“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)
This world is dark as midnight; Jesus has come that by faith we may have light, and may no longer sit in the gloom which covers all the rest of mankind.
Whosoever is a very wide term: it means you and me. If we trust in Jesus we shall no more sit in the dark shadow of death, but shall enter into the warm light of a day which shall never end. Why do we not come out into the light at once?
A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we shall not abide in darkness if we believe in Jesus. He has come to give us broad daylight. Shall He come in vain? If we have faith we have the privilege of sunlight: let us enjoy it. From the night of natural depravity, of ignorance, of doubt, of despair, of sin, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free; and all believers shall know that He no more comes in vain than the sun rises and fails to scatter his heat and light.
Shake off thy depression, dear brother. Abide not in the dark, but abide in the light. In Jesus is thy hope, thy joy, thy Heaven. Look to Him, to Him only, and thou shalt rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise, and as the angels rejoice before the throne.
I remember when I was a little boy and my father took us on a family vacation to Ruby Falls. I remember being in a cave and they turned the lights out. A voice came over the speaker and said if you stayed in this dark for too long you would go blind. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that so many Christian walk in darkness for so long when they see the light it blinds them. Like waking up in the morning and someone turns on a bright light.
Abide in the light of our Savior, so when someone tries to shine the light on you the light of God leaves them as deer staring into headlights.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless–that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8–9 MSG
In Other Words
In summary, God wants us to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble. It gives God no pleasure when we become obsessed with getting even, behave like put-down artist, or become champions of sarcastic word wars. We are called to be different. We are to bless, not curse. When we bless others, even in adverse circumstances, we also receive blessings. Bless and be blessed, that’s God’s way.
ü God wants us to get along with grumpy people
ü He wants us to return sarcasm with sympathy, distain with empathy
ü Jesus wants us to be loving and compassionate, even when surrounded by hate
ü Our Father is not happy when we waste time in getting even or playing “pay-back”
ü He is not pleased when we put others down instead of lifting them up
ü God winces when we willingly become bows for poisoned arrows of sarcasm
ü Jesus empowers us to be different
ü Our Father expects us to both bless and be a blessing to others
ü When we bless each other, then surely we are being blessed
Questions and Thoughts to Aid Digestion
Have you ever launched a counter-attack against sarcasm? Were you happy with the results?
How much do you grow in the Lord when you have vindictive or spiteful thoughts?
Which seems more natural, to turn our cheek, or to slap theirs?
How often are you caught in the act of being a blessing to someone else?
Because God expects us to be meek, does that mean we should be weak?
“Success” does indeed have its rewards. Therefore the temptation to parade the accouterments of achievement in front of others in order to garner their admiration is almost irresistible! After all,
“If you‘ve got it, FLAUNT IT!“ (But subtly, of course.)
Let’s just admit that it’s hard to be humble when you’re soooo good!
God is not against success. But He is against pride. And the pride that often accompanies our success can indeed be seductive.
Take for example the experiences of:
“But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God… “ (2 Chronicles 26:16)
“After Rehoboam‘s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.“ (2 Chronicles 12:1)
“Jeshurun grew fat… filled with food… heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior.“ (Deuteronomy. 32:15)
Because “SUCCESS” IS A SEDUCTIVE MISTRESS we would be wise to heed sage old King Solomon — who himself was seduced by his success — when he prayed:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?‘ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.“ (Proverbs 30:8, 9)
QUESTION: How well are you handling your “success” in the eyes of the Lord Jesus?
- Is He pleased as He observes you, His humble, self-sacrificing, and gracious servant? Or:
- Is He grieved by a pride-ridden life that is locked on to spiritual cruise-control?
The problem is that a lot of us are in spiritual cruise control. We are not pursuing God. We are not following after righteousness. The Christian life is like a greased pole: either you are climbing or slipping. How about you? Are you climbing? Are you growing? Are you maturing? Or are you going backward? It is time for us to use what God has given so we can go out and do some serious spiritual four-wheeling.
Sam and Jean had a hellish marriage.
With a history of promiscuity, personal insecurities, etc., etc., both brought excess baggage into the relationship that contributed toward constant
conflict. Both however, had recently become followers of Christ and were committed to living out their marriage vows His way.
That was twenty years ago. Today I was on the phone with Sam as he mused over the fact that he and Jean had become “best friends.”
