Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Teachable

Teachable

One of the things I have noticed in my years working in church ministry is that you have folks who have been Christians for many years, but somewhere along the lines they stopped growing, maturing, or being teachable.  What is teachable? It's a willingness to listen, learn, and grow.

If you've ever taught a class as a teacher in the school system, Sunday School, or some other setting you know what it's like to have students who don't listen and who have no desire to learn.  It can be frustrating for the teacher, but it's also sad for the student because they are missing out on learning, growing, developing, or changing for the better.

It would seem that those who are Christians and saved would have a desire to constantly want to learn and grow in their faith and knowledge of God and His Word, but like anything many folks who are Christians can get stuck in ruts, go through the motions, lose their desire, become distracted, or even get hard-hearted. 

God's desire for us who surrender our lives to Him in salvation is to totally surrender to Him and turn our lives over to Him, but also as we began our Christian Faith journey, He also wants us to be transformed!  Our lives need to change to become more like Christ over time through His Word, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, bible Study, service, worship, and other avenues.  But for many Christians, they get caught up in the routines of "church" and traditions and busy with life and they stop growing, become set in their ways, become stagnant in faith, or stop being transformed or surrendering their will to God and when that happens we become selfish and self-focused or absorbed and stop being teachable.

We must wake up every day and surrender our will to God. We must daily take up our cross and follow God and keep our eyes, ears, minds, and especially hearts open to God's leading and teaching.  We must seek daily to be transformed and willing and desire to want to grow in our faith, grow in our knowledge of God's Word, grow in our service, grow in our worship, and grow in our giving.  We have a human nature that is sinful, easily forgets, and tends to want to go back to "self" and not God and if we don't strive to be teachable and open to God's leading on a daily basis, we are going to continue to be led by bad habits, sins, bad attitudes, narrow mind-sets, be inward focused, or let emotions, feelings, or personalities rule us instead of being ruled by God.

I want to encourage you today to never stop being teachable. Whether it's in your personal reading or study of God's Word, a daily devotional time, listening to a sermon, or sitting in a bible class or Sunday School, we truly open to learning and applying the things you learn to your life so you can be daily renewed, transformed, and surrender to the will of God.  Satan, the World, and your own flesh will never stop fighting for your attention, to distract you from God, and to use you to hurt the church. 

Let us all be willing, humble, and open to God's teaching so that we never stop learning, growing, maturing, and being used by God.

Romans 12:2(NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Relevant

*sorry it's been a few weeks since my last blog/devotional been busy

Relevant

When you hear that word what does it mean to you? It may mean keeping up with the times or relating to people on their level. The dictionary defines it as closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.  My question for me and you is as Christians and as church bodies are we being relevant to our culture or the times we live in with the message of Jesus? Are we making Jesus relevant in today's world? Are we making a gospel message than never changes but finding ways to stay relevant to an ever-changing world and culture?

These are tough questions, but as I talk to people and discover many churches are not being relevant. They refuse to change, they refuse to adapt, or they are blind or na├»ve to the fact that their church is dying and they don't know why?  Reason. They stopped being relevant.

Though we'd all like to think that Jesus went to church in the 1950's and 60's and sung out of the red hymnals and loved southern gospel music and was KJV only, the truth of the matter is all those issues are just issues and nothing to do with who God is and what He has to offer the lost world around us.

The truth is, if we as Christians and a church don't strive to remain relevant we are going to lose generations of people because we'd rather be set in our ways, worship our traditions, and do things the way we've always done them and for what? So we enjoy church? So we don't lose our identity? So we have things our way?  News Flash:  Church is God's body and it's for Him, our identity should be in Christ not the songs we sing or the traditions we perform, and everything should be about God's way and not our way when it comes to what we do in church.

We have extremes, where people/churches are afraid to make changes because they've been taught to be so scared of God and God damning them to hell if they change anything,  others church has become a social club where we enjoy the fellowship and motions we go through, so to change that would in their minds "change church or change God", and then there are those who are just spiritually lazy and have no vision and no desire to do the work to help the church grow and fulfill the great commission of reaching the lost and making disciples.

The bottom line is we as Christians and we as the CHURCH must keep the message of the Gospel the same, but we must constantly evaluate and change our methods, our programs, and the way we share that message because we live in a world than is ever-changing, with people who are ever-changing, and a culture that is ever-changing. And we wonder why our churches are not growing, no one is coming, and no one wants to come?

If I were to go be a missionary in China, I would not go over there with the attitude I'm going to talk American and I'm going to have a traditional American church service and do things the way they do them in my state and city and then expect Chinese people to flock to my church and God.  Why? Because when you go to be a missionary somewhere like China, you learn to speak their language, you learn their culture, and you learn to adapt to their culture, and relate to them in a way they will be open to the message of the gospel. So, I don't understand why our churches cannot or will not do that in our places where we are today?  The message of Jesus Christ may be over 2000 years old, but that doesn't mean our churches have to stay in the past or continue to do programs, traditions, or practices that are not longer effective, relevant, or working.

If we love Jesus and we love His church, then our desire should be to please Him, Obey Him, and Worship Him. Too many I think worship tradition, worship their church, and worship their routines more than they do God.  It's time we realize church is not about our comfort or about our preferences or agendas, and it's about God.  It's about reaching lost people who do not know God and it's about taking those lost and helping them get saved and when they do, we disciple them so they will grow and mature in their faith and be productive Christians serving the Lord.

Are you relevant? Is your church relevant? Are you making a difference for God today? In your world today? In your town today?  In your culture today? We need to get over the fact if it's OK to change our services, change our programming, and change the way we do things in order to be relevant for God. It's not a sin to update or change things in order to better worship, serve, or evangelize.  It's not a sin to try new things and do away with old ways that are not working any longer and haven't for a long time.

I believe that we as individuals and as church members and leaders are all going to be held accountable for our roles in holding the church back, hurting the church, or not moving the gospel message forward and keeping it relevant.  Many Jews, the Pharisees , and religious leaders all fought Jesus and Paul and others when they tried to change the way they'd done things for century and do away with the Old Law and start the new law through Jesus. We may face resistance, but I'd rather make a few people mad because they don't get their way than make God mad.  Be Relevant. Stay Relevant. Make a difference for the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23(NKJV)
 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; ...


