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Posts Tagged ‘doctrine’

Yes, I am a Christian woman. I am a wife and a mom. But what “brand” of Christian? I am a protestant. This is for sure. I believe in the Trinity (three persons one God…not easy to comprehend but I can sort of get it…). I believe the basics that exclude me from being a “christian like” cult member, basically the creed that goes, “I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen” I believe I was chosen, partly because there is NO WAY in my family I would have chosen Christ on my own. No way. I believe my faith was given to me by God and not something I made or did on my own. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God though I do feel there was a time when I was converted or at least confirmed to be truly His. (I think I was 7, yes I prayed a prayer, but it was more a knowing I was His for sure, that’s it…and it was in a Nazarene church.) I do believe God does work in lives, He’s not hands off. It’s the Holy Spirit working in the heart of a believer, leading, comforting. However, it’s more in hindsight that it can be seen to be the Holy Spirit usually though I have had times I do feel Him working in my life in real time. I do believe there are things I am meant to do and these things do come about, but it’s not a purpose driven thing. I believe I am a sinner, saved by grace and through the mercy of our Lord because Jesus Christ died on the cross. The most important thing though is that He raised from the dead. I hope in this, I count on this. I believe He will come again and raise up all people from the dead in order to judge everyone. I believe I will be judged and found not guilty only because Christ paid the penalty and I am His. I used to believe in something like “pray this prayer” for salvation and now I don’t though I do think salvation can happen to a person during prayer. I do think there is an acceptance of the fact that one is in Christ, a repentance and a trusting in Christ, and this is where the praying can be. I believe we are baptised by the Holy Spirit when we are saved but that we should follow with water baptism. I am not offended by infant baptism, but I cannot see how that is something that should be done. The circumcision argument seems a little bit off to me. I believe in taking communion together in the body of Christ in rememberance of Him and of His body and His blood. I do not believe the elements change into His body and actual blood. I also am confused a bit about the Lutheran idea of presence.

I believe prayer is a time when we express our adoration of God, a time to confess sins, a time to thank God, and a time to make requests to Him (think ACTS). I believe we hear from God in His word. I do also believe we are to learn from others, but this is NOT God’s word. It is okay for me to seek older women (as a woman) or teachers to guide as older women and pastors are told specifically to teach a person like me. If they are getting their instruction from the bible, then I’m good learning from them. I do think God does want us in a church and with other believers so we can be held accountable, so we can learn from others. I wish to be in fellowship with other believers and have always sought this out. Worship…I believe we can worship with our actions and words, and with our attitude. However, I do believe I can fool myself into thinking I’m worshipping when I really am not. It’s hard for me at times to worship rightly.

Gifts are a confusing topic for me right now. I am tending to think that the Evangelical church has misused scripture when it comes to gifts, and so has the Charismatic church. Sure, we’re all made in a unique way. We each have personalities and propensities (did I say that right?). But, I do not believe a survey can show what God desires for me to do with my life. I am frustrated by being plugged into some fill in the dot thing and told I am a teacher, a prophet, and a discerner, then told a list of jobs I can do in the church (like you would do in high school with a guidance counselor). Annoying. I do think there are things God has given me since birth He intends for me to use. I also think circumstances mold us, and the things we are able to do at one time we may not be able to do later…but things we haven’t been able to do we might later. It’s not like we have this little treasure box we open and one day discover we are gifted as a pastor or as a good hostess. Did He ever command us to spend time sitting in a circle with others talking about a survey we did and talking about our special gifts as if God were some fairy godmother and we were sleeping beauty? Ugh.

That said, I believe for some reason I am critical of teachers and am skeptical at times when I need to be. I think this is only by God’s grace, and I have learned to follow a thread of information to find where it leads. I pick up on cues from a teacher (not right away unfortunately all the time). If something doesn’t sound right, I go searching. This I think is part of my makeup whether through circumstance or just the way God made me when He was forming me. My husband trusts me time and again when I say, “that teacher isn’t right.” I cannot always point to a scripture on that day, but give me time, I’ll figure it out somehow. I have been duped too, many times, but at some point I eventually see a red flag and I’m on it. Usually I am afraid to trust this at first, it takes time for me to actually stand up and say something is wrong until I feel I know for sure. I believe it is my duty to be discerning. So I think it’s important to study the bible.

