The Proof

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." Philippians 2:14-16

The Seven Last Words of The Church: "We never did it that way before."

The Seven Lost Words of The Church: "DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT GRUMBLING OR DISPUTING." Philippians 2:14

Everything that can go wrong in a church can be traced to the toxic ignorance of "The Lost" and the chronic repetition of "The Last" words of the church. In this case, "The first shall be last" is of little comfort.

Any parent who has ever told a child to carry out a simple assignment has observed the difference between what their child does and the way they do it. Taking out the garbage, or cleaning a room may be technically accomplished as an act of obedience, but the attitude with which it is done often reveals a heart of pure rebellion.

Paul prayed for the church day and night to have an attitude marked by the character of Christ, and a conduct that matched His character. What they did and the way they did it was to be the living proof that they were motivated by and a mirror of "The Way, The Truth and The Life." Jesus.

It is not enough for a Christian or a church to bear the name of Jesus on its stationery, sign or T-shirts. Everything they do in the name of Christ, must be done the way Jesus would do it. Unfortunately when the world squeezes a Christian, or attends one of their churches, they do not always get what is on the label.

When the "What Would Jesus Do" Bracelets were all the rage, a survey was conducted in Christian Bookstores of America to determine what was the one item most shoplifted from their shelves. It turned out to be, the "WWJD" bracelet. But I digress.

Long before reality TV made its mark in the broadcast world, there were soap operas. These artificial dramas were designed to perpetually stir up the emotions and interests of bored people. Many of them proved to be the longest running shows on TV. They are living proof that some things in life can be death-defying without being life-giving.

If a soap opera was produced based on the minutes of most church business meetings, it would not be called "The Bold and The Beautiful. " It is more likely and more accurately to be described as "The Grumble and The Rumble."

"Do all things without grumbling and disputing." This simple admonition has been replaced in most churches with, "You can't make this stuff up." It would be funny, if the truth was not so sad. Churches are closing their doors by the thousands every year. Stay tuned. There are more to come.

Grumbling is the soft, rumble of mild discontent that secretly takes place in the heart, before it comes out of the mouth. When it first emerges it can have a soothing, non-threatening sound, like that of cooing doves. This is a deceptive trick of the enemy. These sounds are not coming from doves, but dragons. Well-intentioned, they may well be, but they are murmuring matches searching for a contact point, and a good place to start a fire.

Disputing is the rumbling that begins when grumbling no longer satisfies the discontented heart. It actually is rooted in the Greek word that provides the English language with the concept of dialogue. Unfortunately, in most churches, when two opinions are expressed, three opinions emerge.

John's Gospel says, "In the beginning was The Word." This Word was The Logos. It is always dangerous for the voice of The Logos to be drowned out by the dialogue. When people lose their love for the first Word, they usually end up lusting for the last word. When they get their wish, there isn't much left to talk about.

"Do all things without grumbling and disputing." Philippians 2:14 - These seven lost words hold the key to the relationship a child of God has with The Father. They also impact every other relationship people have in their lives. People who are wrong with God aren't going to keep things right with others for very long.

"...always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Ephesians 5:20-21

Talking to someone, without praying with them, in the name of Jesus, about any issue of crucial or mutual importance only builds the grumbling and the rumbling. It has the same potential of two opposing weather fronts colliding with one another.

Talking without praying seeds the clouds of the discontented, and invites the possibility of turbulence. Twisted tongues can become tragic tornadoes that wreak havoc in the lives of families, friendship and church fellowships.

Constructive dialogue should never be entered into without a climate of prayer. Destructive dialogue always rushes to fill the void left behind by vanished prayer in the home and in the church.

Note to self: Prayer with your wife and with those you seek to lead will prove to you and to them what you really believe. All the rest is religious talk. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!