Thursday, November 5, 2009


"Well good morning! We are excited that you are here today and we want to take a moment and tell you how blessed we are that you have chosen to become a part of our 'religious organization'. While you are with us, and we do hope that yours will be a very productive and lifetime commitment, and in order to help assure that it will be so, we want to present to you our very own Religious Institution Acceptance KIT... This kit is specifically designed so we can avoid any misunderstandings, as well as any conflicts that may arise from your not understanding how we do things here. So take a moment, open it up, and become familiar with its contents as we begin this wonderful Religious Journey together.

Religious Institutional Acceptance Kits: Every Institution, Organization, and Group has them. Now, we don't call them that. And in reality, they may not even 'tangibly' exist. But they ARE there. And if we are going to "be accepted", "fit in", or "to be an integral part of that particular T.E.A.M.", etc. (and we all want to be accepted and feel that we are a 'wanted' and essential part of an organization) – then there are some things that are expected of us. Things the Organization expects us to do Sacrifices to be make, Investments to be made, and Services to be performed – and since we want to be a part of what GOD is doing, we will embrace these. And in doing so, we will fail to realize that we are simply a 'cog' in the machinery of The Organization's Visions, Goals, and definition of Success. In our hearts, what we are doing, we are doing unto and for our Lord. But in actuality, we are an expendable. For in The Organization, the smoothness of how the machinery runs will always take precedence over Relationships. Therefore, in order for us to best meet The Organization's needs, we are presented (what I am calling for this blog) our very own "RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONAL ACCEPTANCE KIT" which is 'given' to us when we become a part of an Organization.

Re: The Religious Institutional Acceptance Kit: Now we may not actually "label or call" it that, we may not even openly acknowledge it, or even want to admit it that it exits, but it IS there. Every 'group' has one, and each one manifests itself in various ways with different emphases. Just know this, however it 'plays out' for our group and in our life, it IS there – very real, ever controlling – it is our standard of operandi, our level for acceptance by which you 'stay a member in good standing.'

As you officially or unofficially 'become a part of / join' our "group, fellowship, church, institution, home group, body, etc.' depending on whether we as a group mandate a form of 'membership' or promote a 'non-membership' system and even though that in itself may not be official, we still operate by the same guidelines and standards as those who require a membership though it may manifest itself in different ways. Either way, you are given what we are calling a "KIT". What does the 'KIT' consist of? Each one is different, but the essential ingredients are the same.

The following "items" are found as staple items in most "OFFICIAL RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONAL ACCEPTANCE KITS". Their names may change from group-to-group, but the ideas are the same. They are:

  • The HOOP: In our kit we lovingly find a "HOOP". Not necessarily a "Hula Hoop", but the "Hoop that a dog jumps through"

    The Hoop is a very special item because it is what The Organization has decided that you must know regarding their "Five W's". You see, to be a part of our particular group there are 'certain things' that you must embrace in order to "FIT IN". And with the HOOP, it lets you know 'The W's' to jump through'.

    The following tells us WHAT KIND of HOOPS there are, and WHAT each one EMPHASIZES.

    (1). The HOOP of 'WHAT' – This Hoop that tells you what The Organization expects you to DO, (2). The HOOP of 'WHERE' - Where The Organization expects you to focus your Energies, Time, Efforts, and Resources on. This Hoop also covers 'Where you Can & Cannot GO, and the Where of What you Can & Can't DO, (3). The HOOP of WHO – Who you are to please and do it for (These guidelines and restrictions are "set" at the desires of the Leadership, and to be done for
    the glory of the Lord. The better you do so, the more you will be ACCEPTED and REWARDED. (4). The HOOP of WHEN – This Hoop tells you WHEN The Organization expects you to DO it. You see, even though you may 'serve the Lord' at other times, to be accepted, to be considered faithful, you MUST make sure that you perform your duties and deeds at the specified times The Organization has set aside for such endeavors. And lastly, (5). The HOOP of WHY – This Hoop gives you the 'WHY'S' to do it (whether that is because of Traditions, Visions & Goals of the Organization / Institution Agendas, Desires of the Leadership, etc.). You see, as an Organization we will tell you about God's unconditional love, but you will find it is only as (a). LONG AS YOU JUMP THROUGH OUR HOOPS, and (b) how often we NEED and EXPECT you to, that you actually experience that 'unconditional love' from us. After all, you must realize that it is The Organization that has set the bar regarding what they believe to be the LEVEL you must achieve in order to meet their standard of what they determine as "faithfulness" in order to best meets the needs of the Organization).

