Just in Case You Wondered, I Noticed.

I noticed today.

I noticed the pew you usually sit in was, empty.

I noticed.

I couldn’t help myself but look at that empty seat. I was so excited to see you. I asked around. I thought to myself: maybe you were sick or maybe it was vacation. Maybe you had to work…I had to ask.

I waited for you. Hoping to see you walk through that door.

But…you never came.

The pew stayed emptied.

The service began at its normal time. You know the drill: welcome & announcements, the choir sings, congregational joins in – all pointing us to worship and praise God. It was glorious, yet I found myselg distracted.

I had to look one. more. time!

  • Maybe I missed you.
  • Maybe you slid in the back.
  • Maybe you were running late – hey, that happens to all of us. I understand!

I scanned the crowd; your presence was simply, gone

The ack I felt inside was well, awful. Singing, prayer, music filled my ears yet my mind struggled to stop the distractions…the internal noise. “Focus” I told myself. “Come on…refocus yourself!” “Lord” I asked, “please help me! My heart is grieving.”

Whether you realize it or not, your absence leaves a whole within our body of Christ. It leaves an emptiness inside me. We are family. 

  • You see, you are not alone.
  • Matter of fact, I am not alone.
  • We are never “alone.”
  • We influence.
  • We impact.
  • The question is doing are we doing in that influencing and impacting?

I want to be clear about something before I go on, my need to refocus was my problem this morning — I needed to take before the Lord. But there is something that you need to know — when you are not here, I notice. Others notice too.  Can I tell you why?

  • You may not think you impact.
  • You may think your presence is insufficient.
  • You may think no one cares.
  • You may think God doesn’t care — or notice.
  • You may have every perfect excuse to why.

Think what you will, but clarification needs to happen. You are a child of God, you belongs to this body of believers, you are part of the family of God and your local body of Christ, your church – suffers when you are not present. Do you know how VITAL you are? *

It isn’t just four walls we call church — this is being part of the body of Christ. How can the foot say to the hand, “I have no need of thee?”

  • It doesn’t stop there – collectively we worship our Lord within these four walls, we serve and use our God-given spiritual gifts together within His church, but it doesn’t stop tere — we minister together outside these four walls.
  • Christ is not a ‘Sunday thing.’
  • Your life is a 24/7 vitual expression of Christ.

You see, I can’t fulfill my God-given responsiblity (or do it well) to God when you are not fulfilling what you are suppose to be doing in Christ’s church. The ripple efforts are felt. Christ said He will built His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).  

  • You are our Sister-in-Christ.
  • You are our Brother-in-Christ.
  • Together we are Christ’s body – jointly knitted together by God Himself.

When one doesn’t fulfill their part, the body cannot fulfill its God-mission as a whole. That makes you VITAL!

So, just in case you wondered…I noticed!

  • I longed for your presence.
  • I longed to worship and serve God alongside my Sister-in-Christ.
  • I longed to worship and serve God alongside my Brother-in-Christ.
  • I longed to grow and repent alongside you.

But that didn’t happen. Only you know why…

  • The next time you decide your presence won’t be noticed…
  • The next time you think your worship or service to God will not be missed…
  • The next time you think God will not observe that you played church—hooky and did something else instead of worship Him…

Be assured, “noticed” happened.

“Noticed” happened not from a judgmental or critical spirit (though we all knwo there are a few out there, but this is not me). We are knitted together through the bonds of Jesus Christ…that is love. More importantly than me…

  • God is in love with you!
  • God adores you!
  • God I love you!
  • This body of believers loves you!
  • Your God-gifts are just that…yours…and no one can replace yours. Only you can use them or fulfill with them. No one can fill your shoes. No one wants to fill your shoes. Your shoes are yours — that’s how God designed it!
  • So, don’t play church—hooky! Go fulfill.

1 Corinthians 12:12-28a

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the many parts of that one body are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, whether we are slaves or free, and we have all been made to drink of one Spirit. 14 The body is not one part, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has established the parts, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 So there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, those parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those parts of the body which we think are less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor. And our less respectable parts are treated with much more respect, 24 whereas our more respectable parts have no need of this. But God has composed the body, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacks it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that the parts should have the same care for one another. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and members individually. 28 God has put these in the church:

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}


*Yes, I hear it already, “But Colleen, you don’t know my church story.”

My friend, I could write a book on churches–from both sides of the fence. I have spoken to numerous women who have quoted the very same statement you are thinking.

May I ask you a question?

Does the sinfulness of others give us the right, or an excuse, to disobey God’s Word?

  • The answer, my friend, is No!

Excuses will hold no sure ground when God asks you, “Why didn’t you obey My Word(s)?” His Word changes not. To say, “Well God, I didn’t obey you because of those church people (those hyprocrites) over there on 2nd Street. You know what they said about me and what they did to me.”

Those hyprocites. Be careful — it is always best to look in the mirror first. You are responsible for your obedience and your disobedience to God. Excuses won’t work.

