New Temple; Same Market! Pt. 2

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If you read Part I, proceed to paragraph 5.      To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market! John 2:16

Part one posed many thoughts about the current challenges facing our churches.  Shamingly, I writes churches, a subtle admission of the largest problem we face, while challenging us all to take a close look at ourselves with sober judgment and face a sad reality or ignore warnings and trends.  

As we continue to look at the marketplace, we find Christ encountering the temple before the Passover.  He wandered into the courts and saw up close the wickedness that had emerged in the place that was to provide a medium for healing and restoration.  He stood face to face with the place, no doubt, many had complained about the scales used to determine whether one was forgiven or in limbo with the Lord.  While many approached God with a contrite heart, they were instructed that there best wasn’t good enough for the Lord.  The system that was created to facilitate, no majored on regulating, leaving more wounded than whole.

Our Lord fashioned a whip and declared, “Stop turning my Fathers House into a Market”  reading this, I thought of today’s circumstances and wrote, “New Temple; Same Market.”

Today’s Temples are absolutely amazing.  I’m sure upon Christ return that He will visit each one and sign up for the guided tour of each of our localities.   I can imagine that He will take pictures in our pulpits, possibly baptize a few in our baptismal pools, and recline in our offices, later taking a ride in our vehicles which He blessed us with.  Nah!  We know what His return will be like, but not to let the moment pass, when Jesus encountered this Temple, he wasn’t impressed with the operation, He was angered by the misuse of His Fathers house.  It was not created to be a for profit, it was to be a non profit directed by a Prophet that was not focused on making a profit, but doing what was profitable for ones soul.  (I know the Prophet didn’t control the temple, I’m bridging to today).

New Temple; Same Market Pt. 2

With the house out of order, He paused the festivities to clean house!  I am convinced that the same would occur in many places today.  Jesus prays to God about the disciples, the church, and their role in what was to come.  Thus we too must clean house. We must focus on the Message of Christ and being like Christ; correcting un-christlike behavior.  And when abuse occurs in the ranks and pew, we must reestablish the will of Christ within our walls.

He says,

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  John 17:23

Jesus stressed Kingdom, as in One, not Kindgoms as in many.  Though there is freedom and beauty in the variety of praise, there is nothing beautiful or freeing about the many messages from the messengers.  Confusion exists when seekers hear speakers promoting political and personal agendas.  It is as though there is no truth today.  Truth is no relative to the audience one is trying to reach it seems. Market studies reveal the perfect Message for tingling ears, and many have chosen to deliver it line by line though to fill empty seats.  These things result in a rejection of truth, a group that don’t have the truth in them, and creates a pew filled with cynics.

Each time my Grandfather and I speak, he says,  “There is a difference in a church and a congregation.  We have too many congregations!  We must be the church!” Pastor Buford Horn (#grandpahorn)  “What’s the problem you ask?” Many of our churches are congregating around ideals and values that don’t align with Christ!  And for many, they aren’t disciples, rather people who are similar and use the church as a place to congregate and do commerce.

John Maxwell said at the GROW conference, “The world is motivated by an untapped market.  Are you motivated by the unsaved?” Which brings us to our next issue in the market, competition.  It’s not the competition that is the issue, rather the ones being competed for.  Maxwell spoke to us, “If I told a business man that 60% portion of a the market was virgin, he wouldn’t hear the rest of my presentation.”  He gently scolded us, confronting us will a sad reality.  Much of our growth has been movement not salvation’s.  Some have catered Sunday mornings not for the unsaved, but have designed our worship and temples to gather the largest portion of the existing market-share possible.  We are not creating an audience, we are competing for an audience. img_2881-2

Yes, people need a place to worship.  Yes, we need to track down the one and reach those who have fallen out of fellowship. These are responsibilities placed on the Shepherd and his team, but the great commission refocuses us on our main task.  It’s to take the Message and create more Messengers that can take the Message and create more Messengers.  It seems we have fallen in love with the twelve and crowds and forgotten about the cross.  Why were we sent? To whom where we sent?

