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Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

We were tootling along just fine in our schedule at small group last night, when, as far as I’m concerned, a grenade was dropped. One man, prominent in our group, mentioned a book that he said, “is the best book I’ve ever read.” Uh oh. It’s not the Bible, so what could it be? A book on the prodigal son by Henri Nouwen. He’s reading it, and will pass it on to the eager next person in the group. Another woman wrote the title down. I sat there, quietly taking it in. Now I have to proceed carefully. The man is not a bible study leader nor pastor. He’s also not necessarily tainted because he likes this one book. I do think, however, that we need to figure out how to address this so I am carefully taking advice from people I respect. I will not go in guns blazing, but I do not believe we should ignore this. My husband was proud of me, I am usually blasting away when I see a problem. I’ve learned. There is wisdom in silence for a time while we gather information and carefully present the problems with Nouwen.

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For a week or so some of the people I really enjoy reading and listening to entered into a conflict with one another.  I spent time confused, and also contacted both parties.  They are both busy people with busy online lives as well as having full time offline lives.  Both have been strong in discernment ministries.  I am not as confused, and have decided that there may possibly be error on the part of both individuals.  I refuse to “take sides” but instead am observing and figuring out what is going on.  I am not wise, and am not perfect.  I am sinful, a worm, a needy sinful worm.  I am just a regular mom and Christian out here.  My time is precious to me, and spending time reading and listening to radio shows to benefit my education on biblical issues and discernment is getting mucked up with this thing.  But that doesn’t matter, I can and should always look to Christ first, not to men and women.  You see, whatever wrong that is happening I can commit, I can easily do myself.  Even if there is not a sin involved, any thing I perceive or just imagine may be happening, I could do myself. 

It is my understanding that the parties have been in contact with one another.  It is also my understanding that there is not a resolution, it may mean one of the two is wrong, is disobedient to God in their actions.  It’s not about being loving because attempting to pull a brother or sister in Christ away from error is a deep love.  Speaking the truth is love.  I pray that even if I do not ever figure out who is right or wrong, that God will be glorified.  I will also hope that I do not sin in this situation any further than I already have in thought or deed. 

It hurts to see people who were once on the same side line up against each other.  I believe there is a good reason and God will allow the truth to prevail.  Christ will prevail.

On another note, a friend of mine has discovered she has breast cancer.  She’s young (33) and has 5 children.  She spent two nights last week talking to me…both nights were all nighters for me.  This doesn’t help me homeschool and get things done.  I don’t want to neglect my family, and yet know I needed to be there for her on the days I was able to.  She will find out more this week.  If you read this please pray for her.  She’s scared as her kids will likely end up in a public school though she has deep convictions she should homeschool.  She also has been told she’s bipolar, and has been taking medication.  She is repetative in this extreme situation, telling people the same thing over and over again.  I spent over 4 hours one night listening to her repeat the same story over and over again…maybe 2-3 times an hour.  She is not handling things in a way others can understand.  It’s hard to know what to do for her.  I pray, I listen, that is all I can do right now.

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A local church was in the process of merging with my former church (this former church has used seeker friendly methods as well as seems to be going the way of spiritual formation).  The leadership of the little church “asked for help” according to the recorded meeting I heard online.  The little church actually is an older church, paid off property with a private school.  It’s an older church than my former church and has been declining sharply in attenders. 

The plan, as lined out in a meeting opened up to both the little church and my former church, was that the little church would combine with my former church (I’ll call it big church for simplicity).  Big church came in and said they offered to help financially and also would bring a group of people over to little church to attend.  They also were going to have their elder board take over decisions for little church.  Big church was bringing a pastor, and then little church was keeping a pastor.  Another pastor was also coming in.  Little church owned their property outright, and the deed of that property might go to big church…no one seemed to answer for sure. 

Little church would likely have new leadership, new people attending, but also would have a new name.  Things were going to change.  Eventually, big church was going to step back and let little church stand on it’s own (but not until it was successful on it’s corner…after it had been lead by big church elders with two pastors they had not hired themselves). 

The  question of what would happen to the school came up, and I’m not sure what the plan was.  The big church leadership mentioned the school becoming a non-profit seperate from the actual church.  This was complicating things for sure as the decisions about the school came from the little church.  Many in little church worked in the school. 

Well, I began praying for little church.  Other prayed as well.  Little church took a vote,  and it’s been announced on big church’s website that little church has “decided not to accept” help from big church.  Hopefully, little church can now find a way to sustain itself without giving themselves over to a big church with transformation on the brain, or even the latest seeker friendly trend.  I cannot assume that little church doesn’t believe in the same kind of things big church does.  It may have all been based on power and finances.  I can only hope though that little church saw through big church and discernment won out.