It seems to me there are several reasons for this remarkable transformation:
1. Both were willing to humble themselves and seek out competent and godly counsel to help them identify and root out the origins of their problems:
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” (Proverbs 11:14)
2. Both were committed to spiritual growth: Consistent times of prayerful meditation upon God’s Word:
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Jos. 1:8)
3. Both surrounded themselves with godly people to whom they chose to be accountable; people from whom they gained supportive strength:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) (See 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 12:12-15)
4. Both were committed to persevering through their problems. In their minds divorce was never an option. Thus, they chose to face, rather than deny
or ignore the critical issues:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) (See Romans 5:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 3:8-11)
Over the years, I have met few couples who did not face daunting challenges in their marriage. I have come to believe that marital success or failure
is determined not by the size of the problems, but by whether or not the couple is willing to face and deal with the problematic issues, whatever the pain, whatever the cost.
Living as we do in a crybaby world “if it feels good do it” society where marriage vows often read, “as long as we both shall love,”
instead of “till death do us part,” we need to comprehend the fact that God hates divorce, and only granted it because of people’s hardness of heart. (Malachi 2:16; Mark 10:2-9)
QUESTION: Are you demonstrating your commitment to your marriage by taking whatever steps are biblical and necessary to resolve the difficult
issues that inevitably could destroy it? If not, why not?
THOUGHT: If you applied these principles and biblical truths to every area of your life, what would the outcome be?
The Famine in Our Land
“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land”. Genesis 12:10 Just like in the days of Abram there is a famine in our land. God sent Abram to the promise land, Canaan a land that should have been flowing with milk and honey. However the land has now become dry and dusty, similar to our church today. In the same way Abram had to leave Canaan “The Promise” and go to a place to really appreciate God and who He is, we are at a point where we need to leave the “institutionalized church”, the money thirsty, Tower of Babel building, ego seeking church. The place which has become the replacement for the “Body of Christ” is in a famine. The Body of Christ “The Church”, “The Promise” today is experiencing a famine.
A famine is sweeping our land, from the sun drenched coast of California to the icy shores of Massachusetts. The barrenness stretches from Antarctica to Aruba and from Zambia to Zimbabwe. No amount of rain, sleet, or snow can relieve this famine. Only the water of the Word of God can quench our thirsty spirits and bring life from death. People don’t take lighting as seriously as they should. When you hear thunder, do you rush indoors and seek shelter or do you casually wind up your activities and stroll inside unaware of the danger lurking above you? When it comes to weather, we don’t always clearly see the danger on the horizon. We don’t even realize that lighting kills some people every year than tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards combined.
Nor do we take the danger of not reading the Bible seriously enough. Christians take the church building more serious than they do the Word of God. Matter of fact most Christians including pastors go to church more each week than they read their Bible. We know that we should read the Word, yet there is always something more pressing, something that just cannot wait that we do instead, choir practice, book club meetings (which has become most of the churches ministries) drama, and dance rehearsals, etc… What we know in our heads seldom penetrates our hearts, leaving us in danger, a danger we all too often dismiss. A biblical famine is sweeping our world, and many in the church cannot see the danger. They ignore the consequences of neglecting God’s Word.
The world is under siege by an enemy that has but one good attribute: patience. Of course, the forces of evil do not use patience to advance the kingdom of God; they use it to further the kingdom of Satan. Every day they persuade churchgoers to neglect reading the Word. As result, people slip further and further away from their heavenly Father. He longs to speak to us through His Word, yet many say by their actions, “Sorry. Not today. I have more important things to do.” Many will read bits and pieces of the Bible without allowing it to affect their attitudes and actions; the truths of Scripture go in one ear and out the other without reaching their hearts. And even if they do understand Scripture, are they acting on it? No! Many are lost in church because they have never drenched their minds and spirits with the water of life, the Word of God.
Famines don’t suddenly appear out of nowhere; they develop slowly. Day by day, they squeeze the life out of the land. Grass gradually loses its verdure and turns brown. You can’t see it happening in an instant; shrubs and trees do not suddenly succumb to the lack of water. Weeks or months may pass before you perceive the changes Then you say, “What happened? Everything is dead!” The word picture aptly describes the lukewarm Christian. The lost in church are withering from a lack of spiritual water: the Bible. The church is nursing on a substitute, entertainment! They are depressed, angry, and spiritually depleted, unaware. They are dry and parched in their souls, longing for something to quench their thirst. Unfortunately, few realize they are being drawn by the Holy Spirit and that they need to be washed and nourished by the everlasting spring of life-giving water. As Scripture tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,” Ephesians 5:25-26 “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”. Revelation 22:17
Scripture clearly teaches that reading the Bible is essential for Christians. When you read the Bible, you are hearing God speak to you personally. Can you picture yourself in a desert with no water? Without water, you would die. Take that picture and apply it to the Bible. Bam! You are dead! We refuse to open the Bible, and then wonder why life isn’t what you expected; it’s much like standing in the middle of a barren desert. Water is essential to life; in fact, most humans can survive only three days without it. Without water, our bodies dehydrate. This is simple science. The sad reality for many today is that they are refusing to replenish their souls and spirits with the water of the Word; therefore, they are unable to live the abundant, fruitful life that the Lords wants them to live. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 Your pastor can’t refresh you or even give you what you need to be refreshed. Matter of fact most pastors are dehydrated themselves. The worship leader may make you sweat, but try living off sweat.