The bible is also important to study in general so we know what God wants us to know, and so we can know Him. I believe that every teacher should be tested by the scriptures. I believe I should be tested there also, and I believe I am such a terrible sinner. Thank God He had men record the Good News and not just the law there!

Oh, I could probably ramble on and on about what I believe. What am I though? I mean, I read about Arminians, Calvinists…and then there’s the denomination. I am not at this time Lutheran though I am liking some Lutherans out there and how they really treasure the bible and the gospel…and go after false teachers. I like the serious Presbyterians out there. I just am not into that infant baptism thing and then the communion thing….in the way a Lutheran would be. I tend to like dunking for baptism too, though I’m not a stickler on it.

Am I confusing or wishy washy? Too far from the true teachings of the Bible? Am I in some terrible error? I pray God pulls me to Him always. It is so humiliating to be such an idiot and horrible and humbling to see how much I do not know, and what a sinner I am!

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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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In waking to the reality of where the church has been sitting, really sitting in the waste of the world…really…I am humbled.  I think our biggest sin, those of us in the church, those of us waking up to what is happening in the church, those of us nodding at the pastor preaching slick lies or those even realizing the lies and leaving…the biggest sin is pride.  We are all alike in this.  We have to guard ourselves.  I have to guard myself.  I am prideful.  Besides this, I am a friend of the world.  This is a sickness I have as a Christian.  I am a sinner, and I am so unholy.  So uneducated in the things of God.  So weak, I am so weak.  My children, I pray for my children.  I am their mother after all.  There is only so much time to prepare them for their lives.  The future looks very challenging to say the least.  I have let them step with the world.  I homeschool, but I have not prepared them.  Not really.  I compromise.  I know what is on television because I watch it, I know much of the music the church is imitating, because I have danced to it and have learned the words by heart.  How was I able to be fooled at my former church?  How was I able to nod on, almost saying “amen?”  I was and still am a blind sinner.  I am ignorant and am not really rooted in God’s word.  I am not anything.   I am a sinner.

I pray and weep for future generations.  We are their example.  I am their example.  God have mercy. 

I am so happy that  God is in control, that He sent His son for us.  I am amazed at His love, that He sent His son to die for my sin and redeem me.  Me, a worldly little worm of a woman.  It takes my breath away.

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I am a Christian.  The reason I decided up on such a simple title is because as a child we used to sing a song that spelled “I am a C…I am a C.H…I am a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N.”  In the church I formerly attended (and in some we have visited) pastors are in the habit of using the term “Christ Followers” to replace the word “Christian.”  This has been explained to me in a few unsatisfactory ways.  First, an elder explained that we need to be sensitive to those who are offended by the Christian past, and so Christ Follower is a descriptive term that better paints a picture of what we are.  Uh, not good enough for me.  My husband said, “but why would we give in to them and give up what we’ve been called since Antioch?’  I’ve read that some use the term “Christ Followers” because the first ones to call us Christians were our persecutors.  Okay, I recall the verse, and it doesn’t seem like Luke cared if it was persecutors or not, no negatives were ascribed to the use of the term Christian.  

In a twistification of meaning, I heard one of the many former pastors say we are “little Christs.”  Uhmmmm, what?  That just sounds dangerous to me.  Even if it were true the word could mean that (and I’m saying IF) in English it sounds too much like “we are little gods).  In our “exit” meeting, we asked the lead pastor about the definition “little Christs” and he said “well, when you become a Christian you ask Christ to come into your heart.”  So even when the word Christian has a distorted meaning in that church. 

My title does refer to a song I was taught as a child, and it does go on to spell out…”and I have C.H.R.I.S.T. in my H.E.A.R.T. and I will L.I.V.E. E.T.E.R.N.A.L.L.Y.”  As a child, I never once thought that meant I really had a little tiny piece of my Savior inside of me.  I really thought it was like when you say “I’ll keep you in my heart” as more like the faith or love I have for Christ.  I know the Holy Spirit indwells us once we are redeemed.  We are part of the family of God, we become in unity with Christ.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  I don’t believe I have a literal piece of Christ inside me, but that we’re connected like family, in faith through grace and mercy given by God.  Anyone with more study want to help me out here in this?  I want to explain this to my children in such a way that they always have this doctrine right, that they have a clear understanding.  I hope I don’t sound like an idiot here.  A few verses below may be a good start.  Context, meaning, culture at the time, Greek…

