buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Church”

Having Sight for the Future

Greetings! It’s been quite a while since I have posted so let me catch you up on what’s going on in my world. When I woke up on Easter Sunday, I had trouble with my sight. I realized at one point in the day, it was just my left eye that was blurry. I thought eye drops would help; they didn’t. I waited a week, then a month, then two months – still no change.

When I finally went to the eye doctor, he sent me to a surgeon because I had a macular hole, which is a hole in my retina. There is no sight in that area. It actually distorts my vision with blurriness along the edges. The surgeon fixed the hole, but the vision hasn’t returned. It’s a little better, but it’s going to take up to a year to know how much of my vision will be restored.

Long distance isn’t a problem, but close up work is – details are hard to pinpoint. Writing was put aside in June because of my sight – both physically and spiritually. I wasn’t in a place where I could trust my vision. The words were not flowing anymore. You may have noticed over the last year or so this difficulty since my writings have been sporadic. For six years, I wrote every week, then something happened and the words quit flowing. So I decided to step aside until the words started to flow again.

This morning felt different. Words were flowing before my eyes opened. The trouble with that is – I can never get the words to flow when I sit down to write. I had such a good blog posting before I woke up fully! I need a tape recorder of my thoughts! So I will give it my best effort and ask the Holy Spirit to intervene in my ramblings.

For the last few months, I have been watching the world fall apart. Have you? The times are just crazy, right? Where has civility gone? For the last year or two, political correctness has gone to the extreme; and it seems everyone is getting offended over something.

People are rising up for change. Change in politics. Change in how things are done in our government and even in our religion. Christianity needs to change, they say. Prominent pastors and teachers are straying from the word they have spoken from the pulpit and written in their books. There seems to be a “great falling away” from morality and spiritually in this day like never before. Seems this was mentioned in the Book they say is out dated and not culturally relevant. Seems to me it’s more relevant today than at any time in history. We are seeing a great shift in attitude; the Bible told us it was going to happen in the last days.

Last night, I had a few minutes before my bedtime. I turned on a 30 minute program speaking on end of times events. I love this stuff! I love to see how God is working; but sometimes, I fell to see. Others seemed to be more attuned to these things so I listen to what they have to say. Pastor Jimmy Evans, from Gateway Church, was on the program. He said he has been studying Bible prophecy for forty years. He seems to be attuned to what’s going on today.

Pastor Evans mentioned the book of Malachy’s Prophecy, a book written about the future 112 Popes. If this book is true prophecy, then Pope Francis is the last Pope; he is the 112th Pope. Does that mean we are at the end of the church age? If this is so, then the end of the church age will mean the removal of the church from the earth by the way of rapture – Jesus snatches us from the earth. The Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth when we leave too.

The Pope is an old man; he doesn’t have many more years ahead of him. Apparently in the prophecy, the last Pope will go through the tribulation period found in the Book of Revelation. Do you see where I am going with this? Time is very short. The church age is coming to an end and judgment is coming. Pastor Evans spoke about this time when the church will be divided. Isn’t it more so today than ever before? Whole denominations are moving away from God’s Word.

Jesus spoke about this time in Matthew 25. Pastor Evans mentioned the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God like a wedding. He is the Bridegroom. In this parable, the Bridegroom is coming, half of the virgins are ready; the other half are not. Pastor Evans mentioned if this is true, then 50% of the church will miss the rapture. Five of the ten virgins had oil for their lamps (oil represents the Holy Spirit). The other five ran out of oil. When they tried to get into the house, the door was locked and the owner said to go away for he did not know them.

It’s a sobering word. But the Word says to stand firm until the end. Keep the faith. Do the work we’re called to do. There will be crazy times ahead just as the Word states. I truly believe it is God’s Word which never changes. It’s relevant and it is the Truth. We are to encourage one another and keep looking for His appearance even if it takes another ten years or 20 or 30. His Word said He is coming to take us to the biggest wedding feast and it’s going to be amazing! Don’t miss it!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-9

The Tribe

We live at the most social time in history. We have never been as connected as we are today. Looking at my Facebook friends, I realized there were friends from every aspect of my life represented. I have a few childhood friends and a few friends from high school. I lived in two different places during those two seasons and had to make new friends in my new place. I moved on to college, and friends from college are included on Facebook.

