Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Failure To Acknowledge God...What's It Look Like?!

Up until today, whenever I heard the phrase, "failure to acknowledge God," I believe I mostly equated it with those who were not Christ followers....a.k.a. unbelievers. But after planting myself in the first few chapters of Jeremiah since I returned from the Beth Moore Living Proof Live Event in Rupp Arena this past weekend, the LORD is showing me the true meaning of this phrase. It actually means that the relationship with God is ignored but the Christian continues on as though it weren't. I believe this is speaking of refusing to get with Him and listen to Him and ultimately refusing His will and plan for your day, week, month, year and life!! People can speak His Name and still fail to acknowledge Him. Jeremiah 7:13 says that , I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer." Why would we as His people refuse to listen and ultimately fulfill His plan and purpose for our lives. What the heck 'o pete is up with that???

I believe that the "failure to acknowledge God" is actually an epidemic in our churches today just as in the days of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 9:3 says, "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge Me", declares the LORD. This scenario would be where someone would make up their own "god agenda" and follow it as if they were actually following what God had spoken to them. This is tragic because we do this to our own harm and defeat!! Dang that sneaky snake!! He is playing the same ol' game he has been playing since the garden. Why won't the dude go play some Scrabble or something new like Cranium? But he won't because his game still works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it applies to him as well.

I understand the frustration of the prophet Jeremiah because I know this is going on in my church and all around me. I am on guard against it in my own life and would be foolish to believe that I am exempt from this type of deception. Jeremiah 7:8 says, "But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless." The NIV note in reference to this verse as well as verse 4 says that the deceptive words are spoken by false prophets. Jesus warned of false prophets and the Bible is replete with references to them. Their books sit on the Christian Book Store shelves along side the legitimate authors and unless you are bent on following the Truth, you may easily get sucked in. So I guess the question for us all is this: Do you want to know the Truth? Do you want to follow the Truth? Do you want to live the Truth?

I know in my own personal journey that seriously began back in 2000 (even though I was saved in November 1975), that I did not set out and say that I was on a Truth search. But I was because God was searching for me. It was my own personal, Eat, Pray, Love story. I began to get into God's word via Sunday School and my first in-depth Bible study....David, A Heart Like His. The more I got into God's Word, the more I was fascinated by it. I looooved it. It made sense to me for where I was on my journey in this life. I was broken and needed fixing. I didn't actually know how far I would let this "Thing" go but I kept letting Jesus in little by little, study after study. I remember praying to have a hunger and thirst for God's Word because Beth Moore said she had prayed that. Come to find out, God will answer that prayer! But as the journey trekked on, it got a little harder and by harder, I mean "warmer." The Refiner began to crank up the heat. Scripture is clear that He can and will mature us and skim off the dross by turning up the fire. That's when I had ample opportunity to "FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD." Was He really asking me to go visit my sick ex-mother-in-law in the hospital and apologize for something I did that hurt her 15 years earlier. I mean we still had a good relationship so shouldn't the past be left in the past? No!!! I heard CLEARLY from Him that morning in my quiet time. It was as if He had written me a prescription like a physician and said, "Take this and you will get well." I didn't want to take it. But I did. As quickly as I could get ready, I headed to OLBH where she was staying and battling colon cancer. I did what the LORD asked because He asked me to and anything less would have been a "failure to acknowledge God." By the way, she received the apology with gladness, almost as if God had told her I would be coming. It was a God moment of gargantuan proportions! And I knew it. BUT IT WAS HARD. Why is it we are so quick to go to an earthly doc (NOT CONDEMNING DOCTORS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD) and get the Rx and run to the CVS pharmacy as quickly as possible and get that sucka filled? Why don't we take God's prescriptions seriously and run just as quickly to the nearest "PHARMACY OF DO WHAT HE ASKED" and fill them/it? His Rx's are the ones that are actually going to heal our souls. Just sayin'. Well, it is true.

