Monday, August 30, 2010

Which Side?

Which Side?

My last couple blogs have been about tough issues of legalism in the church and I have a passion about these subjects because there are so many churches dying, so many lost people not going to church, and it seems so many churches refuse to change in order to reach lost people, and many christians care more about tradition and old-fashioned religion than they do about their own maturing faith or reaching out to the unsvaved.

Here is what I have come up with. I think its time we evaluate our churches and our own person christian faith. Which side are you on? Which Side do you want to be on?

Side One Side Two

-My church is only church -The only church is the body of Christ

-My denomination is only true church -God established a body not a denomination

-Only One bible version -only one bible, with several versions that have been quality translated

-Singing Hymns is only real worship music -there are all types of music styles that

are fitting to worship God

-That's the way we've always done it -Let's try a different way or new way

-My way is the only way -my way is not only way or best way

-We've done it that way for 50 years -why haven't we changed that in 50yrs

-We cannot change our methods -we can change methods and still have

same message.

-That's the way Grandma did it -Grandma's ways aren't going to reach

today's generation

I could have a list of things for several pages, but, Alot of the things we practice in our churches or in our own personal faith is simply preferences, opionions, traditions, or unfortuantely some legalistic practices and these are setting the church back not forward, and we are missing or pushing away alot of lost people in the process.

There is nothing wrong with tradition as long as tradition is still effective. If we are still singing the same songs we sung 30 years ago, still doing the same things the same ways, then we are missing an entire generation and the church has become about comforting the saints and not reaching the lost. We cannot reach our children or grandchildren with teaching and preaching styles of the 70's and 80's. Did you listen to your parents or grandparents music or watch the same televison shows as them? I think not. How can we expect to reach new generations of people with the message of God, if we refuse to change our methods. Next time your at your church look around? Any young people? why? If you do are they bored or seem out of touch? Why?
The message of Jesus is the same, but the styles, preferences, and ways we go about sharing that message with others, should constantly be changing, or we are losing people and boring people. Where will your church be in 5, 10, 15 years if you keep doing things the same ways?
Where will your faith be if you do not do things to stretch, mature, and grow your faith?

Sometimes i feel like church becomes a predictable, doing the same things, the same ways, good ole days gathering. We sing the same songs, hear people give the same old testimonies, and preachers preach the same old message. We are preaching to the choir, and then making un-churched people who do come to visit church feel out of place and confused? They've just stepped into the past and been guilted to try and be saved.

Our obligation is to to Preach Christ and the methods are up to us, that's where the freedom comes in. People are the ones who constantly care about changing things, not God. God is unchanging, but His methods are ever-changing. It's time our churches and church leaders, do the same thing. We have got to change our churches or they are going to continue to dwindle and die, and they are going to be a museum or retirement home for days gone by. Churches and christians should be ever trying to change things, update things, try new things, and do whatever it takes to reach lost people, and to help people grow in their faith. While we worry about protecting our traditions or comfort zones, people are dying without Jesus.

So again, which side are you on?

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." Matthew 12:30(NIV)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Weasel's Weekly

It should be illegal

It Should Be Illegal

I came across this sign. Does that sound like you? Your church? The way you were raised? It seem to be the biggest problem with christians and churches is not sin, but Legalism, which I believe is a sin. Because Legalism separates people from God, which is really what sin is.

That's why people need a relationship with God and not religion, because legalism is a religion in itself. When we try and live our life by a set of rules, "Do' and Dont's" we really become a slave to a system and not a follower of the Savior.

Last week we used the King James version of the bible as an illustration of how people try to enforce a belief on people that is not accurated, educated, or needed. Whether it's music in the church, version of the bible, certain denominational beliefs, or our preferences.

I always found it silly that a person could be so narrow-minded about sucn things as lottery, alcohol, and tobacco, yet they can be extremly over-weight, gossip, and trouble-makers. Which really those things are bigger issues than some.

