Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Have You Been With Jesus?

Designer Christianity

"People say, 'I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.'"  USA Today, More Americans Tailoring Religion to Fit Their Needs

As I was driving this morning, I wondered how anyone looking around at the world can doubt that we are indeed in the last days. There is a general lack of morality fueled by a focus on "self" which is off of the scale. Demons openly walk the streets, sit in the cubicle next to you at work, check out your groceries at the store, and entertain you via music/movies/tv...while folks just go from day to day as if it were normal. Like a frog being slowly boiled in a pot of water, society has been driven into madness so that many cannot even recognize the insanity.  People are in the midst of insanity, thinking it is normal.

What's worse perhaps is that this insanity has invaded the church.  If there is one thing that time with this blog has shown me is that many claiming to be "Christian" are in actuality far from it.  The standard for their Christianity is their own minds (what they think, what they believe, what they like, etc.), when that standard should be Jesus Christ.  It is no wonder there are so many debates and arguments about doctrine & Scripture, for each is seeking his own way and not the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 1:31; Isaiah 53:6, 56:11; Ezekiel 22:31, 36:17).   Like the world, many in the church have become blind to its own madness; having a show of godliness, but denying the power thereof. 

Then one has to wonder, "What about myself?"  If I claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, stand upon His holy word, and submit my life unto Him...then where is the difference in my life?  Is the power of God now relegated to a few blog posts?  A few weekly sermons and Bible studies?  Am I not also guilty of "designer Christianity" on some level if the light of Christ cannot come forth within me, compelling others into communion with the living God?

Should I take comfort in having sound doctrine? In going to church each week?  In having been brought out of the institutionalized system of Babylon?  What a shallow existence; how utterly unfulfilling!  In the midst of this darkness, where is the great light?  I tell you that I am not satisfied with such.

Some might say, "That is blasphemy!  My life is not shallow.  I feed the poor, give clothes to the homeless, hand out tracts, go to service each week, etc."  Really?  Is that the sum of your existence?  There are Hindus today who are doing such works.  I tell you that when the church was birthed at Pentecost, the world KNEW that these men had been with Jesus; the difference was tangible (Acts 4:13).

Can the world say the same about us?  Can people look at the witness of our lives and know with a certainty that we have been with Jesus?  Or is there no real presence of the Holy Spirit visible within us?  Can the life of Christ be truly seen within or is He simply a verbal profession, an earthly example we try to emulate like Muhammad, like Buddha?  Our very lives we live will be the evidence of what we believe, not just what we profess. 

Oh that God would open blind eyes and allow us to see the futility of such an existence.  May He place within our hearts a sincere, burning desire for the fullness of Him in us.  Something beyond mere religion where we are doing "good" works for God, but rather Jesus by His Spirit performing His works through us...His Body.

Whether they know it or not, people in the world are in search of life.  Will we be vessels through which God can give that to them?  This can only happen if we have been with Jesus; abiding daily with Him.

USA Today Article
"More Americans Tailoring Religion to Fit Their Needs"
September 12, 2011
By Cathy Lynn Grossman

If World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem could be Gods Bless America.

People take part in a National Day of Prayer gathering in San Antonio in May. Polls show that in 1991, 24% of U.S. adults hadn't been to church in the past six months; today, it's 37%.

That's one of the key findings in newly released research that reveals America's drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences.

The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for "310 million people with 310 million religions."

"We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs — our clothing, our food, our education," he says. Now it's our religion.

Barna's new book on U.S. Christians, Futurecast, tracks changes from 1991 to 2011, in annual national surveys of 1,000 to 1,600 U.S. adults. All the major trend lines of religious belief and behavior he measured ran downward — except two.

Religious beliefs, practices shift

More people claim they have accepted Jesus as their savior and expect to go to heaven.

And more say they haven't been to church in the past six months except for special occasions such as weddings or funerals. In 1991, 24% were "unchurched." Today, it's 37% .

Barna blames pastors for those oddly contradictory findings. Everyone hears, "Jesus is the answer. Embrace him. Say this little Sinners Prayer and keep coming back. It doesn't work. People end up bored, burned out and empty," he says. "They look at church and wonder, 'Jesus died for this?'"

The consequence, Barna says, is that, for every subgroup of religion, race, gender, age and region of the country, the important markers of religious connection are fracturing.

When he measures people by their belief in seven essential doctrines, defined by the National Association of Evangelicals' Statement of Faith, only 7% of those surveyed qualified.

Barna laments, "People say, 'I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.'"

LifeWay Research reinforces those findings: A new survey of 900 U.S. Protestant pastors finds 62% predict the importance of being identified with a denomination will diminish over the next 10 years.

Exactly, says Carol Christoffel of Zion, Ill. She drifted through a few mainline Protestant denominations in her youth, found a home in the peace and unity message of the Baha'i tradition for several years, and then was drawn deeply into Native American traditional healing practices.

Yet, she also still calls herself Christian.

"I'm a kind of bridge person between cultures. I agree with the teachings of Jesus and … I know many Christians like me who keep the Bible's social teachings and who care for the earth and for each other," Christoffel says. "I support people who do good wherever they are."

And it's not only Christians sampling hopscotch spirituality. The Jewish magazine Moment has an "Ask the Rabbis" feature that consults 14 variations of Judaism, "and there are many," says editor and publisher Nadine Epstein.

"The September edition of Moment asks 'Can their be Judaism without God?' And most say yes. It's incredibly exciting. We live in an era where you pick and choose the part of the religion that makes sense to you. And you can connect through culture and history in a meaningful way without necessarily religiously practicing," Epstein says.

Sociologist Robert Bellah first saw this phenomenon emerging in the 1980s. In a book he co-authored, Habits of the Heart, he introduces Sheila, a woman who represents this.

