- trained tens of thousands of evangelists with a message that resonated with an emerging middle class, said David Edwin Harrell Jr., a Roberts biographer. Copeland is among those now being investigated.

“What Oral did was develop a theology that made it OK to prosper,” Harrell said. “He let Pentecostals be faithful to the old-time truths their grandparents embraced and be part of the modern world, where they could have good jobs and make money.”

The teachings took on various names -- “Name It and Claim It,“ “Word of Faith,” the prosperity gospel.

Prosperity preachers say that it isn’t all about money -- that God’s blessings extend to health, relationships and being well-off enough to help others.

They have Bible verses at the ready to make their case. One oft-cited verse, in Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, reads: “Yet for your sakes he became poor, that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Critics acknowledge the idea that God wants to bless his followers has a Biblical basis, but say prosperity preachers take verses out of context. The prosperity crowd also fails to acknowledge Biblical accounts that show God doesn’t always reward faithful believers, Palmer said.

The Book of Job is a case study in piety unrewarded, and a chapter in the Book of Hebrews includes a litany of believers who were tortured and martyred, Palmer said.

Yet the prosperity gospel continues to draw crowds, particularly lower- and middle-income people who, critics say, have the greatest motivation and the most to lose. The prosperity message is spreading to black churches, attracting elderly people with disposable incomes, and reaching huge churches in Africa and other developing parts of the world.

One of the teaching’s attractions is that it doesn’t dwell on traditional Christian themes of heaven and hell but on answering pressing concerns of the here and now, said Brian McLaren, a liberal evangelical author and pastor.

But the prosperity gospel, McLaren said, not only preys on the hope of the vulnerable, it puts too much emphasis on individual success and happiness.

“We’ve pretty much ignored what the Bible says about systemic injustice,” he said.

The checks and balances central to Christian denominations are largely lacking in prosperity churches. One of the pastors in the Grassley probe, Bishop Eddie Long of suburban Atlanta, has written that God told him to get rid of the “ungodly governmental structure” of a deacon board.

Some ministers hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works. Atlanta-area pastor Creflo Dollar, who is fighting Grassley’s inquiry, owns a Rolls Royce and multimillion-dollar homes and travels in a church-owned Learjet.

In a letter to Grassley, Dollar’s attorney calls the prosperity gospel a “deeply held religious belief” grounded in Scripture and therefore a protected religious freedom. Grassley has said his probe is not about theology.

But even some prosperity gospel critics -- like the Rev. Adam Hamilton of 15,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in suburban Kansas City, Missouri -- say that the investigation is entering a minefield.

“How do you determine how much money a minister like this is able to make when the basic theology is that wealth is OK?” said Hamilton, an Oral Roberts graduate who later left the charismatic movement. “That gets into theological questions.”

There is evidence of change. Joyce Meyer Ministries, for one, enacted financial reforms in recent years, including making audited financial statements public.

Meyer, who has promised to cooperate fully with Grassley, issued a statement emphasizing that a prosperity gospel “that solely equates blessing with financial gain is out of balance and could damage a person’s walk with God.”


“Boast not yourself of tomorrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1

Psychologist William Morriston, reported that 94% of the 3,000 persons he surveyed were enduring today in order to get to tomorrow.

Do you know anyone like that?

Perhaps you are one of those.

Tomorrow, you’re going on vacation.
Tomorrow, you’re going to get the house cleaned.
Tomorrow, you’re going to start your diet.
Tomorrow, you’re going to balance your checkbook.

Tomorrow... tomorrow... tomorrow...

The only problem is tomorrow never arrives! When it gets here, it is today.

And today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. It is always today.

What are you worrying about?

It’s time to ask His forgiveness and give Him your concern.

He is more than able to handle it.

Worry is pulling tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.

Worry about nothing!
Pray about every thing!!

Worried about what 2008 will bring?

- knows your future!
- holds your future!!
- and is your future!!!

Enter the New Year with Him!
Goodness and mercy shall follow you!!

From My Manna

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Faith and Works

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:5-8 NASU)

[But Noah found favor (grace)]

Looking at Noah’s ancestors we are inclined to believe Noah was called of God early in life; initiated into the worship of his Creator; delighted in His word and was dedicated to His service. We further believe his mind was set and his ears attentive to the voice of the Lord, not being influenced by the naysayers, the religious, the self righteous, and never tossed about by “every wind of doctrine,” or lured by lust into the things of the world. Noah had a constant and certain confidence and trust in God’s love and in His ability and power to order and sustain all things. Therefore in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation Noah had “set his mind” to walk with the One who had called him to righteousness, hence he found grace in the “eyes of the Lord” and over came the world through faith (1st John 5:4).

“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7 NASU)

Because of God’s love for mankind He had mercy; and mercy brought forth the favor of God to warn Noah about the impending flood that would destroy all flesh. Noah, not out of fear of death, but out of fear (reverence) of God, never doubting, obeyed Him in all that He commanded him to do.

By grace through faith Noah became the heir of righteousness. But what is faith? Now I know must of you will quote Hebrews 11:1 and say to me, that is faith; but what constitutes faith? And, where does one get faith? As we examine the Scriptures we find that God spoke with Noah warning him of things to come. Now Noah, having a loving, trusting relationship with God, believed God and began to do the things God commanded him to do (Genesis 6:22).

Now let us just suppose that Noah had heard God but did not do the things God commanded him to do in a timely manner. I highly suspect that Noah would have perished with the rest of the world. Although it does not seem possible to love God apart from obedience, nevertheless we conclude that just loving, hearing and believing God does not totally constitute faith. Faith must include obedience!!Is not obedience an expression of love for God?

But isn’t obedience works?

Yes, of course it is. But works alone did not justify Noah; his love, believing and obedience to the words spoken to him by God---faith, justified him.

And then there is Abraham, living in Mesopotamia in his father’s house serving other Gods (Joshua 24:2) and God spoke to Him (Acts 7:2). Unlike Noah, Abraham was not in a relationship with God when He called him. Because of God’s love for mankind He had mercy and choose Abraham to be a father of faith. When God spoke to Abraham His word made alive the ears of Abraham and caused him to hear effecting faith in him (Romans 10:17). When Abraham heard God he believed; this was God’s gracious gift to Abraham.

Again let us just suppose that Abraham had heard God and believed but said to God, “I believe you God but I think I will stay here in Ur.” Would Abraham have received the blessings that God promised Him? Of course not!! He had to obey God’s commands. Then we conclude from the Scriptures that Abraham heard God, believed, and because God first loved him, he love God in returned and expressed that love through obedience; thus his faith was perfected (James 2:22).

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8 NASU)

The Holy Scriptures teaches us that both Noah and Abraham were men of faith. Now for the answer to our question we examine what these two men have in common. Both were chosen of God, heard, believed, obeyed Him and because God first loved them they both loved God; thus effecting faith in their hearts. Therefore we conclude that the foundation of faith is the love of God in the heart of man, the cornerstone is the word of God believed, and the completion of faith is obedience.