If we are anything like our Christ, we would see a shift in our target audience!  There are still poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed in the hedges and highways.   And as long as these aren’t our focus, the country club atmosphere and mentality will continue to plague or congregations, and keep us from becoming the church of Jesus Christ.
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New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again! Pt. 1 John 2:16

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I started this blog with the intent of writing a blog called “The Elephant in the Room” and talking about the events of Charlottesville, Virginia (and using the Republican Elephant as the main picture), but I have so many friends that are Republicans and great people that I thought it both wrong and irresponsible!   Furthermore, the politics that has permeated our churches has become a silencer to the smoking gun called hatred!  By now, I pray that all of you are tired of hearing our faith linked to political organizations who only use our principles to garner our votes!  Again, the church of Jesus Christ is not a political party!  It is a group of people who have walked away from a life of sin because of the Messiah King’s sacrifice, and have chosen to become disciples in a pursuit for righteousness.

Having said all of this, I come to the point of this blog.  Many young people have left our churches not because of the message of Christ, but because of the foolishness of the messenger and the immaturity of the followers!

Christ came into the world and showed one act of aggressiveness.  No, it wasn’t at a rally!  It wasn’t with the tax collector!  It wasn’t with the woman caught in adultery or with the man in the tombs!  It wasn’t even with Peter who spoke incorrectly or when the disciples again displayed little faith!  Not even when the disciples fell asleep while he prayed.  He rolled up his sleeves, fashioned together a whip, and went to the alleged “house of prayer” and ran out all animals, people, threw all the coins on the ground and turned over every table!  The leaders rebuked Him, asking who gave him authority, and standing on the 46 year existence of the temple.

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From the depth of His core, He demanded,  “..Stop turning my Fathers House in to a Market…”, which takes us to the Title of the Blog, “New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again!”

 

Jesus walked into the temple a saw the drive of the leaders and managers to find the most profitable way to restore the relationship between God and Man.  The took God’s law and wrote into it a way to eat, drink, live and drive the finest.  They analyzed the bottom line, crunched the numbers, and like good stewards, figured a way to increase profit margin and in the the profit, increased there margin of spiritual error.  The bottom line became the main focus, and thus Jesus took a moment from His busy schedule to refocus the flock!

With His own hands, He braided together chords and sought to bring about harmony with the church and the will of God.  As His whip cut through the air, I imagine that each strike was precise, and the sound of His strike snapped with such power that it echoed throughout the country side.  As animals scattered, He turned to those profiting and demanded that the doves be turned loose as well.

Marketplace2.jpgI was both angry and relieved by reading this passage.  The passage list that the whip was used to run the animals out, but he left the servants that had turned it into the market.  I thought to myself, that whip should have met a back not the ground.  It should have cut a thigh and cheek, not just the air!  But even in anger, He was poised and controlled.  He displayed His disgust as a warning while knowing that in a short time, the source of revenue they had built would be torn apart.

Yep, today, I declare that many of our “Houses of Prayer” should cut down all vegetation on site and in the surrounding area!  Christ would in many cases clean out the foolishness that has overcome some (NOT ALL) of our temples (churches).    As I both read and discuss some of the rhetoric about the Global Church, actually, the “American Church”, we find all to often that reports about abuse and misuse surface.  Though most of these stories, though some are true, do no apply to the majority of churches, it does apply to some.  Without throwing a blanket over us all, it is important that each parishioner and reader know that the man of God, preacher,  or pastor is human; we are not perfect.  We make errors, and God deals with us, and in some cases, so does the pew.

Forgiveness should be in play in all cases, just as God chooses to forgive in all circumstances.  Be it duly noted, that God says every man will be held accountable for his own actions.  Having said this, Forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to evil or supporting it with silence.  And Patience and Long Suffering is not watching another suffer at the hands of one who abuses and misuses power.    Jesus could have walked by this temple and ignored the actions of those who were misrepresenting Him and abusing those who He had chosen, but He spoke up, and took action to bring about change.

marketplace 3I am convinced that everyone silently protesting and verbally protesting the church isn’t mature, unsaved or stuck in un-forgiveness.  

