A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Integrity in the House of God

As I mentioned before, my brother-in-law came to preach at our church in October.  During the time he took on Sunday morning, he delivered what is really more like two sermons than one.  In America, we refer in joke to the first sermon as being "for free".  Of course, we don't charge people to get into church, but in the USA money seems to be at the bottom line of everything!

I shared already what he preached about valuing the things of God.  That was the "free" part. LOL!  I also want to share what the Lord had laid on his heart to share originally.  Some of the things I shared in my blog about Happy Valley really were a result of thinking about this sermon and the recent events in my locale and how those things relate to the church at large in the world.  Of course, not being a world traveler in any respect, my main focus is on the American church mostly and it's seemingly free-fall from grace and integrity.  I'm not that old, but in the years I have been a Christian I have seen some monumental and fundamental changes in the church, it's doctrine and it's practice.  Recent events are just fallout from these changes and I pray are a wake-up call to all sincere believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

He preached on "Integrity in the Church"  His premise was that the church in America has lost her integrity.  

When the church lost it's integrity, it lost it's impact on society.

In August, I experienced my first earthquake.  The epicenter was in the state of Virginia not too far from Washington DC.  As a result, the Washington Monument was damaged.  They have found several cracks in the structure.  Although it is still standing and looks the same as it did before, the "integrity" of the building has been compromised.  Yellow caution tape has been placed around it's base to warn any approaching that the building is unsafe.  Anymore shaking or even a strong wind could place those in or around it in danger if it collapses.

My BIL's definition of integrity was this:  "the amount of pressure something can take without caving in , falling down and being compromised.:"  He went on to say that if you have been through a trying experience and all you can say "all I have left is my integrity, then you will make it through alright."  Scripture tells us that "those who endure to the end will be saved"-we have maintained our spiritual integrity!

When we lose integrity, we lose authority with God.  If we choose to lie on Monday and then pray in Jesus name on Tuesday, it won't do any good.  In fact, if you find that Satan is not submitting to the name of Jesus in your life, you'd better examine yourself to see if you've lost your authority with God.  The devil has no option but to bow to that name, but if it appears he has an option, then you have probably lost your integrity and thus your authority along the way somewhere.

Obedience through the week gives quality and integrity to your worship on Sunday.

Integrity is not born.  It's made by consistent living in obedience.  A weak structure of heart and soul is the result of inconsistent living.  Each act of obedience strengthens integrity in your life.

Church going people need to learn to tell the truth.  We've all been dishonest and inconsistent with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  For instance, we have all seen someone in the store that we really don't care for on a personal level and we do all we can to avoid having to stop and talk to them.  But on the occasion that it's unavoidable, the first thing we say to them is "Oh, it's SO nice to see you."  We didn't mean a single word we just said!

Some parents tell their kids to do something.  they may tell them several times.  When the kid doesn't respond, they say "I'm counting to three." What they have really taught their children is that words don't mean anything. 

In Genesis, God spoke and there was.  Now that is integrity.  What He said came to pass.  We tell the church and the world that we can pray and be healed, but we very often don't see it.  The church must have faith to the level that we can back up what we say.  Instead, we explain it away by coming up with some different theology that presents God as weak or partial.  Or we hear "Well, God is sovereign."  God IS sovereign and He has sovereignly  presented His will to us through His Word.  And that Word says that healing is part of the atonement and that He will heal every time and anything when faith is present.   It's not His will that we are sick or die of illness.  But it happens.  It's not His will that any should perish, but they do.  That's not God's fault, it's our fault!  But instead of looking at ourselves and examining our own faith, we spiritualize our weakness and ignorance by pinning the blame on God's sovereignty.  

Just recently two people I know, who were professing to believe God for healing died.  I don't believe it was God's sovereign will.  Neither death brought any glory or honor to the name of God.  They mostly left questions, confusion and pain.  I'm not judging them.   I'm just saying that what happened to them and what the Word of God says should happen were two totally different things.  And I can't believe that the problem lies with a perfect God.  The church has lost her integrity when it comes to healing.  What we used to see, we don't see anymore.  Has God changed?  Has His power or will to heal diminished?  NO!  In fact, I told my husband that if I ever get sick and die of a disease that I want him to stand on top of my coffin and proclaim that it is God's will to heal all-all the time and that the problem in receiving the healing is lies with the person in the coffin, not with God.  Okay, the last 1 1/2 paragraphs was "for free!"  LOL!

