Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

A Higher Point of View

 

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We should never take for granted or assume the “Providence” of God. James 4:13 -15 says “Come now you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’”

This would more than suggest that moving forward with any decision or venture without God’s guidance may lead to peril. What possible outcomes could there be? We never reach the city? Life itself runs out? Being no guarantee of profits, none are realized? The truth of the matter is that God has left us in the dark as to the certainties of our future in this life. How then are we to arrive at any decisions at all? Does scripture tell us how to proceed in our decision making endeavors?

Our first clue is found in verse 15 above. All of our plans must be subject to God’s will. In biblical times people prospered when they moved forward upon God’s blessing. Anything that God blesses is a sure thing. Our next question might be, “How do we know when God blesses our plans?” To be sure, they must be submitted in prayer, they must not be contrary to anything we know of God’s will in scripture and we must receive His peace about the decision to proceed. (A lack of peace is a sure sign to remain still. Whether the answer is no or wait, the immediate answer is not now.)

Do we need to make a plan? Plans can be beneficial and provide the specifics we need for diligent prayer. Actually, the lack of a concrete plan may be a hinderance to receiving God’s answer. Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” If we take the time to offer to God the desires of our heart and our plans for the means and ends of reaching our desires then God may either bless, change or reject our plans. However there has to be a safeguard in the process. If He blesses, then we have every reason to expect the plans to prosper. If He changes our plans, it is because He wants His best for us and our plan would have fallen short of it. If He rejects our plan then He probably wants to do something completely different than we can imagine but again His best for us will be the outcome. In directing our steps, He also has the power to change our desires. Moving forward with our plans at any turn in our lives without submission to Him greatly increases our chance of failure or disappointment. Only He is high enough, to see far enough down the road to know what lies ahead.

 

What Scares You?

The woes of the stock market, the concerns over political unrest in the world, the anticipation of the next election and the whereabouts of Casey Anthony seemed to take a major backseat in the media and our minds this week as we dealt with more immediate and pressing concerns. Mother Nature refusing to be upstaged gained the center place of attention as she tossed up a 5.6 earthquake, a monstrous 600 mile wide hurricane and a few tornadoes for icing on the cake. Suddenly the normal dismal news fare didn’t seem quite as important as worries shifted from the economy, politics and terrorism to personal survival. It would seem that man-made calamity has nothing on natural catastrophic occurrences.

Where then is God in all of this? Why would a loving God allow such frightening things to assail us? These are the ever popular questions of the day offered up by those who want to question the actual existence of God or by those who have yet to grown close enough to Him to understand His ways. Our nature cries for answers and we are prone to find them on our own without any help from the One we dare to question. How about the truth? If you are tempted to ask where God is, you may be interested to know that He is right there in the middle of it all. He’s never far and always close by. If you could travel to the farthest planet you would be no further away from Him and yet no closer. His ways are not our ways (Is.55:8). Do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Be anxious for nothing (Phil.4:6). These are just a few verses that begin to reveal His nature and character. Wise men still seek Him. To truly find the answer to such questions we must seek Him, this is His desire. He can be found through His Word and in prayer. He is faithful. (1Cor.1:9).

The natural mind always wants God to change the circumstances. As we gain more knowledge of His person we will discover that He is more likely to change our perspective about things which will often lead us to change our circumstances or live above them. Many times the scripture tells us to “fear not”. The natural mind cannot cast off fear but through the supernatural power of His presence we can substitute faith for fear. Scripture speaks of the “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil.4:7). We can only get there by means that we do not truly understand, that’s why it is supernatural. The natural mind cannot understand things that are spiritual (1Cor.2:14).

The question therefore is not where is God? The question is where are we? The follow-up question is what can we control? If our worry and concern could truly impact any one particular circumstance, let’s say a hurricane, we still would not begin to posses the capacity to worry about all of life’s other concerns. Only God is “all-knowing” and able to deal with every circumstance known to mankind simultaneously. The secret to a joyful and healthy life on this earth is simply to place your trust in the one true God. He has provided the only way and that is faith in Jesus Christ. Only He can save us from ourselves and from the power of a fallen world. Neither man-made calamity nor the phenomenon of nature can separate us from His love for us. Just maybe He has allowed some of these circumstances to enter our world that He may gain our attention. Has he gained yours?

