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Posts Tagged ‘CHRISTIAN’

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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I personally believe, as Christians who would mourn with someone who lost a family member, we should also make sure to remember the littlest of people.   Mothers and fathers of babies who die in the womb,  just before birth, or soon after, are often put through the “just get over it” phase.  The earlier in pregnancy the baby dies, or if there are disabilities such as Down’s syndrome or Trisomy 18, there is often a justification for shortening the mourning period. 

I believe there is a time to mourn, and also that we do feel a deep sadness for the chidlren we do not get to actually meet because God set eternity in our hearts.  Maybe I am making a leap here, and please let me know if this is not a right thought, but I do believe we were not actually meant to be apart in death.  Not actually.  So, it’s a natural state to mourn our losses. 

I personally see grief as a gift.  When I had a baby die in the womb at 16 weeks, something discovered at a regular OB appointment, I mourned deeply.  I decided I would allow myself to mourn.  I spent hours in prayer, and hours letting God hear my anguish.  I spent hours reading scriptures.  My other children were being taken care of by grandparents and their father.  I just had to weep, think, pray, write, and remember.  I wanted to go all the way with mourning.  After all, God had created the child in me and I actually felt I was dishonoring God to not mourn properly.  Now, this was just feelings, not gospel truth.  Though now, I am so glad I did mourn fully. 

What I did want more than anything though was to bury the remains of my child.  I had been pushed into a D&E by my doctor, who was trying to be kind.  I am outspoken, but chose not to ask or speak up.  I do not know what was holding me back, but I didn’t ask for the remains, didn’t ask to be induced.  I later helped get a line written in a law in my state that caused hospitals to be responsible to inform women they can have the remains when being treated for miscarriage or “fetal demise.” 

I know there is a time to let the dead be dead and rejoin the living…but I believe the church should be supportive of those families who have experienced the death of a loved one no matter how small.  A rose on the piano, a card of sympathy, a prayer from a pastor or maybe a women’s group leader, a book of rememberance in the church , something should be done to honor those who have had babies die in pregnancy or shortly after birth.  I do not think this is a mandate, or that a church is less holy for not doing it.  I just think it wouldn’t hurt to do a little bit more.

Of course, there are many women who have never spoken of their miscarriages.  It’s too painful, or they have chosen to keep the secret to themselves.  Others have had abortions and would never speak of it.  If a church acknowleges the losses openly in general, this might help the silent mourners too.

I believe, as a prolife woman, thanking my God for the days I was pregnant with the chidlren I miscarried, and mourning the losses, has honored His creation.  Again, this is just my opinion and not a revelation from God to me. 

If you have had a baby die, I pray for you.  I thank God for the time you had with your baby, no matter how brief, and I pray for your comfort.

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The difference between the Spiritual Formation and sanctification is where you go for it. In Spiritual Formation a person goes inward…and supposedly listens. In sanctification, a person goes into God’s word…and the focus is on God. Though both are a process, one is about the Glory of God and the other is about “making my life better now.”

I would love any insight on sanctification vs. spiritual formation…I am not as studied as I should be on this for sure.

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I’ve had a few friends leave our former church.  They have seen emergent creep in, though it’s not been admitted and was adamantly denied.  The church is overt about spiritual formation though, there’s even a person on staff with a title containing the words spiritual formation. 

One of my friends is still trapped there, with a husband who doesn’t believe there’s a problem.  She’s being submissive to him, but is also not attending sermons any longer.  I believe she likely helps in different areas so as to avoid regular service.  God must have her there for a reason.  It’s very hard for her, to see things creeping in…or even openly being presented that aren’t biblical. 

I’ve noticed some things about people leaving.  Some fight for a while.  One man we know was an elder and tried to change things there, eventually they had to leave.  The church was going in a direction they were not comfortable with.  Scripture was being mishandled, and they had issues with an elder who was being supported by the church that didn’t believe the literal interpretation of Genesis.  Others left because of this issue. 

When Rick Warren’s materials were presented church wide and manditory for small groups, some people fought or brought out issues with the materials.  The alterations of scripture, the use for whatever purpose suits Mr. Warren really bothered those paying attention.   They went through the system, talking to pastors or elders.  They eventually left, not many knew of most of their problems.  We’ve even been told they were led to believe they were basically alone in their assertions.  This has proven itself to not be true, more than one couple left because of the Rick Warren studies.

We left because we saw things tiptoeing emergent.  We really didn’t understand what emerging/emergent was, and to be honest, I am not sure I’d say now the church is emergent.  However, the youth program is tripping into emergent stuff all the time, and Rob Bell has been played in some small groups.  The church has not taken a stand against it, and because of this, they are basically saying they approve.  Some pastors’ and elders’ children leave and end up at an emergent church in the area.  If our former church is not emergent, they are friends with emergent with no apology.  A few recognized this as a problem and have left.

Those leaving all realize the same thing in the end.  The fight won’t get you anywhere.  It’s not that we shouldn’t fight at all, because there are times when God has let the fight occur and also let those fighting loose for a time.  Standing up is very hard.  At some point though, because we’re sick of starving, we all leave.  We seek out a church that focuses on the bible, and on Christ.  We look for a God centered rather than man centered gospel.

There seems to be no way to change this church.  Only God can do it, and we pray He will open more eyes.  I am thankful for the ones who have seen and have made their way out.

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I recently was recommended to read works by Watchman Nee which can easily be found online free. He was a Christian in China. I know he wrote many books, and have just started going through one. He takes a great deal of time to explain the three parts of man…the soul, the spirit, and the flesh. Anyone know this one and what do you think?

  Because I am just starting, I’m finding some wording used uncomfortable.  God consciousness, self consciousness, and world consciousness is used.  Some of the explaination of three parts of man feels a bit like gnosticism in that parts are described like the light.  I haven’t read far enough to know if this is just a feeling I’m getting or if there is truly something to watch out for.

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But the Music…

I have heard the chief complaint of the reformed style (I think anyway) Baptist church we attend is the music, from those who have tried it instead of our former seeker friendly “not emergent but not NOT emergent” church.  What exaclty is the problem here? 

In our new church we sing great hymns, some I have never heard before.  It’s simple, at the start of the service there is a small set of music.  There is a young man who leads the music time, and he plays a guitar.  There is a young woman who plays piano.  We do not have hymn books, which I miss and want, but I understand since there is a deaf population in our church and using an overhead style can help them sign to the words.  There is no drum, the music is not loud or driving.  People who can sing well are of a more chorale style.  The rest of us just do our best.

I know the first few Sundays I felt a bit off singing.  It felt a bit faster than the former church.  Nothing is really repeated, but hymns are sung the whole way through, with all verses.  It is meaty, and often difficult to sing along with when you’re not used to it.  However, in singing this way week after week, I have begun to really pay attention to the poetry and the words.  The music is of higher caliber and the lyrics are intelligent.  No repetition of “open the eyes of my heart Lord (what does this mean anyway?)  I want to see you…I want to see you…I want to see you…(slower now) I…..want…to…see eeeee youuuuuuuu.” 

We don’t dance, though I do move because well, I move when I sing.  We don’t clap.  There’s nothing wrong with clapping, I like it.  We just don’t do this in our newer church.  I don’t think I’ve seen hands raised either.  I don’t ever do this myself, but no songs call us to kneel or raise hands….there’s no suggestions like that in the music.  It’s all about God and not our response to him. 

I personally really enjoy the hymns.  I also hear my children singing them at home.  It’s deeper in meaning, actually more theologically correct.  The music challenges the mind and is for worship.  It’s not about entertaining and whipping us into an emotional frenzy.  I like not being manipulated. 

I’m not saying having a drum set or playing music in a contemporary style is wrong, I do not believe this.  I do think though that many churches are missing discernment when they plan a playlist.  One example I can think of is the many songs brought into the church that come from heretical thought.  The beliefs of those writing the music is important.   There are many songs with lyrics that lack depth or appear to be love songs to a lover rather than a worship song to Christ.  There are songs written by men who are of questionable theology (I can think of a group like Phillips Craig and Dean who subscribe to Oneness Pentacostal doctrine).  The songs are brought in as worship but the meaning is lost on the congregation.  So  many groups cross over and use one another’s songs, so it’s really hard to judge.

To me, it’s important that the messages from the pulpit are true.  It’s also important that the music be true.  It’s all important.

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Sometimes I feel so flat about going to church.  My former church was the feel good kind.  We’d gone there for 8 years before leaving.  It was a church with a lot of fun for our kids, a lot of contact through small groups.  We had gotten to know people there.  We were so blind to most of the issues, and though we knew people had been leaving over the years, we chalked most of that up to inconvenience. 

We live in an area with churches everywhere, so it was often true that people just left for whatever reason.  Until we heard of one specific couple who left because of the direction the church was going in…we thought our personal fears of the church were possibly just thoughts we were having…strange things we had to figure out but not real issues.  It wasn’t until we thought strongly about leaving that we began to run into people who expressed strong issues with specific things we were seeing ourselves and had left.

So now, we’re in a new church.  It’s got a lot going for it, most especially the word of God is preached from the bible itself clearly every Sunday we’ve been there so far.  This church staff and pastors recognize the problems in churches with emergent(ing) and purpose driven…etc.  This is refreshing. 

However, at this point I still feel a great distance when in church.  There are so many times when it’s a chore to get myself ready to go to church.  Once there, the message is great.  Until I’m there though, I am not looking forward to it.  I cannot put my finger on why though.

One thing I have learned in this process of leaving a church with a focus on emergent youth (even if they aren’t officially an emergent church) and going to another church is that you cannot trust your emotions.  Emotions are not faith.  Faith is something else altogether.  I do not buy that action preceeds emotion every time, and I do not believe that just by doing something you can always shape your emotions…that they will follow.  Some people are depressed no matter h0w much faith they have, and how much they pray. I was hurt by the whole process of leaving our former church.  I found out that my judgement of things was off, my view had been blocked, I had been fooled.

I even at times look back and think about how we came to seeing the issues.  It was really quick, actually.  The wool was pulled away and I saw the former shining church for what it was.  It’s not just that, but I saw that there was this network of churches.  I also saw some of my favorite things were not at all what I thought.

I used to listen to Focus on the Family daily, and other radio programs through out the week.  Finding them involved in contemplative and compromise took away my grounding and habits.  So much of what I did before was built on popular protestant trends….all not bad if the focus of these things remained on Christ and the bible. 

It was a shock to my system.  I can imagine maybe it’s like the way a woman feels if she finds out her husband is not who she’s always thought he is.  The church, and parachurch organizations who have let contemplative, emergent, purpose driven, marketing, and more enter and take over have been serving another master.  This has caused a great deal of confusion for me over the last several months.

So, the new church has a lot to overcome.  They are dealing with a woman who has been sucking off the marrow a bit on the wrong things and has been starving for it.  It’s not that I didn’t get good things from our church, or we didn’t have friendships and support when needed.  That church is right in these areas.  I think though the sacrifice of biblical teaching (not just using the bible for a means to an end) is not worth any connections and community. 

So now, I’m disconnected and emotionally not where I wish I was in the new church, in my life these days.  It’s not about emotion, it’s about Christ and following Him.  It’s about training my children in the church that is presenting the truth.  Now, I just pray for trust if this is the place for us to commit as members.  Who cares about emotions, I want the real deal….

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Had a guest pastor at church today.  He made some solid points, though I am still very careful when listening to anyone preach.  The sermon was on the story of Joseph in Genesis as well as Psalm 105.  It was about success in life, but not in the way many ministers measure success these days. 

 Success in a life brings glory to God, so it’s only success in God’s eyes that counts.  It really has to be Christ centered and is worked out by God.  He first stressed that in Joseph’s life trials tested his faith.  God brought these trial to his life, and he will bring them to our life in order to work His will. 

The many trials of Joseph were being first rejected by his brothers, betrayed by them, physically injured, enslaved, tempted, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten.  We will also face many trials and we are, as James says, to count it all joy when we are tested and put through many trials. 

 Another thing that allows us to succeed in God’s eyes is that there is a Truth that supports our faith.  Genesis 37:5 states “the word of the Lord tested him.”  He was given a truth in his dreams, and his dreams came true.  The pastor spoke of a change that occured in Christ, (I think it was Hebrews 1) that God in various ways spoke to us by His Son.  Christ communicates by His word (recorded in the bible) and through the Holy Spirit. 

He also communicated that what we perceive or feel is not often true.  The only true thing is the word of God.  He quoted D. Martin Lloyd Jones saying “We spend too much time listening to ourselves and too little time talking to ourselves…”  I would argue we spend too little time in the bible and in prayer, but I do understand the point made.  He said we need to “talk to ourselves” and remind our selves the turths of God’s word.  Not exactly the same thing as contemplatives who go within themselves….

God is also bringing His people to Himself.  Jacob’s family meant their actions for evil, but God meant them for good.  He moves people back to Himself, and even did this with Joseph’s family.  God is also fixing our eyes on eternity to see beyond our trials.  He is working all this out for His glory.  Success is God’s glory, not numbers in the pews, not slick presentations, not money or fame. 

The above was a paraphrase from the visiting pastor, none of the work is mine…

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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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I was recently contacted by someone who attends my former church but is not happy.  This person knows of us, and we’ve had conversations in the past…but long before our problems with the former church came up.  This person is exchanging online/email type contact and I am sharing much of my information and many web sites with.  Sadly, the rest of this person’s family does not see the problem, so for now this person is staying in the former church and serving where possible.  Funny how we’ve both come to the same conclusions completely independent of each other.  Of course, if you asked our former pastor, he’d say we are making connections that aren’t there and if we said the church was leaning emergent we’re telling “lies from the pit of hell.”  This person actually heard the pastor mention a couple (us) who was spreading rumors that the church is emergent or leaning emergent.  This person hasn’t listened to a sermon since that day.  I am praying….

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