Tag Archives: Church

It’s Not about Us this Morning

A quick drawing and a quick thought this morning as I prepared my heart for church. I needed to remember, and perhaps you do as well, that God’s idea of mercy and mine are two entirely different notions. Mine has limitations, His goes higher than my mind can fathom.

As I prepare my heart for worship, Satan loves nothing better than to bring my failures into view in hopes that rather than glorifying God, I’ll remember me. But the fact of the matter God has thrown them as far as the east is from the west.

Now let’s go to church and praise Him for it.

What’s so special about a tent?

If you’ve never been a part of a tent meeting atmosphere you may wonder why I get so excited for this time of year. And whether or not I can adequately express what makes a tent meeting so special, only the end of today’s blog will tell. But I’ll attempt to stir your heart with the emotion I’m experiencing today.

Hebrews 9:1 begins speaking of

A worldly sanctuary

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinance of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

The first tabernacle was a movable man made temple with caretakers, priests and a high priest that he only could go into that Holy of Holiest places to make sacrifice for his sins and that of the congregation of the Lord. Though it was a temporary tabernacle, the grandness of it didn’t suffer, and I seriously doubt it was as easy as the tents we pitch today. It had layer upon layer of materials that God had laid out by design and great detail, and given to Moses. The tent then followed the children of Israel. Our tent is not of great detail, it was crafted by an Amish man in Ohio of red, white and blue vinyl to remind us of the Nation we call home and our burden to turn it back to God. We don’t have golden candlesticks, the Ark of the Covenant or the shew bread. We have the light of Jesus Christ that shines in the heart of the saved, the covenant promise of eternal life in Christ and the Word of God that fills our souls! That is what lies within the tent of Victory Baptist Church!

The way of the wilderness

Hebrews 9:8 ~ The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

The children of Israel could not imagine the privilege to come to us, though they were the symbolism of God’s plan for salvation. But they couldn’t even go into the tent! What a privilege to have the Holy Spirit dwell within us and regardless of whether we are inside the tent, out in the sun around it (though it’s calling for rain tonight) or experiencing the tent meeting via Facebook live, we are in the presence of God! The first tent meeting was a matter of necessity for wilderness wanderers. Our tent meeting is a reminder of the days of old when revival crossed America and a desire to bring that back to world caught up in the wilderness again.

A way from dead works

Hebrews 9:11-14 ~  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The children of Israel attempted and failed again and again to keep the works of the law. Glory to God that once and for all, through the blood of Christ we were released from that bondage and are now free to serve the Living God! There’s still plenty of bondage in the world around us, but nothing that Jesus Christ cannot free us from.

However, tent meeting is also a time for the church to remember that one of the bondages that is so easy for a child of God to fall into is the bondage of dead religion. Churches everywhere fall into apathy of religion rather than the awe of the Almighty! We forget the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit is expected to take a back seat until the service is over, lest we disrupt service.

This ought not to be. There is nothing traditional about a tent! And there shouldn’t be anything traditional about the service of God, whether in a building or in a tent. The Holy Spirit of God was so awesome in the days of the children of Israel that they stood outside the tent in awe and fear of His presence. That same Spirit is within us, how dare we take it for granted and treat Him as though He is not Amazing!

That is how I want to approach this tent meeting tonight. I want to be prepared in godly fear and awe to expect the Spirit of God to show up in my life in such a way that I cannot help but feel like the children who experienced the first tent meeting! Glory!!!

Another Sunday in the Books

Another Sunday in the books. And what will be done for the cause of Christ? My heart is burdened for the state of the churches of America. Few and far between do you see the fires of revival in the house of God. Churches linger somewhere between social clubs and legalistic mindsets that, though they preach grace alone for salvation, works is mingled in in the form of man’s opinions of acceptable church behaviors. I’m bordering on meddling this morning and I really don’t want to go there. I just want to experience Jesus this morning for myself and others. I want to feel the Holy Spirit stir the congregations of God to the point of Amen Hallelujah! And a lined altar of worshipers.

In 1 Kings, Chapter 8, when Solomon had finished the temple and stood before the people dedicating it to the Lord, he had the attitude that should be the attitude of the churches of America. We are free. Although the world around us is in captivity, and there is trouble in abundance; through the grace of Jesus Christ we are free indeed. We’ve lived in the land of Egypt where sin held us captive and there was no hope until we made Jesus our Savior. Why would we not stand, shout and rejoice in Him this morning. Another Sunday in the books and what will our story tell?

