Thursday, March 5, 2009

Are you hungry or thirsty? You don't have to be......

A few days ago as I sat and thought about my walk with God, where I have been and where I am. I felt God revealed something to me. I have not kept it a secret as to how I feel about God and the grace that only HE can give. I have also not kept it a secret on how I feel about Christians (or what I like to call “religious people”). Tommy and I have both came to the conclusion that we are SICK of “church” people. If that statement offends you then, maybe you are a “church” person. Let me explain something to you on how I am feeling. First of all, I am not surprised as to why so man people are not going to church, not interested in church, or why they think the church is full of hypocrites. I am a believer, I attend church, and I feel the same way to an extent. You see, the world, as messed up as it is. It offers people something that the church does not offer. It offers, love, acceptance, and a level of tolerance that the church does not offer them. I am not saying that believers must compromise the Word of God, grow stagnant in their beliefs, or tolerate sin. What I am saying is that as believers we should take on sin, take on the sinner, and be their friends, not their enemies! See, for far to long, many Christians (religious people) have put themselves in their little boxes. They think they are perfect because they have “asked Jesus in their hearts” Okay, so what does that mean to you now that you have “asked him there”? Are you living like Jesus? Are you caring like Jesus? Are you doing whatever it takes to reach someone for Jesus? I recently heard a pastor speak about he did a burn out in the parking lot of his church in his car (he enjoys fast cars, etc.) and wouldn’t you know it... some of those Christians “religious people” got all offended by it. I mean, seriously, “How dare a pastor do such a thing?“ GOOD GRIEF! Those religious people did not see the big picture. You see someone videoed that pastor doing that burn out; they posted it on youtube. As a result of that video being on youtube, someone in Saudi Arabia watched that video, clicked the link that led to the church, and they watched 9 minutes of his sermon that week. An individual in a closed nation such as Saudi Arabia heard of Jesus love because that dare devil of a pastor doing a burn out in his church parking lot. I say, THANK GOD FOR THAT PASTOR!

I want to be clear again and say that I don’t think Christians should compromise the Word of God but at the same time I think we as believers have got to reach out to those who are lost and hurting. I think we have taken that scripture “we are in the world but not of the world” out of context sometimes. We have been studying the book of I Peter at our church and that is one thing I have really taken away from our study. We are foreigners and aliens in a land, we are in the world but not of the world but at the same time. We have been given a very special job, a job of reaching out to the lost. Of going out into the highways and byways and compelling them to come it. Now the next question is, how do we compel them to come in? Is it by throwing our overly religious attitudes, languages and for the most part man-made beliefs at them? NO!
I don’t then we should set out and intentionally live a life of sin, but at the same time we are not to cut ourselves off from the world and the people who are in it. We have to engage those around us. If we fill our lives full of “church people” and that is the only people we engage. Then who is engaging the sinner? What light are they seeing? Recently, I heard of a story of someone who is (in my opinion) a “religious” person. They thought that someone they knew should not have dinner with another couple because that couple has an occasional alcoholic beverage. They feel they were a bad example. WHAT? If it is that couples belief then I respect that. I can understand where alcohol can be an issue for some people; I do however think this couple should be honest with the other couple, have dinner, don’t drink and be done with it. Just like I think if that couple had a struggle with gambling then they should not go out to a casino, or if that couple is overweight, over eats, or struggles with an eating disorder, they probably shouldn’t go out to Krispy Kreme either. I do not feel that it s a “sin” to drink an occasional alcoholic beverage. I do think that is a sin to point out another person’s sin and choose to avoid them when you have sin in your on life. That is the entire problem with many Christians today, They are so blind to their own sin. Many Christians have put themselves above sin. To me, it almost seems as if they put themselves right up there with God. If this were the case, there would have been no need for Jesus. He would not have had to die that horrible death. There would be no need for an advocate through Him. I know that I am a sinner. I fall short daily. I have actually had people tell me that they live sin free. WHAT? Well, to those people I say, “I am praying for you”. I think the problem is that many over spiritual people sometimes get wrapped up in the visible sins, the sins that even the world will classify as sin, you know, THE BIG 10 or some other outward sin. But I say, to all of you who doubt that you have sin, look into your life. Do you worry? Are you afraid? Do you talk about your fellow brother or sister in Christ? Do you talk about your pastor or leadership? Do you talk about your leadership on your job? (It’s not just in the church, that you have to respect authority) Wives, are you submissive to your husband? Husbands do you love your wives as Christ loves the church? Children are you obeying your parents? Parents are you provoking your children to wrath? Do you spend the time with them that you should? Are you living a godly lifestyle in front of them? Do you spend time with God in prayer and scripture reading? Do you serve those around you? Do you serve in your church? Do you have compassion and love for those around you? Do you pay your tithe? Do you try to find ways to beat systems and break rules, find short cuts, etc.? Are you honest with others and yourself? Do you make other things your God or idol? Do you watch or listen to things that aren’t pure and holy? Do you openly criticize others to others around you? Do you criticize other pastors or churches for the way they do things? I could go on and on... Do any of these things stick out to you? Well, if they do, they should. We are all guilty at one time or another of all of these things. That is living in this fallen world. That is where God’s grace, love, and mercy come into action. We as believers have GOT TO GET INTO EXTENDING that same grace, love, and mercy to those we engage outside of the church.

I want to share this before I end this blog. I spent many years in ministry. I played the game. Some of you know the game... The game of CHURCH. The Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night prayer meetings, Tuesday night something at church, Wednesday night church, Thursday night something church, Friday preparing for something on Saturday at church. The vicious cycle never ended. For YEARS I did this. I now look back and see that I was like a hamster in one of those spinning wheels. I was spinning, and spinning, and spinning, and spinning and yet going NO WHERE! Other than reaching out to some parents of kids from the outside of the church or an occasional block party. I literally came in contact with no unbelievers unless they walked into the church. If we are all honest and really think about it, how many times are unbelievers walking into many of our churches? Not as often as they should. Because if they were, we would not see the decline that ALL denominations are seeing. We would not hear all of the talk of how church people are hypocrites. I for one agree with the statement. Not about all Christians but many of them. Most churches are full of church people. That is why people are looking for church in a different way. Church where they can feel loved, accepted, and valued no matter what. You know Jesus did that. He loved, accepted and valued everyone. He may not have agreed with their actions but he loved, accepted, and valued everyone. I want to be like him. You see for years I was always surround by believers. I was not fulfilling the “great commission” I thought I was doing EVERYTHING for God when in fact I was doing very little. I know that I planted seeds and I did see God move and work on many occasions but I now sit back and think of all the WHAT IF’S? I used to teach, preach, write, and spew constantly about being hungry and thirsty for more of Him. Don't get me wrong here, I do want to know him more, I want to grow more, I want to be more for him but I don’t have to be hungry or thirst for him any longer. I think what I was hungry for all those years was an emotional outward experience. What God wanted to give me was an inward experience. You see, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, God revealed something to me. I was reading and this scripture hit me like a ton of bricks from John 6:35. Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. If my ways align with his ways, and my thoughts align with his thoughts there is no need for me to be hungry or thirsty. He is always there to satisfy me. To meet my every need. I want to be a vessel that God works through that he can use that he can use to extend his love to others to let them know that they never have to hunger or thirst again.

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