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Archive for March, 2009

America
my sweet
are you so tired
in your youth
drunk with libation
brought down with
humiliation
as to where you’ve gone
your eyes have seen
what they should not
your ears have heard
far too much
your boundaries
broken through
you have touched
and breathed in
filth
sweet America
the Great and mighty
home of the brave
and the profane
you are like a rebelious child
refusing discipline
you began in duality
to conquer souls
to conquest treasures
for God and for money
nothing much has changed
since
except the standards
set forth and founded
have been legally
stretched and broken
Sweet America
you are still searching
for gold
for the fountain of youth
and still trying to worship
and live right
and dream those dreams
you wanted it all
your children
live duality
insanity of selfishness
drunk on power
seeking more
and yet
brothers and sisters
work to make you pure
to wash you
so you glisten
Will you stand
and fight
or will you bow
in your shame
to be abused
and confined
you loved Liberty
sweet America
home of the brave
or home of the cowards
where is the faith,
the faith that will save you?
by Christianlady
DML

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We are living in very interesting times. Now, I have many children, and certainly do not like the idea of them having to pay for what has been happening in our country and suffer trying to find fellowship as hard as it’s getting now. I think that things are only going to get worse. I do believe, however, that I can prepare my children. The temptation is to shield them from the scary parts of the Bible, the scary events in life. Why would I want to tell them things that will make them nervous? I hated it when I was little, hearing about the tribulation and all of that. I actually believe I was taught in a wrong way anyway. So, I’m having to back up and just tell my children what the Bible teaches. First of all, there is no one they need to follow anywhere. Jesus will return on the clouds, and anyone who acts like he/she has special supernatural powers is NOT anyone worth following. They need only wait for Jesus and not believe anyone else trying to act like him whether calling themself Jesus or some other name. Secondly, even if they aren’t going to experience the tribulation with the mark of the beast etc, they will see persecution. It’s getting worse, and there is not going to be a place to run to like some have had in days past. America was where people ran. God may provide a hiding place if things get as bad as they can. However, if he tarries, we could, like the Jews in WW2, have to deal with great death and persecution. In fact, Christians around the world are going through it now. Our turn will come. I know this is scary for kids to hear, but it needs to be taught. I also tell them there may be and likely will be a time when they will have to stand up for their faith…and it may be that we parents have to make the hard decisions for them in the next few years. We may have to stand on our faith and say we cannot do this or that. We may also have to decide what battle to fight so as not to risk throwing our children into a bad situation. It will be difficult if things get as bad as they can, or even half as bad as they can. It’s important to share this and yet share also with confidence that God is always there and will get us through it. Victory is His even if we go to our deaths. I am sure that many parents aren’t even touching these subjects. I am also sure I’ve heard scary thoughts and worries before, but that this time it seems people are really either in complete denial of problems or they are giving strong and very grave warnings about the events just ahead. To deny there is going to be some drastic changes (and there already have been) and that we aren’t going to be in trouble as Christians right here in our brave homeland is to live in a fantasy land. Our children have to be prepared. It’s not love if they do not know how things can be, and aren’t ready for it. Thank God HE knows what is going on and is in charge, and is in control. This is a very sticky time we’re living in brothers and sisters. We should not neglect the responsibility we have to our children to make them ready.

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http://www.redpen.org/?p=7

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I really enjoyed the sermon today, and my husband even said he had a few “aha” moments as to why we are now where we are. It began with Sunday school. One of the pastors presented the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter getting out of the boat. This took me back to a sermon I heard when visiting a church plant of our former church. The guest speaker took the Ortberg “boat potatoes” concept and preached a sermon on this. His basic message had been that we were not to be “boat potatoes,” and that Peter at least took a chance and got out of the boat. If you want to change the world, you need to get out on the water. I recall being so frustrated with this message. Today was a complete 180 of that previous twistification. The pastor kept the focus on Christ. It was Christ coming in compassion to his disciples after praying and being alone with His Father for hours. It was that Peter got out of the boat but still needed Christ. We cannot do anything on our own, we need Christ. We have little faith and we need to keep our eyes on Christ. I am sure the pastor today said this better, but the thing I remember most is that we need to lean on Christ and that the disciples still needed him. No mention of how brave Peter was, and that we should be like Peter. In fact, I’ve always wondered what Peter was really thinking. Why did he get out on the water? Why did he then doubt? I think the point was always Christ, and not Peter. Yet, Ortberg and others want us to focus on Peter and then also on the other disciples. They tear down those disciples who stayed in the boat, never “taking chances” never stepping out and trying something new. Look what taking chances got Peter. He didn’t change the world in that day. He revealed his lack of faith. He showed his initial zeal, and that it meant nothing alone. We need to be saved by Christ. We need Him.

