The Branded Church
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- Published: Monday, 30 October 2017 10:29
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The Branded Church
By Augusto A. Kho
October 29, 2017 (Sunday); 8:00 A.M.
People see us. People watch us. They know who we are and what we often do. You can call it “power of recall.” Recall is an act or instance of officially recalling someone or something. It is the action or faculty of remembering something learned or experienced. It also means recollection, remembrance, memory. It is like “packaging” or “labelling.” Labelling is a verb. It is what attached to a label to (something). It also means tag, put labels on, ticket, mark
It is what is being “branded’ for us. A brand is a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. It is an identifying mark. Even the beast in the Book of Revelation has a mark, called “666” (Rev. 13:17-18).
You have an identifying mark as well like mole on the left face. Or a birthmark on your left hand. Some wears tattoos for personal identifying reasons. If not the perfume you wear or the brand of T-Shirt you often putting on.
Church as a mark too like Christ the Living Stone Fellowship (CLSF); Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF); Jesus is the Lord Church (JIL); the Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) or United Methodist Church (UMC). Each one has a unique character and a unique calling in the ministry. Not everyone is exactly alike but perhaps similar.
So I changed order that day at Mc Donalds. I changed my mind and ordered pineapple juice instead. Could you truly switch brands? From Smart to Globe perhaps? From Surf to Tide maybe? How about switching from one brand church to another, would that be possible?
Seven Churches of Asia
Constantinople or Byzantine is what they call Asia Minor during the time of Apostle Paul is what they call Istanbul today. The first emperor who got converted to Christianity is Constantine followed by Emperor Theodosius. Constantinople became the seat of Roman power. And many pagan temples were converted into Christian Churches. When the Turks came during the Ottoman Empire mark the beginning of a new era and Islam dominated the region. Christian Churches where converted to mosques and this where I came to realized that “conquest and convert.”
Whoever in power loots the treasure as well. Hagia Sophia, the world’s biggest Christian Orthodox Church is converted to a Mosque. Hagia Irene is the only church left that is not converted into mosque but it is converted into a Concert Hall. In other words, church can be a place of entertainment rather than worship. It is switching from original purpose.
As a noun: it is a device for making and breaking the connection in an electric circuit. It’s synonyms includes - button, lever, control, dial, rocker. Or switching is a program variable that activates or deactivates a certain function of a program. Another definition is it is an act of adopting one policy or way of life, or choosing one type of item, in place of another; a change, especially a radical one.
Switch as a verb means “to change the position, direction, or focus of.” Synonym includes, change or shift.
There is nothing wrong switching brand should you give up the inferior quality to a better one. Or switching from original brand to another brand can be habitual as well? As we just wanted to try everything?
My wife shared to me one Monday morning that one family who attends to our church suddenly showed up to another church whose resident pastor frequenting their house for visitation.
When I was young as a Christian I scouted for a church where I could fit in Riyadh when I was assigned there in Garuda Indonesia Airways. My first preference is an underground Church in Mursalat, Riyadh that has around 800 members. It is the biggest so far that time whose brand is called “International” because it is composed of various foreign expatriates from America and United Kingdom who is branded for being good in “Discipleship Training.” The second preference is a 100-member church whose pastor is amazingly gifted with miracle and healing. The church’s brand is “power evangelism.” The third preference which was the least that I should choose from is an 25-member church whose believers are composed of Filipinos, Pakistanis and Indians. It is quite a “poor church” in terms of tithes and offerings as well in teaching.
As a young Christian, my choice must be God’s preference. It is one way of dying of self as Paul puts it. When I asked the Lord I will be joining the church in Mursalat, He maintained His Code of Silence. When I asked the 2nd option, God said, “Miracles are for the non-believers to believe.” In other words, God wanted me to join the least branded church, “the poor church.” I stayed there on that church which God preferred and in one-year time, this poor church swelled its members into 280 and I was handling two Discipleship Training that has around 70-80 attendees per session.
We can freely switch churches according to our whims but the question is whether this or that Church is what God preferred for us. So many Christians today easily switches to various churches as if they are changing (spiritual) diapers. Flesh is being served rather than the Spirit of God.
From trendy to simplicity
When I left my secular work as the Lord directed and went home for good I have had to scout another church. I attended the Word for the World Church in Intercontinental Hotel in Makati, another Charismatic Church in Greenhills Shopping Mall, and another and another. Finally, the Lord directed me to seek spiritual covering to Kuya Dan Balais of Christ the Living Stone Fellowship (CLSF) in Mandaluyong. From that time on from 1990 up to this present time for 28 years, I never yet switched church no although “brand” matters today as it speaks of being “trendy” and “stylish.” I believe in faithfulness and integrity although innovation requires change.
