Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Spoiled Church - Part Two

"If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; 
then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14
(KJV)


(I apologize that this post is so long.)

We ended the last post with the thought that in order to get our nation back on spiritual track,
it is going to require us - the Christians, the Body of Christ - to make....
 a sacrifice of self.
This is a concept that makes most of us very uncomfortable.
Because it is very unfamiliar to us, and it goes completely against the grain.
A sacrifice of self involves a cross.
A sacrifice of self requires spiritual death.
We just don't like to hear about that anymore.

Self is our own worst enemy.
Second only to satan, it will cause us more spiritual battles than anything or anyone else.
It rares its ugly head and demands to be noticed.
And because we have given into it so much, and because we have allowed it to lead us,
and because we have felt a continual need to appease it,
our nation is in a state of spiritual ruin.

This new sensation we are feeling, after uncovering this Book of the Law in A Spoiled Church - Part One, is quite awkward and off-putting for us, isn't it?
Makes me wonder if we sort of wish we could go back in time...to the time we were "uninformed".
Then we come across Acts 17:30 that tells us there was a time God overlooked ignorance,
but now He commands men everywhere to REPENT!
What we need is a remedy, and we unearthed it in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
I call it the "4-3 2 Chronicles 7:14 Remedy",
in which we are told if we do FOUR things first,
God promises to do the THREE things we need the most.

But before we delve, in detail, into the "4-3 2 Chronicles 7:14 Remedy" and those FOUR things we need to do, let's talk about why I say we are a spoiled church, shall we?

I think I would do best to introduce someone to you and allow him to explain it.

Bro. Jim was a dear friend to Kevin and me and was a blessed encouragement to us
in our walk with Christ for many years.
He has now passed on to glory, and we sorely miss his phone calls, concern, and Godly wisdom.
He was a World War 2 Veteran who served as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.
He had also been in an extremely abusive marriage for many years.
This man understood what it meant to give selflessly, to suffer, and to put the needs of others before his own.
His words were weighty, chock-full of Godly truth and divine inspiration.
He and I talked many times on the phone, and though he was always a great blessing to me,
one particular phone call stands out above the rest in my memory.

We were talking about "conditions" in the church and in our world,
and somewhere in that conversation, Bro. Jim said this.
"I'll tell you what is wrong with this generation, Cheryl.
They don't know what it means to sacrifice."

His anointed-by-God, inspired words really hit a chord and resonated deep.
I knew he had just hit the nail on the head.

I entitled this series of posts "A Spoiled Church", because, dear friend,
that is exactly what I perceive us to be.

I say us, because I don't want a soul to think for a minute that I see myself excluded from this mix.
I include ME in this number, first and foremost.
I am as guilty, if not more so, than anyone else.
I don't mean to point fingers.
I am fully aware that each time I do that, there are three others pointing back at me.

Please know that, while the following words may be hard to hear and read,
they flow and spring forth from a heavy burden and deep anguish within my spirit.
I have wept much over all of this.
My heart is so broken.
It has driven me and compelled me to examine my own heart and life
to see what on earth I can do to make a difference and influence positive change.
This post...this entire series....is God's answer to my searching.

I am deeply sorry if my words offend, in any way, for that is never my intention.
 I write these words and everything else you will ever read here...in a spirit of deep love for God,
for His church, for our nation, and for His people...for you, the readers.

None of us landed us where we are all on our own.
We are in this thing together.
We are all responsible for where we are...individually and collectively.
And, if we ever hope to turn this thing around, it is going to take all of us,
in unity and in one accord, to do this.

Our refusal to deny and sacrifice self for the sake of the cause of Christ has cost us greatly.

Self has become our god, instead of God Himself.
We are a self-absorbed, self-centered, self-indulging, self-promoting, self-preserving-at-all-cost lot.
We go to great lengths to make sure "self" stays on the throne of our hearts,
always careful to protect its interests, never mind who or what else suffers because of it.

