My journey started with a question. The question I asked was; what was the difference between my neighbour and I, other than I went to church? This was the beginning of a journey I am still on. I wanted to know the answer to this question. So I prayed one day and asked God to show me who he was and so the journey began. My journey has taken me into the realm of the Holy Spirit. This journey caused me to pursue the power of the Holy Spirit as described in scripture. During this journey I have seen a void of the Holy Spirit in the church. I have also seen the counterfeit presence of satan. What I found sadly was that there was not much of a difference as the church and society had way too many similarities. My very first sermon I preached was called the Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. Yes, that title will sound familiar if you drive a Lexus. If they can claim that why can’t we. For this to happen we need the power of the Holy Spirit upon us. This is the call of the remnant. I want to be part of the remnant so we have been calling on God for revival so that he would shine his face upon us once again.
                I continue to ask why the church looks so different to the New Testament church. This is as I found out is not a popular question to ask in the church. The reason for this unpopularity is the only explanation is that we have disobeyed and God has turned his face from shining upon us and people do not want to hear that. This lack of power in the church is a direct result of our not following the whole counsel of the word of God. In 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” 2 Chronicles 29:6 “For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs. 9 For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.” We have broken covenant with the Lord God Almighty.” 2 Kings 17:14 “they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” The only answer to this is to repent and do what 2 Chronicles 7:13 tells us to do. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Sadly most Christians do not realize that we are in a famine and drought or that the Holy Spirit has left us, not completely I might add, just the power part.
                This has happened because the church has turned away from the word of God. Here is one example of this happening. Earlier I said I did not see a difference between my neighbour and I and that concerned me. The way I was lead was to change my life by seeking the narrow gate and returning to the word of God. Others decided to focus on the neighbour. Willow Creek called their neighbours Harry and Mary. Saddleback called their neighbours Sam and Samantha and their kids they called Steve and Sally. Ask yourself this. What is the difference between you and your neighbour?  The answer should be significant if you call yourself a Christian. Stats on the other hand are showing there is not much difference in the church. These churches and those that copied them did what ever they could to make them comfortable. This mentality is distorted as the church has lowered its standard to reach the lost. Ezekiel 11:12 “And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Ezekiel 5:7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Our standard must be higher. There are even many good things happening to people Christian and not, like getting better from being sick, marriages restored, financial turn arounds etc. This list could go on and on but the point I am making is society and the church are too much the same. There must be a definite distinction. Malachi 3:18 “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. 1 Corinthians 14:7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? We must not be satisfied with what is happening outside the church. We should be looking for the incomparable, immeasurable, unimaginable power that is available to all who believe. Those around us should us see it. Elijah said, 1 Kings 18:36 “At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” The difference is that people will know that it was God and none other.
                On the surface thinking about your neighbour sounds great and most in the church flocked to this concept. Sadly the Purpose Driven Church and Life became a bible for most. In doing so they became sheep without a shepherd scattered on the hill. Why you ask? They exchanged the truth for a lie. They watered down the gospel to attract their neighbours by saying we are just like you are. How can we make the church attractive for the un-churched they asked and then preceded to do so? Remember God made it very clear not to be like them. Leviticus 18:3”You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.” They offered them coffee instead of the blood (One person said they drank their coffee with their feet on the altar), the love of God became narcissistic causing them to ask what is in it for me, they offered them comfy seating and entertainment instead of carrying the cross (And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple)
    They consoled them in their sin as not to offend them with the truth because if they did they might not come to church. So what if they don’t. Jesus himself said it would be better for them to be cold than to be luke-warm. They were being taught to be lukewarm from the beginning instead of teaching them to search hard for the narrow gate. They said come follow me, as I have found a wide gate so we can all go through at the same time.
                This teaching spread through the church like gangrene and churches are still following this teaching even though in an effort to please the neighbours they have offended God. Out of this teaching you have other teaching that spread through the church like wildfire like Celebrate Recovery, which is simply a Christianized 12 step program. If it is anointed then it should have phenomenal results but it does not. It actually should be called Celebrate Recovering. Why do I say this? The person behind this is Rick Warren and his purpose driven church and life. Many followed this teaching hook line a sinker as God’s plan for them but in reality it is another gospel. Please read what I am about to say very carefully as it sums up my previous point. This is not propagation of hate. Some time ago on Facebook Rick Warren posted, “Today Kay found Matthew's Prayer Journals and his well-worn, completely marked-up copy of Purpose Driven Life. I sobbed.” Rick Warrens’ son had committed suicide. I would never want suicide to affect anyone’s life. I am also not saying that Rick Warren’s son died because of bad theology. John 9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Notice that the man was then healed. What I am saying is that I do believe that if we returned to the truth, we would have power to fight these sicknesses that continue taking our children, friends, family and others. Perpetuating this powerless gospel is damaging the church. Because the gospel has been watered down in the church we have little to no power to fight this vast army. A well-marked copy of the Purpose Driven life is not the answer. This bible as it has become for so many will not defeat this enemy. Only by repenting of our wicked ways will this happen as God promised to then heal the land.  So instead of worrying about being like Harry, Mary, Sam and Samantha to reach them, maybe we should as a church be worried about ourselves being like Christ. No I am not preaching narcissism but by repenting of our ways God has given us many promises about standing against the enemy. Mental health issues are just one of the areas satan is working. It is just one the areas we need God to move in power and to bring healing.  
                Teaching people to search for the narrow gate is not popular. You will not win friends and influence people, sorry Dale Carnegie. Teaching and preaching the gospel will always cause people to take offense just as they did with Jesus. Jesus said, “7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8“ ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” 10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Be careful who you follow. If people were offended by Jesus, they will also be offended by us. Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This next verse is the expectation of many pastors and teachers and many are afraid to do otherwise for fear of their jobs. 1 Kings 22:12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.” Just like this most want to hear everything is going to be all right no matter what. Scripture does not paint that picture.
                Is it important to love your neighbour? Yes it is. But remember the great commandment. Luke 10:27 “He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" You cannot love your neighbour without loving God first. We have to get back to being a holy people travelling on the highway of holiness. When we get the first part right, the second part will happen in a big way when the first part is done right and according to scripture. After the disciples waited, the power of the Holy Spirit fell on them and thousands were added to their number. The modern church can hardly grasp this. When we put the two together, the church once again looks like scripture and changes the world. Then our neighbours will say, there is something missing in their life because they have met you. To tell them come join us, we are just like you are, is not the gospel. If you have followed this plan of changing the gospel to win Harry, Marry, Sam and Samantha and their kids, repent for the kingdom of God is near. We must turn from our wicked ways and humble ourselves before God. He said those who seek me would find me. To see the promises of God fulfilled we must turn back to him.
                I leave you with these verses 2 Chronicles 30:6 “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. 8 Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”