What is missing?

What is missing?


I am reading, hearing and seeing more and more topical sermons, studies and programs on why so many are not attending church. They all have lists, numbers, statistical findings on…. excuses.

  • There are long time church members staying home.
  • Families bouncing from church to church.
  • Young people discouraged and looking elsewhere, even the world.
  • Visitors that don’t return. All searching, hungry, looking.

Why? I have not found the answer in any list I have seen. That is because the lists are based on excuses. The writers all focus on excuses, not the reason. The reason hits too close to home. Many of them are the cause. There is only One reason. He is missing.

This is not new. John wrote of churches in His day that were found lacking, where He was missing. Only two were positive, Smyrna and Philadelphia…. 28-1/2% of the churches in his day were found faithful.

Sadly, too many of our churches in America today are becoming more like the other 71-1/2% written about in Revelation. This is the message John needed churches to hear and why God had it recorded. It is how churches are held to accountability. Many churches are a combination of more than one of the ones John wrote to; how tragic.

  1. Rev 2:1-7 Ephesus churches that have forsaken God as their first love
  2. Rev 2:12-17 Pergamum churches that need to repent
  3. Rev 2:18-29 Thyatira churches with false teachers/teachings
  4. Rev 3:1-6 Sardis churches have fallen asleep, simply exist, there is no visible life
  5. Rev 3:14-22 Laodicea churches that are luke warm, fence straddlers, tolerate sin to keep peace

If only the flocks had shepherds (pastors, teachers, leaders) that pointed to The Great Shepherd and led in Worship.

People are looking for worship. Only worship fills that nagging empty void. It was a place in us created by God for communion with Him, and Him alone. And the void that was created by the fall of man can ONLY be filled by restoration of communion with God. Consecrated, sanctified and humbled by the great I AM, we can approach with our hearts now humble and reverent in worship of Him. That is the hunger everyone is yearning to be sated.

There is a time and place for praise and rejoicing for all He has done. But, only after we have worshiped who He IS, the Great I AM, can we know how to praise Him fully. How can you adequately praise someOne you don’t know who He is? You must truly, reverently and in all humbleness, bow your heart before Him. El Shaddai, El Elyon…. Lord God Almighty, The Most High God.

We have a generation that feels they have worshipped God because they have “praised” Him. Through all the good feelings and emotional highs, the theatrics, lightings, gesturing and posturing they leave service fulfilled. It lasts until they get to the restaurant and everyone starts grumbling. Diluted by the world being brought in to God’s house, most have never been in a House of Worship. They will try and recharge themselves throughout the week by putting on praise songs, motivational speakers, and try to shout, clap and dance. Yet they feel empty shortly there after. They do not know how to worship the Great I AM, so their praise is as unfulfilling. They put the proverbial cart before the horse and find no success in moving towards God. Time and place, Ecclesiastes 3.

Families move from church to church searching trying different programs. Youth become delusion and leave. The elderly become more and more hungry for real worship they once knew. There is one reason – no place to Worship, no reverence, no humbling, no teaching of El Shaddai, El Elyon. All the praising of what He has done can never replace who He is, the Great I Am.

Stuck in a rut.


People are funny, we get into such ruts; predictable in all we say and do. “Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means a boring lifestyle that never changes. We are just creatures of habit, we fall in comfort zones and stay there. This is ever so true of our prayer life.

Do you know what certain people will say when called on to pray? You know some that will start the same way every time, using the same key phrases. Some even say the same phrase over and over throughout their prayer. Creatures of habit, stuck in a rut and comfortable. If we talked to each other this way we would soon find ourselves alone. Sometimes I think we must bore The Lord to tears.

Praying is talking to God in conversation. You can talk to Him anytime and about anything. I had a woman tell me her husband was so spiritual because he prayed three times a day. I told her as Christians we can pray unceasingly. In other words, we are open in communication 24/7, talking and listening, always an open line with our Lord. If Christians keep a right fellowship with their Heavenly Father through prayer and reading His Word they can pray unceasingly.

So how should we pray? The model prayer, or Disciples Prayer, in Matthew 6:5-13 is a good way to learn how to Pray (talk) with The Lord. (This passage of scripture is often called The Lord’s Prayer but, that’s actually in John 17.) the model prayer: No repetitions here. 1) acknowledge Him 2) praise Him 3) thank Him 4) seek forgiveness from Him 5) intercede for others 6) Pray in Jesus’ name. The Lord gave us a very good model to learn to pray and it’s sad so many simply use it as a recital piece only.