My point in all of this is what He taught me and clarified for me this morning. When we go with God and go with God and go with God and then stop, we are beginning the early stages of failing to acknowledge God. Jeremiah 6:28-30 speaks of this refining process. Actually, if we refuse to get up and get with God in the morning for our beloved "quiet time," we are failing to acknowledge God for that day. The greatest insight He gave me this morning is this: "If we don't trust Him and ultimately refuse His Refiner's fire because it is too hot or too hard, we are guilty of "failure to acknowledge God." And although He gives us tons of grace in the form of time and mercy to agree with Him (I wrestled with him for over 2 years when he asked me to lay down alcohol which was clearly a stronghold and false god to me before I acknowledged His request on 2-3-04, not to mention me bringing this up on the K-Love cruise 3 years later in Jan. 2007, when I asked him "How come they get to drink?" as I walked passed the bar and got bitter for a sec as I saw other Christian's sitting on barstools. His answer: "You were a prisoner there." Oh yea. True.) But this is a huge testing point where God's people decide if or when they are going to follow Him and take His prescriptions. I am afraid that most people back down and that is when the enemy pounces!!! He is totally aware of our estate and he will come crawling with his alternatives to God's "ridiculous and did He really even say that" plan. CHRISTIAN BEWARE!

Back in January 2010, I did an upward basketball devotional at half-time and the verse was from 1 John 2:3. "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments." When I looked up the greek word for commandments(entole) it actually said the word "prescribed" which reminded me of the word, prescription. I knew back then that whatever He spoke and asked of us better be "taken" if we were going to get well and become whole. Maybe that's why we have a pharmacy on every corner in most cities......even Flatwoods.....because most Christians won't take their Scripts from the LORD and are counting on counterfeits that only act as bandaids!!! But that is another talkshow. I mean post! Healing from God is as simple as getting with Him, listening, and doing what He asks. I did not say it was easy. In fact, it can be very hard. But it is simple if you want the Truth. If you've fallen for the classic lie, "Did God really say?" Turn back and admit it!!! Repentance is one of the greatest gifts God will ever give!!! Receive it and begin the journey anew. Beth said in Rupp Arena that if we haven't been delivered, let's admit it so we can be!!! No more pretending. Acknowledge God!! And by all means, finish the entire Rx!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planting For Eternity In A Topsy Turvy World

This is the theme for the Women's ministry event that will be held on August 28 at the church. Tina Hutchison is the guest speaker and as I spoke to her on the phone last week she asked me and the team to come up with a phrase or word that she felt God was speaking to us. I had shared with her that He had been speaking to me out of Isaiah 58 about being a "well-watered garden." We also talked about my new landscaping that was planted in early June and discussed the importance of good soil, sun and watering the new bushes until deep roots were established. She mentioned the verse in Isaiah 61 that speaks of a garden harvest that becomes "a display of His splendor." The parallel is this: God has been calling the WEM team (women's enrichment ministry) to become that garden in order to authentically and genuinely minister to women in the church. We have been at a crossroad that actually began when our former leader, Pat Shrewsbury, passed away in July 2008. At our "meeting" last monday night, we did not come up with a phrase except to laugh and say that we were all cracked pots that needed sealing. This meeting per say was so much more in that it was a time of confession, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration as we were recognizing that as a team, we had not cried out to the LORD after Pat had died and asked Him where we go from here. Big mistake, actually, because he generally sets up new leadership even before the transference is to take place (ala Moses.......Joshua, David......Soloman, etc!!). As a result, we had struggled for quite some time with disunity, relational issues, power struggles, lack of honest confrontation among other serious things that had not been addressed. And God let us go. And go. Things got worse. I began to trace back our path when I realized that we had moved ahead without even checking this out with Him. Finally, it hit me that our sin as a team was "not stopping to inquire of Him." This was all brought up, addressed and agreed upon, confessed as sin, not to mention forgiving one another for hurts and such at the Monday (7/26/10) meeting and it was now time to move forward as per the LORD's instructions.

Long story long, when it came time to call Tina Hutchison back last Tuesday (7/27/10), I had nothing concrete. I googled a few words and did a searchedgodsword.org to get the greek word meanings to help me come up with an appropriate theme. I wanted it to be profound yet funny. I had mentioned to Tina on the phone the day before that my gardening skillz consisted of planting two topsy turvy tomatoes from my deck for the second year in a row. We both laughed so I had thought it would be neat to use the topsy turvy reference. After coming up with nothing that seemed "theme-ish" enough to be official, I did what I should have done hours earlier....go to ye ole prayer closet, get on my face and inquire of the LORD. After just a few minutes of asking Him what to call it along with some moments of silence ala "be still and know" from Psalm 46:10, the phrase, "Planting For Eternity In A Topsy Turvy World" just popped into my head. And I knew it was Him!!!! I was so excited that I jumped to my feet and thanked Him. Then I leaped down the stairs continuing to jump and leap some more before calling Tina with our theme. God had come through!!!! He rocks that way. Yes He does!!!