Lately Karen and I have been looking for the group of Believers we are to assemble with.  Now with so many churches out there one would think this would be a fairly easy process, but not if you really love God and desire to do His will.

Ever since we left the church we were attending (for five years) Karen and I have been visiting many of the churches in the local Jacksonville area. The church we attended (for five years) was great – we made many wonderful friends, but five years of jealousy, presumption, and down right hatred by the Pastor fearing we were trying to take his church from him, well God said, “enough!”

We thought we found another church where we could attend and just enjoy the people and the fellowship while God rested us this year, but the “he said she said” drama and the continued suspicions of the Pastor (checking us out because of our international ministry) became too much so we moved on again.  Now some would say we should have endured, stuck it out, well I am not so sure about that.  In the Book of Hebrews the writer encourages us to, “Follow (seek) peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15) Some times we just have to move on to keep the peace in our heart.  Often we blame others for us not making the right decisions.

Karen and I are concerned about our holiness, seeking the Lord, and do not want “any root of bitterness springing up” in our relationships, especially our hearts.  So this is where we find ourselves today looking for the place God wants us to attend. You know I really do not like using the word church because it is so over used and means so many different things. Never forget the building we go to assemble ourselves with like Believers in fellowship and to hear God’s word is not called the church – it is called a building, a shack, or a hut like most Christians abroad gather in. Some of the most powerful services I have ever been in the building had no electricity or running water, no need – they had God and God in a very powerful way. I have seen miracles time and time again in churches with grass flooring, walls made of mud, clay, or sticks, with no windows or doors.  Never think we go to church to receive a blessing, if you do your focus is wrong, self-centered, and self-seeking.  We go to church to be a blessing to others. Jesus did not give His life for a building, but for people.  My friend we (the people of God) are the “Church” please do not get that mixed up with all of the wrong thinking of the denominational religious advertising and marketing. I wonder why we spend so much time, energy, and resources on caring for a building, as if God will notice. No my friend I am afraid all of our grass cutting, beautifying, and decorating is for our benefit. I wonder how many more lives could be touched for Christ with all we spend on the care and feeding of our denominational complexes and campuses? I wonder if anyone is counting? We seem to count everything else do we not; how many were saved, baptized in water, filled with the Holy Spirit, attended Vacation Bible School or the men’s or ladies retreats. Why are we counting?  And who for, God?  Do we really think God is impressed with our well manicured grounds and well painted parking lots and buildings?  His He not after our hearts?  Do you really think God wants to see our churches?  I think not, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”  (Isaiah 66:1-2)  God is not after buildings and complexes to worship Him in, but “to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Oh the buildings we visited were nice, clean, warm, well-lit, and well groomed, but not once in the 10 churches we visited (counting the one we attended for five years) did we hear, “Thus saith the Lord.” We heard a whole lot of singing (way too much) and watched a lot of dancing.  At one church most of the people wore dance clothing (as regular clothing) and from the start of the service danced from the front to the back and side to side while getting their favorite flag, from the rack of dozens, but when the sermon (not a message) was delivered there was little to no attention given to the Pastor they were either exhausted from the dancing or occupied with other things.  I remember some lady pirouetting like “Tinker Bell” in front of the altar while another lady was bowing down and worshipping a banner that said Jesus on it while spinning a golden stringed hoop in her hands. My friend this ought not to be. A  message from God comes from God, a sermon in most churches today comes from the internet. I even had one Pastor call (as apart of their visitor contact program) us and told me he does a lot of internet research for his messages, well not for a message (that comes by way of the Pastor waiting before God), but a sermon (a lecture with morals and a good meaning) comes from the internet. Hearing from God did not seem to take much importance in the services or in the people we visited.  This too my friend ought not to be.

