Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Revival, Revitalization, Revolution:

Revival, Revitalization, Revolution:

We hear these terms often in Christian circles. We need revival. We need revitalization within our souls, our neighborhoods and within our churches. But the word “revolution” seems to take a back seat to the action needed for such change.

Such words and such action was treasonous within the 13 colonies which would later become our Nation. Our founders believed in limited governmental control and faith in God-given potential of the American people. Our Declaration of Independence was and still is a radical idea. Tested and executed daily. That all men are created equal. Not some but all! Sound familiar?

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12:46 (NLT)

The key word here is “All.” As author, Rick Santorum writes; “America is not about birthrights, classes, or bloodlines. We are not a tribe or an ethnic group of a civilization with a long written history on this continent. America is an ideal-set of common values that unite us not only as states, but as a people.”

As we now look across our Nation we see those with poor jobs associated within poor neighborhoods. Seemingly trapped within the chains of bondage. The first thing to be lost is HOPE.

Our inner-city churches struggle to stay alive. Fighting the good fight each day. Struggling just as the neighborhoods they serve, just to keep the lights on. This while larger churches sit on the sidelines along open stretches of road with their big campuses of glory. They look more like country clubs than churches to outsiders. These are the churches that rich folks go to. Outreach is done with the signing of a check. Like a mother holding a baby tapping at the window of your car asking for money. You give her a dollar in hopes she will walk away and leave you alone.

Make no mistake, I too am guilty.

The problem with our churches today is the empty pews and empty chairs at church events. We build it and think they will come. That is not what God's Word tells us.

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

Key word here is, “GO.” If God wanted us to build great palaces, entertainment events, elaborate programs and festivals within our “Fellowship Halls,” He would have said so. You think?

Personally I have never heard testimonies from a fellow Christians that he/she was so moved by a Christian concert or church event that he/she immediately gave themselves to Christ. It is always someone who took the time to share the gospel of Christ with them that lead them to repentance and a right relationship with Christ. Events are just that, “Events!” A concert is a concert. A picnic is a picnic.

Crusade after crusade new believers come in droves. Months or years later they are nowhere to be found in fellowship. What happen? Was it lack of followup? Perhaps. Was it lack of more events? More entertainment to keep them in the pews? Or is it the strange unspoken truth that they never accepted Christ's offer of salvation. They never truly repented? Matthew 13:1-23.

I was once a member and even a church staff member to a very large church in my home town. We had wonderful and huge events. They still do. Hundreds come. Few have remain to become members. Many who are members have no idea of the hard work of a few that makes these events possible. Its like going to an “Earth Day” rally the day after. All you see is an empty field with the liter left behind. The truth trampled on. Are these just dry bones or trophies of victory for the evil one?

Revival: An evangelistic meeting intended to reawaken interest in religion.

That's the text book definition of Revival. Dry and sometimes uninviting. To unbelievers this statement runs true. For many a Christian too. We come to church on Sunday morning expecting the choir to inspire our worship when it should be us bringing our worship to inspire all of us at church. We expect the preacher to invigorate us. To motivate us like a football coach at half time of the big game when we are down thirty to nothing. Pushing us to do better. To believe we can win. Except we will not allow the preacher to kick us in the rear to get us moving which we most desperately need. We say things like, “Its the preacher’s job to bring them to Christ. Not mine.” Or, “We pay people to set this up and arrange this or that. So what if we do not pay them enough to make a living? They are here to serve us anyway, right?” I have heard this over and over for the past 7 years. Back when I was in California, I never heard any mordacious statements like these in my church back home. Here in the South, Christians have told me, “You California's have no idea about church and God.” My experiences tells me different.

Revitalization: Bringing again onto activity and prominence.

Again that is the text book definition of Revitalization. Bringing again would be the key words here. Trying to bring back our first love. But without love, what do we have to offer?

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. 1 Cor 13:3 (MSG)

Bringing back that which you do not have in the first place is futile. Yet, we expect our preachers to keep banging on the same drum. Calling out for the selfsame thing, a message to a profoundly deaf crowd who call themselves Christians, who claim to have love for others. Just what is futile?