The definition for "spoiled" is...
having the character or disposition harmed by pampering

We, as the modern-day church, have been harmed by our pampering.
For generations, we have had very little to no opposition and persecution,
watered-down, sugar-coated preaching, motivated by the fear of offending us,
 cushy, air-conditioned, luxurious, church buildings in which to worship,
and open acceptance of sin and the relaxed standard we seem to have grown so accustomed to.
We can pretty much do almost anything anymore, and still cling to our Christian label
and our social standing in the modern church.

We are spoiled....rotten...by our pampering.
And it shows....and smells...in the world around us.

When something spoils, it stinks.
It is rancid.
It leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
It is no longer effective, like salt that has lost its savor.  (Matthew 5:13)
No one is drawn to something spoiled.

In today's post, I hope to explain to you why I believe the church today is spoiled,
by mentioning certain symptoms that prove my "theory".

PLEASE NOTE:
It is not my belief that every, single person who is a member of the Body of Christ
is guilty of the things I describe and mention below.
I don't mean that...at all.
I am merely stating observations in general.

We all know what a spoiled child looks and acts like, right?
Picture one, standing in a candy store, with other children, if you will.
Read on to see that, sadly, we are not so different and have more in common than we'd like to admit.

1.  We are unwilling to sacrifice.

Just the thought of it...the mere mention of the word...makes us extremely uncomfortable.
To think we may have to be "put out" for the sake of another or for the cause of Christ
irritates us and invokes frustration.
Sacrifice is a sensation that goes against the grain of our complacency.
After all, we love a life of ease.
We like to feel pampered.
We treasure our "me" time.
We do not want to be bothered.
We become angry when our carefully-laid plans are disrupted
and aggravated when someone else's need interferes with our written-in-ink schedules.
We love to eat, sleep, relax, indulge ourselves, appease our flesh, and cater to our desires.
We live in comfort, and even the poorest of us, are considered wealthy by many others in the world.
Do we even know what the word sacrifice means?
All of the four steps we are required to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is going to require a great deal of sacrifice.
This is why we draw back and don't want to do this.
Because it is going to be hard, require much denial of self, and take a great deal of effort,
we recoil and refuse to enter into it, even though we know and realize it is our only hope.
Sacrifice of self is the very thing we need to do to turn this thing around, 
and nothing short of it is going to be enough.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
Isaiah 55:7

2.  We don't play well with others.

We isolate ourselves from those we feel are "less holy" than we are.
We don't invite them into our mix.
Bless their hearts, when they do muster the courage to visit or walk through our church doors,
we hold them at arm's length, and avoid them as if they have the plague.
We make them feel "less than" and more sinful than we are.
We act like we will become "tainted" if we speak to them,
shake their hand, or, gasp!...embrace them with a hug.
Do we honestly think we will "catch" their sin?
Is sin contagious?
Will we contaminate ourselves by loving a sinner?
We set ourselves up as being above them, and we forget that we, too, have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
We hate the sin, and we should, but...ahem, 
we've become pretty adept at hating the sinner, too, don't you think?
Otherwise, how could we act the way we do?
God, help us!
Why do we honestly think they will want what we have,
when we are so condescending?
Which sin is worse....theirs...or ours?
The sacrifice of self will cause us to realize that GOD is the only righteous Judge, He is the only One Who has the authority to judge, and we are all on the equal playing field of being in desperate need of a Savior. 
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."
Isaiah 64:6

