The climate in America today that has allowed for the discrimination of Christians contributes to violence against us. May the martyrs at Umpqua Community College receive an amazing reward from Christ for their boldness to stand for their faith and be put to death.
So many judge Christians. Somewhere along the line we have come to an incorrect conclusion about followers of Jesus, Christians. There is a belief that if you are a believer, or part of a Jesus faith community, that you are perfect. And people expect you to be perfect. Even those that don’t attend any church or faith community expect Christians to be perfect and judge people pretty harshly if they are not. Why is that? Sometimes to make them feel better about their own life or choices of life, but most the time it is a misunderstanding in what a follower of Christ or a believer is.
A Christian is not a perfect person. Not by any means. If that was true there would be no Christians on earth! There was only one perfect and that was Jesus Himself. A healthy Christian is a growing Christian. A person who is not perfect, but dedicated to the one that is, Jesus. As we mature in life and journey in our faith, we learn more, become more dedicated, and get victories over time through growing in Jesus and God performing transformations of our heart. To be clear, a healthy follower of Jesus is not a perfect person, but a person that is growing in Christ. That growth is incremental and at different speeds.
so why do I write this? I write this so we will cut each other some slack. I communicate this so we will not be so hard on each other and judge each other. I write this so if you are not growing as a follower of Jesus, that is not healthy. Put forth some effort, make some decisions, change some priorities and grow in your faith. I write this because it’s true and we all need reminded to be encouragers to others and not discouragers and that our patience with each other will expand as our faith also does over time. So be a healthy follower of Christ and keep growing in the Lord.
Rachel posted this on her Blog. Take a read. It really told our story! Click Below.
I have been thinking about those that no longer go to church anymore. Some leaders call this growing group of people the “dechurched”. Some say there are 12 million and I have heard up to 30 million followers of Jesus in the United States, people who love God, and they no longer are part of a faith community. I know there are many reasons for this, but I want to express my encouragement to those that have walked away.
Why do people leave their church or faith community
1. They don’t believe it is relevent anymore.
2. Their favorite pastor moved on and the new pastor is not the same.
3. The busyness of life. Church just fell of the map.
4. The high expectations put on them, and the only way to avoid that is to leave.
5. People put high expectations on the church, and when the church/pastor/ministries can’t meet them they walk.
6. Some people offend easily and have left for very petty things.
7. Some people have been deeply hurt by the church and leadership mistakes and their pain is real.
8. Many are barely connected, don’t get involved much, and no relationships keep them there.
10. People are sometimes just lazy, and look at the church and involvement as a burden. They would rather do other things.
11. Culture has immersed people, through media TV, and more things in life gain importance than being involved in a Faith Community.
12. A good church will confront people with the real realities of life, sin, family, healing and wholeness, and some do not want to be confronted with their mistakes or their pain caused by others.
13. Tragedy. Some have walked because they have encountered deep tragedy and loss in life and believe God should not have allowed it, is responsible, and the pain of that seems like it can’t be overcome.
So here is my open letter for those that have left the Body of Christ and still love Him.
I know you have walked away from the church, but not your faith. You still believe and love God. You have called upon Christ to save you and you have been forgiven, yet you find yourself in life, not part of your church. You have walked away. I know some have many reasons, and many confess to me they need to get their faith more active and return to their place of worship. Let me appeal to you to return.
I believe the church is imperfect. It is filled with people, and we are all imperfect, striving to do our best, but falling short at times. Please consider the humanity of the attenders and leaders. You may have walked away because of being hurt, offended, overlooked, or passed over. People, all people usually disappoint at one time or another. Internal pain is real. I can only encourage you to do the right thing for you. That is to forgive, don’t hold grudges and bitterness. You are suffering more than who or what upset you into walking away.Let it go, and return.
You may be out of the a local fellowship because life just got so busy, and slowly the involvement just lost priority. You are losing out on a lot.
Before you stay out of a faith community forever let me encourage you to return for the following possible reasons.
1. We need to worship our God through Christ. God is seeking worshippers. We do need to gather together as the Body of Christ and lift Him up. It is encouraging and we connect with our Lord.
