Friday, March 16, 2012

Place Your Name In The Place of Charity

It was on a Sunday when  I attended the services that I had for more then 17 years in Michigan. Many things had changed because the father had given the ministry for his son to run. So the son put his own flavor on how things are to function and I could tell that there was a difference in the house, including the way he preached the Word. I agreed with many of the things he was preaching and would have had a better grasp on the topic if I had heard the first part of the message the week before. The week I attended, the sermon had to do with marriage. The week before, it was for the Christian single. He used many analogies and comical short stories to keep the sermon interesting but it never clouded from the verses in the bible that laid the foundation about what he was referring.

He had made mention of last week's message and how Paul taught the lesson that it was better not to marry; nevertheless, he highlighted that he, the pastor, believed God intended marriage to be for everyone. I continued to listen with all of the rules he had for marriage and the needs for the women were much different then the needs for the men. He had listed steps for a happy marriage. I think there were 10 of those. He listed 5 needs men had to have in order for them to be happy and the first need was sex. But before that he listed the 5 needs women had to have to be happy. I couldn't help but to notice in defining certain words that list of needs went from 5 to an easy 20. I wondered if that was Freudian. When he finished many of the congregants were quiet but nodded with what they had to do to change. I guess it was just what they needed to hear.

When services were over I thought about the message and came to the conclusion that with the first part of the sermon, being what Paul taught for the singles, this message was perfect. The pastor had to have said last week that if you marry based on those sexual needs and not the love Jesus had for the church, yeah, the list should be as long as the one he gave. Its almost burdensome to watch every little teenie-tiny thing you do for the other person to be happy, but then again, when marrying for sexual purposes are in effect, following Jesus does come second. When putting Him second, well, you get what you get (trouble defined).

The message began with him stating, "family comes first." Once he spoke those words, I looked around at the congregants to see if I recognized any of my friends. It had been a few years since I had been there. I saw some people I remember, but those I fellowshipped with had moved on. Like I mentioned, there was a difference, it was a new generation of followers. A younger sect and they were happy that they have a ministry to develop and make something of it. I smiled and knew that the Lord had me move on because it was time to do so. The pastor as well as those who nodded with all they needed to change will soon find that family is second. God is first. Trouble will always be at foot when the equation is out of order.

Thinking about all of those rules that he hoped the listeners would write down, I wondered why he didn't start the message off differently - even for the second half. Why didn't he reiterate that with God all things are possible and just when you don't think you can't make it one more day without sex, God is there to give you exactly what you need to make it? Why didn't he make mention of the love of God that should be practiced from the very beginning of any Christian walk and how that practice will secure you to dwell in the secret place of the most high. Why didn't he put some kind of emphasis that we are to be content in whatever state we are in and people can't get you there if you intend to be miserable (Philippians 4;11 AMP)? Why didn't he mention that those sexual necessities is a mind game that the enemy has with us all and if we don't defeat it, that trouble Paul spoke of will be there (James 4:7 AMP)? Why didn't he just give the listeners more options then what he did?

Finally, he closed the sermon with the definition of love. The intensity of those words that wedding vows, romantic lyrics, and love letters are based paled having all of those rules in place. He said, "where the word, charity is, place your name." He didn't even read the verses. He expected for the congregants to read them on their own. How was that supposed to happen? It was like another set of rules. Goodness! See for yourself:

If Bill read the definition of love he would say, "Bill never fails. Bill is not fault finding. Bill is not self seeking. Bill endures long and is patient and kind...." If Bill never practiced any of this before he got married, how will he ever be able to do this now? This frustrated me just to think about as a single person; I could only imagine what the married people thought especially if on the brink of divorce. Yet the congregants nodded and agreed. And I suppose that was good.

I guess I was looking for something more. It was time for me to move on instead of trying to hang onto a ministry that has moved on without me. The teaching wasn't there for me and those that replaced the members I knew seemed to be content. I thought about that last message I heard from the church I use to attend and knew with placing a person's name in the place of charity, faith would have to be in operation for us to be as God is. He said be holy for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16 KJV). God is good (Mark 10:18 KJV). God is love (1 John 4:8 KJV). God is the greater one on the inside of those that believe (1 John 4:4 KJV). Therefore, if we strive to be more like Him, then we can also never fail, not find fault, not be self seeking, endure long and is patient and kind, and so forth. Yet, without God being first in all that we do, feeling frustrated makes sense. Interesting, isn't it?

38 Years!

Seriously? What takes 38 years to do?

I was thinking on this particular scripture while getting ready for work and got so irritated at the man waiting at the healing pool for the angel to come and stir it up for him to be healed. I wondered about that man sitting there day in and day out for his moment. When was his moment about to happen? Thirty-eight years, he's had this affliction While some ministers would take this message and run with being diligent in the process of patience, I just don't see it that way. What was this man doing in that time that he was by this pool? He had to eat during that time. He had to sleep. He had to maintain with bodily functions. How did he do that? So why didn't he fight for his position? Aside from that, there were others that came and saw him year after year. He told Jesus that every time he would try to get in the pool, someone would jump in before him. So why weren't any of those people considerate enough for this man to have his turn? What was he thinking during that entire time? Did he get discouraged? Did he complain? Did he talk about others that passed him by? What was his attitude during that time?