Praying should be intentional, like you mean it, not a recitation, habit or duty. It helps me to visualize as I pray.. “Lord, I need the wisdom of Solomon, or the courage of Daniel.” I have prayer lists, but I don’t pray from top to bottom, or even all at one time. The Lord will bring them to mind throughout the day, often awakening me in the middle of the night and laying them on my heart. It took me a long time to learn not to simply “pray the list”. When you are in a fluid conversation with The Lord, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind those on your list in need throughout the day.

Prayer is a gift from God, allowing us to communicate freely. Sadly, we often abuse the privilege and misuse the gift.

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Stinkin-in and rotten-in!


As toddlers our girls were spoiled rotten (yeah, I know, they still are).   But, we would tell them they were rotten to the core; stinking and rotting.   Now, when they would tell it back to us it sounded more like … stinkin-in and rottin-in.   Their dad still tells them they are rotten in the toddler terms.

Truthfully, things that are rotting are usually stinking and it is anything but cute.   stinkWhen something stinks, it usually has sat around awhile, soured and rotted.  Unfortunately, many Christians become rotten from sitting around and souring.  They get upset, get discouraged and get down.  Instead of going to their knees, seeking fellowship and prayer partners, they just sit and stew … and stew … and then they sour and after a while they just SMELL.  You would think they would get the message when people start avoiding them.  You can not stand to be around them.  They are sour on the world.  Nothing is going right for them; nothing is going their way.  As the saying goes, “misery loves company” and they want you to be miserable with them.  You just want them to get “washed in the blood” all over again.  All you can do is bathe them in prayer.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15(HCSB) 14 But thanks be to God, who always puts us on displayin Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.15 For to God we are the fragranceof Christ among those who are being saved  and among those who are perishing.”

Hopefully, you are not the one stinkin’.  Each day you make a choice.  You get up and you choose your attitude.    In Matthew 5:3-11 you will find the Beatitudes:

BEatitudes = Attitudes To Be (a previous blog)

 

If you are going to “smell” … smell sweet!

 

Why Does God Whisper?


I have written about quiet before (Shhhhh), there is nothing like quiet.  Do you ever stop and listen to a breeze? Common Dandelion; Seed head; Taraxacum officinale; macro; close up;I am a very outgoing type personality, so when I get quiet people think I am sick.  When I am quiet, I am listening.

My husband and I relish in our time together when we are “quiet”.  One time my daughter asked me if we were okay.  I asked her what she meant.  She said, “you and dad go to the beach together and he fishes or reads and you shell, but you never talk.”  We talk.  We just do it without words.  Sometimes, we sit and read for hours, or we go to the beach and he fishes and I shell.  I always look up and watch him reel in his fish.  He looks out to watch me shell.  If I get out of sight for too long he comes looking to check on me.  We communicate without words, a lot.  We have been married for 36+ years and we dated almost seven.  We knew each other four years before that.  Through the years we have grown close enough to not always need to “talk”.  But, we talk, we communicate.  We do not have to shout to each other, or constantly talk out loud.  With some relationships, quiet IS conversation.

Our walk with the Lord is like that.  God doesn’t yell to us or shout from Heaven.  Most of what He tells us is in a whisper.  Why?    There’s a story of an old preacher who is visited by a young man in trouble.  He tells the preacher he has prayed and prayed and God has not answered.  The old preacher says something.  But, the young man could not hear him, so he moved closer, “what did you say?”  The preacher repeats it, and again the young man moves closer, “What?  I cannot hear you.”  One more time the old preacher repeats himself and the young man walks right up to him and asks him to repeat again.   “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so we will move closer to hear Him.”

My best conversations with GOD are when I say nothing at all.

1 Kings 19:11-13 (HCSB) 11 Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind  was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

James 1:19 (NASB) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak…”

(Other Posts on Quiet: Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little  O be careful little mouth what you say… )

Stuck in NEUTRAL?