What we did find a lot of besides the excess singing and dancing was the desire for diversity and tolerance. There seems to be a great push for diversity and tolerance in the church today.  There seems to be a great push to accept everyone for who they are without any need to change.  Let us all just come together and be tolerant of everyone’s feelings and worship God in their own way. Well, that is not what the Bible teaches.  Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:23-24)  I do not read anything about singing and dancing in these two scriptures maybe the Holy Spirit just forgot them? When is now?  “Now” is now (this very second a change) not the way they did things maybe in the Old Testament, but “now” we must change.  And “now” our worship is to be “in spirit and in truth.”  Not much of a desire to hear God’s word and worship him “in Spirit and in truth,” when we can sing and dance all over the church and call it worship.  I am afraid the liberal’s usage of the words tolerance and diversity that is sweeping the world and its thinking has infiltrated the thinking of Christians and now anything goes. In most American churches today it is okay “now” to engage in sodomy and lesbianism, “its okay, no need to change, God loves you the way you are,” wrong! God still and forever more will call these people (not the act) an abomination, it is we the “Church” who has drifted from the truth. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, (sodomite) as with womankind (lesbian): it is abomination. 23Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.” (Leviticus 18:22-23) Maybe the Holy Spirit just got these two verses wrong. The tolerant reply, “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, now this is true, but God killed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (both towns) after giving them a chance for repentance because He knew they do not breed, they recruit.  And God also knew their thinking was extremely unnatural and perverse. And to think, in some denominations sodomites (what the Bible calls them) and lesbians are being ordained as Pastors and Teachers out from this ungodly rebellious thinking of the world. How the Church handles the homosexual life-style will speak of her revelation of God and her dedication to God.  In most churches in America we are told to be tolerant (get along in peace) with other religions, well this is not what the Bible teaches. God’s way is not inclusive, but extremely exclusive not tolerant or diverse. It is God’s way according to His Holy word or the highway.  In God we cannot do and say what we think is right, but must do what the Bible tells us what is right.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7) Jesus means it! Why do we not know the Father?  That is easy, we do not know Jesus.  We are trying to know everything else (other religions and traditions of men) in the world, but have not found time to know Jesus. Yet, we come to church and do everything within our power (in the short two hours most churches spend) not allowing God to speak to us and revealing what is in our hearts. Is the church of today form over function?  I think so. The form of holiness is much easier to obtain than the real function of holiness.  I think one of the most disturbing things we have experienced along our search was the different spirits we felt in the different churches.

Only one, in a Methodist Church, did we really feel welcomed. This really ought not to be.  But a church, like a person, cannot give what they do not have.  Most Churches boast of how loving they are; well, my friend we have learned if a Church boasts of some thing they probably are not that. We are always amazed when we go to church and another spirit is present. Paul tells us, “For as the body (global gathering of all Christians) is one (unity), and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)  Well now, if “the body” and “the Spirit” is to be one, then why are there so many denominational churches in the world?  If we are to be one in the Spirit how come we all believe different things?  Maybe the Holy Sprit got this wrong too?  I think why we have so many denominational churches in this world is because we all (even me at times) are in direct rebellion to God’s word.  The more we try to align with God’s word without allowing God to kill our desires and fleshly plans and ambitions the more we get off track and birth another denomination in the world. Revelation is what gives man his understanding of God, but each of the major denominations believe or have a different understanding of who God is and how to worship Him.  How can they all be right?  Does not someone have to be wrong?  Who are we trying to fool, God?  Our neighbors?  Our selves? The many churches in the world (even in Jacksonville, NC) are an outward sign revealing man’s rebellion to God’s word. The answer is painfully clear, we must submit our heart and lives under the mighty hand of God and not some bishop or overseer. Man’s wisdom and knowledge has ruled the Church (God’s people) long enough.  Now is the time for God’s children to draw near to God, because if we do God will draw near to us. The world is watching and waiting. I really believe there are many lost people in the world today waiting for us (the Church) to get serious and make an eternal commitment of dedication to God. They are watching and if they never commit to the Lord it will be their fault not ours, but just think what if we did our part and they were saved? After reading back over this article I hope you do not think Karen and I were slamming the churches we visited, but enough is enough.  We too get to speak for God. Too many lives hang in the balance (our included) for us to play fast and loose with God, we must get serious. Karen and I will continue to pray and be led by the Holy Spirit to the places we should go, but until we find the local Body God has ordained for us fellowship with we will know and rest in knowing we, “have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”