I ask these questions because God is good. He would not frustrate His children. The Word tells us this over and over again. If your father in his evil ways would have good gifts for his children, how much more so would your Heavenly Father (Matthew 7:11 KJV)? The Word tells us that God tempts no man to evil (James 1:13 KJV). To complain would not promote righteousness, therefore it is evil and not of God (Philippians 2;14-15 AMP).

A woman bought a house and claimed it as "a starter home." She believed God for her dream house when the time was right. During some years, the neighborhood changed and the woman continued to wait on God  for the house of her dreams. Over 30 years passed. She became frustrated when anyone asked about her dream house. Her reply went from, "God will provide" to "I just don't care anymore." In all of that time as the woman continued to reside in that "starter home" she blessed others when it was befitting of her. She faithfully gave her tithes and her offerings. She thought of herself as being diligent with the small things God gave her to do. She would even go through other neighborhoods and watch the various houses that she would like to eventually reside in. Funny thing though, she never went through the same effort as she did when purchasing her "stater home". She never contacted a Realtor, did the research for the marketing prices of the homes, never looked into better locations, as she did when getting "the starter home". If the wait is extraordinarily long, the problem isn't what is God doing, its the consistent efforts in the one waiting.

What are you waiting for? What perfect work is patience doing for you (James 1:4 AMP)? Did you ask? The Word tells us about a farmer. He has patience for the seed sown to sprout up for the harvest he is employed to care for. The farmer is fully aware of the kind of seed sown and the state of the earth the seed was sown into. He is aware of the best conditions in which to sow the seed, otherwise his time of employment would have been for nothing. He expects for his harvest to be great. He has every reason to. He studied. He did the necessary research for his expectations to be met.

I have a number of things that God has called me to do. I was taking a certain amount of classes and other matters were doing well for me and then without warning - things came to a screeching halt. I didn't know why and it was extremely unnerving for me. I went before the Lord in prayer and what I believe I heard in my heart was about these two textbooks. These books were from a class by which the professor teaching didn't go over line by line nor had the students read for lecture or assignment. At the end of the term, he said for the class to read the books on our own and it would be to our benefit. Then he expected for all of the students to say in unison that we would. I felt like a child in Sunday School. We all said it and moved onto to the next semester. Still, Christian teaching isn't like secular especially when you are called to do a work. There isn't any such thing as skipping steps and making short cuts. The one called needs every single morsel to be effective in the calling. I kept looking at those 2 textbooks on my book shelf considering on reading them through eventually. Only, the next semester for me was like trudging through spiritual sludge. I had the worst time getting the classes and materials for the next semester and even when I did, it was the wrong things. I expected a full refund because classes had already begun and expectations were already assigned to the students. I was so behind. Not to mention that favor with men, governments, and on my job was at a stand still. People who normally treated me with high regard were now being disrespectful. Still with all that was going on, those books were not upper most on my mind. I missed the next semester. Money wasn't what it could be for me to attend classes. It was pretty rocky the semester after that and after that until I was seeing those that had no education were not only getting their degrees, they also completed their graduate courses. Now, I was getting not only frustrated but angry. I went before the Lord because it had to be somebody's fault and I know I was doing all that I knew how to do to be right. So if it isn't me or anyone else I know... then Lord....what's going on? I wouldn't get an answer but so happened to open my eyes from prayer and looked directly at those same 2 textbooks. When was I ever going to honor the answer to the question that anointed teacher asked of us all? I had to break the spine of that material to get back on the path I was assigned to.

This blog is to answer the questions that many of us have over the years of our own personal Christian walk. We either have come to a cross road and wonder which path to take or we have taken a path and wonder why there isn't as much blessing as there once was. We have made mistakes and don't realize how simple life use to be until much later. In asking the question: what happened, Lord? Or, is this all there is? Or, what's taking so long? The answer will invariably be something we did from habit or not thinking that it was too big of a deal to even consider. What we do know is that those small foxes that spoil the vine will cause production to ceased. That man at the healing pool frustrated me because all that he needed was right there and he waited for so long without doing anything. He could have built a fortress, devised a way to keep people from going in before him, he could have been right at the edge so that when there ever was a stirring he was automatically first. He could have thought of anything to do but just sit there for 38 years. He found a way to eat, sleep, and to have shelter. The same is true for my situation. All that I needed was right there. It was in front of me. All I had to do was open the book and read it. How simple was that?

The Word tells us that we are like trees planted by the rivers of living water (Psalm 1:3 KJV). The water is right there for the trees to have as much sustenance as the roots can hold. There is no need for the trees for anything. Fruit should be plentiful because of the provision. The Word tells us we also know a tree by the fruit it bares (Matthew 7:16 AMP). If the water is there and the tree continues to stand, what fruit should we see coming from you? Is the fruit obvious or are you waiting on the Lord to do what you can do for yourself? At the cross, Jesus said, it is done. The Lord is expecting a harvest. That sounds like the next move is on you. Selah.