Sunday Dinner

Image result for culinary arts

Sunday Dinner

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear of people who call themselves Christians, yet never read the Word of God.  It is often these same people who complain that the pastor is not “feeding” them.  They are also the ones who complain that the music is too loud or too soft, too fast or too slow, too contemporary or too old-fashioned.  It seems they are just full of complaints.

My own church has gone through some perilous times in recent years.  The result is that numerous families left.  Of the ones who remained, several continue to voice complaints about things they do not like in the church.

These people do not mind being part of the problem, yet they refuse to become part of the solution.  This problem is not isolated to my own church.  It is pervasive in thousands of churches.

People attend church like it is a restaurant.  They want to place their order, and if things are not to their satisfaction, they will be sure to complain!  They view the pastor as the waiter, serving them, instead of ever lifting a finger themselves to help out in the church.  As if that were not enough, they expect the pastor to spoon feed them!

There are people who listen to the pastor’s message, not to get something out of it, but to nit pick his methods, his choice of topics, his mannerisms, etc.  Over the years, the church has even picked up a very selfish attitude.  We have begun to think that it is all about us.  How selfish of us to ever think that church is all about us!

Our pastor shared a great insight to this mentality.  He is not there to serve us a spiritual dinner every Sunday.  Rather, we should view the preaching of the Word as attending a culinary arts class.  The pastor shares the ingredients, as well as the steps to put it all together.  We are to take it home, make it, and serve it to others.

The next time you go to church, listen to the “recipe” then prepare it for others!

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

Spiritual Hyenas

Spiritual Hyenas

One behavior common in the animal kingdom is the arrival of hyenas trying to steal the prey from other animals.  Rarely will you see a nature show portraying hyenas on the hunt for live prey.  They let other animals do the hunting, the chasing, and the killing.  They come along after the fact, in hopes of taking the food for which others have worked.

I have seen spiritual hyenas in the church.  These hyenas are too lazy to “hunt” for spiritual meat, so they try to take it from others.  Often times, they even demand that you spoon-feed it to them.

Spiritual hyenas are too apathetic to chase after God.  They may show up at the altar and weep bitter tears, yet walk away unchanged because chasing after God is not something you do only on Sunday.  A healthy spiritual diet requires that we pursue God on a daily basis. (Psalm 61:8; Proverbs 8:17)

Spiritual hyenas refuse to kill their fleshly desires. (Romans 8:13) They also refuse to fight spiritual battles. (Ephesians 6:10-18) They would rather prey on someone who is prayed up and ask them to fight the spiritual battle for them.  Yet God says to put on the full armor of God so that you are able to stand against Satan’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10) Notice that it does not tell us to find someone else to stand in our place against the devil.

When we allow spiritual hyenas into our life, the results are:

1. We are not giving to them from the overflow of God’s Spirit in us.  Rather, they are stealing our spiritual food and we will quickly become spiritually depleted.
2. Not only do they steal spiritual food from us, they steal glory from God.  If only they would seek the Lord for themselves, God would give them plenty of reasons to praise Him!
3. They begin to seek us instead of God.  In a sense, we become God to them.

We are told to be very wise in the way we live, making the most of every opportunity.  (Ephesians 5:15-16) When we are doing things which seem to be of a spiritual nature, we may think we are still using our time very wisely.  However, spiritual hyenas are very sly and sneaky.  Because of that, we must be careful to guard against them so we do not end up becoming unwise stewards of our time.

Have you become prey to a spiritual hyena?
© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

If you have more than one child, you could probably write a book on sibling rivalry.  While I only have one child, I still remember the sibling rivalry that took place when I was growing up with three brothers.

Unfortunately, we have sibling rivalry in the church.  Galatians 5:26 tells us that we shouldn’t be conceited or competitive, nor should we be provoking and irritating to one another, envious or jealous of one another.  If Sister Susie gets to sing on Sunday morning, do we get jealous because we got scheduled on Wednesday night when the attendance is down?  When we hear someone sing or play an instrument, do we conceitedly think that we could have done better?  If an opening for a leadership position in women’s ministry is made known, do we do everything in our power to get that position?  Do we want the position because we feel called to it, or do we want it to stroke our ego?  If you offer to teach a class for women’s ministry, but the department leader chooses to go another direction, do you get jealous or angry?