Now we have the answer to what constitutes or establishes faith: hearing God (Romans 10:17), believing and obeying Him from a heart of love. Jesus said,

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASU)

Would not keeping our Lord’s commandments be works of faith through love? Sure, I agree, it is by grace through faith that a person is saved and not of works, but isn’t God’s favor granted to those who when God calls, motivated by love they obey Him. Noah and Abraham both were justified and saved by grace through their obedience to God’s purpose in calling them.

Many have written that the Apostles Paul and James were in disagreement concerning works. I contend that both Apostles were taught and led by the same Spirit and they did not disagree on anything. Men, trying to understand Gods Holy word by the intellect, have grossly misunderstood the messages of these two men.

Paul states that works does not justify man; and He of course is right. Now we confess and agree with Paul, there is no way man can work his way into salvation by obedience to the Law or any other works of the flesh; it is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that one is saved. And the Apostle James says that works justifies man (James 2:21), and of course he is right also. Without contradiction we agree with James because we understand the messages of these two men.

The Apostle Paul is speaking of works apart from hearing, believing and loving God. He is speaking of men who know of God and His promises but are trying to work out their salvation by their own methods rather than following God’s plan; such works are corrupted by the sin nature of man and is not acceptable to God; and also, there has never been a law given that could impart life.

The Apostle Paul is speaking of men seeking righteous through the “works of the Law” and James is speaking of a love that leads to obedience—“works of faith”---diligently following God’s plan.

The Apostle Paul writes,

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” (Romans 3:28 NASU)

Now we will repeat the same Scripture but inserting the elements of faith in italics rather than the word “faith.”

For we maintain that a man is justified by hearing God, believing Him, and obeying from a heart of love apart from the works of the Law.

For example let us say that Noah possessed a stone with God’s handwriting giving the Ten Commandments of the Moral Law. And he also had God’s warning of a flood and instructions to build an ark. But let us suppose that out of fear of death Noah kept all Ten Commandments to the letter but ignored the instructions to build an ark, could “the works of the Law” save him? Of course not!

Or again let us suppose that in as effort to survive the flood he set out to build a boat without following God’s plan; and we will assume that he got his boat ready by the time the flood came. Don’t you know that the storm would have completely destroyed his little boat. Thus his works would have not saved him from death. He would have been like Nimrod, who never knew God, trying to build his tower into heaven, which God destroyed.

The Apostle James writes,

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14 NASU)

The Apostle James is speaking here of a faith that is lacking the element of obedience to the word of God.

Again for example let us say that Noah heard God when He warned of a flood that would destroy all flesh. And He believed Him as He gave him instructions to build an ark; but he never lifted a hand to pick up his tools to build the ark. Would his hearing and believing God save him? Of course not!

Apart from works of obedience his hearing and believing is worthless (James 2:17, 20). God’s saving grace was poured out upon Noah because he participated in his salvation through obedience to the word of God from a pure heart of love.

Out of God’s love for mankind He has mercy and extends His invitation of salvation to man through His Son Jesus. We love God because He first loved us and through this love of His He inspires faith, a faith that includes obedience (works).

James C Sanford

Thursday, December 20, 2007


It is all over the news media... Britney Spears’ kid sister, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, has announced that she is pregnant.

While the pundits are wagging their chins on the matter, we thought we would provide seven minutes of wisdom on the matter.

Click (or Right-Click) here to listen or download the podcast

Pray for her!

Monday, December 17, 2007

God Loves me as much as He Loves Jesus

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.
(Luke 12:32)

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
(Psalm 128:2)

Show me a sign of [Your evident] goodwill and favor, that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because You, Lord, [will show Your approval of me when You] help and comfort me.
(Psalm 86:17 AMP)

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.
(Psalm 118:17 AMP)

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
(Luke 10:19 AMP)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Holy Spirit and Jesus

13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’.” (Matthew 3:13-17 NASU)

It seems evident that the Holy Spirit coming in the complete bodily form of a dove indicates Jesus receiving the fullness of the Spirit as opposed to being in part. Therefore He also received the fullness of power. Thus it appears that John, and the others with him, witness God the Father anointing His Son Jesus with the fullness of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of His ministry.

In the book of Acts we read the following.

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38 NASU)

Hence the Holy Scriptures bear witness also that following the baptism with water He was also baptized or anointed with the Holy Spirit.

The question is often raised, why Jesus should have needed the Holy Spirit for His ministry?

The explanation is:

  • When God breathed the breath of life into man He put His Spirit in him.

  • Thus man is dependant on the Spirit of God for life and for his daily performance of his true functions (Genesis 2:7).

  • Apart from God’s Spirit man malfunctions and fails to accomplish his true destiny.

  • In becoming a man The Word of God (John 1:1-2) emptied Himself of His godly nature and put on the human nature (Philippians 2:8; John 1:14);

  • Thus, he required the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, notwithstanding that He was sinless, thus full of life and having a divine nature; setting him apart from sinful man who He came to save.

The gift of the Spirit in fullness to Jesus at His baptism was no doubt His formal and public anointing for His Messianic work. The baptism of Jesus could not have the same significance with that of sinful men; for the symbolic cleansing from sin had no meaning for the One who was sinless. Yet as an act of formal public consecration it was appropriate for Him, for in doing so He began to establish baptism by water as a sign of the New Covenant. It also signified the close of His private life and marked the beginning of His ministry of salvation of mankind.

It is likely that there is a connection of the anointing of the Spirit with that of water baptism, as seen in the Book of Acts, is traceable to the anointing of the Spirit of Jesus at His own water baptism. But we note that baptism in the Spirit did not supersede water baptism.

The anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit qualified Him in two particulars for His ministry. The Holy Spirit was the source of His own endowments of power for the endurance of temptation, for teaching, for casting out demons, causing the lame to walk, the blind to see and the healing the sick, for His sufferings and death, for His resurrection and ascension.

The Holy Spirit’s coming upon Jesus in fullness also qualified Him to bestow the Holy Spirit upon His disciples. John the Baptist proclaimed that it is He who shall baptize in the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; see also John 20:22; Acts 15:1). It was especially true of the King of the kingdom of God that He be anointed for His office, and the term Messiah (Mashiach, equivalent to the Greek ho Christos), meaning the Anointed One, points to this fact.

In the book Matthew Chapter 4, verse 1 we are told that after Jesus was baptized and received the Spirit that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. In the book of Mark, chapter 1, verse 12 declares that after the baptism “straightway the Spirit driveth him forth into the wilderness (KJV).” In the book of Luke, chapter 4, verse1 more fully declares that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit,” and that He was “led in the Spirit in the wilderness during 40 days (KJV).” The impression that the narratives of the temptation give is of energetic spiritual conflict. The spirit of Satan warring against the Holy Spirit of God as Satan makes his attack upon “The Word of God” in human form. Therefore as Jesus entered into His ministry He was subject to the ordinary conditions of other men in an evil world.

