Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Absence of Presence


THE ABSENCE OF PRESENCE
and
THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE

And there came a time where God was no longer needed…only His description. And in these days Christianity has become religious history, and His Spirit is no longer sought nor needed.
The western church has lost the hunger for God’s authentic presence. I am not speaking of mysticism or superstition. I am not speaking of some sĂ©ance like experience where people look and listen for voices or bells or banging. I am speaking of the presence of God through the power of the Spirit. And His presence has been replaced by organization, scripted services, information, ceremony, music, and enticing words of men’s wisdom. The entire construct of the Sunday morning “worship service” is fashioned after the western culture and not a gathering of Spirit filled worshipers who have prayed all week long and have gotten up early to prepare their hearts to meet the Risen Christ. No, this is a religious observance.

The entire spectacle is an astonishing and insidious deception which has been perpetrated upon the visible church. And Sunday after Sunday millions of people pour into chairs and pews, spend their allotted time there, and leave feeling anywhere from upbeat to just about how they felt as they arrived. And the restaurants become filled, and the televisions resurrect, and all things were as they were on Saturday and will be until the next mini-series segment called “Sunday Morning Worship”. Mind you, these gatherings are supposed to be the company of believers who have come to corporately meet Christ, pray, hear His Word, and be changed. And after meeting the Creator and Redeemer, this company would often show some remarkable effects as they left, would they not? I mean let’s be honest without getting spooky. If what we contend is true, then how can we explain the redundant mini-pilgrimage displayed with such weekly consistency with significantly less impact than an exciting high school basketball game? People leave feeling better about themselves and uplifted by the event rather than meeting the Risen Lord.

But this is what has come to be expected, embraced, and even enjoyed. This, my friends, is “church” in the western colloquial sense. It is, in essence, people coming to meet each other with a little delightful music interspersed. Some man with a measure of eloquence is invited to share some innocuous soliloquy to be enjoyed by one and all. And after the last amen the gatherers return to their mundane existence, unremarkable in the midst of others, and without impact within the darkness. And if perchance you may visit one of these gatherings you can hear and see and feel the absence of presence as well as the presence of absence; that is if you have ever actually experienced the presence of the Creator God.

Gen.3: And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

When Adam and Eve sinned they ran from the presence of the Lord. And a sinful people today will do the same thing. The church will supplant God’s presence with all kinds of excitement and entertainment and visuals. Eventually the mixed multitude that attends the Sunday morning gatherings will become attached to almost anything but God’s presence. I realize that God is everywhere, but when we say God’s presence we mean an atmosphere that invites and allows the Spirit of God to minister unhindered among God’s people. Make no mistake, though, seeking God’s presence is no easy pursuit. It costs dearly. But since the church has all but ignored prayer and fasting as well as repentance, the presence of the Lord has long since fled.

So now the church services in most evangelical gatherings are planned and well oiled events which produce the desired effects. People leave feeling better and having experienced a sense of community. And they have had their self esteem stroked and their dreams encouraged and their hearts warmed. But have we abandoned even the concept, to say nothing of the reality, of God’s presence? How is it that people can converse about all kinds of things and then when the curtain goes up everyone begins to sing on cue and go through the motions of worship? And many times the volume of the worship rises and falls as the worship leader directs. The entire scene is as planned as a school play, and regardless of the atmosphere there remains a time limit. Worship must end and the rest of the service must take place. And the service itself must end at a reasonable hour lest people grow weary and leave, and worse yet, go somewhere else next week.

But to those who can hear there are many substitutes for God’s presence but none can completely mask the fact that the Spirit is absent and that God’s presence has been withheld.

Acts 3: 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

There is a refreshing in the presence of the Lord. It can bring joy, or peace, or grace, or repentance, or brokenness, or a combination of these things, but to be sure you cannot experience God’s presence and not be refreshed and sanctified. The western church has become so indoctrinated with the culture that it even constructs its gatherings with an eye toward time constraints, entertainment, and “touches”. What do I mean by “touches”? Well in the 90s there were books written with specific ways to touch people in order to funnel them into your local fellowship. For instance the first friendly parking attendant was the first touch, and then each subsequent parking attendant was an additional touch. All of them were trained to spot visitors and be as friendly as humanly possible.