Ps. 25: 21 
 May integrity and uprightness protect me, 
   because my hope, LORD, is in you.

The word integrity does not occur in the New Testament, but the words sincerity, truth, and a single eye do.  Integrity protects and preserves us.

Psalm 26
 Vindicate me, LORD, 
   for I have led a blameless life; 
I have trusted in the LORD 
   and have not faltered. 
2 Test me, LORD, and try me, 
   examine my heart and my mind; 
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love 
   and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

We must have a lifestyle of integrity.  We must have a  strong personal relationship without any backsliding.  To backslide, you have to first lose your integrity.  The devil tries to weaken your structure (compromise your integrity)  until you collapse.

Prov.11: 3  
The integrity of the upright guides them, 
   but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

integrity guides you when facing a decision.  If a decision is going to compromise your integrity, don't go there.

Prov.  20:7
The righteous lead blameless lives; 
   blessed are their children after them

Even our children are blessed after you if you live in integrity.

So many want to see miracles again in the church.  And when God does start to move we sometimes grow arrogant and wear His moving as some kind of spiritual badge on our shirt.  God's miracles are not a short cut through your spiritual responsibility.  

In Gen 20:5  Abraham lost his integrity by lying about Sarah.  Abimilech was wrong but not in the integrity of his heart. Eventually,  Abimilch became a God-fearing ruler.  In v. 6 he states that he was kept from sin because of integrity.  Integrity will save you from the pain of sin.   

Integrity is co-joined with obedience and is the product of obedience.

Gen 13:1-  Lot was a distraction to God's plan for Abraham.  God never told him to take Lot or his father along.  And Lot caused distraction and was a problem for Abraham along the way.  If he had obeyed totally what God said, we might read a slightly different story in scripture.  Of course works is not what saves us, but you'd better have works after you're saved and you'd better have a maintenance program for your spiritual life in place!

I've often compared salvation and the life following to receiving an expensive car as a gift.  The car was a gift.  It cost me nothing to get it.  But after it's mine I am responsible for insurance of the car, gas, and repairs on the car.  That cost's me something.  Salvation is very much this way.  It's the free gift of God, but it will cost us everything!

Not having integrity in your spiritual life will cause you to lose out with God.  You miss a service one Sunday and you feel guilty.  The second time you miss, you feel bad, but not as bad as you did the first time.  Soon, you lose all guilt and you lose the desire to even be there.  Your conscience is seared. 

In spiritual maintenance, we have to live ahead before we get there.  We have the law of this and the law of that.   He called it the law of inevitability.   Think ahead.  If I eat 2 pieces of pie every night,  I'm not going to look the same.  People smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and are shocked when they get emphysema.   To be healed, you have to lay down the cause of the illness or sickness or problem. 

Integrity is a binder.  Love is made up of all kinds of attributes.  One of them is integrity.  Water is the binder with flour, yeast and salt that produces bread.  Integrity is what holds things together.  It's a moral fiber to the human soul.

Civilizations implode from within, not without.  This is why we must have integrity with the Word of God and why the church to some extent is imploding.    The church has lost it's integrity when dealing with God's Word.  And it is imploding, slowly and surely.  

We shouldn't have to think about our answers to questions concerning sin.  Many preachers get on t.v. and him-haw around trying to say the right answer in a palatable way.  Even if we're on t.v.  We just say yes it is.  God said it. Take it or leave it.  Jesus never worried about being politically correct or "sensitive" to a person's position in life.  He just told the truth and they had to deal with it.

The church has paid a high price for the loss of integrity.  We're a joke to the world.  We're just like the world.  And God is not honored in that.

Gen 25: 34  Jacob and Esau.  Esau lost his birthright.  The birthright meant everything.  It was the key to prosperity and legacy.  He didn't value it.  He valued this earth more than the spiritual not realizing that his earthly life was greatly affected by his birthright.  We cannot compromise church attendance for a better shift or better pay.  We are, in effect, losing our birthright in God.  Joseph's integrity took him from the pit to Pharaoh's house.

 If you want to succeed, maintain your integrity.

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