Gold's Gym. I remember when it first opened in Meridian. We were charter members when it opened in the little shopping plaza on Cherry Lane and Meridian Road.
I used to go there every Monday afternoon. I had a personal trainer who would talk to me about how to lift weights, about how good lifting weights will be for my muscles, my core, and my overall health. He showed me how to use all the different machines. He told me the types of movements to avoid so I didn't injure myself. And, he gave me little cards to hand out to invite other people to come learn how to do the same. When I was done with my session, I would always go to the little health bar they had and I would drink an expensive protein shake to help any of the information I had acquired while I was there really take root. The part I loved best was the little room to the right when you first walked in where they had a screen up on the wall with lyrics and a bunch of songs about working out. I loved it because there was always these big body-builder looking dudes in there to sing with. I normally stayed around for a few songs when I got there before I went to my personal trainer and I would stop in for one more good one on the way out, just to hold me over for the week until the following Monday.
Now, if you didn't clue in on the first part of that story, surely in the singing about working out, you caught up with me. I'm not talking about going to the gym. I'm talking about going to the only place in our lives where we follow this entire pattern and expect to see change:
The American Church Service.
Now my story could go on about how I go out and invite my friends and hand out my cards and talk about my gym and how much I love it, all the while gaining weight and getting grumpy. Eventually I start talking bad about how my trainer just isn't meeting my needs, how the guys have all started these new songs I don't really know and I wander off to find a new gym that will meet my needs. Once I'm there, I start inviting my friends to that one instead, because, you know: I LOVE MY GYM!
Sound too familiar?
It would be funny if it weren't so true and if it didn't carry such serious consequences for the Bride of Christ. I'm not here to hate on gyms. I'm not here to hate on Church. In fact, I love the Church. Christ cared enough to lay down his life for her and intercedes every day for her sanctification. Someday he is going to present us to himself without spot or wrinkle! So, please hear me correctly. I speak out of love.
Jesus and I just wish you would either be hot or cold.
If you were hot, we could see a broken city experience the one true God. The God who also goes by the name "Love." The one that stands for a daily denial of self that can't help but change lives every time it steps into the darkness of the lives around it.
If you were cold, at least you would stop professing that you were Spirit filled and part of His body and the dead people around you would quit looking to you for life.
Hear me church of Cascade. I love you. I speak out of love.
But, the weekly procession to the church service to worship and listen to the Word has got to stop being the totality of your faith!
Jesus didn't say they would know you are his disciples by the fact that you go to a building for 2 hours on Sunday.
Jesus didn't say they would know you are his disciples by the fact that you have a Jesus fish on your car.
Jesus didn't say they would know you are his disciples by what you wear or who you associate with.
Jesus said they would know you are his disciples because the way you love the other disciples. (John 13:35)
Jesus said they would know you are his disciples because you pray His prayers and they get answered. (John 15:8)
Jesus said they would know you are his disciples if you do what he taught (John 8:31)
Jesus said you can only be his disciple if you are willing to renounce everything you have (Luke 14:33).
Jesus said if you want to be his disciple you must DAILY deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).
Ultimately, this is the problem. You can say you are His Bride. You can recruit the best trainers (pastors) in the world. You can sing the most emotionally charged songs about it all. You can invite people to join you in these efforts. But, if you refuse to daily deny yourself and obey His commands, you are fooling yourself if you think these efforts will lead to change in Cascade.
Jesus doesn't want big beautiful buildings dedicated to him. He doesn't want *your* 2 hours on Sunday morning. He doesn't want your roadside cleanups and your food pantry hours. He doesn't want your works.
Jesus wants your obedience. Jesus wants your heart. He wants your identity. He wants your belief. He wants YOU.
When Jesus has your obedience, when he has your heart, when he is your identity, that is when you will come to life. That is when you will be powerful. That is when the buildings, the time in worship and learning, the community service, the acts of love, everything you are striving so hard for, will all flow out of the abundance of Holy Spirit living through you and in you.
Believers, without the power of the Holy Spirit, we can't compete with the evil around us in Cascade. With the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop us.
How do we see this happen?
In this order:
- Daily gatherings with other believers for encouragement
- Gatherings for Worship and Teaching
If you only have time for one of these, I'm sure I speak for every pastor in Cascade when I say feel free to replace the church service next week to start with 2 hours of prayer and see how it changes the time you have available for the others.
I love you. I am rooting for you.
Go to church! Signs of life will first be visible there.
Please reach out if you need anything!