Dispeller of Darkness

“Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others…”
—Matthew 5:15-16

I was given a convicting message Sunday about our (the church’s) duty as the light of the world. How we have no problem cursing darkness but take little responsibility for our own actions, or rather, inaction.

For example, when you walk into a basement and the light doesn’t work, do you get angry at the darkness? The darkness is merely the absence of light. It is doing what it always does, and the very term “darkness” is an artificial construct for sake of speech. No, you get angry at the light and try to fix the bulb.

The church and its light, therefore, hasn’t been shining brightly—that is why there is so much darkness in the world.

We must face it, our inaction led to this. We allowed our children to rebel, we spared the rod of discipline, and we failed to love them truly as we sought their friendship and acceptance instead.

Some churches did not spare the rod, but their correction was without the love of Christ. They chased their children away with whips and made them feel like they could never return or be forgiven, unlike the parable of the prodigal son.

We avoided truth. Watering it down with half truths. The world came asking for direction and answers and since we were silent they turned to the governing powers of this world for their “truth.”

Without the Bible (Spoken Word of God) as the lens in which we perceive truth—the world has twisted good and evil and has done so, not caring about those who come hungrily knocking. They care only about power and money, and in fact, make their living off of our lost children’s desperation.

The government is like an abusive foster parent. Manipulative and outwardly noble in that they praise and pour out gifts upon their children, spoiling them with things that bring temporary joy but ultimately rot the soul.

They let them loose to their own wants and desires. Ask any child who was allowed to roam free in a candy store and they will tell you that they love the one who opened that door and let them do it—even as they moan from the resulting stomach ache.

Under this foster system, you must reject everything that your birth parents taught you. Girls can’t be girls, boys can’t be boys, you can’t be wrong, though your parents must be. Your body is not sacred, your desires are. The feasts of your flesh should govern your life and you should find identity in those lusts. Anything that causes you discomfort or hurts your feelings (makes you face the fact that you have a stomach ache in your soul) is bad! And doesn’t deserve any rights.

Sex and love are interchangeable. The ensuing results—depression/mental issues which are then worn like a badge of honor that make you even more special. (As if you weren’t special at the moment of conception)

Seriously, these foster parents smile fondly upon those who have completely destroyed the image of God upon them. Why?

Because the true foster parent they all share is the devil. He doesn’t care if you’re momentarily happy, so long as your ignorant of the fact that you are destroying yourself fully, mutilating yourself both physically and spiritually, then he is quite pleased.

It is purely evil what is happening in the dark. And where is the light that dispels the darkness?? The light that puts the devil in his place because he is already defeated??

Our job is to constantly enforce Christ’s victory on the Earth. To remind our children that they too can reign and live empowered. That the devil only has power if we give it to him.

We must affirm their identities in Christ Jesus. That they are loved fully and known fully by their creator. They lack nothing and are beautifully made. They have so much value, too much to be left as they are, given over to their own wants and wills. They aren’t mindless cattle, emotion without thought—no, in God, they have a sound mind that is wise and sees through the devil’s futile schemes to destroy their self worth.

Wake up church! Stop seeking the world’s embrace when Christ set us apart. He said the world would hate us! As it should, since it is the kingdom of satan. We are ambassadors here—belonging to another place (the kingdom of God).

Uncover your light and let it shine. You are victors and all darkness must flee before your blinding light.

For the sake of our children. His children. Shine brightly.

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Theology Speaks

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At 27 weeks pregnant, I’ve been immersing myself in social media. Not the greatest past-time but one that takes my mind off my own small problems and onto the world’s even greater ones instead…and boy! does the world have problems!

I might be pregnant and battling daily symptoms, but at least in my heart I know it’s all for my unborn son’s sake. That he is very much ALIVE and MY SON. Meanwhile, the world is trying to decide exactly that for themselves. Is a baby alive? How ridiculous to have slipped so far from morality that we have to start at the very premise of what human life is.

Just as I do with my blogs, trying to uplift and instruct, I have attempted to do the same through other social media outlets, particularly Facebook, and have been met with mixed results. Sadly, our brethren in Christ are missing the point just as much as those who are lost. Why is that?

