I guess I should interject here that this is not my autobiography, just a blog to highlight various spiritual encounters that shaped who I would later become. The 1970’s was a blessed decade for me. The emergence of what was termed “The Charismatic Movement” gave me an opportunity to see the Holy Spirit in operation outside of what I was raised to believe was only in my own denominational boundaries. It also gave me an opportunity to perfect my teaching gift outside of my racial and denominational restrictions.
By the mid-seventies I felt like a yo-yo pulled on a double string in opposite directions. In the Black church I was becoming popular as a keyboard player with Gospel music and in mostly Caucasian churches a developing bible teacher around the country. In fact, at times I felt like I had a double identity. A “superman” complex began to emerge. As “Clark Kent” I served as a musician and as my alter ego, I was becoming a gifted teacher. Ultimately what should I do? How could I balance music and ministry? Was there a balance or should I replace one for the other?
I have to confess here that it was my “Charismatic” worship experiences that began to put my spiritual gifting in perspective. So as I traveled around the world with various “Charismatic Teachers” of the day and increased my personal and professional bible study, a new man was emerging. While at the same time I was serving various ministry functions within the Black church. It was during this season, my ministry developed from imitating preaching styles I was accustomed to – to initiating a unique teaching style of my own.
This is Part 9 of the series “My Personal Journey”
To start at the beginning click here – http://dmgolphin.me/2013/07/24/how-it-all-began/
This month I celebrate an important milestone in the history of my ministry. It was in July, 1963 in Baltimore, MD that I preached my first public sermon and began both a spiritual and intellectual journey in discovering the God of Christianity. I am not clear now on what exactly brought me to this discussion to embrace ministry in my teens.
I do recall several events that may have influenced me. My dad was a pastor; we were having an explosion of youth receiving the Holy Ghost, as we termed it in those days; and my quest for biblical knowledge was consuming me. There were several sign gifts that helped build my confidence as I started out. I discovered I had a phenomenal ability to memorize scripture and I started playing the piano without any pervious lessons.
By now, I was used to hearing people call me strange, different, odd, and a loner. But it was my sixth grade teacher who made the biggest impression on me early in school. She kept telling me “You are an intelligent young man.” Not sure I even knew what that meant, but it resonated with me for years. While reflecting on my 50 year journey so far, I discovered that 2013 and 1963 are identical calendars. What does all this mean? A long history that has come full circle and accomplished very little.
You can follow Part 2 at:
We are in a war between “rights” and “morals” and it obvious who is winning. America has a history of making what Christians have called in the past “vices” legal. When gambling became legal we got the lottery. When alcohol became legal we got state run stores. When churches became legal we got tax exempt status. What do we do when sin in general becomes legal? Constitutionally, we are enforcing the very core of this country’s real purpose. We were not formed to make a Christian nation, but a nation of individual rights. Everything in between we owe God praise and honor for the breathe He allowed us to experience. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A melting pot of culture, religion, and the right to live my life my way. If institutions interfere with my rights then we just have to change the institutions.
We really can’t expect the world to comply with what they have not embraced. Jesus command was to “Go make disciples.” The Church needs to return to evangelism. When was the last time you heard the terms “repent”, “sin”, even a call to salvation in churches? We have become so self-absorbed in marketing our empires all we worry about is getting enough money to, as they say. “Advance the kingdom.” But don’t we really care who is populating the kingdom as long as they have a contribution to make. Have they been discipled or merely celebrated because of their contribution? We even have this attitude in churches and congregations are running the vision and mission of the church in the name of the people. We have rights – yes – the right to live and die. Everything in between we owe God praise and honor for the breath He allowed us to experience.
The “Light” is getting dim in America. Who has the courage to flip the switch back on to the “Light” of God’s Glory? Who is on the Lord’s side, let them come forward and pray not fight.
A Christian is determined simply by how one worships and what one believes. How we live in light of these two pillars is the issue. What is needed today is an investigation into what is the scriptural norm for defining a Christian. We are divided regarding what is essential for a person to be called a Christian and what is the correct way of expressing this. Personal temperaments and traditional upbringing play a greater part than perhaps we realize in determining our view of what is a real “Christian” faith. In order to be a real Christian, one must have a proper Theology of God and a commitment to serve what we believe. To be a progressive Christian one must constantly evolve or mature our perception of God. But our understanding of God is revealed as we become more holy and sanctified in our thoughts and character, rather than our gaining information about Him.