In an article in “On Mission” ( magazine, Winter 2013, issue, Pastor Johnny Hunt tells us the story of revitalization for New Hope Church in Mableton, GA. First Baptist Woodstock, which Hunt pastor's, is huge with nearly unlimited resources. It was not always that way. But on the foundation of love, they have grown beyond their dreams. The first step was for the smaller church of 17 members to ask for help from the larger church. Sounds simple enough. Yet, we rarely see it. Pride? If an inner-city church is in the trenches and a larger church away from the battlefield wants to help and serve. It makes sense for these two to get together and make it happen. It is church planting by caring for the church that is already there in the neighborhood serving on the front lines of battle. The seed has been planted. The soil has been tended too. Vinings Lake Church (formally: New Hope) is running 600 most weekends in attendance now. Together we can. Separate we lose. We are commanded to pray for the laborers of the harvest. Matthew 9:37-38

Revolution: A drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.

I doubt most of you would describe the word, “Revolution” like that above. Yet, that is exactly what happen to form our country, The United States of America. Many in 1776 did not agree with the Revolutionary War against the crown. They still consider themselves British. Subject to the king. Subject to the ascendance of rule. Not looking at themselves as free men under the eyes of God.

What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” Luke 11:52 (NLT)

The Gospel of Matthew was written for the Jews. Deep in Hebrew traditions and heritage. Mark's Gospel is a book of action. Meant for the Romans who saw themselves as men of action. Luke's Gospel was targeted for the Greeks. Ones who put the betterment of man first. Yet Jesus taught them and us to sacrifice for one another not pursue personal perfection. The Gospel of John is seen as the universal Gospel. Showing Christ's deity without question. Radical!

In a world hell-bent for itself, these were revolutionary ideas and beliefs. No wonder Christ appeared to them in His Resurrection.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” John 20:27 (NLT)

This was revolutionary way of believing and thinking. Same as it is today despite our faults and doubts. You may stand on the road and tell everyone you do not believe in trucks. Stand there long enough and you will get run over by one.

Revolution of the heart for Christ must come first before we can even attempt to move into revitalization. Revitalization must come before we can even think of the grace of revival. Revival must come within each of us if we are to go and fulfill the Great Commission.

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

Teach, Preach and Reach! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanks Living vs Thanksgiving:

Thanks Living vs Thanksgiving:

A former pastor of a church I once was a member of said, “As Christians we should be engaged in Thanks Living rather than just celebrating Thanksgiving.” Those words are true.

We as Christians have a lot to be thankful for. Death has no meaning for us. None what so ever. We often forget that in today's busy, hurry up, stop do this, now do that world. With that alone we should be living each day in thanks living. The fact is, we often do not.

In 1 Corinthian, Chapter 13, we learn love is the greatest.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Cor 13:13 (NLT)

It is Christ's love for each of us that He gave himself willing to save us. With that said the words, thank you just do not seem to really describe it for me.

As my walk with Christ improves daily so does my love for the lost. Especially at this time of the year. One Christmas not so long ago, my wife and I sat on a bench in the middle of the mall watching the people go by. It was sad. There was Christmas music playing. People going here and there. We watched the clerks busy ringing up purchases non-stop. Very few smiles we began to notice. It seem we were the only ones enjoying the Christmas songs playing. You see, we had no money. We would like to shop and buy gifts for our children, friends and neighbors, but we could not. God gave us a wonderful gift that night. Such peace. While others were caught up in stuff. We enjoyed the moment of what the season is supposed to be like. My wife and I are still thankful for that moment. We were the least of these and happy and thankful for it.

Have our financial status improved since then? No, but we are very thankful. The last thing we need is more stuff. How many in that mall were lost? Lost without a relationship with Christ? All of us I would say. We enjoyed the moment but share it with no one. Did we share our love of Christ with others that evening? No. So what good is it to be blessed with such a gift and not share it, if not give it away to others? That is where I stand now. Being humble is hard. Hard in a world of want. Our needs are met. We should be grateful for that alone.

Is there any thing wrong with success? No. If we pass by someone in need and have nothing to offer them but prayer. Give it to them. If we have means then we should give and help others. Often as we collect things we stop thinking of others. Money can give you opportunities. We are told to spend it wisely. To be good stewards of our money. Yet does this mean we should go to the Walmarts instead of the mom and pop stores of downtown? If we do not only the Walmarts will be left. We may pay a higher price, but at least we know it is going to them rather than some global corporation.

So what does it mean, “Thanks Living.” Great question. With today's pressures, do we really get up in the morning and praise God that we are alive? More than likely we wake and are ready to smash the alarm clock. We forget to look at the bigger picture. We see our own little world rather than the world itself. When is the last time you picked up your Bible and said, “Yes, Lord I can change the world.” The fact is, you can.

