16 Dec

My life is the best! I hesitate to say that, not because I don’t believe it (because I know it’s true), but rather for fear of the potential reality that God may take it away from me. Knowing that suffering may be a reality, I am in a wonderful season of awesomeness. I have been blessed beyond comprehension when considering and realizing that I have a great job, a fantastic family, wonderful friends, and small blessings all over that are too numerous to count.

I recently read my friend’s thoughts on “Little People.”  Here is what he wrote.

We live in a world driven by fame, greed, and success. In fact, those three words are practically joined at the hip now. I consistently hear preachers from various denominations and styles unite in criticizing Hollywood and its ideals. I cannot disagree-it truly is sickening what drives this society, what motivates us, what entertains us. Yet, the worst realization is that these characteristics have penetrated the church. I’ve seen first hand how damaging church can be. The power struggle, lack of true love for people, disregard for God’s Word, and disconnect from God’s purpose seemingly grow more prevalent every day. And truthfully, while we have to combat the negative press that the televangelists often cause us, our behavior is just as damaging. In this moment, I call out every church and ask but one question: When everything is stripped away (your denomination, your accomplishments, your buildings, your bank account, etc.), what are you? Seriously, what are you? It’s not merely a church issue. Individual, when everything is stripped away, who are you? A lack of balance has crippled the effectiveness of the average church/christian. A large portion dilutes the gospel with a false representation of God’s love and preaches a gospel that lacks contrition or repentance. Others have built idols out of their own personal holiness and have trampled over lost souls in the name of conviction. Some have become so well trained and studied that even the Holy Spirit could not sway them. How odd it is that regardless of the flaw the same sickness exists. Sure, the symptoms are expressly different, but the sickness is the same. Even worse, this same sickness permeates “Hollywood” and the world around us. Sure, the sickness looks much different in us. We’re not experiencing 70 day marriages and such, but in many cases we’re no more effective for Christ than the world is.

The past 10 years of my life have given me a clear picture of this issue. If I may be blunt, I’ve had the privilege to spend time with Christians of varying denominations, beliefs, and styles. I’ve noticed something without fail: a person’s denomination doesn’t determine his effectiveness. It’s a shocking claim I know. We’d all like to think that simply choosing the Pentecostal or Methodist or Presbyterian or Baptist creed would guarantee our good standing with God. Or maybe if I wax eloquent in all things Calvin, I will have arrived. It’s just simply not the case. In the past few years, I’ve broken bread with Pentecostals, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Reformists, Lutherans,etc. Exhaustively, and I mean exhaustively, I’ve studied, discussed, and debated matters of eternal security, covenant theology, being filled with the Holy Spirit, prophecy, speaking in tongues, baptism, and much more. One thing is certain: We’re all so different. You go to one Baptist church, you get one thing. You go to another, it’s entirely different. You go to one Methodist church, you get one thing. Go to another, it’s entirely different. You get the picture. However, I’ve noticed a common thread throughout the churches who are being effective for Christ. The thread penetrates denominational differences. In fact, it crosses doctrinal divides. I’ve seen a church that believes in reformed theology achieve the same effectiveness that another church that is not reformed achieves. I’ve seen individuals who disagree on important doctrinal issues share a similar effectiveness in the Kingdom of God. Frankly, it’s been fun to watch. One brother thinks the other will never get to where he should be with God until he corrects what he believes is a serious flaw. The other shakes his head thinking that the one just cannot do great things for God until his eyes are opened. I have nearly laughed at times watching the power of God move in crazy ways in both person’s life all the while they’re concerned with the error of the other brother.