3.  We don't even play well with each other.

So many of us call ourselves "Christians", but, even inside our ranks, so few of us can get along.
We all want our own way.
We not only think our method, denomination, and Scriptural interpretation is best,
but we are convinced that we are right...and the only one who is....on every issue.
We huddle up in little groups, sects, and factions, and we segregate ourselves from one another.
Each individual splinter group and label believes they are the only ones who will make Heaven,
and they make it plain that if you don't swallow their individual brand of "truth",
you are on the outside of God's favor and have no hope.
We gossip about each other, post mean-spirited and disparaging Facebook messages,
 tear one another down, show hate-filled attitudes, and use our social media platforms to promote our own agenda, instead of promoting HIS.
"...if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
Galatians 5:15
Bro. "So-and-so" won't worship with Bro. "So-and-so" because they just can't see eye to eye.
Sis. "So-and-so" won't speak to Sis. "So-and-so" because she doesn't meet her "religious" criteria.
We stand behind our sacred desks and pulpits Sunday after Sunday and use them as sounding boards to blast our brothers across town, instead of to promote Jesus Christ.
Somehow, we have forgotten that we are not each other's enemy.
The fact that there is a REAL enemy out there, who, by the way, is standing back laughing with glee as he watches our carnal shenanigans, seems to completely elude us.
Can you just imagine the blow we could deal to his kingdom and agenda
if we would all come together as one, in one accord, and implement 2 Chronicles 7:14?
The sacrifice of self will cause us to love one another, as Jesus loves, and to be willing to lay aside our petty differences for the sake of His great, neglected cause.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, 
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32

4.  We don't like to be corrected.

We are so easily offended and wear our self-saturated feelings on our sleeve.
We are sassy and disrespectful to spiritual authority.
We throw temper tantrums when we are crossed.
We want our own way, and when we don't get it?
Look out!
We become angry when our burdened pastors call sin by its real name,
because we love our sinful toys and worldly play-pretties,
we don't care who says they are wrong,
and we refuse to give them up.
We forget that he is a watchman on the wall, set in place by God.
We forget that if he fails to "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up his voice like a trumpet, and show the people of God their transgressions" (Isaiah 58:1), warning us of the repercussions for sin,
our blood will be on his hands on Judgment Day. (Ezekiel 33:6)
We don't want to be reproved about anything.
We disregard God's Word, even though we could quote 2 Timothy 3:16 verbatim...
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, 
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..."
We want to do our own thing the way we want to do it, and we don't want to be told about it.
We refuse to take admonishment, even when it is coming from a spiritual leader.
We see no fault in ourselves or the beam in our own eye,
because we are too busy making a big deal out of the speck in our brother's.  (Matthew 7:4)
The sacrifice of self will foster in us a teachable spirit, 
pliable in the hands of our Potter, and cause us to man up and realize He puts people in our lives who will tell us the truth in order to mold us for Heaven.
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, 
as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: 
for that is unprofitable for you."
Hebrews 13:17

5.  We are stubborn.

We dig in our heels, plop ourselves down, and refuse to budge from our spiritual condition.
We refuse to change, even when we are shown straight from the Word of God,
that we ought to.
I am noticing more and more that there seems to be a whole new "brand" of Christianity
that has somehow crept onto the horizon.
A brand in which "Christians" want to take on the title of Christian,
without making any lifestyle or behavioral changes.
It reminds me of Isaiah 4:1,
"We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: 
only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach."
Somehow, calling ourselves a Christian makes us feel less guilty.
We have convinced ourselves that if we attach the name of Christ to our self-description,
we will be more pious and less accountable for our actions.
It somehow appeases our conscience to sit on a church pew one, two, three, even four times a week,
but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of heart transformation.
We still do the same things we did before we "accepted Christ".
We still go to the same, old places, 
even though we are fully aware that the atmosphere is not conducive to holy living.
We still dress the same way, making excuses for immodesty and undress, 
even though the Bible demands that we cover our bodies and abstain from the very appearance of evil.  
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, 
with shamefacedness and sobriety..."
I Timothy 2:9
"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
 I Thessalonians 5:22
We still engage in the same questionable activities,
even though we know full-well Jesus Christ would never participate.
We continue to talk the way we always have, taking the name of our Lord in vain
and using the same profanity, by-words, and slang we are accustomed to.
What part of "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; 
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain", do we not comprehend?
(Exodus 20:7)
Tell me, why do we think abbreviating it and downsizing it to "OMG" makes it less of an offense?
We allow for out and out sin in our lives, because, after all, we have attached the name of Christ
to our "label".
 I wonder sometimes...what part of 2 Corinthians 5:17 do we not understand?
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; 
behold, all things are become new."
And what do we do with verses like 2 Corinthians 6:14,15,17
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: 
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? 
and what communion hath light with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? 
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, 
and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
We have convinced ourselves that all we have to do is to "accept Christ".
What if we are still living in our former sins, there is no separation, and He doesn't "receive us"?
What if our lives prevent Him from doing so?
There are conditions that must be met in order for us to be holy in His sight,
and being a true Christian absolutely brings about a total and complete transformation...
visible to the world around us.
It brings about a change that absolutely bursts forth as its own proof.
If we blend in, if the world cannot see any difference, tell me, my friend, where is the evidence that we have changed?
The sacrifice of self will bring about a Godly sorrow that will bring us to a place of true repentance and change.
"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of..."
2 Corinthians 7:10

