Dear Salvation Army…The Church of The Hyprocrites

Let me first clarify,
I am not calling us (The Salvation Army) “The Church of the Hyprocrites”…but sometimes if the shoe fits.

hypo
What I am pondering today is whether or not we can fall into this category from time to time without even realizing it.  Perhaps it manifests itself in us when a new visitor attends our corps and we immediately judge them on the merits of what they wear or how they act or don’t act.  Perhaps we become the hypocrite in the way that we treat each other or how we talk about one another behind their backs.  Perhaps being a hypocrite isn’t as simple as “those people” after all.   Maybe, just maybe we find ourselves being a hypocrite more often then we at first realized.

Let me first talk to the hypocrite in us all (if we dare to EVER admit that we struggle with this…I should say I am first talking to the hypocrite in ME before I talk to you)…

DEAR HYPOCRITE:
You are destroying the fellowship of believers.
Your words and practices are not always in step with each other.
You say one thing and expect others to follow those commands, while at the same time you are not living up to those expectations either.   Stop living this lie!  Other DO see you!  You are visible to other believers and would be believers.  If you want to see this church plateau in its growth, in its fruit of the spirit, in its spiritual nourishment, just keep doing what you’re doing, because soon enough you will see its demise.  If you can’t practice what you preach then how can you expect others to do it?  If you don’t care about anyone other than how they appear and how they measure up, then you don’t really care at all.  Stop judging.  Stop playing the role of judge, jury and executioner.  This was never your role.  This was never yours to command in the first place.  The Church of Hypocrites needs to die a fast, sudden death!  It cannot continue to flourish.  It has existed for far too long within the fellowship of believers.  Call it the remnants of sin, call it unforgiveness, call it what you want…but it needs to die!  We cannot thrive, we cannot survive like this anymore!
bill
To The Victims of Hypocrisy 
Forgive me when I have judged you.
Forgive them when the church of the hypocrites have wronged you.
You have a reason to be angry.
You have every excuse to retaliate.
You have every excuse to walk away and quite your search of godly people.
But don’t.
In your forgiveness, please be the example of Christ that we have failed to be.
Please show us the error of our ways by how you do not return that spite!
Please rise above this.
Please try to see us as fallen too.

Dear Salvation Army,
We cannot ever tolerate the Church of the Hypocrites.
We cannot allow this to exist among our ranks.
There are no favorites in these ranks.
There are no exceptions.
We cannot pursue both Holiness and Hypocrisy.
We cannot thrive with this poison in our veins.
There is not place for it in our corps, or in our halls, or in our offices.

Micah 6:8 Says;
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

We can never love mercy and walk humbly with our God when we are better than others.
We can never exist humbly in fellowship with God if we wrong our brother and sister in Christ.
We can never be a holy Soldier for Him while wearing our uniforms and judge others by our human standards.

Dear Soldiers of the faith,
We were never called to be the Church of the Hypocrites, nor allow it to remain within our ranks.
It begins in my heart.
It begins in your heart.
From there we can change.
From there we can eradicate this blight on the soul.
From there we can change this Army from the inside out.
The real question is, are we willing to?

Something more for this Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Breaking News…”Misremembering” And The Quest For Integrity

Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC this week.
Longtime NBC anchorman was challenged by others within the media world as to the substance of his “encounters” while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.  His “misremembering” of specific details has left some scratching their heads while others calling for his immediate termination.  Whether intentional or not, the fallout of “misremembering” at the journalistic level will undoubtedly have consequences.

Similarly, within the Christian world “misremembering” and/or inconsistencies of witness will also undoubtedly have consequences!  Like those who report the news nationally and internationally, Christians leaders are looked up to.  They provide other Christians and would-be believers vital information, sources of hope, and godly direction.  Integrity and honesty should be a given, although there have been some who have fallen from grace over the years. swaggart

The witness of Christians can become greatly devalued when inconsistencies and misremembering takes place.  What good is it to speak of love and grace and even Jesus when suddenly we misremember how we are to treat other people?  What good are these Christian qualities when our actions and attitudes do not resemble our words?  Worse yet, what good is it to go to church and sing all the right songs and pray all the right prayers only to walk out of those doors and resemble anything but a Christ follower in our unhealthy habits, speech and actions?

Do we run the risk of running empty on integrity when we misremember how we are to be as Christians?  You bet we do!  The unfortunate consequences of lack of integrity as people of faith is that we will lead people away from God. Why would people want to seek out Christ when His very own followers do not practice what they preach?

Two things happen when we live within the “misremembered” and dishonest walk of “faith”

hypo1. Our Christian witness is compromised, phony and detremental to others who are ACTUALLY living as God has called the faithful to live.  We are not only ruining the chances of potential new believers coming to the faith, but we are making it even harder on other believers who are living lives of integrity.   It only takes a few rotten apples to ruin the whole bunch.  When others look at the church they will mostly likely first see the rotten ones.  We must be aware of our witness to others…it matters THAT much!

2.  Our personal faith and growth will be stuntedstunted
…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”  (James 3:10-12)
Living a dishonest life within the realms of faith will inevitably shortchange our potential maturity and growth.  We cannot live this way.  As James puts it “this ought not be this way“.   We jeopardize not only the Christian witness to others, but we tarnish our own paths and limit what God can do through us by living this way.   Living a “misremembered” life that lacks integrity is cheap and unfortunately more common than not.  Dare I say that Christ has called us to live the uncommon life that is full of integrity, love and obedience!