There are several friends from different employment opportunities. There are church friends represented as well over the years. The neat thing about Facebook is connection. Through Facebook, we can still experience life together even though we’re miles apart. Well, that’s the idea. I’m not sure we’re really experiencing that same connection as we once did in real life. My friends I’ve had over the years have shaped me into the person I am today. We have experienced something special. We each made it through our seasons together.

We survived childhood together – not everyone does. We survived high school. Today, it’s a wonder anyone gets through those difficult years. However, we made it. Then college, the experiences we had back then, well, I don’t really talk much about those times. It’s like Vegas, what happens in college stays in college (for the most part). It’s done, it’s in the past; but friendships are made solid in those years because of the experience we had together.

Work and church in those early years – the growth that happens – it really shapes us. Mentors help us through. We learn from them then we move on to a new place to learn and grow from there. Every step of the way, friends have helped us to survive and thrive. Connections are great, but experiences shape us.

There are a few on my Facebook account who I don’t really know, but hopefully the encouraging words they find on my page helps them too. It’s all about community. The school I went to in New York for health coaching called community our tribe. We were called to be leaders of our tribe; to show them the way to a healthier, better life. They encouraged us to reach out and build our tribe – it helps us as we gain a bigger platform to spread the message of change.

One of my favorite television shows is Survivor. I love the concept of putting people in an uncomfortable island setting to survive for thirty-nine days. I wouldn’t do it, but I love to watch others do it. They have to pull together to build their shelter before darkness falls on the first day. They have to be able to make fire, find food and water in order to survive for the next three days.

Then the games really begin. Games are for rewards and for elimination. The teams have to work together in order to outlast the other teams. Eventually, every person has to take on the challenge solely to survive until the next round. But through the time on the island, alliances are formed. The social game is really the key to becoming the sole survivor to win the million dollar prize.

We are social creatures. God made us that way. Community is the key to our survival. Jesus had His tribe as well. He reached out to twelve men who were His disciples. Jesus had an inner circle of three who He picked to share His more intimate experiences. There were a few more that followed Him as well. Mary, Martha and Lazarus seemed to be very important to Him. He stayed with them whenever He was near Jerusalem. Jesus had crowds following Him wherever He went. But crowds are fickle. They tend to follow as long as their needs are met. There was no real connection to the crowds. They followed until the message became too hard to bear.

Some friends are like that as well. They stay with us as long as their needs are met until we disappoint them or hurt them. But true friends are with us through thick and thin – hard times and great times. True friends stay when the crowds leave. The twelve stayed with Jesus even when the crowds left. They were determined to stay even if it meant death to them. Eventually, they too left when it was apparent Jesus wasn’t going to make it out of His circumstances. Jesus was going to die and the twelve scattered – well, eleven scattered. The twelfth had already left Him for thirty pieces of silver. Judas betrayed Jesus for the cost of a slave.

Jesus is the sign of a true friend. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus found His disciples and restored the relationship. He didn’t leave them but sought them out. He found Peter who denied Jesus and gave Peter a new purpose. Jesus set Peter’s course. He strengthened and encouraged Peter to follow His example. Jesus’ tribe changed the world. We are living in this time with the resources we have because of the tribe of Jesus.

Friendships matter. Connections and experiences make us who we are to become. We are told in God’s Word not to forsake the gathering together – our church community keeps us on the right path. We need each other in order to survive and thrive in this life. Thank you, friends, for being a part of my life. You make me better for the experiences we share. Let’s continue to learn and grow together. Our world needs us to be connected – we could change the world by the love we share with one another.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Worship Night Reflections

Last night, there was a gathering of the church for worship. It was a night of praise music, somber reflection and communion then celebration of what God has done for us. Whenever we take communion, we are told to examine ourselves before we receive the cup and the bread. It’s in the moments before receiving communion when we come clean with God. We confess our wrongdoing before Him. In those moments we are to repent of those sins that keep us from our full relationship with Him.

I confess to you today, I am a sinner. I fall short of God’s standards. I will never get it right on my own. I can’t be good enough to win God’s favor. It’s just not within me. My flesh wants what it wants. It’s only by the grace of God and His mercy every day that I can live in right standing with Him. It’s only through Jesus and His righteousness that gives me freedom in the knowledge that I am right with God. I have forsaken my desires for His. At least, that’s the goal. I don’t succeed all the time.

One of the big themes I hear quite often is repent. It’s what Jesus called all the religious leaders to do whenever they were in ear shot of Him. John the Baptist spoke of this as his calling was to clear the way for the Lord. Repent. It was the theme for Jesus’ day as it is for ours. But we have fallen away from that message.

As I consider the times we live in, I believe we are near the end of the church age. I believe the church will be removed soon. I don’t know if I will see it in my lifetime or not, but times are moving closer and closer to that day. Just as John‘s message was to clear the way for the Lord, I believe we are in need of that same message for the church to be ready for Jesus to return.

The church is always top priority when it comes to God’s judgment. The church is His light. He will always clean house with the church first before He judges the unbelievers. Jesus cleaned the temple courts twice to get rid of the idolatry infested within those holy walls. I see a cleansing happening today. We may not understand what’s really going on in the church world right now, but I do believe Jesus is cleaning house.

We’ve seen it in the news time and again about the Catholic priests and sexual immorality. Southern Baptists are having a time of it as well. Leaders are falling and losing their “lamp stands.” The Methodists are determining their future too. This is the time to repent and come clean. It’s what we’re called to do before it’s too late. Repent before the coming of the Lord.

I know it’s not a popular word. It’s never really spoken about these days. The fire and brimstone preaching is a thing of the past. Now it’s the feel good messages – everything will be alright. But it won’t be right unless we make changes to get right before God. By God’s grace and His mercy, we confess and repent – change our mind about our sins. We agree with God on our sins – they are wrong and not the best way to live and keeps us from a full fellowship with Him.

God’s standards are our boundary lines. When we live in God’s boundaries, we have more freedom. Sin keeps us enslaved and in a debt we cannot remove unless we have the power of the blood of Jesus. It’s through Him we are given freedom. It’s by His blood we are cleansed. It’s by His body that was broken for us that we are given life everlasting. It’s His Spirit who seals us for that Day when He returns for us.

Following our flesh and our own desires is nothing in comparison to the life He gives to us. It’s the future life that is beyond words – beyond our imaginations. The flesh is nothing. Its temporary pleasures. What good is it to have the whole world and forfeit eternity? Why would we cling to this life of destruction when God gave us so much more? Because we don’t know what the future looks like walking in God’s way.

Where will He take us? What would He have us do? It might be uncomfortable. It might take us away from all that we know and love. Or it could be the best thing ever. It could be a life so full and overwhelming that we could actually regret not doing it sooner.

This is the time for examination before communion with Him. Jesus said to count the cost and then follow Him. To the churches He said, to those who have ears, let them hear.

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:2-6

Five Hundred

Are you a numbers person? I am. When I hear numbers, I perk up – so to speak. It happened the other Sunday while I listened to my Pastor speak about getting our act together – well, he didn’t actually call the message that… but that’s the jest of this message series.

The number 500 came to my attention when Pastor Jimmy spoke about the last message Jesus gave to those gathered. The message was to go out and tell the Good News. Pastor Jimmy said the crowd hearing that message was less than the ones sitting in the warehouse that morning hearing Pastor Jimmy’s message.

Five hundred. That’s all it took to get the message to us today. Isn’t that amazing?

Five hundred men and women were called to tell the Good News to the ends of the earth. They heard the proclamation to go and tell in Jerusalem (city), in Judea and Samaria (region) and to the ends of the earth (world). But it took persecution to get the message to go beyond the borders of Jerusalem. When those believers felt the heat, they took off to parts unknown. But as they went, they told the stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Five hundred.