The question that should pierce our soul is this, now what?

Do we remain as we are or do we begin to see our sinfulness before a righteous God and confess. Repent. Turn from living our own way to God’s way?

  • Are you going to obey God?
  • Are you going to trust God?
  • Are you going to walk by faith and not by sight?
  • Are you going to deliberately live in biblical application of God’s Word in your life?
  • Are you going to ask God to help rid the “stuff” — the “people” or the “disappointments” of life and cleanse us, free us from the bondage of bitterness or hatred? Or continue to allow our flesh, our spirit be eaten away from the inside out? Bitterness is self-canabalism.

Freedom is possible but only through Christ.  

I tell you from personal experiecne — Christ frees the bondaged soul. Christ sets the captive free. You cannot soar when you are living in chains. Soaring can only happen, when through the working power of Christ in you, forgiveness is unleashed. I know, my chains fell off!

Because of Christ, Colleen Woodruff | inchristiamshe.com

Church Member Beware!

Words have meaning. And if church members start articulating words consistently, those words begin to reflect the priorities and passions of the church.

I (Rainer) wrote a little book (I Will) on statements church members make that can move a church toward Great Commission and Great Commandment greatness. But there are some sentences that can prove harmful, even deadly, to a congregation. Here are seven of the most deadly statements:

  1. “I like our church just the way it is.” When you begin to hear this statement expressed among church members, you can be certain there is no Great Commission heartbeat. We should never want our church to stay just like it is; we should be constantly seeking to reach new people with the gospel.
  2. “My pastor doesn’t visit me enough.” There are so many things wrong with this statement. First, it reflects a ministry where there is expectation that the pastor is to do most of the ministry, instead of equipping others to do the work of ministry. Second, it reflects a dependence and self-centered ministry on the part of church members.
  3. “I always vote ‘no’ just to keep the leadership in check.” This person is the disrupter I described in an earlier post. He or she really wants the focus on self. Attention seeking and self-focus are characteristics of this person. They are toxic to churches.
  4. “I just can’t worship with our style of music.” The worship wars aren’t over. These church members could never be missionaries because their indigenous people group probably wouldn’t be singing hymns from the hymnals. There is no sense of worship with these church members; they are all about their own preferences and desires.
  5. “People know where our church is if they want to come.” This statement reflects deadly ecclesiology and deadly missiology. It assumes that the church is a place; and it assumes that the Great Commission is, “Y’all come.”
  6. “I love you pastor, but…” This statement reflects a church member who is both deceitful and deadly. He or she tells leaders they love them, but puts a metaphorical knife in their backs at the first opportunity. These members tear churches apart.
  7. “I pay my tithes here, so I deserve…” This church member sees his or her offerings as conditional. So, in a real sense, they aren’t offerings as much as they are country club dues. They will continue to pay their way as long as they get their way.

To be clear, most church members do not make these statements nor do they reflect these attitudes.

But healthier church members should and must speak up when they hear other members making such destructive statements.

Otherwise, the naysayers, cartels, critics and bullies will have their way in the church. And the church will soon cease being the church.

This article originally appeared here.


Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,

I came across this article last Tuesday, saved it and read it Thursday and was like “yes!”.

Thom made some spot-on points in his article. Believe it or not, sadly, he is right on many accounts. My family and I have seen first hand both the healthy church and the unhealthy church throughout our ministry travels.

What breaks my heart most is seeing the church who has made the decision to not listen because they ‘think’ they know it all yet their church is dying or already dead. Their methods are not working yet they will not listen to the Word of God and ignore those who have God-given tools that could help them. Their hearts are hardened. Their ears are closed. Pride has taken center stage and Christ is tarnished.

Truthfully, it makes me sick.

Christ’s church is not ours to toy with nor is it a place to inflicted others with our own personal vendetta. Church is to be done God’s way. Period. Not our way. God’s church is not Burger King! It ought never to be.

This may not be your church scenario, for that you can praise God for but don’t get prideful. It slips in the back door and Satan uses it with all his might.

  • Don’t go there church! GUARD God’s church and please only Him. Some things come by only fasting and prayer. Seek God first above all. Bring glory to God.
  • Don’t go there believer! GUARD your heart! Don’t get in the way. Serve, adore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but say no to your pride and bitterness.

There is comfort in all this.

  • GOD builds His church, not us.

God is bigger than our sinful souls, even believers. God will build His church, but God is not pleased with rebellion towards or in His church.

It’s God’s church, to be conducted, organized, fulfilled, given, taught, obeyed and lived out God’s way.

Following God’s blueprint for church is perfect because God is perfect. When we don’t, we distrust God’s plan. We then sit on the throne — we tell God that we know what is best.

Trust God. Trust His Word. God knows what He is doing.

Little side note —

1) YOUR PASTOR: He is a saved by grace human being. Not all pastors are created equal, but we are warned in Scripture how to treat our Pastor.

