See WHO at the pole?

Why is it that our churches are filled on Wednesday night or Sunday evening or whenever the youth gathering is, but when a call to corporal prayer and a sign of unity comes along, there is little to no presence at all?

Taken from the SYATP website.

For the last 25 years, See You at the Pole has been about one simple act—prayer. SYATP is still about students uniting themselves in prayer before God interceding for their generation.

There are two opportunities to unite in prayer with your friends:
DAY: SEE YOU AT THE POLE day is on Wednesday, September 28, at 7:00 a.m. local time. All around the globe, in every time zone, students will be gathering at their flagpoles, praying for their school, friends, families, churches, and communities. SEE YOU AT THE POLE is a day committed to global unity in Christ and prayer for your generation.
WEEK: The GLOBAL WEEK OF STUDENT PRAYER (Sunday, September 25 through Saturday, October 1) encourages students to find new and unique ways, places, and times to pray throughout the week. Whether you attend PUBLIC SCHOOL, PRIVATE SCHOOL, or HOME SCHOOL, gather your friends wherever and whenever and pray! The GLOBAL WEEK OF STUDENT PRAYER is dedicated to prayer and launching your on-campus Bible clubs, prayer strategies, and student ministries.

So we are in some desperate times folks. Some dire straits for sure.

I reposted a picture earlier on Facebook of a young boy standing at the flag pole at his school for See You At The Pole (notice the featured image). The dad said his son sat in prayer there despite no one else coming. This was not the only picture of a lone student standing by himself at the flag pole.

I then heard a story from one of our local high schools that they had only 4 kids come out and they were ridiculed for doing so. I am not sure about the other high school.

The question I have is this. Why is it that our churches are filled on Wednesday night or Sunday evening or whenever the youth gathering is, but when a call to corporal prayer and a sign of unity comes along, there is little to no presence at all? What are we teaching our young people in these weekday gatherings that would keep them from getting around one another and praying for their school? Are we soft on the gospel? Have we led them well?

I like numbers so here ya go.

According to city-data there are 130 congregations of some sort of religion in Oshkosh. Most religions value prayer. Yet 4 kids at the high school of 1200.

– If only 50 people attended a Sunday gathering at all of the 130 congregations that would still only be 6500 people sitting in church on Sunday. In a population of 66K, that means less than 10% of the population is in church. Yet that is the emphasis for most congregations. What happens if we value the city and everyone in it?

– There are on average 2.4 people per household in Oshkosh. That tells me that there is plenty of adults available to disciple the younger generation. Now get this, they will be discipled of something (i.e Pokemon, drugs, drinking). Will they be disciples of Jesus?

When I was not bi-vocational and pastored in a traditional church we went on prayer walks with our youth group before the school year started and we walked the entire north side, stopping to pray at the schools along the way. We would have upwards of 20 kids sometimes in a church that was about 40 on Sunday morning. Ya see most of those kids did not even attend our church on Sunday and their parents did not attend anywhere. We loved them and showed them Jesus for the sake of showing them Jesus.  I was involved with SYATP and attended with the kids, I never saw another pastor and the most amount of parents was 5.

See you at the pole does not define the state of Christianity among our young people for sure. However, there might be some signs to the spiritual leaders of our city to engage them deeper than chubby bunny contests and rug burns on a Wednesday night. Get them out of the church and let them engage their city. Serve and serve and serve those that do not look like them or act like them. Empower them with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and watch them do wonderful miraculous things themselves through that same Spirit.

Proverbs 22:6English Standard Version (ESV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

My fear is that they will only ever know those that they see leading them on Wednesday and Sunday morning. If the numbers are any indication that is not enough.

While we were sleeping

In the very place where the truth is preached, and while the hearts of people are open to receive it, by false but plausible teachers he takes care to inoculate false sentiments.

Well, it is fall again in the Midwest and that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Often it stirs us to the hankering for something, anything in a pumpkin spice variety. Maybe for you, it is the start of the football season and the crunch of the plastic on the gridiron (yeah most of the pads are made of plastic, Google it). Maybe it is the ever changing burst of color that starts “way up nort’, dontcha know dere”. The thing that is probably most prevalent right outside your door though is the fact that churches are gearing up for another season and shaking off the summer hibernation.