2. You don’t have to go to a faith community to be a Christian, but to be a growing one, I believe you do.
3. Your family is being greatly impacted. Most families that walk away, talk openly with kids present, why, and the bitterness can be passed down to children/students/young adults who take on your offense, thus they live a life void of church and probably void of God too.
4. One can’t be moved, touched, encouraged, taught by the Spirit if you are not present.
5. Your absence is a loss for the Body of Christ. Everyone is a minister. Everyone has gifts. With you not being part the ministry of your church is hampered. You can’t teach anyone, encourage anyone, pray for anyone. You lose touch with the heart of God and the heart for people.
6. The enemy loves believers that are disconnected with the strength of the Body of Christ. You can fall prey to sin, return to your life before salvation, allow old habits that are hurtful to resurface. Active faith combats that. Unbelief incubates better and grow faster when there is not much exposure to the light or the sun (Son).
7. All churches and all pastors/leaders are not like the one(s) that hurt you, so don’t paint Christianity with too wide of a brush. Maybe you need to forgive and pray about a new local church to be part of.
8. He loves you and his people do. Sorry if they were mean to you. Christians say and do stupid, imperfect, and insensitive things too. Many have hurt me also. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have to have the love of God in my heart for all people. Most don’t mean to hurt anyone, they talk before they think, not weighing the impact of words, being void of wisdom. It might happen again if you return to be honest. We both have also been guilty of this too, so lets receive grace and most importantly, let’s give it.
I know these can all be rebutted, especially by a hurt person. But I just want to encourage you to do what you once loved to do. I know it might be very hard, take courage, and more love and forgiveness than you think you have. But you still love the Lord and He will help you. He needs you active, present, and there. You have more to offer, more to give, more to learn, and more to influence for Jesus.
Thanks for reading. Don’t give up on the local church yet. Give it another go. We need you.
My Pastor’s Heart,
This weekend I am going to sharer a clarion call to Compelled and any church leader and Christian that will listen online or via our app, podcast, or online. I am deeply burdened for the younger generation. The enemy is after our children and students. Our young adults are struggling for truth and to see the relevance of Christ in our Culture. the anti-God “spirit” is showing up with greater negative force twoard the things of the Lord. Christianity is being yanked out of our society. Bibles are being removed from motels, public displays of Christ are being barred, like prayer, or references to God. All to appease a very small sector of the population. Right is being displayed as wrong, and wrong is becoming right. Activity in a faith community or Church is not as much as a priority anymore. Most churches have little or no children and/or student ministry (not us at Compelled). Parents will go to great lengths to see their kids excel in academics, sports, travel team, and put little to no focus on their spiritual lives. Our society is reaping the results of years of these choices.
We can’t give up on the next generation! We must not let the enemy take our children and students from the Kingdom of God. We cannot allow them to grow up thinking their Bible and church or awkward and odd, because they are not familiar with them.
My heart is heavy. I believe its the heart of Christ. I will be sharing this message at all gatherings and both of our campus’.
It’s not uncommon any more for a guest (visitor) at Compelled church to say they are looking for a church and they, use this phrase, “we are church shopping” so I’m going to be honest. I really hate that phrase. In fact, I cringe inside every time I hear it. Let me tell you why. It implies that they are looking for the best “bargain”. Where they can get the most for their “money” and the church that offers the greatest and best, whatever they are looking for, for them and their family. This attitude also implies, the decision is theirs, with no input from Christ, the head of the church. They will shop, and list the pros and cons of each church, compare the music, preaching, facilities, and coffee, and come to a decision. BAD! Very, Very BAD! In this consumer driven society we live in, we cannot make looking for a church body, the same as looking for the cheapest flat screen TV ,or the best price of gas. It is deeper, the implications much greater, and it is so much more serious than browsing through the Sunday paper sale ads. Here’s my take on looking for a church so you don’t “shop”.
–Ask yourself, “Where does God want me?” It might not be the will of your Father to go to the biggest, best, most impressive church you find.
–Don’t be deceived that a church can’t minister to your family if it does not have a catalog of ministries and small groups that is for every age, every interest, every person. My daughter grew up here, when our church was small. We started in our living room. When we had little to no staff, rented facilities that were small. But she loved church, and her faith grew here. WE did not have much, but we had the Bible, relationships, love, and family, and that was enough.
