Monday, March 31, 2008

Returning From the Midst of Carnality

I must admit that I have been "hiding" out the last few days, despite the fact that I have had the time to sit and write a post. I have been evaluating my blog's purpose, my blog's audience and which direction the Lord wants me to take. Originally, when I started this blog, 9 months ago, it was to promote the concept to the seeking unbelieving society that one does not need church to find God. It was to protect, proclaim and hold dear the name of Christ that has been abused and misused by so many, so that those who DO seek Him KNOW Him as He is to BE known. It was to be a source of simplicity, in this confusing time of doctrines of  men. For that reason, the original name of this blog was "Confessions of an Unchurched Believer".

However, naturally, my blog attracted those who claim Christianity as a belief, and in this church-soaked society, my claims (which ARE the promises of God) to walk in Faith, in trust in Christ alone, as He makes me stand, outside of any indoctrinated church, has continually been under attack. Hence, I have been led these past 9 months to refocus my blog towards other Christians for the simple purpose that God may be manifest through me... HE ALONE IS ENOUGH.

Yet, during this time I've found myself in debates, defending the truth, defending my Faith, not against nonbelievers, ALWAYS with Christians. Truly...it is an unholy thing to see the fangs and judgements pour forth amongst themselves.

I feel a prompting  return to the original intention and purpose of this blog as I am led to understand it. My soul is weary of the division I've experienced (the very divisions that led me to step away from churches at large). It is simply not my desire or passion to argue, nitpick and debate the Word of the Living God with THOSE who claim the same beliefs. I was not reborn for this purpose. My passion, desire and purpose comes from my FELLOWSHIP with Christ Jesus. That I may uplift and glorify His name. That I may share and in return have shared with me.

Nine months is the amount of time it takes for a child to grow in the womb of it's mother. Nine months is long enough for those to understand who I am...WHY I am... beyond the title of my blog "Confessions of an Unchurched Believer/In Spirit and In Truth". With this contentment in place, I move forward, in hopes that I may touch upon another's untouched heart for the glory of God.

I will be posting, as able, posts that relate to the Gospel in simplicity, in whole, in context, sound doctrine towards the seeking, nonbeliever. Additionally, I will be accepting (as led) links from non faith blogs as an means of drawing the nonbeliever to this site.  As I post towards this audience, I feel absolutely compelled to disable the comment section, in protection of the nonbeliever. As Christ declared so long ago, that we (as disciples) shall be known by our love John 13:35 to one another. It is not apparent in the divisions of doctrines and church... it is even less apparent in the blogosphere. That is not to say, I have not found other brothers and sisters in Christ...you know who you are ;) I have found more rhinestones than genuine gems. I ask of you "are we not carnal and walk as men??

"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" -- 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

By Paul's very own, spirit-led, definition, (NOT MINE, so no angry comments please) we ARE (as a Christian society) carnal.

The definition of carnal:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This

car·nal /ˈkɑrnl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kahr-nl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

1.pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.

2.not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.

I am not so resolute in my perceptions, as to limit the power of God, as so many of us do, in opinions and beliefs, for I understand that as many as gone after the ways of "Baal" ( Romans 11:4) "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace"  -- Romans 11:5 A vast majority churches today are the manifestation of 1 Corinthians 3: 1-4. Modern day Christianity is the natural result of this, becoming a culture rather than bold Faith for Christ, we have a bold faith in the traditions and doctrines of our choice.  Are we not carnal and walk as men??

The thirst for adding unto what God has declared (Himself) sufficient is prevalent in the seeking of churches, doctrines of men, the seeking of the physical gatherings, and the keeping of traditions....Are we not carnal and walk as men??

"And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?" -- 2 Corinthians 3:4-7

Yes, it is unholy...the "envying, and strife, and divisions" found in "Christian" forums amongst Christians. And unscriptural... it is carnal... and the carnal mind IS enmity against God....

