Ichabod and coffee. 

I admit it. I had to read the second half of Kimberli Lira’s article through tear-blurred eyes.

IMG_1574Kimberli (the woman who wrote the candidly heart-wrenching article “Why the church doesn’t need anymore coffee bars“) has successfully captured in one blog post what I had been lamenting for years. Through her husband Mel’s death, she has effectively exposed the problem with most American churches. 

It’s the rotting fruit that I warned against for years only to receive countless verbal lashings for it on Internet forums, on blogs, and in face to face conversations. I was regularly labeled “judgmental” and called a “Pharisee” for warning about the very thing that Kimberli is now enduring. And all of it came from professing Christians content with wading through life in their mile-wide, inch deep therapeutic social clubs that masquerade as churches.

I enlisted in the battle for the purity of the Gospel, and it was for those like Kimberli, her dying husband, and her grieving kids, that I fought.

IMG_1573And it was for these reasons I took an almost daily verbal beating from those endorsing the great downgrade of the church while they dined on its rotting fruit. In the end, there were too many of them and not enough of us. They seemed to have a neverending endurance, energized by the comfort, pleasure, and entertainment that was the source of their strength and numbers. So much so, that I eventually laid down my arms, fatigued from the endless battle.

Before you do anything else today, stop and read Kimberli’s story. I pray that it does for you, your church, and for American Christianity, what my years of defending and contending for the faith never could.

God bless you, young widow, in your time of loss, and God bless your children.

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.”

Ecclesiastes 7:2

Why the church doesn’t need anymore coffee bars by Kimberli Lira

More and more on my social media feeds I have been seeing a lot of churches boast of the cool, trendy new initiatives that they have begun. I have seen pictures of coffee bars that resemble Starbucks. I have seen lighting that resembles one seen on Broadway. I have read catchy sermon titles and have seen how people have brought the movies into their sermons.

To say he battled cancer is an understatement. He was hospitalized two weeks out of every month during the first year. He was hospitalized a total of 18 times. He was rushed to the emergency room 8 times. He spent hundreds of days separated from his two children. And eventually the chemo, designed to get rid of the cancer, caused him to be paralyzed. And for the last four months of his life he was paralyzed and confined to a bed.

My husband endured cycle after cycle of chemo. He was separated from his children many nights. He was hooked up to chemo for 24 hours at a time. He listened to the doctors tell him bad news after bad news. He was left paralyzed and unable to get out of bed. And he never said how much he appreciated the coffee bar at the church. Never once did he say he loved the lighting in the sanctuary. He never told me how cool it was that they put a couch on the platform. He didn’t boast of the graphics and props on the platform. He talked about Jesus. He quoted scriptures. He reminded me of sermons we had heard. And in the middle of the night he sang songs of praise and worship to God and he spent his time praying. Because nothing a church does to strategize to bring in members helps you in the time of the storm. It is only Jesus.

On February 13th I had to most difficult task of telling my children their dad was not going to make it and the next day at 7:24 the doctor’s declared him dead. And as I lay next to my children at night listening to my daughter sob uncontrollably because she misses her dad so much I am not thinking about how trendy my church is. I am thinking that my strength comes solely from God.

I don’t have my best friend with me anymore. And even though I take comfort in knowing he is in heaven I can’t talk to my husband. I can’t text him during the day. I can’t share with him my frustrations. I can’t hold his hand. I can’t hug him. I can’t kiss him. He is not here. And as I drive to church during the week, I am not thinking that I am so glad the leadership are reading “how to grow your church” books and adopting cool sermon series. I am thinking how desperate I need Jesus.

As I look at two young children who now have to grow up without their amazing dad by their side, I am not thinking of how it was so awesome that the minister related the message to a Hollywood film. I am thinking of how much I need Jesus.

Continue reading Kimberli’s story on her blog.

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