Friday, June 5, 2009

Change Must Come and It Must Begin in Me

I have had a lot of questions in my heart and mind for the past year. I believe it really started more than a year ago. However, I shielded and stuffed those uncomfortable feelings and labeled myself as insecure, critical,disrespectful and rebellious. I admit that I have sometimes mishandled my struggles and allowed them to be verbalized in the wrong way which brought offense and hurt to others. I am sorry and I admit that I too am a hypocrite. I have spoken things that I failed to practice and live out myself. I have believed the words of man without going to the Word of God myself. In turn I would speak the same words to others as if they were the gospel.

After being a part of the institutional segment of church for 20 plus years, I now find myself not only in the literal desert in Phoenix, Arizona. However, I realize I am in a wilderness of sorts in my own internal landscape. It is here that I seek and thirst for Living Water. It is here that my mindsets and many things that I have always believed are being challenged. It is chaffing me. It is uncomfortable like an itchy wool sweater. I am in the heat. And the scratching of my struggle is exfoliating things from my life that are not intended to be there.

Why do I even care? Why can't I just forget it and move on? Why should it matter anyway? And am I responding solely out of wounds that will not close? Or do I actually house the heart of God for His lovely bride, the church, and all He wants to see come to pass in and through the church? Maybe it is a combination of all of these.

I think of Jesus on the cross with his blood filled wounds gaping for all to see. And He looks over to the criminal who is bleeding right along beside Him. The Wounded spoke to the wounded and said, " This day,you will join Me in paradise."

The Saviour was wounded not only in His body. But long before His crucifixion He was continually punctured with spears of ridicule, betrayal, and misunderstanding. However, He continued to touch and heal the hurting, diseased, and bleeding. Yes the wounded One was useful. The wounded One brought life and carried the hurting on His whipped laced shoulders.

Not that I am trying to put myself in the same place. None of us can do this. However, I am beyond the belief that the hurting are useless until mended. I admit, I have a ways to go. Even though the wounded many times do the wounding and I am guilty of that also. However, my heart and true motive is to draw others to Christ in a love relationship that is unconditional and real. My passion is to point the way to Christ alone for this is the only way we the church can really change and be what the Lord intends for us to be.

So why does this thing about church bug me? Because I love God's church and I know she is important to Him. The only reason I care is because He is in me. On my own, I would not give a darn. I would say, "Away with this. I have more to worry about."

So I ask what does God really want the church to look like? Or should I ask, "What does He want the church to be?" I have asked Him out loud many times on my bed, in the tub, standing in my kitchen." I walk in my house and I seek His heart. And I do not pretend to not be frustrated. He knows I am. That's what I love about my relationship with Him. I do not have to pretend.

So, what is the church to be? And is that how the American church looks today? Why are people not being ministered to? Why do we leave our places of worship feeling empty and guilty so much of the time? Why is the church not growing? Have we missed it altogether? Why are other countries sending missionaries to America to spread the gospel of Jesus? This is disturbing to me.

I know these are not new questions. There are many books out there about this very subject. There are many opinions on the Internet. I agree with some and others I do not. However, I walk with the Lord and I ask Him because I want the answer to come from Him. Not man.

I feel that the time has come for the redefinition! Does this mean we remake the Church into what we think it should like? Of course not. A couple of months ago I dreamed about a bride who was being adorned for the ceremony. In the dream, there was tanning lotion being applied to her legs which was making a mess. Also, there was lotion being applied to her back which was giving her pimples. What does all this mean? After searching and praying I realized that this is the picture of exactly what has happened to the Body of Christ, the Bride. Man had tried to apply external things that we thought would enhance her beauty and attractiveness. As a result, she is not quite as beautiful had she not been tampered with. We have tried to change the church from the outside in. The result has been crumbling structures that look gorgeous on the outside but is really an empty storehouse on the inside with nothing to offer to the hungry and hurting. Please understand that I speak generally here. There are churches that are doing well and are truly sincere in their work. But the problem as a whole is what gets to me.

Yes, redefinition means that we do not give her a new meaning. But we go back to what God shows in His word. His word is not a set of directions but a letter from His heart. So what does He want the church to look like and how can we partner with Him to work toward that?

Many will be offended as they read my thoughts. Again, I do not claim to know all the answers. I am just another person. And I am very simple in my thoughts and expressions. Do not make a judgement on what I say. Like I have already expressed, my heart is to point to the Way ,the Truth,and the Life. So ultimately I point you to Him and urge you to seek Him yourself. If my post here does nothing more than that, then I am overjoyed. That is what is wants...a love relationship with me and you. So if that is planted here, then His will is done.

In my next post, we will take a simple look at the book of Acts and how the early church was able to be such a blessing. The church was not perfect, but it was effective in operating in God's economy instead of man's financial structure. There was pure love and devotion drenched in sincere concern for those in physical and spiritual need.How can we return to this concept of sacrificial love? I believe it starts in the heart and change can only come as we as individuals are changed from the inside out. Lord, let it start in me.

Lord, turn me inside out.
Inspect my heart with the scope of Your loving light.
Let Your kingdom come in me as it is in Heaven,
As it exists in Your heart.
Scrape off the dirt on the inside.
Blow all my religious mindsets.
And clear the debris.
Allow me to see You as You really are.
Let the change come.
Let it start in my heart.
Open my eyes to really see.
And to understand
What Your love really is like.
It is not as I made it.
Forgive me.
Forgive your church.
Teach me afresh.
Redefine Yourself in me.

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