Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who you Worship?

Who You Worship?

My last blog was about following God and not our denomations, or tradtions, and things of this nature that many get caught up in and miss the point of truly following God and being in a realtionship with Him.

It got me thinking even further on this issue and how so many times we base our  christianity on this type of mentality and even take it a step further.  Many times we get caught up following a certain preacher or denomination or church group to the point where we base our faith and judgement of other christians on whether they are like-minded like us.  When the Bible tells us to be "like-minded", this is not the type of like-minded it's talking about.

What I'm getting at is we tend to start worshipping our pastor or a certain preacher or teacher or authoer we like, or we take to other extreme: We look down or judge someone because they go to a certain church, or listen or read a certain preacher or author or speaker we don't agree with.

We don't have to agree with every preacher, author, singers, speakers, theology or doctrine to learn something from them, but at the same time, we need to use discernment and wisdom in hearing what they say. At the same time, we must become so in awe of them, we tend to put them in higher regard in our life than God.

I've been to churches and know people who go to certian churchers where all that comes out of their mouth is pastor this and pastor that, pastor said this, pastor did that, blah blah blah and speaking as a pastor/preacher I do not want to be put on that type of pedestal and if people are talking about me (good or bad haha) more than they are about God then I've failed or got too big an ego. We worship God not a man and certainly not a church group/denomination.

Also, I've noticed that sometimes we judge people based on what they read or who they listen to.  I was recently criticized because I quoted Joyce Meyers on fb(by more than one person even),  do I agree with everything Joyce Meyers says? No!  Do I agee with all of Joyce Meyers theology or doctrine? No!  However, that doesn't mean she doesn't have some good quotes, say some good things in books, or on the radio.   We need to stop being so legalistic and narrow-minded to think that we have so arrived that only speakers/authors/preachers from our church group/denomination are the only ones who are annointed/called/gifted etc....Some people will not even listen or read or hear what someone has to say if they do not line up with them theologically/doctrinally/ or even opinions.  People that is why God gives us discernment, I don't care who a person is we can learn from others even those we oppose or disagree with, if you  can't distguish that then in my opinion you aren't mature enough in your faith or too narrow in your mind. 

There are many out like Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen, Rick Warren, Max Lucado, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, John Hagee, Fred Craddock, to name a few that I may not agree with on every issue, topic, stance, including doctrine, theology, social issues, or scripture, but not everyone is a heretic, false teacher, or of the devil who doesn't line up or agree with me, and honestly none of these mentioned has ever asked my opinion?  What's up with that?

Ok, seriously though my thought today is simple. I worship God. The God!  The great I AM.  I can only saved today because of Jesus Christ and I have the gift of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I am a sinner saved by grace.   It is my own personal responsibility to grow and mature my faith, to guard my heart, learn and grow in God's Word and Will.   But, no matter where I go to church, what I preach or teach about God, or who's books I read, or speakers I listen to, or preachers I hear, it is my job to use Godly wisdom and discernment, and not dismiss what someone has to offer or say because they don't go to "my" church" or  believe "like me" or whatever excuses we use to dismiss them or judge others who listen, hear, or read them.  I know there are false teachers out there, but if you're mature in your faith, you should be able to discern that with God's help.

Don't miss out on opportunities to learn, grow, and be challenged by others, and sometimes being able to listen to someone we don't agree or moves us  out of our comfort zone is what makes us grow and mature.    Worship God, not your pastor or your church!  But at the same time worship God and be willing to use discernment when hearing others and do not judge or criticize those who think or see differently than you. 

I Corinthians 3:1-9
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Follow God

Follow God

Sounds simple doesn't it?  Follow God.  Many claim to follow God but their lifestyles, actioins, or fruit their life is producing(or not producing) speaks otherwise, but what about the other side of that coin?  What about those who claim to be following God but in reality they are just really following a tradition, or the way they were raised, or a denomination, or a church sect/group, or following a bible version, or a preacher/pastor, or something else?

Yes, many people claim to be following God, but in reality they are really focused on other things besides God.  It more people were following God, christians would get along better, churches wouldn't split, we wouldn't have so many denominations or church groups, and we most certainly wouldn't get all caught up on personal agendas, subjects, and topics.

Do you truly worship God or are you more a follower of the church you attend or the name on the sign?  Do you care more about hot button topics or things you can argue about and put down others, or do you truly love with the love of Christ?  The only time I ever saw Jesus ugly with people was the crooks in the temple and with the legalistic pharisees all who were supposed to be religious, but were more selfish than selfless and more about their agenda or rituals or egos than serving God.

I'm not here to argue one church group/denomination over the others, nor am I here to argue one type of bible version, praise & worship music style, or any other topic you can think of that causes divisions, splits, factions, and disssension in the church.  I'm not trying to argue at all, what I am doing it trying to urge everyone reading this devotional blog today to do their own part to follow God and make following God their first priority.

