Living Out The Gospel

 Monday, November 22, 2010

We expect the world to do what the world does. However, when the lines are blurred and you can no longer differentiate the church from the world we have a huge problem. Meaning---many churches have taken on the identity of the world and are looking less like the body of Christ and more like the world. In many cases, sad as it is, the church is little more than a seeker sensitive politically correct institute made after the hearts of men. Whatever it takes to draw them in mindset has made itself prevalent within the body. Thousands are drawn away by the desires of their own hearts and convince their members that in order to be truly successful we must build it bigger, better, and have more stuff to draw the outsiders. Of course you need to draw people in order to pay for the huge buildings and other things. This type of thinking has lead many churches to close it's doors in the wake of the recession. Money is tight these days and many churches are finding themselves short on money and unable to keep up the opulent buildings they've built. Case in point, the Crystal Cathedral, which has been forced to close its doors due to a dwindling congregation and a recession that has hit so many so hard. With no other option than to file bankruptcy, the Crystal Cathedral finds itself in a pit of debt of about 5.5 million dollars with no way to pay the mortgages or those they've hired to put on lavish programs.

Now the mega-churches have something else to worry about. The Tennessee State Board of Equalization has decided that one mega-church in Nashville Tn, will have to pay the amount of $425,000 in property taxes. Why, you ask? It seems that the board deems churches who have bookstores, gym's and the like in their building is considered commercial enterprises and are deemed taxable. The minister who received this huge bill is from South Nashville and pastors a congregation of 2,300. The pastor had this to say:

"They think a church worships on Sunday and then everybody goes away," pastor Dan Scott said. "Anything else you do is not church. But Christianity is not something you dive into once a week."

Of course Pastor Dan Scott plans on fighting this. I'm more on the side of the Board in this case. These things may be nice, but really there is no essential need to have them.

Once church in particular is really living out the Gospel they preach. Here is the article and the link. Read more:

David Platt (pictured right) became one of the youngest megachurch pastors in history when in 2006, at the age of 28, he was appointed to lead The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.

Yet just as remarkable is how his church of more than 4,000 responded to his challenge over a series of weekend services to take Jesus’ words at face value and abandon all for Him.

The result? Families (including Platt’s) downsized their living spaces, simplified their lifestyle and gave away profits to the poor. Business owners sold their companies to aid global and local mission work. Dormant believers became activated to launch ministries. And the church radically made over its budget to do more with less so it could invest more in local and global ministries.

This year, Brook Hills embarked on a one-year commitment called “The Radical Experiment” which includes dozens of short-term mission trips around the world to allow people a different context of service. “If we’re not careful, if I’m not careful, we can start to think the world looks like Birmingham,” Platt says.

I believe this young man is going in the right direction. I'm not inclined to call it a Radical Experiment, but simply what it is-----Living out the Gospel! We don't need all the bells and whistles----Jesus just needs us to follow Him!


There is light

 Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm not a fan of dark places. In my house you'll always find a light on to lead the way to the bathroom. There's something about the darkness that brings out the child in us all, leaves us clinging to our bed covers with a flash light readily available on the night stand just in case. Anything can be lurking around in the dark, be it monsters, aliens, or the things that we cannot see with our own eyes, but see it none the less. In those dark places, we feel the most evil of things clawing at our very skin, trying to invade our thoughts and move our eyes away from Jesus. They can be subtle at first, starting with the most innocent of things. But they grow like a wild plant and become the monsters in our lives. When we finally look back we see that plant, wild, green, and out of control. We wander around in the dark, bumping into things, stubbing our toes and cursing out in pain. In a panic we grope for the light switch. We've become desperate. As our desperation takes hold of us we finally give up and forsake our way of doing things and give in. That's when we fall to our knees, and we pray for guidance, for help, for Jesus to come and open the dark prison to which we are bound. It is only in our desperation that we finally relinquish control and cry out to our Father for help as little children. Unless we become as little children in need of our Father, in need of Christ our advocate, we'll remain in our darkest moments.

