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The Church Series Pt. 11 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Is there any logic in believing that God started His Church as a Spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining, hour-long services? Was he hoping that one day people would be attracted to the Church not because they care for one another, not because they are devoted to Him, not because the supernatural occurs in their midst, but because of good music and entertainment?

Try to imagine what conclusions you would come to if you had no prior church experience. The things in church services might make sense to the American church-attendee, but they don’t make sense biblically.

Picture yourself on an island with only a Bible. You’ve never been to a church-you’ve never even heard of one. The only ideas you have about church are what you’ve read in your Bible. Then you enter a building labeled “church” for the first time. What would you expect to experience as you entered that building? Now compare that to what you actually experience when you attend church.

GANG RELATED
A while back, an ex-gang member got baptized at our church. He fell in love with Jesus and turned from his old lifestyle. But after several months at the church, he stopped attending. When we asked him why he stopped attending, he answered: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week-we were family.”

That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church was intended to be. It saddened me because I realized that the gangs paint a better picture of loyalty and family than the local church body does.

But what if the church looked like this?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

That describes what the ex-gang member was looking for. It describes what the world is waiting for. I used to look at this passage as something that was wonderful but could never happen in the twenty-first century. There are just too many cultural obstacles for the Holy Spirit to overcome. He is powerful enough to raise the dead, but not powerful enough to form a sharing and loving body in our individualistic society. I doubted God’s ability to stir a body of believers to love tirelessly and give without restraint. I reasoned that this type of fellowship was probably not intended for our time. Besides, we don’t have time to love like this.

Looking back, I wonder if I came to those conclusions because there was a part of me that wasn’t sure I wanted it. It’s interesting how much our theology is driven by desire.

Imagine this; There came a point where the elders at our church concluded that there was no reason why God wouldn’t want the church to look like it did in the beginning. From there we reasoned that if God wants that, then we want it too. But the exciting part came when we resolved not to settle for anything less. We would pursue this for His Church regardless of how many would be turned off and move to other churches. If this is God’s standard, then we will one day give an account for how we led His people toward the biblical model.

But where do we go from here? The hard part is answering the question of how. There are probably many who want our churches to function like the early church, but how do we get there?

START WITH WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
In other words, start with yourself. It’s wrong to blame others for the condition of the Church. And it’s silly for leaders to blame followers. God wasn’t satisfied when Adam blamed Eve or when Eve blamed the serpent.

Our elders started with what we could control. We can’t control other people. We can’t make the congregation “break bread in their homes” or “sell their possessions.” We also can’t control God. We can’t make Him do “wonders and miraculous signs” through us. I can, however, sell my possessions as people have needs. I do have control over that, so that became the first logical step. As we do our part, we trust God to bring about the “awe” and “wonders” in His time.

It was a beautiful time of sharing as our elders laid “everything” at each others’ feet. We surrendered the keys to our cars, homes, and bank accounts. I actually believed the elders who looked me in the eyes and said, “What’s mine is yours. If anything ever happens to you, I will support and care for your kids as much as I would care for my own. I will be your life insurance.” And because they had a history of genuine sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, I trusted what they said. From there, we began going to some of our friends in the congregation and expressing our commitment to them (something anyone can do).

And now this mentality is spreading. New life is permeating the church as individuals are backing up their words with sacrifice. Cars and homes are being sold or given away. Expensive vacations are joyfully replaced with spending on others. People are being taken into homes-not only for meals, but to live. It’s still the beginning of the process, and most people probably still come for the teaching or the music, but there’s a growing number at our church who are coming to be with their church family and they don’t care about who’s teaching or leading music. (SORRY WAKE-UP)

THERE MUST BE MORE
Something real was happing in the early Church. It was something of the Spirit, too powerful to be replicated by human effort. Imagine taking a friend to one of their church gatherings. Your friend might not experience a smoothly run, professional service. But one thing he would experience: God. Do we even need to ask which is better? So much of church growth today has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. The right team of talented people can make any church grow. When people sit through creative services, is it really God they’re experiencing?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give our best to God. If you’re a musician, work diligently at your music. If you’re a teacher, labor intensely over your messages. I’m just asking you to be willing to rethink what you’re doing and ask: How can we create a more biblical environment where people see and experience God?

I’m reminded of the story of Gideon in Judges 7. God tells Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.” (Judges 7:2-3)

If you remember the story, God then reduced the army to 300 soldiers. God did not just defeat the Midianites-He was careful to do it in a way that gave Him all the glory. He did not want to allow Israel to boast “that her own strength has saved her.”

May people see our churches and know that mere human beings could not have created what they experienced. May we seek the priorities of the early church and trust God to once again produce the fruit of the early Church.

“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

The Church Series Pt. 10 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

The Disjointed Body

By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. (See 1 Corinthians 12:13-14)

For the last few months I have been hard at work trying to bring my body under submission. Not long ago I was forty pounds overweight. My mind would think of things for my body to do, but I could not get all the members functioning at the same time in the same direction. My body was disjointed, dysfunctional. Kind of like the Body of Christ operates today. The Body of Christ has become over weight and lazy, eating McSpiritual burgers, and salted down sermons holding their cups under sugared filled altars.   

The major problems are doctrines that are shaky at best when lined up with the Word of God, immorality involving superficial spirituality among its members and social malice concerning cliques gathered around different preachers. The things we must be concerned about in this Christian era of immaturity are that we are more carnal than spiritual, and our disunity is more interested in spiritual gifts than fruit.