The clerk behind the counter who has seen over 200 people go through their line with not one person taking the time to read their name badge and calling them by name. That can be your first step. Give them and others a smile. It cost you nothing yet can and will make a difference in the lives of others. While in the parking lot or walking along the sidewalk, give someone a smile and say hello or good day. Get copies of the Gospel and just hand one to someone else. Just say, “Did you get one of these.” Then tell them to have a good day. If the Holy Spirit guides you then share your faith with them right there and then. I know of one man who sits in the food courtyard in the mall and reads his Bible and prays for those walking by. When you get home take time not to just roll your garbage bin back in but your neighbors as well. They will appreciate it. These are all acts of Thanks Living. Try it.

Teach, Preach and Reach.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What is God like?

What is God like?

If I asked this question of ten different Christians I would get ten different answers. If I asked this question of ten different unbelievers I too would get ten different answers. Why is that so?

When it comes to our beliefs we often seem ready to express how we feel rather than based on facts. We feel hot. We feel cold. There are some days I do not feel saved, but I am. That is a fact. Does not matter how I feel on that day. I am saved. My focus should be on obeying God, not the other way around.

Theology: The rational and systematic study of religion and its influence and of the nature of religious truth. I have heard the words theology and doctrine kicked around church like a football. Mostly from those in leadership positions who in fact could not explain the definitions of either if their life depended on it. There in charge and that is it according to them. Not hard to see what is wrong in our churches today.

Feelings, beliefs and facts? Sometimes it seems all three are preached in today's pulpits. My feelings are just that. Feelings. They come and go. As Rick Warren once said. “Some people will tell you it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. The problem with that is that you can be sincerely wrong. You can pick up a glass of poison and sincerely believe it is water. You still would be sincerely dead. Dead wrong”

My beliefs must be based on facts. With that said I am often asked, “How do you know the bible is correct?” Over 2,000 years the Bible has been scrutinized, examined, researched, archaeological reviewed and explored. It still is the most studied controversial book in our history. Based on such evidence I believe it is the Word of God. The facts confirm my belief. Your feelings may not.

So what is God like? This is a question I am often asked when witnessing and we need to give them an answer.

First: God is Holy:
(Psalm 99:9, 119:9, Revelation 15:4) God can do nothing that is not Holy. His love is a Holy love. His justice is a Holy justice. His wrath is a Holy wrath. God is free from all sin and evil and in Him is absolute moral perfection. This is beyond our understanding.

Second: God is sovereign:
God has absolute authority and rule over all of His creation.
(1 Chronicles 29:11-12) God is omnipotent (has all power) He is omniscient (has all knowledge) and omnipresent (in all places). God can do and when and will do what he likes and with whom He likes. (Job 23:13)

God is the God of providence:
Nothing happens by chance or luck. God is always at work in our lives. God is always in control. (Genesis 41:22, Ephesians 1:11)

God is good:
(Psalm 145:9, 15-16) Here most people will agree but seldom look beyond what the scriptures tell us. God is kind and generous. This is where most seem to veer off course. They see God's love, kindness and generosity as a sign of weakness or softness. God is not someone you can take advantage of. God is not some cosmic vending machine that you can just push a button and all your problems are solved. We are responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in. Only through God can we be led out of them towards the will of God.

God is love:
It is undeserved love. (Romans 5:6-8) It is undesired love (1 John 4:10) It is inconceivable love. (1 John 3:1) Here again is where most people lose it. Our own interpretation of love is way off base. We love movies. We love a certain type of food. We love going out and so on. We ourselves have destroyed the meaning of love. On the cross, Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love. Giving Himself. Allowing them to take Him. Beat Him. Mock him. Then crucify Him. Publicly murder Him for all to see. It is one thing to say you love Christ. Would you be willing to sacrifice your own child? This is what Abraham was willing to do to his son Isaac for God. It is what God did for you and me.

What is God like? Here are just a few examples. Read and study your Bible. Speak from truth and not what you feel or think you believe. Speak from fact.

Teach, Preach and Reach. <>< 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Go and Do by Jay Milbrandt

Go and Do by Jay Milbrandt

This book was not what I expected but glad I read it. Author Jay Milbrandt takes the old idea of go to school. Get good grades. Get a good job. Work twenty years and retire happy. Blows it right out of the water. With a world so caught up with self this book is a relief. The world is a smaller place today. Tribal hills of eastern countries have smart phones while still living in wooden huts. It is not till you have seen the lack of basic needs do we discover how different the world is from the U.S.

