Tuesday, March 27, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...EVERYBODY IN THE CHURCH!

When I was a little girl growing up at Double Springs Baptist Church, a very small independent Baptist church about a mile from my house, there was a tradition that I have not heard anyone speak of since I left there about 1969.  I don't know where the tradition came from or whether any other church has ever adopted it or whether Double Springs even carries it on.  Maybe someone in our tiny congregation came up with the idea.  Maybe they heard of it at 'sosation.  (I never knew what that was until I was grown and realized it was a shortened form of "association."  That's the yearly conference a delegate from the church attended.  Sort of like the annual conference that Southern Baptists attend.)  The tradition was simple but fun and minimally fruitful at the same time, and people of all ages could participate.

At the front of the church was the pulpit and in front of the pulpit stood a table.  On the table sat a small bank in the shape of a globe.  It was about six inches tall. Visitors...if there were any...probably wondered what purpose it served until the person opening the service asked if there were any birthdays this week.  That might give a visitor cause for pause and could actually make them look around in confusion, wondering,  "Why does he want to know if there were any birthdays this week?"

If your birthday was within a few days of that Sunday, at the leader's invitation you would get up and walk to the globe bank and drop in some coins.  How many coins you dropped in was up to you, although you must remember that this was the 1960s in rural Georgia, so there probably weren't that many coins dropped in on any given birthday.  But it was a really nice way to celebrate your day and also a great way to help others because, you see, that money was given to missions.  I didn't really know what "missions" meant but I knew it sounded nice and the church approved of it, so I was accepting.  If it was okay with my parents, then it was okay with me.  They were my plumb line.

My church was so small that many Sundays there was not anyone with a birthday soon, so no coins were dropped in.  I don't know how often the money was emptied out and turned in, but my guess is that in a year's time there probably wasn't more than $15 collected altogether, maybe not even that much.

I heard a song on the radio today that went something like this:

I wanna go back to "Jesus loves me, this I know because the Bible tells me so."
I wanna go back to "This little light, gonna let it shine."

I like that idea, too.  I'd like to go back to dropping coins in a globe-shaped bank that sits on a plain little table in front of the pulpit.  Of course, these days we'd have to get a pulpit.  Then we'd have to get a plain little table to put in front of it.  And I bet there's a globe-shaped bank out there somewhere.  I'd love to walk down the aisle and drop my coins in.  I'm prepared to drop more coins in these days, and after all I've heard from people in my church who have gone on long-term and short-term mission trips, it would be an honor to give on my birthday.  Maybe we could find a globe-shaped bank that has a hole in it big enough to drop in folded-up bills as well as coins.  I would love that.





Here's the song by David Dunn.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0VirZWCtJQ

Monday, March 19, 2018

IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT HIM, JUST SAY HIS NAME

In some circles, the fear of God's Name is so strong, they either don't dare say it, or if they're writing about Him, they won't even include all the letters.  For instance, they will write G-d for God.

I have taken to watching a fair amount of youtube videos of preachers, musicians, speakers, etc., and there's an oddity that I have noticed lately.  Either some of these people are simply speaking too quickly or they actually have a problem saying the Name of Jesus.  Not to marginalize or simplify an awesome and complex Name, but His Name is pretty simple.  It's "Jesus."  Two syllables.  Je.  Sus.  Jesus.  I don't have to leave out a letter.  In fact, He likes for me to say His Name when I'm talking to Him or telling someone else about Him.  I like to say His Name, too, which is pretty funny when you consider the fact that when I finally accepted the ongoing invitation from Joyce and went to this ladies Bible study back in the 80s, I thought it odd that these women were all sitting around talking about Jesus like they knew Him or something.  Like He was their...I don't know...friend!  You see, I wasn't accustomed to hearing His Name often outside of my regular attendance at Sunday School and church.  You just didn't say His Name in everyday speech.

Well, that was the day that I got saved.  I'm not saying that I came to know Him all at once that day, but I was introduced to Him and realized that I was not right with God and that if I let Jesus into my life and let Him dispose of all my sins, this would make me right with God.  I knew I wasn't right with Him and if this is what it would take to fix that, then I was going to do this thing.  The study said that everyone is born a sinner and that sin separates us from God but that Jesus died to take away our sins if we would just accept that.  Well, I did.  Not to trivialize this most important decision I ever made, but for me it was like a business transaction.  In business, you take facts and act on them accordingly.  The facts were:

I was a sinner.
I was separated from God.
Jesus died to take away my sins.
Accepting that fact would make me right with God.
I wanted to be right with God.