 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. 1 Corinthians 12:14

The immediate context of this verse is a three-chapter section concerning spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12 deals with the varied gifts experienced in the body; I Corinthians 13 demonstrates that when exercised without love can damage the body; I Corinthians 14 outlines the more excellent way of using the gifts with love to build up the body. It’s a pity that the uninspired church has interrupted the flow of the Word, allowing readers to lick the jam of love out of its charismatic sandwich. Use of spiritual gifts has become an object of abuse in the assemblies. This is my underlying or over-riding concern; however is the unity of the body, without which the gifts are at beat useless toys or at worst dangerous weapons.

Many Christians enjoy the self proclaimed gift of speaking in tongue than to speaking to someone the street and telling them about Jesus. Many Christians enjoy the gift of healing rather than visiting the sick and shut-up. Many Christians enjoy the gifted title of pastor than they do about feeding and return the lost sheep to the fold. Many would rather manifest a gift of wisdom just to call someone else a fool.

Many pastors, ministers, prophets, bishops’ elders, etc…, whatever they are calling themselves today. Speak with the tongues of angels but, have no love.  

Church has taught us to seek the gift and not the Giver of the gifts. We as the Body of Christ our eagerness to be the next great have diminished our ability to be whole and be united. I remember a lady on the prayer ministry; she was going through a few things. However, because she acted differently than the prayer warriors assumed she should they talked about her behind her back. They wanted her off the ministry, but no one had the where with all to say anything to her. Is that love? These people professed to have the gift to pray for people, but would rather talk about a person. DISJOINTED!

I remember one Sunday evening; I was sitting in the pulpit beside the big man chair in a visiting church. My pastor and I was sitting beside each other, we listen to the people talk about how they love their pastor because how he comes to see them when they are sick. One man told the story of how when his wife was dying, and he had not long joined the institution the pastor was right there when he called him. My pastor leaned over and said to me, this guy will never make it he is too involved with the people. Was his gift as a pastor not to see to the spiritual needs of the people? DISJOINTED!

But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

If the Body of Christ could learn to love the Perfect Church would rise and be a LIGHT unto this world.

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The Church Series Pt. 9 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

IS THERE ANY NEED IN THE HOUSE?

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.  Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.(Acts 4:31-35)

Wait a minute are these the same? And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) What happen between first century Christians and the twenty-first century Christians? I can remember when I was in the institutionalized church people were alway coming asking for help when they were in need. Our policy was we don’t do that, I can remember one lady she had been a member there as long as I can remember. She was a single mother with two young boys, and it happened unfortunately that she lost her job. She went to the church after a while when she had not found a job. She asked if the church could help her pay any of her bills. She was asked to bring in all her financial information, she did. She was told because her car was paid for and that was something that she could sell to help pay her bills the church could not do anything for right now. WOW! What a change over the centuries.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, (Malachi 3:10) Wait, did someone rob God? No, I think I know the problem. Because, we call the building the Church and not the people that make-up the bride (The Church); we give all the tithes (the money, the food) to feed the big buildings. Leaving God’s people borrowers and not lenders, the majorities of Christians owes Rent-A-Center and/or live paycheck to paycheck.

Think about this a body of 500 Christians paid off a $200,000.00 -$300,000.00 building within one year. The next year they the giving brought in $1,000,000.00. What do we do? Build a new building? Buy land to build a new building? Give the Pastor a raise? Open door number one, two, and three, because most institutionalized church do all three.

Most people that give to these institutions are not the richest people, most are poor in spirit and cash. But, what if the real Christians take the same million, three quarters of it an pay off bills for the Saints along with teaching them how to be good stewards over what they have. Help the widows and fosters children, build homeless shelters that feed everyday instead of once a week. I have one even better. It seems that institutionalized churches love to build childcare ministries. Why don’t they use the funds to provide free childcare for mothers and families who really want to work but can’t afford childcare? I remember moms who couldn’t afford to pay the co-pay from government programs like CCDF, now the ministry becomes a business and we can’t help.

What if the Church, I am talking about the body of believers, not buildings, denominations or other religious groups?  prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. We would build homes for people and not leave it to a television show. Begin to make disciples instead of bench warmers. Stop asking people to come to church and be the Church. The bishops, pastors, etc… get a job for the sake of the ministry as Paul, Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 To glorify God for a change and not themselves. 

The body of Christ is living in poverty, both spiritually and financially because of the robbery of the institutionalized church.  Will a man rob God? Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:10 I remember I use to love to wag this verse in front of people to get them to give, but who are the real robbers? The leaders of the institutionalized church have boarded up the windows of heaven and are exploiting the wage earners and starving the widows and orphans. The Lord did not change the direction of his Bride, we did!

And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien– Because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts. 6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Malachi 3:5-6

Within the house (the Body, the Church) God’s people are in need of a new direction. The time has come for the true Christians to rise and be bold in the Lord. It’s time to tear down the traditions of the elders and walk in the newest of Christ. You have the power to tell your pimp to get behind me Satan!

The Church Series Pt. 8 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

THE INCREDIBLY HIGH COST OF THE FREE GOSPEL

Most contemporary Christians mistakenly view the church building as a necessary part of worship. Therefore, they never question the need to financially support a building and its maintenance. The church edifice demands a vast infusion of money. In the United States alone, real estate owned by institutional churches today is worth over $230 billion. Church building debt, service, and maintenance consumes about 18 percent of the $50 to $60 billion tithed to churches annually. Point: Contemporary Christians are spending an astronomical amount of money on their buildings.

All the traditional reasons put forth for “needing” a church building collapse under careful scrutiny. We so easily forget that the early Christians turned the world upside down without them (see Acts 17:6). They grew rapidly for three hundred years without the help (or hindrance) of church buildings. In the business world, overhead kills. Overhead is what gets added on the “real” work a business does for its clients. Overhead pays for the buildings, pencils, and the accounting staff. Furthermore, church buildings (as well as salaried pastors and staff) require very large ongoing expenses rather than onetime outlays. These budget busters take their cut out of a church’s monetary giving not just today, but next month, next year, and so on.