The travels from Jay's college days to his service in the Global Justice Program. As a young law student one summer he entered into the Go and Do experience. Forever changing his life and the lives of others.

How often we too want to go and make a difference when it is those experiences that end up making a difference in our lives. Though I may never be able to travel to far away lands, Go and Do made me see the world a little different than when I first began reading the book.

I can relate to how the author put it, “I like doing the little that I can with the little bit that I have.” As Jay shows, just a little bit can make a big difference in someone's life even around the other side of the world.

He opens up with outreach. The basis of the “Great Commission.” Yet outreach can be the hardest action to get fellow Christians to do. At first you feel as if you are doing nothing. Feeling unprepared and thinking you could be doing something better with your time. Not so, as the author points out over and over again that just being present can make all the difference in the world in the lives of others. Beyond what we might expect.

Within the book we go along with Jay Milbrandt on his journey and into the Go and Do experience. We see the hardships. We feel the distress one goes through trying to help to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than us. When I say less and mean really less fortunate. Imagine if you could. Being woken in the middle of the night having to run for your lives. Your family scattered to the wind. Death all around you. These are just some of the conditions faced by our brothers and sisters in developing countries. Developed by who? It is always the children who are made to suffer the most.

Rich or poor, we as Christians all have the ability and desire to “Go and Do.” Sure traveling overseas sounds great, but it is not a vacation. We come back with stories of the lives of others. Forever touched deeply by our fundamental interaction.

Many of us dream of “Going” but never “Doing.” Go and Do is a challenge and a dare by the author. To dare to “Go” and get involved in something that helps others which in turn makes us come alive inside. There is the point. To come alive inside. Something corporate America has no desire to fulfill.

Either working globally of locally. Each one of us has been called to “Go and Do.” Just many of us seem to ignore that voice of God calling upon us. Ignoring it for a calling of self-absorbed infatuation with the American lie spawned by corporation after corporation. A world that screams, “Forget about others. Get what you can for yourself.” A world of haves and have-not. The haves seem fleeting standing before God on the day of judgment.

A great call to action and guide book for getting started. I highly recommend reading “Go and Do” by Jay Milbrandt.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Losing Jesus

Losing Jesus:

Lets take a look at the Book of Luke, in chapter 2. Joseph and Mary had lost their son. Lost him in the most unlikely place of all, in the temple. The church.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
Luke 2:42-46 (NLT)

We would think the last place on earth we would lose Jesus is in the church. Yet, that is the very place where most of us lose him. Just a few weeks ago I was in a conversation about all the different churches in town and how many if not most of them where founded by splits of other churches. Not planned church plants. Coming from California I find it hard to understand. We had a hard enough time keeping our church up and running. Planting new churches was a fight with the local planning commission and zoning commission. Not founded by infighting of fellow church members. So to hear a church was founded by splitting off from another church takes me to the edge of understanding.

This is where we lose Jesus. For a time everything is just going fine and well within a church. Then the pastor preaching a service which the message comes from God, and it hits too close to the heart for some members. Without warning someone's feathers get all ruffled up and starts screaming, “Get the torches and pitchforks!” Or time comes to replace the carpet. One group likes green. The other wants blue. Again the Torches and Pitchforks come out. The piano gets moved or the music seems too modern or the choir director tries to appeal to a larger and a more diverse audience. Getting crucified for it when all he is trying to do is please everyone. I hear these stories over and over again. Some churches have such a bad reputation that local neighborhoods will have nothing to do with them. These churches go through pastors like kids go through shoes. Bright and shiny at first will all kinds of ideas and on fire for God. Then crushed when the truth of what they are really part of comes crashing down around the poor new pastor.

Any church staff member can tell you how hard it is. How would you handle having 50, 100, a 1,000 pairs of eyes looking over your work in the smallest detail each week? It can become disheartening and down right depressing. When someone does tell you good job. It is like a cup of water after you have spent days in the desert.

Losing Jesus happens all the time. One time when I was part of the church basketball program as our gym's time keeper. We had a game were the parents were a little too emotional to put it lightly. Two men sat close to me always making sure I heard their comments when our referees did not make a call to their liking. When the night was over I was so grateful that I would never have to deal with those men again. Oops! Just lost Jesus!. Should have been praying for them than counting myself lucky in abandoning them. God was about to teach me a lesson.