I believe that their theology speaks. Their lack of sound biblical understanding is quite astounding to me. It’s no wonder their arguments never hold up against the “thinking” men. Sometimes it almost sounds like wishful thinking rather than truth, and that’s scary! How can we reach anyone if we can’t even hold our own intellectually? People are so wide-spread in what they believe today that their voices tend to just bounce off of each other, never really making an impact on the reader/listener.

It’s as though they’re speaking without really knowing what they’re saying. Do you know that most of the Christian viewpoints I’ve seen believe in an angry vengeful God? They really think scare-tactics will work in reaching the lost or reaching the women who are aborting their children. They forget that love is honestly the only way to make a lasting difference…we don’t need to shame those who are already full of shame, to the point that they tell themselves it isn’t a baby they just killed so that it lessons the overwhelming guilt on their hearts.

Our brothers and sisters bibles are dusty and their beliefs about God and His character are just as so. It’s a stranger they are worshipping and the world wants no part in their stranger worship. When do we mature in Christ? When do we outgrow this need for milk and move on to solid food, walking on our own two feet, putting our faith into action and opening our bibles more than just on Sundays?

Honestly, I’m venting here more than I’m speaking to anyone who follows my blog. I count you all as “thinking” Christians. Many of you have had real, raw experience with God and your faith has been tested and proven unshakable. You write your blogs because you have a story to tell and not people to argue with. That is maturity!

And so how do we reach our fellow Christian? How do we reform the church into that of Acts, so that no one turns against God because of us?

I believe that each of us may be called to tackle this problem differently, just as each church should do well to follow after/surrender to the God-given vision placed upon them. I’ve seen churches catered to the lost and churches catered to promoting those in ministry in order to deploy them out into the world. Both are legitimate and needed in our society. I firmly believe that some of us could do with more Spirit and others with more Word, that in every church we should destroy this religious spirit that clings to the old way or old covenant, that screams, “turn or burn!” more so than, “Christ’s love paid for all.”

Spirit divorced churches become religious, Word divorced churches become party houses, where people come for a good time but not a meaningful/powerful one. That is why we need more churches that carry both, I’ve seen these churches and they are a force to be reckoned with. They transform the cities around them, the secular world becomes spiritual because their people don’t divide the church (the sacred) from the secular. Their biggest ministry occurs during the week, the day-to-day, at the office, the factory, even at home. It’s not a switch they turn off when they exit those church doors Sunday. The church works as a powerhouse, a place to refill and refresh so that the week outside its walls become impactful/directed.

When we read our bibles we need to understand the context and be wary of those who split up the Word in order to prove a point or to reach an agenda. Don’t put your fulfillment into whether you change someone, or win an argument. First of all, we don’t have the power to change anyone and if we seek that it will exhaust us! Also, no one wants to be your project, and man, just the thought of that sounds so insincere.

Seek God first, just focus on Him and all these other things will just happen more by accident than on purpose, it will be that easy. The truth is people are hungry, no desperate, for a loving father. If they all knew Jesus they would all desire him as their king. So the grand problem really is how we portray His kingdom. Are we good ambassadors? Do people leave our company feeling loved or feeling condemned?

Abortion is an evil deed, but the biggest mistake I’m seeing is that instead of attacking the evil one we are attacking his victims. Our battle isn’t us vs. them, nor should our battles ever involve flesh vs. flesh. Satan is our enemy! In attacking people we are only driving them farther into the devil’s clutches. Perhaps they feel safer in his lying embrace than within our crushing fists!

In other words, to Christians everywhere, please keep the big picture in mind. Don’t attack your brother or sister over small matters. When unified efforts are being made to extinguish the flames of evil, don’t distract us with the smaller offshoots of flame. If you feel called to put them out, then, by all means, no one is stopping you. However, the greater evils require more hands and they cannot be stopped from their work until it is completed.

I’ve lately seen Christians attack each other based on denomination, based on young/old earth theories, based on science, and now even abortion! Christians are trying to drive a wedge into sound arguments, trying to disperse the flock over issues that are smaller and less common, meanwhile, hundreds of babies are being aborted for other reasons entirely. Personally, I support life at all costs, but for those who aren’t sure about some cases such as those aborted from rape or risk to the mother, or even babies that appear to be on the verge of death in the womb, please understand that the greater problem is the 99% who are aborted out of convenience or fear. The 1% can wait, or be tackled with separately. Help us get society to value life again first and then we might just see both the 99% and the 1% get worked out!