One should not entertain the thought that the temptations of Jesus ended at the close of the forty days. Later in His ministry, He refers to the disciples as those who had been with Him in His temptations (trials) (Luke 22:28-29). Jesus did not walk the earth as God, but as human and a part of the world that He must overcome, so while it is true that He came into the world sinless and righteous, it can also be said of Him that He achieved righteousness.

James C Sanford

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Exciting News from Powerhouse Ministry

Through our recent acquisition of, we now have the ability to provide you with free download access to all of Powerhouse Ministry books (in Adobe PDF format) and our podcasts and teaching CD’s (in MP3 format).

Download e-BooksDownload PodcastsDownload CDs

If you need Adobe Reader for our e-Books, click the link below:

Get Adobe Reader

Note: Many of these files are LARGE and may required broadband and/or a download assistant such as GetRight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Conveying the Love of Christ

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6 NASU).

Wisdom: (a) Understanding what is true, right or everlasting. (b) Having the ability to apply knowledge to the greater benefit. (c) Good judgment.

Here we understand that we are instructed by God’s Holy Scripture to conduct ourselves toward those who are not of the faith with an understanding of God’s truth; and also seeking to possess the ability to apply that knowledge to the greater benefit of the unbeliever; using good judgment “making the most of the opportunity” in proclaiming the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Grace, like salt, purifies and preserves; thus our speech should always be of the nature of grace, never harsh, abrasive or abusive, but always reflecting and conveying the love of Christ. As salt destroys impurities and thus preserves, let our speech be such, to oppose the corruption of sin, leading to the preserving of the soul. Let our conversations be with such sound judgment, that we may discern how to treat the prejudices and meet the objections of all who are without faith in our Lord Jesus. Selah.

James C Sanford

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Sons of Zebedee

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left’.” (Matthew 20:20-21 NASU)

Although it seems like an innocent request that this loving mother was making on behalf of her two sons, her motives were from a heart of flesh. Perhaps she was thinking that the kingdom of God would be set up along the same order as the Sanhedrin court which governed Israel under the Roman Empire. She desired that her sons be exalted above the others that they might be served rather than be servants. It is of the flesh nature of man to desire to have authority or to “lord it” over one another; to demand to be served rather than to serve.

22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

How strange is the infatuation of men which leads them to desire ecclesiastical honors; he must be in love with his Lord who wishes to be a minister of the Gospel. If he is called of God in the work of the Gospel his life will be a life of toil and suffering, he will at least sip, if not fully drink of the cup of Christ.

If any man accepts the call to the ministry of the Gospel he accepts unto himself to answer for the souls that are put under his care.

For a man who is not called of God it would be better that he beg for bread than to take upon himself a ministry which God has not called him into; and in which he will not only ruin his own soul, but he becomes a false prophet that leads others down the broad way to destruction; for if God has not sent him he will not profit the people at all.

The mother did not know that authority with power in the Kingdom of God comes through serving, and in serving there would be suffering.

“He said to them, ‘My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.’” (Matthew 20:23 NASU)

Jesus confirms their calling; indeed they would humbly serve, and in their service to the kingdom of God they would suffer, as He himself suffers.

In their Christ-likeness they gave their lives preaching the gospel in the cause of Christ that many might be ransomed. James was martyred by Herod and John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos. As to their place in glory; these things, He says, “is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”

24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:20-28 NASU)

James, John and their mother’s ambition for them to be exalted lead to murmurings and animosities. Such selfish ambition leads to disruption that could prove to be the ruin of the disciple’s ministry. Christ immediately intervened. He explained, the order in which they were to follow would be far different than that of the Gentiles. Their relationships would be founded in service with humility and brotherly love.

In Christ likeness God’s sons are not called to be served, but to serve. Authority with power belongs to those who humbly serve. Thus in God's “economy” we give up ourselves to God and the result is serving others and glorifying God.

James C Sanford

Monday, December 10, 2007

Daryl Coley

By Mona Austin /

As many in the gospel community have been made aware, Daryl Coley is currently battling diabetes and has been for the past 17 years.

Consequently, the disease has caused traumatic and extreme damage to his health in other areas, namely, his kidneys. He is currently undergoing weekly dialysis and only has 17% functionality of his kidneys. Moreover, doctors have advised that he is in need of an immediate kidney transplant in order to preserve his health and save his life.

The cost of the kidney transplant has been earmarked at $250,000. This is for the procedure alone!! This is not inclusive of hospital costs; medication needed pre- and post- operation, finances to sustain his overhead during his recuperation time or any other financial obligations he might incur during this process.

Therefore, we are reaching out to YOU, our gospel community, friends, and supporters. We are asking you to assist us in costs relative to this surgery. We are asking each church congregation to give a love donation of $1,000 to aide in these exorbitant costs; however, any and all contributions will be appreciated. We are also asking our individual friends and supporters to assist us financially in whatever ways possible.

Please contact Clyde Williams at 619-822-0407 or for directives on forwarding all donations.

Donations may be sent to
Heart of Hope
Attn: Clyde Williams
8355 Station Village Ln, Unit 4111
San Diego, CA 92108

"Yet I Worship," Daryl Coley's thirteenth solo project will begin production immediately following his recuperation and has been targeted for completion in Spring 2008. We are hosting a writer's contest to select songs which will be included on the upcoming project. So, we are reaching out to our aspiring gospel writers to dig deep and reveal your stored treasures.

Kellie Copeland on "The Golden Compass"

What’s Wrong with The Golden Compass?

With holiday movie releases just around the corner, we need to be careful what we watch, and what we allow our children to watch. The Golden Compass, set to release this weekend, is being marketed heavily and is gaining a lot of buzz among the general public. When lines between faith and fiction are blurred and when fantasy paints a dark picture—should Christians watch such movies? And more importantly, how might watching these movies affect our children?

Kellie Copeland, daughter of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and children’s minister at Eagle Mountain International Church, explores this topic in her article titled, The Golden Compass—Pointing Children in the Wrong Direction. Take a few minutes to read what God placed in her heart about what we should and should not consider entertainment. Click here for the full article.

God bless you, and remember…JESUS IS LORD!


I am not against any author, director, actress or anyone else responsible for bringing this movie or these series of books to children. We should pray, asking God to help them, as the Word directs us. We give thanks for them, so that our lives can be marked by godliness. “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4, New Living Translation). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1st Timothy 1:15, New Living Translation).

What’s Wrong with The Golden Compass?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Loose Lips Sink Ships

It is interesting that many of us are quick to speak and slow to hear... the opposite of what God wants from us. We thought about how people can be so willing to blab-blab-blab that they forget that whatever you say may be used against you.

Our latest podcast provides you with seven minutes of wisdom about guarding your mouth.

Click Here to Listen or Right-Click to Download

For more free downloads, keep checking -- we will be launching our new media server soon!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Atheist Holiday

In Florida , an atheist became incensed over the preparation of Easter and Passover holidays. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

The case was brought before a judge.

After listening to the long passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel and declared...

