Tag: unity

Christian Icons

imageOne of the greatest things about being a Christian, in my opinion, is having at least a glimpse of what I’m being transformed into. Notice I said a glimpse.

What’s so great about that? Well, I consider the original man and woman, Adam and Eve, were in really great shape when they were first created. But that which God is transforming His children into is FAR GREATER than His first kids.

God is in the process of transforming me (and all believers) into the very image of His Son.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” (Romans 8:29 NASB)

His Son, the Word made flesh, the exact representation of God’s image and nature. Incredible.

“…in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power…” (Hebrews 1:2-3 NASB)

This is far beyond my capacity to understand, but my heart cries out, “I believe”.

Name any superlative that describes Jesus, and that’s what He’s transforming us into. No, no, no, not to compete with or try to replace the Savior, but as a reflection of Him. A mirror.

Kind of like the icons on a computer desktop. The icons represent, and are, in a way, the entrance to the particular program. You know what’s inside by becoming familiar with the icon. If you want to open Facebook, you know it by the large, white “F” against a blue background.

The word “icon” comes from the greek word, “eikon” (pronounced – i-kone), which means: a likeness, statue, profile, representation, or resemblance. An image. It’s used a number of times in the New Testament, as a description of what the believers are becoming; both morally and mentally. 

For example:

“Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:49 NASB) 

Mankind has borne the image of fallen man, ever since the first Adam no longer reflected the image of his Creator. The Second Adam, however, has changed all that. Now, through faith in Christ, we are being transformed into His image, from glory to glory.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB)

From glory to glory. The more we behold Him, the more we become like Him.

“in whose case (the lost – v.3) the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB)

Seeing, viewing, understanding, beholding the light of the gospel is what opens up our hearts to Christ. The gospel is the light which unveils the eikon of God. Jesus.

Into Whose very image we are being changed. 

“He is the image (eikon) of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 NASB)

“and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (Colossians 3:10 NASB)

When God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”, He was looking past the fall, and was expressing His plans for His family – the sons and daughters of God. As the fall of Adam didn’t catch God by surprise, neither did it nullify His original intent. It has just taken a while for the seed to take root.

As sons and daughters of God, let’s remember we’re the eikons seen by the world. Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14), and it’s not blasphemy for us to carry ourselves in the same manner. I understand it’s a hard concept to grasp, but it’s God’s intent.

Notice Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23 NASB). Jesus went as far as to say, “Ye are the light of the world.” He also was heard to say, “I am the light of the world.”

John wrote, “As He is, so are we in this world”, (1 John 4:17). Also, in chapter three of the same letter, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 NASB).

Christian, you and I have a high calling to tend to. And as we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. This is what we’re called to do; to be.

That’s why we’re called Christian – because we’re to bear the image (eikon) of the Christ.

YOU Matter

 

I had the wildest dream. No, not like some I’ve had. 

The other night I dreamed Elvis (yes, THAT Elvis) was alive. Not only was he alive, but I was at a bowling alley with him. Alternating between bowling and singing; we were having a blast! 

No, when I say a wild dream, I mean a dream like none I’ve ever had. 

I’ll give you the highlights, so you can judge for yourself. 

I found myself in a large room, the size of a gymnasium. There were a few people in the room with me, though no one I knew.

I don’t know why I was in the room, but it seemed like we were all waiting for something. No, we were waiting for someONE; the person who had invited us all to attend. 

Everyone there was a “person of color”; I was the only white. 

Now here’s the part that I thought was wild. 

I found myself on my knees praying for those who were with me in the room. The leader still hadn’t arrived, but I was compelled to pray. 

Suddenly the room was packed with hundreds and hundreds of young people, mostly black kids, with a lesser amount of young Asian and Latinos. Still, I was the only white.

My prayers turned into groaning and weeping, crying out to God on behalf of those in the room. Others began to join in the intense intercession, while we waited for the leader to arrive. 

The intensity of the prayers was so great, we were so involved in praying and weeping for one another, the leader’s arrival was of secondary importance. Sure, we wanted to see the leader, but we knew we had to care for one other while we waited. 

