Is Your Church the Only Right Church?

I was thinking about reasons why many leave the church after they graduate high school. Something crossed my mind that has not before. I believe that some leave after high school because they have been told that the church they attend is the only church that does things right, and all other churches are headed to hell in a hand basket. I have heard adults say such things. 

The truth is that students think for themselves. They have the ability to dig in the Bible and realize that other churches exist that do things right. It may not be exactly the way your church does it, but they are still following God’s will.

We can give children principles, but ultimately they should think for themselves using Scripture. Don’t drive them away from church altogether because of a critical spirit against other Christians who may not agree with you on everything. No church is a perfect church. If it was before you and I got there, we ruined it by being imperfect people.


Sin in the Church

Who would have thought there would be sin in the church? People dress up really nice and speak unlike they do the rest of the week. Everyone comes together for an hour or more, pretending they have it all together. The world’s best parents, husbands, wives, etc. must be in the church. Wrong! Some are but not all.
The truth is that sin is rampant in the church. I would like to share with you some sins tonight that Evangelist Bill Saye shared in revival at Bounty Land Baptist Church, Seneca, SC.

Lying – it’s okay as long as you have a good reason, right? Like telling someone their song was great when it really sounded like a dying cat. Nope! Still wrong!

Jealousy – a popular preacher sin! Go to a preacher’s fellowship and listen to these guys bash preachers with bigger churches. These guys call the guys with bigger churches compromisers. The truth is that they are jealous because they don’t have as many come to their church. 

Anger – I’ve seen this one a lot. One lady got mad at me and told the chairman of demons, I mean deacons, that I didn’t visit her mama. I saw her twice in the hospital, but that daughter was nowhere to be seen. Several things happened, and she remained angry the whole time I served that church. She may still be angry today. I couldn’t imagine living with that daily. I tried to minister to that family, but in their minds I reached a point of no return.

Unforgiveness – this anger this lady possessed breeded unforgiveness. This large family in the church carried that same unforgiveness toward me. Part of me wonders if they had a big celebration when I resigned.

Stinginess – if you want to make a man stingy, put him on a church finance committee. Moving along…

Gossip – people love this one. Why tell the truth when you can embellish it to sound more interesting? It’s a great tool to turn church members against each other.

Unjust criticism – “I wish he was like our last preacher. That guy came to everything. He would come to my house and shoot squirrels with me all day. This preacher must not like me like the last one did.” (He might be spending more time doing his biblical job rather than trying to pacify spiritual babies.)

Self-centeredness – There are plenty of these examples…those who want recognition in the church. They can’t clean a toilet without it being put in the bulletin.

Worry – we are all guilty of those and could use a big dose of faith.

Idols – anything we put before God…social media, sports, work, etc.

Rumors – an extension of gossip. People love to interpret your motives, especially if you’re the pastor.

Pride – I’ll let God convict on that one.

Rebellion – I’ve been here. There have been times when I refused to do what God wanted. We all have moments when we want to do our own thing apart from God.

I enjoyed this direct preaching tonight. Those who know me well know I like preaching that convicts me and challenges me to be better for the Lord. We all need this. If we get sin out of the church, we’ll get sinners in the church. 

Organized Religion?

I am laughing internally as I think about this term. I have heard several people say they don’t like organized religion, but I have seen a lot of disorganization in my denominational circles and churches. I have seen more last-minute, slapped-together junk that’s an insult to Jesus than I have seen in a lot of other places.

Now back to this idea of church being organized religion. Just because they have a designated place, time, and protocol does not make it organized. In many places, it’s organized chaos. Business meetings, sloppy worship services, unprepared Bible study leaders, and the list goes on. It’s not as organized as one would think.

Now some specific thoughts on this term religion. Many religions exist, but Christianity is the only one I know where you can have a personal relationship rather than religious practice. Sin separated us from God, but Jesus bridged the great divide. 

If you’re looking for something that will change your life forever and bring you peace and joy, only a relationship with Jesus Christ can do that. Organized religion will leave you empty. Ask Jesus to forgive you and make Him the Lord of your life. That trumps any “organized” religion.