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Church Police 2

Church Police 2


There was really so much to cover under this topic last week I didn't feel I could get everything in and still wrote a long article, so I wanted to finish my thoughts on this subject this week.  Now, this won't be like Police Academy and have several sequels, but this is still a topic that is dividing church and Christians and in the mean time the great commission and salvation issues get ignored by we argue, fight, and belittle amongst ourselves.

The truth is no one Christian, church group, or denomination has cornered the market of doing everything correct, if that were the case there wouldn't be so many different splits of Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and some of the others church groups and movements. 

The truth also is that many Christians and church groups do many things correct as far as doctrine, theology, etc...but certain individual Christians, movements, or church groups still take it too far when they label others as heretics, false prophets, liberals, sodomites, un-saved, or mis-lead because someone may see, practice, or hold different views or convictions about different things.

First of all, I may have one view of the end of times and you may hold a different view of the end of times, but does that mean either of us is less of a Christian, a moron, or heretic?  Hardly.  You see most church groups or Christians have basic doctrinal stances that make up their belief system as a group (virgin birth of Jesus, the Trinity, the Bible being inspired Word of God, Jesus being son of God, & Jesus is the only way to Salvation to name a few). There are things that are "salvation issues" meaning, if I don't believe Jesus was born of a virgin or I don't believe God inspired the Bible as His Word then we may have an issue over salvation.

However, most mainline Christians and church groups share most of these basic doctrinal/salvation issues. The problem comes when we start making "other issues" into salvation issues.  Being a member at a church of God or a church of Nazarene isn't a "salvation" issue.  Using contemporary or traditional music in worship is not a "salvation" issue.  Using a King James Bible or a New American Standard Bible is not a "salvation" issue, not being in a certain denomination is not a "salvation" issue, your views on social drinking or abstaining from alcohol is not  a "salvation" issue, your view or eternity security, gifts of the spirit, or end of times are not "salvation" issues.

Do you see how easy it is for us to start trying to police others who are different than us? Then we start making salvation issues out of every issue and topic that we don't agree with. While God desires us to be people of the Book and study to show ourselves approved and correctly handle His Word, it is not a license to go around claiming people false prophets, non-Christians, heretics, or liberals because they do not line up with the way I was raised, taught, or choose to worship God.

I can hold different convictions than you or different views of certain scriptural topics than you without arrogantly or judgmentally trying belittle or separate you from the fold.  God desires us to be Unified in the body, not Uniform.  We can agree on the issues that are related to our salvation without making every issue or topic that comes along an issue of salvation or a test of fellowship.  God wants us to reverently fear Him, but at the same times does not want us to serve Him with a fear of going to Hell every time we sin, or may have a different take on certain biblical subjects.

I can worship with old or new music, because worship is about the heart, not the style or whether you use no instruments or 10 instruments, but I don't or can't bind that same preference on someone who feels convicted to worship without instruments or only likes the newer music.  I  can use an NIV bible or a NKJV bible, but if someone feels they can only use a KJV than I respect that, but also expect that same respect back, and not to be treated like I'm ignorant, mis-informed, or uneducated.  I may choose to worship at the Christian Church or the Baptist Church, but that doesn't not mean I can't fellowship, worship, or enjoy learning along side someone who attends a different church group than me, if we agree on the basic doctrines of Jesus being the son of God, the bible being inspired, and Jesus being the only way to God and salvation, and I think we can all continue to learn and grow in our faith and in our learning of God's Word.

It's funny I never see any scripture in the Bible where God tells us or told others to not fellowship with someone based on music styles, denominational ties, or things of that nature. It was always those who purposely sinned or kept sinning or the false prophets were those who were bringing in pagan or false religion gods. However, there were issues because of jews and gentile Christians and Christians who were roman or greek because of cultural issues, they divided and God used Paul and Peter and others to encourage them to be unified and keep focused on the issues that mattered. I encourage us all to do the same.  Let God police the church and Christians and let us simply strive to Love God, Love others, and to fulfill the Great Commission or Reaching the Lost and Making Disciples, if we are doing that, we're not going to have time to argue, debate, and spend our energy trying to prove other Christians or church groups wrong, we'll be about the Father's Business.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Friday, November 01, 2013

Church Police

Church Police

In my experience as a Christian and Preacher, you would think that any disagreements, arguments, or debates I'd have would be with the non-Christian, the atheist, or those from other religions, but not true. It seems anytime I've had a disagreement with someone over Christianity it is always a fundamental or legalistic Christian who feels it's their mission and life's work to be God's police to the world. 

These types of people make it their personal mission in life to prove others wrong, be right, argue, debate, belittle, name-call, and look down on those who do not line up with them whether doctrinally, theologically, denominationally, or other church or faith issues.  It's a mind-set of either you are for me or against me.  You either agree with me or you are a liberal, heretic, sodomite, watered-down, ignorant, stupid, (add you own description here), I've been called a lot.  The sad thing is I don't like to argue(really!), but some folks can't seem to understand that, their whole faith system is made up of proving others wrong, being right, and making a point to "police" Christians.

I do agree that God wants us to preach "Truth" and He wants us to "correctly" handle His Word, and He wants us to not be afraid to stand up for our faith or convictions, however, in all the scripture I read I do not se anywhere where God commands or endorses this militant, dogmatic, legalistic, or sinful style of treatment of others, as a matter of fact, I see Jesus spending a lot of time condemning this type of behavior and attitudes from the Pharisees and religious leaders in the gospels and also Apostle Paul doing the same in the Book of Acts.

The truth is you can know the truth, preach the truth, and share the truth, but if you don't do it with a loving heart and attitude, I think you do more damage than good.   This type of preaching Hell, Fire, and Brimstone, Old Fashioned, Hardcore guilt-driven, hate fueled, argumentative, arrogant-style of behavior does not lead people to the truth or grace of Christ, but repels people from God and church.

It seems we live in a world where many folks would rather worship their traditions, their denominations, or their "styles" than worshipping and serving Jesus Christ.  The Bible teaches we will be known by our "fruit" (Matthew 7:16) not by our being a jerk.  Scripture also teaches people will know we are Christians by our love(John 13:35) not by our knowledge or display of finger pointing skills.

I am all for exposing error and sin.  I am not preaching or teaching anything goes, we need boundaries of truth from God's Word, but to be honest most of the things people debate, argue, and fight over with other Christians, are not essentials to salvation, or are not a salvation issues, meaning it has nothing to do with our salvation or our salvation is not in question.  Yet, we make many issues/topics a test of fellowship(we refuse to fellowship with others who don't agree with us on every issue/topic), or we make it a separation of saying I am right and they are wrong, so I am saved and they are not.  Look at the things we divide and argue over?  Bible versions, church musical styles, dress codes, church names, traditions, views on issues like eternal security or end of times, etc...

We seldom see arguments of  God's deity, or trinity, or virgin birth, or Jesus being the ONLY way to God for Salvation, the inspiration of the Bible, etc...we argue over stupid things that we've been raised or brain-washed to believe and that does more damage to the church and Christianity when Christians fight, name-call, belittle, and argue over who is more right, or has better grasp on "truth", or things of this nature.

I think we need to work out our own salvation.  We need to love God and love others the way God loves them. I think we need to study God's Word on a regular basis, pray day and talk to God, be guided by the Holy Spirit, and be involved in worship, service, and giving in our local church and stop majoring in minors and stop making everything a salvation issue.

We have lost common sense in our lives when we make it our soul purpose in life to police other Christians or churches and not honor God with our actions and attitudes.  We are not honoring or representing God when we spend our time focus on our differences and not on what we have in common, which is of far greater importance. Whether you are scared you're going to hell, or scared you're going to be wrong, or whatever, it's time to realize God did not call us to be the police, watchdog, or judge of the world, but to simply be a Christ-follower, a church body part, and fulfill the great commission and be disciples. Honor God by loving others and sharing truth in love.

Ephesians 4:1b-3(NIV)

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Your Christianity

Your Christianity


What defines your faith in God? Do you attend church services, when you feel like it? Do you call yourself a Christians because your not muslim or jewish or Mormon?  Did you ask Jesus into your heart or get baptized one time at camp or a service because you were scared you'd go to hell?  Do you have a personal and real relationship with God or just a bunch of religious practices or motions you go through?

There is a lot of definitions out there to define a lot of people's "faith", but very few I think seem to grasp the idea that God truly wants a personal relationship with us and not just our "good deeds" or us going through some sort of religious motions.  He doesn't want us using His grace as  "get out of jail" free card, where we want to be "saved" just so we won't go to hell. 

A relationship with God is like any other relationship, you have to be committed to it, or it's going to suffer, be a joke, or one-sided.  I personally don't feel any person can save I'm a Christian, I'm saved by the blood of Jesus, and yet they are not consistent in their relationship with God, by not being faithful in their attendance, service, giving, and time spent with God. 

I am not preaching works, nor am I preaching church attendance or involvement saves you, but if you are in a committed relationship with someone, you spend time with them consistently and faithfully, do you not? What does that mean? It means I'm gonna spend time with God in His Word(Bible) and in conversation(prayer). It means I'm gonna  serve Him and give to Him because I love Him and want to please Him not because I want something in return, or I want to look good, brown nose, or think I can buy my salvation. 

Too many people out there want the benefits of Heaven and Salvation, but continue to want to live like Hell and for this world.  If you've accepted Jesus as your Savior and repented of your sins and asked him to save you and you've been baptized, then you have said to God at one time or another I'm In!  I want to be saved and I want to live for you or be in a relationship with you.  But, many times, people get saved or baptized and they think they are done, they did what they were supposed to do, they don't have to come to church, serve or give in church, or use their time and abilities for God.

I want to encourage you to get serious about your "Christianity" are you really saved? Are you really committed to this relationship with God?  I cannot say I love my wife and kids and then never see them, never spend time with them, never come home, or put other things in front of them, and leave them an afterthought.  Too many people want the benefits of marriage and family without fulfilling their commitment as a spouse and parent, and likewise too many people want to say they are saved and a Christian, yet don't serve, give, or worship regularly, and if they are not doing that, I would bet greatly they are not reading their bibles, praying, or spending any time with God to grow and mature their relationship with Him.

I want to encourage you to take your faith seriously.  Understand that the salvation and forgiveness of our sins may be once and for all through Jesus, but that doesn't mean our Christianity should be a one time confession, emotion, or feeling to make us feel good so we don't think we're going to hell and then we can just go back to putting our self and the world first and living however we want and neglecting our relationship to God and to His church body.

If you're going to be in a relationship with God, act like it, be committed, be faithful, and make efforts to grow and nurture that relationship, it's a relationship, not a free pass to heaven to avoid hell.  There is not straddling the fence, or playing for both teams, so pick a side and pick who you want a relationship with God or the world and I hope and pray you will choose God and remain faithful. We all have to work at it, like any relationship, but it's up to us to make the effort, learn from our failures, and not give up, but keep working on it.  Making an effort is the key.

Mark 12:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Monday, September 23, 2013

Urgency

Urgency


There are a lot of things we consider to be urgent! We got to get out kids to practice on time, we can't be late for work, I'm sick I need to go to ER, or things of this nature.  As a matter of fact, we live in a society of instant gratification, and there's an urgency to get our food fast, our groceries fast, and anything we order fast.  But, what about our faith? What about our Witness? What about seeking and saving the lost and making disciples? Where is our sense of urgency?

At some point if you're a Christian you made a commitment to Christ, what happened? You treat church attendance and service like an option, you place so many personal hobbies and activities above your faith walk, and God gets shoved to the back of your life until he's an optional afterthought if I get in a bind and need something.  There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

If you remember, the reason you got saved was so that you could have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The hope of Heaven. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness of Sin. Hope of eternity.  There was a time in your life where you realized you needed Jesus and His Church.  You need both.  But, what happened? Did you forget? Did your life get busy? Did your crisis end and you no longer needed God?  Did the newness wear off?  I don't know your situation, but we should never get tired, bored, complacent, or too busy for God, and we never should make anything a priority over our relationship with God and our service through His Church Body.

If you're saved you should want to go to church, serve God through the church, and you most certainly should want to be see lost people saved, and new Christians become fully devoted disciples(followers) of Jesus Christ.   Many Christians and churches have lost their sense of urgency when it comes to our own faith and also to fulfilling the great commission or reaching the lost who don't know Jesus and helping make them into disciples.

Eternity is at stake.  Salvation hangs in the balance. Both yours and those who need to hear, see, and learn about Jesus.  It's time that we take our faith a lot more serious and start having a sense of urgency about growing in our faith and reaching out to those who don't know God.  If we do not take our own faith serious, how are we ever going to care about or reach out to those who are lost and going to spend eternity without God if we don't care about our own selves, let alone them?