 

There Are Rotten Apples in the Pie…

          Whatever happened to the “American Dream”? Before you can answer the question you may have to define the term. While on a generational basis it may mean different things to different people, much depends on your point of reference. Most “boomers” remember the fifties when the dream was based upon the idea of a puritan work ethic which basically said, if you work hard enough and are thrifty you can achieve financial security and success. In those days most people had a savings account for the accumulation of sums of money and were required to make a substantial down payment before being allowed to purchase any item on credit. In short you had to work a while first in order to achieve your goal. For example you may have been required to place thirty percent down before you could obtain a mortgage. All things being relative you may have had to save five thousand dollars to buy a fifteen thousand dollar home. The same philosophy today would require a savings of fifty thousand dollars to purchase a home priced at one hundred fifty. Oddly enough, it seems that it is harder for most people today to save five thousand than it was in the fifties although people make far higher salaries not to mention the fact that there was generally only one wage earner in the home back in the fifties. So what happened to baseball, mom and apple pie?

          In short someone decided that baseball players were worth millions, mom needed to get a job and the serpent began convincing us that there was an easier path to the “American Dream”; all we needed was to shortcut the pie by using a few rotten apples. Toss out the whole idea of a work ethic, craftsmanship, doing a good job and the concept given us in the book of Genesis that we will eat by the “sweat of our face.” (Gen.3:19). Replace these ingredients with get rich quick schemes, easy credit and instant gratification. Now there’s a pie that will sell! Unfortunately, as we now see, it can have bitter results. It’s a story as old as creation itself. Adam and Eve were created in paradise and given everything they needed to sustain life. There were plenty of trees to eat from in the garden and all they needed to do to maintain the perfect environment was to obey one rule. Don’t eat from one tree in particular. But even that provided too great a temptation, I guess you could say they had too much of a good thing and that is exactly the problem facing us today. As the wealthiest culture ever known to the world we failed to be obedient to the ideals that made us great to begin with. Like a kid in a candy store we consumed until it made us ill. We had at our fingertips the largest opportunity of wealth ever known to mankind yet as a nation we have no savings, home equity is gone, financial freedom for many is lost, fifty percent of our marriages are destroyed, many of our children our emotionally scarred for life, and our nation is in financial bondage to our former and current enemies at the expense of future generations.

          The “good news” in all of this is that God is still on the throne, He knows what we need and His plans never fail for those who call upon His name. “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2Chron.7:13-14). This is the character of God who desires to heal our land. Our hope rests not in the government but rather in the people who are called by Hs name. The apple of self-gratification may look good but it will always have a bitter aftertaste.

What’s Next?

          Recently I was having a phone conversation with a business acquaintance only to find out that he had spent his holidays unexpectedly caring for his terminally ill father, a situation that is lingering on. We talked at some length about how his dad had developed mesothelioma from his time spent on a submarine back in the fifties. It was quite moving to hear this man reminisce about his dad’s life as I could sense the anguish in his heart as he considered the status of his father’s life. Mesthelioma is a slow developing disease and apparently it catches it’s victims by surprise and then it is too late to do anything about it.

          At times such as this reality sets in and we come to see that life is short. We come face to face with our own mortality. Then what? These two words strike at the essence of our being. What’s next, what’s it all about, is this all there is? These are sobering considerations that none can escape. They can be shoved aside and rejected or we can make an uninformed decision based upon what we would like to believe or how we think things really are. Decisions such as these are often made without much consideration or depth of understanding. Truthfully, far too many Christians have spent too little effort studying the basis for what they believe. We live in a time and culture that tends to easily accept or reject things with little basis to depend on. Doesn’t it make sense that we would reasonably pursue the truth about eternity with greater zeal than we would apply to anything else in this world? After all, eternity is a long time. It’s particularly a long time for anyone who might get it wrong.

          The problem arises when we try to affix quick answers or decide such matters from the logical perspective. Actually, I can present compelling logistics for the accuracy of the Bible as well as for the biblical historical record it presents. The trouble is that logic will not and cannot get the job done. What logic can do is arouse your sense of the possibilities. It can get your attention. It can make you wonder but facts alone cannot lead you to believe in the existence of God or eternal life. This can only be accomplished by divine revelation, which is an act of the supernatural. Think how foolish it is to judge matters of supernatural proportion by the limitations of the natural mind. Those who know can attest to actual knowledge of the transformation that takes place when a person receives and accepts the call of God. From the outside looking in it appears as foolishness but to the one who truly possesses the experience there’s no desire to ever turn back.

