Welcome to Abomination Church!

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Welcome to Abomination Church!  Here, We are a MESS!

In this day, we have churches popping up on every street corner.  We have some of the most creative and attractive names, captivating slogans, missions statements, logos and the like.  It’s marketing at its best.  Communicating righteousness, holiness, godliness, community, evangelism and service under one lord, one faith and one baptism.

Though pleasing to the eye of man, we find in chapter 7, a thriving church that is too boastful about its claims.  The church bears the most marketable name ever; the name of The LORD!   It advertised, but advertised falsely.   The advertisement was enough to draw people into the fold, but once in, the people saw that it was all marketing, and gravitated to the pocket of people that were committing the same sin they were committing.   They were a church of small groups, but none of them were seeking righteousness, they were only speaking on righteousness.

 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house
 and proclaim
there this word, and say, “Hear the word of the LORD,
all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship!”
 Jeremiah 7:1

God tells Jeremiah to stand at the gate and speak to all who traveled.   He stood shockedthere like an usher, handing out the worship bulletin.    The order of the day, “Change!  Jeremiah would speak loudly, decreeing the Word of our Lord.   This Word was a verbal reminder, much like you cross the state line when traveling.  See, each state has laws that pertain to itself, and has the ability to arrest you and hold you accountable for its laws despite what you know.  It’s your responsibility to learn about the lay and laws of the land so that you can act accordingly

Sadly, the people had read the laws, and had decided that change was not possible or more like desirable.  Turns out that they loved the Temple because of the fellowship of the people, but didn’t love the Temple because of the worship of the LORD!  They gathered in groups and celebrated their lifestyles, not correcting one another.  They were a fully accepting church, approving the lifestyle of those who went against the Word of  God.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,
“Amend your
ways and your deeds, and I will
let you
dwell in this place.  4 Do not trust in
deceptive words, saying, “This is the temple
of the LORD, the temple of the LORD:”

Jeremiah 7:7-4

God instructs Jeremiah to tell the people “Amend your ways and your deeds, and i will let you dwell in this place.”  This statement was tough to read.  In this time, we sit in our homes eager to return to the house of the LORD, but have been quarantined into our homes.  It has me wondering if this bears some semblance to what God was addressing through Jeremiah?  Could it be that God had to use this virus because His Men and Women of God would not confront the people?  Maybe we were so busy with business, that forgot to present to people God’s standard to His people.  We immerse ourselves in being social, and not in being spiritual, and God had and has had enough!  

He closes the doors of the church, forcing the people to stay at home demands that they consider their ways, and the way they are presenting themselves to Him.  God says, “Do not trust in deceptive words,…”  These deceptive words are not just the potential deceptive words from a false prophet, but the words of those misguiding you with their proclamations.   The words he addressed was “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the LORD”

downloadThese words are dangerous to the hearer, because they make a statement about who dwells and who directs the place they are in.  Saying this is The Temple of the Lord says that His presence is here.  It says that His word reigns supreme.  It says everyone is submitted to Him.  It says that everyone is following His rules and law.

I wonder if God thinks this about many of our houses of worship?  Or maybe they shouldn’t be called houses of worship, but houses of fellowship.  Maybe God has grown tired of our false advertisement?  Maybe the old bait and switch has caught the eye of our LORD, who has grown tired of us presenting God like a snake oil and tonic salesman?  Who knows?  What we do know is that God protects His name and cares about the acts performed in his temple and in the community.

5 For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds,
if you truly practice justice between a man and his
neighbor, 
6 if you do not oppress the alien, the
orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent
blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to
your own ruin, 7
then I will let you dwell in this
place, in the land that I gave your fathers
forever and ever. 
Jeremiah 7:5-7

God tells the people they need to amend their ways!  He is disgusted because their deeds don’t match their statement.  It’s much like we say Jesus is Lord over our lives, and then we hear and disobey His Word.  God says, this is not acceptable!  God accepts us for who we are, but doesn’t want us to remain where we are.   God wants people to know that their love for Him, and representing Him properly in the community is key to teaching others about Him.

Imagine what it was like for those who had been mistreated by God’s people to be seen dressed, up and traveling to the Temple.  They would watch God’s people walking piously into God’s house, as though God approves of them neglecting the needs of His creation.  They would watch them leave from other gods temples, and making sacrifices to statues, and then claim to serve the one true and living God.

discouragedGod informs them that they will not only be restricted from the temple, but they will be held out of the land that was promised.   I wonder how much of the promise we have missed out on playing Religious Charades with God?  Their behavior is not just keeping them from growing spiritually and intimately with God, but financially or productively.

8Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to
no avail. 9
Will you steal, murder, and commit
adultery, and swear
falsely, and offer sacrifices to
Baal, and walk after other gods that you have 
not
known,
10 then come and stand before Me in this
house, which is called by My name, and say,
‘We are delivered!’
– that you may do all these
abominations?
11 Has this house, which is called
by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?
Behold, I, even I, have seen it, “declares the LORD
Jeremiah 7:8-11

 His first statement to them in verse 8 is, claiming a place to be the house of God, does not mean a place is the house of God.  Many of us have fooled ourselves with similar statements, and God set’s the record straight.  Jeremiah was not speaking to them quietly or in isolation, he stood at the gate and started calling a spade a spade.  God refused to cover their sin, not because He was not forgiving or not able to, but because He knew their sacrifice was more of a payment to sin, and not repentance for sin.

God says, will you continue to come into my house and lie to my face?  “We are delivered…” people were professing, and all the while God knew they were divulging.  Not only did God know, but the community both inside and outside knew of the countless sins of the people, because they sinned both against God and mankind.  And because they were the people of God, they were misrepresenting the Name of the LORD!  God is not seen, but He is present.  He hears all and sees all.  He knows all.  He can not be fooled.  We can not use our words like a app filter.

loudvoiceGod makes it clear!  This house is an abomination.  The people that dwell in it are not righteous, but they are a mess.  They are committed to their sin lifestyles, and only seek the Lord to restore their relationship with God so that they can sin more without fear of consequence.  Are you looking for a place to continue in sin, or to resign from sin?

Why do you come?  Rather, why did you go?  Why are you streaming the service?  Why are you watching the Bible Study?

 

#PastorJDO3

The Creator; Auditioning?

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And Jesus was going about in all
Galilee, teaching in their synagogues,
and proclaiming the gospel of the
kingdom, and healing every kind of
disease and every kind of sickness
among the people.  Matthew 4:23

Initially I looked for this text to develop a thought I had in a conversation about the corona virus situation.  Upon reading the passage, I was captured by one word, that I thought would be a good thought for us during this season.

That word is “their”.

selfconfidenceJesus is  God in flesh.  The Word incarnate.  He is the law.  The Creator.  Yahweh in the flesh!  The Author and the Finisher of our Faith!  He is the Authority.   He is documented as teaching in their synagogue.  Jesus in this passage is listed like an adjunct professor.  Literally getting permission and licence to teach day to day, semester to semester.  Imagine this scene.  Imagine His thoughts.  Imagine the focus He had to have.  Imagine the humility He walked with.

The next word that emerged was synagogue.  The synagogue is:  a Jewish house of worship, often having facilities for religious instruction.

It was first, a place for the Jewish people to “worship”.  Worship is: to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power.   God is the reason they gather, the source that births, forgives and restores, heals, delivers, convicts.  Here He is, The Word, looking for a pulpit to stand in and searching for a classroom to teach in.  The Creator of the universe, a guest in His own home!   He wanders from house to house, seeing His name on the building, but it nothing more than a guest.  He is, the founder and architect of it all wandering back and forth like a starving artist, looking for studio time.  

Imagine how many lessons He taught, only to have people impressed by His Words, but refused to allow Him to be imprinted on their hearts.  His name is on the building and written on the text that they used to study and recite, but it was not written on their hearts.  They were familiar with the story, were aware of His name and purpose, but when they encountered Him, they didn’t recognize Him, and most rejected Him, not accepting Him.

Imagine this scene:

The Creator of Creation, now being placed in a role of a Starving Artist.  He now wanders from Synagogue to Synagogue, auditioning for the role of Messiah.

discouragedHave you ever had to audition to be yourself?  This is frustrating.  You are being yourself, carrying out your purpose and with the same breath and energy having to prove yourself to 

The Creator auditioning to be Himself!  Loving all things, Supporting all things, Forgiving all things, Knowing all things, and being the source of all things, and now He stands before those who should be submitted to Him and has to earn the right to take the seat in their heart, while many ridicule Him.

We should all thank God that He was and is willing to prove
His love for us.  Literally carrying out His purpose before
us in deed (death on a cross) so that we can identify
His worthiness to be our King!

Jesus shows up as a landlord with the deed to His home, but the leadership have taken ownership of it through squatter laws.  They have taken the place of worship, and used it for commerce and as a training ground to multiply servants and brand a customer base to support their habits and to position themselves for power in the community and government.

For the Jews, it was a place of worship, but for Him, it was a place to be worshiped.  It was a place where He should be the center.  A place where everyone should be submitted and aligned.  But here the Creator is having ownership to the deed to life, the guarantor of the Word that they study, and having to take out a loan on His own life to impart wisdom and truth into the life of those who belong to Him!

loudvoiceI know many of you want to cast stones at the Pharisees.  We love to condemn those who have been documented as scoffers, but the reality is that God has been auditioning now for 2000 years for each one of us, and still hasn’t gotten the part.    He has quoted the scriptures and fulfilled the scriptures.  For many, He has healed the sickness and delivered His people from evil.  He has proven Himself to be a Master Teacher, and a Servant to all those He encountered.

I wondered to myself, “What would be documented today?  Not to you or us as individuals, but our synagogues?  Is Jesus auditioning to day?  Is He a visitor or is He a Member?

Is He the focus, or is He a is He a sidenote?
Is He the main character or is He a supporting role at best?

confused personIt is possible for Him to be a character on our Sunday Scripts, but not to be the main character.  Could it be that God is still having to address the house of God as “their synagogue” because He has become a supporting role in building someone else’s kingdom; achieving someone’s agenda?  Could it be that God has become an asset that is being used as a cosigner to accomplish the building of our own Kingdoms?

What role does He play with you?  Have you selected Him as owner, co-owner, parent, or do you see God as an LLC or Corporation that is formed for you to profit, take risk, build your kingdom and to protect your personal assets?

Sadly, I believe for most, that God is still auditioning for the lead role in our lives.

#PastorJDO3

 

 

 

Shark or Fish?

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17. The Lord sent a huge fish to 
swallow Jonah, and Jonah was
in the stomach of the fish three days
and three nights.   Jonah 1:17

 

Upon reading this verse, I was inspired by the fish.  Last post, I was looking at the idea of Jonah being Covered by the Fish and how those looking, including Jonah himself saw it as being consumed, this post, I would like to highlight the fish himself, and expose my prayer and give forth thanksgiving for the role of the fish.

The scripture says The Lord “sent” a fish.

shockedHave you ever prayed for a fish?  No, not some fish, but a “fish!”  The fish as discussed was a covering for Jonah.  It allowed him to go before the Lord and renew his commitment to the Lord.  The fish didn’t judge him, nor did it expose him.  This was one special fish!

I don’t know about you, but I have been blessed to have several fishes sent to me.  In my journey with the Lord, I have found myself in periods of disobedience, and other times where I had my signal light on and was headed towards the exit.   In these times, I have been blessed to encounter those who were sent to me as a safe place.  A place to heal, and place to resolve, a place to be restored, a place to confess, and a place to recharge.   I thank God for the people and places that have been prepared for me to allow me to fall before the Lord without judgement and without running forward to expose my sin and failing.

This fish served Jonah this way.   He heard his confession and his prayer, heard his cries and felt his tears.  He heard every grown, and absorbed the vibration from his vocal petitions, and yet, not a word.  Maybe this was the genius of God providing a fish?  He could hear but could not speak, see and not report, and we all need this type of presence in our lives.

Have you ever been a fish for someone?

confidentAs much as I praise God for the fish in my life,  I am happy to have served as a fish for others.  Have you been a fish for someone?

In my life, I have been blessed to be in a trusted position for a few.  It’s the compassion and empathy of receiving someone who is either broken or back-slidden, and providing a place and an environment to aid in the restoration of a person.  Has God placed anyone in your heart and on your path to minister too?  Have you ever looked at someone and seen their hurts?  Felt pain from hearing someones story?  Been obedient to the pull of God to share your space with them?

We, people; we, the church, need to provide this space for God’s people.  We must help people to heal from their hurts and hangups.  We must allow people the opportunity to face God in their frustration and their anger, and to come to resolution with God as to why and how His will is the best for us and the best for others.

Are you more Shark than Fish?

discouragedThank God for “fish”, and thank God that we have been a “fish”, but Lord forbid that you or I would ever or have ever been a “shark”.  Today as we see “#churchhurt” on the post of many, it is my fear that we have been more shark than fish.  Our church body, over the years, have developed a reputation of hurting more than we have healed.  Though many remain quiet, some have spoken out about their experience as a youth and as an adult.

This has resulted in many staying away from corporate worship, choosing to practice their faith at home, while others have strayed away, looking for love, peace and acceptance among other faiths, organizations and structures.  Our lack of love, and our participation in the infliction of judgement and pain have lead to several movements, and the rise of spirituality.