Contrast the overhead of a traditional church, which includes salaried staff and church buildings, with the overhead of a house church. Rather than such overhead siphoning off 50 to 85 percent of the house church’s monetary giving, its operating costs amount to a small percentage of the budget, freeing more than 95 percent of its shared money for delivering real services like ministry mission, and outreach to the world.

The Church Series Pt. 7 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Easter Sunday Biblical or Traditional

Most Christians don’t have any ideal if the things they do in Institutionalized Church are biblical or traditional. Is Easter even in the bible?

In Matthew 15:2-3, Jesus is asked by the religious leaders why His disciples transgress the tradition of the elders. Jesus in return asked, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your traditions.” Today so many within the Body of Christ are outside the will of God because of the tradition of man (the elders, bishops, pastors, etc…).

 “Easter” is never mentioned in the original Scriptures. However, one English translation of the Bible does use the word. The King James Version chose to translate Acts 12:4 like this:
“And when he [Herod the King] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

The book of Acts was originally written in the Greek language by the Christian Gentile and physician Luke. The Greek word that the King James Version translates as “Easter” is most certainly not the name “Easter,” it is actually the word “Pascha” (Hebrew: Pesach) which means “Passover”—and this is how all accurate translations show it. For example, the New King James Version says: “So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.”

The name “Easter”
It has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, As Christians we should prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ’s resurrection.

The Rabbit
It is well known as a sexual symbol of fertility. In various parts of the world, religions which developed from Babel also associate the rabbit with periodicity, both human and lunar (Egypt, China, etc.). The Mother Goddess Semiramis (Easter) is associated with the Moon. In other words, the Easter bunny symbolizes the Mother Goddess. Annual Spring time fertility rituals are associated worship of the Mother Goddess and Tammuz, the reincarnation of her husband Nimrod.

The Easter Egg
Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.

“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg – according to the ancient story – the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”

It seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations – adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ.

Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ’s death and resurrection.

Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions – symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of great numbers of Christians and Jews. Is the Devil laughing at us?

Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions – symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of
great numbers of Christians and Jews. Is the Devil laughing at us?

If you are Christian, it is not difficult to discern the bizarre deception and confusion that Satan has successfully orchestrated. For example, notice the embarrassing irony in these traditions which are practiced innocently by most people. They are repeated year after year, because they have become traditional and their origin is unknown to many.

* On the day commemorating Christ’s resurrection, Americans roll decorated eggs on the White House lawn and pretend the Easter rabbit hid them. The same ritual is practiced at some Christian churches.
* “In Lancashire [England] on Easter eve boys and men have been in the habit of touring the towns and villages as ‘Pace-eggers’ begging for eggs before performing the ‘Pace-Egging’ or Pasch (i.e., Easter) play.”
* In Greece each person in a group bangs his red EASTER EGG [not knowing that it is symbol of the Goddess] against the eggs of all the others present in turn, saying ‘Christ is risen,’ and receives the reply “He is risen indeed.”

The seductive symbols of ancient ungodly religions inspired by Satan have been incorporated into people’s everyday lives, even to this day – continuing to obscure the truth of God .

The Church Series Pt. 4 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Most contemporary Christians are massively ignorant as to how the church got to where it is today and of how much current church practice is due simply to accumulated tradition, with little or no roots in Scripture.

Driving out demons is easy – compared with changing habits and traditions of man that develop into idols, to give us what only God should give us: identity, security, destiny. As in a child, the original God-given conscience is clean and clear. Many new born Christians feel the same and have an automatic feel for what is right. But in the case of organized Evangelicalism in the West, they are swiftly taken into a religious system that basically believes everything that Mom and Pap says — and happily embrace “church practices” that are not in the Bible. Many just “know” at some point something is terribly wrong with Church-as-they-know-it.

Why do we ‘do church’ the way we do? Most folks seem to assume that our Christian religious trappings can be traced all the way back to the first century. But they can’t. The things we hold dear-sacred buildings to meet in, pulpits, sacramental tables, clergy, liturgies, etc.-were unknown among Paul’s assemblies.

But what do modern and postmodern Christians know about the history of the church that would help to shape present-day attempts at honoring God and being the church? Precious little, it turns out. And therein lies a significant problem. Historians have long held that if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. There is ample evidence to support that warning. Yet we often persist in our well-intentioned but ignorant efforts to refine life.

The Church Series Pt. 3 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

We need a wake-up call, but the ideal of a church building has left us with the unconscious ideal that worship is removed from everyday life.

The disjunction between worship and everyday life characterizes Christianity.

Our buildings are Holy places; the lighting is indirect and subdued, the ceiling high, the sound traveling in a specific way, worship leaders are used to evoke us to an emotional high.

All these thing working together to give you a sense of awe and wonder.

They are designed to manipulate the senses and create a worshipful atmosphere.

No matter how good Sunday was, Monday morning still comes to test our worship.

Watch the choir don their robes before church services. They smile, laugh and even joke. But once the service starts they are different people or trouble actors.

This false separation of secular and scared – this “stained glass mystique” is of Sunday morning church – flies in the face of truth and reality.

The Church Series Pt. 2(WARNING) Rated FG-7

Let’s go to Church! How can you go to something you are destined to be?

Because we won’t be the Church (Christians, The Bride, Followers of Christ) We have become Chruchians (Followers of the next building project)

Words are more powerful than you realise. Words have the power to wound or heal, discourage or encourage, tear down or build up and to take away or give to.

When we gave the Chruch to the building we rendered ourselves POWERLESS to the emeny.