          We can easily miss the truth of God by false understandings of who He is. We can claim to be “good” as a justification for our life or we can dismiss God altogether because He doesn’t make sense. We can chose to believe anything we want about Him but there can be only one truth. The truth is, He is willing to reveal Himself to anyone who earnestly seeks Him. He will not always change your circumstances but He is always willing to change your perception of them. It is truly amazing when God gives you a new perspective and your whole world changes when physically nothing has changed at all. Knowing the one true God through the life offered by His Son is the only way to resolve the question of life that ultimately asks, what’s next?

He May Be Closer Than You Think!

          “He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near…”. These words were spoken by an English officer who spent time with Dietrich Bonhoeffer the last days of his life while imprisoned together in Flossenburg, by the Nazi regime. Why is this a rare characteristic among Christians? Is God real and always near to you? If so, do others see this as a description of our lives?

          In all probability we see ourselves as falling short of this standard. Is such a relationship reserved for only a privileged few or does God desire that all of us have such an experience? Simply put, I believe that God does desire an intimate relationship with every believer; however it can be quite a struggle to find it. If we look at Phil.4:7, we are given some insight that will prove helpful. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) This result follows an admonition against worry (vs. 6). We are told to “be anxious for nothing”. Again, this is a truth that we can easily accept but find quite hard to live. Why is this so difficult? Perhaps it is due mostly to our lack of perspective. If we break down verse seven into components we will see some perspective needed for our success.

          First of all whose peace is it? “…the peace of God…” is what the scripture tells us. It is His gift to us after we comply with the instructions given in verse 6, approaching Him in submission with thanksgiving. This is a supernatural manifestation of His Holy Spirit at work within us. He changes our perspective about things even if He doesn’t change our circumstance. We are given a different viewpoint, one that removes fear and doubt, one that we cannot otherwise see on our own. We are further told in verse 7 that His peace (His answer) is beyond our comprehension. We cannot implore logic to get the same result. This isn’t so much seeing as it is accepting. Now God is being real and near to us. Others now can see what God has done in us and we can truly be a witness.

          The last part of the verse shows us the maintenance of our relationship with Him. When we surrender our will to Jesus and accept His peace unconditionally our hearts will be guarded against worry and kept “in Christ Jesus”. His perspective will be ours. Unfortunately, we can tend to think of this as an infrequent occurrence or struggle with trying to live there. Struggling with this process is part of our spiritual growth. God desires for us to learn and grow in our relationship with Him as He brings us face to face with our self will and the things He desires for us to place under His control. We come to learn how strong and deep rooted our will can be.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit (NASB)

          As we begin to learn God’s process we also will develop an understanding about sin. Simply put, un-confessed sin will always prohibit you from having an intimate relationship with God and distance you from His favor. Repentance is a gift from God as is faith. Verse 6 directs us to seek Him in prayer with thanksgiving. We need Him to show us those things that we must drastically deal with in our flesh in order to honor Him and to come into a right relationship with Him. It all depends upon His process and remains a supernatural transaction. Christianity can be a harsh and at times challenging belief until we realize that it’s not about us at all. His peace can be gained only by accepting His will for us and our relationship begins at the point of discovering our true need for Him.

Apathy Finally Dies In America

Can it really be true, “apathy” in America is beginning to die? It is quite possible that we are beginning to see passionate beliefs rise up as Americans debate our true identity. Questions about heritage, our rights, losing our rights, socialism, freedoms and much more have become daily topics of interest around the proverbial water cooler, sidewalks, kitchens, and computer chat sites of our culture. It is a testimony to human nature that when times are high and things are good we tend to feel less need for the deeper meaning of life. Apathy then prevails and the contemplative waters of society become shallow pools where we tend to embrace quantity of thought as opposed to quality. It is in times such as these that new and different ideologies filter into our culture and gain a foothold of acceptance without passing any substantive test other than “it sort of sounds good to me”. Now we have arrived at the root issue at hand. What is the test for our beliefs? What standard should be met before we accept an idea or pass it on to others? Is there a basis for truth and if so what is it?