“Case dismissed!” The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah...yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!”

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said, “Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less celebrate, his own atheists holiday!” The lawyer pompously said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any such holiday for atheists. Just when might that holiday be, your Honor?”

The judge said, “Well it comes every year on exactly the same date---April 1st! Since our calendar sets April 1st as ‘April Fools Day,’ consider that Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, in my opinion, if your client says there is no God, then by scripture, he is a fool, and April 1st is his holiday!”

“Now, have a good day and get out of my courtroom!!”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Birth of Jesus

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)

In the book of Matthew, chapter 1, verses 1 through 16 is found the genealogy from Abraham to the birth of Jesus who is the promised Seed of whom God spoke to Abraham.

“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ in referring to many, but rather to one, ‘and to your seed,’ that is Christ” (Galatians 3:16)

In the Gospel of Luke is found the record of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and announcing the coming birth of Jesus. Mary is a virgin woman chosen of God to be the mother of His Son. Being a virgin speaks much about the pureness of the person and character of this woman chosen of God.

First of all, it tells us that her father and mother were faithful to teach Mary God’s word. Apparently she was submissive and obedient to her father’s teaching; an act of love and faith. But the sinless nature of the child to be born of her was not due to the sinless nature of His mother, but is to the credit of the Divine origin of His human nature, the word and the Spirit of God.

As we read the words spoken to her by Gabriel we will learn how the conception and the birth of the Child of God took place. We will also learn why it was necessary that He be born of virgin woman.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38)

Mary never questioned what her life would be like in the future, she trusted God. Now God’s word is His seed and as the angel spoke the word of God to Mary she listened intently and believed, His seed had fallen upon fertile ground. The moment she said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word,” the power of the Most High, the Holy Spirit, caused God’s seed to spring forth in her body, or in other words, she conceived. Mary was blessed more than all women; she was to bear the Savior of the world!! Mary is an example of God’s blessings upon those who are in His perfect will.

In the book of Matthew we find the account of God’s revelations to Joseph preparing him for the birth of Jesus.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son; and you shall call His name Jesus (meaning Savior), for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:18-21)

And again God’s seed had fallen upon fertile ground,

“And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25)

In the natural the re-generation of mankind is as follows. The seed of the woman is the egg within her. The man’s seed is the source of fertility for the egg or seed of the woman. Without the fertility of the seed of the man there is no offspring. Without the seed of the woman, likewise, there is no offspring for from the seed of the woman grows the flesh and blood body of the offspring. Thus the statement,

“---neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.” (1st Corinthians 11:11)

Adam was the beginning of man. According to God’s perfect order the male was created first and then the female. Adam was created from the dust of the earth. Woman was created from man; she is not from the seed of man. Therefore man is the progenitor of the human race, by God’s choice he is the seed. In God’s perfect order they are "blessed male and female."

Why then the virgin Birth? When Adam sinned He became sin in the flesh; all mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned and every descendant born of his seed is born of sin and into sin and is the sin nature of Adam. Jesus could not be and was not born of the seed of a man because of sin.

“And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, supposedly, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,---.” (Luke 3:23 NAS)

Note the Scripture does not say Jesus was the son of Joseph but says: “being supposedly, the son of Joseph, ---.”

Therefore we conclude that Jesus, the Living Word of God, was grafted into the holy root of humanity (Adam, before he sinned) through the “seed” of the woman. Thus through the woman He is called the Son of Man. He was in the “likeness of sinful flesh” but knew no sin (see Romans 8:3).

His birth was not of a natural birth, but super-natural. He was the seed of God brought forth by the power of the Most High exactly as God had spoken. Thus He is also called the Son of God. He is the seed spoken of in Genesis 3:16: and He is the seed God promised Abraham. He is the seed of God’s righteous glory in the earth. He is the manifestation of God’s moral beauty, power and honor; He is the expression of God’s greatness and authority; He is the last Adam (1st Corinthians 15:45).

Through the apostle John God reveals to us that,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,--- ” (John 1:14f).

Thus we have come to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and the Word of God. He is born perfect, that is to say He is born without sin. He is the pureness of God, the image and glory of God. He is God created in the image or likeness of man and He is man created in the image of God. The Spirit of Life, God, was in Him; He is the open door to God’s presence and He is man’s new Eden. In the environment of His presence man can once again be a reflection of God’s righteousness, His glory, in the earth.

James C Sanford

Monday, December 3, 2007

Observe the Potter

Observe the potter who takes clay from the ground and begins to apply pure water to the clay. The potter is adding water to the clay to soften it so it will yield to his hands. Water is also used to wash the clay as his hands are shaping it into the vessel he desires. The water removes everything that is not pure clay, such as sand, debris and just plain ole dirt.

After it is washed and shaped as the potter desires, it is placed in a oven under very high temperature, 500 degrees or more, until it is hardened. If the clay retained impurities in its chemical composition, the impurities would cause it not to cure properly; it will crack or have faulty spots. After it has hardened, it can no longer be molded and is of no use to the potter; it is tossed away. If it was pure clay, its chemical composition and physical characteristics changes and hardens into a useful vessel.

God’s children are clay in the Potters hands. The water is His word by which we are baptized in the removal of all worldliness. His hands are symbolic of His Holy Spirit in which we are baptized in the shaping of our life in the spirit.

The oven is the baptismal by fire, the testing of our faith, His finishing work. If the clay yields to the Potter, He will make the vessel into what He desires of it and set it into service according to His good pleasure. God’s purpose for mankind has never changed; if the clay yields, He will make a vessel in His image and the vessel will manifest His glory in the earth whether it is male or female.

James C Sanford

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Holy Spirit and the Anointing

Much was made of the anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. Anointing in the gospel message refers to the anointing with the Holy Spirit by Jesus, which brings understanding to the saints of God.

The Apostle John wrote:

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” (1st John 2:20-21 NASU)

And again he wrote:

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1st John 2:27 NASU)

This anointing is for everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). The anointing occurs physically with a substance such as oil, myrrh, or balsam, which is done symbolically of the Holy Spirit (James 5:14). Therefore it is a spiritual anointing; whereby the Holy Spirit fills a person's heart and mind with the love and truth of God thus healing from within and throughout the entire being of man.

The Holy Spirit also calls and qualifies ministers for their work (Acts 13:1-2), the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” He makes them “overseers over the flock (Acts 20:28).” He “hears,” “speaks,” “teaches,” “guides into all truth,” “glorifies Christ,” “receives of Christ's things,” namely, from the Father and Son, “and shows them,” “brings all Christ's words to His people's remembrance,” “shows things to come,” “knows the things of God,” “searches all things, even the deep things of God,” and “reveals them” to those who have “ears to hear” (1st Corinthinans 2:9-15; Revelation 2:17, 29; 3:13, 22); therefore He is divine.

The Holy Spirit, with whom saints are anointed for holy services, is indispensable to ministers if they are to serve the Lord acceptably. To enter into the ministry without the anointing of the Spirit would be sins rather than service to God. Whenever ministry from the pulpit is without unction from the Holy Spirit, it is of the intellect of man and serves no good purpose for God!