By now, almost everyone was lying on the floor, praying and weeping. I remember a young black man, a teenager, getting so close to me, praying for me, I could feel his tears against my face. 

When the prayers were more than groaning, I could hear myself and others pleading with God that each person there “would be filled with the Spirit of Glory, so each one would know the length, depth, height, and breadth of God’s immeasurable love, so the world could really see Jesus among us.”

The season of prayer kept increasing, while more and more people filled the room. By the time my dream was over, the room was crammed full of people praying and weeping together. 

I finally awoke, realizing my wild experience was only a dream. But a dream which could, and should, become reality. 

“that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 ESV)

There’s a lot of fuss these days over the various “________ lives matter” emphasis. “Black lives matter”, “All lives matter”, and others slogans floating around social media outlets don’t do a bit of good in bringing people together. 

The slogans, as catchy as they may be, only help drive people apart. 

“All lives matter” sounds good, but it has an underlying message: “YOUR slogan, and what YOU believe, IS WRONG!”

What if, while waiting for the true Leader to arrive, we put all we have and are into the task of praying and weeping with those whose skin is a different shade than ours. 

Wouldn’t it be something if we could, by our actions, not our rhetoric, say to the world “YOU matter“?

I say it would be WILD!

And who knows, maybe the Leader would arrive while we busied ourselves with caring for one another…

Wild? Yeah, like revival wild.

ETERNALLY wild!

Black History Month – A Catalyst For Unity

 I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been known to say things that are insensitive, reveal my ignorance of a particular subject, and are nothing more than stupid. 

A couple of my “prize” sayings have been regarding February’s Black History Month. 

I’m not a racist, but apparently I can be a little slow in figuring some things out.

“Why isn’t there a White History Month?”, was one of the doozies. 

“Why is there so much talk about slavery? I’ve never owned anyone; white or black.”

See what I mean? 

But I must have been in a smarter, more sensitive to God’s mood when it finally dawned on me; maybe learning another’s history could help bridge any racial barrier that hinders true unity and revival in the Body of Christ.

Unity is essential. For any human body to function properly, each member or part must be in proper relationship with the head AND the other parts. If the head can only communicate with the arm but not the hand, there can be real problems. And if the hand isn’t communicating with the wrist or arm, nothing good will happen; and the will of the head won’t be accomplished. 

So it is in the Body of Christ and the individual members. 

I’m not talking about the local church right now; I’m referring to the Body of Christ as it pertains to a community, city, and even nation.

God has a family made up of people of all colors. Members of His Body, filled with His Spirit, and hearing His voice. 

But in many places, the Body is divided by color. Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians and others unable or unwilling to communicate with one another. 

Yet each group is praying for God to move greatly in our society!

Instead of dissing, or even ignoring Black History Month, I’m going to see what I can learn about my brethren who have darker skin than I. I’m going to learn more about their history, and listen to them speak. 

Unity is the catalyst for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. Psalm 133. Communication is a requirement for unity. Dialogue, two or more people conversing WITH one another, is a necessary component of communication. 

But before two or more people can have dialogue, someone must first yield to the other, allowing monologue. 

For me to be heard, I first have to listen. Afterward, trust can be developed and dialogue can begin to happen and thus pave the way for unity. 

Ephesians 4:3 tells us to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit…“, which means we have to first HAVE unity before we can KEEP it. 

This year, I’m looking at Black History Month differently. I’m expecting to learn more about my precious brothers and sisters. 

How about joining me? Let’s celebrate diversity in the Body, and work toward dialogue, communication, and, ultimately, unity. 

You may have never owned a slave. You see yourself as a lover of all races. But have you ever listened to someone’s story? 

That’s a good place to begin. 

Lessons From The Tower Of Babel

Babel

Hellish situations can yield Heavenly insights

1) Unity, solely for the sake of unity, is not necessarily good.
When man joins together to disobey, or ignore God and exalt man, it is disastrous
God’s anointing flows when brethren dwell in unity, submitted to God

2) One language, one speech, might possibly be the wrong words
The majority isn’t always right; in fact, they seldom are
Listen carefully to what’s really being said. Don’t just agree automatically

3) God is more interested in diversity than man is
God created variety, and walked among it saying, “this is good”
Man worked together until they had variety. They gave up.

