I have been sitting on this one a while…
I am the pastor of a small church that was planted 3 years ago starting in my living room. When a new church or a new pastor shows up. we want to know as much as we can about them. Since its inception we have seen God’s hand move in different ways than we would have expected, growth to happen in places that brought great joy to our lives and constantly reminded that I ain’t about me.
I was recently asked about our church, The Well, by a woman at Walmart. She asks me, “So what do ya’ll believe?” I found that to be a little strange and I don’t know if I will ever get used to hearing that question. The pat answer would be “The Bible”. But I could tell by her probing voice that she needed much more. My response was…
We believe that Jesus still saves
That Hell is still hot
That sin still destroys lives
That churches are filled with imperfect people that are in desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness
We believe that while the culture rules, the family is attacked, weakened and all but destroyed.
We believe that God’s not dead, He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light and that making disciples is job one.
There was about 15 seconds of silence. Then she broke silence with, “Alright then…(in my best southern voice). I sure hope that she makes it to the church sometime soon.
It is terribly sad to turn on the news virtually everyday and see what new horrific deeds have happened while myself and my family were sleeping. Beheading’s, mindless killing and destruction in Baltimore, sex trafficking even the murder of unsuspecting people in the House of God attempting to learn a better way to live their lives in a wicked world. There are so many emotions that have gone through my mind during the tragic past few days that I can hardly contain myself. This senseless killing should never have happened and yet as difficult this pill is to swallow, there is no reason to think that this type of hate and violence won’t.
As you are reading there will be some that will and have already thought,”You are nuts”. Maybe. What I will say in this brief message will not be heard, understood or even considered by many if not most. So let me just throw this out to ALL of the news outlets and politicians out there, “We can not eradicate evil.” We can’t do it. All this talk about the why these things happen. Is it fatherless homes? Is it gun laws or the lack there of? Is it poor education? Is it drugs? I say no. These things certainly contribute to bad things happening but they are merely symptoms of a much bigger disease.
Warning…I am going to use scripture to show what’s going on in an attempt to help any believers that are distraught and confused and hopefully encourage any non believers to at least to put away any thinking that the bible is a bunch of fairy tales and at least look at the wisdom in this book. The world that we live since sin entered the world has been violent – the first murder where Cain killed his brother Able and from that has continued to spiral downward and get progressively worse. In Gen. 6:11 we read, “God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.”
Scriptures like Proverbs 6:17 and Isaiah 59:7-8 and many more scriptures speak of mans evil ways that lie, is proud and seeks the innocent to kill. There is a lack of peace and harmony among mankind because we have thrown away our moral compass – not lost it, as losing something suggests an accidental misplacing. We threw it out the window. Man has never liked being told what to do, even if it is for our protection. Just look at our children. No one has to teach a child to lie or disobey parent and truthfully, many times parents think that it is cute when a child says “NO” or uses explicit profanity. Just listen in the work place or the schools how people speak to and about each other. The more we push cultural humanism, the more wicked the world has become Why? Because we have as Romans 1:25 says, “traded the truth of God for lies“. We no longer accept or recognize truth but have create our own version of truth; one that suits our “modern” life styles.
In our pride, in our arrogance and in our achievements that we call progress, we have decided that we don’t need God anymore. We are smart. We have money. We have fame and fortune. We have technology at our finger tips. We have closed the door on our God and said, “We don’t want you”. We do this and shake our fist at heaven saying, “If we can’t have same sex marriage, we don’t want you God!” If we can’t have Kaitlyn Jenner’s, we don’t need God!” If we can’t do whatever we want that pleases us and brings immediate pleasure to our bodies then we give God the finger. We have created everything that we could ever want and while things SEEM great, for a while, there is something missing – a huge void. Knowing God
Pause for just a second. Christians, we can call people out for sin. We can categorize sin into levels ranging from bad to worse. We can stand on our soap box and proudly claim our exemption. If that is you, then just go ahead and run for office somewhere. You will fit in just fine. We need to to love folks right where they are, in their sin because somebody loved you and me right where we were in ours and let the transforming power of God do the changing in peoples life. God always has His way and His plans can never be thwarted.
Will behavior modification remedy this worlds problems? Will stricter gun law reduce violence? Will a stronger military stop the bad guys? Doubtful. The problem is sin and sin can only be dealt with by the power of God. Will these things help? Sure, in the short term and I am not against them. But evil always raises its ugly head and when it does, it has gained momentum. History shows that the one thing that we have learned from history is we haven’t learned anything from history. By that I mean the historically (bible history) that if you keep pushing God out, garbage comes in.
Should things like Charleston killings happen? No. Beheadings? No. 911? No. Sex trafficking? No. Will they continue? Yes they will unfortunately…Until Jesus returns. He died to put and end to our enslavement to sin, and evil and twisted thinking but many choose the opposite way of life and the result in chaos, unrest and a lack of peace and they force this on others and the result many times is great loss of life, pain and suffering. My prayers go out to ALL people, of ALL races and ALL ways of life that that would find peace in the only place that true peace can be found – Jesus.
