Illegitimi Non Carborundum.

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Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day?
Vera, Vera?
What has become of you?
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do?

Vera, Pink Floyd

The church gets uncomfortable with real. So let me be as real as I can for you.

You know, I wish I could convey how devastated I am at what the enemy was able to do through my wife. How shocked I was at the events. I wish I could communicate the misery that consumes me because I’ve not spent time with my kids since April 29th. I wish I could let you feel what I feel when she explains I won’t be seeing them and knowing I will have to fight it legally when I don’t want to.
I wish you could plug into my heart so that you could look back over the years and feel that all of it counted for nothing. That my life benefited some with our prayers and teaching but as a minister, you are easily forgotten. I wish you could feel a vision die that you have given everything to or watch people that you love fade into the distance as they seek better things for themselves. You stand holding an empty bag of promises and hope and try to imagine how you can ever hope again.
I wish you knew the gnawing fear in the back of your mind when no one gives and no one prays. The awful realization that despite all of the encouraging one liners, all that you loved is gone and you are embarking on a new journey, sight unseen.

I wish you could feel betrayal by the church. Those that counsel a spouse deeper into sin based on humanism and modernism but never by the Word of God.
I wish many times I would never have been called by God. I wish I would never have met my wife or had those children. Not because they did not give me joy in the past and not because I don’t love them but because the loss of them has hurt me beyond human endurance, I love them too much.

What hurts even more is the seeming silence of God. I saw a missionary online today asking for funds so that he could eat. Not to buy a jet, not to add a new wing onto the church- just eat. But the conservative corporate business model Spirit has so infiltrated the church that we freely equate prosperity and success with the blessing of God. And to those that have, we send more because God is with them. To those that don’t, we ignore because there is obviously something wrong. By those standards, you would have rejected every prophet and preacher in the Bible including Christ himself. I’ve gotten messages telling me to quit begging and go get a job. These people whose only sacrifice for Christ has been to get dressed and go to church once a week sitting back in judgment of someone that has given their life. That’s just par for the course, forgive them Lord.

Funny how it happens after the worst attack in my life as I sit back in awe at the damage, unable to even address the situation and having to move forward into a future when I am honestly worried whether I can trust God or not. There are good days and bad days. There are days that I hurt so bad, I can’t hardly function. There are days when I am locked in place by anxiety because no one wants to give and I am past the point of need. There are days when there is hope and when I can see the good things that are still in my life.

The problem is, I am still limping. I’m better by far but like the old wound that knows rain is coming, I still feel the effects of the worst betrayal and trauma I’ve ever experienced in my life. And I have needed help as I battled illness, I have needed help as I came to terms with PTSD. My life has always been about helping others and I needed some of that.

I still do.

Some of you have communicated that if my needs or goals for the immediate future in ministry are God’s will, he will provide. Then you feel safe in not giving and not praying. Friend, God could plant a perfect field of corn if he desired but he chooses to use farmers. And all the enemy needs to do to shut down a man or woman of God is to convince the church to do nothing.

I have been through a living hell this last year and a half. For a few years before that, I had a breakdown and fell off the map and no one bothered to check on me. I was alone, flustered by the seeming abandonment of God and wrestling with a mental condition that I knew nothing about- ptsd. And no one cared. Those that I did reach out to grew uncomfortable and broke off communication. I needed help, real help, due to the excessive traumas that I have experienced in my life. None came, God was silent, life fell apart, I died.

Yet here I am. Not for your benefit or amusement but because I have nowhere to go but to him. I have lost all in my pursuit of the answers to the salvation of Gen-X. I have made many mistakes along the path as well, believe me. I believe that the need for the answer must be greater than the price paid to attain it.

So here I go into the breach in the enemy’s wall once again. I go to start something that will speak as the oracles of God to a generation with a 3% occasional church attendance rate.  And once again I look for you to hear from God and be his hands of support.

The price has been too dear. The change too complete. The wounds too deep to ignore. I don’t feel ready but I do feel compelled.

Pray about your involvement this time.

JC.

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Provision and Protection

IMG_0128When you watch 4-5 year old kids funnel into an alley all day in Chicago to pay $1 to dip a rag in Talley thinner, credit scores don’t matter as much.

When a little girl that snuck into the kitchen every day for a special snack from you is abducted and sold as a sex slave, a house in the suburbs doesn’t really matter.

When mothers walk for hours or days in Africa so you can pray for their baby racked with Malaria or the only offering that you can get in the bush consists of flip flops, a new car and it’s payment doesn’t count for anything.

When you have held the hands of AIDS patients as they died, your best life now and it’s prosperity is a joke.

When you see the system and it’s shallowness for what it is; the daily grind that ends in front of a tv, the mundane conversation about nothing that matters. The lack of actual meaning besides your new car or comfy house that defines you. When you live for your own comfort, justifying it by humanistic arguments and forgetting the things that are right outside your door, you deserve exactly what you get.

You have forgotten your first love and the God that you swore you would live and die for as you lusted after the normal things of the world and its system.

