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Archive for July, 2009

My cousin spoke with me last night, and recounted the story of her grandmother and grandfather who no longer attend sermons at their Nazarene church.  There are aunts and uncles too, who helped to build the church, who are no longer even attending there.  One was an assistant preacher, and he was basically run off.  All of this because some upstart from a  college in Colorado came in as pastor. 

 This man has taken the core group of Christians who started this church and has broken their hearts.  Some he has shooed away.  My cousin’s grandmother now attends only Sunday school.  The loud rock music they call worship sent her husband away because he physically cannot sit in the service.  It hurts his ears. 

When my cousin’s grandmother told the pastor about this issue, the response was to only get louder and louder.  My cousin says the church is filled with people her grandmother doesn’t know, all the old faithful Christians are gone.  She says when her grandmother talks about it, she lowers her head and nearly weeps every time.  This should not be, a woman in her later years mourning over her church. 

 “Put up or shut up old lady, that is what you get”  has not been said aloud but has been said in action.  These elderly people could teach the young so much, but they have been shunned and forgotten.  What a disgrace, what discrimination.  When a generation forgets it’s elders, it is nothing but sinful and shameful and wrong. 

A poem I wrote a while back gives my feelings on the issue:

 

Shame on you

for proclaiming to the woman

seasoned with white silver hair

“we’re all about young families now”

and letting her miss church

the place where

she first believed

where she prayed at the altar

and repented once for all

where she learned

how to read her Bible

and sing sweet amazing grace

where her father took her arm

as she walked on rose petals

and red carpet

Shame on you

for pushing her out the doors

to the church

where her children

learned about Jesus

drawing on bulletins

dogs and flowers in crayon

during long sermons

while she whispered amen

nodding her head

where she watched

her children sing in vests

and pretty velvet dresses

with shiny black shoes

where she saw her boys and girls

dunk down in the tank

and carefully rise with water

streaming down their rounded

faces

the place

she gave faithfully

in Sunday school

and choir

dusting pews on Saturday

with oil and a cloth

playing the piano

and leaving bills

in the offering plate

Shame on you

for forgetting

the widow

who found comfort

in the place

where her fathter was

eulogized

and her son

prayed for in war

and her daughters

blushing in white

her husband

aging with her

week by week

finally coming after

years of prayer

before going home

to be with his Lord

she spoke up

you put her out

Shame on you.

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Just take a look at this “Tribute to Bob Buford.” I didn’t watch them all, but fast forwarded to Bill Hybels (20 minutes). He uses the account of the “Rich Young Ruler” to make a point. The point I hear (and even my 9 year old picked up on it without my help) is that Bill Hybels thinks he could have “done it better” than Christ with the rich young ruler. To some it might be subtle, but to me it is obvious and quite disturbing.

Oh, and as a bonus at the end of the clip, my daughter noted “Look, all those books and no bibles.”

http://www.leadnet.org/tribute25.asp

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Over and over I am hearing of people who have chosen to leave my former church.  Some leave for the same reasons we did.  One person recently let us know they left.  This person really tried to work it out, but just was seeing problems with YouthFront involvement and the P.E.A.C.E. plan from Rick Warren all over the place in the church.  No amount of talking or warning was enough so this person left. 

Others are still attending and thinking of leaving.  They either see the emergent (or emerging) influence or the stand the pastor is taking against “resisters” that shows a lot about the heart of that pastor.  They stay for various reasons, either family that still attends or giving it a chance to change…or for ministry obligations.  They stay, but they won’t sit silent forever. 

There are always those who leave for inconvenience, or because small groups aren’t meeting the needs they thought would be met.  Some fall through the cracks and feel out of place because no one has reached out to them.  Some want to have family service instead of all the seperation between generations.  Some are frustrated with the programs and call to get invovled constantly. 

Busy church can be hard on families.  All of these issues, though they are exactly the same as “I left because I believe the church was teaching things that are not focusing on Christ” are still related.  They are the fruits of these type of churches…seeker friendly wears thin very quickly.  Small groups with improper teaching can leave people feeling empty.  What about when men and women in the small groups aren’t really growing and have conflicts?  All of this comes from church entertainment, program driven churches.  The flock bleeds itself out the back door.  But if you listened to some pastors, this is proof things are working according to plan.

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This is an excellent podcase from www.fightingforthefaith.com .  In this podcast, Rob Bell’s statements about what is gospel are so far off I’ve heard agnostics and atheists agree.  Mr. Bell’s gospel is so off.

http://podcast.fightingforthefaith.com/fftf/F4F072109.mp3

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My former church had a week long camp for kids with training for soccer, basketball, art, cooking, skateboarding, and dance/cheer. It was fun. It was also in place of vacation bible school.

I am not sure why this thing couldn’t have been called VBS, why they couldn’t do the same kind of thing and yet still had the focus on Christ and the bible. Yet, the church decided they would team up with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes and make it a camp-like week. The thinking is that it would be a draw for kids who had no exposure to church.

