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Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

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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Well, not bipolar, in the psychology sense, but in the sense of what is presented up front.  Today, there was a speaker in for the vacationing pastor.  The speaker shared a sermon basically on the definition of the gospel.  I believe he was spot on with his sermon.  He used Ephesians 2:1-10.

 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy,  because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,  made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is  not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works,  so that no one may boast.  For  we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,  that we should walk in them.”

 

He stated his desire was to clearly tell what the gospel is.  He then spoke first of our depravity, our sin before we came to salvation.  Next  spoke of the gift of salvation, and that God gives it through faith in Christ, and not at all of works.  He then explained that our service beyond this is not works for salvation, but works that are also a gift of God to us.  We are given works but we desire to do them once saved.  However, we still have our sin nature, and we still have to deal with this.  The good news, then, comes after the bad news.  The bad news is before salvation we are sinners following the course of the world, following Satan, and following after our own fleshly desires.  In contrast to our sin nature, to our selfishness, there is a “but” which shows our vast difference to God.  But God, “being rich in mercy” and because of the “great love” for us even though we were dead in our sin…made us alive in Christ.  This contrast, this salvation from our death and our depth in sin is the gospel.  We are not saved by anything we do.  He hammered this point home though he speaks softly.  It was wonderful to hear, and he commented a couple of times that even long time Christians need to be reminded of the gospel.  In fact, he reminds himself daily.  Cannot remember the verse he quoted, it was in Romans…but he says he reminds himself daily. 

This man is not a preacher, but he is a professor at a local college.  He is a serious Christian.  He left our former church for issues such as someone on the board publishing attacks on Christians who believe in the literal 7 days of creation…and because of Rob Bell influence in the youth side of church.  He fought hard for a few years, was a young elder (ironic, isn’t it).  He is a quiet, gentle man, but is also willing to take a stand.  He and his family had to leave our former church.  Since the little church plant has very few people it seems there is not always another pastor available so they asked him to speak.  He spoke well. 

The worship leader, music leader, whatever he is called, really bothered me though today.  He did the usual set of songs, some seemed right on, others I could not sing, had to evaluate them a bit more.  In the middle of the “set” he suddenly said, “let’s just have silence for a bit.”  What?  Silence.  I just whispered to my husband, “why?”  My 8 year old son nervously laughed.  I don’t get this silence for no reason garbage.  Sure, it’s not going to reach out and make me into a meditating (in the eastern way) person.  Still, I believe the introduction of silence with no explaination is inappropriate.  I have to wonder if this is conditioning for contemplative.  Actually, I don’t wonder much at all, I believe it is conditioning for that.  This has happened at this church before.  This is one of the two we are considering.  I am trusting God to show us where to go, and my husband really likes this church because of the pastor and the couple who we basically “followed” to this church. 

More questions have to be answered.

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A high school coach and his team, along with the fans found a way to  share  true faith in action that was not “circus church” or false in any way.  Action and Bibles….

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3789373&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1

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For about a year I met with a Jehovah’s Witness in my apartment.  My firstborn was but a fuzzy headed baby and I was learning to nurse him.  This woman, grey haired and lean, knocked at my door.  I was 26 years old, and had no clue what a Jehovah’s Witness was.  She came at first with a very proper man, who eventually stopped coming with her.  I believe, from time to time, she brought along another, but eventually, it was just Mrs. E, me, and my little baby.  Weekly, I would prepare.  I would call friends, call Hank from CRI.  I read books, and I studied my Bible.  I prayed for Mrs. E.  I learned about her life.  She was the aging mother of seven born children, her husband had died a few years back.  She was homeschooling her last born son in her tiny apartment.  He worked at a grocery store, and took classes with his mother teaching.  Mrs. E ended up with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  She traveled to Mexico for some treatments.  Then, one day, we were tranfered across the country, and I am ashamed to say I lost contact with Mrs. E.  She was a sweet woman, and I wish I had maintained my meetings with her, had written her, and kept contact.  I looked her name up when we moved back three years later but didn’t find her. 

 

What did I learn from her?  That someone can be totally devoted to a lie.  She was such a kind person, the sweetest, really.  She loved me, I believe.  She wanted me to know what she did, and wanted me to do the right thing.  She told me she had enjoyed nurturing and nursing all of her children.  You know, we have that in common.  In many ways, she and I were very much alike.  This woman was not your typical person, spending hours dedicated to witnessing to others, spending time studying her organization’s version of the bible so that she could educate me weekly.  She truly did listen to me, but with my inexperience and lack of knowledge, we both put forth some pretty circular arguments.  She had something many people don’t have.  She was dedicated to her faith.  She was willing to take risks, meet in people’s homes (and that in itself can be scary when you don’t know how safe people are).  She probably was rejected often, and had rude comments leveled her way.  I can believe she had hundreds of doors slammed in her face.  Still, she persisted.  Even in her illness, she continued on.  She had a goal, a required amount of hours to serve, a mission, a vision.  She had a passion, and had studied, she had knowledge.  So much she had.  And she did it all for the Watchtower organization.  And all my talking didn’t move her from what I could see.  Also, I didn’t become a Jehovah’s Witness, so I guess we were even.  I don’t know that anything was accomplished by me.  In fact, I know not much was accomplished.  I wonder about her now, I am guessing she’s no longer living, but I hope I am wrong.  Would love to hear that she had been convinced of the truth at a later time, and really understood that Jesus is the true Son of God and is God.  One thing is for sure, I learned from that woman.  I learned.

