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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.

Do not trust in these deceptive words, says the Lord (Jeremiah 7:1-4). What's the deal with this? Israelites thought since they had the temple, they were good with the Lord. As long as they had the building, they were in like flynn with Yahweh. Yet their lifestyles were full of hypocrisy and concerned with matters weightless to God. It is easy to trust in the wrong things, trust in deceptive words. Sometimes we think if we are a part of a local church that has a building program and things seem to be going great, we can be proud of ourselves. We think have incurred God's blessing because of increased numbers and bigger campuses. Isn't this what Israel was trusting in? Yet what really mattered to God was the widow, the orphan, and faithfulness to the One true God. Today it is no different. We can build the biggest house of worship but the LORD doesn't want to come in. Until the church begins to function as the church and deal with the sin within, our trust in deceptive words such as "the temple of the Lord" will only prove to be a crutch and idle chatter among contemptible characters. May the LORD choose to dwell among His people who are repentant in their actions, compassionate towards the poor, widow, and orphan, and undeniably faithful to Him who alone is King.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Jimmy said...

This is a good word in the age of Church, Incorporated. We're desparately constructing bigger barns, bigger houses in which to "worship," greater edifices and facilities, amassing material resource and possession... all the while building our name up before the Name of Names. If true worship is remembering and responding to the acts of GOD, if true religion is to visit orphans and widows and keep oneself unstained, if true Christians are known by outrageous love, if God truly desires hearts to rage and burn for His renown... where is the true Church? My local church is no picture of this. It builds an empire unto itself--it trusts a building plan, all while chanting: "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord."

"Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?"

3/22/2005 01:58:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how is your local church doing this? i thought it was growing--only by the grace of God--and full of people full of the Holy Spirit? trusting in the LORD to bring it to where they are now, and trusting Him--not a building plan--to take them to the next level?

3/22/2005 10:21:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has always got to be a balance. Yes, we are to be about our Father's business, as Christ did it, and letting Him do it through us -not focused on buildings and prideful stuff. BUT, we are also to use whatever resource God gives us to do this work, so if our conscience is clear that we are not building buildings for ourselves, but for advancing His kingdom, let others take their shots - They always have and always will. I will personally not criticize anyone (church) for not ministering to people, etc. for I know daily I don't minister as I should/could.

Also, most people don't have a clue of how much ministry goes on in a church, e.g. benevolence, visiting, giving of money, etc. because so much is done out of man's sight, and only the Lord knows!

3/22/2005 04:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Yes, much of God's work goes under the radar of man's applause and recognition, and this is where true ministry takes place; in the shadowlands of anonymity, one lives to serve in the eyes of Him whom he desires to please. My point with this text is a misplaced trust that is going on in many churches infatuated with the church growth movement. Hear me clearly: I believe in church growth. I believe in it because Christ said He will build His Church. But at the same time there are those who are advancing church growth for the sake of church growth. If a church has a large campus with eye-catching buildings, we look and say, "Look what the Lord has done. He must be blessing us." The Israelites held the Temple as a crutch to prop up their spirituality while living unfaithful lives (what the OT calls "playing the whore"). If you look at state of the Church (i mean community of faith and not buildings), I am afraid that if we were honest with ourselves, white-washed tombs abound. And precisely because we identify the church with a building rather than Christ's body attests to this. God destroyed the very thing they trusted in, the crutch that they depended upon. What we should be known for is the love of Christ manifested in the sacrifice of our lives for the sake of Christ's Kingdom. Our kingdoms will crumble, and it is His kingdom that is forever.
And if you get outside the church walls, you will find that the 'temples' we build are a stumbling block and a reproach in the eyes of the world we are trying to reach. They themselves will comment on American capitalism and the corporate mentality of the church to detract from the Kingdom mission and focus. I am not "taking shots" at churches or ministries, but I can say that there has to be a table of transparency on which we can discuss these matters. Many people, including myself, have felt the pressure and scorn of others who think that those who are genuinely concerned and willing to speak out about these matters are engaging in the work of the devil. Christianity doesn't thrive on "the path of least resistance." And if we can't stand up to honest and helpful criticism, then we have just identified what manner of people we are. Sure, we are to be busy serving the Lord, and I am the first to confess that I don't minister as I should either. But our voice is not to be silenced by lack of spiritual performance, or we will never say anything; for we are not perfect and never will be. We all fall short, but the truth remains, and we can't and shouldn't shrink from that. I of all people feel the weight of burden of insufficiency and inability to do anything worthwhile for the cause of Christ and desperately cast myself in absolute dependence upon God. And this is where I hope you find me, and we find each other, trusting in YHWH and not our buildings, performances, works, etc.

