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Archive for October, 2008

One person we know embedded in our former church recently wrote online that he was disappointed with a meeting after asking for prayer days before, and his writings implied a similar situation to ours.  My husband basically sent messages back and forth to him, and it seems he may have similar issues we have had.  We have found that giving a little information and letting people discover the truth turns out better than plunking down the whole thing.  We have not told this person really anything that actually went on in our situation as he’s not normally in our circle.  In fact, if he knows we left it’s because of people talking.  This person is very visible in the church, so if he and his family were to begin complaining it would not be easy to ignore.  If they left, it would be obvious.  We are praying for thiem in this time, though we know only that there is something going on, and the man seems to acknowledge it’s important to “dig” when looking at a church, there’s not much more to it than that.  We can assume nothing.  It is my hope that this family is aware of the problems, is willing to confront, and willing to fight in God’s timing.  I pray it makes a difference, that someone will listen.  If it’s anything like our situation, they are likely being encouraged to stay by the same pastor who wanted us to stay and fight as long as we could.  Their kids are younger, so the issues with the youth ministry and camps is not there for them.  Pray for this particular family, that they will see the truth about our former church and will follow God’s leading for them.

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I never want to get pride when it comes to my status in Christ.  Though I see error in our former church and it’s leadership, I also can see myself easily loose focus on Christ and the scriptures.  I can easily see how prideful I could get, how easily hateful.  I question myself often, examine myself, and pray God show me where I am wrong.  I have found this issue of what has crept into the church to be very complicated.  There are those who are saved, but who are currently caught up in all this.  There are those who I thought were saved, but who are misleading the flock.  There are those who have puposely infiltrated to change it all, who may even know they aren’t really Christians so much as they are “making this religion” better…fit in with some outside plan.  I was one who was caught for a while, deceived.  One who knew something was bothering me, and it took a while to see it.  Immature despite my years as a Christian. 

I pray so much in my heart for those who are in churches and are not seeing it right now, hearing candy when they need meat.  Sadly, there is a form of meat being brought forward, but it’s not for human consumption.  I’ve noticed my former pastor is very focused on mentioning how opposition will come if you are doing the right thing.  This is at least two messages in a row now, he’s very strong on it.  We are the opposition to his right thing.  We’re not the only ones.  Read this paragraph, see how strong the message…

” And this one will become painfully obvious over the next

weeks. Look with me at 2:9-10. READ. Remember those names. You are going to read them a lot in the weeks

ahead.

 

 

 

Nothing significant… will ever fly unopposed. Nothing God calls us to that is eternally

important is going to fly on this earth without antagonism and conflict. Get ready. Prepare. Gird your loins.

Anything the people of God seek to do that will advance the King’s Agenda will be opposed. Nothing of lasting

significance is going to be accomplished without opposition. In our church, in your life, in my life… nothing that

will count for eternity is going to happen without the opposition of Satan or the friction of a sinful world system.

Count on it. Nothing you long to do for God that is of eternal value and will bring God great glory will happen

without hostility and resistance.”

So, in perspective, the pastor is saying resistance to what’s going on in their church is Satan’s opposition….friction of a sinful world system.  Yes, the church gets resistance.  Yes, it gets downright persecution.  However, two people who come to you with concerns that we had are not automatically from Satan, not necessarily lax Christians who don’t want to follow God’s will, not necessarily sinning.  Is it possible you can get resistance from some members (a certain percentage) within the church who are actually NOT of Satan?  The ones I know who left before us do not seem to be acting from sin, but from a serious concern of actually sin in the sermons…or in the actions  of the leadership, or in the focus of the church, etc. 

 

 

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Good MacArthur article…

http://www.gty.org/Resources/positions/116

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I have not told the pastor left behind more than, “I don’t think we did well in the meeting.”  He would not like to hear how the lead pastor put things, I’m sure.  I don’t know if we should tell him or if there is some sort of confidentiality thing.  I want to be fair, and want to give the feel of the meeting should I share.  I mean, we weren’t getting yelled at.  It was a calm discussion, and I believe the lead pastor honestly thinks we are in sin, and we aren’t teachable anymore in his church.  I believe he is in error for sure, and how he handled that last meeting was wrong.  Defensiveness, I could understand as it’s human.  He doesn’t see his errors, and our letter was pretty stinging.  It did not directly address his sermons, and his sermons were less obvious anyway.  However, in the meeting we tried to focus on his responsibility as leader to study what the others speaking from the pulpit were saying and redirect their sermons to what the Bible teaches and what the church claims to believe.  In the few things we asked him, I could tell this pastor has gone into spiritual disciplines and said when I was concerned with the little Christ term, “you are a little Christ if you have Jesus in your heart.”  Some of that scares me.  So, there’s a little family with a husband hired as pastor in this church who sees the emergent popping up at this church and who encouraged the letter, and what he’ll hear of the meeting was that we did not listen and aren’t teachable.  He’ll hear we’re going to a good church now.  That’s maybe it.  Maybe even he’ll hear that we are extreme?  Maybe crazy? 