Then each visitor car had someone to guide them to their respective Sunday School class of accompany them to the main sanctuary. As they reached the main door there was an extremely friendly person who made them feel as welcomed as he or she could. They were handed literature and a welcome visitor card with name tags. Then the family was handed off to a smiling usher and led to their seats. The family was recognized publicly at the greeting time during the service and their visitor cards were collected at the offering time. Many churches call the home on Sunday afternoon or at least on Monday. Then someone may come by the home and a letter of appreciation for their visit was sent on Monday. All these interactions are known as “touches” in the field of sales in the secular world and they are designed to create a path to a sale. And the church has adopted such a strategy as well.

There is nothing wrong with being friendly, but when it becomes an art form with the intent to capture people and bring them into your particular fellowship then it can easily become manipulative. And many other ways are employed in order to increase your church attendance including molding the singing and the preaching in order to appeal to what people like and desire. Many of the seeker churches go door to door in the community and ask people what they like in a local church and after evaluating the results of that poll the church designs their church accordingly. Can you imagine such a thing? And ignored in all of it is what does the Lord desire and what can we do to beseech His presence and anointing on our gathering?

II Chron.5: 11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:
12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord;
14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.

We know that the Lord does not dwell in buildings today made with wood and stone but that He dwells in the hearts of believers in Jesus. But there are many principles we can glean from the Old Testament narratives concerning worship and the Temple. We, of course, are the temple of the Lord today. But since David had been a man of war God would not allow him to build the Temple but instead instructed Solomon, David’s son. And Solomon was obedient to the command given to him. Finally the day came when God’s people would enter into that Temple and worship God.

There was much music and singing and God’s people had prayed and prepared themselves to meet their God and worship the beauty of His holiness. This was a sacred day. But on that day of sacrifice and worship God heard their hearts and visited that Temple with the glory of His presence. You see, this was not about the Temple. This was about the Lord Himself. And what greater gift than the gift of His presence? The presence of the Lord was so powerful that the priests could not even stand under the weight of such power. Oh to have been there on that day! No ribbon cutting; no greeting from the mayor; no bank officials as guests; no new carpet smell; just the overwhelming power of God’s shekinah glory filling the place of worship!!

But fast forward to the New Covenant where the Spirit has been given and the Word is complete. And yet where is the hunger and thirst for His presence? Convenience, expertise, and efficiency are the by-words of the modern gatherings. People stream in having spent no time with God and they sit and expect to be entertained while their participation crests with singing along with the words on the overheads. The mockery of it all is astounding. People worshiping God without God’s Spirit?

I am not a miracle chaser but neither do I restrict God and the ministry of the Spirit. I do believe in all the gifts regardless of how many abuse them and even create their own false gifts. And I do believe that when God’s people earnestly pray and fast and submit themselves wholly unto the Lord that God will reward them with special and even unusual visitations of His presence and power. And those will not need man’s ox carts. They will come with such power that we are sanctified, and we are cleansed, and we are broken, and we are led to a kind of repentance that changes us and glorifies Christ. Isn’t that what your heart yearns for?

But if we are content with what we now have as it pertains to the revelation of Christ and His presence among us than we need not change a thing. If we do not hunger and thirst after our Redeemer so strongly that we cannot help but seek Him with our entire beings than what we are now doing will suffice. In fact the devil has convinced us that there really is no more of Christ for us in the Spirit and any miracles of revelation or life changing revivals were for a different time and a different generation. Our generation must use gimmicks and strategies and technological advances in order to create the illusion of His presence. But we can always reminisce about days gone by and experience some spiritual nostalgia.

But is anyone tired of the norm? Who among us is embarrassed by how stagnant and redundant are our gatherings? Everything we now do can be explained. Do we seek to experience that which can only be explained by the ministry of God’s Spirit? I do not believe every worship gathering can have a revival atmosphere or that we as humans can have a dramatic metamorphosis every Sunday morning. No, eventually that becomes a tradition as well. But what I do contend is that we have fallen into religious pit where we no longer expect anything dramatic to happen to God’s people and where we have come to expect the expected. We come expecting good music and good fellowship and good preaching. But most sad and shocking of all we have come to willingly embrace the absence of His presence and the presence of His absence. And if that be the case I wouldn’t walk across the street to be a part of it.

26 comments:

William Birch said...

Is this the message you mentioned in the comments section of my site? If so, it's very convicting, and much needed!

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, William, it is.

Robin said...