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves,

Many Christians have a love with affair with brick and mortar: The edifice complex is so ingrained in our thinking that if a group of believers begins to meet together; their first thoughts are toward securing a building. For how can a group of Christians rightfully claim to be a church without a building?

The “church” building is so connected with the idea of church that we unconsciously equate the two. Just listen to the vocabulary of the average Christian today:

•Wow, honey did you see that beautiful church we just passed?”
•“My goodness that is the largest church I ever seem!”
•“Our church is too small.”
•“We have gone to church every Sunday this pass year.”

Don’t forget about the pastor:
•“Isn’t it wonderful to be in the house of God today?”
•“We must show reverence when we come into the sanctuary of the Lord.”
•“The Lord is in His holy Temple!”
•“Come let blessed the House of God.”

The Church Series Pt. 1 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Today Church is like being a little boy whose parents have just told him there is no Santa Claus. You go to school and yet all the other children are waiting for Christmas Eve for the fat man to come down the chimney.

As I truly study my Father’s word and begin to ask my Father to help me understand, it seems that everything I have been taught about church has been is based on tradition and not the word of God. But, just like the little children waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney so many Christians are waiting to go to Church.

The traditions of man have fed us a kryptonite that lures the power of the Holy Spirit out of us. Ninety-nine percent of the thing we do on Sunday morning takes us further from God instead of drawing us near to Him.

Jesus when confronted by the religious leaders of his day: Check this out!

Matthew 15:2 (NKJV)
2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
Matthew 15:7-9 (NKJV)
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Most of what we do as institutionalized churches is from tradition. Even when we claim to be non-traditional (Contemporary) all we do is dress up tradition.

Unmovable

Those who never knew me cast their lots…along with those who knew better…choosing to judge without knowing the truth —I felt bad for a moment…knowing God’s my witness…I wronged no one —therefore my Witness said to me…”judgment of others does not change who you are”….quite the opposite is true…it reveals who they are —the church exposed their hypocrisy…now they use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc…to hide their hands —those who talk in one direction…yet walk in another…separates themselves from the truth. ~KP

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Courage

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. ~KP

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The Church Series (My Pastor) Pt. 25 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

My Pastor, he is the fundamental figure of the Christian faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself! Remove the pastor and most churches would be thrown into a panic. Remove the pastor and Christianity as we know it would die. The pastor is the dominating focal point, mainstay, and centerpiece of the contemporary church. He is the embodiment of Christianity. But here is the profound irony. There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor! He simply did not exist in the early church.

The Pastor is in The Bible….Right?

The word pastor does appear in the New Testament:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11

The following observations are too made about this text:

This is the only verse in the entire New Testament where the word pastor is used. One solitary verse is a mighty scanty piece of evidence on which to hang the Christian faith. In regard, there seems to be more biblical authority for snake handling (see Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6) than there is for the present-day pastor.

The word is used in the plural. It is pastors. This is significant. For whosoever these “pastors” are they are plural in the church, not singular. Consequently, there is no biblical support for the practice of sola pastora (single pastor). The Greek word translated pastors is poimenas. It means shepherds. (Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd.) Pastor, then, is a metaphor to describe a particular function in the church. It is not an office or a title. The first-century shepherd had nothing to do with the specialized and professional sense it has come to have in contemporary Christianity. Therefore, Ephesians 4:11 does not evasion a pastoral office, but merely one of many functions in the church. It is a profound error, therefore, to confuse shepherds with an office or title as is commonly conceived today.

In Christians churches the pastors tend to be the spokesmen and representatives of the church and the church is often the pastor’s church. This is a great danger and threat to Christianity. The New Testament word for minister is diakonos. It means “servant.” But this word has been distorted because men have professionalized the ministry. We have taken the word minister and equated it with pastor, with no scriptural justification whatsoever. In like manner, we have mistakenly equated preaching and ministry with the pulpit sermon, again without biblical justification.

The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ. It has divided the believing community into first and second class Christians. The clergy/laity perpetuates an awful falsehood namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord. The one-man ministry is entirely for foreign to the New Testament, yet we embrace it while it suffocates our functioning. We are living stones, not dead ones. However, the pastoral office has transformed us into stones that do not breathe.

It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear. It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate. It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting. It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.

Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hand during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class. That is not the New Testament idea of ministry! These are mere aids for the pastor’s ministry.

We expect doctors and lawyers to serve us, not to train us to serve others. And why? Because they are experts. They are trained professionals. Unfortunately, we look upon the pastor in the same way. All of this does violence to the fact that every believer is a priest. Not only before God, but to one another. Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word of it. By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ’s headship by setting himself up as the church’s human head. As long as the pastoral office is present in a particular church, that church will have a slim chance of witnessing such a glorious thing.

The contemporary pastor not only does damage to God’s people, he does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastors. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives. In this regard, the pastoral role fosters dishonesty. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment’s call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to his role like actors in a Greek drama. Many, if not most pastors cannot stay in their office without being corrupted on some level. The power-politics endemic to the office is a huge problem that isolates many of them and poisons their relationships with others.

Professional loneliness is another virus that runs high among pastors. The lone-ranger plague drives some ministers into other careers. It drives other into crueler fates. It is lonely at the top because Gog never intended for anyone to be at the top except His Son! In effect, the present day pastor tries to shoulder the fifty-eight New Testament “one another” exhortations all by himself. It is no wonder that many of them get crushed under the weight.

The contemporary pastor is the most unquestioned fixture in twenty-first-century Christianity. Yet not a strand of Scripture supports the existence of this office.

The Church Series (MCCLURKIN ON THE ROLE OF BLACK PASTORS:) Pt. 24 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

MCCLURKIN ON THE ROLE OF BLACK PASTORS:   

‘I Get So Mad at These Preachers!’ — Singer/preacher to Essence.