We must receive the love of Christ, and be inspired to share that love with others.  As Prophet and People, we should never run from Nineveh, rather we should run towards it.  Our desire should be to see each person walking in the same freedom as we have enjoyed.   This will happen when we choose to participate in the process God designs to make people whole.

 

#PastorJDO3

Dialogue with a Seventh Day Adventist.

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I just finished a great conversation with a Seventh Day Adventist brother about the history or the Sabbath.

According to him, Constantine aligned the Sabbath with His Calendar which made Sunday the day of rest for all workers and professionals. I think he thought I would enter into a discourse about the Sabbath, but I redirected his attention to how the example of Constantine caused a long term shift in the faith.

While the leadership at the time might have thought
it an easy answer to stop persecution
and to make the faith popular,
it led to a change in the practice of the faith.

I then took the time to talk to our brother about the dangerous game our evangelical leaders are playing with our president and his companions. While they are working their way into power by renting out their pulpits, they are allowing a man who considers capitalism righteousness, and considers the Bible leverage to manipulate people to serve as an example to all as a standard of righteousness.

While this seems innocent and harmless, like Constantine, this can  lead the practice and understanding of the the faith and Christ long beyond an up and coming election.

 

#pastorJDO3

Pick-A-Prophet; Pickpocket Prophet

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little-girl-pout-pouting-furrowed-brow-tantrumI am convinced that God is disappointed, no, not with the world (unrighteous), but with the righteous. As one that looked upon us with compassion, constantly showing mercy, love, grace and even favoring us while in our sinful state, I am convinced that He figuratively shakes his head as some of our leaders make headlines using His word and His platform to further their own personal cause and worse, confusing the message of Christ.

I praise God that He doesn’t have the eyes of man.  We are blessed that when He walked the earth, seeing things from our perspective, that He not only remained without sin, but remained consistent in character.   As He taught people the truths of life, delivering to them the Gospel, He chose to live out the Words He preached.  He served as a personal guide and model to living life on this earth.  He was not overcome with such disgusted with our lawlessness and misuse of His grace and mercy, that He didn’t cancel His plans for the New Covenant. He still saw us with eyes of compassion, though they robbed Him before His entry, and Judas continued to represent us as a whole, stealing directly from the hand that was feeding him. He chose to trade in his relationship with God for some coins, that prospered him for a moment, and then sealed his fate for eternity.

As I look at some of our clergy men,
particularly our evangelical leaders,
it reminds me much of our brother Judas,
who’s comfortable position as keeper of the funds,
and his position of disciple opened
d
oors
and gave him influence that he never dreamed possible,
but when given an opportunity to utilize his position to elevate his career, turned his back on the one who placed him in position
and made the sacrifices needed to carry on the mission of Christ.

childpoutingAs opposed to being loyal to the mission and cause, he chose a different master, mammon. His position as one of the 12 wasn’t enough, and his fear that he would loose his meal ticket and influence, as well as not complete his personal agenda, made him reach across the table and sell-out the Messiah King.

Not that this blog is to bury all the top shelf evangelicals who have lost focus, and have manipulated scripture, hanging their political beliefs on one or two scriptures and ignoring the other 90% of the whole text, and 99.9% of the Gospel (100% of the Red Letter Text [and we know who’s in red letters!] ), but to ask you the reader if you have chosen the same path? Have you chosen your own agenda and comfort over what is right, and thus righteousness? Could it be that we have found such comfort in our own position and prosperity, that we have ceased to be like Christ?

Our eyes of compassion are no longer Biblically driven, but are colored and shaded by political narratives, that encourage us all to consider our own best interest as opposed to the placing the needs of others before us.  Now we look for our Prophets and Priest to line up with our Politicians narrative, or He or She is seen as one that lacks divine connection, as opposed to looking for a Man or Woman of God that will speak the truth in the face of injustice, choosing to preach a Gospel that is about bringing healing and building a community based on love, support, and not one guided by hate and judgement.

pickapartToday, many look for churches like I used to comb through the Pick-A-Part Lot.  Looking for amenities, and a Prophet that will comfort them as the live a lifestyle of compromise.  But Pick-A-Part goes beyond picking a church and prophet that suits your needs, but also highlight this generation that hops from church to church because they spend more time picking a part the things that are wrong with the churches that are truly carrying out the mission of Christ, but have things that are not perfect about their structure and even their leadership.  Thus for this blog, is called Pick-A-Prophet (I thought about Pickpocket-Prophet might make that the subheading).  People looking for cheap parts that fit their own selfish narrative, choosing only what they deem relative to give them peace.  Our sermons are used like mild sedatives, giving the believer a false sense of peace, treating the symptoms, and leaving the problem, and worse, some pulpits revel in being the chosen pharmacy, as opposed to being the cleaners we are designed to be.  