Public Prayers

I recently read a statement against public prayers, citing Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 6. This was never meant to say that someone could not publish a prayer or pray in public. I have gleaned a great deal from reading the prayer journals of others. I have also been blessed by those who have prayed aloud with me. I understand that God is the recipient of prayers. However, we should never twist Scripture to promote a legalistic or holier-than-thou thought. The purpose was intent. The Bible is full of the prayers of others that were recorded for our benefit. Maybe God will use your prayer life to minister to someone else while bringing glory to God in the process.

Pros and Cons to Being Involved in Multiple Churches

Opinions and biblical support needed!!!!! Even if you don’t follow, you can leave a comment. As a church staff member for many years, I have been a part of one church by necessity. I only participated with others when it was an “approved” event. I would love to hear pros and cons for whether one should strictly be a part of one church only or is it beneficial to be a part of more than one. Ready, set, go!!!

Church Idols

I know what you’re thinking – “my church doesn’t have idols; we’re all about Jesus.” You may not be as much about Jesus as you think. Here are some idols that come to mind:

Furniture. How sacred do you consider the furniture in your church building to be? One pastor wanted to put chairs in the sanctuary, and a member rose up against it because he said pews are sacred. Since when? The early church had no such luxuries and got along fine with a word from God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Other such items are pulpits, Windows, communion tables, etc. If the work of God is being accomplished, it doesn’t matter if your pulpit is wooden, plexiglass, or you don’t have one at all. Nevertheless, people exalt organs, pews, steeples, and anything else you can imagine and would leave a church over that before they would for legitimate reasons.

Music. This is a hot button. People from various musical preferences will fight to tell you their favorite style is sacred. Music has changed with EVERY generation. It has NEVER been sacred. It’s the message that matters. I have styles of church music I love and some I despise, but I will not crusade on such a wasted topic. People are dying and going to hell while church members are fussing over traditional vs. contemporary. Music is not our enemy; the devil is!

Schedules. I know this is another thing that is sensitive. Because someone came up with the idea that churches should have Sunday school, AM, PM, and Wednesday services, this stuck and became an idol. There is nothing spiritual about you or me sitting in a building for an hour if we leave the same and don’t obey the Bible. There is nothing wrong with taking one of those times to do community outreach rather than sit and listen. Statistically, more people are home on Sunday nights relaxing than any other night. Jesus told us to go to them. They will more than likely not come to us. If the church is worshiping, discipling, fellowshiping, ministering, and reaching out, the schedule doesn’t matter. It is not sacred! Most churches today meet at the idolized times and are dying because they aren’t doing squat to reach anybody. 

Sure, we are great at criticizing churches that don’t do things the way our church does it. So what? If people are surrendering to Christ, being baptized, and growing in their faith, we should celebrate. A mega church is currently building a new campus near us. I hear so many complaints about it. Do I agree with everything the pastor and the church do? No, but I will focus more on what I am doing or not doing for the Lord. I will have to answer for me when I stand before the Lord. Christians should not be each other’s worst enemy. So let’s get our eyes off the religious idols and get to business? Can I get an “Amen” followed by some obedience?

Love Ain’t No Hallmark Movie!

A beautiful lady is living her dream climbing the corporate ladder. Muscular man is living the single life he wants. Both secretly are looking for love. They meet and sparks ignite. She gets an opportunity to move away because of a job promotion. He chooses to continue to live his comfortable self-absorbed life until he realizes he can’t live without this beautiful lady, so he interrupts her plane ride to pour out his feelings and both live happily ever after. That’s how everyone’s love story goes, right? Wrong!!!

A lot of people try to chase this dream and even manipulate circumstances to live this out but find that after the tingles wear off, two hopelessly flawed people remain. The love story with the juicy plot is nothing more than that. Many people end up disappointed because life doesn’t work this way. So what do we do? Play the field? Jump from relationship to relationship, making it a recreational sport? These things will leave you empty.

It begins with choosing the right person. There is a right person and many wrong people. Many marriages and relationships have been put together by people because God’s plan was never considered. Even with that right person, life will happen. You will disagree. Work, parenting, and all kinds of other things could steal your joy. You will have to work hard to have a selfless relationship.

The problem is that many men and women want what they want and expect the other to worship them. You will find that one person will do all the giving while the other does all the taking. These one-sided relationships tend to end in divorce, and the Hallmark love story doesn’t have a happy ending. 