Later, the head pastor gave his sermon of the week in John. We read about Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers and going after those who would sell in His Father’s house. The focus was again on Christ and on true worship. The people were being ripped off by the priest, expected to buy an unblemished sacrifice. They were often cheated and told their animal was blemished, they could sell their animal and buy here in the temple. So, the temple was full of peddlers. When people were trying to worship, they were hearing animals and men dealing. God’s temple was being defiled. He compared this to what churches and those professing Christ do now. They sell books, they sell trinkets. They try to sell a better life, a promised way. Then, they insult people who buy into it and claim to have something better in the emergence. If we just say the right kind of prayer, dim the lights, we can but reach Christ. Well, this is false, this is a false church, a dirty bride’s gown. He’s going to come again to clean it all up. Maranatha.

My husband went up to the pastor, and made sure he knew we really appreciate his message. I also spoke to the assistant pastor about his Sunday school class. I said, “you know, the messages I’ve heard on this subject from other churches are the exact opposite of what you just taught.” Wow, you should have seen his face. I didn’t realize how I sounded, so then I quickly said, “thank you.” He then said, “whew, I thought I was going to be getting into an argument.” He then added, “not that I wouldn’t do it.” So glad he would fight since he tells it like it is.

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We decided to leave, met with an elder, and later a pastor. The pastor suggested a letter we AGONIZED over writing. We shared our hearts and concerns boldy at the prodding of this pastor. The lead pastor responded, and didn’t agree. Initially he wanted to meet, then it seemed he didn’t. We weren’t sure. My husband really dreaded meeting with him, and many people actually said things like, “good luck with that” and “wow, well, we’ll be praying for you.” We did ask for advice of a few friends. This was a very hard time.

I felt we’d never find another place. We were used to this former church caring for us, it was one of their strengths. We are a large family on one income, and an elder had told us homeschooling and mom staying home was a good thing so just trust God. We really thought this was right (and still do). Sometimes, this meant our church helped us financially when things got tough, like when my husband lost two jobs and when I had a new baby, or when our furnace just quit in the middle of winter. We also had individual friends help us with emergency plumbing and car repair, and more furnace trouble. We only sought help when we’d exhausted our personal options. We were scared of making it on our own. We do know that things in the future could become hard for us financially. We do not expect others to pick up the bill. Now that time has passed and we’re chugging forward, we really feel we’ll be okay. What we have witnessed in our new church shows that people are loving, and we’ve already had an opportunity to serve.

In our new church, there is a family with serious issues. The mother, a wage earner, has cancer. Treatments are difficult and some haven’t worked as planned. Mom is sick, and often has to be hospitalized and kids have to stay away when they catch cold because of the compromised immune system. This new church has taken a stand from the pulpit. The father gives updates frequently. The church people provide meals for this family several times a week, housekeeping, laundry, and rides for the girls. There have been individuals who have gone to the hospital to sit with the mother and take her to the bathroom, etc. so that she’s not neglected by nursing staff. I do not know if any financial assistance has happened. Most of all, there is prayer. The congregation has been given purple bracelets, which remind each of us to pray for the family. There have been times when people sign up to pray for ten minute incriments in the day for this family. Completely surrounded, that’s what’s happening. The call in a bad economy with difficulty has been to look within the body and to step up and care for each other. What is awesome about this is that I do not believe the gospel is being dumbed down in order to get people to serve. There has been no cry that church as usual is weak, and we need to get off our duffs to prove ourselves. What has happened is a family has been lifted up and the true compassion of the church people has come out to meet the needs. We have been convicted to find our ways to help, and others are likely to be there too.