pickpocketSadly; this is nothing new!  Pharisees aligned with the government, abused the people, and rejected the Messiah.  Prophets catered messages to the people afraid of being stoned.  Prophets grew tried of preaching truth, and having the message rejected by stiff necked people, and decided to minister to the tingling ears of their constituents, further angering the Lord.  And today, sadly, we see some Prophets and Priest who have chosen to exchange God for mammon.  While the average believer is raising a stink about what happens to tithes and offerings, they are not privy to the real source of the income many of these profits have access too.  While it is true that some have their hands in the pocket, we must pay attention to the pockets that are funding the lasciviousness that you view.   They have united and turned our faith into a pact, lobbying with the rest for favors in exchange for votes.  They lead politicians in-front of constituents, and laying hands on them, giving a vote of confidence to the one who represents financial prosperity and upward social mobility.

Though what is done be these misguided and false prophets is wrong, I will look away from them and remind them that we are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved.   Though this mandate was given to a man of the cloth, it is sure to be modeled by us.  We must try the spirit by the spirit, and seek wisdom and knowledge by knowing God and His will in such a way, that the foolishness of one who decides to chase money as opposed to the mark of Christ will be easily identified through our study, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The reason we are able to be mislead as congregants, is because they have chosen comfort and convenience over truth and conviction.    They have willingly volunteered themselves to be manipulated by choosing a Prophet who will not present truth and lead them towards life change.

 

#PastorJDO3

Ears Open; Eyes Closed!

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I am always amazed at the selective hearing and response of human beings.   Each day people are given stories and encounters, real life situations and circumstances, by which we casually surf, swipe, invest digest or cast aside as unimportant. 

selectivehearing

It is amazing how we can hear of the pain of others, and choose not to feel, disconnecting from their agony with rationalizations and generalizations, and justify our lack of concern with political rhetoric and worse, religions (I can’t use the word I would like to use here 😦 ) foolishness.

I am amazed at how our political and economic affiliations and backgrounds serve as a guide to who deserves mercy and grace, whom should be forgiven, who is guilty, who deserved their punishment and suffering, who is worth bailing out, who is a leach, who is profitable, who is necessary, and who lack value and the ability to contribute to society.  Our affiliations also dictate to us who is a victim?  And how we should hear a victim?sexydressedwoman

 

An argument on Facebook emerged once as to:
“Whether women that wore “sexy” outfits
made themselves targets for Offenders
and thus deserved what happened to them.” 

Tempers were high!   Ultimately, it was decided socially that the dress of the woman did not deem certain treatment or response, because it was her right to dress how she decided.  It was determined that a woman offended even while dressed like this, even if flirting with the offender was a victim if she said “no” even if undressed down to her undergarments by her own choice.  We all agreed!  This woman is a victim.

This same general group of people argued about:
“Whether a black male dressed in a hoody
walking through a neighborhood deserved
to be shot even if un-armed.”

blackhoodyPeople were obsessed with the fact that it was late at night.  This, even though it was agreed that a woman didn’t deserve said treatment under any circumstances.  They determined that his clothing intimidated the armed man that was following him, and thus the armed man following the unarmed man had the right to shoot the unarmed man because he had on certain clothing.  In this, they determined that the young man in the hoody was not a victim. 

Thank you God for not taking counsel from man!!!!!  I believe God would consider them both victims and that His compassion for both would be the same.  I’m convinced that Jesus, whom chose not to restore the earthly throne of David, and get caught up in the political foolishness of His days on earth, would again look at us as disciples and opt of of the ignorance that we watch on a daily basis.

He would not be influenced by parties or by His own selfish needs and ambition, but would want what was best for those who were less fortunate than He.  Jesus would be speaking out like John the Baptist, who’s head was on a platter because He chose to stand for righteousness.  He looked, too, in the face of government officials, and sent a message to every follower by loosing his life for what was right. judascoins

Paul put his life on the line for righteousness.  He chose to remain in chains than to compromise truth, using his citizenship to present the Gospel to those who were lost, not to escape punishment to live in comfort.  Paul chose to walk away from his status, leave his career, confess his wrong, and make amends with those whom he persecuted.  He stood toe to toe with Peter, when it came not to his rights which he had as an Apostle, but to those whom were being forced to depend on measures other than grace to be saved.  Though already circumcised, he chose to side with truth, as opposed to demanding that everyone make a sacrifice that would be of no benefit to them because of the new covenant.