Concrete mix comes in a powder and unless you add water it remains dry and dusty. The Word of God is your water for your mix. Without the Bible, your spiritual concrete will never set. You’ll never be capable of living the Christian life or obeying Jesus. Then Moses told the Israelites to “be careful to observe” How can people carefully observe the words of the Lord if they don’t know them? A person carefully observing the Word of God will hold it in high regard and take it seriously. The lost in church love to choose which commands they will obey, even the pastors. If some part isn’t convenient, or if it requires too much work on their parts, many simply discard or ignore those truths. They may say, “I’ll have to pray about that”; yet, inwardly, they have already made up in their minds to disobey, figuring god is loving, forgiving God.
The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 32:47 “It is a futile thing, because is your life”. Our belief system is revealed by what we do. In other words, deeds are based on faith. What is in a heat comes out in the person’s life. As Luke 6:43-45 says,
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks”.
If the church is not consistently in the Word of God, it will be only a shell without foundation or substance. Knowing God is knowing His Word. Having faith is obeying God. “It is your life.” Can the lord be any clearer? Apart from Jesus and His Word, eternal life cannot be achieved, for we all sin and “fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. When you look at your Bible, what do you think? Do you treat it like the very Words of God? Don’t try to substitute your pastor, your church, your Christians friends, your spouse, or anything else in this world for the Word of God! 1 Samuel 3:7 says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” Verse 21 says, “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.” God longs to give the lost in church life – real life – eternal life. It comes only through Jesus Christ who reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit and Scripture.
God wants to shatter the comfort zones of those lost in church, the mind-set that says, “I hear from God when the preacher is talking, when the choir is singing, when my pastor is praying. What more do you expect of me? God expects a lot more of you than an hour or two a week. Try giving your spouse that much time and see where that gets you. Matter of fact that hour or two you spend in church (as you call it) God Himself is not please with it. For many lost in church today, the most comfortable thing to do is hide, to pretend He’s not watching. They resort to our first parents’ behavior. After disobeying God, Adam and Eve did what came naturally to sinners. Genesis 3:8-14 tells the story.
The lost church are hiding behind their church membership, their pastor, their good deeds, their parents’ walk with God, or other flimsy excuses that will not be accepted by a holy God. There’s an astonishingly bizarre attitude among many churchgoers today. What they say they know, they don’t do. They understand the importance of spending time in their Bibles, yet their consciences don’t seem to stop them from ignoring this truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 speaks to this attitude: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron”. In other words, many lost in church can be compared to religious hypocrites who knowingly listen to the devil (I wanted to drop some names here, but God wouldn’t allow me) instead of God. A spiritual war of biblical magnitude is assaulting the world today, and many in the church are saying, “What war?” We are being blessed! The truth, they have made a deal with Satan. They settled for blessings from Satan and rejected the armor and weapons to fight effectively.
Instead of fighting the spiritual battles church seems to enjoy the fight amongst themselves with even recognizing it. What does God see when He looks at the “institutionalized church”? Does He see humble saints hungry for His voice? Spiritually deprived slaves worshipping a master call pastor? Old club hands getting their party on in the church house? I believe that too often God sees people starving and malnourished by a lack of spiritual food. What’s happening her? It’s a look at the church today. Can you imagine a week without food? Many in the church haven’t read their Bibles all week; they are spiritually empty. Too many go to church on Sunday morning, open their Bibles, and then close them until the following week. The truth of the matter most pastor are quiet happy with that. Why? Because if you ever grew into the knowledge of God, they know you would have to leave. Most of them would be out of the pimping business because you would become the truth ministers “disciples” of the Word of God. Wise up! The Bible holds the key.
