Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
After I got out of college I married the woman of my dreams. We began a life together that has been so blessed by God I can’t even begin to thank him enough. I remember before my wife and I got married we were at her apartment talking and I made mention of some of her clothing. Not the right thing to do.
Let me take a break and advise soon-to-be-husbands. Leave your fiancés closet and clothes to her and just let time, God, and His Word make any changes you feel are necessary. You will be busy enough taking care of changing all the stuff in your life that is a mess!
Ok back to it. I of course was in the group that associated holiness with outward appearance. I had plans of a great ministry as an evangelist and youth speaker so my wife would need to present herself as a picture of holiness and dedication to God. She had a particular sleeveless dress in the closet and I said, “That will have to go when we get married!” She of course replied with something very intelligent, but I ignored it because I was the man and I had a ministry to build.
I explained that we had an image to uphold. My grandparents and my parents had toed the line with their appearance and I wasn’t going to disappoint them. It was time the church saw young preachers and their wives holding to the standards of the old fashioned way. Remember these standards were being lost in the modern day church. God wanted people to get back to the standards of years past so they could experience the power of God once again! The church has lost the power that Grandpa and Grandma experienced. We need to get back to holiness and keeping the standards so we can get that power back into the church. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and we are losing our standards and forfeiting the power of God! lam – laugh at myself
I also told my soon-to-be-bride that if we had a daughter one day she would not wear pants! (Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.) My mother didn’t wear them, and her mother didn’t wear them and her mother didn’t wear them and I wasn’t going to stop the generational blessing with my daughter! We have standards and those standards have to be maintained. If I water down the standards, and I move the line, where will we be in twenty years? The church will just vanish away and no one will be able to tell the sinners from the Christians! We have a heritage to keep in place. The problem with the church now is that people just come in dressed any way they want. No wonder God doesn’t move in our midst anymore. No wonder no one wants what we have. We have become the world in the church and I will put a stop to it. My daughter will be holy and everyone will be able to look at her and tell it! lam
So what happened from then until now? Sorry to tell you I have lost all of that thinking and it happened very innocently one night during a revival. I had just finished playing the drums for the choir singing and went and sat down on my second pew spot on the left of the building. hehehe The evangelist said his title for the night’s sermon was, are you ready for it ……… “How I Survived Religion” Can you believe that? What an awesome sermon title!
Now at this point God laid a second cornerstone in my process of surviving religion.
Block # 2 – OLD DOESN’T MEAN GOLD!
This preacher made a statement that changed my life forever! He said, “Folks I want to let you in on a secret, Grandpa & Grandma didn’t have it all figured out, Mommy & Daddy didn’t have it all figured out, and you and I won’t ever figure it all out!” What? Did he just say what I think he said? Did he just disgrace my parents and grandparents?
I began to think about this statement. Is it possible that grandpa is flawed in his beliefs? Is it possible that dad still has some things to learn? Can I tell you that something came over me in that moment that I can only describe as a true freedom from a bondage that I didn’t even know I had. You see almost all of my decisions up to that point had always been measured against grandpa and dad. When I measured my life I measured my accomplishments by where they were when they were my age. If I perceived myself to be further along than them I was ok. I held to their standards, I kept all their statutes and continued the tradition of the family. But what if they were wrong in a few areas?
Now let me stop and say this. Some people will never lose the bondage of religion because they can’t admit that their parents and/or grandparents weren’t always right. The failure to do this will hold them captive for the rest of their lives. I will say something very harsh right now so you may want to stop here!!! If you make a deathbed promise let it die with the person. Ouch! I know that seems so insensitive, but really? Can I live the rest of my life trying to make good on a promise God may not want me to keep. Do I now govern my whole life off of a promise to hold some standard that mom had and it wasn’t even mine? Understand you can love and respect someone but admit to yourself they were not perfect. There I said it, grandpa, grandma, mom & dad were not and are not perfect. Guess what, I am not perfect either! My children see the imperfections in their father all the time.
I had taken the standards of my fathers and made them a bondage to myself. God was trying to grow me into someone but I wouldn’t go because I had to measure at every turn with my mom and dad. We have said so much in the church, “If we could just get back to the good old days when the church had power.” Are you seriously kidding me? I have a couple of problems with that and here it is:
1. If grandpa & grandma had such a grasp on the power of God back in the day, why don’t they have it now? I mean come on, if they had it in 1950 where did it go? Did the loose standards of all of the young people in the church render ineffective the power of God that was bestowed upon the grandpas so many years ago?
2. What was different from then until now? Were people being saved from their sins back then? Were people being healed back then? Were people being delivered back then? Were miracles being performed back then? The answer to all of these questions is YES! But what about now, ask all those questions about today and what is the answer? YES! What? You mean to tell me that the same power that saved souls back in 1950 is the same power saving souls today? YES, YES, YES!!!
Our problem is we believe the forefathers of the church struck gold and took it all with them. Now we are on a quest to find their buried treasure. We will only find their gold if we do everything they did, say what they said, and dress like they dressed. Have we really reduced the power and will of God to a set of formulas we must work out to gain this golden power grandma had? It is no wonder Christians are frustrated with living for God. They are on a gold hunt and when they have done everything right and followed the rules, they find no gold!
I love grandma, grandpa, mom and dad, but I can’t keep trying to get what they had or what they have, I must press toward the mark set before me to claim the prize God has placed before me! We would never advise a person to go out to the lake where their boat sank and point a stick over the water and declare the waters to part so the recovery squad can walk on dry ground to retrieve the boat. We would tell the guy to hire a recovery crew and then hope the insurance paid out well! If we would think it ridiculous to tell someone to expect waters to part, then why do we try to live in the past accomplishments of the forefathers of the church? It is time we move on and move into a new path!
The methods of 1950 to promote and spread the gospel probably won’t work in today’s time. They didn’t have twitter, facebook, internet, blogs, or smartphones in 1950. There are some today that won’t even use the modern media because their grandpa preached it was of the devil. Let it go because old doesn’t equal gold. We are not trying to earn the power of God. We are not trying to convince God to bless us with His mighty hand. We are empty vessels. Empty of ourselves, our past, and our future. We stand and declare to God, “Your will be done.”
You want the power of God? You want to see the move of God? You want to see the miracles of God? Go out today and witness to a lost person. Accept them for who they are and how they look. Tell them you place no rules on them, only encouragement and a glimpse into the transforming power of God in your life. Invite them to pray with you and receive salvation. If they take that opportunity today or another day it doesn’t matter. When they do, you will see a powerful, miraculous, delivering move of God!
Have you had enough yet? If not there is still way more to come. Until next time ……….