1 Kings 8:54-60

Hands of Praise

54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

The altar for me is often a place of repentance, and it should be, but it should be a place of praise and gratitude. When Solomon stood up with the where the Spirit of the Lord had been on him like a thick cloud, he went from his knees, a place of humbleness to the position of praise and rejoicing for what the Lord has done.

Throughout the service today our hands should be raised in praise that we are free to hear the word of God and speak His name without fear of persecution and arrest that so many others around the world are facing. Solomon’s father David had been a man of war. How many of our family and friends from ages past fought for the right we have today.

Voices of Praise

55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,

56 Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.

More importantly, not one word failed that was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ! How worthy is He to be praised this morning. When the word of God is preached there should be shouts of glory! Yes in an order that allows the word to be preached without distraction, but if the Spirit is moving, the unsaved need to hear that when the word of God moves a child of God, He is worthy to be praised! Quench not the Spirit the word says!

A Cause for Praise

57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:

58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.

59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:

60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.

There is no other God besides the Lord Jesus Christ. We serve the One and Only! Glory to God is that not reason enough? But couple that with the fact that we not only serve the One and Only, we are privileged to carry Him with us and have a relationship of Friend and Father that no other religion is privileged to have. The Creator of the universe is in our presence, a joy far greater than earthly royalty, and we are the honored guests.

I have to get ready for church else I’ll be late. But please, praise Him today like you’re in the greatest concert of your life. Because His word should be a such a song in your heart that you’re bubbling over today!

Getting the Spirit Back Where He Belongs

I refuse to be a judger of men when it comes to how other people and churches conduct themselves in services. I will only stand before God for the manner in how I conducted myself, and how I, as a leader, lead others. A lesson King David learned when he attempted to bring the Ark home from Kirjath-jearem. Uzzah lost his life because of David’s error in leadership. Uzzah was a Levite, but not a priest, who had been ordered to carry the Ark. One stumble of the oxen, one touch to the hallowed property of God and a man was dead. God takes order serious. (1 Chronicles 13)

Now I realize we’re not in Old Testament times, we no longer live by the law, but when I looked at the original church (Israel) it reminded me very much of the mega churches of today that so many people are critical of. I have to wonder if they’d be so critical of a mega church if it were theirs? But back to my point: be it mega or a little country church up the hollow, God still expects order.

David finally caught onto that the second time he brought up the Ark when he said in 1 Chronicles 15:13, “For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.”

So the order was fulfilled and the Ark and the presence of God was back where it belonged! Is that not what we want in our churches? The presence of Almighty God! Certainly it doesn’t require an Ark, but I still think it requires order.

The presence of God is carried within each child of God. What Uzzah couldn’t touch, because of the blood of Jesus, we are allowed to carry. My how things have changed.

Titles have changed within the church; we no longer have Priests but Pastors, Bishops, preachers, teachers, deacons, trustees and others who are put into place to hold order inside the church. The New Testament is clear about the order of the church (1 Tim. 3:1-12) with Christ always as the Head of the church. And those things will often be in line (for the most part) and yet the Spirit of God will not be felt. Then other churches will not have all things in line, and yet the Spirit of God will be felt. What’s the deal?

That was my question to God this morning?

Then like a brick off the brick yard being hurled at my mind an answer came.
“I’m no longer in the box. So stop putting Me there.”

God, through the sacrifice of His Son has made Himself personally touchable to everyone who has accepted Him as Lord. The problem is, those who carry Him into the church, don’t touch Him. They don’t stir up the Spirit within, they just let Him sit there inside of them, waiting for church to be over, all the while the Spirit cries “I want to be loosed!” And it is those who find criticism for the wild behaviors in mega churches, which I too believe may cross a line not intended by God. So who’s right and who’s wrong? I’ll let God decide.

I do however know in my heart that God intended for no man to take the Spirit of God for granted. When David returned with the Ark, there was music, dancing, instruments and shouting and it upset Michal, David’s wife. There will likely always be someone who “doesn’t get it.” It didn’t stop David and it shouldn’t stop us.