Life can be like an amusement park’s race-track ride.  There are those that pay extra and get the Fast Pass with no waiting, on queue and no taking turns. They haven’t the patience to wait and they do not want to waste time in line because they want to see it all.  They rush around the park looking for the Fast Pass kiosk.  It’s always their turn.  Then there are those that stand in line no matter how long it takes for a chance to be in the car and in the race.  And of course there are always those that just skip the ride and are spectators.Neutral

Are you on a fast track, a slow track or no track?  I think most of us are hustling around at break neck speed, never slowing in the physical realm. But, what about our spiritual life?  Not so simple is it?  Like the world that has caught us up on the speedy path in our daily activities, we are caught up on the world’s pace in the spiritual realm.  But, truthfully, while it may be speedy, it’s actually in neutral.  We’re sitting still, in neutral and the track is moving.

I’ve probably totally confused most of you now.  Here’s what I mean.

1) I watched as a couple met in a parking lot.  She ran around to open the back door, reached in and grabbed the toddler out of the car-seat.  He reached in and got a small suitcase.  In a matter of moments the child had gone from one household to another, an emotionless exchange on the part of the two adults between each other. They barely made eye contact.  The toddler looked complacent, use to the exchange.  It was all done on neutral ground.

2) I watched a pre-teen negotiate the mom in the store.  They wanted a CD.  The mom said she really didn’t want them listening to that kind of music and that she really couldn’t afford it right now.  The child looked at her and raising their voice said, “That’s so stupid.  Life’s stupid, you’re stupid.”  Looking at her child with a sigh she said, “well I guess if you feel you really need it, we’ll get it.”  She didn’t want a scene, she was tired so she took neutral ground in her mind, and gave in to the demand.  She was picking her battle and this was one she thought she could lose. What she did was neutral to hold what she thought was mutual ground and not alienate her child, but in actuality she simply gave up more ground.

3) I watch people make a commitment to a cause, a vow, a decision.  They make resolutions to help someone, to become a better person and to improve a situation.  Noble on the onset, time rushes in and they become neutral.  Their commitment to pray for someone becomes a ritual and has no meaning.  They begin to lose conviction and their vow no longer matters, they change their mind on their decision.  They become politically correct so has not to cause division.  They are stuck in neutral.

No matter the situation in your life, a broken commitment, vow or decision… somewhere you went from mutual ground to neutral ground and left The Lord out of the situation, taking it in your own hands.  There are religions that teach prayer three times a day, or chants and ritualistic prayers.  When your life gets in the fast track and out of control you have forgotten a major TRUTH – YOU HAVE CONSTANT ACCESS.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

How? It means you are always in line with Heaven. You can hear and you can talk with your Lord.  You are always in tune with Him,  on His frequency, talking with Him.  Just as though He were seated in the car with you, you can always talk with Him and He with you.

Problems in situations in your life? It is probably because:

You gave up mutual ground with those in your life for neutral ground when you left Holy Ground.

The Pain’s The Thang


My mother would always steer clear of people who gave “organ recitals” as she called them.  They were “downers”, depressing people. Your mistake would be to ask, “how are you”?  They never got better, something was always wrong, yet they were at the mall, in church, at the school function.  They sounded as though they were dying yet they looked and acted fine.  Some people never get enough attention.lookatme

Makes you want to give them their own t-shirt, “here’s your sign”!

Many of us have our issues, our daily battles.  I have to say my chronic condition is a struggle.  Mom and dad raised us that if you were this side of the grass to get on with your life and bear up under what ever it is you’re going through.  Physically it is hard I know, trust me.  (I will not give you an “organ recital” now, so don’t worry :-D).  Unless you had a fever or couldn’t keep your food down, you went to school and later on work.  My father had a great work ethic.  He went back to work a month after he had his right lung removed and worked for many more years.  It is a mind-set, mind over matter… you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Work ethic, seems to be a vanishing concept.  People would rather complain about what needs to be done, how hard it is to do it or even about the paper cut that is going to keep them from doing the job.  “It’s too heavy, I don’t do ladders, my foot hurts, my back hurts ….”.  Down deep I think it simply they need someone to look at them and give them attention.  There is a legitimate time of sickness or injury, but using it for attention or to make your life easier just makes you an HYPOCHONDRIAC!

