Church

What God Asks Of Us

It’s morning and as usual I grab my cup of coffee, sit down at our dining room table and begin to read the devotion for the day. I like routine. I look at my collection of Oswald Chambers, Smith Wigglesworth, and Rick Renner, and ask myself, “I wonder which one will inspire me today.

Love God
Today, it’s Smith Wigglesworth.  It’s titled – To Be like Jesus.

I reread the title again, to…be…like…Jesus.

A thought rushes my mind of how difficult this is becoming in the world today. I think about my kids, who are all teenagers, and wonder what life will look like for them not in 20 years, but just in 5 short years.  Life changes quickly and somehow as mothers we feel we have to complete the manual of parenting before the timer goes off.

Wait. There’s a parent manual?

I dig into the devotion for the day and read Wigglesworth’s words:

“In Christ, we have encountered divine resurrection touches. In the greatest work God ever did on the face of the earth.”

I pause and think about those words “greatest work” and “ever did”.  I think about what would life look like during that time having to make a choice to follow a Savior down the Via Dolorosa or would He write words in the sand as I hold a stone in my hand.

Jesus died and rose again for you and for me. Despite how ugly things look around us, we must continue to rejoice in the greatest work He ever did.

I continue reading:

“Christ was raised from the dead by the operation of the power of God. As the resurrection of Christ operates in our hearts, it will dethrone wrong things and will build right things”.

Did you catch that?

We can wonder what our world is becoming, why our kids seem to fall into temptation, or why we feel like giving up in life. It’s not until we get a hold of Christ and exchange what the New Living Translation says, a stubborn heart to a responsive heart.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. – Ezekiel 36:26

It’s a heart issue. Until the heart is right, wrong decisions that go against His Word and Resurrection, is what we will have to endure as long as we live in this world.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. – 1 Peter 5:9

He continues:

“Callousness will have to change; hardness will have to disappear; all evil thoughts will have to go. In the place of these will be lowliness of mind”.

When I exchanged my heart almost 35 years ago, I exchanged it for my sin.  Now don’t think in all those 35 years I never had to make another exchange.  Oh, no, this girl has a story.  The key was the final exchange. The moment when I said no to sin and yes to God.  When I did that I exchanged it for a place of lowliness of mind.

What’s lowliness of mind?

It’s a humbleness.  A humility of mind.  Not one that acts as a slave or is miserable because it stays quite amidst the sinful surroundings. To be humble does not mean that one has no abilities or achievements. It’s what the Bible says leads to honor.

The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.” - Proverbs 22:4

Do I like where the world is going? No.

Do I like when the enemy wants to come and tempt my kids? No.

Do I like seeing people still live in their past continuing to make mistake after mistake? No.

But, I still love.  I just hate the sin.  I hate when we give room for an enemy to steal, kill, and destroy.

I don’t know, is there something wrong when we actually do what the Word says and love one another? (John 13:34)

I think about the women that have come to me in private and have told me horrendous life situations that have happened to them.  How they walk into a church and feel as though they are looked down upon. Feel like they are not good enough, not worthy enough of forgiveness.  Shame on us.

When we can’t be thankful for them taking the first step and praying that they would allow God to move into their heart condition, something is wrong.

When did we decide to play God and stop being love instead?

That’s all God asked of us – to love one another.

When we submit to love, we become useful to one another. And when we come to a place where we serve for pure love’s sake, we find the Master upon us and find out that we will never fail. Love never fails when it is appointed in us.

[clickToTweet tweet="Human love fails, but God’s love never fails." quote="Human love fails, but God’s love never fails."]

I challenge you to be lowly, be humble.

Be love instead.

You never know who God may bring your way to show love to.

Maybe we should add that to the parent manual.

Raising Young People in the Church Today

I remember as a child, my dad would tell his testimony how R.W. Schambach was on TV and asked those, “to reach out their hand and touch the TV and they will be healed”. My dad in his sarcastic way said, “Ok, preacher, let’s try this.” The next day all the cysts he had on his back were gone and never to suffer from them again. I remember sleepovers at my grandparents house, who were Pastors at the time, only to hear my grandmother at the crack of dawn praying as though she was fighting the devil herself. Praying in tongues and weeping for some protocols to come home.  As kids, we called it the blue room where she prayed.  The walls and curtains were blue; even the bedding.  Yet, as a child it was like sacred ground for us.  “That’s the room Grandma talks to Jesus in.”