God’s mega church of the Old Testament had order. It had leadership and small groups, and all things had honor and respect for God. God is still every bit as Holy today as He was then, the only difference is we are granted far greater access as commoners by the cross. How we treat Him matters and the world needs to see a difference in how we approach Him and how we react when we get there. Less He be considered no different than the gods of this world.

What About Your Hometown?

11×14 Canvas in Acrylic, availabe for purchase. Message me if interested.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

My New Mexico friend and brother in Christ, Dewey Moede and I speak often. How that friendship began is most assuredly a “God thing.” We are kindred spirits across the miles and both with a burden for our hometown. I just happen to live in mine while Dewey lives 1100 miles from his. Funny thing about Windom; it’s kind of became my adopted hometown, even though it’s 1000 miles from me. I know the people, I know many of their stories. I travel there each year for a revival, begging God to move in that place. It’s why when I read Matthew 23:37, I read it as Jesus’ hometown verse. He was so burdened. I get it. Dewey gets it. We want our people in Heaven with us. No circles broken. What about you and your Hometown?

I love that Jesus used a chicken in His illustration. In my brood of chickadees I have two fancy little girls named Glo and Sue. They’re of the Silky variety. I have no roosters, just hens, but that doesn’t seem to stop the Silkies from thinking that there’s a baby inside that egg. So when I go to rob the nest I literally have to fight her off the eggs. I’ve been pecked on more than one occasion, and it’s then that the plain ol, plain ol chickens are looking closer to being the favs. But I can’t argue that she’s just defending what she believes to be her babies. Just like Jesus who claimed us as His babies when His rejected Him and broke His heart.

And now, His adopted tribe is following the same path and it breaks the heart of the Father, and the children, or so it should.

Killing the Prophets

Although there are those that have literally lost their lives trying to share the gospel of Christ, there are far more who are just dead in the pulpit. I pray for my Pastor. I try to encourage him as well as many others in our church. We don’t take Victory Baptist for granted. Dewey Moede drives 5 hours every Sunday, one way, to serve as an interim Pastor in New Mexico. It’s one of the many reasons I love that he’s my friend. We have people who won’t drive one mile to get their home church because they’re not burdened for their own family, so the hometown burden isn’t even on their radar.

Many Pastors stand in the pulpits across America on Sunday and either preach the blood of Jesus to a faithful few, or they preach an entertaining watered down version to the masses. Yes I know there are some Mega churches preaching the blood, but they are few. In most hometowns the churches on Sunday morning have a fraction of the community. Where is the burden that Jesus has?

According to a 2016 Lifeway survey, 250 Pastors in America leave the pulpit each month. They called that “promising” because a previous survey said 1500. I don’t think that’s promising, I think it’s disheartening. Two hundred and fifty prophets are being spiritually killed each month.

Throwing Stones

A Pastor friend told me one day how his church, a mostly family affair (not his family), governs his preaching and his pastoral leadership to the point that it sucks the life of him. To me that’s every bit as tough on the hide as a stone thrown from an enemy. Who put those people in the place of God?

If you look at the biblical directive for pastoring a church, nowhere does it say that a Pastor is under the authority of the congregation. It’s God. The Pastor. The Church Leadership. Then the congregation. God is the God of order, not chaos and confusion.

Gathering the Flock

That’s our job. Everyone, not just the Pastor. When Jesus gave the commission to tell the world about the gospel of Christ, and lead men and women to Him, that was for everyone.

Calhoun County, West Virginia, USA, the world. That’s my hometown.

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This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

It’s Time to Reclaim It

For our Sunday morning crowd, at Victory Baptist Church, I work up a PowerPoint of Welcoming slides, announcements, and various words of encouragement. As I worked on it over the weekend I came across an imag

e of a tree that was dead on one side and alive on the other with the caption “Making a Difference.” The image stays in my mind as a representation of the church today. From the beginning of time, God’s people would lose and gain ground, until Israel lost all bu

t a small, but mighty piece of land. And while God still very much blesses and protects Israel, His people now cover the earth. The piece of ground that God concerns Himself with for now is the inward heart, regardless if they are Jew or Gentile. He is concerned with all who trust Jesus as Savior. Israel will one day garner God’s attention in end times, but until then, Glory to God, His eye is on the church of His Son Jesus Christ. There’s just one problem with that; we too are going by the way of Israel. We’re losing ground.