Submission for some is a dirty word. The idea of not belonging to yourself, and the idea of having to answer to some one evokes images of our worst child hood moments. Mama or daddy is always in control and you can't wait to do it your way. There is so much more to life than what we see. Eventually our world will will be turned upside down and life will happen leaving us as if we're suddenly thrust back into our child hood lying in a corner in the fetal position knees firmly drawn in to our chest. In that moment you'll realize you were never in control. And when you finally submit, relinquish control, and cry out to God-- look up and see the light ---lighting your way out of darkness.

Psalm 18:28 "For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness"


My Worship

 Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I made a promise to myself long ago. We'll not so much a promise, but a statement to self. And each time I would try to enact it, something would happen and I'd get side tracked. But now things are different for me. Today, I finally put in motion what I've been gearing to do for some time now. It's a simple index card, but what I place on it has the power to transform my heart, my mind, and bring me closer to my Father, and my Saviour. This week I'm Praying

Psalm 139:23-24

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

I felt that it was only fitting that I made this my first of many moments with God. I want so much for all the junk that I've accumulated, hoarded in my life to be gone as quickly as possible. How can you move forward in any relationship without knowing the areas in your life that need the most attention. Those who worship the Father, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Some times the hardest thing in life, is looking at yourself and seeing the ugliest of things and crying out at the feet of Jesus and washing His feet with our tears, hurt and having him take away anything that is not pleasing to Him. It is a painful, but beautiful process.

We're all guilty of cheapening our worship, and our praise to just one moment one day of the week. I'll be the first to admit it. Doesn't our Father deserve so much more than lip service, simple gestures done because that's what we do? We are our Father's passion. I want him to be mine.


Moving Forward

 Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's been a while since my last blog post. Truth is life has moved at such lightning speed I've not really had the time, or for that matter, the required energy. But here I am finally putting pen to paper..well fingers to the keyboard. After my last post I received some great encouraging, uplifting words from many of you. And then there are those who believe that we've completely abandoned "the church" when in reality we've just left a building. To say that its been quite the journey is an understatement. Some have called us bitter and nicely stated they'd be praying for us. I was even de-twittered by one individual. As of late I've noticed that individuals I once called friend no longer see me as one. Though they've not de-friended or de-twittered me, silence says it all. There are no invites to hang at anyone's home, or just hang out anymore, though we do get the occasional "we miss you". At times I feel like a leper cast out from among the sheep. However, I harbor no ill will or wish anyone harm. There before me lies an open road, and the Lord is leading and I will follow where ever he leads me. Currently I'm stripping away a lot of junk. Junk that I never thought of as junk. But as I devote myself to doing things his way and allowing Jesus to lead, I'm loosing myself---the old self. No longer spectator but participant.


The Journey----back

 Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a rebel at heart. I've always been that way. Don't believe me? Well my family could tell you some stories. And admittedly, more often than not, my way was far from the best way to accomplish anything. Being somewhat hard headed about many things, I had to learn the hard way. And guess what, I’m still a little hard headed, but learning that in all things----there is a lesson to be learned.

These days I feel the rebel rising up in my chest, burning and inching its way forward again after all these years. It dances inside my head, humming a tune and giving the world the well known finger. However, this time I’m not alone. My husband and I are now the rebel rousers, bucking the authority so to speak. As a family we’ve decided that we will no longer attend Church. It’s not a decision that we came to quickly or lightly. Truth is we got hurt, again. Imagine that, getting hurt by godly people. Reminds me of Beth Moore’s book, When godly people do ungodly things. But like I said before there’s always lessons to be learned.

Memories of my life in church came to me like shadows casting themselves on walls. Clips from a movie, if you will, staring me. Like most people in the South, I grew up in the church. It is a small church in a small community that my mother and her siblings grew up in. I sang in the choir, taught children’s Sunday school and was the Sunday school recorder. You know, giving the report of how many attended, how much was collected. I was quickly immersing myself in church duties. I remember Homecoming celebrations, which brought people out in droves who normally didn't attend church. Shopping for that perfect Easter outfit, Sunday School conventions where we attended other churches such as this one. Our church congregation was small, filled with mostly family, and if we had a piano player on a particular Sunday it was considered a blessing. Otherwise we just used our hands and feet as instruments. Our church choir was small but our voices rang through the church as if we were the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. My grandfather was the head Deacon and worked tirelessly to make sure that the church served the community. There were times when we'd only have 5-10 people in the congregation, but that never deterred anyone from praising God, it never mattered to the "old saints" how many people were there.

