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Satan Loves Religion
The words upon the church represent a lot of peopleís experience, presuppositions and thoughts concerning the church and Christians.  This forms a wall that blinds them from seeing the beauty of Godís character, and genuine Christianity.  Also, the world has its own set of signs all promising fulfillment and pleasure, and most everyone in the world is going that way.  So no wonder most run from Christianity. Even the people in the church are going out the side door and going back to the world. But I have experienced people who really know God: they are humble, honest, gentle, generous; they have an interest and love for people, they are accepting and kind. They enjoy praying, they get excited about God, and they are real, passionate and wise--they show God to be attractive! So many people I have talked with who have really been transformed by the Lord, share how it was in part because their experience with a genuine Christian, who allowed them to see beyond the walls.
I was at a missions conference and  during worship everyone was really into it, with their arms up high, and when the pastor came up to the stage he went on about how he felt the anointing on and how heavy the presence of God was in the place. Yet, I felt nothing, there air to me was clear. It was kinda like I was sitting in a blizzard and yet I was  watching people on the TV screen dancing in Hawaii. Able to see it, but not there, unable to feel anything. It reminded me of when I was at a Billy Graham event and at the top of the Dallas cowboy stadium I looked down and could see Jars of clay jumping on stage: they looked like ant's and I could hardly even hear or feel the music, so Jars of Clay along with the 1000 or so people going crazy on the field, looked absurd. Another analogy would be, flipping through the stations and passing by TBN and seeing Benny Hinn knocking people over and people shaking and crying, and yet you are are not there and it all looks really stupid and even disturbing.
Have you noticed how the photo chip bag prints "No Trans Fat!" in the top left corner and the refined sugar puts "only 15 calories per serving" and "Fat Free!" on it's bag as if it was good for you?  Or how the dating sites only share the good things about the singles, and does not say a word about their self-seeking hidden agendas, pet sins, tendencies to hurt those they love and destructive pass times?
     We are in a world that only shares half; only the sunny side, it goes on about the rose peddles, yet never mentions the thorns. The king of this is advertising and used car sales men.
     But I think it is a shame that the same is done within Christianity. Preachers do it, we do it in our fellowship. Full honesty is not very welcome in this day and age. We have time for our praise reports, testimonies and answered prayers, but what about our misery, disappointment with God and all the times we feel left on our own and forsaken?

What if the world shared the whole truth; The good, the bad and the ugly? We still would end up buying food, getting married, buying cars, houses and electronics. Heck. we already know half of everything is crap and won't last! We know sugar and chips are bad for us despite of it being advertised as healthy. We know the CD player is not half of what the box claims, but we buy it anyways! If we were to do a Singles online-dating thing, we would know the other person has issues though none are mentioned on the page and yet even with this knowledge people still date mess ups. So lets just throw it all out there! I think the world would still work and spin! Heck, people still buy cigarettes though the boxes say it will kill you and give you lung cancer!
Like a spider crawling in to my ear and then feasting on my brain is that drawn out, slow, fake, winy, over-dramatic and nerve damaging "Ooooouuh weeee praaaaaise youuuuu Loooord, Oooooooo.... We praise you Lord..."
       I have observed that the word 'praise' is rarely used outside of the four walls that house the pulpit and sound system, sure parents may praise their kid for doing good at a little league game, but the dad does not say "I praise you my son, I praise you" less the kid wonder "dad have you lost it?"no instead the father affirms with an enthusiastic heart felt "You did great son! way to go, you rock!"
     So what I propose is maybe instead of saying "I praise you God", lets actually try to praise Him, for example, "Lord you are so amazingly creative, your detail and color combinations is awesome, I just love the textures and shapes and variety, wow... God you rock, you make me smile!"
     I think it is the same thing with saying "Ooohhhh I worship you God," this crawls up my skin for some reason, I don't even like singing songs that repeat this over and over, it just seems like empty words with no meaning, the more understanding I have about the word, it is something we do, no wine and sing.
     Why do we say "we magnify you Lord" as if saying this is actually magnifying the Lord to repeat this over and over?
     The chorus of half of the "positive and encouraging" contemporary Christian music is  "holy, holy, holy" and I cannot help but wonder if hardly any of us even has a clue what we are saying, cause I don't, and even when I try and study, it still remains a word. It is the same thing with glory, these churchy words are over used and rarely explained and when they are, still it is like reading the word of the day on the dictionary website and trying to remember it and make it take meaning.
I've heard the pastor say if you are thirsty, to come up to the alter and you will be filled and I've desperately wanted a spiritual experience, that touch from God promised to me if I only came forward. Though everyone around me is falling over, weeping, and wailing about Godís sweet presence. I feel excluded, I never feel anything, I never get filled up, but what else can I do but come forward? The pastor describes me and then says to come up for prayer. This drawing is meant to capture the frustration this brings
"The [Brownsville] church that hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors has shrunk to a few hundred members and now owes millions of dollars for a building they can't fill."   -J. Lee Grady Charisma Magazine

I find this very sad in light of the good things I have heard from those who got to visit this church during it's glory years. I think there are a lot of observations one could pull out of this. But want to bring up something different now.

