Jan 24, 2009

Something else; something more...

It is 2:00 am and I find myself wondering why I am awake. I should be resting I know but something woke me up about an hour ago. At times, I appreciate the stillness of the night. It seems that is when God seems to catch my attention the easiest; and a time when it seems easier to hear him calling out my name.

A lot of things have been on my mind lately; important decisions I have to make, why this is happening, or perhaps just trying to make sense of it all. It would be nice if we were allowed to choose every aspect of our lives, but it doesn't really work that way. We can say yes, no, or run away when we are faced with life, or we can accept it, perhaps embrace it, and just move into a new phase.

I guess I have always been more emotional or maybe perceptive about the aspects of my life God is working on, and yet I see others who seem to either disregard or be oblivious to the direction their life is headed, and I wonder why does God allow it to be that way? People who have been completely sold out to God, or seemed to be, so quickly fall away when faced with difficulties. Somehow God has 'forsaken' them, and yet instead of trying to examine what is going on in their lives, they ignore the signs or just don't see what they are doing. Maybe they have become calloused to the point where it doesn't really matter anymore.

I realize there are times when we all just need to take things in stride, and know it will work out, but there are also times when those gentle tugs or the trials that seem to knock us down are trying to wake us up before it is too late.

I don't understand how some can profess to love God and yet, they seem so far from truth, and accepting of the changes, like somehow God is ok with it all. The true hunger for God has been replaced with something else.

We are a generation that knows God, or so we think, and we get so caught up in life that we forget the depths he once took us to. It never used to be a big deal if we spent time in the altar crying out to God and hungering after him. It never used to be a big deal if we were tired and it was a long church service, because we were there with a passion for God, and we found strength in him. It used to be when we were asked to help out, it wasn't just another chore we had to do, or some inconvenience to our lives, but it was a blessing.

What has happened to us? Have we become so complacent that we are not aware of the changes?

I have heard people talk about this as a 'new day.' We have programs and steps to achieve our ministries, rather than anointing and worship. Dedication has been replaced with acceptance; both in our personal lives as well as in our walk with God. There is this perception that God doesn't work the same way as he used to; somehow we have to 'help' him out to achieve his goals. Really?

I know God needs us, but he doesn't 'need' us.

Just recently someone made a comment that they heard so and so was going to another church, and how 'they talk about God moving there. It can't be true though, because they are not coming here like they used to.' We can be so self absorbed thinking God cannot move on someone else who does not look like us, act like us, or maybe sing the same songs we do.
And yet, those who at one time were our prayer warriors, seem to just take it all in stride. 'Oh, God will work it out, he always comes through.' While that is true, it seems like we have become so used to how things are that we don't expect things to be any different and somehow we have forgotten how it used to be. We think God understands, and yes he is the same, but we aren't. Many have become so blinded and yet so arrogant to think that our apathy is just God being patient with us.

I am so troubled in my spirit at things that are allowed to go on and no one seems to care. I am so moved seeing those who I believed in, confided in, and loved seeming to go further and further away from what they believed just a short time ago, and yet, they think they are ok. Whether it is blinded by sin, or just simply not caring anymore, I really don't know, but something has to happen to wake them up before it is too late.

The bible talks about the ten virgins and five let their oil run out, and five kept back just a little so they would have something to draw from when the bridegroom came. Most of the time, we talk about those who let the oil run out. People who were once dedicated, bright, shining examples for God, who have somehow let their light dim and flicker out. We talk about them like how could they be so stupid to not keep the faith, and yet we don't really recognize the reasons their flame has gone out. It could be they got lazy; or perhaps they got so caught up in life, that they weren't aware, but it could also be our fault.

The bible says we are to bear one anothers burdens, but it seems to me that we are so busy in our own circumstances that we don't even see what is happening to our brothers and sisters, or even our own families. I know salvation is one on one. It is between us and God, but when did we see a brother or sister slipping away, and not feel touched, or moved by God to do something about it?

We are supposed to be loving our neighbor as ourselves, and yet most of us have become so wrapped up in our own situations, that we don't even know what is going on in the lives of those around us. I had one person tell me not too long ago, that is wasn't so important that you believed and worshipped the way you used to as long as you gave God an hour or so on Sunday. Really! And this person claims to be in the ministry.