Extinguish the big flames and the little flames won’t survive.

Lastly, what God do we believe in? Are we old covenant people who believe God still has wrath to release on us, that this evil spreading is because God has had enough? Do we believe that God takes life and gives it? That it’s His supreme will for this world to suffer and its people to perish?

Again, these are the viewpoints many Christians are expressing on social media. And let me tell you, no one is converted to Christianity by their words! You simply can’t believe in a good God who murders His people, who actively takes part in the destruction of the world, the old and young, the babies! Surely John 10:10 made it clear by saying, “The thief (satan) seeks only to steal, kill, and destroy; I’ve (Jesus) come so that you may have life and have it to the full.” 

God is either all good or He isn’t good at all. Remember, He spits the lukewarm out of His mouth because, in them, they have already decided. You can’t be a fence-sitter because satan owns the fence. This earth is his kingdom and our free will means that God works through us “His vessels (temple)”, to bring about change. It’s a co-laboring agreement and we are failing in that we aren’t being willing vessels! Nor are many of us even useful vessels, some of us are flat out broken and hardened.

It was a lot of words, I know. But my hope is that my ventings, my zealous anger to see the church and it’s people come alive again, like the church of old, will stir all of us toward further growth and biblical understanding. We don’t know everything, we aren’t perfect, but neither are we idle or satisfied by where we are. This whole life is a journey and if we ever feel like we “arrived” before our death than we missed it. Whether we are 9 yrs. old or 90 we should always be learning and growing in Christ, there will always be another step to take forward, and despite our pursuit, we will never reach the end of understanding God’s agape love for us.

Let your theology speak, listen to it! Ask the Holy Spirit to correct you and guide you so that it does more than simply “speak”, but transforms this broken world…

 

The Silent Church

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“For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” -John 13:35 [Passion Translation]

Jesus said that they (the lost) would know us by our love. That was the lens in which the world would identify Christians. Does this ring true today?

I’ve often marveled at the transforming power of mission trips. Particularly ones in which we leave the American bubble, and travel to a 3rd world country. People come back from such trips looking like they had encountered God in the flesh, dazed and overcome with the feeling that what they experienced was real and that what we have is counterfeit.

It isn’t as though God is more present in Africa or anywhere else, He is everywhere and just as accessible! Then what is the difference? Why is the church booming in places of persecution and poverty and stagnating or reversing in places of peace and plenty?

The answer can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the chapter of love, recited often at weddings, this chapter fully encompasses not just love but God’s love. Or more accurately, that God is love.

With God’s love in your hearts, you can make a difference, without it, you can do nothing. With His love, you cannot be self-righteous or hold unforgiveness but in fact, are compelled toward believing the best in others, seeing them as God see’s them.

1 John 4:18 adds that there is no fear in love. Perfect love (God’s love) casts out fear.

Why is this important to note? Tell me this…if the church had this love would its reputation be what it is today? A reputation of judgment and pride? Would a church filled with hope and passion for the lost be so silent? So afraid to speak up?

” Perfect love casts out fear” (Fear of man).

The bride of Christ has failed to mirror the love of God. In countries where to even call yourself a Christian is a death sentence, this weeds out those who would merely claim the title without the faith to back it up. In those places to simply live and breath is to walk by Faith! The lukewarm cannot exist in these places, in America they do so cozily because we have yet to taste such a life of surrender and sacrifice. They know what it means to “pick up their cross daily and follow Him.”

I don’t understand how those who carry the truth are so unwilling to share it. Those who carry a shred of humanity and morality are too tightlipped to defend their ideals. Meanwhile, do you know who isn’t silent?  The wicked. They spread their slander and falsity with every breath and the world is being swayed by their words because they’re the only words being spoken in the all crushing silence.

The Republicans need to step up, cast off fear and remind this nation of its foundation. Christians need to open their church doors, they need to go out into the world and remind the people of the love of Christ that is freely theirs. We need to speak the truth in love and laugh at the devil’s attacks which prove he is afraid.

Jesus, our savior, is coming soon for his bride (the church). If your husband to be was coming after a long time apart, wouldn’t you do everything you could to prepare a home for him? Wouldn’t you bathe, dress in your nicest dress, adorn yourself with jewelry, clean, cook, and prepare a table for him? In expectant excitement, you would watch for him, not daring to fall asleep and miss out on his arrival.