Further, without His aid the intended worship services are but a noisy religion and a vain oblations, and the inward experience is dead. The prayers, praise and meditations, and efforts of the congregation are void of any spiritual value. A holy anointing is the soul and life of reverence and devotion to service, and the absence of this anointing is not only grievous but also disastrous.

James C Sanford

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Holy Spirit and the New Birth

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. He exercises the power of the Father and the Son in creation and redemption. He is the power by which believers come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. He is the teacher of all truth in all heavenly and earthly languages (Acts 2:3-11). Through the teaching of truth He is the unifier of all the kindred in the body of Christ, the Church. He is the water that washes by the word; and He is the fire that purifies the soul. He is the eye of the believer through which the Father and the Son are seen in all their glory. To know the Holy Spirit is to know the Father and the Son.

Like the eyes of the body through which we see physical things, the Holy Spirit is seldom in focus to be seen directly because He is the one through who all else is seen. Through the eyes of the Lord Jesus He is brought into focus that we might know of His presence and His work.

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5 NASU).

When the Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin, through repentance, he becomes a candidate for baptism by water (Acts 2:38); but the water that is used on the occasion is only symbolic of the work of the Holy Spirit in teaching and guiding the candidate in the ways of righteousness; as “by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5:26 NASU);” without the baptism in the word the “washing of water” means nothing. Although a person is cleansed of sin through the sacrificial work of Christ the soul is considered as in a state of defilement, because of past sin: now, by the Holy Spirit teaching the word, the soul is to be purified from its defilement, and strengthened to walk in the way of holiness. Our Lord, the Living Word of God, washing the feet of His disciples cleansing them of where they had been walking, typifies this (John 13:1-17).

When John the Baptist came baptizing with water, he gave the Jews the plainest indication that this would not suffice; that it was only typical of that baptism of the Holy Spirit, under the likeness of being purified by fire, which they must all receive from Jesus Christ (Matt 3:11). Therefore, our Lord asserts that a man must be born of water and the Spirit; as “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:6 NASU),” which cleanses, refreshes, and purifies the soul.

[Unless one is born of water and the Spirit]

Our Lord is using the word “water” symbolically as being baptized into the word of God by the Holy Spirit. This is also typified by water baptism; signifying the believer being baptized into Christ, the Word of God, being buried with Him and also being raised up with Him in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-11). This is all the work of the Holy Spirit performing the word of God in the work of regeneration (new birth) of the believer.

We also see the use of the word “water” symbolically as the “word;” as in: one must be born of the word and the Spirit. This can best be illustrated by the event of the angel Gabriel bringing the word of God to Mary (Luke 1:26-38). As Gabriel spoke the word of God, Mary heard and believed and submitted to the will of God, and the Holy Spirit brought into being the Christ Child in Mary’s womb. In the same manner when a person hears the anointed word of God and is convicted of sin (believes), repents and summits to the will of God, by faith he has received the seed (word) of God and a new life is conceived in the womb of his/her soul by the power of the Holy Spirit; thus he/she is brought into a new life of love and fellowship with God by the word and the Spirit; as in “born again.” This new life in the womb of the soul is likened unto leaven hidden in a lump of dough; by the work of the Holy Spirit the new life soon leavens the whole lump.

 James C Sanford

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Keith Green’s Unreleased Song “Born Again”

This is a beautiful song that hopefully will accompany the other unreleased music that is promised to become available soon!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Power of the Gospel

The word “gospel” is used quite frequently in the New Testament therefore we thought it to be beneficial to explore its meaning. First we begin with a paragraph from Nelson’s Bible Dictionary.

“In the second century, the word gospel came to be used for certain writings in which the "good news" or story of Jesus Christ was told. These writings were written in the first century, but they became known as ‘gospels’ much later. Mark was the first to write such a story (Mark 1:1), and in so doing he invented a literary form that we call a ‘gospel.’ The New Testament has four versions of the one gospel: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary also tells us that the Greek word translated “gospel” means “good news.” This is the definition of the word “gospel” upon which we will base our brief study.

The “good news” is not news of a “new plan of salvation,” nor does it announce Jesus as “new Savior,” but the good news is about the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Jesus came as an evangelist or messenger bearing the good news; but He is much more than a messenger of the gospel, He is the gospel!!! The good news of God was present in His life, in His teaching, and His atoning death. God had his plan in place before the fall of man, but it had been kept a mystery (Romans 16:25-27) until it was fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah and announced by Him.

“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel {good news} to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’.” (Luke 4:16-21 NAS)

In announcing the gospel Jesus proclaimed, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.” This anointing of the Spirit of the Father was His credentials, and by the Spirit of the Father He would speak with authority and power. His words and deeds would loose the captives, cause the blind to see, and set free the oppressed. And He would declare, “Today is the day of salvation (Hebrews 3:7),” now is “the favorable year of the Lord.”

As we examine our Lord’s words we think, maybe Jesus was speaking of the financially poor, but He was likely speaking of the spiritually poor as well. The good news was further proclaimed and explained by Jesus when speaking with the financially wealthy Nicodemus (John 3:1). When Nicodemus came to Jesus he was spiritually bankrupt. Even though he was a teacher of the Law and the Prophets (John 3:10) he did not have access to the wealth of the kingdom of God. The mystery of God’s plan was first revealed while Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. This mystery was the concept of a new birth for man.

And Jesus said to him,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

And then He explained the “Law of the Spirit of life (John 3:5-8; Romans 8:1-2);” and He also spoke of His Father’s love for mankind and of His sacrificial death (John 3:14-17). Through the preaching of the good news of the possibility of a new birth to Nicodemus, He provided him with the enlightenment to enter the kingdom of heaven and to the wealth therein, if he would believe (John 1:4). Thus we see that the gospel is for the financially wealthy as well as the poor. Although He tells us it is more difficult for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23-24), His word also teaches us that He is no respecter of persons {Galatians 3:28-29}; salvation is for all who believe (John 3:16).

When He spoke of the captives His gospel was a proclamation of liberty, like that to Israel in Egypt and in Babylon. When Israel went into Egypt they were a small company of peoples, about seventy-five souls (Acts 7:14). They were there four hundred and thirty years. During that time they became a large nation of people enslaved to the Egyptians, but all of them were born into that enslavement and did not know any other life. They were blind, miserable, poor and downtrodden and in darkness (ignorance), without a way of escape. In this we see a likeness of the people of today, born into and guilty of sin, born enslaved, bound by the chains of darkness (ignorance); for these there is the gospel {the enlightenment}, the good news concerning Jesus. By the merit of Christ, the Living Word of God, these captives may be loosed from the bonds of darkness and of guilt, and by his Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. It is a deliverance from the worst of servitude or slavery, which all those shall have the benefit of that are willing to believe and submit to Christ as their Head (Ephesians 1:18-23), and are willing to be ruled by Him.