Essence.com   sat down with Grammy-winning gospel great Donnie McClurkin, who also serves as pastor of the Perfecting Faith Church in Long Island, New York and has a bone to pick with preachers who put money above the Lord.

Below are his thoughts on the role of today’s black churches and its pastors in this dwindling economy, as told to Essence.com:       

As pastors, we have to link arms and have bipartisanships. The [black] church has always been the face of the community. Now we have to take on the responsibility of becoming true servants to the people from all walks of life. I get so mad when I see these pimpin’ preachers driving Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, flying around in their private jets, and making it seem like prosperity and money is the way of God when 90 percent of your congregation is on Section 8 or can’t figure out how they are going to keep their lights on or feed their kids. I’m big on perception, and what would it look like for me to live so lavishly if the people in my church are struggling?       

I don’t have a church, but I do have a church that I pastor. I can’t name something the   Donnie   McClurkin   Temple   because the people do not belong to me and if they did that would mean I have slaves. I am simply a vessel to deliver God’s word. At the end of the day, it’s God’s church, not mine.

Christianity Series INTRODUCTION

Introduction

A couple of years ago I was looking in hurt for a real God – not just somebody I sang hymns to, I needed to know God and not church. What we did in church, I now believe, was clear from my confused view all the dense undergrowth we can accumulate through childhood and into manhood. I call this undergrowth “religion”. It increasingly encumbers many of us who are brought up to go to church on Sunday. We learn the right prayers, and when we kneel, and we pick up some of the jargon; but we still do not know whether God is real. And we do not know how to make contact with Him. We sit half listening to head-full’s of sermons about all kinds of mystical propositions. So preachers/pastors/bishops intoxicated by theology and yet themselves unsure, fail to tackle the simple, basic truths.

Does God really exist? How may we know? Is He still alive today? Does going to a church building on Sunday make me a Christian? So there I was, in a bit of a mess, needing help. And where was the church? Where was my pastor? Where were my brothers and sisters? Well, the church was too busy trying to figure out why I left and what happen. My pastor was too busy trying to figure out how to build a church building. My brothers and sisters were trying to figure out how to get my position or their next thirty minutes of fame. What I had perceived to be my spiritual world came crashing down. I was at the cross roads of life, do I turn left and go back to where I came from (the world and Satan grip) or do I turn right and push my way to find the truth. Is God really real? Is this all Christianity is all about?

After much battling within myself, I turned and proceeded right. Over the next seven months God took me with such clarity through all the undergrowth that I soon began to see the light shining ahead and I could not wait to break through into the warmth and the glow. Then I hit the last boulder in my path full conversion God has prepared us for. The biblical tests we all have to pass, it dawn on me that I had not passed them all. Not only had I not passed them, but the church had not prepared me for the conversion that I needed to make. So many people year after year take their children out of public schools, because of the poor teaching, discipline and lack of care from the teaching staff. The church has beaten them hands down in their poor performance to educate their students how to become disciples. No accountability from the self confessed head of the church (the pastor) thru the pews to the parking lot attendant. Church had taught me how to do church, but to live a converted live, no instructions was given. No one was willing to be naked, and not ashamed.

Through these teachings over the next few months, I pray that God will remove the undergrowth from your life as He did mine. Christianity does not end with acceptance of Christ as the church today so bluntly teaches in so many ways and then the conversion is prosperity, speaking in tongues or just being good. Christianity is a conversion from one state of being to another. God has given us everything we need to make the trip, but we need teachers and not sermon pushing pimps.

Salvation is from sin

We have all got troubles. Indeed, sometimes one begins to think there is nothing but trouble in this world. Over the years I have become more aware of people and their problems and troubles. Loneliness, fear, boredom, ignorance, poverty, egos, pride, selfness, hypocrisy —troubles abound; but what are the problems and troubles?

What is the cause of it all? SIN! That is God’s explanation of all our troubles. If you are coming to God to get all the others troubles sorted out, but do not bring him this one, you are unlikely to find a real solution. We present our problems, but God’s diagnosis is that the root problem, the heart of the disease, sin. Sin numbs our ‘spiritual nerves’ so that we do not feel acutely the evil of sin, nor the presence of God all around. We become spiritual insensitive.

When we come to God with our day-to-day troubles and problems, I believe he wants to deal first with the root of all our troubles, sin. That is the deadly disease, of which all our other problems are merely the symptoms.

That is why sin is such a deadly disease. It is not just a question of wrong things we do—the breaking of God’s laws. It goes much deeper. It is what we are, inherited from out parents and their parents before them … a congenital disease. And it is a progressive disease, too, steadily eroding our God-given facilities, blinding us to truth and goodness, until finally we are spiritually dead, no longer able to relate or respond to God at all, or even to goodness. It is from that fate, which Jesus describes as ‘hell’, that we need saving from experiencing love, joy and peace. But it is not the feeling that is the faith; the faith creates the feeling.

Nor is faith primarily a matter of thought. Thought is involved of course. There is a certain minimum intellectual content necessary for faith: the deity of Jesus for instance, his death and resurrection. But if you recite the Creed and say ‘I believe all of that with my mind’ you are ‘believing’ no more than the demons…and they do a bit more, the Bible tells us: the thought of it makes them ‘tremble’.

So, what is faith? Faith is to take those truths and apply them personally: to say, ‘Jesus died for me — rose for me — and is coming back for me.’ The devil cannot share that belief, that kind of faith.

Faith is, in a sense, an act of trust in which the believer takes his life and puts it into the hands of Christ. It is a daily thing—committing myself into the hands of another. In ordinary life we do this all the time—every time we board an airplane or bus, every time we put ourselves into the hands of a surgeon. Faith is just that: putting my ruined life into the hands of Jesus and giving him responsibility from that point on.