6.  We are jealous for attention.

We need continual affirmation and praise,
and we pout and sulk when we don't get it.
We expect accolades for every, little thing we do,
even though it is our God-ordained duty to walk in obedience.
We crave pats on the back by our pastor...
as if we have done a great thing by showing up for church.
We gloat when he tells us we are A-Okay.
We want to be recognized.
We don't want Sis. Suzie to outdo us, because she might get more credit.
So we push ourselves past our limits, sign up for one more church committee,
and overload ourselves with one more project...just to make sure we stay ahead of her.
And, we can be oh-so-catty while doing so.
The sacrifice of self will cause us to prefer our brothers and sisters over ourselves and to seek their happiness instead of our own.
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another..."
Romans 12:10

7.  We are rebellious.

It seems a light matter these days to hear the Word of God preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, then to turn around and do the opposite.
We think we are so clever...that we can somehow outsmart God.
Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that the rules are for everyone else,
but they don't apply to us.
We think we are something else when we commit hidden sins and never get caught.
We have rebellious spirits that have never been reined in or brought under subjection to the Spirit of Christ.
We love thinking we are somehow beating the system, and God doesn't notice.
The sacrifice of self will bring about a sincere desire to please God, to honor Him in all we do, and to be obedient to His Word.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. 
Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: 
for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth."
John 12:35

8.  We can't make up our minds.

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8
Are we on the Lord's side...or not?
We tend to be swayed so easily.
We "go along to get along", agreeing with whomever we happen to be with,
feeling compelled to stay in line with what is politically correct, 
not wanting to make waves or rock the boat or heap persecution upon ourselves,
never minding what is Biblically correct.
We take the attitude that we can believe what we want to believe,
and everyone else can believe what they want to believe,
we can all be so happy taking our own, little self-enlightened path,
and somehow, we will all end up in Heaven in the end.
"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 16:25
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts."
Proverbs 21:2
"...every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
Judges 21:25
We overlook and trample on the fact that there are absolutes,
and every, single one of them are found in God's Holy Word.
It really doesn't matter what your opinion or what my slant happens to be.
All that matters is the Book that will judge us in the end.
The sacrifice of self will cause us to give up our own will and fickleness and submit to the fact that God's Word is sovereign and supreme, and we must stand steadfast in its precepts,
regardless who or what tries to discount it.
"He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: 
the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
John 12:48

