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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

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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Ever get the feeling someone has a button that makes this invisible hood around their head soundproofed?  I see it when I try to explain to someone the problems with Spiritual Formation style churches.  I also see it when I speak about problems with Rick Warren’s teachings.  Even if I’m sharing with someone who knows me, knows I left my former church, and begin to point out issues…I get the glazed over look and the sudden comment that they need to wash their cat.  I’m trying to decide which is scarier, a person who won’t see what’s right in front of them and avoids hearing anything critical OR a person who attacks you when you’re speaking the truth. 

People tend to do strange things in churches.  They let a lot of things slide.  Because a pastor preaches about unity, people will try to get along with severe error.  They will take a “wait and see” approach to something that is going on.  A pastor can say a situation calls for a halt on gossip, so then people are afraid to speak to each other about it.  They don’t seek counsel of other believers for fear of breaking confidentiality.  A culture of silence is created.  So when someone speaks boldly and tries to point directly to the problems, the sound proof hoods come out. 

When it happens to me, when someone puts on the hood I sigh.  I sigh and try my best to move on.  You cannot force someone to hear the truth.  I wait for a better opportunity with the person, wait a while to restate myself.  Maybe later a person will be ready to hear the truth.  I can only hope.

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I recieved this very good question and thought I would open it up to get some answers from people more experienced than I. 

“My question to you is…When we talk to friends about the situation with seeker sens/emergent etc….ie Rick warren etc. we are constantly told that we shouldn’t be bashing ministries that God is blessing. How can I argue with that?? What should be my answer???

Hope someone out there can answer this for me??”

My answer simply is that numbers in the pews (or whatever) and activity in a church is not proof of salvation.  Even acts of service is not proof of salvation.   A blessed ministry can have many attenders, or it can have very few.  A church may also not be blessed and can still be doing the right thing.  What about all those who followed God with faith in the past who experienced no growth, no following, and who were persecuted and tested?  What about Job…no blessing at one point in his life, in fact curses upon curses.  You just don’t know God’s will.  Your church may be full of people out there rebuilding their community.  How is that different than the local political action group who is out there getting jobs for people and feeding the hungry?  You know, if you offer free stuff people will come.  Will their hearts be changed?  Depends on if you are offering the message correctly, depends on if there is faith and if God is in it.  We don’t know God is in it because things look good (though as Christians we’re often guilty of making those claims).

Okay, I’m rambling a bit.  Anyone out there with a more coherant response to this one?

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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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Fake emotionality, I cannot stand it.  I am emotional by nature, and wear my heart on my sleeve.  Still, in church and in marketed Christianity, a wavering voice and emotional story can be used.  Sure, it’s great to hear a good testimony, but if it’s used to convince people of a lie or a compromise in the church, it’s wrong.  I don’t know how many testimonies I’ve heard that attempt to manipulate my behavior.  It’s not just a story, it’s a prompting through emotion to support a church, to join the current program or event, to become part of a group, to go to a retreat, and on and on. 

Sometimes people praise God through their emotional event, through their pain.  This is not what I am talking about.  I’m talking about using some of these events to promote a bad program or whatnot.  I am also talking about trumped up emotion to sell something in churches.  I hear it through television evangelists, and from the mouths of pastors.  Get ’em crying and you got ’em.  Well, I cry easily, but I still search scriptures.  You might get my emotions, but I don’t trust my emotions.  I trust in the Lord, I trust in His word.  Period. 

I pray God keep me from letting my emotions lead me away from Him and the truth.

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I’ve had a few friends leave our former church.  They have seen emergent creep in, though it’s not been admitted and was adamantly denied.  The church is overt about spiritual formation though, there’s even a person on staff with a title containing the words spiritual formation. 

One of my friends is still trapped there, with a husband who doesn’t believe there’s a problem.  She’s being submissive to him, but is also not attending sermons any longer.  I believe she likely helps in different areas so as to avoid regular service.  God must have her there for a reason.  It’s very hard for her, to see things creeping in…or even openly being presented that aren’t biblical. 

I’ve noticed some things about people leaving.  Some fight for a while.  One man we know was an elder and tried to change things there, eventually they had to leave.  The church was going in a direction they were not comfortable with.  Scripture was being mishandled, and they had issues with an elder who was being supported by the church that didn’t believe the literal interpretation of Genesis.  Others left because of this issue. 

When Rick Warren’s materials were presented church wide and manditory for small groups, some people fought or brought out issues with the materials.  The alterations of scripture, the use for whatever purpose suits Mr. Warren really bothered those paying attention.   They went through the system, talking to pastors or elders.  They eventually left, not many knew of most of their problems.  We’ve even been told they were led to believe they were basically alone in their assertions.  This has proven itself to not be true, more than one couple left because of the Rick Warren studies.