Rick, I'm a church musician and have played in modern worship teams as well as traditional hymn-singing churches. I agree that the church service is generally scripted, and arranged to create a certain feeling in the congregation. I don't believe that this is what the pastors and the leaders of the churches necessarily want. They are misled into thinking that this is the way to do it. I read this this morning just before I have to work on the music for tomorrow. You have inspired me to pray more and think less, and do what I can from my place to enter into true worship of the Living God, and to find some way to convey this to the congregation. Thank you for continuing to convict and inspire me. - Robin

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Rick, well written and very true. The words 'pit, marketing, entertainment' etc are very accurate. Many church services are like a variety show where (talent - less) young people can glorify themselves. Many church premises are designed to edify the members - on the same way that an up market club would raise the profile of its wealthy members. Many people can't see God because the modern church does it's utmost best to block Him out. Church people no longer fear God because they've created a Jesus in their own image. Just as Christians now tend to live lives of disobedience to God, they also go church to service themselves. I hope that doesn't sound too disrespectful - but if it does, well that's too bad, because what I'm about to say is even worse. I still do attend church because the bible tells us not to abandon fellowship with other believers. I respect and value the resource of the organized church because it is where many people will find God. I have noticed however, that many modern churches behave like a drunken ex wife, trashing God's name and abusing His provision.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

The responsibility comes down to the pastor of the congregation. And the responsibility comes down to each member of the church, who have to have a heart to thirst for the Word.

I don't know what the answers are. Church is like a society club where the pastor is the head of the hierarchy, then his assistants, staff, junior pastors that he appoints, his worship team, musicians, and board members. I suppose because we are human, we have to have a format to follow; people seem to all want a routine, a comfortable scheduled meeting, that doesn't conflict with their Sunday plans to go out to the brunch and visit parents and family. Humans have a very hard time to break free from old habits. And the way the world makes many work for the average 40 hour or more per week, it leaves little time for the average christian to seek and search scripture without all the distractions of family, sick children, school, activities, etc.

I believe part of the problem is the enemy who keeps westerners distracted with prosperity. Living in the richest nations of the world are a hindrance and Spirit quencher to christians here. In order to be comfortably rich, families have to work, study, train, go to colleges, and borrow money, borrow for mortgages, borrow for cars, and we are at the mercy of the 'system'. By the time we go to church on Sunday, we're exhausted and don't want to hear a convicting message; and pastors know this, so in order to keep their flock bringing in those tithes, they comfort them with soothing words and don't put extra burdens on them.

If we all lived a simple life, and kept our lives free from pre-occupations from our culture that lure us to want more, the body of believers' lives would improve. If we all rented instead of buying homes, having to buy lawnmowers, snowblowers, second vehicles, and indoor/outdoor home hardware, furnishings, we'd have more time on our hands and money in our pockets to serve God in the capacity that He has given each one of us.

If everyone gave up the western lifestyle, then the 'church' would look a lot different. Pastors wouldn't be able to depend on the tithe. They too would have to work and rent, and fellowship would be in homes, in small groups. Pastors would have to 'let go' of their dreams of big congregations with big buildings. Their simplistic lifestyle would encourage others to do the same. And if we all shared what we have and all had things in common, we'd learn to live with less, and God's Spirit would increase at the same ratio that our rejection of 'things' decreased.

Will, we in the West, ever reach our full potential that God had in store for us? I feel sad that it would take major major life-change and adjustments for all of us before the church becomes the walking talking examples of Christ. Church has failed and maybe there are strains of Christ's victory in pockets here and there, the full potential isn't being exercised.

Dear Lord, I pray we know what we can do - churches have their spiritual hands shackled - but escaping costs more than staying shackled.

J.

Anonymous said...

William, would you be allowed to share your site address here? Would love to read your thoughts.

Just another thought on this subject. I know what I wrote moments ago is the hardest thing anyone can do and I also have to take into consideration what I wrote (about yielding the western lifestyle to God) for myself here too. O miserable woman that I am.

I remember attending a small pentecostal church where pastors really did have a hold on their sheep. It became a cultish thing; the pastor would remind us, "do not touch the anointed", meaning don't disagree and don't say anything untoward about him. We remembered the story of the prophet who was mocked by the children and the bear who got them.

