21 April, 2017

I'm Learning

OK, I've been preaching since 1981, pastored my first church in 1986 (interim pastor) and been a full-time pastor since 1991... so you'd think that by now I'd have this thing figured out. Hardly. The more I learn the more I discover how much I don't know. To be honest, pastoring in 2017 is nothing like it was in 1993. The world has changed. People have changed. With the increase of technology and especially the Internet, pastoring took an abrupt change of direction. Things I did back then are almost non-existent today. In 1994 when I got my first cell phone, none of us had a clue where that technology was taking us. Who would have dreamed that one day we'd set our cell phone up in the sanctuary and live stream our services around the world in real time and be able to communicate with people watching in Pakistan and the Philippines instantly? Or that a small church in a town of 800 people would literally touch people around the world? It's crazy mindboggling... and it is changing us even more rapidly. The frustrating thing that I'm learning is that with these changes which enable us to reach people around the world (as well as those who are shut in locally and cannot make it to church) come more excuses for people to stay home from the physical church and disconnect. As we live stream and record the services to be viewed later, already people are learning that the can stay home, sleep in on Sunday morning and watch the service at their leisure from the comfort of their home. Attendance drops, as does giving to the church and I'm learning that even though the church is reaching hundreds of viewers and listeners to our podcast, the church is having to make cutbacks in order to survive. One of the things I'm learning in 2017 is that fewer and fewer people are committed to the church and to supporting the work of the church financially. I wonder sometimes if they think that God just supernaturally puts money in our bank account to pay the utilities, mortgage, and insurance? I guess what I'm really learning is that people no longer really care about their church like they used to. It seems like as long as their needs are met, that is all that matters and if once church shutters its windows and closes the doors... there will always be another. I'm learning that pastoring in 2017 is a whole new challege. I have to wonder what tomorrow hold?

14 April, 2017

The Power of Simplicity

Have you ever thought about how many times we climb a mountain when all we need to do is walk through the tunnel? I'm talking about times when rather than simply saying or doing what needs to be done, we make a major production out of something that could be handled quite simply. I recently listened to a politician give a speech on television, and after he had spoken for nearly 30 minutes, a friend asked me what he had said. I was able to say everything the man said in two short sentences. We laughed about it, but I have been thinking about that ever since that moment. Why do we tend to make things so difficult? Why can't we just say it, or do it, and be done with it?

I was thinking about how this applies to us as Christians and how we tell others about our faith in Christ. We often try to "scale the mountain" with our words or testimony, when the person we are speaking to is ripe and ready to hear a right now Word from God.
A lot of folks think that unless you say a lot, talk a long time, you have not been effective. But can I tell you that there is power in just a few words?

I'm reminded of a time when I was young when there was a large number of accidents at train crossings. The Grand Trunk Railroad was quite concerned and they ran a nationwide contest searching for a slogan that would make people more aware of the dangers of these railroad crossings. The winner was to receive $2500. (Which was a lot of money back then!) Thousands and thousands of entries poured in... but the winning slogan was three short words... "STOP... LOOK... LISTEN." Those three words became known to everyone and undoubtedly saved hundreds, maybe even thousands of lives.
Great studies had been completed, positional papers were written, and meetings held across the nation to try to solve this problem at railroad crossings.... but three words changed the entire situation all across the nation. There is power in simplicity.

I've been thinking about this for some weeks now, and I realize that way too often, when people call me about their problems, their current crisis or whatever, I often go into long discussions as we try to get to the bottom of the issue and how to resolve it; when the answer is found in three short words found in Hebrews 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus." What else really needs to be said?
The reality is that so often we need to quit talking, quit fretting and worrying, and we need to take it to Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith"!  There is power in simplicity!

Sitting here typing this, I am reminded of my teen years when I sang in a church youth choir. There was an old song that a man in my church had written a new arrangement to that had a recitation in it. The recitation began:
"The love of God; four short words, but how inclusive."
The words to the song said:
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

You know, sometimes rather than scaling the mountain to tell someone about the ramifications of sin...
Rather than launching into a theological discourse about salvation...
Maybe we just need to tell them about the wonderful love of God.
There is power in simplicity!