According to the definition of most Christians and religious institution the ‘devil’ is a ‘Christian’. People are told just to believe in God and everything will be alright. The bibles say, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble”! James 2:19 What are you doing more than the ‘devil’?

If you are saved from your sin why are you still walking in it? You may not be gay, but you are a liar! You may not be a murderer, but you are a gossiper! You may not be an adulator, but you are vindictive!!!…etc!!!!

Salvation is from sin! Not a reason to continue sin!

http://www.kennypittman.org

What Is He Really Like?

The pace of life is such that fashions in clothes, music, language and lifestyle change so rapidly that two young people just a few tears apart in age may find it difficult to communicate with each other, because they belong to different generations. People often feel they know television characters better than they know their neighbors.

If, as I believe, real life does not depend upon possessions achievements or experiences, but upon relationships, then, for many people in America, real life is barely attainable. This restless, changing, fly-by-night generation, accustomed to rapid change in so many areas, finds it more and more difficult to achieve deep and lasting relationships with other people. So there is a sense of deprivation which stems from a failure to communicate with or relate to other people.

If many of us are out of touch, lonely, unrelated to those around us, there is also a cry for love, which shows itself in so ways, Love is a word which has been devalued greatly, but many has wanted, demand – but many are not sure what it really is.

For our generation, therefore, the most striking phrase in the New Testament — God is love — should be dramatic and exciting. Unhappily, though, this amazing statement causes little excitement even from Christian, who has been familiar with the works from childhood but has become immune to the impact of them.

It is a revolutionary statement. Let there be no doubt about that. It does not say, as well it might, that — God has loved — or that — God is loving — but that 1 John 4:16 — God is love. So far as I know, there is not another religion in the world that makes a claim like that. There has been no other God nor any religious leader of whom it has been said that he is love. We may say that a person loves, or is loving, but the claim that he is love itself is exclusive to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How we know that — God is love — and yet he must be more than one person if he is and always has been love. God’s character like his nature, is eternal, so it must be that before there was a universe and before there were any human beings to love, God was love, togetherness, harmony, peace. Here is the heart of love: the Father always loved the Son; the Son always loved the Father, and the Father and the Son always loved the Spirit. Here was and is a “triangular” relationship of perfect love, without any preference or envy.

Sometimes we may doubt whether there is such a thing as genuine, selfless love. We may have had bad experiences, in our childhood or in later life, and become cynical about the very possibility. But the truth is that at the heart of the universe, in its Creator, there is real, genuine and selfless love —there always has been, and there always will be.

Let’s take this a little father. For instance, is there any possibility of my breaking into the triangle of love? Can I take the hands of the Father and the Son and say, “Let me into this relationship?”

The truth is even better than the possibility, for the Father and the Son have already stretched out their hands and said: We want you to share this. Right from the opening chapters of the Bible there is this clear teaching of God is “togetherness”. Indeed, a literal translation of the first five words of the Bible would be, “In the beginning Gods (plural noun) created (singular verb) …’ Later the same occurs, “God said let us make man in our image.” It is though God was saying that the love and the unity enjoyed from eternity by the three persons of the Godhead were now to be available more widely. I suppose God created mankind because he wanted to bring more persons into the circle of His love. He made man and declared that it was not good for him to be alone. So, He allowed the man to rest and gave him a wife to become one and produce offsprings, to become a direct reflective of the Trinity. Just as the Father and the Son are one with produces the Spirit that goes out and pours itself upon others.

And that’s the hallmark of love. This love is never selfish, exclusive or narrow. It always wants to reach out and embrace others. I read that love is not sitting looking into each other’s eyes the whole time, but looking out in the same direction together.

Believers know that God loves them—he shows his love in many ways 1 John 4:10. As they trust in this love and live in it day by day, they come to understand that God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. To live in (or abide in) God is to live in (or abide in) love. It is one thing to know and believe in God’s love; it is quite another to actually appropriate God’s love into a person’s life so that the person “abides in love.” As noted in 1 John 4:8, because God is love, his people ought to be experiencing his transcendent and glorious love on a daily basis because he “abides” in them.

1 John reasserts the claim of all believers, “God loves us.” To say that “God is love” does not mean that the universe is under the control of an impersonal yet benevolent force. Nor does this statement imply that God merely possesses unusually great quantities of love. The statement means, rather, that God’s very nature and personality resonate love. Everything God has done and will do from eternity past to eternity future overflows with love.

This attribute of divine affection does not contradict any of his other perfections. God can be both loving and holy, loving and just, loving and sovereign. Practically speaking, this truth means that as we relate to God, we can always know that we are being treated with perfect, unconditional love. Our circumstances may be difficult, but behind it all and through it all, God will accomplish his best in our lives. Take a moment to thank God for the ways he has demonstrated his love to you.

Love is measured not so much in what it feels as in what it does: the suffering it is prepared to face, the pain it is prepared to accept. And it is suffering and pain that is the measure of God’s love.

God loves us in our sins not by letting us off but by providing his Son to die for us. It is a gesture of total love, for which the New Testament coins a special word, “grace”. It means a love that is not deserved and cannot be earned, a love that is simply poured out at the expense of the giver. Someone defined it as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”

God is like no other!

He is love!

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14

God is I AM who I AM = “LOVE”

Reflect on I AM today and every day.

She Taught Me To Trust God.

I stand a few feet from the mirror and see the face of a man who failed … I promised I wouldn’t but I did. If this were the first time, it would be different. But it isn’t. How many times can one fall and expect to be caught?”

