A Trend I See In The Church

I’ve not done any studies on this. I haven’t looked at statistics and such …only parking lots and ball fields, etc.

We used to have 2 services on Sunday, one in the morning and one in the evening. Whether I agree or disagree, the subject isn’t “should we have a morning and evening service” …but the trend of having less. As a husband, father, little league advocate, friend, spectator, etc, but mostly as a pastor …I understand the many reasons why we shouldn’t try to kill folks on Sunday with a bunch of services. One major reason is many folk travel a long way to get to a church that ministers to them and their family. Unless they have a house in the same city they worship, we all know that can be difficult.

However, here is a trend that I believe is taking place in the American culture …the American church. We are finding less and less time to gather with other believers (church, public worship) because we say we don’t have time to get other “life things” done. Which is probably true. However, don’t we find time …and even make time to do what we like, want, need to do? Really, it’s as simple as getting up earlier and staying up a bit later …or turning off the “idiot box” (TV and I like it too) once in a while …or learning simple scheduling and prioritizing. But the trend is Christ and our fellow worshipers get the short end of the stick when neither of them are requiring much time at all. Average 1.5hrs. on Sunday and 1hr on Weds. Bet we watch much more TV than that. Heck, we set on the toilet longer than that!

Won’t be long …and it’s actually already here …Wednesday Night Bible Study will be done away with. Then eventually, Sunday morning worship will be more of a bible study. We’ve done it with Sunday School, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights already in many ways …WHERE WILL THE CHURCH DRAW A LINE AND SAY, “I’LL NOT CROSS THIS” …don’t we know the next generation is watching us …and more is caught than taught. We communicate way more by our actions than we do by setting at the dinner table with a list of things to learn. Stop wondering why your kids don’t love Jesus anymore than they do and are clinging to a sport or some form of entertainment …and don’t ask me because I’ll tell you the answer. Bet you already know it too. No wonder it’s harder and harder to shout on Sunday and hear a man call out the name of the LORD in prayer and worship. We are leading people who don’t know what the word “travail” means or to “labor in prayer”. I think The Church is trading in too much and we ought to draw a stinking line before we think Jesus isn’t the only door to heaven …trust me, that’s coming too and you’d probably be shocked at how many “Christians” already believe such nonsense.

As for me and my house …we will carve out time on Wednesday evenings (or whatever appointed day our fellowship chooses through the week other than Sunday) to publicly worship our Savior …even if we need to clean our house, pay a bill, mow the lawn, wash the car, do homework, visit a friend or take a day off, etc …it can all be done before or after we come to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Shoot, why not make the little league coach wait like we do our church and pastor …ha? If the ox keeps gettin in ditch on Sunday and Wednesday, kill the devil possessed ox and have a cook-out! hahaha! AND NO, I DON’T BELIEVE THE OX IS REALLY POSSESSED. HAHAHAHA!

The Most Dangerous Man In The World

Disclosure: I write this with much respect to those who have possibly lost a loved one to a “man” who has taken that life by a physically murderous act.

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I believe the most dangerous man in the world is not a man with a gun or some sort of a weapon. Rather, I believe the most dangerous man in the world is a man who WILL NOT humble himself and submit to a wife, a pastor, a ministry or any other person of supposed leadership in their lives who is there to hold them accountable.

A man who commits an atrocity as what happened in Colorado (and several other places) is certainly most bold about his acts, feelings and what he’s there to do …and I despise such an act. He commits open murder all such in one small amount of time. Yes, these type of people are dangerous. However, he is obvious and easily detected because of the nature in the way he kills and the weapons he uses. 