I discern that at some point, we have to stop going outside the present Church and starting new churches. We have to step back and stop reinventing and start maintaining. Churches are not man-made but God-given, and they are God-given through an actual historical tradition of faith and order. In fact, The real Church is hidden under, a mass of social, cultural and theological debris. To rediscover this ‘one true church’,which is there in all the three traditions of the Church, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, one must bathe in scripture, prayer, and tolerance for other expressions of worship pursing toward the same goal.
The only way the church is going to achieve power and strength in the world today is by making a united stand against the kingdom of darkness. Not a militant stand against physical forces, but a spiritual stand against forces that are desperately trying to influence our worldview through the impact of our minds. This has taken shape in our educational institutions; in our businesses; in entertainment; and yes, even in our worship. Turning what is ultimately sacred to us into a praise party, rather than awe for God. We are under attack by adopting changes in our values, ethics, and character causing personal defects not to be viewed as sin any longer but merely mistakes. All of this, while the glamor of the doctrine of fame and fortune intoxicate us and we party with the spoils of battle before the war is finally won.
We talk unity but practice division every day. The practice of Christian unity is a difficult task for the church. Many things divide Christians from other Christians—gifts, doctrine, church government, mode of baptism and so on. Whether we like it or not, divisions have occurred, and we must live with them. But we must be inspired and guided by Scripture and prayer to do better or things will only get worse. But real unity is not unity in sameness but unity in purpose and function. We must all be united in the fact that God is God; that Jesus Christ is Lord; and that the Holy Spirit is present today in the believer’s life. How that works out in every day practice is the struggle of sameness, not unity. What we believe ought to be consistent. How we practice what we believe is the question.
As Christians, each of us is given a valuable spiritual gift to build and edify the body of Christ. But these gifts should always be developed in the context of community—the harmony of many voices. Working together to develop team ministry and team participation. It is in effect unity by diversity. Our differences should bring us strength not weakness. We should learn how to celebrate and support each other. As Christians, we should celebrate our differences and not discuss our weaknesses with those who don’t offer positive reinforcement in your life.
I believe one of the problems today in our worship services is that we depend too much on the popularity of preaching than on the integrity of teaching. In other words, we would rather be entertained than intellectually stimulated. But in order to identify false doctrine, one must be thoroughly engulfed in true doctrine. This can only be maintained through proper training and dedication. Another problem is a lot what we see and hear today depends on revelatory inspiration and private interpretation by untrained, but gifted preachers who don’t trust or are too proud to discuss their findings or conclusions with their colleagues. So when they minister if people respond or embrace the concept they are home free. So, church becomes what is popular instead what is challenging.
The current climate in churches today is not to create an atmosphere to worship and praise God but to attract and appease people. Most people are only attracted to a church where they can “feel” God. A George Gallup polls suggest that, “We are having a revival of feelings and not the knowledge of God.” The church today is more guided by feelings than motivated by knowledge. We want a good feeling, not a good experience with God in worship. That was the attraction of the two “Great Awakenings” a need to experience God emotionally apart from what we knew intellectually. It also was the motivation of Western “Pentecost.” In 1906 with the popularity of the Azusa Street Revival, we shifted worship from getting to know God to seeking to be empowered by the presence of God with major spiritual empowerments.
Passion for God – the ability to seek God with your total being has been substituted for a need to express my release emotionally while addressing my status as a gifted saint. Is it wrong then to want to feel God? No, but it is danger if all we want to do is “feel” and not get to know God. That is the beauty of intimacy. Not just the feeling but the communication. We move from one extreme to the other. If we seek knowledge from God the danger is being labeled an “egghead” and “dry.” If we seek the presence of God only in music and song, the danger is becoming “too emotional” and surface orientated. The balance is expressed when we can seek God intellectually without getting “puffed up.” Then we can become “passionate” for God without it becoming a celebration of my talent and not an elevation of God’s Glory. Keep in mind promotion carries two parallels. The danger of pride and the demotion of self-glory to the danger of becoming more than a player on the cosmic stage to the star of the show.