One morning, I saw a collard green leaf in my garden that made me stop and stare.
I have gardened for many years, and I have never seen a leaf like this.
Most of it was green, as collards are supposed to be. But, while the leaf had a normal shape and appeared typical in every other regard, a specific portion of this leaf was totally devoid of green.
This leaf was a sign that made me wonder.
But I didn’t have to wonder long.
A Sardis Warning
That night, in a dream, I was in a house that represented part of the church. In an inner room, I found a forgotten egg carton with three small eggs at one end. A person in the dream who represented this church explained, in a nonchalant manner, that they were supposed to have painted the eggs with milk, but that they hadn’t done it.
This represents a church that did not give its offspring even the very basic teachings.
Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. – Hebrews 5:12 (HCSB)
Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. – Hebrews 6:1-2 (HCSB)
Then I noticed something in the opposite end of the carton. Initially, it had appeared to be just a decayed brown mass, but now I saw that it was a dead chick. As I watched, however, the brown decayed mass began to appear to be a live chick—but then it exploded, obliterated into a pile of brown matter.
The dead-alive-dead chick represents a church. It had really been dead, although it had looked alive. In the end, it had been destroyed.
… I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. – Revelation 3:1 (NLT)
Then, in the pile of brown matter that used to be the chick, I could see an opening like the mouth of a cave, and as I looked into that opening, I saw a large, clean, white bird of another kind inside—it looked like a white duck.
The white bird walked out of the opening, leaving the pile of dead remains. It walked out of the inner room of the house, through the next room, and then out an open door to the outside. It left that house.
In the dream, as the white bird departed the house, I said, “That is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
I knew what it meant for him to walk away: He had left that church. And the weight of the message let me know it had the power of the Holy Spirit on it.
If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. – Revelation 2:5 (NIV)
It was like the warning Jesus had given to the church of Sardis.
Look at It from Jesus’ Viewpoint
Jesus is alive! Why should he remain in a dead body? That’s not who he is! A church that persists in being dead isn’t really his body.
Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. – Revelation 3:2 (HCSB)
Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. – Revelation 3:2 (NLT)
What the Leaf Represents
And now I also knew what the leaf—in the expected form, but without the green it should have been filled with—illustrated:
Part of the church is holding to the form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5 HCSB).
The Parable of 3 Hats
In December 2020, I dreamed that Jesus called me to come to where he was sorting items in a box. He was cleaning and sorting through the church’s past.
He showed me three hats:
- The first hat was barely holding together. It had more empty spaces than yarn.
It had weak authority, and an identity of dishonor. It was not right with God, and had a false righteousness. It was missing love and unity.
- The second hat was worn, as well, but still looked like a hat someone might try to wear.
It had false holiness and self-righteousness. It, also, had weak authority and an identity of dishonor.
- The third hat had been brightly multi-colored at one time, but now was just a faded, stained brown—even though it had been laundered.
It was once glorious and clothed in glory, but it had lost touch with eternal life, and taken on offense, contempt, pollution, and sin. It operated in the flesh. It was no longer godly, but was covered by sin—and the finding of past sin.
After showing me the three hats, Jesus asked me if this is what I wanted to put on for the future of the church. The sadness and shame of that idea made me recoil with a guttural response of pain. I felt deep grief that these were what the church had worn.
“No, I do not want any of these,” I told him.
Jesus was going to dispose of them.
Jesus is calling attention to the condition of our hearts, and his church, with a time-sensitive warning. He is letting us know, church, that now is the time to repent.
Jesus wants a well-hydrated bride: one from whom rivers of living water flow. “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit… (John 7:38-39 HCSB).
Jesus wants his church clothed with the power of God. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20 HCSB).
The Lord is able to make us stand. (See Romans 14:4.)
Hear him and run toward him.
What I’m Writing Now: Inspirational Fiction
Some of the most life-giving books I’ve read have been gentle fiction series with a town full of characters I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know as I read—and re-read—the events of their lives.
What are some of your favorite small-town fiction, gentle fiction, or inspirational series? Hit reply and let me know—I’d love to hear from you!
I hope my new fiction series will build a place in the imagination that you’ll look forward to visiting. I can’t wait for you to meet and get to know the people who live there, and enjoy the unfolding of their lives. I’m definitely enjoying writing them!
This is still the place to be to get updates when the series is ready! Thank you for being here. I am so glad you’re part of this email community.
Faith with Wings by AmyLu Riley
Faith with Grit for the Not-Yet Healed by AmyLu Riley
Stay: Why I’m Still Here, A Spiritual Memoir by AmyLu Riley
Jesus as Healer by AmyLu Riley
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
All other content copyright 2021 by AmyLu Riley.