We even deal with the very familiar phrase, “It’s not fair!”  If a sister gets blessed with a grocery shower because she’s having a hard time financially, do we rejoice?  Or, do we remember years ago when we were having a tough time and nobody did anything to help?  Too often, we cry out “It’s not fair!”

If we’ve been praying for God to use us in the gift of prophecy or speaking in tongues, and we see a fairly new Christian operating in that gift, do we get jealous?  Or can we speak a word of encouragement to them on how blessed you were by their obedience to the Spirit of God?

Do you have some sibling rivalry that you need to confess?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Judgment on the House of God

Here are two prophetic words given to two different people on how judgment is going to hit the house of God this year:

This Year is the Judgment Upon My House

and

Soon I Will Begin to Bring Down Pastors, First One Then Another

 

We Can’t Love Both Christ and This World

This was a GREAT article!

We Can’t Love Both Christ and This World

This paragraph really stood out to me:

On a closing note, carnality not only affects the pew, but the pulpit as well. A carnal pastor still offers motivating sermons, but he will lose unction, boldness, and spiritual insight. The world, and carnal Christians, will love him, but Spirit-filled believers will leave the service starving for more of God. Pastors, if we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally we would preach Christ more powerfully. Are we calling people out of the cultural mindset or are we encouraging it by our silence?

The House on the Rock

The House on the Rock

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  She loved doing the hand motions for the house that was built on sand.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we don’t choose the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.  In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I will frequently assess the activities in my life.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner for our women’s group at church.  It was the first opportunity that the ladies would have to hear our new pastor’s wife speak.  That same evening my daughter had gym class.  This was only the second time our homeschool group had met to have this class, and my daughter was really looking forward to participating.

I had to make a choice.  I could serve myself and enjoy the women’s function, or I could set my own needs and wants aside and serve my daughter.  Since my daughter is higher on my list of priorities than the women’s ministry, I chose to take her to gym class.  This helped me to keep my house on the rock because I chose to invest in my daughter, showing her that she is more important to me than the women at church.

My normal habit is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since he is higher on my priority list than my church attendance, I decided to have a friend take our daughter to church so that we could have some alone time – a huge rarity in our house.  I wish you could have seen my husband’s face when I made the arrangements for Rachel to attend without me.  He was very pleased.  Later when we were alone, I got out the massage oil and gave him a wonderful treat that he didn’t soon forget!  Once again, my choices helped me keep building on the rock, rather than shifting sand.

Another opportunity came when I found out that my friend’s son had a cyst on his brain.  I had not been able to get in touch with her, so I left a message on her answering machine, asking her to return my call.  Since she knows that I am adamant about not taking calls during our homeschool hours, I also told her that I would pick up the phone if I heard that it was her.  Now, while homeschooling is very high on my priority list, that particular day, I felt the need to drop it down a bit so that I could minister to my friend, as well as find out the details on what was taking place with her son.

Writing devotions is a passion of mine; however, I must not make the mistake of allowing it to come before the Lord.  Nor can I let it come before ministering to my husband, my daughter, or even keeping the household running.

Recently, I went through a season where I wasn’t writing at all.  Other things were just consuming my time.  During that time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material ready to send out to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on continuing to build my house on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, God would honor those decisions.  Finally, I sat down one evening and grabbed my pen and paper.  Very quickly, I had written and typed up six devotions.  I was even able to write four more the next day.  I couldn’t seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I’ve had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do in order to choose God’s best for our family, I’ve had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and joy when we are obedient to His Word.  The sense of balance that I have felt when I know that I have made choices that honored Him has been marvelous.  It makes it easier for me to say “no” to shifting sand.

Are you making choices that help you to build on the rock?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

God Is Into Details

God is into Details

 

I felt this title stirring in my spirit for about six weeks, but when I’d try to come up with a devotion for it, I was completely uninspired.  That is because the ‘details’ weren’t there yet, ready for me to use.

