Statistics tell us that some of the key reasons why people do not attend church are the following:
—The church is filled with hypocrites.
—The church is only about money.
—The church is exclusive or like a big clique.
I believe that the root of this negativity is mediocrity in the modern church. Unfortunately, the Christian church at large has become an organization where excellence is no longer prized, expected, or delivered. Let God Rub You the Wrong Way will help you examine your motives and reveal the kind of service you are giving God in return for the great salvation he has given you. Using the analogy of two pieces of carpet, the first represents the lives of God’s people at present; and the second, our lives when we first came to Christ. The author explains how God wants to rub us the wrong way in order to remove the irritants in our lives that keep us from serving him with excellence. Just like cleaning carpets, God wants to rub out those things that are not pleasing to him and rub in those things that are so that the reflection of Christ is shown in our lives.
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Read an Excerpt
Rubbing Us the Wrong Way
Several years ago, the Lord woke me up one morning from a deep sleep. As I sat on the side of the bed attempting to recall the dream I'd had, I began to reflect and was shown a piece of carpet. It appeared as any other ordinary piece of carpet, but when I took a closer look, I noticed that the nap of the carpet had been flattened from wear and tear. And then I saw several pairs of feet walking on the carpet. At that moment God asked me, "What do you see?" To me, there was nothing out of the ordinary that stood out. Being the visual person that I am, I wondered if this was a trick question because I saw nothing other than the feet walking across the carpet. At that moment, God showed me another piece of carpet. This piece of carpet looked brand new or like a piece of carpet that had been vacuumed. The nap stood straight up, and the same feet also walked over this piece of carpet. However, this time I could see footprints where the carpet had been walked on.
I'm searching for one spot.
There was not a place that the feet had walked across and had not left a footprint. Again, God asked me the same question: "What do you see?" This time I responded that I saw footprints on this piece of carpet, but I told God I saw none on the first piece. God explained that the carpet represented the lives of his people; the first piece of carpet represents where His people are now. "The feet represent me walking in their lives." Now I started to process the whole thing. At first, I was clueless and asked God to help me understand what was being said. The carpet is the people of God. The feet are God. Okay so far. After taking a closer look, I could see that the nap of both pieces of carpet had a long, shaggy texture. When new, the texture of the carpet would have been quite plush; however, I could tell that the first piece had acquired some wear and tear. The nap was much flatter and was not plush at all. God said, "I'm walking up and down in the lives of my people, and I don't see my footprints anywhere in their lives. I'm searching for one spot. I've walked all four corners of their lives, and I still can't find my footprints.
"The second piece of carpet represented the lives of my people when they first gave me their lives," He continued. "Every place I walked in their lives I could see my footprint. I walked all four corners, and I saw my footprints every time." Now I began to ponder some more. The first piece of carpet represented where we are now, but it showed no footprints. The second piece of carpet represented how we were when Christ first came into our lives and showed his footprints. Doesn't something seem wrong with this picture? Wouldn't you figure that the longer you've been with the Lord, the deeper the relationship would be? The answer depends on the amount of effort you apply to the relationship.
The More of God
Ideally, the amount of time you spend with God should create a quality relationship. You come to realize that the more you've made God the Lord of your life, the more you understand that you can't function properly without Him. It's at this point of spiritual awareness that you need "the more of God" to experience deeper fulfillment in your life. Wouldn't you think that God could find His footprints in that type of life? But God said, "No, let me tell you why. I don't see myself or my footprints in the lives of those who have walked with me for some time because of one word — mediocrity. Mediocrity has entered my body [the church], and it's destroying it." It is impossible to experience the more of God to the degree that He desires when you are living at a level of mediocrity. I will discuss in greater detail the importance of rising above average in the following chapters. For now, allow me to use this analogy. Before we were saved, our carpets (our lives) really looked a mess. Sin had left large stains all over our carpets. We were in such bad shape that if someone had given us a carpet in this condition, we would have been highly insulted. Keeping it wouldn't have been a second thought; we would have immediately thrown it away. Before we were redeemed by the blood of Christ, many of us had been thrown away like that worn and stained piece of carpet. How amazing is it that God, being the loving Father that He is, would take another person's piece of garbage and restore it back to its priceless value! If you allow Him to, God will take your old, tattered carpet and make it new again for the glory and edification of His kingdom.
The journey to spiritual cleansing is a process. Each level of purification allows us to rise above the standard of mediocrity. What I love about God is that He always knows how to get the best out of us. We should be so happy with what God has done in our lives. Others hardly recognize the new creatures that we've become, and if the truth be known, we hardly recognize ourselves.
God says, "Do." We say, "Yes, Lord!"