What kind of love is real? The love of Jesus is a love that gives. Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Love gives! I Corinthians 13 describes love. Love is at its best when you and I are more concerned for others than self. 

If you are single, stop trying to create a fairy tale. If you are married, stop expecting a fairy tale. Just demonstrate love! You won’t feel tingles up and down your spine around the clock, but you will sacrifice your selfishness because your husband or wife means the world to you.

Can God Use Me?

This is a valid question that many of us have. Maybe you have lived a rough life and think God won’t use you. Maybe you’re like me, have experienced divorce, and people tell you that God won’t use you anymore. God can and will use anyone He chooses.

Some would say that God doesn’t use people who have sinned. Obviously, they have twisted Scripture to guilt trip people. In my ignorance, I used to preach that God would only use “clean vessels”. But how clean is clean? The problem is that man sets the standard.

During the spring of 2012, I had the opportunity to preach and God laid this subject on my heart. Those who watch my old sermons on YouTube have commented that this is their favorite message of mine. I pray that God will use it to show you that God can use you or cause you to repent for putting limitations on God. I’ve always said that God used a donkey in the book of Numbers to speak and still uses them today. No one is beyond the power and reach of God!

Cracker Jack Theology

I am blown away by how many people live their life based on what they found in a fortune cookie, Cracker Jack box, horoscope,  or someone’s opinion. I was preaching one time and mentioned how some people get their theology from a Cracker Jack box or base their belief system on what grandma said while she was half-lit, sitting on the front porch shooting squirrels. I love my family, but they’re not right about everything.

Nothing beats cracking the Bible open for yourself. Get a version you can understand, a study Bible with notes to help you, and a good Bible commentary. I’ve had great pastors, but every one of them would tell anybody not to take their word on what they preach. Study for yourself! God gave you a brain and His Holy Spirit, so He will teach you.

One final thought: churches and people wouldn’t be so messed up today if they would live out the Bible instead of someone’s whack opinion. If someone you know got his/her interpretation of the Bible while they were drunk or high, lovingly pull them aside and help them out. You’ll do them and your church a favor in the long run.

“Those” Preacher’s Kids

I just read a blog about preacher’s kids (PKs). It naturally caught my attention because I have been on church staff somewhere for the most part since 1996. I was in it before I ever had a wife or children. My ex-wife was a PK, and my children became that. Right now, they are getting a reprieve since I have not been on staff at a church since September of last year. Nevertheless, it still hits a nerve with me.

Not all PKs are the same. Not all are scarred by ministry wounds. Some escape fairly unscathed, while others get hit pretty hard. Why do some PKs not turn out “the way they are supposed to”?

Easy answer – they played with the deacons’ kids. Just kidding…a little! 

Church members often expect more from the PKs than they do their own children or themselves. This is unbiblical! God holds us all to a standard of righteousness, so put that old bony finger away unless you plan on turning it toward yourself.

Pastors have so many demands on them that they don’t have adequate time with family. Churches have come up with some of the craziest busy work for pastors to justify paying them. I have a feeling that’s where the idea of the committee on committees derived. Most of the meetings are pointless and ritualistic. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have attended that have been as productive as watching paint dry. I laugh at people who whine about churches being run like a business but don’t mind serving on a committee. Moving to the next paragraph 😀

PKs see how mean “Christian” people are to their fathers that they don’t want a part of Christianity. One of my children confessed to me after I resigned the pastorate that he overheard people talking badly about me constantly, saying I “ruled with an iron hand”. There will be a day of judgment for this unfair criticism. Say what you will about me, but leave my kids out of it!

I thank God for those who loved my children just the way they are. Not everyone in church is bad. We are all sinners. But we need to get out of this ancient mentality of putting pastors and their families on a separate island from the rest of the people. I purposely try not to let people know that I’m an ordained minister because I get sick of people acting differently around me. Be yourself. I have my problems too. My kids are just as “normal” as I am. They’re opinionated, emotional, argumentative, and the list goes on. Remember that the next time you prepare to have roast preacher or roast preacher’s family after Sunday morning worship. And I’ll still be here to listen when your kids turn out like a PK and you need someone to talk to.