Friday, November 11, 2016

The Culture We've Created

This morning as I scrolled through Facebook and looked at news articles my heart hearts. All I see is hatred, acts of violence, and people using their words to damage and destroy. When you look at the timing and what's going on you could easily say this is because of the elections but that would be incorrect. What we see if not a result of someone not winning when they thought they should, what we are seeing is a reflection of the culture we've created. My incredibly wise husband said this last night, "Politicians don't shape our culture, they reflect it. We are the ones who shape our culture." As I look at the social media and news this is what I see. Our culture. We, as a society, have created a culture in which it's okay to hate people who disagree with you, who are different then you and who don't think the same way you do. It's not enough to just disagree with them, no we hate them. We resort to violence and malice. We use hateful words to tear down and destroy people. We use violence to physically assault people, destroy property and anything in our way. We've created a culture of double standards. I'm allowed to say this, or do these things but you are not. I'm allowed to feel this way and have my beliefs but you are not. I'm allowed to act in this way but you are not. In Matthew 7:2 and Mark 4:24 it talks about the measure or the ways that you judge or hold other people accountable will be the same standard or more that you will be judged or held accountable. As in you can't have double standards and yet we've created a culture that's built on them. We've created an incredibly selfish culture where it's all about me. My emotions, my plans, how it affects ME, what I want, Me, Me, Me. We've created clothing that says It's all about ME and then are surprised when people act like it's all about them. We, as a culture, rarely think about how our decisions long term or in that moment will affect other people. We've created a culture in which everyone is a winner and so the concept of being a gracious loser has been lost. Everyone gets a prize or a trophy despite the fact your team has played like crap all year long or you just didn't work as hard, have the needed skills or qualify. We've created a culture in which if you don't get your way you can throw a fit long enough and eventually you'll get what you want. We've created a culture of toddlers and because they are never told no or how to lose their tantrums only get bigger and more destructive. We've created a culture in which your feeling have more weight then facts and thus dictate everything. We've created a culture in which people think their opinions are the only ones that matter and want everyone and everything around them to confirm to how they feel or their opinion of something.


This culture has changed how our kids are raised, how businesses run, how we as a people group relate to the world and each other and has even infiltrated our churches.

The first way we change our culture is by changing ourselves. Look at your last text you sent or what you've posted lately on Facebook. How is it shaping our culture? Are you using words to tear people down or destroy? Have you joined in the violence that's all over the news? Are you holding people to standards you yourself are not being held to? Are you expecting more from others then you do yourself? Are you decisions based on the good of others or are they primarily based on how they affect you? When you make decisions are you thinking of how this will affect those around you currently and long term? Are you setting a good example in how to be a gracious loser and at times a gracious winner? In the elections? In a game with your kids? At a sporting event you played or as a spectator? How do you respond when you don't get your way? When things don't go how you had planned or what you wanted? Are you acting like a toddler or a responsible adult who understands you don't always get what you want when you want it. Are you being run by your feelings and emotions? Can you take a step back and look at things from someone else perspective? Are you convinced your opinions are the only right ones and do you expect everyone to agree with you? If they disagree how do you respond?

We all have areas that we need to work on and I'm pretty confident that there's at least a few things on this list alone that we need to change. Here's the thing we can't change the world until we change ourselves, our families and our own little sphere's of influence. And honestly we can't change these things on our own. We have to look at this the way Jesus would. How did He respond to all those who disagreed with Him? How did He treat those who lived and believed different then him? Jesus used His words to bring life and to heal and restore people. Are your words doing that? Jesus always put others first and went out of His way to help people. The movement of Christ didn't start through politics and politicians but despite of them. It started with how He loved on people and showing them a better way to live by modeling it for them.

In a time when our culture and society is broken and needs to be fixed, and not by a political system or politician, but by people who claim to be Christ followers, we have to live in a way that is vastly different then everyone else. We, Christ followers, have to love. Period. We have to love those who look different then us, those who act and live different then us, those we agree with and those we don't, those who we get along well with and those who annoy us to death. We are called to love and it's by that love people will know WHO we belong to (and I don't mean what politician we side with). We are called to sacrifice and that means we don't always get our way. We are called to serve, and yes even those you don't like or agree with. We are called to put others first and to think about their needs and how things will affect them.

Our culture is what we've made it but it's not permanent we can change it but that change starts with us. Our hearts. We all have things we need to change and work on and lets commit to makes changes in ourselves and our families and if we do that we can in fact change the world.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nit Picking God's Blessings

Yesterday my husband had a great sermon that I definitely needed to hear as I'm sure most could. (You can listen to it here it's the first of the Into the Wild series)

So often we ask God to bless us and then we nit pick or criticize those blessing because they weren't exactly what we had in mind. We ask God for warmer/cooler weather and then get frustrated because it's now too hot/cold. We ask God for a new job and then we don't like the one that He provides. We ask God for opportunities to show others His love and then don't like it when we're put into difficult situations. We ask God to show us the needs of others and to unblind us to what those around us are dealing with and then we complain and balk that we see to much and try to unsee it.

As churches we even do the same things at times. We ask God to bless our church and bring people in and then we complain that God brought "those" people. We ask for God to bless us with more young families but then get frustrated when we have to give up our time and work in the Children's ministry. We want less of some things and more of others. We complain about song choices instead of realizing we get to sing freely and that maybe God picked those songs to speak to a specific person that day. We nit pick carpet colors and other superficial things. We focus on the way things were instead of seeing what God is presently and actively doing.


When we do this we're telling God that the ways He's chosen to bless us is wrong. It would be like complaining about a birthday or Christmas gift that somebody spent a lot of time thinking about. And yes I admit I've done that but I've also been on the other end when someone was ungrateful for a gift I spent time and energy picking just for them. That's what we do to God when we say what He picked just for us; the situation, the people, the experiences, the opportunities, just aren't good enough or what we wanted. The Creator of all who knows us far better then we know our self and knows what we need before we even realize it, chooses to lavish us with blessing of all kind; time, weather, people, circumstances, and we essentially throw it back at Him and demand He try again.
When we nit pick and are ungrateful for what God has provided for us we look a lot like those Israelites who complained about the Lord providing manna. Sure they had to eat the same thing day after day but they had food! And yes they were in the wilderness and waiting on God to show them where to go but they were free and no longer slaves! It's easy for us to look at them and read these stories and think of how foolish they are but are we acting the same way. I have to admit many times I am and I have to stop and take a step back to see how foolish I too am acting.

I think many times our nit picking and criticizing of thing comes from a negative attitude. I am first in this line and category as this is something I struggle with. Sometimes I'm a "glass half full person", but more times then not that is not my first reaction. This is something I'm trying to work on as that is not how I want my kids to see life. I want them to look around and see the good in situations and times even you have to look really really hard to see them. I want their eyes and hearts to be attuned to what God is doing in and around them and then be grateful for those things and not criticize them.