I had to live a simple life since I became a Christian and given up my material comforts and possessions. I remember buying pants from Surplus Store in Megamall whose cheapest pant is merely worth P99 in the early 1990’s and that is not “branded” compared to the former lifestyle which I have had before wearing branded ones in the likes Gucci, Pierre Cardin, Bally, to name a few. I love wearing branded perfumes before and I had many of them from variety of brands.
During my early years as a pastor, I have been offered to launch new business ventures. Capitalization isn’t a problem that time. Some of they are willing to fuel in millions in investments. They want to invest in me to open up travel agency, cargo handling, cash remittances, direct selling and others. I am not saying it is easy. It is in fact, very tempting as if my soul have gone apart whether I have to serve my flesh or the spirit. But I chose to live in Christ no matter it speaks of simplicity, poverty or foolishness as they may call it. Have not Paul call every branded things in this world and “count all things but loss” and a mere “dung” (Phil. 3:8)? So Paul didn’t switch things so easily. He wanted to be branded as for Christ and Christ alone and he said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” (Phil. 1:21).
Very few indeed remain in Christ. I witnessed some (if not many) Christian pastors and ministers and leaders who switched from Christianity to Materialism. Some pastors I knew loved the Lord and His Church from the very start but slowly if not abruptly fading their zeal and love to God when they go through severe tests and trials especially in poverty and want. I too dreaded to see myself falling on the same Satanic craft. And I remember may prayer to the Lord in 1989 pleading Him, “First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name,” (Proverbs 30:8-9/ NLT)
The branded church
Often we go for brand and not for generic right?
Our church-member named Eddie Garvida who the one who prepared the Generic Law which was passed as bill by Sen. Angara then. Garvida was the one who made the research. Now, it is a law in the Philippines that all drugstores should give the consumers the right to choose from branded to generic. The latter is cheaper thought at times less effective as others claim.
Brand, how do you define it?
Can you remember the “crocodile” brand of Lacoste? Why do Filipinos joke about it when they Filipinized the lacoste’s crocodile as “buwaya” in Filipino referring to “government corruption”.?
According to dictionary.com a “brand is unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind.”
James Mc Laughin said that “brand” is the name given to a product or service from a specific source. Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark.”
Webster defined “brand” as the following: a charred piece of wood; firebrand; something (such as lightning) that resembles a firebrand; sword; a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership; a printed mark made for similar purposes :trademark; a mark put on criminals with a hot iron; a mark of disgrace; stigma; the brand of poverty; a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer :make; a characteristic or distinctive kind; brand name.”
And I prefer Webster Dictionary definition (which I explained why at the Notes below).
And how would you define or re-define your church? What’s the trademark or symbol of your church? How significant this emblem or logo? How your church is being branded by the believers or non-believers alike.
Each church has a brand in a way, one way or another. It could be true or not. But churches have a unique character, design, and plan no matter it is misconstrued at times. God designed our church for a divine purpose and we should not veer away from the will of God otherwise we will be branded with a nether word.
So when I was “branded” as a man who always order for a coffee in Mc Donald’s on Tuesday morning, I took notice of my Quiet Time one day earlier on a Monday that says in Revelation 3:7-9:
“7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”
While Philadelphia Church is commended by Christ and branded their unrelenting faithfulness (from verse 8 saying, “hast not denied My Name”), another church or synagogue is being branded as “synagogue of Satan.” To whom that church belongs? Is there a synagogue or Church of Satan today in our generation? The answer is “Yes!” The Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation is the future destiny of the Church.
So which brand of church we’re in?
In our IFP’s Monthly Prayer Meeting in Dagupan City, a lady in her late 40’s attended for the 1st time. After the prayer, she approached me and said, “I am sister Teresita” (not her real name though) and continued talking, “I’ve been hearing your name pastor for so many times. My pastor warned me and said, ‘That’s Pastor Kho, he is handsome but be careful he is cult.’ And I came here personally to find it out by myself whether what it is being accused to you is true or not.”
I have found out later, that the lady is a medical doctor by profession. And she was too bold enough to satisfy her curious mind?
CLSF our church is linked with Intercessors for the Philippines (IFP) is the most recognized national prayer network by several evangelical groups nationwide in the likes of Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM) and others.
Since IFP is prophetic myself and other churches affiliated with IFP is being “branded” as “heretics” or “occult. Should that be the case, then John the Beloved to whom Christ revealed the destiny of the churches in the end times is heretic and occult as well?