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by Okie Preacher
Discernment can be a very frustrating gift. You see the problem, the false teaching and un-scriptural behavior, yet others don’t. Thank God He has shown you the truth so you can:

a. pray
b. gently counsel and correct
c. if all else fails, leave that which is becoming increasingly false

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We have visited one church enough times to begin to believe we may have found our church home. We’re still a bit careful, and don’t want to trust foolishly. Yesterday we were introduced to a couple who used to attend our former church. They actually were “disfellowshipped” and were the only family to ever have that happen in the church’s history. Because of them, we knew to walk carefully when we were presenting our information. This couple, I’ll say Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen, were VERY active in our former church. We actually sat very near to them every Sunday (you know how people get their favorite spots), but we don’t recall ever speaking with them directly. We knew them by face, and they knew us by face, but not by name. About four years ago Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen were in a small group or sunday school class and began to make “trouble.” It was mostly Mr. Watchmen because he’s naturally more bold, but as we spoke yesterday, I could tell Mrs. Watchmen shared his experience and feelings on the situations. Mr. Watchmen had noted compromise when it came to outright Biblical truths. People were allowed to be on the elder board of our former church though they were teaching things contrary to basic doctrine. He also noted problems with the Warrenite “40 Days” book and DVD series every small group was required to go through in our former church. Mr. Watchmen said he was actually asked to leave by an elder when his small group was having the supposed “open discussions” about the 40 Days materials because he was sharing his observations. We do not know all the details of the events in Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen’s situation at our former church, but from what we heard yesterday, they basically stood up and stated the truth and their problems with the mishandling of scripture and use of materials by Rick Warren, Rob Bell (Noomas in meetings at church) and other things. The core of it all was the emergent leanings, the unity at all cost rather than sticking with the truth in scripture, and the unwillingness of the leadership in church to deal with the problems. Everything was kept hush hush.

Our recollection of the entire issue was one meeting at the very end of a church service. It was mentioned that a man was having problems on doctrinal issues. He may have been right about doctrine, but his way of bringing things up was considered “unloving.” It was mentioned that he had been in meetings for over a year with the pastors, and he would not repent of his unloving attitude. It was mentioned the church had also been in contact with a pastor of a former church this couple attended, and Mr. Watchmen had caused similar problems elsewhere, so this was a pattern. We were told Mrs. Watchmen was not the one undergoing church discipline, she had not been a part of her husband’s actions. Then there was a vote. The church voted Mr. Watchmen out of membership. He was not allowed even to set foot in the church until he reconciled. We were to treat him kindly if we saw him, but were not to treat him as we would a member of the church. Mrs. Watchmen was still considered a member. My husband recalls we had to leave, so we did not participate in the vote. I know that if I did vote, I likely voted the man out of fellowship as I respected the elders and leadership. They stacked the case, did not allow the man to speak to the congregation, so we only heard one sanitized side of things. Some time later, it was presented to our congregation that Mr. Watchmen had gone through the reconciliation process. In speaking with them yesterday, it is clear the only reconciliation was that Mr. Watchmen said, “If I have been unloving, that was not my intention, I am sorry.” He says he told them he still recognized the doctrinal deviations were problems and would not claim otherwise. This is not a reconcilliation. Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen seem to still be feeling some hurt from this event long ago. In fact, Mrs. Watchmen says the feel shunned even to this day because leadership including pastors have refused to speak with them in public places when they run into one another. This actually happened recently, and over three years later, one of the pastors still wouldn’t speak to Mrs. Watchmen. Terrible.

When we shared our story, they said that we are an answer to their prayers. They still love the people who attend our former church and continue to pray for the people there. They completely understood our situation, and it seems we would have been headed for the same treatment had we not just left. I cannot imagine the way it would have felt to have been mentioned by name in my church and disfellowshipped in that way. It’s evident, based on our conversation yesterday, that what the pastors and leadership presented to the congregation about Mr. and Mrs. Watchmen was only part of the story and may even have been a twist of the truth (which is a lie). We know when the pastor mentioned us to the congregation (not by name) the story he shared about our meetings was definitely a twist of the information. He may have misunderstood us and our intentions, but at any rate, we were presented as people speaking “lies from the pit of hell.”

Sometimes misery loves company. I will say it was nice to find someone who knows from experience what it feels like to stand up and be slapped down for it.

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I am no prophet.  I claim no wisdom.  I am nothing.  However, I believe the call to repentance is so quiet around here.  The church needs to humble itself and repent.  We should not pray for revival.  We should not pray for our kingdom to grow.  We should not pray seeking God’s purpose for our lives.  We should be face down in our own tears and drool, dirty and breathing only dust and not mantras.  We should be ashamed for our part in allowing the church to turn away from God. 

I speak from personal experience.  I have been too comfortable.  I have been blind, been sitting and nodding away as the pastors have spoken from the books of men.  They have woven a story about God and tried to sell it to me.  I ate it and I am ashamed.  I do not think I was worthy to see the truth, do not think I was anything wise or special.  I did not trust when I was given warnings.  I did not confront soon enough. 

Read and study the Bible, God’s word.  Do not trust even the most famous pastor, the most kindly servant.  Watch, listen, and be a Berean.  Pray for your leaders and pastors.  Pray for humility on your part and on theirs.  Pray for unity and love in the right way and not in a compromised way.  Pray God will discipline those He loves, and they will soften their hearts and return to Him.  Most especially, pray for guidance and wisdom…in dealing with this current generation and in church.

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My husband and I have been speaking with a friend who sees exactly what we see in terms of emergent/seeker friendly/contemplatives/Warrenite/Hybels and others as a problem.  He also asks some good questions. “When and why might it be necessary to completely disassociate with particular groups?   Or when could one still associate to some degree, but with discernment?”

Any thoughts?

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