I remember it was my freshman year at Oral Roberts University and this new, young evangelist named Tim Storey came to preach at a Sunday Worship Night.  Wow - the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that fell in that room.  It was as though you only had to breathe it in and you were in the AWE-ness of Him.  That night I’ll never forget a young girl in her junior year there had been wearing glasses.  She went up to that prayer line for healing. Tim grabs and flings those glasses off of her and said – “Never again!” She walked all over campus with never having to wear glasses again.

Youth in the church
The years were the 80’s and early 90’s.

Today, our own kids are teenagers in the church.

Teenagers!

It's that time as Christian parents, you want to make sure your kids have experienced an encounter with God like you did at that age before they leave the nest.

The time you want your kids to see a move of God in the church like you did and what that looks like.

The time you want your kids to see the Gifts in operation and manifested for His glory as you recount to them the times you saw “it” happen as a teenager.

The time where you feel the clock is ticking and you wonder if your kids really will ever know the Holy Spirit and His power and the power they have in themselves because He dwells with them just like you did when you were a kid.

C.S. Lewis says it best – If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.

C. S. Lewis
Last year I wrote about the DNA of the church and loved what Francis Chan said (you can read the entire post HERE):

I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously, is rarely considered. That’s for the ‘radicals’ who are ‘unbalanced’ and who go ‘overboard.’ Most of us want a balanced life we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.”

“Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small. The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us. It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church.”

Somehow I wanted the church to find its way back to Acts 2.

More importantly, I wanted our kids to experience the same experience I had.

But,  I quickly realized what I wanted was not what God wanted.

[clickToTweet tweet="Our kids do church differently today than we did." quote="Our kids do church differently today than we did."]

They hear music from Kim Walker-Smith and Hillsong instead of Carman and Stryper. (Come on, we all could sing the lyrics to Champion and probably did a skit in our youth group about it! And when Stryper came into town, we justified to our parents that going to see them at Knotts Berry Farm was cool because they were Christians and wasn't like hearing Guns N' Roses or Motley Crue!)

Kim Walker Smith
They listen to preachers like Banning Liebscher and Havilah Cunnington.

Generations change and with that the “church” changes or evolves into something fresh and new, but God never changes.

I had to learn that I can’t expect the same message to be delivered the same way. The songs that we sing can't be sung the same way we did 20-30 years ago.

It would be like me asking my kids to love Bon Jovi when all they want to hear is Ariana Grande. (Yes, but it’s Bon Jovi!!)

There was an article in Charisma Magazine that saddened my heart and had me thinking about my kids.

I want my kids to live a life of conviction.

I want my kids to not drink, not smoke, not swear and not sin.

Do I fear that this "Christian" generation may twist them into that?

Yes.

But, that is why just like when we were teenagers, we had praying mom’s and grandma’s praying for us.

Now it is our time to do the same.

There is a devil out there that wants to steal, kill and destroy our kids and would have nothing better in this world but to make it look like “religion”.

Two Confessions of Raising Young People in the Church

1. You Can’t Put New Wine Into Old Wineskins.

I talked about some of  the things I’ve seen as a child growing up.  I was born in 1973 and got saved in 1982.  So, since 1982 and through the last three decades have seen supernatural things in the church. There is nothing wrong with the 80’s or 90’s, except we don’t live there anymore. We must love those that are here now and stop wishing for the way things used to be. God showed me that I cannot love a past era more than a current mission.  We don’t do church the way we used to and that’s ok.  Yet, God never changes. His Word never changes. But, we as a generation of people change.  Just like our music of the 60’s is not relatable to a 16 year old, our churches have to change with the culture.  It doesn’t mean we stop preaching the Truth because the Truth will always be offensive to the culture. Instead, we continue to birth a Supernatural being that will transform the culture around us.