BrianLet’s face it, Brian Williams isn’t the only one who has “misremembered” things, he was just caught.
Many are just as guilty of this same character flaw.  Brian Williams just happened to be in the public eye reporting the news.  Will there be more who will fall from grace?  Of course…but you and I do not have to be included in this statistic if we are mindful of this trap!  Integrity is a valuable, often tarnished commodity that many lack today.  As people of faith, we ought to make it our goal to strive to live integrity in all that we do and all that we are!

Let’s stop the “misremembering” madness in our own lives and start practicing honesty, sincerity and truth both in word and deed.

Something more to ponder today!

What if we are “doing” Church all wrong? Pt. 2

Yesterday I talked about three erroneous ways in which we go about “doing” church (Link: What if we are “doing” Church all wrong Pt.1)  Somebody pointed out to me that we don’t really “do” church, instead we’re supposed to “be” church…He was absolutely correct.  That being said, more than often church goers are rooted in the location that their church building resides. We are called to “be” His Bride.
We are called to “be” sons and daughters of the Most High.
We are called to “be” hold as He is holy.

Photo Jan 09, 9 46 06 AMThe “Ceremony”
Yet, there are times when the things we “do” in church becomes our primary focus.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these acts of worship are important and can lead us into a deeper fellowship with other believers and more importantly with God…but what if our “being” gets overshadowed by our “doing”?  What happens then? What I mean is this:  What happens when the ceremony, and following the “proper” forms of worship (whatever that looks like from denomination to denomination) becomes more important that the true meaning behind all of those ceremonies and forms?

Could we just be “playing” church? pretend
Do you remember when you were a kid?
We used to play Cowboys and Indians, or “Dress-up” or Doctor.  It was a fun imaginary game.  We would assume these roles and play the part, and it was fun.

Is that what we sometimes do in church?
Are we just going through the necessary motions that we think we should be going through?
Are we “playing” church?  Sure, it’s fun from time to time, it’s like an acting gig in a drama.  We know all the right things to say,we wear all the right outfits, we sing all the right songs, but are we missing the mark? Are we missing the real reason we gather in the first place?

News Flash: God doesn’t want our ceremonies and our acting gigs.  He wants our hearts.  He simply wants us to “Be” His and His alone!  He doesn’t want to share us with anything else in this world.  God is truly a jealous God seeking after our hearts and lives.  Even distractions and ceremony can become our idols of worship if we are not careful.  Churches could be “doing” church simply because that’s how it’s always been done (Tradition), and so they maintain those traditions which can lead to losing any and all original significance on the premise of “maintaining”.    Other churches could be “doing” church simply because they strive to do worship drastically different than prior generations (Contemporary), and so they maintain that level of worship which can also lead to losing any and all original significance on the premise of “being different and more progressive”.   There’s nothing wrong with forms of worship unless they begin to replace God.

One might think I’m taking this too far, but hear me out.
“Doing church” is less important that “being” the church.  Sometimes we sacrifice significance and holiness in exchange for forms of worship and proper protocol.  We can become so stiff in our regulations of worship and what we think worship should look like that we can eventually lose all meaning.

When I think of this danger, I am immediately drawn to two stories in scripture:
1) Cain and Able
2) The Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
Cain – didn’t offer God the best, he did go through the motions of his offering, but it didn’t mean anything to him.  His offering was the left overs, lacking love – it was “doing” church.  God wasn’t pleased with this ceremony of worship.  God knew Cain’s heart.  It’s like two lovers confessing their love for one another.  After the first says “I love you”, the other says “Well I kinda like you”… that’s just not good enough.  It’s surfaced.  It’s not what God desires.  It’s all or nothing.

Photo Jan 09, 9 36 47 AMThe Pharisees/Hypocrites in Jesus’ Day:When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.…” (Matthew 6:5,6)

In other words, are our prayers (and even forms of worship) merely for the benefit of others? Are we acting our parts in church?  Are we doing church all wrong?

The word ‘Hypocrite’ literally means “actor”.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I don’t want to be an actor in church, I want to be genuine in my faith.
I honestly do not want to go through any kind of motions just because that’s how we always do it.

Questions:
Are we merely acting in church?
Have we lost the meaning of what we do in our forms of worship?
Have we stopped ‘being’ holy so that we can ‘do’ church?
Are we more afraid of offending the formal pattern followers in church than we are in offending God in our offerings?
Are we seeking to please God or others?
Is this all that Church is about for us?
Soldiers: Are we more concerned in pleasing our officers, our founders in how we look and act than how we are in pleasing God in our genuine offerings?
Are there sacred cows that need to be finally put down and sacrificed to God?

confessionIf I’m honest, this article is all about me.
I’m the hypocrite…if you relate, perhaps we’re in the same boat.
Sometime’s I have been more interested in getting everything just right in worship than I have been about getting my heart right.  Sometimes it’s much easier being the actor than it is to be real.  -can you relate…I hope you can! (Please tell you can relate!)
I’m not criticizing, I’m just wondering how often we act the part in ‘doing’ church instead of ‘being’ His?
Again, more questions that answers.

Something more to ponder for us today.
To God be the glory!

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