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Archive for December, 2008

In waking to the reality of where the church has been sitting, really sitting in the waste of the world…really…I am humbled.  I think our biggest sin, those of us in the church, those of us waking up to what is happening in the church, those of us nodding at the pastor preaching slick lies or those even realizing the lies and leaving…the biggest sin is pride.  We are all alike in this.  We have to guard ourselves.  I have to guard myself.  I am prideful.  Besides this, I am a friend of the world.  This is a sickness I have as a Christian.  I am a sinner, and I am so unholy.  So uneducated in the things of God.  So weak, I am so weak.  My children, I pray for my children.  I am their mother after all.  There is only so much time to prepare them for their lives.  The future looks very challenging to say the least.  I have let them step with the world.  I homeschool, but I have not prepared them.  Not really.  I compromise.  I know what is on television because I watch it, I know much of the music the church is imitating, because I have danced to it and have learned the words by heart.  How was I able to be fooled at my former church?  How was I able to nod on, almost saying “amen?”  I was and still am a blind sinner.  I am ignorant and am not really rooted in God’s word.  I am not anything.   I am a sinner.

I pray and weep for future generations.  We are their example.  I am their example.  God have mercy. 

I am so happy that  God is in control, that He sent His son for us.  I am amazed at His love, that He sent His son to die for my sin and redeem me.  Me, a worldly little worm of a woman.  It takes my breath away.

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Well, not bipolar, in the psychology sense, but in the sense of what is presented up front.  Today, there was a speaker in for the vacationing pastor.  The speaker shared a sermon basically on the definition of the gospel.  I believe he was spot on with his sermon.  He used Ephesians 2:1-10.

 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy,  because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,  made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is  not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works,  so that no one may boast.  For  we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,  that we should walk in them.”

 

He stated his desire was to clearly tell what the gospel is.  He then spoke first of our depravity, our sin before we came to salvation.  Next  spoke of the gift of salvation, and that God gives it through faith in Christ, and not at all of works.  He then explained that our service beyond this is not works for salvation, but works that are also a gift of God to us.  We are given works but we desire to do them once saved.  However, we still have our sin nature, and we still have to deal with this.  The good news, then, comes after the bad news.  The bad news is before salvation we are sinners following the course of the world, following Satan, and following after our own fleshly desires.  In contrast to our sin nature, to our selfishness, there is a “but” which shows our vast difference to God.  But God, “being rich in mercy” and because of the “great love” for us even though we were dead in our sin…made us alive in Christ.  This contrast, this salvation from our death and our depth in sin is the gospel.  We are not saved by anything we do.  He hammered this point home though he speaks softly.  It was wonderful to hear, and he commented a couple of times that even long time Christians need to be reminded of the gospel.  In fact, he reminds himself daily.  Cannot remember the verse he quoted, it was in Romans…but he says he reminds himself daily. 

This man is not a preacher, but he is a professor at a local college.  He is a serious Christian.  He left our former church for issues such as someone on the board publishing attacks on Christians who believe in the literal 7 days of creation…and because of Rob Bell influence in the youth side of church.  He fought hard for a few years, was a young elder (ironic, isn’t it).  He is a quiet, gentle man, but is also willing to take a stand.  He and his family had to leave our former church.  Since the little church plant has very few people it seems there is not always another pastor available so they asked him to speak.  He spoke well. 

The worship leader, music leader, whatever he is called, really bothered me though today.  He did the usual set of songs, some seemed right on, others I could not sing, had to evaluate them a bit more.  In the middle of the “set” he suddenly said, “let’s just have silence for a bit.”  What?  Silence.  I just whispered to my husband, “why?”  My 8 year old son nervously laughed.  I don’t get this silence for no reason garbage.  Sure, it’s not going to reach out and make me into a meditating (in the eastern way) person.  Still, I believe the introduction of silence with no explaination is inappropriate.  I have to wonder if this is conditioning for contemplative.  Actually, I don’t wonder much at all, I believe it is conditioning for that.  This has happened at this church before.  This is one of the two we are considering.  I am trusting God to show us where to go, and my husband really likes this church because of the pastor and the couple who we basically “followed” to this church. 

More questions have to be answered.

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A high school coach and his team, along with the fans found a way to  share  true faith in action that was not “circus church” or false in any way.  Action and Bibles….

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3789373&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1

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Like being intwined in seaweed, or brambles in the forest, we Christians are often entangled in things that make it hard to walk the path of truth.  We get into men’s teachings, and follow men.  We get into the world’s ways, become woven together with these ways.  Soon, they become a part of us, like barnacles on a whale, entwined and braided, the thorns have broken off and splinter inside.  Cutting ourselves free will hurt.  I can say, when I read about influences in the church these days I see this entanglement.  Entanglement with the mystics and the belief that it is supposed to be a part of Christianity.  The claim that to be deeper with Christ we must pracitice spiritual disciplines.   I thought Christ was our mediator, and that nothing we do can save us.  The sacrifices desired are a “broken and contrite heart….” and not contemplation. 