Ya see in our never changing culture of the Midwest and across most of the United States in general over the past 4-5 months the local congregations have gone into hibernation. Now not hibernation like you think about although it has many of the same signs. Let’s look at some of the signs that most resemble the other famous hibernator of the Midwest, the black bear, shall we?

  1. We both hibernate for about 6 months, the black bear in the winter and the average “church-goer” in the summer.
  2. The black bear’s diet consist of mainly plants and vegetation, the average “church-goer” shy away from meat as well, although they have been known to dabble.
  3. Black bears keep to the shelter of the wooded areas of the Midwest, the “church-goer” likes the shelter of the steeple and the warmth of the pew.
  4. Black bears don’t stay in one place very long, as with “church-goer”, when they no longer like the pastor or what is being taught they find themselves searching for something else to satisfy.

Stunning right? The fact is, churches must figure in the lull that is summer time into their financial planning these days, because in the Midwest, let’s face it, the Dells or Six Flags is just gonna be more important come summer time. Don’t get me wrong the Dells nor Six Flags are evil things and YES because of old man winter this is the only time that we have for those things. I get it. I am merely stating for the record that if you asked your pastor about attendance ergo tithing in the Summer months he/she would tell you “traditionally these are our slow months”, probably in those very words. So because the church is, in fact, a business, for most, they have to forecast for the drop in tithes throughout the summer.

We see in the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13 that Jesus was telling the story of what happens when we hibernate in our faith.

but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:25

So while the issue with hibernating within the local church is real, it only exists because of the body, or The Church, has not being given the necessary charge to go forth (yes even in the summer time) and preach the gospel message. Moreover, they are rarely given authority to live gospel-driven lives and bring people to know the Lord in a more vibrant and real way during the hibernation months.That kind of authority lends itself for sleeping “church-goers” to no longer value the pew and the eclectic worship experience, but rather to value the person and image of Christ. That is just flat out bad for business.

Just like the black bear, the “church-goer” will awaken from their slumber and be starving. However, because we have spent the hibernation allowing the weeds to creep into the fertile soil we now take the chance of them consuming the bad with the good. In traditional fashion, we try to undo the damage by throwing every program, small group, youth group, harvest festival, bible study, kick off night, women’s study, men’s study, and all points in between, in an attempt to sow the good from the bad ground. In the parable of the weeds, Jesus tells how the servants were instructed to let them both grow together and then later they will be divided. In fact, He tells them that He will be the one to give instruction to the reapers as to what stays and what goes.

Alber Barnes said it this way…

Satan thus sows false doctrine in darkness. In the very place where the truth is preached, and while the hearts of people are open to receive it, by false but plausible teachers he takes care to inoculate false sentiments. Often it is one of his arts, in a revival of religion, to spread secretly dangerous notions of piety. Multitudes are persuaded that they are Christians who are deceived. They are awakened, convicted, and alarmed. They take this for conversion. Or they find their burden gone; they fancy that they hear a voice; or a text of Scripture is “brought” to them, saying that their sins are forgiven; or they see Christ hanging on the cross in a vision; or they dream that their sins are pardoned, and they suppose they are Christians. But they are deceived. None of these things are any conclusive evidence of piety. All these may exist, and still there be no true love to God or Christ, and no real hatred of sin and change of heart. An enemy may do it to deceive them, and to bring dishonor on religion.

Let’s not be drawn into deception to believing that our words spoke of salvation or the fact that we stand so firmly on a message of “greasy grace” and prosperity, that we are covered in our iniquities. Over those months of hibernation, the enemy has planted weeds among the good earth and will cover them with soft words and the allure of safety. He will put the grand design of the harvest festival and the youth group trips to the pumpkin patch into your mind as a remedy for the hunger you feel after months of hibernation. Don’t be deceived, Jesus is the only giver of life and sustainer of the promise. Only through complete dependence and submission can we truly feed all year long of the bread of life and therefore never have to awake to hunger pangs that are satisfied with the very hint of nourishment, even if that nourishment is sour and riddled with lies.

The charge becomes that the body of Christ would continue throughout the year and encourage and build one another up. Get the word of God in you and then let it pour out in relationship and community. The fact that the very model of discipleship, Jesus Christ, walked, lived, ate, drank and slept in the very same places that the people he was discipling walked, lived, ate, drank and slept should tell you something about yourself. We are created in the image of Christ, not in the image of a man in front of the church on Sunday.

