Politics or Praise, what’s in your church?

Lately I’ve been doing research for a series of posts I plan to do in regards to why young people and even some older people leave the church, the Christian church. The reasons have been many and not all that surprising for the most part. After all, those that don’t like Christianity are happy to give you the reasons on air whenever they get the chance.

I will get in to each reason later, but it recently occurred to me that they all had something in common. Those in leadership positions of the church, elected or simply held in high regard, let the members of the church down. Why, because they are looked up to as examples of what a Christian should be. The fairly new Christians, and that is of any age, often see hypocrisy occurring when people forget they are a church and begin acting as though the church is some power organization that one needs to control or be a part of.

I’ve been part of a church that went from having to park on the grass and sitting in folding chairs of a 300+ capacity church to having only 100 show up for service. All because of politics. Most often it is because someone didn’t like the pastor and when that one influential person leaves, all those that are on that person’s side, follow suit. By the way, he was an amazing pastor who got my father back into church after being out for over 30 years.

While everyone is involved in the politics, as opposed to praising and praying, the people of the church are not being fed spiritually nor being fed the knowledge of scripture. Two very important things in a Christians foundation of belief.

Another thing that happens is members see the infighting and power struggle of the church and can’t help but notice the hypocrisy occurring. The gossip, the whispers, the sometimes outright lying. The causing of conflict and discord in the church.

Those involved in the conflict are so caught up in what is happening that they don’t realize they are failing others. They see their needs as being the most important needs, but they explain this away by saying it is also best for all those in the church. Is it really?

I am a fan of the Simple Church. It is a book by Thom S. Rainer and talks about how to cut out all of those things that a church doesn’t really need. In other words, back to basics. I heard him speak on this at a SBC conference once and the end to all the headaches of what was occurring in my church looked to be in sight. I’m a peacemaker. That’s what my spiritual gift has been identified as. That is one reason a lot of my posts seem to give a bit of two sides of things and rarely have an edge to them. As the head of the Deacons, and Sunday School, and Youth Director, I embraced the Simple Church.

For us it was almost too late. But we still survive.

I am not speaking about conflict in the church just be talking. It really dose run people off. If this is all you have experienced in a church, or the majority of your time, then why would you want to stay there?

With that I give you the following passage.

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
        haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
        a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
        a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” NIV Translation

This is a list from lowest of the things he detests to his most. Note his most despised thing, those who cause conflict or discord within the church. This doesn’t mean those who ask questions, because one who believes wants to know as much as possible and needs to know in order to be able to give answers when asked. This means those who are out for some kind of control or want to get their way in a dispute.

When whispers and gossip begins to spread and your church numbers begin to dwindle , there is something wrong. Look in the mirror and see if you have the heart of Jesus for all members of your church. If you are not happy in your church, then find another one, but leave quietly. Don’t leave with a roar in an attempt to break a church down. Because when you do, the young Christians, and I mean young as in new to being a Christian at any age, only see hypocrisy and the discord caused. They do not receive the spiritual energizing and feeding they need with their fellow Christians that is so important, especially in the early stages.

For those thinking God only spoke to the Jews in the Old Testament about conflict and lying and gossipers, check out Romans Chapter 1 and see what He says they deserve.

Finally, I give you one of my favorite verses.

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is the Old Testament and means Christians and Jews alike, should be still and remember that what we can do is finite, what God can do is infinite.

Be still can mean that people who believe they can do good works to show they are good and mighty are foolish because they do not give God the credit for their ability to achieve.

Christians should be still and observe all that God has done and can do, and realize that we shouldn’t sweat over things we can’t control. Do what is within your control, and as you do so with God’s help, you will be able to discover there are more things in your control because you have grown. This is what young Christians should be able to look forward to, not a conflict torn church that denies them the opportunity, or perhaps a young person thinking of asking Jesus into his/her heart and walks away instead because of what they see.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights. At least that’s its name this century.

Last week I began a new, hopefully, weekly bit of a challenge and cultural growth posting called “Guess That Art!” In this challenge you’re not to cheat but to see if you know what it is and comment, comment about what you think of the art, and even write a piece of poetry inspired by the art and share it through a link in the comments.

The at below is called The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch artist, Hieronymus Bosch, born 1450 and died 1516. The work is actually known as a triptych because there are three individual panels/paintings. The triptych was painted sometime between 1490 and 1510, so when he was between 40-60. He is well known for his iconography. I believe that is what makes his work so interesting and engaging. Also it gives it a futuristic feel, especially when you consider the pieces is over 500 years old. (The painting has been known by other names throughout history.)

The first panel is a scene of the Garden of Eden and most often interpreted as the moment God introduced Eve to Adam who is just coming awake from his surgical procedure. Click the link to go to an enlarged view of the panel that you can see the details and interpret the symbolism of the artists imagery. The man had a serious opinion about some things it would seem. Click here to see the first panel.

The second or middle panel is similar to the first panel with the continuation of the horizon and terrain. It might even be possible that the second is future of the first when you look deeper. There is an obvious air of sexuality in the middle panel and thoughts have been it is a warning of where the world is heading. You get a feeling of condemnation from it and when you look at many of the individual scenes it becomes apparent what he may have thought. The large pink tower in the upper left corner is one that I was a bit surprised by. Click here to see the middle panel.