The church is slumbering, the bride is neglecting herself and her duties. Does she believe she is in the right? Or has she grown weary of waiting for her groom? Whichever the case, it will not stop him from coming like a thief in the night, when she least expects it. His mind and heart have never wavered and his timing is always right. He’s been working and preparing a place for her, and His eyes have stayed wide with expectation and excitement.

In what state will He find His bride? That is entirely up to us. Up to you. We are the church, and it’s time to speak up.

 

 

Hope Family Church

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Pastor Dan: “God is Good!”

Church Family: “All the time!”

I’ve found the real thing…what’s that? you may ask. Well, come on in! It’s something I have to show you. One walk through these doors and I promise you will feel it too. Again you ask, what’s that? I smile back and say, “a family.”

I’ve been through many church doors in my life, growing accustomed to the sound of worship and the laughter of children. I’ve shaken many hands and have sat through many sermons. I’ve stood upon the stage and have looked out upon many different people. I’ve watched those people grow and mature in Christ, while others have fallen away or have moved on to other churches, becoming a part of other families.

I have seen the very depths of religion, the spirit of which chaining people to shame and guilt. I have witnessed the transforming love of God and the joy of truly uncovering the gifts paid for through Jesus sacrifice. And now? I have finally discovered what church is all about.

Outwardly it’s a mixture of many components; the building, the people, the music, the vision…to name a few. Inwardly, it’s so much more. It’s a family of believers coming together to uplift one another. It’s a place of acceptance, guidance, love, and hope.

Just like Aaron and I had no idea God had written Hope Family Church into His great plan for us, Pastor Dan and Erica Owings had no idea that God would call them away from their lives in Montana to start a church here in Marion, OH. A town struggling to rise from the pits of hopelessness, drugs, and poverty. They gave it all, sold their home and came here with their 3 young children because God said, “go.”

They relied on faith to start this church, to name it Hope, to make an impact in our community. They loved like no other, they pursued God with everything they had, and they sought not that their church pews would be filled, but that lives would be transformed and ultimately that Marion would be a place of hope again.

Today, 3 years later we have defied the odds and have proven that God is with us. Each year goals have been met and blessings have been poured out. Our family has grown not only in numbers but in love, transformations, and miracles. And through Pastor Dan’s God-given desire to unite families and build relationships within our community, we have developed a deep respect between churches and now have a Marion United youth group, connecting church families even more regardless of denomination.

Everything is changing, God is moving…and it is only the beginning. Sure we have our moments, times when satan attacks so viciously that we must seek God’s voice again, to which He says, “rise up! Fight back! I am with you.” And so we dust off and stand stronger than before.

I believe in this church, I love my family and I can’t wait to see what God has in store next for Hope Family Church!

For more visit, Hope Family Church on Facebook or watch our Sunday service live streams! God bless you all ❤

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Please pray for Marion, that God would continue to break the chains of addiction and poverty and that we would continue to follow His call for our church. Praise God that we are only three weeks away from moving into our new church building!! The first church ever built in Marion! Thank you all!

All To Jesus

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“Peter began to say to Him,

“Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”‘

-Mark 10:28

All day I’ve had the song, Gracefully Broken by Matt Redman stuck in my head. I keep hearing the first part of the bridge, which says, “all to Jesus now…holding nothing back.” It’s a fitting phrase, as we just returned from a church leadership retreat in which the theme was how we can better mirror Christ in our church, and what we can sacrifice/give as a family to fulfill God’s call in our lives and reach the lost.

We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) as fellow believers, and that should mean that we are united in purpose, and in love. And yet, people search and browse through churches like they are looking through a catalog because unfortunately, the body is divided and the people of Christ aren’t all on the same page.

Churches tear and separate for various reasons, some over more serious matters than others. Each church has it’s own “vision statement” and specific beliefs and priorities. Many churches have huge age gaps and are designed and orchestrated around those ages. Some churches are all about image, they run things like a business striving to make Jesus look appealing through flashing lights, great worship, and free handouts. Other churches are content keeping to themselves and not drawing in attention. They enjoy their solitude and potlucks believing that God called them to hold down the fort until He returns, like in the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25:14-30), the servant who was given one bag of silver dug a hole and buried it. For those who don’t know-the master wasn’t pleased.

