Monthly Archives: February 2021

HOW COVID19 EXPOSED THE TRUE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH

Pastors that I know who lead large churches tell me that they’ve lost literally hundreds of members due to the pandemic shutdowns. These people neither watch online nor have returned to church when in person services resume. This phenomena has led to discussions about what the church will look like after covid19, which has led many to say that we’ll need to “rethink” and “redo” how we do church in the future and will need to “relaunch” after the pandemic is over. In other words, we’ll need to be creative and “think outside the box” in order to entice these people back to church.

How sad. I believe that the loss of so many people who have decided not to return to church is just a symptom of a deeper problem – many of those who attended church in the past weren’t really in love with Jesus. Their relationship with Him was shallow, and they did not have a solid biblical and theological foundation. They occupied a chair or place on a pew on Sunday mornings, but their heart was far from Him.

Which brings up the cause for this tragedy – the church didn’t build them up in their faith. All this talk about “revamping how we do church” is a serious indictment that we weren’t “doing” church correctly before the pandemic hit, and covid19 just exposed this.

The church today is saturated with lots of “stuff” – myriads of programs, high energy praise bands, the latest technology, latte bars and lounges, rock star pastors that exude “cool”, and services that include movie clips, skits, interpretive dance, motivational sermons, and a casual laid back atmosphere where we are encouraged to come and “have fun”.

I wonder, where is Jesus in all of this?

Sadly, while His name in mentioned in church services, He is not the focus. The focus, unfortunately, is on everything but Him. If we had put the focus on Him, this idea of “redoing” and “relaunching” church would be moot. In the last 30 years or so the church became so clever and cute that it forgot that it exists for one purpose – to bring Him glory. Worship services are supposed to be just that – times to worship Him collectively as a church family. Sermons were supposed to be geared to help Christians grow deeper in their faith, not to give a theologically light feel good motivational speech centered on “me”. Praise bands were supposed to lead us into the presence of our awesome God and set the atmosphere for true worship, not to entertain us with their dazzling array of skills and smoke and mirrors performance. Programs were supposed to enhance our spiritual growth, not be times of social activity with just a smattering of theological content.

We got it all wrong.

If we were doing it right, we wouldn’t feel the need to redo that way we do church in order to get people that we lost to to church. Being innovative, having more programs, enhancing the technology we use in the service, exuding more “cool” and being more “relevant” aren’t the answer. Jesus is.

Jesus is enough.

If we had just focused on Jesus to begin with, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the situation we currently are in. If we would have just kept it simple and poured our energies into magnifying Him and going deep into His word, that would have been enough. My friends, Jesus is ALWAYS enough. If people would have really known Him deeply and had a deep love for Him, they would flock back to church because they want to know Him more and worship Him with their church family.

Jesus is enough.

The enemy has distracted us with many other things to get our focus off of the One who was, is, and always should be the main focus of everything. There’s nothing wrong with simple Christianity. We don’t need latte bars, fancy bands, overbooked church calendars to keep people busy, or every technological gadget on the market. We need to magnify Jesus. When we highlight these other things, the focus gets placed on them. When we highlight Jesus, the focus gets placed on Him. And that is where it is supposed to be. When He is the center of all we do, everything else takes care of itself.

Is it time to “redo” the way we do church? Yes! It’s time to make all the other “stuff” in church smaller and make Jesus bigger. It’s time to simplify things and focus on Him. it’s time to build a strong, unshakeable foundation in people by going deep into Scripture. It’s time to guide people into a deep, intimate relationship with Him.

In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, and [we] must decrease”.

Jesus is enough!!

IT’S NOT OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY

It’s a phrase that you see and hear everywhere – on church signs, on church websites, in sermons, and in contemporary Christian music. It’s a phrase that people gravitate to and have accepted wholeheartedly. What is the phrase? “It’s okay not to be okay”.

This is true in the context of those who have not trusted in Jesus as Savior – those who are not saved are unregenerated sinners who come to Him in their rebellious lifestyles and, when they repent of their sin and by faith trust in Him, they are forgiven and born again. They don’t have to “clean up their act” before being saved. The indwelling Holy Spirit will empower them to to do this after they are saved. So, unbelievers come to Jesus in a “not okay” state.

However, way too many born again Christians have adopted this phrase for their lives. They love this phrase because it justifies their sloppy, mediocre lifestyle that is far from the standard set by Jesus for those who would follow Him. Pastors and musicians tell people that we are all flawed and messed up but it’s okay because Jesus loves us anyway. Well, yes, we all are flawed Jesus does loves us with an unconditional love. That’s not in question.

However, it’s not okay for a truly born again believer in Jesus to not be okay. Why? Because truly born again believers have the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity indwelling them, and He equips them with everything necessary to live a God pleasing life that glorifies Him. Look at these verses:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

These verses tell us that we have everything necessary to live a godly life, and that’s because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. You see, we have the power to be “okay”. Now be careful here. I’m not talking about perfection, as no one in this life will ever be perfect (Jesus was the only one to walk this earth in perfection). But what I’m talking about is a life that is on the journey of true discipleship, a live that hungers and thirsts for holiness and righteousness, and a life that tenaciously strives to make God smile. A life that knows there are higher heights to climb and deeper depths to plunge. A life that is never satisfied and content with where they are at spiritually.

Sadly, in today’s Christianity, the bar of discipleship has been set way too low, so low, in fact, that most Christians are satisfied with just a shadow of the life they have been called to live. Most Christians just shrug their shoulders and say “well, I’m not perfect and God loves me anyway, so everything is fine”. What a defeatist, pathetic resignation.

Jesus, however set the bar extremely high. Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, and look at these statements by Jesus:

Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me'”. (Luke 9:23)

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”. (Luke 14:33)

Wow, these words that tell us that it’s not okay to be not okay. Jesus is telling us that we are to be sold out disciples, surrendered to Him and devoted to Him above everything else. Being not okay is just an excuse for not surrendering to Him in every aspect of our lives and not dying to self so that He can be Lord, and I mean truly Lord, of our lives.

Scripture often tells us to live a life here on earth worthy of our awesome God:

” As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesian 4:1)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)

“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10)

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory”. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)


All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering”. (2 Thessalonians 1:5)

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ”. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

What is a life that is worthy of God? One that is passionate for Him, and is thus passionate for holiness because such a life glorifies Him and dives deep in intimacy with Him. A life worthy of God is the life that dies to self, embraces spiritual brokenness, and is on the journey of surrender to Him. A life worthy of God lives in the attitude of humility and repentance, being quick to acknowledge sin when we, in our imperfection, fall short of His holy standards. But alas, most Christians don’t want this. They want just enough of Jesus to get to heaven but not enough of Him to make Him Lord of their lives, so they live life carrying the banner “it’s okay not to be okay”.

Tragically, far too many Christians have taken the high bar that Jesus set for His followers and lowered it to make themselves feel good and to justify their mediocre walk with Him. However, for those who are the journey of true discipleship and holiness, for those who intentionally die to self and surrender their wills to Him daily, they are the ones that bring glory to Him (which is why we exist). This leads to walking in His manifest presence, which leads to the full, abundant life Jesus said He came to give (John 10:10).

My friends, don’t buy the pathetic fad phrase of the day – “it’s okay not to be okay”. Strive, in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to live according to His standards, not the popular notion of shallow Christians. Surrender all of yourself to Him, follow Him with all your heart, and live a life that is worthy of our glorious, awesome Savior. This is life at its pinnacle.