Back To basics
Most churches today are trying to conform to the world around us, doing exactly what Paul told us NOT to do in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Churches are looking and acting more like social clubs than places of worship and service. I agree that churches are to be inviting and welcoming, but I also believe that they are to be revered and respected.
And I also believe we are to go to church to be exposed to the presence of the Lord and Word of God. God has been directing me lately to the basics of the Gospel message. Repentance, baptism in Jesus name, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost have been the topics of sermons lately and I'm not apologizing for it. To me, these topics never get old and never should.
Maybe our new "theme" should look more like the old paths!
The Vanishing Pastor
I am not talking about a magic trick or a carnival show. I'm talking about the decline and disappearance of "pastors" in our society and culture.
(Of course I am generally speaking and referring to people as a whole, knowing and realizing there are exceptions.)
People today, it seems, are comfortable having a "preacher" in there lives but not a "pastor". You may not realize, but there is a huge difference. A preacher, to me, is someone you go to hear speak. A pastor is one you submit to, ask counsel of, seek advice from, and look to for instruction.
A preacher is one you are cordial to, even show respect to, but seldom if ever ask guidance or instruction from. Basically, they are a church speaker. Maybe too many of us have church speakers in our lives instead of pastors.
Pastors are those, as the Bible describes, "watch for your souls" (Heb 13:17) and tell you what is right even if it hurts your feelings a little.
Pastors are vanishing because of lack of demand for them. Fewer and fewer people want a pastor. More and more are trading them in for preachers, just someone to go listen to once in awhile.
It's sad in multiple ways.
In this season of New Year's Resolutions, I am encouraging all of us to focus more on the things of God instead of ourselves. In these days especially, when everyone is focused on their own lives and doing their own thing, it is imperative that we, as the church, concentrate on Jesus and helping build His Kingdom.
It is all too easy to get wrapped up in life and "forget" God. This is a simple reminder to make time for Jesus everyday. We have to be intensional in living for the Lord.
We have to focus.
I know it's been awhile since I have posted a blog on here, and for that I am sorry. I have let other things distract me from this ministry (yes, I am human), but I'm here now.
For this blog, and for this season, not only am I asking the question "Remember me?" for myself, but also for Jesus. For me, because it's been a long time since you heard from me in this blog; but how long has it been since you heard from Jesus? How long has it been since you had a conversation with Him through prayer? I'm not talking about telling Jesus your wish list; I mean have a conversation!
Let me be clear, I have never heard the audible voice of God. But He talks to me and with me all the time! We just need "ears to hear".
You have probably seen the cliche somewhere lately stating that "Jesus is the reason for the season". I saw a church sign that better stated "Jesus is the reason for...everything!" How true that is!
In this season, especially, let's not forget the real reason for celebrating. Let's not forget about the child that was born, the son that was given spoken of in Isaiah 9:6.
I would like to share with you the words to a very popular Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know".
Please read the words carefully.
Mary Did You Know
Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
Oh Mary did you know
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am
This is war
In the last few services (beginning with Pastor Michael Burk ministering to us), we have experienced a "breakthrough" in our congregation with spiritual chains being broken. We have accomplished this through specific and continued prayer and with the understanding that we are at war. We are in a battle for our souls and we must realize the enemy is real and is out to "steal, kill, and destroy" (using the Lord's own words). We have a fresh understanding of this at Refuge and have begun to attack the enemy by breaking strongholds and spiritual oppression. We have been reminded that when Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16 that the "gates of hell shall not prevail" against the church, He was meaning that the defenses of hell cannot thwart the ATTACK of the church! We as the church must not set back and wait, we must be on the offensive and take what rightfully belong to God.
The same applies in your life as well. Don't always be on the defense, take the initiative and step out in faith using not only the armor for defense but using the "sword" to attack (Ephesians 6:10-17). Use the Word of God to not only defend but to put the devils in their place where they belong. Remind them that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." We can do nothing without God, but with Him there is nothing we cannot do!! We can and must be victorious in this battle!!
Season of Love
It's February. Valentine's Day. A time to show those who are dear to you just how important and valuable they are. We go the extra mile, spend the extra dime, and do what we can to show our love; and rightly so! I have failed, and failed miserably, to give my wife the perfect gift to show her how much she means to me. Now don't get me wrong, she loves gifts (and don't we all). But she would rather I show her every day how much she means to me than to give her a gift once a year. After almost 22 years of marriage, it is still vital that I continue to show her how much I love her.
Our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, should be no different. He even goes so far as to compare His relationship with the Church to a husband and wife. Therefore, as the "bride of Christ" we must show Him our love on a daily basis. It is not enough to just "give a gift" once in awhile, but to give Him the ultimate gift, ourselves.
In this season of love, be sure to do something for that special someone in your life. And also be sure to continually do something to show the Lord your love for Him.
It's a new year (in case you didn't know) and an opportunity to begin new things or perhaps re-commit to things slipped away. I like to look at the new year with excitement and anticipation of what things can be. Isn't that how God looks at us? Not as we are or as we were, but what we can be in Him! I'm thankful that He didn't look at my mistakes and failures and write me off, but looked at the potential of what I could be with His help. An encouraging scripture to me is:
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When we submit ourselves totally and completely to Jesus, His will and obey His Word, we become new creations. ALL things in God's eyes are passed away! All the mistakes, all the failures, all the sin is washed away by His blood!!
Why not start the New Year with a new or renewed commitment to serve the Lord with all you have.
'Tis The Season
Thanksgiving is gone and Christmas is rapidly approaching. We are right in the midst of the "Holiday Season". Truly it is a wonderful time of the year, especially when we take the opportunities given us to express and convey OUR meaning of Christmas. What I mean by that is this: take opportunities to tell why we are celebrating. We are celebrating God displaying His love by manifesting Himself in a little baby boy born in a little insignificant town called Bethlehem. We are celebrating that God would come to earth to teach us, to bless us, to minister to us, to perform miracles, and then to die for us. In short, we are celebrating the love of God!!
So, go ahead, have yourself a Merry little Christmas now!!
I want to be peculiar
I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "peculiar" I think of something strange or even weird. But according to Webster's Dictionary, peculiar means "Appropriate; belonging to a person and to him only; Particular; special." To me, this gives new meaning to Peter's description of God's people: 1 Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
In giving instructions in the Old Testament to the nation of Israel, the Lord says in Deuteronomy 14:2 "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." And again in Exodus 19:5 "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:"
So my question is, why would we not WANT to be peculiar to God? If God wants us to be peculiar to Him and for Him, that should be our desire as well!
Titus 2:13-14 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
I want to be peculiar!
Church is generally thought of as a place, a building. But actually, church is the people that make up the body of Christ as Paul describes in Romans chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Church is not necessarily just a place we go but something we become. We are to be "new creatures in Christ" by being born of water and Spirit (John 3:5). When this is accomplished, the purpose is to find our place in the body or the Church. Jesus said that He was leaving to "prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). I believe that He has prepared not only a place in Heaven, but a place here in His Church. As every member of our physical body has a purpose, or a place, so does every member of the body of Christ. No one was called to just take up space on a pew. The problem generally is that no one searches very hard to find out what they are supposed to be doing. We all know that we should be fulfilling the Great Commission, but what purpose are we fulfilling in the body? Don't wait for your Pastor to tell you what to do, but pray and seek for God's direction. Then discuss with your Pastor the direction you feel God is taking you. Trust me, your Pastor is looking for people who want to help. Don't just go to church, get in church and become church!