My name is Jorge (HOR-hay) and I am a sinner saved by the Grace of God. I am not a pastor nor a scholar. I don’t have a Seminary degree or formalized training. I have a Bible, access to the internet, Pastors who faithfully preach the word and patiently answer my questions. There will be things you disagree with me on… and hopefully things we do agree on.
My desire is that we be able to discuss the scriptures, and even argue, without losing sight of the whole of scriptures and remember to conduct ourselves in grace and love. This should in no way be considered a replacement for face-to-face Christian fellowship; rather, it should supplement our time spent in God’s word throughout the week. We are called to go into all the world making disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything Jesus taught us… that’s very difficult to do if our only time spent in God’s word is 40 minutes on a Sunday morning.
I was born into a very young, Roman Catholic, Puerto Rican family. My dad got a job in a rural town in South Florida, so our family was separated from extended family. My parents knew that raising a family was impossible without the Lord. Being young and separated from their home churches, family, and familiar surroundings, my parents began reading the Bible together. They soon discovered that what they were reading conflicted heavily with what they had been taught in their Catholic churches back home.
Some years later, a Pentecostal couple was doing door-to-door ministry and my parents engaged them in conversation. My parents found comfort in what these two had pointed out as the errors of Roman Catholicism and found that what they were being told fit with what they were reading in their bibles in their study, so our family moved out of the RC and into Holiness Pentecostalism. My memories of this time frame are quite incomplete, as should be expected, but we spent a few years growing in this church. From their perspective, everything was so different from RC doctrine, and they truly believed that God had brought them out of that false doctrine. They fully embraced the Pentecostal teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues. It had been a struggle for some time, and finally, as though it were a rite of passage, my parents manifested the gift. It was then that the church looked to my father for ministry. But there were some doctrines they held that concerned my father that he had held quietly because he had submitted to the leadership of that church. But now that they were encouraging him to teach, he could no longer remain silent. The most pressing issue with that congregation, was their teaching that unless a person manifested the gift of speaking in tongues, then that person wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit, and if they weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit, they weren’t saved. My father objected to holding this manifestation of a gift of the spirit as proof of salvation. It was upon this doctrine that my father humbly parted ways with this Holiness Pentecostal church.
We then became members of an Assemblies of God (AoG) church, where my parents still struggled a bit with some of the doctrines, but my father didn’t want to be loners in the faith, we needed to be under a covering. My parents had a desire to enter the ministry, particularly to the migrant Hispanic community (seasonal agricultural work for this rural region), and for the time the local AoG church provide both the covering and the opportunity to minister to that community.
During this time our family was plunged into some dark and trying times. My father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and given a stark prognosis… he was given less than a year to live. This time was a great testing of our faith, our family, and our doctrine… and we are still learning what it all meant. While I’m not ready to get into all of that just yet, suffice it to say that we learned to place our trust in Christ Jesus… even when our world is in chaos and despair… even when your understanding is completely clouded. God is faithful, even to those who are being deceived for a season. I pray that deception continue to be exposed and peeled away.
It was during these dark days that my family was introduced to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) theology in a small home-group. We were introduced to prophets and apostles who declared the miracles of God and promised healing and restoration and victory. This is when our family got sucked into the NAR via Christian International (Bill Hamon). God was exceedingly gracious to our family in preserving and healing my father of cancer… and he has lived to see his childrens’ children, praise be to God. Sadly, that experience has become closely linked to the NAR teaching, particularly on Spiritual Warfare, eschatology, egalitarianism, the role of the Holy Spirit within Church, and the five-fold ministry. My parents left AoG (approx. 1990) and joined a church plant that grew and my father became an ordained pastor under Christian International (NAR) and today he is the senior pastor of this ministry.
I graduated high school in 1995, so most of my adolescence was spent in Pentecostalism and NAR doctrines. I was on the Worship team, I was teaching Sunday school, we went to youth rallies and youth retreats, we received “prophecies” and “anointings”… we were always told “the Bible is the Word of God, and we take every prophecy to the Bible to see if it is Scriptural”… but it was never actually done. Proof-texting leaves a lot of room for lip-service. The truth is that there is no discernment in Pentecostalism. The written Word of God isn’t sufficient in Pentecostalism… we’re always looking for a “fresh word from the spirit”. We did the banners, the dance teams, the prophetic prayer walks/marches, we declared the promises of God over our lives, we severed soul-ties, we broke generational curses… we did, and did, and did,… and there simply is no rest in this works-based theology. I thought this was elite Christianity. No one else talked about what we talked about. My Christian high school friends (Baptist and Methodists primarily) just “didn’t get it”… so I thought.
The year I graduated high school… everything came crashing down on my head. I failed at everything. I was expected to excel in college, in life, in love, and none of that panned out. And my doctrine at the time pointed me to myself as the problem… but not Biblically. I had soul ties, or generational curses that I wasn’t truly cutting, or God was punishing me for my sins because I was expected to be better… after all, I was the first-born son of the man that God preserved from death. I kept as good a front as I could, but inside I had dried up. I can say now that I was in His hand the whole time, for I never thought of abandoning Him… but the enemy had convinced me that I was loved less. I lost a college scholarship, I racked up stupid debts, I flunked out of College, I was lonely and alone, and not even volunteering all of my spare time working with the online campus Christian ministry seemed “enough”. I moved back home broken in many ways, but still stubborn and prideful. I was determined to turn my circumstances around. After all, I had so many prophecies that proved that God called me to prosperity, so my situation couldn’t have been because that’s where God wanted me, but because I was failing to take victory over the circumstances. I struggled to make things work for a couple more years, but in 2001, I decided I needed a full reset… so I joined the Army. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had a better understanding of Scripture going into the service, but God was gracious to me and kept me despite my confusion. He led me through several dark years… dark places… and His hand was on me in spite of my fears.
