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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

This is Bad

It is bad to focus only on the evil out there, and what is wrong with churches.  It’s easy to get trapped into this, to read and obsess on all these things especially when you find that you’ve been attending a church that’s into wrong teaching.  It’s easy to focus on how to recognize the bad things and not focus on how to recognize truth.  It’s important to keep the balance, and not an equal balance either.  More focus should be on the study of Christ through the bible. 

I find I have really put too much focus on all that is bad in churches.  I needed to learn at first, the curve was great.  Now that I have my eyes opened, I really need to get back to truth (I should always have had the balance, but it is easy to turn away just like that “train wreck” you cannot look away from).  I am challenged to my core to retrain my focus on Christ.  It’s sad how easy we can allow ourselves to be distracted.  Such is the Christian life, knowing we are so wretched and thanking God for His grace and mercy.  I know I really need Him, and can use every ounce of grace and mercy to cover all that is sin in me..

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Unworthy
I come to Thee
a wretched case
lost in the mire
of my disgrace
for all my shame
I hide my face
I’m unworthy
unworthy
Friend of sinners
be my friend
and comfort me
I’m unworthy
unworthy
Hope of the hopeless
be my hope
and rescue me…
by Christianlady

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I believe the church is splintering for a reason.  Something is up.  It’s not just fights about carpet color either, it’s about whether or not prayer styles being brought in to church are of eastern root and are biblical or not.  It’s about whether churches should follow plans of men like Warren, Hybels and if they should follow men like Pagitt or Maclaren.  Are authors like Dallas Willard leading us to a closer relationship with God or into works based faith and pagan practice?  It seems like there is a lot of fuzziness in Christianity, a lot of cirlces and rings that overlap.  Some churches are just beginning to use these authors, and preach these methods. 

 

In congregations everywhere on Sunday (and Saturday for some) warnings are popping up in the heads of believers.  Did the pastor just say that?  Really?  Is that what he meant?  What is this new program?  Who is this author?  How annoying to hear quote after quote.  How annoying, we’re using this term again this week, didn’t we have a sermon over this five weeks ago?  I sure wish we’d do a verse by verse study for a change.  Does this passage really mean what he says it means?  What do they mean I need to practice this way?  Is that works?  Did they forget something, like we need to repent? 

All over Christians are finding themselves lost in the church.  What is going on?  Why do we feel like we don’t belong anymore?  We cannot always put a finger on it, but something is wrong.

Then there is the other side.  Some of us have figured it out, and we float from church to church.  We are no longer trusting of men’s tongues.  We know that when you ask questions, things can be worded in a way that is meant to cause you to stop asking questions about the church and begin asking questions about yourself, your loyalty, your obedience, your willingness to change.  We find common ground online with people we do not know, or with distant friends who have gone through this and share a letter or email about their experiences.  Pastors have preached strange doctrines, new things have come up, or grandparents pushed out because they wouldn’t reach the youth.  Church changed quickly and when people asked what was up, and began to point out error, they were ushered out the door.  Some were encouraged to stay a while, but were told their decision to leave was good because they were no longer teachable, no longer with the plan.  “It’s your perception that matters really, so going to a new church where your family is comfortable is best.” 

So now, these people have to watch out for evil in their own approach.  Do they broadcast the problems to the world?  Do they share what they know in public?  Pride may creep in, and these folks have to watch for it.  It’s possible a reactionary church splinter may come off of this. 

It is easy to get trapped and tripped in a “we’re better than them.”  If *they* are telling lies, and are spreading false Christianity, we are still no better.  We are all sinners.  However, how do we approach this without sinning?  We must speak the truth in love.  We must share the Gospel, we must warn others of the dangers.  We must watch for evil that wants so much to make us ineffective.  The world is watching, the church is watching both apostate and true.  Our children are watching.  We need to proceed with wisdom.  Our mouths need to say what God would have us to say, no more, no less.  This is so hard.  If ever we needed to pray, to be close to our God, the time is now.  Draw near to Him, dear saints, draw near.

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I spoke with one carefully selected pastor today.  He was amazing.  He first prayed, and asked God that I would speak in “truth” with “clarity” and “boldly.”  I cried before I started, but got it together so that I could speak at all.  He agreed with me that the “emergent” themes are popping up in our church.  He agreed that the youth organization camp (YF) outside of our church is emergent and that the emergent is linked with the New Age.  He also feels that our church pastors have historically been focused on Christ and are saved, but that they are trying to replace language with new language and it’s not just the language that’s the problem but the meaning behind it, and the focus.  He believes this church’s focus is now just off enough that they are no longer focusing on Christ, on the Word of God, and it’s subtle, but it’s truly there.  He says he’s spoken to pastors about his concerns.  One pastor even brought a book from lighthouse trails research to him and asked him to read it.  He said he did, but he’s also reading another book much more technical and looking at theology and emergent.  I am facinated to hear this.  He really almost begged us to stay, that we would share our concerns carefully in love.  He did say he understands though if we really feel called to leave because our children are important.  He was glad I came to him and am honest, and he feels our family is rooted in the faith and loosing families like ours is bad for our congregation.  Many have already left, he’s spoken to them.  He suggests before we make our final exit, we write to a few of the pastors and outline our struggle specifically, telling them truthfully what we are seeing and where the message has gotten off.  He says to wait for their response.  He says he prays they will admit their mistake, and that they will put their focus back on Christ, the gospel, and reaching people for Christ. 

I feel for him, I really do.  He says he is not “a warrior” in this church trying to be on a high horse and change them back.  He does feel he’s welcome to speak the truth here (and I’ve never heard any of this stuff from him).  This is very good to hear.  He says he doesn’t feel he needs to leave and then he added, “yet.”  He wants to stay in contact with us, and really is concerned with things I brought up, and made it clear he has seen it too.  His hope is that the church will get off of man centered focus and back to focus on glorifying God.

I believe him.  I don’t think he’s playing any games.  He might be let go if he does push forward, and may have to find another job someday.  However, it’s possible, maybe, the church will be brought back.  Now we are back to square one, almost.  Actually, my husband has released himself from the area of ministry he was involved in.  He let the pastor of that area know we were leaving.  Of course, if we do decide to stay, we will not hide anything at all.  We will stay with the hope that our church does change back.  We can still participate in missions, service, and arts worship.  We just have to START with the focus on God.  The works can flow from this.  Oh, I believe there needs to be a humility, repentance, call for forgiveness, and then maybe a pruning, and then we’ll see what God will do.  Of course, I only spoke with someone who “got” what I was saying.  I think we’re going to come upon resistance like we’ve never seen if we really push forward.  At least we’re not in any positions of power, we don’t have anything to loose.  I am nobody.  I am not worth anything.  I am just a sinner who is saved by the mercy, grace, and faith given me by Christ Jesus.  Period.  That’s what I got. 

 

So now it’s to prayer, and talk with my husband to see what we should do.

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