Yet, even then I was different.......I was the rebel. It was me who asked questions like, “why do we have to wear dresses and pantyhose to church, Jesus doesn’t care how we come.” Dare I buck the authority and put on a pair of jeans. We’ll not in my mama’s house, and I tried. I'd watch the pastors as they sweated, hollered, about the goodness of God, about the dangers of hell, and how Jesus was the way. People would stand up and shout out of excitement, they'd wave white handkerchiefs, and nod their heads while saying amen amen, preach preacher. It was all alien to me. I'd just let my mind wonder....wonder why when someone sung a song it was more of a was their platform and they were Whitney Houston. I wondered why everyone "acted" up in church like they were holy, and had no compassion, empathy, or love for anyone else. For all the latest gossip all you had to do was go to church. But it wasn’t gossip as long as they put, “Bless her heart, she needs Jesus” at the end of everything. I wondered why some of the churches I went too were like walking down the runway and I was the model on display so they could converse back and forth about what I was wearing. I've seen those who came to church dressed in their best taken in back rooms and given "more appropriate" clothing to wear. And they never returned.

Once I was 18, I left the church. I had grown tiered, weary of it all. If I could have, or rather had enough nerve I would have risen up out of that pew and shouted screamed to the tops of my lung. “You have created traditions of men that are killing us, and driving us away from the very arms that you want us to run to.”

If you read my last post, you understand my view. I’m tiered of the clicks, the complacency, the worship wars, the lies, and people’s need to keep the traditions of man. When I read Acts there are no similarities to what the church has become now. And no, we are not forsaking the assembling of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will gather in worship, we will pray and we will continue to pursue Christ with a passion. We just refuse to do it man’s way. We’ll go and visit at times with others also, but don’t look for us in the pews doing the “church” thing. Were gonna do it God’s way.


What's happening with our Churches?

 Friday, August 13, 2010

"The first lesson we learned was how to count the cost. In Egypt, our theology is the theology of pain. It is not a theology of prosperity. We don't know the theology of prosperity, but we know Jesus."

I took this quote from a magazine that I subscribe to. The Voice of Martyrs Serving the Persecuted Church. When I read this magazine I find myself envious. Many may find this strange, or even down right crazy. By comparison, we Christians in America are spoiled, and ungrateful. We measure God's love in what he gives, what he takes away, and what he allows to happen (good or bad). Dare I say that we've become lazy, worldly, and selfish. Church for us is about building great "churches" having great youth programs, great worship music, and numbers. Church has become religion, with no relationship with Jesus. It's become something that we do every Sunday and Wednesday night. Do we really know what sacrifice is, to die for the cause of the kingdom, to not know if we'll ever see our family again? Do we know what it truly is to forsake all for Jesus---to leave it all behind? Do we know what it is to not have the freedom to read our bibles, meet with others ? Sadly, most of us don't know and really don't want to know.

Each Sunday morning we gather in buildings critiquing the music, gossiping about brother and sister so and so. All while our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering for the cause. We gripe about the pastor's message, how long it was. We complain about how long praise and worship was or how bad it was. When we get mad or get our feelings hurt we just leave and join another "church"---or we just start a new church. Not to say that there are not instances when leaving a church is warranted, because it is. But for so many there's nothing warranted, its because our toes have gotten stepped on.

When I look at those who have been killed, tortured, and imprisoned never once have they wavered on their love for Christ. They are steadfast, faithful to the very end. Ministry doesn't equal money, worldly possessions, silver and gold, but rather knowing that they are reaching others for Christ and adding to the kingdom. They do not take their tribulations as punishment or a curse but welcome it, because they truly know where their inheritance lies.

As I write this post thousands are rounded up like cattle, beat within inches of their life, accused of blasphemy- all for Christ. The above quote says it all, doesn't it? I'm sure that there are those who will read this and critique it with great words of condemnation, challenge my thoughts, and tell me I'm wrong. But ask yourself this question----how far would you really go for the King?