  • The HOOK: Now this is an important and essential item. A HOOK is The Organization's hidden, personal, and ulterior agenda / motives. What do we mean?

    Let's go fishing. We drop an attractive lure into the water to attract and entice a fish. The Lure LOOKS HARMLESS and ENTICING. Not all Lures are the same. You see, there are NUMEROUS LURES of various SHAPES, SIZES, COLORS, DESIGNS, etc., all with the specific purpose of drawing the attention of certain fish to certain needs. But BE WARNED - with every Lure is a HOOK.

    Imbedded somewhere within or under each Lure, is a HOOK. And here is something else; the Lure is in reality NEVER for the fish! They "think" it is, but in reality, it is not. The Lure with a HOOK is for THE FISHERMAN. The Lure is just designed to draws the fish to the fisherman either for Consumption, Trophy, or Statistic. The Fisherman uses a Lure with a HIDDEN HOOK DESIGNED to sink its deadly barb into the fish where it cannot get away. To "HOOK" you, as the old saying goes, "hook, line, and sinker".

    The goal of the Fisherman (as well as most Organizations) is to attract you to them without you (1) ever detecting the "hook" and (2) without you realizing that you were ever 'hooked'. The HOOK is there so The Organization can CAPTURE and MANIPULATE you into getting you to do what they want you to do for them. And the scary part is you CAN be HOOKED. All The Organization has to do is find your 'BUTTON' (it can be the need of feeling needed, important, not appreciated at your current Organization, the promise of power, etc.). And then the Organization will present 'whatever it takes' (The LURE) to draw and capture your attention, your deepest longings, and your greatest needs, to 'get you' (HOOKED) to become another 'fish' in their tank, trophy on their 'wall', etc.

  • COOKIE CUTTER & BOX: Now these are wonderful devices for accomplishing an Organization's agenda. You see, in a Religious Institution, there is actually NO ROOM for the following: "Asking Questions, Presenting Differences of Opinion, Having conflicting Beliefs or Goals, or even Expressing Thoughts or Ideas of Change, etc." When any of these are allowed, it prevents an Organization to run efficiently and smoothly. Allowing them 'throws a clog' in the machinery upsetting the desired production.

    You see, a COOKIE CUTTER is designed and implemented to keep The Organization running as a well oiled machine. In using this device, it will slowly 'brainwash' it's members to "separate themselves and shun anyone" who does not FIT INTO THE COOKIE CUTTER MOLD that The Organization has established for itself. The COOKIE CUTTER is designed for the PURPOSE of MAKING AN INSTITUTION "CORRECTLY" – even at the expense of RELATIONSHIPS.

    In an Institution, Relationships are in reality "secondary", the "Organization" is primary. If The Organization can instill within you the NECESSITY and NEED for "the organization to run right' no matter 'what the cost', then everything will be fine, because that it the way it's supposed to be! And the Organization WILL run right, as a FACTORY, not as a FAMILY.

    That is why a COOKIE CUTTER is included in each KIT. This device gives you the MOLD TO FIT IN to The Religious Organization's BOX. You see, if in the Organization / Club / Group, etc. we are ALL THE SAME (just the way the leadership wants), we can fit a larger number of productive cookies into the BOX (e.g. "four walls"). The Organization's mission statement in reality is: "If YOU ARE NOT IN OUR BOX, you are NOT "IN THE RIGHT and BEST BOX that GOD IS BLESSING'!"

