What are You Willing To Do?

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The sisters were heartbroken, and like us all, surely wanted to see their loved one again.

Many of us have a Lazarus in our life. I am not speaking of a person, rather I speak to something…a calling, a gift, a work inside us that we have allowed to die. We have allowed it to be buried for far too long and it is now in a place where we are much like Martha. We are afraid to roll the stone away because it stinks. It has been dead for far too long.

I believe Romans 11:29 speaks to this, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

Jesus raised Lazarus and He can raise this thing you have let die inside of you. He placed it in you for a purpose. That purpose is not for it to be stinking dead, it is for it to be alive and life-giving to others. It is your purpose, your election, your calling. It is ready to be raised. But…

Jesus raised Lazarus…He put breath and life back in His body. Jesus did not remove the obstacles or unwrap the body. There is some work you must do, some level of desire and willingness to accept life anew. There is a stone, a door on your soul in which you hide things behind…it must be laid bare before Christ. Can He speak through the stone? Yes. Will He? I do not think so…what good is a vibrant gift hid behind the doors of your soul? He didn’t give us light and life in our soul to hide under a basket.

Jesus also did not unwrap, or loose, the grave clothes. He merely gave new life to that which was allowed to die. You have allowed a gift, a calling, to die deep within you. Jesus can and will breath new breathe into this purpose, but you must remove the obstacle…and you also must take off the bindings and let it walk freely within the Spirit. That same purpose that serves no purpose behind the doors of your soul also serve no purpose when bound and unable to work and operate as God has called.

Jesus breathed life back into Lazarus. He spoke that which was not as if it where, and out of the grave came a dead man full of life. He can do the same to that deadness in you…but we must remove the obstacles and, at the appointed time when life has come, take of the that which binds and restricts the movement of our purpose.

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Where is the Outrage?

I am upset. Not at homosexual marriage, abortion, antifa, Russia, Trump, or Clinton. I am upset with the state of our “disciples” that supposedly follow Christ and the churches they attend. I am upset that we are so easily swayed from the depths of the Word of God to focus on societal hot-button issues. I am upset at the lack of discipleship. I am upset that we have a serious epidemic on our hands of Christians that have no idea/concept of the whole Word of God rightly divided, or studying to show yourself approved, and Pastor’s that are more concerned with numbers than souls.

You are free to disagree, but here are some personal observations that trouble me. Large church or small, there is no difference…Sunday School is failing, small groups focus on a 2 second devotion and an hour of fun and games, and there is the Sunday morning worship service that is more theatrical production than reverence of a Sovereign God. I have seen it in churches ranging from 1800 on Sunday morning down to churches averaging barely 40. And the result is the same…preach the truth, take out the social fun time, show reverence to God and your attendance numbers will drop…

That leads to the original reason for this post…I am upset. It is ok to rail against homosexuality in the modern Pentecostal church. We all agree this is a sin. It is ok to go on a tirade about abortion and cast blame on the girl that couldn’t keep her urges under control. But…

Lets flip the script, so to speak, and delve deeper. Get up and preach that the ones shacking up are just as much in sin as the homosexual and see what happens? Or perhaps you could preach that the boy involved in the pregnant girl seeking an abortion is equally at fault for not keeping his desires in check. Maybe you should preach that the adultery committed on an all too frequent time schedule by the masses is grievous sin against God, body, and spouse. There won’t be too many amen’s from the amen corner on that…

What do we pick social hot-button issues? Because they are safe within the confines of our sanctuary. Locally, and I am sure in many areas, there are “street-preachers.” Some are ok, most are antagonistic and abrasive, doing more harm for the Kingdom than good. They Preach the same thing over and over because they know they can find support. Homosexuality is an abomination and sin, abortion is taking a human life. Both true, but both are the result of much deeper issues that in many cases started long ago. Some comes from abuse started at an early life, and some is simply beginning on a path of sin with no direction. Yet we ignore the root sins, the perpetrators that pushed someone into a life they truly did not chose, and we bash them over the head with “turn or burn” theology that entirely misses the healing of their soul.

I want to relate a story that shows what can happen when we are truly sensitive to the entire Word of God, and the patience and gentleness of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit can and is gentle and patient…else we would not be where we are today.

I previously worked in a secular job, and part of that job was training new hires on some equipment used in the facility. At one point I was off for a month with health issues and came back to find several new hires that had to be scheduled for training. One in particular caught my attention…she was abrasive, truthful almost to a fault, and something was broken. I could see it, but I didn’t know what it was at first. As a matter of habit and position I introduced myself to her and the rest of the new hires as I encountered them throughout the day. In speaking with this young lady our conversation turned somewhat casual and she learned I was (at the time) working towards my bachelor degree in theology and biblical studies, and that I ministers in my local church (a Church of God, Cleveland, TN). Her response was simple…I’m gay, and in a long-term, committed relationship with my “spouse.” I literally could not say a word about it other than “ok.” Which was odd…I did not understand.

What I found out over the next two months was a terrible story that showed a clear path this girl did not chose. We became friends, and she divulged more information than I will ever share with anyone…information that opened my eyes. I KNEW this girl was not happy, but I also knew she seen it as the lesser of the only evil’s she had as options in life.

Fast forward to trying day…I knew I was going to be fired. She approached me before class and asked if she could speak with me at the end of the session. I knew what was coming, and told her I could only speak the truth…if that is what she wanted I would gladly speak with her. I also gave her the option to leave things as they were and ask at a time when she was ready. She opted for the end of the session.

The time came and the questions exactly what I expected to hear, “Is homosexuality wrong?” And I could only answer one way. Yes.

I laid out, beginning in the New Treatment and moving to the Old Testament, why, and why certain passages are already fulfilled within the Levitical laws. She simply said thank you and walked away with a heaviness. About 2 weeks later she came in to work with a different look. She joyously told me she left the relationship, but then quickly said she didn’t know what she would do now. There were mixed emotions of joy, pain, isolation, and others. Some 6 months later a guy swept her off her feet…and later I was asked to perform the rites of matrimony.

The point…had I shown outrage at one sin on the surface, the sins of many others perpetrated against God and this young lady would have been ignored, the door never opened, and a soul lost.

We need to be outraged…at the abusers, at the ones committing adultery, at the pedophiles, at the ones running people away from the Kingdom because they refuse to dig in, chasing instead to focus on one or two items out of 66 books. They lack depth, compassion, and care. They/we forget that Jesus died for us even when we were lost and undone. He didn’t bash us, antagonize us, show outrage at us. He showed outrage to those in the Temple supposedly following His Father.

Is it time we focus our outrage within the confines of the sanctuary at those supposedly following Jesus, yet not understanding His ways nor desiring to learn? Maybe that should be the focus of our outrage, and turn our patience, care, compassion, and gentleness outward to those that need their soul healed by the Sovereign Savior, Jesus. Just as He showed us mercy and grace, we should let that light shine….

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