It's ok to have convictions and prefernces and opinions, but know enough about the bible to know the difference between facts and fiction or common sense or ignroance.  Don't push or bind your feelings or opinions, preferences or convictions on others, as a matter of fact, if your faith is based on the way you were taught or raised, or the church you grew up in and not God and His Word based on your own personal walk with God and your own reading, study, and research, you might want to do a little soul searching today and ask yourself why you believe what you believe? Why do you go to church where you go?  Why do you feel strongly about certain things and not about others? 

So many people will carry on about abortion, gay rights, worship music, bible versions, speaking in tongues, end of times, denominationalism, and all sorts of topics and things, yet they never invite anyone to church, never share their faith, never take time to read their bible regularly, or use their gifts serving God through the local church or out in the community.  We need to get our priorities in line.  Follow God.  Let God's spirit lead and guide you as you pray, study, mature, and grow, and if he gives you a passion for something that is fine, but be careful that you do not become narrow-minded, dogmatic, self-absorbed, or led astray by the devil, yes even the devil's biggest weapons are christians.

Follow God. Not man, not a denomination, not a movement, not a name, not an upbringing, and not a tradtion.  Follow God.

Romans 15:5-6(NIV)
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Same Team

Same Team

I am shocked and not so shocked at the same time at the attitude and behavior of some christians, churches, and preachers when it comes to judging, condemning, or bad-mouthing other christians or churches. 

I personally have felt this attack from others because I didn't go to their "kind" of church,  agree with certain "beliefs" they hold to, or didn't line up with their religious circle or viewpoint.  It makes me angry and sad at the same time.

There is a saying in churches of "shooting our wounded" or even in the military about "collateral damage" where some of our own troops may get killed or injured by friendly fire or our own doing.  I think this is both wrong and not Christ-like.

Whether you are an individual christian, a member of a certain church, or even a Minister we do not have any biblical authority or authority from God to condemn, belittle, put down, argue, or judge what another christian, church, or pastor believes. 

We may have an obligation in our churches to strive to preach the truth in love (eph 4:15), and also scripture tells us to use God's word to correct, rebuke, and teach (2 Tim 4:2), but we many take this overboard and begin in my opinion becoming modern day pharisees making being a christians about being a part of a certain church group/denomination or you have to have certain beliefs or opinions or I can't fellowship with you or I won't recognize you as a "real" christian.

I am personally tired and frustrated by all the spiritual ignorance that is going on in our world today and people doing it  in the name of God.  People worship their denomination, or personal views, or a bible version, or a preacher, or personal doctrine more than they worship  our Lord.  What's up with that?

There are people out there that if you don't use a certain bible version  then you are a heretic, worldy, ignorant, stupid, and don't know the truth. There are those out there that if you aren't a member of their church group or denomination, you aren't really a true or real christian and you are being misled and following man and not God.  There are those out there who have such narrow views of God, His word, and faith that if you do not agree with their view on a certain topic like baptism, eternal security, worship, music, bible version, communion, speaking in tongue, spiritual gifts, etc..then you aren't really a good christian or you aren't as spiritual as them or are misled or confused.

I agree there are certain things in the Bible that are clear, in writing, and clear instructions of what God expects of His church and followers, however there are also many things in God's word where we as individuals have liberty or freedom.  This is hard for many to accept because they weren't "raised" that way or "taught" that way.  They were raised or taught one way and any other way is wrong, a sin, or blasphemy.  We as indivuals are responsible to read and study God's word.

I am not tyring to change anyone today, but I am trying to open our minds this morning, that we are hurting God and hurting the church and our faith if/when we are judgemental, dogmatic, militant, or harsh with our faith, especially toward others who are christians or go to different churches or maybe share different opinions about certain topics/subjects than us.  I think that type of behavior and attitude is way more wrong than what me or you believe about worship music, bible versions, or what to wear to church, or what I believe about the second coming.

I think they key for everyone is to ask ourselves about any issue is  "Is this a salvation issue"?  meaning if I believe this or practice this will it effect my salvation?  Or we need to ask ourselves "Is this Kingdom bearing"?  Meaning is this really a place for liberty, freedom, or personal conviction or is this a command from God.  I know it's hard for many of us to a accept or change our attitude and thoughts and ways that we've practice for ages, but I don't care how long you've been a christian, how long you've been preaching, or how long you've been a member of a certain church,  if you are putting down, belittling, name calling, or judging others to defend "your" position, faith, or church then you are nothing more than a bully, a trouble-maker, and causing division and dissension in the church body as a whole, and you are the one who is ignorant, misled, or missing the truth.