Some have gotten the idea that serving God is about making it to church, singing a few songs, and listening to someone talk for a little while about the bible. It is no wonder some lights have flickered out. Those who are 'ministers' don't have time to minister anymore except for when people make it to church, and I have heard preachers and preachers wives say, 'well, if they loved God, they would be here.'

It isn't that way.

Being a christian used to be about sharing. Sharing what we know; sharing what we have, and spending time worshipping together. It didn't take a continual drone from the platform about how we need to raise funds for this or that program. People gave of their own accord; not just finances, but they gave their time, and their worship was more than just something to do. It used to be that 'pentecostals' were considered oddballs, and you could definately pick them out of a crowd in the supermarket, or the mall. They looked different, they acted different, their love for God and each other was apparent.

Last sunday morning I arrived at church just a few minutes before sunday school, and there was less people there, at least on time, that I could have counted them on two hands and maybe part of a foot. This from a church that used to be known in the community, even despised at times. A church that when you talked about 'those people' everyone knew who you were talking about. Sure a lot of it was criticism, but they knew when they had a real need, where to find the answer.
Now, when I go the store, I almost never see anyone from my church. I almost never see anyone who looks holy. Everyone seems to have blended in to the crowd. A few weeks ago I saw a couple of ladies that looked holy, seemed to have a pleasant disposition, and carried themselves with dignity. I didn't say anything to them, but I wondered if perhaps there was another church nearby that preached the truth. There is only one apostolic church in my area for more than 100 miles, so seeing some who looks like what I remember we used to look like surprised me.

I mentioned seeing those ladies and my wonder to a few people from my church, and almost without hesitaion they all said, 'those are the two-by-two's, they don't believe like we do.' How do we know? Did any of us talk to them? How come we assume that we are the ones with the truth? That we are the ones who have enough oil? And if we are, how come we aren't at least trying to communicate with those who look holy? Maybe we are the foolish ones?

Just like in the parable, the foolish had let their light go out to the point that they weren't even aware of what was going on around them. They went out to find more 'oil' when they knew the bridegroom was coming. We see so many signs of the end, and yet most of us are just content to sit on the pew and not try to get on fire like we used to be. The bible says in the end there will be a great falling away, and frankly, I see it happening everywhere. Not just in those who 'quit church' but in the dedication we have for God and his work.

The thing I have always wondered though, and no one seems to preach is about the five wise virgins and how selfish they were. The principle of God has always been give and it shall be given to you. The widow woman gave to the prophet first, and never ran out of oil or meal. There are many cases like that in the bible and we used to be able to spout off the cases in our own lives where God came through when we did something first. So, why didn't the wise virgins share? Were they selfish with what they knew?

Truly, the bible says 'they all slumbered and slept.' All of them; those with oil; those without didn't try to keep it going, they went to sleep.

So we have a dilema; are we sleeping because we are wise, or sleeping because we think we have plenty of time? Are we truly the wise ones, or are we the foolish?

I am so hungry for a real move of God. Not just the "I came to church, sang some songs, worshipped some, heard some guy speak on some topic I will never remember" move of God; not just the occasional 'miracle.' I have heard people talk about miracles and why are we 'looking for signs, we aren't supposed to be.' That is a cop out, the same as when we know a brother or sister is going thru a difficult time, and we say we 'will pray about it.'

Someone needs to step it up and do something. Jesus said we were supposed to be doing greater things than he did. How many of us can say we raised the dead? Too hard? Yes, I know that only God can raise the dead, but what are WE doing? Or how about just being moved with compassion for someone other than ourself? That shouldn't be so hard.
Our churches have become just social hangouts where we do just enough to get by, and then plan if we will go to Applebees or McDonalds after church.

Again, I am so hungry for a move of God. If we looked in our cupboards and freezer for something to eat and couldn't find what we needed, wouldn't we go to the store? Most of us don't usually go to the grocery store to be seen, or to catch up with someone to make plans to go eat somewhere. We go there to get what we need to sustain us. Sometimes, we even share what we buy with someone else.

That is what the church is supposed to be about. Needing something else, needing something more to not only sustain us but to satisfy that longing. Something that will keep us steady; something that will be enough to keep us until he comes. It wouldn't hurt if we got enough that we could share as well. Someone else may be hurting and hungry; are we just going to walk on by, or are we going to help?

Once upon a time, there were four people; Their names were Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody.
Whenever there was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. When Nobody did it, Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Nobody would do it. So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place.