The result was:

That day, I accepted that Jesus is my Savior from sin.

A bonus fact is that Jesus came back to life soon after He was buried and promised to come back for all of us Christians at a later date.  It won't be long, considering the things He said would happen not long before His return are happening.  Matthew 24 and other scriptures back this up.

It didn't take long for me to realize why these ladies were so free to say the Name of Jesus.  They did know Him.  He was their friend.  After that first day, He was mine, too.  It was easy to say His Name in the loving way that I had learned because I had also learned that He loves me unconditionally.  Unconditionally.  Are you grasping that?

So why is it so hard for some of these preachers and other people I'm listening to on youtube to say His Name correctly?  I think there is a problem.  Not sure what it is but I think there is a problem.

You're wondering why I think they're not saying His Name right, aren't you?  Well, they all seem to not particularly like that middle "s" in His Name.  Instead of saying "Jesus," they're saying "Je us."  Je.  Us.  Je us.  It's really odd.

Who does it?  At times David Platt, for one.  Francis Chan is another.  And also this musician I listened to this morning...I think his name is David Keefe...who had a video that was about 15 minutes long and he was complaining about Christian music being so boring.  He said that it all has the same beat and is not creative.  I guess if he heard a hymn he'd just keel over on the spot.  Here is the video.  I didn't particularly like it.  He had a problem saying "Jesus." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE4_dHW0nWk

Here's one featuring Todd Friel of "Wretched Radio" when he was preaching to a public crowd.  The woman in the video argued that he was being unkind in trying to get people to get saved.  Right at the end she says, "Je us."

And how about unsaved people?  How about this little girl?  What hate has she been taught and by whom?    www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVs7BhCOIKs

What do you think?  Is it hard for you to say His Name?  Not me.  I like telling others about Him.  Would you like to talk with me about Him?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

DO IT ANYWAY

As you may know, I read or listen or read and listen through the Bible every year and have done that for about 20 years or so.  It's an amazing thing to do.  Yesterday this was part of my reading:
Mark 6:1-6 - Jesus went out from there and *came into [a]His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such [b]miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of [c]James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in [d]his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no [e]miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching.
This is a simple message, but aren't those some of the ones that impact us the most?  And if you've ever done anything, especially for the Lord, that was...shall we say "different" than is expected from those around you...this passage will speak to you immediately.  Your town, your friends, your family, and your household suddenly wonder what in the world you're doing and, "Who do you think YOU are, you self-righteous, holier than thou so-and-so??????  I knew you when you were just a little pipsqueak who could barely add two and two.  I've known you all your life.  Do you think you can impress me now?"

Well, Jesus wasn't in the business of impressing people.  He made that abundantly clear all through the New Testament.  His life was dedicated to serving God and doing whatever it was He told Him to do, even to dying on a cross for my sorry self.  He would have done that even if I had been the only person on earth, and I really don't think that has ever sunk into my inward parts.  (He did it for you, too.  TRY and let that sink in.)

Yes, this is a simple message but profound.  He had to do most of all that he did outside his hometown and away from his own people, even his own immediate family for a time.  I think they finally got it, but it took them awhile.   I'm certainly not comparing myself to Jesus, but I'm not sure I could have done some of the things I've done either if I had stayed in my hometown.  They're good folks and it's a good place, but they know me.  They knew me most of my life until I left there in my mid-20s, still a sinner.  So when I got saved about the age of thirty and started living for Him, some of them probably wouldn't have taken me or what I was doing seriously, and that can detract from the goal of getting something done for the Kingdom.

Do you know what strikes me most about this passage, though?  The very last sentence:  "And He was going around the villages teaching."  He KNEW what He was supposed to be doing and it mattered not that no one else believed that He was supposed to be doing that.  He did it anyway...because He knew it was what God was calling Him to do.  He and God had that kind of close relationship.