The church I am going to is not growing bigger, nor is their evidence of a major move of God, but they are very passionate about getting a bigger building in a better location believing this is the key to seeing a revival in there church.
For some reason while at church today i thought about the fool Jesus spoke of, who had a plentiful crop and planned on building bigger barns. Likewise, it does seem most pastors are hoping for more visitors that they may build bigger buildings. Because big costly buildings with a big congregation is what most pastors are about, this is success, it is all about status, it is seen as being favored of God, a growing church is a healthy church, right?

But I think of what Jesus did at the peek of his ministry, with 1000's and 1000's of people thronging to Him. He said "You must eat of my flesh and drink my blood" and said this purposely that the multitudes of entertainment seekers would leave Him. His disciples were of the mindset of of modern pastors which is "who cares about quality, it is all about quantity!" Jesus was different, He wanted the faithful few, knowing that with the few He would revolutionize the world.

Maybe when the church is exploding, the pastor needs to raise the bar higher, and get all the more extreme, to weed out the lukewarm. If the church keeps exploding, instead of building a bigger building, maybe He should start sending them out be missionaries. The plentiful crop may have been a blessing of God in Jesus' parable, but what was condemned was the man, thought God's blessing was meant to be horded and selfishly enjoyed.

If I was a pastor I rather have a church of a few, faithful revolutionaries, then to have 1000's of  self-centered American dream pursuing Christian's who see God as a means to their own end.  I am sickened by the who idea of what a successful church is, what is the big deal about numbers. The whole stage and audience thing is very unattractive, I do not think the bible wanted a platform with entertainers, or for church to be understand as an event on Sundays. We have gotten far off tract!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithes mint and dill and cummin and yet you have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, faith and the love of God. You ought to have done these and not to leave the other undone."   -Matthew 23:23 

Jesus did not condemn their religious acts of tithing even the mint, dell and cumin, He even said you ought to do these things, but not leave the weightier matters left undone.
    Think about our Christian subculture, do we not do the same thing? We don't cuss, we won't listen to secular music, we "go to church", we have all the WWJD merchandises and the bumper stickers. Yet do we leave the most important aspects undone?
     I don't think we ought to have a filthy mouth for example, but if we are not serving God, laying down our lives for others and advancing His Kingdom, so what?
     May we be more then a whitewashed tomb full of dead mens bones.
Oh how many times people have prayed over me that I could be filled with the Holy Spirit, but I stand there with no thoughts and no emotion, I am like "I receive" and yet nothing, no matter how confident are those praying for me
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Some thoughts on why there is so much church division and congregational splits over silly things like the color of the carpet, the pastors preaching style and the worship/praise/hymn music.

Why is our taste and preferences so powerful and important? Why is it I would not feel comfortable with leading worship at a hymn only church where everyone has long faces and down voices? I think some of it has to do with what the church has become. For if church today is little more then going to watch a Christian concert and listening to a speaker, then why should it not just be about our relative personal preference? I don't choose to go to Brittney Spares concerts or go to listen to John Karry give speeches, for according to my taste, I don't like!

As a side note, let me mention one of the reasons for such extreme splits and hate in the church over such petty nonsense. People tend to give too much credence to whether their senses say something is good or bad. For one it seems so obvious... that sounds HORRIBLE, That taste disgusting, that feels itchy, that looks awful! It sooo obvious that it almost seems like a moral absolute! For example if it taste bad to us, we declare IT IS BAD and anyone who likes it is thus guilty by association! I don't enjoy rap music, but I'm now mature enough to appreciate it. Though in my mind, add a C in front of rap, and that is how it sounds to me. But a lot of people really enjoy it, so I should not make blanket statements against something based on my taste. We need to realize that in the same way we dislike what they like, they may feel the exact same dislike for what we think taste great.

But yeah, I wanted to mention how things change when in community or a loving relationship even though a common foundation for community and relationship is similar taste. Hopefully in a relational context, we see the need to give and take and be more understanding. We understand others are going to like different foods, music, colors and fashion. Because we're in relationship, we must learn to die in certain regards.

God wants us to be one in mind and spirit, united in a love for one another, that desires the best and believes the best about others. A desire to please and prefer others before ourselves. Now if we are only choosing which Sunday show we want to go to, where we will be merely spectators of the professional music leader and preacher. Then there is nothing relational in this and we might as well be governed by taste.

One last thing, I think it is interesting, how in relationship, we acquire an taste for what we once did not like. For example, a long time ago, a girl I was attracted to liked music that I was not really into and because of my interest in her, I learned to like the music.
Therefore, maybe the uniting foundation is love and then eventually even in our taste we will come more and more alike. Because many of our taste are based on upbringing. In North Africa where my sister was a missionary. Their favorite drink is spoiled goats milk with sugar (if I remember right). There is almost nothing that we would not like, (no matter how rotten, putrid and spoiled) if we grow up with it. Likewise when in community with those we love, taste will come similar