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" -- Romans 8:5-8 (These are NOT my words, so no angry comments)

So what does this mean for me? Will I disengage from online fellowship with other Christians? No, what this means for me is I will be more guarded against engaging in debates and dialogue with others. These are the standards that I have set for myself, as well as others who choose to engage in scriptural dialogue in this blog:

  • Assumptions/Defensiveness - Don't assume mine or anyone else's intentions or motivations in their comments, unless clearly stated. In any forum, it is better to assume their intentions are good, since other communication clues, body language, facial expressions etc are NOT a luxury. Better to ask a question to clarify their/ my comment than to create a hostile environment by an assumption. This does not honor God and show a loving Spirit
  • Ask a Question/Expect an Answer -If you ask me a question, DO expect an answer, otherwise be sure if you WANT me to answer your question. Too many times, I have found many asking me questions only to become upset at the frankness of my answer. I believe in being respectfully, truthful, I do not engage in glossing over the truth to avoid "hurt" feelings.

    "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." -- Proverbs 27: 5-6

  • Scripture - I will not receive scripture out of context of it's principle  in support of an an unbiblical belief or doctrine. I am inflexible on this point. However, it is not to say you cannot share what has been impressed upon you by the spirit ( not by a preacher or a book). Be aware, that I may or may not respond as I am led.
  • Opinions - Personal opinions, and perceptions are fine as we all have them. They can be glorified in the diversity that He has created for His purpose.
  • "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive " Ephesians 4: 11-14

  • Personal opinions and perceptions promoted as God's truth are not fine.  I write this noting the impossibility of it, for such unity and understanding only comes from one Spirit as He gives...the seemingly impossibility comes from the divisions and attitudes demonstrated in Christian forums today. Don't confuse what I'm saying with God all things are possible, but without Him all things are IMPOSSIBLE....

I will be putting up a shoutbox in the near future so that I may continue to keep in touch with my brothers and sisters in Christ when comments are disabled (they will not always be disabled). I will be posting the final part in my "Being Wise as a Serpent" series, and then my focus will be towards the nonbeliever. I can only pray that those of you reading this blog have found the same liberty that I have in following the Christ as He wills. For it truly is joy, peace and grace in abundance! May you be blessed herein the Law of Liberty that He has set in  motion upon His sacrifice!

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" -- Romans 8:1-2

So be it....

Perseverance Award

I was awarded a Perseverance Award from my brother in Christ Isaiah, owner of Joie de Vivre. My thanks to you for considering me and my humble blog!

Perseverance Award

The award is to “… acknowledge those bloggers who have invested their very life in their blogs so as to encourage, build and warn others.”

Many awards get passed from blogger to blogger, unfortunately all those who I would have considered granting this award to have already been awarded. So what I will do instead is acknowledge those who have demonstrated brotherly/sisterly love in communication, and respect when dialoguing about the Word of God with others. A subject that is typically tense and can be used to attack others, these people have stood out above and beyond the rest:

BrotherMark at Grow and Know

Isaiah at Joie de Vivre

Carol at The Bible Thumper's Soapbox

The War Analyst at The Warfare Journal (Congratulations to him and his wife on the birth of their new baby!)

May the fruit of the Spirit continually manifest Christ from you all in your interactions with others that God may be glorified in all you say and do!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Invisible Worship

I was asked once, "What worshipping God looks like in my life". It was a question that I welcomed as an opportunity to testify and share, but it also identified a perception that worshipping God is largely limited to being visible and in a group (gathering) setting. This perception is supported by the many claims by Christians of "falling away" if one is not in a physical church or group.

My worship of the Father is by the  fellowship of  His Son.

My worship is not limited to a day of the week, but minutely as I am His Temple in where He resides.

My worship of the Father is my love for Him and His truth.

My worship of the Father is in serving my husband.

My worship of the Father is in the ministry of my children.

My worship of the Father is in the hospitality of my home towards others.

My worship of the Father is listening to that gentle voice in my heart.

My worship of the Father manifests in being still in Him and waiting on Him.

My worship of the Father is my Faith, my trust that He will never leave me or forsake me.