After my active duty time, I wasn’t ready to come home. I thought it was because of I was not yet ready to dial down the soldier in me to live a quiet life at home… now I know that there was something else at play. God was not going to allow me to sink back into NAR theology… though there was some rough road left ahead of me. I took a job out in the Southwest US, where I met my wife. When I met her, she was in a similarly dark time as I was, but God had His hand on her, and His grace to me was in bringing us together at the right time.
We got married, started a family, and desired to return to the east coast to be closer to our extended families. We decided we needed to get plugged into a local church, and found a small, non-denominational church-plant that held to Church of God Pentecostalism. My wife was brought up Lutheran in her youth… but after some bad experiences in youth group, she decided she didn’t want to return to that. In much the same way God preserved my faith, He also preserved hers, but that’s for another time. My wife deferred to my leadership in the home, and soon we were members of this local church and I was invited on staff. While on staff, I started realizing that what I learned in my youth wasn’t what other churches (even Pentecostal) taught. In fact, no one seemed to know anything about Christian International, or Bill Hamon, or the five-fold ministry. How could this be? This IS Christianity, right?
It all came to a head when I was asked to preach 2 sermons while the lead pastor was out of town. The notes I was given had so little Scriptural reference… is this how sermon prep usually goes? I’m a lay-person, shouldn’t I be given more structure? After the sermons, the only critique I received from the pastor was that I had gone too long. That’s it? What is the point of seminary? Something wasn’t right. So I started researching like I had never done before. I needed to know what was missing. In the search, I started listening to Alistair Begg at TruthforLife.org. As I researched to find others who preached the Word like this, I found Fighting for the Faith. My wife’s first words to me after I shared the link with her was, “Lutheran? I marry a Pentecostal and he decides to go Lutheran?” It was a joke at first… and God does have a keen sense of humor. I didn’t know anything about Lutheranism, and my lack of understanding led me to conclude that it was “too Roman Catholic”. So I would chase down any non-Lutheran pastors whose sermon Chris Rosebrough deemed a good sermon. I figured, if a Lutheran Discernment Ministry can acknowledge a sermon by a non-Lutheran, it HAD to be because it was the Scripture being preached, for only Christ can bring that kind of unity. This blog site was started just before Thanksgiving of 2013 as a means of processing the questions we had and the answers we were finding in Scripture. We were putting to practice what we were learning from discernment ministries such as Fighting for the Faith.
Chris Rosebrough’s work led me to the late Pastor Silva’s work. At last, I learned the truth about orthodox Christianity, Church History, and the false doctrine of Word of Faith, NAR, Latter Rain Movement, etc. I was like a man who had crawled across a desert to find a spring of water… and I dove right in… gagging and choking as I gulped and gulped. Air was suddenly a secondary concern… I needed water. It wasn’t always a pleasant experience… water would burn as it went in my nose, and my stomach would ache now that it was suddenly forced to process so much at one time… I needed to know… I needed to understand… I needed to be set free from the bondage of the opinions of men… I needed to be shown the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. And just as soon as I was being fed, I wanted to share it with my wife, my kids, and the world.
It has been a tough journey… and we are still going through rough times of stretching… but we’ve finally found rest in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We spent some time visiting non-denomination churches, and we were members of a local Reformed Baptist Church for a while… but in the end, we find ourselves in a Lutheran congregation. I thank God for the saints in the Reformed tradition whose teaching has deepened my understanding of scripture in many ways; however, after much testing in the written Word of God, we’ve come to accept the Lutheran confessions. We still love and respect our Reformed brothers and sisters in Christ. We believe the Lutheran Confessions are the right interpretation of Scripture for they let the scriptures speak for themselves without explaining away passages and without robbing the Christian of the assurance of Salvation.
In closing, our desire here at Faithful Stewardship is to share what we find in the Scriptures. As we explore the scriptures, so we will share what we learn. We hope to continue working to correct false doctrines we see being aggressively promoted in modern evangelicalism, particularly within Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). We are still growing, still learning, and still healing. The Holy Spirit has a lot of work yet to do in our lives…
Philippians 1:3-11 (ESV) | Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
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[…] Faithful Stewardship: by Jorge Rodriguez: Jorge’s desire with his blog is that we be able to discuss the scriptures, and even argue, without losing sight of the whole of scriptures, conducting ourselves in grace and love. He often writes “mega posts,” posts that are longer than most second year academic term papers, but they are well worth the read. Jorge and I do not agree on everything, but I appreciate what he is doing. My favorite posts are the ones where he analyzes contempory Christian songs against scripture – it is these posts that prompted me to nominate him for this award. […]
Thanks for sharing your story and God’s story, Jorge. I am president of the seminary that Chris attends. Glad to meet you. Blessings on your continued study and growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Thank you so much for the encouragement. It is a pleasure to meet you, sir.