I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that I’ve known since we were children. Her life is complicated in many ways by her own choices and in many ways by the choices of those around her. As a result, she feels there is an insurmountable mountain in front of her that keeps her from knowing and understanding God, one that she has no control to do anything about. Either there is no depth of soil or the cares of this world has choked the seed out, or both.
I can’t help but think of how our lives have been parallel in many ways. We both have attended the same church when we were young. We both have shared similar experiences. We both have had the same seemingly silly dreams when we were young and pondered where they might have originated. We both at some point in our lives suffered from abuse. We both struggle with severe fatigue. We both experienced miraculous moments in life. We both had wonderful mothers that we felt we lost way too soon. So the fact that we are both now in two totally different spiritual places had me perplexed and hurting for her and the things she sincerely believes she has no power to overcome. Especially since there have been many times when we’ve talked about the same things over and over again like a circular dance, and I have encouraged her in the same ways over and over, praying always for God’s best for her, and for her measurement of faith to be increase and understand that she DOES have the power. And yet… nothing ever changes.
So where along the path did my “and yet” become my “BUT GOD”? What very important pivotal moment was it where was I able to grasp and take hold of the faith I needed? In listening to her recently, I believe it was somehow related to the point we lost our mothers. For both of us, our mothers were our ROCK. They were the center of our world and held everything together. Yet for whatever reason, when her mother died, she ran away from God and blamed Him for taking her too soon. When my mother died, by the grace of God I somehow was able to appropriate the gift of faith – HIS faith and not my own – and found myself running TO God instead, seeing my mother’s death as the catalyst that threw me into His arms, where I have since remained.
Where does this leave us? It has left me with the courage to face any circumstance without fear. Unfortunately for my friend, it has left her struggling to take hold of truth in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to have His way. And this is an all too familiar experience with so many people I see sitting in our churches today. They continue to come to Church gatherings, they continue to pray powerless and half-hearted prayers, and their spiritual needle never seems to move beyond a certain mark. Their life has become a day to day existence where they never experience the fullness of God’s plan for their life, and cannot wait to one day leave this world behind. It is their lack of hope and authenticity that are often on display whenever an outsider peers in, and so the outsiders remain without. And why should they come in? There’s nothing different inside that building for them.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that loving somebody is not hitting them over the head with truth and screaming at them like a cheap daytime television commercial “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE”! There is so much more to this life than living and dying, and God REALLY DOES have a plan and purpose for all of us! The scary thing is that we find ourselves living in unprecedented times, and there really is no more time to dilly dally. We MUST WAKE UP NOW! Or as my dad would have very bluntly said, “Either crap or get off the pot” (except his language was a bit more crass). And before you ask me “where is the love in that”, I will ask you where is the love in allowing someone to just stay stuck in the mud without waking them up to the reality that God is waiting for them to truly make Him Lord of all?
Are you a pastor who tries hard to avoid politics in the pulpit? How is avoiding politics in the pulpit going to ensure your congregation aligns with the truth of scripture? You can’t be a preacher these days and avoid it, because politics has invaded not only culture and attacked morality on every level, it has also invaded the church – and those sitting in your pews are literally dying to know TRUTH. Pastor or not, if you somehow think the Christian is exempt from hard times or that the Christian in the United States is somehow more precious and special than suffering Christians around the world, what rock have you been living under? The bible is very clear that trials and tribulation comes to every believer. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but principalities in high places (Ephesians 6), and as Christians, we are the main target.
The point that it all boils down to is the question Jesus asked of Peter and the rest of the disciples, and is the same question He asks of you today – who do you say that I am? Because this is where the tares are separated from the wheat. Either we believe the bible is the inerrant word of God or we don’t. Either we believe Jesus is the Messiah, Savior, Creator God of this universe and everything in it, or we don’t. Is He Lord of all in your life, or is there anything that He asks of you that, in that moment when He does, you hesitate and have to check with something or someone else before obeying? If you check with something else first, then guess what – He’s not Lord of all! Your life will continue going around in the circular dance that is looking for a God who will perform especially for you – the “my way or the highway big daddy in the sky wish machine” – until hard times hit, and then you’re out.
If you want authenticity but are in a church where your preacher is not giving you enough spiritual and scriptural meat, then get out of that place and go to a church known for the fire of God to dwell. Here’s a sure fire test: How did your church leadership react the Sunday after Roe v. Wade was overturned? Did they publicly praise God and shout a hallelujah, or was there crickets? Now is not the time for a church that is comfortable riding the fence between a God who IS and trying to please a woke culture. The hour for us to take a stand and partner with God through prayer to save America has come, but so long as the enemy keeps us focused on ourselves rather than on God, it will not happen.
You are not supposed to check into heaven with a clean uniform, unsoiled by warfare.Mario Murillo, Don’t Leave Quietly
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. - Ephesians 6:10-13