Two days later I was with my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. We had stopped at McDonald's for lunch. There was only one person in line when we got there. Who was it? You guessed it. The same man from the basketball game. Talk about God giving me a clear message. It was the father's son who broke the ice. Recognizing me from the game just two nights ago. Sounds like Peter when asked if he was with Christ? To make matters even more obvious there was only one table open for us to sit. Yes you guessed it again. Right next to them. We continued to talk and I learned his brother who was the other man at the game had suffered a stroke. He did not like to speak much and I was wrong just 48 hours ago thinking he was rude to me. You see. I had lost Jesus. We both left with renewed spirits. A lesson well learned.

So how about you. When have you lost Jesus? In church when you are trying to focus on the pastor preaching and you get distracted by a child crying thinking their parents should keep that kid quite? At work when someone cracks a joke that rubs you the wrong way? At the store when someone cuts in front of you? At home? Around friends? With family? We seem to lose Jesus just as easy as Joseph and Mary did. Like them, when we lose Jesus. We need to run back and find him immediately.

Teach, Preach and Reach.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Never Give UP!

Never Give Up!

I have nearly finished reading the book, “Trump, Never Give Up.” by who else, Donald Trump. As I look back on my life nearly 62% of my adult life I spent in the Real Estate industry/market. Everyone has their heroes in their particular field of interest. In basketball your hero might be Michael Jordan or Larry Bird. In football maybe Joe Montana or Ken Stabler and so on. Mine is the icon of real estate, Mr. Donald Trump. The man is in the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest financial turnaround in history. He exemplifies the phrase, “Go Big or Go Home.” Great victory takes great risk. To lose it all and then stand up, come back and try again? How many examples of our ancestors in the Bible have gone through much worst? How many Christian Martyrs have taken the ultimate risk and given the ultimate sacrifice? The fact is that whether it be sports, business or life you have to take risks. As my mentor and broker would say, “He who dares, wins.” Thank you, George.

My life has always been about percentages. In real estate, mortgage finance, title and escrow if you made a 100 dollars or 100,000 dollars it was the percentages that told the story. Once you reach 55% the wheels stop turning. It sounds a lot like gambling. You are right. Gambling is all about percentages. At least it should. You invest when the odds are in your favor. We do it every day we drive a car. We invest our lives because the odds are in our favor that we will be able to travel from point A to point B without getting killed or injured. Yet we see auto accidents on the road every day.

What does any of this have to do with Christianity or my life as a Christian? On April 2 is the anniversary of my salvation through Jesus Christ. I was saved April 2, 1995, hence my call sign, BAC4295. Born Again Christian April 2, 1995. Later that day I prayed that God would let me work for the church. In my mind I saw myself using power tools helping to build and fix things in the church. Perhaps help others in building and repairing their lives through Christ. At the time I was long into my Real Estate career. So I figured if I work harder I could make enough money so I could take time off to work more at the church. Problem and trick the devil had for me was the harder I worked the more successful I became. The more successful I became the more money I made. It does not take a lot of head scratching to figure out I focused on the money and not God.

So what would you say are the percentages of me listening to God. Giving up a successful career. Having my wife give up her career which she spent nearly 21 years at the same company. Literally give up our lives because Dad knows in his heart God wants us to leave and start anew? That's what we did in 2005. We left our careers, sold our condo, burned our bridges and left the only home we knew. No family. No job awaited us in Alabama. Just knew God wanted us here. It has been a financial disaster. A spiritual crisis. A humbling of near biblical proportions. But our faith in God is stronger than ever. My wife and both children accepted Christ here in Alabama. Baptized in our church. Forever children of God. What would you calculate the percentages for all that? Perhaps 10,000 to 1? Or perhaps 1,000,000 to 1? To just get up and move over 3,000 miles for what? The unknown? That is how it has been. As a family we face that challenge to, “Never Give Up!” God has carried us through this and will continue. We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel but we do not need too. Our faith is in God. Are we bullet proof? Absolutely not! Are we scared? Shaking in our boots. Like the song says, “I don't have to be strong enough.”

God has given me a street witnessing ministry. A quest to build an army of witnesses to engage our enemy on the field of battle. To “Go” as it is written.