It’s never more obvious than when you listen to the un-churched speak of the churches in their community. The churches belong to “those people.” Those whom they don’t feel apart. They’ll call them out by name “The church that so and so family goes to.” Many, not all, but a lot of churches have become family run businesses. A select group of people determines who preaches, sings, participates in service, and every other avenue of decision that is made on behalf of the body of Christ in their church.

So why is this on my heart? It’s not the condition of the church I attend, but it can be the church that anyone attends if we’re not careful to guard the ground for which God has entrusted them with.

The heart.

We’re responsible for taking the gift of Salvation, which God blessed us with through the sacrifice of His Son, and share it with the world within our reach. In and out of the building. On the web and in the newspaper. Every source of media and outreach that can possible be used as fertilizer for the ground for which we serve; the local church. Else we run the risk of losing the ground our predecessors have sown and reaped on.

It’s why my services have been used for the past 22 years in design and marketing of tools evangelists and churches can use to promote the church in a positive light. Not a light of the world, a light to the world. I have heard so many people in the circles I travel who have no understanding of the power of the media, and yet it runs most of their lives and they’re not even aware.

I’ve taught youth for the past twenty years in one form or another and they can quote the words to every secular song, tell you the name of every player on a national team, and discuss the vilest behavior in a network hit with blinking an eye, but they’ll not talk to their friends about Jesus. It breaks my heart! They’ll open themselves to drama on social media and tell everything that was once taboo outside the home, and poke fun of other people like they’re not people just like them. It’s why I understand the power the world has. Little and large churches become dynasty’s of power and serve to appease a select groups, and occasionally there are those that you’ll find Jesus in. We really have lost ground.

So how do we gain ground?

Wake Them

Zechariah 4

1And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.

The church seems almost oblivious across the aisles. In my journey’s I almost always experience a pocket or two of people with a real desire to see their church alive again. But most of the p

eople in the church are asleep. We need to awaken our congregations!

Watch Them

And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

Zechariah was concerned with the trees. The Angel seemed shocked that he didn’t know their significance. I doubt I would know the significance either and would likely be so shocked by the appearance of an angel, I probably wouldn’t know my name. But this is a different time; but it’s not a different message. We need to be watchful and aware of the messages that God is sending to us. We’re not without warning that our churches are dying.

Warn Them

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth. 11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are 

 

the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

I usually don’t cover that much scripture in a blog. People tire of reading… sad world. But I couldn’t not use every word!

What’s causing us to lose ground in the church is that the Spirit of God is missing out of the equation. Just as I would be shocked if an angel appeared in my sight, half the church would be shocked if the Spirit of God showed up. They’re so use to the formality of religion that anything else is just too celestial.

“Crying grace, grace!”

We should be crying out to the church that grace has been extended to the church, but for how long? How long will God wait before He takes the church out of the world and our loved one are left lost without hope. Warn them!

Alas, the Angel explains the symbolic vision in the last of the chapter, but Zechariah is still concerned with those trees.

The two trees, the anointed ones as I understand it, were Zerubbabel and Joshua, King and Priest anointed for those roles. My shout just came up from the depths of my heart. Who is it that God has anointed for the role of crying grace, grace, but His people. You and I who are called by God to share the gospel. We have Pastors to lead us and people to serve. It’s time we reclaim the ground the world has taken!

The Church Bones

A Facebook friend posted a question last night for speakers asking “If you had to speak for 45 minutes without preparation what would you speak on?” My response was “Church Bones.” Although the title is somewhat cryptic, it’s a subject that I feel I’m somewhat an expert on after 21 years of studying people. I’m somewhere between a friend and a non-creepy stalker with ministry people. I love watching to see what works and what doesn’t in a ministry. What floats my boat and draws me to Christ and what’s just “oooo that’s shiny” moments. I also like watching the congregation. Especially that in my own church because I’ve been there when many of them began their path in our church. It’s exciting stuff when you see God working in peoples lives.

What I don’t do is look around the church at those who “don’t do.” What could I possibly gain besides an ulcer?

The body of Christ is the bones of the church. And there’s a lot of bones that I won’t mention that are crucial joints in the church. But the ones in my illustration are the movers and shakers of the group. They’re what makes it work… or not. Depending upon the church. I could actually put names beside every bone in my illustration. God has been good to our people. So I’ll tell you in brevity about a just a few.

