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Posts Tagged ‘error’

We Like Sheep

I’m starting to mull over people who attend church and how they follow after.  I admit, I’ve blindly followed at times.  I want to be lazy, I want to sit and relax.  I want to just eat and not study.   I clump with others at times, and this causes problems when I line up with the wrong crowd.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people react and run.  If things are revealed to be wrong, we can leap wildly in the other direction.  In college, I recall a man who went from a charismatic style church group straight into Wicca, and then into another church group.  He jumped from one thing to another, or the guys I knew who jumped from a controlling group into the gay lifestyle.  But it doesn’t even have to be that extreme.  I mean, it can be that one might jump from one denomination to another, or from one leader to another.    It is easy to abandon one whole set of beliefs or people just because of some bad things/bad people and not really think about why.  I’ve done it, I’ve seen it.

I think the key is to remember that we people are sinners, our reactions can be prideful, can be sinful, even if we are right in realizing a bad church, a bad situation.  It is not wrong to point out the error, and to run from it.  When doing so though, I need to keep in mind where I am running to.  (this is not to say the church I am in is bad or that our family ran to something bad.  I don’t believe we have…just that it is very easy to react rather than to stop, pray, and think about things.  It is also easy to paint everything with a broad brush because I don’t see the whole picture).

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Switching from a Purpose Driven church with entertainment to a bible teaching church may have a few effects, one of which initially is boredom.  This may seem unholy and wrong to admit, but it has happened.  We felt it in our house.  A dry feeling.  But like eating healthy food for once as a normal way of life rather than just once in a while, old habits are hard to break.

Exercise and eating healthy will be difficult for someone coming from terrible habits.  We want to drift back to the soda, we want to taste the sugary sweet candy.  We want to have french fries and greasy hamburgers with lots of cheese.  Why?  We’re addicted.  What do bad eating and exercise habits get us?  Diabetes, heart problems, early death.  We become fat and unable to enjoy life.

This is what happened to us at the previous church.  We enjoyed a LOT of cool programs.  Our kids were entertained.  We felt we were growing in the faith.  Yes, we did grow, but looking back, the times we did grow were when we insisted to study the bible verse by verse in small group.  There were some messages by the pastors that carried truth, so we did learn from those.  However, much was social, much was wrong teaching.  We ignored the problems for a while.  It caught up to us.  We began to see the problems.

When we opened our ears and looked around, we heard the pastors preaching things that were not biblical.  Suddenly, the candy coating didn’t feel good anymore.  We realized the illness in our faith.  We were not being fed often enough.  Yes, there was service, we were served in many ways.  But the teaching was in error just as often as it was in truth.  We allowed the error to go on when we were blind to it, but once we saw it we realized we had to escape.

We eventually landed in a church where the bible is preached verse by verse.  We started out with some initial joy, because our worries about the former church were confirmed.  Still, we missed some of the trappings.  We missed the social time, many people were new to us.  We missed the upbeat music a great deal.  Still, the true spiritual food was making us feel better because our spiritual bodies were getting the right nutrition.  Now my children recognize the former church for what it is, and they do not want to go back to the candy.  We don’t either. 

Of course, we listen and are very careful, we do not want to believe the pastor without checking things out.  It’s kind of like reading the labels.  We want to know what’s going on at the church, what they are truly about.  Is the spiritual food healthy and true?  If it is, then we will see growth and not experience the physical illness.  The hard work put in (not works for salvation mind you, but the study of God’s word and prayer, the service to the body, and the support of those who go out and preach to others…or even maybe us going out some day when we’re prepared…these things are the hard things), will result in a healthy Christian perspective.  Staying on guard is important, reading for ourselves.  After all, it’s supposed to be our faith we’re working out right?  And as time goes on, what was previously boring is actually very exciting.  Scriptural study is not some mundane thing, it’s a wonderful joy to hear and read truth.

note:  If I am saying something wrong by winging it, PLEASE let me know here.  I know these are my human thoughts, not God’s words.