9.  We can't get enough.

Of the world, that is.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. 
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, 
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
I John 2:15-16
We are never satisfied and deeply discontent.
The more we have of this world, the more we want.
Our over-indulgence and saturation of it has muddled our thinking and desensitized us to its evil.
Would you let out a stream of profanity in front of your small children in your own home?
By God's grace, neither would I.
So, why do we invite such obscenities into our living room and somehow justify it because it is flowing through the lips of a favorite celebrity by way of television speakers?
Would you allow an unmarried couple to come into your living room and perform lewd acts in front of your husband and children?
Neither would I.
So, why do we invite them and make them permanently welcome to commit such things in plain view by way of the big screen mounted to our living room wall?
Why is it okay to watch and listen to filth, when we would never do those things ourselves?
We have allowed the world to infiltrate our homes, our hearts, and yes, my friend, our churches.
Instead of us bringing the church into the world,
we have invited the world into the church.
Things that we used to feel so strongly against are now being considered and even accepted.
By-laws are being amended, to come in line with what is politically correct.
We can't get enough entertainment.
No matter how filthy, perverse, or unBiblical it is, we are drunk on being entertained.
We seem to have to have some kind of worldly noise flowing through the airwaves of our "Christian" homes 24/7.
We can't drive down the road without pumping our heads full of clamor.
These things influence our way of thinking, our mood, and our morals.
We refuse to take a stand and be the "peculiar" people God commands us to be,
because we are so hung up on being like and being bombarded with the world.
"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."
Deuteronomy 14:2
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light..."
I Peter 2:9
We have been "called out", my friend.
Not to continue living like everyone else, but to shine a light into their darkness, 
pointing them to something better, higher, and nobler than this world has to offer.
We want to look like the world, talk like the world, dress like the world, think like the world,
and pretty soon, guess what?
Where is the difference...between us and them?
What is peculiar about that?
The church is the church.
The world is the world.
There should be is a distinct difference.
The sacrifice of self will compel us to give up the world, let go of everything that is not like Christ, and stand out as one of His peculiar ones, regardless of how it makes "us" look and feel.
It is not about us.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Romans 12:2

10.  We refuse to take no for an answer.

Like a spoiled brat in a candy store who keeps coming back to her Daddy time after time,
hoping for a different answer to her repeated denials for candy,
we keep coming back to God over and over, hoping He has somehow changed His mind
and will let us do something that is not good for us.  
"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89
God is not going to change His mind.
"For I am the LORD, I change not..."
Malachi 3:6 
"And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent."
I Samuel 15:29
What God called sin in the beginning, will still be called sin at the end.
What He said no to at the dawn of time, He says no to today.
Throwing fits,
wounding those who disagree,
and shaking our fists Heavenward,
is never going to change God's mind.
When He says "no", He means "no".
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."
Hebrews 13:8
Sin is sin.
Period.
We can either accept that fact here and adjust ourselves to God's Law now,
or we can stand before Him on Judgment Day and suffer the consequences through endless eternity.
God is a Gentleman.
He gives us the choice.
But, change His mind?  
He will not.
Ever.
The sacrifice of self will make us see that God is God, He does not, nor will He ever change, and the change must happen in us.
"God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent:
hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19
*****************************************************************
To read Part One of "A Spoiled Church", click here.

Stay tuned for Part Three of "A Spoiled Church"!!!
Coming soon, Lord willing!!!

30 comments:

  1. You nailed it, Cheryl. And it goes back to being the spoiled and selfish child and now a person. Your friend was wise. The concept of the last being first and the first being last is the sovereign fingerprint of God in creation. It's how He wired us. It's why we can't fulfill the soul from the outside in, always the inside out. Trying to find fulfillment in this world from the outside with our senses is like trying to drown a fish...

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    1. What a great analogy, brother. That is really good. You are right, the fulfillment comes from within, and only God can satisfy the soul. May the dear Lord bless you and your family. I am praying for you.

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  2. Worshipping God in spirit and truth requires sacrifice and lots of it. If we presume to serve God but in our convenience and comfort and on our own terms, then we serve oursleves not Him.
    Thanks for touching on this very vital topic Cheryl. God helps us all!

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    1. Yes, dear Lord, help us all! I feel so in need of Him, and if we were living in Old Testament times, I feel like I would be in sackcloth and ashes. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your encouragement. Much love to you, sweet sister.