The Attitude Bones

Glory to God, that’s one of the most important ones! A smile seems so small, but when someone new has just walked in a church a smile goes a long way. When someone old walks in a church a smile goes a long way! We need to let people know that we’re glad they’ve arrived. I can tell you of way too many times I’ve walked in a church (to which I was invited to sing) only to be greeted (if you want to call it that) by people who look more like I’ve walked in on them in the bathroom. True story! Check your attitude when you get to church and make sure you’re a welcoming sight!

Shoulder the Load Bones

The spiritual load of the church is a heavy load for those who work in the ministry, especially the Pastor. We often times do not see the heaviness that someone carries because they’ve got the attitude bones in check. Their load would break the back of a normal person. But because God’s given them an added strength, they carry on. That doesn’t mean that we as the congregation of the Lord and friends shouldn’t try to shoulder any of the load we can to help out. We can make calls, we can bring supper for a busy family, we can tuck a dollar or two in the hand of someone for encouragement. The list is long of ways to shoulder the load.

Leadership Bones

The direction of church is turned on the leadership bones. I heard it once said that the church rises and falls on leadership. It also goes right or wrong. Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart and those in leadership will answer to a greater degree when they stand before the Lord.

Discipleship Bones

Countless people put their arm around me and steered me through the beginning of my walk with Jesus. It’s probably the greatest neglect of the church today. We see a soul saved and we’re so excited but we leave them in the deep water to drown. Sound dramatic? I usually am, but it’s the truth none the less. You wouldn’t leave a newborn beside the ocean unattended and you certainly shouldn’t leave a new convert to be attacked by every shark in the sea of Satan. It’s why they don’t stay and why they go astray in life. They need to be discipled just as the early church did.

Funny Bones

Oh my stars! A sense of humor is a necessity in a child of God! For the reason of stupid people (those who don’t have a filter and can cut you to the core) and to lighten the load that many of us carry in the door. I know Jesus laughed. I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for His laughter much of the time now when He sees me trying to make it on my own.

Back Bones

If you’ve been in church any length of time at all you know them by name. They are those who will stand flat footed and tell you like it is without wavering biblically. They’ve been there a while and have stayed standing through every storm.

Hug Bones

So, so very important. And also it’s important to know who’s a touch me not. But I’m a hugger because I’ve known many days when I just needed to know someone cared. Being cautious about folks who hurt and those who don’t like touched is important though because you can just as well run them off or physically hurt them. We often don’t know our strength and for someone with arthritis or fibromyalgia the lightest squeeze can send shock waves. So hug, but maybe with just your smile sometimes.

Work Bones

Most churches do not have an abundance of work bones. Another quote I heard was that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I fear that a more realistic number would be 5/95. If you just show up at church on Sunday morning, get your message and go, you’re clueless on the background of your church. Hours and hours of preparation goes into a good service. Floors don’t clean themselves, dinners don’t get planned and materials don’t just show up un-ordered. We need more work bones!

Praise Bones

God desires it. You need to experience it and the folks behind you need the encouragement to join in! Raise them hands to the Lord all ye people!

Prayer Bones

Another neglected anatomy part. The altars of America are not well attended. Prayer is a formality at a few tables and an act of desperation when times are tough, but seldom relied upon for survival of everyday living.

Visitation Bones

What’s visitation? Exactly. It’s a lost art and it’s why churches are not growing.

Tail Bones

Every church has them. They’re pew sitters. And it’s not a bad thing unless that’s the only thing you do and you leave no better than when you came. But the very fact that people come to church is wonderful and shows that they have a heart for the things of God. Celebrate every single one, even if you sometimes have to check pulses.

That’s just a few of the many, many parts of a church. As my Facebook friend said last night, there’s some squishy parts too. They’re the kind hearted souls who come, worship and encourage us just by their presence. I love the body of Christ. Every one. Even the tails bones.

1 Corinthians 12:20

But now are they many members, yet but one body.

I Have an Issue with the Church

I’ve had it for quite some time. I just didn’t know how to verbalize it. But this morning I got somewhat of a grasp on my issue. It’s the same issue I have with my life right now. It’s what happens between the coming out and going in. The a.m. to the p.m. of my day. What am I doing for the cause of Christ? The early church didn’t have that problem, they were too busy trying to keep their heads off the chopping block. They knew what their purpose in life was, TELL THE WORLD ABOUT JESUS. But somehow between the cross and the crazy we call life in modern times we lost the purpose as a church. The church has now become this resting place for children of God. And while Christ did indeed stress the importance of rest, the rest was meant to prepare for the next leg of the journey.