I was inspired to this writing because I became aware of some opposing comments that were traveling through my neighborhood via email. It would not have been difficult for me to jump on one side and make a defense for my particular point of view but I decided there was a greater good to be served. After years of growing weary of apathetic people in the work place or in church or in government or in social clubs I am excited to see my neighbors passionate about what they believe. Passion is a good thing. I also know that it can be a double edge sword. It can bring out the worst in people or the best. It can be either an opportunity for growth or a platform for crisis. As we venture out of the abyss of apathy we need to take time to dig a little deeper and discover truth for ourselves. This wisdom applies to all points of view, no one is exempt. We live in the information age and anyone can out find almost anything in a matter of minutes at the push of a few buttons on the keyboard. Perhaps this is also one of our problems, more information than we can digest at any one time.

On one suggested website entitled the “American Thinker” I found this quote. “Our Founding Fathers were religious in a new way, the Judeo-Christian way, and they were the liberals of their day by deducing that our political and human rights come from a power higher than human government; but they were conservative to Biblical morality.” This was their test in forming our identity. Most Americans are unaware of the extensive process that went into forming this nation and while consulting many written documents to make their decisions the document most used (43% of the time) was the Bible. It’s a historical fact. I’m sure that there were dissenting opinions about many points but at the end of the process the majority ruled and our identity as a nation was set in motion. The two party system was designed to have different viewpoints, in other words a clear choice. Opposing viewpoints are meant to sharpen our intellect and understanding of who we are. Bi-partisanship was not really intended. One of the problems facing us today is that fact that some Republicans act as if they were Democrats and visa versa. We aren’t presented with a clear choice in fact most feel we aren’t presented with a trustworthy choice. The battle lines have been drawn between conservatives and liberals and the two sides are not pure. True leaders have become scare. Those are the ones that clearly take a stand and can clearly articulate their beliefs, regardless of the political cost. The alleged leader that governs on the basis of popularity will never make the right and difficult choices required of real leaders.

There are some fundamental things we need to agree upon. There are some things that we can oppose one another on and still live in peace. It does however become essential for us to look back to our beginnings if we truly want to understand who we are. Personally I believe as our “Founding Fathers” believed, that we must not abandon Biblical morality (unfortunately we are a long way down that road). Liberty means that we make room to debate and discern in order to discover the truth. As an example, the Bible commands us to love even our enemies. Current political correctness says we need to be tolerant of all others. What is the difference between the two? Simply this, as a Christian we show others love in order that they may see Christ. This is meant for a higher purpose. Tolerance, as some interpret it, asks us to forsake our identity. We can be loving and tolerant but we must uphold the values that this nation was founded upon. I’m a conservative but I see the need for liberal thinkers. Think about this, in what other society on the face of the earth other than one based upon Judeo-Christian values, would anyone be allowed to express their liberal point of view? As passions rise, so must our practice of measuring the truth by the only reliable standard known to exist. The standard used by our founders; the Bible.

Where Do We Go From Here?

          I recently watched  a re-run of the show called “The Practice”. In this episode a couple was placed on trial for murder because they refused to get medical attention for their sick three year old son. They were Christian-Scientists and chose to believe that their strongest chance of a cure rested in prayer for God to heal their son. The defense argued that the “Constitution” guaranteed religious freedom and the prosecution argued that the parents had a responsibility that they violated and were guilty of murder. To further complicate the issue, the accused mother was about to deliver another child which set up an additional argument as to the rights of the unborn fetus.

          It occurred to me how important a belief system can be to a nation. Some citizens would say that an unborn fetus has no rights while others would oppose that point of view. How essential is it that we have a basis for what we believe? I’m not suggesting that we believe what we care to believe but rather that we need to support out belief  by factual evidence that we can use as a foundation. I believe that our founding fathers had such a unified belief. In the “Declaration of Independence”, evidence of such belief was based upon their understanding that certain unalienable rights were given by our Creator. That is the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Given the time in history of the writing I believe with certainty that their definition of happiness was far different than that which we as Americans have pursued over the past several decades. Their view encompassed the basics of life and existence, not so much lifestyle. Their standard of conduct was based upon a moral code which rested on nothing less than Biblical tenants. I think what they had in view was the goal of holiness, the only true path to happiness.

