Sunday, June 29, 2008

How Do We Know God Told You?

How many times have many of us heard a pastor say from the pulpit,"God woke me up in the night and told me...." or "God told me this....." or "I know this is God"? I am wondering how we know this is actually God these people are hearing.

I believe we should judge everything we hear from the pulpit by scripture. So where are the scriptures that prove to us that all these things they are saying are actually spoken to them by God. I have heard pastors tell people to buy houses, that they were going to get houses, that they were going to get money, no..don't go this direction, yes...go that direction, sow this seed and you will receive what you are believing for etc. Yet I have found no scriptures confirming these things. Furthermore, I have found no place in the New Testament where Jesus ever ministered along these lines. He ministered about how to be a servant, loving people, obedience to the Father, forgiveness, not giving to get, not doing things to be seen by men, humbleness, faithfulness, treating others right, living an honorable life and things like that. He ministered on how to live not how to get.

I began to look back on decisions made by some of these people who say they hear from God. How their decisions have affected ministry and people's lives. How many of their choices that "God told them to make" had very bad effects on a great number of people.

I also looked back on times I trusted their judgement, took their advice or overlooked my better judgement and it was definitely not God.

I have decided that I don't need someone else to hear from God for me. I am His sheep and I hear His voice and I am through following the voice of another who has their own best interest at heart.

More Stuff

In the church I was attending I got so tired of hearing sermons about getting more stuff. The message going out was constantly about how to get more money, bigger houses, nicer clothes, more expensive cars, take nice vacations, get more diamonds and jewelry, etc. "Get the double, the spirit of increase, sow more money to get more money, all the answers hinge on the tithe, call in the money, send the ministering spirits out to get your money, tell the devil to take his hands off your money".

I thought the object of being saved was to bear fruit.......that fruit being bringing others to Christ. Why were we not encouraged to use our faith to bring in a multitude of lost and hurting people to the church. Why not taught to sow our time and love into the lives of those who need Jesus, why not tell the devil to take his hands off of the ones he is holding captive in his web of deception, why not call in the fruit of the spirit in our lives, why not call in a double measure of holiness???

As I reflect over what the Bible has to say about these things, I am reminded of Jesus saying...."Take NO THOUGHT as to what you will eat or drink or wear". If we are constantly talking to and about the money, clothes, houses etc. it is abundantly aparent that we are taking alot of thought about these things! In fact they are not only thought about, they are constantly preached about. Why would we repeatedly have wonderful testimonies during church service about someone who got alot of money, got a bigger house or used their faith and became a millionaire? However never testimonies about a church member leading someone to Christ. If He told us to "seek first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added unto you" then why do we need to consume time and effort in talking to them and use our faith to constantly call them in. These things actually have nothing to do with the kingdom of God.The kingdom of God is about people, not things.

When God asked Solomon (the richest man ever) what he wanted, he asked God for things that would benefit his people. Things like wisdom to rule and make Godly decisions.Then it was God's idea to make Solomon rich....not Solomon's.

Why don't we focus on living holy lives, having the fruit of the spirit evident and growing in our lives, really loving people with actions and not just words, seeking to know the compassion of Christ for others, and getting to know Him, not how to get stuff from Him.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Double Standard

In remembering the church I went to I have been thinking about things that I heard from the pulpit and the leadership. I began to see a double standard. It seems that the congregation and the pastor have 2 different sets of rules or standards.

1) -when things go wrong for members of the congregation they are reaping what they have sown or they need to obey God
-when this happens to the pastor and his family... they are under attack

2) -when someone does or says something wrong to the pastor or his family, they should be reported or handled
-when the pastor or his family does or says something wrong to someone they should just be forgiven and it should be forgotten

3) -when the pastor feels unappreciated and unloved by the congregation, they should have a party or a dinner for him to honor him and let him know how wonderful he is and how much he is appreciated
-when congregation members feel this way, they should be more mature, read the word and not whine or complain

4)-when the church has a financial need the congregation needs to give
-when a congregation member has a financial need, the member needs to give or give more

5) -the congregation members need to serve
-the pastor needs to be served

6) -the congregation members should never say anything negative about the pastor, his family, the church or other members
-the pastor can speak negatively about anyone, any church and any denomination from the pulpit as long as he doesn't actually tell some one's name

7) -congregation members should never compare themselves with themselves
-the pastor can compare his church with other churches from the pulpit to show how superior his church is

8)- people who leave his church are missing God
-when he left wherever he went to church before he started his church, he was following God

9) -when someone in the congregation falls into sin... they need to step down from helps ministry and wait for a period of time before serving again
-when someone in the pastors family falls into sin they need to stay in their position unless someone finds out and they are forced to step down

10)-the pastor questions anyone anytime he wants to
-no one can question the pastor

11) -the pastor does not keep his word
-congregation members are expected to keep their word

These are some of the double standards that I noticed in the church that I was attending. I don't think there is any room for a double standard in any area of ministry. The results are hurt, confusion, disillusionment, anger and many of seemingly wasted years.

One day I hope to find a ministry with a Godly standard instead of a double standard. I think I will examine the fruit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where is the Fruit

The other day I was thinking about a church I had attended for several years. I began to reflect on what drew me there and what kept me there. I remember at first the teaching seemed to be so profound and fresh. I heard things taught there that I had never heard before. They all sounded so wonderful and so right. I will admit that I did learn several things there about believing the Bible and faith. However, in the wake of the last few months, many questions have surfaced in me. I was driving in the car the other day and a Bible verse came to me:"by their fruits you will know them".

I began looking at the fruit of this church. I will not even begin to list the bad fruit. If I started the list would go on and on. So I began looking for good fruit. I decided that the most important fruit of a church is reaching the lost.......not just reaching them,but leading them to Christ, people being born again, being discipled, and them in turn learning how to live for Jesus, putting Him first in everything they do, being a witness for Him so that their lives then draw others to Him.

Over the past decade I could not think of more that 1 person that fits that description. Sure people went forward at altar calls but they didn't come back on a regular basis. There was really no discipleship program for them and none to connect them with other believers in the church. I will admit that maybe I missed a few but in more than a decade, I, a regular attendee could only think of one.

This is a church that is supposed to be changing lives all over the world with its message. You would think that there would be some visible fruit.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What is a Leader

Lately I have been disillusioned by almost every person that I have given a roll of leadership to in my life. I know that there were things about them that I thought I saw: things such as honesty, integrity, wisdom, honor, etc. Yet as the years have gone by and events have taken place, I have come to the realization that it has all been an act. A huge illusion created with manipulation, lies and twisted truths. I had clues all along that they were not what they made themselves out to be, but because of an image they managed to display, I foolishly excused all the seemingly small things that bothered me. I have begun to wonder if there are very many people out there in leadership positions who have character.

I do know people who have character. They are all kind, polite, humble servants. People who don't demand "honor" "respect" "position" or "title". They don't have to demand it because they already have it without desiring it. They actually have the love of God for others operating in their lives. Real love. Not just talk, not talk and some action, but ACTION. The kind of actions on a day to day basis that the others in their lives and others that their lives touch can feel and see. Love that is evident in politeness,caring, putting others before themselves and a willingness help(not let me tell you how to do it help, but get in there physically help). Love that comes out in them doing what is best for others instead of doing whatever they want regardless of all the lives it will affect. People who want to serve because they love God, not people who want to be served because they know His Word.

These are the people that I want to be around and spend time with. These are the ones that I want to emulate. These are the ones who I want to follow their example. The ones that don't know it. The true leaders.