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

If we put this verse into action we wouldn't have those negative thoughts and attitudes because we'd be concentrating on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Not the things that are difficult, not our preference, or critical. It's hard to be at peace or have a spirit of peace when we're negative. We're more likely irritable, frustrated and easy to anger. But it clearly says that when we think on these things that God's peace will be with us. That sure sounds like a better way to live. I want to live at peace! I want get rid of these tendencies for irritability, frustration and anger. I hate that too often those are my go to responses. I want that peace and to do that I have to allow God to change my way of thinking. I need people in my life when I start thinking like that to hold me accountable and who remind me that thinking like that will lead me away from who God created me to be and away from the life and blessing He has for me.

So what about you? Are you stuck on the negative nit picking merry-go-round where your first reaction is to criticize and complain? And I'm sure many of us will say, "Me? No, I'm not like that but I know people who are." And yes we all know people like that but are we too like that? Negative attitudes and complaining attitudes love the company of other like minded people, so if you can name a bunch of your friends or people you spend time with that have this going on then you might want to take a good look at your own attitude. If we're not careful we're going to miss out on the joy, blessing and life that God created just for us! We're going to miss out on the Church He created and the opportunities He's giving us to step into a mission and a purpose along side Him. If we're not careful we'll becomes blind to these blessing and the things He has in store for us and we'll miss out on so much more. Don't let negativity and nit picking rob you of the life God wants for you!










Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fight Back With JOY

For many years I have fallen in love with Margaret Feinberg's Bible studies. I love the depth and incredible insight she gives while it feels like I'm sitting across from her having coffee. I was super excited about her new book that has just come out and so when our 6 week leader guide and books arrived last week I couldn't wait to curl up and dive into Fight Back With Joy. I thought I could really use some more Joy in my life, I mean who couldn't, but what I found between these pages far surpassed what I knew about joy and has changed how my joy will be lived out.
I've always loved the relatability and humor that Margaret weaves through every page of her books, but Fighting Back With Joy added vulnerability and a whole new insight to Margaret and even more respect for that openness. While this book allows us to see her fight with and against breast cancer, it's not just for those fighting cancer but for anyone in any fight or battle. Depression/loneliness, divorce/abandonment, fear/regret, financial or relationship battles, or the wilderness in which we find ourselves, we can all relate to some area where a fight wages and we need help finding joy through that seemingly impossible time. For me I also feel that this book while it has helped me understand my own fight, I think it shows incredible insight in understanding others fights and battles and how to help them during that time. "All of us are in a fight. Others can fight with you,but no one can fight this for you." (pg.18)


"Everyone who wakes to a confrontation and crisis- whether you picked the fight or the fight picked you- has an important choice: which weaponry will you choose? Cynicism and spite? Complaint and control? Or perhaps you are prone to deny and withdraw. To let your fleshy heart turn to stone. But there is another arsenal available to the daughters and sons of God." (pg.18)
Joy as a weapon? I never thought about joy as a weapon and as I look back at many past fights that I've waged I did not fight back with that weapon. I hate to admit cynicism, sarcasm, and complaint were the weapons that I drew first. I can't help but wonder looking back with new insight and a much better perspective, how different those situations and circumstances would have been if I'd chosen joy instead. "Joy would not deny the hardship, but would choose to acknowledge and face it no matter the outcome." (pg. 18) No, having joy would not make everything instantly better or make things suddenly easy. But it would have changed me and more then likely the people around me because I had chosen to have that joy. Joy requires more then just a choice, it requires intentionality. Margaret defines joy as a whole spectrum of emotions, actions, and responses. They include gladness, cheer, happiness, merriment, delighting, dancing, shouting, exulting, rejoicing, laughing, playing, brightening, blessing and being blessed, taking pleasure in and being well pleased. "The Bible insists that joy is more than a feeling; it's an action. We don't just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us.: (pg. 19)
Far too often then not, when life has knocked me down, when I felt felt alone and deserted in the wilderness, rejoicing or happiness or delighting have felt light years away. Looking back I feel like this could have so much more to do with my unwillingness or blindness to the blessings of joy that God placed right in front of me but because they may not have looked like or been what I was expecting I missed out on those precious gifts.
I don't want to miss out on anymore opportunities for joy! I want to recognize each and every one and delight that those sweet moments or opportunities have been given to me. I want to look for ways to spread joy to others as well.
This book, like every other book of Margaret's I've read, has and will change the way I pray. In the fights that life brings I have a new arsenal and my weapon of choice from now on will be joy. I don't believe for a second that this decision will be easy but my choice will be that it's worth it.

If you haven't already picked up a copy of Fight Back With Joy, go do it! Check out this promo video and chose today to arm yourself with a new weapon in life's battles and fights.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Retrospect


Looking back there are so many words that can be used to describe 2013. Whirlwind, stressful, adventurous, challenging, hard, strengthening, new beginnings, uncertainties, wilderness, provisions, and the list could go on and on. This time last year we knew that 2013 would hold lots of change, we didn’t know just what that meant. This time last year we were praying. We knew that Brian’s Associate Pastor position would only be around for a few more months, as he was paid on a grant that was set to expire at the end of March. Brian had already been sending out resumes knowing the end was near and while there was a great deal of interest God continued to close doors and continually echo – just wait. That is my least favorite thing to do and is probably why we had to. During the process of getting our hopes up and having them come crashing down and struggling to find purpose in the uncertainties we were facing God continued to remind us He’s still active and working even when we can’t see it and when it seems silent. There were many tears and lots of frustration and anger that God listened to and dealt with. And then in typical God fashion, when things come to the breaking point God reveals this awesome plan, One bigger, better, and different then we could have imagined for ourselves. We took risk and new adventures, we left the kids in Missouri (having never left Chi for more then a night at a time and that being just down the street at my parents this was a scary and challenging thing) and flew off to visit the far away land of Virginia and what would soon be our home. God worked miracles and did it all in His timing and not mine which at times was very frustrating. He surpassed all expectations and provided an incredible church for us to be a part of, a fantastic house that not only met our needs but had all of our wants as well, and set us on a new adventure. I really didn’t think that we would leave Missouri and never thought we’d be this far from our homes. I always said if God wanted to move me away from family I’d at least need a beach to cushion the blow and that’s just what He provided. I didn't know how I’d leave my friends and family and head off to the unknown. But God was preparing the details. He provided people in our new home that would love on us and take care of us like family and he’s provided friends and is continuing to form new relationships. We've learned so much along the way. We've learned that sometimes the best thing is to be patient (I’m so not good at this one) and persistent and ready to move (in any sense of the word) when God says to. We've learned not to take time with family and friends for granted and that getting to Skype with them and talk on the phone isn't the same as getting to physically hug and sit with them but it still keeps us connected. Getting to count down the time in between visits makes time go faster (so anybody who wants to visit we’d be so happy to have you! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge). We've learned that when God gives you a passion and a talent you pursue it with everything you have, even when those close to you disagree because in the end it pays off. We've learned to be even more grateful for God’s provisions and how He really does take care of us day to day and mouthful to mouthful. We’ve learned that those times in the desert make the moments in the promised land so much more rewarding and keeps things in perspective.