I believe that each church has a specific calling and leading from the Holy Spirit, but that shouldn’t separate us from the rest of the bride. Our unique talents and callings should compliment one another. There isn’t a different Holy Spirit to be found in a different church, He is one and the same in all of us, as well as His heart. He awakens our giftings in the hopes that we will work together and become stronger as one. If only we worked as one body, with one mind, and one heart. Then we wouldn’t fall into those ineffective categories listed above because we would keep each other grounded in the truth. We would encourage and build up one another so that we could continue growing and eliminating the darkness of this world.

Jesus never referred to the church as his bride(s), just as he never referred to it as an eye, leg, and ear instead of as a body, comprised of many parts working together. He spoke to the church as if it is one, saying, “YOU are the salt of the earth…YOU are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:13-14). I believe that God’s vision is for a future in which we no longer will say, “my church….”, or “your church…” but “Thee church.”

This church once existed, and it can still exist again.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2)

The church in Acts had everything in common and that was reflected in their actions, they did everything together. They all gave, did communion, worshipped, and enjoyed every minute of it. You don’t see them arguing over how to go about reaching the lost or asking the body what it can do for them. They simply did what they felt was right and let the Holy Spirit guide them on the finer details of what that looks like. They didn’t come to be served but to serve. And look at the impact this church made in the surrounding town and city! They enjoyed the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily! It wasn’t hard. They were simply enjoying fellowship and servitude and it caught the attention of the lost around them. True family, True love is appealing to EVERYONE.

The main message I want to get across today is this…we are all in this together, and if you feel you do best on your own, I’m here to ask you what that kind of life has accomplished for you and others. I don’t know your story, but I bet you were stung and you fell away from the church because of it. You told yourself that you were done and that God must have a different destiny for you that doesn’t involve relationship with other believers.

For a while that might work for you, you may feel pretty justified and righteous in your thinking, and to add to that you most likely will feel life is pretty peaceful and easy. But someday you will be lead astray, in fact, you are already on your way there….satan has succeeded in cutting you off from the pack through unforgiveness and fear. And I’m sure you have seen enough nature films to know what happens next…unprotected and alone, the enemy comes in for the kill. In this case, he will come in to pull you further away..not just from the church but from God Himself and His word, and ultimately you will forget your identity in Him.

I almost became that lone wolf, in fact, I had started to believe myself that being involved in a church wasn’t altogether necessary. I’ve been a part of multiple churches that failed, the last one hit me the most because it was then that I was old enough to understand the weight of what had happened. I saw only too late how the enemy had worked his way through our walls and into our minds. We all hold that responsibility-it’s never one man’s fault. And if somehow one man could tear down a church the bigger problem is that the church gave him the power to do so and did nothing to stop it.

Paul knew the importance of unity, he wrote letters to the church, called them out on their mistakes, praised them for their accomplishments, and sent other believers, if needed, to help build them up. He prayed for them and would have gladly died for the bride of Christ even if it meant his own salvation was considered forfeit.

That’s holding nothing back.

If we truly loved God…we would reflect His heart, and if we truly reflected His heart, we would fight for the church. We would have a heart for people.

Relationships are messy…family is messy. But we can’t live life without either, and I don’t believe deep down that anyone truly wants to be alone. So it really comes down to this…are you willing to believe and fight for the heart of God? Even when the church fails will you believe and fight for it? Like a husband for his bride? Will you believe in the Word of God even when satan attacks it and tests it in your heart? Will you hold nothing back? …..it’s going to be painful, it’s going to take sacrifice…but you know what? Nothing great, nothing wonderful was ever discovered by those who gave up. To enjoy the view from the top of a mountain you must first be willing to climb it.

Are you truly a follower of Christ? Then take up your cross…it’s no longer about you. No, you’re part of something bigger, and it’s not a democracy. No, in this kingdom the first become last, and the last get a crown. We all serve and we don’t gripe about it. With the right heart, we see it as an honor to love others and to be loved. Forgiveness isn’t earned but given freely in this kingdom of ours, and nothing we do, each step we take with the cross on our backs, is in vain.  No, it’s all worth it, more than you can ever know.

“Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?”

-Martin Luther