Friday, 23 July 2010

Church Swapping or Church Browsing!

Church Swapping or Church Browsing!

“Godliness with contentment is great gain... let us be content” 1 Tim 6:6-8 (KJV)

Following the theme of “Main Stream Christians verses True Disciples” we now can discuss the matter of Church swapping! It’s a phenomena! People can download church services from all over the globe, and feel a part of any church they want to (the privilege of living in a highly technological era perhaps!) Then again perhaps not! There are obvious advantages to having access to any church you want to (a lot like window shopping or internet browsing) but the significance being that anyone who “browses” does so from a “safe-distance” and if they don’t like something then they can “eject” at will, without being noticed or faulting on any “commitments.” No love is lost; just move on and try the next two or three! It’s uncomplicated and not so messy!

Only difference between this and being part of a “family” is that there is little to “no” interaction that aids the development of valuable people skills. While they might get this on the job at work, it is not the same as interacting with spiritual folk at church; learning to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10 KJV).

On the other hand, there are those who go to church regularly but also jump from church to church on the web. As great a resource as the internet is, this results in folks developing their own “cocktail” of perceived truth and end up confused as a result! They don’t develop relationships with leaders they trust but instead, “they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3-4 KJV). There now exists many “spiritual know- it-alls” who know nothing! And because everyone wants to be “independent” and “self sufficient” these days, no one can take correction anymore! Instead, without any training, they imagine that they can “correct” their pastor’s latest message, based solely upon what they heard others preaching on the web!

Still this comes with the territory for all preachers these days; who are teaching congregations who are more “well-informed” and “knowledgeable” today than the world has ever known before! (Gen 2:9) As teachers this challenge is good for us, we better know our stuff! People will increase in knowledge, as scripture tells us that folk will “run to and fro” for knowledge and yet learn nothing that sustains them (see Eph 4:14). We have to preach in the face of it all... but the Word of God has the power to “penetrate” anything! (Psalms 119:130)

The trouble with having fingers in every pie, is that it develops people with mixed allegiances and split loyalties. They don’t know where to tithe, so they simply “don’t!” It fact it is becoming increasingly more difficult for people in general to commit to anything. Oh sure they can commit to a “lost-cause” whatever takes their fancy! They can tie themselves to the nearest tree and fight for the whales if they want to! And without being overly pedantic, let me suggest that our society today has become excessively committed to “anything and everything and nothing at all!”

As disciples however we have solid “commitments” and this includes financial commitments also, along with respect for authority. Paul the apostle learnt to “abase or abound” (Philippians 4:12) as also we must. We too can learn to “achieve” no matter what state we are in; whether in times of plenty or of lack. And I am a firm believer that sometimes, “less is defiantly more!” God can sometimes do more with us and through us in those times of lack than at other times. On the other hand, I have noticed with certain individuals during my life time, that the more they have, the worse they get! When they managed better on less, than they did with more and were even nicer individuals!

My point is this. God desires to “grow” us spiritually; to stretch us and make us holy. He will do whatever it takes! Chiefly to achieve this He engages the involvement of others. He knows who and what we need to grow. Spiritual parents and mentors have their part in this; we need their help to progress. Without “submission” (compliance with genuine authority) we inevitably fall into witchcraft. In 1 Samuel 15:23 Samuel told Saul “...rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Returning to my original point I ask this question, “Is it possible to be adequately “parented” over the internet?” Well anything is possible these days! And with the advent of Skype and other technology, visual communication across the seas occurs just like you are in the same room! And this type of communication with our mentors and spiritual parents is not only possible but also “necessary” in many cases, especially where people must work away from home. However, regardless of location, technology or circumstances we do need to recognise our need for spiritual parents; (too many suffer with an orphan spirit). We need genuine authority in our lives, even in today’s world where less and less people see the need for authority.

However – (naturally speaking) - if authority was removed on a grand scale only “anarchy” would prevail. The same is true spiritually. Therefore our need for genuine authority is paramount. Disciples want this. Converts dispute it!