We have focused in the past on the saying, “What Would Jesus Do?”
And while this helped some,
it only provide an avenue to be ignorant for others.
Thus, I’m asking you, “What Did Jesus Do?” 

Jesus, like John the Baptist, looked in the face of government officials, who were staining the silk sheets of the temple, exchanging favor and collecting monies.  The government was working hand in hand with the Pharisees to control “their constituents,” and saw chosen church official choosing to speak out against truth because it challenged their authority and pointed out their unrighteousness.

We saw Jesus making His way to the side of families whom He physically, and to those whom He prior had no physical relationship with.   He spoke the same words of life to them all, choosing to break the bread and distribute it to all that had need, not only to the ones whom He knew followed Him with the right motives and intent.  The reality is that he fed those whom he knew listened and followed to eat and receive miracles.  justice1He fed people who would eventually cry out for Barabbas.  He dined at the table as the one who would betray him, walked with those who would scatter in the garden, and shared intimate moment with one who would deny him three times.

To Jesus, a victim was a victim!  Victim is relative to right and wrong, not parties, prosperity and economics.  He looked upon people with eyes of compassion, and invested time with the woman at the well like he invested time with the 12.   He looked upon people and was attentive to their cry.  He kept His Ears Open and His Eyes Open, and we have chosen to keep ours Eyes Shut, and like snakes, are charmed by the melodies of politicians.  But not Jesus!!!  He sat at the table with tax collectors and stood to read the scroll among the brothers in the priesthood.  He took time to spit in the ground and lay hands to bring sight and spent time in worship and being transfigured.  He taught the masses from a boat, and then retreated a quiet place to pray.  He called a dead man from a tomb, restoring to him life, and then allowed himself to be crucified and placed in a tomb.

A man puts a ring on his wife during a mJesus did only what the Father allowed, and chose to line up every action with God, and gave God the glory in all things, not to draw attention and build a following for Himself, but had the goal of pointing back to the Father.  He had a covenant!  He took an oath!  He exchanged vows not with the Government, but with the Creator!  His loyalty was not one of convenience, but one of commitment to communicate to those lost the love of God despite any current and future condition that one would find themselves in.  I believe God grieves for the shooter and well as the one murdered or maimed.  He cried for the children that were aborted and then shed tears for the one who committed murder bombing the clinic.  He is saddened by the man or woman that lives a lifestyle of homosexuality and cringes for the man and woman who sign on to websites and sully their temple and disrupt their relationship with Him! 

In the end, I have concluded like God, that we are all victims and in need of the blood provision of Christ.  We are all prone to sin, and struggle with our flesh, thus are deserving of death and are only righteous because we are justified by faith in Him!

 

#PastorJDO3

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.
#pastorjdo3

Restoration Participants (Galatians 6:1)

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“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin,
you who live by the Spirit should
restore that person gently.
But watch yourselves,
or you also may be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1 

There are many parts of this text that bother me!  There’s that whole “caught in sin” piece and the intro of “brothers and sisters” that seems to work contrary to “those of you who are spiritual.”

This passage is such a reflection of the Body of Christ.  Paul writes to inform us that a midst our brothers and sisters, there are those who are not “living according to the Spirit.”   It would seem that Those who are Spiritual would be included in the “Brother and Sister.”  Maybe there are three groups within our walls:  1.   Those who are Saved and Not Spiritual” 2.  Those who Saved, Spiritual but Lacking Maturity”. 3.  Those who are Saved and Spiritual.”

Having said that; which group are you in? 

And how does your group affect the productivity within the church making disciples?

Groups 1 & 2, in this case, would  the individual in sin and in an an attempt to restore them would respond the opposition Spiritual; carnal or with frustration and impatience.  The carnal nature would bring in the gossip, judgment, and condemnation.  The person who is already ensnared, would now have to fight through the arrows of their fellow brothers and sisters.  The lack of maturity could cause one to mismanage the circumstances or process, causing further delays or possible offenses.

Furthermore, they individual would have to fight through brands and labels placed upon them.   Long after God has forgiven and restored, the one caught in sin would be on trial by a jury of peers whom might be struggling but not caught it in a different trap but not exposed or caught yet. This person would not be effective in the restoration process because they in flesh could further scar and embarrass the one caught.