 

Sadly, many people carry this mentality into their spiritual life as well.  I call them “Spiritual Hypochondriacs”.  hypo It is no secret that in the Christian life we have ups and downs, mountains and valleys.  Some people hit the valley once and get stuck.  They clamp down on the experience and never get better.  They remember when things were better, when God blessed them and everything was smooth.  Every time you meet them they have the same prayer request.  Let me insert here I am not talking about a long time illness, financial situation, loss loved one, etc.  I am talking personal growth.  Many times we do go through an extended time in the valley because we do not grow in the Lord, we do not learn what He brought us there to learn.  Our daily life is about growing more in the Lord.  If we get stuck in the valley, we are not feeding our spiritual life.  We are not reading His word, praying for others, talking with Him daily.  We need to fellowship with other Christians who help pull us along and we in turn pull them along when the road is hard.  If we are not doing His work, helping others then we “are all about me”.  It’s the spiritual version of “look at me”.   These kind of people become cancers and spread through a body of believers, making them all “doubting Thomas’s; woe is us Christians”.  Nothing the devil likes better than to get Christians in to spiritual hypochondria.

Got pain?  Don’t make it the thang.  Take a time of rest if you need it, let it heal or get better, but do not wallow in your illness.  Doctors say that positive attitudes and can do spirit helps people heal faster than many medicines.  For Christians, that same attitude applies.  Sometimes the valley is long, it is a drudgery of day-to-day, never-ending it would seem.  But, the Scriptures tell us,

James 1:2-4(HCSB)Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Some coach has taken credit for the “No Pain, No Gain” concept.  But it came from the Bible.  Let people hear of your journey, counting it all joy with expectation of what the Lord is going to accomplish in your journey.

Don’t make the PAIN the THANG!

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Short cut!


Short cuts…

Short cuts

they save time and gas money on our journeys.  We love them.  Most of us know all the ones around our area.  Then there are the short cuts on computers.  Recognize any in the picture?  I love them … they save time AND brain cells.

Got any boxed mixes in the cabinet?  Oh yeah, love those too … save time, energy and it is a fast road to something good to eat.

I guess I really love the computer ones; especially the one at the top that helps with all of my “too quick to click” problems.  (UNDO or Ctrl + Z.)

Our short cut mentality takes over in every area of our lives.  Once we start incorporating it in one area, it slips over into another, then another.  But, we get the job done.  Or, do we?  You see people taking “short cuts” in their work, raising their kids and even in their spiritual lives.  They use quick fixes … putting off the inevitable.  Unfortunately, like our little computer menu, they need an  “UNDO” because eventually short cuts catch up with you.

Remember the movie “SANTA CLAUS” where the elf, Patches, designs a machine to shortcut production?  That turned out well., right?  How about at your job, or as a mom … a dad, an employee, or a church volunteer; taking any short cuts and “getting ‘er done”?  Sometimes it is not about finishing, in fact most of life is not just finishing, it is how you got to the finish; the journey.

Many  are wiping their brows, “whew, got them graduated”.   A diploma from high school, college, etc. is nice.  You “got ‘er done”.  Now comes the hard part, where you sit back and see if  all the short cuts you took raising them are going to back fire.  Are there “holes” in their so-called education?  Oh, they can read and write, but where are they on a spiritual level?  Where are they in character?  What values do they have, if any?  Did you just raise them the way you were raised, or maybe you insisted on raising them “better than your parents raised you”.

Look at your work ethics.  Will they work like you?  Is that a good thing?  How about your spiritual life; will they walk like you?  Is that a good thing?  Have you passed on a “short cut” mentality to the next generation?  Is saving time a good thing?  What did you really save?

The good news is, in the Christian life there is an “UNDO” button =  Control + Christ.  Did any of those “too quick to click” maneuvers backfire  in an area of your life and  you do not know how to fix the mess you have made?  Put it in His hands.  It is never too late to turn it over to Him.  He has been waiting  for you to relinquish control.  At work, at home, raising kids, volunteering at church … put the control in Christ’s hands.

PROVERBS 3: 5-7 “5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes…”

Short cuts in your work life, your home life, children’s lives or church life will bring forth poor results.  Take time to seek Him, read His word and talk with Him … often.  Then, as we all will need to do, use the UNDO daily.

(Disclaimer:  NO, this was not inspired by any of my friends who happen to have high school and college graduations right now :-D).