08 April, 2017

The Yoke of Christ

Do you ever find it difficult to follow Christ? 
Why is it so hard to follow Jesus sometimes?
Do you ever get tired?
Do you ever find yourself in need of rest?
How can I find rest while following Jesus?
Matthew 11:28-30 MKJV
28) Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29) Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
30) For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Notice what Jesus doesn’t say.
He doesn’t say, “Come to me, for I have no burden!"
Nor does he say "Come to me, for I don’t make any demands!” 
Hey, let's be honest... Wouldn’t that have been more appealing?
But a yoke involves subjection to a master. 
There are more than 50 references to "yoke" in the Bible that speak of the wooden bar or frame used to join animals to enable them to pull a load. It is an image of subjection, service or bondage, just as a yoked ox is subject to its owner. A yoke is usually a negative thing—something a person would do virtually anything to avoid. Sin is described as a yoke around a person’s neck.
But when Jesus talks of his yoke, the imagery has a positive meaning of good subjection to him.
For those of us in the individualistic and permissive West, talk of surrender, submission, and radical obedience may be difficult for us to swallow. We tend to want to have our cake and eat it too. But when Scripture pays honor again and again to Jesus as “Lord,” it is clear that this term refers to a master who owns and controls servants or slaves.
Paul understood himself to be Christ’s slave (doulos), who is compelled and controlled by his master to do his master’s bidding and to serve his purposes.Most English translations of the Greek NT tend to use the more socially acceptable term “servant” instead of “slave” in translating some 190 words that refer to slavery (because of our collective shame over the history of slavery in the West).
But one of Paul’s most common self-designations is “slave of Christ.”
Paul makes it clear that using the image of slavery to understand one’s relationship with Christ has to do with obedience. 
For Paul, the issue is clear: everybody obeys something, and whatever or whomever you obey, you are enslaved to.
We wear a yoke. But is it on you alone?
In the scripture text I mentioned above, Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon ourselves and he will give us rest.
That sounds like quite a paradox, doesn’t it? To put on a yoke, which symbolizes work or labor, and expect to find rest there.
But the truth of this test is that we find rest when we discover that the yoke’s also on him (29b) Jesus’ generous invitation is to the broken and the burdened. It is grounded in his own gentleness and humility. He was not simply a powerful lord who ruthlessly crushed all opposition, but one who sought the good of others and promised rest for their souls.
There is a famous study that was done on two horses. The first one could pull 10,000 lbs on a sled while the second could pull 14,000 lbs.
What would you think they could pull when yoked together in the same direction?
Most people would guess something like 24,000 lbs, but the answer is 49,000 lbs! The sum is greater than a combination of the parts.
Like many of the "crazy" things Jesus said, this truth is paradoxical.
We lay down our burdens, our agendas, and take on God’s yoke, “easy” and “light.” Even though his is a burden, it is easy compared to ours because we are joining Jesus in his work. On the other side of the yoke pulling with us is the powerful and almighty resurrected One, carrying the weight of the world. It feels easier and lighter because of who is helping carry the load. 
Imagine two men in boats; one a row boat, the other a sailboat.
A rower gets to a destination by personal strain, struggle, and effort. A sailor arrives under the wind’s power. Rowing is a good way to keep in shape but a lousy way to travel. Sailing, on the other hand, taps the power of the wind and allows us to go much farther, much faster, with far less human effort than rowing. 
The scary thing is, I often try minister like I’m rowing a boat—out of my strength, in my wisdom, by my power. When I do that, my ministry lacks power and I grow quite weary. God may still use me, graciously, but sailing is a far better way to go. 
Jesus makes it clear that following him is a slave to master relationship, which involves submission and obedience. The yoke’s on us. But that means the power comes from the One who directs our lives.
Christ offers a liberating enslavement. The yoke’s really on him.

The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said: “The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on His shoulders. If He bids us carry a burden, He carries it also.”
The yoke’s on us, but the yoke’s really on him.
But what about that rest we’re looking for?
We find rest when we realize that no one gets tired of a really good yoke.
The New Living Translation of this text says: “For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

If I put a flat, uncarved piece of wood on an ox’s neck and use it to pull a cart, very quickly pressure sores will break out on that animal’s neck, and he will be useless.
A good yoke must be formed to the shape of an ox’s neck. It should cover a large area of skin to distribute the stresses widely. It should also be smooth, rounded, and polished with no sharp edges so that no one point will endure unduly high stress. If I succeed in my workshop, the yoke I make will fit snugly around the ox’s neck and cause him no discomfort. The animal can haul heavy loads every day for years, and his skin will remain perfectly healthy, with no pressure sores.