When Apostle Paul got saved he made some people very uncomfortable. After all, he had been the one calling for the Christians to be killed, and now he professed to be one of them. It was no wonder they had an issue with Paul. But that didn’t stop Paul from pursuing the purpose that he now understood to be his, TELL PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS.

Chapter 9 begins Paul’s life post conversion.

He Joined the Church

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Paul knew that in order to grow in the grace of Christ and understand his new found faith, he needed to be with God’s people. So he joined the local church. That is step one following salvation. Find a local body of believers for whom you can serve with. That means, they too need to be serving, not just sitting.

He Joined the Movement

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Paul didn’t know all there was to know about Christianity, but through the Holy Spirit he was able to speak boldly in the name of Christ and face people who desired him dead because of it. Paul was more than a church member, he was a part of the movement.

I personally don’t see much movement in the church today. I see people going in and out of the buildings but outside of the church, the movement stops. Few are telling others about Christ and the discipling of young saints has all but stopped. If there are any young saints. When Paul began his journey, Barnabas took him under his wing and introduced him to the church and defended him. Barnabas helped to fuel the fire that he had witnessed burning inside of Paul. That is a missing piece in the church, there’s no fuel in the tank. How are we ever going to see a movement if people are not getting fired up?!

He Joined the Multitude

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Because of the work of the church, the church had rest. That seems kind of oxymoron-ish doesn’t it. To work for rest? We wonder why this world is so crazy and full of strife? It’s because the church (as a whole) has all but stopped working. Our work is to show people where to find rest, and that rest comes in Jesus Christ. Once the churches of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria heard the preaching of Paul and the others, they obviously didn’t just rest in the pew waiting for next Sunday, it says they began walking and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost were multiplied.

The churches are drying up across America. It seems that at every bend in the road there sits an empty church house with overgrown grass and broken windows and it breaks my heart. The church is no longer a saving station but rather a rest stop. The church has lost touch with its purpose.

So what’s the answer? Give up on the church? Heaven’s NO! The answer is to follow Paul’s example. If you’re not part of a body of believers, you need to be. Once you’re there you need to serve, not sit. And never lose sight of the Mission… Muliply.

How to be on Team Jesus’ Field

Nothing gets my dander up like an injustice to God’s people… especially if they’re my people. This is a thought that weighs heavy on my mind for more than a few reasons. You don’t have to look very far to find injustice in the world, and probably one of the craziest (in my opinion) is that of little league sports. It’s what prompted this blog, but this in actuality has very little to do with Little League ball. Mainly because little league ball “seldom” has anything to do with the state of one’s eternal destination. Although it could with the right coach! That being said, the coach that has my knickers in a knot isn’t really concerned with eternity, unless of course he thinks that God has a special place for league winners. Pretty sure He doesn’t, just saying.

But I’ve seen more than my fair share of little league coaches who act like the world is coming to an end because a 4th grade boy, who was afraid of being nailed by the ball of an inexperienced pitcher, wouldn’t “step in and take one for the team.” Or a dozen other scenarios that he was sure ruined his chances as a major league coach. Coaches who don’t understand why a child with ADHD can’t sit still on the bench after his meds have worn off from having to sit still in his classes for 7 hours of the day. Oh… yes… I’m that grandparent, or Noni as the case may be.

But I’m also that Christian. I could just as well liken the little league attitude to that of the church. Where many don’t understand the people any more than a little league, major league wanna-be coach. As I travel I’m afforded the opportunity to meet many wonderful church workers. At almost every location I see heartache and frustration from the top down. I see preachers who want with all their heart to serve God without the encumbrance of church politics but cannot. I see Sunday School teachers who want their students to understand how exciting it is to know God, but are worn out bfrom having to collect and provide their own materials because the church doesn’t see their program as being worthy of a few extra dollars. I see parishioners struggling with broken lives and no one knows. Not because the evidence of these issues weren’t there, but because nobody slowed down long enough to see it or because they were missing two essential characteristics of a successful leader. Spiritual eyes and ears.

Leadership is more than a title. It’s a role. And it’s more than acting. It’s real.