3/22/2005 10:13:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/23/2005 07:45:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I agreed with what you said! I'm sorry---I didn't mean for it to sound like that. I was responding to what 'jimmy' said about his church---that it was building an empire unto itself---trusting in a building plan. that was what i was talking about.

3/23/2005 07:46:00 AM

 
Anonymous Jimmy said...

In response to the question towards me...

That is how I feel about what I see happening. I will say two things firstly: 1) That I recognize, as others have here, my own fatal shortcomings, and that those should be taken care of first; 2) That I do not believe every person that is part of my church is guilty of such an attitude, or even that the majority are.

I do feel a general mentality that somehow, this is something that we've built--despite lip service to the contrary. If not something we've built, then it's something we must maintain. It's a business venture. "We're a 'big' church, now we have to act like one." I feel that the name of the church and the building, and the idea of being associated with such an important church is what draws many. I feel like Timmy summed it up nicely in this: "...there are those who are advancing church growth for the sake of church growth. If a church has a large campus with eye-catching buildings, we look and say, 'Look what the Lord has done. He must be blessing us.'" Why is the biggest stir we've caused in the community the fact that we want more land? How much do we trust numerical growth? Is that a good indicator of spiritual vitality, when I have a class full of 15 9th-10th grade 'Christians' that couldn't share the gospel with me inside a Sunday School class? Yes, it's growing. Somehow. By the grace of God? I don't know. Honestly, I don't know...

3/23/2005 01:27:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one cannot trust in the leadership and guidance in his/her own place of worship, has questions about the way things are done, or refers to his/her own church as 'building an empire unto itself', a blogger is not where the problem is going to get fixed. It should be taken up with the proper entity, church leadership. I certainly would do the same at my place of worship. Being apathetic about viable action towards the betterment of one's own church is sin.

4/05/2005 10:59:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

But what if the proper entity of church leadership is not accessible or reasonable? What if, in bringing such concerns before the leadership, you are stigmatized, demonized, and silenced? Yes, in the kingdom of God there is much latitude for disagreement, but in many churches, if you are "not with the program," you are considered as "doing the work of the devil." Those who are apathetic about the reform in the church are those who know the situation and remain silent. Again for most churches, congretations are healthy only when they are innocent, ingorant, and superficial. And for anyone would one attempt to go beneath the surface, overcome the ignorance, and test the methods or motives of any leadership becomes an immediate threat to the leadership. Some simply don't "challenge" the leadership for the sake of not causing division in the church. I agree, it should be taken up in the proper entity. Unfortunately, this is not possible for many, at least not without a litany of threats and charges to follow. The blogger is NOT where the problem is going to be fixed; however, is it a table of transparency where voices can be heard and concerns addressed - what I wish church leadership would do. Unless these issues are addressed, bitterness and contempt will set in towards anyone in leadership in ecclesiology, and long-term devastating effects will set in, the last thing that should happen. Generations to come will either be receptive to the church or deem it irrelevant to them. This is already happening, and I wish it would stop.

4/05/2005 01:55:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great point on the last entry. But how can the issues be addressed if someone doesn't speak up? Also, what should a person do if their church leadership is unreasonalbe and not accessible? What is a church member to do if they are silenced, stigmatized and demonized for a honest concern in the church? Should they leave the church? Stay silent and just tolerate it? I dont think the generations to come will deem the church irrelevent to them based on how we handle the inside workings of the church as much as how we live in total surrender to God OUTSIDE the church on a daily basis.

4/05/2005 05:21:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

As far as Christians OUTSIDE the church, I have much to say about that (forthcoming). Inside the church however, is something altogether separate and troublesome. Voices should be raised, I agree. The irrelevance comes when the outside world sees the church unable to bear witness to the truth. Ironically, the unregenerate have better discernment and vision into the spiritual arena than many believers inside the church. For one, they think and think thoroughly. Two, they have not a blind eye or overly sensitive to people's perceptions of them, or partiality which appears to be causing the "unstoppable force" (to use McManus' terms) appear flinching. The church is not a house of cards ready to fall. It stands on the solid rock of Christ and will withstand every assault and attack from without and within. And those who are memboers of this body ought to be valiant defenders of the truth, and in a spirit of love melt down barriers, overcome trivial and inconsequential disputes, and move on to advancing the Kingdom of God for the sake of Christ. This must begin from within, and unfortunately, sometimes people who are diagnosed with cancer find out only when it is too late. It is not superficially evident, and unless there is some probing and introspection, the problem will continue to go unnoticed. The church is known for superficial fights and debates; yet could it be that there is much more underneath that needs to be exposed? This is what concerns me. We are the body, and if there is a cancer eating it away, then whatever parasitic thing ought to be called for what it is and extrapulated with earnest care and diligence. Surgery hurts yes, but it also heals. I would rather live with scars than die with band-aids.

4/05/2005 10:23:00 PM

 

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