But the type of man I’m talking about goes undetected. He wears a mask and a cape also …a costume of humility, generosity, assistant, disciplinarian, even the uniform of a Christian gets worn in this get-up. All the while …his pride is the fuel that won’t allow him to come under authority or accountability. Behind the mask of generosity is a man who will cheat you to get more for himself …spend others money and sleep with your wife. That’s not generosity. Behind the mask of assistant and being there to help, he destroys and leaves countless relationships for dead, burning every bridge he crosses and his actions and perceptions are a cancer to everyone he connects to. That’s not very helpful. Behind the mask of disciplinarian is a man who needs a good ‘ol fashion, country boy tail kickin’ himself and will only cower when confronted. He is out of control …only to discipline his children to show-off for others, laughing about it and thinking it’s cute how “hard” the punishment might be and gauging it’s effectiveness by how embarrassing it is to the one being disciplined. That’s not true discipline. Discipline is meant to build, not break you and leave you for dead. Behind the Christian costume is a man who knows what to say and do to sound right, but the relationship with Jesus has never really fully been real …it’s mostly been to please others and when people aren’t looking, he has stashes of sin every he goes.

You know what makes this man the most dangerous man in the world? He goes undetected. When you point him out, you’re the one that gets rejected and called a religious nut. You want to know what makes this man the most dangerous man in the world? People who won’t look deeper and those that are willing to “go along to get along”.What makes this man the most dangerous man in the world is that he has a lifetime to kill, sabotage, destroy, mock, steal, attach a string to everything …when the other type dangerous man mostly has a few minute window.

This man …this man my friends is “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”.

 

The Greatest Miracle of All

Yesterday, me, my wife and 2 youngest children took an adventure to Veteran’s Lake in Sulpher, OK. We rode our bicycles around the lake trail (which was a lot of fun) …took in some of God’s beautiful creations and really enjoyed each other.

Something happened yesterday that always reminds me of “The Greatest Miracle of All” …and that is getting to see someone make the decision to follow Jesus Christ. I won’t say the fellas name, but it was a man I’d never met before. We had stopped to let the kids swim for a bit when he came walking down toward the water in his swim trunks and draggin’ a couple of floaties.

I’ll not drag this out with a lot of detail …but I spoke with this 67yr old man for over an hour. I found out he’d done 3 tours in Vietnam (I have a huge spot in my heart for those who have served and are serving our country) …rode bulls and broncs, has a drag bike and many more “interesting” things to talk about. Some of those things were mostly heartache type situation and apparent pain.

This wonderful man spoke of how he’d boxed in the Army and excelled. But also he spoke of losing a brother in Vietnam …and how he carried a “chip on his shoulder” because of it. I listened to him tell about substance abuse and it’s frequent reappearance, then onto depression and his often thoughts of suicide. My new friend would told me about his recent divorce and many other failed marriages and even his perception of his failure as a father …I just listened. I did my best to help him see from a different perspective and tried to identify with many of his woes and hurts. I found out real quick, I was in over my head …so it seemed. Just a young, inexperienced pastor of a small church …yeah, that’s me. But I couldn’t leave the side of this gentleman …my new friend.

I had to finally pen him down because he kept leading me away from where he knew I was headed. You see, he was at the lake that day because he said, “I’m hiding from my family …they’re trying to ambush me”. I asked him if they were trying to wrangle him for help or do an intervention of sorts …and he said, “Yep, and they ain’t gonna get me”. Then I chuckled because while he was running from his family that loves him, he ran into a preacher who would share the love of Christ and not take NO for an answer! I watched a veteran of our great country …hardened by war and a difficult life …grab my had at my request and while others sat on the bank watching, I asked to pray with him and he said, “Please”! He hung in there for a while, but when the words, “Jesus, I need a Savior” came across his lips, he broke and this great soldier began to cry like a hurting little boy. WOW! What a miracle! I’ll never forget this man. In fact …we exchanged numbers and even talked this morning. He has hope again and a new outlook on life (as he put it).

I’m very thankful for having experience the love of Christ on a personal level and so much so that I can share it with confidence knowing …His love changes things and it’s “The Greatest Miracle of All”!

Christmas 2011 – Family

Me and Taryn had the privilege of having a small portion of my “extended-immediate” family over to celebrate one another last night. I can’t describe the overwhelming emotion that I felt as they began to pull their vehicles in our driveway …what an awesome feeling!