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My husband recently commented to a high school friend who was posting about Blue Like Jazz on facebook.  He sent him an article from Lighthouse Trails.  The friend responded that both sides were “brothers and sisters in Christ.”  Basically, we can disagree, but the open minded of us will not fight about it.  More of a…”you are being closed minded” argument.

Can both be right?  Can Lighthouse Trails point out Donald Miller’s heresy and this all be a “well we’re all one in the Spirit and we’re all Chrisitans so it’s okay?”  I say no.  I say the Lighthouse Trails editors and contributors cannot be on the same page as Donald Miller.  They are not “brothers and sisters” they are enemies. 

Now my huband has to do more than forward an article, he has to point out error in a book neither of us is interested in owning.  Lovely.  But then again, will it do any good?  Maybe not today, but seeds can be planted and hopefully one day God will show my husband’s friend the error.  It happens sometimes.

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I still want people deceived by the teaching of my former church to wake up.  I feel like a cult is taking over American churches and I wish things could be different.  At the same time I do not wish to be numb and cold in my knowledge.  I cannot think of myself as better than those who are deceived, just blessed to have been pulled from it. 

It doesn’t matter where I go, I could be on a vacation weekend or floating around facebook.  I see the same kind of seeker friendly or spiritual formation churchiness everywhere.  Many times a person stands up to speak and be an encouragement to a group…and uses a catch phrase.  Often it seems like a pep rally on Oprah.  That’s when I know a church goer has bought into the “bumper sticker” church.  I sigh, and sometimes feel quite helpless. 

So then I just wait.  Sometime, it might be appropriate to tell a person the truth and point things out.  I pray for an opportunity and hope to not get the “what ever are you talking about you space alien” look when I do share.

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I ran across a woman who went to another church in our area. She and her husband began to get uncomfortable with small group studies, and also with some of their church teachings. They thought, after their eyes were opened to the misuse of the bible in these studies and in teachings from the pulpit, that discussing it in small group would be a good idea. From what the woman said, they were not trying to cause division but were attempting to point out errors as they had great faith in their church leadership. They brought things up to the leadership, as well as continuing to share their fears with the group. They were shocked the day they were asked to leave their church.

She said that in their next church it was five years before they really could trust enough to serve. They had been shunned by many in their former church, many who had been good friends before the issues were brought up. Some later did apologize to them, and some have left over time.

We had a different experience in that we did not share our issues with many people. We did tell some things to a few friends, and we’ve known a very small number who have left. We do feel though, had we been open to our small group or to more of the leadership we would eventually have been asked to be quiet or leave.

Being shunned hurts. When a person begins to understand how leadership teaches from men’s work rather than from the bible, or uses many methods rather than relying on God’s word and the Holy Spirit, it’s a hard thing to decide what to do. Do you share with others? Will you find someone who understands what your are saying? Will you be accused of being divisive? Will you be asked to leave?

I believe it’s of utmost importance that each person who encounters poor or bad teaching pray first. Spend time thinking how to handle things. Then, don’t worry about the consequences to you so much as what will your voice in this accomplish? Is it about getting even? If it’s about you and your pride, you really have to pause. If it’s about trying to restore people to truth and good doctrine, and you are hoping to help others in the long run, then move forward in wisdom. There are times for open mouths, and times for closed mouths.

We weren’t perfect as we proceeded, but we did try very hard to do the right thing. Looking back, I can see areas we could have improved upon BUT in the long run, I believe we did the right thing overall.

I feel for this woman I met who has gone through such pain in her former church. I pray for other men and women out there just trying to point out the errors and do the right thing.

It happens to pastors too.  This article is a great resource. 