One thing I know as a Pastor, I cannot make people come to church, I cannot make people serve in the church, I cannot make people invite their family and friends to church, and I cannot save people.  We need Christians to start taking their faith serious and until they do, they are not going to see a need to reach out to others if they don't even care about their own salvation or the salvation of their families.

We will run out kids to ballgames 6 nights a week, we'll drive hours to go to a concert, we'll even do something nice or kind for a neighbor that is not convenient, but then we can't bring our kids or family to church on a regular basis? We can't invite our co-workers or neighbors to church? We can't offer someone a ride to church? We can be a light or witness in our communities? I think we call can do better.

I pray today that each of you reading this blog will find a sense of urgency for your own salvation. I pray that you will discover a sense of urgency for people who are lost and going to hell unless people like you and me share our faith and invite them to church and to know Jesus. We need to develop a sense of urgency to see Christians become fully-devoted disciples and help people in their faith journey to grow.  Whether we see it or not, there is an urgent need for Jesus. We do not know the hour or day or His return and we always need to be ready.

Ecclesiastes 9:12a(NIV)
"Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Intentional

Intentional
Proverbs 19:21(NIV)
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it it the  Lord’s purpose that prevails.
What does it mean to be intentional? How many times when you were a kid and you got in a fight with a sibling or friend and you said, "you did that on purpose" saying they cheated or hit you or tried to do something on purpose.  Well purpose is intent. and Being intentional is doing something on purpose.

Of course, I'm not talking about cheating, or hitting, or hurting others, I'm talking about doing good and serving God by doing things with purpose and on purpose. I am talking about being intentional in the way you life your life, treat people, act, your attitude, your behavior, lifestyle, etc...are your purposely striving to live a life that reflects God? Do you represent God by the way you treat others? Do you intentionally make an effort to try and serve God by serving others?

As Christians and as church members, we need to "Be Intentional" with how we live our lives on a day to day basis.  We need to "Be Intentional" with how we treat others because we represent God on this earth.  People need to see Jesus and His love through us and how we serve them and treat them.  Do you understand what I mean?  

Too many of us just go through life caught up on our own lives, schedules, problems, and agendas and do not make any effort to make a difference for God. Do we not realize that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, that you make a commitment not only to accept Him, but to live for Him, and living for Him means we grow in our faith, and we take on the responsibility to represent Him in this world. We will grow in our abilities and talents so that we can serve Him. Being a Christian means we are part of His Church, which is His spiritual body, and we are a body part, which means we serve a purpose in a specific way in the body of Christ(the church).  That means, we live and serve intentionally trying to please God, worship God, honor God, bring Him glory, and most of all maybe share that Love and Hope that Christ offers to others.

I want to encourage you today to start living "Intentionally". Meaning you and me are going to make an effort to do things for God "on purpose"!  We are going to make an effort to serve God in the local church and find ways at our job, schools, and other places where we can purposely make a difference for God or "be intentional" about our faith so that others may be intrigued, curious, or impressed with our devotion to God, and  just maybe may want what God has to offer. 

Be Intentional everyday for God in your life.  You are His representative. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Could it be me?

Could it be me?
Max Lucado shares this story in his book "Facing Your Giants":
In a concentration camp, a guard announced a shovel was missing. Screaming at the men, he kept insisting someone had stolen it.  He shouldered his rifle, ready to kill one prisoner at a time until a confession was made. As the story continues, a Scottish soldier broke ranks, stood stiffly at attention, and said, “I did it.”  The guard killed the man. As they returned to camp, the shovels were counted. The guard had made a mistake.  No shovel was missing after all.
Now Max was using this story to illustrate Jesus taking the blame for our sins, but I want to approach it from another angle.  The angle of the guard. The guard thought someone stole the shovel and all along it wasn't missing. We are guilty many times of blaming others for our shortcomings or mistakes.  Sort of like us blaming your spouse for moving your keys when we lose them only to find them in our coat pocket or blaming your kids for forgetting to turn off a light, when it was you  who forgot.

There are dying and divided churches all over this country full over well-meaning people who won't let go of control or reigns of the leadership in the church, or not so well-meaning christians who hinder, hurts, or hold the church back with their legalism, traditions, set in the ways mentality, and they fight and resist any changes because they think those things hurt the church, when in reality, they are the ones who are hurting the church by their refusal to move aside, let go, or cooperate.
Whether it's well meaning or not, is not the issue, good intentions and bad intentions still end up with the same result when the are wrong or based on selfishness, stubbornness, ignorance, or controlling ways.  I can do the wrong thing with the best of intentions and it's still wrong. I can do something the same way for 40 years and have been doing it wrong 40 years, or I can do something that works for awhile, but eventually it stops working and it needs fixed or change, but I refuse and cause more damage, sort of like driving on a car with bald tires for months after they should have been replaced until you finally end up wrecking your car or having a blow-out that cause damage to your vehicle.
We have to take a good hard, honest , & sincere look at ourselves and ask ourselves some difficult questions:  Am I holding the church hostage when I don't get my way? Am I keeping the church from growing by not allowing new people to serve? Am I hurting the church by continuing to lead when I'm not long willing, able, or equipped to lead?  Am I hindering the the church from growing by being rude, selfish, or judgmental of others and running them off from the church?  Could it be me when I keep blaming others or making excuses to why the church isn't growing or healthy?
So many times we are so self-unaware, even with good intentions we still be doing the wrong things.  We want to live in the past, hold onto the past, or worship our preferences and traditions over God working and moving in our church and lives.  If we are part of the problem, we need to realize that we are and either change our attitude, our hearts, our vision, our motives, or our ways or we need to be mature enough to be willing to follow others or simply move out of the way so others can do what God has  called them to do. There also may be cases where we need to repent and ask for forgiveness for hindering, hurting, or holding God's church back.
When you have to fight to maintain control, or get your way, or go behind the scenes to make things happen in order to get your way or keep control whether in a job, on a team, in a relationship, and especially in a church, it's just plan wrong, and even more I think it's sin.  
I've always heard if you think everyone else around you is crazy and your the only sane person, chances are you are the crazy one.  Same goes for church, when you think other people are always the problem or blame in the church for it not growing or reaching it's potential, chances are you may be part of the problem.   So you need to change or get out of the way so that God can move and work in His people  to build His kingdom of reaching the lost and helping members grow and mature in their faith(making disciples).   Changes isn't wrong, keeping up with times isn't a sin, and trying new things of doing things a different way isn't evil as long as it's biblical and about obeying God.
How great could our local churches be, if good leaders would lead, bad leaders would resign and let good leaders lead, if certain people didn't try to run the church and instead let God do the running, it's His job anyway, and just were a willing servant ready to serve.  How much could a church accomplish in the local community if the members all worked together to help the church and not hurt it, to hold up one another instead of holding the church hostage so they can continue to have control, or if they moved out of the way or moved to an attitude of serving others and God instead of hindering the work that God was trying to do their in their local body?   
Remember in the OT when King David had an affair with Bathsheba and then she got pregnant and David had her husband Uriah killed so that he could cover it up? And God sent Nathan to confront David and this is what Nathan said to David:
2 Samuel 12:4-6(NIV)“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
David was angered at the story and the treatment of the people in the story, until He realized Nathan was talking about Him and He did the same thing as the rich man in the story.  We like David need to repent of our sins, accept responsibility for our actions and attitudes and change our hearts so that we can serve God not ourselves. Don't be the reason the church is dying, dwindling, dividing, or damaged.  Help it! Love it! Support it! Care for it.  