 

As I walked into church one Wednesday evening, I was approached by Elaine, who is one of the ladies in charge of our women’s ministry.  She asked me if I would teach the class that night because her infant granddaughter was in the hospital with pneumonia.  Her request wouldn’t have seemed that strange to me, except for the fact that in the series we were studying, I had missed more Wednesday nights than what I had attended because of my daughter having whooping cough.  About the time she started getting better, I came down with it.  Needless to say, I felt rather unprepared to teach! 

 

All I had with me from the previous weeks was a few notes that I had jotted down.  The study we were doing wasn’t one where we took a book home to read, so there was no weekly homework to help keep me caught up each week if I was unable to attend.  I felt so inadequate, but here she was, asking me to teach in her place.  Now, you are probably wondering just what it was that we’d been studying.  It was Improving Your Serve by Chuck Swindoll.  OK, I know, some of you are seeing the humor in this already!  Yes, I do believe even God got a laugh out of it!  He was surely testing me to see how willing I would be to serve as a teacher that evening.

 

Thankfully, Elaine had some great notes typed up for me to use.  I was even able to thumb through the book as we quickly covered each chapter, adding a few additional tidbits of information to refresh us on what we had learned in the previous weeks.

 

I remember reading a scripture in the Amplified Bible many years ago and it said that God is still on the throne and He still rules from heaven.  It goes on to say that He closely watches everything that happens on earth.  Little did I realize how true this verse would be for me that particular night when I walked into church.

 

You see, it was a miracle that I even made it to church that evening.  Just three days prior, my back went out on me.  For two days, I didn’t do much but lie on the couch with the ice pack, trying to get the swelling to go down. 

 

While I was in extreme pain, I received a phone call from a dear friend, and I shared my dilemma with her.  We both went to bed that night, praying that my back would heal quickly.  As I talked to her the next day, I told her how much better I felt.  As I began to share with her that I felt such a peace about my healing when I prayed the previous night, she quickly shared that she had the same feeling when she was praying for me.  We discovered that both of us felt that God was going to bring about a very quick recovery for me.  I believe that the Lord led her to call me that evening so that there would be two of us in agreement in prayer regarding my back.  Even then, I still didn’t realize how much God is into details.

 

During the time that I was afflicted in my back, God was still watching other details.  He saw what was going on with Elaine’s granddaughter, and He knew Elaine was feeling torn between desperately wanting to be at the hospital, yet having a commitment to be teaching at church.  At the same time, He knew that unless He touched my back, I wasn’t going to be at church on Wednesday.  

 

As I began to teach the class, I quickly discovered that one of the key scriptures in our study was Philippians 2:3.  I had just studied that very scripture in depth earlier that morning as I was preparing a lesson for my Sunday school class.  Because of a God who is into details, I was able to share a few of my own insights on that verse, as well as sharing what Elaine had in her notes.

 

In Matthew 10:19, we see where Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit will be speaking through them.  Our God, who is into details, allowed His Spirit to speak through me, even though I’d missed several sessions during this particular study.  He has promised not to let His Word return void.  (Is. 55:11) All of the countless hours that I had been diligent to pour His Word into my spirit had prepared me for a night such as this one.  Even though I may not have been in attendance for nearly half of the classes, God had prepared me in advance for being a servant, ready in season and out of season.  All of the work I’d put into studying, learning, applying, and obeying the Word allowed the Holy Spirit to move in and speak through me because I was already yielded.  The fruit of what I’d planted the last few years was ripe and ready at a moment’s notice.  Yes, I do believe that God is into details.

 

Maybe you won’t ever be put in a situation to teach at a moment’s notice, but maybe you’ll be given a moment’s notice that you need to drop your agenda and minister to a hurting friend.  Maybe you’ll receive a moment’s notice and have to immediately go to the hospital for a sick parent.  Maybe you’ll be given a moment’s notice to help in the nursery when the scheduled help doesn’t show up.  Maybe you’ll be asked to help serve in the kitchen during an after-church fellowship, and you don’t feel this is where God has necessarily gifted you.  Whatever the situation, rest easy…your God is into details, and while you may be caught off guard, God isn’t.  He’s closely watching everything that happens here on earth.

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Previous Older Entries