4) All the universe is full of God’s Glory when diversity points to One
Order is necessary with diversity
God alone is the Author and Sustainer of true order

5) Though the whole world may agree with you, disobeying God results in confusion
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, of life
The wicked flee when no one pursues…

6) The Lord says to spread out, replenish, give. The world says the opposite
The tower builders didn’t trust beyond what they could see. Stay here, they said
Fear limits your possibilities, keeps you from discovering a whole new world

7) The builders, movers, and shakers in Shinar had only temporary influence
Don’t believe you have to compromise your belief to get ahead
Honor the Lord with what you have, what you get, what you do, and who you are

8) Make certain the “name” you make for yourself will withstand God’s scrutiny
Everything we build will be inspected
A good name is to be chosen, rather than riches

9) United we stand, divided we fall. United in rebellion guarantees we fall
Be confident in this, sin is always discovered. Somehow, someway
Determine what God thinks about something, and unite with His cause

10) Anything man builds can be divided by God. What God builds is indivisible
Man builds by taking a part of this and a part of that
God is the glue that holds things together. Including this world

11) A three-fold cord is not quickly broken
Two are better than one, unless there is strife and contention between the two
Three has to become one for there to be strength. Each gives its all to the others

12) Unity without God is short lived, at best
You may last your lifetime, building teams without God
What will you have left the day after you die

13) The Lord can restore unity out of confusion and chaos, and still celebrate diversity
The Universe declares the Glory of God, the Diverse Universe
The Garden of Eden, unity and diversity

14) Those who speak the same thing can accomplish the same thing
God said, “Let US make an in our image…”
If two of you agree as touching anything on earth…

15) Scattered throughout the earth wasn’t punishment. It was accomplishing God’s will
God has an order even in the various ways to plant different kinds of seeds
At times, God has to stop our dead end projects to move us to our destiny

The Tower of Babel began under the dark designs of man’s adversary, the devil. Scheming against God’s instructions, the devil’s influence was aimed at having man destroyed again by God. Why? To try and keep THE PROMISE of Genesis 3:15 from coming to pass.

But God sees through every scheme, every plot, everything designed against His plans and purposes. And He has an answer for anything the devil attempts to concoct!

So don’t be discouraged if something comes your way you didn’t plan for. And don’t be upset if your “building construction” is halted. God’s not stupid, blind, or away on more important business. Rather look around, He’s probably standing right beside you.

Learn the lessons from the tower of Babel – and you’ll find yourself grateful to God for His continued faithfulness.

What’s next? Please think with me.

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Something is stirring in my heart. I’m seeing something in the scriptures, yet I can’t quite see it. Do you understand what I mean?

I read this yesterday:

“So Solomon finished building the Temple.” (1 Kings 6:14 NLT)

Then, as I meditated on that passage, I remembered what happened after Solomon had finished building. As the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant and other items into the Temple (kind of like moving God’s furniture into his house), then:

“…At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NLT)

In other words, God moved inside; he took up residence there.

Okay, with that thought I started looking at Moses’ ministry, and the building of the Tabernacle of Meeting.

“So at last Moses finished the work.” (Exodus 40:33 NLT)

Again, just like in Solomon’s example, when the place was finished and every part was in place…

“…So at last Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:33-35 NLT)

Yes. God moved inside, and his glory became evident to all.

So now I read the passage in Ephesians.

“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22 NLT)

I know what I’m thinking and sensing; but I’m not certain I can articulate it.
God is in each individual. Right. But is there something the Church is missing?

So I ask you…what comes next?

If God established a pattern, first with Moses and then with Solomon, what can we expect when the Body of Christ finally grows up? What is on the horizon for the church?

What will it take for us to get “there”? Or, “are we there yet?”

I look forward to your thoughts…

God’s Move (a prophetic plea)

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A move of God is the only thing that can save America. And it will have to be a move of God, not unlike the demonstration and visitation seen on the day of Pentecost many, many years ago.

Back in “the day”, the first thing the believers did was join and pray, expectantly. What were they expecting? They didn’t know. Jesus said something about being filled with power, clothed with power, and also something about being a martyr.

