Now more than ever…

When I started my journey in fresh childlike trust
I believed that the Lord’s way was best.

When my journey began, my trust was childlike, because I was a child. I asked the Lord into my heart at an alter made of the dining room chairs put in a row, in my home in the smallest of small towns (it doesn’t even have a post office). But even at a young age, I knew that I needed something that I didn’t have, and that no man could provide.

I can tell you now the time
I can take you to the place
Where the Lord saved me
by His wonderful grace

On January 5, 1991, realized that even though I was a “good kid,” I was still a sinner. I asked God to forgive me of my sins, to come into my heart, and to “cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” The journey over the last twenty-four years has not been easy. There have been times when God’s presence would have not been any stronger if I was standing in the throne room of Heaven, and there were times when the valley seemed insurmountable.

Looking back, I can see the valleys were all used to teach me more about the King I serve. I learned that just because I want something, it is not what is best for me. I learned just because someone claims to be a man of God, it does not make him infallible. I’ve learned that just because someone makes assertions based on scripture does not mean that the assertions can be accepted without verification, study, and prayer.

Oh, but now more than ever I cherish the cross.
More than ever I sit at His feet.
All the miles of my journey have proved my Lord true,
And He is so precious to me.

I can honestly say I am stronger in my faith than I was at this time a year ago. The convictions I have are mine; not thrust upon me by my peers. The Christian walk really does get “sweeter as the days go by.”

The Search for a Godly Church

Living in the middle of the Bible Belt, there are churches on almost every corner. I should know, I’ve been visiting quite a few over the past few months. The time finally came where it was time to find a church for me and my future family, instead of continuing to attend the church where I was raised with my parents. It has been a long hard journey, and unfortunately I cannot say that journey is over.

It has shocked me how many differences there are, even among churches of the same denomination and conference. Over the course of my visiting, I’ve been to eleven different churches.

Some sing hymns. Some have praise and worship (which I can’t stand). Some are blended.

Some use King James Version. Some use New International Version. Some use English Standard Version. One used New American Standard Version.

Some used notes. Some gave topical sermons. Some gave expository messages.

All of that is a matter of preference. What bothered me was the total disregard for scriptural requirements in a worship service.

These requirements are found in I Timothy 2-3. These requirements are not popular, but they are straight from scripture. If they are ignored, how can any of the gospel be intact?

Churches should have a leadership organization of Bishops (pastor or elder) and Deacons.

Bishops must:[1]

  • Be Blameless
    • Not given to wine
    • Not a striker
    • Not greedy of filthy lucre
    • Not a brawler
    • Not covetous
    • Of good behavior
    • Have a good report with them which are without
  • Rule his own house well
    • The husband of one wife
    • Given to hospitality
    • Having his children in subjection
  • Vigilant
  • Sober (of sound mind)
    • Apt to teach
    • Patient
    • Not a novice

The requirements for deacon are similar:[2]

  • Grave
  • Not doubletongued
  • Not given to much wine
  • Not greedy of filthy lucre
  • Hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience
  • Husbands of one wife
  • Ruling their children and their own houses well.

“Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.” (I Tim 3:12) Being a deacon or a bishop is not something you can obtain, then grow into. You must be qualified before you receive the office.

In addition to this, I Timothy 2 requires that services be conducted by a man.

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Tim 2:11-14)

I cannot see how anyone can ignore the fact that the services are to be conducted by men, who meet certain qualifications (for the record, of which I fall short). Not only must it be men, but it the men cannot be brawlers, but be strong in the faith (not a novice, holding the mystery, etc.)

Furthermore, they must both rule their household well and be the husband of one wife. Does this mean God cannot use you if you have a child it rebellion or a wife that has left you? Of COURSE not. But, your place to serve God is not in a place of authority over a congregation. It is a higher standard for those in authority.

Why did I write all this out? Because in those ten churches, I have seen women do a children’s sermon, oversee the communion service, and be part of the deacon board. I have seen a divorced man take the pulpit and preach a sermon about relationships. I have seen a man whose son openly mocks the teachings of the church stand in front of his congregation and brag about the greatness of his family. And, I have seen a man who calls himself a man of God invoke elements of witchcraft into a sermon.

It makes me sick. No wonder the world does not have any idea about the holiness of Christ. The church ignores the doctrine they claim to promote because it is antiquated. I believe with every fiber of my being that the Word of God is not antiquated. The straightforward requirements for the church to follow are not antiquated.

If the church starts ignoring portions of scripture with which it disagrees, where does it end? First creation was not done in a literal six days. Abomination becomes an alternative lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what you believe, or how you manage your house, as long as you are a good person. Don’t worry about worshiping God, just give to the needy and you’ll still get to heaven. It would all be laughable, except I have heard all of these things.

The Church MUST get back to the unconditional truths of scripture. It is not popular. There will be a push against it. Me just saying this will quite possibly cost me some friends. But if you can show me from scripture where I am wrong, please do so. I am just human. I can be wrong. But scripture is Divinely inspired and the Holy Word of God, which is exalted even above His name. [3]

———-

  1. I Timothy 3: 1-7
  2. I Timothy 3: 8-13
  3. Psalms 138: 2

In Him alone am I worthy

I have been quite disturbed recently hearing talk of positive affirmation and how we should never think negatively about ourselves, especially if we are Christians. “You should be proud of the way you look. Always look your best so you will bring glory to God.” How does that work again? When we, as Christians, focus on aesthetics, we instantly become the victims of humanism. Scripture plainly tells us that we are nothing, unworthy to even look on the Holiness of God.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
Isaiah 64:6-7

When I hear Christians bragging about how good they are, or how awesome they are, or how attractive they are, I can’t help but think of how God sees us: as disgusting, filthy rags – especially when we claim the name of Christ and still lack the intensity of His worship.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:16

How then are we to approach the throne of God? While our sins may be a repulsive stench to the pure Holiness of God, He has also given us a method to become one with Him.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Revelation 3:19-21

Yes, we are created in the “image and likeness of God,” but anything that is good within us is the result of His handiwork, not anything we have done. Whatever appreciation we have for ourselves should be reflected and focused back to the worship of the Creator.

We are still human and it is our way to question God, to challenge Him, and to rebel. Job, who had lost everything that he ever had, his wealth, his children, and his health, finally broke and questioned God. What was God’s response? It wasn’t “I’m sorry you had to go through this. The devil did it.” Instead, even after all that, the response was “How DARE you question me.”

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.  Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
Job 38:1-12

Finally, two chapters later:

Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
Job 40:2-5

But God was not done yet. Now, seventy-six verses later, God forms the question again.

Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

Job 40:6-14
“Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.” What a powerful statement. Compared to God, we are nothing. He is all sovereign. We are as filthy rags. He is the creator of the universe. We are his servants. He, and He alone, is worthy of our praise. We are worthy to do nothing but give him praise.

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Revelation 4:8-11

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Revelation 5:11-14