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Posts Tagged ‘pastors’

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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For those of you who have left the institutional church you will probably relate to what I am saying.

After being out of organized religion for nearly three years now, some of the traditional and normal terms of the christianese language really bother me. I guess it should not do so because I certainly understand why people say them and I used to say them myself at one time or another. Even after being away from the traditional church for three years some of the terms of speech are still hard to quit saying.

christianese

Now days my wife and I see things a little differently. This is my viewpoint and I certainly do not mean to say it is wrong to use certain terms or that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is just one of those things that make me cringe when I hear certain terms.

Such as ‘this is the Lord’s day’ when people talk about Sunday. Many Christians use the term the Lord’s Day when talking about the Sabbath or the day of rest. To them it is the day we go to church and worship God. Personally, I believe every day is the Lord’s Day as the Bible says in Psalms 118:24 this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It does not mention a particular day.

Or the term ‘we are on our way to the house of God’, like God lives in a house. People are talking about going to church but God does not live in buildings or houses, He lives in us. Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? (I Corinthians 6:19)

We will hear people talk about ‘the Word of God’ and know they are talking about the Bible. I think the Word of God is a person, not a book. The Bible talks about God and it leads us to Jesus but the Bible is a book written by men who were inspired by God but not controlled by God. The Word of God who is living, all powerful, inerrant and perfect, sharper than any two-edged sword is Jesus. As the Bible states in John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We mention God as a male Father, yet God really is not male or female. God is spirit and I believe has both male and female attributes. I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with saying Father or Him or Her, but it is a mindset we have that God is a man with all the attributes of a male. We picture God as a huge blank-faced man sitting up in heaven looking down on us, but God is spirit, God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Pastors will talk about special services by telling the people to be sure and come tonight because ‘God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on those who are here’. That one gets me because God lives within us and is everywhere so how is He going to show up up now and then at special times and places? And didn’t the Spirit come upon humans on the day of Pentecost? Why would he fall upon us again when he is already living within us?

god is here

I realize a lot of the time we use these terms out of habit even when our beliefs and interpretations have changed. We seem to be so indoctrinated by the teaching of the institutional church and the denominations we grew up in that these terms just come out. I know this is probably a minor thing and whether we use such terms or not we are talking about the same God and we all love God. Yet I wonder if by using these terms are we reacting to a mindset of old covenant thinking rather than the new covenant day of grace.

My wife and I are certainly finding out that when leaving the institutional church and the many traditions, doctrines, interpretations and terms of speech we were taught over the years, it is much harder to break free from the institutional way of thinking than it is physically leaving the building.

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Ephesians 1:22,23 — And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

What stands out most to me is the description of what true church is, which is His body. It is not a building. It is not a place we go on a certain day. Christ is the head of all of us who are saved by grace. We are the church.

I do not see separation in this statement. I do not see denominations, buildings, programs and formal services trying to get people to come to us. I do not see separated groups based on doctrine.

I see a living, active group of people going out into the world day by day in the love and strength of the Spirit. I see a united effort seeking to show the love of God to all we meet each day.

Body of Christ

I see people looking to Jesus through the Holy Spirit for truth and guidance. No more looking to a man, woman or a group of elders for teaching and guidance. Christ is our head and the Spirit is our teacher. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, bishops, elders and any such leader mentioned are not positions of authority but are fellow believers who help encourage and build up their brothers and sisters through servant-hood example.

This leads me to think it is time to stop arguing over doctrines and interpretations. It is time to stop looking to other brothers and sisters whom we elevate into a higher position. We need to realize we are all kings and priests and able to teach and give a word to uplift one another. We need to allow God to live through us daily as we go out into the world and show His love to people who are hurting, who are outcasts and who need to be uplifted and encouraged. It is time to look past the labels we put on one another and see human beings who were created in the image of God and who need love, acceptance and fellowship with the Spirit and with one another just as much as the rest of us.

We are the Church, we are the people of God who are filled with the power and love of the Holy Spirit going out into our world showing that God loves them.