I can continue  on in many ways that I worship my Father, the bottom line is I am ALWAYS in worship of Him unceasingly, spiritually. My worship is not traditionally visible, but is real and acceptable of Him. My worship of Him is not validated by what is seen, but by what is invisibly visible in HIS sight. In spirit and in truth, may I always be.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." -- Matthew 6:6

Monday, March 17, 2008

For the Love of Ritualistic Traditions

As a child I absolutely loved "Sesame Street"! Every morning I would settle down  with my pillow and immerse myself in an hour of colorful, monster puppets and dancing letters. My most favorite part of the program was when the game "Guess Which Thing Doesn't belong Here" came on.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game, it was a game in which four things, people etc, would be portrayed and three of those things were similar leaving one thing that didn't "belong".

It's around major Christian holidays such as Easter I feel as if I'm once again, piecing together the things that don't belong. Take a look at the pictures I have selected below.

Can you tell me which thing/person doesn't belong here?

j0436379 

j0435912 goddessostaraweb

 

If you choose the cross of Christ as the "object" that doesn't belong in this group, then you are correct! If feel they are all related...(sigh) what can I say?

Traditions Verses Faith

For those of you who don't know who the woman in the last picture is, she is the fertility goddess Ostara, also called Eostre.

"Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the "female hormone" estrogen derives from her name." --

The History of Easter and It's Traditions

Now we know that Ostara is a pagan fertility goddess, what do rabbits and eggs have to do with her??

"Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life.  Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara's gift of abundance." -- The History of Easter and It's Traditions

You can do your own research on the origins of Easter. If you would like to read the article in full click on the link at the end of the post. The article ends with the most true, yet scary sentiment that plagues our Christian culture:

"Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian and pagan traditions are gracefully interwoven." (emphasis mine)

Don't get me wrong, my Faith stands in power of Christ. Easter bunnies, eggs and fertility goddesses are of no threat to me, what is so sad to me is that many uphold these traditions, when they obviously have nothing to do with the saving power of Grace and Christ's sacrifice of His life...simply for the love of ritualistic traditions. Isn't time for ALL of us to reevaluate EVERYTHING we know to be "Christian", in comparison to the principle teaching of the Word and Spirit???

Links:

History of Easter and It's Traditions (www.goddessgift.com)

Being Wise as a Serpent II

(continued from part 1)

a child's father

I have had the pleasure of watching my husband father our children. Truly, it is the most beautiful thing I've seen. While I have had a father until the age of 17, I was emotionally, fatherless. this is not to say that my father was a horrible parent. Oddly, he was very generous of his time and in his compassion to others, it just wasn't directed towards his family as we needed him to be. As an adult, I see the deliberate direction from the Lord in my childhood. One in which I can rejoice in, looking back. My physical father wasn't there in the way I needed him to be, but my Father in heaven was. It made it much easier for me to"look to Him" as I was searching for someone to look to.  My children, absorb every word from their father's mouth. They lap it up as truth, and I can see the process of integrity, character and understanding budding in their very young years. While they are very normal as children, they are quite unusual in character, displaying love and compassion, I'm hard-pressed to find in other children their ages. Yes, a child's father is TRUTH to them, as my spiritual Father is to me. As He should be to those who claim to be His children.

the foolishness of god

If God considers the wisdom of the world foolishness, how much more are WE to consider the world and it's intellect?? (1 Corinthians 3:19) I'm not excluding anything "intellectual", (neither is scripture) from this category. I'm speaking of your own personal, human (outside of the Holy Spirit) wisdom to pastoral wisdom, to scientific wisdom. We as a Christian culture, are  far to taken with one's credentials and titles (such as bible scholars, Reverend etc.) and neglect scriptural warnings of "false prophets", scriptural encouragement to "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1-3), and the scriptural decree that the Holy Spirit is our primary teacher (1 John 2:27; John 16:13-14). We have sent an engraved invitation to deception to partake in our daily meals with us. We have defined the validity of God's Word by human standards, measured in name titles.

