You ever been sitting at a particular church service listening to a sermon and then you just suddenly can’t stand your pastor? You run through your mind how you might like to just take his little lap top with the little words typed on it and give them a good old fashioned parking lot smashing?
Perhaps I overreact and am a bit dramatic……have you not ever asked yourself how the pastor could be saying the things they are saying because these words are cutting you and pushing everything inside you to a culminating climax of fantasy land meets reality. I submit to you that this is the sign of a pastor doing what they are supposed to be doing, speaking truth. If you aren’t offended by anything your pastor says I’m going to go out on a limb and say he has gotten off course with truth. That works out for a nice social club, but not for anybody looking for a movement of the power of God.
Altars and Groves
My pastor spoke today about going back to your first love, your initial altar….that place where you made a commitment to God, to serve Him with your life, your words, your deeds. This whole sermon was incredibly frustrating to me, but before I get to the why of that, I want to talk a little bit about groves.
From biblestudytools.com we find, “The Heb. word ‘elon, uniformly rendered in the Authorized Version by “plain,” properly signifies a grove or plantation. In the Revised Version it is rendered, pl., “oaks” ( Genesis 13:18 ; 14:13 ; 18:1 ; 12:6 ; Deuteronomy 11:30 ; Joshua 19:33 ). In the earliest times groves are mentioned in connection with religious worship. The heathen consecrated groves to particular gods, and for this reason they were forbidden to the Jews ( Jeremiah 17:3 ; Ezekiel 20:28 ). ”
Now God had the Jews set up altars to Him, and the rest of the world was setting up groves to false Gods. Our groves today can be other interests that lead us away from what God is wanting us to do with our lives. The could be relationships, hobbies, careers, or any other mundane things that are not evil in and of themselves, but if not monitored could cause us to miss what God has for us.
We were told a story of a man passionate for God who after tirelessly demonstrating God to those in his vicinity was elected to be the spiritual leader/pastor of that area. Things were going pretty well, but their ended up being a disagreement between himself and church officials that couldn’t be reconciled and he was removed from this position.
Long story short, he loses his passion for God; takes up painting for which he is well remembered, Mr. Vincent Van Gogh. Nothing wrong with painting at all….but he failed to put it in the proper priority position in his life. Vincent Van Grove if you will.
What’s the Point?
I don’t recall promising to make one, but you’re already reading along so I’ll try to do my best. This probably has less to do with anyone reading and more to do with me, but if it helps you out great.
My life is a scattered battle field of altars and groves, some still standing, some torn down willingly, some blasted down by force, some forgotten with time. Do you ever try to really make sense of your life? Where is it going? What is the point?
When I peel back everything else I have always wanted to do something great for God, but with time I’ve realized I’m way to quick to latch onto any little victory as my own doing like Gideon in his latter service to God.
I feel like I’m over here throwing spaghetti at the wall of life (books, radio program, franchise, MLM business, YouTube Videos) to find anything that sticks. Something to free me up financially to give more of my time and service to God. Noble enough, but the fact of the matter is if I’m not giving my time to God now, I won’t give it to Him when I have more of it. The “more of it” being leisure time that isn’t confined by a work schedule.
So Are They Good or Bad?
Now the aforementioned pursuits to increase the amount of leisure time to free myself up from a job that I don’t hate, but I simply have zero passion or interest in aren’t bad on their own. They become bad if I focus on them and some sort of future goal of acquired wealth/free time as the end game.
I should already be experiencing the end game in the form of freedom to do a job and do it the best that I can for my King. This sort of counterintuitive perception cannot be realized in the flesh though, it is only revealed in the spirt. Therein lies the problem, I’m lacking a fullness of spirit.
Sure I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me the same as any other Christian out there, but I’m not walking in the fullness of that. There is power in Him, power that you can’t get anywhere else. You can’t fake it and you can’t make it up……enter the problem of religion.
Poison of Religion
The knowledge of God is not synonymous with the power of God. How do you get the power of God? By getting to know God. How do you get to know God? By studying His word and talking to Him. Pride and religion wants me to cling on to the fact that I’ve had the privilege of being raised in church, had some great experiences with God, and had a general hedge of protection around my life as evidence of some sort of closeness to God.
That is total garbage though, you only come closer to him by knowing His word…….Jeff wait, you always talk about God and the bible and you go to church and you write blogs about God, doesn’t that mean you are close to God? No not in the least.
My flaw is that I study the word to answer questions and not to know God. I don’t even know how to go about studying in a way to go more deeply. I study a topic here and there (evolution, trinity, allah vs God of bible, tongues, healing, proofs for resurrection) but always to win an argument, as if God’s honor rides on my ability to defend Him. The aim of your study should be to know God more deeply, not prove a point to someone.
Those are hard words to type, but easy at the moment so I guess the Spirit has giving me +5 on my confession and typing skills each today. (Gamers surely follow me?)
Now the admission of such clear inefficiencies in bible literacy and commitment of intimacy in prayer I’m sure do not bode well for someone who has tried to fulfill the “men’s leader” position at my church for two years. If that is something that needs changed I’m open to that. I want the absolute best for our particular body of believers as it pertains to being edified/taught. My pastor said he isn’t much for being a “pastor” but he is passionate for God. That is all I want, the real God, his real power; everything else is just fool’s gold. I want to know that I have survived by going deep into the mines of our Heavenly Father and bringing out nuggets of truth and power. That when the enemy attacks I stand not because of anything I did but simply because of my proximity to the Lord.
Why do we Christians look just like the world? Where are the men who are willing to stand against hell for their king? Where are the men willing to sacrifice their time? I’m guessing they are standing in the mirror. Talking to people about God and wondering why they aren’t walking in the things that Jesus and all his pals walked in. These are dark times, but their is a light that is shining as bright as it ever has. That light is looking for people to reflect it in this dark world.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
West Milford Swat
If there is anything in you that has just the tiniest bit of “That’s weird, I don’t really seem to experience closeness with God like they did in the bible”……figure out why. Dig in, press deep. You ever notice how something can immediately change people’s behavior? We just had three suspects on the loose in West Milford and boom everybody and their brother was on the watch tower.
There are demonic forces, fallen angels, and Satan himself wreaking havoc on not only our small community, but this whole world and we care nothing about it. Let the government fix it, let the non-profit organizations fix it, let the “church” fix it…….We are the church! Shake yourselves off, repent to God, ask Him to lead your studies that you may know Him more closely.
Everybody is walking…..either to God or away from Him, which way are you going? I don’t have any answers for you on the deep places of God because I’ve never been there, I’ve never sacrificed the time to get there, not like the pastor I’ve been blessed with has. With God’s help though I will go there. I would call out to anyone willing to listen to go there to. Deep and Wide, make your relationship with God deep and wide.
That’s the end, that’s my heart; to know God in such a way that His attributes (fruits of the spirit) flow out of me and spill into the lives of others so that it might spark them to seek Him out and know that goodness for themselves.
See you on the other side of the fire…..ignited for Christ.
Where I am weak, He is strong.