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Posts Tagged ‘pride’

Uh, it is so hard to be a Christian at times.  It’s been a long three years of learning since we began to really pay attention to problems in our former church.  Last night we had a meeting with one of the pastors from the church we currently attend.  The pastor could tell based on what we said that we have many hurts from our former church.  He said something interesting, that someone had decided to leave this church recently.  The man stated, “I am leaving here, but these are the things I have gained from this church…”  It was a disagreement, to be sure, but it was also a list of ways God had used the church to help him grow.

I do think we did experience good things in our former church.  There was fellowship with other believers, there was some good teaching (a few pastors in particular).  We did have some great times in our small group, made life long family, life long friends.  We also did learn from some people who despite the church had a habit of studying the bible.  Some lacked discernment (obviously we did and by the grace of God began to realize there were problems, how otherwise I do not know…blind I tell ya).  At any rate, we did gain things, we did grow.

However, there was false teaching there.  Most people preaching/teaching it had no intention to teach falsehood.  They had bought into it and didn’t know.  I know we all have, at times, had an uneducated concept of one thing or another about Christ or salvation etc.  I do believe there are those who just make mistakes and haven’t studied and know no better.   There are others who are deceived and despite being taught truth, they are convinced this or that teaching is the truth and is better.  There are others blinded by their own pride, their own agenda.  I think our former church was (and likely still is) filled with some true believers, some believers who are mistaken, some who are deceived.  Then it also has many who think they are believers but aren’t because the teaching has led them astray.  Then there are those who have come in and are being appeased, but are not in the faith.  Every church has some of this, but not outright deception. 

I believe our former church doesn’t just have doctrines with which people can agree to disagree, and can debate about.  I do believe there is more to it, and that is where the hurt lies.  No matter how nice the lead pastor, no matter how much you believe he has good intentions, he is teaching falsehood.  Spiritual formation as it is taught in our former church seems to be works based.  All the “seeker friendly” stuff is about filling the pews, and misses the mark when teaching the gospel.   The preachers spent too much time off message, and that is where my pain can be found.  There are people still going there, and even if they are true believers, and even if there is some growth, I cannot help but believe it is stunted.

And yet, God can use a bad thing for good.  Beauty from ashes.

So there I go again, thinking of my former church and realizing how stupid we were.  We were blind, and it hurts.  It hurts when others cannot understand things, and do not see the false teaching for what it is and challenge it.  It hurts to know their kids are in the church and are buying it all, eating it all up.  And then they wonder why they leave the church and don’t ever come back?  What are they being offered?

