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Posts Tagged ‘Ortberg’

I really enjoyed the sermon today, and my husband even said he had a few “aha” moments as to why we are now where we are. It began with Sunday school. One of the pastors presented the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter getting out of the boat. This took me back to a sermon I heard when visiting a church plant of our former church. The guest speaker took the Ortberg “boat potatoes” concept and preached a sermon on this. His basic message had been that we were not to be “boat potatoes,” and that Peter at least took a chance and got out of the boat. If you want to change the world, you need to get out on the water. I recall being so frustrated with this message. Today was a complete 180 of that previous twistification. The pastor kept the focus on Christ. It was Christ coming in compassion to his disciples after praying and being alone with His Father for hours. It was that Peter got out of the boat but still needed Christ. We cannot do anything on our own, we need Christ. We have little faith and we need to keep our eyes on Christ. I am sure the pastor today said this better, but the thing I remember most is that we need to lean on Christ and that the disciples still needed him. No mention of how brave Peter was, and that we should be like Peter. In fact, I’ve always wondered what Peter was really thinking. Why did he get out on the water? Why did he then doubt? I think the point was always Christ, and not Peter. Yet, Ortberg and others want us to focus on Peter and then also on the other disciples. They tear down those disciples who stayed in the boat, never “taking chances” never stepping out and trying something new. Look what taking chances got Peter. He didn’t change the world in that day. He revealed his lack of faith. He showed his initial zeal, and that it meant nothing alone. We need to be saved by Christ. We need Him.

Later, the head pastor gave his sermon of the week in John. We read about Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers and going after those who would sell in His Father’s house. The focus was again on Christ and on true worship. The people were being ripped off by the priest, expected to buy an unblemished sacrifice. They were often cheated and told their animal was blemished, they could sell their animal and buy here in the temple. So, the temple was full of peddlers. When people were trying to worship, they were hearing animals and men dealing. God’s temple was being defiled. He compared this to what churches and those professing Christ do now. They sell books, they sell trinkets. They try to sell a better life, a promised way. Then, they insult people who buy into it and claim to have something better in the emergence. If we just say the right kind of prayer, dim the lights, we can but reach Christ. Well, this is false, this is a false church, a dirty bride’s gown. He’s going to come again to clean it all up. Maranatha.

My husband went up to the pastor, and made sure he knew we really appreciate his message. I also spoke to the assistant pastor about his Sunday school class. I said, “you know, the messages I’ve heard on this subject from other churches are the exact opposite of what you just taught.” Wow, you should have seen his face. I didn’t realize how I sounded, so then I quickly said, “thank you.” He then said, “whew, I thought I was going to be getting into an argument.” He then added, “not that I wouldn’t do it.” So glad he would fight since he tells it like it is.

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Phoned a contact at our former church today to borrow something for my kids.  She noticed we had not been to church for a while, and I told her we are attending elsewhere.  She didn’t ask why, so I didn’t offer much.  She did say they had been mulling things over lately and were considering what to do.  She did share that they had attended another church where the pastor preached the word.  I did say we made sure before we left to inform the pastors of our concerns, and she said, “that’s something I wonder about [xyz church], people have left but they don’t speak up.”  Yes, it may seem that way.  However, I know we spoke up as best we could and my husband says we were “beat up.”  We know of at least two other couples who have spoken up, one for a longer time, and another had an exit meeting.  One man said he knew of 20 couples who had left in the last few years.  So, it seems, another couple is considering making an exit.  This couple, older than we are, is a fabulous couple.  I knew them when I was in college, and they were solid then and still are today.  Funny, I borrowed, “The Dangers of the Rainbow” from them.  Little do they know just how much that book has helped us in this situation!  I heard phrases from one of the pastors that were warned of in that old book, and it’s part of what broke the camel’s back, so to speak.  Small world, small world. 

I did warn her the church they are considering might be following the same path but are a few years behind.  She said the church was simple, and the pastor seems to preach the word.  I agree, it seems this way when we’ve checked this particular church out.  They do use some of the same jargon type phrases for their church campaigns, and I recall they might be “Christ Followers” at times.  They also had a speaker about I followed up on who lifted his sermon right from Ortberg’s book.  Came home and read it, and was impressed at how pastors share materials for free like that…”boat potatoes” certainly is a phrase going around!  Of course, I didn’t express all this to her.  If she wants to know, I’ll let her know.  However, sharing the whole basket is a bit much.  Besides, I think they’ve already figured things out a bit on their own. 