          Today we find the leadership of our government and business sector in chaos. There seems to be little agreement on the way forward and I contend the reason for such chaos rests squarely on our lack of identity as a people and the failure of our society to maintain the beliefs that made this a great nation. The strength of what one believes can have a profound effect on the world around us. It is difficult for most of us to understand the commitment of the Kami-Kazi pilot from World War II or the dedication of a suicide bomber in a modern day terrorist attack. Both such actions were born from deep rooted belief systems. Unfortunately, too many of our leaders today have corrupted the values of our society and are driven only by the lust for power or money. These things are a poor substitute for the godly wisdom of character and integrity.

          The questions that plague our society have real answers. However, they can only be found in the light of Biblical scripture, the same light that shone brightly on the founding documents of this great nation, written by men who used to adjourn and pray for hours to seek the face of Almighty God before determining their course of action. The Bible was the document most consulted over all other writings. Are we really more enlightened? Are we wiser in our own estimation than the fathers of our nation? For our liberal minded fellow citizens who object to the idea of our Biblical heritage I will concede that there was never a mandated national religion. Christianity cannot be mandated as it remains a personal decision for every human to accept Jesus as their Savior, solely reliant upon the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Yet there can be no denial of the Biblical influence by which our founders and their writings  relied upon for the birth of this nation. Further there can be no denial of the destruction brought about by the religion of  liberal thinking to our way of life, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness. The proof exists all around us in the chaos that is now present. True followers of Jesus can have peace knowing that the sovereignty of God is still in tact. The “Good News” is still the “Good News”. For everyone else I suggest you read the world’s most important book before you dare reject it. It’s your only hope for living with assurance in the midst of these chaotic days.

Be Aware of “That Kiss”…

          In Luke 22:51 Jesus healed the temple servant after Peter had cut off His ear. You would think such a miracle would have been reason enough for everyone present to submit to the authority of Jesus, but it wasn’t. Judas had betrayed Jesus with a kiss, a sign of close and personal affection, but rather meant for evil. In verse 53 Jesus declares the hour of evil and the power of darkness that belonged to His captors. There can be no doubt that Satan was controlling the actions of those who came to seize Him and that they were powerless to do anything else.

          How often is Jesus betrayed by those disguised as His servants? Even a kiss can be rooted in deception. When we fail to guard our hearts, the opportunity always arises for us to betray Him through our self-interest and motivation. If we fail to consider all our actions through the lens of His word then we are vulnerable to the power of darkness and the hour of evil. Hebrews 4:12 tells us “…the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword…able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This is the sword that He has given us to answer all evil intent. The sword of steel can only cause physical harm but the sword of the word strikes at the very existence and presence of evil itself. When Peter struck the servant, it only added to the atmosphere of hostility. It would have presented the opportunity for justification by those who came to seize Jesus but our Lord would not allow them to have such cause. In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (v.6:12) we are told “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

          Our first concern in warfare must be enemy identification. James 1:19 councils us “to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Herein lies the process for discovery of the enemy. Being “quick to hear” grants us the time to evaluate what is really happening. If we are listening then we are not reacting. This presents us the opportunity to apply God’s word from our hearts and correctly evaluate our course of action. If we fail to follow these steps we are all too likely to shoot the wrong target. We may inflict wounds to those who confront us but fail to strike the crucial blow needed to defeat our spiritual enemy. We must accept the existence of cosmic powers of darkness at work. There are demonic creatures who aid Satan in His desire to defeat God’s work by striking out against believers. All too often we focus on the other person, examining their conduct while failing to look beyond what we see in the physical sense. Cutting the ear off the servant only tends to give credence to his cause. Blindly we aid the enemy in his efforts without being aware of what we have done.

          Further study of Ephesians 6:13-18 would benefit all of us in preparation for spiritual warfare. Not only will we find the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v.17) but also other pieces of armor necessary for battle. It’s time to suit up and be prepared to do a little hunting of our own. He has given us all we need to search out and destroy the enemy. We no longer need to be subject to his schemes. It’s time to resist. It’s time to send him on the run. It’s time to walk in victory; all we need is to be prepared.

Right Way, Wrong Way?

         “There’s a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death.” (Prov. 14:12) There can only be one conclusion, that we cannot always trust our own instincts and if that is so then there must be something else by which we can guide our decisions. If what seems right is wrong then what is the great test that clarifies our actions?