Jesus never treated people that way,  the only time Jesus was really harsh was to the ignorant, self-centered, arrogant Religious leaders and Pharisess due mostly to their attitude and self-proclaimed spiritual authority.

I am not saying we all compromise our beliefs or convictions, but what I am suggesting today is that we do not put down, look down, or not assoicated with other christians or churches simply because they don't share the exact same viewpoint, convictions, or opinions as me.  We do not have to agree on every issue to fellowship, accept on another, or worship together.   

I think we need to practice a lot more grace, respect, and unity with those churches and christians who may not share all the same practices, beliefs, views, or opinions that I may share.  If you feel convicted to about a bible version, or worship style, or some other issue, than do not  bind that on others.  Would you want someone to do you that way.  Also understand just becuase you have a conviction or belief about something doesn't mean you are correct or have authority to bind that on others.  Exericse love with others.  Respect their views.  It's not your job or place to always "correct"
 or "challenge" everyone and when you think you are doing them a favor, you really are just making them not want to be around you or listen to you because many times people who try to "correct' others in "error" usually do more damage than good.

We are on the same team, Yes!  Same Team!  You might not like it or agree with it, but we serve the same Lord.  We may choose to use a different bible version(which isn't changing God's word) simply a different translation(do some research) or we may choose to sing songs of worship differntly (contemporary worship, traditional hymn worship, instruments or no instruments), and we may go to churches that have different names on the sign/door, and we all may share diffrent views on a variety of topics in the bible(and they are endless it seems), but that doesn't make me or you less or more of a christian, righter or wronger(I just made up those words), or it doesn't make you or me more or less spiritual.

Come on people,  treat other christians with love and respect even when you disagree.  We are an example to the outside world and why in the world would a lost, unsaved, un-churches person ever want to go to church or follow Jesus if his current followers treat each other this way or can't get along or fight or put each other down?  We are being a bad example.  I would rather be righteous than right anyday.  I would rather agree to disagree than argue and fight and put a wedge between me and a bother, and I certainly do not have any authority from God to claim a person a christian or not if they do not line up with my own personal faith.

Let's start working together, getting along, respecting others differences, and stop focusing on trying to prove others wrong, and start focusing on reaching the lost, building up the church body, and doing our part to get along with others and love others.  I'm at a point in my life where I am tired of fighting and listening to other christians constantly pushing their message with hate and ignorance and juding others and putting them down.  I have no room in my life for people like this, if you don't accept me because I don't agree with you or line up with your thinking, then that is your problem and loss.  I for one will never put someone down or not fellowship with them or judge them not a christian because they don't agree with me or believe exactly as I do and I hope you will do the same.  Whether you like it or accept it, doesn't change the fact that we are on the SAME TEAM!

Romans 12:18(NIV)
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Missing Out

Missing Out

Maybe your've heard the saying "missing the forest for the trees"   it means being overly concerned with the details, but not understanding the whole situaiton.   How many times do we do this?

It's not saying details are not important, but when we are consumed or focuse way too much of our attention on details, we miss other things.

Reminds me of the story in the bible of sisters Martha and Mary when Jesus came to visit them. (Luke 10:38-42) Martha was busy doing all the preparations and worrying about Jesus visiting and having guests, but instead of helping with preparations Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus and when Martha complained to Jesus, Jesus corrected Martha's atttitude by saying Mary chose what was better.

It's a great little story of how we get all caught up, worried, and distracted by things, and we end up missing the point, or not enjoying what we should be enjoying, or we give others a hard time who don't share our same attittude, which is wrong in the first place.

How many times have we "missed the forest for the trees?"  We don't enjoy the time or place we are or what's going on because we are worried or distracted by other things?  How many times do we worry about things that don't matter in church or in our faith and condemn or judge others who don't believe or agree with us, yet we are the ones who is overfocusing on details and not understanding the reality of the situation.

How many times do we stay busy, too busy, always busy and never take time to relax or enjoy company, or a church event, or a party or something, and we get mad because everyone else is relaxing and havng fun and "we're doing all the work."  I got news for ya, you are the one missing out.

Details are impoprtant, but they should not overide what's really imporant.  Sure they're are commands and things in the Bible to tell us how to live and how Christians should act, worship, etc...but so many times we become legalistic or narrow-minded about issues or subjects that don't even matter to God, they only matter to us, I think God would say, "you're missing the forest for the trees".  His word does matter, but most of the topics and things that christians and churches argue over aren't salvation or doctrinal issues, they are prefernces and opinions that don't really matter.

I think so many times in our personal lives we miss time with family and friends and taking time to rest and relax and enjoy life or lifes events because we won't allow ourselves to relax or take a break or enjoy them.  Take a chill pill, slow down, and enjoy being in the forest and stop focusing on certain trees.

Luke 10:41-42(niv)
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”