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Archive for November, 2009

The best way to prepare and protect my children from wolves in the church is to do what I need to anyway.  I should be helping them seek Christ.  I should be giving them and understanding and respect for God’s word.  So, what can I do?  No matter what church I attend, or how great the teaching is for children, my husband and I can teach them at home.   It is actually required of us as parents to train them up in the way they should go.

For us, though we’ve been less than consistent, it means reading scripture to them and discussing it or explaining it as we go along.  It means praying with them daily.  It means setting up times in their day to study the bible on their own.  It means using teachable moments to turn their focus on Christ and what is acceptable behavior.  It means asking forgiveness when we’ve wronged them, and modeling grace to them.  It means disciplining but also giving mercy when they really deserve the heat at times.  It means being the kind of parents God wants us to be. 

If there is false teaching in the church, a good sign you’re doing what you are supposed to with your children would be them telling you before you get to point it out to them.  That didn’t happen in our case, but once we did begin to ask what was going on that they were uncomfortable with in church, they were able to give very amazing answers.  They mentioned the use of entertainment rather than teaching, the lack of depth when the bible story time was given, the behavior of preacher’s kids (funny, this one is a long time issue anyway), the mention of things irregular in prayer etc.  Once we started attending a church with expository teaching, our kids were able to say they actually learned more in the last 9 months there than they had at the other church for seven years.  They could point to the hymns, scripture reading in Sunday school, and the inclusion of children in the regular service as examples of why they knew more.  They also stated that sermons in the former church provided memories of the illustrations, jokes, and stories, but they couldn’t seem to remember the biblical messages.  For example, a pastor spoke about transformation in the “Red Zone.”  He did quote scripture, but what my kids recall was that he spoke of touchdowns in the end zone.  This is years later.  They cannot recall anything biblical about that.  Now they know they are reading in John and can recall the events recorded and the reasons they are important.  Big change. 

Best way to protect my children, teach them the bible.  Plain and simple.

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In speaking with those who have left, I am consistently hearing that our former pastor was confrontational to anyone who spoke up. Now, those who left that I know well enough are all very kind people who think very carefully on their faith. They are either hurt or are trying hard to avoid bitterness because of how this pastor dealt with them. I am wondering if this will come out in the survey? If you are looking at the fruit in our former church, you will see a rotten temper with our former pastor, that is for sure. So, if you “go deeper” with spiritual formation, this is what you get? If it were just us, I’d say it’s possible we made some mistake and maybe we rubbed him the wrong way or we perceive his behavior wrongly. However, it’s MANY meek people who just had to speak up who are expressing a distaste for this former pastor’s attitude.

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Friends, say this, “I am a living stone” and “I am a priest”

Turn to your neighbor and say, “you are my priest.” 

Congratulations pastor, you just had a sexual predator, who is not one of God’s elect say he is a living stone and declare he is someone’s priest.  There’s also a thief, a liar, and a mother who beat her child just before service.  Even some out there are nice in our eyes, but are still sinners and have just said they are someone else’s priest.  Now, if that sexual predator has become regenerated and has turned from his wicked ways and is saved, that’s a different story.  However, making a mixed congregation repeat after you can be dangerous.  There may be a delusional person out there who now believes they are something they are not.  Scary.

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Fake emotionality, I cannot stand it.  I am emotional by nature, and wear my heart on my sleeve.  Still, in church and in marketed Christianity, a wavering voice and emotional story can be used.  Sure, it’s great to hear a good testimony, but if it’s used to convince people of a lie or a compromise in the church, it’s wrong.  I don’t know how many testimonies I’ve heard that attempt to manipulate my behavior.  It’s not just a story, it’s a prompting through emotion to support a church, to join the current program or event, to become part of a group, to go to a retreat, and on and on. 

Sometimes people praise God through their emotional event, through their pain.  This is not what I am talking about.  I’m talking about using some of these events to promote a bad program or whatnot.  I am also talking about trumped up emotion to sell something in churches.  I hear it through television evangelists, and from the mouths of pastors.  Get ’em crying and you got ’em.  Well, I cry easily, but I still search scriptures.  You might get my emotions, but I don’t trust my emotions.  I trust in the Lord, I trust in His word.  Period. 

I pray God keep me from letting my emotions lead me away from Him and the truth.

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My flaws…

I always check my thougths with a few people I trust when it comes to discerning what someone is up to in the church.  I seek out leadership or wise counsel because I don’t always trust my own motive when trying to figure out if somneone is right or wrong.  This is because I may have the human agenda of assuming too quickly that a leader or person is choosing evil in their error, when in fact it might be an oversight on their part.  I ask those around me if they can see the trend I’m seeing. 

I have found though, that some people I trust don’t have open eyes for discernment.  I have lost patience at times when I continue to see problems and someone doesn’t.  I am so glad God connected my husband and me to a very wise man who keeps me in line when I question things I’ve been seeing.  He asks hard questions, challenges me, and if he can see the evidence points to what I am saying, he validates my perceptions.  However, if he doesn’t find evidence, he does caution me to be careful with assumptions.  If I didn’t have him (and his wife) through this process, I may have made even more mistakes in this process.  He bases his thoughts on what’s happening in our former church on what he sees with his eyes, what he hears people say, and if it matches with scripture.  I am so emotion based.  Sometimes I just know something is wrong but cannot figure out why.  This can be a good thing, helps me keep my distance even if I cannot see what I’m protecting myself from. 

I think it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and seek counsel when you are in the midst of confusion in church.  It’s hard to find someone to trust, sometimes you have to look outside your church.  Look in the scriptures, pray.  That’s what I’ve had to do.  I cannot always trust my assumptions, my feelings, my thoughts.

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For some reason, my former church has sent out a blanket letter of “we miss you” and a link to a survey for those who have left.  At first it sounded like a sincere letter to us personally from one of the pastors, but it was evident quickly that it was just a letter they sent out to a list of emails from those who have left the church.  It threw me at first, and then I began to get a bit offended.   When we left, we really got very little contact from the pastors.  One did meet with us and continued contact as long as we wanted.  He was genuinely sad we left, but the rest dropped us fast.  In fact, we recently saw one of the pastors when we popped in on friends.  The pastor and his wife were friendly enough, but if we were truly missed, there was not an expression of that.  It was awkward for both couples, we talked and were nice but what can you say?  

The blanket letter comes after a few others have left, and I wonder if more have left than I realize.  The survey seeks to know why people have left and how the church can pray for you….and a few more things.  I kept feeling like it is a marketing tool when reading it.  It’s like when you choose not to use a service and they send a survey to find out why.  They don’t want to know how they’ve erred doctrinally, but want to know more logistics of things they can change.  At least that’s my take.  I could wish it were a fishing for truth….but I cannot help to feel there is a motive other than my dreams.

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Sometimes I get responses to posts suggesting I am judging.  This morning, in my inbox, I received this response:  

“Just not lest you be judged.  I am shocked at how petty and self cetered you have become here.  My suggestion is that you pray to find ways to lift up Christ not tear down followers. You serve only evil with with wicked words.”

to this post:  https://christianlady.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/bill-hybelsbob-buford-and-twisting-scripture/

I am not judging Bill Hybels here, I am pointing out errors he is making.  The Bereans were commended for searching scriptures to see if teachers are speaking the truth, and we are specifically called to test the spirits.  The response is a misuse of the word “judge.”  I do not decide where Hybels spends eternity, and I am not saying he is unsaved…I do not know him personally and cannot judge him by his fruits on a daily basis.  But, his public fruit stinks in certain areas.  I can judge him by his fruits, meaning I look at the fruit and decide if what he is saying jibes with scripture.  If it does not I can point it out.  Not judging in terms of saying he is evil and going to hell, but judging in terms of saying he is in error in his teaching.

There are also times when we do judge the actions and can determine that someone is unsaved at this time.  Sometimes it’s very clear.  I do not again think that we are judging the person as condemned so much as looking at the fruit and knowing the tree is rotting.  There are times for pointing this out, for warning Christians of the dangers.  It’s not that we’re saying we’re better than this person or that, just that their actions show they are not following Christ.  

 

 

 

 

 

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