While we’re learning to navigate this new adventure, of being away from family and friends and the new roles and responsibilities of pastoring a church, we can say that without a doubt we are where God wants us. Saying yes to the journey God is asking you to take isn't always easy and it doesn't mean things will go your way or you’ll be safe but it’s always worth it the risk. We are looking forward to this New Year, a year where we start in the promise land and not the desert. A year with new challenges and I’m sure new struggles, but the reminder that the same God who was faithful through those past deserts is still faithful and will help us through whatever awaits us. For the friends and family that prayed with us and for us during those trying times and who were there to listen and cry to when the frustration became too much please know we are so grateful for you. So grateful to have those people who will fight for us and right along side us during the hard times. We are blessed beyond measure and can’t wait to see what this next year and chapter will bring.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Lost Generation

"Young adults said they are bored with the lack of spiritual depth and excellence in our churches. This led them to a perception that the church is irrelevant. They just didn't see passion and excellence. Unfortunately they were probably right." LifeWay article. I found this quote about a year ago and it's plagued my thoughts since then. My mind keeps being drawn back to this and it has weighed heavy on my heart and mind ever since. This maybe because I fit into this age group of young adults and I've seen the ramifications of this played out in far too many lives. Not only have I witnessed it but studies have been done that reflect the same results. According to the Pew Foundation, more than a quarter of American adults have left the religious affiliation of their youth. Lifeway Research has found that 70 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 leave the church — at least temporarily. I think so much of this stems from young adults, being that group from after high school through 30's even, that are desperately trying to find their place within most churches and are failing to find a place that they belong. This group is the most diverse of any age group, in that there are many sub groups within this main one. Within just this group you have those that are in college, those that are out of high school but not in college, the newly weds, the singles, those with young children and even the divorced. Because this group is so diverse and large many churches find it difficult relating to each sub group and so they either lump them all together or over look them entirely. The problem is that most churches place a premium on the children's departments and the majority also place a good deal of emphasis on the youth groups as well but it's those in this group from youth to mid-aged adults that somehow get lost. So many times there's this assumption that once you graduate high school, you magically become an adult and you automatically want to sit in on adult classes and change your entire train of thought over night. One week you're a youth playing games and singing songs you love and hanging out with friends and the next week you're out because you're too old...Really? I remember this feeling. I came from a dynamic youth group and from a church that had a college and career ministry and I still felt like I didn't belong in either place. I wanted to still be with the youth group but I was too old and I didn't feel like I connected and fit with the college group. This is the time of the most changes and biggest adjustments in a persons life and most are having to do it without the support and guidance they need and are craving. This is the group where we see the majority leave the church. Their needs are not being met and they leave. In a time where they are trying to find their identity and trying to figure out what and who they want to be, we've abandoned them. Some will still go to church when they have to or when they go home and their parents drag them back but their excitement and the level of ownership is no longer there. For many it takes them having a family to bring them back to church because they feel the need to raise their children in church and so they set out to find a church with a good children's department and they will deal or settle for whatever young adult program that church has just as long as their kids are happy. From the time this group has left and now come back a huge amount discipleship and growth has been lost and many have a bad taste left in their mouths from past experiences. This lost generation is where so much passion and potential lies dormant waiting to be ignited and excited again. This lost group does things differently. They want real worship that is alive and engaging. They want small groups where they can fellowship, connect, and feel apart of something bigger. They want to be able to come as they are, jean, flip flops, shorts, or whatever they're comfortable in. They want Truth and authenticity and for someone to be real, open and honest. They want to serve and have an impact on their communities by living out love. This group is very passionate about social issues and are actively involved in ways to bring about change and awareness. This group sees the importance and values community, from the communities they live in to the body of believers they are surrounded by. This group is not bound to the 4 walls of a church building but realizes that the real church is a body of believers that can meet anywhere for worship and discipleship. This generation has been lost from so many traditional churches but is now rising up with their own churches to meet their needs.These new churches are breaking the typical molds and are meeting in places like school gyms, movie theaters, shopping complexes and even bars or restaurants. The traditional church could become obsolete in the next couple of decades if they can't find a way to reach and meet the needs of this group.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Denominational doctrine over Biblical teaching?

