11 Apr 2021
(Follow Medical & Scientific guidelines for COVID 19 and pray believing.)
April 11 2021
So....I Read This Article....
Jesus replied, "But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."
The article I read is as follows:
The News & Observer
April 4, 2021
NC Pastor: People Are Leaving Church - Because of the Churches
The author is pastor of The Grove Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
Earlier this week Gallup released polling data showing that less than 50% of Americans report belonging to a faith community. Back in 1970, when Gallup first began tracking this data, more than 70% of Americans belonged to religious communities. As a pastor, when I heard this news, I thought of a little known passage in the 10th chapter of the book of Ezekiel when the prophet watches in horror as the Glory of God leaves the temple.
That’s not the standard response to news like this. The party line is to blame “this generation” for being less faithful, or “the media” for corrupting hearts or “the government” for taking prayer out of school. Once we’ve finished blaming those outside our communities, we turn to those inside and pressure them to give more, work more, sacrifice more to reverse the trend. But I don’t think any of that is a faithful response.
Because, while church membership is declining, people are still as hungry for the things of God as they ever have been. People are still seeking justice, forgiveness, hope, love and belonging. People are still desperate for mercy, for meaning, for second chances. People are still seeking the Holy, and the Holy One is still seeking people. So the problem isn’t with those outside the church, and it certainly isn’t with God. The problem — and it is a problem — is with us. The problem is that most of the church in America looks more like America than the body of Christ.
The church makes the news for all the wrong reasons — seminary leaders who passionately denounce Critical Race Theory but are silent about the white supremacy that forms their curriculum and institutions. Pastors who care more about not being called racist than learning how to meaningfully participate in racial reconciliation. Christians who care more about defending their right to buy a weapon than advocating to end police brutality.
Jesus — whose parents had to flee to a foreign country to save his life — has followers who advocate to close the borders to desperate refugees. Christians shouldn’t be outraged about 666 pairs of so-called ‘Satan Shoes’ but completely resigned to voter disenfranchisement, the school-to-prison pipeline, the resegregation of public schools, the opioid crisis or the epidemic of mass shootings. And speaking of Little Nas X, believers should be horrified by his ‘Call Me By Your Name’ video — not because of the raunchy imagery but because we managed to convince a young boy that he was more likely to find love in Hell than inside the body of Christ.
I love the church. But I love Jesus more, and the church has done a terrible job being faithful to the way of Jesus. When we who love the church see these numbers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. People aren’t rejecting Jesus — they are turning away from churches that represent him badly. Churches that are full of programs instead of prayer, full of doctrine but empty of mercy. Turning away from church that lies is the first step towards the truth.
Which brings me back to the prophet Ezekiel — who was called by God to prophesy judgment, not against outsiders, but against the egregious unfaithfulness of his fellow believers. In Ezekiel’s day, people loved the rituals of worship more than the God they worshiped, people loved their religious identity more than the shalom of God. And so, in anguish, God leaves their sacred building behind. But God never abandoned the people.
On the cross, Jesus cried out “it is finished.” Injustice is finished, greed and poverty are finished, hatred is finished, violence, enmity and alienation are finished. All of those old powers are condemned and crucified. On the cross, the righteousness of God’s self-giving love was unleashed to infect all the earth with holiness. Resurrection life has come. And the church, the true body of Christ full of his Spirit--the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational, full of love, generosity, healing, transformation, forgiveness, joy and mutual flourishing, real church welcomes all.
Local congregations may or may not be about the new thing God is doing. When they are — they are irresistible. When they are not, well, God may leave our buildings — but God will not stop being God.
What the church needs is not more members, but more Jesus — not revival but repentance. What we should fear is not people who refuse to belong to churches, but churches who refuse to belong to Jesus.//
***Please forgive the system change of copy flow from spaced to non-space in one of the paragraphs. I only copied and pasted the article and changed font size and bold enhancement. When I copy in entirety, it eviscerates my site. Like now, where you will now be reading my text with extra spacing. I'm so sorry.***
I do not know the author, nor am I familiar with anyone at The News & Observer. But I do happen to agree in part to what she is saying. The 'in part' comes into play because 'we the people' make up 'the body' of the church, and, as such, are as responsible as human leadership.
We should not sit back and not say anything, if Holy Spirit thinks something is not right, nor should we just depart the church as not satisfactory to us. We should step into that responsibility given us and step up to help in all ways we can to make all things right in HIS being, not necessarily for ours.
There is a church in town that I have labeled 'the party house'. I have never encountered ONE member who was not lost and professing total support and faith in that church. And therein lies the problem. They are placing their faith in THE CHURCH, not in God whom they are supposed to be worshiping. They share it's a party all the time there. They talk about the great music and the party atmosphere. But I've never heard of the worship of Almighty God. That's not to say you cannot sing joyously in worship, or dance in Spirit before the Lord, but it's more of a street party than a place of worship. Because they come out the door with some of the most pervasively perverted and mean spirits I've ever met. They talk of the Lord, and talk about singing about the Lord, but they clearly and most assuredly do not KNOW the Lord, or have a relationship with him. Know them by their fruits.
Jesus replied, "But the time is coming and is already here where true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4 23-24
And be reminded, again, as Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these tow commandments." Matthew 22:37
"You must worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you." Exodus 24.14
Note the word 'relationship'.
'And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.' Hebrews 10:25
I'm hearing these words loud and clear...how about you?
Let Us Pray
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I haven't loved you with my whole heart, my soul, nor my mind. Please forgive me. Heal me in all the ways I need to be healed. Give me your strength, keep me committed, carry me when I need you. Help me not fall...at least too hard, as I grow again....more....faithfully. I know you know about having a hard life. I'm sorry I am making your life harder. You depend on me, and others. Help me to be my best self for you. Help me every step and breath of the way. You never said life would be easy. But it will be worthwhile if I can make it into your arms, healed and made whole, and be with all my loved ones again. AND be the change that needs to occur in the world. Oh, what a world it's been. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, be with me, and all, as we all start to put in resurrection work. I thank you I praise you. I love you. Amen.
Shine Jesus Shine
1987 by Graham Kendrick
Lord, the light of your love is shining / In the midst of the darkness shining;
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us / Shine on me. Shine on me.
Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father's glory. Blaze, Spirit blaze; set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth your word, Lord, and let there be light.
Lord, I come to your awesome presence / From the shadows into your radiance;
By the blood I may enter your brightness;
Sear me, try me, consume all my darkness / Shine on me. Shine on me.
On Eagle's Wings
Michael Joncas. Its words are based on Psalm 91, Book of Exodus 19, and Gospel of Matthew 13. Joncas wrote the piece in either 1976 or 1979.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord / who abide in His shadow for life
Say to the Lord: "My refuge, my Rock in whom I trust."
And he will raise you up in Eagle's Wings / Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun, / and hold you in the palm of His hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you / And famine will bring you no fear.
Under His wings your refuge / His faithfulness your shield.
You need not fear the terror of the night / Nor the arrow that flies by day.
Though thousands fall about you, / Near you it shall not come
For to His angels He's given a command / To guard you in all of your ways.
Upon their hands they will bear you up / Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
One Bread, One Body
Author: John Foley, SJ, b. 1939 Meter: 4 4 6 and refrain Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12 Date: 1995
(Intro and Refrain)
One bread, one body; one Lord of all. / One cup of blessing which we bless.
Then we though many throughout the earth / We are one body in this one Lord.
1. Gentile or Jew, servant or free / Woman or man no more....
2. Many the gifts, many the works / One in the Lord of all....
3. Grain for the fields, scattered and grown / Gathered to one, for all....
Oh, that we would hope, and pray for all of the above.....to be manifested.
You can Google/Bing these songs to sing, if you don't know the melody, or just listen, to feel the healing embrace.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Now....PRAY....EARNESTLY....as to the way you should go !
Go placidly....but go....with the LORD !
(Follow Medical & Scientific guidelines for COVID 19 and pray believing.)
Majesty....worship His Majesty !
NOT fallible mankind !
AMERICA, THANK YOU FOR VOTING WISELY
President of the United States of America!
God, and the voters have spoken!
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is the 46th President of the United States of America!
The Electors did the right thing.
Truly a reason to give thanks every day moving forward.
Grateful for God's lesson today?
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Let us hear from Paul as he prays:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT
Scroll down to read Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving...'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'.
Definition of a Christian: Anyone who believes in God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. Regardless of church name or religious affiliation.
'All who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians - you are ONE in Christ Jesus.' Galatians 3: 27
It is not how we worship, but that we worship....the Trinity!
Teach tolerance....reach in acceptance....worship as one!
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"Go and make disciples out of all the nations
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
There is no better time than now to let God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit know how grateful you are for them being there for you, all they have done for you and will do, and, show thankfulness for being fed the Word of God, so you can know and obey him.
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It is time to reach into the community and the world around you to see wherein lies the greatest need. As you choose to focus on these areas, do so with a servant's heart. Whether the need is for children, adults, animals, the earth, or any cause in between that will help those in need, ask God how you can best serve his needs, what path you must take, and how long you should persevere. Sometimes we are to be in the lives of others merely as stepping stones. Sometimes we are to touch those lives forever. Whatever journey you are called to take, whatever team you will be a member, know this: God is with you always...even til the end of time. He loves you, is grateful for you, and will help you along life's way, especially if you are helping others along theirs, persevering with a servant's heart.
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One last thing....
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father - Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen."
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11: 25-30
And the people said,
I now write most prayers in the position of ' I ' (first person) because most people are sitting at their computer alone, not in groups, and it allows those reading and praying to personalize the prayer as coming from them going to God. Variations may appear on holidays when families may wish to use the prayer provided. I encourage you to pray your own prayers as well.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
NOTE: I said it long ago, but let me say it again. If you are wanting to lead a group, start a church, or are confined in an institution, or live in a country where the Gospel is not preached, and you don't know what to say or how to say it, and yet feel led to share, teach, or preach, besides just reading straight out of the Bible and sharing what God puts on your heart, please feel free to share any or all of what I've written, if it will help you, as long as you include where it comes from, due to copyright laws. Jesus gave God's love and healing freely, as well as his message. Our responsibility is to get the Word out to those who need to hear it. If what I've written....by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit....or what he has said through me....has helped you, it may help others that you know. You are welcome to share it. God calls all of us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please share it with the fullness of love that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit....and I....have given it. Amen!
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