Abraham Lincoln said “I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This morning tell your body and soul that I am happy, healthy, and feel great! Speak to your world and create it as man was originally intended to do.
It seems that whatever we say is what we settle for.
Speak to your mountain today and see it removed. Doubt not and simply believe you are created as an agent for change in this world.
Proverb 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
To change your circumstance, change your thinking! To change your thinking, change your words!”
While people look for better methods, God looks for better people. Choose to believe God today, choose to be happy today!
Life is too short and tomorrow is not promised, make every day the best day of your life.
I am praying for a mountain moving experience in your life today.
We live in a lost world, a world more frightening than anything Steven King could have imagined. Its fearsomeness lies not in prehistoric monsters, but in the inhabitants who have turned away from their Creator and rejected the only Redeemer who could rescue them from their spiritual sickness. Disconnected from the God of grace, human beings live in disgrace, choosing to become their own gods. Burdened by their sins, they seek relief from the consequences of their actions but continue to do the very things that enslave them.
Yesterday as my wife and I sit in the gymnasium waiting for our younger daughter’s musical performance to begin. I look over and notice my wife crying. Our other daughter had given her an obituary of a person she knew. I understand the intense sorrow she was feeling. She was crying because of the physical deaf, but there is the deaf of a spiritual man that I moan for everyday. There are so many Christian in a quest to find themselves in church often die a slow and painful deaf. This leads to a religious experience in which the God of the Bible is thought to be nothing more than whispers in the wind, a voice cling in the desert, or an opinion that can be easily ignored.
Alienated from God and His laws of living, they live their lives the way they want, unashamed of their double-mindness and lack of faith. Like people who have deliberately spread the AIDS virus, they justify their search for self-satisfaction with rationalizations such as, “It’s my body. I can do with it as I please.” They are disconnected from God and others. There is so much similarity to the church today. Instead of truly loving people, they use them as objects for their satisfaction, tools for their self-satisfaction. God’s will is replaced with the will to pleasure self: “If it feels good, (like Nike) just do it.” Most of what is done on Sunday morning in church is a stroke of the feelings, the pew sitters want to feel good and the pulpit pimps want to live good. Morality is lost in a sea of relativism, and as Paul said, “The whole creation groans” Romans 8:22
Can you hear the groaning of our lost world? Listen to the cries of young girls with unwanted pregnancies, the result of a search for love and acceptance, a search for their lost selves. Most are the victims of religious church folks, who found more pleasure in serving in the church building or the pastor than loving and teaching at home. Listen to the angry, bitter words spoken by a couple who once vowed to love, honor, and respect one another. Listen as selfish demands obscure their recognition of each other’s needs. This is my personal testimony, church, pastor and I almost destroyed my marriage. It is so easy to get caught up in the ministry as we call it, which is really a stroking on man; that you lose things that are really important to you and God. My old pastor would always tell me that my wife was going to destroy the ministry and that she didn’t love me. Why? Because she refused to buy stock into what I had been sold from the man I believed was walking with God. The truth of it all she should have been the ministry’s objective.
Listen to the moans of the drug addicts, the homeless and the downcast. Listen to the excuse of the overworked, the driven, the dishonest all of whom the church tries to fix by having programs for, feeding once a week or casting demons out of. The church as we see it today has lost its biblical roots as the first century Christians laid the foundations for the Church. Listen to the groans of the world.
But listen also for a Voice of hope. In the middle of the chaos, His Voice can still be heard, saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10
Some of us heard this Voice. In this lost world, we have been found. We admitted that the restlessness of our souls can be stilled only by a return to our God. We have discovered our need for God and have given up our sins for His way – a better way, based on truth, hope, and justice. Like a bride longing for the return of her betrothed, we await the coming of our Lord with breathlessness impossible to describe. We know the Redeemer, Jesus Christ who bore our sins on a cross and opened the way for us to be found to be reconnected to the Father and to one another. As Isaiah 55:6 teaches, we have sought the Lord while He way be found; we have called upon Him while He is near. We have been saved! Not commercialized! I know you may be saying not my church, you don’t know my pastor, we are doing God’s will, and we are growing!
Why then is there so little difference between the church and the unchurched, the lost and the found, the faithful and the faithless? At a time when there may be more professions of faith than ever before, why has the church lost its impact? Why are there so many decisions for Christ with so few commitments to Christ? Why is the lostness of the world so descriptive of the church itself? Why are there as many teenage pregnancies and marital break-ups in the church as there are in the world? Why is it that out of ten self-described Christians only one claims that his or her spiritual growth is a high priority in life?
Could it be that some of us are actually lost in church? Could it be that the evangelized need to be evangelized? Could it be that many in the church don’t want the truth anymore?
As churches reach out to a lost world with the Gospel, many are growing. Facilities are expanding. Church budgets are mounting. Billboards (boards to help pay the bills) are being erected to attract newcomers trying their way and old-comers trying to find the hottest club.
My prayer is that my writings will serve as a sign – not just for the unchurched, but for the lost in church. I want to write specifically about some tough issues that we can’t afford to ignore, this is my purpose for this life. The apostle Paul admonition to believers in the early church applies today: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” Phil.2:12-13
My concern is not only that the lost in church would be found, but also that having been truly found, we may more effectively reach our lost world with God’s healing grace. 2 Chronicles promises,
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
My writing is not for the individual who is comfortable with the status quo of Christianity. It is meant for the lost as well as the saved that are searching for the God of the Bible and not the pastor of the church. Those who will not rest until they have found the truth – God truth. My prayer is that the Son of Man will continue to seek and save the lost – weather it be the lost in the world or the lost in church.
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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…The Lord knows my heart is not an excuse not to do what you know is right
…God’s grace is sufficient is not an explanation for you living in sin
…The Lord will make a way some how is not an excuse for you not to do your part
…God is always on time is not an explanation for you to not plan to pay your bills on time
…I will pray for you is not an excuse for you not to go out of your way to help someone
…Just trust in the Lord and everything will be alright is not an explanation not to spend time with someone who don’t understand God’s Word
…Just be faithful and give your tithe and God will supply your needs is not and excuse not to be good stewards over what He has already supplied you with
…Being a member of a church is not an explanation of being a Christian
…Loving the Lord with all your heart is not an excuse for not loving others as Christ loves you
…Being busy because you are a leader at church is not an explanation not to be busy being a leader at home
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Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. ~KP
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How can a man ever know if he failed or succeeded? The thing that seemed like success today could very well be ones greatest failure tomorrow. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it—the very thing that made me smile yesterday—makes me cry today. There is such a fine line that one is often on the line and do not know it—yet the mystery of failure and success can only be determined after one crosses the line—the line that separates life and deaf. ~KP
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It was because I loved Him—He rescued me. He protected me only—because I acknowledged His name. I called on Him—He came when I was in trouble. He became my refuge—His eyes watched over me. He delivered me—now here I stand proclaiming the salvation of the Lord to all that will listen. ~KP
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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.
We all have had friends that come and go out of our lives; friends that just leave for the passing, or whether it may be having a child, or marriage, or a move. Sometimes, we just, yes, happen to lose contact with those that we thought would never leave us. It happens. But there are friends who come through our lives who will back stab, lie, and just do you wrong. Whatever the case may be, the betrayal of a friend can hurt us so bad at times, we don’t understand why. I can recall a few friends.
I swear I think to this day, they were my friends for other purposes, which kept me like a “puppet on a string”. In the end, they lied to me, talked about and listened to others talk about me behind my back, and yes, hurt me so deeply. Though I had learned years ago from the one best friend who broke my heart horribly, one is never prepared when a friend hurts another. I even had a good friend of mine, for years violate my trust and all rules as a friend. To have friends disrespect another, or hurt one so deeply doesn’t account for their actions when they are out for themselves.
The betrayal of the friendship is deep not only for oneself, but I’m sure for a lot of us out there. To know that some friends would deceive or disrespect another is just plain cruel. Though we know it’s a part of life, and we learn to deal as life comes at us fast. I have learned friends don’t come easy these days as they did when I was growing up. They will come, they will go, and it’s a part of our lives. What I don’t accept is the fact of how friends befriend you, and betray your friendship later in life. As much as all of us will be angry from our friends hurting us in life, to me walking away from that friendship is the best way to go.
It’s the most powerful karma I love these days. Though I’m not getting younger, I’ve lost a great deal of friends over the years. Who hasn’t really? Rather it may be the betrayal or just a loss of communication, no one really deserves to be hurt in this day and age. For the few friends that I do have in my life these days, I love them dearly as they have been with me for years and seen what I’ve gone through, as I have of them. I have made new friends, and do love making new friends. I pray that they too, will understand that friendship is a treasured thing, and that they won’t become the victim of the betrayal of a friendship as the rest have.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. Mark 10:17-18
God is not only absolutely truthful, but He is also all-good (Omni-benevolent). It is impossible for Him to lie. (Heb. 6:18), and He is love by His very nature (1 John 4:16).