Jesus showed “high-regard” for the Centurion He met one day, who understood the true authority He saw in Jesus. “The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus hard it, He marvelled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’ ...Then Jesus said to the centurion. ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’” (Matt 8: 8-13)

With our focus still on disciples, I will say it again, that a disciple is not afraid to commit financially. They are not whim-sickle or confused about where their tithe and offerings should go. Their commitments don’t even change with their location! For instance I have people committed to God and to me from different parts of the world. People who aid my ministry faithfully and “financially” and who feel called by God to do so. They are also my spiritual sons and daughters and God uses them to fill His storehouse, which liberates me to fulfil the mandate given me. Now this takes willing recognition on their part. I don’t need to manipulate them. God speaks to them first. In fact any commitment towards me or my ministry is first born out of a genuine relationship that they have with God themselves.

God holds people to their commitment so that even when challenges exist they don’t run for cover but stay faithful. Disciples like this aren’t afraid of making sacrifices when it really counts and even mature spiritually in the process. In fact they only “gain” along the way, as God uses them He blesses them and their families. I see this firsthand all the time.

Those who are “confused” about their financial commitments need to ask themselves this question; “Where do I take my wages - home or to the next door neighbour?!” If we can be faithful to fulfil our own needs and to fill our own homes with good things, then we must put the house of God “first” so that He can bless ours! (See 1 Kings 6).

Its true that anyone who struggles with “commitment” will defiantly fail to commit financially, even towards God! In fact no matter what they have they will “struggle.” Even with lots of money it only goes through their fingers like water, with little to show for it, which is why they are never satisfied and quickly tire of the “latest thing.” 1Timothy 6: 6-8 says; “Godliness with contentment is GREAT gain”

There are those who “appear” to be committed financially and who like others to know it, but are not actually as committed as they like to make out. Their poor “life style” reveals their true status and they always live “above their means.” They never have enough. God is no man’s debtor. People who give and then murmur are not committed to God but themselves! (The Pharisees did this and received their reward in full!)

In Acts 5:1-5 there is another example of “false-commitment” which was Ananias and his wife Sapphira who brought “death” upon themselves by “mixing lying with their giving!” Yet how many people do that... and still survive!? Then again do they? I would suggest that they also bring “death upon their finances” and no matter how much they own, it is NEVER enough. They struggle regardless... fighting to make ends meet and the more that comes in - only makes it worse!

These same folks inevitably try to blame others; usually their Pastor’s teaching or even try to blame God! But the blame can only rest with them! They are blinded by greed. They lie to God. They lie to the Holy Spirit as did Ananias and Sapphira and finally they lie to themselves (all liars become convinced of their own lies after a while. Then there is no helping them). In fact “disingenuous” people are notorious for “blaming” others or thinking everyone else is like them (with hidden agendas and “calculated-secrets!”)

Finally... none of us can rebuke the devil if we let him in! The devil is a legalist who accuses us before God saying, “See they are not tithing – now let me curse their finances!” The average person is concerned about paying the bills, rent, heating and food bills; while the needs of the church go unnoticed. This should be our “first” concern. If the church in general is blessed then we are all blessed! True disciples are not afraid of their own commitment. They are blessed as a result. They don’t deceive themselves, nor the Holy Spirit, and spiritual maturity is theirs for the taking. Amen!

Father I thank You that as a true disciple I can continue to commit myself to You on a daily basis without any fear. My whole life is committed to You and I know You will hold me to it! Help me never to have calculated secrets against You and help me to dwell in “godliness with contentment” as my great gain! Amen.

Today I walk as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I am not afraid of commitment nor of true authority in my life. I am not a spiritual “know-it-all” but someone who is “teachable” and able to “comply” with genuine authority (submit!) I don’t have my finger in every pie, but I am growing in spiritual maturity every day. I value this above all else. I am content with what I have; knowing that God fills me to the full and meets my every need. Hallelujah!


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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