Paul says, “those who are spiritual,” and then gives an instruction, “restore them gently“.  This is key to restoration!  Too often we are harsh, abbrupt and abrasive when dealing with those who have fallen!  Paul Reminds us to approach our brothers and sisters with love as we guide them back to a path of righteousness.

Gently also means in our approach and persuasiveness.  We must be willing to speak and pray with those ensnared, walking them through and pointing them towards that which is right and then holding them accountable not by force, but though love and support.   Gentle implies that we must restore with care, washing thouroghly with the Word, but not scarring our brother and offending them in the process.  We must be willing to reason with them in some cases, understanding that they might feel justified and also be set and comfortable in their present state.  

imageRestoration is a process!  This is why Paul calls upon those who are spiritual! These individuals will approach with wisdom and insight, being patient with their fallen brother or sister according to God’s plan.  

But I am bothered by this warning from Paul!  He says “Watch yourselves or you also may be tempted.”  This was bothersome because the implication is that the one that is spiritual is subject to fall to temptation.   It would have been more comforting if he said, be careful if this is something you struggled with in your past. Or be careful if this is a current stumbling block to you.  But he said, “you may also be tempted.”  This is too generic! It insinuates that one is subject to be tempted and can fall period!

But the ones restoring are walking by the Spirit right? Then why the warning?  How crafty our adversary is!  Even those who walk by the Spirit can be caught.  Just a slight loss of focus and one can stumble and move from restoring to being restored!  

How humbling this is!  Why should we hold back judgement and condemnation for our brother and sister?  Cause we could be next.

Last, let it be said and duly noted that it doesn’t take a Spiritual Person to catch someone in sin, but it requires a Spiritual Person to resort them.  In this, sometimes a person just has to remove themselves from the equation.  I wrote earlier, sometimes the best advice you can give someone is, “ask someone else.”  There are times and situations that are just beyond you and handling it will make things worse.

Reality; everyone can not play a role in restoration.  As we have experienced in the Kingdom, the harm done by those who are immature who revel in catching and condemning those they find.  We have suffered the scars of this who have been exposed for entertainment and cast out from the community to the delight of those operating with carnal minds.  We must in the future find some way to cancel out the harm done by those who refuse to grow and or walk by the Spirit within our walls, or we will find more that choose to stay at home and loose the benefit of being in the Body of Christ.
#pastorjdo3

I’m Just a Somebody….

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“What is wrong with the church?” I was asked in a recent conversation.  Though I can be wordy, and I was, I will sum it up in this phrase, “I’m Just a Somebody…”

 

When I was a kid, one of the top songs on the Christian chart was a song called “I’m Just a Nobody” by The Williams Brothers.  The song told the story of a man who encountered a man that appeared to be an old wino that was on the streets giving his testimony.  The song sat in the belly of transition for the church.  See, the song highlights a man who lacks the finer things in life.  He doesn’t dress, live or drive fancy and places his full value and purpose in life to the spread of the Gospel.

Because of his appearance, he is teased and ridiculed.  He is ignored and assumed not to know what he professes, but they are disillusioned.   While they chase the things of the world, garnering themselves with the latest trends, this man sought to clothes mankind in righteousness by sharing the transformation God had done in his life.

Though the people feel they are insulting him,
the man embodies their judgement and declares,

“I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody,
about somebody, who can save, anybody.”

His words sounded out as a warning to the changing church.  Our seats had become full, and our parishioners garnered themselves in the latest of fashions.  Our Pastor’s moved from hubcaps to Rims from street corner to television programs.  Respect began shifting to the haves, and the have-nots became a silent Kingdom partner.  People began to think of themselves without sober judgement, wearing and hiding behind the power of titles and ministry prestige.  We forgot that it was “…grace and mercy that brought me through. Im living this moment because of you” and began to think it was our intellect and abilities that had elevated us.

People stopped thinking of themselves as “nobody” but as “somebody”.  We began to see ourselves as irreplaceable parts in the Kingdom.  As gatekeepers and card carrying members of an elite body as opposed to servants in a field that was being plowed inch by inch by the soles of blood bought witnesses canvasing the neighborhood.  We became a band of righteous men and women and ceased to be a group of men and women saved by grace.

imagesThe humility found in the body of Christ was one that identified the culture of the church.  We were a group of people gathered together via mercy and grace.  It was our knowledge that we were undeserving of God’s love, but recipients none the less of an eternal reward that would not fade or tarnish.  This understanding allowed us to serve in a manner that illustrated the true virtue of Christ that was illustrated by His decent into human flesh and earthly living.  It seasoned our tongue as we witnessed to others, ensuring that the hearer felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and not the judgement of mankind.  As undeserving recipients, our passion was to ensure that someone else received the same gift, as opposed to keeping His truth to ourself.