–Consider that if you are looking for a new body, you are not leaving in conflict, angry, bitter, or with unforgiveness. Those attitudes will be taken to your new body. No church needs those things. Make sure you know God wants you to go to another church and you are not leaving abruptly with anger, offense, or something did not go you way. God does not bless those things. He might want you to stay, work through things, be humble and grow in grace. Don’t leave in the flesh any church!
–Maybe God wants you to go to a church to not consume the excellent ministries, but to partner with others to minister and be part of that church growing, and to start, launch, and help make excellent ministries.
–Don’t go to sit!! If you are truly saved, you should be involved in ministry on this earth till Jesus takes you from here. It is the life of a follower of Jesus. There is no unemployment in the Kingdom.
–Don’t pick a church for it’s music. Worship is about Christ, which we should be worshiping all the time anyhow, so 20 minutes or so of music, should not be a big deal, if you are worshiping throughout the week. No matter what the music is, nothing can stop a follower of Jesus, from worshiping Jesus, when any style of worship music is played. You don’t need a full band to worship Jesus, or even a great sound system. We worship in Spirit and in Truth.
–Don’t pick a church for it’s preaching. You can hear the greatest speakers/teacher/preachers on your phone if you want, so maybe God wants you to go and be a blessing at a church where you have a great pastor, and he loves God, but can’t preach as well as the TV guys. Does he/she love the Lord? Do they prepare? Are they honest? Are they true to Scripture? Maybe God wants you to be the greatest friend and encourager to that pastor, and help fulfill the vision God has given him for his community. Honestly, preaching is a small part of the pastors week. We do so much more than just preach.
–Don’t go to your new church to tell your new friends and pastor about your old church. Don’t gripe about it, don’t trash your last pastor, don’t tell them what your last church did. If God has moved you on, and He has led you to a body, be a blessing, and a humble servant.
–Be led by the Holy Spirit, not flashy websites, ads in the paper or even commercials.
I was saved and discipled in a small country church with basically 2 big rooms. We had one part time pastor. We had 100 people. We had the Bible, the Spirit, and love, and I grew in the Lord and was called into ministry there. My life was transformed. I heard the Lord there, worshipped (only a piano) there, and was not allowed to take coffee into church, but I grew, I got to know God, and I learned the Bible. It was an awesome first church, with committed leaders and a great Pastor (Thanks Aden Porter!).
So why this little article? To help you find where God wants you. Where you can be involved and be a blessing. So Christians will stop going to get, and they can go to give. So if God is leading you to a church or a new church, remember…. no “church shopping”. Be Spirit led as you attend churches, small and large, rural and urban, bands or not. Pray together as a family and God will lead you to a body where you and your family will grow, become part, be involved to reach your community and you will be happy in Jesus and everyone will be happy God sent you, and we can keep seeing people saved and devoted to Jesus Christ.
Christmas can be a great time. It can also be a tough time. The brokeness of relationships and past hurts rise to the surface with more obviousness at Christmas more than any other time of the year. Christmas can be a painful reminder that all is not right, that the past still haunts some families and that we are in deep need of God’s grace.
The whole Advent of Christ is about Grace and forgiveness. As we begin to talk about God healing hurts, forgiveness fro us and to others, and the blessings of relationships, I pray freedom and relational health on us all.
The Greek word for “holy” is “hagios“. This means “dedicated to God, separated, worthy of God, pure.” The quotation in verse 16 was familiar to all who knew the Old Testament (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). So the Lord is affirming that we are called, invited to be holy as we are to prepare our minds for action and be self-controlled. We are not to conform to the world or the evil desires within this world. So we are to be holy. I am not a legalist and I sure hate it when the church adds unbiblical demands for salvation. I don’t like religion, or the idea our life will earn our salvation. It is a free gift.
But as the people of God, we are to live different, separated to God, pure before Him and unbelievers. I fear that is getting lost here in the 21st century. I have a lot of “friends” on Face book. I enjoy seeing what is going on in their lives, pics of their families and all. But I am also grieved at some things I see that are truly “not holy”, in lives. So some questions about our holiness.