Then, we'd notice his evangelist friends would come to preach, and we'd all feel we had to pull out the purse or wallet and give more. Many of the congregants were blue collar workers and others unemployed, relying on government. They struggled financially and didn't have any extra money for 'catastrophes'. We were all told to have faith that the Lord took care of the sparrows and he would certainly look after us. But the pastors themselves had a special little thing going on that they didn't divulge to the flock. They were plugged into their denominational system, had access to pastors across Canada and the U.S., and when they had need, they could call on clergy for special prayers, special financial generosity. Pastors traveled to conferences and invited to rich pastors get-away cottages by lakes or the ocean; and would be gifted Christmas gifts by our church (for instance, our pastor and his wife were given tickets to travel to the States to visit their adult son. I knew a woman in that church, who had lost a 15 year-old son in a drowning accident, who had an older daughter on the West coast with a new grand-daughter, that she had never seen for over 2 years. The daughter couldn't afford to visit her parents as well; and this middle-aged couple were faithful tithers and givers to every missionary and evangelist who drifted through. They had no extra cash to visit their two-year old granddaughter who they had never met. Meanwhile the pastor had access to the generosity of his flock who would also present him and his wife with gifts, like, a grandfather clock. These were self-claimed apostolics, self-claimed apostles and latter-day holiness pentecostals!

They celebrated Christmas, expected expensive unnecessary gifts from church members. And we wonder why the churches are gone the way of the do-do bird.

When the clergy are the head, and feel entitled to live large, and see their flock with less, and see their flock sacrifice much and willing to serve 'church' at the expense of never seeing their far-off children again, it's apostasy. These men were filled with God's spirit, yet could rule Jesus' flocks with fists of iron. Deceiving spirits have been hanging around for decades, doing damage to every church, and it's now obvious to us here. It's so incredibly shocking. And Jesus weeps.

J.

Anonymous said...

Dear J, your commentary on our western lifestyle is so right on! Believers have fallen for this false sense of prosperity (satan's lie that we are ENTITLED to having prosperity) only to be now held in bondage. Everything (lifestyle choices, image, etc.) is now a facade and that includes churchianity. Bondage is sin and sin is bondage. Until this bondage is removed, those who are in bondage (in sin) remain separated from God. It's a vicious cycle. Unfortunately there are a lot of pastors today who are also in this bondage. Now that's a problem. A very sobering commentary, indeed, pastor Rick.

michael said...

When a baby is born, an old wise minister once said of babes in Christ, they want FOOD and they don't shut up until they are fed!

Oh I remember that. I went nowhere without my Bible. I just ate and drank and ate some more!

There are some people in the Scripture that caught my eye! Joshua would stay in the tabernacle long after Moses left. God came and spoke gently to the boy Samuel. David of course after Nathan came to him a second time and spoke to him about his son he went in and sat before The Lord and talked with Him! There's Jonah pouting over a nation and a worm and God and he are reasoning together! Daniel, wow! Then comes Jesus and the guy Saul of Tarsus. But that is all lead up to what I hope will be seen. I concur there is partly the disease of dullness and lack because of not walking daily in Their Presence so when Sunday comes The Glory of The Lord is greatly present and hearts are strangely warmed like that burning Presence the two fellows mentioned about while walking on the road to Emmaus.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. (Revelation 22:1-3 ESV)

Note these words in verse 3:

"BUT THE THRONE OF GOD AND OF THE LAMB WILL BE IN IT"

""WILL BE IN IT""

The Bible teaches God is Eternal, Everlasting and without beginning or end!

Try and imagine or let the Spirit of Truth uncover for you "where" it is Jesus came from and the after His resurrection returned to!

Where is His Eternal Throne? These three are One! The two Thrones, where are they?

To say you are born by the Will of the Father of the water and the Spirit, and to say Christ is in you, the hope of Glory, and to say you are born again you are saying you and Christ are where They are! And where are They?

Their Thrones are "in" the water of Life, Revelation 22:3!!!

Eternal Life, Jesus said, is "knowing" the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent!

Where's the Presence in your life?

I will cite Words of Eternal Life from Ephesians but note one Greek word in verse 5 of chapter 2. The Greek word is suzoopoieo which means united or conjoined to Christ by the Father!

Here's the Words of Eternal Life from Ephesians 2 and the phrase "MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH" is the Greek word suzoopoieo:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)


Rick Frueh said...

People who comment and some who send me e-mails are such an encouragement to me and a testimony to the fellowship we all have in Christ Jesus. I feel that the Lord has begun a sort of prayer room and sometime in the future I may post a prayer list which will serve as a prayer closet for all of us.
I will post about it later but let Jesus have all the preeminence!

Cherie c. said...