It is debated among theologians whether goodness and love are the same thing or whether they are different. And, if different, whether love is an attribute of God or an activity of God. Some say that goodness is an attribute of God and that love is act of His goodness. But 1 John 4:16 says God is love, seemingly applying the term to His essence.
But, the question still lies on the table, “Is He a Good God?” As we look at the world around us, for so many of us good is defined only by our circumstances.
Do we measure God’s goodness the same way we measure each others?
If your answer is no and the bible says; If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21
If “love” is defined as “willing the good of its object,” then for all practical purposes “love” and “goodness” can be treated synonymously. Literally, the word omnibenevolent means “all-good.” Biblically, the basic Hebrew term for “love” used of God means “goodness,” “affection,” “good-will,” “loving-kindness” or “tender loving-kindness.” The Greek word agape used of God’s love means “benevolence,” a self-less “sacrificial” love. Theologically, God’s omnibenevolence refers to His infinite or unlimited Goodness.
If love and goodness can be treated synonymously and God says, “he who love Him must love his brother also.” What happens when we don’t like people because they don’t do the things we think they should do and our feelings change toward them? What happens when we don’t treat people the same because the good circumstance changed?
Let’s be real, the way we treat people is mostly determined by how good they are to us. Friendships are determined mostly by what one person thinks of another, but when that person doesn’t live up to the expectation the relationship becomes less desirable. Most marriages are formed because of desires, needs, feelings or financial security. But, what happens so often is when the goodness is not so good or is taken for granted; the desire to love is questioned.
Jesus said, “no one is good – except, God alone.” But, so often our circumstances in life change our relationship with God or defy His goodness.
February 24, 2008 in “Our Daily Bread” titled “God is Good” it reads the phrase “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good” is repeated by many Christians almost like a mantra. I often wonder if they really believe it or even think about what they’re saying. I sometimes doubt God’s goodness—especially when it feels as though God isn’t hearing or answering my prayers. I assume that if others were more honest, they’d admit they feel the same way.
The serpent planted a doubt in Eve’s mind about whether God had been good to her and had her best interest at heart. He said, “God knows that in the day you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Satan tried to convince her to believe that God was holding out on her and not giving her something really good—more knowledge.
Do you feel as though God isn’t answering your prayers? Are you tempted to doubt His goodness? When I feel this way, I have to remind myself that my circumstances aren’t the barometer of God’s love and goodness—the cross is. He has shown how good He is by giving His only Son Jesus to die for our sin. We can’t rely on our feelings. But day by day as we choose to trust Him more, we learn to believe with confidence that God is good—all the time. — Anne Cetas
In all of our circumstances we have to learn to trust God even when life hurts, because He is still good in spite of. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. James 1:2-5
One of the many fascinating events in nature is the emergence of the Cecropia moth from its cocoon — an event that occurs only with much struggle on the part of the moth to free itself. The story is frequently told of someone who watched a moth go through this struggle. In an effort to help — and not realizing the necessity of the struggle — the viewer snipped the shell of the cocoon. Soon the moth came out with its wings all crimped and shriveled. But as the person watched, the wings remained weak. The moth, which in a few moments would have stretched those wings to fly, was now doomed to crawling out its brief life in frustration of ever being the beautiful creature God created it to be.
What the person in the story did not realize was that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon was an essential part of developing the muscle system of the moth’s body and pushing the body fluids out into the wings to expand them. By unwisely seeking to cut short the moth’s struggle, the watcher had actually crippled the moth and doomed its existence.
The adversities of life are much like the cocoon of the Cecropia moth. God uses them to develop the spiritual “muscle system” of our lives. As James says, “The testing of your faith through trials of many kinds] develops perseverance,” and perseverance leads to maturity of our character.
We can be sure that the development of a beautiful Christ like character will not occur in our lives without adversity. The Goodness of God pushes us into His goodness that should be reflected in our relationships toward others regardless of our circumstances.
“God is good all the time, all the time he is good.” Let it be a meaningful part of your Christianity and not a mantra.
We may think we have true Christian love (or know God is good all the time) until someone offends us or treats us unjustly. Then we begin to see anger and resentment well up within us. We may conclude we have learned about genuine Christian joy until our lives are shattered by an unexpected calamity or grievous disappointment. Adversities spoil our peace and sorely try our patience. God uses those difficulties to reveal to us our need to grow, so that we will reach out to Him to change us more and more into the likeness of His Son.
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?
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.