"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" -- 1 Corinthians 1:25-27

Yet, continually we choose to rest our faith upon things "deemed" wise in our own eyes. Bear with me while I reiterate further on this point. I commented on an article in a post a few days ago called A "worship renewal" of Apostasy. It was in regards to a new worship routines in which Evangelists have incorporated Catholic traditions in their services as a way to "get closer to God". A comment was left on that post from a person who lives those beliefs, in support of it, stated that "it's 1000 closer than what is seen in 99.99999% of "churches." I cannot tell you how many times I have heard various shades of this statement from various beliefs I have interacted with in the past 13-15 years of my life! While this sentiment may seem wise, listen to the Word of the Living God:

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." -- Hebrews 13:8-9

How fascinating is the above scripture? For me it says it all..."it is GOOD that the heart be established with GRACE; not with meats" (legalism, works, yes that includes WORSHIP CEREMONIES)

Why??

Because it does not "profit them that have been occupied therein" ! If  Christ is the same and has not changed, then I will adhere to sound doctrine (teaching) of the Word and the Spirit, "which is truth and is no lie". 1 John 2:27 Give me the "foolishness of God" as my foundation in ANY capacity!

A cynic by cause

We must become cynics towards the wisdom of man if one has hopes to avoid being deceived in a deceitful world. If our faith in Him is genuine in any form or fashion, we know that He will not withhold the Spirit of Truth, which guides us into all understanding from us (John 16:13). We know if we lack wisdom we may ask of Him, "that giveth to all men liberally and upbraidth not" (James 1:5-7)

When we become cynics towards the wisdom of man we receive the recognition that God is a Spirit and we that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) We, thus, separate the physical (what's "pleasant to the eyes") from the spiritual (FAITH). When we do this we replace our credence, which is truly our faith, in the Word of the living God, rather than doctrines and credentials that are based upon the flawed wisdom of man.

"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." - 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

Far too many professing Christians have been swayed by the "wisdom of this world". A true indicator of where their walk is...by sight (physical, human knowledge of any origin), instead of by faith.

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" 2 Corinthians 5:7

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" Romans 1:17

If we, are enslaved by our physical parameters (the five senses), then we truly have not set free by the power of Christ, for our faith has proven to be in vain. If we are defined by our five senses, we then seek wisdom according to those senses as opposed to seeking God-given wisdom in accordance to our faith. We can then say, we walk NOT after the SPIRIT but after the flesh.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" -- Romans 8:1-2

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" -- Romans 8:5-8

(This sentiment will be continued in the next post, part III, but will not be named "Being Wise as a Serpent")

Monday, March 10, 2008

Being Wise as a Serpent

We  live in an age where the wisdom of man has reached new heights. Where technology spurs forth with gaining speed each passing year (month). There is no question that the "tree of  knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9) has been manifested in the 21st Century. There is no question that mankind has become enamored with their own intellect. There is also no question, that the Christian Culture has become enamored by the intellect of man as well.  

a serpent's wisdom

Genesis 3:1

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"

Looking at the Hebrew lexicon of subtil it says:

Result of search for "subtil":

2450 chakam khaw-kawm' from 2449; wise, (i.e. intelligent, skilful or artful):--cunning (man), subtil, ((un-)), wise((hearted), man).


5341 natsar naw-tsar' a primitive root; to guard, in a good sense (to protect, maintain, obey, etc.) or a bad one (to conceal, etc.):-- besieged, hidden thing, keep(-er, -ing), monument, observe, preserve(-r), subtil, watcher(-man).
6175 `aruwm aw-room' passive participle of 6191; cunning (usually in a bad sense):--crafty, prudent, subtil.

Serpent was on a mission, probably on the mission of it's entire existence to destroy the communion man had with God. He would do this with every trick and cunning wit. He had a strategy in speaking with Eve alone, as opposed to Adam or both.  He was cunning in his ability to "play" on words, and "correct" in appealing to the "fleshly desire" of the Woman to achieve his ultimate goal.

To survive in this windy climate of false doctrines. We MUST be the SAME, in reverse. We must cunningly dissect, analyze, question, and strategize equal to or above those who have motives to misdirect us, whether innocently or intentionally. We must do it in a way that does not cause harm, physically AND spiritually.