And wouldn't you know it?  Here is how God works.  I have this little thing that I call a flippy chart thing because I'm not sure what it's called.  It's a wooden pedestal about 8" tall that has a bunch of cards with sayings and Bible verses on them.  You flip one over every day and read it and it starts your day off with something to think about.  I've had it for about 40 years.  My niece gave it to me when we were both young sprouts.  I'm just six years older than she is, so yes we were young together.  Some of the sayings are just stupid and I have crossed them out so that I'll know to flip to the next one and not camp out on the stupid ones, such as, "A coincidence is a small miracle where God chose to remain anonymous."  Sigh.

Well, guess what today's says.  "How men treat us will make little difference when we know we have God's approval."  Don't you just love how God operates sometimes?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

DEAR PASTOR

Hmmmmmmmmm...sound familiar to you?

Dear Pastor,

Your church building is beautiful and your grounds are so well kept.  My wife and I spoke as we entered about how beautiful the flowers are that are blooming in the pristine beds.  We are visiting churches in hopes of finding one we can call "home."  We would like to address some concerns, though, that we had during our visit on Sunday.  We feel like if these things bothered us, surely we're not alone.

The people were friendly but chose to sit at other places.  No one sat with us.  I suppose that is easily explained by the fact that people just gravitate toward "their seat" each week.  Maybe we didn't sit close to anyone's seat and therefore no one chose to sit near us.

The lights were dimmed at the beginning of your praise and worship time and made us feel that we were about to see the latest action movie at the Cineplex.  Then when the music began it felt more like a concert.  The words were on the wall clearly enough, but we didn't know any of the songs the worship team performed.  I say "performed" because that's really what it sort of felt like.  A performance.  I would think that if you were encouraging the whole congregation to sing and worship that the entire worship team would sing the songs and not have one person appear to be performing a solo.  We weren't sure whether to attempt to sing or not.  Since we didn't know the songs and weren't sure if it was a solo in the beginning before the rest of the team joined in, we just didn't sing.  We noticed that a number of other people were not singing either.

We also were terribly distracted by the types of backgrounds used on the slides for the words to the songs.  Some of them were videos that moved while we were trying to read the words, and since we didn't know the songs anyway it was just doubly confusing and we gave up.  We understand why you might use a picture of a landscape or a cross but there were some abstract things that were just confusing.  Our thought is that a plain background would have allowed us to fully concentrate on the lyrics.  It was also pretty obvious that the person responsible for putting the words on the wall had not attended worship team practice as they were always one line behind, which was another reason we gave up trying to sing the songs.

We noticed, too, that many people were nursing a drink while they were singing.  One lady held a drink in her right hand as she lifted her left hand, I assume in praise to the Lord.  I had to wonder which she was more into.  I also noticed that at two different times people spilled their drinks on the carpet and were disruptive as they went out of the sanctuary to get paper towels and got down on their hands and knees not to pray but to soak up their spills.  It was evident that this happens often because of the coffee stains all over the carpet.  I also saw adults and children walking through the sanctuary before the service eating donuts and scattering crumbs that were being crushed into the carpet as people walked behind them.  We were surprised that the family breakfast at home is being replaced by a "grab-and-go snack" at church.

When the music was over, the lights remained off as a clip was played that referred to the sermon that was about to begin.  It was apparent that it was aimed at 20- and 30-somethings.  It was loud and lights flashed during the clip.  It was fast moving and didn't concentrate on one scene long enough hardly to figure out what the point was.

After the clip, the lights finally came back on and we were able to see the podium and the other people in the congregation after our eyes adjusted to the light.  All of this was particularly difficult for my wife.  She suffers from the occasional migraine and by the time we were leaving, she was going into full-fledged "get-me-home-to-my-medicine" mode.  We had planned to go out for a nice meal after church but had to go straight home.

We had brought our Bibles, but the scriptures you used were put up on the wall and you began reading them immediately, not giving us time to find them in our Bible, which is a different version than you used.  It appears that there is no point in anyone bringing their Bibles along.  That is a huge disappointment for my wife and me.  We are only recently saved and the Bible has become a wonderful friend.  We take it everywhere with us and find it ironic that there is no point in bringing it to church.

Another concern is that it appears that you preach in series, so if one of your congregants misses a Sunday they have to go to your website to catch up.  I wonder if many people bother to do that since everyone's schedule seems to be so full these days.  It would seem, at least to us, that it would be more beneficial to preach a different topic or from a book of the Bible each Sunday so that an important component won't be missed.

