Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here

I was reading a blog that I have recently found called "What Really Matters" and the last post really hit home with me. The reality of what thousands of people have experienced all over the country from controlling and manipulative pastors who are out to make a name for themselves and live like "the lifestyles of the rich and famous" without any regard for who they destroy on their so called "path to prosperity" is such an atrocity. Multitudes have come away from these churches having to pick up the pieces of their spiritual lives. Others have not only had spiritual abuses to deal with but have had physical abuses as well.

In the wake of the last twenty years of my life I find myself asking a lot of questions. In the end I wonder, where do I go from here? I also wonder if there are others asking themselves the same question.

When I visit a new church, I find myself listening to the pastor preach and I wonder... Can I trust this man? Does he live what he preaches? Does he use people for his own selfish gain and then toss them away? I he a practiced liar? Does he even know what honor is? Does he demand honor and respect that he hasn't earned? Does his family laugh at me ? Is he a monster in disguise? Does he pick out the parts of the Bible he likes and build doctrines around them and ignore the parts that he doesn't want to live by? Does everyone in ministry have ulterior motives?

I wonder about the people I meet. Do they stab everyone in the back? Is there anyone who doesn't sleep with people they are not married to? Are they all liars when it is convenient for them? Do they all think that they are above the laws of the land and that the rules don't apply to them? Is anyone ethical in business?

I guess I have been in a church where the leadership and everyone that follows the teaching closely are so totally consumed with their lives, their desires, their confessions, their blessings, their vision, and what they can get from God that I wonder if everyone is that way.

Do I ever want another pastor? Will I ever call a man "Pastor" again? DEFINITELY NOT!!
Will I ever join another church? Do I NEED a church covering??? NO! What did the church covering I had get me??? What did it get others that went there? The answer to these last two questions is not a pretty one.

Will worship ever be the same for me? I'm getting there. Do I believe that prayer can change things? Some yes, some I am not sure. When will I sift through all the false teaching I have listened to for years? I am not sure. Do I believe that I ever really know someone?? Maybe not.

In the Bible, Paul wrote, " follow me as I follow Christ". Is there a leader like that today? I don't know that I believe there is.

I do know that God is faithful and He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me. He understands everything about me and He knows that I love Him with all that I am. He is not pushing me to find a church, commit to a ministry, or place myself under a man .... it was a man that put all that pressure on me in the first place and not God. It was a man that demanded that from me. A man who wanted my time, a man who wanted my devotion, a man who wanted my loyalty, a man who wanted my money, a man who wanted my trust, a man who demanded my honor, a man who wanted my service to him and what he wanted to build, a man who wanted to build an empire for himself. I will never again allow myself to be deceived by a man or fall into the trap of serving a man.

I don't know where I go from here, but I do know exactly where I am. I am returning to my first love. I am completely trusting in and leaning on my Heavenly Father and being led by the voice of my Shepherd. I am where He is there to comfort me and guide me. I am where no matter of how much of a failure I feel like He is there to tell me that I am chosen by Him and He chose me knowing full well every choice and mistake I would make in my lifetime. He is there to tell me I am not a failure but a joint heir with His son. I am where no matter how much of a burden it seems I have He is there to tell me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is always there telling me that He is proud of me. I am where I know that He will never leave me of forsake me.

No, I can't answer all the questions right now and I don't have to. I know that some will be answered and more will arise. It doesn't really matter where I go from here because wherever that path leads I will go with Him and for now that is enough for me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Gospel of ME

Lately I have been reflecting on all that I learned at my former church. Even though all that I learned there is not wrong, I do think that even the majority of the right things centered around "The Gospel of Me" and not the gospel of Christ.

The reason that I say this is that even though some things were correct, they were taught for the wrong reasons. Everything centered around the "Me" way of looking at things. WE needed to be blessed. WE needed nicer things. WE needed authority to make Our lives better. WE needed to look good and that would make others want to know Jesus. But it is not true.