I fear they tuned in, took positions and in the end, simply weren’t buying what we were selling! They packed and left! Some frustrated that the house of God is not the place they expected it to be.  They remain baffled and the countless amount of Pastors and clergy men that remain silent when those who are less than are picked on and taken advantage of.  They are confused as our churches ignore truth, and create a message that caters to top givers.  They are saddened by those who sit in comfy chairs, have reserved parking, television and radio programs, blogs and podcast and chose to remain silent as evil occurs for fear of loosing membership and the worst, low approval ratings!  They are wondering to themselves how someone can be responsible for their soul and not care for them as a person.  They watch in disgust, and choose to watch from their couches, and shrivel away while they feed themselves, and starve from lack of nourishment.

In this day in age, not to reduce everything to buyers and sellers, but a great product can fail because of bad marketing and false advertisement!  Our Bible describes the product, and gives a ingredients list.  It even describes the mission and values of the church and how it should be run.  Much of the criticism we face is not about doctrine, but its about mission and actions.  If these are not attended too, the natural ebb and flow of the market will continue, and our houses of worship will be just like Blockbuster and Hostess!

 

#PastorJDO3

Open Your Eyes!

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This morning A moment of panic set in, as I searched for a place to eat breakfast.   Why you ask?  There are so many places to eat!  But First Met has entered a fast!  No Bread! No Fried Foods! And no Beverage outside of Water!  Mentally, I was scrolling through menu after menu!  What can I eat?  Where can I go?

Panic set in!  I couldn’t think of a place to eat.  Then I saw a grocer.  Fruit! Quick!  Simple! Delicious! Cost efficient!  I walked in and discovered lot of choices in addition to my desire.  I entered the section and found heaven in a cup.  Parfait. 

It was then I found truth and a key to surviving the fast and to thriving in life.  Often we are so consumed with what we can’t have that we can’t think of what we can have.  

Are you so focused on what you can’t have that you can’t see what you can have? 

Do we fail because our minds become consumed with boundaries and rules?  Do we miss opportunities focused on the things because we are focused on things that are not within our grasps? 

Truth be told, this is why most fasts fail.  Our minds become laser focused on the no,’s and overlook the yeses. For a moment, a problem existed.  Not a real problem, but one created from my inability to see past what was restricted from intake, so much so that I was blind to the many options around me.

Once I took a moment, I was able to see not only a store, but 3 other options.  Not only that, but the real blindness was created by a fear for a lack of discipline.  Every place had something on the menu that I could eat, but I feared that I would not be disciplined or strong enough to be obedient if given the opportunity to break the fast.  The reality, there were many options by which I could dine, but not many in which I might be successful, that is being undisciplined in this area.

I made my purchase and was in my car within almost the same time frame it would have taken to drive through the drive through.  I broke the seal and mixed together the items and dug in.  While eating, I realized that we are so bound by what we don’t or can’t have that we miss out on things that can bring us joy.  

Are you so blinded by what you can’t have that you can’t appreciate what you do have? 

The Parfait was delicious!  I enjoyed the bitter texture of the yogurt, the sweetness of the strawberry and the crunching through the granola.  I enjoyed spoonful after spoonful. I could only thing that I would have missed this bliss consumed with what I had to miss.  When we place our mental energy on what we can’t have, we rob from ourselves the joy of what’s available to us.   

I screamed to myself!  Johnny, Open Your Eyes!  I say to you, Open Your Eyes!  See what God has provided. Open your mind to what’s available. Discipline yourself for the journey! 

He Took a Wife and a Life (2 Chron. 11:14-15)

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14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent
it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote,
“Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting,
and then draw back from him, that he may be
struck down, and die.” 2 Chronicles 11:14-15

As I read this passage with fresh eye and an open heart, I considered the many opportunities David had to avoid trouble “A” and digging a deeper hole “B”.  God promises us that He will always leave a way of escape, but like David, the Promise of Pleasure was chose over Righteousness and Relationships.  

The portion that bothered me was found first in verse 6 when David said, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.”  Though I was familiar with the story, I kept hope that this encounter with Uriah would be different.  I thought, surely David will apologize to Uriah!

I wondered to myself, “How much drama and chaos exist in my life and the life of others because we won’t apologize?”  What in your world is not aligned because you are stuck in pride?   How much more damage did you do to yourself and to others because you would not confess your wrong?