Then how about Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF) where hunk actor Piolo Pascual attends? Would that be a Showbiz Church like the Hagia Irene? How about Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) whose lot alone cost P2-Billion? Shall it be branded like Laodicea Church whom the Lord called “You are rich but you are poor?”
Church of Laodicea
What make it as branded “Lukewarm Church?”
Laodicea has the best of both worlds: wealth and power. It is called the “the fashion capital of the world,” and it has the “best eye-hospital” in the world. This garment-capital of the world made her famous and she earned a fortune. But Christ branded them as “naked, poor and blind” church. Would you like to branded as such.
And how did she earned the brand of being a “lukewarm church?” It has something to do with geographical location of the city. And this is how:
The hot springs at Hierapolis, just six miles across the Lycus River valley and to the south, are probably what John had in mind when he spoke of lukewarm water (Rev. 3:15-17). No other city on the Lycus Valley was as dependent on external water supplies as Laodicea. Water was also piped in through an aqueduct from Colosse.
"The lukewarmness for which, thanks to this letter, the name of Laodicea has become proverbial, may reflect the condition of the city's water supply. The water supplied by the spring ... was tepid and nauseous by the time it was piped to Laodicea, unlike the therapeutic hot water of Hierapolis or the refreshing cold water of Colossae, “ writes by Rudwick and Green (1958); hence the Lord's words, 'Would that you were cold or hot!'" (The Anchor Bible Dictionary).
Church of Ephesus
"Twice Neokoros" is a case study of the Cult of the Sebastoi that was established in the city of Ephesus by the province of Asia during the late first century C.E. Epigraphic and numismatic data indicate that the Cult of the Sebastoi was dedicated in 89/90 to the Flavian imperial family. The architecture, sculpture, municipal titles, and urban setting of the cult all reflect Asian religious traditions. The image of Ephesus was significantly altered by the use of these traditions in the institutions related to the Cult of the Sebastoi.
Neokoros is often called “Imperial Cult” when a city or a church will make a pledge of allegiance to the Roman Emperor as “Son of God” and the highest priest called in Roman “Pontifex Maximus” which is being legislated by the Roman Senate.
When I met and spoke with one of the most respected Evangelical Bishop he said he was disgusted branding a bishop and three evangelical top politicians “greedy for political power” a sort of imperial cult.
Ephesus’ love and allegiance to Christ turned stale and cold and she loves the seat of government rather than the Throne of God.
Learning from history
We must learn from the past to guide us for the future. Of all my travel stints (I travelled to 32 countries in 5 continents), my recent travel to Asia Minor now Turkey is the most fascinating, rewarding and soul-uplifting next only to Israel. I learned from this place as they call it as the “Cradle of Christianity”.
When Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as an official religion in the Roman Empire, the pagans switched religious brand from Paganism to Christianity. One perks they can enjoy should they abreast Christianity is tax exemption. When Islam became the domineering religion, some Christians also changed brand from Christianity to Islam to avoid persecution.
When I was in Saudi Arabia, I saw some Filipinos who switched their religious brand from Catholicism to Islam. New converts will enjoy some privileges like monetary gifts after renouncing their faith and abreast Islam, monetary promotion to name a few.
At times, switching brand on faith-system or religion is merely for personal benefits and security reasons. So how do we know what brand of church we’re in?
By their fruits ye shall know them? And you can fully discern which one of the Fruit of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Flesh (Galatians 5:19-23). How do you the brand of a church? By their fruits. Fruit never lie!
Noah Webster Jr. (October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843) was an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author. He has been called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education". His blue-backed speller books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read. Webster's name has become synonymous with "dictionary" in the United States, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language.
Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, Webster graduated from Yale College in 1778. He passed the bar examination after studying law under Oliver Ellsworth and others, but was unable to find work as a lawyer. He found some financial success by opening a private school and writing a series of educational books, including the "Blue-Backed Speller." A strong supporter of the American Revolution and the ratification of the United States Constitution, Webster hoped his educational works would provide an intellectual foundation for American nationalism.
In 1793, Alexander Hamilton recruited Webster to move to New York City and become an editor for a Federalist Party newspaper. He became a prolific author, publishing newspaper articles, political essays, and textbooks. He returned to Connecticut in 1798 and served in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Webster founded the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery in 1791 but later became somewhat disillusioned with the abolitionist movement.
In 1806, Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. The following year, he started working on an expanded and comprehensive dictionary, finally publishing it in 1828. He was very influential in popularizing certain spellings in the United States. He was also influential in establishing the Copyright Act of 1831, the first major statutory revision of U.S. copyright law. While working on a second volume of his dictionary, Webster died in 1843, and the rights to the dictionary were acquired by George and Charles Merriam.