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."-- Matthew 15:16

This balance of wits cannot be done by our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be borne outside of Faith in Christ.

Like Eve, too many of us are easily appeased by our five senses, and our own desires of "the flesh and of the mind".  Ephesians 2:3 Automatically many of us will think of issues such as sexual perversion, alcoholism, gambling, the "big" sins, or maybe you'll think of  nonbelievers and disqualify yourselves from this category. Truly the term is not as disqualifying as you may think, "desires of the flesh" is as simple as our OWN will  in place of  HIS. Be it as innocent as "personal goals" (career, house, etc), or as obvious as a perversion of thoughts and behaviors.  It becomes a "heart" issue in which we all must examine our true intents and motives, for HE does. (Hebrews 4:12)  For wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

the heart treasure principle

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  (physical/earthly possessions)

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" -- Matthew 6:19-20 (Spiritual/eternal possession, our salvation, by Faith in Christ Jesus)

The principle listed in Matthew 6:21 is a simple one, whichever you invest in, store up of...be it time, money or faith is an indicator of where your heart (desires) truly are: for this life only or for eternity.

Are you wondering what this has to do with the topic of this post? The true cause of sin, lays in one's heart, not in one's actions. Any departure from the living God (Hebrews 3:12) originates from this very principle, what WE treasure (love).

the "itchy ear" factor

If what we treasure appeals to our whims and fancy, "the desires of the flesh and of the mind", then we develop the "itchy ear" factor.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" -- 2 Timothy 4:3

With this factor, we no longer wish to "endure" sound doctrine (WHOLESOME scriptural teaching), but rather teachings that appeal to those desires, and as a result:

"And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" -- 2 Timothy 4:4

And the truth is not something we hold in high esteem.

A CRITICAL THINKER BY FAITH

It is very easy this day and age to receive another's truth, however false, for our own, IF we are not a critical thinking Believer. There are far too few of us, and too many as sheep being led away by the wolves. I have my own personal definition of a "critical thinking Believer", based on the reading of scriptures over the years, personal experience, and of course the leading of the Spirit.

A critical thinking Believer:

  •  Embraces truth, be it offensive (hard to accept) or not"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" -- 2 Thessalonians 2:10
  • Is motivated to uncover the truth. To live in and by it. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18 
  • "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

    So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God."--Proverbs 2:1-5

  • Is not enamored by the physical, or the cares of this world. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" --Romans 8:5
  • "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." -- Matthew 13:23

wisdom of man as defined by the word

Upon examining the motives and intents of our hearts, we must understand how God views the "intellect" of society.

"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" -- 1 Corinthians 1:23-26

As clear the "heavens are higher than the earth", so are His ways than ours. The "wisdom" of this world IS foolishness to the Lord. He is not impressed with the influx of today's technologies and the advances in science.

"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? " -- 1 Corinthians 1:19-20

Our Faith should never stand in the "wisdom" of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5) And in His power He reveals wisdom to us by the Spirit, which searches all things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. " -- 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

(End of Part 1)

 

Author's Note:

I found this post getting a bit too long, as I still have more to share. So I'll be dividing it into two parts, for now... unless part two is just as long as this one :)

God Bless!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A "Worship Renewal" of Apostasy

As of late, there has been quite a bit of talk on my blog about church today. Where it is in the history of "time". The need for physical fellowship. Apostasy from sound doctrine. So naturally this article immediately grabbed my attention. Read this article and tell me if we do not need to reevaluate everything that is considered "Christian" in today's society. Please pay special attention to what pastors and reverends are saying as well. My comments are in blue. Underlined texts are the sentiments I am responding to.

The following article is:

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

Evangelicals' new twist on LentCatholic traditions adopted as 'worship renewal'

Evangelicals observing Lent?

Fasting, and giving up chocolate and favorite pastimes like watching TV during the 40 days before Easter are practices many evangelical Protestants have long rejected as too Catholic and unbiblical.

