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Archive for August, 2016

Fellowship is an important part of living as a follower of Jesus. Fellowship with other believers can be encouraging and helps build one another up.

When we hear about fellowship today we usually think of church. Several churches even have the word fellowship in their name.

According to the dictionary fellowship means friendly relationship; companionship; an association of persons having similar tastes, interests; friendliness.

I grew up in the organized church and thought for years I was having good fellowship every time I attended a Sunday morning service. As time went on I began to question if we were actually enjoying good fellowship or not. If fellowship was a relationship or companionship with others how was that being obtained by sitting in a pew every Sunday looking at the back of someone’s head? We never really showed friendliness just sitting there and we never knew if the person in front or back of us had the same tastes or interests. How were we having fellowship when we just sat and listened to a select few run the program?

sundayservice

After my wife and I decided to leave the organization and live outside the walls of religion we wondered how we would find fellowship with others of similar tastes. Truthfully it did not take long. God started bringing people across our paths in places and at times we never expected.

We were sitting in a local cafe one morning relaxing and drinking our morning coffee when we noticed two men at the next table. One was a young long-haired rock group looking person talking with an older gentleman. We could not help but hear their conversation at times and we kept hearing them talking about God and life in Christ.

After some time of listening we decided to politely ask about their conversation and found that the younger guy was in a christian heavy metal band, had left the traditional church a few years ago and was living outside the walls of religion like us. This was an encouragement to us because it showed us that God will bring about the people for fellowship any time and in any place.

We have met many people over the past two years who have similar tastes and interests on our path outside the walls. We have joined in with people many times at a restaurant or in our homes for fellowship and food. Most of the time it has only been 3 to 5 people, but we have had so much more meaningful fellowship with others outside of traditional church than we did sitting in the typical service.

As written in 1 Corinthians 14:26… what then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

To my wife and me the church mentioned here is not a building of four walls with a select few people running the program on a set day and time. The Church is a community of Christ followers who have a friendly relationship and associate any day, any time, any place when Christ brings them together to lift up Christ and his love, to encourage one another and to get to know the tastes and interests of each other.

communityofbelievers

Obviously fellowship can also happen with people of different tastes and interests, different faith, different lifestyles. We can be loving and accepting of all as we get to know and understand each other and treat each other with kindness, respect and friendliness.

Yet fellowship among believers is needed for us to be encouraged and built up. As mentioned in Hebrews 10:25… not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. This verse in no way says we must assemble in a building with a set program on a set day or led by a select group of people. This verse just means as followers of Christ we need each other. We need time together getting to know one another, build one another up in Christ and live a life that shows the world the good news of the gospel, which is that God loves each and every one of us.

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My last post about ‘LGBT and the church’ received several comments that obviously disagreed with my views. That is fine and only to be expected because this is a public site and others are free to share their views.

Although it seems to me that sometimes people spend more time trying to prove their views and point out why they think other people are wrong rather than accept the fact that everyone sees things differently and no one is going to agree on everything.

I post my articles based on the fact they are only my opinion and the way I see things at this point in my walk with God. I am not going to change the opinion of any one else and I do not try to do so. No one is going to change my opinion either as I know each of us has a different view and I am not going to change my views based on human opinion. I know the Spirit of God within will teach and guide and my views will probably be different on some things than they are now as new truth is opened up by the Spirit.

As a follower of Christ I refuse to be judgmental and condemning. Even when other christians say I am wrong for not pointing out what they think are sins of others, I refuse to do so. I feel that being an example of Christ means to love people without condemnation and without ulterior motives.

LovelikeJesus1

It’s funny how christians are called to love people yet many spend more time judging each other and condemning those who have different views.

For me I will continue to love and accept all people whether male, female, white, black, gay, straight, transgender, christian, jew, hindu, atheist, etc without judgment or condemnation.

The thing many forget is that loving and accepting people does not mean we always agree or condone the actions of one another but we can respect each other and treat one another with kindness.

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Recently I read an article that I enjoyed reading yet I had some reservation with it because it had an undertone that seemed to make sure to say that being gay is a sin. Basically the article was on LGBT issues and the church. I thought the article was good but there were a few things in the article that made me think it was stating that we should accept gay people but still needed to point out that being gay is a sin, or that acting upon those feelings was sinful.

Obviously I may have misinterpreted what the author was saying and I am not sure if the author meant to make it sound that way, yet there are many Christian writers that definitely feel the need to make a point of saying that being gay is sinful. My thought is why do we christians feel the need to point out what we think are faults and sins of others. Why do we have the sense that we can play God and say what is and what is not a sin and who deserves our love and who does not?

First off, no matter who we are or what we think I do not believe any of us as followers of Christ are to be the sin police. We are called to love God and love others, not to point out what we think is sinful behavior in others. The law shows that we cannot live a perfect life and the Spirit convicts the world of sin, so by pointing out what we think is sin in other people is going beyond what God has called us to do.

Second, I am not one to say that being gay is a sin. I do not think that is the job of followers of Christ. There are certainly many different ideas and interpretations of biblical verses that shed a different light on the subject than what we grew up with in the church and to make a judgment on what is and what is not a sin in this area is not for us to do.

What about gay and transgender people who are Christians, are we to completely discount their faith and experience just because we think they are living sinful lives?

If we want to talk about sin then we have to point out that we all have sinned in one way or another, yet because of Christ the sinful nature has been crucified with Christ and the spirit within us is holy and righteous. Of course in the world we still commit sins but we are cleansed and forgiven of our sinful nature through grace. This is not narrowed down to only certain groups of people, grace has been made available to human beings as a whole.