Then He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 (HCSB)

There is no money in ministry. No financial reason for anyone to look at it as a career choice. The percentage of ministers leaving the ministry is at epidemic proportions. The average stay of a pastor at one church has dropped to 18 months or less. Not encouraging. Pastorate is just one part of the body of Christ. For the true church is the Body of Christ. Not four walls and steeple.

The problem with the church is simple. We are not outside those four walls plowing the soil and planting the seed. If I did. If we did! Hundreds of new Christian brothers and sisters would be rushing to our churches. Begging for the bread of life. Our pastors would be preaching daily instead of once or twice on any given Sunday. Our cup would simply run if over. Discouragement within the ministry would fade away. Few would question why churches receive a non-profit status because our society would clearly see the benefits the church is doing for the community. As it was not so long ago.

I think Donald Trump has it right. Never Give Up!

Teach, Preach and Reach

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield

Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield

If there was ever a time the right book came to me at the right time it is this one. Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield is an excellent book on the subject everyone of us in church deals with but afraid to even mention it. If you have been attending church or a member of your church for any length of time you have run into it. Experienced it. Endured it. Broken by it. Bitter because of it. Even turned away from God because of it. Its not God's Word that hurt you in a bad way. Nothing from the Bible. In fact, most of us would admit we would rather be smacked in the face with a Bible than being hurt from an insensitive word from a fellow brother or sister in Christ.

Our expectations of church and how it is supposed to be and operate are so much different than the realities each one of us experience. We look at God's house as a fortress. One we can run into for protection, for love, for kindness, for learning, for encouragement or just plain hide. We do not enter these divine gates for ridicule, distrust and out right cruelty. But if you are a true church goer you have in fact experienced the downside and the dark-side of the church.

My church hurts, and I do mean hurts, run deep to my very core. Dare I say even to my soul. That in fact is true. It is when such hurts which we perceive as inflicted upon us by another begin to slowly at first infect our souls with bitterness. A bitterness from Satan himself. Like a cancer growing undetected until it appears too late. We are so bitter that the church now begins to represent the very thing that causes us pain. Anything associated with it now becomes a cruel reminder to us.

Author Stephen Mansfield hits it on the head. How we go beyond the memories and continue to re-live the very thing, memory, situation, people and persons that deepen the wound and place ourselves in the very dark pit we desire to escape. He refers to it as, “The Season of Hell.” Through the course of the book I was determine to use the principals used and taught by the author. Regardless of the pain I knew and did feel through my own personal Season of Hell it had to be done. Which in turn prepared me for the next Church Hurt.

This book is for 99% of those who have called church home. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone has been so perfect not to have experienced a Church Hurt that cuts them down to their knees.

I personally have had to re-read many of the parts of this book. Revisit my Season of Hell on occasion. I can safely say I can remember the events, people, the words and the physical pain deep within my heart. But I no longer re-live them. No longer let the teeth of the trap inject the poison of bitterness continually into my soul without my permission any more.

Is this a life changing book? For me, Yes. Going deep into scripture to the very Hebrew and Greek words originally used. Learning and applying God's Word directly into my life. Seeing the reality of the situations. Addressing why I would even consider the opinions of such people valid or of any value to me? Many of those who speak do so without knowing or caring at the time. As they go through life it becomes second nature to them. The bitterness pouring out of them without question. Ask them to pass the salt and they find some way of releasing some of the bitterness at you like some splattering water balloon. Trying to get everyone wet.

I have always had a problem with authority. Nearly everyone I have met who had some title never was able to live up to it. In fact, many of which are just the opposite and determine to hinder anyone who dares to work towards achieving more and helping others to do the same. One thing I have learned from this book that those within the church are held to a higher authority than the rest of us. They often forget it is God they serve. It is God they must answer too. We too forget. For we too answer to God. The wicked things we do even if we are unaware have consequences that we will be judged for. The problem is we are too afraid to make known or to call another out when obviously what they are doing or done is wrong according to scripture. The procedure for such is spelled out plainly in God's Word. Still we, as well as I. have become to afraid to do it. It is simpler to just leave and hop to another church.

In his book Stephen Mansfield gives us the blueprint on what questions must be answered before joining a church. Before leaving your church and searching for another. Going beyond the entertainment factor to the heart of service. Is your church preparing you for the work of the Kingdom? This question must be answered by each of us.

This book is worth twice its costs. I find it a much needed part of the puzzle in my daily walk with Christ. Church hurts will continue to come. You will not be able to avoid them unless you have taken the easy way out and left the very brothers and sisters that need you. Ones you have not even met yet. 

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