From personal experience, I saw entanglement coming from my very own pastors.  If writers like Nouwen, Willard, Hybels, and Warren are producing good fruit, then why do pastors who are following after them continue to loose long time Christians who are serious about following after God?  It is not the numbers that are the measure of fruit, but I believe (and I am not God so anyone out there can correct me on this) that wise people will stick with a wise pastor if God doesn’t call them to something else.  If you are loosing elder members, you might consider why.  If a church looks like the world, then it might as well be the world. 

The entanglement is confusing.  I have asked elders and pastors about contemplative prayer.  I’ve gotten some interesting answers. 

“Do not let terminology frustrate you, the Bible speaks about contemplation” (this also included transformation and meditation).  My question further would be “does it include spiritual formation?”  We didn’t ask much about that as we had enough issues…

The lead pastor of our former church said, “If you are referring to lectio divina, it’s been around since the Reformation.”  Interesting.  Many things have been around since even before the Reformation, and that doesn’t make them right.

I have heard other unsatisfactory responses when it comes to such entanglements.  “Why would you attack a ministry that has done so much to advance the kingdom” and there’s always the “you’re being unloving.” 

It hurts when people pull on the tangles, no one ever likes the rats brushed out.  It can pull and hurt.  Cutting out the cancer and treating it hurts.  What is hard, is that we were warned the weeds would grow among the fields.   We are to snatch some from the flames, but we will not be able to untangle all the knots until the return of our risen Lord.  This hurts all the more.  We can do our part, and it will not be enough but we are still called to do it.  It is finished in Christ Jesus.

Sadly, I have to admit I am entangled too.  The world is on me, though I am cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  I pick up a thorn here, a barnacle there.  I get caught up too.  I am sure the first thing that will happen after I rejoice in seeing Jesus is sheer on my face mourning.  At least for the second He allows it.   I so long to be untangled. 

Maranatha.

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Before the pull on Saddleback’s website:

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
 The Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

“Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.” (Lev. 18:22 TLB)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV)

While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in sexual sin when it says, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.

I’ve heard it asked, “Isn’t being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?” First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that’s obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.

Finally, a word about being judgmental. It’s not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that’s just telling the truth. Not being willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they are … that’s being judgmental.

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.


Maybe they are under construction, but the whole list appears to be gone.

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I am a Christian.  The reason I decided up on such a simple title is because as a child we used to sing a song that spelled “I am a C…I am a C.H…I am a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N.”  In the church I formerly attended (and in some we have visited) pastors are in the habit of using the term “Christ Followers” to replace the word “Christian.”  This has been explained to me in a few unsatisfactory ways.  First, an elder explained that we need to be sensitive to those who are offended by the Christian past, and so Christ Follower is a descriptive term that better paints a picture of what we are.  Uh, not good enough for me.  My husband said, “but why would we give in to them and give up what we’ve been called since Antioch?’  I’ve read that some use the term “Christ Followers” because the first ones to call us Christians were our persecutors.  Okay, I recall the verse, and it doesn’t seem like Luke cared if it was persecutors or not, no negatives were ascribed to the use of the term Christian.  

In a twistification of meaning, I heard one of the many former pastors say we are “little Christs.”  Uhmmmm, what?  That just sounds dangerous to me.  Even if it were true the word could mean that (and I’m saying IF) in English it sounds too much like “we are little gods).  In our “exit” meeting, we asked the lead pastor about the definition “little Christs” and he said “well, when you become a Christian you ask Christ to come into your heart.”  So even when the word Christian has a distorted meaning in that church. 

My title does refer to a song I was taught as a child, and it does go on to spell out…”and I have C.H.R.I.S.T. in my H.E.A.R.T. and I will L.I.V.E. E.T.E.R.N.A.L.L.Y.”  As a child, I never once thought that meant I really had a little tiny piece of my Savior inside of me.  I really thought it was like when you say “I’ll keep you in my heart” as more like the faith or love I have for Christ.  I know the Holy Spirit indwells us once we are redeemed.  We are part of the family of God, we become in unity with Christ.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  I don’t believe I have a literal piece of Christ inside me, but that we’re connected like family, in faith through grace and mercy given by God.  Anyone with more study want to help me out here in this?  I want to explain this to my children in such a way that they always have this doctrine right, that they have a clear understanding.  I hope I don’t sound like an idiot here.  A few verses below may be a good start.  Context, meaning, culture at the time, Greek…

 

Colossians 1:27 (NIV)

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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Old Driscoll message at the Convergence conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary…some would say he went too far but I think it didn’t go far enough.   I think there is a definite group trying to seperate themselves from emergent/emerging but they have been imprinted with this movement.  Part of the church has been pulled left, and while some are trying to pull back a bit, they might be right in doing this but may still not be all the way back to the right path.  It takes time, and realization.  At least Driscoll is humble about himself in this.  He does speak conservatively about homosexuality.  He makes some strong points about what the emergent movement (what to call this now as they are wanting to rename themselves?) and the attempts to rewrite Christianity.  It’s an interesting listen. 

http://www.limbotext.com/grafted/convergent_driscoll.mp3

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