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Real Faith

Real Faith

Do you have real faith or just real religion?  Do you have real faith or just really go through the motions of christianity? Do you have real faith or is church and christianity just an option you choose when you don't have something better to do?  Only you can answer these questions, but Real Faith is life changing, it grows, develops, matures, and deepens.

Hebrews 11:1 gives us a biblical definition of faith  "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Real Faith means that I am confident that the Hope I have in Jesus Christ is worth living and dying for and I am assured of my salvation and am going to live for Jesus even though I may not physically see Him.  Faith is bigger than just believing, scripture also teaches us that believing is not enough and even demons believe(James 2:19), of course we have to "believe" in order to have faith, but many just stop at believing.  I can believe lots of things and not let them change my life, character, lifestyle, choices, decisions, or bad habits.  

Belief is not enough, we must act upon what we believe about God and His Word and Salvation. Acting upon belief is Faith!  Real Faith is living every day trusting in God and His promises, His Spirit, His Salvation, and His Word.  It is allowing God to work in your life and make a real difference in your life.

When we have Real Faith we are going to have a positive attitude, we are going to trust God through the rough patches and tough times, and we are also going to be more selfless and care about others. We are going to have a desire to serve and give to God through His local church body and be an active part of the church. We are going to be faithful in attendance, service, worship, giving, and living!\

I am reminded of the picture of Jesus walking on the water and one of his followers Peter wanted to come out on the water with Him, so Jesus invited Him out and sure enough Peter got out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus on the water, but then something happened, Peter got distracted by his surroundings the wind, the water, etc..and he began to sink and Jesus had to reach out and catch him.  The point?  If we want to have real faith, we have to keep our eyes on Jesus, not be distracted by problems, greed, selfish desires, sins, etc...and we have to keep our focus on God and trust Him with our whole entire being, our hearts and our lives.  Do you truly trust God? Do you truly live for him? Do you have a real faith? Like the picture with this blog, I think we do a lot of talking, but we don't truly trust God, or live out and practice real faith.

Matthew 14:29b-31
"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Thursday, August 01, 2013

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

"What would you do for a Klondike bar?" Many of us may remember that slogan about the ice cream treat, and the things people would do to eat one.  But, I also wonder what you and I are willing to do when it comes to our Faith, the Church, or for God?

What Would You do? Would you be willing to sacrifice your favorite seat in the church for a visitor or new family? Would you give up your "control" or "power" in the local church so that others could lead? Would you encourage new people to serve along side you in the ministries you've been serving in for years?

One of the biggest complaints I've seen from new or potential members over the years when visiting or attending a new church, is the feeling they are not welcome or not encouraged to help?   That is sad beyond belief.  Any Christians worth their salt should love and encourage others to serve along side them or should be mature enough to mentor, train, or get out of the way when new leaders or servers come up.  No one should have to tell you that, if your heart and motives are in the right place, you should love to help or serve others, especially those who are new to the church or new to the faith.

Yet, we live in a world where most churches are full of people who are "set in their ways", "comfortable", and who do not want to "give up" anything, not their seats, not their status, not control, and not their traditions, nothing.  Yet, they don't realize they are being selfish, hurting the church, and yes even holding back the church.   This should never happen in the Lord's body.  Anyone who is a member of a church should feel welcome to sit anywhere they want, dress how they want, and volunteer to serve where they feel led and gifted.

If our identity in the church is not in Christ, but in some ministry or service we do, we've lost the true meaning of serving in the first place, or we've forgot whey we serve and lead? It's for God! His glory! His Worship! His Purpose!  We also have to realize that God wants to use us to serve others, help others, welcome others, encourage others, mentor others, and yes sometimes it means we have to be hospitable, welcoming, and helpful to new members, visitors, and potential future servants and leaders.

I  don't think their is an age limit on serving or leading, but I do think their is an "effective" level. There comes a time when we've outlived our effectiveness in a ministry or position and it's time to turn it over to someone else and we need to be willing and able to do that, selflessly and without running others off because we don't want to give up our spot, or our place, or our purpose.

So, I ask the question to you again, What Would You Do? What would you be willing to do in order to see someone saved? To see someone place membership in your local church body?  To see someone get plugged in to serving God at your church? To helping someone or mentoring them in their faith or giftedness?

We all need to be welcoming, hospitable, helpful, encouraging, supportive, self-less, and Christ-like no matter our age, our personality, or background. We also have to realize the church isn't ours, but God's and we are simply a part of it, like everyone else and we are not more valuable than the next person, we all are valuable to God and we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to make others feel welcome, accepted, and wanted by God and by us.

I'd give up my seat to see a visitor have a place to sit, I'd give  up  my time in order to mentor someone new in the faith or show them the ropes, I'd give up my position to someone else if they could do a better job, and I'd give up anything it will help the kingdom of God.

Matthew 10:40(NIV)
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Faithful

Faithful


Are you? Am I? I wish I could say since I gave my life to Christ at age 12 I have always been faithful, but sadly there have been times where I have not.  Faithful is a word that carries great responsibility, commitment, and loyalty along with it.  I have failed my Lord many times and if not for His patience, grace, mercy, and given me another chance I wouldn't probably be in ministry let alone a christian at this point in my life.

We can say many things about God, but one this is His is "Faithful"!  He never leaves us, lets us down, breaks promises, or walks out on us.  Many people have experience the pain, heartache, and hurt of earthly relationships where someone like a parent, or spouse should have been faithful to us, but instead we were left with broken trust, promises, and hearts.

I have also found in my years in ministry and personal faith that I see a trend in our churches today that makes me sad and that is a lack of  true "Faithful" followers of Christ. We have a lot of people who claim Christ, or membership in His church, but we have fewer and fewer who are truly committed, loyal, and faithful to God and His church.  This trend needs to change and it will only change when me and you get dead serious about our Faith.

The sad part is we carry on our lack of faithfulness to our children, family, and friends. We make Christianity look like it's optional, or an elective, if we don't have other or better things to do.  We teach our children  commitment to sports, competition, and team and yet we teach them faith is optional and secondary. We teach others we don't care to skip church or involvement or serve consistently because it interferes with our hobbies or social lives.    Do you see how easy it is for this type of lack of faithfulness to the Lord to domino affect?

Instead we need to set the example and standard of faithfulness in our lives to God. Our spouses, families, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employeers, and coaches should all know that God is number one in my life and all else is secondary..  I am not just talking about church service attendance, I am talking about overall christianity. How faithful are we in sharing our faith? Reading or studying God's Word?  Daily prayer?  Serving? Helping Others?  Personal Worship?  There are many things we can be doing to grow our personal faith besides just attending church services, however, the local church is an extension of our faith, and if we are a Christian, we should be connected to a local church body, and be a "FAITHFUL" body part serving, giving, worshipping, on that local church body.

We ALL need to do some soul searching and honest evaluations of our lives and see how serious and "FAITHFUL" we are being to our Lord, God, and Savior. We surely want his Faithfulness to us. We want the benefits of His Salvation, Grace, Mercy, Peace, Comfort, Hope, Assurance, and Love, yet how many of us would be faithful to someone who used us, neglected us, or only wanted us when it benefited them or was convenient? I don't know anyone who would want in a relationship like that.

It is easy to give our lives to the Lord and be saved and baptized. It is a free Gift from God, however being faithful to God and making an effort to grow and mature into a fully devoted Christ follower is a lot of work, commitment, and we have to work at it. We will make mistakes, fall short, sin, and have a bad day here and there, but we all know there is a big difference in being Faithful to something and being fair-weather.

I want to encourage you to be faithful to God and His church daily.  Recently we buried a lady from our church who was a true faithful follower. She came to church when most people would have used it an an excuse to stay home and many miss church for much less. She was faithful in her prayers and reading of God's word and it reflected in her life, attitude, and actions. She inspired me.  She also convicted me, because even as a Preacher, I don''t feel I was as faithful as this dear Saint.

I pray we all can find a desire, a will, and motivation to be faithful til the end in our relationship with God. Be faithful to Him, His Word, and His church.

Hebrews 10:23(NIV)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Motions

The Motions

There is a song I've heard many times, but last week at camp we sung it and the lyrics were up on the screen for us to sing and it really spoke to me, convicted me, and challenged me.   So many times especially when it comes to our Faith and Christian Walk, too many of us young and old, just "go through the motions", and we do not take our faith seriously, share it like we should, and we definitely don't spend the time committed to developing or deepening our relationship with Christ.

It's very very easy to become complacent, bored, or status quo in our faith journey and we have to realize that our Christianity is up to us, we are the only one who is going to answer to God and who can grow or destroy our faith.  We must be proactive, committed, and determined on a daily basis in our christian faith if not, then we are going to be just another half-hearted, well-meaning person going through the motions in our faith.

When we go through the motions, we do not hear God, see Him, or experience Him.  We are not good witnesses, examples, or influences for the kingdom of God.  We are hurting ourselves, the church body, and others when we do not take our faith seriously and just play christian or church.

I want to challenge you as I am challenging myself, to stop going through the motions and take your faith seriously.  Make an effort, be committed, put your relationship with Christ first, and make it a priority in everything you do.  Fair-weather christians are a dime a dozen,  God needs committed followers and members of His body that don't just go through the religious motions, but who have desire to grow, worship, serve, and give.  

Take a moment to read the song lyrics below and I have also placed a link so you can go listen/view the song on youtube.


"The Motions" lyrics by Matthew West
This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break
At least I'll be feeling something

‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something

‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

‘Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
Without your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

Take me all the way
(Take me all the way)
Take me all the way
(‘Cause I don't wanna go through the motions)

Take me all the way
(Lord, I'm finally feeling something real)
Take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?
Take me all the way
(Take me all the way)
Take me all the way
(I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)

Take me all the way
(Through the motions)
Take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions


Link to song:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faith, Family, and Sports

Faith, Family, and Sports
I know, I know, more parenting advice you don't want to hear, but this is not just about being a parent, but about being an example to our children and to other families that we or our kids might be friends with.  What am I talking about? I am talking about teaching our kids to put God first in their lives and we cannot do that until we are willing to do it ourselves.

We will devote countless hours to work on our golf game, spend hours in the woods or on the lake, plan big shopping trips, and we will spend hours upon hours taking our kids to ball games, practices, competitions, and tournaments, and will spend even more hours volunteering to coach, work concessions, or be in the boosters, and then we give God what's left if any? Is there something wrong with this picture? Yes.

We need to model consistency in our lives, especially when it comes to our children and family.  If we tell our kids that Jesus should be first in our lives then shouldn't there be a clear pattern and lifestyle of that in our daily lives? Choices? And even where we invest and spend our times.  In my years of being a youth pastor and now a senior pastor, I see the pattern far too often, we will drive hours and spend thousands of dollars traveling and going to our kids ballgames and competitions and we put our faith, our service to God, and our commitments to Jesus on the back burner or give, attend, or serve if it doesn't interfere with anything and as a christian, it should be the other way around.  God first, and then everything else second.

We teach our kids they can't quit if they start playing a sport, they can't let their team down, or they need to be a good team player in their teams, and yet what do we teach them with our actions?  Church is optional, I will give if I have anything left, and we will go to church as long as it doesn't interfere with our social lives, schedules, or calendar of events.  We really teach our kids sports is more important than God.

I am not trying to discourage you from letting your kids play organized sports or volunteering your time with other organizations, but you cannot tell me Jesus is first in your life and you are totally committed to your faith when your commitments, time, and heart are somewhere else a majority of the time.  The truth is we teach our kids we can skip church services, leave early, go late, or miss church events if we got ball games or sporting events. We model inconsistency, when we tell our kids to put God first, but then we put everything else in front of God.    I am not preaching perfect attendance at church services, attendance don't save you, but you show your commitment and loyalty to God and His church by your faithful attendance, giving, involvement, service.

When is the last time you made your kids go to a game late because of faith commitments or leave practice early to make it to church, when is the last time you made your kid miss a game or tournament or competition because of something going on at the church or because it interfered with your faith?  I think could count on one hand over the years, the times I've seen parents or kids choose their faith over their sports/hobbies and I'd need a CPA firm to tall the times I've been given excuses as to why someone didn't come to church, missed an event, or couldn't go to camp, or a youth rally, or something.  Look at how much time you spend on sports versus how much time you spend attending church or being the church?

The greatest thing you could ever do for your children, marriage, and family is model consistency of being a Christ follower.  From the moment you give your life to the Lord or make a commitment to follow Jesus you have to choose daily who you will serve, how you will spend your time, and what you will do with your daily life.  I am not suggesting you give up all sports, hobbies, or social activities or shelter your children, but what I am saying is it would be nice, if our own personal faith and the faith of our children and families was clear who and what was a priority in our lives and what truly mattered.

Some day it's not going to matter how many points your child scored, how many touchdowns, goals, home runs, or how many competitions, trophies, or ribbons were accumulated, but I can tell you those who commit to their faith, relationship  with God, His church, and kingdom will have eternal rewards.

I think it's time we take our families back and stop acting like we have no choice or say in the matter. You are the parent and you make the rules and no little league, cheer squad, soccer club, or biddy league should tell us when and where and how we should devote our times and lives. If more parents would stand up maybe coaches and leagues wouldn't schedule things during church times? Just a thought.  What if parents wouldn't let their kids go and they had to cancel or forfeit?  Just think if we treated church that way, if we had to cancel church services or events because not enough of our "team" showed up, after all the church is a body, how can a body be complete with so many members missing so often?

I love sports, I love games, and I love watching kids play sports, but I can tell you as a parent, a pastor, a  man, I will never put a game, or a sport, or a hobby above my faith, my relationship with God, or my commitments to serving the Lord and I challenge all people to do the same in their faith and family and see the difference it makes in your lives and the lives of your children.  Eternity is at stake, it's time we start counting the cost.

Joshua 24:15NIV
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Be The Parent

Be The Parent


Proverbs 13:24(niv)
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

This article may not make me popular with some parents, but sometimes we need to hear things we know we need but don't want to hear  and that is many of us are failing as parents because we aren't parenting.  We are too busy trying to be our kids friends, give them everything we didn't have, or trying to be the cool parent, or whatever else your reasons may be.

I am certainly no parenting expert, but I have worked with kids and parents for nearly 20 years in a variety of ways, mostly through the church or the school system and I can pick out the kids very easily who have no home structure, rules, boundaries, or aren't disciplined properly.  I have 2 difficult children of my own, I know parenting is tough, especially with many other factors such as divorce, blended families, outside interference, special needs, and sometimes just stubborn rebellious children.  But, God has given us the task of parenting our kids, not being their friends, coach, or enabler.  Even grandparents and aunt's and uncle's who are in roles of authority need to exercise it.

However, we do not see the long-term effects of going years without making out kids mind, giving them everything they want, and not holding them accountable for their actions, what is the end result?  Children who are rude, obnoxious, dishonest, lazy, selfish, anger issues, no respect for authority, property, or others feelings.  I could go one, but being a parent and raising kids right is tough enough, but when you don't make an effort, stand your ground, be consistent, set clear boundaries, and follow-through with natural consequences, you really are hurting your kid and setting them up for failure

Worst of all, it won't end there, you'll continue to bail them out, enable them, and raise them in adulthood.  They will be a burden because you created the monster and allowed the pattern to go on for years. They will continue to use you, manipulate you, lie, steal, and make your life a living hell. You will constantly gripe and complain about them, but never realize or admit you are part of the root problem.  If you don't believe me, ask someone who has adult children who are still like this? Most if honest will say it's because they didn't make them mind, or let them get by with murder when they were kids and eventually just lost control, gave up, and give in.

I am not sure what your idea of parenting is, but from the beginning of time, God's plan has been for us to raise kids to become independent, responsible, and able to take care of themselves and provide for themselves, and to be positive productive citizens of the human race.    In today's society people don't spank or discipline their kids like when I was raised as much, we tend to give our kids what they want and let tv, computers, smart phones, and ipads raise and teach our kids.  We'd rather keep them busy and give them what they want than deal with them.  That is not parenting.

God's desire for us is to model good lifestyles, behaviors, principles, character, and work ethic with our children.  To raise them with discipline.  As a matter of fact, God says if you love your children, you will discipline them.  Yes, that means holding them accountable, making them do things they don't want to do, and having real consequences for disrespect, lying, backtalk, sassing, running their mouths, arguing, etc...We forget sometimes we are the parents and we set the rules, make the boundaries, and it does no good to have rules, boundaries and structure if you do not enforce it, live by it, or keep it.

There is no perfect parenting formula, and i am not perfect parent,  but the I know we need to go by God's Word as a guidance for how we should parent and raise our kids,  the bible is full of nuggets on discipline, parenting, and raising kids.  Take time to study, ready, and look. There are also good christian books out there on the subject, but the  main thing is to remember you are the parent and you have an awesome responsibility to raise a kid from infancy to adulthood and you only get one chance, and even though you may not like it, it may be tough work, and frustrating, you have to be tough, show tough love, and set clear boundaries, structure, and guidelines with your kids so they learn to behave, act appropriate, and learn the world doesn't revolve around them, they aren't always going to get their way, and they will always have to do things they don't always feel like doing.

It's never too late to start being the parent and parenting the way God intended.   Remember if you have kids or want to have kids, you are the adult, and the parent, and you set the tone.  Also remember, things like toys, cell phones, computers, and yes even sports are luxuries not requirements. I don't care how much society and morals in the world may change, we have to be good parents and should be Godly parents.

 It's sad that many care more about our kids jump shot, curve ball, social life, or status at school than we do their well-being their behavior, attitude, and most of all their soul.  We all can do a better job of parenting and being the parent in our homes and families.  Together, we can take our homes and families back and raise our kids to love God, respect our role as parents, and in the long run teach them to become mature christian adults, who will someday maybe be parents of their own.

Proverbs 19:18(niv)
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.



Monday, June 03, 2013

Does It Matter?

*This is my article for the June Newsletter at my church
That is the question we have to ask ourselves when it comes to life  in our church, “What Matters Most?” There are many opinions,  traditions, preferences, and ideas out there as to what we should and shouldn’t do as a church as far as programming, services, facilities, etc..but we have to ask ourselves a bigger question when it comes to things, Does it matter to God?   There are things that are essential to salvation and there are things that are non-essential to salvation, however, many times we like to make the non-essentials essential and this is what causes problems in our churches.  Churches split and christians divide because most people tend to fight, argue, and split hairs over topics and issues that don’t matter to God, to His commission or commands, but they matter to us for a variety of reasons, but if we were honest are they really worth splits, divisions, factions, and hurt feelings?  What color the foyer is painted doesn’t matter, but reaching lost and unsaved people does.  How the auditorium is decorated doesn’t matter, but how we are discipling our members sitting in there does.  What programs we have doesn’t matter, but what programs or services we have being efficient and productive to the mission of the church does.  Do you see how easy it is to get caught up on “our opinions” and lose sight of what really matters?  It’s ok to have preferences, but we must be careful those things don’t become gospel in our minds.  What matters to God may not be what matters to you or me, but our existence as a church body is to please God and do what matters to Him, not us.  So, what do we do?  We strive to be a mature and positive part of the body, following and supporting our church leadership, doing our part to grow spiritually, serving, giving, sharing our faith, and doing whatever it takes to “Build Faith,  Hope, and Love in Greenbrier County and Beyond”!  Yes, there are things that matter, so let’s focus our time, energy,  and efforts on those things that matter to God, His Kingdom, and Church and be ready to be amazed at what God can do through us when we work together on things that matter to Him.   1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NIV)[ Living to Please God ] As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Modern Day Pharisee

Modern Day Pharisee


A Pharisee was someone mentioned in the New Testament as a religious leader of the Jews Law of Moses or definition as A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form.  They were also recognized by Jesus as being hypocritical and self-righteous people.

What does that mean? It means they cared more about the letter of the law than than freedom of the law.  It means they worried more about the law than people and it also meant they used this type of attitude for their advantage to gain wealth, power, and become corrupt. 

We have people like that today in our churches and who claim to be christians.  They care more about their opinions, their doctrines, and their denominations than they do people or God. Sure, they use God and the bible, but for their own personal agendas and benefits.  It makes no sense to me?   People would rather be right than righteous, they find more satisfaction in arguing or belittling someone who disagrees with them, than loving them or finding common grounds, and they also would rather divide and conquer than unite and work together.

I call them modern day pharisees.  They worship denominations, pastors, traditions, and are legalistic in thinking and practice.  They focus on things that don't matter to God, but matter to them.  Things like bible versions, church names, church music, clothes you war, church buildings, names on the door, and other beliefs and interpretations of spiritual or religious topics and I dare you to disagree with them, because if you do they will judge you to hell and label you names such as reprobate, a pagan, a liberal, a whore monger,  soft, watered-down, weak, ignorant, foolish, stupid, dumb, false prophet, idiot, and sinner to name a few.  

Yet, they speak with no authority or approval from God.  They preach, teach, yell, and scream their own agenda that was handed down from generations of legalism, religious traditions, and just plain ignorance.  Just because we claim to speak for God doesn't mean we do and just because we spout scriptures or argue and debate loudly doesn't make us any more right, more spiritual, or closer to God.

If you have to put someone down to make yourself better, if you have argue, debate, yell, scream, and belittle in order to make a point, my friend you are wrong no matter how right your point.  You see the Pharisees did a lot of things right in the New Testament, they dressed the part, they looked the part, and they dotted their "I's" and crossed every "t", and memorized and kept all the laws to the letter, yet they lacked grace, mercy, compassion, and common sense.  In order to keep their "way of living" they had to put others down, try and force others to be like them, think like them, and if you have to force, bully, or make people live the way you say, then that is slavery not freedom and that is not faith.

God is the one who saves, not me or you.  God is the one who wrote the Bible not me or you.  God has a Holy Spirit who's job it is to convict and guide others to truth not me or you.  We need to let God speak, let His Word Speak, and Let His Holy Spirit speak, and stop trying to put words in God's mouth, spot taking His Word out of context, and stop playing religious police trying to police christians and let the Holy Spirit do it's job.

I know it may never happen, but I would love to see an end to modern day pharisees. If only they would put that zeal, passion, and zest to work and practice in the right ways with the right attitudes imagine how different our churches and world would be?   Most modern day pharisees are in denial of being one, they think they are doing God a favor, and they are not "legalistic" or "phariseeical" but are God's watch dog, bull dog, and guard dogs.  I don't remember reading anywhere where God needed or wanted dogs to do his work?  He does want followers, disciples, and servants, who practice love, unity, grace, mercy, peace, commitment, and who encourage, pray, build up, and edify the body of Christ? There is a stark difference between a committed follower of Jesus Christ and a modern-day pharisee.

Which are you? Will you stop following traditions? Will you stop being so "dogmatic" and "Hounding" people and start allowing God to use you for His glory and not your own or your church group?  Will you read God's Word with an open mind, use it in context, and allow the Holy Spirit to influence and use you?

Jesus wasn't very kind to Pharisees he called them vipers, hypocrites, and white washed tombs to name few.  Those who thought they were doing God a favor, actually had His son murdered because He didn't bow down to them or pat them on the back for their "keeping of the law".   Jesus came to fulfill the law not to worship it.  We should follow suit.  Love God, Love people, and stop being a pharisee and stop making everything wrong, a sin, or a test of fellowship if it doesn't line up with the way you were raised or taught.  Let the Word of God and the spirit of God change your attitude and repent of being so hard-hearted, hard-headed, and doing evil in the name of good.  Are you a pharisee or a follower?


Matthew 23:13(NIV)
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.