But Lent -- a time of inner cleansing and reflection upon Jesus Christ's sufferings before his resurrection -- is one of many ancient church practices being embraced by an increasing number of evangelicals, sometimes with a modern twist. The National Community Church, which has three locations in the District and one in Arlington County, updated the Lenten fast by adding a Web component: a 40-day blog, where participants from as far away as Australia, Korea and Mexico discuss their spiritual cleansing.

This increasing connection with Christianity's classical traditions goes beyond Lent. Some evangelical churches offer confession and weekly communion. They distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday and light Advent calendars at Christmastime. Others have formed monastic communities, such as Casa Chirilagua in Alexandria, modeled on the monasteries that arose in Christianity's early years.

(Somehow, I don't think they're talking about the book of Acts in the Bible.)

This represents a "major sea change in evangelical life," according to D.H. Williams, professor of patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. "Evangelicalism is coming to point where the early church has become the newest staple of its diet."

(Once again, I don't think they're talking about the book of Acts in the Bible, maybe they should redefine the term "early".)

Experts say most who have taken on such practices have grown disillusioned with the contemporary, shopping-center feel of the megachurches embraced by baby boomers, with their casually dressed ministers and rock-band praise music.

Instead, evangelicals -- many of them young -- are adopting a trend that has come to be known as "worship renewal" or "ancient-future worship."

'Hunger for deeper engagement'
Those familiar with the trend say it is practiced mostly by small, avant-garde evangelical churches, though not always. Last summer, the national convention of the 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, an evangelical wing of the Lutheran denomination, voted to revive private confession.

"I definitely sense a hunger for acknowledgment of life's mysteries and of the mystery and beauty of God," said John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich., which recently hosted a "worship renewal" conference for 1,500 people. "There's a hunger for deeper engagement -- 'Don't just sell me a product at church, but really put me in touch with the mystery and beauty of God.' "

(In other words, "worship renewal" acts will bring you closer to the mystery and beauty of God. Never mind the fact that Jesus Christ died so that we all can have equal access to His Spirit, by which He teaches us ALL things, even the "mystery of the Gospel" (Eph. 6:19) Truly, I could careless about how the religions of the world choose to operate, but if you're going to remove Christ from the equation of "deeper engagement" you going to have find another term by which you can call yourself, for such apostasy from sound doctrine deserves another name other than Christian.)

But there are plenty of critics who reject the practices as "mystical spirituality" that don't belong in evangelical Christianity.

"It is the same style of meditation that is basically being performed by Eastern religion practitioners," said Deborah Dumbowski, who with her husband, Dave, started an Oregon publishing house, Web site and 25,000-name e-newsletter to oppose the incorporation of such elements into evangelical worship. "It's being presented as Christianity, and we're saying this isn't Christianity -- not according to what the Bible says. . . . We believe it really does deny the gospel message."

(Thank YOU!!!!)

Defenders, however, refute that devotees of such practices are straying from bedrock evangelical beliefs.

"They're still in love with their Bible. They're still in love with their God. They still see the Bible as their primary authority," said Chris Armstrong, associate professor of church history at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., who has studied the trend. "But their experience is one of churches that look too much like the rest of the world -- a little bit too much like malls or rock concerts."

("Still" an interesting term to use... almost sounds like an acknowledgement of departure.

Yeah, I can tell...scripture please.)

Reviving communion
Weekly communion -- where worshipers share bread and wine, or juice, in remembrance of Jesus Christ -- has long taken a back seat in evangelical churches, but is undergoing a revival.

At Common Table, a weekly lay-led church that gathers at a Vienna coffeehouse for an unconventional service that features skits, group discussion and Quaker-style silence, worshipers line up to take communion from bread purchased at a nearby grocery store and sip wine out of a pottery chalice or grape juice from plastic cups.

"In a church likes ours, it serves the role of being that anchor that continually ties us back to the larger Christian church and to Christian history," said Deanna Doan, a member since its founding in 2001.

(Another reference to history. Let's put aside the fact the Christ IS our anchor as He IS the Head of the Church. It is obvious they are referring to Catholic history and not biblical history (Book of Acts), in their reference of "Christian history". Otherwise there would be no such thing as "worship renewal" or renewals of Catholic traditions.)