As I read the gospels it is all about OTHERS. We should put OTHERS first. We should care about OTHERS. We should give to OTHERS. We should bless OTHERS. We should help OTHERS. We should esteem OTHERS above ourselves. All the power and authority and faith available to us through Jesus is not so WE can have everything we want....It is for OTHERS !!!!!!! We are to be looking for ways to SERVE OTHERS and not focus on ourselves.

We were taught that sin was no big thing as long as we were on the right path. The path to prospering. The path of tithing. The path of serving the church. Never mind that there was no ministry reaching out to the lost and hurting community. The lost and hurting community was to come to the church, get a vision of how their lives needed to be by looking at ours, tithe and give, get their words right and line up with how the pastor said it was supposed to be. Never mind that there were people being hurt and treated badly by those in the church.

Let me tell you, sin IS a big thing. Just ask those whose lives will never be the same as a result of the sin in the church. The gospel of ME doesn't want to hear or teach this truth.

I have decided to focus on the gospel of Jesus and throw the gospel of ME in the trash. I have decided that it is more important to be pure and holy than to be prosperous and say all the right things. I have decided that it is not all about ME but it is all about OTHERS. I have decided that I would rather be an example of humility than an example of pride, an example of love rather than prosperity. And for those who may not know, love is a verb. Just like faith without works is dead, love without corresponding action is not love.

I want others to want to know Jesus because of the way I ACT and not because they want what material things I have. I would rather have OTHERS in heaven with me later than have material things here on earth. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean living in poverty, Jesus said that as I seek first HIS kingdom then HE would provide for me. He is a good provider.

The gospel of ME wants me to focus on using my faith to provide for myself instead of just resting in the provision of God. I think that is exactly what the devil wants too. If he can get me focused on getting all I can from God for myself then I am no threat to him at all.

Let's come out of the fog of the gospel of ME and live in the light of the gospel of Christ.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I remember a song that we used to sing in church when I was a young girl. I attended a Baptist church. The song said," Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

I remember there were all kinds of people in my church from the very wealthy to the not so wealthy. In the church that I last left the scope of people was the same. One church was denominational and one church was Word of Faith. Even though the scope of income in these two churches was the same, the amount of materialism in them was very different.

In the Baptist church no one's faith was ever judged by others. No one was looked down upon if they did not have enough money. People of the church and the leadership were always anxious to help anyone in need. No one's "faith" was judged by how much they had, what things happened to them, how their children acted and things like that. As a matter of fact, their "faith" was not JUDGED. Neither were the people. We were all a part of the family of God and that is all that mattered. We were taught to seek and follow Jesus not jobs, money, houses, clothes or any other material things. We were taught about treating others right.

In the Word of Faith church there was so much materialism, criticism, legalism, judgementalism,
and self. There were things that I learned in the Word of Faith church that have made a great difference in my life such as who I am in Christ, my authority over the devil, and the fact that EVERY thing that happens in not always God's will. However all these things are useless if it is all centered around me, what I can have, what I can get, what I can control and that I can do anything I want and treat others any way that I want. All of this is not the Gospel. There was no focus on helping and reaching out to people and when there was, for a little while, from time to time, it was all about raising the numbers and then after a bit it just faded away.

I know that no one has all the answers. I certainly don't. I do know that God sent Jesus to die for PEOPLE. I know that everyone who is born again has been given the measure of faith. I know that we are all JOINT heirs with Jesus. I know that through the BLOOD we are all righteous. I know that we all overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. I know that there is not an elitist group in the body of Christ. I know that we can take God at His Word because He watches over His Word to perform it. I know that the fruit that we were saved to produce was souls brought into the kingdom of God and not material things.

I have decided to turn my eyes upon Jesus and get to know Him and not spend my time and effort on getting things for me. I would rather have the brightness of Him in my life than the dimness of what I can acquire of the material things that the world has to offer.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Great Post

I was reading A Former Leader's blog today, (a link to this blog is on my blog list) and the post titled "Upsidedown Kingdom" really spoke volumes to me. I thought that this post was awesome. It really brings out what the ministry of Jesus was like. I know that in reading the New Testament, that the ministry of the church that I had been involved in was far from the ministry examples I see here in the Bible. Thank you Former Leader for a great post.