Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Trip

      One day I’m going on a trip. Not now, but one day. I’ve been packing for it for several years, and I’ve sent things ahead. When I first began thinking about the trip I wasn’t very excited because I wasn’t familiar with my destination. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and if I would like it once I got there. The more I thought about it, and read about it, the more I looked forward to taking it, so much so that I began sending more stuff ahead to be waiting for me when I arrived.

      Before I knew it, I began thinking about the trip all the time. Everything I did was based on how it would affect my time there.  An excitement grew within me, and a longing to go there. It was though I was no longer living in my homeland…my heart belonged somewhere else…to someone else. You see, I will be meeting the one I love there, face to face. He is waiting for me to arrive. He wrote me love letters long ago that I read over and over. I talk to Him as often as I can, and when I do, it is like there is no distance between us. He knows me better than I know myself…better than anyone knows me. He has prepared a lovely place for me, fit for a princess. He has been working on it longer than I have been preparing for my trip. He has a reputation for creating the most beautiful things; I won’t be disappointed.
      All that I have sent ahead are things for Him. They are things I knew he would like and would have packed himself if He were here. Because I have read his letters and know him, I am familiar with what will please him and what will not. He has been so kind and loving to me, I want to please him and show him I love him too.
      The wait won’t be too long now, but there is still so much left to do. I don’t want to waste a minute. If my ride comes, I want to be ready to go, having everything sent ahead and no looking back with regret. I only have a one way ticket…no return. He purchased it for me, and it cost him all he had.  
This is the promise He left with me ~
“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ~John 14:3

And he signed it Jesus.

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~Matthew 6:20 - 21

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Wake-Up Call

Someone else is concerned about knowing what time it is...Anne Graham Lotz. I received her ministry newsletter shortly after posting for Spiritual Sunday last week. I wish I could copy the whole letter here because it is something I think every Christian should read. Here is just a little piece of it...

          "The signs that Jesus gave and the headlines in the news are coming together in a dramatically sobering way. I'm alarmed because it's five minutes to midnight on the time clock of history, and so many Christians seem to be sleeping!"

Remember Jesus' words in Revelation 1 to the churchs? She goes on to say...

          "While I believe we are living in the most strategic and critical generation in all of history, other than perhaps the original one and also the one which witnessed the first coming of Jesus Christ to earth, God's people in general seem to be oblivious to what time it is!"

So again I ask, "What time is it?" I will answer my own question and say I agree with Anne; it is five minutes to midnight on the time clock of history. So what are we to do? I think the first thing is to wake up!

Anne will be talking on this topic with Joel Rosenberg, in a simulcast being broadcasted on September 11, 2011. You can watch it at a host church or on your own computer at home. You can watch the video below and go to her website for more information.

Click on the picture to go to her website

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's nothing love can't fix

As I read the comments people wrote for my last post, it got me thinking even more about the changes taking place in many churches, especially here on the West Coast. There were valid points brought up about our changing times and getting too stuck on trivial things like the cosmetics of the church...I agree and I thank you for your comments. If the gospel is being preached and truth is being taught, the other things are of much less importance. In my opinion, as long as the walls of truth still stand, it doesn't matter what color they are painted. And as long as we are not tearing them down to replace them with something more like the world - to fit in,  I don't think we should have a problem with it.

I believe the distinction between the church and the world should be visible by the character of the body of Christ. A deep distinct line should be drawn in the sands of time, that defines us as followers of Jesus Christ in this age. If in fact we had the characteristics of the early church, there would be little infuses on the material aspects of worshiping together, and more on being united together to worship. And we would have little concern about what the world thought about how or where we did it.

Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

The world does not dislike the church because of its buildings, or the decorations within them. It hates the church because it belongs to Jesus. And just as you and I were called out of the world by Him, so too He will call many more out, and place them into the body of Christ. We are His witnesses to the world that by His grace we are saved through faith in Him - He did not intend for us to fit in.

I believe we are not as effective in the world as we should be because they do not see us as being much different. We struggle with many of the same problems they do.  We get divorced, have problems with our children rebelling, and live weighed down by our circumstances. They do not see the victory in Jesus that should be recognizable in our every day lives because we trust in Him. They do not see the unity and love that caused the first church to turn the world upside down for Christ. Nor do they see the sacrificial giving to meet the needs of others. Jesus said, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12) Wow, what would that kind of love look like? His love was one that gave all...even His very life.

He said:

          "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."

I think it is the infuses on "form" that has caused many divisions in the church. Christ prayed to the Father for us to be one...united with Him and each other; unity in the body...the whole body- young, old, and in between. How can we do that with a different Sunday service for each generation? I think this separation hurts God's heart. I don't believe it is the fault of any one group, or lack of the right cosmetics or form that causes this separation in the church. When our eyes are kept on Jesus, we seldom care enough about the trivial things to make them an issue. And when we love one another, we are not easily offended by such things.  I'm sad to say that I think it is the lack of love and unity within the body of believers that prevents the power of  God from transforming congregations into powerful witnessing forces in this world. (ouch...that hit me too!)

The enemy in any war does what he can to divide the oppositions army. In doing so, he knows that it will be weaker and easier to defeat. The church is in a spiritual battle with a very ruthless enemy and he is hard at work.