I'm not sure about you, but personally I've wasted enough of my life over mundane things. Are we ready to really do the will of the Father? Are we ready to step out of our comfort zones and walk out on faith. Are we really ready to trust him? I am!

Reading Acts has really placed things in perspective for me! We do "church" instead of being the church of Christ. I'll leave you with a quote from another brother in Christ who faces death daily for the cause of Christ. When asked his thoughts on what the Apostle Paul calls tribulations He responded with the following:

"I think that suffering is a most beautiful part of the Christian faith because Christianity without pain, without suffering, without hard times is like the ready-made food. There's nothing true in it. It's very superficial, very shallow." And may I add--he did not say suffering is the only part of the Christian faith, but "a most beautiful part."

Father forgive me for treating you like a genie in a bottle. I thank you for the wake up call, the probing of my heart and showing me the order of things. It's so much clearer now. The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.


Silly Bandz

 Monday, August 2, 2010

For those of you who don’t have children, you may not be aware of the current epidemic that is currently sweeping our country, much like the Beanie Baby pandemic (which I confess to totally being right in the middle of the craziness myself) . This new epidemic has caused much civil unrest in our home at times. We’ve broken up more fights & threatened a ban on this product that’s suddenly brought every child under its evil spell. Some of you may already know what evil I’m speaking of, if not I’ll give you a hint. They're bracelets made out of thin rubber in different shapes and objects------SILLY BANDZ, is their proper given name.

Somewhere the creator of this new craze is sitting basking in the delight of knowing that something so simple ( which most of us wish we would’ve thought of the idea) could become so popular with children all while raking in the big bucks. There is nothing special about Silly Bandz. They can’t do tricks, fly or anything spectacular. Silly Bandz are nothing more than colorful accessories on the arms of children everywhere, sometimes clear up to the elbow. I’ve seen my children beg, borrow, trade, & deal just to own a pack of bands. Now seeing how my children love these slivers of rubber, and how they react to just the prospect of owning more, Mama is now using their love for Silly Bands to her advantage.

Suddenly chores get done, behavior improves, and payment is fairly cheap. I'm seriously hoping that the power that these things hold will continue through out this new school year.


Desperately Seeking Jesus

 Friday, January 8, 2010

I knew it would be the last time I’d see her again. The chemotherapy had long stopped working and everything up to this point was more palliative than anything.
Today she was sitting up in her chair. Today she’d be going home to live out the last of her days. Yet, in the back of my mind I believed that healing would come, come and take all the pain from her body that had been eaten by cancer.

Cancer had aged her. Chemo robbed her of her crown and glory. In all her pain she managed to laugh and smile. In all her suffering she was persistent, steadfast, and faithful…to the end. And even in the end, when she knew that no healing would come through the hands of man, only through the Father, she embraced the outcome…whatever it may be.

I told her often how brave and beautiful she was. We prayed together sometimes, holding hands around her bed desperately seeking Jesus. Desperately seeking him to come and move in her situation. Lord 47 is just too young to die. I’d think to myself.

She passed away New Year’s Eve. I imagine her carried away in the arms of angels to meet her savior. In her sickness I wonder how she cried out to Jesus, how he wiped the tears from her eyes when the pain was so much she could no longer bear it. I wonder what her prayers were for her family after she was on this earth no more. I often wonder how her life changed after her diagnosis. I wonder how desperate she became for Jesus, and how he worked in her life because she sought him no matter what. I may never have the answers to these questions but one thing she taught me….be desperate for Jesus, and seek Him through it all.

This year I won’t make any New Year’s resolutions that I know I’ll break. This year I won’t promise to go to the gym, loose weight, etc…this year I’ll desperately seek Jesus with all of my heart, every day, every minute, and every second, to walk with him no matter what! I’ll love harder, stress less, and trust Him more.

Lord forgive me for my selfishness, for making it all about me. Forgive me for putting you last when I should have placed you first. One thing is for sure, when test, and trials come they do come to make us stronger. Thank you for allowing me to know your daughter in Christ. Though she is home with you now, she taught me how to be desperate for you, no matter the obstacles!