The reality is that many of us have taken something
that could have been a moment of pain
and made it the central theme of our life
and the main narrative between
yourself and another
because personal pride won’t let us do what was right.

A sad reality David found is:
Not admitting wrong doesn’t make the wrong right. 

But David is God’s chosen.  He’s a man after Gods own heart!  Surely David will make an attempt to restore to Uriah what he has damaged. Nope!  Davis send for Uriah not to make the relationship or his marital circumstances but to trick him!  His plan to deal with his sin was to cover it!  He simply thought he would sweep it under the rug by getting Uriah to sleep with his wife.  I wondered as I wrote, how many readers have several lumps under their rug?  The problem with sweeping under the rug is that problem is not visible, but it presence is still evident.  sweepunderrug

 

Next, David discovered:
“Your Struggle isn’t the Struggle of the Next.” 

David figured he would fool him by giving him an opportunity; one that David himself would have taken!  He sent Uriah home with a gift from the King following him, but Uriah slept at the Kings doorstep.

David’s plan to cover his sin would have allowed this man to raise David’s son as his own.  He was going to spend his life looking at this boys face, touching this boys hair, looking at the shape of his chin, comparing him to his sisters and brothers and questioning his wife, and David was OK with this!  David was ok with making Bathsheba live with her husband in a lie; all to cover his wrong!  His plan was to make Bathsheba live a life avoiding eye contact, and denying truth, and eventually loosing the complete trust of her husband.  Worse, she would be discovered and potentially stoned by the community, and David was OK with this!

What lie have you created to protect your own truth?  How many of us have allowed an innocent person to bear a cross that belonged to us because we were more concerned with our own interest than how our actions would affect someone else?

But his plan failed!  Though Uriah had the right to sleep with his wife, Uriah denied his flesh, and was consumed with returning the Ark, being a good soldier, and being a good citizen.  As long as others were suffering and fighting, he would not allow himself a moment of peace and pleasure.Crown

 

David found this too to be true; The Crown does not establish you as the King of Character just over the Country!

David found that there were people under Him that had more character and more discipline than him.  There were people He was called to lead that placed God before self, and self before others more than he would.  How tough this was for David to swallow.  How dare this man have ethics and live by a high standard of morals when David himself had taken liberties.  How dare he carry himself like a King and leave David feeling like a Peasant!  It’s always challenging when you discover that you’re the only one that has a mouth full of apple.  This had to fuel David even more, thus sealed the fate of Uriah.

subordinateSadly, David response to Joab reveal his perspective.  Davis didn’t see him as a Servant or as a Citizen, he saw him as only a Subordinate!  Too often those in power suffer from this perspective!  TD Jakes said in a conference once that when he want to judge a mans characters, he watches how he treats those who are thought to be under neath them.  I see this as a heart perspective.  Though we have different positions and titles, we are all God’s children.  The same rights afforded to you have been afforded to all of Gods creation.  In this moment, David valued his public perception more than. He valued his brother!  In a moment where David should have been humbling himself before his brother, he exalted himself by placing his foot on the neck of a loyal servant.

Do you do this?  Seeing others as less than, and treating them accordingly.  David sins, and then sentences an innocent man to death!  Worse, he puts into motion the demise of one who was loyal to both him and the creator!

David would not only take his wife, but would take his life!  

2for1

David get’s a Two for One!   What was one error is now being compounded by his attempt to cover up his sin.  How many times have we made this same error?  What should have been a skit, turns into a pilot episode for a syndicated series.   How much innocent blood has been shed for you to keep your image in tact?

He sent this valiant warrior to fight, and ordered the troops to leave him uncovered so that he would die.  He probably presented his wife and family with a flag and a purple heart, made a commemorative plaque and made that day Uriah the Hittite day, as the band marched past the palace where he sat on the couch in front of the fire with Bathsheba, pulling up his blanket up with a glass of wine and stogie in his mouth.  He covered his sin, and left Uriah uncovered.

Lord be it that I and others will do right after we have done wrong.  Lord forbid that we break the law and write the letter!  Lord keep us first from the wrong, and in moments were we fail, allow us to make our relationship with you and our fellow brother and sister right.

 

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