Can I tell you that Jesus offers each of us a well-fitted yoke, of custom design? He does not call us to the kind of rest that means inactivity or laziness--that would lead to spiritual atrophy. Instead, he promises a burden designed to fit my frame, my individual needs, strengths, and capabilities. The problem so often is that we try to wear a yoke of our own design, or that someone else wants to put on us, rather than the one that Christ has designed for us. When we do that, we get weary, or hurt, and render ourselves useless. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to direct us and put on us the yoke, or labor that he designs for us, not man.
Here’s the picture that we must see: We come to him weary and heavy-laden. He removes those crushing burdens that would destroy any human being, and replaces them with a yoke of appropriate stress designed specifically for you and me.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me," he says, "for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Isn't It Funny?

Funny how we set our clocks to arise at 4:00 am or 5:00 am to be at the job by 7:30, yet when Sunday comes we can't get to church for the 10:00 am service to praise the one who gave us the jobs!

Funny how we call God our Father and Jesus our brother but find hard to introduce them to our family.

Funny how small our sins seem, but how big "their" sins are.

Funny how we demand justice for others but expect mercy from God.

Funny how much difficulty some have learning the gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is to understand and explain the latest gossip about someone else.

Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray, but don't have any difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we are so quick to take directions from a total stranger when we are lost but are hesitant to take God's direction for our lives.

Funny how so many churchgoers sing "Standing on the Promises" but all they
do is sit on the premises.

Funny how people want God to answer their prayers but refuse to listen to His counsel.

Funny how we sing about heaven but live only for today.

Funny how people think they are going to Heaven but don't think there is a Hell.

Funny how it is okay to blame God for evil and suffering in the world but it is not necessary to thank Him for what is good and pleasant.

Funny how when something goes wrong, we cry, "Lord, why me?" but when something goes right, we think, "Hey, it must be me!"

Oh, wait...maybe all this isn't so "funny" after all.

--Author Unknown

06 April, 2017

One Dimensional Christianity

Those who know me and who have sat under my ministry know that one of my key words is "balance."  There must be balance in all of our lives, and that includes in our Christian walk. A pet peeve of mine is people who like one area of teaching, and that is what they feed themselves on. They zero in on an area of study (such as prophecy) and they study nothing but prophecy. Note that there is nothing wrong with prophecy, but we need more than that. We could pick any subject, but the principle is the same. We must study the whole Bible, rightly divided. Otherwise, we are out of balance. Ever have a washing machine go out of balance? All it does is make a whole lot of noise, and waste a lot of energy. Not much more than that is accomplished. And so it is with our Christian walk.

Let's look at it from another perspective. Suppose there was someone giving a speech on the awesome wonder of the automobile engine, but when you went to hear him speak, all he spoke about was the crank shaft. He could stress how that without the crankshaft, the engine was worthless, because the crankshaft moves the pistons which compress the fuel mixture, which fires and the force of the piston recoiling from the explosion turns the crank shaft with more force, thus driving the transmission. And he could make a good case for the crankshaft being the most important part of the engine. However, another person on the other  side of town giving a speech on the awesome wonder of the automobile engine is giving a speech and he insists that the piston is the most important part of the car engine, for without it, there is no compression of the fuel mixture, thus no explosion, thus nothing to turn the crankshaft. In yet another part of town, a man is giving a lecture on the automobile engine, but he insists that the spark plug is the most important part of the car engine, for without it, there would be nothing to cause the explosion, so the piston and crankshaft are useless without the spark plug. In still another part of town, there is another man giving a lecture on the automobile engine, but he asserts that it is the distributor/electronic ignition that is the most important part, for if it were not for it, the spark plugs would never know when or how to fire, therefore there would be nothing to push the piston, and therefore nothing to turn the crankshaft.  I could go on, but I hope by now you are getting the idea. Each part or component of the engine is vital. Remove any of them, and the rest of it does not work. It takes them all, working at peak performance in the correct order and balance in order for the engine to work. So it is with our Christian lives. When we study one area, or focus too much on one area, we get out of balance, and that throws everything in our Christian walk out of kilter, leaving us either not performing, or performing at a less than optimal way, rendering us ineffective.