I recently ran across an email suggesting some various articles that were supposed to be worthy of reading. (As a pastor of a small church plant I get a lot of these) The first article a saw was written by a 37 year old male blogger that refereed to himself as a “cis gendered male” in a separate blog. Now don’t read anything into that. I added that part because I had never heard the term before. The email pointed to a response to an article from Relevant Magazine titled “5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church“. The response was titled “5 Awesome Reasons to Leave Your Church” and the blogger/author said it all boiled down to one real reason, “My needs aren’t being met“.
This, I found, was a troubling statement. Never in over 2 decades of studying the scriptures have I found one passage that said that people should come, have come to the church/temple or the the Lord to have their needs met. I find this to be a growing problem within the church. As I refer to the church, please keep in mind what the church is first as the people of God; second, a body of believers that meet, eat, pray together and encourage one another. Now I’m not talking about people that came to Jesus in order to be healed. I am talking about people that come to the church, sit down and in a sense say “Gimme”.
This mentality is killing the church partially due to…the church not standing on TRUTH and picking little pieces of truth that they can fly a flag of protest on. TRUTH, not some truth, not a truth but TRUTH. A huge problem is that people come in with their hands empty and hearts closed and want their hands to be fills (metaphorically – what can I get) and the heart is off limits (Metaphorically – I ain’t changing).
Why is this a problem? Should we not come to church to receive a message and learn from God? Well, that is what most pastors would hope. But consider this, Where is the sacrifice of praise? Where is the GIVING of ourselves? Where is the idea of GIVING ourselves wholly to a holy God? Most people want to come to church, get inspired, maybe their toes stepped on, shake a few hands, listen to some toons but give…? Give ourselves to God not take take take. It reminds me of a story I heard about a dad who reluctantly was convinced by his wife and 8 year old son to come to church instead of watch the football game. After arriving at the church and complaining about the crowd, the guy on the 2nd row that owed him 20 dollars, the singer that was off key, the offering plate was past. The dad squirmed as he thew in a $1 bill. All the way home the dad ranted about his experience at the church. Finally his son who was listening to every word piped up and said, “But it wasn’t bad for a dollar.”
This I hope you understand is not about money but what WE give in terms of ourselves. We should be giving of ourselves to the work and ministry of the gospel message and less about taking. We need to start opening up our hearts to God’s truth. I believe that the only reason to leave your church should not be about the music, the style, the bible version that is used by the pastor but this…IF biblical truth is being taught or not. If the truth is subjected and twisted due to the culture, science or political pressure then I can’t be a part of the fellowship until such time as there is repentance. Now that being said, I have an obligation to go to the pastor, elders and leadership to point out any unscriptural error in teaching. First though, WE have to study the word ourselves – 2 Tim. 2:15 teaches us to study the word. When we study and search the truth, error can clearly be seen should it pop up. If the leadership’s truth is based on anything other than the truth of God’s Word or is based on the culture war and being PC, that’s a big problem. If repentance does not follow and I can’t sit under the leadership, I must break away from that fellowship.
For my Christian, believer, follower of Christ or however you refer to yourselves you will notice that this post is not chock full of scriptures and that is for this reason. For the believer, you already know that this message is right without putting 25 verses up here. You are called to be in the local church and its fellowship and to serve…period. But for the unbeliever or the skeptic, the bible won’t mean anything anyway. It is my hope that the unsure will read the conviction in these words and know that church isn’t perfect and neither are its people. But don’t focus on me or the guy down the road but focus on the life of Jesus that we should be striving to be like. I have a whole lot more to say on this subject but I am going to leave it where it is til another time. In closing remember that it is “Better to GIVE than RECEIVE”.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it – Matt 16:18
There is a story told to me by a very wise pastor friend of mine where one of the early Popes was talking to a young priest. The Pope said to the priest, “The church can no longer say, Gold and Silver I have none.” The young priest stopped and thought for a moment and after pondering this he said, “True, but neither can it say, Rise up and walk”.
This should really make us stop and ponder the truth here and ask the question, “Where is the power”. Is the church still the unstoppable force that it was in the book of Acts. The answer is YES! YES! YES! In the book of Matthew chapter 16 Jesus tells Peter that He is building something – the church. And this church would be something so powerful and so strong that the gates of hell and all its resources cannot “prevail against it”. That’s POWER folks!!!
No more walking around our homes, our neighborhoods, work places; no more entering our churches held in the paralyzing grip of fear of doing or saying what is right because the Lord has given us superhuman power AND He sent His Spirit to be with us in our darkest hour. There is no more reason to fear. We are in a brand new year – 2011 is right on top of us. It is my hope that in this New Year we will be the difference; the difference in the attitude, commitment and belief and that believers will stop being strangled by fear and doubt.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus said that He was sending the Holy Spirit and when that Spirit comes upon us we would have POWER! Interesting word – Power, It is where we get the word dynamite today. But understand this, beyond the explosive power being described here is a moral power of excellence that frees us that allows us to blow past immorality, to cast out our evil thoughts and walk through the fire that is this world we live in and when we reach the other side of the fire not even smell like smoke. (Daniel 3:27)