They weren’t sure how long to pray. They probably didn’t know what to pray. They did a little bit of church business, but other than that they prayed. And stayed in one accord. In unity.

Once God showed up, the people worked at keeping it a move of God. At least for a number of years. Oh, it wasn’t easy, as there were a number of people tossing in their two drachmas worth of nonsense.

There were a few cages rattled, and a few feelings hurt; but the world was changed by the move of God.

Today, there are a number of people praying and expecting a move of God. I see a difference, though, between today’s “upper room crowd” and our kinfolk back in Jerusalem.

The difference? Our kinfolk didn’t have the disadvantage of years and years of church history to mess them up. They just prayed expectantly, knowing God would do something great. Not like today. We have 2000 years of church history, with fussing and fighting and defending OUR beliefs by declaring everyone else’s wrong.

Today’s group, if not careful, will pray expectantly until something happens they don’t agree with. Until someone tries to move the hand of God in a way others haven’t witnessed before. Or until the wrong person gets the nod from God to preach to the gathering multitude.

There is needed a move of God. God. And we need to let him pick the orator. We need to allow him to set the stage, call the cues, and pick the players. It’s his show.

I fear, yes, fear is the correct word; I fear the church settles for a tiny move of God in a church over there somewhere. And a little move and excitement in a church on the other side of the tracks. Settling for a revival meeting here, a revival meeting there. Little smatterings of God. Little bits of God’s pocket change dumped in an area with trillion dollar needs.

Because that’s all God wants to do? No! Because that’s all we will allow him to do.

Already I sense there are people placing their name on what God’s trying to do. “Come to MY prayer meeting. It’s the one God’s using to give birth to his last great move.” Really?

GOD is up to something bigger, MUCH bigger, than what my little bitty mind can define. Yours also. As on the day of Pentecost when everything was new to them, that’s what’s coming our way. GOD, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, WILL do something redemptive and restorative one more time. Many are sensing it. Many are believing for it, expecting it.

Great. Let’s not cause a miscarriage of God’s move with our selfishness, a desire for followers, and a lack of true love for God; as demonstrated by our love for the brethren.

Egos, be nailed to the cross, in Jesus’ Name!

May God move and may we allow him the freedom to move.

Because He WILL do good.

Names

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There’s a word used to describe a certain segment of the Church. Actually, there are a NUMBER of words used in describing the Body of Christ. No, I’m not referring to words like “arms”, “legs”, “hands”, etc. Different words that seem to imply division, rather than unity.

Names.

Of course, it’s nice to locate people by what they believe. It makes it easier to know who we can hang around with, and who we should avoid. Right?

That’s why we call some people liberals, others fundamentalists. Some are known as Armenians; I’m told they clash with the Calvinists. And I can never keep it straight who believes what.

There are Lutheran, Methodist, and Jesus Only believers. Baptists, Free Methodists, Brethren, and so many others I can’t remember, or keep straight. Of course, each group believes their doctrine is THE correct interpretation of the scriptures; which means the other groups are just a little bit flaky (at least, a little).

So about this word, this group, I started to tell you about. They’re called “Pentecostal“. From Acts 2:1-4. The word is used a couple of different ways, depending on which part of the church is using it. For instance, when a “Pentecostal” says, “I’m Pentecostal”, they say it loud and proud. But we all believe what we believe, and we believe what we believe is right! Bless God!

And we stick a name on people who don’t believe like us.

When a “Non-Pentecostal” points to someone and says, “They’re Pentecostal”, chances are they mean, “That guy is a nut!”

Have you ever been guilty of pointing out a Baptist to a Pentecostal brother? I have.

Tongue talking fanatics, that’s what Pentecostals are. But they’re not the only odd duck.

Lutherans are people who can’t pray unless the prayer is written down for them to read.

Methodists, they used to be bible thumping, holiness preaching, students of the Word. Now they’re just a bunch of liberals, like the Presbyterians.

Baptists? You can’t be a good one unless you believe in eternal security and read from a Schofield bible.