I allowed myself to visit a site and get caught up in all the words. Some made perfect sense and others were utter rantings. This is a Christian site. Some parts made me cry and others made me wonder why I was there. A good part of what was written was spot on, but the last part I read disturbed my spirit and let me know that I had almost been drawn into something good on the surface, but then showed true colors almost hidden. Get them with the Gospel then spring on them the weird stuff. Should have known. When someone always quotes another person's view as if they were writing the piece, beware that they have yet to mention what they believe. I am not angry, but feel foolish.

You talk about the absence of the Presence of God, but are we really surprised? Yes, I am dealing with a sad countenance at the moment, but it is still a valid question.

Do we really believe that the Lord is present in a service where doctrines of demons are being taught? We ought to know better if we think He is. He is clearly not. I grow weary at this sometimes. I spent a good portion of the day reading the site I mentioned earlier and left much home keeping undone or could have spent that time in the Word. That is what church is today, a complete waste of precious time. Time that could be spent in true worship and true seeking of the Lord and His presence in our every day. I also talk with brothers and sisters who still seem to cling to former churches that they left because something wasn't quite right, but still defend them. It has me vexed. If the pastor, deacons, and the people who go to my last church would repent and seek God on their faces, not even ask me to forgive them for how they treated me, but how they treated God and His Word I would return. But if I hold my breath I would die before they would not do that. Why? because they do not have the Spirit of God in them. How do I know this? I was told, bold faced by the pastor in July 2010. He said that the issues I brought up were not spiritual issues and that he would run his church his way. Doctrines of demons is not a spiritual issue? Allowing scream music in the youth group is not a spiritual issue? Allowing Rob Bell and Beth Moore books and videos in the church is not a spiritual issue? Stabbing people in the back is not a spiritual issue? Cutting Bible Study from church is not a spiritual issue? Dismissing two Godly leaders who insisted on Bible study for the youth group because the kids complained to their parents, who were very into the books The Twilight Series, that there is too much Bible in the youth group???? isn't a spiritual issue? Then what is?

He said he is aware of what the others are doing and that he is the one who dictated the activities. If you saw my face you would have thought I was struck. I went pale and felt ill being in a room with profession Christians who I believe are minions of satan dressed in shepherds clothing.

I have had the misfortune to have been in the "inner circle" and it is not what you see from afar.

No God in the walled church today but the god of this world.

The Absence of Presence? Do not wonder, pray.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.



Anonymous said...

Cherie wrote: No God in the walled church today but the god of this world.

I think holy God is still very active in the walled church today, but so too is the god of this world in many people's lives.

It's imperative that we carry on hungering and thirsting after righteousness, so that we can truly inspire our neighbor to look to LORD Jesus as the Teacher of Teachers, Savior and Shepherd of our soul.

Reine Gnade

Cherie c. said...

Please forgive me if I sound bitter. I was but now I'm not. My heart breaks for those still in the walled church. I pray many more come out before its too late.
Where, please tell me? God and sin cannot take up the same residents. I do believe some are saved even though they are in a compromised church. Once saved they must recognize the apostasy and come out.

Dear Reine, I have looked for a long time now in my area and have found none. One that comes the closest is a bit anti-Israel and this little bit of leaven, leavens the whole lump.
May God's Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

May God richly bless you my dear brothers and sisters this Lord's Day. Love you all.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Please pray for my husband and me. I am convicted over some habits and finding my heart just doesn't really care as the day wears on. I have lost the fear and the love that used to keep me in clear conscience and abiding. It is hard without accountability of loving brothers and sisters, though that's not an excuse. I wonder if I am my worst problem because I isolate myself often because I am wearied with the powerless churchianity. It hurts so much that it seems better to stay away from the religious observances. But then am I any more righteous or Christlike? I'm so glad you all are there...my family in the Lord.
Victoria

Cherie c. said...

Dear Victoria,

What you're going through its but for a season. The Lord knows your heart dear sister. It is at this time that you need to do three things, and one of them you told me not to long ago. One, keep a thankful heart, two keep praising Him, three know that you don't have far to go to be with your brothers and sisters who LOVE YOU. You and I need to leave the burdens of this world behind and carry the lightest burden, Jesus. He said it is light and I believe that.

Now, knowing I love you, and hoping that when I need it you will do the same for me, read John 17 to know just how much the Lord loves you, then read the last three chapters of Revelation 20, 21, 22. The love and the fear (a good fear) will return and then grow in the Lord from there. Pray as husband and wife. You pray for your husband and he should pray for you. What power, what blessing there will be. Also, pray for others, it will make your heart blessed. Be patient in the Lord, I know I am working that out too. Love you,

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Thank you Jesus!