I will never, never, never disregard the importance of “family” ever again – I have repented. Sometimes I’ve wondered who did fit into the category of “family” and I have taken it very lightly and even handled it without tender care. My father and his brother have been close all their lives …and that gave us the opportunity to be close with our cousins …even to the point where we felt more like brothers (at least to me anyway). Now, my cousins children feel more like nieces and nephews …ha.

It was wonderful and emotionally overwhelming to the point that I had a difficult time speaking. It feels as if something has come “up from the ashes” that I thought I’d never see or experience again. A couple of my siblings and their husband, wife and kids weren’t with us …and my heart did feel empty (and I probably deserve such a feeling). However, with my baby sister (Jamie) and my next to youngest brother (Greg), we celebrated …subconsciously looking forward to what will be! My cousins Tige and his boys, Kyle, Joey and their kids, Heath and one of his boys (we missed Ethan) …were there. Our house is small …but we piled in and wouldn’t have had it any other way! I tried my best to swallow the lump in my throat as I told them how honored we were that they would come to our home …I’m crying even now. We had healthy laughter, lots of it …played games for a couple hours …hated for them to leave!

I’ve never been too good at mixing my words and sometimes that’s what gets me in trouble …but I chose to stay transparent regardless …so, part of my prayer as we move forward is this: That we can re-capture the power and strength of the Shirey family and those married into it …that we would gain more strength and positive influence in a community and surrounding area …that we not “over-look” one anothers short comings, issues, quirks, mistakes, but “work through them” without a killing criticism (that I’ve possessed myself) …accentuate the positive and smother the negative …that if a brother or sister has an issue, their will be safety in the home or conversation of this family …allow the opinions of one another to be shared without division – knowing an argument can be had, even heated, but at the end of the day there will be a neck hug and a confidence that “there ain’t nobody goin’ anywhere” …and that DIFFERENCES aren’t acceptable, but DIVERSITY is. We will be relentless in the building of the next generation, never allowing them to feel “less” when they leave the dinner table, but rather feeling like they can be anything and do anything because we will see to it (regardless of weaknesses) …and for anyone who gets near this family to feel the same way! …that we would build, encourage, love, laugh, complement, bless, pray together, push, protect, defend each other (again, regardless of weaknesses). When one cries, we all cry. When one laughs we all laugh. When one wants to “build an ark”, we help. When one desires to pursue a calling, we all pursue and explore ways to encourage (even when we don’t agree).

What a wonderful relief it’s been to finally learn it’s not my job to fix everything I don’t enjoy or agree with in my family …all I have to do is love em and have fun with em …ha! I’ve finally realized, there’s a lot about this ol boy that isn’t so enjoyable either and they have a lot to “work through” when it comes to me. Come what may, I will make an aggressive, intentional pursuit of greatness for my family …if it kills me and even exposes all my weaknesses. Me and my wife will give it all.    

Wish I Had Known

Today marks the one year anniversary of my father being in heaven. I always wondered how I would ever be able to handle something happening to my dad …didn’t think I’d be able to handle such a thing. God’s grace has certainly been sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) …my dad was/is my hero in many ways.

It’s unfortunate for me that being a “Knuckle-Head” isn’t beneficial …ha. I can’t speak for others, but I “Wish I Had Known” what I had in my father. I’ve learned more about him in his passing than I didn’t while he was here. I understand more about the why’s behind his antics and quirks more and more every day. I catch myself doing my children the same way he did us. I almost cry every time I watch my youngest son eat his doughnut every morning and fight asking him, “you like that son” …every single morning. I understand now that us kids and mom must have consumed his every thought. Ha, with all the things my dad did in aggravating us …he wasn’t doing it to aggravate us …he just wanted our attention and to touch us, hear us, be with us. When he looked at us, life reached a high for him. What a great dad. I “Wish I Had Known”.

Now that he’s gone, I see things different. I just “Wish I Had Known” while he was here so I could celebrate him to his face …and love him back like he loved us. Yeah, he could irritate the fire out of ya and even be unreasonable at times …but one thing was for sure, he was in love with us and now, that fixes every misunderstanding (at least for me) …I Peter 4:8 “…for charity/love shall cover a multitude of sins”.