So, what has happened since we left our church? We found out who our true friends were there, and we have found new friends in a new church. No, the new church is not perfect. I will continue to pray for our former church as brothers and sisters in Christ fight the battle there whether they know it or not. I will pray for our new church, that the staff leadership stand guard and keep themselves focused on Christ and the scriptures. I believe we have found that God does have his people in the positions they are in for a reason. We were so blind, we’ve learned to pay more attention. We’ve learned to watch out better for our kids. We’ve learned to speak up after careful consideration and prayer. We’ve learned to be firm. We’ve seen we sometimes cannot trust those we think we can.

Now we move forward. It’s actually been good NOT to be in a small group. We have more family time. Our children need to spend time in our church for sure, but we should be building the relationships at home too. We have examined our beliefs, and it’s been hard but good.

On a side note, some we thought were “shunning” us actually have responded lately. It seems life just threw them some hard days and they weren’t checking email. This is not the pastors who haven’t answered email…just the few members. So, it wasn’t all what it seemed to us. Sure, we do have one individual who is being very weird, but I think she’d be that way anyway. Some of the other couples have not been so cold as we thought.

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One thing I noticed when we were considering leaving our church was the difficulty in finding good counsel that we trusted. First we spoke to a few friends about our concerns. Because they didn’t see what we saw, at the time we knew they were not going to help and our observations were just burdens in their lives (they have since been great help…but at the time it was just us really). Then there were the elders. We spoke to at least two. One was a group shepherd (or leader of a few small groups including ours). He was really next in line on the church structure heirarchy. We told him we didn’t like this or that, and he basically gave us the “I understand this point” and “this is why the church does it this way.” One specific example was our issue with the videos from the “Christian no more” series being played in church as well as the term “Christ follower” replacing the word Christian. The elder said we wanted to give a more specific term and Christian had become such a negative term in society. We needed to reach people in a way that didn’t turn them off. This obviously was not going to be someone we could open up to about all our fears. He just explained them away in a very unsatisfactory manner. We then had a friend and mentor to my husband that was also an elder. We spoke to him, and shared frankly our problems. Initially, he suggested my husband become an elder which would be a process and would take time. Once an elder he could work to change things. My husband spoke to him off and on for a while. He didn’t think Rick Warren’s books were “deep” but that Warren had done such good work, we couldn’t NOT use his books. Eventually, we came completely clean about leaving and the fears of emergent with him. He just didn’t see it. We really couldn’t get clearly what was right to do from him. We were told to not speak with one particular pastor (the one who really seemed to be dropping New Age phrases left and right). He personally said this pastor had been his mentor and is the nicest and most wonderful man with a great plan for reaching the lost. We had spoken to other friends, small group co-leaders who did not think the web sites we were reading were legit. We eventually spoke with one pastor, he did encourage our letter and for us to be frank. He didn’t like my issue with terms used like transformation, spiritual formation. He thought the church still preached the gospel and had good things about it, but had gotten off focus somehow. He suggested we stay on and present things in a loving way as we appeared to him to be humble in all this. We let him know we’d think about it.

So from there, we tried to find people to trust. One couple was beginning to see our point, they could give us some advice (and had told us of the pastor and encouraged us to seek him out). We tried to walk with his counsel as we had no other options. I did speak to one woman who did seem to “get it” and had in fact come from Paggitt’s church and left because it had gone strange on her. Sadly, she’s very strange herself…and so hasn’t been a good friend to trust at all though she did see some of what we saw. We ended up finding a couple who left and were VERY strong in God’s word. They spoke to us openly and offered much comfort as he had been an elder and she was in ministry. They fought the church really for two years before leaving. Any other people we spoke to didn’t really get why we had to leave. My parents are nominal Lutherans. They were no help and thought we should stay in such a giving church. Many friends in the former church we emailed or shared with didn’t really see it. Even many people who did leave, didn’t actually leave for the reasons we did. They were of little help. We had very few safe places to land.

I came online for support mostly. People had been through the same things, articles warned of things that were actually happening to me step by step. I began venting first on my live journal, and lost some online contacts who thought I was self righteous, or didn’t see emergent as a bad thing. I had one live journal friend who encouraged me to write here on WordPress. I did, and began to get some feedback that helped.