So today I had an interesting discussion with some ladies at church that fueled this thought and got me all sorts of fired up for this issue. The topic was whether or not women should be allowed to teach Bible studies or Sunday School or whatever of boys, and not just boys but with boys and girls together. I guess it goes for women teaching classes where men would also be as well. I guess in the past this has been a taboo thing and people made a big deal out of this and I am left to wonder why is this even an issue? I understand and respect the view that women shouldn't be pastors, but this isn't about women pastoring but teaching. This really got me all worked up throughout the day the more and more I think about it the more upset I get at this train of thought. To say that women can't teach and spiritually lead boys is setting boys up for an improper view of women. If boys are taught that this is not okay for women then they could grow up and not value women and to not respect what they have to say. How are boys to view their own mother's if they are taught that women can't teach them? That women can only teach girls or other women is this teaching our boys and men that women have a lesser place or that their opinions and Biblical interpretations are not as good or accurate as a man's? To say that a man could not sit under some incredible woman like Beth Moore or Margaret Feinberg and not learn incredible insight is ridiculous!! These are just two examples of extraordinary women who God has called to teach and has given them great spiritual insight and there are so many more out there and to limit who they are allowed to minister to and to teach isn't that also limiting God? Or is what they have to say only good enough for women and not good enough for men? Now I realize that some topics and discussions are geared toward women and that's fine but I'm talking about in general. Why are churches so afraid to allow women to teach (I said teach not preach)? I know many women who have more spiritual depth and leadership skills then some men who are doing the leading and yet they will never get a chance to execute them and they have to stand back as the men do nothing. I'm not saying that all men are like this at all, so don't misunderstand what I'm saying. But I think we all miss out on what God has to say and wants to do when we limit who gets to speak. If we really and truly believe that men and women are created equal then why are we afraid to allow women the chance to teach what God is speaking to them? Couldn't women be given insight that could help men as well as women? What is this teaching our girls about leadership and their role in the kingdom of God? That they can learn great things and be excited about what God's doing but only share it with women? I think we run into grave trouble when we put denominational doctrine over Biblical teaching. So I did some research over this subject and here's some of the things that I found at the Refiner's Fire. Judges 4: 4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading [a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. Philippians 4: 2. I plead with Euodias and Syntyche that they be of one mind in our Master (Y'shua). 3. I also plead with you, my true burden bearers, that you assist those women who worked hard with me in the Good News; together with Clement and with the rest of my helpers whose names are written in the book of life. Luke 2: Then there was Kanna the prophetess a daughter of Peniel from the tribe of Ashir; she was also advanced in her days . And she was seven years with her husband whom she had lived with since her virginity. 37. And she was a widow for about eighty-four years. And she would not go out from (the Temple). (But would) with fasting and with prayer serve by day and by night. 38. And she also stood up in that hour and gave thanks to Master YHWH and was speaking concerning him to everyone who was waiting for the salvation of Urishlim (Jerusalem). There have been many debates about what the Bible says about women teaching men, and many try to use the following Scriptures as proof that women should remain in subordinate roles: 1 Corinthians 14: 34. Let your women be silent in the assembly: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be in subjection, as also Torah says. 35. And if they wish to be informed on any subject, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is unbecoming for women to speak in the assembly. 1 Tim. 2: 11. Let a woman learn in silence, with all submission: 12. for I do not allow a woman to teach or to be assuming over the man; but let her remain in stillness. First Timothy 2:11–15 does not teach that women cannot exercise their spiritual gifts when the body meets. We know that women can, and are to do so (Acts 2:17; 1 Cor. 12:7; 14:26). Instead, the passage has a more narrow focus on the role of a ruling elder. To "teach" (1 Tim. 2:12), as defined "with authority" is an elder's function. This particular function in the body of Messiah ­ and only this function ­ is reserved for men. More significant was the local situation in the Messianic assembly. False teachers had apparently found support in homes headed by widows (1 Tim. 1:6, 7; 5:13–15). False teaching was apparently still a problem for "gullible women" when the letter of 2 Timothy was written (2 Tim. 3:6-7). So the instructions for a woman to "learn" but not to "teach" was aimed at keeping the women, who in this congregation had proved particularly susceptible to false teaching, from spreading it. Paul, therefore, says, "I do not permit a woman to be a teacher." The context here has to do with assembly order, and the position of the man and woman in the assembly worship and work. The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11 - YAHWEH-called, and YAHWEH-equipped teachers recognized by the Assembly as those having authority in the Assembly in matters of doctrine and interpretation. This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes at the pastor's request, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being an elder. When we look at the grammatical notation for "to teach" we find that it's a present infinitive which means that it speaks of a continuous or repeated action. So what Paul said to Timothy was that a woman was not to continuously teach a man, which would be seen as not being submissive (when looking at this verse in context), because if she was always teaching the man, he would never have time to teach her. At the same time, because the grammatical notation is a present infinitive, it would show that Paul did not say that a woman could not teach a man at all. So from a Scriptural standpoint women are allowed to teach men, just not continuously. Priscilla is seen in Scripture helping her husband teach Apollos the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:24-26) and yes, even as we see in Scripture, there sometimes are exceptions to this as seen in Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), when there were no men spiritual enough to do the job - but not very often. Consider also the following: * In Paul's letter to the Galatians, Paul had said that in Messiah, 28. For there is neither Jew nor Aramean, nor slave nor free, nor male nor female, but you are all one in Y'shua the Mashiyach (Galatians 3:28) * In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he refers to women praying and proclaiming YAHWEH's message in public worship. (1 Corinthians 11:5) * In Paul's letter to the assembly in Ephesus (Romans, chapter 16), he recognized and introduced the woman Phoebe as not only a "deacon" (not a deaconess) but also the president of the assembly in Cenchreae. (Romans 16:1,2) * In the same letter to the assemly in Ephesus, Paul refers to the woman Priscilla and her husband Aquila as his coworkers, who also host the assembly at their house. (Romans 16:3-5) Earlier when he was in Ephesus writing his letters to the assembly in Corinth, he also had referred to the assembly in Ephesus as being in the home of Priscilla and Aquila. (1 Corinthians 16:19) * In the same letter to the assembly in Ephesus, Paul also addressed the woman Junia and her husband Andronicus as apostles - even as "prominent among the apostles." (Romans 16:7) Please understand that I'm trying to be a big feminist or crazy woman but to share some concern I have as to what this train of thinking will teach both my son and daughters. I want my son to grow up respecting women and with the understanding that God can use them just as much as He can use men. I want him to know that there are many Godly women out there and that he can learn incredible things from them. I want my girls to grow up and know that God wants to use them to whatever their gifts and talents are and to not be afraid to do something because they are women. If they want to cook in the church kitchen and work in the nursery then wonderful and great but that those are not the only places they can serve God in the church. Just some thoughts. I'm sure many who read this will disagree and that's fine we all have our opinions just something to think about.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Examples of terrible logic

Read this This article was sent to my husband and has created much discussion between us about it. This article was written by a very well known and respected man who has been a primary influencer in the church for many decades, but I think that in this case there is some concern with the logic and the direction in which is he taking us. Upon reading this article there were a few main points that stuck out and I think need to be addressed. The article starts off talking about how Paul used a different approach when addressing the people at Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17)and his goal was to create a new way to introduce them to Jesus. That sounds like a good thing, right? Well then the article goes on to talk about how there are a bunch of new churches that are adopting this “Mars Hill philosophy of ministry" as if it were a bad thing. This group is then labeled "Emergent", however a clear definition of what the "emerging church" is is not present and leaves many to assume or imply their own definitions.The only implication of the "emergent church" is the reference to Mark Driscol, otherwise know as the "cussing pastor" However, he does not represent the whole of the emerging church. That would be like saying that all Baptist are like those crazy people from Westboro who protest the soldiers funerals and say hateful things about gays and other people. To lump all "emerging churches" into the cussing and liberal theology pool is a vast misunderstanding and a dangerous assumption. "In recent years the emerging church movement has attempted to “do church” (or be the church) in a new way amidst our postmodern world. Their purpose is “missional living,” that is, to get involved in the world in hopes of transforming it. This style of ministry engages the culture in a “conversation” rather than preaching to people like a prophet." What then is the problem? Or if this not the goal or objective then what is? The Bible talks about how we are the Church and so this idea of us "doing or being the church" is a good thing and an example of us living out what we were called for. Jesus's entire ministry was all about "missional living". He had every intention of how He lived and interacted with all those He came in contact with to transform not only them but the world. Look at the very people He choose to engage with, the adulteress woman, the Samaritans, the tax collector, prostitutes, and all those considered "unclean and unworthy". He is the poster child for "misssional living" and if we are supposed to follow His example wouldn't that mean that we too are called to live like this? Maybe it's just me but I fail to see the problem with "conversation" rather than "preaching like a prophet". I want to be taught and I want to dig deeper into the Bible and for me having a conversation or discussion where you can think, question and wrestle with scripture is much more appealing then not having an opportunity to engage the scriptures. The whole idea of conversation is very Biblical in that's exactly what the Rabbi's did with their disciples and what is taught in the Jewish culture as midrash. Now I also realize that in most church on a Sunday morning that a conversational type of preaching or teaching is not realistic due to the size of the church (this is where small groups come in and the significance of them), however, I also realize that a style where the preacher/teacher is engaging and relating is much more received and applicable then when the preacher/teacher is barking at them. Regardless of how you want to label it we do live in a postmodern society and the question then becomes how do we relate who Jesus is and why we need Him to this changing culture. I'm afraid that many, like the author of the article, have failed to see the need for the changing of how we as Christians relate to the world in which we live. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying that we have to be okay with what the world says is right or that we water down the Bible, but I am saying that we can not use the same approaches that were used 50 years ago to relate and reach today's people. God never changes but the way in which He related to and reached His people did change because they changed and to reach them He took a different approach, i.e sending Jesus. This notion and mentality that we can reach people today using door to door or Billy Graham style ministry is the main reason that we see such a decline in our churches. Society has changed and yet our methods of approach have not and this is one of the reasons why people see the church as out of date and unrelatable. This is the reason why the churches under the so-called label of "emergent" are growing and thriving while the rest of the "traditional" churches are dying off. These "emergent" churches are relating to the people and are seeking out ways to engage and make the Bible applicable through small groups and a community mentality. They are making the "church experience" exciting and alive instead of routine and boring and they are igniting a passion whereas many churches are surviving on apathy. Let's face it, how many people who go to the "traditional churches" are excited or given the opportunity to experience the Living God? For many people, primarily in the 18-35 age range, the emergent church is appealing despite if they agree with them politically or not because of the opportunities to be involved and engage in the church. I guess the question then becomes what is the "traditional church" so afraid of and if this is not the approach they see as right then what is? If "missional living" and "being the church" is not what they see as needing to be done then what is? My question is how is the approach that's been used for 50+ years working for you?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Manifesto