Perhaps your materialism, desire for provision and protection from the big bad world out there isn’t a virtue, perhaps the American Dream is really the American Coma and you have fallen asleep when you should have known you came into the Kingdom for a time such as this. You were born for this moment and you ran when the going got tough and when a cost was required to keep going.

Perhaps your safety and security that you mortgaged everything for is really just a cheap and flimsy cover-up for the fact that you don’t love God at all. Jesus said that if you love him, you’d do as he said, right?

Riddle me this; So do you love Him as you cast aside everything in the name of your own comfort and convenience? Sticking your fingers in your ears to block out the voice of God as you act against your own conscience and destroy everything you once held as given to you by God.

Both you and I will someday stand before the Judgment Seat. It doesn’t matter whether you opt in or not. What excuse will you make on that day, in that moment for the things you’ve done? You wanted more money, more security? You didn’t have the house or car or clothes that you wanted? There is a generation out there waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity. We will give an account for all of them. We will give an account for what we did for the least of these, not what we gained for ourselves.

Remember 1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

How can we take it easy with a thousand tribes to tell?
How can we take it easy in a world that’s bound for hell?
How can we take it easy with the church asleep in its ease?
How can we take it easy? Would someone tell me, please?

Confessions of a Backslider

I have learned a lot over the last few years. I would have to say that most of what I learned was about myself and most of it was not good.

Especially over the last two months when everything truly began to fall apart in my life; things that were stable were no longer that way, everything that I knew as solid vanished. I found myself grasping at air as they sailed away, much like a kid trying desperately to reach the string on a balloon as it slips just out of reach of your too-short grasp.

One thing that I learned in a deeply permanent way is the thing that I want to share with whomever cares to read this. It was a hard won lesson that I probably could have explained previously as a self evident truth intellectually but I had never had the feeling of it seared so deeply or painfully into me as I do at this moment in time.

Apart from Christ, you will never be anything other than what you were before you met him.

I had walked with the Lord for over twenty years when I saw this as truth. I saw first-hand that as soon as I let go of the vine, I transformed into a man that I had believed to be long dead.

The progress and good things that the Lord had molded in me for all of those years simply vanished as if they had never been. The key revelations that had transformed my life and thinking no longer played a part in my thinking processes. The moral ground that I thought that I had gained for all of those years was simply not there any more. I was nothing more than an older version of the bully, drunk and thug that I had been all those years before.

Paul said that he knew that in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelt no good thing. And he was right, you can’t take the gains of Christ with you when you decide to walk away. They stay with the one who gave them to you- hopefully in safe keeping for your return but I don’t know if that’s promised or not.

There is a gaping chasm without Christ. It’s more than a hole that religion previously filled that you now stuff with sex or booze or money. You find yourself without a compass that you counted on, without a hope that kept you secure through the storms, without the peace that we so easily take for granted. You find yourself looking in the mirror and realizing that the person looking back at you is the REAL you. And you don’t know what to do with them. You don’t know how they feel or what they want or where they want to be. All you are sure of is your uncertainty and lack of balance. It’s not much to go with.

One thing that I am sure of is that the older me had far more that the enemy could destroy than the younger me did. Back then when I was first saved, I had a change of clothes and not much else. So the enemy tried to get me to give up the one thing that I did in fact possess- my life. When older me let go of the vine, there was much, much more to lose – such as the love of my best friend and partner for 18 years, the credibility that I had with my children, the honor that I once cherished. That’s not to mention the physical things that were up for grabs as well. I’m sure that the enemy knew that he couldn’t keep me away forever and so he moved quickly to tear up every single thing in my life that I held as precious.

By the time I looked up from feeling sorry for myself it was too late, the damage had been done. The destruction was far reaching, vast and utterly complete. Have you ever woken up from a dream to discover that you’re in a nightmare?

I was shocked when I finally came to my senses. I had mistook the gains that had been gained all those years as my own. Sure I could give lip service to God regarding his role in who I had become but the awful truth is that I really viewed them as my own. My talents, my calling, my anointing. I had become a much better person during the journey and I was quite proud of the juxtaposition between who I was and who I had become.

Believe me, when you take a skinhead, a punk that had begun leaving home at 12 and really never transitioned back- someone that was homeless and a gutterpunk, who some years spent more time in jail rather than out. A prolific seducer of girls that had no conscience about it. A drunk by 19 that was completely self absorbed and completely ruthless and totally selfish. If you can take that guy, who never had an active father to pattern himself after, if you can keep him from prison or suicide; that’s a feat. To transform him into anything resembling a loving husband or father is a miracle. To transform him into a minister? That’s just silly. But that’s precisely what God did with the raggedy life I presented to him all those years ago.

Until I let go of the vine.