So what is the common thread visible in effectiveness? Simply put-It’s John 3:30. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I’ve been to Pentecostal churches that were primarily concerned with convincing the world that their style and format was most effective. I’ve spent numerous occasions in Baptist churches whose passion was to promote being Baptist. I myself have jokingly pointed people to John the Baptist as proof enough as for me being Baptist. I’ve read the verse a million times. In fact, Trey Sims and I started a local youth meeting bearing the verse as our banner-Mission 3:30. Yet today for the first time, it hit me who the speaker is in John 3:30. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It was John the Baptist who was talking in John 3:30. Wow. Sadly, as Christians, many of us have found a way for Christianity to boost our flesh. Call it greed. Call it fame. Call it success. The Pentecostals have their famous evangelists, famous singers, and famous pastors. The Methodists have their famous speakers, famous authors, etc. The list goes on. I’m not condemning Christians because they’re famous or wealthy, not at all. But I’ve seen in my own life the desire creep in for me to be acknowledged, for people to know my name, for someone to think I’m a big shot within Christianity. I have had the mirror held up to my face these past two years especially as I have tried to work with other pastors in Commerce. Bobby Patman started United In Harmony ministries with the desire of bringing smaller churches together to accomplish more in the community for the cause of Christ. While the ministry has been somewhat effective and I pray it increases, Bobby would tell you that he and I have gained a sobering reality at how often pastors don’t want to work with other churches in fear that such an operation would potentially limit or damage their chances at building a large church or ministry by themselves. In Commerce, we have 15-20 fledgling little churches fighting to pay their bills, struggling to keep the doors open at times, searching for meaning, with most hoping that if they endure God will build a mega-church within their ministry. Our concern isn’t that this area gets torn upside down for Christ, but rather that Morning Star or New Beginnings or First Baptist explodes. Whatever the believers had in Jerusalem in the book of Acts, we ain’t got it (poor grammar for emphasis.) Remember how in the book of Acts the disciples devoted themselves to studying God’s Word and prayer. How in the world were they so effective for Christ without having all the answers? Cough Cough. Check out Acts 4:13, the Jewish religious leaders weren’t powerless against Peter and John because the two had been speaking in tongues. It wasn’t because they were reformed Calvinists. No, they were simply “bold, ignorant and unlearned men,” but “they had been with Jesus.” Speaking of Jesus, Peter had just said in verse 12, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Later in the chapter, Peter and John told them, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” It was all Jesus all the time. Wanna guess what resulted in such a lifestyle? “All men glorified God”

Yet today, we know it all. Unlearned and ignorant? You had better not be unless you want to get chewed up and spit out. In fact, I’ve caught myself studying in hopes of finding verses to back up my beliefs. Folks, you don’t have to find verses to back up your beliefs. If you want Christ to increase, His Word will speak more clearly than you’ve ever heard it. In fact, you just might find that some of your beliefs are off. Yet, we’re too busy reinforcing our beliefs than actually allowing the Spirit to do work within us. It’s that simple. HE MUST INCREASE! I assure you the rest will take care of itself. This isn’t a wishy-washy bill of goods. The message permeates Scripture:He must increase, but I must decrease! If your focus is in proving how right you are, how holy you are, how correct your doctrinal stance is, how your denomination is the only legitimate one, you just might be flirting with idolatry. What’s worse? This world is hearing so many messages from Christians and from churches. So many such that the only message that matters is often getting drowned out: JESUS JESUS JESUS!!!

Mission 3:30 Anthem
This is my plea
This one thing I wanna see
That people see so much less of me
That you oh Lord you would increase

Increase in my life, increase in my home, increase in my church Lord!

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3 Responses to “”

  1. Jenni February 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Is this post really halted mid-sentence, or is there something wrong with my computer? And incidentally, I have always done the same thing – hesitated to talk about blessings because of the possible reality of impending suffering. But I think I took it too far because God said to me one time, "You fear the blessings I give you, thinking I will use them as weapons to take you down, and that is a wrong view of Me." It was really profound for me.

  2. AskThePhatMan February 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    No, this is an incomplete blog that I saved just because I linked to an article by Poston that all good people should read!

  3. Jenni March 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    I would read his article, but I have a problem with his language. (Just kidding, David!) You should post the rest of it!

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