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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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My husband called an elder and left a message after we heard the sermon online.  Last night, he called back when my husband wasn’t home.  We discussed the open pulpit comment, and the elder was not comfortable with that at all.  I kept saying I could understand the pastor’s position in some ways (and I can) in that he wants to likely let the person who said something about overhearing know he means business as well as he thinks we’re wrong and wants to make it clear.  He did define emergent, said it was bad (yay) and said their church isn’t emergent.  Again, maybe not overall, but there still are connections that need to be dealt with.  I told the elder this.  I also mentioned that the connect the dots comment really was something said to us in a meeting, so I am not suprised it came out (we connected dots from one author to another to make a weak connection to emergent according to the pastor).  The conversation kept up and the elder ended up boiling down what he thinks the issue is…that we claimed in our letter that the church has shifted focus from Christ and from giving glory to God.  The elder said it was the only statment he felt we came up with that wasn’t okay to say.  This was a bold statement, I know.  However, my husband and I believe the church is focusing more on man and man’s methods than just on the plain thing of glorifying God.  Messages (even now) don’t have Christ as the focus, but on “kingdom building” or on fund raising for building the church.  Scripture is used as a means to some sort of end.  Yes, the thought is, we’re paying all this staff to preach the good news, we need audio visual because it’s better for our congregation and brings people in, this or that program will bring people in.  I could go on and on as to why they justify the way they do things.  The plain truth is the congregation (when we were there) was not being fed.   I stated this to the elder in so many words, and he stuck on the point that we wrote something in our letter we surely didn’t mean.  He’d been with the pastors overseas on short term missions, even speaking recently about this specific letter with the pastor who quoted the emergent leaders (not the one who mentioned us this weekend, but another).  The pastor said he couldn’t understand why the first time he mentioned contemporary authors someone began to pick that sermon apart.  Now he felt he couldn’t just quote anyone and had to watch every word because people were scrutinizing what he was saying.  (uh, aren’t we supposed to pay attention to what people say from the pulpit?).  He said he could easily quote from someone and embrace one idea without embracing all of emergent.  Yep, true.  Still…would we quote a Mormon from the pulpit because we agree with the ideas but don’t embrace all of the emergent?  No, we would not at least without some sort of disclaimer.  The elder kept coming back to the point that we needed to examine whether or not the church had Christ at the center.  His point was that it wasn’t actually church if Christ wasn’t at the center.  Yep, that’s why we left.  Using 40 Days of Purpose like it was something magical, following the P.E.A.C.E. plan, getting into Dallas Willard, doing children’s church with much video, much filler activity, focusing on seekers, and on and on. I told the elder I felt that though the scripture was used, and even now whole passages of Nehemiah are read outloud word for word and preached on, that scripture can be mishandled.  I brought up the speaker, Stephen Smith, who spoke of Lazarus and reworked it for a pop psychology purpose.  The elder commented, (and I laugh as I write this) that the speaker was off his rocker anyway.  What?  Why was he speaking from our pulpit then?  Why in our final meeting did the pastor say he would not have this man in the pulpit if he didn’t endorse his ideas.  In fact, the pastor had recommended his book and tried to personally promote it.  So I guess the elder and the pastor don’t see eye to eye on this speaker?  Who knew. 

We had been learning about God for a while, and felt we were okay in this church over the years.  At some point we realized that some of what filled us was small group because we had Bible study there.  We  had friendships that filled us, and kept us feeling like we were being fed.  Church was our social place, and there is nothing wrong with socializing with believers.  I believe the other believers did help us and we learned from them.  We took from messages what we wanted to and we left the rest sit.  If you are a Christian, you can grow on a little and you can grow on what you do on your own.  However, and this is key, people who are in other churches who have left our former church tell us that they didn’t realize how much they weren’t growing until they went elsewhere and found themselves actually fed and actually growing more than they would have.  One family left our former church because they worked in children’s ministry.  They didn’t like what they were seeing for their children, they couldn’t settle anymore.  They left, and a byproduct of leaving was that they grew at their new church.  It wasn’t just their children, they weren’t being taught enough, fed enough. 

Everytime I begin to wonder if we’re crazy, I sit down and think about it.  No, we’re not crazy.  We saw what we saw.  The reaction of the pastor was almost word for word what we read would happen in a church affiliated with Rick Warren.  The pastor’s reaction to us shows us a LOT.  The elder (we love this man) who is very sincere still is putting almost all of this on us, we are in error (not sinning according to him, not needing to confess a sin).  He believes we need to revisit this in time, and somehow work it out with the church and the pastor.  This probably means we will have to recant on what we said, give in.  Mean time, the church leadership had to deal with us, and now they have to deal with what is left since we are gone, since we spoke up.  They have to either dismiss us or agree and then open that can of worms for themselves.  One friend who left before we did said that at least they didn’t ignore our concerns as they did his (for TWO years).  The pastor mentioned it from the pulpit, and he’s likely to get more questions from it then he ever would have.  Maybe some others will investigate.  I can almost bet some out there will too.  This isn’t the end of this topic for our former church.  They will have to deal with this until God lets them go. 

And still, I’m thankful for being confronted on gossip or on my attitude when speaking about our former church.  I need to be truthful, and need to also be loving.  I do not have to love what has happened, but I do need to pray for the church, the pastors, and need to pray for the flock there.  I need to, when speaking, not feel proud of my self like I am anything.  I am nothing.  I was in it, I nodded and let it go when I could have spoken up earlier.  I wasn’t responsible and in the Word enough.  I didn’t have enough nor use discernment wisely.  I believe I was selfish and that’s why I didn’t see.  The drama is not something to relish in, to focus on.  The time is always fresh for focusing on Christ, and next on my family.

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