Gathering on Sunday is biblical for sure and I am sure that most of your pastors are wonderful God fearing men, but the reality is that while you were hibernating this summer some of them were wringing their hands to see if you would return for another season. They made all the preparations and put all of the volunteers in place. They made sure the latest curriculum is in and is ready to be distributed the first night of small groups, (held at the church away from the public).

In closing, Jon Ellicott describes the Matthew scripture as thus…

His enemy came and sowed tares.—The act described was then—and still is—a common form of Eastern malice or revenge. It easily escaped detection. It inflicted both loss and trouble. The “enemy” had the satisfaction of brooding for weeks or months over the prospect of the injury he had inflicted, and the vexation it would cause when discovered. The tares, known to botanists as the Lolium temulentum, or darnel, grew up at first with stalk and blade like the wheat; and it was not till fructification began that the difference was easily detected. It adds to the point of the parable to remember that the seeds of the tares were not merely useless as food, but were positively noxious.

Let’s do away with the noxious and draw near to the person of Jesus Christ and ask yourself “what happened while I was sleeping?”

Is Ball Life?

To say “ball is life” is to present it as an idol.

So this crossed my mind today and I thought about throwing it out there so here ya go.
 
I have long be a proponent of changing the way we speak when it comes to spiritual matters because I believe that our words can condemn us or justify us.
Matthew 12:36-27 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I am a coach and an athlete (well kind of) still and I look deeply at the players and teammates that I am impacting with my words and actions. I think carefully when I refer to that building where everyone goes on Sunday as “church”, because it’s not ya know. I have been a pastor of a church for the last 5 years and we have never used the term, “let’s go to church”, mostly because I see the Church as the body of believers that are working to bring life to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I digress though. 
What I do hear quite often from young athletes is “ball is life”, when referring to the game of basketball. Every time that I hear that I think to myself, “Is it?”, is it really LIFE? I know, I know, it is just a phrase that people use. It is just a saying that the kids are #hashtagging all over the place and it is just some words after all. Well our words have consequences. Our pursuit of the #ballislife mentality has kingdom consequences for those young people claiming Jesus as their Savior.
To say “ball is life” is to present it as an idol. Samuel gives caution to this which is still so relevant today.
 1 Samuel 12:21 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.
Matthew Henry describes that verse like this, “for if you turn aside from God, whatever you turn aside to, you will find it is a vain thing, that can never answer your expectations, but will certainly deceive you if you trust to it; it is a broken reed, a broken cistern.Idols could not profit those that sought to them in their wants, nor deliver those that sought to them in their straits, for they were vain, and not what they pretended to be.
I think we can learn a big lesson here.
In the book of John it says this…
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

The word life in this context means “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate”. Are we therefore animated by the bound synthetic leather nature of a spherical object used for the accomplishment of recreation with the occasional promise of fleeting glory that is a trophy or a scholarship? None of that promise can match up to the promise of an eternal existence with the one true God. Yet we continue “ball is life”.

James describes the tongue as the smallest of rudders that can control a gigantic ship, no matter the storms that ship faces. Our words matter.  What we say matters. The face that we present matters. Think about that the next time you say you LOVE pizza or your LOVE the “insert major athletic team in here” that you are expressing LOVE for an object in the same way you say you love your mother or father, wife or husband, or most importantly how you LOVE Jesus Christ. It can become cheapened real quick if you think about it that way. Our words matter.

To round out this little chat let me leave you with this. We can easily be turned away from the things of God because we allow the things of the world to creep in. If you read this and you use the #balllislife for anything may the Lord prick your heart a little every time so that you may feel the vastness of that statement on an eternal scale. If you read this and you have never heard of or seen #ballislife or have no idea why I keep putting the pound sign in front of those words without spaces in between, let me just say this. Our words matter and our lives should hinge only on the things of the Lord, your job, your wife, your family all pale in the grand scheme of things when Jesus is LIFE.

The Remnant highway

there will be a highway for the remnant of HIS people

I have heard some things recently that drew me to think. I have heard it said that wherever I attend a gathering on Sunday morning as “my church” I have heard it said that I can do what ever I like because it is “my life”, I have even heard it said that people like to put ownership on Jesus as “my Savior”, as if yours is different than mine.
 
