I was first exposed to the realities of demon possession and spiritual warfare as a young teenager. My dad was a well-respected Southern Baptist minister who was gifted at expounding God’s Word and who had a huge heart to help hurting people. However, he had no idea the focal point of his career would end up being deliverance ministry . . . something he would eventually define as his life calling. It all started when a woman (who was part of a satanic coven) called my dad at midnight, saying someone had given her his phone number. She asked, "Is it true that since Satan is real, that God is real too?" This encounter began a long season of late night phone calls, emergent rushes out the door, threats on our family’s safety, and all night prayer vigils. And yet, my parents still welcomed this woman into our lives. She spent many nights sleeping in our guest room, even over Christmas. I watched my parents evolve as they tried to help this woman out of profound demonic bondage, all the while struggling to keep up with an unfamiliar learning curve. But their faith drove them forward, fueled by love for God and love for people . . .

In part one of this article, I addressed some of the differences between the Church we read about in the New Testament and the customs and mindsets of the Western Church today (READ HERE). I concluded that until we return to the true nature of following Christ and of serving one another in our gatherings, we would be left lacking. But since we can’t change the whole Church culture ourselves, where does that leave us – what do we do in the meantime? If we aren’t getting much out of Sunday morning church, is it okay to occasionally skip? Or would that dishonor God and only lead to further discontent and disengagement over time? I do not claim to have all the answers, but as I have worked through these questions personally, I have come up with ten things to help me . . .

Have you ever gone to church on Sunday morning and felt like you were wasting your time? Maybe the worship music felt flat (and those gathered just appeared to be going through the motions) . . . or maybe your mind wandered through the boring and irrelevant sermon (which only seemed like the pastor was trying to “fill time”). All you could think was “I should have stayed in bed,” or better yet, “We should have gone out on the boat today.” Well I have . . . on many occasions, but the feeling was never unique to one particular church. Though I have always valued going to church, my Sunday morning experiences have varied widely throughout my life. Sometimes I leave the service feeling like I met with the Lord, encouraged and better equipped in my spiritual walk, and other times I leave feeling completely . . . 

A dear friend of mine recently lost his young daughter in a horrific tragedy. I wanted to comfort him, but the gravity of his loss, and the manner in which it occurred, left me speechless. I had no words that could erase his bitter heartache - even my prayers seemed to fall flat. For months I sought to find understanding, purpose, or hope in her passing . . . but how could there be a divine plan to such an atrocity? Whoever said God would not give us more than we can handle was flat wrong – this was way too much for anyone. Sure God’s Word promises that His grace will be sufficient for us in our time of need, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) . . . but how do we acquire this grace in our darkest nights, when there simply is no answer to the question “why?” And how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction of a loving and faithful God who could . . .

I was taught from a young age that Jesus was the only way to God, and that if I accepted Him as my Savior then I would go to heaven. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. All I had to do was believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sins, ask God’s forgiveness, and then accept His free gift of salvation. I believed what my parents told me . . . and what child wouldn’t do that in order to spend eternity in paradise instead of hell? With my child-like faith, I said the prayer and sealed the deal. However, I remember even then thinking how fortunate I was to be born into a Christian family. I wondered about people raised in other cultures or religions, and how a loving God could send them to hell. I mean what if my parents were Muslim or Jewish or Hindu and had a different understanding of “truth” – I am guessing I would have just followed their lead into a different faith . . . and with no less sincerity! So due to mere chance (or God’s "cruel" election), I would have gone to hell for believing the wrong thing. But I know for certain that God is good, so something does not . . .

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