Wednesday
Sep232009

Let Me Entertain You


For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…”;--2 Timothy 4:3

As I have traveled around the nation sharing the vision of Kids for Christ USA and the concept of Bible Clubs in America’s Public schools I have become aware of something that I wish I wasn’t seeing.  I mentioned it a few months ago in a previous piece on plugging into God and finding His plan for your life instead of your plan.   I have to point out this is what I feel God would have me say in order to bring us all “up higher” in Him.  Mark my words: This piece will challenge you. 

I live in a wonderful city, full of great ministers and ministries.  Many of them widely respected around the globe and some of them misquoted and misunderstood around the world too.  One thing I have learned as I have worked with people and pastors of all denominations is that the enemy has worked very hard to “divide the house”.  That however is not what I intend to point out here today.   

When I was in Bible school over 24 years ago I distinctly remember being taught that our job as ministers is to draw the people to Jesus.  To make them so hungry for him that they want to go home and study His word(s) for themselves.  The objective was not to inspire them so that they will give more in the offering, or to create a following for ourselves.  Yet from my perspective much of ministry in America has become entertainment.  Please understand I think that for the most part it has happened innocently.  I don’t mean to be pointing fingers at my fellow ministers or for that matter, the body of Christ in general.  Actually my intent is to warn and inspire all of us to press into Jesus.

A few years ago I had been going through very tough period and it had continued for an extended period of time.  It seemed that no matter how hard I worked to turn the situation around I just couldn’t do it.  Finally a life long friend of mine who owns a limousine company in Nashville told me, “Bobby, it’s like your in the forest and you’ve run face first into this huge tree.  You just keep running into that tree over and over again.  You’re so close to it that it’s all you can see, but if you’d just take a few steps back from the tree you could see the forest all around you”.  He was right, I took some time to seek God and he gave me the wisdom to know what to do to turn that situation around…WITH HIS HELP. 

Not to long ago I realized that on a large scale we have turned church into a form of entertainment instead of a place of where ministry takes place.  I felt as though God made me aware of what happens at a movie theatre and compared it to church: People watch their show, then the file out as quickly as possible only speaking to the folks who came with them.  I then realized that God was saying to me that church in general, “is entertainment with a Christian theme”.  If we visit with God when we attend church then, when we leave church we might not be so quick to get out.  We might just sit there speechless and in awe of God.

A couple years ago I was in a church to preach, standing on the front row lost in worship.  (Telling God, “This has to be about you, not me.”)  As I stood there I became aware that if I was to obey God that evening, I would most likely not use the message I had spent all day putting the finishing touches on.  When they introduced me to the congregation, I began to walk to the front room to speak when I felt as though God said the most horrible thing he could say to a preacher: “Don’t say a word”!  So, I grabbed a stool sat down and looked at the people.  It was a most uncomfortable two minutes both for me and the people.  It was Holy, it was comical, it was unnerving.  Finally, I felt a release to speak, I proceeded to tell the people that we get too busy to hear God.  In fact we are so busy, that quiet makes us very uncomfortable.  The end result that night was that after 30 minutes of intense exhortation everyone in that room was on their knees or face before God seeking Him, pressing into him.  There was no formal dismissal.  The Worship leader was going to lead a song as we dove into the presence of God, but He said, “I have been playing and singing up here for seven years, but tonight I feel God wants us to just be quiet before Him.  Then he sat down on the floor behind his keyboard.  It was the most Holy moment I have ever experienced in a church. 

I know some of you are saying, “That sounds a little too ‘Charismatic’ for me”.  Truth be told that is a little too much for most “Charismatics” too.  I am concerned that we are all dangerously close to what Paul wrote to Timothy,

 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…”;--2 Timothy 4:3

Let’s turn that around.  So what if your Pastor was dry or he wasn’t eloquent.  Who cares if the band was good or you liked the music.  Did you leave hungry for more of God?  Five points and a poem won’t carry you when the pressure is on, only real relationship with the Son of the living God will get you through.  Hopefully after reading this, you are totally hungry for Him.

Wednesday
Sep232009

A Faith-Filled Assessment on the Economy


My office is a coffee shop. Actually, in the last 4 years, my office has been a variety of  coffee shops in town. The reason is simple.  My wife baby-sits and it gets LOUD. So I head out the door every morning to “my coffee shop office.”

As I peck away in some corner, writing or working on my laptop, I’ve realized I’m almost invisible after awhile. No one pays any attention to me. As a result, I’ve unintentionally witnessed things that no one should hear. One day as I worked, there was what appeared to be a couple at lunch.  However, as the meal went on tensions elevated between the two of them and I tried so hard not to listen as I realized she was his boss and the poor sap was being fired.

I’ve also heard stories about a daughter’s unwanted pregnancy and a mom’s concerns about the girls their son is bringing home. I’ve come to several interesting conclusions while working away. One is, “People talk more about what concerns them over coffee than anything else.”  But most recently it’s what I’ve NOT been hearing. Guess what: They are NOT talking about the economy! 

Now to be fair I must add that my favorite shops to work in are usually the ones in true middle class or “artsy” areas of town.  I never hear anything about the economy from the men and women in those shops; they simply talk about the things that are most important to them. 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not going “blab it-grab it” here, I’m simply saying that we tend to gravitate toward the things we care most about, and therefore we talk more about those things too. 

So if the people I’m hearing in the coffee shops are not talking about the economy, why are believers whining and complaining so much about it.  We sound just like the “world” when we do that.  We are supposed to be people of faith!

Remember the Word says that we are captured by the words of our mouth. Don’t forget life and death are in the power of the tongue. Oh, and here’s the clincher for me, “the tongue is a fire…” 

Is it possible that the perspective we as believers need to take is not to focus and talk about the economy like we are members of the socialist press core-I mean White House Press Core.  I am not saying “deny” anything I am just saying SHUT UP!  There are too many Christians regurgitating everything they hear in the mainstream media. We really don’t have to talk about it-we just don’t.  And here’s why…

As believers we are called to pray!  PWOC (Pray without ceasing) not CNN (Constant Negative News)!  “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…” Actually my heart in writing this piece is to get us to shift our focus to the one who has met ALL our needs according to His riches in glory-The one who deserves ALL our praise and quite frankly our attention. 

Much of the world sees the church as close-minded pin heads that can’t think for themselves.  Ironically, what they don’t realize is that’s exactly what they have become by reciting everything they hear the press and the President say about the economy.  But what’s sad is: so is The Church. Not being close minded in this case is being focused on what GOD say! In fact that is so far outside the box these days that you may get laughed at.  To which I say, “What a tragedy, you get laughed at for standing on the word of God!”

In conclusion, I came across this quote from Ben Stein, New York Times, that I think is a good reminder to all of us. “We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year or day-by-day changes in our net worth. We are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs and cats. We are what we do for our community and our nation. If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you are still the same person. You are not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money.”

 

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