Here's what I mean, drinking alcohool is not the problem, people abusing, becoming addicted, or not using alcohol in moderation is the problem. The bible says Drunkeness is the sin, not a drink. Same thing with lottery, heck they didn't even have the lottery in the bible, as a matter of fact, I had a hard time finding anything in the bible on betting, gambling, or things of that nature. Now don't be confused, I am not promoting drinking and gambling, I'm simply using them as examples of what people and churches over the years have created "rules" over that aren't really biblical rules. They are legalism. We focus on the wrong thing. The alcohol is not bad, the person that's not using it properly is. The powerball is not bad, it's the person who spends his families money on a weekly basis and is addicted and not paying his bills. It's like someone having the flu and all we can focus on is they puked on the carpet and not that they need to go see a doctor or need a antibotic. Does that make sense?

Whether it's rules with doctrine, church, or personal preferences, rules are wrong when they aren't rules to begin with or we try and enforce them on others because we believe them to be true.

God did not put in specific rules like only sing church hymns, only use this version of the bible, only have church on these certains days, only use this name for your church, you can't drink, cuss, or chew or date women that do, or you're going to hell. I'm not saying as individuals we don't have certain personal preferences. You shouldn't smoke or buy raffle tickets if you feel it's a sin to you. As a matter of fact, you shouldn't do anything if you can do it in good consience, but at the same time, it's wrong to bind your belief on another person or say they are going to hell, especially if you have no biblical backing. I can say eating pickles is a sin but unless I have a scripture that says, No pickles, then it's just my opinion.

My oh my, how mankind and the church has taken the Word of God and molded and shaped it into our own belief systems and then many have tried to force that on the world. No wonder so many people dislike christians and the church establishment. Because of hypocrites, selfish, narrow-minded, judgemental, legalistic people.

It's up to people like you and me to change the perception of christianity and the church. It begins with me and you being educated about scripture and by praying to God. We need to be students of the Word and in daily prayer, but we need to pray for open minds and wisdom and for a willing spirit.

I'm not writing about some liberal doctrine. I'm simply saying, old fashioned, narrow-minded, legalistic, judgemental religion and doctrine has no place in the church or in God's children. We also need to understand there are things in the Bible that are black and white and clear. Love God, Love others. Only one way to God, through Jesus. Accept those who Faith is weak. Truth will set you free. We really need to start understanding God's word and stop following this "that's the way I was taught or raised" attitude. We need to stop following tradition, man, church denominations, and start following God, His Word, and His spirit.

If we do that, we won't be so narrow-minded, judgemental of others who don't agree or line-up with our belief system and we will start seeing the real enemy is Satan and not "Liberal churches", "Liberal christian", the NIV, or Drums, or Wine, or whatever it is that you spend your time focusing on. How about focusing on loving people and stop trying to prove them wrong. How about learning instead of thinking you already know everything. Legalism is killing the church and we need to put a stop to it. We are not better than a pharisee if we don't start educating ourselves on God's word. So, i'm not saying drink, play the lottery, or just let anything go in our churches or our faith. I'm saying grow and mature in your faith. Learn and study God's word, and be open to what God might be trying to teach you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My beliefs ONLY

My Beliefs ONLY

I got quite a response from the facebook post I placed yesterday about the bumper sticker I read on the back of a guys car "King James Version is ONLY Bible".

We all have opinions on the issue and we have a right to our own personal opinions or preferences, but that's exactly what they are preferences, opinions. The problem is when people like this guy choose to make their choice law, or the ONLY way. When you begin using words like ONLY when it comes to certian issues you are crossing a very thin line by doing things in the name of Jesus. We do not have any authority from God on matters of opion, only God decides what is ONLY.

The King James Version of the bible is just that a version, it's not the only version, and it's not the only right version or only one christians or people can read, study, or use. Do some research on the subject. Some well-meaning, but un-educated christians or churches, or even some not-so-well-meaning people who are ignorant, arrogrant, or misled or misinformed try to push, bully, or demand others share their same belief's. This is not biblical or Christ-like.