We have friends left there too.  We’ve spoken to one couple who knows all this, and was helping us to decide if what we saw was real.  They weren’t concerned, didn’t buy what we saw at Lighthouse trails.  They really know the ins and outs of the church in different ways than we do.  It took a while, but eventually, they could see it too.  Because they had been out of church for illness, they really hadn’t seen the changes that were happening.  Once the pastor started inserting “new age” style terms (the associate, not the head pastor), this couple could agree there’s something amiss.  Outside sources, for example, long conference speeches we were able to link to our friends showed them what a few leaders emergent/even missional were thinking and the direction it looks to all be heading.  It was this combined with the words of the pastors that really convinced them.  They have chosen to stay, and help out in the children’s ministry.  I’m told they see how Christ is a part of the curriculum for children in messages and training for the instructors, but somewhere it’s dropped by the time it’s given to the kids.  They, along with the pastor of children and others working with the curriculum are putting Christ back in.  This is good to know, that the younger ones in church, the children up to 6th grade, are still hearing the gospel in children’s ministry.  So, though our friends are left behind (as is another woman who often works in children’s music ministry)…I believe God has them there for a time.  Their teaching is likely reaching the children God intends for it to.  God has mercy, and I believe may still have this church in His sight.  The lead pastor and others in leadership may have their plans, but really, there is hope that things can get better….or if things don’t get better at least the children haven’t been left without some truth.  The minister left behind also speaks occassionally from the pulpit, and has a visual role in the church almost every week.  Therefore, I believe he is one reason people are hearing the true gospel focused on Christ rather than man.  I do not feel the leaders intend for the focus to be off, but it’s just happening because they are following so hard after faulty men and faulty plans. 

God save them from themselves!  I pray for our former church, that the leadership see what is wrong.  Not what we presented, or what we believe is wrong.  I pray God shows them what HE sees is wrong, and there is repentence and humility and a turning toward Him.  We may have some areas we are picking on that aren’t as bad as we make them, we’re not sure.  However, obviously, there’s something going on if people are jumping ship and we haven’t even talked to them…people were doing it in the months and years before we left.  We had nothing to do with any of it as we were clueless.  God please bless our former church, whatever that means…

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Phoned a contact at our former church today to borrow something for my kids.  She noticed we had not been to church for a while, and I told her we are attending elsewhere.  She didn’t ask why, so I didn’t offer much.  She did say they had been mulling things over lately and were considering what to do.  She did share that they had attended another church where the pastor preached the word.  I did say we made sure before we left to inform the pastors of our concerns, and she said, “that’s something I wonder about [xyz church], people have left but they don’t speak up.”  Yes, it may seem that way.  However, I know we spoke up as best we could and my husband says we were “beat up.”  We know of at least two other couples who have spoken up, one for a longer time, and another had an exit meeting.  One man said he knew of 20 couples who had left in the last few years.  So, it seems, another couple is considering making an exit.  This couple, older than we are, is a fabulous couple.  I knew them when I was in college, and they were solid then and still are today.  Funny, I borrowed, “The Dangers of the Rainbow” from them.  Little do they know just how much that book has helped us in this situation!  I heard phrases from one of the pastors that were warned of in that old book, and it’s part of what broke the camel’s back, so to speak.  Small world, small world. 

I did warn her the church they are considering might be following the same path but are a few years behind.  She said the church was simple, and the pastor seems to preach the word.  I agree, it seems this way when we’ve checked this particular church out.  They do use some of the same jargon type phrases for their church campaigns, and I recall they might be “Christ Followers” at times.  They also had a speaker about I followed up on who lifted his sermon right from Ortberg’s book.  Came home and read it, and was impressed at how pastors share materials for free like that…”boat potatoes” certainly is a phrase going around!  Of course, I didn’t express all this to her.  If she wants to know, I’ll let her know.  However, sharing the whole basket is a bit much.  Besides, I think they’ve already figured things out a bit on their own. 