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/nazarene-pastor-fired-for-fighting-emergent-ideology/

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We’re doing a verse by verse of Revelations in our Sunday School classes at church.  All the children are also studying this in their classes (except the youth for some reason, I think I’ll have to find out why not because I would love for them to be on the same page as the rest of us but they are talking the Sermon on the Mount so that’s good too).  We’re in the sweeping overview stage right now, and so we’re not in real depth yet. 

Despite the depth, it’s not your usual yada yada yada study of Revelations.  Typically, in my past, we would study this in small groups or have a quick sermon or set of sermons for a few weeks.  There was always a timeline, there was always discussion about the future.  There were even scary movies at camp.  Anyone out there subjected to those B (or C or even F) movies about the end of the world where they were cutting off people’s heads?  I recall a guy with dark hair and eyes was the main character, and as a little kid this whole thing scared me.  Kids were talking about end times and saying there were micro chips in Proctor and Gamble products. 

With my experiences with Revelations in the past, I have avoided the book.   I did read it several times on my own as a teen/young adult, but then rarely go back to it anymore.  I thought it best for me to focus on things I could grasp better.  I heard Hank Henergraff’s more recent comments on the book, and am not sure I agree with the bits I’ve heard from him.  Is it that he believes it has ALL happened already?  Not sure, but I know he’s marketed a fictional book about it.

Our assistant pastor was different in his initial presentation of Revelation.  Nothing was sensationalized, there’s not an ad outside the front of the church for the series.  There was really not much announcement the study was coming.  It’s just a study like any other study, and it’s being treated as such.  We’re in the first part of the book, so I am not sure but do doubt the charts will be coming. 

The best thing I’ve heard the pastor say, and he says he’s going to remind us over and over again, is the answer to the question, “what is being revealed in Revelations?”  Hmmmm.  How to answer this one?   He made it very clear that to find that answer you have to READ it.  Open your bible, read the first words.  You’ll find, as I did, the book’s main purpose not the future revealed, not the scary judgement revealed, and not the end times revealed.  It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Yet again, Christians (or so called Christians) and especially the secular world misses the point.  The point is to reveal the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It shows His magesty, His dominion, His sacrifice, His love, His judgement, His glory.  He is worthy.  He alone is worthy.  It’s not an oracle for us to see the future, it reveals His plans as the ruler of the universe, but it’s not about the plans.  It’s about HIM.  The pastor did such a good job explaining this, it’s shocking to me how I’ve missed the obvious all along.  How many people have died early deaths because they read too much into that book?  So many cults twist it to place their leaders into it.  So many people search the newspapers for proof they are living in some special time and that the anti-Christ is coming.  Books are sold, and men propped up.  Who is the book supposed to glorify and prop?  The Lamb that was slain, that’s who!

I am looking forward to getting into this book and not missing the obvious any more.

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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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We left our church because we saw emergent creeping in. We were unsure if we were on target at first, but now I have no doubt we were right. Sometimes it’s a conversation with friends still attending, sometimes we pop into someone who left months or years ago. At any rate, the things that some say were “lies from the pit of hell” that came from our mouths are ever more proving to have not been lies.

My advice, if you have any strange little feelings that your church is “off” on biblical teaching in any way is to go to the leadership and ask questions. Be wise in how you ask, think, study, pray, pray pray. Ask them what books they recommend. Ask them what speakers they are listening to. Ask them what conferences they plan to attend. Ask their opinion about different books. Ask them what they know about this or that topic. Ask their favorite passages in scripture. Ask, ask, ask. Then, you can begin to challenge. Challenge on what they say at the pulpit, challenge on what they read, who they listen to, who they quote. If a pastor is following Christ, they likely will appreciate information that is helpful. If not, you’re going to go through a bit of trial. Pray for your friends but don’t burn bridges with them. You never know who will see what you are seeing, and who else is asking. Things are not what they seem. You might think someone is against you, but unless you hear it from their lips…or from the lips of someone you trust…don’t assume they are in agreement with the wrong teachings in your church. If you can find an ally, grab hold of them. Always pray. Offer to pray for your pastors, and really do it. Offer to pray with others who have the same doubts you do. It’s possible God may spare your church from ruin. You never know. Do what is best.

