Good Morning, Church!
     I have been chatting with God recently (you know, those talks that seem mostly one-sided) about how we can keep our congregations safer from the craziness of the world.  I don't know about you, but I would really appreciate actually "hearing" God's Charlton Heston sounding voice once in a while... it would make decision making a whole lot easier....
Anyway, in light of the recent shooting in the A.M.E. church in Charleston, S.C., more than a few folks are concerned about safety while in a public place, such as a church building.  (We are looking into things that can be done to help us feel more secure while gathered together)
     Back to "hearing" God's voice... what I have been sensing is that from God's perspective, three things need to be remembered.  The first thing is that God is in control.  The past year of my personal life has done much to re-enforce this truth.  I am NOT in control of much of anything.  Spiritual attacks on my health will happen.  Remembering that I am reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and that His Spirit is constantly helping, guiding, comforting and teaching me helps me face, and get through, each day.  If everything ran smoothly, I would miss out on the challenging adventures that God has designed for my life, to mold my character to be more like His... God is in control.  Surrender to that truth has brought me a great deal of inner peace.
     The second thing I have remembered is that persecution is nothing new for the church.  All of the Apostles, except John, were martyred through execution/crucifixion.  To escape religious persecution, many Christians left Europe to come to New World.  These early settlers of America continued to be oppressed until they revolted against the tyranny of the day.  Many of our churches, along with some good church people, were burned.  The church of Jesus Christ, however, lives on.  The church WILL survive, even thrive, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
     The third thing that God has laid on my heart, is that often times, the church, has done more harm to itself than by any force outside of the church.  One of the biggest dangers is a blending of the Word of God to accommodate changes of culture.  A "feel good" only teaching of the nature of God is dangerous.  Yes, God is good.  Yes, God is love.  But, God is also very jealous of us and hates when we set up idols in our lives.  Idols are those things that you give more time to than God.  When we, as the church, try to gloss over some of the teachings from God's word so as to not offend, we miss the point.  Changing our lives, including our thinking, to align with God's standard is what being a Christian is all about.  I sense that God is not pleased that many have blended away their faith.  
     So, the question that God has posed back to me is, "Are you more afraid of God than you are of other humans?"  Interesting question.  I am thinking long and hard about this one.  One thing for sure, by living according to God's Word, we will have a safer sanctuary for years to come than if we only try to use the parts of His Word to try and justify our worldliness.  Until next time....