Since they are older than us, they have a concern about the comments made that our former church is reaching out to the youth.  They think this is great, but that there is a whole spectrum of age that needs the church.  I agree.  Hurt yourself by narrowing to one small audience when your own church is intergenerational (and I thought the intergenerational church was a strength).  Also, she mentioned the many programs…just too much going on all the time and too much changing all the time.

Wonder how many people will jump ship when they see the new campaign that’s asking for financial commitment above and beyond the normal tithe?  They are starting some multimillion dollar building fund (and maybe missions oriented?).  If they loose older adults, some of that money for the fund walks right out the door.

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“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Steve Smith lists Dallas Willard as a mentor, and he spoke once at our church.  His book, “The Lazarus Life” was promoted.  Our former pastor mentioned that he wrote letters to others recommending this book.  When speaking many months ago in our former church, Smith spoke of the story of Lazarus in John and claimed we could learn from this event.  Lazarus came from the grave with smelly, awful, binding grave clothes.  Our grave clothes are the events and burdens in our lives.  To be free, we have to take off these grave clothes.  When I heard the description by Smith, how he was using this text, I said, “what?”  I began to search the internet for information on Steve Smith.  I discovered a podcast and listened, and he listed Dallas Willard as his mentor.  Then I searched further.  Eventually, someone posted information on their blog that lead to a link on a sight that had information about writers among them, Dallas Willard.  So, when speaking to our former pastor, I had to mention Steve Smith and his book, and the presentation from the pulpit.  I questioned the use of the account of Lazarus in this way.  (The pastor, when I first asked about Smith before I shared the problem with the Lazarus account and it’s handling jumped in with…”Oh, his mentioning Lectio Divina…you know that was used in the reformation, don’t you).  Once the pastor realized I didn’t like the use of the text in this way, he said that the miracles in John were meant to be used as lessons for life.  I said, “like parables” and he said, “yes, but differently as they were true events.”  I am glad he acknowledged the true event occured or we would have a different problem altogether.  He then began saying that each miracle had important things we could apply like for example, why did Jesus use pots with water for ceremonial cleaning and then turn it to wine?  Doesn’t that have some sort of meaning?  Why all the detail?  He said that in the old testament there were stories used by Jesus that are archetypes with meaning such as the Exodus.  I agree, there are some things that appear to have more meaning, or that clearly do.  However, this is not what Steve Smith was doing, using the Lazarus story to say we need transformation and spiritual formation to take off our grave clothes.  I told the pastor I got out of the Lazarus account that Jesus has the power over death, we can be brought to life by Him. 

The verse I quoted above was given to me by two people today.  One, a friend who is a pastor living several states away immediately quoted that when I asked him about the purpose of the miracles in John.  He said, “that one is an easy one, we had to list the purpose of each book of the Bible in seminary, and in John, it was the easiest as it’s stated clearly.”  Another friend, used to attend our former church, and I asked him, he quoted that very same verse.  In fact, he began to quote it and I could also sing it as it is an Awana verse my children have memorized.  The point of the miracles is not so we can add a psychological analysis to our lives through poetic interpretation of the text.  The point is that we are to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we can have eternal life.  It’s that simple.

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I Went from Sad to Glad…

I got a phone call from a friend who left our old church a while back.  I asked questions and shared thoughts from the meeting with the pastor.  He made me feel much better in sharing specifically why the pastor was wrong, and could really back it up with scripture on the spot.  Yes folks, memorizing scripture is an excellent skill to practice.  He really made me feel much better.  Not because the pastor was wrong so much, no I’d rather be wrong in this instance.  But because, well, we know now we are free of the burden of this church and we’re not the only ones who see it.  I will continue to pray for my old church and maintain friendships where I can.  I will speak to whomever asks.  I am free though, I do not have to change our old church.  We did the best we could do.

I did listen to the most recent sermon online, and our old pastor seems to be about introducing disciplines.  Currently, he’s calling for fasting and prayer.  This is not a wrong practice, but I would really like to know if there is some way it’s being used in the wrong way.  I need to study fasting to see why it is mentioned, how it’s supposed to be used.  He also warned the congregation that those who oppose the plans of someone following God (I would have to listen to see how he put it exactly) those who oppose are basically sinning, are the enemy.  They are to expect opposition if they are doing the right thing.   My friend pointed out (as is obvious) that if you are doing something wrong you will get opposition too.

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