First of all, I'm sorry for having been away for so long. We've had a lot on our plates and our minds. Life is hard. Life is frustrating. I work 60+ hours a week. I am a full time college student. I have a wonderful wife, two grown daughters, a grand daughter, and 4 animals at home to care for. Granted, they do as much caring for me- if not more- as I do for them.
Yet, we live in a fallen world. We live in a world that, in Paul's words, is "wax(ing) worse and worse." 2 Timothy 3:13
Terrorism is on the rise. Entertainment is where people hide. "Me first," is the people's cry! Politics, for the most part, has become a push to give out "candy" to people in order to gain votes and stay in power. We are on the brink of WW3, as ideologies war for control of the world, and our politicians don't seem to want to stand up for anything at all.
What's worse, people are looking to Government programs and education to fulfill their inner needs. They jump from bed to bed, trying to find "the love of their lives." When all that fails, they turn to drugs and alcohol and sex for the sake of fulfilling their own desires.
In the midst of all of this, stands the church. An entity that is supposed to care for people in every way. We are supposed to care not only for the souls of people, but for their physical needs, as well.In the heart of every true believer is a desire to worship the one true God in the midst of a gathering of our fellow believers. So, we get in our cars and take our families to buildings where "the church" is supposed to meet for the glory of God. And the vast majority of the time, we wind up leaving disheartened and discouraged. Why is this?
Rather than being encouraged to operate freely in the spirit of God- and as part of the body of Christ- God's people are told to sit down, shut up, and let the real ministry (translated as titled preachers and singers) operate. Rather than being challenged to go deeper in the Lord and let him teach us through the power of the Holy Ghost, we are told to "be on the same page as the church leadership." In other words, get our beliefs from the professionals who are better than we and just blindly obey.
We are told that God loves everyone. But yet, in practice, we are shown that God seems to love some of us more than he does others. The rich, or well off, are allowed to get away with things that those of us in the poor masses would never be allowed to get away with- and still stay active in "the ministry" by virtue of their "giving heart". When people are sick, they don't even get a phone call, much less a personal prayer- unless it is a big tithe payer.
Preachers now are either spiritual cheerleaders who tell us that God is a spiritual Santa Claus who can't wait to bless us from his bag of goodies- thus eliminating God's judgement from the scriptures, or they are so hardcore that they add to the word and make everything- including wearing certain colors- a sin. Some are too educated for us common folk and only speak with high sounding words that few can comprehend. Others only know four sermons and go back and forth between these four from differing angles to the point where people leave because they're spiritually starving from lack of getting all the spiritual nutrients needed to feed their spirit man. Some pastors are egomaniacs. Some are control freaks. Almost none allow the spirit of God to have full reign in a service. much less the lives of their flocks.
We are told that God is a forgiving God. We are told that when we are born again, ALL things are made new. Yet, in practice, if a man doesn't have a family Pentecostal pedigree (or a large bank account), the "leadership" of the church will use their past sins to keep them out of the calling God is laying on their lives.
We claim to be the book of Acts church. But are we really?
While it is true that the early church taught and practiced Acts 2:38 salvation (as we do), and they taught and believed in only ONE God (as we do), yet, we are not having the same world changing results that they did. Why is that?
The early church reached out to the lost and the hurting- going so far as to sell all they had and trust the spirit's leading of the church leaders to care for the needs of everyone. We, on the other hand, take up special offerings to fix up a perfectly good bathroom so that it looks pretty to the upcoming conference goers- while at the same time, talking down to the folks in the church that are in need of food, rent, utilities, and a good friend.
The early church stood up to political leaders and spoke the word without fear or favor. We kiss up to political leaders and push our convictions under a rug, all so we can keep tax free statuses and favorable zoning for our properties.
The early church gave their lives to Jesus and their all to people. We can barely push away a plate, much less spend hours tarrying at the altar for the sake of lost souls.
The early church cared for the needs of others. We seem to care only for the needs of the building and the privileged few.
The early church practiced holiness by getting as close as they could to Jesus and allowing him to live through him. We "practice holiness" by proclaiming man-made and barely if at all scriptural rules.
The early church practiced a definite leadership structure that lifted up the family structure (God-husband, then wife, then children). We tell people that Structures were a cultural thing and not for our now enlightened society.
The early church had men preaching and teaching to all and did not allow women to preach at all, while they could teach other women. (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:12, Titus 2:1-5, etc)
Rather than encouraging Sunday school teachers to pray and seek God to tell them what to teach their classes (thereby letting God use their gifts), they are given programmed books that skim the surface and make it "easier" to teach. Many preachers now would rather download a sermon from the internet than seek God for a fresh word to help their hearers.
If we are ever to see the results that the early church saw. If we are ever to actually BE what we say we are, then we need to hit our faces, repent, and make wholesale changes to nearly everything we do. We need to study out and learn the principles and actions of the early church and then let God use as (as HE sees fit- not as religions says) to reach out to a very lost and very dying world. Then and only then, will we have a book of Acts revival.