Anonymous said...

I love all the comments here. I'm learning so much by all your honesty here and the scriptural teaching.

A thought occurs to me that the way we live today, well the world's ways, makes it extra hard to stay filled with joy and strength and our lamps filled with oil.

I say this because every day there are distractions to look for excitement. Kids are encouraged to look up to idols, like DisneyWorld, and they're constantly being prepped to make their mark in the world. Kids in our society know more about sex than I did at 20. Little girls are sold products that try to make them look older than they are and encouraging them to start dating. They are world/street smart, most get braces, most are 'celebrated' by achieving high awards at school, achieving medals, trophies, being celebrated by having their pictures texted to friends. Celebration of 'self' in our culture erases all our desire to get excited about JESUS.

No one today seems to get excited about spiritual things. If we can't SEE or ENJOY a pleasant experience every hour, like the world offers, then we get bored and depressed. Seeking after God, like the prophets and Old Testament people, is not as exciting in the times we live in. The carnival atmosphere is around us all the time, things to do, things to enjoy, we have dozens of attractions we can turn to, anytime, anywhere. We, and our children, are living in a day where Satan is on the other side continuously offering goodies to us. And many christians engage in this all the time; sports, entertainment, music, clubs, pubs, videogaming, social media, distracting gadgetry, travel, beach bumming, gyms, tanning salons, cosmetic nip and tucks, spas. Our kids expect expensive lavish weddings - money spent on celebrating themselves with with gags like releasing doves from cages, and honeymooning around the world. There is so much for us to be distracted by, every day in our busy busy lives, that it's hard to find the Lord's presence in the midst of the carnival atmosphere.

Is this why the 'church' is imploding? The christian community in the West spends maybe not even one hour meditating on God's word every day, because the excessive distractions are too hard to ignore. And the pastors know, yet need the tithe of these busy people, and don't discourage them from pursuing worldy interests, because it creates this sort of fake peace of mind mentality; a lot of prosperous christians actually believe that this busy exciting life in the now is God's will. Pastors won't let on that this is wrong, because it would depress their flock and possibly get them to question western lifestyles.

I confess that some worldly distractions have dulled my spiritual perceptions in the last 5-10 years, and like Victoria, I am wearied by powerless churchianity too. If we keep praying here for each other, I know that we will find more excitement by pursuing the Lord and instead of dryness - living waters. The world is Satan's decoy and he wants to exhaust us. I want to find strength in Him like the Johahs and Davids (he encouraged himself in the Lord) and Isaiahs, etc.

J.

Cherie c. said...

Let satan have the world, I will take Jesus. I think there is a song about that called Give me Jesus. Good song.

Anonymous said...

No way will we let Satan have the world for he is the author of lawlessness and rebellion against Our awesome LORD.

Let's be very determined to concede nothing to cruel, treacherous Satan.

Let's teach that no creation of God needs to stay enslaved to the father of lies.
Truly the Bible teaches us to resist Satan!

Have we become afraid of synagogues of Satan or will we valiantly endeavour to rescue those who diligenly attend and finance them?

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Aren't walled churches sometimes full to the brim with our neighbors?

Parents, one of the most effective ways we can guide our children to the LORD is to go to war against Satanic lies. Resist the devil and he will flee.

Let's be inspired by Elijah who went to war against the false prophets who were mouthpieces of Satan.

Satan is a lying usurper. The only fitting place for him is the lake of fire. He deserves to have nothing pertaining to God's wonderful creation.

Friends, Let's continue to fight on behalf the untaught and the unreached, lest Satan's hold on them becomes stronger.

Let's focus on honoring Jesus, for in Christ we are more than conquerors.


Reine Gnade

Anonymous said...

Jesus said in “John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Joel

Anonymous said...

Our reward is not here on earth and living as though it is is not as God intended. I've recently just studied Pentecost and have got to say I didn't give it enough thought/study.

Jesus said to his disciples (prior to his crucifixion) how things had to happen so one GREATER THAN HE could come, The Comforter (aka The Holy Spirit). Yes, Jesus said GREATER than HE!

Pentecost was this fulfillment, but unlike Passover (an event come and gone) Pentecost - the giving of the Holy Spirit is still going on TODAY!

The super importance here is If we do not see we, THE CHURCH, are to be united through the indwelling and we're looking for our individual light to be seen -- is it any wonder the light is so dim?