My wife and I are in our early 50s and, as I said, are both recent converts to the Christian faith.  We were saved about a year ago and are still looking for a church that we feel we can fit into and still receive from the Lord.  Many we have visited are dead in that the people didn't greet any of their visitors, or the music was more like a funeral dirge, or the preaching was dry and didn't really teach anything.  We decided to start visiting the more contemporary churches and have found that most of them are like yours.  They cater to the young and, sadly, pretty much ignore anyone who is mature or headed for retirement.  I know we haven't been saved long, but we do get the feeling that God wants all believers to grow in Christ and that He isn't through with us yet.  I hope not.  We're just getting started.

We simply want a church where we can get to know other believers, especially those that are long-time believers who can help us along in our faith.  We want to hear what the Bible says without complicating it with a lot of outside books and references to cultural influences.  We want a service that will draw us closer to Jesus Christ without making us feel like we're out of place because of our age.  We want to feel like we belong to a family since we live so far away from ours.  We want to feel like the people who have come to worship together have at least the same importance as the possible visitors that might be in the crowd.  We felt none of this at your church.

For these reasons, we feel that we will have to keep searching for a suitable church, but to tell you the truth, I wonder if one even exists, at least in this area.  Maybe you can let us know if there is a church here that is welcoming to everyone, doesn't try to put on a show, delivers some much-needed spiritual food, and just lets people be people without using gimmicks and sideshows to attract the next visitor.

I don't mean to sound harsh.  Certainly not.  But I thought it might be helpful to you to hear from a visitor.  We had really hoped this church was "the one."

God bless you as you seek Him,

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Monday, January 22, 2018

American Influence

My post today is very simple.  Well, the post itself isn't simple, but my actions to post it are simple:  I'm taking it from the internet. Seems to be the thing, doesn't it?

During my daily activities, I listen to and watch lots of youtube videos of preachers, speakers, musicians, etc.  I heard one today by Ravi Zacharias.  It's only 3:07 long, but it is full of truth.

This video was accessed today, January 22, 2018.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTXD9lsNG5E


Thursday, January 4, 2018

I KNEW I WAS RIGHT!

Apparently no one ever reads my blog since there are never any comments...so, hey, I can say what I want to and never get in trouble with anyone, right?  Go ahead.  Look at some of my posts.  No comments.  Maybe something is wrong with my blog site.  Yeah, that's it.  Guess I need to check that out.  Again.

If you do happen to read my blog, you know that I am averse to many of the major changes that have taken place in the Christian church over the past 15-20 years.  You know, stuff like disco balls and heavy metal concerts, dry ice fog and flashing lights, in the church services.  Preachers/pastors showing up to deliver sermons looking like they just rolled out of bed or are maybe headed to a tractor pull.  Coffee houses springing up in church services so that there's a line of folks walking back and forth...even during the sermon...to get coffee...and of course the inevitable spills that follow so that a big production is made of walking sheepishly to the kitchen or restroom to get paper towels to soak it all up.  It's amazing to me that folks in the 21st century can't seem to go an hour and a half without a drink of water or coffee...or whatever else it is they're bringing in with them in those big old travel mugs.  Hmmm...I have to wonder.  So far no one's breath smells like anything but coffee...and that's bad enough.

We're so concerned with doing things to get people to come to church (I call it bribery) and then setting up coffee houses and other such nonsense to KEEP them coming that we've lost sight of what it is they're supposed to be coming for.  We're supposed to be giving people Jesus.  We're supposed to be filling them with His Word.  We're supposed to be telling them about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Instead, we seem to be intent on filling them with coffee.  And crackers.  And pastries.  Why are we doing this?  To let moms off the hook for preparing breakfast for their families?  Is this the generation that's supposed to abandon yet another wholesome at-home practice and hand over yet another responsibility to someone else?

One of the things that has gotten next to me is the lingo.  Church lingo has changed over the past decade or two.  You can tell when a pastor/preacher has been to a conference or other church-leadership-only meeting.  They come back to church using new words.  Over the past years new words have been added including relevant, culture, paradigm, intentional and so many more that I can't even remember.  Reference "The Purpose Driven Life" for more.  That was one of the boogers that drove such a wedge between folks at my church back in the early 2000s.  Rick Warren worked over a lot of churches with that one and with its predecessor, "The Purpose Driven Church."  As a friend said to me at that time, "I'm not driven by anything.  I'm led by the Holy Spirit."  I thought that was a good one and picked it up myself.