The third panel is the result of what Bosch saw as humanity’s wild forays into indiscriminate selfish pleasure. This is either a Hell on Earth or actual Hell. I especially find the pig nun disturbing. Click here to see the middle panel.

What are you thoughts and interpretations? Share in the comments. Friday I will be sharing another work that I came across during some research.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch

Here is what the work looks like when the panels are closed. If you look closely you will see what is thought to be God in the upper left corner looking down on earth as light is first appearing over Earth.

Creation_Garden of Earthly Delights.

The Power of Positivity.

The power of positivity. In order for it to change your life you have to understand a few things and apply it across the board.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. That was the verse I was given to study upon. Not a lot to go on there and of course I did as I always do and went to the book itself and read the verses leading up to and following it.

“12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:12-18

That’s a lot to throw at you but I liked it. It’s something I’ve reminded people from time to time when things have looked bad and they’ve looked weary at church. This always leads into questioning about what good is happening in life. The bad things can be powerful because they can loom large. One reason problems can be large is because we give so much power to things. It’s like when you have that one favorite TV show and you MUST see it every week. Then it gets cancelled. You feel it’s the end of the world. But then what happens? You find a new favorite.

But sometimes big things are big things. You still can’t let them control your entire life. The worry about them affects the other areas. Eventually that one thing ends up destroying everything else.

You know, some people like to use that old idea of a grain of sand turning into a pearl when they talk about how an irritant can bring about something wonderful. Well, that irritant is in one spot, it doesn’t move around to all areas of the oyster. The oyster lives a fine and happy life with a pearl.

It’s a struggle to work against the negative. Or it can be. Put with practice, focusing on the positive, you end up having the positive weed its way into the negative areas. It’s always better to go into a job interview with a good and positive attitude than a negative one.

Ronovan

Romans 1:16

One Master.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

A lot of people look at Christianity as a way out. Some, even preachers, would take a verse like this and say, “See, you don’t have to worry about anything. Do what you want and you’ll be fine.”

The only thing is, this verse is part of a letter to the Romans and you can’t take one line of that letter out of context. So I read the whole section it was included in even though I was given just that one verse for the day to study over.

There are basically two masters of the world, sin and righteousness, or bad and good. You are either a servant of one or the other. Sometimes you’re going to mess up and do something that falls into the camp of the other, but when it comes down to the end, you’re going to have to answer to whoever the leader you serve.

Not being under the law doesn’t mean a Christian is above the law. It’s a reference to the Old Testament laws. There were a LOT of them. Jesus fulfilled those laws with his sacrifice. By a person becoming a Christian they agree to follow the one who already took the fall for us. We still have to answer to God when the time comes. Like I’ve said before, “Give me the smallest piece of Heaven and I’ll still be in Heaven.”

We each make a choice as to what master is going to be our primary leader. I’ve personally chosen God/good/righteousness and depending on the grace of God to forgive me for my failings. Some may say there is no such thing as God. I’d rather believe there is. And why not, right? There is no harm. At least not for those who are real Christians, and no harm from real Christians. We are not supposed to force our beliefs on others. As far as I am concerned we aren’t to make laws that force those beliefs either. But I will be honest and say if there is a vote for something that is against my beliefs, then I’ll vote against it. Too many people get upset when a vote doesn’t go there way. I haven’t had a vote of any kind that has harmed me in any way. But that’s where legislation gets in the way. They don’t let the people vote for things, even simple things. I think they might be surprised how a vote would turn out.

Well, I’ve rambled there a bit, but I hope you get what I’m saying, or at least get something I’ve said.

Much Respect

Ronovan

Boast in your weaknesses.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Sometimes you need to go to the book itself when you’re given a verse to read for the day. So I did, and read what led up to this statement by Paul to the Corinthians.

I like Paul because he’s not afraid to talk about his own failings, although he keeps his main failing, the ‘thorn’ in his flesh a secret, he still admits he has one. So what does the verse mean?

I look at myself as an example. I have Fibromyalgia which is also known as Chronic Pain. I have Chronic Fatigue, migraines that are always present, with variance in intensity, light and sound sensitivity, a sleep disorder, as well as spinal problems and other health issues. Why do I even look at those weaknesses in delight? Or perhaps the insults I’ve received at times?

Because with the help of God, those weaknesses, insults, and persecutions didn’t stop me from doing something I’ve dreamed of for decades. In fact, because of those weaknesses I may  have accomplished my goal of becoming a published author.

I took what life gave me and worked with it. I didn’t say that because my life isn’t the norm, that I couldn’t accomplish something. Even today I don’t know when I will sleep, when I will be awake. Sometimes I sleep three hours out of 48 and I will turn that into something useful in writing. What better way to describe sleep deprivation than being in it?

Anyone can brag about something they’ve done. But boasting about a weakness is something else. Overcoming hardships to be normal or even being extraordinary is something to talk about, but it’s mainly something to look to and realize help was given along the way. God directed me to write a book, or a few really. Within three months of an accident that changed my life forever, I’d written a book that I am about to shop to agents. I shouldn’t have been writing anything, but I had this need inside of me to challenge myself to accomplish something I’d never done before, write a romance novel. So it turned out to be a coming of age novel more than a romance. I still did it.

Having that helping hand to guide me, to support me, to lift me up when I fall backwards, is something that I know I can rely on and makes me more fearless in what I do. I am not afraid of weaknesses or failures. I use them.

Much Respect

Ronovan