If we are to be light and we look like everyone else - how can we be that city on a hill that cannot be hid. That word CITY, doesn't it imply "more than one??"

This world is dark. Sadly, the church is dark too. There is a lot of belief out there -- but even the demons believed. Belief is NOT ENOUGH. If you believe the exact Holy Spirt breathed from our eternal Lord into the disciples is the same Holy Spirit in you -- what is stopping you from stepping out into faith (with awe and wonder and excitement!)?

Think about the distance Jesus traveled BY FOOT during his ministry. Hundreds to thousands and he had followers the entire way. As followers of Christ we are to walk in his footsteps. As believers that first step is a step of faith. Each step and miracle witnessed in your life increases your faith. With the sharing of these miracles - more were (and are) brought to follow Christ and step out in faith. And....it takes hundreds - thousands of steps to get us to our end.

He who begins a good work in you will carry it on through completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I believe God sees us as our completed works and our life journey (...yes, the trials and tribulations I'm talking here) is all about the transformation process. Painful, but through each ordeal our light becomes brighter. The Spirit's flame within is fanned and bigger. At our glorious end we are consumed in flame of God's glory and that's what our Father sees as we enter into his presence.

YES!! The absence of presence is the absence of the spirit in today's Church. Instead of being vessels to be filled and used, we're living as our own tools and going through the motions. We're missing the boat!!

Pentecost - who knew? I didn't get it. Now I CANT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!!!

Pastor Rick, thank you for the timing of your message...God is so "fill in blank" I can't find the words!!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick,
I walked out of "the church" many years ago and have not looked back, unlike Lot's wife. It has been the hardest road to follow, one marked by even more trials and tribulations then when I was a part of the church system. I have literally wept on my knees before our Living God countless times asking Him where I should go and what I should do because sometimes the lonliness and quietness is so loud, it is deafening. I long for greater fellowship with our LORD, and yet in order to fellowship with Jesus, I must keep away from the churches in our area for they offer false security through carnality. For now, to be a Christian means you have been baptized as an infant, gone through confirmation classes and have given a verbal statement of confession before the "church board", you must attend youth group, sunday school, and every activity the church has for you to attend (often neglecting family responsibilites); you must serve as an usher, greeter, sunday school teacher, food committee, building committe, music committee, janitor, etc., etc., etc., and all of this is called "serving the Lord." And if you do not perform, perform, and perform more and more for the church, then the mouths of men (and women mind you) will say "They do not love nor serve the Lord." How do they really know..l are they hearing the voice of God?

Pastor, I have been hurting so badly since leaving this last church that I cry every day. When I first went there, the "love bombing" was so inviting. Many in the church loved on us, invited us into their homes; we were assigned small group fellowships that had similar occupations as us, and we felt accepted......until....I began to research and study the teachings of the men and women constantly being promoted. Many assumed that when we arrived into their "charismatic" church, that I was not saved. And elderly woman purchased and gave me a devotional by "Larry Huck" from Trinity Broadcasting Network fame...I read it until I viewed a couple of his programs on You Tube and found them to be extremely disturbing. "Bible studies" consisted of works written by Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Randy Alcorn (who believes our pets go to heaven), TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Mike Bickle, etc.

Pastor Rick, what happens to a person in a church when you begin to question these writers and teachers; our modern day so called "pillars of faith?"

Anonymous said...

Questions lead to more questions and countless hours of research, comparing their teachings to the Word of God can consume you to the brink of despair. And when I began to discover all of the heresies being taught by the living, breathing, teaching "idols" of our day, I began to ask, "Do you really know what these people believe?" Why is it Pastor Rick, that a believer is not allowed to discover truth for oneself by the Spirit of God? The church says, "You must sit under our teaching and follow these men and women's penned studies for your spirital food because WE know what is best for you....because secretly....we believe you are not saved."

Then, the soft persecution comes in the form of what the Bible calls wispering and talebearing. And those religious people begin to treat you differently and I must confess that I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror. Did I look any different? And I began to remember that "love bombing" and how the relationships were manipulated in that church system....like I said earlier, our small groups consisted of people of the same demographics....how interesting and carefully planned.
Why did that "love" turn to such hatred in such a short time? I feel like such a fool, like I have been had so to speak.