The small crowd of followers listened intently to the message that day. These were the ones who stayed when others had left because of Jesus’ hard teaching. Their eyes were focused on the Risen Lord. I can imagine them sitting with their gaze – eyes wide; ears attentive and tuned in to His voice. They would hang on His every word. After all, this One was dead then He was alive. Who wouldn’t believe after that? Well, besides the religious leaders.

The last thing Jesus said would be the thing that would be engraved on their hearts. “Write it down; we need to remember this – it’s important.” The Gospel writers did so we could be there with them to hear the message they heard. The message changed their lives. It could change ours too – if we listened and tuned in to His voice.

Five hundred.

Peter helped increase the number with his first message. The followers numbered three thousand five hundred on Pentecost. Jesus said those assembled would increase with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come. And they did. The Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind. Tongues of fire lit something within them and they were never the same. Jesus said the assembly – Ecclesia (Greek) or Church (English) – would be built upon the foundation of Jesus’ message – His Truth – He is the Son of the Living God who died for our sins and was raised to life so that we could be in relationship with God the Father as was the Plan from the beginning.

This message was passed down from generation to generation. For centuries, it endured because of the testimony from those who had been changed by its message. Throughout the world and across generations, lives have been changed because of the first five hundred. The five hundred didn’t have an easy road to travel. They endured many hardships. Persecution kept them going. And the message spread because of it.

What would it take today to get us motivated to tell others about this Good News? The message hasn’t changed. The Holy Spirit is still at work today as He was when the Church was first formed. Jesus said the Church would never be destroyed. And it hasn’t been, although it’s not because of the enemy’s lack of trying. One day, the Church will be snatched away and the world will fall into a great darkness.

The only thing keeping the darkness at bay is the power of the Holy Spirit working through His Church. It may not be apparent today in the US as it was in the past, but the Church is still a guiding force by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is still looking for those willing to risk it all, just as the first five hundred did for the message of Christ. The first five hundred experienced persecution for the Church to grow.

Today, the Church is growing in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, they experience great persecution as well. The decline of the church in the US may be caused by our “freedoms” and lack of persecution. What’s it going to take to wake up the church in the US today? Is it going to take persecution in the US to bring about a renewed interest in this old message? Will the church dwindle down to 500 faithful believers who will risk it all for the sake of the Good News? Time will tell… the church is still here – are we awake?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)

New Vision

What’s your image of Jesus? Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Do you see Him as just a man who happened to live long ago? I grew up in a Christian home. There hasn’t been a time in my life where I questioned who Jesus was (is). However in the last few years, I have found a new vision of Jesus. I have a new appreciation for who He is in my life. He is not just my Lord and Savior; He is my source of life and light. I have taken the time to get to know the real Jesus, not the image I have in my head, but the one that is forming in my heart through His word. Scripture tells us that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us.

I no longer see Him as a meek soul wandering around healing people or forgiving them of their sins. He was a Jewish man, in a Jewish community, doing Jewish things like going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He upheld the strict laws given to Moses found in the first five books of our modern-day Bible. He went about His business each and every day. He was a carpenter by trade until His ministry began at the age of thirty. When His journey started toward the cross, He had the body of a carpenter. He was a strong man. His appearance would have been as any Jewish man of His time. He would have worn His hair long and had a beard. He would have worn a turban and long garments with sandals on his feet. I can imagine He exuded joy from His every pore. I see Him laughing and excited to see His friends discover something new. His face would have expressed peace. I would think His whole demeanor would have shown love pouring from His heart.

Even now, His attitude is still love and passionate for us. Even though we can’t physically see Him, I know His heart is poured out on us. His love envelops us. His comfort wraps His arms around us. He is passionate about me; about you. His heart longs for us to know Him as He knows us. Scripture tells us He knows the number of hairs on our heads – and for me, it changes daily (even hourly)! He laughs when we laugh. He cries when we cry. And when we ignore Him, I’m sure He feels the same thing we would if we were ignored by someone we love.

Jesus knows our circumstances. He longs to help us with them. He wants to share in our burdens. He wants to chase the darkness away. He is the light and there is no darkness around Him. Jesus is passionate about His people. And He is passionate about every lost soul walking this earth without a hope. He died for each and every person. And He is passionate about His church. Do I have the things of Jesus in mind? Am I as passionate as He is about lost souls or His church? He is creating a new vision in me. How about you? What is your vision of Jesus?

When I turned to see who was speaking, there behind me were seven candlesticks of gold. And standing among them was one who looked like Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, wearing a long robe circled with a golden band across his chest. His hair was white as wool or snow, and his eyes penetrated like flames of fire. His feet gleamed like burnished bronze, and his voice thundered like the waves against the shore. He held seven stars in his right hand and a sharp, double-bladed sword in his mouth, and his face shone like the power of the sun in unclouded brilliance. Revelation 1:12-16 Living Bible

Be Ready

I am getting married! Are you shocked? I was totally unprepared for that emotional elation, that after all this time I might actually want to get married! I read in Revelation 19 that Jesus is preparing His church (people not a building) for the wedding feast that will be happening in His kingdom. His church is His bride and even today, He is preparing us for that day. I have been on the reading adventure through Revelation since September through the Community Bible Study group. It’s been a wild ride through all the symbols and wraths of God, but in chapter 19 there is a continual celebration of all that is taking place. It’s a breath of fresh air.

In chapter 19, John sees the celebration of the wedding ceremony. As I was reading, I pictured the readiness of a bride-to-be and all the preparations that take place before her big day. As the bride-to-be begins the process of dressing for the event – her big day, she wears the dress of white (typically). In Revelation, we see the attire being fine linen, bright and clean (verse 8). John was instructed to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” As I was reading this particular section, the commentary suggested looking at Matthew 22.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 22 about a wedding banquet. Several groups were invited to come, but they all had excuses why they couldn’t make it. Eventually strangers were asked to attend, and they came wearing their wedding clothes, except for one fellow. He was put out because he didn’t have the right clothes. Every other time I had read this passage from Matthew 22, I thought that was a bit harsh to throw him out just because of the clothes. However, I am reminded that when Jesus told stories it was for a spiritual purpose. Since reading Revelation 19, I see the clothes now as the righteousness of those who attend His wedding feast. Not everyone will be allowed in and those who are not clothed in righteousness will be thrown out. Wow – what a powerful word.

I get it. I understand I need to be in preparation for that big day. But also, the church needs to be ready as well. I believe time is growing short, and there’s much to do to be ready for that big day. I want to be a part of the ceremony, don’t you? There is nothing in this world worth losing that wedding invitation. Revelation 19 begins with “Hallelujah!” which means Praise to God! Yes, I am excited to be wed to Jesus. It’s going to be a glorious day! Amen!

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Revelation 19:6b-8

Foundations and Buildings

I have recently heard two messages on both the foundations of God and Jesus building the church. I don’t believe in consequences. I believe God is giving us a word. Jesus said over two thousand years ago that He is building His church. He is still doing it today. The church has grown from 120 people when Jesus started to millions today. The foundation was laid through Jesus’ ministry. His words came from God. He spoke the truth of God. Then He laid down on a cross. He is building on the foundation that cannot be shaken. It is the Truth spoken by Jesus and through Jesus.

I listen to several sermons a week through different ministries. God is building a firm foundation in me. I am hearing the truth through scripture, the spoken word and the written word. God is building a church through each person that is willing to listen, learn and put the Word into practice. God is not a god of duplication but multiplication. His church is not dying but thriving. There are multiple churches out there in the world that are bringing the Truth to light and people are responding. God is at work.

I am in the process of becoming ready to join the movement in whatever role I am to play. God is preparing my heart. He is preparing my mind. He is preparing my body. He is at work. He is not preparing me for a ministry that is duplicated but is unique to what He is calling me to. Beth Moore recently spoke about rebuilding the temple in Ezra 3. She spoke about the same foundation was used to rebuild temple, the same materials, same architectural plans, but the temple came out different. God didn’t dwell the same in the second temple as He did the first. We are in the temple age where He now dwells in us. He doesn’t dwell the same with everyone. Whoever is ready, let him receive the Holy Spirit for the greater work God is doing. Join the movement – build the church. Others are waiting to be introduced to Jesus.

For those that have ears, let them hear.

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 3:5,7

Post Navigation