Jesus Only people, well, they’re stuck in Acts 2, skipping clear past Matthew 28:18-20. And they’ll just about fight you to prove their point. But if there isn’t a trinity, what’s it called. Parity?

Brethren? One group of Brethren baptize in water face first, and another clan baptizes like the Baptists.

And of course, there isn’t just one group of Baptists. Oh no. There’s Regular Baptists (they’re the ones with plenty of fiber in their diet), Black Baptists, American Baptists, Full Gospel Baptists (they’re the ones who received the left foot of fellowship from the “Non” Full Gospel Baptists), Southern Baptists, and, I don’t know for sure, but there’s probably Montana Baptists (made up of ultra conservative types, Tea Party Republicans). They’ll be running the country, some country anyway, one of these days. Just wait and see.

I’m NOT putting down Pentecostals (I am one, if you must know which group I’m in). I’m not making fun of any other group, either. There’s a bit of weirdness in each and every group. How do I know?

Easy. People are weird.

What I’m attempting to say is this: Jesus didn’t die so he could have a bunch of body parts. He didn’t go to prepare a place that has to be partitioned, so the holy rollers are separated from the prayer readers.

He is the head of a (singular) Body. Filly joined together. Not just the Baptists joined with other Baptists (which doesn’t work too well, anyway), or the Assembly of God folk (you know, the “All the Gospel” cats) locking arms with “those of like precious faith.”

Jesus is the head of One Body of Believers!

Yes, I have different things which I believe are true; according to the scriptures. But first, foremost, and really, what else matters; I am a believer. Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead so I could have eternal life.

He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquity. Surely he bore our sorrows, and by his stripes we are healed.

Pentecostal? So what? Baptist? Big deal! Child of God through faith in Jesus? That’s what I’m talking about.

How about you? What’s your favorite label to use? Can you receive communion with a tongue talker? Can you learn from someone who went to a different seminary? Can you listen to someone teach, who never went to school? How about reading material from an ignorant fisherman? Like First and Second Peter?

Yes, the Church of Jesus needs to grow up. That’s what Paul prayed (you Lutherans know this stuff).

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:13-16 ESV)

It’s what the Lord has been working on for a long time.

How about us growing up TOGETHER?

The Three Legged Race

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Have you ever tried running in a three-legged race? I have, probably about 6-7 years ago. It’s not an easy feat to master, but with a little practice and a few well placed, practical tips it can be kind of fun.

The three-legged race is a lot like walking in agreement, or walking in harmony and unity with a brother or sister in Christ. So, the tips I share will have multiple applications.

Tip #1 Try and pair up with someone whose legs are about the same length as yours. It makes it much easier to walk when you can take the same size stride. If it’s not possible, then just remember, the person with the longer stride must yield to the shorter.

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1 ESV)

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 ESV)

God In The Midst

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Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered – to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. (Revelation 5:6-14 NLT)

They sang a new song…” “They” who? Who sang a new song? The four living beings and the twenty-four elders. They each played a harp as they carried the prayers of God’s people in their gold bowls.

Here is an example of Spirit-led worship. As a musician, I am amazed when 3 people can play and pray together WITHOUT a rehearsal! And for 28 to gather and sing a NEW song WITHOUT A REHEARSAL, is nothing short of a miracle.

What makes the difference? God is in their midst, and they’re in His Presence.

The Church Mall Epiphany

20130814-165216.jpgIt was an epiphany of no small magnitude. My eyes were wide open, as they should have been since I was driving my Outback and pulling a boat, heading west on Park Avenue; but I saw the possibilities in my spirit.

As I meditated on the new idea, the clearer it became. It was something that could revolutionize the religious segment of Des Moines, Iowa. In fact, if developed and marketed correctly, the potential impact on the American society would be huge!

Before I share my “epiphany”, allow me to give you some background info first. As I mentioned, I was driving on Park Avenue. A friend and I drove past a huge warehouse/manufacturing plant that has been empty since 2001. My friend commented that it was a real shame the building just sat empty; surely someone could use it for something.

That’s when I had my epiphany!

By the way, the building is over 14.5 acres in size; 633,919 square feet, to be exact. To help you grasp the enormity of the building, if you took each square foot and put them in a single, square foot line, the line would connect Des Moines with the Missouri River, 120 miles away. Also, Des Moines’ first enclosed mall, Park Fair, is only half the size of the vacant warehouse.

