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Archive for May, 2009

I have discovered others who have become disenchanted with the direction their church is headed.  Frustrations are similar,  reactions too.  Solutions vary depending on the family and situation.

One woman left a baptist church that was seeker friendly and is seeking to understand all that is Lutheran.  She desires really the companionship and servant attitude in the Baptist church, but wants the systematic theology of the Lutheran church. 

Nazarenes are struggling as their churches have been infiltrated with seeker friendly and contemplative teachings.  This is very similar to my experience in non-denominational churches.

Some have noted the youth programs in their church are more for entertainment.  There may again be service as a focus, but the fruits don’t go beyond this in changed lives.  The youth group kids from church look like every other group of kids. 

So what is the solution?  Which church will best meet the needs of a person thirsting for a focus on Christ who recognizes a need to get into the bible?  I believe that answer is much more complicated than it might appear.  Just finding a church claiming to be a “people of the book” is not enough. 

I fear a big separation that will do no one any good in the long run.  I fear we’ll have the passion in service oriented congregations.  We’ll have the connectedness of the body in small group/seeker friendly congregations, and well have serious study in churches with liturgy.  I would like to see churches who value the bible as it should be.  I then would like to see the body of Christ in service to one another out of love.  I hope churches with serious bible study would also have fellowship with one another.  I hope there will be a passion to follow and worship, and a passion to support those who go beyond the local church to give the gospel to others beyond the walls of the church. 

I still carry the fear of being duped.  I see good things in my current church.  Pastors preach well and from the text, expository style.  People are serving one another.  There is a connectedness in the body (the pastor went out of his way to walk up to us in the hallway and ask about a family member he heard had health issues…we are very new to this church and people go out of their way to make sure we feel welcomed and remembered).  There are missionaries supported.  I’m just waiting for the honeymoon phase to end.

When will a program check out as tainted by contemplative?  When will I see the compromises?  Of course, I do not expect the church to be perfect.  However, I am still cautious.  I feel for those who haven’t yet found a church to scrutinize, however. 

We’ve seen good things in this church, many good things.  It’s horrible to keep trying churches and only seeing seeker friendly, contemplative, or emergent (or a mix of everything) tainting all.  I pray for brothers and sisters who don’t get any refreshing from the pulpit.

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Despite our family’s circumstances and decision to leave our former church, it is not that we believe all are lost.  We cannot know the hearts of men or what God knows about their individual faith or salvation.  For this reason, I am sure many in our former church are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Leadership may be as well…pastors, staff.  I would say it’s not likely that any church has 100% who are chosen believers, there will always be tares.  I would also say that a pastor can still be saved and yet mistaken in his preaching in some areas.  

I believe God opens the eyes of His sheep in His time so they can see the teaching of wolves, whether it’s sheep unaware who are teaching or it’s wolves who will push the agenda forward.  I personally struggle because one particular pastor has fruits that indicate possible wolf status.  It’s hard for me not to write him off completely.  I do think some of the elders may also be in this category, though I don’t know enough of their personal fruits to see it.  Sadly, there are also likely some in the church we know who believe they are saved but aren’t due to improper teaching.  I don’t know if it’s our role to do more than point out error in teaching, confront sin directly as it’s seen.  It is for God to judge the hearts, we can only judge the fruits.    

I do believe though assuming a pastor or leader is actually a Christian saved by grace through faith in Christ is not wise either.  Just because one says they are a Christian doesn’t make it so.  Where to draw the line in my own head?  I don’t know that I need to know so much as I need to just listen and see where a teacher/pastor is coming from based on their teaching and their fruits.  If I point out the fruits, the error, and pray, what more to do?

I have so much to learn!

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I remember all the altar calls in the Nazarene church when I was young and living with an aunt and uncle.  They’d have a message, they’d have the songs over and over again, people would go up to the altar as the pastor said, “just one more moment, Jesus is waiting…”  I went up many times.  I recall one time as my conversion moment.  I really do believe I did trust Christ and was saved, though I will say I’m not sure it was a moment in time so much as something the Holy Spirit did in me.  I was already a kid who believed in Jesus and had some understanding of Him and what He did as well as in my sin and how much I needed Him as my Savior.  I did pray often, did think of Christ being with me all the time.  I had a child’s understanding, and I must say my faith was strong.  I needed my faith to be this way when I was a child, I had it hard (I know many of us do…and many have it harder than I ever did).  I was shuffled from family to family, house to house.  I was abused by my aunt and uncle, and yes, wire hangers do hurt and leave welts.   Still, I believed and prayed to Jesus daily,  was convicted of my sins and frequently prayed for forgiveness.  I was pretty humble as a child as I think back.  Through moves into different households, through step parents and divorce, through it all, I knew I was saved.  So, how to share this with others?  I did get some opportunity to tell others about Christ as a teenager.  I recall speaking with a girl who was very depressed, I went with her to lunch instead of church actually.  I had been going to church in my small town and they had small bible study groups in homes before service.  She was there and had expressed some scary statements, cannot remember exactly what.  I spoke with her and prayed, I think.  I don’t know if she ever expressed faith in God, but I feel I did the right thing that day. 

In college, I was in Navigators.  I learned the bridge illustration.  Basically, you draw two sides of a canyon with a wide seperation.  Man is on one side, and God on the other (represented by the words “man” and “God.”  We were taught to use verses like, “the wages of sin is death” and those which show the seperation from God.  Then, you draw the cross as a bridge.  There are verses like John 3:16 and others showing that you must believe and receive (the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord).  You can ask the person where they are on this bridge…are they far, far away on their side of the canyone?  Have they taken any steps to being close to the bride?  Do they believe but maybe haven’t received?  Somewhere in there is an opportunity to pray, and ask forgiveness for sins. 