First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. follows the liturgical calendar observed by Catholic churches. It lights candles at Advent, and observes Epiphany Sunday and the remainder of the traditional cycle of liturgical celebrations.

"We find that following the seasons of the Christian year adds a lot of richness to our experience of worship," said the Rev. James Somerville, the church's pastor, adding: "We wouldn't want the Catholics to get all the good stuff."

(!!!!!! Scary.....very scary.)

Updating, branding their own traditions
For the most part, though, young evangelicals aren't just reviving ancient traditions. They are stamping them with their own updated brand.

Confession -- a staple of Catholicism -- is appearing in different formats. Thousands of people, for example, have posted anonymous online confessions on church-run Web sites like mysecret.tv, and ivescrewedup.com. Those posting have confided feelings of guilt over abortions or their homosexuality, while others have confessed to extramarital affairs, stealing, eating disorders, addictions -- even murder.

"We do believe there is value in confessing our sins to each other," said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor at Lifechurch.tv, an Oklahoma-based megachurch that runs mysecret.tv, which has received 7,500 confessions since it started in 2006. Ministers and volunteers pray over the confessions as they come in. "This process may be a more modern way of people discovering the value of that tradition."

At Seacoast Church, which draws 10,000 people in Charleston, N.C., each Sunday, worshipers write their sins on pieces of paper and pin them to a cross. Volunteers later remove the pieces of paper and pray over them. The practice, said Pastor Greg Surratt, "has ramped up the sense of God's presence and power in incredible ways."

(!!!!!!!!!!!!)

A growing wave of "new monastics" have updated the role of traditional monks. They share apartments or houses, have outside jobs and wear street clothes instead of habits. But they still believe in collective living, caring for the poor, a humble submission to Jesus Christ, and a commitment to a disciplined, contemplative life.

The number of monastic communities has grown from about 15 to almost 100 in the last decade, according to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, an evangelical monk in North Carolina and author of "New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church."

(Now there's a term I thought I would NEVER hear!)

Casa Chirilagua is a nine-month-old monastic community in Alexandria formed by three women and is one of six such communities in the Washington area. Casa Chirilagua residents pray every morning, have pledged to remain celibate while single, and assist low-income immigrants in the community.

Says 26-year-old Casa Chirilagua member Dawnielle Miller: "It's communal, it's intentional and we focus on loving God and loving others."

Links:

Evangelicals' new twist on Lent (on MSNBC web page)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oops! Can I get a Do-Over?

As time moves along in this climate of "windy doctrines", Ephesians 4:14 it never fails to amaze me what sort of "new" doctrine comes along by the whim of one's creative imagination. Here's one for the books: "revirginization" apparently is making a comeback from the early 1990's.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"She was the granddaughter of a Pentecostalist pastor and the daughter of
an assistant pastor, and she believed sex outside marriage was wrong. "I felt
really bad from a religious standpoint," she recalls of the experience. "My
thoughts were really clouded because I was so emotionally bonded with my
boyfriend. That overshadowed my religious world."
Though the relationship
lasted for seven years and produced two beautiful children, a part of Watts
always felt guilty. She wished she could step back in time and recapture her
lost virginity. Thinking of how "I could have ruined one of greatest
fulfillments of my life," the first time having sex with a husband, she wanted
to "have that opportunity again. I know my [future] husband deserves a whole
person."
So Watts engaged in a lot of prayer and thought, and now
declares herself a virgin once again. "The most important thing was to realize
what my values were and what I want in the future and the bigger goals in my
life," she says. "That's why I can call myself a renewed virgin."
Across the country, "revirginization" appears to be gaining steam. Spiritual
efforts to reclaim virginity emerged back in the early 1990s and now, prompted
by abstinence-only school courses taught to thousands of girls nationwide, and
by religious teachers, there are reports of more and more young women like Watts
attempting a sexual do-over. Other women are opting for a more radical route to
reclaim their virginity: surgical replacement of the hymen, the small membrane
that stretches from the walls of the vagina and that typically breaks when a
woman first has intercourse - or for many other reasons, from tampon use to
vigorous exercise."

I'm not sure what "Spiritual efforts to reclaim virginity" means from a spiritual perspective, but hasn't the Bible made clear that Christ died for our sins? It just seems to be "much ado about nothing"...

Links:

Sexploration: Like a virgin? by MSNBC


Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Comment to Share

Yes. Exactly. I do have to bring this up since so many church-goers, insist on my being in a modern church environment, for the sake of my spiritual growth. In other words, I simply cannot "walk" without interaction from "like-minded" believers, whether single or married.

As I mentioned it's been a long journey prior to the arrival of my "peace with God, by the justification of my Faith" Romans 5:1, what I have discovered during this journey was that my faith was tentatively placed with God, and wholly placed in "gatherings of ourselves". I simply had to have "church". As someone who grew up in a unloving family environment, I desired the physical/spiritual support of a "real" family. I was extremely disappointed and let down by many attitudes I encountered in various churches. I wasn't being fed as I needed to be. So, I took my questions, that ministers found such discomfort with, upon the Lord.

Boy, did I discover something precious! My point in sharing this with you is that my food comes from the Spirit, not through physcial fellowship. I had to ask myself some hard questions:

When IS God enough? Why should He not be??

The Word is full of repetitious scripture of the principle that God is our Source for ALL things. Yet in this church society we build our belief around the physical aspects as opposed to the grounding spiritual principle of "walking" with God. A vast majority of church organizations who insist one cannot "walk" without some sort of gathering of like-minded persons, "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel". Matthew 23:24

I'm here to tell all, that I CAN, because, God IS able to make me stand.

Being orphaned by the age of 17 and a very young parent, it is truly an eye-opening experience when those who claim to have the love of Christ, judge you and/or place parameters around the conditions of their "love/giving". While hurtful, I truly had to look upon my own heart and desires and ask myself some tough questions. Where DOES my faith lie?

I have replaced my sole source of Spiritual feeding with the Right Source, I AM able to walk this earth without "physical interaction" in a structured or nonstructural setting AND still be grounded in His Word.

When it slowly, but surely dawned upon me that this Christian society no longer reflects the days of Paul through. I began to ask "Where is that "Paul" spirit?" Where is the spirit of the Thessalonians Church?

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews "--1 Thessalonians 2:13-14

How is it that we have morphed from a Faith boldly preaching Christ and suffering for it, to sitting quietly in pews ministering to "personal issues" relating to the very base things of faith? Is it any wonder apostasy is so widespread? For the very HEART of the Gospel rests upon the understanding that with Christ we are not alone.

With this understanding, I was left with a choice. To recognize the knowledge I was given of Him, or to continue in pursuit of my own desires of seeking out "family". If we choose to recognize that in this day and age of Christianity IS indeed different from the Scriptures, we claim to believe are inerrant, then we MUST reevaluate everything we know to be Christian, in comparison to the Word, under the guidance of the Spirit.

Personally speaking now, I've come to a recognition that many who insist that I am in error because I am not in physical fellowship, judge my walk based on their faith. If I am right in any capacity it then becomes a question of loyalty to their church. Only they and God can know where their heart/Faith lies. But Christ makes this very clear:

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."

-- Luke 14:26-27

In full recognition of where we are in modern society, my commitment is to Christ alone. My commitment is to truth. The truth is we (church/Christian society) are NOT effective in the Spirit in which He has freely given to us for HIS glory, as we SHOULD be since we ALL claim the to be the same. There is no getting around that, no matter how many "If's And's Or's and But's" we spit out. I remove myself from the variety of physical fellowship offered by today's Christian society for this base reason:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" -- 2 Corinthians 6:14

Sound harsh? Yes, maybe...but if there is no unity of Spirit, then there can be no likeness of mind. You'd be very surprised how many "unbelievers" have been faithfully in church attendance over years.

Author's Note:

I wanted to share this comment I made to another commenter on this blog under the post Purposefully Unchurched Part II