Sunday, October 21, 2012

American Churches Seem to be Steering Toward Drive-thru Services

So far, Americans can still speak the name of Jesus in public. It would be difficult, I think, to find an American who has never heard of the LORD Jesus Christ. Why? We have churches on many streetcorners, several Bibles in countless homes, bookstores across the country have innumerable versions of the Word of God on their bookshelves, and America has its own missionaries giving out free Bibles in parking lots and at ball games. 
The message of the Bible is still the same: Jesus saves sinners. Jesus fills your empty soul. But it seems like Americans (as a whole) are still so hungry for something else to fill their empty souls and are now finding drive-thru worship services to hopefully and finally satisfy their famine. It's a cure that ends as fast as we can gulp down the meal and rush off to our next activity.
I recently read an newspaper story about the trend of churches in America already shortening their worship services because we (busy, materialistic, self-centered Americans) are way too busy to spend a lot of time on God worship. You see "we" have an agenda and we want to fulfill our agendas! We need bigger houses, newer cars, more designer wear, better this, better that! We need, need, need things and we have to hurry, hurry, hurry to get all that stuff! So what if it's Sunday, we have to get it NOW! Right?
The funny thing about this is: God already knows all our needs. In fact, He says: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). He is referring to the previous passage of Scripture that insightfully describes our constant fretting about what will we wear, what about our bodies and about our next meal. Jesus is saying to put Him first BEFORE EVERYTHING and He will generously meet every need of each of His children! Obviously, in America, we don't seem to believe Him much.
I've read that some churches in the U.S. are cutting back on the length of time of the worship services because they say our attention spans are down-sizing. (Ok. Sure. And when we all face Jesus Christ face-to-face one day and we tell Him we have great minds that cannot stay focused on one thing too long and we had a lot of other stuff to do on Sundays. How will that work for us on Judgment Day?)
What I think is actually happening is that just like so many things in our society, some churches are offering what I call "drive-thru" worship services. Just like fast food; it's quick, often has artificial ingredients to produce it faster, it's less expensive [spiritual] food, and what about the nourishment???? Hmm. 
Before I go any further. Please note I am saying "we" in this blog post because I too, am an American. I am a Christian -- which means I am a sinner who has been saved by grace.  I love God. I love my country. I love God's word because it's the only truth that exists and I need The Truth close by me to get through each day. And America is in dire need of truth. THE TRUTH. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
When did Sundays stop being the Sabbath day of rest for God's people? When did it stop being a relaxing, delicious banquet for friends and families to joyfully gather to share home-cooked meals? When did it turn into a fast [spiritual] food drive-thru on Sundays?When did it stop being a calming, refreshing, reviving day of worship, joy and rest? Our bodies were designed to work six days and have complete and total rest on the seventh. A weekly sabbath rest is a gift from God to His children! Keeping the "Sabbath" (Exodus 20:8)is not a curse. It's a blessing!Taking Sundays off from the unending stress and demands of our work is a blessing from God to help us rest and reflect on His goodness and to refresh us for the coming week! We have chosen to give into the world's voice to work, work, work and get ahead of everyone else! What do you do then? It's like when a dog is chasing a passing car....what does the dog do when he catches it? What is our hurry? God made time. He's in charge of time. If you study Jesus' journey on earth; He was never in a hurry because He kept His heart and mind riveted to the voice of His Father in heaven and He victoriously accomplished everything He was sent on earth to do. Jesus prayed to His Father,  "I have brought you glory in earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4). That's how it should be for us.
The Bible does not teach us to hurry, to rush or to be impatient.  Instead:  "'If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.' The mouth of the Lord has spoken"(Isaiah 58:13).
God is very interested in our minds, bodies and souls! A major reason for the Sabbath rest is that He "delights in the well-being of His servants" (Psalm 35:27)  and He knows we need rest as part of our health and welfare! It's not really fast [spiritual] food that our bodies are craving but we really don't want to go to Him -- and He is the Only One who offers us highly nutritional, life-saving food for our souls. Jesus serves living bread and living water and promises that those who come to Him will never [spiritually] hunger or thirst again! "Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty"' (John 6:35). But it seems it seems like God is no longer Number 1, it's the church-goer!  God has  been removed from the public square and now He's getting less airtime in our  worship services.  How sad. We are trying to make God so small and our ourselves so great. How foolish of U.S. "He must increase; we must decrease." (John 3:30) If anything, we need God to be Super-sized in our hearts and minds.
May God have mercy on U.S.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)

P.S. I thank the LORD God Almighty that He has abundantly blessed my beloved hubby and me to be  members of a church that only serves the Living Bread and the Living Water. Our souls are satisfied! All glory to God!

Graphics in this post: Copyright 2012 Shutterstock

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Sista is Truth Hungry

“..the truth will set you free”
John 8:32
Hey Sistas, does any of this sound familiar?
She has a major case of battle fatigue from believing lies from her dark enemy. She’s been absorbing these lifelong lies about herself: that she’s worthless, good-for-nothing, and unforgiveable. She is truth hungry! Sometimes it’s so hard for her to feed herself the truth of God’s word because she’s exhausted from trying to resist the deceitful voices screaming in her head. Sometimes she gives into the lies and then clothes herself in guilt, shame, fear and anxiety. Her weariness wakes up her old belief system and it creates sleepless nights. Even her daylight hours seem to drag on and on.
However, since she’s a Christ-follower, this doesn’t happen to her every day, it’s just when she doesn’t put on the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  “If you hold onto my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The blood of her Savior Jesus Christ has washed her clean and He delivered her from a deep dark abyss. Her relentless enemy –the enemy of all of God’s people – lies to her so she’ll fall back into her dark pit of despair. He thinks he can rob Jesus of this adorable trophy of His grace. But that’s not going to happen.  She is a follower of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ and He says of His sheep, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). She is no longer a pit dweller; she lives in “green pastures” and Jesus “restores her soul” (Psalm 23:2-3). 
She has the Holy Spirit living inside of her and He reminds her to put her eyes back on Jesus, the source of all truth. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
She cries out to God in prayer and He always hears her. She begins to feed herself on the truth of Scripture. “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). He reminds her of His love and faithfulness. “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). He is her sovereign protector. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He is compassionate. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). He removes her fears. “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) He is good to her. “Taste and see that the LORD is good and blessed is the [sista] man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8). He promises to “surround [her] me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7). And He does. He turns her “mourning into gladness” (Jeremiah 31:13).
She sings. “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and game me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3). The sista has been fed  the truth of God’s word. Yes, it is the LORD who  “fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9) and once more….HE IS GLORIFIED!
And all the sistas shout: Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt HIS name together!” (Psalm 34:3)
--Polly Balint Copyright 2012 Totally Devoted 3