- Is holiness just in the heart or also in our lifestyle?
- How holy is the church when it comes to leisure. Are you going to the clubs, bars, drinking, flirting, being in a worldly environment, wasting God’s money and time that you could be with your family, your kids, or serving others?
- Should we be reading garbage? Viewing garbage on our computers? Watching movies with swearing, nudity, extreme violence? Is that the conforming Peter was talking about in 1.13? Does God feel your love while this happens?
- I’m tired of everyone thinking that alcohol, pain killers, and smoking dope is OK to be part of our weekly lifestyle and we still serve God.
- Is it holy to get up everyday and do absolutely nothing for Jesus? Is it holy to never worship? To buy anything we want, but complain if the pastor asks for biblical obedience in giving, or to sacrifice for a missionary or mission?
- How holy is it in the eyes of God to yell and scream at your spouse? To swear in the home? To ignore your children and work too much?
- Is it Holy to dress immodest, to attract attention to yourself? To show skin only your spouse should be seeing? Let’s be honest the church has a problem with this. We cannot copy the world in style when the style is immodest and does not glorify God.
- Can we continue to tolerate racism, racial jokes, and still believe this is holy conduct pleasing to the Lord? Do we get that loving everyone and being Jesus is holiness!
- Can we truly say we love Jesus and never learn his teaching, read the book, have thankful hearts, raise our hands and worship.
- Are we holy if we don’t care about lost people, don’t weep over those going to Hell, never share Jesus, don’t give to missions?
In the last days here, our Father is craving for His church to reflect Him to a world that does not know him, and that is to reflect His holiness. To live separate,different, pure, and unto God. If we are allowing sinfulness and unholiness in our lives, we are missing God’s will and HIs blessings. We are saved by faith, but we must live by faith and reflect the wonderous glory of Jesus, as we are set apart unto Him. Do a gut check. Have a Jesus moment. Anything in your life not holy? Need to stop going somewhere, throw something out? Just repent (turn) look to Jesus and live holy. You will never regret it. We need more of Jesus to fill our needs, not anything unholy. What are your thoughts about holiness, our culture today, and the believer’s response?
The Assemblies of God, in reaction to President Barack Obama’s
embracing of same-sex marriage, is voicing its dissent and
objection. According to Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent
of the Assemblies of God, the Assemblies of God is in complete
disagreement with the president’s new position and takes exception
to the president’s taking Scripture out of context to defend his
“The Bible clearly teaches that marriage should be a life-long
commitment between one man and one women,” states Dr. George O.
Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. “There is no
affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture.
However, the Bible is replete with evidence that homosexual behavior
is immoral and comes under the judgment of God.”
The president also referred to the Bible, claiming Christ
sacrificing himself for mankind and the golden rule as reasons for
endorsing same-sex marriage.
“Although it has become popular to quote Scripture grossly out of
context to serve a personal or political agenda, it still doesn’t
change what God’s Word clearly states,” Wood says.
Wood adds that in light of what Scripture says, Christians should
not be surprised by individuals and groups twisting Scripture,
citing, 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when men will not put
up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they
will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their
itching ears want to hear.”
In the Assemblies of God’s official position paper on homosexuality,
it states, “We believe, in the light of biblical revelation, that
the growing cultural acceptance of homosexual identity and behavior,
male and female, is symptomatic of a broader spiritual disorder that
threatens the family, the government, and the church.”
The paper also states, “Not only do the Scriptures condemn more
flagrant examples of homosexual violence and promiscuity, they also
provide no support for the popular modern idea that loving and
committed homosexual relationships between two long-term partners
are morally acceptable. Homosexual activities of every kind are
contrary to the moral commandments God has given us.”
Wood adds that it’s important for Christians to not underestimate
the implications of a pro-homosexual, pro-abortion president, and
what it means for the church. “In no time in our nation have we ever
needed to pray more for our political leaders and this country than
we need to today,” Wood says.
For more information about the Assemblies of God position on
homosexuality and other areas, see its website at http://ag.org
and click on “Beliefs.”