And so the gospel, or good news, is of the saving work of God in His Son Jesus Christ and it is also a call to faith in Him.

The Apostle Paul exclaims,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 NAS)

[For I am not ashamed of the gospel,]

Isaiah 28:16 & 49:23 best illustrates this text, quoted by the apostle: “For the Scripture says, ‘whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed (ashamed)’.” (Romans10:11 NASU)

Having turned his back on his own method of salvation by the works of the law and turning to Christ, seeking God’s method of salvation, which is by faith, states he has no fear of shame--that is--he has no fear of embarrassment, disgrace or disappointment for his confidence and trust for salvation is in the good news of the accomplishments of Christ in His work on the cross of Calvary and His subsequent resurrection from the dead. The Apostle boldly declares the power of God’s word; for he himself has experienced salvation and a personal relationship with his Savior (Acts 9:3-6). Thus he proclaims with certainty that the anointed preaching of the gospel has the power to cause the ear of the dead souls in sin to hear, and the power to bring faith to the hearer (Romans 10:17).

And of this faith he says,

“For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16 NAS)

The gospel not only reveals the trustworthiness, integrity, faithfulness, the holiness and the righteousness of God but also His method of salvation. And it is those who are of faith in Jesus, the Word of God, that are by grace “reckoned” as righteous before God (Ephesians 2:4-10). This faith we speak of is NOT an intellectual agreement to a theoretical truth; it is a gift from God. Thus faith is hearing Him, believing Him and obeying Him from a pure heart of love. Faith by any other definition is not faith at all; any other faith is a speculative faith based upon a theoretical and false gospel, or rather it is no gospel at all (2nd Corinthians 11:4), and has no saving power.

And so we conclude our brief look at the word “gospel” with these thoughts. The gospel is NOT a biography intended to provide information about a historical character. It is the evangelical proclamation of the life of Jesus and His saving power through faith; God’s only method of salvation for mankind. Thus the gospel is both “good news” and a call to faith. It is a message of God’s gift of His Son in the atonement for sin. The good news is the anointed message of our Father’s love, mercy and grace brought to us by His beloved Son. The gospel--the power of God unto salvation.

James C Sanford

Thursday, November 22, 2007

False Prophets

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep

(2nd Peter 2:1-3)

[But false prophets also arose among the people,]

False is defined as:

  1. Contrary to fact or truth.
  2. Unfaithful or disloyal.
  3. Not real or artificial.

Therefore we see false prophets and teachers as being not real in the sense that they are speaking contrary to truth and are unfaithful and disloyal to the cause of Christ.

The apostle tells us that there were not only holy men of God among the members of the early Church, who prophesied by divine inspiration, but there were also false prophets, whose prophecies were from their own imagination, and they perverted many. We see in today’s congregations there are those who prophesy by divine inspiration, but there are those who prophesy contrary to biblical truths and they also are leading many astray.

Now some of these people did not choose to be false prophets and teachers; just as Satan used the serpent to deceived Eve through the lust of her eyes, lust of the flesh and boastful pride of life, others that Satan had prepared long before hand to do his bidding deceived them through lust. And then there are those who, like Adam, are not deceive but are driven by their worldliness and greed.

[Just as there will also be false teachers among you,]

At a very early period of the Christian Church many heresies sprung up; but the chief were those heresies of the Ebionites, Cerinthians, Nicolaitans, Menandrians, and Gnostics. And in today’s gatherings there are false teachers, by many different names, among the people who secretly introduce destructive heresies; destructive as in, if followed, would destroy the soul in hell.

[Even denying the Master who bought them,]

Here we find something very interesting. The Apostle Peter seems to state that these teachers were bought by the blood of Jesus but had turned away teaching false doctrine “bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” Could it be that the riches and pleasures of the world aroused these teacher’s sensual appetites and they turned to a Jesus conjured up in their minds, thus deserting and denying their true Savior, and they are to be destroyed? If the answer is yes to this question it would go against the popular teaching of “once saved always saved;” but there seems to be no other suitable answer.

[Many will follow their sensuality,]

The word “sensual” relates to the gratification of the physical appetites, or affecting the senses. One might describe a sensual person as being fleshly or worldly. This would be in opposition to spiritual or spirituality. Such people follow the false teacher because of their sensuality; they come together, as in a social event, to be entertained with stories and jokes and a whisper sweet “gospel” containing little or no truth, designed to appeal to their fleshly ears, that their sinful conscience not be disturbed. Their fleshly religious appetite being satisfied they continue their sinful ways because the word they have heard has no saving power.

[And because of them the way of the truth will be maligned,]

These false teachers and their followers make up a false Church and “because of them “The way of the truth,” the true Church, is being spoken evil of.

The Apostle Paul says this of the false Church, yes, the false Church. Pay close attention to the first line of verse five.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;.” (2nd Timothy 3:1-6 NASU)

[Difficult times will come.]

The true Church is within the hearts of the true believer and difficult times will come upon these children of the Spirit because of persecutions from the fleshly people within the congregations and from opposing religions. We see a type of this in the Holy Scripture: Ishmael, the son born unto Abraham through an act of the flesh, persecuted his son Isaac born unto him according to the word of God. The children of the flesh will persecute the children of the Spirit as Ishmael persecuted Isaac (Genesis 21:8-10).

[Holding to a form of godliness,]

The people of the world do not hold to “a form of godliness,” or “deny its power” because they know nothing of it; thus the people the apostle is speaking of must be of the “Church.”

Now we return to 2nd Peter, chapter 2, verse 3.

[And in their greed they will exploit you with false words;]

Exploit means to make use of selfishly or unethically. With itchy ears and shallow hearts as their fertile ground these false teachers selfishly and unethically sow their seed of corruptness, feeding their greed and enlarging their bank accounts.

[Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep]

From the beginning God has condemned sin, and inflicted suitable punishments on transgressors; and has promised in His word from the earliest ages, to pour out His indignation on the wicked. The punishment, therefore, so long ago predicted, shall fall on these impure sinners who are incapable of being corrected; and the condemnation which is denounced against them does not sleep, it is alert and on its way; God’s judgment will soon overtake them and their destruction is imminent.

James C Sanford

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Have you ever wondered why there are so many different religions in the world today?  Have you ever thought about why there are so many different groups, classes or so called denominations in Christian religion?  Would not this be the same kind of schisms or differences that existed among the Pharisees, Sadducees and others that divided God’s nation Israel during the age that Jesus walked the earth?  If our Lord was not pleased with them, would He be any more pleased with the divisions that exist in His church today?   If there is only one God, and certainly there is only one, then why is there so much deep division among us?  Brothers and sisters these things ought not to be!!

In the beginning God created man in His image and breathed into Him His life giving Spirit and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). God’s Spirit was in man and God was one with man whom He had created. Man in God’s image was like God; he had all the attributes of God and man had free access to the mind of God through the Spirit of God within him (see 1st Corinthians 2:12); God and man were like-minded. God and man would fellowship and man would be a manifestation of all the glory of the invisible God.