I tried this immediately my freshman year on a friend of mine from high school that was visiting.  I told her about heaven and hell, we talked about her place on the bridge.  I ended up scaring her to death, she thought I was in a cult, and she NEVER came back to visit me.  It wasn’t that I told her some deep truth, I gave her the fly by gospel really.  Then I pressured her. 

I don’t know how to evangelize properly, really.  My best experiences have been in just being friends with people, and writing online.  People have read my journal elsewhere and some argue and are offended, others are inspired.  I’ve had some “try” Christianity.  I have presented my life and often have written songs and scriptures I like.  I have shared experiences in miscarriage, job loss, friendship issues (without names) and church issues.  I have wrestled with topics of faith.  All of this just dumped in my online journal.  My joys with my kids, my struggles as a mom.  I try to encourage friends and other Christians in their walk.  I try to serve when I see a need.  I try to be a friend, to be a decent neighbor, and to live my life well hopefully in God’s sight though I know I fail.  I have given to missions when I felt I could. I have talked to agnostic/nominal church goers in my family about my faith, and I have taught my children as best I know how.  I know it’s likely I have still failed to do all I need to, all that I should to show I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.  I learned bad methods to begin with, and find that some of evangelism is about how you live, some is about just being faithful to the God I love and serve, and some is about serving others with out complaint.  Much is about teaching my children well, and being ready when people ask questions or get into conversations about faith.  It’s also about being willing to make the most of the opportunities God gives.  I think it’s important to share your life with others so they can see God working in you, and it’s also important to know God’s word in scripture when talking or writing to others so His gospel can be presented accurately. 

Beyond this, I do not know anything more for me to do.  Maybe God will convict me otherwise, but for now, this is all I know.

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We read the bible in our house, and my hope is to go straight through the New Testament first.  At some point we’ll likely do a split plan, reading a bit of both each day. 

I really am wanting to figure out a way to teach church history correctly past Acts, and have been given some suggestions for curriculum.  I would like my older children to read biographies, essays, and sermons of solid church leaders from the past.  I do know our church has some sort of systematic teaching…they mentioned it from the pulpit recently.  I think it’s getting to be time we have some interviews with pastors to figure out what exactly they do, and how they assist us as parents in the training of our children.

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Enjoyed the Sermon

This morning we were in John 4 again.  The sermon covered the 2nd miracle (as titled by John) in which the child of a noble man was healed.  The man did not get what he wanted initially, to have Jesus come with him to go heal his son.  He did however, once he obeyed, have his son healed.  There was faith, then healing, then even more faith.  First it was faith that Christ could heal.  Second, it was faith in Christ for salvation. 

I really enjoyed hearing this message which included healing since we just learned this week a woman at our church has been healed of cancer and treatment complications.  A woman who just four weeks ago was given 2-8 weeks to live, had now been told she’ll be at home with her family soon.  The doctors had stopped the treatment, and now she’s healed.  What is most amazing to me is not just the healing, but the love and faith in this church and in this family.  Even if this woman died, the family had faith that God is in control.  Even if she died, they were going to be content.  Interesting to me is the concept taught today that faith does not come from seeing signs and miracles, faith is given to us by God.  There are those recorded in scripture who saw Jesus, saw all the signs and wonders, and still, they did not believe.  The ones who didn’t always see any signs believed (just like the Samaritan woman at the well, she went back to Samaria and those many people believed without seeing a sign).  So, one woman is healed and God is being praised.  We will share with others this amazing recovery, this miracle the Lord has brought forth, and  yet this sign of God’s grace and mercy will not be enough to change hard hearts.  Those softened may believe, but they will have been prepared by God. 

Again, why the signs in John?  That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God….the signs were given to allow people to believe, but they do not alone make people believe.  Faith comes from God.

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It’s clear to me why those who want to change church focus on youth so hard to the exclusion of other groups really…because they really want to win over the future.  The trend in churches is to have seperate youth ministry, and to pull kids away from their parents.  This way, the pretrained youth workers can present whatever they want and change the kids first.  This is why so much training happens at Youth Front.  If you can get the youth ministers at churches to change, then you can change those churches.  Waiting out the old people who will leave or die means your philosophy of church wins.

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I asked my son if he was ever bored in our new church and he said yes.  To that I said, “good.”  Why would I say such a thing?  Because in our former church we were overstimulated with entertainment.   My son understood exactly what I was saying.  Being human, we might feel bored (in our weak bodies) when the truth is repeated to us.  We might have to stretch through and work to listen.  This is NOT a signal that the pastor is doing something wrong and needs to enterain.  If I am bored, I do not need a new and catchy song or a lazer light show.  I need the truth.  I need Christ.  I need the gospel.  If I am bored, I need to examine my heart.  I have time to think and examine my heart.  If it’s all about a theme, all about the great music to make me emotional, all about some false cause (that may sound good) then I can be distracted from truth of my condition.  At least if I’m bored, no pastor had to compromise the message.  The problem is with me and not the church.  This is NOT to say that we cannot be bored with a lie.  I know I became quite bored in a very agitated way with my church once I could see the real problems for what they are.  And I must admit now in the new church I’m actually not bored.  But if I do become bored I will not fret.  If the truth is preached, it doesn’t matter how I feel about it, I am glad to get the truth. 

Of course, what I wrote above is just my own thoughts.

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