The Lord longs for those days again — the days when whatever He asked of His people, they were eager and willing to fulfill it. It would appear that those days are long gone as a result of mediocrity.
Giving God Our Leftovers
Today, God says that we have become like that first piece of carpet. We go through the motions of perpetuating the claim that we have the perfect testimony of running with God to see what the end will be. But, in essence, all of our actions reflect a different sentiment — "I'm a little tired now, so I'm just going to take a nap and rest a while. I'll pick up where I left off in my journey after I rest. The journey is long and tiring; besides, I've got plenty of time." We are under our false assumption that we have a close relationship with Jesus. The Enemy has coerced us into thinking that God will allow us to cash in the blessings despite not following any of the commandments He has given. We take for granted that we will not miss the opportunity to get caught up in the rapture. We use the excuse that God understands that we are humans who need to get whatever is holding us up out of our system. And then, we will give God our full attention.
We have no concept of regret or lack of integrity when it comes to our servitude. My all-time favorite line is, "God knows my heart." We really don't believe that God knows our hearts, because if we did, our hearts would be filled with fear and reverence.
The creation can never be more or know more than the Creator.
This is dangerous ground because God's word tells us that no individual knows the day or hour when the Son of Man shall appear — not even the angels (Matt. 24:36). It's as though we have become an insane people. We have slipped into thinking that God is just thrilled over whatever quality of service we give Him. We act more sensibly with and give our natural supervisors more respect than we give God. Shamefully, when it comes to the God of creation, we act as though we, the creation, know more than the Creator. The truth of the matter is that the creation can never be more or know more than the Creator.
Being caught getting ready will not yield the same results as being ready. Because of our sinful nature, we seem to function better when we have a visible supervisor. We would never even consider pulling anything like this with a human overseer unless we were insane. We make the mistake of assuming that because God is not visible to the naked eye, we can act like He doesn't see us. Psalm 113:5–6 (NIV) says, "Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?" He sees all and knows all, and yet the mighty God of creation receives less respect than the creations. Yes, some regard should be given to those who have natural authority over you. Give Caesar what is his and give God what belongs to Him as well (Mark 12:17). This means your time, your finances, and all of you. With great reverence, you should be mindful to fear the one who has the ability to alter all aspects of your life, not just life itself. We are content with giving God whatever we feel at that moment, never considering that He never gives us leftovers. He loves us enough to give us the best even when we do not deserve it.
Allow God to remove the stains of sin from your life. Fight past the commonality of being mediocre! The power of God can transform your life and maintain your spiritual sanity. There is a way that seems right when serving God, but without continual cleansing of those things that cause your life to be stained, God heavens and the earth?" He sees all and knows all, and yet the mighty God of creation receives less respect than the creations. Yes, some regard should be given to those who have natural authority over you. Give Caesar what is his and give God what belongs to Him as well (Mark 12:17). This means your time, your finances, and all of you. With great reverence, you should be mindful to fear the one who has the ability to alter all aspects of your life, not just life itself. We are content with giving God whatever we feel at that moment, never considering that He never gives us leftovers. He loves us enough to give us the best even when we do not deserve it.
Allow God to remove the stains of sin from your life. Fight past the commonality of being mediocre! The power of God can transform your life and maintain your spiritual sanity. There is a way that seems right when serving God, but without continual cleansing of those things that cause your life to be stained, God will never be able to see His footprint. Getting by with just a little of Jesus will continue be the status quo in your life. You will never experience who He wants to be in your life the way He desires to abide in your life without this cleansing.
The Mark of Excellence
In chapter 1 we discussed the importance of rising above mediocrity. Now let's take it a bit further and identify what the mark of excellence looks like. As I mentioned earlier, we tend to give respect to our human superiors more than giving God the reverence that He's due. Isn't it funny how the presence of a supervisor can call our actions to attention and push us to strive for the mark? What mark am I referring to? I'm making reference to the mark or level of excellence that is required in our everyday lives to serve God and His people. During an average workweek, we give our jobs forty or so hours. They may be physical hours; however, that does not mean that they are productive hours. Let's break it down a bit further. In a normal workday, a person supposedly works nine hours, not counting lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks. Therefore, in actuality, the required work time comes out to seven and a half to eight hours a day. This does not include the variables such as illness, moods, the weather, and so on that affect the quality of work performed in this time frame. Some days, you know you have given your best, at 100 percent, and other days it may seem as if you've worked twelve hours and only given 50 to 60 percent of yourself. This is another example of average — not exceptional or surpassing, even though it is our reasonable service. We don't implement extra in anything unless there is something lucrative in it for us.
