A one-liner in an old Bible in my bookcase says, “Love your own church.” It is from this one-liner that these thoughts come.
The Greek word for “church” is ek-klay-see-ah and is mentioned 116 times in the only the New Testament.
–the fellowshipping, laughing, eating
The church is
–going to bed at night wondering how fellow believers are doing
–praying for these people to keep on keeping on
–praying for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of God
–building relationships with others outside the church.
I would never think about leaving this group of people and activities without definite confirmation from God and at least two or three others. The main reason people leave churches is because of not agreeing with the pastoral leadership, or not wanting to follow the leader. Leadership is vital to growth and maturation! Yes, there are mistaken church leaders, but we must pray for them and let God deal with them. I pray to God I am not one.
Ephesians 4:11-16 says,
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
LOVE is something to which we are introduced. For love to become perfect and mature, a process is involved. It needs to be nourished every day. So must a church body be nourished every day.
Ephesians 5:29 says,
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
The word “hated” in this portion of scripture means “detested, persecuted, less loved.” Yet, there are many who love the church less than themselves, they detest and persecute the church by their attitudes toward leadership and other church members. When attitudes like this rise up in the church, it is a real picture of how Jesus, the Head of the Church, is being treated, even disrespected.
There are two kinds of FEAR that Christians may encounter.
One is the kind that is felt in a person’s guts when they are out of the will of God. It can be called “uneasiness, apprehension anxiety, unrest or uncertainty.” The opposite of this is called “peace and tranquility.” Since Jesus is the Prince of Peace and tranquility, if you’re feeling the opposite of what He is, it is more than likely you “out of the will,” or leading of God concerning choices you are about to make. This is God’s way of safely directing a person in decision-making.
The other kind of fear is one that is felt up around the backside of the neck that hangs on the shoulders, and sometimes might even speak into one’s thoughts. It is that fear that makes one afraid of people, or even himself. It makes one feel inferior and beats one down enough to want to run away. But, whenever one runs, that fear will follow them to bother them in the next place they go. The devil wants to run a person ragged, wear them out, but God wants us in one place to grow and mature.
That fear is identified in John 10:10.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
It steals the image God has put in a person. It steals the image that we are valuable and precious in God’s sight and loved by Him. Isaiah 43:4 says, 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee:
God has placed us all as members of His Body, the Church.
Romans 12:1-21 says,
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Verse 5 — We belong to one another, just like our arm belongs to our body.
verse 6-8 — This is not all of God’s gift list. Neither can we pick a gift from this list for ourself. We must discover the gift God has given us. It may take some time, but it will be confirmed as we develop it.
Cf. Proverbs 18:16 says, 16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
Verse 9-10 — Let love toward others and self be truthful, respectful and honorable.
Verse 11-21 — Shows us how Christians should always act, how they should always treat others. The source of true JOY = Jesus, Others, You.
There have been times in the past thirty-eight years when I’ve wanted to quit, leave, give it all up. It was an “I WANT TO QUIT” attitude. But there was NEVER peace in my heart from God. What I felt was my self-ego!
Entries from My Chapter of the Story show some of down times of this pastor.
Chat with God from March 15, 1999
— Down all day. Sad. Helped Andrea clean. Went to church, cleaned up after yesterday’s wedding, wrote Kishi-sensei a thank you letter for the CD, sent by e-mail my letter-lesson to Linda F. Dried clothes for Andrea. Had a long talk with her about our hearts. No growth in the church. Is it time for us to go home? But I can’t see it because there is nobody to leave the church to (bad grammar). Went to bath at Royal Hotel. Windy and rainy outside (neat). Naked in the roten-buro (an outside pool) — “Lord I want to be naked before You.” There’s no shame. If there’s something covering up the nakedness of my heart, then please strip it away. Past hurts, habit roots, childhood, and the fact that I believe you said to go home for a year. That was two years ago! I believed ___ would be coming during that year, but there’s been no response. Is there resentment? Is there hurt? The people don’t seem to want to respond to lead others to Christ.
Oh, Holy Spirit, where is the excitement? Where is the people’s hunger for the Holy Ghost? Where are the signs of Your Presence? Where is the deliverance for___, healing for ___and ___? Why doesn’t or won’t ___ get off his high horse and come down? What’s happened to ___? ___’s parents, why haven’t they responded after all these years? Where are ___ & ___? Where are the ___’s hearts? Oh, so many questions. You have the answers. What must I DO? Please show me! Please tell me! Please encourage me with a Word or confirmation.
I know You won’t require of me that which I cannot do. Lord, I love you!
Three days later . . .
People I met today, March 18, 1999
— Shiokawa-san, Lou Waterhouse, Mrs. Ishimatsu, Yasuyo-san, Tomomatsu-san, Michi Iwanaga in her car, a young man at the station, Bokuden, Terry Brock, Naito-san, Inoue-san, Yamamoto-san, Yamashita-san, Takano-san, Oka-san, Koga-sensei, Fukumoto-san.
Another Chat with God
In a correspondence to one I consider a personal Elder:
The Lord spoke to me today as I was driving to school to teach. He encouraged me to “step out onto the water and come to Him.” Wow, I’m excited! I spent some time in prayer this afternoon on a nearby mountain overlooking the city as the sun was going down. As I prayed about the elder issue I was telling you about last night, the Holy Spirit encouraged me with this thought: Just as Christ gave Himself for the church, because He loved it, so the elders-to-be will give themselves for service in the church, because they love it. I feel they will someday be sending me out to teach about the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Do you remember the first love you had for Jesus? Do you remember the excitement? If we lose our first love for Jesus and our second love for His church, the light the church has brought to the city will burn out.
God says so in Revelation 2:4-5
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning!