Month: January 2016
I know. It sounded like I was going to provide a step by step tutorial about how to both live in the world and yet live in God’s kingdom. Sadly, I’m just not that spiritual yet. However, I do enjoy slamming out blogs of things that I’m working through in my own life.
This week, I encountered and interesting situation. Someone had taken the words of a Bible teacher, believed them, and then acted on them immediately. For this, the person is to be praised, however, with every nugget of God’s truth and revelation comes the need to seek His divine balance. Divine balance? That sounds like a great marketing tagline… but I digress.
The most obvious example is when Jesus instructed his disciples to cut off their body parts if those body parts cause them to sin. Everyone knows our body parts cause us to sin so if they really believed his words and took action on them, there would have been a bloody mess on the ground. In a sense, Jesus was correct in that it would have been better to be a bloody pulpy mess on the ground rather than go to hell forever, but He also was standing before them as the Grand Solution to the sin problem. The balance is to know that the power of God that Jesus allows us access to is greater than the power of the flesh if we believe. In other words, there is no need to chop off your extremities and leave them for the fowl of the air if bow your head in humility and trust God for the power to overcome temptation. This paragraph went way too long…
In this specific issue, the teacher was preaching on the final judgement of God and the end of the world, and, of course, the soon coming of Jesus. This person was impacted by the Word of God and was instantly changed. I’m assuming that she started looking around the world and saw what the writer of Ecclesiastes saw – that everything in this earth is vanity and worthless. I imagine that in her heart she started to question whether her pursuit of education and dreams were worth it. I imagine that deep in her heart she started questioning whether or not she was even on the right path with God or heading down some path created by someone else. I imagine that she was in a state of deep sorrow, confusion, and possibly even depression. Why do I imagine this? Because I, too, was in this state.
When I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ, I was very despondent when I realized that no one else around me could see the light. I just assumed that if I shared the revelation that God just gave me that they would see, repent, and follow me on this most excellent adventure (that was an 80’s reference btw for you young lads). But they didn’t. In fact, I became as it were an alien to them. A nut bar. A religious fanatic. A cult victim… you name it. They did not see the light.
And man was I lonely.
However, looking back, I am so glad that I went through that. It confirmed so many scriptures, namely that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace but a sword and that He came to divide a home, not unify it. In essence, it yet again proved the Word of God to be ever true.
So, this person decided, I suppose, that there was no point in continuing her education and that she should just take my earthquake preparedness (I always preach that but never do it myself, sadly) advice and just sit back and wait for the soon-coming of Jesus. I commend her faith but unfortunately that is not a biblical position. It is lacking in balance. Here is the balance:
Matthew 24: 36-42:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
You see, they were working like normal when Jesus came back. For students, you will be going to school – perhaps in the most boring class of your life – perhaps gazing out the window – when the Lord shall come and retrieve you.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
You see, there is no avoiding our nasty toil, whether it be labour in the field, power-washing the cement, reviewing contracts or sitting in the most awful class in the education system. We must work and sweat while working because of the nastiness of the work. We’re made and designed to do it until the end of the ages. Sadly, the proverbial buttercup must suck it up. There are lots of other scriptures in the Bible about working with good work ethic if you want.
So, we are to live in this secular world (which hates God).
While living here, we are to work hard and be model citizens in the societies where God has planted us.
The whole time we are living in this world we are not to ‘reside’ or ‘stay’ or ‘build our kingdom’ in the world because we are not from this world. We are from another kingdom – the kingdom of light. God’s kingdom.
And so we must always find the balance between that temptation to bunker down with our assault rifle and await the certain persecutions against the brothers and sisters and living like sheep amongst wolves in this corrupt world while we await the New Jerusalem.
Thankfully the Word of God, if you read it all, will always, always, always, give you that much needed balance so get in the Word and ask God to show you the Way.
Perhaps one of the things that has grieved me the most over the years is a reality I have seen in the Body of Christ – something of which both myself and my wife were guilty as charged. This something seems to be everywhere now that I ask around and now that I’m actively looking. The reason it is so common, in my opinion, is because almost everyone is guilty. So what is this crime?
Not being transformed
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:2 KJV)
How is it that someone can be part of a fellowship where the Word of God is being taught and then leave exactly the same?
How is it that one can be living in sin, as I was, show up to meetings week after week and not experience *either* conviction or freedom?
How is it that one can stand in the presence of Almighty God and not change?
The answer is: They cannot.
And if you are not changing, it means you are not standing in the presence of Almighty God and you should be gravely concerned about your relationship with Him. If you are playing ‘the church game’ with yourself, like the Pharisees were, it’s time to wake up and smell the spiritual coffee and do a little test on yourself. Here is a test I perform on myself regularly now, and I hope it will be of value to you as well:
- Is God’s will truly most important in your life, or are there ‘other things’ that tend to rule?
- Do you truly want to know Him, the person of God, or do you want to know about him? Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses and he was right, by the way. Are you opiating?
- Do you love the Word of God, or do you find it a drag to read, and like a ‘boring book’?
- Does sin bother you to your very core, or do you accept it as ‘the way it is’ like the rest of the world?
- Do you feel more hungry to know God more, or do you feel satisfied with your current relationship with God?
- Do you have sin in your mind and life? Pornography, sexual deviancy, alcohol and drug addictions, hatred, jealousy, un-thankfulness, un-forgiveness, and the like?
- Do you feel trapped in some kind of slavery and unable to break free?
- Are you being transformed or are you staying the same?
I know these are hard questions and they don’t feel good to ask, but let’s be serious. Jesus said that you can’t have two masters. I agree and say that you can’t play for two teams, either.
All throughout the Bible wherever God’s presence was, transformation of the most exciting kind took place. In the Old Testament you saw this with the physical location of the temple and the ark of the covenant. In the New Testament, everywhere Jesus went amazing healings took place and unbreakable chains were broken. In the book of Acts and onwards, you see clearly the very hearts of men transformed from God haters to God lovers. Transformation and change is a key theme and proof of God’s existence in individual lives and even nations.
But don’t stress out. You also can’t get right before God by doing a bunch of religious gymnastics or increase the frequency of the few righteous things you do. The Pharisees also did their ‘good works’ but they were destined for the fire of hell.
There is nothing you can do.
You are hopeless on your own.
But thanks be to God for the amazing transforming power of Jesus.
The day you truly repent and turn from your disturbing ways and allow Jesus to rule your very temporary life, is the first day of the rest of your life. On this day, true transformation will begin and the checklist above will soon be a joy to check because you’ll be shocked at how the power of God can change a person’s heart at the very core.
I pray that today be the first day of your transformation.
Ever felt you can’t focus on someone or something because something is scheduled? In my case, I was trying to focus on God Almighty and I kept becoming aware that I only had a half an hour before I had to start getting ready for work.
That ain’t natural, and that ain’t the way it’s supposed to be.
So I started thinking about how it is supposed to be and how it will be.
Way back when Adam and Eve were enjoying their time with each other and with their Lord in the garden, time just didn’t exist. I’m sure the sun rose and set as it does now, but those were yet further events to remind them of the glory of their God. I have a very hard time imagining Eve yelling at Adam, “Adam! Are you still lying there? Don’t you know we have to eat breakfast in 30 minutes?!” Somehow that just doesn’t jive.
On the other hand, what I do envision is time passing just as it would if one were on a month long vacation on a beach resort:
“What day is it, honey? asked Adam.
“Tuesday? or… maybe it’s Wednesday? Where’s my cell?” replied Eve.
Time is unnatural. It ruins everything. It causes stress.
It became apparent to me this week again when we were worshipping the Lord. It was as if time was standing still. I caught a brief glimpse of heaven and all time stopped. I recall wishing that particular song wouldn’t end. But, then, abruptly even, it ended all right. It went right into the next part of the ‘service’. Time had won again.
But all this makes sense now that I think about it.
God is eternal. He is outside of time. He created time.
Man, until the grave error in the garden, walked with God in a state of eternity. When man goofed, death arrived along with the clenched fists of Uncle Time.
Now man was a lit candle with an eventual end. Would the candle blow out by a gust of wind or a sneeze or would the it go out naturally when the wax ran out? In either case, the candle is on a course to the unavoidable poof.
And so man is keenly aware of time and a slave to it for every waking moment. And, thanks to alarm clocks even our sleep can be governed by it.
In Ecclesiastes, it has been determined that everything in between here and God is vanity – a bit of a waste of time, if you will. It will all pass away. Projects, dreams, buildings, positions, titles, money – it’s all a vapour. None of it can fix the time problem and create eternity.
Speak to any person over the age of, say, 40. It’s interesting to watch the effects of time working against us all. For the person who does not know God, this must be the most depressing reality in the earth. How sorrowful. How pitiful. How annoying.
But today I realized that there is freedom for those who wish to escape the death locks of time and everyone needs to know about it. It is salvation through the name and blood of Jesus.
Once you are redeemed back to your God, he will not only warmly welcome you into heaven where you will experience eternity and the freedom from time, but, what’s even more great, is that you don’t have to wait until then. You can enter into His presence where time will stop for you. You can experience the Kingdom of God on earth, just as Jesus said we could pray for.
However, as a suggestion between now and heaven I recommend using an alarm clock when you start to worship as most employers tend not to accept ‘lost in the presence of Almighty God’ as an excuse for being late to work.
Frankly, this topic is a tough one which has recently occupied much of my thoughts. The two conflicting issues are as follows:
- Does the presence of an unbeliever during times of fellowship hinder the power and holiness of God (a kind of quenching)?
- Do we remain totally open and let any polite person sit in our midst regardless of their spiritual position, so long as they don’t ‘disturb the flow’.
In one or more of my recent posts I first alluded to my position of being, as of late, quite strong in favour of separation. My position was this:
- God called his people to be separate (you don’t have to look far to find this throughout the Bible)
- Most people I have spoken to have noted a ‘notable difference’ in both the presence of God and the effectiveness of their prayers when praying in the midst of believers (all) and in the midst of unbelievers (even some).
- At the very least an unbeliever, for their own health, should not be participating in communion (1 Cor 11:17-31)
Shortly after growing fairly cemented in my new position, I searched and came across this interesting discussion on the topic. Somewhere in the middle one person posted 1 Cor 14: 23-25 which says:
If therefore the while church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, his is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
This not only shows that an unbeliever might be in your midst, but also that a great result might come of it, if (in context) the group has some ‘holy order’ going on.
But, I can’t help but notice the word ‘if’. This word is not ‘when’. It is ‘if’. When is certain. ‘If’ is conditional as in the following examples:
I will give you the book when I get there.
This person is expected. The receipt of the book is expected.
I will give you the book if I get there.
This person is not fully expected. To count on receiving this book would not be wise.
So, even this scripture above does not convince me whatsoever that the believers were expecting the visit of an unbeliever. I read and interpret this scripture as follows:
If, by chance, while the brothers and sisters of light, who know and love the Lord Jesus are meeting together and doing holy things together (ie. studying the Word, praying, worshipping, etc) and someone happens to pop by who does *not* know the Lord Jesus, and has no fellowship with Him because the blood of the Lamb has not yet cleansed him, if the spiritual gift of prophecy is flowing mightily, this word of prophecy will come forth and convict this unbelieving sinner of his sin and he would fall to his face, repent, and be now able to worship the true and living God, and enter the fold.
I also interpret this to mean that if the spiritual gift of prophecy is not operating (and don’t deny that in most places it’s either not operating at all or operating in a weird way) that there is no provision to be able to move forward in unity since there is now the presence of one who, without trying to sugar coat things, hates God and His ways.
I am therefore still not convinced that the current practice in the Body of Christ of having an ‘open to anyone’ policy for group meetings is wise.
Of course, I’m expecting that any reader at this point has a little voice inside of them saying “Well how then do we win the lost if we can’t invite them on Sunday?”
That’s easy. You have an outreach focused meeting at your church building, if you so love meetings with unbelievers at your church building.
However, if I’m not even sure that that is the most effective way to win the lost. In this article I touch on that a bit. I feel it’s more effective meeting the sinner where the sinner is, rather than meeting them at the very last place they would feel comfortable – at a worship service.
Saints worship and love God.
Sinners worship themselves and hate God (although they deny it in many fancy ways).
In conclusion, I still stand fairly strong in my position that in general, with a few exceptions like the one above, that when we gather together to do God’s holy things (worship, prayer, Bible study, etc) that it should be the family of God – the children of light who are present.
For what fellowship does light have with darkness? (1 Cor 6:11-18)
Please add your thoughts as I seek God’s answer on this ‘tough topic’
I’ve seen a lot of documentaries, a lot of conspiracies, a lot of interesting things.
Nothing comes close to the importance and relevance of this one.
As I trudge along my spiritual journey to meet Truth Himself (Jesus is Truth)(remember that famous scene when Pontias Pilate said ‘What is truth?”) I have now come to what I used to think was small potatoes – the church. I always used to view ‘the church’ as a kind of vehicle that helps you get to heaven – kind of like how a school is a vehicle that helps you get a better job. It turns out both were lies.
Ack! I’m pretty sure I just saw the Pope drive by my front window in a lowered car with tinted windows…
Wait Pope Daddy! Let me explain!
In both cases, it’s about who you become, not where you go that matters and in both cases it’s about the people, not about the building. I won’t waste my time on the education topic but I am eternally interested in the church and what God thinks about it and my role in it.
The purpose of this post is *not* to be divisive and appear heretical. The purpose of this post is an honest search for truth. The cults of the world absolutely love to point out that ‘Christianity is full of denominations so it can’t be the truth’. Even the Catholic church uses this point. And they are right. It is all messed up and fragmented and not as it appears as the bride that Jesus is coming back for – without wrinkle or blemish. This current church is blemished up the kahuna! I have no idea what that means by the way…
Before I hack away like an angry health inspector on all the issues that I see with the current ‘church machine’, I’d like to first acknowledge that problems had already arisen and been identified in the body of Christ throughout the new testament. Sometimes I like to point to the first church as a model but it wasn’t without problems either. Nor should that be surprising. Satan is on a full attack against the Truth. Satan has little interest in deceived organizations. They are already his.
So from Revelations 2-4 kind of range (I’m too lazy to look it up) the body of Christ already had the following major issues that Jesus was giving first hand warnings about:
- false apostles
- deeds of Nicolaitans (whatever that means)(probably liberal Canadian views on everything)
- eating food sacrificed to idols
- fornication/sexual immorality
- dead religion (church zapped of everything)
- lukewarm lazy slobs in need of nothing from God
I kind of paraphrased but whatever – read it on your own dime.
Here are the issues I see with the current church machine:
Elevated Role of the Pastor
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers
In the above list you will note there are five (5) key roles that God gives people. The current pastor is expected to be all five which is bad for him, and bad for you – and it’s not from God. Side effects from this lop-sided spiritual distribution may be:
- excessive stress on the pastor
- top-down incorrect theology trickling down
- controlling and manipulation
It seems that the default position of the pastor is to be salaried, instead of defaulting to tent-maker. I have no idea where this one came from. To me this is just illogical and bad business. When you start a business, the co-founders starve and flip burgers at night until there is enough customer base to generate their income. If they don’t do this, investors will look at the operation and ask why they should be funding their steak dinners and car payments. Sorry to be so nasty on this topic but I read in the Bible that Paul made tents so his salary wasn’t a burden on the church. That’s biblical. The side effects from a salaried pastor may be:
- pressure to take up more offerings
- pressure to focus too much on the offering
- pressure to teach the old testament tithe as new testament law
- Guilt on the pastor for being a burden on what may be a small group (I assume this?)
- temptation *not* to preach messages that might offend the people who drop the largest offerings
- temptation to preach endless messages on financial giving
- temptation to do what the elders or other board members think is best even if it’s not God
Again, to me this is just basic business. I have no problem giving a salary to any God-serving man or woman but it has a long list of potential dangers that I believe are to be avoided. Just to be fair, the argument *for* the salaried pastor is to free this person up for the full time work of the ministry.
No Hard Preaching
The Bible is full of hard truths. Pornography, for example, is both idolatry and fornication and divorce is unbiblical and damaging to everyone involved. Oh, and of course the ever-distracting theme of homosexuality. The only time that one is preached is when it’s being preached against and the impending destruction on our world like Sodom and Gomorrah. Fair enough! That’s true. But isn’t it exciting to think that we can actually be the ones to help all these people above get free and HEALED!!??????? I know! Make me walk the plank! What a rebel rouser! Excommunicate him! Firing squad! Sheeeeeeeesh.
If a full-blown sinner involved in, let’s just say fornication or adultery, can sit comfortably in your church for a few weeks, you need to seriously question which parts of the Bible you are preaching (or not preaching). But we can’t just preach them out without letting them know there is a glorious freedom to be had. The best day of my life was my born-again birthday when I realized the chains of my sins were broken and powerless over me and my relationship with God.
Elevated Physical Position of the Pastor
This section may just be my opinion (warning).
Not sure why this bugs me but I have always been bothered by the uni-directional, slightly elevated position of the pastor. Usually there are a few risers and then a big pulpit. Then off to the side is the rock band. It just always seems like a ‘show’. I suppose it comes from the need to project the voice and hear everything in times past. It’s probably that simple. But it feels like a university lecture hall with a rock band. Who in the world participates or interacts with those? Answer: No one. And if you do, the other people don’t like you for interrupting the speaker. So, I suppose if the whole goal of ‘church’ is to show up and hear a uni-directional message from the Bible without interruption, then mission accomplished. But what if the pastor is preaching something that is totally off base? What if something is burning inside of you from the Holy Ghost and God is telling you to share it with His people? What if you are a prophet and this message must get out? I’m sure God will forgive you for not wanting to interrupt the speaker for the sake of order. Plus, you could email it to the mailing list after… HA?
Elevated Physical Position of the Worship Team
The more I look at what satan is doing in the secular world with music and idolatry, the more I am concerned about this ‘worship team’. I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie on a secular kids DVD this week. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bunch of tatooed hipsters with nasty haircuts, torn jeans and the like jumping around on a stage with all sorts of acid-induced lighting. Had I not seen the words of the song on the screen behind them I would have surely thought this was a secular rock concert. Every part of it looked secular. It just kind of creeped me right out. That’s all. It was one of those ‘this is wrong’ moments. I don’t want to dwell on the ‘christians looking like the world’ topic but the ‘rock band’ thing really seems to be established in the weekly worship. My idea was always ‘what would happen if we stuck the band BEHIND the congregation and started worshipping? My guess is that no one would know what to do or how to worship – which is just plain disturbing. Disclaimer: I have not run the test to check!
Boxed Lunch Set Meal
I also like to call this ‘compartmentalized faith’. It’s also known as ‘the Sunday Christian’. It’s the packaging up of our faith into nice little sections of our life, right down to the way we perform our ‘service’ (which by the way 5% of the people serve and 95% are served by the 5%). It looks a little bit like this: quiet music, intro prayer, praise and worship team rock out, optional hymn(s) here, main prayer, sermon, closing prayer, optional communion here, the blessing prayer thing, a little more quiet music, hand shaking, optional meals, departures. Repeat next week. Sometimes in between there might be a prayer meeting or a cell group meeting but not usually.
All of the above is fine, per se, but I double-dog DARE any of you to try to change ANY of it. I DARE you to listen to that still quiet voice inside of you and obey it and see what happens. From my experience, the program dominates. As a quick example, God might be leading the praise and worship team to continue. After all, in heaven all we are going to do is worship God so maybe we should practice this blessed skill here a little more. But if the clock says to stop and God says to continue…… who will win?
So, in conclusion, the program, the compartments and the order seems to win. I want to also declare that I love order and habitual things can be very good. It’s very good to wake up with an alarm clock and read your Bible. But these things cannot rule over the voice of the Living God and prevent our obedience to Him.
I do boldly declare that the church has become ‘meeting focused’ not ‘Christ focused’.
This again is not really the ‘fault’ of the pastor or ‘the church’ per se, but a cumulative result of the reliance on the Boxed Meal Comfort Syndrome (BMCS). It’s much more comfortable to commit to one or two hours per week. It’s much more comfortable to not open our ugly closets of sin and selfishness to our brothers. It’s much more comfortable not to look at their closets. It’s much more comfortable to not pray with others and hence not be responsible for watching a failed prayer. It’s much more comfortable to walk by programs than by faith. It’s very comfortable to be a modern day Christian in a first world country and I’m no exception. But Jesus said these troubling yet exciting words:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (most translations say ‘making disciples of all nations’), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus’ disciples didn’t wake up one day and know everything. They lived and breathed the Living Word and then put into daily practice the command of living out the commandments. We are to spend time and mentor others the same way that Jesus did with them. That’s our model and it works. If the business world has figured it out maybe it’s time for the church to revisit this one?
Limited Bible Knowledge
I’ll keep this one short and simple. It’s shocking how little the people in your church know about what’s really in the Bible. All of the above explains it though. But no wonder we are lead to and fro by every wind of doctrine and food for the wolves.
This is typically a by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above. It’s very, very difficult to build meaningful and deep relationships if the only chance we have to do so is at the handshake and departure section of the Sunday meeting. Many people are surprised to learn of sudden divorces, pornography addictions, adultery and more. Why are you surprised? You don’t even know these people beyond a handshake. If you were in their lives I’m very confident that God would have shown you the red flags waving and used you in some amazing way. But you just saw their surface smile, not their dark broken insides.
I also feel that this is one of the reasons why the love is disappearing at an alarming rate from the church and why believers are turning to every other form of deception. If true Christ-like love flowed like a river amongst your body of believers (the church) you would hunger and thirst for their fellowship.
Programs Programs Programs
This is another by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above. The only way to deal with the scriptures that the Bible talks about related to outreach and work while maintaining the church machine system in it’s current state is to create programs that fit within that system. I’m very glad for the good deeds being done, but I have to be honest. I don’t want a program. I want a relationship with God Almighty and I’m pretty sure the people on the receiving end of the program do too. So, as long as that is the goal and every single person in the group is going down this road, hallelluyah! But a lot of people use ‘programs’ to appease their conscience which knows that they are not growing in Christ, nor doing the works themselves. So they fund a program or join a few times here and there.
In Bed with Big Brother
This topic is interesting. It seems as though either the church hasn’t thought of this or doesn’t know. As mentioned in another one of my articles, if you would like to see what any church (or charity) has done with their money in Canada, all you need to do is click this link to our friends at the CRA and take a peek. Here, try for yourself. Enter your favourite church’s name and watch the results!
That’s downright disturbing for so many reasons, but if you are familiar with the mark of the beast in Revelation, that might be a good place for you to start your research.
The church signed up for that deal, no question, and if any persecutions started one could simple shut down the church…. except for one problem: Everyone who has ever given money to said organization for the bliss of a tax receipt is also now linked by their social insurance number (SIN) which is linked to this blissful believers home address.
If I were a man given to fear, that would be scary….
It seems to me as though wisdom would call the Body of Christ to seriously and quickly question whether this is in the best interest of themselves or their congregation but I have a strange hunch that this will be a very tricky habit to break free from if one were to try.
Those tax deductions are like catnip to a cat.
Christmas and Easter Focused
I’ve done lots of writing on this topic and you can search this blog for it. I’m kind of bored of the topic. I have decided both Christmas and Easter have nothing to do with Jesus and should not be a focus. Yet every church focuses on these two days. Enough said. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
This is another smaller point but I just want to point out that in the current church machine many well meaning people burn a lot of gas driving to congregations. I feel that the more local we are, the more relevant we are. Simple as that.
Another small one. I know the ‘day’ doesn’t matter, per se, but it’s just kind of weird that Christians meet on Sunday and not Saturday which was the sabbath. I don’t want to spend too much time or energy on this but it is worth at least asking ‘why’, isn’t it? Sun? Day? Why?
And that just about wraps up what I thought was going to be a 20 minute post. I have now grown older and grey and my bladder is about to explode so I must bid thee farewell, thou who readeth.
Blessings to you.
I decided to blog parts of an email I just sent to my wife. When I email my wife, by the way, the idea is that she can take time to digest what’s going on inside of me and it allows me time to compose my thoughts instead of blurting them in her face with my nasty style. Without further adieu, here are my thoughts at this interesting juncture:
Here are my thoughts:
1. God’s word is the truth. If there are any questions at all, the Bible is the final judge and decision maker – not us, not a man, not a church, not a movie, etc.
2. We, as a family, should be seeking ‘good theology’. There is nothing stopping us from studying the same theology (and more) than the stuff the pastors study in theology school. In fact, the Bible commands it. We should be hungering meat, not milk. The leaders even more.
3. Our motive should *not* be to ‘invent the newest and best church’: this is not about us. It’s about God. This is God’s bride, and we should not be doing this for any other reason than for his glory. Any other reason is selfish and we should just sit in the pews of our own churches now if that’s our reason. Here is a great little blog I found on this topic: http://pastors.com/do-we-really-need-more-churches/
4. Our motive *should* be:
-for God’s glory
-to know God more
-for our marriage to be restored and built on the rock
-for our children to be restored and built on the rock
-to find out who we really are (in Christ)
-to express our love towards God
-to experience the richness of this thing called ‘the body of Christ’
-to reach the lost
-to feed the poor
-to clothe the cold
-did I miss any?
5. We should not be hungering after ‘plans and programs’.
While cleaning up the equipment with Pastor, it was quite interesting. He never said anything like “Wow, I’m excited that God is doing something so big inside of you!” or “Can you help me understand what God is doing in you?” In fact, he didn’t mention at all the topic of our plan to ‘move on’. Finally during the silence I said “So, I guess you might be wondering about our decision to stop attending?” At that point, his only comment, even though we sent a long letter with our heartfelt position was this “I didn’t see any plan in your letter which concerns me.” I wanted to say “Didn’t you read the part about ‘wanting to know Jesus more’ and ‘wanted to develop relationships deeper’, etc? Is that not a plan? So, what I learned at that moment is that the ‘plan’ means nothing more than “going to a regular weekly meeting at a set location with a set group of believers with a set understanding about the Bible.” I have no problem with set meetings but if those rigid things start to put God into a ‘box’ I can’t do it anymore. I continually think about the Pharisees. They did all the plans perfectly! They did long prayers, perfectly honoured the sabbath, washed their hands, didn’t eat with gentiles, etc, etc. But they also crucified Jesus. Jesus called them in Revelation ‘the synagogue of Satan’. I see how dangerous this ‘addiction to plans’ can be. They start to replace true righteousness with ‘religious righteousness’. They start to replace ‘faith’ with ‘works’. And it’s incredibly dangerous. Instantly I translated his comment about ‘plan’ and gave him the answer he wanted to hear as follows: “We have not been church shopping if you are wondering.” But, he seems to think that we would be ‘safer’ if we were in the lifeboat of a Sunday church program, than starting an adventure on our own. But this led me to think about the early church. There was no ‘program’ for them to plug into. They WERE the church. Wherever they went, there was the church. And growth was also occurring. Anyway, this is a long topic, but the point is that we *cannot* let a program make us feel righteous, but we also should not let a ‘set meeting’ make us feel bad. Showing up to work every monday morning at 9am is a good thing. Rising at 5am with an alarm clock to read the Bible is a good thing. Habits are good. In summary: whatever we do cannot be based on works but must be based on HIM – and if no fruit is growing on the tree – we cut it down and start again.
6. We should base everything we do on a Godly order of priorities. This is my understanding of the order:
1. individual <–> God
2. man <–> wife
3. parents <–> children
4. family <–> family of God (church)
5. church <–> lost
So, if the marriage isn’t good (#2) then items 3, 4, and 5 will suffer. How do we fix the marriage and grow the marriage? by focusing first on #1 – our individual relationship (s) with God. From there, we will be motivated to love our spouse and build our marriage into a glorious thing. Don’t forget that the marriage is a mysterious representation of the Body of Christ (Bride of Christ). God is very interested in our marriage. Another example would be that until we are solid as the family of God (#4) then we should not be focused primarily on reaching out to the lost. I ‘might’ be wrong here, but these are my first gut feelings on the matter.
And, so, to answer Pastor’s very precise question with a precise answer, I believe that our ‘plan’ for the first meeting is to discuss the ‘plan’ above! haha
Let me know what you think, and if you agree, you could share this with the other couple’s and this will form our first discussion topic.
Remember: This last move of God will *not* have a face or a name, and no credit will go to man. God Himself will get all the glory.
Something happened today. I got an email from someone I know who in normal times doesn’t not freely speak of God or His word. When in person it would be a rare occasion to talk about the riches of the Bible or what God is doing in our lives. Then, randomly I got this well-meaning email forward from here which necessitated a ‘holy rant’:
* Hi Lord, it’s me.* *We are getting older and things are getting bad here.* * Gas prices are too high, no jobs, food and heating costs too high.* * I know some have taken you out of our schools, government, veteran’s funerals, and even* *Christmas. But Lord I’m asking you to come back* *and re-bless Canada. We really need you!* *There are more of us who want you than those who don’t!* * Thank You Lord,* *I Love you.* * ** * * “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point.”*
Let’s begin, shall we. “Hi, Lord it’s me”???? Nice intro! I can just imagine the omnipotent all-knowing Creator turning around and saying ‘Woah! You really crept up on me there! Whassup, kid?”
I have a strong hunch God knew it was you speaking… but here is the actual copy and paste reply to the email:
i don’t want to seem like a downer, but, these kind of messages show that the person doesn’t know the Jesus of the Bible:
1. Jesus was never in Christmas (refer to our age old chat). He was stuck onto a pagan holiday by people who liked the celebration of their days.
2. why should a god that people don’t care about be stuck in school? Should we force people to love Him? Jesus didn’t do that to me. He waited patiently for me, paved the way and then ran to me when I repented. I am partially on the seat on this topic but I lean much more content to separate the secular from the Holy. I don’t want my God mixed up in the ugliness of the thing they now call education. Thank God Jesus isn’t in that mess. The solution, by the way, is that so many people meet Jesus that everyone wants Bible study all day at school! Now that I can believe for!
3. government?? serious? When has Jesus ever been glorified in government? There have been believers in government. The Israel of the old testament was a different case and requires much time to expound on why, but since then and the resurrection of Jesus I can’t see how the truth of God’s word would be tolerated by a group of people who hate Him….
4. veterans? that’s a totally different topic. that brings up the mennonites and the other bible believers who decided that it’s not ok to kill people for their government anymore. but I’ll sit on the fence on this one. I also might take up arms against wicked men…
5. prices and monetary system:
a) God told us inflation would reach an epidemic level before his return in the book of Revelation:
6And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.
b) he also said don’t worry about stuff in earth where rust and moth are going to destroy them anyways. He gives food to the birds and behold! I have a gut.
c) no jobs? I’ve got a good idea Start a business and make jobs. Problem solved. And that’s also in the Bible where Paul made tents to support his preaching addiction.
d) ‘there are more of us that want You than those who don’t’??? That’s totally, completely – FALSE. It always has been, and it always will be. Here is the scripture:
The Narrow Gate (Luke 13:22-30)
13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and **many** there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and **few** there be that find it.
FEW will ever meet Jesus and go to heaven.
MANY will walk down the nice comfy road of the five senses that leads to the fiery (and eternal) pit of hell.
I don’t doubt that this person is trying to love Jesus, but Jesus *is* the word of God. It’s because of mamby-pamby ‘christianese’ like these emails that people think that this is all the body of Christ has to offer our world: A weak commentary on how bad the world is.
Great news! The world is the single best place I have ever set my feet and each day I awake I couldn’t think of another place or life I’d rather live. If they read the Bible they would quickly see the real Jesus and their hearts would melt within themselves (like what happened to my wife recentlY) and turn from their cold-hearted and wicked ways.
These *are* the last days. And even if they *aren’t* the last days, they could very well be *my* last days. By His grace i’M standing today and by his grace I breath.
a mighty fire has been kindled in my heart towards the Great God Jehovah and his son Jesus and my Comforter the Holy Spirit of God.
I will have not less than the real deal.
I will walk the narrow path.
End hard preaching.
Oh, by the way, I write this all in love. If it didn’t truly ignite something inside of me I wouldn’t have spent the time writing it. These kind of ‘christians’ are spreading a really lame gospel because they haven’t opened their Bibles. Thanks! This email cemented lots of cool stuff inside of me as well.