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Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

I really thought this was a great sermon today. It was also communion Sunday.

Last week, a couple in the USA seeking political asylum was being deported. They had come from a South American country (I hope I recalled it right) and were threatened by drug runners. Their children were threatened. They had to do something, so they came to the United States. They ended up in the church I attend now, and though they were not Christians before, became believers and followers of Christ. They go into an unknown situation, and have an opportunity to possibly witness to others.

A woman in our church has been battling Leukemia. Though she has so far conquered cancer, the treatments have rendered her immune system worthless and she also struggles with the new marrow attacking her organs. She was really struggling in the hospital last week with a lung infection and then later hallucinations. Her husband updated the congregation. He is weary, his family is sad, and his wife is weak. They trust in the Lord for their strength, and know he is in control of life and death. They have been on an emotional roller coaster ride for several months (maybe two years). It’s been horrible for them, they have really suffered.

The sermon today was given especially because there is great suffering going on in our church. Christians go through trials, but nothing compares to the sufferings of Christ. We can know that all our sufferings are not for nothing. They do not save sinners, but we can be given grace and mercy…we can show God’s glory in our sufferings.

Here is the sermon, it’s worth a listen:

http://www.cside.org/podcast/cside.xml

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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 was checking out a friend’s dramatic interpretation of a woman from scripture which lead me to my former church web site and former pastor’s sermon.  I still obviously check things out there though we’ve been gone for over six months.  The pastor spent time discussing demons and Satan’s tactics both on the world and on the church.  At one point, in the online sermon he began speaking about how Satan uses division against the church.  If we hadn’t gone through what we did at this church, the comments would not have caught my attention.  I transcribed the following;

We also know that division is one of his key strategies.  Get the Christians fighting against themselves. 

“I am here to tell you as your pastor I am tired of people changing churches over trivial issues (uses music as the example).  And don’t expect me to come knocking on your door and begging you to stay…If you’ve got a trivial issue that isn’t relevant to the kingdom of darkness conflicting with the kingdom of light and you want to change churches over it have at it…people are going to hell and the church is spending all of it’s time battling over trivial stuff…reads(2 tim 2:23-26)  If you’ve got a legitimate concern and you’re hurting I’m there with you but if you’re just mad that you don’t think the church is just living up to your expectations why did God charge you not to be a part of the solution???  Why is it that when everybody looks at something that’s going on in the body they say well I need to change churches?  Why not say I see a need I see an area that’s what this Steven ministers are doing (as if this wasn’t already a plan in the church to get going…)…that’s a solution,  amen?  I want to encourage you if you see something that’s not right with the church roll up your sleeves ask Jesus how you can make it right and be in the battle don’t just transfer clubs.”

To be fair, his example had nothing to do with us.  We did not complain about music, or anything trivial.   Our fears were that our church was focused off Christ and on man’s methods, and that emergent was creeping.  This is not a trivial thing, a small disagreement.  Though it’s tempting to believe he could be speaking about us, it’s been a long time.  It’s more likely there are others commenting about issues now and maybe some have left without comment.  Still, he may be intending to speak to people just like us who are very alarmed and are thinking of leaving because they perceive the fight is going to be of no effect on the direction the church is taking.  Considering the issues I’ve heard a few have left for besides us, his comments are interesting.  He is “tired of people leaving” and “switching clubs.”  If he does have folks like us (or even us) in mind, we did not leave without some sort of fight.  We did not leave for trivial reasons.  We did try to be a part of the solution.  We are still working to be part of the solution by praying for our former church.  We also cannot watch our children be taught dangerous things while we try to rescue the church that will not listen.  We had to move on and find, not a club (as that is what small group can become) but a church and a place to hear scripture preached properly and where we can fellowship and worship.  Not a social club, not a small decision.  I can only guess whoever he is talking about and to (and this pastor has a habit of talking directly to a few people or about a few people) that they are not as petty as he makes this all sound.

 

On another note, he did not mention this outloud in his sermon but instead directed people to his notes…and the online notes contained a  high recommendation for two books both by Neil Anderson.  He told his congregation to read them because they are the “best books” he knows of on the subject of spiritual warfare.  They are Victory over Darkness and The Bondage Breaker.  Just from reading a few book reviews, it’s possible this author teaches that demons can posses Christians (they cannot) and he promotes the idea of demons over kingdoms and that people can be oppressed by “the spirit of bitterness” meaning a demon is bitterness and hangs out with a person which makes them bitter.  This is an odd ology to be sure.  What else can this pastor be into?  He already approves of seeker friendly stuff, has defended Lectio Divina and contemplative practices, claims to not be emergent as a church and yet sends his children to a camp run by emergence thinking people and allows people on that staff to be also on church staff, brushes off our concerns of New Age and emergent leaking into sermons, and now we’ve got this superstition.  Earlier, when we still attended, this pastor also referenced the Nephalim stating they were angels who mated with humans and he cited the “book of Moses.”  He’s certainly all over the place!  No wonder we could not get a clear handle on the direction of our former church. 

 

 

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My one pastor who does understand the dangers of the emergent church in our old church has noted my use of lighthouse trails and other websites, and says to be careful.  He says Rick Warren is not in the same “boat” so to speak as people like Pagitt, Bell, McLaren and the like.  Making such connections because one person speaks at a conference, writes on a book jacket, etc. seems flimsy to some.  I agree.  Two speakers at one conference may not be related, one may be completely emergent while the other is completley orthodox and on message as a Christian.   However, if you look at the goals of the conference, then the connections are messy.  If the goals of the conference are emergent style goals, then the speaker who appears not to be emergent just may be so.  If the person positively quotes emergent types…is there a problem?  If they recommend a book, is that enough to make it a problem?  What if a person comes out and says they are not into the emergent stuff, and yet they have all the connections in the world?  Are we to just take them at their word? 

Lighthouse trails does show connections.  Book jackets, the backs of books, acknowledgements, conference speakers, quotes on web sites, book recommendations, speakers who show up at a church or college, and many more things are shown to prove contemplative or new age beliefs are seeping in.  If Fred is considered on the bad side of things, and there is a middle person who is clearly linked to Fred (we’ll call him Clyde)…and then Clyde is the influence of Ralph…is Ralph connected to Fred?  Let’s say most people recognize that Fred is taking great liberties with the Bible, and is actually throwing it out or twisting it in a way most Christians would cringe at.  Now Clyde, Clyde recommends Fred’s books in his own books.  They have meetings together often.  They speak at the same conferences.  Clyde is less objectionable than Fred at first listen.  Then there is Ralph.  Ralph has meetings with Clyde but never Fred.  Clyde acknowledges Ralph in his books, and others who like Ralph too.  Clyde, Ralph, and a few others who like Ralph speak at a conference together.  Clyde comes to Ralph’s church and trains people there.  Is this enough of a connection to Fred to say Ralph has some issues because he’s connected to Fred even though it’s through someone else? 

I have to admit, I tend to believe that following connections and people we recommend for reading is important.  I also think if the conference theme is obviously questionable, then speaking at the conference suggests approval unless a person actually takes a strong stand at such conference and speaks against the theological problems presented there…  Oh, I’m rambling and not sure if this post makes sense….but maybe you see my thinking here?

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