    And The Organization wants 'EVERYONE' to be in THEIR BOX – to be accepted as part of their 'group'. As long as you: THINK like they do (without questions or variance), as long as you TALK the way they do, PRAY the same way they do, WORSHIP the way they do, OPERATE the way they do, EMPASIZE the "RIGHT STUFF", hold to the same POLITICAL VIEWS that they do, and DO THE THINGS they do, you will always FIT into their COOKIE CUTTER MOLD and BE A WELCOMED PART of The Organization / Institution. However, be warned; step outside the established mold of the Cookie Cutter standard that has been established, for any reason, continue to question and ask 'Why?', express a different viewpoint, or point out problems that are not being addressed, and you will 'stand out'. In doing so, you will now become the object of attack and receive rejection, rebuke, and disgust from the very Organization that you once so blindly and faithfully served.

  • THE LIST RULE BOOK: This is the established "Rules & Regulations" (both written and unwritten) of The Organization's MODE OF OPERANDI'. The "THINGS" you are allowed TO DO and NOT TO DO. Now, it is true that in an Organization there MUST BE a 'Robert's Rules of Order', etc. Without them, you will 'LOSE CONTORL'.

    So remember, don't ever question them. They come from those who "know best" and are 'more spiritual' in these various matters than you are. Just accept them by faith as from the Lord. Trust your leadership blindly. It doesn't matter if this LIST OF RULES is founded on Preferences, Traditions, Old Testament Law, Movement Mandates, or things that have been 'passed down' for many years. It even doesn't matter if they have no Scriptural foundation. You may never understand the reasoning of WHY you are doing something but that's okay. Just don't ever dare QUESTION! Because it really doesn't matter WHY, just DO THEM and you will be fine.

  • Personal Note: Even though this has become the 'NORM' among Christianity in America, and for much of the world; it doesn't make it "right". And even though many of our Churches & Fellowships operate more on Principles that resemble a Guidebook for Worldly Success, than a Biblical guideline or structure; the 'ends never justify the means'. And even though the above tends to produce a Disjointed, Stereotypical, Lopsided Body of Christ, with no room or need for the Biblical essentials of: (1). Agape Love (after all it is "easy" to love those who think, act, and do just what we do), (2). Grace applied to others, or for (3). God to direct our lives and fellowship (because in actuality we have developed a SYSTEM that operates on a FORM OF SPIRITUALITY THAT WE HAVE ESTABLISHED; you see, we have found that we can run our organizations more effectively, stream-lined, efficient, and successful by putting into place the above few items enabling us to accomplish much more with bigger numbers, better programs, larger successes, more polished events, etc.. We really don't need God because by applying the SUCCESS PRINCIPLES of today, we have produced a nicely oiled and well run Organization that is easier to handle than having to deal with a Living, Vibrant Organism, much well a 'FAMILY'. Let it never be forgotten that: Religion is always easier to control and operate effectively than Relationships.

The Problem is, once The Organization presents this 'KIT' to you with all sincerity, fervor and what they believe to be 'honest, holy' reasons, what they have done, perhaps without realizing it, they have inadvertently now taken our Focus and Passion OFF OF JESUS and redirected it towards The Organization's Programs, Personalities, Buildings, Meetings, Salaries, in other words, The Institution, itself. The Organization has now taken the simple JOY of loving Jesus, of experiencing the intimacy of the Abba Father relationship, and of daily walking by faith in "the dust of The Rabbi", and enjoying the daily worship of Him, and has subtly redirected your time, resources, efforts, energy, and emphasis and replaced it with satisfying the Goals, Vision, and accomplishing the Success of The Institution (numerically, financially, structurally, etc.). The Organization many times has also convinced you that you must rely on the Institution for direction, dependence, duty, and even for understanding.

AND… What The Organization has to now do is convince you that serving THEIR particular Institution is the same as serving Jesus.