Since they are older than us, they have a concern about the comments made that our former church is reaching out to the youth.  They think this is great, but that there is a whole spectrum of age that needs the church.  I agree.  Hurt yourself by narrowing to one small audience when your own church is intergenerational (and I thought the intergenerational church was a strength).  Also, she mentioned the many programs…just too much going on all the time and too much changing all the time.

Wonder how many people will jump ship when they see the new campaign that’s asking for financial commitment above and beyond the normal tithe?  They are starting some multimillion dollar building fund (and maybe missions oriented?).  If they loose older adults, some of that money for the fund walks right out the door.

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Visited a local church this Sunday.  We’ve gone there before, they are a church “plant” of our old church.  I was assured they are independent of the old church.  We’ve gone before and not had too many issues with the sermons.  Since this church is closer to our home by twenty minutes, and services start later, we had an easy morning getting there on time.   It’s a smaller congregation, smaller town, so there’s less materialism in dress.  People do dress up, others are casual, but it’s not the same as the larger church we attended.  Not many had grey hair at the old church, not everyone is like this at this local church.  Songs were a mix of modern and hymn.  I’d say they are a comfortable place to worship, and the pastor is humble.  They do have some signs of having the same themes, but not nearly as strong as the old church.

Today was not good, however.  There was a guest speaker.  His sermon was essentially the Ortberg book.  He told the story of Peter, and yet focused on the other disciples saying they were “boat potatoes” and at least Peter got out of the boat.   Peter’s gift to Jesus was getting out of the boat.  He talked about how we need to reach this generation and they are leaving church because they’re bored, bored, bored.  And, wouldn’t it be awful if all we did every day was take care of our lawn, work, and die?  We need to not be afraid and take risks.  He used a the scripture with the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.  The man who didn’t reproduce the talents was afraid.  He said, he feared the world, life’s problems.    He began to talk excitedly saying something like this, “the man was afraid, this life has many problems, it’s risky out there…the economy’s bad, the gas prices are down…I’m safer at home.”  Okay, look that one up.  The man says he is afraid not because of what’s out in the world, not hiding at home doing nothing.  He hides what his master gave to him because of his fear of the master who was a hard man.  He was afraid of the risk because of the master’s reaction if he lost the talent all together.  The master sees him as lazy and wicked, which may also give insight that the man may have just wasted the time away, wasted the talent because he didn’t want to go and work. 

In the course of the sermon, this man mentioned Ortberg by using his book title (and I bet the perspective from the book, anyone know?).  He also knew Max Lucado, dropped that name right away.  He also mentioned a quote by Tony Campolo. 

My problems with the sermon were that the text was obviously twisted, if even slightly.  This man has obviously been paid to speak and should have his stories fit well with the text of scripture.  The call was partly to energize the youth because they are bored.  If youth are bored in churches that preach the truth, our job is NOT to entertain them, it’s to continue to teach the truth.  This theme was drilled into us by our old chruch, not at all interested in seeing that theme run it’s course again.  The basic message was that we need to get out and do something.  This man doesn’t want any one of us to regret our lives, we should have interesting stories to tell in our old age.  We should do something like go on missions trips, take risks.  Okay, but what if our entire lives are to be JUST raising our family, or being a school janitor?  There are plenty of people who do serve God but their lives aren’t full of large risks.  What of all the families and individuals throughout history that just did ordinary things like taught a Sunday school class?  What of the people who work meals on wheels or become a nurse?  What of those who are faithful to take their children to church and teach them well?  What if they don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but their grandchildren do because of their influence and faithful life?  I’m sure every life will have a human interest story to it, whether good or bad.  That is NOT the point of our lives.  I would rather be a nobody with a nothing story at the end of my life if my God is pleased with me, and says, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  A boring old life with menial labor and ordinary tasks is not a shame.  We are to do what God calls us to do, and if someone shares the gospel where they are planted, serves and gives when they can, and sees fruit from that, who is to say they are not doing it right?  These guys make it seem like we all have to be out doing something extraordinary to please God.  Usually, it’s a story good enough for a sermon or to quote in a book.  Who does this please?  God or men,  hmmm? 

So now the dilemma.  Do we return, do we share our concerns?   I say we meet with the pastor and bring up the concerns we have with the guest speaker. 

On another note, many people have contacted us from the old church wanting to meet…most are in leadership. They want to know why we left.  My husband has a meeting upcoming already.  We shall see what this accomplishes.  For a family the elder said would not be noticed if we left by the pastor in question, we sure are being noticed by several others.  What is wrong with this one pastor?  I believe he will know we’re gone.  Either way, it only matters if God wants him to notice.  Each meeting is another chance to tell someone the truth.  Hopefully something good will come from all these opportunities.  God willing.

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