Like children who have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, the thought or threat of our supervisors correcting us forces an attempt to correct the problem ourselves. For example, you're usually on time for work, and know you need to be there by eight o'clock in the morning. For the past five days, you've been late three mornings, coming in at eight thirty. On the inside, you're secretly asking for grace while hoping you don't get caught, and then you notice that your supervisor looks at you in a way that you perceive as "funny." If the truth be told, it could be that your conscience is getting the better of you. Fearfully, you think to yourself, Uh-oh! She's getting ready to say something to me about being late. Next week I' ll do better and get back on track. Rather than facing the consequences, you make an attempt to be self-corrective. You go through the process of making the necessary changes before the issue has to be addressed.
Interestingly enough, we will give our supervisors the utmost respect for their authoritative roles but slight God because we can't see or perceive Him looking at us "funny." Therefore, we continue with business as usual. We become mediocre in our actions, allowing ourselves to become complacent. We take for granted and forget that God is more powerful than any natural supervisor; He's already aware and knows the intent of our actions before we do them. If we looked at ourselves realistically, we would know that there are some problems or issues that need correcting in our lives. It's true that life's circumstances can hinder us from reaching the mark of excellence in our Christian walk, but we cannot use this as an excuse to give God less. I would give 100 percent, but if giving 50 percent is enough and no one challenges me to give more, then average is satisfactory, we might think. I'm not merely referring to a job done poorly. God measures the level of excellence comparable to every man. It's possible that God qualifies what I do for Him as 100 percent while what you give Him is qualified at 50 percent to me but 100 % to God. How is that possible? Because it is the quality of service given and the condition of the heart that are the determining factors. Unfortunately, simply doing enough to get by is the mind-set that has crept into both our lives and the church.
Average keeps us from rising above the bar of excellence
Average and mediocre are so closely related and so well accepted because neither requires much from you. Average says, I'm giving the consistent norm. I could give above or give more however why would I "rock the boat". I'll give what is common or what is ordinary. Mediocre says I'm giving what I know is not satisfactory, might even be considered second rate or so-so. However the mind set or thought process that goes along with mediocre say "Well at least I'm giving something and something is better than nothing. I know a lot of people doing or giving nothing so God should be happy.
That's why it's so easy to justify saying, "Hey, at least I showed up. What more do you want?" as if we are doing God a favor. Disillusioned, we tell ourselves that half the battle was showing up and that God and whoever else should be glad that we're there. The fact that we actually worked is a bonus since we could have stayed at home. This is the mind-set and behavior that closes the door to our blessings, yet we will get mad and wonder why we are not promoted. Our average keeps us from rising above the bar of excellence.
Our level of excellence and our service to God cannot be measured against each other. They can only be measured by what God appoints each of us to do. Allow me to share this with you: my level of excellence and your level of excellence may be measured by two completely different sets of standards. You cannot hide behind the best of someone else or what we deem as their best. God tests our level of excellence against His word. The Bible tells us clearly that we should not be deceived, because whatever we put out for Him shall come back to us. (Gal. 6:7)
We know in our walk with the Lord whether or not we're striving to reach "the mark." It's true-we may not reach the mark every day, and believe me when I tell you that I'm thankful to God for grace during those times when we don't. Striving for excellence is not something that comes easy. To be honest with you, it requires a great amount of discipline. Nothing God does is average, and because He gave his best by giving us His son, He requires the best from us.
Unlike us, God never gets confused. But He doesn't want us to cheat Him either! What I love about God is that He is a good supervisor, one who will not leave us to our own devices. Since we can't fix our problems entirely by ourselves, He comes alongside us to help us rectify them. The much-needed help came through His Son, Jesus Christ, and it's through His death that the tough stains of sin are removed. And it's through His blood that we become justified, enabling us to accurately measure up. Giving Jesus as a sacrifice to save us was the best that He had. Knowing this, how can we not want to give Him more?
Regardless of how long we've been in our walk, we are still required to endeavor toward the mark of excellence. (Phil. 3:14) God's word is true, and when we allow it to saturate our thinking, the irritant of complacency will be removed.
Excerpted from "Let God Rub You The Wrong Way"
Copyright © 2017 Vernessa Y. Fountain.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Rubbing Us the Wrong Way, 1,
Chapter 2 Giving God Our Leftovers, 9,
Chapter 3 The Mark of Excellence, 15,
Chapter 4 Rising from Our Slumber, 23,
Chapter 5 Matching Up, 29,
Chapter 6 Spot Treatment Application, 43,
Chapter 7 Push Now, 49,
Chapter 8 Following the Blueprint, 59,
Chapter 9 Catalyst of Truth, 63,
Chapter 10 A Working Relationship, 73,
Chapter 11 Debunking the Excuses, 83,