Tag Archives: feel

Feeling Disillusioned With Church?

The church is the Body of Christ — not a building or a passive experience led by professionals

Written by GodLife on 05/06/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: ChurchChurch And CommunityFellowshipGiftsMembership


…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25-27

There wouldn’t be books named “Mere Christianity”, “Simple Church”, “The Church of Facebook” or “Jesus Without Religion” if we were all comfortable with the way we experience church. Why is there so much appeal in questioning, simplifying and getting back to the basics Jesus intended?

Maybe a better way to put the question is, why do people have such a habit of complicating things? Do you have a personal story about how church got complicated for you? I have several. One of my pastors had an affair with a close friend. Years later, at a different church, another was caught embezzling. After a cross-country move, I found myself in almost the opposite situation in a new church. A majority vote prevented an elder board from taking a clearly biblical action. Gossip had caused the congregation to forget principle and take the wrong side of an issue.

A church is a collection of people called out of the world to follow Jesus. We worship God together. We learn to follow Christ together. We commit to love and serve one another. We are visible as the people of God in our community with a mission to do good and expand His Kingdom among them by sharing our hope and good will. Churches are meant to be attractive — they can provide a sense of belonging to people who don't have a group with a clear mission with which they can identify. We can speak authoritatively to people who need answers about life and death, right and wrong, judgement and mercy. 

What kind of membership could be more important than that? The trouble is, churches are made up of people. Even God’s people get their priorities out of order sometimes. Here are three broad categories of problems “unchurched” Christians often have with churches.

Some problems are matters of preference — and we all have preferences

When you start attending a church, sometimes things that are part of that church culture are unfamiliar to you. The worship team may prefer piano and organ music with traditional hymns, while you're a fan of contemporary worship music you hear regularly on the radio. They might use a different Bible version from the one you prefer. The pastor's speaking style may not appeal to you. As a result, you may struggle to follow the order of service and understand what the messages are about. These are matters of preference and experience. There are far more important things to be concerned about. If you have more than one option for church fellowship, you may wish to visit many until you can relate to the worship and message style. Don't let secondary issues keep you away from church altogether. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Some problems are personal — especially when it comes to your time and your stuff

It’s so easy to fade into the background. It sounds noble to draw no attention to ourselves, and to allow others take the visible and important positions in any group. But church isn't supposed to be a spectator sport. Church is us! It’s neither a building nor an institution run by professionals who don’t need others’ help. In the list of gifts given to the church in Ephesians 4:11, have you ever noticed that the gifts are people?

"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11).

The church is the Body of Christ, empowered to continue His mission in the world. (John 20:21) Peter says that because each believer has received a spiritual gift, the only way to be a good steward is to use it (in the context of your church fellowship) to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10)

Some problems should never show up in church — and yet they sometimes do

It’s uncomfortable to share the stories I shared earlier. They may tend to give the impression that corruption is the rule rather than the exception. However, I’ve been around many churches, and I’ve been a Christian a very long time. Still, the moral and ethical failures I described in the introduction happen far more often than most people expect. When a pastor or other church official has an affair, steals money or otherwise uses his authority for wicked advantage, it leads some to despair and to feel betrayed. This is a sure sign of a deeper problem: allowing the professionals, those deemed especially anointed, to decide and do almost everything. The church is not the pastor. No pastor is incapable of sin. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament warn the reader about being led astray by unspiritual leadership. Therefore, it is very important to pray for those who God has provided to give us spiritual guidance and to help us in determining God’s direction for our life. “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18)

We should pray for our own leaders and the leaders of other congregations. When we start seeing this kind of thing happening a lot, it's not time to cynically withdraw from fellowship with all of God's people, but to see the “corruption” in our own lives and "Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD… And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:14-15)


Pray this week:

Oh, God, teach me how to truly love your Church and to be an effective steward of the gifts you invested in me for her sake.
 


Do you have a story to tell? Do you wonder if your church has leaders abusing their authority? Are you beginning to suspect that you’re part of a “spectator” congregation?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Forest Fires of Anger

Uncover the source of your anger

Written by June Hunt on 17/04/2018
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Anger, Fear, Hurt, Injustice, Frustration
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24
A rim fire ravaged a magnificent California National Park in 2013. This destructive fire seemed to be caused by a hunter who started an illegal fire that spread out of control. Imagine … this small fire that the hunter considered manageable burned over 250,000 acres!

Just a single flame in the wrong place and at the wrong time can quickly become a blazing inferno. Anger, hidden deep in the heart, can happen the same way. When hurt, injustice, fear or frustration smolder followed by the dry, hot winds of agitation, an angry inferno can quickly develop. If you find yourself losing your cool frequently, examine your heart to see if a deeper wound exists that gives rise to your anger. Fires of anger arise from four causes.

1. Hurt: Your heart is wounded.
Everyone has a God-given inner need for unconditional love. When you experience rejection or emotional pain of any kind, anger can become a protective wall keeping people, pain and hurt away. A biblical example of this is the sons of Jacob. Joseph was the father’s favorite – even making Joseph the famous “coat of many colors.” Feeling hurt and rejected by their father, the 10 older sons became angry and vindictive toward their younger brother. …  “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (Genesis 37:4).  

2. Injustice: Your right is violated.
Everyone has a knowledge of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust. When you realize that an injustice has occurred to you or to others (especially to those you love), you may feel angry. If you hold on to the offense, unresolved anger can begin to take root in your heart. A biblical example of this is King Saul’s unjust treatment of David evoking Jonathan’s anger. Jonathan, son of Saul, overheard his own father pronounce a death sentence on his dear friend David. …  “Jonathan answered Saul his father, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger …” (1 Samuel 20:32-34). 

3. Fear: Your future is threatened.
Everyone is created with a God-given inner need for security. When you begin to worry, feel threatened or get angry because of a change in circumstances, you may be responding to fear. A fearful heart reveals a lack of trust in God’s perfect plan for your life. A biblical example of this is, again, King Saul. He became angry because of David’s many successes on the battlefield. (Read 1 Samuel 18:5-15, 28-29.) He was threatened by David’s popularity and feared he would lose his kingdom. …  “Saul was very angry … ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands’ … Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:8, 12).  

4. Frustration: Your performance is not accepted.
Everyone has a God-given inner need for significance. When your efforts are thwarted or do not meet your own personal expectations, you sense of significance can be threatened. Frustration over unmet expectations for yourself or for others is a major source of anger. A biblical example of this Cain. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, but Cain’s offering was unacceptable. Cain had chosen to offer what he himself wanted to give rather than what God said was right and acceptable. When Cain’s self-effort was rejected, his frustration led to anger, and his anger led to the murder of his own brother. … “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. … Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:3-5, 8).

Probing into buried feelings from your past can be painful. Sometimes it might even feel easier to stay angry than to uncover the cause, turn loose of your “rights” and grow in maturity. Like a forest fire ignited by one small “controlled” hunter’s fire, a minor, unexpected disappointment or strain may flare an angry reaction that could devastate your life. Make every effort to discover the source of your anger and deal with it by releasing it to God in prayer with His grace and His help.

Pray this week:
Lord, thank You for loving me. Since You know everything, You know the strong sense of (hurt, injustice, fear, and frustration) I have felt about (name or situation). Right now, I release all of my anger to You. I trust You with my future and with me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Which of the four sources of anger resonates most with you and your experience of anger? How so?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member