May his ceiling be my floor …and may I be twice the man my father was. To me, that’s the greatest compliment I could give him and the greatest thing I could do with what he’s given me. God has allowed me to see things I never thought possible …even through the passing of my father. I hope my boys will be able to say they are twice the man I am …that means I will have done my job as a husband and father. Dad did the best he could with what he knew and had to work with. I miss him.

This Time of Year

“This Time of Year” many folks find challenging. Memories of loved ones who have passed, friends we can’t get to, financial pressure, shopping woes, schedules, husbands and wives fussin’ over decorating (inside, outside, move this, move that, get this out of the attic …you know what I mean, ha), Christmas programs, family coming together or not coming together. I’ve even made a statement speaking of “cheesy Christmas songs”. Also, it seems as parents we’re typically gaining a strong sense of disappointment because we can’t get our children the gifts we feel are adequate, etc, etc and on and on.

However, I have to give a personal testimony. The last few years have been a major personal challenge for me in many ways (as it has been for many who read this). I’ve even viewed “This Time of Year” (Fall, Winter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) as a negative and a dread. What a shame! Please try and understand what I mean and know there are many awesome times during these special days. However, in my mind the challenges seemed so strong and overwhelming that the great things seemed to live in shadows of the challenges.

To me, loved ones who have passed and not being able to spend these wonderful time of celebration together doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of a challenge as loved ones we still have with us, but can’t seem to “come together” because of hurtful situations (or whatever the case). While it’s painful that we can no longer spend time with those who’ve passed …they’ve ran their race and life has progressed. But with those still running (however they are running), I pray to either catch up to them or they catch up to me.

This season …”This Time of Year” has been renewed for me. I see it differently. I’ve sat at my desk all week with tears in my eyes while listening and even worshiping to great Christmas music. The presences of the Lord has been so strong and it’s been awesome. What makes it so awesome is, yes the challenges are still there …yes, some hurt, pain is still there …but the negative is losing and like the wise men, “when they saw the star, they rejoiced with EXCEEDING GREAT JOY” Matthew 2:10 …and so am I. I’m having my own little Christmas Revival! Ha! I’m also going to have the opportunity to have the majority of my family at my home to celebrate “family” and Jesus in it. We have a some span to cross …a mountain to climb …a valley to go through …it is what it is, we are what we are …but not what we were!!! …and now I REJOICE with EXCEEDING GREAT JOY to think of, dream, envision of what we will be! Like Jesus, that which has been rejected will be the cornerstone for so many. I’m very excited and full of joy. Thank you Jesus …and thank you to those who have “Pardoned My Progress”! Ha!

Fasting & Prayer for 2012

I love to eat! I look forward to food! I enjoy what fellowship around a table full of food means! FOOD, fun, fellowship. FOOD, fun, family! FOOD & faith! Yeah, FOOD is a big part of almost everything we do as families and fellowships. However, I’m gaining a grip and better understanding on what Jesus said in John 4:32,34 “I have meat to eat that ye know not of …My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (KJV).

Certainly, we must have food to live …but we seem to live for food. I sure don’t want to seem/sound radical concerning food, but I think we have to put/keep things in perspective. Yes we get hungry and yes we get thirsty on a physical level. However, Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” and I believe we should be hungry for “Spiritual Food” as well. After all, we are physically fat because we feed our flesh all it wants and many are “spiritual skeletons” because we starve our spirits. When our stomach speaks (growls) we feed it. But what about when the Holy Ghost is urging you to pray, study, seek the face of God in a prayer closet …in the middle of the day or in the 2:00am hour (like when we get up and eat the leftover dessert)? Isn’t Jesus “the Bread of Life” (John 6:35)? Didn’t he say, whoever comes to me will never be hungry or thirsty? Of course, Jesus was speaking on a spiritual level …but can’t we get on a spiritual level too? Remember, what I said now …this preacher loves to eat. I look forward to it. But I wonder, do I look forward to spending time with Jesus as much?