It is easy to get caught up in what I term, "one dimensional Christianity". We have to guard ourselves, and discipline ourselves to study all of the Bible, not just the parts that we like or excite us, for just like that car engine, all the parts are essential to one another in order to balance out and keep our spiritual lives functioning in harmony and with productivity. Think about it... have you become prone to studying one area of our Christian life to the neglect of others? Find your place of balance. It may just be time for a spiritual tuneup.

03 April, 2017

Changing Your Focus

Awhile back I was shooting some pictures for someone and my eye kept being drawn to something in the background that I absolutely hated and it was just ruining the shot. I kept trying to get this shot, but it just was not right. I was getting very frustrated, as I could see in my mind what I wanted, but I could not get the shot. I started fussing about the junk in the background, but it was not only the object in the background, the entire thing seemed out of joint. I just could not get the shot right. I probably took at least 25 or more shots and I just could not get what I wanted. I stopped and talked with the person I was shooting and she said to me, "can't you just edit it out?" I'm like, "Duh?" But I was still unhappy with what I had. And it hit me... what was wrong here was that I was so consumed with that thing in the background that I was not focusing on what my subject was doing. We shot it again, and immediately I knew what was wrong. When my focus shifted from that stupid thing in the background and put my focus on what I was trying to do, I knew right away what was ruining the shot and was able to make the necessary corrections. Two more shots and I had exactly what I was looking for.

There is a great life lesson in that scenario that I walked out in my photography. I've come more and more to realize that what has your attention is what will become your focus and cause you to waste a lot of time and energy because you are focused on the problem rather than the solution. Winners... or those who overcome are positive thinkers. They do not give in to the temptation to become negative. They refuse to waste their energy and thoughts on their obstacles.  Instead, they focus on their goals and how to attain them, rather than what obstacles stand in the way. Only two things will consume you every day of your life… your obstacles and your goals.  What you choose to focus on is what will prevail in your life. Make a choice to stop looking at your failures and setbacks and all the "junk in the background" and shift your focus on the subject at hand and how to succeed. Failure is not an option!

Philippians 4:8-9 from The Message version of the Bible says:

 8-9  Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

30 March, 2017

Lighten Up and Have Some Joy

Galatians 5:22 says, "THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS...JOY."
Over the years I have come to realize that most of us are just far too serious for our own good. 
We can be so uptight about anything and everything, like:
* running a couple of minutes late, 
* getting stuck in slow or stalled traffic, 
* having to wait in line with a slow cashier
* somebody looking at us wrong
* somebody not looking at us at all
* having to wait 5 minutes for someone late for a meal
* gaining a pound
* discovering a new gray hair or wrinkle
* making an honest mistake
* you name it - we lose all perspective! 

The problem is that we have unrealistic (and unscriptural) expectations of ourselves and others. 
Nowhere did God say that He'd take us out of all our troubles.
He did say that He'd bring us through them and make us stronger. 

If you want to experience the joy Jesus promised, do two things:

(1) Admit that your uptightness is largely because of the way you've decided life should be.

(2) Understand that your expectations are causing most of your frustrations.

If you keep expecting things to be a certain way and they aren't, you'll always be upset. 
Here's an idea: try approaching each day without all those expectations. 
For example, don't require everybody to be friendly; then when someone is friendly, you will be delighted. 
Don't expect your day to be trouble-free; instead when problems come, say: "Thank you, Lord, for a chance to grow in grace." 
Do it, and you'll see how much better everything is. 
Rather than fighting against life you'll be flowing with it. 
And pretty soon, if you work at it, you'll enjoy your life more - and other people will enjoy being around you much more too! 
That's why Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