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. - Matthew 9:17

2. I Can’t Control Whether My Kids Love God or Not.

I can influence and be involved, but ultimately, I have just as little control over my own life and what will happen to me as I do theirs.  I had to acknowledge that I no longer have control and reach out for God’s help instead. Because, if life were stable, I would never need Him. I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to Him.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Church for our teenagers, and even for us, is that place where the Aweness of Him is evident maybe not from the altars of the past eras, but in the lives of those that have been changed.  Those sitting in the pews and on the chairs, lifting their hands and hearts worshiping God.   The church will never be perfect. It can’t be or else it will never depend on God, even us as humans can never be either.

Ultimately, it is about the relationship we have with Him and the eyes of our children that are watching.

When We Fight The Same Battles Over

chains
Have you ever taken a personality test. You know, the one’s that tell you who you really are between the lines. I’m an INFJ.

I don’t like that last letter.

Every new year, I take one just to see some things about me clearly. Here are my scores:

Introvert – 44% Intuitive – 25% Feeling – 12% Judging – 44%

When I was in Corporate America, I would have all new and returning employees take the Myers-Briggs or the Jung test every new year. This helped me as a manager understand who they were as individuals and what they needed from me so they didn’t feel as employees, but part of a team, a family.

See that Judging number, I hate it. {Trust me, by no means does this give me the right to judge neither, it does, though, help me to understand my strengths and weaknesses.}

I wish it was lower or that I was more of a perceiver than a judge. My husband is 60% perceiver and the longer we are married the more I ask him how to handle things or what he thinks about a person or a situation. He’s the discerner in the house.

I can definitely say God knew what He was doing when He put us together.

Maybe you’re like me - I’m praying for more compassion for others.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12

No, I need more compassion for others.

Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life.Those who are activists - INFJs gravitate toward such a role - are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power. - Myers- Briggs

For so many years, I’ve seen our altars filled with people that have asked Jesus in their heart for the very first time. Man, it’s awesome to see God move-in.

When they genuinely ask God to dwell in their heart, you can begin to see a change in them.

A passion - a fire has set in.

They are hungry for the Word. They want to soak in every message, every sermon, every Bible Study, and when the church doors are open, they are there.

Yet, I find myself struggling with compassion for those that go to the altar five, ten times.

It is hard for me. I am ashamed to admit that.

It is hard for me to see Christians wallow in guilt and past hurts, especially here in America when we have so much more than others.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. – John 8:36

I want to grab them by the arms and look at their eyes and ask them - Do you not know the God that you serve?

Do you not know who lives inside of you and the power that you have because of Him?

Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them, because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 (Amplified)

That you can fight any battle the enemy brings. You can fight any burden or circumstance that is thrown your way. Don’t turn to the left or to the right, keep your eyes focused on Him.

I weep for them and yet, I find me righteous in myself. I judge because the God that you and I serve is greater than our circumstance.

I don’t like myself for that.

So I ask God why?

God, why do I feel this way?

Why, God, do I see these things this way?

Then, asking a friend, she gently reminds me to ask myself – “Are you writing this with righteous anger only needing to get over yourself or is God breaking your heart because He does want more for His people.”

Lord, break me, I need Your compassion.

I struggle because I think about the great things we can do for the kingdom together because we are greater and mightier. How there would be more of us walking in confidence in the fight to win souls because we are no longer dwelling in our past hurts or sins.

Listen, I am far from perfect. No where near it.

But we have been bought with a price that was paid for you and was paid for me. We were set free a long time ago from a Man that died and shed blood for our sins, our salvation.

Who are we to lower that price, that cost, that Jesus paid for us by continually going to the altar. By continually dealing with bitterness and shame.

God is greater than that.

He deserves better than that.

I am always awed by His patience with our unappreciative attitudes of spiritual entitlement yet baffled, especially when we, like the Israelites, have already been the beneficiaries of His never-ending love and generosity. - Anonymous, Alicia Britt Chole

One thing we must be confident in - is knowing the same battles we fight today need not be the same battles we have been set free from. [clickToTweet tweet="The Same Battles We Fight Today Need Not Be The Same Battles We Have Been Set Free From" quote="The Same Battles We Fight Today Need Not Be The Same Battles We Have Been Set Free From"]

It’s not rinse and repeat, it’s rinse and walk free.

Instead, what these words did...was chip away at my own imperfections.

Teaching me that there is no one perfect, but only Loved.