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“Great is our Lord and mighty in power…”  is from Psalm 147:5.  This is a verse my five year old is learning through the Awana program.  My older children have all gone through this program, and have had to learn each verse for the Sparks code.  P is for power, and this verse fits.  However, is it a dumbing down, though the verse does speak of God’s mighty power? 

Here’s the “old” verse for P.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16. 

I have this version memorized due to the times I worked with them on the verse and listened to the music.  What I notice about this little change (the rest of the code is the same) is that it speaks of the gospel.  This gospel of Christ is His good news, and taking this verse out certainly seems odd.  I realize it’s a longer verse, and they’re trying to make the verses easier.  Sadly, in making things easier, we’re missing out on some of the message they were getting.  In fact, it’s quite frustrating to me.  Our kids did struggle because I am so busy I don’t work with the younger ones as much as I did, however, even getting what we did (which was all of the verses in SPARKS…but not always all the activities), I found it to be a great way to get the Word in.  I hope my little ones don’t miss out on John 1:1-4 and Psalm 23.  I will just have to pull out the old Sparks tapes. 

I have been working harder to read the Bible out loud in my home.  We read Proverbs during the school day, since there are 31 we can have one chapter each day of the month.  I want to read through many books.  My struggle is the older/younger combination.  We were given an easier version of the NIV, but I am so uncomfortable with it and find it dissatisfying to read.  My oldest actually likes the KJV, but the younger ones are so lost listening to that.  I generally read NASB or NIV.  Not sure what version is best for the family.  I want to keep the Word of God in our daily life.  I also want to teach it correctly so that when they hear error, they will know it.

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I spent a few weeks on the letter to my pastors.  It was one of the most difficult things I have written in that I wanted so much to convey my thoughts and my concerns.  I wanted it to be a warning, and to be specific enough to get the point across.  I wanted the letter to express our family’s love for our church.  My rough draft had too much wishy washyness, I believe.  I filtered the letter through a few people, one was a man who helped by making it less female but he kept the word “feelings” in there and I had to get that out.  This was not a matter of feelings, it was a matter of conviction or truth.  What I feel about something on chruch doctrine doesn’t matter.  What I see that was happening and if it matches up with the truth of scripture does.  In the end, I used the quote from lighthousetrails.com on the last post.  I added a few more.  I pretty much drew a line from my pastor, to Donald Miller, to the New Age movement.  I also added a quote on the definition of missional by Michael Frost from a youtube speech he gave at a conference.  I shared our concerns from this definition that takes the focus of the church off of Christ and puts all energy, and centrality on mission.  I then shared a few confusing things my pastors have said in sermons.  Phrases like “god consciousness” and “wholly other” and “christ coursing through your veins” just don’t come from normal Christian jargon nor from the Bible itself.  It only takes a short Google search to discover them in New Age or other religions.

I also took the advice of one pastor I had spoken to and showed what our church was missing, the Bible.  I used many quotes, and also looked up “preach” on .  It was VERY helpful.  Acs is full of references to preaching.    The early church “preached the word,” “preached the good news of the kingdom” “preached in the synogogues that Jesus is the Son of God” and on and on.  They preached about Jesus, and the kingdom of God and guess what?  Church grew.  That’s the model.  Later, when they had a community built up, they assigned some to be deacons and to serve in the churches to meet the needs of the widows and orphans.  So that is legitimate, the church should have it’s people who preach, it’s people who meet the needs within itself.  As Christians we’re called to do good to our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison.  This is good too….but now I’m rambling on.  I didn’t include all that in the letter.  I did though list a few Acts references to preach as I feel our pastors spend time on topics/books of men rather than the Bible, the good news of Jesus, etc. 

I also shared my concern with the church being involved in the youth camps/missions in our area.  It’s probably going to be the first time anyone complained about the youth camps.  I did not give references except to say we researched and the leadership of the camps is into meditation in the eastern form.  I think I said enough that the pastors themselves could investigate.  I heard a sermon by the leader himself by podcast, and he outlined several ways to medidate and lectio divina, also using a prayer rope, and praying the Jesus prayer (Christ have mercy) over and over again.  He says he teaches this at his camps, and at one point mentions the numbers of youth I think 25,000 affected by his camps plus 5,000 camp leaders.  I didn’t go into detail, but if I get a call or something I’ll share the link with the pastors so they can know what this man is about.  I do not think anyone will though. 

I feel for my pastor I’ve been talking to.  He is hoping we get some sort of response.  He may not like the response.  This job is his livelyhood, his wife doesn’t work that I know of except maybe for lessons.  He is in a tight spot for sure.  Of course, maybe someone will see it…at any rate I let the pastors know they each had the letter (four of them total…we have many more on staff).  This was calculated.  I want them to be able to openly discuss the letter, and to discuss us as they please.  I want to free them from the worry of gossip and let them share their thoughts.  I also stated in the letter I hoped that it edified the whole body of our church.  If people want to openly talk about this issue, I have no problems.  Our church usually keeps things confidential.  I do not think it’s unhealthy to do this.  But in this instance, so much is so quiet.  We decided to leave, so it’s not harming us…they cannot kick us out for our observations.  We cannot be disciplined.  If we do decide to go back, things will have had to change anyway. 

I feel relief and a bit of anticipation as the pastors will be discussing this soon, I am sure. 

in tags, I’m not sure using the term emergent is off, but I think our church had been growing into one.  I think that’s what Warrenite churches grow into when they grow up a bit (maybe early teen years)…emergent.  Later, they just probably become something else as everything is still in shift.

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