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  3. Dearest Cheryl, such powerful words, and I know they are coming straight from the heart of God! Indeed, it is the church that needs to repent of our lukewarmness, because God has already said He will spew us out of his mouth, because our hearts have grown cold and indifferent. The closer we draw to the Lord, I have found, the more persecution we will face, and not from the world, but from those in the religious groups, as you have mentioned. Indeed, it was the Pharisees who crucified Jesus, they were the religious right of the day. They didn't want their legalistic program and mindset to be altered by the truth spoken from Jesus, and instead they sought to kill Him. Following Christ with all your heart, laying aside any loyalty to man, will ALWAYS bring persecution from the "church". Yet, if we do not bear the cross, follow Him, be obedient to HIM, we stand to lose it all. May the Lord continue to bless your writings dear Cheryl, and I pray that many will hear... but not just hear, but obey! May we all find a place to repent of anything that has drawn us away from obedience to Him!

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    1. Oh, dear friend! How true your words!! The religious "elite" were the very ones who killed our dear Lord and who caused Him the most trouble throughout His ministry. You will never know how much I appreciate you, your dear support and encouragement, and the precious friendship God has opened up for us. May He bless you and your family in a special way! Sending you big hugs and lots of love across the miles.

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  4. Cheryl, it seems to me that this series could be the beginnings of a book. Really. It's incredibly powerful, wise, inspiring, convicting, challenging. I know that you will credit God with all the glory, and I believe that's why your words are so powerful. They are divinely inspired, and obediently written here. I see the courage behind your words. And I just say, "Huzzah for you, brave sister!"

    Yes, the word that came to me is entitlement. We have become a people who *expect* things given to us - whether we deserve them or not. But truly, the ONLY undeserved thing that we have ever received (or should receive) is the unmerited favor of God's salvation. Would that more people would realize that. Or, having received that wonderful gift, live as if we understood it!

    Sacrifice is the direct opposite of our clamoring *selves* - perhaps that is why God chose this method to save us.

    In the world, not part of it. This is what we are called to. May God strengthen His people to stand apart - to shine like lights on a hill, to be the salty seasoning of His Presence in a world becoming increasingly dulled to His Spirit.

    GOD BLESS.

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    1. Oh, dear friend! Your precious words are like goads to me. They inspire and encourage and bless me more than you will ever know. Your prayers and support are precious gifts. YES, entitlement...that is a very fitting word. We live in an entitlement generation. I so agreed with everything you said. May God bless you and keep you and hold you ever close to His heart. I am praying for you and sending big hugs to you across the miles. :)

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  5. Dear Cheryl,

    Oh my, I completely agree with you! What a sad state the modern day church is in...lukewarm, yet thinking all is well! Yes, we're continually seeking some form of entertainment and ease, wanting programs and activities all the time. If we have a church dinner or show a Christian movie, the place is full, but have a Bible study or a prayer service, and you might have four people show up!

    Self-denial and sacrifice are needed, yet sorely lacking today.

    Many people are desperately searching for answers, but it's not easy to find a pastor that has enough backbone to tell them what they need to hear. On one side, we have the 'anything goes' - 'don't offend anyone' crowd, and on the other side is the smothering, legalistic, 'follow all our rules' crowd...and both sides are not the way God intended things to be. I venture to say this may even be a reason some people move away from Christianity altogether and seek other religions. I pray the Holy Spirit would work on the hearts of those people and draw them back to Him.

    I truly believe there is a separating going on in churches now between those who just 'play church', and those who really desire to have a relationship with Jesus. The two are vastly different! Give me Jesus, please! No doubt there are going to be MANY left behind when the trumpet sounds - people that thought they were OK, and even had been told by their pastors that they were OK.

    I'll be printing out this series to keep and go over.