So what will God say to the leaders when we stand before Him? Will He say or ask:

  • Why didn’t you save more money for the church treasury and spend less on your departments? You didn’t know that Jesus wouldn’t wait another 20 years to come back.
  • Why didn’t you tell that Sunday School teacher to suck it up use the same materials as last quarter?
  • Why didn’t you remind that preacher who it is that pays his salary before the topic of your sin came up?
  • Why didn’t you remind that widow about the woman with two mites before she complains that she doesn’t have grocery money for her visiting children?
  • Why didn’t you tell that leader that’s hitting the altar every week to watch the clock a little closer or better still, just don’t go because it makes others feel guilty?
  • Even better, why didn’t you stop having altar calls so everyone can get home in time for lunch?
  • Why didn’t you tell the people in your church to stop stressing you out with their problems?
  • Better yet, why didn’t you insist that everyone wear smiles, and no one can be sad?
  • Why did you get the congregation so excited, someone could have had a heart attack?!

All of those are as ridiculous as expecting little league players to be major league stars.  And yet they’re real life stories.

In the book of Acts, where the acts of the church of that day are written, I see that they didn’t understand Paul either. So I guess the aforementioned attitudes shouldn’t surprise me.

Acts:14:9-11 ~ The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

A few things that caught my attention in those few verses:

  • Paul was loud
  • Someone was moved
  • They were giving the credit of the power of God, to the gods that the people worshiped during that day.

So what should have happened? Do you think when Paul made it to Heaven, after having his head cut off for Jesus, that God said to him, “Paul, why were you so loud? You upset people.”

I know… that’s taking it out of context a little. The people weren’t as much upset as they were confused. But I don’t think God is going to call me on the carpet for reminding the church that we need to be careful about making our services about us. Paul was obedient  and observant of the needs of one man, and not long about straightening the people out on who was responsible.

We serve a risen Savior, who died so that we might serve men and show them the love of Christ. Sometimes, we’re not even on the same field when it comes to understanding our teammates.

  • Serve boldly (yet humbly)
  • Show mercy always (look and listen)
  • Send missionaries with money (provide what’s needed for every mission)

If you’d like to support this missionary… please follow the link below!

Lame Sacrifices and Wet Wood on the Altar

I fear… I wrote those words with the intentions of writing what I feared to follow. But I just had to stop there and ask myself, “Do you really fear? Do you have that godly reverence in your soul that was there 20 years ago when you were first saved and realized what God had saved you from? Do you remember those trips to the altar when you were sobbing because the Spirit of the Lord was upon you so heavy? Then you had fear… now you have guilt.” That was a conversation in my head at 3:30 this morning.

David had just gotten called out on a traffic accident and the continuous squawking of the radio kept me awake. I scrolled through Facebook, watched a few videos, enjoyed the warmth of the covers, and then finally my mind returned to the original thought. “Why is the altar empty?”

For my friend Gloria and me, many of our miles lately have been traveled with a conversation about the empty altars in the church. Where the altar used to be lined with praying souls, it is now a handful of broken saints and an occasional child who finds themselves knelt down at the altar. “Why?” I asked myself again. So I ask google. Not even google had an answer for me. So I went to He Who has the answers and this was what read.

Malachi 1:6-10

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

You’re probably saying what I said. “But God, I love you!” To which He replies:

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.

Israel wasn’t bringing their best to the altar. They were bringing their leftovers to the altar. And so am I if I’m honest. Going to the altar has become somewhat ritualistic for me. I go because I know I need to go, and will continue doing so; but I’m not giving my best while I’m there. I give God a halfhearted “help me please…” and then get up unchanged. My heart is not prepared, I’ve brought a lame sacrifice and wet wood. So what will it take to set the altar of God on fire in our church?

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts. 10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.

God honestly doesn’t care who we are. He wants to know how serious we are. He wants the doors shut and the fire stoked when we approach Him with request. In my mind I read that as the world being shut out, and the fire within my soul blazing with passion when I make my plea. My focus needs to be on the perfect sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. My sacrifice will always be lame. His was perfect.

I have a tendency to look at an empty altar and get discouraged because the rest of the church is in their seats. That ought not to be…

This morning I want to focus on what I bring to the altar. What will I bring and how will I bring it? I’m believing if I go with passion in my soul that fire will fall from heaven and ignite my wet timbers.

Bring down the fire! Let’s go to church!!!