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Pastors                                

I grew up in the organized church, and I know the pastor was the focal point of every church I attended. In the Methodist church, if the pastor was not liked, he usually got voted out and moved to a new location by the board and district office.

Later, as I became dissatisfied I would leave one church and go to another. That became pretty common, people going from church to church looking for the right pastor. We want someone we can relate to, someone who will give us food for thought and keep us interested during the weekly sermon. As soon as one of those needs are not met, or the pastor steps on our toes, we pack up and move on.

More recently I began to wonder why the pastor was the main go-to person in the church. Why did I and many others think the clergy seemingly had all the answers and was ordained to guide us lower level laity in spiritual matters? And why did it seem a lot of pastors would teach saved by grace, but live by law?

Do some pastors take advantage and teach law on purpose. Yes, I think some do. Some like the power and prestige of their job and they want people looking to them for guidance.

Do some pastors take advantage of teaching law for monetary purposes? Yes, I think some do. What better way to get the money rolling in for mortgages, salaries, utilities and monthly budgets than by telling their members tithing is a requirement?

Do all pastors do things like that, wanting power and control and financial gain? Of course not. I think most are doing their job out of love for God and for their congregation. After all, this is the only system all of us know. This is the system that has been in place for hundreds of years. Our church system with its pastor, board of elders and worship team is what most of us think is the way it should be done. Yet I have come to think that pastors are put on a higher level spiritually, and we all look up to them as our spiritual leader and guide. I think this way of thinking is wrong.

Welcometochurch

I think the problem is most of us never question what we are taught. Most of us do not put a lot of effort into learning and hearing from God for ourselves. We think that is the pastor’s job and he will tell us what the truth is. The problem with that is they were taught by a previous pastor, who was taught by a previous pastor and on and on. Most pastors were taught from a bible college backed by a particular denomination and its doctrines. It becomes an endless cycle. It becomes so easy to look to others for information rather than make the effort to learn for ourselves.

Most of us do not want to question things and learn only by the Holy Spirit. Even though we are told we do not need anyone else to teach us, most of us are more than ready to run to the pastor or mega-church to find out what God is saying.

We seem to forget that Christ is the head of the Church, and we are to look to him and not any other human. Each of us are equally important and functioning parts of the body. No one is above or below anyone else. Even those we consider leaders are not better than anyone else. Leaders should lead lovingly by experience, out of love for others and to encourage their fellow brothers and sisters along the way.

Church

Most churches are in existence as a place for believers to meet and worship God. Yet the modern day church seems to teach both grace and law. Once you are saved by grace, you need to do, do, do. Try to live up to the law, be active and busy trying to pay God back for saving you by grace.  They say God will help you in the times you fall and cannot measure up. To me, this is still teaching that it is partly by our effort that we earn our salvation.

We seem to forget that the law was given as a tutor to lead us to Christ. Once Jesus came into our world, things changed. Once Jesus died, the old covenant was fulfilled and a new covenant went into effect, an agreement of grace. Remember, the New Covenant did not start in Matthew 1. The old covenant was still in effect throughout the ministry of Jesus. He was born under the law and taught law, mainly to show us that we were not able to live up to God’s requirement of perfection.

I truly believe that most organized churches and pastors are doing what they feel is right, and doing so out of love. The problem for a lot of us who are the ‘dones’ (those who no longer attend church or look to organized religion), is that we feel the traditional organized way church is set up is not what God intended, and we feel a separation from the people still in institutional church. It becomes an ‘us versus them’ way of thinking, which ought not to be. We are brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what we do or do not do on Saturday or Sunday.

I feel that the Church that Jesus is building is not a building or an organization. Jesus is building an organism made up of living stones, a community of believers saved by grace. The Church is not a place we go, it is each of us living in the power of the Holy Spirit each and every day.

Loving Others

No matter what denomination, doctrine, or way of living we choose, it should not be something that makes us enemies with others. All people, no matter what their beliefs and way of life, should be accepted and loved. That is the Jesus way, loving others.

The thing is, whether you are an active member of a particular church, or if you are done with religion and the institutional church, we should be able to accept one another and get along in love.