    God bless you, sweet sister.♥ I hope you and your family have a wonderfully blessed weekend. :-)

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    1. Oh, your words!!!! How very true they are!! I just had to cry as I read them. YES, dear friend, give me Jesus, please! I am SICK of the lukewarmness and the "playing church". I believe God is, too. And, yes, we are the very ones who are driving people away from dear Jesus. I am often reminded of the story I read about Ghandi and how he was searching out Christianity, then grossly mistreated by so-called "Christians". He made a comment that went something like this (and I know I am not quoting it verbatim, but this is the gist), "The thing about you Christians is that you are so unlike your Christ!" Oh, that hits a nerve each time I read or hear that! It is SO true. How far we have drifted!!!!! Thank you, dear Melanie, for your sweet visit today and for the precious encouragement you left behind. I just can't thank you enough...you have lifted my spirits so much! God bless you and your sweet family. :)

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  6. Cheryl, you can see your heart when you read this post, and I love that! Thanks for sharing! ❤

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jo! I appreciate you stopping by. :) God bless you and your family.

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  7. Well said!

    I agree we are spoiled--we don't have to face jail time or death to go to church. My FIL did, even as an American citizen. He is Cuban, and came to the US in the 1950's on a student visa, married, and then became a permanent resident and then nationalized. Papa went back to Cuba in 1990's to visit his own Mama, and took many family members to the local baptist church and was detained for going to church. There are many family back on the island who go to church in buildings we wouldn't use for storage, let alone worship, but they are worshipping and serving the Lord just the same. They face backlash from the Castro regime, but they keep on going on for the Lord. God gets the glory. Here, most of us wouldn't be willing to sit in a cinderblock building with no AC in the middle of the hottest times of the year, or risk the government goons visiting during service, or being detained because you're going to a church not sanctioned by the government.... Of course, with how our own country is going, it may not be long before true bible believing churches are forced to the under ground and house churches due to our own government, with those who truly hold the bible as the Word of God facing jail and other means of punishment for believing.

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    1. OH, dear Lord, help us! I am so sorry to know of all your father-in-law went through and the dear saints who are suffering in so many places. May He have mercy upon us all. We are surely living in the last days, and the perilous times that Paul prophesied would come are here. We must stand firm and hold fast to God's unchanging hand. He is coming soon to deliver us all out of this evil world. Then we will never be troubled again, praise His name. Thank you for stopping by here today. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts! God bless you. :)

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  8. Some uncomfortable truths here! It's only in the past year or so that I have been changing what I watch, read and listen to. It didn't happen right away but over time the Holy Spirit has shown me certain things and my heart has been changed to be more in line with what God wants. When I see others in a similar position to where I was a year ago I do not worry but gently point out the righteous path and trust God that He will lead them down the same path according to His will and timing.

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    1. Praise the Lord!!! This is so encouraging to read this!! My Papaw, who was an old-time, Godly minister used to say that God will never allow an honest soul to be deceived. I believe that with all my heart. if we are truly wanting to do His will and please Him, He will gently and tenderly lead us like a shepherd. He knows how much light and understanding we can handle, at any given point, and He always works according to the integrity of our hearts. He knows you love Him, and the closer you draw to Him, the less you will even want things that will hinder you in your walk with Him. So encouraged to hear how God is leading you!!!!! Thank you for sharing this with me.

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  9. Cheryl, You are so sweet. Your posts are blessing to all who read.

    What I see here in this post is a passion, like the passion of a mother "correcting" a child pointing him to obedience for his own sake; not one of judgment, but of Truth spoken in love and humility.

    I am no different and can fall into some of the categories you describe finding myself convicted. But conviction is the loving hand of God, telling us, "This is the way, walk in it."

    Thank you for being the mouthpiece, sharing what the Holy Spirit inpsired you to write for our good, the church's good and His Glory.