If you have had an unfortunate situation via church remember not all pastors or churches are the same, but before God we are all to be actively obeying God and His Word.

  • Are you harboring bitterness?
  • Do you need to forgive someone?
  • Have you rejected God’s plan for His church and people?
  • Have you ceased ‘assembling yourselves’ together?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, get your grievances or offenses dealt with biblically. You never go wrong following God. When we don’t we find ourselves in sin and our relationship with God is hindered. God will hold us accountable whether we kept His Word and obeyed it or not.

Biblically confront those you need to and leave the results up to God. When you don’t, you are the one who losses in the end, not them.

If your pastor seeks God first over all else, obeys God above man, follows and fulfills God’s instructions — follow his leadership. God has given you a special gift in Him. He is rare. He is God’s Shepherd to you. When you follow his leadership you will be blessed as a church because God is at the helm, not a man.

2) EACH OTHER: Lift one another up to godliness. We are to be walking, living in Christlikeness…display it, give it, show it, fulfill God’s blueprint.

Let’s glorify God together — in and outside the four walls we call church and may others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}

Just in Case You Wondered, I Noticed.

I noticed today.

I noticed the pew you usually sit on.

I noticed today that it was empty

I noticed.

I couldn’t help myself but look. I was so excited to see you…I asked around. Maybe you were sick, maybe you were on vacation, maybe you had to work…

I waited.

I hoped.

But…the pew stayed emptied.

The service began at its normal time.

You know the drill: welcome & announcements, the choir sang, congregational singing began – all pointing us in worship and praise to God. It was glorious, but I was distracted.

I had to look one more time.

  • Maybe I missed you.
  • Maybe you slid in the back.
  • Maybe you were running late – hey, that happens to all of us.

I scanned the crowd.

Your presence was simply, gone.

I had to try; I had to stop my mind… “Refocus” I told myself. “Lord” I asked, “please help me! My heart is grieving.”

Your absence left an emptiness inside me.

  • You see, my friend, you are not alone.
  • Matter of fact, I am not alone.
  • We are never alone.
  • We influence.
  • We impact one another – for the good or for the bad.

Now before we go on, I must be clear, my refocusing was my problem that I needed to take before the Lord. But there is something that you need to know — when you are not here, I notice. Others notice. And I will tell you why.

  • You may not think you impact.
  • You may think your presence is insufficient.
  • You may think no one cares.

Think what you will, but let’s clarify what you really are to your local body of Christ, your church – VITAL!*

YOU ARE A VITAL PART within these four walls we call church.

  • It doesn’t stop there – collectively as we minister together outside these four walls.
  • Oh, but wait there is more…your walk in Christ is not a ‘Sunday thing’. Your life is to be used VITALLY for Christ 24/7.

You see, we can’t as a body of Christ, when you don’t.

  • You are our Sister-in-Christ.
  • You are our Brother-in-Christ.
  • Together we are Christ’s body – jointly knitted together by God Himself.

When one doesn’t fulfill their part, the body cannot fulfill its God-mission as a whole. That makes you VITAL!

I noticed!

  • I longed for your presence.
  • I longed to worship and serve God alongside my Sister-in-Christ.
  • I longed to worship and serve God alongside my Brother-in-Christ.
  • I longed to grow and repent alongside you.

But that didn’t happen. Only you know why…

So…

  • The next time you decide your presence won’t be noticed…
  • The next time you think your worship or service to God will not be missed…
  • The next time you think God will not observe that you played church—hooky and did something else instead of worship Him…

Be assured, noticed will happen.

Not from judgmental or criticism spirits, but rather from spirits of love.

  • Because God is in love with you! God adores you!
  • Because I love you!
  • Because your church loves you!
  • Because the God-gifts you bring are just that…yours.
  • Only you can use them or fulfill them. No one can fill your shoes. No one wants to fill your shoes. Your shoes are yours and that’s how God designed it! So, don’t play church—hooky! Go fulfill.

1 Corinthians 12:12-28a

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the many parts of that one body are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, whether we are slaves or free, and we have all been made to drink of one Spirit. 14 The body is not one part, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has established the parts, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 So there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, those parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those parts of the body which we think are less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor. And our less respectable parts are treated with much more respect, 24 whereas our more respectable parts have no need of this. But God has composed the body, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacks it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that the parts should have the same care for one another. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and members individually. 28 God has put these in the church:

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}


*Yes, I hear it already, “But Colleen, you don’t know my church story.”

My friend, I could write a book on churches–from both sides of the fence. I have spoken to numerous women who have quoted the same statement.

May I ask you a question?

Does that give us any excuse to disobey GOD’S Word?

  • The answer, my friend, is No!

We cannot stand before God one day and say, “Well God, I didn’t obey you because of those church people over on 2nd Street. You know what they said and did.” It won’t work.

The question is now what?

  • Are we going to obey God, trust Him and biblically apply His Word to our lives helping us to rid through “the stuff” or not?
  • Or will we continue to allow our flesh to fester?