We should remember, all people were created in the image of God. Sin separated us from our Father, but Jesus came and fulfilled the law. Our sinful nature was crucified with Christ on the cross. In Christ, we are now dead to sin, and filled with His Spirit. Because of Christ, we are now considered holy and righteous in Him.

Nothing we do or do not do makes us any more acceptable to God. Because of this, we should no longer look at others in this ‘us versus them’ mentality. No one is better or worse, more loved or less loved, or more important than anyone else. Christ is the head of the Church and each of us are equally functioning parts of his body. We do not look to a pastor, pope, or elder for guidance, but listen for the guidance of the Spirit of Christ who is within us.

Obviously, not everyone believes this. That does not make it untrue just because some do not believe, yet we realize it is a belief. We cannot prove anything to anyone. We cannot prove God exists, just as an atheist cannot prove God does not exist. To a christian, just because we cannot prove God exists we still believe because of faith. To an atheist, it is not lack of faith, it is lack of proof. There is no way to prove God is there, so they do not accept that he is.

I believe it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and draws people to God. I do not believe it is our responsibility to try and change the minds and views of others. It is not our responsibility to convert others and convince them God is real. God can take care of himself. What we can do is exactly what we read in the bible, love God and love others. That is it.

Passion for Jesus

We need to remember that there are those who do not see things our way and that is OK. We are not responsible to save the world or make them see things our way. Whether male or female, black or white, gay, straight, LGBT or asexual, if an atheist, christian, jew, muslim or whatever, we are all people who deserve to be loved and accepted.

Is it wrong to talk to people and tell them what we believe and why we have faith in God? No, it is not….as long as they want to know. Our witness and our way of preaching the gospel should be our lifestyle, not just our words. If people see something in us and they ask why we do something or why we believe a certain way, then yes, in love, tell them. But we are not to go out and force our views on others trying to convert them to our way of living. And in turn, as christians we need to be open and accepting enough to truly listen to those who have different views. And do that without having the underlying intention of later on trying to convince them their way is wrong.

Believe it or not, God loves each and every one of us. If we believe or not, if we accept by faith or do not accept due to lack of proof, God still loves us. Those of us who are His followers are to show the same love to everyone we meet along the way.

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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….

This goes along with some of my posts about modern-day church. The organized church today 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 make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas and interpretations from others of the Bible, a place to meet other believers, a place to reach out and help others. Basically it is a Christian social organization.

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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I have seen some emails talking about a bill that would remove pastors and Christian programming from TV and radio. I’m not sure if there is any truth to the emails, but it does bring a thought to my mind. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m against the Gospel message, but just maybe this is a good thing. Before you get the wrong idea, let me explain what I mean.

The majority of non-Christians won’t turn on a TV Gospel program. Taking these pastors off of TV and radio might cause more Christians to have personal one on one fellowship with both believers and non-believers. Can you image 4, 6 or 10 people in a living room, or a small group meeting at a restaurant for fellowship and getting to know one another in a more intimate way?

In the US, we tend to think our pastors are the only ones to carry the Gospel to the world, when in reality the true ‘Church’ ( us ) are to allow God to work through us to spread His love to a hurting world on a one on one basis with those we come in contact with every day.

Taking the pastors off TV may just cause Christians to find the fellowship they need with other Christians, and to take the gospel message to people who would not turn on a gospel program or attend a religious meeting. Again I don’t mean to step on the toes of the elderly and shut-ins, but maybe that is another area where the ‘Church’ could go out and minister to those who are unable to get out.

televangelists

Speaking in financial terms, we all know that TV and radio programs require a lot of money to stay on the air waves. What we usually see on these programs are the pastors begging for more and more money to build up their ministries with multi-million dollar facilities and private jets. What is wrong with this picture?

Why not use this money to help feed and take care of the poor, the homeless and the needy.

The way I see it, taking the televangelists off the air waves may be the best thing that could happen to the Christian world today.

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My Journey

Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace that the Lord provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our own personal growth to take place.

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