Then God took from the side of man a rib and fashioned it into a woman and gave her back to man and she would be one with the man just as man was one with God. Man’s offspring would be one with their parents just as the woman was one with the man and the man was one with God: love would be the perfect bond of unity. Oneness through love and faith is the great principle of God from the beginning.

Then came God’s adversary on the scene; Satan, the destroyer, the one called the devil. Satan, using the serpent, approached man and overcame him through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (see 1st John 2:16 and Genesis 3). Man sinned against God and a schism or division occurred; man was separated from his Creator. Man’s fellowship with God was broken; he no longer was in the image of God; he had lost access to the mind of God. His soul became one with his flesh. Thus he was now dependent upon his five fleshly senses for guidance; he became earthy, fleshly or sin in the flesh. He complained about his wife; blamed God and the woman rather than accepting responsibility for his sin; therefore he neglected repentance; the spirit of enmity had overcame him. Man was a degenerate man of the soil or human; it was evident he now had a carnal, self-centered or fleshly mind.

The apostle Paul writes, “------- the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7 KJV).

The word “enmity” translated here by the KJV means, to have a warring or active hatred toward someone. The same verse in the New American Standard bible reads, “------- the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;” To complete the verse we read, for it {the carnal mind} is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7 KJV).

A carnal intellect or mind is dependent upon its own ability, or the ability of another to interpret, translate or otherwise understand the things of God---independent of the Spirit of God. Those who are depending upon the intellect of man understand all things from a human level and cannot properly discern the things of the Spirit. Therefore they have many differing understandings bringing about disagreements that lead to broken fellowships and divisions, which are hostile, enmity, or satanic warfare against the oneness of God and His people. A divided people are not one with each other and they certainly are not one with God.

The Apostle Paul was known by his Hebrew name Saul before he was called and converted by Jesus to be His apostle. The man Saul was very intelligent, highly educated and very zealous for the law of God. All of his intellectual knowledge he gained from other intellectual, carnal minded teachers of the law and the prophets. Because of his human level of intellectual understanding of the law and the writings of the prophets he was deceived into thinking he was doing God a favor when he went about persecuting the body of Christ. He thought he was doing good works for God when in fact he had a spirit of enmity against God. Saul understood the law and the prophets from a human level of understanding and not from the higher Spirit level because the carnal mind cannot properly appraise the things of the Spirit (see 1st Corinthians 2:14).

Paul, the now converted Saul, well understood the work of the deceptive spirit of enmity at work in the Corinthians.

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ. ” Has Christ been divided?   Paul was not crucified for you, was he?   Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1st Corinthians 1:10-13 NAS)

Like the former man named Saul, the Corinthians were depending upon their own intellect to understand the things of God; therefore they were not hearing and understanding the things of the Spirit; through carnality the spirit of enmity was working in them; thus a division was occurring. The signs of their carnality were disagreements, divisions, jealousy and strife; they were conducting themselves as mere men.

Is it not the same sin in the form of the deceptive spirit of enmity that divides us today?  Those of us who say, I am of the Methodist faith, I am of the Baptist faith, I am of the Catholic faith or any other of the many different denominations of today, should not we ask ourselves these questions?  Are there that many different true faiths in the world today?  Who in any of the denominational faiths was crucified for me?  Is Christ body divided?  Do we not need the same exhortation that Paul wrote to the Corinthians?   What does the Spirit through the Holy Scriptures teach us concerning these things? 

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NAS)

In the following Scripture the apostle tells us he has set his mind on the things of the Spirit in proclaiming the simplicity of the gospel. He has determined to speak nothing from a carnal mind.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1st Corinthians 2:1-5 NAS)

A faith whose corner stone and foundation is the wisdom and knowledge of the intellect of man is enmity against God. Such faith is a deceptive faith and is, in fact, not faith at all. Such so called faith is actually the enmity, or the active warring spirit of hatred from Satan that brings about divisions among us; which is, in fact, working against or persecuting the body of Christ. Such was the deceptive spirit of persecution that was on Saul before he was converted; and such is the deceptive spirit of persecution that is upon many of the church membership of today.

When man is first born of the Spirit of God he is a “babe in Christ.”His mind is still carnal and the Spirit of God must teach him in the things of God. He cannot continue in conformity to carnal mindedness; but he must be transformed through the renewing of the mind into the likeness of God and restored in fellowship with God (see Romans 12:2; 2nd Corinthians 3:18). When Jesus called his disciples the anointing of the Spirit upon Him taught the disciples (see Matthew16:17). After they were fully trained they themselves were anointed with the Spirit that they too might teach (see Acts 2). Such was the anointing upon the apostle Paul.

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1st Corinthians 3:1-3)

Paul was teaching them from the wisdom of God through the Spirit, that the spirit of enmity might be broken and the unity of faith remains with them. It is evident that there is a great need today for men like the apostle Paul to teach according to the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of man; that God’s people may be reunited in one love and one faith. For man to have faith he must hear the word of God from the Spirit of God (see Romans 10:17); we must all drink from the same “spiritual Rock;” for this is the “Rock” upon which the church must be built (see Matthew 16:13-19); and this is the “Rock” from which flows the water of life (see 1st Corinthians 10:4); for the Rock is Christ Jesus, The Living Word of God from which all the benefits of God are derived.

Only those who have received the life giving Spirit through regeneration in Christ Jesus, and who have determined (set their mind) to be dependent upon the Spirit, are being taught and led by the Spirit, and their understanding is from God. Being led of the Spirit leads to a oneness of faith among God’s people and a oneness with God.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 NAS)

James C Sanford

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Golden Compass

There is a motion picture starring Nicole Kidman called “The Golden Compass.”

This film is being marketed as a movie for Children. Well, that is only true if you want your children to be lead away from a relationship with God.

If you want your children to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, do not let them see this movie!

Read this article at Snopes provides additional information and links.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Children Raping Children

Have you heard the case out of Atlanta Georgia about three boys under the age of ten who are in jail for raping an 11 year old girl?

This is a reminder that the enemy is actively seeking those whom he may devour. Pray over your children!

For details on this case, see the WLTX TV web site or Fox News.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Faith and Free Will

Free will is defined as having the authority and power to do as one pleases (ISBE).

The above definition being true, there is no such thing as a man with a free will; or man as a “free agent.” A free agent, or one with a free will, would be a person who is able to choose neither serving righteousness nor unrighteousness; but there is no neutral ground, man serves one or the other (2 Pet. 2:19).

When a person is first born he is born into the flesh of Adam and therefore into the sin of Adam; being found in sinful flesh he is under the law of sin and death; he is bound under the law and he hopelessly serves unrighteousness (Rom. 7:14-23). A slave does not have a free will; as a slave a man’s authority and power is limited, thus his will is not “free.”

Man cannot be set free from his enslavement by his own will for he is helpless to do so (Rom. 7:24-25), he is set free only through the will of God, the only agent with free will (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4-5).

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9NASU).”