We left because we saw things tiptoeing emergent.  We really didn’t understand what emerging/emergent was, and to be honest, I am not sure I’d say now the church is emergent.  However, the youth program is tripping into emergent stuff all the time, and Rob Bell has been played in some small groups.  The church has not taken a stand against it, and because of this, they are basically saying they approve.  Some pastors’ and elders’ children leave and end up at an emergent church in the area.  If our former church is not emergent, they are friends with emergent with no apology.  A few recognized this as a problem and have left.

Those leaving all realize the same thing in the end.  The fight won’t get you anywhere.  It’s not that we shouldn’t fight at all, because there are times when God has let the fight occur and also let those fighting loose for a time.  Standing up is very hard.  At some point though, because we’re sick of starving, we all leave.  We seek out a church that focuses on the bible, and on Christ.  We look for a God centered rather than man centered gospel.

There seems to be no way to change this church.  Only God can do it, and we pray He will open more eyes.  I am thankful for the ones who have seen and have made their way out.

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This is an excellent podcase from www.fightingforthefaith.com .  In this podcast, Rob Bell’s statements about what is gospel are so far off I’ve heard agnostics and atheists agree.  Mr. Bell’s gospel is so off.

http://podcast.fightingforthefaith.com/fftf/F4F072109.mp3

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I asked my son if he was ever bored in our new church and he said yes.  To that I said, “good.”  Why would I say such a thing?  Because in our former church we were overstimulated with entertainment.   My son understood exactly what I was saying.  Being human, we might feel bored (in our weak bodies) when the truth is repeated to us.  We might have to stretch through and work to listen.  This is NOT a signal that the pastor is doing something wrong and needs to enterain.  If I am bored, I do not need a new and catchy song or a lazer light show.  I need the truth.  I need Christ.  I need the gospel.  If I am bored, I need to examine my heart.  I have time to think and examine my heart.  If it’s all about a theme, all about the great music to make me emotional, all about some false cause (that may sound good) then I can be distracted from truth of my condition.  At least if I’m bored, no pastor had to compromise the message.  The problem is with me and not the church.  This is NOT to say that we cannot be bored with a lie.  I know I became quite bored in a very agitated way with my church once I could see the real problems for what they are.  And I must admit now in the new church I’m actually not bored.  But if I do become bored I will not fret.  If the truth is preached, it doesn’t matter how I feel about it, I am glad to get the truth. 

Of course, what I wrote above is just my own thoughts.

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Going through the gospel of John as a congregation at our new church continues to contradict our former church.  Weekly, my husband and I will have at least one (if not many) sideways knowing glances with one eyebrow up.  First there was the reference to what the entire book is written for.  “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God…”  John wasn’t written to have us interpret each and every detail with mystery.  No mystery, straight forward “you must be born again.”  Each week we hear the events as John records them, and how the people reacted to Jesus, and what Jesus said and did.  No new meanings applied, just the plain facts based on scripture.  We might move to a later part of John or to another gospel to show the importance of this or that scripture or the cultural significance of this or that  part of John…or we might move to the Old Testament when appropriate to bring up long standing traditions of men being broken or scripture being fulfilled, or to show why something was done this way in the days when Jesus walked the earth.   It’s refreshing to just read along with the pastor, and to not get “red flags” every so often causing a completely different reason for the sideways glances and eyebrows.  It’s nice to actually hear all about Jesus and not about the pastor’s kids and wife in a story to make whatever point.  It’ s nice not to hear canned stories and jokes that I can find immediately online in some other pastor’s sermons.  It”s nice to hear about the gospel  and not the plans of the church to build this or that.  No slick videos promoting the different ministries in the church or calls to give to the new building campaign, no calls to serve the emerging generation and to pass the baton.  No limited focus on families with babies or on youth.  So far, it appears the pastor and this new church are focused on Christ, Christian living as revealed in the gospels.  Quotes are almost always from the bible, and if they are from someone else they are always cited well.  I really cannot recall a quote from someone except John this past few months, but I’m not saying there hasnt’ been one…maybe quoting Piper or MacArthur?  I don’t have to go home and read up on strange authors or search out who the new speaker at our pulpit is (who came from out of town).  It’s just been our pastors at the pulpit.  There’s not a lot of  repetition of themes, no pounding us with the same terms and redefining them over and over again (like missional, transformation, etc).  There’s rarely a “new conference” or “retreat.”  Yes, they do have a men’s retreat coming up, but it’s not been overblown.  No promises that you’ll come back a completely new and improved husband and father.  It’s just a weekend away with speakers, the bible, and prayer.  And the sermons, they are longer.  Here’s church…pray, then song time with scripture reading.  Next sermon (again started with prayer and including scripture).  Prayer again then offering with instrumental music.  I think another song. Announcements.  Prayer…and that’s it.

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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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