Eventually, we made our leave of the church and began searching. I did speak to a friend who is older than I am…and wiser. Her suggestions were Presbyterian and Lutheran, and a few other random churches. For now we’ve landed in something Baptist that is aware of emergent/seeker friendly. It seems pretty much a haven for people who have left similar churches as ours. Some I’ve come into contact with online warn against Calvinist and Baptist churches, insist I should go Lutheran. I am so far not going that route. My childhood experience with Lutheran doesn’t do it for me. I don’t believe in infant baptism, and in no way think the bread and wine actually change into the flesh and blood of Christ. So, in some ways, I’m seen as less or not quite enlightened by some of these people. We’ve been dubbed trouble makers by our former pastor, so there’s no talking to him or really other pastoral staff from the former church. We probably could share a bit with the former pastor who did help us, but since he never did open up too much as to exactly what he’s doing, I do not know where he stands. I don’t know his final opinion of us. He is under submission to our former pastor.

So now we move forward, speaking to people in our new congregation and keeping contact with a few friends in our former church. I write here, my husband and I talk to each other, and we just try to figure it all out. So many have no idea why we left. They’ll likely never know.

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I’m just a Christain woman with no leadership really in my family. I’ve really had to dig and learn for myself, and have trusted pastors and leaders to teach me truth. I spent time in high school being a girl who was basically a “goody two shoes.” I cussed, rarely went to parties but did go to a few. I was worldly, I knew nothing much else. I couldn’t really figure out how to grow until I got out on my own. I did study the Bible at times, prayed every day, and just learned as I went. When I got to college I found other Christians, and could attend church where I wanted to. I was in Navigators, and we were encouraged to study the Bible and memorize scripture. I wasn’t so great at the memorization, but I did attempt to do it. I really have always had a relationship with Christ as far as I could remember, and have had knowledge that I am a siner in need of my savior. Once married, my husband and I sought a church we could raise a family in. In the “Great Northwest” we found a non-denominational church we enjoyed. We continued Bible study weekly as we had from the first days of our marriage. We learned, we grew. We moved back to the Midwest. We found another non-denominational church. I recalled that Hank Hanergraff spoke there once and so I thought it would be good to try. I believe we had actually visited before we moved to the Northwest, and we knew we’d go there when we came back. We interviewed the church leadership as much as they interviewed us. We didn’t know enough to ask better questions. We joined small group, which I always called “Bible study” because that’s what I wanted it to be. We did study the Bible, we also used many little books and I know we always tried to get back to the Bible. We thirsted to know the scriptures and not something else. Not that we didn’t enjoy learning our spiritual gifts (which changed over time by the way) and learning how to handle our money or marriage tips. We did learn things, but did the things we learned have much to really do with the scriptures, with Christian living in the way Christ intended for us? We eventually figured out there were problems, partly because we became leaders of small group and were being trained about transformation/spiritual formation. The church changed the sign out front and the word “transformation” took a large part. A Christian in the wild wood saw danger. This Christian took to studying and figuring it out. My relationship with God has remained, Christ has not ever let me down. People and leadership has let me down. They have hidden their true agenda, (I have to say this…the weasles), and yet I have not been alone. My husband has been my support, noting that discernment is one of those spiritual gifts he believes I do have based on experience. When it comes to my fears when someone is teaching me, if I am bold enough to speak out I have often been right that something is wrong. I may not know enough to figure out WHAT but I can just say, “this doesn’t seem right.” I am generally good this way with men too, sometimes I just know this man is ego oriented…is up to something shady. (of course, not always, but many times I can do this). Now, I often push those feelings down, try not to judge. However, when it’s horrible and I feel I’m being warned by the Holy Spirit over and over again, I cannot ignore. I am not adrift with no hope, with nothing to guide me. I have God’s word written in scriptures. I can study. I have others I trust, and I can still ask their advice. I have prayer, I have the Holy Spirit. I have my husband who has a better memory than I do and can say “yes, he DID say what you think you heard.” There are many snares out here in the wild wood, many wolves to eat a lost little lamb. I am not a lost little lamb. I have a shepherd that will come looking for me if I go astray. Thank God for His Shepherd.

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