So here's a question that I've been trying to figure out lately and while I know what I would like the answer to be it doesn't seem to be the answer I'm getting. I know I've blogged about the purpose of the church recently and I guess I should be more specific in my direction or thinking. I guess the more relevant question is what is the purpose or vision of our church? We all know the "church answer" and that being to see "lost people get saved...". But is that it? Really? Is this where we put all of our time, attention and focus? I can't help but feel that there is so much more being lost in left undone in all of this. I can't help wonder if this is really what Jesus wanted to see from a religion bearing His name. Every single time I think about the purpose of the church one word comes to mind and that is discipleship. So I guess the pressing question would be is our church doing this? Or I guess we should take a step back and ask what really is discipleship to begin with. When you look at the Biblical meaning of discipleship and what it looked like with the Rabbi's of that time, it meant that the Rabbi had a group of guys who followed him everywhere and were so hungry for any knowledge and wisdom they could get from him. The Rabbi in turn was all about teaching his followers Truth and teaching them to think and to question and to look at things in a way they had not done before. Isn't this exactly what we saw from Jesus? He had his small group of guys (and yes the key to this is a small intimate group), who followed him everywhere and were eager to hear what he had to say and to learn all they could from him. These followers devoted their lives, left their families and all they had to follow their Rabbi. They hungered for the knowledge and wisdom they could get from him and they committed everything to do as instructed. So while this is all great in the Biblical sense what does it look like in today's church setting? Discipleship today is about teaching Truth and about digging deeper and deeper into scripture. It's not about making things simple but it's about challenging and getting to the meat and way past this watered down milk crap. It's about small groups that meet regularly and are committed to learning together and holding each other accountable. There's a level of intimacy that comes from small groups with people you can get close to and share in the realness of life with. Jesus had this with his disciples in that they were real together. Their faults were laid out and it wasn't about judging each other but about loving each other and pushing each other to be who they were meant to be. This goes past having Sunday schools and the typical church activities and to what should be the heart and depth of the church. While Sunday school classes are nice and serve some function, I personally have not seen a Sunday school class that has the same level of depth or intimacy that small groups tend to have. Partially because things are different when visitors are there as well as the commitment level seems to be different. So I guess the question is does our church have discipleship and if so where is it? Discipleship is also critical for those people that do accept Jesus. I think all too often our entire goal is to get people saved and then once "they're outta hell" we drop them and more onto the next "lost soul." We assume (and if we don't this, it is what is being portrayed) that once they get right with God that they will just know what to do and they will get themselves into a Sunday school class and they will just know how to pray and will magically know how to read the Bible. Too bad this is far from the truth. Real discipleship would be once someone starts this journey with Christ they would get hooked up with a mentor and a small group that can answer all these questions they still have and can model what this new journey and walk will look like. It's about growing people up and helping them develop depth and not keeping is so simple they never question or dig into the real stuff. I realize that small groups and discipleship takes commitment, and that's part of the point. We all have excuses such as work and kids and just the busyness of life but is this a priority? Apathy has been running rampant and is threatening to strangle and kill off our church. I honestly don't know how to make people care. This is a question that has been eating me up for the last many months and I still have no answer. But I do know that the apathy in the church is having a direct impact on the youth of the church. Why should the youth care when they see adults that don't? Why should the youth want growth and depth when the adults are content with barely milk? How do you shake people from their apathy? I wish I could answer this question. What is it that you want from our church? What is your vision for the church and are we even pointing in the same direction? My vision for the church is this; I want small groups that desire growth and are challenging, I want a hunger for Truth and for the meat of scripture, I want us to have real worship and to be excited about that worship, I want to be excited about coming to hear Truth and I want Truth to be demanded, I want to see mentors and real relationships established, I want us to all be going in the same direction and for the same purpose instead of like a shot gun all in different directions and with different objectives, I want people to walk away from our church feeling loved and valued and with worth, I want a spiritual awakening! and for apathy to have no place here anymore. This church is capable of having all of this if the people really wanted it. If the people saw a need for it and would fight for it and demand it. Is this what the people want? Is this what you want? If not why are we here?.....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I have many ideas and thoughts running like an out of control river through my head right now and while I need to get them out and express them I'm not sure that they will be coherent or make much sense....So if you are reading this good luck and I hope I don't completely confuse you. I guess the first issue that is driving me nuts is this saying that I hear week after week at church. That the desire is for the Bible to be made simple so us simple folks can understand it.... I have a problem with this statement and mentality. While yes I do want to be able to understand the Bible I don't want it to be so simple that it loses any depth and meaning and far far too often that's exactly what happens. I think there's a line that we must be careful with when teaching scripture and that we need to make it so that the listeners can understand what's being said but we can't completely water it down in the process. I may not be the brightest but I don't want to be a simple folk and I don't want the person teaching me to see me as that either. How are we supposed to grow and be challenged when it's all made so simple we don't have to really think? There has to be depth and questioning involved. And when speaking to any large group there will always be some that you end of speaking over their heads but to completely dumb it down to the slowest person makes the vast majority bored. I think this is the problem in too many churches. We water down the message so people understand and in turn all we are doing is feeding milk over and over and never getting to the meat of any issue. Then we wonder why people are apathetic and stop caring because they are never challenged. It's like when dealing with children, you have to set the bar high and when you do they will rise to meet it. When you set the bar low it shows that you think so little of them that they will never strive for more or better. Same thing in the church, we need to raise the bar and start feeding the people meat! Challenge and stretch people. Make them see things from a different point of view and make them question things. It's in the questioning and stretching that real growth takes place. To say the same things week after week, over and over again just frustrates the people and makes them tune out and bored. I guess it all comes back to the point and who we're trying to preach to or to teach. Are we spending all our time and energy trying to reach that one "lost soul" all the while leaving the rest of the people bored and unchallenged or are we engaging in discipleship where we train, teach and grow the majority of the people to then go out and do that to others? I want so desperately to be part of the discipleship group! I want to walk away each week challenged and not frustrated! To feel stretched and pushed because the person teaching thinks enough of me to know that I can handle it and I need it. Looking back at my time in youth group I know that I was so incredibly fortunate and privileged because it was during that time that I experienced what real growth looks like. My incredible youth pastor and amazing mentor pushed me and challenged me to look at things differently. They gave me meat, and although I may not have always been ready for the meat they cut it up and helped me work through it. They never watered it down and thought I couldn't handle it. Sometimes it was frustrating to want to get more then I did but I was challenged and I strived to understand. It was because they believed in me, more then I did in myself, that I wanted to understand and I wanted to go deeper. When we treat people as babies and too simple to get it we can't be surprised when that's how they act. We treat the church as babies and kids and then are shocked when there's no growth or depth or yearning for more. What have we expected from them? I guess the question is what's the goal or focus from the church? Saving people from the pits of hell or raising up disciples? I want to be part of a church that's focus is on discipleship. When the focus of the church is to grow, challenge and strengthen believers the natural overflow of that is that those people then go out and do that with others. Seeing believers excited and eager for more is much more likely to get people to want what they claim to have then to expect people to sit there and hear what they "need" while all the people around them are bored and stagnant. It's time for those who need and want more to demand more and to stop settling for milk when they deserve food.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why do we need Jesus?