This is the spirit that is missing in our global church.  It the difference between a personal relationship/faith and a corporate relationship/faith that hinges on the market value of our Pastors/Clergy.  Though we as men and women of God are watchmen over the congregations souls, responsible for guiding, teaching and correcting,  we are stock options are shares to the Kingdom.   We too are simply “…nobody,tying to tell everybody, about somebody, who can save anybody.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

Modern Day Pharisees

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As we studied the word Wednesday, we looked at Paul, a former Pharisee addressing the church at Rome. Verses 1 through 5 of chapter 2 warn of the dangers of casting judgment and reminds those present to consider themselves first before declaring ones worth or eternal destination.
Paul’s life as a Pharisee came into play, in that He once was one. He was an interpreter and an enforcer of the law. His life was to be held to the strict observance of the law, presenting himself as a blameless follower of Gods’ word! Though important to the Kingdom, the group became corrupted, bending the law, abusing the law, interpreter the law for their benefit, and or ignoring aspects of the law for comfort and convenience while holding people to the stick observance.

Their title, Pharisee, eventually took a negative connotation,
and they were seen more as hypocrisy than righteous.

police-badge.jpgAs our conversation ensued, I asked myself: “Are our Police Officers following this same trend?”

Not that all officers are bad!

Paul himself was righteous and devote as a Pharisee. He was a true keeper of truth and one that fought to preserve what was right in God’s sight. Yet in still, he was paired with those who were abuser of the honor of holding the position, leaving a position of honor a title that eventually became synonymous with being a hypocrite.

As clergy, Pastors and Priest have faced this same challenge. The actions of a few abusers have affected the view towards the whole causing the carrying out of ones’ duties very challenging and in many cases, the product less productive and positive.  As a card carrying member, one finds themselves caught between addressing the truth of ones failing ignoring and dismissing the actions of a peer.  While we are called not to cast judgment, we are able to make judgments.  In this, one can align what should be with what appears to have happened without sentencing a person.  A Biblical perspective can be shared without condemnation and without disowning.  Because of our silence, we have all been placed in the same pot, and have suffered as it has reached its boiling point!
Jesus was clearly bothered by the Pharisees. There enforcement of the law, coupled with their taking privileged became a source of tension while He carried out His mission. They saw Him representing change, and shedding true light upon the law which was not being used to protect and serve the people, but was being used to strangle and place badgeofshameshackles upon the feet of those who were God’s children. The Pharisees, as Jesus helped us to discover, knew the letter of the law, and had taken the few laws and created an entire system of laws to promulgate prosperity and purpose. In their administering of the law, they lacked the Spirit of the laws intent, because their relationship to the law was not based upon helping the people, but protecting their own personal interest.
Whenever you are more concerned about the law and loose sight of the purpose of the law you will find yourself in trouble.  The law was for the people, not for the Pharisees.  The law was not to protect the Pharisees, it was to protect the people!  They were not created to create jobs, but rather to keep the people safe, giving them rules to abide by that would keep harmony.  The administration is there for those who break the law, so that justice can be carried out, and order restored.

Being unjust while carrying out justice does not restore order,
it causes further unrest.

The Pharisees had allowed a position of honor to become a badge of shame. They were abusive and arrogant, and the community interacted with them out of fear, not respect and admiration.  This seems to be the problem at hand today.

It’s not the whole or the majority,
but its the few who took the oath
with their fingers and toes crossed.

So what must be done?
Jesus made a whip! He raised His voice and raised His hands. He would not stand to see the Kingdom suffer at the hands of corruption and the name of the Lord made to be a laughing stock. He reached out to the community, and became a beacon of light speaking up for those who had been treated unjustly. He also took the risk. His life was on the line. He traveled from place to place, strategically of course, speaking out and sharing the light in the midst of darkness.
JesusWhipSomeAss-425x509We too must make a whip!
We must make laws and remove people from office and positions that are abusive. We must confront those few that are abusive and making shame of the temple and causing unrest and stress in God’s Kingdom. We must raise our voice and stop swallowing the whistle. We must address wrong and ignorance by raising our voice to speak up for those who are powerless or being treated unjustly. We must raise our hands to vote and too must take the position of the law makers who are foolishly causing further tension and calamity by not being people of integrity. We must come together, both Jew and Gentile, Black and White, Protestant and Atheist (yes I said it), Christian and Muslim (Yep, I said it) and must take a stand for what is right!