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Posts Tagged ‘Warrenites’

So tired of looking around and seeking all this seeker friendly/spiritual formation stuff.  I think it’s much like the cults…mormons/JW’s and others only they have walked right into previously decent churches that once did preach the gospel correctly.  However, error was likely there before in small ways.  Then there were weaknesses highlighted.  People wanted to do better, bought into some lies, and then time passed.  Slowly, slowly, these false teachers have taken over.  Our desire for good feelings in church has pushed many to just swallow and follow.  Ugh.  I know I did it.  If I had any inkling there was something wrong I just swatted it away.  So now, we’ve got real problems all over.  The foundations have shifted and we’re not seeing Christ in the church buildings, we’re seeing falsehood.  We forgot our first love and now compromised.  I say we because, well, I was once in this type of church. 

Still, though I know how easy it is to be a party to all of this mess, I am sick and tired of it.

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The sermon on the mount equals recovery?  I never would have thought that it could be boiled down to something so simple.  I guess I don’t need to study that part of my bible.  Thank you John Baker for providing churches with a book, and Rick Warren for promoting a study for small groups so no one has to think about this section of scripture ever again.  According to you guys, it’s all about our healing and happiness.  Yipee!  I guess I should get into a small group and study this book (rather than the bible) and I’ll feel great.  I might even stop overeating or might deal with the demons of all the problems and hang ups in my life.  I’m sure I could share this series with Christians being persecuted around the world for their faith and they will agree, it’s all about recovery.  Thanks boys for that!

(okay, so I’m a little bit sarcastic here…I just don’t like the marketing, the promises, nor the twisting of the bible scriptures into an 8 step self help plan).

https://www.lifeshealingchoices.com/

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I have to say, that on this Father’s Day, I appreciate my husband.  Yes, I appreciate him for his way as a father.  He is a provider, his salary is it for money in this house besides those who have helped out of the kindness of their hearts in times of need.  He works tirelessly for us. 

He reads to his children, prays with them, plays with them, eats with them AT THE TABLE.  He coaches their ball teams and shows up at games he’s not coaching.  He disciplines them when needed, but is not agressive in any way.  He shows them how he loves me often, and the respect and love he gives me is a model for how they should treat me.  He will take no disrespect for me from the 12 year old nor will he even let the 21 month old hit me in the midst of her tantrums. 

Most of all, he loves God.  He lets his kids know he is a saved sinner.  He apologizes when he’s wrong, and expects much out of himself in behavior.  He never looks at another woman, never.  I mean never.  He won’t be caught doing this, and he has made sure his computer is clean.  I am not saying he is perfect, but he works hard at purity.  If he has ever faltered, he’s actually asked for my help in this area.  He teaches his daughters to be modest and his boys to respect girls.  He also expects the boys to someday only choose modest girls. 

In my battles with false doctrine, my husband has backed me up.  He knows that if I take the time to point it out to him, it must be really bothering me.  He knows to trust me.  He will tell me honestly if he doesn’t see what I see, but he will definitely listen to me and give me the chance to prove what I see. 

I tend to wait for his lead when it comes to action because I know that I am very emotional about doctrinal issues and if I am wrong, I will go headlong into the wall so fast.  He is more even keeled, so I wait on him.  Every time I have been like a caged animal with anxiety of doctrine and twisting of scripture, my husband has been there to hear it and back me up. 

He is the one who decided when to leave our former church.  He spoke to the elders, it was that kind of church…better for him to speak to the elders than me (at least that’s what we felt…may not be but it felt this way).  He trusted when a pastor spoke to me and suggested writing a letter, he agreed with me this pastor’s intentions were probably good.  When things  didn’t change and only got worse, my husband didn’t allow the lead pastor (different than the one suggesting our final letter) to speak to me and attack me.  He spoke directly to the pastor and defended me.  He also didn’t just “back me up” but also put himself on the line, he believed the church was not right and he made himself be the responsible one. 