Why do we need Jesus? This is a question that needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed in our own lives but also in the way in which we deal with the rest of the world. If somebody came up to me and asked, "Why is it that I need this Jesus you talk about?" what would my response be? For far too many I think the answer would be that they need Jesus to go to heaven or otherwise put to be saved from hell. But is that really why they need Jesus? If so great, they receive a get out of hell free pass but then what? No I think that this question needs to be approached from a different point of view. You see far to often we only look at anything that has to do with God or Jesus as a path or way to an afterlife. I mean all so often the message that is preached from church is that you need Jesus or you're going to hell. All the focus is put on what happens when I die but for me the problem is that I'm not dead or dying, I'm alive so what does this mean for me? We live in a society that wants to know how things are going to affect them now. Not next year or when they're dead, but here and now and so this answer of needing Jesus for when you're dead doesn't mean much to them. So here's how I would answer the person that wants to know why they need this Jesus: So that you can live!! Don't misunderstand where I'm coming from, I fully acknowledge that the only way to heaven is through Jesus because over and over again that's what is said in scripture (John 14:6). However, heaven is the added bonus but not the only reason that I need Jesus. You see Jesus talks repeatedly about living and life and these things only come through Him. In John 10:10 Jesus says that He has come that we may have life and have it abundantly! I don't believe that means just in the afterlife but the here and now. We are called to live life and live it to the fullest and that only happens when we are in that direct relationship with Jesus. We need Jesus so that we can live this life, the present one here on earth to our fullest and that means living out our passions, desires, dreams and potential right here and right now. We get so caught up with what will happen after we die that we fail to live. If being a Christian is all about going to heaven then once saved we can go ahead and die so we can get what our goal is, right? I believe that being a Christian is having a relationship with Jesus. It's about being real and broken and yet deeply desired by the Creator of the Universe. It's about being flawed and yet loved beyond measure. It's about God wanting to use you and me to tell His love story. It's about being part of this movement and revolution that Jesus started 2000 years ago. It's about pointing people to the Father so that they can live now as well as later. Heaven will be great and we've been promised it once we've entered into that relationship with Christ but that's not all this is about. I just think for far too long we've left being a Christian at just getting to heaven and neglected the rest of our purpose and story because of it. So are you waiting and clinging to what's to come or are you living life to it's fullest? Are you living in a way that makes people excited about the hope that you have? Are you living in a way that shows people that they need this Jesus so they can live now?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WWJD?

