IS COMPASSION DEAD?

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Should I Leave This Church?

Disgruntled, unhappy, and frustrated churchgoers are staying because this is my church.  Unfortunately, when it starts being your church, especially with the atmosphere being filled with general feelings of discord, it may no longer be God’s church.  He does remove Himself from confusion and non-glorifying circumstances.

When being edified is no longer the experience of the congregation or the individual, there should be some close scrutiny of the situation.  And here is how to do it.

First, begin by looking within!  Ask yourself,  ‘why am I having feelings of frustration?’ Often there are issues within or personal failures contributing to our loss of fellowship with God that has us frustrated.  Before we blame others, check to see what is going on within.  Make sure there isn’t sin ‘crouching at the door!’

Second, the problem may be rooted in being overly impressed with worship forms or preaching styles observed elsewhere.  Make sure that the prevailing consumer mentality isn’t making shopping around for something ‘better’ more appealing.  Don’t allow the appeal of secular ideas have you thinking that your church isn’t current or relevant.  You may need to stay where you’re planted.

Third, burnout from tedious ministry tasks or loss of a vision for what it is you have been charged to do may cause one to lose focus.  Make sure that there is time away to seek the Lord and refresh before leaving worthwhile responsibilities or duties in the church.  Your covenant with the Lord and the body of believers should not be easily breached.

Finally, if there is a problem, in the pulpit or worship ministry where ministering to the needs of the people of God and/or the worship is compromised by too many secular trends that do more to entertain than edify, then voice your concerns with someone in leadership in the same spirit of Galatians 6:1.  Meekness when dealing with sensitive issues will open doors to dialogue that may be fruitful toward improving preaching and ministry initiatives.  Go to your brother or sister and seek to engage them in a positive and spirit-filled discussion about your concerns.  Applying Matthew 18:15-17 may be appropriate to seek understanding.  But it should be applied with prayer before speaking to someone and preferably together with them once dialogue begins.  Prayer always helps to take the matter out of our hands and into God’s hands.

However, worship can be more about us than about God so much so that many leave with no sense of having been edified or exaltation to a higher consciousness of God and His presence in their lives.  Souls continue to hunger for a word because preaching is exciting and even entertaining with little or no food for thought or pondering.

When the worship center becomes filled with distractions, frustrations, and most importantly, heresies than worship encounters with God, an edifying word, or a fellowship wherein people may grow, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Don’t be guilty of staying because this is my church!  The Lord leaves when He is no longer welcome!

Right Now or Not Yet!

Are you so caught up or overwhelmed by your right now moments that you cannot fathom the thought of ‘not yet’ moments?

The present is now and many of us are carried away by attitudes of immediate gratification.  We want it all and we want it now.  We’re also being told to spiritually expect a “Right Now God” to move on our behalf with our own time frames or ‘your season’ is now.  In a culture that is focused upon the feelings and desires of the individual, it is commonly thought that ‘my need or desire’ is an immediate priority for not only ourselves, but for God as well.

I’m thinking that the element of “not yet” is a profound component of our experience with God.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be necessary for The Book to say, “They that wait upon the Lord . . .” (Isaiah 40:31); or David’s declaration in Psalm 27 to “Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord” would not have relevance to our Christian pilgrimage.

Not yet means that there is a future to our lives filled with blessing and promise.  It means that I must look forward with anticipation and expectation for “. . . those things which are ahead,” (Philippians 2:13).  It means that timing is everything sometime and that my time may not be my destiny’s time.  And, it means that I must be faithful enough to “know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Think about it this way:  Our misery is sometimes self-inflicted by our unwillingness to wait for the ‘not yet’ that is to be revealed in us.  Don’t allow desire, lust, or ambitions so control your feelings that you become overwhelmingly impatient and cannot/will not wait.  The wait may be your blessing.  And don’t ever forget this, the Lord knows when and how to bless each of us and the blessing(s) are not usually in concert with others’ blessings.  You don’t have to try to keep up, just keep an attitude to “. . . lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1)

God has plans for us, many of which we cannot handle right now!  The ‘not yet’ of our lives may have much more meaning for us and for the kingdom than we can fathom or appreciate ‘right now.’  So, remember that God is bringing us along to a place where ‘not yet’ becomes ‘right now’ with entirely new realities.

Settle down . . . calm down!  Cease demanding your desire or season!  You shall be and you shall have what He has for you:   “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

 “One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you, Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, so for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.”  Lyrics from “One Day at a Time”

The Enemy Inside

When the social ills or sins of a nation go unnoticed, unmentioned, or unchallenged, is that nation really Christian?  Or, when the church gives much less priority to its Gospel message while the nation’s culture, prosperity issues, and self-gratification are celebrated, is it really being Christian?  Is there an enemy on the inside of the church?

The heart of ‘the good news’ celebrates suffering, sacrifice, death and resurrection!  Its whole focus is upon one person whose life centered on others, their plight, and their access to the best that His kingdom offered.  He overcame humanity’s greatest enemies by making Himself of no reputation and obedience, even unto the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)

With that in mind, how can the 21st Century church justify its mild mannered approach to cultures, its commitment and challenges?  The world’s ills call for a bold stance upon principles of righteousness, service and sacrifice.  The Apostle Paul tells us that this was God’s aim and purpose ‘before the foundation of the world.’ (Ephesians 1:4)  Modern times nor new technologies, or even new heresies and teachings can change the focus of Jesus to fit what are now base desires and lusts packaged in new forms.  He ‘endured the cross’ and its consequences to rise to a new beginning and new victories that can be had by all those who will trust Him in faith.

This may explain the commonness of our modern church experience.  It becomes even more piercingly obvious when we compare ourselves to that first victor and Overcomer?  Does the message of the modern church resemble the message of an itinerate preacher from Nazareth?  Our willingness to serve and sacrifice, perhaps even consider death in this cause, may be the very essence that is missing in these latter days.  The power associated with His central message cannot be the church’s experience nor will others who observe and inquire feel its affect unless there is the same desire for the church to be rejoicing that “they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41 NKJV)

And emphasizing His blessings and benefits without focus upon His suffering sacrifice is dangerous.  It may be the very cause that drives the question, ‘is the church really as ‘Christian’ as it proclaims?  And it will have to reconsider the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

There is a church identified in scripture that wears the label ‘carnal.’  Its description fits these modern times in every way.  And that church’s effectiveness as change agents, healers of the community’s ailments, or ministers of reconciliation was compromised . . . as it is today.  (I Corinthians 3:1-4 NKJV)

The church may be its own enemy within, out of focus and existing aimlessly.  Perhaps another look at Jesus will help!

Something to consider!