If he hadn’t been with me on this, hadn’t listened to me initially and then commented that he too had been feeling uncomfortable with the sermons, I don’t know what I would have done.  He led, he prayed, he sought counsel, he initiated.  In short, he got our family out when it was the best time.  If we were still in that church I would be sinning, I know it.  I would be going crazy,  confronting people, stepping on toes, fighting with my husband, and being generally snarky in church.  I would likely pout.  It would not be pretty.  It would not be the way a woman is supposed to be.  Being stuck in a church knowing my children would be taught a man centered gospel with a focus on Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan would make me crawl out of my skin, no matter how nice the people are there.   Thank God for my husband!

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We decided to leave, met with an elder, and later a pastor. The pastor suggested a letter we AGONIZED over writing. We shared our hearts and concerns boldy at the prodding of this pastor. The lead pastor responded, and didn’t agree. Initially he wanted to meet, then it seemed he didn’t. We weren’t sure. My husband really dreaded meeting with him, and many people actually said things like, “good luck with that” and “wow, well, we’ll be praying for you.” We did ask for advice of a few friends. This was a very hard time.

I felt we’d never find another place. We were used to this former church caring for us, it was one of their strengths. We are a large family on one income, and an elder had told us homeschooling and mom staying home was a good thing so just trust God. We really thought this was right (and still do). Sometimes, this meant our church helped us financially when things got tough, like when my husband lost two jobs and when I had a new baby, or when our furnace just quit in the middle of winter. We also had individual friends help us with emergency plumbing and car repair, and more furnace trouble. We only sought help when we’d exhausted our personal options. We were scared of making it on our own. We do know that things in the future could become hard for us financially. We do not expect others to pick up the bill. Now that time has passed and we’re chugging forward, we really feel we’ll be okay. What we have witnessed in our new church shows that people are loving, and we’ve already had an opportunity to serve.

In our new church, there is a family with serious issues. The mother, a wage earner, has cancer. Treatments are difficult and some haven’t worked as planned. Mom is sick, and often has to be hospitalized and kids have to stay away when they catch cold because of the compromised immune system. This new church has taken a stand from the pulpit. The father gives updates frequently. The church people provide meals for this family several times a week, housekeeping, laundry, and rides for the girls. There have been individuals who have gone to the hospital to sit with the mother and take her to the bathroom, etc. so that she’s not neglected by nursing staff. I do not know if any financial assistance has happened. Most of all, there is prayer. The congregation has been given purple bracelets, which remind each of us to pray for the family. There have been times when people sign up to pray for ten minute incriments in the day for this family. Completely surrounded, that’s what’s happening. The call in a bad economy with difficulty has been to look within the body and to step up and care for each other. What is awesome about this is that I do not believe the gospel is being dumbed down in order to get people to serve. There has been no cry that church as usual is weak, and we need to get off our duffs to prove ourselves. What has happened is a family has been lifted up and the true compassion of the church people has come out to meet the needs. We have been convicted to find our ways to help, and others are likely to be there too.

So, what has happened since we left our church? We found out who our true friends were there, and we have found new friends in a new church. No, the new church is not perfect. I will continue to pray for our former church as brothers and sisters in Christ fight the battle there whether they know it or not. I will pray for our new church, that the staff leadership stand guard and keep themselves focused on Christ and the scriptures. I believe we have found that God does have his people in the positions they are in for a reason. We were so blind, we’ve learned to pay more attention. We’ve learned to watch out better for our kids. We’ve learned to speak up after careful consideration and prayer. We’ve learned to be firm. We’ve seen we sometimes cannot trust those we think we can.

Now we move forward. It’s actually been good NOT to be in a small group. We have more family time. Our children need to spend time in our church for sure, but we should be building the relationships at home too. We have examined our beliefs, and it’s been hard but good.