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As sinister as it sounds, I think this whole thing was planned somewhere. Maybe instead of shots of alcohol there were lattes, instead of cigarettes maybe doughnuts. Whatever the environment, there was an underground behind the scenes meeting. It just feels that way. When you look at churches today it’s a pattern, a very organized ride through a funhouse that starts out slow at first but slides dramatically toward some sort of end goal.

The biggest and easiest way these planners appear to change church into what it’s fast becoming is to find a weak spot in doctrine or behavior and attack. Yes it’s true, we have our areas in each and every protestant denomination where we are sticklers and maybe we shouldn’t be. We make the non-essentials essential. Or maybe it’s our sin or pride that’s picked on. We have flaws. Maybe it’s that the culture of a church ends up with people always wearing long skirts and suits, or maybe we insist on having only three songs before the sermon begins. It’s an order, or a habit, or another non-essential. Everyone sins, and so do church members. This is easy to pick on, because there is no way we can deny there are liars, cheaters, prideful, and on and on in the church. It’s true, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. So, the people in the bright office or coffee shop, or whatever, got together and decided to start there. Pick, pick, pick. Yes, we must take surveys; we must decide what’s wrong with church today. We must note that our youth don’t want to be around the older generation (because this is somehow different than in the past?). We must make church relevant.

So what did they do? They created a specific order of implementation to break down the church and build it up again. First it was “show the church elders and leader the problem.” Then have meetings. Then plan a vision, and then change things in structure so each church would be hard to change back once it all began. Next, create panic in the church. Present the evidence of problems. Bring in humor, make people laugh at themselves but make it seem like they are laughing at someone else. Make people ashamed of who they are and what they were. Continue with the crisis, especially use their children. Redefine things. Make people feel out of the loop if they don’t know what is being said. Offer a way for them to stay in the loop. Get them into small groups of people so they will be accountable to catch up on the church agenda. Be “seeker friendly.”
When seeker friendly draws people, begin complaining that people are shallow. Separate the youth from the adults. Make sure the youth think adults are dumb for the way they’ve “done church” and introduce the more progressive things there. Eventually, the youth will begin to share with their parents. Introduce fluff in small groups. Sermons must run on cycles with some name dropping and books being used. When you don’t want to say it, bring in a speaker. They add some sort of credence to the changes coming in. Don’t forget to lather, rinse, repeat…or in other words, recycle phrases you’re trying to drill in. Keep new words and visions coming.

When people get restless, get back to the Bible. Of course, use texts for your own desires. We have to keep the people off kilter. Unless they really take the time to research, they will never notice how the texts are taken out of context. When seeker friendly church feels fake, and eventually it will, introduce serving. Sure, churches have always been serving as it’s part of Christian life, but make sure you pretend it’s not anymore a part of life. Since you’ve been seeker focused, youth focused, you’ll have plenty of evidence that your church hasn’t been serving others only selves. You’ve been having carnivals and laser light shows, marriage seminars with comedy, and dinner theater. It’s been a fun time. Now it’s time to get real and serve others. Play videos and heart wrenching stories.

Serving for no reason is not enough. Now we must reach the people with the good news. Introduce “missional” and pretend it means “missions.” Have all sorts of missionary programs, and speakers, and books. (Oh yes, all along there is a new book for everything). Keep people unaware of the next stage. Don’t let the youth get away from you in this. Send them on missions trips with their edgy youth group and focus on social needs in this. Free the slaves of the world, feed the hungry, help the sick…and share the new message with people all over the world.

Church at this time will seem overdone, very busy. You’ll still have the seeker friendly stuff going, the praxis church, the focus on youth. They’ll be programs for everything. Now it’s time to get back to basics, simple church. By now people who are resisters will be flying out the back door. Let them go, and chastise openly if they squeak as they go. Let the congregation know you are in no way an emergent/seeker friendly church or whatever trend that is annoying to those leaving. Squelch all rumors. Spend time in a book of the Bible (hey, Nehemiah’s good, or Exodus) when wanting to prove you are still biblically focused.

