Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We've Gotten it Wrong

In an effort to pull myself out of this spiritual slump I've been in, I have been reading more avidly and also doing my best at having some sort of daily bible study. And in my measly little effort to be faithful, God has been even more so and is reaching out and drawing me closer to Him. Oh, how I've missed that embrace.

I finished "Believing God" by Beth Moore which was amazing and now I've started "Radical" by David Platt and it is tearing me up. I haven't picked it up in the past week for the simple fact that I had to give my metaphorical bruises time to heal before diving in again. I've also had the privilege of joining a small and intimate ladies Bible Study on Monday nights with an amazing group of women that I absolutely adore. We are studying Nehemiah and I have to say, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. On top of that study, our small group that meets every other week has started a different study by David Platt called "Follow Me." So I feel like I have been blessed with studies that will stretch my faith, deepen my love for God, and allow me the opportunity to dig into His Word with an unquenchable thirst. Oh, I am so ready for that.

With all the reading and studying I've been doing, I've been thinking more and more about the American Church and the American "version" of Christianity. As I read stories of what Christianity and Christ means to people in other countries and have seen videos of people receiving Bibles translated in their native tongues for the first time, I am truly coming to the realization that America has gotten this Christianity thing all wrong.The Church in America has missed the mark. And it's time to fix it.

I have to say that I am so blessed and honored to be part of a body of believers that is in fact trying to fix it, at least in our corner of Lakeland for now. We are trying to bust through the status quo. The American Church presents a "country club" mentality. It stresses becoming a member of a church rather than a follower of Jesus. It is more concerned with the outward appearance of its building, the color of the carpet, and the programs it offers than it is about the true nature of the souls inside. Sadly, some of the most lost people can be found in a pew every Sunday morning. Your association with a church does not equal your salvation. Now, don't get me wrong. I think it is of utmost importance for believers to be part of a church, or a body of believers that is actively seeking the Lord. The Bible even states that we should not forsake the brethren. Corporate worship is important. As Christians, it is vital to be around other believers to encourage you, pray for you, lift you up when you fall, and hold you accountable. That doesn't happen if you're going the Christian life solo. God created us to be in fellowship. But He also created us to worship and love ONE.

I don't state this to point the finger...because if I were doing that, I would have to have several pointed at myself. I have missed the mark too many times to count. But thanks be to God that His mercies and grace never run dry.

Here's the thing: if you call yourself a Christian, LIVE IT. Don't let that term just be a title. It is NOT a title. It is a way of life...and the ONLY way to Life. To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ - - - that is, to do as He commanded. "Take up your cross DAILY, and follow Him." We have to die to ourselves. We have to make a conscious decision each and every day to follow Him. And you're either following Him or you're following the world, which is ultimately the devil. To "take up your cross" is literally to "take up an instrument of death." It's not glamorous and honestly, nothing about the Christian life is glamorous. If you're following Christ as He commands, you're going to get dirty. Life will be messy. It will be hard. But I promise you, it will be worth it.

Following Christ does not equal crossing off a list of things you're supposed to do each day. It's not a list of do's and don'ts. As our small group leader's wife so eloquently put it on Saturday night: "It's not take up your list and follow Me; it's take up your cross and follow Me." Lay the list down people. Lay it down and simply fall at the feet of Jesus. Be broken over your sin. Allow the King to empty you of yourself and fill you up with His Spirit. In order for the American Church to get past what it's done wrong and how it has failed the lost, it has to start by being completely broken before the Lord.

Last night at Bible Study, we listened to an amazing song by Jimmy Needham called "Clear the Stage." It totally resonates with this topic of getting it wrong and what to do to start to get it right. I was already in the midst of writing this very blog when I heard it last night. It completely speaks to this topic.

A portion of the lyrics:
"Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the word and put to test the things you've heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

'cause you can sing all you want to
Yes you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong 

Oh worship is more than a song"


Jimmy Needham: "Clear the Stage" Let this song speak to your heart!





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