Sheila says: "I can't remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It's Sheilaism. Just my own little voice. … It's just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself. You know, I guess, take care of each other. I think God would want us to take care of each other."

Bellah, now professor emeritus at University of California-Berkeley, says, "Sheila was a jolt to some at the time. But to a lot of people, it wasn't a jolt at all, they had been living that way for a while. Don't romanticize the past. Fervent religiosity was always in the minority. Just because people showed up in church didn't always mean a deep personal conviction or commitment."

Bellah sees two sides to the one-person-one-religion trend. On the positive: It's harder to hold on to prejudices against groups — by religion or race or gender or sexuality — if everyone wants to be seen individually.

"The bad news is you lose the capacity to make connections. Everyone is pretty much on their own," he says. And all this rampant individualism also fosters "hostility toward organized groups — government, industry, even organized religion."

Today, even the godless disagree on how not to believe, says Rusty Steil of Denver.

He grew up Lutheran and retained his parents' "strong moral code," but, he says, he couldn't stick with "ancient myths of people trying to make sense of the world."

"I don't find much comfort in imagining there's an all-powerful God who would allow people starving and all the natural and man-made disasters," Steil says.

Steil calls himself a "live-and-let-live atheist," as apart from the virulently anti-religious variety such as Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins, or "those who actively promote disbelief."

Paul Morris, an Army medic at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and veteran of six tours in the Middle East, says he has seen Christianity, Judaism and Islam in action, for better and for worse, and, frankly, he'll pass.

Morris grew up "old-style Italian Catholic," but says he never felt like his spiritual questions were answered. So, he says, "I just wiped the slate clean. I studied every major religion on the face of the planet. Every one had parts that made sense, but there was no one specific dogma or tenet I could really follow," Morris says.

"So now, I call myself an agnostic — one who just doesn't know. What I believe is that if you can just do the right thing, it works everywhere."


I say on Sunday how much I want revival
But then on Monday, I can't even find my Bible
Where's the power
The power of the cross in my life

I'm sick of playing the game of religion
I'm tired of losing my reason for living
Where's the power
The power of the cross in my life

I'm not content just to walk through my life, giving in
To the lies, Walking in compromises now
We cry out as a generation that was lost
But now is found in the power of the cross

We believe in You
We believe in the power of Your Word that is true
We believe in You

So we lay down our cause
That our cross might be found in You

I'm not satisfied doing it my own way
I'm not satisfied to do church and walk away
I'm not satisfied there's no love in my life but You
I'm not satisfied living in yesterday's hour
I'm not satisfied to have the form but not the power
I'm not satisfied, Lord I am crucified in You

So we lay down our cause
That our cross might be found in You


  1. I understand completely! How do we get there?

  2. Hi,
    I wonder if you can help me. I have come to realize that I hate my spouse. I look at him and there is nothing about him that I like. I hate my life with him. I hate his habits. I hate that he isn't more spiritual. I hate to hear him talk. I hate our intimacy. I hate all of it! What do I do? How do I pray? What am I supposed to ask God? I know it's evil! How can I call myself a Christian and wake up feeling this way everyday? I don't know what to do. Do you have any advice?

  3. Hi AnonyOne,

    What comes to mind for me is the following:

    "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you." II Corinthians 4:7-12

    If the treasure people need (the light of Christ) is within these earthen vessels, then unless that light can break forth from within, how will people see it? If you look at the text in verses 8-10, these are all things that cause brokenness in the vessel; troubles, distresses, persecutions, etc. Like in the previous article, it is brokenness in us which allows Christ to be seen.

    It is so easy to get caught up into our own situations or to feel discouraged by them. But God is working things in us which bring death to the flesh so that life can be poured out through us.

    How do we get there? By death working in us so that life can work in those who are lost.

    I have heard it said before that this is a dying way, and it is. Yet, there is life, peace, joy, and righteousness found in that death. He who loses his life for Christ's sake shall find it!

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    I can tell you, God showed me many years ago (before my husband became saved) that I cannot "love" God while hating my husband. We fool ourselves in believing that we can disregard our husbands and yet be faithful handmaidens to the Lord; but He is not fooled. So you are right to be concerned here.

    I would say to ask God to deliver you from your own thoughts and give you the mind of Christ; from your own perceptions so that you may see through His eyes. What is most important is seeing as God sees (including how we see others).

    I'll share something with you too. Most often, that type of hatred for a man comes from the spirit of Jezebel. It is a rebellious, witchcraft working spirit that despises authority and headship. When such is present, you will feel an unnatural, strong, pervasive hatred for a man, particularly your husband for he is the one to whom you are called to submit.

    You might want to take some time to listen to the following messages from Omega Ministries on this topic:

    Messages on Jezebel and how to be delivered from that spirit.

    Pay particular attention to the message entitled "What was crucified on Calvary" as I remember this one as being very impactful in my own life.

    Take hope in the fact that God has given you unease about these feelings; that is mercy, because He could just leave us in unrighteousness. Thank God that He does not! :-)

    Fight in prayer and fastings to get your mind out from the influence of those manipulating spirits, casting down everything which exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. And if there is any unforgiveness in you (towards your father, towards your husband, any man) deal with it. Ask God for the grace to forgive and to love as He does.

    Being a Christian is not about how we "feel", so don't let Satan bring condemnation to you over "feelings". Simply recognize that such is unGodly and ask God for the power to overcome those thoughts. Ask Him to continue to work within you to change your heart towards your husband. He is able!


  6. Thanks. I will listen to those messages today!! I keep trying to figure out where this came from because my husband is very good to me. I know my mother and father aren't happy together but my father and husband are nothing a like. I hope God will speak to me through those sermons. I'll let you know.


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