I think what concerns me the most about this whole subject in some American churches is that the focus is on the cosmetics; the form, instead of the Savior; instead of obeying His commands. The world is deep in sin, and it will get deeper as we approach the time of Christ's return, but God has given us the tools we need to witness in this age...and the greatest of these is love. His word says love will cover a multitude of sins.

It is still Jesus alone who calls sinners out of the world and places them in His body of believers, no one else and nothing else. We are to be witnesses for Him of the saving grace we have experienced in our own lives, and the demonstration of our unity and love for one another in the church will point people to God, because God is love.

Jesus said, "You shall be my witnesses." (Acts 1:8) Let's witness to His love, His joy, His peace, His unity, His saving a world in desperate need of it.

In His love,

We serve a God who can do ALL things. Nothing is too difficult for Him...nothing. He is in the business of Miracles - in individual lives, churches, relationships, and all kinds of situations.

On this weekend as we celebrate a Miracle Makeover for a sick child, please know that God wants to bring His miracle makeover into the lives of all who will put their trust in Him. Whatever you may be facing, our God is willing and able to meet you there and bring you through it.

Please visit Spiritual Sundays to see the Miracle Makeover for a little boy named Charlie by Design Gives Back. Your comment on their site will be worth $1 and help with the next makeover.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What time is this?

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions
which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."  
2 Thessalonians 2:15

      Every so often I ask this question, "What time is it?" I ask it because this blog is titled "For Such A Time As This." So, what time is this? I look around for clues and see some disturbing things...signs if you will, that tell me this is a time of change. Now change can be good...if it is good change, but much of the change I see isn't so good. On the Christian radio recently I heard that Campus Crusade for Christ (a well known college campus ministry) is changing its name; they will be removing the words "crusade" and "Christ." Hmm...taking Christ from their name? What does that mean?

      I see the "change" happening in my own church. First the name was changed to take out the word Baptist. I guess that word isn't cool anymore. Now we are a community church...Hmm, what does that mean? Even the youth building was changed from "Faith Hall" to "Worship Cafe." It now looks like a coffee shop. Other changes are taking place, like moving the chairs around in the sanctuary, eliminating the rows; setting up tables instead. Trying to make it feel more like an informal get-together instead of a church service, even making it interactive. Much effort is put into marketing ourselves and finding new ways to look more appealing to the unchurched; to look less like a church. I watch this happening, and my heart hurts.

      So much has changed over the years since the days I attended church as a youth; no more alter calls (we wouldn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable). Not much, if any, talk of hell  (too condemning), yet that could end up being a shocker later on.

      I walked down the isle of a little church and gave my heart to Jesus when I was nine years old. My father and mother followed behind me. We were baptized the next week. There is something precious and life changing about coming to the alter and publicly professing your faith in Jesus Christ - even at nine. It takes a step of faith to put your foot out in the isle and say yes to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I don't believe those things can be reproduced by checking a box on a comment card and putting it in the offering plate as it passes.

      I see other churches changing. Whole denominations dropping names, changing their values and re-wording their mission and belief statements. Changing to fit into our society...the society Christ asked us to be separate from. Some are even trading their Bible truth in exchange for tolerance...a tolerance of sin. It is a fact that we all sin, you do, I do, but we are to turn from it...confess it, and not embrace it.

      It seems to me like we are taking our light and putting it under a basket, which Jesus warned against. He said we are the salt of the earth. Are we allowing the church to be diluted to the point that we are no longer preserving the gospel of Jesus Christ for the next generation. I know there are still churches and Christians who are standing firm...unmovable for their faith, but the winds of change are blowing hard on this country in a direction that seeks to bend and destroy the Christian church.

      So I ask the question again, "What time is it?" If we (Christians) are put here "For Such A Time As This," then what time is this, and what are we here to do? If this is our time, our watch, what are we to be doing?

I think the answers to these questions are clearly found in the Bible (for those who still believe it is truth). Reading through the first few chapters of the book of Revelations where Christ is speaking to the seven churches, I see over and over again these words, "repent, be faithful, overcome, hold fast, be watchful, persevere, and strengthen the things which remain."

      None of these words are passive, they are all action words. They refer to things we have been given and are to keep (hold fast, be faithful), things we are to turn from (repent), and things we have to stand strong through (overcome, persevere). How can we do this? By being watchful and strengthening those things which remain. The things we were taught by Christ and His letters to the churches.

These are the seven churches He was speaking to: Revelations 1:1-3
  • The Loveless Church
  • The Persecuted Church
  • The Compromising Church
  • The Corrupt Church
  • The Dead Church
  • The Faithful Church
  • The Lukewarm Church
      Which of these churches do we want to be? Without doing much at all, we can comfortably find ourselves in five of the seven, but I think if we want to be found as a member of the Faithful Church, it will not be so comfortable, and require us to be actively pursuing those things mentioned above. I'm pretty sure the persecuted church is not persecuted because it tries to fit into the world, but because it does not.

      Making Christianity acceptable to sinners is the work of the Holy Spirit  when the gospel is faithfully preached and is not reliant on a name change or a cleaver marketing plan.
I'll end with the same verse I quoted above -

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions
which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."
2 Thessalonians 2:15