Well the scripture says,
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, Psalm 24:1
and Paul told Timothy specifically that Jesus was the Savior for all people, saved and unsaved,
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10
So I ask you when Paul instructed the people in Ephesus in this way…
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Why do we see that as an ownership thing?

 
I submit that it is because God has and is creating a remnant among the men and women of faith just as He did among the Israelite’s. Isaiah speaks of a time that the Lord will set His hand a second time to recover a remnant and that there will be a highway for the remnant of HIS people. That means that he will pull that remnant from those that call themselves saved.
Now before you start sending hate mail and throwing accusations out that I have a corner on the market for who gets in and who doesn’t, let this just be a call to all of us to get to a rallying point of Jesus Christ. If our focus shifts from self to the larger unit then maybe, just maybe, we will see a shift in our world. What ever will be will be though, because God is sovereign and His glory and reign will endure forever. It is what happens in the snapshot of time, that is our lives here on earth, that we can make a difference for the gospel.
Make no mistake that God’s word is true and a remnant will be pulled from the people of God, so while we are here and laboring for sake of the gospel let’s make that highway clear and remove all stumbling blocks and make clear a path for the Lord. Love one another, rally around the cross and be a good steward of the things that God has placed in your charge.

Pokemon? Whoa!!

Don’t believe the lies that the enemy will put in your path by exchanging bad for something worse and cloaking it in good.

So yes the latest craze in the world is Pokemon Go. The children’s game lived out in virtual reality in attempts to grab those millennials that grew up with the game and wire them into their smart phones or other electronic devices. I have some opinions on this but then I started to think about the fact that it is not my opinion that matters but rather how God sees these things and it caused me to start to search the scripture to find out that very thing. I started in Genesis, and saw that Eden was deceived by evil that was masked as good.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

Outside of the occasional robbery, local police departments having to warn citizens to stay out of private property and the fact that people are wandering into oncoming traffic because there may be a charizard hidden in the middle of a four lane highway, the game itself is pretty harmless, (FOR NOW). However I have seen many folks that call Jesus their Savior attempt to justify the craze by saying that they are using it as a discipling tool. Now, I totally believe that God can use everything for His glory and His will be done in all things. However, are we a vehicle for the gospel or a vehicle for the enemy?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

Let’s not forget how Jesus discipled. He went to men and asked them to walk with him and he invested 3 years of his life with them. He went where they went and he slept where they slept. He ate the same food and met the same people. Discipleship is the giving away of your life for the furtherance of the gospel message. Discipleship is going out of your way to be uncomfortable so that others can see the love of a Savior. Discipleship is an investment in lives around you.  Is this being accomplished when the conversations among 5 people standing in a park together centers around what level or team you are on in this game? Are we doing as Paul instructed the people in Colossi?

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Then out of this you invariably have the “lesser of two evils” side. “At least people are getting out of the house and getting active”, has been a rallying cry for proponents of Pokemon Go. So it took this game to get the people of God to be active in their world? The charge to disciple and preach the gospel and go out to the ends of the earth is as old as history, yet the lure of electronic gratification has pulled us out of the house. We cannot be lead away from the truth at any cost.

…’For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 

So is this article about shaming Christians into acting like Christians? Heck no. However, we all have the charge upon our lives, to choose wisely the path in which we will travel. If this helps even one person then it has hit the mark.

They say that Pokemon Go has surpassed pornography as the most engaged activity on your phone. Interesting that they keep that statistic isn’t it? Don’t believe the lies that the enemy will put in your path by exchanging bad for something worse and cloaking it in good. Moses saw it and we can see it too.

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up,refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Hebrews 11:24

In the end do what ya gotta do, but always remember that without Christ at the center of every thought and decision we can be lead easily away from the things of God and into the realm of virtual gratification and accomplishment, and you really do not have to “Catch ’em all” for Pokemon but you should try to catch ’em for Jesus.

 

Cheating on God

“God designed marriage to make us Holy”

Recently I have found myself in several conversations about marriage and how does a Christian remain faithful and still consider divorce. I have talked to people through the years that run the gambit on this issue. I have spent time with those folks and walked them through the scripture and spent time in prayer with them, but ultimately there are gaps that exists because of their marriage relationship or the lack of understanding of a biblical marriage.