It IS possible that you 'can' actually love and serve God within an Official gathering of believers and / or an Institution. However, we are finding that that is rare. Why? Look at the fruit. If The Organization does not convince you that THEIR Organization is THE BEST anywhere (though they may never 'say it openly') – If they don't CONVINCE you of the importance of supporting financially THEIR SPECIFIC Location, if they don't capture your energy and direct it toward their Programs and People, then there is a REAL CHANCE that you may: (1). Slow down and evaluate all that you are doing, and evaluate just how tired you have really become, (2). Begin to QUESTION the effectiveness of what you are doing and why (real motive), and if Christ is REALLY being glorified and proclaimed from our hearts, minds, souls, lives, and lips, or the emphasis is really on our Organization / Own Kingdom, (3). Begin to ask "WHY" is there such a 'SPIRIT OF COMPETITION' among God's people (other Brothers and Sisters in Christ, those gathering to worship in other places, at different or the same time), (4). You may leave your current Organization and be LURED and HOOKED by another Organizational Fisherman somewhere else that will now be the recipient of your Time, Talents, and Treasures. Or (5). Just realize how tired you really are and want to "flush it all" to embrace the simplicity and intimacy of walking with Christ and Abba Father instead of an Organization.

You see, in Matthew 11:28-30, when Jesus said, "Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest, Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." This was (and still is) refreshing living water offered to a Creation by the Creator to religiously obligated, tired people who had missed it. People who in all sincerity were trying to please God – offered to the most religious group of people in existence – God's chosen people Israel, who had become encumbered with 630 laws and the Traditions of Men. A system that had left them hopeless, lifeless, worn out, tired, frustrated, and dare we say it" RELIGIOUS.

Notice with me a moment just a few of the things our Lord emphasized; "Come unto ME (not a building, organization, temple, structure, a list of Rules & Regulations, etc., but a PERSON – Incarnate Agape Love) and I will give you REST (rest from what? Trying to please God by being religious –by trying to live up to a religious organization's control. TRUE REST – resting 100% upon HIM) for your souls. And how about; For MY yoke is EASY and MY burden is LIGHT (that is what the Book of Galatians is all about, as well as the entire New Testament).
Take MY yoke upon you and LEARN OF ME (not an organization, institution, etc.). We are so guilty of offering a 'salvation by grace through faith – a free gift' and then piling a load of religion on them instead of teaching them to walk with a PERSON. In the Organization we promote RELIGION instead of RELATIONSHIP.

Jesus did not come to establish religious institutions. In fact, His emphasis was on Relationships instead of Meetings. Jesus came in order to bring us back into right relationship with Abba Father through what He did for us at the Cross. To enjoy first, intimate relationship with God, and then with each other. Very little "permanent life change" comes from Weekly Sermons / Teachings, gatherings, meetings, programs, skits, classes, revivals, studies, etc. These things don't really work, and yet The Organization continues to perpetuate a SYSTEM that is in reality INEFFECTIVE. We are not saying that these don't have their place in the Body of Christ. Just probably but not in the abundance and importance that we have placed upon them. We keep promoting a "system" that is 'not' meeting the needs of Christians nor producing true life-change. But we have 'brainwashed' Christians for the last several hundred years that what we are currently doing is 'how' it is supposed to be done.

Let me close this out. Bottom line, let's ask THE Question about the subject we started with…

Do The 'KITS' work? If you've continued this far in this blog, please make sure you read the following. Where THE bottom line for us is will we continue blindly repeating what we have been doing for most of our lives with ever stopping to muster the courage to look deep inside ourselves at our TRUE MOTIVES and really QUESTION.
To question: (1). WHY am I really doing what I am doing? (2). WHO am I really serving and walking with? and (3). WHERE is the glory really going?

Because whether we want to 'admit' the 'KITS' are real or not, they are – and worst of all, sadly they do work. That is why RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS use them. What do we mean?

First of all, we are expending the majority of our ENERGY and TIME in making the Organization successful – and in the 'long run', we have very little time to spend with Abba Father, our families, or even in the community which we are trying to reach. Second of all, it is evident in our SPEECH. You see, it doesn't matter how much we talk about Jesus Christ within our Organizations (though true, He should be the motive and focus of all that we are doing). But in the "club setting", it is expected that HE should be the topic of our conversations. But the real test is outside our "four walls". Out in the real world. The Scripture says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks". And what we need to ask ourselves is "What is coming out of MY mouth? What am I constantly and consistently talking about? Do I talk more about my Church, Organization, Group, etc. than I do Jesus Christ, my Savior? Which is really more natural for me? What is truly in MY heart?"