I can be a real rebel when it comes to things I know I'm right about, and here's one I KNEW I was right about and have the proof now.  "We must not say that we're Christians anymore.  We must say that we're Followers of Christ, Christ Followers, Followers of Jesus, or Jesus Followers.  Any of that, as long as you don't say you're a Christian."  Why???  Because there are a lot of people who say they are Christians when they're not and we don't want to confuse people into thinking that those people are Christians when they're not, and we don't want our testimony to be negated if we say we're Christians and people think we're a part of those people who are not Christians but say they are.  (That wasn't confusing at all, was it?)  Case in point:  Mormons.

I wonder what we're supposed to say now that the Mormons say they are Followers of Christ???  Need proof?  Here ya go:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/followers-of-christ?lang=eng  Now I know this was written in 2013, but gimme a break.  I just found it today.  I doubt their stand has changed in five years.  (Link accessed January 4, 2018.)

I was pretty furious when I heard that the norm now should be that I'm a Follower of Christ instead of a Christian.  How is it that the Bible says that in Antioch they were first called Christians yet I can't identify with them as such?  It doesn't matter what others call themselves.  That does not negate the fact that I'm a Christian.  Even the fact that I said I was a Christian years before I actually became one doesn't negate the fact that I am one now.

Here's another one:  It is suggested that we shouldn't refer to Jesus Christ as "Lord," because that's a term that's hard for folks these days to relate to.  This is from a video ("Becoming a Contagious Christian") I saw a few years ago done by Lee Stroebel and Mark Mittelburg.  They were trying to tell me that I should change my church jargon because it's just not relevant now.  Okay, wait a minute.  Hold the phone, Leroy.  You're telling me that folks who know about Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, and Lord Vader aren't going to understand Jesus Christ as Lord???  When Jesus calls Himself Lord in the Bible?  The Bible calls Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  I'm gonna have to protest right there, fella.  The church is all about the young folks now (even to the point of putting the older people on the back burner in some cases) and you're telling me that they don't get the word "Lord???"  Pardon my English, but that ain't nuthin' but wrong!

Here's a suggestion:  why don't you church "leaders" who seem to do nothing but sit around thinking of ways to change how we "do church," (another one of those detestable jargon changes) start sitting around and thinking of ways to preach the Bible?  If you spent as much time doing that as you do trying to figure out ways to change the church itself, you wouldn't have a lot of time to sit around trying to think of ways to change the church.  Preaching Bible WILL change the church!  All by itself.  I've seen it done.  It's been a couple of decades, but I've seen it done.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Year's End

Another year is coming to a close in a couple of hours or so and again it's hard to believe.  The year has fairly flown by.  Seems I just got used to saying "2017" when another year is attempting to introduce itself to me.  This year has been a bit trying but still I look around and see that we have had it better than many and for that we are grateful.

Although atrial fibrillation has plagued me off and on since 2014 and began a non-stop attack at year's end last year, running into the new year this year and after a failed attempt at an ablation I finally had a pacemaker installed on Groundhog's Day, totally missing General Lee's AND Punxsutawney Phil's predictions, and hubby and I both had the flu in March and I had a complete hysterectomy in June, which required weeks of mandatory recovery period and missing our yearly beach visit, and hubby had a GI bleed after a colonoscopy and ended up back in the hospital for a repair, we still count ourselves among the very blessed in the world and indeed in this nation.  A nation which has shown out for the TV cameras pretty much all year, and not in a good way.  A nation which should also have considered itself among the most blessed in the world because it is.

I have to say that although it has been a good year for us compared to the trouble so many people have suffered, and I'm grateful for the good year that we had, I'm still somehow glad to see it come to a close.  I am petitioning the Lord for a healthier coming year for hubby and me and asking Him for good health for our family and safety for us all.  I ask Him to guide us into witnessing to those around us the goodness of Jesus Christ and the salvation that can only come through Him.  There are many who do not believe this, and some that never will, but I hope and pray that we can witness to some who will believe.

To you and yours, I wish a safe, healthy, prosperous 2018, and that you will trust Jesus Christ with your life in every way, that He will bless you in every area of your life because you trust Him with it.

God bless you.