Ya see God is the bridegroom and therefore there are some things that come with that relationship.

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior. 1 Peter 3:1-2 NLT

So if Peter was directing people to accept the authority of your husband then his expectation that people would flourish because of their obedience to their husband. You’ll notice that he makes sure to mention those that refuse to accept the Good News. The gospel is living, breathing and active among everyone but when we decide to “cheat on God”, or become adulterous in that relationship we leave a place for division to set in.

So the age old question comes. Can I be a believer and get a divorce? I know that God hates divorce and I know that he intended for a marriage to be a lifetime endeavor. Well God also gave some reason why one would be able to get divorced, (not required). God designed marriage to make us Holy. He designed it to glorify Him and not to add to our human joy. When those directives are not thought of or considered at that point of matrimony then you have to consider again God’s directive for a divorce.

And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful. Matthew 19:9

In the case of the New Living Translation of the scripture I submit that Jesus may have very well been speaking to the unfaithfulness of people in general and the idolatry that people in a difficult marriage  engage in. If in fact idolatry exists in a marriage and the love of the world has consumed one or both of the parties then the question is answered. Is divorce allowed for Christians?  If you cheat on God, then there is already a separation, maybe you can get out and begin restoration in the name of Jesus. Remember the gospel is true and applies to all situations. Jesus already paid the price so revel in that most of all and know that God is still in charge.

 

The noisy diner

“He will use every effort to engage you right where you are”

I have shared with people throughout the years the picture that God has given me about hearing His still small voice. I would love to share it with you today so that you might identify the analogy with your own life.

Here goes…

So there I am sitting the back of one of those old style 50’s diners and the place is packed out. The waitress yelling out “What’ll ya have?” and the cook yelling out “ORDER UP!”.  Busboys hurry around the place clanging plates and silverware together and wiping down tables feverishly so the next patrons can take their crack at some biscuits and gravy or the manhole cover sized pancakes. The noise is deafening at points and you can barely hear yourself think, let alone listen to the still small voice.

You see our lives can be filled with the hustle and bustle of life at times that we can barely discern what is right and what is wrong. The noise pulls us into situations that we believe that we can never recover from. For Elijah, it was very much the same way. It was so much so that Elijah would question if anyone around him was even submitted unto the Lord, but in fact, there were many that were but Elijah could not see that in this time of noisy silverware and loud waitresses. We see in the book of 1 Kings that there was a lot going on around him, but God chose to speak to him through a whisper.

 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:12

So back to our story. In my vision, I look to the rear of the restaurant and I see Jesus sitting on a bench like he is waiting for a table. His mouth is moving and he appears to be saying something but I can’t make it out. Slowly and intently I incline my ear to hear what He is saying.

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 55:3

I find that as I press into Him deeper and I focus my intentions on hearing, his words start to become clear to me. What are the words you say? The words are the very ones that He is speaking to you today as well. Through the din and clammer of everyday life, His desire is to be heard. He is not going to yell at you though. He will use every effort to engage you right where you are and to show you that He is Lord of all. It will be up to us to lean in and listen to the words and then obey what He says.

ORDER UP!!!

 

Waking up to a new day

Our inner self is in a constant state of regeneration.

In the every day stuff of life we often find ourselves searching for something more. Paul put it to the Corinthians like this.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Our inner self in a constant state of regeneration. We have been saved. We are being saved. We will be saved again.

It is easy for men and women of faith to wonder aimlessly through life and find that the world is falling down around them. It is only if we recognize that is the truth and stop fighting, and revel in the tender mercies of a great big God who is growing us every day, we may just start to reflect Him in all things.

The times that we spend in anxiety and worry are the times that God is reaching out to us most. Those times we should take a inventory of the things in our lives that are challenging us that are outside the will of God. I find that when we look hard at those things and realize that we are chasing fame, or fortune or pleasures of the flesh that we can reel that in through a repentance and dependence on a Savior. Realize He is in charge, repent and fall back into the loving arms.

So wake up today. Wake up to a new day. Maybe you need to do this every hour today, until it becomes the very being of who you are. We are saved and we are being saved, every minute.

Where are you? vs Where God wants you?