I cannot remember, but I think the cost for the week was something like $40 (I could be wrong, it might have been $25, cannot remember). Anyway, there was a cost because kids were getting instruction.

My kids did get something out of that week. My daughter still can make pizza from scratch, and rolls. She loves to cut up fruit, even pineapple and she’s a 10 year old. It was great for her to learn these things and I’m not opposed to a church teaching them.

However, when I ask what the bible lessons were for that week they cannot recall. I taught the bible section (which was a copied lesson with questions with very little scripture). I don’t recall what they taught. I know they had themes each day with a word for the day starting with D. Discipline was one word, but I cannot remember them all.

There was very little presentation of the gospel. The one time it was presented wholly, it was a variation of the bridge illustration on stage. Kids got up, said a prayer with the pastor, and that was that.

There were mini lessons that had something to do with the activity and the theme of the day, I recall a bible reading at that point. I was a group shepherd who took a small group out for a little lesson every day. I recall going through the lessons ahead of time and adapting greatly to inject the gospel back in. Sometimes the D word for the day was hard to make fit.

Fast forward a year, and my kids attended vacation bible school in our new (to us) church. They had a craft every day that had something to do with the gospel. They had verses to memorize every day. They had a story every day acted out on stage, the basis for the fun little story time was to bring the kids back round to the point that they should share the gospel. It seemed simplistic, but it wasn’t wrapped in glitz and glitter.

My kids learned their verses pretty well, and by the end of the week each one could tell me the basics. They used colors to represent the different aspects of the gospel with a verse.

All have sinned which means we all are sinner and need salvation. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. The children were taught that they sin, but the Holy Spirit can draw them to God for repentance.

They were also taught that Jesus had to die in our place for sin, that His blood (nothing but the blood of Jesus) makes the believer’s heart white as snow, cleanses the sin. They learned in this life once we are saved we grow and we learn more about God. When we die, if we are believers who have trusted in Christ by His grace and mercy, we will go to heaven.

Simple gospel message. My six year old can recite it. My three year old is starting to get some of the main points.

I asked my older kids which they liked better, the cool camp with the instruction in different skills including prizes, slick songs, and all that youth…or the simple traditional VBS. They said it was VBS. Why? Because they learned more about the gospel.

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Baptism has been understood and practiced different ways within Christianity.  I have felt, and this is just feelings without complete scriptural backing, that baptism is an act of obedience.  It is to be done after a person trusts Christ.  It is not a means of salvation, not that the regeneration cannot occur simultaneously, but I personally feel (again, feel not know) that there is a true baptism on the spirit or heart and this work is done by the Holy Spirit.  Those who are saved by grace through faith are to be baptised to show their faith publicly, because it is commanded. 

I do not believe infant baptism hurts anyone, but do not believe it is necessary.  I was baptised at a very young age (baby or toddler) and later trusted Christ.  Because I had been baptised Lutheran and at a young age (I recall it, recall crying…so I think I had to be older than an infant) I decided to be baptised later as an adult to publicly show my faith.  Christ was baptised, so no Christian should be above the act of water baptism. 

I believe, unless there is a physical reason why not, that a person should be immersed.  It was how Christ did it.  Baptism represents a cleansing, and I believe it’s best shown through actual dunking.  Sprinkling is not wrong in my opinion, I just think the dunking is a better way. 

So, how’s that for clear as mud?  I want to study baptism again.  I know that I went through it in college because some guys from the Church of Christ were stressing the need for baptism for salvation.  I recall coming out of those talks with the belief that the water baptism was for obedience as a symbol of our cleansing, but that those who trust Christ and are saved by grace through faith have a baptism that is from the Holy Spirit and not only of water.  There is no magic in the act, no magic in the water.  Of course, I also have heard Charismatic people claim tongues etc as a sign of Holy Spirit baptism and I say that is hogwash (respectfully, of course).

Anyone want to give a scriptural reason for baptism…either dunking wholly…sprinkling…infant…after trusting Christ…or whatever variation thereof.  I know there is a right way, a right true answer about baptism.  I know God knows.  I just want to be clear about it myself.

I have been in contact with a Lutheran on this issue of baptism and have not been satisfied with infant baptism.  I was told it has been a tradition through the ages to baptise infants…but why is this not modeled in Acts?

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There are many, many pastors who have no business being at the pulpit.  This is one reason we have all the issues we have in the church, pastors who either don’t take their job seriously, are ill prepared, and of course, there are also those who are “peddlers of the word” and those who are just plain wolves.  Here are a few links that make the point clear about pastors and preparation.  It may seem a nit picky topic to correctly pronounce Greek and Hebrew, but taking the current state of churches today, I say it’s better for pastors to study more not less.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/07/pastordude-please-before-you-say-that.html

http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2009/07/1-timothy-215-parable.html

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