If a man, through the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, desires in his heart to be set free from his enslavement to sin he must first choose by his limited will to seek repentance (Acts 2:38). Once God is satisfied with the nature of mans repentance, God wills his repentance granted (Rom. 2:4), he is forgiven and released from the law of sin and death through faith in Jesus (Rom. 8:1-4); but then he becomes a slave of righteousness; he is not his own he has been purchased, redeemed or bought with a price, that of the life of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

So in essence, mans will is limited to choose which nature he will be conformed to and whether he will be a slave to Christ or to sin. Those who love Christ only love Him “because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).” Salvation takes a definite choice on the part of the sinner: to confess with the mouth and believe with the heart (Rom. 10:8-10), without the confession of and continuing in faith (Rom. 8:4-14), God’s grace cannot save that person from their slavery to the enemy (Eph. 2:8).

We conclude, because of the warnings in Scripture concerning using his power of choice to become apostate in the faith (Gal. 5:4; 1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 3:12, 6:4-8, 10:26-27; James 5:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:21; Phil. 2:12), it is also true that men have the power to choose to no longer be a slave to Christ. One of the things the Holy Spirit teaches through Scripture is making the right choices---in obedience---and the only way to do such things is to have a will to either do them or not, otherwise man would not be instructed in the use of his will.

Now concerning faith: Perfect faith is hearing God, believing and obeying Him from a heart of love. Therefore the sum of perfect faith is total surrender of mans will to the will of God (Luke 22:42); such a faith neutralizes the will of man and God’s grace is abundantly poured out upon him. Now, under the law of faith (Rom. 3:27), all that he does is in the authority and power (will) of God.

James C Sanford

Thursday, November 15, 2007

For the Time Has Come

3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2nd Timothy 4:3-4 NASU)

[For the time will come]
The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, prophesies of a day to come: is this that day? Today most congregations that gather in our Lord’s name refuse to hear the practical truths of the gospel, they prefer speculative opinions, which either do no good to the soul, or corrupt and destroy it. They have turned their ears away from the wholesome doctrine of “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” which Jesus our Lord gave to His church. And following after their own lusts they strongly oppose and loathe preachers of the true doctrine.

[But wanting to have their ears tickled]
The ears of the modern day congregations itch for the soothing words of the “prosperity doctrine of health and wealth for everyone,” “once saved, always saved,” “God loves you no matter what,” and a rescuing “secret rapture” and on and on. These same people have an endless curiosity and an un-satisfiable appetite for variety desiring to be amused and entertained; and they get their ears tickled with the language and accent of the ones holding the pulpits captive, while abandoning the good and faithful preacher of the true gospel for the eloquent speaker with his fine cloths, jet airplanes, TV shows, movies and books.

[They will accumulate for themselves]
Through their special schools they add one misguided and deceived teacher to another and run about seeking those men who do not insist on the necessity of bearing the cross, of being crucified to the world, abstaining from sin and of having the mind of Christ. They run after men interested in only fattening their wallets and building their own boastful ego, carefully soothing the passions and flattering the vices of a trifling, superficial people. These false prophets they have gathered unto themselves gladly widen the path and strew it with flowers, leading them straight into the pits of hell.

[And they shall turn away their ears from the truth]
The truth exposes their vices, destroys their idols, cuts away at their easily besetting sins, and absolutely requires conformity Christ; therefore they turn their ears away from it. Turning aside to myths, fables and lies, and traditions of men, believing any kind of distorted and twisted doctrine and nonsense. Someone once said, “Those who reject the truth are abandoned by the just judgment of God to credit the most degrading nonsense.”

James C Sanford

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rat Poison

Rat poison contains about 97% good food that looks, smells and taste good; it is so designed by the manufacture for the enticing of the rat. But it also contains about 3% poison, not enough to taint the smell and taste but just enough to kill the rat. When placed in the area of the unsuspecting rat, seeking to satisfy his appetite, it will entice him to consume it. If the rat is wise, and values his life, he will sniff out the food carefully and detect the poison and not eat it, thus avoiding consuming the poison.

False prophet and teachers look and act like true prophets or teachers and teach some truth; but they are blinded, deceived and so designed by Satan to entice the immature unsuspecting people blindly seeking to satisfy the appetite of there fleshly senses. False teachings can only be discerned by the spiritual, those who practice righteousness (Hebrews 5:14), and if they detect false doctrine they no longer listen, turning away from such teachings.

The message is: if you value your life, learn to discern false doctrine and do not follow after and listen to false teachers just because they seem to have some truth, thus you will avoid consuming the poison.

James C Sanford

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Mark of the Beast?

I remember years ago when they were saying that the UPC Code was the mark of the beast because three sixes are embedded in the code.

Well, I think the UPC is basically a gag on the part of the programmers who designed the system. However, this Verichip business is a horse of a different wheelbase!

For more on Verichip and the controversy surrounding it (religious and otherwise), see the following links:


Monday, November 12, 2007

Sen. Charles Grassley Asks Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month

(CBS) This story was written and reported by Laura Strickler of the CBS News Investigative Unit.

CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.

Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: "We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax." The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization's Web site.

In a statement, Benny Hinn's spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, said the ministry is in the process of determining the best course of action in response to the Senate investigation. "World Healing Center Church complies with the laws that govern church and non-profit organizations and will continue to do so," Torossian wrote.

Eddie Long's New Birth Ministries says he has received the request for information from the U.S. Senate and plans to "fully comply. New Birth Ministries has several safeguards put in place to ensure all transactions are in compliance with laws applicable to churches."

In a statement to CBS News, Creflo Dollar called his ministry an "open book" and said he would comply with any "valid request" from Grassley. But he noted that the inquiry raised questions that could "affect the privacy of every community church in America."

Paula White is also expressing concern about precedents that could be set by turning over the requested information.

"We take our financial responsibilities to our partners very seriously and to the best of our knowledge we comply with all tax laws. Our audited financial statements appear on our website," said White, in a statement. "However, we are concerned about the possible precedent and ramifications of this request. We will be reviewing the request and its implications in detail over the coming weeks as we prepare our response."

Because they have tax status as churches, the ministries do not have to file IRS 990 forms like other non-profit organizations - leaving much financial information largely behind closed doors.

The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. "We've been working with them for two years," Anthony told CBS News. "We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen."

Anthony said after twenty years of working with media organizations to expose televangelists, he saw little reform. He says that's why he turned to another tactic, going straight to Grassley. He is confident that Grassley's inquiry will be different, "What we hope is that this will lead to reform in religious nonprofits."

The structure of many televangelist organizations - in which the leadership is often concentrated in one person or one family - has itself been the target of criticism. "Churches like these are ruled as a dictatorship," says Rod Pitzer, who directs research at Ministry Watch in North Carolina, which provides advice for donors to Christian organizations.

Pitzer welcomes the Senate committee investigation. Ministries lacking accountability, he says, "give a black eye to churches and Christians who are trying to do things in the right manner."

By Laura Strickler © MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.