Pastor Rick, have you had anyone question the "drunk in the spirit" doctrine, the practice of yoga doctrine, the falling down on the floor in pain (birthing doctrine), the Todd Bentley doctrines, the ecumanical doctrines, the animals going to heaven doctrine, the "we can raise the dead" doctrine, the trips to heaven or hell (and write books for profit) doctrine, the I have had visions of my family members in heaven doctrine, the we are little gods doctrine, the lord told me to get a tatoo doctrine, the lord told me to pay for that couple's McDonald's meal doctrine, etc., etc., etc.? It seems to me that our society at large is embracing spirituality of some sort all right, but what kind?

I had one women become angry with me when I politely asked her where the "slain in the spirit" doctrine is in our Bibles. She said, and I quote, "It's in Acts, Chapter 2, and I have been a Christian longer that you, so I know." Ironically, I have had a "slain in a spirit" experience in a local pentecostal fellowship believing that I had a literal encounter with God, until I studied my Bible testing the spirits I had experienced. I now believe they were demonic as I lost total control of my body as it was under another power, and I could not get up off of the floor until that invisible power released me......a Hindu yoga kundalini experience is what I experienced in a western church on that particular evening. Unbelievable to most in non-charismatic circles, yet embraced by those who claim bears the mark of the holy spirit...I will not blaspheme God, the Holy Spirit here.

And when you leave this type of church system....you will receive calls. I received many calls, not because these people truly cared or loved (because I was already experiencing the shunning process), but because they had nose problems and wanted to know "the scoop." So I asked one woman point blank, "Why are you calling me asking why I left, is it so you can be popular for five minutes at your so called Bible Study and share with everyone the reasons why I do not attend there any longer?" And she quietly responded with, "I am sorry, I cannot deny that that is not true." And I told her how much that really hurt....and it still hurts, Pastor Rick. I think about all of the fake love, all of the manipulation by the pastor and those in leadership, the telephone calls not because they cared about the condition of my soul or my family for that matter, but for "the gossip." Sometimes, the battle is so much greater inside the church system, then it is for believers outside those white washed walls.

Anonymous said...

And please know this Pastor Rick,
the greatest of hurt comes from those who are closest to you, who do not understand why you do not step foot inside this church system. And when I learn so many wonderful and marvelous truths from my Bible and share them with family, they treat me as if I were ivisible....and often come against me. I hurt so badly and the internal pain in my soul is so great at times. My heart aches for true Biblical fellowship, did not Jesus say that His yoke it light? And I find it so tremendously difficult to please man in this day and age; as ironic as it sounds with all of the myriad of technology available at our fingertips, and so easy to please Jesus. Yes, easy, for His simplicity greatly outweighs the whoredom we have made out of His Words.

It is only by the Spirit of God that Paul could even undertake such a great ministry of the Gospel, for I truly cannot imagine the intense pain and agony, yet the greatest joy of all time. I know his persecution and the saints listed in our Bibles are far greater than what I am experiencing and I feel guilty for that.

I look at the dirt underneath the hangnails in the body of Christ, and they witness to me in a far greater way than those who consider themselves to "be something." Please pray for me, Pastor Rick, and for all of those who are considered as dogs in the church system.

Anonymous said...


There is wonderful verse in Psalm 46 in the Bible which says: "Be still, and know that I am God."

I'm always calmed and encouraged by reminding myself of a verse from Psalm 23 which says: He (Jesus) leads me besides still waters.

Friends, stillness before God is our great need to counteract our tendency to become worried and agitated.

We need to rigorously remind ourselves not to imitate the way Martha behaved!

We need to discipline ourselves daily, so that we can take our minds off hurtful experiences and bow before the LORD where we can be refreshed, body, soul and spirit.

Reine Gnade

Bill Cotton said...

Brother Rick,

I am so convicted and embarrassed that I can hardly keep the tears from running down my face. I am at work on my lunch reading this and my heart aches with such a pain that I cannot explain it. May God have mercy on my soul for not seeking Him so that I can be the king and priest of my family. Thank you so much for being obedient to the Spirit of God when you write these blogs of conviction. We all need these hard words and if anyone says that they don't they are of the devil their father. We all fall short of the Glory of God and should be on our faces in repentence at times.
Thank you for bringing this message to light. I pray that all who read it will be overwhelmed by the Spirit of the Living God and cry out to King Jesus for forgiveness.

God bless brothers and sisters

Cherie c. said...

Bill dear brother, love you!

New Anonomous, you too dear sister! Would love to know your name. You are not alone. This is a great place to fellowship! Praise God for loving brothers and sisters.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.