What if we took that approach to everything, the ONLY attitude. Then you could say you have to be Baptist ONLY or Church of Christ ONLY. Or you have to sing out of hymn books ONLY or we can sing new songs ONLY. Or we Sunday School ONLY and not small groups or elective classes, or we have to have church on Sunday mornings, nights, and wednesday's ONLY and we can't deviate from that schedule. You have to be Charistmatic ONLY, or you have to believe in eternal security(once saved always saved) ONLY, or you have to belive in the rapture ONLY.

Do you see my point? There are many issues that for whatever reason, God has chose to remain silent and give us us FREEDOM as christians or christian bodies(church) to do things as we see fit. He did not give us FREEDOM to bind on others our preferences or opinions, but gave us FREEDOM to exercise our faith, study His word, and develop our own personal walk with Him.

There are things in the Bible that are black and white spelled out for us. There is ONLY one God! There is ONLY one way to Salvation through Jesus Christ. ONLY God through Jesus can forgive our sins. The bible is God's ONLY word. Jesus is ONLY Messiah. Those are essentials and there are others as well, but not many of the issues that we demand are ONLY.

What version of the bible we use, when our church has services, what style of music we prefer, or other issues are just that issues. They are opinions, preferences, choices, styles, and areas where God has chosen to give us FREEDOM. Let God's word speak where it's clear and let God's spirit move freely where there is room for freedom. We must be careful not to use or abuse God's word, our faith, or our beliefs. We are walking on shaky ground when we start binding our views on other people, simply because of the way we were raised or taught or even feel.

I feel sorry for the guy with the bumper sticker, because He is missing out on the FREEDOM God gives us and He's missing opportunities to share the joy and love God has to offer. I pray that all of us that call ourselves Christians and as church leaders and members we will be careful to label something ONLY when ONLY God can label it essential or preference.

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God." I Peter 2:16(NIV)

"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." I Peter 2:16(KJV)

"For you are free, yet are God's slaves, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil." I Peter 2:16(NLT)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Real Sorry

Real sorry

"yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentence." 2 Corinthians 7:9a(NIV)

I've wrote on this subject before, but it is something that seems to often to come up in our lives, either because we are doing something wrong or we are being wronged by someone, especially someone we trusted or loved.

It has been said that we often are hurt the most by those we love the most or that we hurt those we love the most, either way, it's not good to hurt or be hurt by those we love or trusted.

Better yet, what makes the sting of betrayal or hurt even worse is when the guilty party isn't sorry they did anything wrong, they are simply sorry they got caught or sorry so that maybe the effects of their sin won't be as severe on their lives.

We see it in the newspaper, internet, and tv everyday. People getting busted or caught for doing something wrong and many times they've been doing wrong for weeks, months, even years and when they finally get busted, they are suddenly sorry. Why aren't people truly sorry before they get caught? Why don't they take it upon themselves when they feel guilty, know they are wrong, or want to do the right thing go ahead and confess, or make ammends, or make the necessary adjustments before they are caught and forced to lie, deny, justify, make excuses, or continue to try and hide their fault? Or better yet, only when they are caught and have no where else to hide, they suddenly are sorry?

Real sorry, is what Paul talks about in Corinthians. They are confronted with their sin, they acknowledge it, and have Godly sorry, real sorrow for the wrong they have commited, and only then do they repent, seek forgiveness, and make ammends.

That is the difference in fake sorry and real sorry. Fake sorry is sorry I got caught and I'd still be doing it if I hadn't got caught and I may still do it, even though I've been caught. Real sorry is I know I was wrong, I need to change, I hurt people and I need to make ammends, and I need to grow from this.

We are only kidding ourselves and making a mockery out of forgiveness when we are only sorry we got caught and not truly really sorry we sinned, made a mistake, got caught up in greed or arrogant behavior. We all can be guilty of this.

My prayer is for me and you that we will recognize when we wrong others and make it right before anyone has to confront us. My prayer is that when we know we are doing wrong, we will stop, repent, and confess before we get caught. My prayer is that we experience Godly sorry that leads to repentence, and not keep only letting our "sorry" be words.