Millions were made in advertising and marketing of 4 little letters. Millions of bracelets, shirts, bumper stickers and other junk was made little the letters WWJD and Christians across the nation went wild over this new fad. And while the letters WWJD are no longer a best seller it seems to that the mere concept of What Would Jesus Do is also no longer something that we, as Christians, seem to really think about anymore. I'm sure some (if anybody does) who read this will be shocked and think why of course I think about what Jesus would do and so then my question is really? As Christians we used WWJD to decide on whether or not to go to that party or whether or not we should go that far with a boyfriend/girlfriend or whether or not we should do this or that but that's where it ended. They were mere thoughts and rarely did the actions follow suit. Once again I believe the Church has followed with this mentality and maybe even lead the charge in this thinking. It's so incredibly easy to say what Jesus would or wouldn't do without us ourselves having to follow the same actions. It's like we told Jesus what he would do and left it at that. But as I look around the Church I'm wondering do we even know how Jesus would act? Do we care? Do we think that he would act one way and yet it's ok for us to act differently. I guess much of this is stemming from the lack of love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and overall giving people value and worth that I see from so may Churches and so-called Christians. It's like as Christians we've somehow taken it upon our selves to expose people and their sin and then bash and condemn them and make them feel worthless and devalued all in the name of Jesus. Since when did being an ambassador for Christ mean that we're entitled to go around and beat people down? Since when do ambassadors for Christ mean that we can pick and choose who is good or worthy enough to be loved and experience God? We've somehow taken this horrible approach to "sharing" Jesus to others in that we'll tell them how bad they are and how they need to be saved from their sin all the while expecting them to want to know this God that apparently hates them and thinks they are worthless. Maybe it's just that, our approach in "sharing" that has totally become the problem in and of itself. Maybe instead of being so caught up in telling people we should become showers of who God is and the love from which we are all here to begin with. What if people, especially those "Christians" who run from groups like the "gays", the addicts, and those "living in sin", allowed these people to experienced the love of God through us. What if we loved on these people with an unconditional love and gave them worth and value and what if through this they were able to experience a taste of the love the Father has for them? Why is it that we think that we can just tell people they need Jesus and that He loves them all the while what pores from us is hate and bitterness? Do we really think that we can go up and tell people how sinful they are and assume they will just want to change just like that when we haven't shown them what it looks like to be loved? We treat Church the same way. Isn't church supposed to be a hospital for sinners and not a hotel for the healthy? That's like telling people they can't come to the doctor or hospital until they are no longer sick. People need to "get right with Jesus" before they can come to church. How does that work? Why should they buy into this Christianity thing without seeing why they should even care? We have this attitude that you can come to church once you get rid of the sin but until then you're not welcome. What is that?! What would happen if somebody who was gay walked into your church and sat down? Would people run in fear? Treat the person like crap? Tell them how horrible they are and how they need to repent now because they are going straight to hell? Why should they want to know this Jesus? How will they know that He loves them if we don't? I'm in no way down playing sin or the consequences of it. But so often we treat some sin as the "bad" sin and others as the tolerable sin and all we do is bash those living with the "bad" sin. Sin is sin. And with that God loves and deeply wants a relationship with the person struggling with the addiction, or the person sleeping around, or the homosexual as he does the person who comes every week to church and yet is cold and is just going through the motions. If we were to really adopt this mentality of what would Jesus do we would be going out and loving on those unlovable. Who was it that Jesus spent time with and ate with? The lowest of the low. The tax collectors, the prostitute, the adulterous woman, the ones the Pharisees would never even have looked at let alone talk to. We as Christians have become the Pharisees. We think we have it all together and are so caught up with others sin that we totally excuse and over look our own. When Jesus spent time with these people he didn't excuse their sin. He told them all about it. He knew it and he let them know he knew all about their lives but he did it in such a way that it drew people to him. He corrected with such love and compassion that these people had never experienced. When you have a genuine encounter with Christ your sin is exposed because His light shows us our sin, and he doesn't need us to condemn and do that for him. The Holy Spirit is capable for showing us that on his own. Those people who really experienced Christ were changed forever because you can't have a real encounter with Him and stay the same. But going up to somebody at the store and telling them they need Jesus and are going to hell and expecting a real life changing experience is ridiculous! They may say they accept him just to get the crazy Christian away but it won't be a life changing experience. We need to show people how to experience a relationship with Christ and that happens when we ourselves invest and set up relationships with people, and yes I mean even those "sinners". What would happen to our society if Churches changed how they reached those "lost people"? What would happen if we welcomed them into our churches just as they are, sick and hurt and lost, and loved on them? What if our love and compassion pointed them to the Father instead of beating them into submission? What if we treated them like people who have worth and value and are just as sick as we are? What if we preached in such a way that didn't condemn but pointed them to a relationship with Christ. If we look at this in the way we should as a relationship then doing the "right" things comes naturally. When we look at it as a list of do's and don'ts people don't care and it becomes something they have to do instead of wanting to do. If we showed people that this relationship with God is like any relationship, such as marriage, and yes there are things you shouldn't do. You shouldn't cheat on your spouse, you shouldn't hit or harm your spouse, you should treat them with love and care and value. Then you go into with a different mindset. You wouldn't do those things because you can't but because you don't want to. You love and value the person and wouldn't want to cause them pain and to sever that relationship. Same way with the relationship with the Father. It's not that I can't do these things but I wouldn't want to because it would hurt Him and sever that relationship. Why isn't this the stuff we teach at Church and why isn't this the way we live our lives as Christians? Why would a sick and lost world want what we have when we act like this?

Monday, October 19, 2009

You knit me together in my mother's womb....

Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother's womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well.My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be!! This is my favorite scripture! I love the imagery of God knitting together life in the mother's womb! How we were woven together and God's eyes saw our unformed bodies being made in the secret place! How incredible to picture! One more piece of evidence that we were created with intention and for a purpose! (And yes my ranting on purpose is coming but will have to wait until after this piece so keep reading!) And once again this passage has new meaning as I watched again a little heart beating on a sonogram today! Yes my friends we are pregnant with our 3rd baby (hopefully a boy but only God knows! We are 11 and 1/2 weeks pregnant as of today and due May 9th! While we have known since I was 3 weeks pregnant, this is our first public announcement to our joyous news! Even though things on this pregnancy have been perfect so far and little baby #3 looks great I still am hesitant in making this info public. But seeing how my ever growing belly is definitely looking prego I think the time has come to put the just fat speculation aside. They say that with each pregnancy you start showing sooner each time and since this is technically my 5th pregnancy, well I'm showing way too shown. All that being said we're insanely excited about the new adventure God is giving us! I will never take for granted or get used to seeing that precious little heartbeat on the screen. Every time I hold my breath and I guess part of me even expects not to see it having gone down that road before. The gift of life is so fragile and incredible! It amazes me how God ordains each day during those long 9 months for a purpose to knit a baby to completion! With a purpose and God ordained from the beginning! What a mighty God we serve!! So now that the news is out I can stop sucking it in and can shout my excitement from the rooftops which I've been dying to do! So with prayers and in faith we trust that God has a plan for this baby and that He will form it and keep it safe and healthy! Thanks for sharing in this exciting news with us!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"If we focus entirely on Scripture's disclosure of our feeble humanness, we'll either lose heart or close the book. But what would God's kingdom gain from a people who were only humiliated? What would be the reward of our existence if we were only repentant and never repaired?" Beth Moore, from the Ester Bible Study (p.119) Incredible words!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Truth. Is it worth fighting for anymore?