 

Colossians 1:27 (NIV)

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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In research, and reading, I’ve discovered a lot of attack going on (some resolved) in blogworld.  So, as Christians, how are we to handle our blogs and what we say in defense of the faith?  I must admit, I probably could have thought about this BEFORE I started my personal blogging life in 2001.  I try to keep most situations anonymous when it comes to people I have actually met. I must be careful in how I handle disagreements with pastors I personally know.   I do believe I’ve assessed situations correctly, but admit that it’s often easy to misunderstand someone’s intent, mishear a statement, or someone may have misspoke and would never mean what was heard.  So, some things I’ve written here about my pastors at my old church have been kept anonymous because I would hate for people to leave the church because I said something misrepresenting them in some way.   So, as to blogs, I think putting a name to a critique is dangerous and must be carefully handled.  If I put a name on here (of someone I know personally) you will know I really believe the person is doing such terrible damage to the body of Christ, they need to be revealed.  (This means in recent days…early on I may have put a name out there but I hope not).

As to bigger public figures like Hybels, Bell, Warren, and the like…I say we can critique their books, their sermons, their writings openly online.  I know none of these people (or other published writers/publically known pastors I’ve written of here).  I do not intend to judge whether or not they know Christ from their actions unless something becomes public.  I will judge, however, if their writings/sermons are in line with what I see in scripture or if they are in line with falsehood or some other religious practice.  The tricky thing these days is the lies are subtle.  I often wonder if the person preaching them is not even remotely aware of the lie.  They actually believe it based on the fact that they love the person they learned it from. 

It’s very tangly out here, in blogland.  Who do you believe out here?  It’s important to consider this.  I am still sifting through what I believe about the ministries I’ve been questioning.  I began questioning these ministries when I didn’t like the effect they had in my church.  I later found critiques online in other ministries.  I believed some of those, and now have to continually see if I believe them also.  It can be very confusing.  Even if the critiques are correct in pointing out false doctrine, I worry when I see labels and namecalling…though I also am tempted and have created labels of my own for some groups.  Is it okay, to label.  People were called a “brood of vipers” and other choice phrases in the Bible, only of course, after they proved themselves to be against Christ. 

What I see in blogland, to be honest, is a lot of anger toward the dumbing down of Christianity, the replacement of Christian doctrine with immitation, and the shift of many churches to follow some prominent pastors’ plans for the church.  There is an anger because there are those who claim to be following Christ on a spiritual journey who are not Christians (and wouldn’t use that term anyway) and who deny basic doctrine such as the return of Christ physically or of hell in the afterlife.  It’s not an anger toward a different religion altogether, but an anger toward people who have gotten notice as insiders who are shifting the church in one direction or another away from biblical doctrine.  There is also an anger toward the plans and visions of man that some are claiming are from God.  Speaking out against this is fine.  What is hard, is knowing if the names applied are accurate. 

Those who critique or who watch and warn need to spend time in careful thought as they are writing.  I need to learn this.  Think, is what you are writing true?  Is what you are writing clear?  If you don’t have clear evidence, do you word things in such a way so your readers know you are speculating at the moment?  I hope to learn properly how to make accurate charges, how to make clear when I am speculating and when I am pointing out another’s error. 

This is overwhelming to me sometimes.  I just began this to record my experience in my church.  I never intended to read what I’ve read, to have to let go of so much man has written, and to see what I see now.  I always feel I need to recheck myself to see if what I’m believing is true.

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This comment comes up when we run into friends from church.  We’re honest, and we say we’ve left.  Usually that is followed by the awkward, “uhmmmm, can I ask why?”  I personally now have a faster answer that is not so…whispered.  I simply say, “the pastor’s sermons have gotten to the point where they are using strange new age terms.  Also, if you research what transformation, spiritual formation, and other terms they use mean you might find some things that aren’t Biblical involved.”  That says enough.  I usually get a blank stare.   One friend the other day said, “well, I’ll be listening carefully then.”  That’s the answer I hope for.  Not the “we’ll leave right away” but “I’ll pay attention.”  It’s much better not to follow someone blindly trusting, but to look and listen for yourself and see if the person is saying something correct and true.

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