Happy Good Friday to all of you! I hope you’ve enjoyed a very peaceful and solemn week of reflection on the sacrifice Jesus made for you and me, over 2000 years ago. Because of His blood, we have the right to full remission of our sins, and after all these years, the cleansing, healing, saving, delivering power of the blood of Jesus STILL works! Whew… that made me want to bust out in a song!

Okay, I’m back. Whew!!! So here we go… the Good Friday Edition.

Before You Give Up on Church…

1. Spend more time “in the mirror” (figuratively, of course). One problem we have in the church is that everybody thinks everyone else is the problem. Philippians 2:3 (AMP) says “Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].”  Chances are, you either are part of the problem or you have been in the past. Don’t allow yourself to think you’re above the fray. Acknowledge your reflection. Own it. And fix it. If we could only think more highly of others than we do of ourselves…

2. Spend more time in prayer. As I mentioned in A Few Things I’ve Learned, prayer changes things. Prayer has a way of humbling you, calming you down, showing you yourself, and activating the characteristics of Christ that dwell in you. It’s hard to pray for someone who wronged you, as the Bible instructs, and not feel compassion and love for them. Prayer changes things, but more importantly, it changes people – and that change usually starts with the person praying.

3. Don’t gossip, and don’t allow anyone to gossip to you. Gossip contaminates your thoughts, your mind, and your heart. Most of our frustrations in church wouldn’t even exist if we didn’t know what we know (or what we think we know). So stop letting people use you as their trash can, and stop depositing your trash in others. Keep your mouth shut and turn your ears toward Jesus. I Peter 4:15 (KJV): “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” As said in I Thessalonians 4:11, study to be quiet and mind your own business!

4. Measure yourself against Galatians 5:22-23. I participated in this Bible Study teleconference once, and at the end of it, the instructor asked everyone to rate themselves 1-5 on each of the fruits of the Spirit. WOW. That was a life-changing experience. I realized that while I could take a 3 or 4 in some areas, and a 5 in one area, my overall rating was pretty dismal, and I had some work to do. If everyone in the church – YOU and me included – spent time working on this, things would start to look a lot better.

5. Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. James 1:19. I know that sometimes, you just have to say something. But remember, that Jesus was oppressed and afflicted, and He opened not His mouth. He was wrongfully convicted, and didn’t try to defend Himself. He let them think they had won, knowing that victory was already His.

6. Stop trying to resolve conflicts YOUR way (in the flesh). I don’t know why we act like the Bible was just written to give us good sermon material, or to sit in the back windows of our cars. There’s some good stuff in there! If we follow it, we could easily achieve order in the church. Conflict is normal, and it can even be healthy. God knew conflict would arise in the church, so He gave us the remedy. When issues arise with a sister or brother, the ONLY “right way” to resolve it (the only BIBLICAL way) is to follow the three steps outlined in Matthew 18:15-17.

7. Stay focused. So often, we forget the real reason we assemble ourselves together. It’s not for auxiliaries, fashion shows, holiday services, or any other reason but Jesus Christ. When things get rough, remember the reason you’re there. The enemy (and the people he uses) would desire to frustrate us to the point that we don’t want any part of the church, but keep things in perspective and remember your role in the body. The Church cannot function properly without YOU. You are part of the body (I Cor. 12). Keep your mind renewed (Rom 12:2). Keep your thoughts in captivity to Christ (II Cor. 10:5). Think on the things that are of good report (Phil. 4:8). Look to the hills… (Psalm 121:1). When your eyes are on Him, you probably won’t even notice all the other stuff going on (unless you’re the administrator… lol).

8. Always look for God in that trouble-making person.  Look, the truth is, not everyone’s light will shine as brightly as it ought. Try to remember that no matter who you’re dealing with and what they’ve done, God loves them. And He wants them to experience His love through you. He won’t hold YOU responsible for what they do to you, but He will hold you responsible for how you respond. You never really know why people act the way they act or do the things they do, but what you do know is that everyone needs love. Isn’t it just like man to go off of what we see and not what lies in their heart, under all the muck and mire?

9. Don’t kick a sister or brother when they’re down. Galatians 6:1 says:  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Try to remember that when you’re tempted to kick someone who messed up. Whether it’s Tonex, Eddie Long, Tye Tribbett, J. Moss, Alvarado, or Sister Susie from next door, try to remember Galatians 6:1. We’re all in the same army, remember? Often, they’ve already been restored and are counted among the friends of God, and positioning yourself as an enemy by shooting at them with “friendly fire.”

10. Take personal responsibility for making sure that everyone in your congregation experiences love. Judging from the many stories I’ve heard over the years, it seems the primary reason people give for leaving the church is that they are somehow wounded, abused, or mistreated. If we all take personal responsibility for showing the love of Christ, which IS the greatest commandment and the one on which all the others depend (Matthew 22:36-40), no one would get hurt. Let us remember what Paul told the Corinthians:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” — I Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV

Remember that those who don’t show love, really don’t even know God (whew, I know that’s a tough one to digest, but it’s Bible – I John 4:8).

Call me crazy, but I think that if the pastors, bishops and apostles catch hold of the list in What is Wrong With the Church – 10 Things That Need to Stop! and the lay members catch hold of the 10 things above… shucks, we’d be on to something big! What do you think?