No, I don’t look forward to being hungry …but I look forward to this years 21 days of fasting and prayer. At Full Circle and since we began almost 5yrs ago, my wife and I have began the year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. Now for the last 3yrs, we’ve done it corporately and WOW! Look what the LORD has done! There are great benefits to fasting & prayer and we are just now tapping into them. We are expecting “SOMETHING” from the LORD this year …but like David was referring to in 2 Samuel 24:24 …I won’t expect “something” for “nothing”. No, you don’t buy God’s blessings …but they aren’t free either.

What do you desire for 2012? What do you desire for others in 2012? What do you desire for your church in 2012? What do you desire for your Business and employees in 2012? Do you have a situation that’s been the same for 10, 20, 30 years? Do you have a dream or a vision for something great in your life? Do you have some BIG decisions to make? First of all, don’t attempt any of the above without Jesus (especially if you know better) and secondly, don’t attempt it without fasting and praying.

So much could be said concerning fasting and prayer. But I just wanted to encourage you to consider what you’ll do this year in fasting and praying. Also, I recommend a book by Jentezen Franklin with the simple title “Fasting”. This book is full of great information and ideas/thoughts on fasting and prayer …I suggest you purchase one today and begin the journey. The LORD is waiting on you!

Waiting On Man To Get Into Position

This is taken from a men’s devotional book by TD Jakes “So You Call Yourself A Man”

“Waiting On Man To Get Into Position”

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.GENESIS 2:4-5

Things must be in place before God will act. The Bible tells us that at the beginning of creation, God had not caused it to rain upon the earth.

This does not mean that the earth was without water. Up to this time, God had caused a mist to come up from the earth to give moisture to the earth. There had been no downpour, however, from the heavenlies.

WHY? Because there was not a man to till the ground. There are some things that God has planned to do, has made provision for doing, and desires to do that He will not do until man is in place to receive what God intends to give.

The blessing is there …in God’s safe keeping. The need is there …insistent, resistant, persistent in its pain and suffering. 

But the blessing won’t be applied to the need until man’s heart is in a position for God to act according to His own laws of redemption, healing and deliverance.

There are some things that God has in the heavenlies that will not be released to you until you are in the proper position spiritually, relationally, emotionally. Oh, you may be experiencing a “mist” – but in your spirit, you have a restlessness that there must be something more. You have an inner knowing that you aren’t fully where you ought to be. You have an uneasiness, a frustration that causes you to say, “Why am I no further that this in my life?”

When you are in alignment with God and His purposes, he will open up the heavens and cause it to RAIN on you! You’ll experience such an outpouring of God’s blessings that you won’t know how to contain them.

Ask God today WHERE He wants you to be

spiritually so that you might receive the downpour

of His heavenly blessings.

 

 


Recognizing A Religious Spirit

http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/religious-spirits/

…The religious spirit focuses on the power of sin, rather than the power of God
…The religious spirit leans to exclusivism and isolation, and satisfies itself with good works. It separates itself with the attitude – “I am good, you are bad, therefore you will contaminate my goodness.”
…The religious spirit separates itself physically from the world through fear of defilement
…The religious spirit will stand against any new thing God does that does not fit within past experience
…The religious spirit often gives the devil too much attention and God too little glory
…The religious spirit loves to accuse by quoting scriptures but has no love of the truth
…The religious spirit confuses traditions of man with the holiness of God
…The religious spirit says “I have a holy tradition”, but the Holy Spirit says “I require holy fruit”
…The religious spirit values experience above fellowship with God
…It values God for the “thrill sensation” rather than for His Holy nature
…It either craves feeling and emotion, or denies them altogether
…the religious spirit can also manifest itself through a life that seeks continual spiritual “experiences”, rather than being rooted in the Word of God and a growing knowledge of Christ.
…Having failed to destroy the work of God by argument and accusation, the religious spirit will try to use confrontation and disdain
…This spirit upholds the authority of man and does not acknowledge the authority bestowed by God
…When confrontation doesn’t work, the religious spirit appeals to the flesh (ego)
…The religious spirit will either deny and scoff at such things as miracles, healings and deliverance, or it will go to the opposite extreme and use supernatural power for its own gain
…The religious spirit is often so convinced of its own righteousness it is unteachable; It is divisive and factional
…The religious spirit often appears deeply spiritual, but in reality denies the supernatural power of God, trusting instead in it’s own strength and self-righteousness
The religious spirit will also embrace compromise in order to avoid persecution.
…The religious spirit cannot embrace the Cross of Christ through fear of death
…Instead it embraces good works, the “law”, because it believes in a system of punishment and reward
…It fears punishment, and craves reward
…The religious spirit displays a counterfeit holiness and a fleshly fear of God

Those who are coming into freedom from the religion of the flesh will always be persecuted by the religious spirit.
False religion will cause us to walk in the “goodness” of the flesh, rather than the righteousness of Christ. It’s time to war against the spirit of religion, within ourselves, and wherever else we find it in the world or in the church.

The Pentecostal Experience

I think on this often, so I decided to jot a few thoughts and share.

There are so many things that go through my mind when I think on Pentecost. However, the things that came to mind this morning were concerning those who have once experienced Pentecost, but have now denied it. I ask myself, why? I know Pentecost seems “high risk” and perhaps this is the reason many shy away from it. Much has been misunderstood about Pentecost …and perhaps this is another reason. Many folks have been emotionally injured because of the “high risk” factor and I’m sure this is yet another reason. No, I don’t believe everyone that speaks in tongues is filled with the Holy Ghost. However, the initial evidence (not the only but initial) that you have been filled with the Holy Ghost is that you speak in tongues as the Spirit gives you the ability to do so. That being said, this isn’t a lesson on Pentecost …but it is a thought for those who have once had this rich experience, but have now departed from it and even teach against it.

The number one reason I believe there have been folks deny this experience (who have once believed it) is because of a simple church “fad” …it’s the trend! Practicing this great experience leaves you open to much criticism. Ha, but so does wearing a bikini around hundreds of people …and getting drunk and acting a fool …or running a railroad spike through your tongue or ear or only God knows where else ….ha – and this is a fad as well.

With this being a church trend, we all know trends come and go. I’m not following it. You can drive anywhere in America and find a church that seems to possess the “fire” to change the world, but really all they have are very cool buildings, great and loud music and lots of people …ha, which is all great and I’d sure like to have all that myself. However, what I do have is a rich Pentecostal heritage and experience that I’ll never deny and when the “trend/fad” changes and the people get ready for “more” and they can’t find “it” because you left “it” …and crisis hits, they’ll go where the water is! Matthew 5:6 tells us that the people who are hungry & thirsty will be satisfied …but not because God forced Himself on them, but because they went seeking “more” with a passion.

I refuse to compromise Pentecost because it’s sometimes a challenge to explain …or the “high risk” factor …or to fill a seat, gain a friend or even keep from loosing one …or to secure the finances of one who doesn’t believing it. I want all God has for me and the folks I have the privilege of leading. No, I don’t believe you have to speak in tongues to be a Christian and go to heaven, but don’t ever deny the work of the Holy Ghost …that’s where people get themselves in trouble. Further, I’m a Christian, a believer in the Pentecostal experience and even I don’t swallow everything that happens and people label it Pentecost. However, I keep my mouth shut about it because God will fix it, especially when someone puts His name on it. I’ll say it close to like a preacher friend of mine says it, “Pentecost is like having a bull, you have power in the stall but you also have manure”. Thus the reason I call it “high risk” …ha! Pentecost is bible …and that I’ll never avoid preaching! I not only want all God has for me, or what all God has for Full Circle …but I would love to see you posses all God has for you! If you will only believe …Mark 5:36 “…only believe”. Matthew 7 …God won’t give you a stone if you’re asking for bread and He won’t give you a snake if you’re asking for fish …He knows how to give ya the good stuff!