It was only then, in the clear cold light of my moment of clarity that I saw the awful truth of it all. I am what I am only by the grace of God. Left to myself, I won’t help you, I will hurt you. I’m a brawler, a drunkard, violent, a liar, blasphemous, lustful, prideful, argumentative, selfish, a manipulator, a cheat and a fiend. I am not a good husband, a good provider, a good father. I’m not a friend unless I gain something from you. The list is almost literally endless. Here I thought that I was someone else, the reciprocal of all of those things. Yet here submitting itself to me was the unshakable conclusion that I tried to fight away with all of my being; Left to myself, I am the same garbage that I was before I knew Jesus.

I am filled with rage and hatred for the enemy, more so than at any point in my life, which is saying something. I am deeply ashamed of who I am without him and I stand in horror at what I am capable of when I let go. I hurt everything and everyone that God had given to me as a gift. I took something precious and handed it over to the enemy. I don’t know that I will ever recover, to be honest. At some points over the last year, I was deeply hurt by others and their actions. I still am if I meditate even briefly on what transpired. I realized something today though that altered my thinking regarding every wound that I received- all of the monsters that surround me are monsters that I created. How do you live with that?

I am finding that out now as I wander through the wreckage of my life with a stunned look on my face, the damage is complete and overwhelming. I feel like the victim of a tornado, drunk with emotion as I stumble around what used to be my home, occasionally stopping to pick up a fragment of a destroyed life that seems to have survived.

The difference that I clearly see between this moment that finds me attempting to salvage something from the most awful attack in my life and the hell that I’ve emerged from is simple and profound and unforgettable – I have come home. When I feel stress or guilt or anxiety, I no longer want a drink to dull it. Instead there is a quick search for a Holy Ghost that so quickly confirms his presence that it humbles me. This beautiful Spirit of God, this incredible being, he actually comforts ME. Me, The guy that defiled precious gifts that he blessed me with. The guy that drank himself into a stupor and cursed God for a liar. The one that hurt his beautiful wife over and over and over. Me. How could he continue to care?

At some point in our walk we must be in danger of conveying our testimony without remembering that feeling. The feeling that is best expressed by saying, “Jesus, how could you love me?”

I have found that place again. Broken, humbled, wounded beyond comprehension but I have found it. And waiting right there at the end of myself is this miracle called the Holy Spirit and this person named Jesus. My Jesus. The one who loved garbage at 19 and then did the unthinkable and still loved him over twenty years later.

You and I will never be anything other than what we were apart from Christ, my friends. So hold tightly to the vine, take no credit for any gain or any success or any power. None of it is you or I. We hold onto the hem of the Nazarene’s garment tightly and let him do what he does best- turn sow’s ears into silk purses.

Be blessed, my friends.

JC

Final push to Cleveland

Hello friends.
We are almost ready for the big ministry push to Cleveland,  Slavic Village.

A lion’s share of the finances has come in but we find ourselves in a pinch for the last bit that will allow us to go.

We understand that this is not your backyard and we understand that you have obligations that are in your backyard.

But the Kingdom of God and the supremacy of Christ is a world issue, not just a backyard issue. Through 24 years of innovative ministry, we have seen God do wonderful things in unlikely places. We believe that Slavic Village is next on that list.

We are so certain of His calling to impact this area that we are moving our family there to start the work.

To do this, we are making this final push for the remaining $3000.00 by this coming Friday. If you can’t give all of it, we ask that you take a moment and ask God about giving a portion of it.

God bless and may the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.

https://americanpentecost.wordpress.com/give/

Together we win,
James and Shana Smith

New Sermon: Switching Systems

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“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” Col 1:13

The church tends to get most things wrong well in advance of the need. Case in point; if you are not instructed as to the laws that govern the Kingdom of God, you will find yourself hopelessly flailing in the world system. The Kingdom of God has a unique mindset and economy and you need to know these rules to function in it properly.

But the church has spent too much time instructing people in how to fit into their subculture and none instructing them the realities of the Kingdom.

In this study, we begin to lay out the differences between the two systems and discuss the dangers present in trying to live in two worlds at once.

http://www.churchcloud.com/american-pentecost/sermon/switching-systems/

New Sermon: Intro to Manifestation

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Hi all.
I have a new sermon uploaded. This one deals with the dominion of the church, limitless expanse of the possibility of God’s provision and the ultimate goal of our manifestation as Sons of God.
Fell free to listen and share.

Keep us in prayer as the mission sending group is proposing sending us to Spain within a few months.

Blessings,
JC Smith & Co.

http://www.churchcloud.com/american-pentecost/sermon/intro-to-manifestation/

Sermon: The Two Prodigals

Hello all.
I am including a link to one of our sermons online.

http://www.churchcloud.com/american-pentecost/

We have been in the process of rebuilding our online catalog of free sermons for all of you and will update as we progress.

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The first offering is a sermon based on the entire chapter of Luke 15 and particularly the parable of the prodigal sons. Jesus’ intention was never for that parable to only be about the son who left home, it was also about the son who stayed.

You see, you can be lost both in and out of the house.

I pray that you are given this revelation and that the Father sees both types returning to his house.

If you enjoy this message, feel free to share the link with others.

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