Saturday, August 23, 2008

Are you seeking The Crown without The Cross?

Who are we following? Where are we going? What do we truly value?

Have you thought about these things in relation to your Walk?

Alot of folks balk at the televangelists who cause scandal after scandal these days. They run their 'ministries' like a Wall Street executive. Funds are solicited, prayer requests from viewers are dealt with form letter replies, and nothing less than pyramid schemes make up what they offer....a Madison Avenue version of Godliness.

Oh sure, after all these years of seeing it, you rather expect it from the slicked-down preachers hocking God on television...but how much of this same sort of activity is going on in your own church?

Our old church back home has been falling short of true, daily living, Godliness for a while now. Many families saw this and left over a year or two time frame. Maybe that sounds harsh and judgmental, but I feel led to say it nonetheless. Our church was a home for us, spiritually and physically, for several years. It is sad to 'see' such a place of worship and full of the Holy Spirit simply walk away from that and not even realize it.

As some families left our church, they spoke deeply and Biblically to the Pastor about why they felt The Lord leading them away. Not one family simply walked away -- they spoke with the Pastor for understanding and peace over their decision. They were met with indifference and what amounted to annoyance on the part of their church family. They gave more Biblical background for their decision and cleansed their own hearts before they left.

It was not a quickly arrived choice. It was brewing for quit a long time, and when it became obvious The Lord was moving some families away, they slowly began to depart with the words they felt needed to be shared with the Pastors and deacons. What they received for their choice was a church shunning. Other members were informed of their leaving as questions arose, but they were not told the Biblical reasonings shared. They were informed that these families were no longer walking with God. That they had strayed from The Path and needed to come to an understanding of that fact so they might come back. Publicly, they were told the church doors were always open to them to return. Behind those doors, however it was a different story altogether.

Church members were spoken to individually about the families who had left. They were told to not have fellowship with these families any longer until the day they chose to wake back up to The Lord and come back. Come back to the church.

Come back to the church? How many churches do that same thing? How many buildings are placed on some higher ground for Christians? Our church had a saying -- if the Pastor is here, you should be here also. If they doors are open, the church family should be present.

I'm not denying the fact that we ought to be in a church fellowship and that it would most certainly be of benefit to many of us to be there whenever the doors are open. Too many participate in the Sunday Social Club only and don't feel the slightest draw of heart to be in attendance any more than that. But to say that it is some form of unwritten rule of membership? That is completely uBiblical in my understanding.

Back to those televangelists --

If you were watching your 'preacher' speak about the several letters of prayer and donation received, and he picked up one or more to share their story, then went about telling you, the 'faithful viewer' that this person, naming names and city and all, was not to be associated with until they chose to follow The Lord...the preachers version of the lord...wouldn't you be appalled?

What our Pastor did back home is nothing short of unGodly and UnScriptural in my mind. To go to members and renounce another member behind their backs I see no basis in Scripture for that. What I see is a calling to Christians to go to the brother/sister offender and speak to them, with witness. That is what these families did. What the church did was turn their back on their brothers and sisters in Christ simply because they did not agree. For good or for bad, those decisions brought a death shadow over our church back home that still exists today. That is the truly sad part. After 3 years, nothing has changed within the walls of our church back home. The shunning still invoked and the members who prayed, blessed and shared intimate fellowship with one another still turn their backs in silent annoyance. In ignorance.

I don't believe the church is meant to be that way. I don't believe a church can fulfill it's mandate and calling to GROW with that heart behind it. Where there is no forgiveness there cannot be growth of any kind other than darkness. If you sit in a church such as this, if you follow a leader with a blind eye, you are guilty as well. The
only One we should have our eyes firmly fixed upon is The Lord, Jesus Christ. To watch and follow a wolf in sheep's clothing just because he stands in your pulpit is to follow a false teacher and to gain no ground at all.

Who are you following? Where are you going? What do you truly value?

I am following The Lord, Jesus Christ.
I am, with His Grace and Mercy, going to join Him in The Kingdom one day, though I will never deserve that incredible privilege.
I value The Word of God and do not place value above it's worthiness, on those who merely share The Word or their version of it. I seek to prove out every lesson I am taught. I seek to check line upon line and precept upon precept. The only word I am taking into my heart is that of The Lord....and He is pretty clear if I simply pay attention.

Our new church here? It is small and rural. There are a mere handful of members (under 40). The annual budget is well below $2000 and come the end of the year, every penny is emptied from the church coffers and put to use, if any remains, that is. They don't believe in keeping a balance in some savings or checking account for 'a rainy day' to come. The walk in trust and faith that The Lord provides for the needs of His Children if they continue in His Path. Our 'teachings' consist of Scripture reading and cross-referencing, memorization and meditation. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, I know. But it's about as far from Wall Street Christianity as one might get in this country in this day and age. Our pillar of smoke has brought us here. If we find it moving us along, of course we will follow.

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Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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