THAT is the 'KIT'S' real fruit? What we talk about THE MOST to other Christians and lost friends is NOT ABOUT JESUS, but about our Organizations, Programs, Events, Buildings / Facilities, Leadership, Music, Websites, Promotions, Commercials, Classes, Meetings, etc. – in essence our OWN KINGDOMS. SADLY WE TALK VERY LITTLE, IF AT ALL, ABOUT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

The 'KITS' have worked. They have taken our FOCUS off of THE PERSON, JESUS CHRIST and HIS KINGDOM, and placed it on THE ORGANIZATION, THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH, and OUR OWN KINGDOMS. People outside the church walls very rarely, if ever hear us talk about Jesus. We can say we love Him with all our hearts, but if He rarely crosses our lips, without a HOOK of trying to proselyte or recruit people to our Organization, then it is true… "Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouth (our KIT) IS speaking."

"Well good morning! We are excited that you are here today and we want to take a moment and tell you how blessed we are that you have chosen to become a part of our 'religious organization'. While you are with us, and we do hope that yours will be a very productive and lifetime commitment, and in order to help assure that it will be so, we want to present to you our very own Religious Institution Acceptance KIT...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Come To Our Church...

"This week in "Thomasville" (or fill in your own city location), we would like you to join us at ________________. Join our Facebook page. Watch our Commercials. Come to our Meetings. Visit our ____________, Etc., etc., etc."

For most of us, when we INVITE you to ‘CHURCH’, in doing so, we are inviting you with the hopes that you will become a ‘special member’ of what we believe to be the best fellowship / church / home group in the area. Though we won’t tell you, we do believe that if you attend somewhere else, you will miss out on THE best entertainment / performance / presentation / group gathering over all the others in the area because of our special speaker, type of presentation, variety, choice and presentation of music, drama / skits, the times we meet, location, facility, and the clientele we represent.

In fact, in order to recruit you to ‘our location’, we will do whatever it takes. We will BEG you, BUFFET you, BERATE you, WOO you, MANIPULATE you, SHAME you, TRICK you, in reality, we will use every SALES GIMMICK at our disposal, all in the name of God to GET YOU / HOOK YOU to join our KINGDOM / CHURCH / FELLOWSHIP / LOCATION / INSTITUTION / CAUSE.

But in reality, and we do it all in the name of Christianity and for His glory, know that if you are already active in another church-type setting, know that 90% of our efforts and energy will be expended to “HOOK” you without you realizing what is going on.

For some of us, we are proud, pharisaical, and naïve enough to actually believe WE ARE the best, have a CORNER ON THE MARKET SPIRITUALLY, and are A STEP ABOVE everyone else.

And in our ZEAL we are kept BUSY because if we slow down and look too closely at what we are REALLY doing, we might discover, expose, and reveal that our true hidden motive and intentions do NOT honor our Lord. Therefore, the more we DO, the BUSIER we are, the more FOCUSED on the GOAL / VISION of our Pastoral Team, the more we are BRAINWASHED into following our own RULES / REGULATIONS or jumping through HOOPS - that even with excitement, the more we believe God is pleased with us. AND if we can CONVERT you to OUR Kingdom / Movement / Location, you are now one more person with the ENERGY, RESOURCES, TIME, TALENTS, MONEY, and LISTS OF NAMES that we can USE in GETTING and RECRUITING others.

