Sunday, February 17, 2013

We're praying for you..... Just call if you need anything....

I hate to say it but I am becoming a critic of my own faith. 

               I am realizing the amount of worthless chatter we present to the world, fellow believer and unbeliever alike. It is no wonder to me that so many people are turned away from faith so quickly. When I consider what I was taught as a child into adulthood and how little I saw it demonstrated it brings me to believe that our complacency as a religion is so deep that we are just as the Pharisees and Sadducees were in the days of Christ. A loudly boasting, noise producing, vast waste of space. Murdering the very essence of our faith through a lack of motivation, a lack of willingness to move and an overall buy in to the ridiculous statements such as "We're praying for you" and "Just call if you need anything".

              Now before you go nuts and think that I've lost all bearing, hear me out. When you hear someone say "we're praying for you" the first thought that comes to mind is "oh that's nice" or maybe you even think about your own prayer time and realize that if they are anything like you.... it's gonna be a short prayer said once or twice and then you'll be quickly forgotten. Even the believers have lost their faith in a solid petition of prayer to the Almighty and rightly so! We have pretty much made "I'll pray for you" a house hold statement as worthless as the slogan on a big company that implies they put customers first! Most importantly we have through that statement around as much as the words "I love you" hit the ears of so many people on Valentines day each year right before they break up and move on!!! We've overused and abused it to the point that it has lost its worth.

           How do we get it back? Simple really, if you say your going to pray for someone then do two things pray for them and then write a note and mail it! Example "I'll pray for your family" you say to a fellow friend. Two days later you think, oh I am supposed to be praying for them. You say a prayer and hastily depart to other things..... they never knew you actually did what you said you were going to do and honestly they have no reason to think you did, cause honestly EVERYBODY SAYS IT! So change the tune, when you say a prayer take 3 extra minutes to write a quick note, "Hey, I was thinking of your family and while I'd love to do more for you I simply can't at this time. But I wanted to know that you were in my thoughts and prayers today!" AND MAIL IT!!!! 

How quickly would those empty words be changed to a meaningful tangible reality for those who heard them and dismissed them as mindless christian chatter!!!

With all that being said to me lately, today my favorite christian phrase is "Just call if you need ANYTHING"..... seriously?     You need me to call?      My needs are posted all over the internet, on Facebook, in emails you have received, in phone calls I have made and YOU need ME to call you???

        As a person who claims to have faith we must learn to embrace our responsibilities as such, when you know someone is in need, you should NOT ask them to "give you a call" your right in FRONT of THEM...... instead of asking them to do yet another embarrassing thing like call and plead their case to you, simply say "I know things are tough right now, is there anything we can do for you?" or even "I saw you had some needs, and I wanted to ask you if x, y, or z might be helpful" showing that you as a caring person actually thought ahead demonstrates your commitment to actively working out your faith. I can honestly say that if I had even a dollar for every time I've heard "We're praying for you" or "If you need ANYTHING just call", my children wouldn't be homeless, we'd have a car of our own and we wouldn't be worrying about how the health insurance bill was going to be paid.

           You can call it ranting, you can claim I'm bitter if that will make you feel better but honestly what makes me angry is the fact that I used to listen to all this stuff about how people were just "hurt" because their expectations of people were too high and they let their "hurt" drive them away from the church....... what  a bunch of hype, the church is a place were building up, edifying, tending to those in need and providing like no other should be happening so where did WE go wrong? We went wrong when we put numbers and limitations on God, when we told God our budget wasn't big enough for His business and when we used the "good steward" excuse to avoid doing our job!!! What if, just what if we actually closed the bank account and worked on cash, paid all our needs in cash and donated the rest to those in need, do you think that God wouldn't provide if we as the "faithful" ones actually believed?

So in another attempt to say "wake up friends" here is my challenge for the week, when you KNOW someone is hurting or in need, don't just say one of the standard phrases and if heaven forbid you do, follow it up properly with ACTION!!!

We could all use a wake up call and I think that if you pay attention to the example God gave us, he didn't ask people to send him a letter before he could meet their needs. He faced it right at the moment it was presented and He FOLLOWED it up with ACTION...... if that is His example it should be ours as well!

GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (notice it didn't say, go "say a difference).............. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

We the Pew Sitters

I have in the past 7 months begun to learn what it means to be at the mercy of the good Samaritans. Somedays I find that there are many and some days there are none. I am not angry at the realities of the world I live in but this experience has been so enlightening to me and has challenged my long standing beliefs. I am not against gathering together in fellowship and I am definitely not against joining in a good round of praise and worship but yesterday lent me another lesson, one that comes from the deepest part of my action crazy soul.

         For some reason I used to really enjoy sitting in the pew and participating in the traditions of the typical "baptist" sunday but now it seems so frustrating. To sit for an hour and a half in a pew, looking around as people writing notes on their bulletin that they will most likely never revisit, highlighting scripture that will never leave the good Book to be applied in the real world, and ladies and men alike heads nodding in agreement as they nod off for a quick nap.  The pew sitters, as I see it are supposed to be the life of the body! Where is the life of the body? What can the body do if it does not EXERCISE. I want to see pastors that encourage the body to EXERCISE THEIR FAITH!!!

I see this as a grave failure in our culture as a church. We have become lazy, even fat on the ideology of gathering together. If every sermon started with packing of food bags, or sorting socks for the homeless, or anything for that matter would the congregation attend? What if the pastor handed the sermon out on disc after the congregation had split up and mowed lawns for the elderly? Would taking that 1.5 hours to change the world change the congregation, would it turn us into servants of the Almighty? Would there be a church that could do it? You see when you fail to exercise you get fat and you forget how important it is for the body to move..... your church secretary creating a handout that you carelessly leave on a counter isn't exercise. Sharing the "good news" without caring for the person your sharing with isn't exercising it just basic stuff anyone can do, believer or not.

There are people out there that actually need believers to demonstrate Christ's example and trust me pew sitting isn't the answer.  Now, don't get all up in arms I'm not saying to abandon learning or avoid the pastors sermon I just want to challenge you to consider what you could be doing. In a time when technology has given us so many options I question the archaic approach to hearing the Word and I am frustrated with the idea that so many "christians" don't exercise the body and thus we are wasting into a helpless, fat, and soon dead presentation of a very ALIVE GOD.  Pastors, get out of the droning and challenge your members by example. Don't tell them how you have a great relationship with the Almightly, SHOW THEM, show them how it drives you to giving, caring and compassion.  Let's get to a point where we exercise together, in fellowship as we rejoice in what God has given us by blessing the world.

Would it kill the congregation to wear jeans one sunday and descend on a popular roadway to clean up the trash that is floating in the ditches???? Can you imagine a WHOLE CONGREGATION cleaning up the trash of the world, one mile at a time? And don't worry nay sayers, the people who aren't physically capable could actually stay behind to fix a dinner so that at the end of the amazing event a fellowship could continue as you sit and dine together! This is just one example of something a large group could do.......... take the thought and re-imagine what Sunday morning might look like for your congregation! I think we can do a much better job of exercising our blessings, physically, mentally and spiritually.