On a side note, some we thought were “shunning” us actually have responded lately. It seems life just threw them some hard days and they weren’t checking email. This is not the pastors who haven’t answered email…just the few members. So, it wasn’t all what it seemed to us. Sure, we do have one individual who is being very weird, but I think she’d be that way anyway. Some of the other couples have not been so cold as we thought.

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One thing I noticed when we were considering leaving our church was the difficulty in finding good counsel that we trusted. First we spoke to a few friends about our concerns. Because they didn’t see what we saw, at the time we knew they were not going to help and our observations were just burdens in their lives (they have since been great help…but at the time it was just us really). Then there were the elders. We spoke to at least two. One was a group shepherd (or leader of a few small groups including ours). He was really next in line on the church structure heirarchy. We told him we didn’t like this or that, and he basically gave us the “I understand this point” and “this is why the church does it this way.” One specific example was our issue with the videos from the “Christian no more” series being played in church as well as the term “Christ follower” replacing the word Christian. The elder said we wanted to give a more specific term and Christian had become such a negative term in society. We needed to reach people in a way that didn’t turn them off. This obviously was not going to be someone we could open up to about all our fears. He just explained them away in a very unsatisfactory manner. We then had a friend and mentor to my husband that was also an elder. We spoke to him, and shared frankly our problems. Initially, he suggested my husband become an elder which would be a process and would take time. Once an elder he could work to change things. My husband spoke to him off and on for a while. He didn’t think Rick Warren’s books were “deep” but that Warren had done such good work, we couldn’t NOT use his books. Eventually, we came completely clean about leaving and the fears of emergent with him. He just didn’t see it. We really couldn’t get clearly what was right to do from him. We were told to not speak with one particular pastor (the one who really seemed to be dropping New Age phrases left and right). He personally said this pastor had been his mentor and is the nicest and most wonderful man with a great plan for reaching the lost. We had spoken to other friends, small group co-leaders who did not think the web sites we were reading were legit. We eventually spoke with one pastor, he did encourage our letter and for us to be frank. He didn’t like my issue with terms used like transformation, spiritual formation. He thought the church still preached the gospel and had good things about it, but had gotten off focus somehow. He suggested we stay on and present things in a loving way as we appeared to him to be humble in all this. We let him know we’d think about it.

So from there, we tried to find people to trust. One couple was beginning to see our point, they could give us some advice (and had told us of the pastor and encouraged us to seek him out). We tried to walk with his counsel as we had no other options. I did speak to one woman who did seem to “get it” and had in fact come from Paggitt’s church and left because it had gone strange on her. Sadly, she’s very strange herself…and so hasn’t been a good friend to trust at all though she did see some of what we saw. We ended up finding a couple who left and were VERY strong in God’s word. They spoke to us openly and offered much comfort as he had been an elder and she was in ministry. They fought the church really for two years before leaving. Any other people we spoke to didn’t really get why we had to leave. My parents are nominal Lutherans. They were no help and thought we should stay in such a giving church. Many friends in the former church we emailed or shared with didn’t really see it. Even many people who did leave, didn’t actually leave for the reasons we did. They were of little help. We had very few safe places to land.

I came online for support mostly. People had been through the same things, articles warned of things that were actually happening to me step by step. I began venting first on my live journal, and lost some online contacts who thought I was self righteous, or didn’t see emergent as a bad thing. I had one live journal friend who encouraged me to write here on WordPress. I did, and began to get some feedback that helped.

Eventually, we made our leave of the church and began searching. I did speak to a friend who is older than I am…and wiser. Her suggestions were Presbyterian and Lutheran, and a few other random churches. For now we’ve landed in something Baptist that is aware of emergent/seeker friendly. It seems pretty much a haven for people who have left similar churches as ours. Some I’ve come into contact with online warn against Calvinist and Baptist churches, insist I should go Lutheran. I am so far not going that route. My childhood experience with Lutheran doesn’t do it for me. I don’t believe in infant baptism, and in no way think the bread and wine actually change into the flesh and blood of Christ. So, in some ways, I’m seen as less or not quite enlightened by some of these people. We’ve been dubbed trouble makers by our former pastor, so there’s no talking to him or really other pastoral staff from the former church. We probably could share a bit with the former pastor who did help us, but since he never did open up too much as to exactly what he’s doing, I do not know where he stands. I don’t know his final opinion of us. He is under submission to our former pastor.