You see, if we can MANIPULATE or PROSELYTE you over to our cause, it is in reality better for us. It gives us the sense of not only SPIRITUAL SUCCESS in greater numbers but FOOLING OURSELVES that GOD is blessing us because of it. And we CAN’T SLOW DOWN, because if we did, we would realize that even with ALL OUR PROGRAMS & EVENTS, and even though we present 52+ life-changing messages a year, most people in our FELLOWSHIP are not really changing – NOT REALLY. We are BUSY DOING without BEING. We have equated BUSYNESS with DISCIPLESHIP. We are in REALITY walking with the INSTITUTION which has become an IDOL instead of WALKING WITH GOD. We are LEARNING A LOT, but APPLYING VERY LITTLE. We can’t remember what we learned two weeks ago or are clueless regarding what God is speaking to us about today. But we do know, OUR WAY OF DOING IT is STILL THE BEST. Why? Just look at all the people!

AND if we can CAJOLE you over to our area, that means MORE MONEY for us to OPERATE our RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION that we call The Church by providing MORE PEOPLE and MONEY to support our PROGRAMS, HIGHER SALARIES, and GREATER, NEWER FACILITIES. And if we are really good at it, you will never realize how we HOOKED you in the process, but simply made you feel A PART of our way of doing things and thinking. And as long as you JUMP THROUGH OUR HOOPS, GET INVOLVED, INVITE OTHERS, GIVE YOUR TIME, MONEY, and TALENTS, as long as you PERFORM and THINK as we do, you will always FEEL WELCOMED and A PART of our fellowship and church. Fail to do so, and we will WITHHOLD that which you so desparately want and seek.

If you don’t know Christ, we don’t want to OFFEND anyone so you will PASSIVELY be a by-product of our investments of time and money. After all, it takes a LONG TIME to actually CARE about you and to not look at you as a NUMBER, STATISTIC, or NOTCH on our Spiritual Belts. And to be honest, as much as we don’t want you to go to hell, understand, if we expend most of our time and energy REACHING OUT TO YOU, over a period of time hopefully LEADING YOU TO THE LORD, think of the TIME it will take to get you PRIMED and TAUGHT to our WAY OF THINKING where you will GIVE FINANCIALLY to support our Institution. And if we EXPEND all that TIME & ENERGY on REACHING and DISCIPLING you, we may very well MISS all those other CHRISTIANS that some other INSTITUTION will “suck up” first.

So understand, no matter what we DO, hear what we are SAYING, we REALLY DO CARE, but most of our effort has to be going after people who are already SHEEP. We can always FIND SOMETHING they are not happy with where they currently are, where we can play on that ‘sore’ and expose it, and strategically present to them THE REASON WHY they should leave where they are to COME JOIN US, where WE will be EVERYTHING THEY EVER NEED. And who knows, maybe when we GET THEM, somewhere in the process, you will be a friend of one of those individuals, and then they can INVITE YOU.

We LIVE for our NEXT SERVICE. We LONG for our NEXT GATHERING. We are EXCITED about all that is going on where we WORSHIP as an INSTITUTION. We don’t call it that. But IT IS our FOCUS. Because in reality, 99% of what comes out of our mouths – the thing which we talk about the most is our CHURCH, not Jesus. We have EQUATED our SERVING THE INSTITUTION with the same thing as KNOWING, EXPERIENCING, and WALKING WITH God as our Abba Father. It is, isn’t it?

Maybe… just maybe, if we focused on the PERSON more than the PROGRAMS, maybe if we TALKED ABOUT the SAVIOR more than our SERVICES, maybe if we really LOVED ABBA FATHER more than our CHURCH BUILDINGS & PROGRAMS, maybe if people could see more OF HIM flowing out of our every pore and fiber of our being and lives, that comes from a passionate, intimate, REAL RELATIONSHIP instead of the RELIGIOUS MACHINE which we promote, maybe if we would start loving people ‘WITHOUT A HOOK’ WITHOUT ALTERIOR MOTIVES, maybe if we stopped discipling people to our Organization, and rather discipled them to an Abba Father who loves them unconditionally, then maybe, just maybe, those around us would SEE JESUS uncluttered from all our 'religious fluff', and maybe we would REALLY IMPACT and CHANGE the world GOD’S WAY, for HIS GLORY, as a BY-PRODUCT of KNOWING HIM.