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Walk In Light

“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.

What’s Your Job?

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.

 

Small Bites

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?

Hellish Relationships

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 Church Series (Lukewarm Christians) Pt. 21 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Lukewarm Christians

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

The Laodiceans were “lukewarm” (3:16). The church had become distasteful and unusable like the city’s water. Lukewarm water makes a disgusting drink. The church in Laodicea had become lukewarm, and thus distasteful and repugnant. The believers didn’t take a stand for anything; indifference had led to idleness. By neglecting to do anything for Christ, the church had become hardened and self-satisfied, and it was destroying itself. As a result, Christ was about to spit them out of his mouth. There is nothing more disgusting than a halfhearted, in-name-only Christian who is self-sufficient.

Yet, today the church’s greatest efforts to show it’s Christ-likeness to a world that is crying from within to see the glory of God; has left its members in a lukewarm state. Jesus is speaking through His Word to us today, “I know your deeds.” “I can see right through you! I know what you have done, what you are doing, and what you are going to do. I know what you are thinking and how you are feeling. You may be able to fool yourself, but you can’t fool Me.” Can you imagine all the work you have put into your ministry, trying to be the best you can be, but in all your efforts you lose the one important thing to success, the fire for God.

Jesus points out three types of people, the hot, the cold and the lukewarm:

People who are hot are on fire for the Lord. The Holy Spirit has dominion in their lives. They may have experienced fiery trials, but they have come through with a stronger faith and a more committed determination to serve the Lord. They are not perfect, but they are striving for the perfection that only the Lord can give. They take words of Jesus seriously: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Jesus rules in their lives, and His light shines through them.

People who are cold have knowingly or unknowingly rejected God. They are not saved nor do they want to be. They are more concerned with man’s opinion than with God’s. It’s doubtful that they are vocal about their faith since they have so little. They don’t talk to others about Jesus, and they don’t allow His words to affect their actions. They go to church to be seen by others, possibly to advance their own agendas or quiet their nagging consciences.

The third category is the lukewarm. They are best described as outwardly religious, yet uncommitted and self-complacent. They are indifferent toward the Lord, not “fervent in spirit” (Rom. 12:11). Equally bad is the fact that they refuse to give their lives wholeheartedly to the Savior. They are part-time in their faith, casual in their walk, and unsettled in their hearts. Deep down they know something isn’t right, but they take comfort in their rituals. Many will die and go into eternity without Christ. When asked why they should be admitted into heaven, here are some of the answers they will offer at the Great White Throne; I was a good person. I was a faithful Baptist, Methodist, etc… I was a member of the church since I was a kid. I was baptized. I was a deacon. I walked the aisle when I was a teenager. I really tried to do the right thing. I taught kids in Sunday school.

None of these answers will satisfy the Lord on Judgment Day. Scripture is clear: You must be one of His sheep. You must know His voice and respond to it in obedience. Jesus’ judgment against the church of Laodicea was that they were lukewarm. The church had taken on the characteristics of the city. Similar to the church today who have taken on the characteristics of the world we live in. Today it is hard to distinguish between a Christian and non-Christians, their characteristics are so similar. The church (Christians) rather than being “transformed” (Rom. 12:2); they have conformed to the world around them.

People who give God the cold shoulder do not harm the kingdom of God as much as those who are lukewarm. Those who are cold are non-players; they are non-combatants in a spiritual war that will soon end with the second coming of Christ. These people are on the sidelines, oblivious to the meaning of life and death. A person who is cold cannot spread hypocrisy like one who is lukewarm. Hypocrisy does incredible damage to Christianity and the name of Christ. I believe the greatest damage is inflicted from the pulpit and the pews in the lukewarm church. A complacent attitude toward Christ will result in devastating consequences.

God’s verdict on the lukewarm church (Christian). He says, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth”(v.16). Literally speaking the word “spit” (spue KJV) means to vomit. What’s God saying? How can we understand this rebuke for today’s church and apply it to our lives? A person that is vomiting is getting rid of some type of poison in his system. Though vomiting is anything but pleasant, it’s an effective defense mechanism your body employs. It rids the body of harmful bacteria and chemicals that can harm or kill the person. Lukewarm Christianity is poison to the body of Christ. It’s an invader from the enemy, and it’s harmful.

Jesus doesn’t mince words. He wants our attention. If every lukewarm Christian were to renounce his sin, repent, and eagerly seek the face of God, this world would be vastly better place. Instead of God’s curses upon our land, His blessings would overflow in our lives.

The lukewarm Christian is spiritually blind and can’t see the road ahead of him. They can’t see God trying to get their attention to guide them safety though life’s dangerous roadways. They can’t hear God’s voice directing them to stop or to proceed. They stumble through life unable to discern good from evil, right from wrong, and God from gods. They have blockaded the Lord from their lives. Do you remember Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus? God had to blind him to get his attention, but once He did, Paul surrendered to Christ, and, as a result, turned the Roman Empire upside down. A truly converted Christian is often as excited as a blind person who has just regained his eyesight. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing and living the truth.

Those straddling the faith fence know so little. They’re like the four-year-old – they think they know it all. But like the wise grandma, the Lord pursues us, undeterred by our foolishness. His mission is to clothe us with His righteousness. Yet in our self-conceit, we rush into the spiritual storms of life, completely unprepared for the dangers that are lurking in the world. In our nakedness, we get sick and polluted by a lukewarm church and world. Like foolish children we shun God’s own remedy, the spiritual clothing of holiness and repentance.