Imagine!

Okay, now for the epiphany, the revelation. I warn you, though, some of you may not see the humor, or the validity, in this. But you know what? You might as well laugh, because many times the truth is funnier than fiction. And, unfortunately, the world is laughing at the church for some of the various reasons I’ll mention. So you might as well laugh along with them until things change. At least then they’d be able to relate to you and I.

I pictured a group of 25 churches, or so, joining their monies and leasing the whole building. Various denominations: Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Apostolic, Church of God in Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Word of Faith, Vineyard, Non-denominational (Pentecostal), Non-denominational (non-Pentecostal), Independent Baptist, Regular Baptist, Southern Baptist, Free Methodist, Federated, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Open Bible, Church of the Wildfire, Church of the No Fire, Brethren, Sprinkler churches, Dunking churches, communion every Sunday churches, communion once a year churches, fire and brimstone churches, honey and syrup churches. All gathering together under one roof and calling it, “The Church Mall”.

Yes, folks; the Church Mall! And think of the possibilities! The church shopper would finally be able to find what they’re looking for!

Each church would have approximately 21,000 square feet to utilize. All they would need to build would be their own sanctuary and classrooms. Nurseries, offices, restrooms, coffee shops and lobby areas would be shared by all. Trained, paid personnel would handle all nursery duties, office functions (to include mailings, posting and deposits of offerings, payment of bills, janitorial duties, and keeping the coffee hot. No more worry about volunteers! Besides, in today’s economy, good jobs are kind of hard to find; this would remedy that problem, at least for some.

Picture with me, please, you and your spouse walking down the middle of the mall, reading the different signs/advertisements over the church doors. It’s Saturday morning, around 10 o’clock, and you’re interested in “trying” a different church tomorrow. So, you’re doing a little “window shopping”.

You walk past one church and see the picture of a communion cup on the door. Another one proudly displays a logo with A/G on it, along with the words “All the Gospel”. Nothing strikes a chord yet, so you walk on.

Continuing down the mall, your ears are suddenly assaulted by the loud, discordant ruckus coming from inside the church called “The Lion’s Din Church”; a church where the righteous are as loud as a lion. It’s a charismatic, non-denominational church with a sound system to match even the loudest of rock bands. Apparently the church’s worship leader, D.B. Whocares, is having a last minute band rehearsal.

There are signs advertising special confession services: “Catholic”, you say to your spouse. No, just the Word of Faith church proudly displaying their logo, “Miss the mess when you confess”. Catchy, but probably not for you.

On and on you walk. Signs advertising such things as, “the church that’s alive is worth the drive”, “large enough to serve you better, small enough to care”, “King James Bible Only”, “Come, feel the heat of our altar calls”, “God’s Truth has made us great!”, “The Church for Hymns and Hers”, “The tomb is empty, who needs the cross?”, “Our communion wine is the best in town”, (by the way, that church is right next door to the church with the logo – “Happy Hour every Sunday morning”).

You finally return to the Mall’s main entrance, completely exhausted, still unsure which church to visit the next morning. But don’t fret, because in the morning all the ushers will be out and about helping you find your way to their door.

I’m sure it would be interesting, you know, deciding which church gets the spots closest to the main entrance, and which one gets the least desirable space. And imagine the discussions involved regarding what can or can’t be displayed on each church’s individual sign. Some things would just have to be taboo, don’t you think?

Do you think this “Church Mall” idea would generate any interest? If not, why not? What could possibly be wrong with it?

After all, didn’t I read somewhere that there is ONE Body? Didn’t Jesus say something about His Church being ONE? And what will Heaven be like? Probably ONE group called “the Redeemed”.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:1-6

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:6-23

Maybe the idea won’t catch on, and probably just as well. The competition among churches is hard enough on society as it is. And I don’t believe a facility has yet been built that can weather the storms created by the masses streaming from church to church; as they hunt for the “Perfect Church.”

Perhaps someday the world will be ready for the Church Mall.

Do you suppose Heaven is?

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