          Does a little white lie corrupt the soul? Does criticizing others when they can’t hear us really hurt anything? If gossip gets a laugh at someone else’s expense wasn’t it really just for the fun of the moment? Why shouldn’t I cheat on my taxes, after all the government is blowing billions? A stock broker gets a bit of inside information, why not exploit it, everyone’s doing it? A wife has an affair because she isn’t happy at home; doesn’t she deserve more? A student has someone else take an exam, what difference does it really make? There are no limits on the variations of this theme, no end to the number of ways to damage the soul, sell off a chunk of integrity or to feed the prevailing climate of sin that so infiltrates humanity. It all started with one basic lie, one deception.

          The propensity of sin to permeate mankind and destroy the soul is far more powerful than anyone of us can fully appreciate. A man wakes up one morning to the realization that he is an alcoholic and his life is spiraling out of control. He scarce can remember taking the first step down the slippery slope and discovers that he lies at the bottom of life and there now seems to be no hope. Ironically what seemed right at the start with no harm in sight arrives at a place where nothing seems right and all hope gone. The deception has performed its work and reached its destination of despair with only one final step to go, death. It is a death that leads to the eternal separation from all that is good and righteous, never again to have the opportunity of reconciliation and it all starts with one small compromise of spiritual integrity.

          The great test in this life comes down to our own goals. Are we living this life from a self-centered point of orientation or for the higher cause of Christ? Our only shot at reconciliation is through His cross. None other can make the choices faced in this life clear. On our own, we are not strong enough to stand against the temptations that come our way or even be totally aware of their presence. The things that seem right may be loaded with pitfalls that we are not equipped to evaluate. When we shine the light of His word on life’s decisions and submit to trusting Him for guidance we gain the insight needed to escape the tragedies of bad decisions. Just as all harm starts with one bad decision, all which is good begins with one and only one decision available to each and every one of us, the decision to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord of our life. His answers are infallible and His reasoning is from an eternal perspective.

Call 911 – The Church Needs CPR!

            Many years ago when I heard God calling me back to the church I remember thinking that there just seemed like there was something wrong with the church. I thought, “Who am I to have such a thought? After all the church has been around for hundreds of years, they must know what they are doing”. At the time, my wife, two children and I belonged to a very small mainline denominational church. We had been attending for a few years but other interests seem to pull us away. Even after we returned, the years clicked by and nothing seemed to happen. No one ever came to the saving grace of God; it was certainly devoid of the miraculous, in fact no one ever seemed to change. The Sunday message was some sort of flowery, biblical sounding digression that was almost absent of any meaningful content. I did not know it at the time but we were attending a church that was in dire need of resuscitation, CPR to be exact, “Christ, Prayer and Repentance”.

          Unfortunately this is a scene that is repeated over and over again in some fashion, or another all across our nation. People wander into churches on Sunday throughout our land, showing up with all their baggage; hurts, hang-ups and addictions. Then after an hour or so they tote all their problems back home and nothing has changed. Christianity has been reduced to doing a duty, namely, showing up at church. It is far from the abundant life promised by Jesus, far from being a lifestyle. So what’s wrong with the church?

          Perhaps the first course correction needed is for God’s people to wake up and realize that they “ARE” the church. The church isn’t the building; it’s a people for God’s own possession, a people who have surrendered their all to Jesus. We are to be led by His spirit, seeking Him in prayer and repenting of all the things that keep us apart from Him, Christ, Prayer and Repentance, CPR for the church. No one but God can breathe life back into the church and we desperately need to seek Him with all our hearts.

          Secondly, God’s people need read the Bible. I have found that many if not most Christians do not regularly (daily) read or study God’s word. How can we possibly have a personal relationship with our Savior if we don’t even study God’s scripture? How can we know of His loving promises if we do not read them for ourselves? When we come to Him in prayer we need to be grounded on His word and we need to be assured of His nature which can only happen through the study of His inspired word. Biblical illiteracy plagues our country and many are suffering because of it.

          If you have ever been apart of a church like the one I described, you cannot help but wonder what damage has been done? Not only in the lives of the congregation but also in the lives of those who came in contact with the church and saw nothing different than the world around them and found no power for life changing transformation. The dead churches of our culture have poisoned so many against the cause of Christ because many have failed to see the abundant life promised by Jesus alive in the members of the church. Real Christianity is caught not taught. The time is right for church to catch a fresh breath of life and to gain a contagious spirit.