I know that I said my next post would be on purpose and while I still am planning to write on that, I feel that this post was needed first. It seems these days I've been lit on fire with a passion and desire for truth that I can hardly contain myself and I feel compelled to get it out in some way and so here it goes. Lately I've been wondering what is Truth anymore and do we still believe that it exist? Who is there to uphold it and to make sure that what we present and put out there is indeed Truth and not just our version of it? And for it to be Truth does it have to a denominational attachment to it? For many believer I think we would say of course there's still Truth and an absolute Truth, but then my question is how do you know and are you living it out? All I know about my faith and what I claim to believe is because I had incredible teachers, family, friends and mentors who taught me and modeled it out for me. But what about those people who do not have that? What about those people who are sitting in churches or under teachers who are giving them false truth, but they don't know that the truth isn't really truth and so they believe it and spread it around as truth to others? I don't know if it's taught or just assumed that the preacher or teacher is speaking truth at all times and that he's got to be right. I was told by my youth pastor to not just take the words of the preacher or teachers as absolute and to look things up and the meanings for everything myself. I know that preachers are human and they they are not perfect and they can make mistakes. But are we taking their words as truth and not looking things up on our own? What if they are wrong? What if they are preaching false theology, by their own knowledge or because of error? Who is there to fact check the preacher? I mean as soon as any president or congressperson gives a speech to a group of people there's immediately people fact checking what they said. What about pastor's or teachers? Who holds them accountable for what they preach in the name of Truth? Deacons or elders? Trustee's or committee's? The congregation? And what pastor or teacher is going to be receptive to somebody saying hey I don't think I agree with that? How did you come up with that and what scripture do you have to back that up? But then what happens when the pastor is just preaching based on his own agenda and twist every bit of scripture to fit what he wants it to say? Then he's using scripture and he'd show you where he got it but he'd be wrong. So then how do you deal with that and prove it? Maybe the problem is that people don't know scripture for themselves and so they can't say, hey I don't think that's really Biblical or hey your twisting that. They come to church to be told what to think without ever questioning it and thinking it through themselves. Yes I said questioning it. I'm sure some will gasp at that and think how dare I, but I dare. I think it's healthy to doubt and question what you hear and what you claim to believe and through that the real Truth will be revealed. Jer 29:12-13 talks about when you seek God with your whole heart and earnestly search for Him, He will be found by you. But you have to search and look sometimes. Would you rather know what you believe because you've fought for it and it's become a part of you or just because it was spoon fed to you? What I tend to see is people just taking whatever is told them as fact because that's easier then looking it up for themselves. Maybe that goes back to the whole apathy deal. Are people too apathetic to care that what's being taught is false truth? Would they even know the difference? And if they know and do care how do they say or do something to fix it? Can it be fixed? While I don't know what or how to say something, I do know that to sit back and keep silent makes me as guilty as the person preaching the false truth. I know that we, as a church, have the obligation and responsibility to present the real and absolute Truth and word of God. We don't get to just pick and choose what we think would get the biggest conversions or just what fits our agenda, but we have to present the entire Truth! We have to show every aspect and facet of who God is and we have to do so in a real and tangible way for people. We have to show the loving, gracious, merciful, faithful, constant, forgiving, just, wrathful and many many more sides of God! We can't just pick the ones that will get people "Saved". Psalms 51 talks about how God desires Truth in our innermost parts! Oh God make Truth my core and center and make it ooze from within me! God blot out anything that is false and a lie and replace it with Truth, YOUR TRUTH! God heal and forgive our churches for speaking anything but TRUTH! Make the people desire Truth and make them seek it out!! Help people discern Truth from lies and give them the courage to stand up if truth isn't what's presented to them!!! Raise up people, God, who will seek truth at all cost and who will accept nothing less!!! God, make our ears burn at false teachings and tune our hearts to hear and decipher truth!! God I don't want to be the only person fighting for something! I want people who think that Truth is still real and worth the fight! Rise those people up, Father please! Acts 4:20, "For we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard!!!" God for those who have hears truth and have seen you in a real way, we cannot help but speak about it!! Give us courage and desire to speak truth and to make Your truth known to others, especially those people who are already in the church!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Apathy. I hate apathy.

As I sit down to type this out my mind is running at full speed and I'm having a hard time collecting my thoughts. There's so much I want to say and so much that is screaming to get out and so now I'm left trying to collect and organize it all so that it says what I mean to say. One of the issues that has been burning me from the inside out and has become the talking point of most conversations between my husband and myself as of late, is the theme of apathy and purpose (purpose will be my next ranting so stay tuned). One more area that I get heated up over and I so just want to scream from the roofs! When I look around at church (once again meaning church as a whole and not specifically singling out an individual church) I see so much apathy it makes me want to puke. I see people who come to fill their church/God quota and who leave in the same way they came in. They sit, they sing, they do what they have to do to get by and all the while they could really care less. I want to scream WAKE UP YOU SLEEPING AND BLIND CHURCH! WAKE UP YOU PEOPLE AND SEE AND TASTE AND REALNESS OF A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS!! It makes me frustrated to no end!! I realize that I was blessed beyond belief by having the privilege of growing up in the most incredible youth group and with the best youth pastor and mentors anybody could ever have. My youth pastor did not allow apathy and complacency. You couldn't sit under his teaching without growth. I know that seeing that and be challenged to more was a huge gift I will forever treasure. So I guess the possible reason for the apathy is that most or many people in churches today have not seen what real growth, depth and a passionate desire for more look like. From the pastor on down they don't see realness, passion, and genuineness and they have no one to model it to them. They are living out this watered down sorry excuse for Christianity because it was modeled for them. Which is a sad cycle to live out and to pass down. But at the same time this cannot be an excuse. At some point there has to be growth and maturity and even if it hasn't been lived out to you physically. Ignorance can not be an excuses for apathy. So then how can this be changed? There's a quote from the Batman Begins movie (to quote this makes my husband very proud and means I have been totally corrupted), which says,"People need dramatic examples to shake them from their apathy." How true is this?! The question here in lies how dramatic is it going to have to be to get peoples attention? What does it take to get people excited and passionate and to desire growth? I don't know.....but I'd like to figure it out! I'm praying that God will create sparks under people and that those sparks will be contagious and that full fires can break out and that people can't help but catch it and be inspired to want more!! Apathy in the church isn't something new. It was an issue that is dealt with throughout the Bible as well. Look at the Israelites and how time after time they gave into apathy and fore went a relationship with God for lack of desire for anything but themselves. Revelation 3:16 is talking with the church at Laodicea and telling them that because they are neither hot nor cold that God will spit them from his mouth. I don't get how we can claim to be Christians and yet be in this lukewarm state. You can't just be in the same state that you are right now. If you're not growing and moving forward then you're falling back and withering away. You are either hot or cold but lukewarm is not an option. Time and time again the message is clearly written out, that it is by your fruit you will know if someone is a Christian or follower of Christ. You can't produce fruit or passion if you're cold and apathetic. And by fruit I'm not meaning a list of how many people you've "saved" or led to the Lord. When I think fruit I think more of the traits and characteristics that is listed in the Bible of those who have a heart and desire for Christ. Take the fruits of the Spirit for an simple example. I think too often what is preached and demanded from the church is to go out there and witness to all you meet and convince them to get right with Jesus and get saved. That to me is not an example of being hot but being somebody who values lip service. It's like we're told that if we're not getting people saved then we're a failure and it becomes like a notch in our belt when we do. If we lived out a realness and passion and were hot and were producing fruit people would see that and the modeling what a real walk with Christ is would make them want what we have. Realness and passion trump Bible thumpers any day of the week. Until we, as the church, get passionate (and I'm not talking about becoming holy Bible thumpers that pounce on people with the "plan of salvation" but people who are hungry for more. Who desire a passion and deeper walk with Jesus that they're realness and hunger will be what people see because it's modeled and not just lip service and that's what will make people know that we are Christians. By what and how we live that will say what we claim to believe.) how can we expect to reach anybody, let alone "non Christians"? Why should they want to by into this Christianity bit if by with it we claim for a new life in Christ and what we model is a life that is dead. Are we any better than those we are trying to "save"? Spiritual death is the same for those saved and unsaved I guess the only difference is one has a "get out of hell free card" and the other one doesn't. So what makes people different and what makes one group passionate and one not? I believe part of the answer is purpose. Those who have and live a life of purpose can not be apathetic because they are part of the bigger picture. They are living for more then themselves and they are striving for more realness and depth. So while I'm gathering my thoughts and scripture for a rant on purpose I'll leave this where it is. I feel like I had more thoughts and things I wanted to express and yet those thoughts have alluded me for now. So the final question; are you a hungry passionate person or are you apathetic and just like the rest of the world. Are you hot or cold? And if you're hot where's your fruit?