29 March, 2017

Now My Head Hurts

This morning I had an appointment to meet with someone at McDonald's so we could talk. I arrived a few minutes early so I went to the counter to get some coffee and had to wait in line. There was a woman with a small child at the front of the line, and after placing her order, she realized she did not have her money with her and told the cashier to cancel the order. I spoke up and told her not to cancel the order, that I would pay for it. The cashier snapped at me, "You'll have to wait your turn!" I said, "I'm trying to pay for her order" and again she snapped at me and told me that I would have to wait. The woman ahead of me, looking like she was in total disbelief,  told me to go ahead of her which made me next in line. So I stepped up and told her that I wanted to pay for her order. The cashier said, (loudly) "It's not your turn! You'll have to wait!"  So I handed a $20 bill to the young mother and told her to pay for her food. She handed the money to the cashier. After counting the change back, the cashier went over to another worker near the fry vats and commented that she could not believe the nerve of some people.  I don't think she ever figured out what was wrong with this whole scenario. And this is the caliber of people who are demanding $15 per hour.

21 March, 2017

Would You Invest In This?

Imagine if you will, a man that a man is given the opportunity to step in and manage an established, thriving restaurant. For awhile, things go well, but then the man becomes frustrated and asks to be transferred to another restaurant within that franchise and go to another one that he thinks will make him happy. After just a few months, he becomes frustrated at that one as well and just abruptly quits without notice. Now, this guy is a likable fellow and after a few months he goes back to the director of the franchise and asks to be given another chance and he is placed in another location. After just a few months there, he approaches the director and explains that he thinks he should have never left the first location and asks for the opportunity to go back there. The director gives him that opportunity as well, and things go well there for a period of time, but then, after convincing them to expand and purchasing property to do so, he becomes frustrated again and wants to move. He is again afforded this opportunity and he is moved to another thriving restaurant in a new location. Shortly after arriving there, he convinces them they need to modernize and relocate the restaurant property. In the process, many customers leave and the manager himself becomes frustrated and quits and for a time does another job. After a short period of time, the man again approaches the director of the chain and asks to go to another location and manage yet another restaurant for him. Because he is a very likable guy, he is once again afforded the opportunity. For a period, things are going well, but then he becomes restless and frustrated and his frustration takes its toll on that restaurant and  it loses most of their customers and then he quits yet again and moves back to where his journey began and decides he is going to open a new restaurant, but this time he is going to break away from the chain that has given him opportunity after opportunity and he is going to start an identical restaurant in that community. He begins to contact customers that he has served in previous years and locations and he asks for their financial support in starting this new restaurant...

Now I ask you... would you invest in this new restaurant?
What if this were not a chain of restaurants, but this story was about churches and the man a pastor? Would you invest in this? Personally, I want to sow my seed into good ground where there is a proven track record of good fruit.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

17 March, 2017

Emotional Healing

Ever been hurt by someone in the church? I'm not talking about a ball bat upside the head kind of hurt; although... Nah, can't go there!
No, I'm talking about where somebody said or did something to hurt you in your spirit, or in your emotions. Somebody betrayed a confidence, or told lies about you, or did something that just cut you deep inside.
I know you have been there. We all have.
This is one of the most painful hurts there is; when someone you love and trust just rips your heart out for you, stomps on it, kicks it around for awhile and then hands it back to you like nothing ever happened.
And you have probably thought, if not said, "I'll never let anyone hurt me like that again."
You are not alone.

Think how David must have felt. He was a loyal servant to King Saul.
He would do anything he could to protect his King. He ministered to him in song when he was troubled. He fought for him when his kingdom was challenged. This was his king, and David honored him. He was best friends with Jonathon, the king’s son.
But Saul became enraged and jealous and threatened by David, and he sought to kill him.
We read about how David ran for his life. We read how he had the opportunity more than once to kill Saul, but he would not touch the anointed of God. He was still loyal, even though he was considered the enemy. But can you imagine how David must have felt on the inside?
Man, I cannot imagine the emotional struggle that must have gone on within him. Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster he must have gone on?

This story causes me to think about my own pain and how I deal with it. There have been times that I have had the opportunity to plunge in the dagger, so to speak, while the one who hurt me was down. It would be so easy to do. But friend, can I tell you, that does not ease the pain! It will only get worse. The only way to get over the pain is to allow Jesus to do some spiritual surgery on your soul. It begins with forgiveness. Even if the person(s) who hurt you have never apologized, we must forgive them anyway. I learned a long time ago that forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself. (Think on that awhile, you'll figure it out.)