John 3-16

To start separating people into different groups because of sin is wrong. We are not called to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and we are to love and accept everyone in this world just as Jesus did, showing the love of God to everyone.

What has always bothered me is that we are so quick to make being gay a sin that is worse than anything else. Even those who accept the LGBT community still make a point of saying that gay life is sinful. They use such comments as hate the sin love the sinner or being gay is OK as long as you do not act on your feelings, yet statements such as these can be very hurtful.

What about in the bible where it says God hates divorce? Why don’t we separate those who have divorced into a lower class group of people like we do gay and transgender people? Based on statistics published in the online version of Charisma Magazine a report from a few years ago by the Barna Research Group revealed that 32 percent of those identified as born-again Christians have experienced at least one divorce. A related study also conducted by Barna Research found that among Protestant senior pastors, 15 percent have experienced divorce. Why is it that we Christians want to overlook such happenings among the Church yet make gay and transgender people the worst of sinners?

Obviously we all have our personal convictions of right and wrong and we want to live our lives in a pleasing way to God, but we are not to force our convictions and views on others. Just because others have different convictions and interpretations than we do does not mean we are right and they are wrong. We are not called to finger point, judge and condemn. We are called to love.

Love is the way of God and love does not include separation, judgment, condemnation or exclusion. Love is what we are called to show as followers of Christ and that includes everyone not just those who act, live and believe like we do.

Godloveseveryone

Whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, atheist, male, female, black, white or whatever religious belief you follow, apart from the labels we put on each other we are all human beings. Coming from a Christian perspective I believe we were all created in the likeness of God and loved by God. As followers of Christ we are to love our neighbor and respect each other no matter if we agree or not.

We are all entitled to live and believe in a way we feel is right. None of us should be pushing our beliefs on others and we should not have the attitude we are right and everyone else is wrong. We all have things to learn and we all should be willing to love others no matter what we believe. Our personal beliefs are basically all a matter of faith because none of us can prove beyond a doubt if our beliefs are right or wrong.

Speaking of people who see things differently than we Christians, whether you believe there is a God or not does not make a difference in how you should be treated. Unfortunately many times atheists are considered to be the archenemy of our Christian faith, yet we forget that atheist is just a label and there is a human being behind that label who deserves to be treated like anyone else. All of us are entitled to have our personal way of thinking and believing without condemnation and judgment from others.

As followers of Christ we are to live in the way Jesus lived which is the way of love and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree and live in complete harmony with one another. It does mean we can accept one another even in our differences knowing that in the eyes of God we are all loved and we can all respect one another and treat each other with kindness.

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In our world the love of money is the driving force. Obviously money is important in our way of life and we all have to work to make money to live. Money itself is not evil and can be used for good things yet the love of money and the importance the world puts on it is a completely different thing.

Money pays our bills, buys us our daily needs and things we want for our enjoyment. Money can be used to help others, pay for education, helps us live comfortable lives and a host of other things. Money in itself is not the problem.

LoveofMoneyThe love of money is the issue and many people will stop at nothing to get it. The love of money is a driving force and many will spend their entire life working, doing what it takes to make all the money they can. Some will cheat and step on toes and whatever they can to make more money. They will give up time with their families and loved ones, give up all relaxation and things they enjoy doing and spend all their waking hours doing whatever it takes to make more money.

In the Kingdom of God the driving force is love. This is very unnatural to us humans and without the Spirit within us we cannot love with the love of Christ. Yet love is the name of the game when living for God.

Loving like Jesus loves means thinking of others more than ourselves, doing for others more than doing for ourselves, giving to others more than trying to gather more for ourselves.

Loving like Christ is a life of serving others and living an unselfish life. It is not allowing personal feelings, doctrines, interpretations, lifestyles or anything else to cause division and hatred among us.

Love is accepting others no matter what they look like, what they believe or how they act. Love does not see the labels we so easily put on others. Love sees beyond the outer layer and sees a human being, someone who was created in the image of God.

LovelikeJesus1

Obviously this type of love is a spiritual, godly type of love. We are not going to love everyone is a natural worldly way. There are too many personality types that just will not do well together. We are not going to like and agree with everyone, but we can respect and accept all we come in contact with during our lives. Loving others like Christ loves them is showing love in a godly way, respecting them and treating them as fellow human beings. Being mean, judgmental, condemning and showing hatred and non-acceptance is certainly not being loving in any way.

When it comes down to it there are two types of love. The love of money which leads to selfishness and greed, and the love of God which leads to loving and accepting others, kindness, peace, joy and a life of serving our fellow man.

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A good friend of mine wrote the following paragraph. There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help thru the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I was also saved in church but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”. There are times when we are alone with no Christian fellowship and maybe we can’t make it to church for some reason. We have to be able to stand as mature Christians and rely on our relationship with Christ. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is only where we learn about Him. I guess what I am saying is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength if we call upon Him in truth. I personally am going thru the desert in life and I have to depend on Him. He has proved His love and care for me and in reality, He is the “Son of the Living God”. Bottom line, let’s be careful to put our dependence on Him. All other ground is sinking sand….

Christ the solid rock

This goes along with some of my posts about modern-day church. The institutional church is a place for believers to get together but it is not the goal. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not necessarily make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas and interpretations from others about God, a place to meet other believers, a place to reach out and help others and be encouraged.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. He is who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd the rest of us are the sheep. There are no co-shepherds, no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church but don’t put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or don’t go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Don’t worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but a people who love and follow Christ.

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