So now we move forward, speaking to people in our new congregation and keeping contact with a few friends in our former church. I write here, my husband and I talk to each other, and we just try to figure it all out. So many have no idea why we left. They’ll likely never know.

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I was floored when I came upon this article/blog today…
http://galatiansc4v16.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/sermon-copying-when-the-world-has-more-integrity-than-the-church/#comment-17431

My husband and I were just discussing this after I listened to a pod cast by my former pastor. He had taken a story from somewhere and didn’t attribute it to the author. I was able to look the story up because it was so unusual, it involved a nail, and a dead dog, and a homeowner. I was able to trace the story online easily and found that the former pastor had used it word for word. When we first started trying to figure out what was going on in our former church, I spent time putting phrases from sermons into google, and I would come up with a book or another sermon. Because the lead pastor stepped down into a missional position, he no longer preaches the bulk of the sermons. His sermons always contained footnotes in online notes, but not always mentioned while he was speaking. This is how we discovered all the emergent/Warren/Hybels and other references. He actually cited who he quoted, and even if he paraphrased. The current pastor does not cite his stories nor books. He even recently preached a series on Nehemiah, and I was able to find online a book by Swindoll with the same theme as well as Saddleback materials with the same themes. I’m not sure he used them for his sermons, but it appears likely he may have. I do know that all it takes is simple searches to find who influences the pastors, they preach from these men’s works. I also found it disturbing when we began our church search to hear pastors using phrases and stories easily found in books or online. One such example is the Sunday we realized we couldn’t attend a church five minutes from our home. A speaker came and was happily sharing how well he knew Max Lucado and that the pastor of the church we were visiting because they attended the same college. He then spent his sermon talking all about “boat potatoes.” I knew I had heard this before, so I came home and opened up a book a friend had given to me to read, an Ortberg book. There is was, “boat potatoes” with the entire theme the pastor had made into a sermon (which by the way, I detested as a theme and feel it was a misuse of scripture). This man was traveling, getting paid for speaking on a circuit, and was using a canned sermon right out of Ortberg’s book. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating. Putting two and two together is not hard when they make it so obvious. Peddling the word is what is happening, sadly, most believe it’s God’s word, but actually it’s men’s words being peddled or God’s word distorted. The illusion that these pastors are going to the Father and seeking his guidance for sermons is shattered when we learn how canned all these stories and sermons are. It’s not a Divine providence that you might hear the same message from one church to another. It may just be that all these pastors are cutting corners and using someone else’s materials to craft a sermon. They seem to be part of one big machine. This machine masks itself as the Body. Sad, very sad.

One other thought, the pastor has stopped quoting or citing in his online work. This means that an author has to be found by his quotes and not by the citation. It makes it a great deal harder to find who is influencing the sermons. We had come to the church with some examples of using emergent/emerging authors in sermons as proof the church was being influenced by this teaching. This was denied by our former pastor, and angrily so. Forced into plagiarism by Berean behavior perhaps?

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Today my children participated in Awana Bible Quiz. They basically answered multiple choice questions about bible verses, definitions of words in particular verses, answers to questions in the Awana handbooks, and other similar questions. I have no problem with this as the kids do have to study their verses and memorize them to do well. We are involved in Awana partly because of the verse memorization, and because of the experiences the kids enjoy with others. It’s a Wednesday night thing, not a substitute for home bible study or church services. So far, I’ve not heard anything leaning contemplative at the meetings, I help with Awana myself so that I can see what’s going on. I know the Cubbies program is much like it has been for several years, but the books have been changing for the older kids. I have my children focus on the verses, and even then I’m not really worried about it as I’d rather have them learn from better versions of the bible itself. With that out of the way I’d like to share what bothered me about today.