Once you have forgiven, then you must open yourself up to the healing work of Jesus.
I know... that is not easy to do. Because to open yourself up means you make yourself vulnerable again. But it must be done. I remember a friend of mine from days gone by. He had three slugs from a 38 in his back. He carried them around for years. He told everyone he carried them as "a badge of honor" as he would proudly show everyone the scars and the knots that were plainly visible when he removed his shirt. But the truth of the matter was, he was afraid to have surgery. He was afraid to trust a doctor to take them out of him. After years of carrying these bullets in his body, he finally agreed to have them removed. I remember the days after the surgery when he was in pain and he was so mad at me for talking him into having them removed. I thought he was going to kill me... literally. But something happened.
After a few days the pain subsided, the wounds healed and one day he told me, "Dago, thanks for pushing me to have this done. I feel better than I have in years." He admitted that his "badge of honor" had been giving him pain every single day for years. He told me that he had not been able to sleep because when he would roll over on his back the pressure on those slugs was excruciating. Now he was sleeping well and moving around pain-free for the first time in many years.

I wonder how many of us have our own "badge of honor". Things that we carry around and tell others about almost boasting about how we survived. We put on a false air, but the truth is, we are in pain. The pain is hidden inside, and no one knows it is there but us. We refuse to acknowledge the pain, because that shows our weakness or vulnerable side... or maybe our fears. But the pain is there.

It is time for healing.
It is time to allow the Holy Spirit into those areas we have kept guarded and hidden away.
It is time to swallow our pride and admit to God that we are afraid, but that we need to have those "bullets" from the past removed from our lives.
God is ready and willing to heal us... but we have to allow him to.
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to begin that healing process in you?
I won't lie. It is often a painful process.
But there is peace that is only available at the end of the suffering.

15 March, 2017

Possible Shaking to Begin Soon Within the Church?

I had a couple of similar and very disturbing dreams last night. It was really strange in that I was awakened from the first dream and when I opened my eyes I saw the time was 3:33 and when I woke from the second it was 5:55. I am not sure of the significance of those times, but I know in my spirit there is something to them. In both of my dreams, I saw a violent shaking of the earth. The really strange part was that the only things I saw shaken were churches, especially some very well known, large ministries. I saw one of those churches shaken to the point that the building being split wide open, almost as if an ax had been swung down upon it and tore the place asunder and the view I had was looking down from above like a video was being shot from a helicopter.  Another ministry center was shaken to the point that there was nothing but rubble and dust. A third was shaken and about half the building crumbled and I saw thousands of people running from this building while others remained in their seats as if nothing were happening around them.

I've been troubled all morning. I believe God is getting ready to do some house cleaning within His church. I am not sure if the dreams were literally in reference to these three churches, or if this was symbolic of God dealing with error and false doctrine within the church as a whole. I would say to the churches in general, it's time to examine ourselves and to make sure we are adhering to sound doctrine because I believe the Holy Ghost is about to shake things up.

09 March, 2017

Are You Comfortable With That?

I was talking with someone this week who conveyed to me that there was a family who had told them that they had not been going to church or supporting their church because they were mad at their pastor for not coming by to visit them. I'm not going to go into all of the detail here for time's sake as well as privacy, but I will share this. I asked this person if those who were upset had contacted their pastor and indicated that they'd like to have a visit. As I told her, it's just a fact that in this day and age, most people really do not want pastoral visits anymore, and unless people ask for me to visit, I generally do not. She said she did not think they had, and that she'd ask them. I then asked if she thought the people had a good reason for not going to church and for withholding their giving to their church. She said she had not thought about it before, so I told her to think about that and then act on it. I told her that if she felt it was scripturally wrong for them to act the way they are then as their friends and sister in Christ, she owed it to them to confront them on it. I could tell she did not like that, but it is, in fact, her responsibility to correct error where she see's it in those she loves.  

I left her with a final thought and a method with which to bring about correction. I suggested that she ask her friends if they thought they would be comfortable standing before God on judgment day and claim that they felt justified in laying out of church for an extended time and withholding their giving because they were angry.  She said, "I can't ask them that! They'll be mad at me next!"  So I said, "so you think they are wrong for what they are doing then?" She said, "Of course they are!" She got real quiet after saying that and said, "Guess I've been wrong too."