Just a quick look at some of the scriptural places that God desires for us to be and matching those up against where we currently are. We can all take a minute to evaluate how much time we put into seeking God’s face in all things. Thanks for watching.

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

Why do I care?

Did ya ever get those times when you ask yourself, “Why do I even care?”? The times that you wonder why the things that bother you bother you. I mean you are secure in your faith and you hold God in high regard, you are suffering those around you and your desire is to see life lived out in the context of the gospel. That seems to be a pretty good start on why you would not see fit to ask the “Why do I care?” question. Yet we find ourselves asking that question.

Recently I had a friend of mine tell me how he visited a church where he used to go and proceeded to tell me that over the years not much has changed there. The messages are pretty much the same, the people are pretty much the same, and the open pleadings for money have not changed much. He was surprised that this was the case. The Pastor routinely posts publicly about the financial woes of the church and that there is a need to get people to give or they will not be able to pay the bills. He also told me that the number of people in the Sunday gathering was approaching 11 or 12, (people, not 11 or 12 hundred or thousand). Upon hearing this I almost instantaneously went to “why do they insist on making this so hard?”. Then I asked myself “Why do I care?”.

Then another friend of mine told me about how a church he was attending went with a snow producing machine for a Christmas service, that was not to be outdone by light shows and smoke machines on Sunday morning. That was not the part that made me scratch my head though. It was the part where he lamented over the fact that he has people there that he truly loves and have played a pivotal role in his walk with Christ, yet he has not personal relationship with them. I mean how much relationship can you truly have with someone if you have never been to their house right? We are family ya know. I ask myself “Why do I care?”.

Lastly there are the churches near us that have referred people to us, rather than helping them on their way. We heard things like, “they are more suited to people in your situation” or “they have a very good homeless ministry”. They are right in that we do have a good homeless ministry and we are suited to “those” people, but that is only because Jesus had a good homeless ministry and cared about “those” people. We spent time with those people that sometimes were in other congregations all together, yet had never or very rarely even stepped foot in the home of the Pastor of that church. I ask myself “Why do I care?”

Some of the answers started coming to me over the weekend. We hold a Sunday evening basketball training, bible study, fellowship, relational, character building, loving, sharing, growing kind of thing that is really proving to open my eyes more and more to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been studying in the book of Titus and it has been such a great time of growth for the men involved. This week something stood out to me and leaped off the page.

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7

He saved us because of his own mercy, we are being regenerated with the Holy Spirit, and he is coming back again to get us. The gospel of Jesus Christ demands that we embrace those things. Without them we are children tossed to and fro by any means of doctrine or light show or plea for money or indoor snow storm, okay so I added that last part to Paul’s letter. Speaking of Paul’s letter, the charge in Ephesians 4 is for us to grow up into the fullness of Christ and not be infants forever. There in lies the reason I dislike the reasoning, “I am just a baby Christian” (for the last 10 years), when it comes to serving the Kingdom of God.

It is my assertion that the reason churches find themselves in these positions of pleading for money or directing people away from their own church family is mainly because the gospel message is not released in their midst. They preach it, they believe it, they trust completely in it, but the folks that are attending regularly on Sunday have not been released to embrace the gospel on their own. The Pastor has been held up as the only one that knows what is going on. If it were not so why would we give themselves names like Senior Pastor or Head Pastor? If it they were not believing that they needed to be elevated, why would they build stages and quite literally keep the attenders in the dark while the light shines only on them in a Sunday morning gathering. The prophet Isaiah puts it this way.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

The very ground that we walk on should be made even so that we shall see it together. Think about that. What if we treated people with that same vision? What if we allowed the Spirit of God to speak through the people gathered and scattered into our world? Would there be a need to beg for money on a Sunday morning? Would there be a need to refer widows and orphans to other fellowships because you are “not equipped” to handle them?

So the question remains, “Why do I care?”. Well I care because God cares. I have prayed Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours, and He has listened and responded. Do I run ahead sometimes? Sure Do I get it wrong sometimes? Yep Am I a broken man in need of a Savior EVERY SINGLE DAY? Absolutely! The thing that I can say for certain is that he loved us first and he guides and directs my path. I am righteous because he is righteous. I am loved because he loves. I am saved, I am being saved and I will be saved.

That’s all I got to say about that, (in my best Forest Gump voice).