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    1. Oh, Karen! Thank you SO much for understanding what is in my heart!! You will just NEVER know how much your dear, kind words meant to me just now. God bless you abundantly, sweet sister. You are such an encouragement to me...both here...and at your own dear blog. I am so thankful to be walking this Christian path with you. :)

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  10. May we all realize our guilt and repent from our selfish ways. Yes, it is true that being sorry is not the same as repenting. We can be sorry we got caught but true repentance is a matter of the heart and a change in direction. Too many Christians of today have not made a FULL surrender to God's will. They are still as rebellious children holding on to their own will. May we each one be willing to commit to Jesus in the deepest way and serve him with a surrendered heart. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Yes, dear Hazel. So true. I think one of the main problems is the acknowledgement of our OWN guilt and our not being willing to take personal responsibility for the conditions. We have all been too passive and thought things were never going to get this bad, and all along, satan was working an inroad that is so wide, it has nearly consumed us. God help us all. Thank you for stopping by and for your encouragement and support.

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  11. Cheryl, we are a "spoiled church." May God help us to be who He has called us to be! Thanks so much for linking up at Mondays @ Soul Survival. I pinned on my Mondays @ board.

    Blessings,
    Donna

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Donna, and for the pin, too! God bless you!!

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  12. Cheryl...All I can say is "Amen!" This post is so thought provoking and full of much truth. Thank you friend for sharing it at Monday's Musings. God bless you. :-)

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    1. Oh, Naomi! Thank you ever so much for your precious words of encouragement! They truly mean so very much to me. May the dear Lord bless you abundantly for stopping by here. :)

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  13. You speak such truth Cheryl and this is such a great post and points out so many issues within our churches and ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. May you be blessed for speaking the truth my friend.xxxx

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your dear encouragement, Terri! What a precious blessing to me! I trust God will richly bless you and your sweet family and keep you in His care. :)

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  14. Wow! You have certainly hit the nail on the head.

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    1. Dear Lord, help us all. My heart is so heavy, Sheila! We must pray and do our individual part. Thank you so much for your precious support and encouragement. God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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  15. Sweet Cheryl, I'm so glad to have found your series here! I came over from a blogging link up and was excited to see that it is your blog :-) About two weeks ago, I was praying in tears asking God for guidance about whether or not I should go on a mission trip that had been planned months in advance. I had just lost all joy and passion for doing anything mission related, especially after my most recent miscarriage and I was grieved about just "going through the motions" and not really putting my heart and soul into what we were going to do. All year long, I've felt this loss of joy and couldn't figure out why I was struggling so much to enjoy doing anything really, but specifically struggling with mission related work. God led me to the scripture in Revelation where Jesus writes to the church at Ephesus and tells them that although "outwardly" they are doing all of the right things, they have forsaken their first love for God. I'm not sure about you, but when I was a new baby Christian about 10 years ago, I just had this strong desire to be close to God. I devoured the scriptures and just enjoyed everything about Jesus that I could get my hands on. And the same with mission work as I grew in my faith, I had a strong desire to reach people for Christ and loved serving in the church, my community, whatever I could do for the Kingdom. But with circumstances and life pressures, I've become weary and somewhere along the way, I lost my love for the Lord and was too busy doing things "for" God to actually spend time with God. Our Lord is so sweet and gracious! I'm going to take more time to really read through and reflect and pray on your series, but I'm excited for anything that encourages me to get closer to the Lord. We all need more of Jesus and less of all of the junk and distractions this world has to offer. Love you sweet sister-in-Christ! Thanks for sharing :-)

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    1. Aww...thank you SO much for your sweet comments and for sharing your heart here, Amber. I am so thankful you stopped by, and I trust the dear Lord will gently woo you back close to His side. I love reading that about the "first love" there in Revelation, too. It is so true....so many have lost their first love, but thank God, He is so merciful, and He tells us to "draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to us". God bless you in a big way, dear friend. Much love to you, too. Please come by anytime! You really blessed me tonight. :)

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