A Challenge to the Church and its DNA

church
It’s been over a month since I wrote something here. I didn’t do it on purpose or set out to “take a break from blogging”. I guess it just happened. These last few weeks I’ve been observing. Observing this “Christian” thing. Observing how we do church with, I guess you can say, a new set of eyes and open ears.

I’ve been re-reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. It is a definite must read.

A couple of things written had hit my Spirit and challenged the very core of my heart:

“I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously, is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.' Most of us want a balanced life we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.”

“Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small. The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us. It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church.”

The church has been on my heart lately. It’s as though an awe, a reverence if you will, has been burdening my heart.

Do you ever wonder if God looks down at the church on Sunday mornings and wonders why we have put Him in a box?

Why we sing 2.5 songs? You know the routine 2 fast, 1 slow, all to stay within the timeline of getting the congregation out for lunch, when God says "I don’t remember a schedule, I remember a suddenly (Acts 2:2)."

I don’t want to talk about denominations or get into a conversation that divides us.

I think... [Tweet "God just wants the simplicity of what He designed the church to be."]

When we decide, what Chan said, to allow the Holy Spirit to change the church through us, is when we begin to unify as one body, one accord. And when this happens, God will change the atmosphere of the house, the atmosphere of our church, our home.

I remember a day when we invited the Holy Spirit into those places.

Remember the Holy Spirit isn’t an IT. He is the third person of the Trinity (1 John 5:7).

We have created a place where Jesus is the One that sits with us at Starbucks or in the hospital, but really we are in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16).

Jesus is at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), but the Holy Spirit is the One that wants to walk in the door of your house, sit at the foot of the bed in your hospital room, ride in the car with you.

And when He is in the room with you, He will remove burdens and destroy yokes, He will heal your body, bring peace to your mind, He will be an unspeakable joy in your life.

We must not forget, yes, He was not Word made flesh, Jesus was (John 1:14). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Living God (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

I know a lot of people don’t talk about this or for some of you reading this it may seem crazy, but I love what Chan said recently in a Keynote at CLA (Christian Leadership Alliance) :

He’s (Tozer) talking about the angels in heaven. You know how in Revelation 4 it describes the angels around the throne of God and screaming Holy, Holy, Holy, and talks about the big pillars of fire and sea of glass. Tozer than asking (in The Knowledge of the Holy), “What if one of these Holy Ones, one of these Angels, who spent his glad centuries by the sea of fire would come to earth? How meaningless to Him would be the ceaseless chatter of the busy tribes of men, how strange and empty would sound a flat, stale, and prophet-less words heard in the average pulpit from week to week.”

Chan – “What if one of those beings did come in? What if he is observing us after being in the presence of God? What would he think of my words coming out of my mouth - asking, “What are you doing up there?”

To listen to the rest of Chan’s talk, click here. You don’t want to miss his explanation of the clock!

We are not serving a wind, a breath. We are serving, in Him, a Holy Spirit, the One that comforts us, lifts us up, makes a way where there seems to be no way.

God never determined His church to be a place of religious rhetoric.

He never determined the church to be a place of lifeless worship.

He never determined the church to be a place where we get bored or ask ourselves how quick can I get out of here.

He intended the church to be a life-transforming, body-healing, soul-saving, Spirit-filling, mind-changing church that seeks after His presence.

He intended the church to be something that was a transformation out of the old man into the new. But, instead what we are doing is constantly messing with God’s DNA.

The cynics say we don’t need that “Holy Spirit thing” anymore.

Yeah, we don’t need people on the brink of suicide being prayed for and being set free so they can live out their destiny.

We don’t need people that have cancer, dying and the doctors are giving them no hope.

We don’t need to pray for cancer victims, we don’t need to pray for the oppressed, we don’t need to praise God until the glory comes.

We don’t need to preach the Truth because the Truth is offensive to the culture.

We don’t need to be the church anymore.

We need to be surgically altered, yet somewhat close, but not really what it was designed to be.

No... [Tweet "We need to be the church that once again finds it way back to Acts 2."]

What was birthed was not a lifeless, powerless gathering of people.

What was birthed was a Supernatural being that would transform the world around them.

We need the church to resurrect from the DNA God intended it to be.

Let the church get back to what God created it to be.

We, Christians, challenge you because we are the Church.