13 March, 2015

It's Time to Get Rooted!

Watching my dogs I saw something interesting. We have two Pomeranian dogs and they are fun to watch. I can give both dogs identical treats, say a rawhide chew and they each take theirs and for a few minutes are content. But within a short period of time, one of them will inevitably start looking at what the other one has, leave their treat and go for what the other one has... even if what they have is bigger than the other one. Finally the second dog will leave the struggle over his treat and go pick up the one the first dog abandoned. Sure enough, within a few minutes, the scene repeats and the first dog wants what the second one has, which is in fact, what he had in the first place. Just to see how they might react, I rattled a paper bag and both of them dropped what they had and ran to get what they were sure was a new and better treat... even though it was nothing more than a shiny, but empty bag. What is interesting is, these scene repeats itself over and over and over in our house and you can bank on the fact that they will leave their bone, toy or treat and run for that new bag and all of it's intrigue every time, often forgetting to return to the treat they were enjoying when their new investigation comes up empty. All of this is comical, but this morning as we repeated this scenario for the umpteenth time... I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me, watch them, because in this you will see what has happened to my church.

I sat for some time thinking about what the Holy Spirit was saying and it became pretty clear to me within a few minutes. If you've been around the church world, over the last 25 years, you have witnessed an almost continuous transitioning church. It seems to me that ever since the WWJD phase (for those of you who are out of the loop... What Would Jesus Do) the church has continuously been in a state of metamorphosis, always evolving and changing. I've often said that God's will and plan does not change with the wind... but people do...  and they use the "God card" to support their continuous shifting and changing. I will be honest; I detest all the fads and buzz words that have blown into the church. At least some of them. I loved the WWJD question and think it is still useful after all these years. But since then, we've seen the church world become purpose driven, have a primary purpose, become emergent, learned about "your best life now", had fusion,  got "engaged", became sensitive to "felt needs" was authentic, got "seeker sensitive", had a "soul tsunami", became "empowered", got missional, then became relevant, and a host of other buzzwords and fads that I've forgotten. (Thankfully!) I'm not saying that these are all "wrong" per se; but what I am saying is that the church world seems to have almost become schizophrenic and has done so by proclaiming that the Holy Spirit has "led us" to do all of these things. I will say it again...the mind of God does not change with the wind. These are nothing more than a means to attract and maintain people who will not become rooted. A person or church that is rooted in Christ will not be changing their direction every few weeks or months. Let's call it the way it is... people have made a boat load of money by introducing new church fads, writing books and hosting conferences to tell you and me how we are not on "the cutting edge."  Just the way it is folks. But the sad thing is, all of this has helped to create a generation of Christians who are weak and unstable and they must have "a new word" or direction from God about as often as they get a hair cut, or they become bored with church and are off chasing after something new.

Sadly, the bi-product of all of this is that we have people who do not understand the ways of God at all. They think that every few weeks or months that if they have not got a new word, and new prompting or leading from God to do something new, then they are failing God somehow.  I submit to the reader that God is a God who says that he does not change. Yes, we have to adapt to culture and such, but our message and mission has never changed since Jesus said, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." Through all the events and changes of culture and technology, the mission remains the same. Think about this, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and gave him a mission. Years came and went, changes happened, ups and downs came, but God never once changed the mission. On a personal level, in March of 2004, the Lord spoke very clearly to me about moving my family to Galesburg and becoming the pastor of a church here. The Holy Spirit gave me a clear vision of what we were to do here. Ten years have come and gone. People have come and gone. The world has changed greatly in those 10 years... but I hold fast to that vision that God gave me. I don't need a new word because I have yet to see the one God has given me fulfilled. Until then, I push on, doing exactly what the Lord told me to do, no matter who is with me or against me. I'm not going to ask God to change the mission because God is not double minded. He called me to do what he wants done. This is exactly why the Lord spoke to Habakkuk, saying, "“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, It will not tarry." Why did the Lord say, "write it down"?  So that the people would not forget nor be swayed by the sweeping winds that would surely come! Today, we have Christians and leaders who do not understand the ways of the Lord. Our God is not one who is continuously changing his mind or direction. We have people acting just like my dogs who leave a ministry that God has put them on to chase after another ministry... a shiny, empty bag, leaving a real, tangible ministry! And they play the God card: "God is leading me." Bolognie!  Why would God tell you to leave a place where you are making an impact, teaching the gospel to receptive hearts and minds to one thing then another, and then tell you to start a new ministry doing exactly what you were already doing and making a difference? That's not God. That brings confusion and question to the things of God, and the Bible speaks clearly that He is not the author of confusion. 

It's time that the Body of Christ stop looking for a "new treat", chasing after rattling bags and empty promises and realize that God has called us to remain faithful to that which he has called us to do. When we become  rooted... we will become strong. When we become strong nothing will shake us OR move us. I have a tree beside my house that is huge. It towers over house, and in doing so, shades our our house from the sun and greatly reduces our need to cool the house in the summer. Storms have come and that tree stands even though we've had winds of well over 80 miles an hour sweep through here a few years ago. Why? because of the root system. They tell me that the roots of this tree are just as massive below the ground as what you can see above the ground. That system waters the tree in the driest of summers when the ground is broken and the grass brown due to lack of water. That root system has made this tree solid and immovable no matter what comes against it. It has stood there for well over 100 years and will most likely be there when this house no longer stands. This is a beautiful picture of why it is so important that as Christians we become rooted. Find a church home and stay there. Determine what the Word of God says and stand on it without always depending on "a new word" of direction from God. God's Word speaks to this itself when it says, "the grass withers, the flower fades but the word of our God will stand forever."  An interesting thing  about this comes to mind that draws a parallel to the church world today. I have a neighbor who has repeatedly told me that I need to cut that tree down. There is nothing wrong with the tree. In fact, his house is shaded part of the day from my tree. The thing is, this tree comes from Northern Europe and is acclimated to colder weather, and as such, it does not drop it's leaves until December, sometimes not at all. Bill hates that, because he does not like the leaves in his yard in the winter. So he is constantly telling me that I need to cut "that old monstrosity" down and replace it with a new tree. He has brought me magazines and brochures of hybrid trees that will grow very rapidly and produce the shade I want. I tell him every time that those new trees will grow rapidly, but it is also a fact that those trees generally have a life expectancy of about 20 years and they will die and need to be replaced.  What a illustration of current fads and trends of the church! Why cut down what has stood the test of time for something that will only last a short while and then need to be changed again?

It's time to stop chasing trends and fads. It's time to stop following people who themselves are not rooted and proclaim, "God led me here. God led me to do this. God led me to stop. God led me to start." These people are not rooted! Find yourself a church that teaches the whole Bible, rightly divided, and stay there. Stop following people from church to church. Stop buying all the latest books and videos that teach the latest, greatest trend... and get rooted in the unchanging Word of God.

No comments: