Tag Archive | church

Executioner or Encourager

Galatians 6:1-3 – Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (HCSB)

My friend recently left the church she had attended all of her life. Her departure was a difficult decision filled with mixed emotions.  She was baptized in that church. She was married in that church. Generations of her family is there – some in the pews, some in the cemetery. She loved the people and believed what they said; she just couldn’t believe how they acted. She grew up singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. She understood the words of the song, she understood that Jesus loves children of any color, she understood they were all precious to Him. What she didn’t understand was why they weren’t allowed to come to her church. Her church welcomed the clean, well dressed children from the two parent home and anyone who did not fit that description was welcome to go elsewhere. Church members often quoted Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the[a] glory of God”, but apparently some of the church members had Bibles that said “all of you (but not me) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” She tried so hard to be “good” but could never quite be good enough to avoid the gossip and the chastisements. Her teen-age brain decided that if she couldn’t be “good”, she would just be “bad” and began a journey of destruction, turning her back on church and anyone associated with church. God said, “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25), but those faithful church members were taking joy in remembering the teenage sins of a now middle aged person. She was welcomed back to the church, after all she had family there, but those words of welcome were laced with reminders of her transgressions. Thankfully, she found a body of church goers than not only are in church on Sunday but church is in them the other days of the week, people who knew the difference between confronting sin and passing judgment. Jesus, You told us not to be so concerned with the speck in someone’s eye that we miss the log in our own and called us hypocrites (Matthew 7:3, Luke 6:42). Please forgive us when our words proclaim Your teachings but our actions do not. Forgive us for being more executioner than encourager and participating more in gossip than grace. I want Matthew 6:12 to be more than just words in my life. Help me to show love, kindness, and mercy to others because You show those to me everyday.

Is the Church Only a Stage for Happiness?

Psalm 55: 12-14 – Now it is not an enemy who insults me—
otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me—otherwise I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. (HCSB)

Matthew 7:1-3 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? (HCSB)

stage of happinessMy friends and I are sipping coffee and talking about this and that, life in general, and the burdens of our hearts.  We are all wives and moms, so “the burdens of our hearts” is actually just a phrase that means “our families”.  As I’m listening to my friends talk, I hear statements like “I don’t want anyone in our church family to know about this” or “I don’t talk about this in our Sunday School class”.  As they share, I hear voices and see faces from the past expressing the same concerns.  Lord, I am so sad!  When did the body of Christ start pounding with a gavel of judgment rather than protecting with the grace of Jesus?  When did the church stop being a sanctuary for the hurting and become only a stage for the happy?  When did abandonment and maliciousness replace allegiance and mercy?  When did the people who should be our protectors become our prosecutors?  Lord, I see in Psalm 55:12-14 that David had these same experiences.  It was his close friend and fellow church member who was attacking him.  We call ourselves “the body of Christ”, and we know that as with our human bodies, if one part hurts it affects the entire body. 1 Corinthians 12:26 tells us that is also true of the church body.  Matthew 7:3 asks us how we can see someone else’s sin so clearly but not see that we too have sin.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to build each other up with encouragement. Romans 3:23 says that none of us is without sin, and both Jesus (Matthew 7) and Paul (Romans 2) tell us that we have no right to judge.  We give testimony of grace. We ask for grace. We expect grace.  How can we then not extend grace?

Church Eye Candy

Ephesians 6:6 – Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. (HCSB)

 

1 John 2:16 – For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. (HCSB)

 

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: (HCSB)

 

 

 

Eye CandyAs I was finishing my coffee this morning, I started pondering some things said by speaker I recently heard.  She was saying that finding the work that God has for you involves some action on your part.   I don’t remember the exact wording but it was along the lines of people sit back and wait for a visit from a couple of angels and a prophet or two before they do any work at all.  The suggestion was that as Your servant, I need to step out and start trying different jobs, and if I discover it isn’t the job for me, I should not be afraid to step away.  The speaker also hit on the idea of not doing something just because someone else says you should be doing it.  I thought that idea needed more time because I feel that’s the one mountain that causes struggle in most women!  I was recently talking to some other pastors’ wives and telling about how when our family went to the first church my husband pastored, one woman kept telling me all the things the last pastor’s wife had done and how I bought into it.  I was a full time classroom teacher, had a child under a year old, my husband was in seminary all week, we had moved into a new area, and here I was — thinking if I could just do a little more, just do a little better, just take on one more church project, just lead one more committee, just teach one more class, then everyone would be happy.  A young friend of mine calls it “being church eye candy” – each person wants you to be seen doing what that person wants you to do.  Colossians 3:23 tells us to work to please God and not just to please other people.  Ephesians 6:6 says to work hard, but not just to please the people who are watching.  We are to work to do the will of God.  Is it God’s will that I work in the church’s preschool department?  Maybe that’s just the job God created me to do.  Maybe I’m NOT the person for the job, and when I refuse to acknowledge that, I’m taking someone else’s blessing.  Is it God’s will that I teach a class or work in the kitchen or sing in the choir?  Is it God’s will that I step away from some of the things I’m doing?  As church members, I think we sometimes get so busy doing “the work of the Lord” that we aren’t able to do the work that God has for us.  1 John 2:4 says that if we claim to know God and don’t obey Him, we are lying.  What if people get upset with me?  What if I look silly stepping away from a job?  1 John 2:16 says that our foolish pride and our selfish desires come from the world and NOT from the Father.  Lord, I know that You haven’t called me to be eye candy or a slave to desires, neither mine nor the ones others have for me, but You have called me to follow Your plans.  1 Corinthians 12 tells us about different people being called in different ways to serve You, but verses 6 and 7 sum it up for me: There are all kinds of wonderful activities, but You give each of us a specific gift to produce the work that is needed for Your glory at that point in time.  Lord, help me to use the gifts that You have given to me.  Help me to keep my eyes focused on the ways that You tell me to serve and not on the ways that people tell me to serve.  Help me to work to do Your will.