After the quizing, there was a message from one of the missionary leader type Awana men. He told us about a book he read ( Annointed for Business). He then proceeded to describe four types of Christians. I was thinking right away that either you are a Christian or you’re not, kind of like being pregnant or not. There’s not “a little pregnant” just “early pregnant” and so was thinking it might be more like a discussion on signs of maturity or something. He began with level one. He actually called them “level one Christians.” These are the hypocrites, the two faced Christians. Okay, already I’m thinking the obvious, these are NOT Christians. He gave a scary story of a youth who committed suicide, and the kids who had once been in his youth group a few years earlier had teased him while there, so he stopped going. What might have occured had they not been two faced hypocrites as Christians? This boy might have stayed in youth group and maybe wouldn’t have killed himself. (Huh, so he could pick on another kid because youth group was supposed to make us better right?….or is it true that we’re all sinners…). Level two Christians are the Pharasees. That’s right, they are the letter of the law keepers. They come to God out of fear not love, they are holier than thou. I wonder if they think about reformed people when they mention this, or if they really mean the people who claim to be Christians but are actually very legalistic? Would this author include those who believe homosexuality is wrong? I would love to know exactly what was defined in the book because many times this area is where Christianity is attacked as being too traditional and the myth is used to steer people into “seeker friendly” churches. Hopefully this is not what was happening here, but I’ll never trust again without checking for myself. The third level Christian is alright, according to the leader and the author he quotes. This one is lead by the Holy Spirit and does many things in obedience not out of duty or obligation but out of love. These Christians are considered pretty good. This level is fine, but this leader mentioned there are ways that are bad, okay, better, and best. Level four Christians sound like the one this leader and the author want everyone to be. They are Christians who “transform” their environment. They are the ones that, in the workplace or school, cause everything to be better. They are the ones who, in his example, end up making everyone behave better because they are around. The leader shared that at one public school, an Awana group asked to use the school facilities for meetings. Although only 12 children were in the club, the teachers at the end of the school year thanked the Awana leader because the kids had behaved so well and had done better even on school work. The principal had resisted at first, but now admitted that this group had done something good. Even the peers of the Awana kids were acting better. Problems solved, right?

So, what’s wrong with this presentation? The fact is a false Christianity is presented. There are “levels” of Christians. There’s better and worse Christians. Is that how Jesus sees us? What of the persecuted Christians who make little to no impact on the evil culture around and are murdered? Remember Moses? Pharoah’s heart was hardened, the Israelite generation wasted what they knew of God from this experience. Was Moses considered faithful by God or not? Sure, it sounds good, it goes down easy. However, the bitterness sits in my stomach and makes me ill. The message was hollow. No one was saved by this message. This is the message that was given to children and parents in an attempt to motivate them to action. Was it the action God would have wanted from a leader? Also, who transforms us? Is it an Awana leader or is it the faith we have in Chirst and His grace and mercy because of His sacrifice for our sins? What has transformative power?
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On another note, the church that sponsors the Awana club our kids attend is one of our former church’s plants. I was speaking with a few leaders, and one who now also left our former church and attends the one we like (confusing enough yet?) came up to me and said he heard about a new thing Rick Warren was coming out with and he thought of me. Since we’d had these discussions before, I knew he is aware of how I feel about the program Rick Warren is selling. He then mentioned that’s why he was fed up with our former church, because of the “following of men’s books” instead of studying the Bible. One woman who attends this church plant said, “yeah, you know, I really like it when our pastor does a series from an actual book of the Bible. Last spring we did an 8 week series on [a book in the new testament] and I really learned a lot.” She went on to say she really only knows a lot about that one book of the Bible and would love to do more books in the Bible instead of books from authors. Wow. I hope this gets her to thinking. She’s probably a Christian who wants the real meat and not some false meat, huh?

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