Still the Father loves us. He does not abandon us in our rebellion. His discipline is a sign of His ongoing love. Revelation 43:19 states, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” Consider this, If God’s reputation is hurt by the church’s conduct, will people –

  • Trust God with their lives?
  • Confide in the Lord with their deep secret sins?
  • Ask God for advice?
  • Want to spend time with Him?

Jesus Christ’s good name can be damaged by church people who refuse to repent of their sins. Lukewarm Christianity is one of the most grievous lifestyles in the in the world today because it makes God look bad. Millions of people have refused God’s message of love and holiness because of the actions of those who claim to follow Him. People are longing for God deep in their souls. Sometimes all they need to see is one committed totally dedicated Christian who’s on fire for God deep in their souls. Do you want to be that person?

The Church Series (Famine in Our Land) Pt. 20 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

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.

Move your Mountain

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.

The Church Series (Finding Purpose) Pt. 19 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

Finding Purpose

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.

The Church Series (The Five Star Hotel) Pt. 17 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

The Five Star Hotel

 “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength; I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. “And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.”Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test. “I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown. Revelation 3:8-11

So often I wonder if I am losing my mind because of the thoughts I have sometimes. I often wonder if I am the only one thinking the way I think. My wife tells me, normal (not the word she uses, but maybe what she is thinking) people don’t think the way you do. I am sure if John had a wife when he was writing the book of Revelation she would have said him the same thing him, my wife say to me sometime. My suggestion to my wife is always follow me, if I am wrong the worst thing could happen is you will deepen your relationship with God and His people. But what if I am right?

My wife and I spent a week in Orlando, Fl. For the first three days we stayed in a three star hotel and for the last four days we moved into a five star hotel. One of the things I always ask God to do is teach me as I live this life, in everything I do. Well, He always does, however, sometimes I wish I had not asked for the lesson He teaches me.

The three star hotel we were in was a very nice place, but when we saw the five star mega (you know where I am going) hotel it was pleasing to the eye and enticing to the ego. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, 2 Timothy 4:3. The first night we stayed in this mega hotel God begin to minister to me. As I slept I begin to dream as if Satan himself was tempting me to return to the thing I once loved to do in the world. I remember waking up having to go down on my knees asking God for his strength to overcome.

This is the first trick of the Devil, if he can get us caught up in the beauty of the eyes and the praise of the ears he can easily return us to the love of the world. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Matthew 4:8 This is the same trick Satan tried on our Lord. So often we lose sight of the Father, behind the building and the pastor.

This is what happened within the mega hotel and so often happens within the mega or institutionalized church. When I finish talking to my Father, I decided to go to the gym for a workout. I went down to the workout room ready to have a great workout. The nice lady who meets me at the door asked me had I signed up for the workout room yet. (The usher with the tithe envelop) I said no this is my first time here. She said I will be glad to assist you; our fee is $10.00 per day. What! In the three star hotel I had just left the workout room was free. So, I took me a long walk for free.

When I arrived back at the hotel my wife was just waking up complaining about her back hurting. She said this bed is nothing like the one at the other hotel. The room was big and beautiful, but it lacks the very essential thing to fulfill the purpose in which we were in it. The hotel that we had just left, the beds were like sleeping on clouds. When you woke up from your sleep you felt refreshed.     

When I first came into the hotel parking garage to park my car I was told to just go on through, but the next time they ask for my room number, my name and gave me a pass. I didn’t think much of it; I had asked the lady at check-in about parking. She told they would ask me for my room number and that was it. Well on the day of check-out there was a billed slid under my door for $6.00 a day parking. Man at the hotel we left we have free parking and a shorter walk to the car. 

I know you may be saying what in the world are you trying to say? I am glad you are wondering if you don’t have it by now. You see that same thing happen to us when we move from church building to church building, from pastor to pastor, and from body to body (of people).

As I view the movements that accrue within the body of believers 90% of them are made based on sight and what they hear and not based upon the moving of the spirit of God. The moving from one hotel to another was not base upon the needs of my wife and me, but the satisfaction of the flesh. As I am writing this on a fight from Orlando to Cleveland, I just realized that so many people were loving there stay at this hotel. They were so caught up in the luxury of everything; they didn’t realize the price they had to pay for going mega.    

This happens to so many of us in the body of Christ. We are deceived by the beauty around us and don’t recognize the price we have to pay to stay where we are within the body (if that’s really were we are). In the same way Satan attached me in my dreams to entice me to my former life; so many have been enticed while day dreaming at the prosperity of the Gospel. However, we didn’t go on our knees to ask God for help. We go to the lottery of the altar with a promise that God would bless you for this act.

In the same way my wife was awaken from her restless sleep with plain in her back. So many of go throughout the week without a day, hour, minute, or second of rest, because this place costs so much to maintain. The peace that we need in God has been replaced by the desire for man to build a throne for him to rule and sit on. Your backs are burden not by the cross we should bear, but by the ministries the body now has to wear. The place we left gave us the rest we needed to show God in our lives. Not like the place we are that make us live through the pain of no rest and fake like we have it going on.

The food that we received at that other hotel was free, refreshing and left no after taste in my mouth. Unlike the food or lack of that I received at this place. The problem with so many of us is that we can’t afford the pimps we have as pastors. You can never pay a hired hand enough to feed you what our Lord gave us for free. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”  John 21:15. The love for the Lord is scarified for the love of church, entertainment and prosperity. The lamb starve from lack of spiritual food and is too weak too even fend for him/herself.     

The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10:12-13 This is what happens to us so often living large in the life of mega blessings, mega prayers, mega pastors and the dreams to go mega. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:11-13

No excuses No explanations I

…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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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.

When Your Friends Betray You

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.

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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.

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