As to simple church, make drastic changes to prove you are paring down. Get the children in small groups, make Sunday morning touchy feely for the kids, hands on. Keep youth group the same now since you’ve got them into all the fun activities and service needed and no one is carrying a Bible anyway. No way you could, too much to do.

All along, introduce the next phase. You have already been bringing in key phrases, and defining them vaguely. These definitions must use old Christian jargon and bring in new concepts. No word should stick out too much, but should be just a little stretch. “Transformation,” “spiritual journey,” and “spiritual disciplines’ will replace other terms, and will actually mean something different. Focus on the metanarrative, and on story. In this time you can mention all different authors, and recommend books to your elders and mens groups. Get the women into studies, retreats, and the like all teaching the same themes. Always have the lighter stuff for some, and the mystical deeper things for the others. Begin introducing moments of silence, speaking on fasting, solitude, and the like. The next stage is the Spiritual Formation.

I imagine this group has even more planned; this is where we got off the ride at our former church. Many wouldn’t even realize it was that far, but it’s the pattern we saw. Reading blogs, talking with Christians, and visiting other churches has shown me there is a pattern, a plan. Churches members are given tickets to this ride, and are taken through it. Now, some churches begin later down the line. They are already emergent (or whatever term it will be in the future). They detest the earlier stage churches and seem so opposed to one another. Each can claim to not be what the other is. This is so very convenient when critics come to play.

Create a vacuum, fill the void. What a wild ride!

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An elder recently told me my former pastor who used Donald Miller’s story theme in his sermon as well as using the same terms as Michael Frost while presenting missional lamented our critique of his sermon.  He commented that it was strange to have a critique like ours when he had finally used “contemporary authors.”  He also commented that he could buy into one idea of an author without becoming like them entirely…truth is truth.  In other words, he could buy into the idea of “story” taught by emergent leaders and yet not be emergent himself.  This may be so, but I don’t buy it.  He used terms in different sermons such as wholly other,  at one ment, god consciousness, and christ coursing through (his) veins.  Those terms were not all scripted, but some were boldly written into sermon notes.  I believe he has not only bought the story idea from Donald Miller, he has become a lot like Donald Miller.  He has himself become very much emergent (or whatever we can call them, I think New Age is probably the proper term).  He has likely had a mystical experience or several.  I cannot be certain, but I believe he didn’t just pick up that one single idea.

Suppose he did agree with this one concept of “story.”  I find it offensive enough by itself.  God is not writing a story when he deals in our lives.  We cannot “take the pen” and write our own story.  How crazy is this?  We are not part of a story, we are part of God’s creation and our lives are real if only a vapor.  What’s more, Christ is real and not a character in a play God created.  He’s not a even God acting in our world.  How ridiculous.  Christ died for our real sins, and we are made alive in Him for real if we have real faith which He gave to us as a gift.  It’s not just a story which we can write better if we would just try.  Our job is not writing some story, our life is meant to give glory to God.  We fall short every day, but by the grace of God and by His mercy, we are saved, forgiven.  We who repent and who rely on God for His salvation are not just characters, we are His people. 

Beyond this, suppose I read a book written by a Mormon.  I find something I like in the book.  Am I to quote this author from the pulpit without some sort of disclaimer?  Would it not be better to quote the Bible itself if the concept was true?  I believe it’s unwise for a leader in the church to go around quoting people without carefully considering who they are quoting and what that person believes.  Also, it’s important to clarify if you only “buy into” one part of their beliefs to the congregation.  If you are trying to distance yourself from the emergent church, it’s wise if you use emergent authors to state what is good in the quote you are using (it was actually most of a sermon) and to point out the error for the congregation.  Just my opinion.

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