I stood six steps from the bed’s edge. My arms extended. Hands open. On the bed Veronica — all four years of her — crouches, posed like a playful kitten. She’s going to jump. But she’s not ready. I’m too close.
“Back more, Daddy,” she stands and dares.

… Once again she crouches, then springs. Superman without a cape. Skydiver without a chute. Only her heart flies higher than her body. In that airborne instant her only hope is her father. If he proves weak, she’ll fall. If he proves cruel, she’ll crash. If he proves forgetful, she’ll tumble to the hard floor.
But such fear she does not know, for her father she does. She trusts him. The love he has for her have convinced her he is reliable. He is not superhuman, but he is strong. He is not holy, but he is good. He’s not brilliant, but he doesn’t have to be reminded to catch his child when she jumps.

And so she flies.
And so she soars.
And so he catches her and the two rejoice at the wedding of her trust and his faithfulness.

When I think about all the times I fail and it didn’t killed me or even wound me. I wonder what happened? But, everytime I see my little girl whose now a lady, she reminds me to trust God my Father without fear. The same way she trust her father when that’s all she knew to do.

http://www.kennypittman.org

Why I Don’t Go To Church!

Friends of mine, who doesn’t go to church any more, I asked if they could answer these questons for me. Here is their response….its long (25 questions in all) but very interesting.

1. What is your definition of church?

In a general sense the Church is made up of all those who follow Christ — both those who choose to gather together in a formal way and those who do not. The church is not buildings or clergy, it is people who love and are moving towards Jesus.

2. What do you feel is the purpose or aim of church? What should it be?

I may be cynical but in my experience of churches there is a vast difference between what I feel the purpose is and what it should be. Unfortunately I get the feeling that the church is losing its way. This is why I have chosen to remove myself from most elements of it.

To answer the question — I believe the purposes of the church should be numerous.

It should be in the business of creating spaces for people to connect with Jesus in a dynamic way. The church is not responsible for if people do connect or not, that is the individuals responsibility, but the church should be exploring relevant ways to help people on their journey. It should be a place that resources, supports and inspires people in their love and relationship for God.

The church should be in the business of growing community among its believers. Unfortunately this is an area where things often break down. If it wasn’t for the fact that we are all human it would work brilliantly!

The church should be in the business of impacting the world we live in. Call it mission, service or justice — I don’t care — but do it! Jesus constantly called his followers to impact their world — to preach, to heal the sick, to cast out demons and to accept the sinner and ostracised.

As I said — I think the church has become distracted from its core call in all these areas.

3. What issues do you think the church is failing to deal with adequately?

It is failing to grapple effectively with its purposes. I think it often names them. Every church I’ve ever been to has had a wonderful mission statement — but I’m yet to see one that is living it out — or even really attempting to.

I think many churches are paralysed by fear. They are afraid of change, afraid of the world around them (that they are called to impact), they are afraid of ‘sinners’ and they are afraid to commit to real community.

One of the big failures that I see is that they are called toinclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most ‘repulsive’ people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.

4. How do you see the church operating in the future?

inclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most ‘repulsive’ people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.

4. How do you see the church operating in the future?

I wonder if the church will exist there. If it doesn’t make some fundamental changes it will end up being an extreme minority.

5. If you were to change one thing about church, what would it be?

I would infuse it with love. What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Love casts our fear. Love is at the core of everything Jesus talked about. Love, love changes everything. Hands and faces, earth and sky. Love, love changes everything. How you live and how you die

6. What do you believe to be the necessary actions/behavior of a Christian?

A Christian is a person who is in relationship with and moving towards Jesus. They are not someone who has it all worked out and they have not ‘arrived’. They ‘sin’ but they continue to seek God and allow her transformation and healing in their lives. They seek to live lives of love for God, others and self.

7. Why are you a non-church-goer?

Complicated question. There are many reasons, let me try to sum up some of them (watch out, this could be messy!)

After years of church going I became frustrated by the way it has become institutionalised. It frustrates me that it has become so rigid and closed to change and fluidity. Jesus gives a radical call to follow him, the majority of churches have become too comfortable, they have become like clubs and they have lost the passion. Like you (ed: Darren) said last week on your site, read Matthew 10 and compare the call of Jesus to his disciples with the way your church operates. Read Romans 12 and tell me where there is a church in the West grappling with that stuff! We’ve lost the plot — I have become disillusioned with being virtually the only person in a community of faith that wants it to be more than a nice and safe place to come and feel all warm and fuzzy with my middle class privileged life. Attending church sucked life from me — I figured that it was not healthy for me to continue to go.

8. What role did those who were in the church have on your decision to leave?

I wasn’t asked to leave, although I’ve heard since that some people are happy that I did. I attempted to discuss my frustrations with others in the community including leadership. They just asked me to ‘tone it down’.

9. What or who finally ‘pushed’ you?

Two reasons.

The church I was a part of began to talk more and more about money. It was subtle, but it became more and more obsessed with raising money for its new building. The current building wasn’t being utilised, we were not growing, and it was proposed that the reason was we needed a new flash looking building. A campaign started to raise the millions needed to make it so that our community would flock onto our turf to be saved. Related to this was the topic of money in sermons. Our pastor read the book called ‘You need more Money!’ written by a prominent Australian pastor. Some of these ideas of prosperity began to gradually creep into his sermons. I cannot remember Jesus telling his disciples to accumulate resources, buy property and get all the latest and greatest technology in order to further the kingdom. It all made me feel physically sick.

The church rejected one of my friends who was brave enough to tell a pastor that he was struggling with homosexuality. He was told to either leave and not associate with anyone in the church or to repent and change. There was no offer of counselling, there was no understanding that he needed time to talk through what he was going through, there was no acknowledgement of God’s love for him — he either had to change instantly or leave. I felt physically sick.

10. What did you find most hurtful?

I watched my church slowly become obsessed with money. I also watched my friend reject God.

11. What feelings accompanied your decision to leave?

I left feeling broken and emotionally burnt out. I still feel drained years later.

12. Do you think you connect with God more, less or the same amount now as you did when you attended church?

I go through stages of closeness to God, but this is no different to when I attended church. Overall I feel more connected to Jesus now.

13. Do you still regularly meet together with other christians/groups/organisations? If so, please describe.

Not formally. I regularly connect with Christian friends for meals, to see movies, to pray and to talk about faith issues. But it is not formal. I would call it church though.

14. What other groups, organisations do you now go to to meet the needs that church did….if any.

I am very involved in community groups. I volunteer considerable time to local groups that have a social justice outlook on life. I will always serve my community — not just because I’m a community minded person, but out of my faith. I also am involved in a book club which is a place of community building and where we often talk about issues of faith. (although I’m only one of two Christians in the group)

15. How has this changed your relationship with non-christians?

I have so many more relationships with non-christians (I hate that term). I now have more time to connect with them as I’m not totally consumed with church activities. I also feel more free to talk about faith without them worrying about me trying to drag them to church to be saved. Since leaving the church I have had three non Christian friends become Christians. Two have joined churches, one meets regularly with me and another friend to pray and learn.

16. What do you miss about church now?

I cannot honestly think of anything. I feel so much more free now.

17. What is it about church that doesn’t connect with where you’re at?

I’ve said it all I think. Oh…I hate singing, I always found it to be an experience that stressed me out and made it difficult for me to connect with God. Why can’t church have ‘bush walking worship’?

18. Would you go back? Why or why not? Would anything make you go back to church?

I’ve considered it. I actually feel that one day I may go back, not because of what I’ll get out of it but for what I can offer. Not that I feel I have anything much to offer, but I see some little new churches starting in my city that I’d like to support. It scares me though.

19. Which would you prefer – people inviting you to attend church, or leaving you alone in your decision not to?

My old church friends do not talk to me any more because I associate with unacceptable types. So I never get such an invitation. It doesn’t bother me.

20. What are the most important/effective ways for you to sustain your christianity as a non-church-goer?

Prayer, service to others, eating with others. I celebrate life in the small things and see God in them every day.

21. What is the vision God has given you for your life?

In the normal things that I do, every day, I have the ability to be a light, to help others connect with the life that God offers. I always try to find what God is already doing in the world around me and to join him in it.

22. What do you say when people ask you “What church do you go to?”

‘I don’t go to A church’.

23. What question don’t you like other Christians asking you?

Is your belly button an inney or an outy? Mine is a major outy…they always want to see it.

24. What question do you wish other Christians would ask you?

Nothing springs to mind. I think I’ve said enough!

25. Is there anything else that you’d like to mention?

No — thanks for the questions.

http://www.kennypittman.org

Friends

Lucky to be in the land, we’re free from enemy worries….I said, “God, be gracious! Put me together again— I have been torn to pieces.”…My enemies are wishing the worst for me….If someone comes to see me, he mouths empty platitudes, All the while gathering gossip about me to entertain the street-corner crowd….These “friends” who hate me whisper slanders all over town. They form committees to plan misery for me….The rumor goes out….Even my best friend, the one I always told everything —he ate meals at my house all the time!— has bitten my hand….God, give grace, get me up on my feet. I’ll show them a thing or two….Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side— no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp….You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you never fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye….Blessed is God! (Psalm 41:2-13) (MSG)

 

Life is full of surprises, from birth one seeks to have good friends. People to trust, people to love, people to share with, people to laugh with, people to cry with, but evil always corrupts good friendships. Most of us have been scarred from childhood. I recall my first childhood friend, (David Edmond) one I dream would last forever. We meet in Head Start, were brushing our teeth together and after that we did everything together. From Head Start through Middle School we were like two peas in a pod. Then in our Junior year of High School, Satan found his vise, David accused me of having sex with his girlfriend. A love between friends shattered, memories lost, plans destroyed, no hope to reunite.

 

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (Romans 7:20-21) (NIV)

 

I had never been with David’s girlfriend nor had it ever cross my mine. The hurt of your friendship being betrayed, the trust, and the shared thoughts gone to waste. The very thing that I never thought of doing, because of the hurt (the sin) I did.

 

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) (NLT)

After that I never really looked for anyone to be my friend, but we all lone to have a true friend. Consequently, even without looking you come across people who try to befriend you. Every once in a while I would except the friendship, and betrayal came along. I have always

made it a point if I am a friend, I am a friend, if I am not, I am not. Because, I believe the true friends sticks closer than a brother. However, so many don’t understand true friendship, because of selfishness, pride, jealousy, envy, spite, etc…..

 

But, should Christians be different? Man, when I became a Christian I hoped so, but…..Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13) (NKJV) What happen to this part of Christianity? Did we stop following Jesus Christ’s teachings? Did I error in thinking that love, friendships and relationships should be found in the Church?

 

Because this is what I found in the Church; Many will entreat the favor of a liberal man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. (Proverbs 19:6) (AMP) and Wealth addeth many friends; But the poor is separated from his friend. (Proverbs 19:4) (ASV) I am not even talking about material things. Stop giving attention to the man, get broken in your spirit, hurt from church groupies gossiping, speak out on the truth. You will quickly find out that the friend you thought you had forgot; And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) (NKJV)

If you confess to be a Christian, study to be a friend.

If you confess to be a Christian and you are in love with the church, cheat on it and love people.

If you confess to be a Christian make a friend, keep a friend, love a friend, be a friend.

If you confess to be a Christian don’t be a hypocrite at the funeral!

 

Life is short and Christ is on His way!

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