Friday, August 27, 2010
Now that I’m married and away from momma, my family tends to steer away from fried fodder. With my increase in age and wisdom (don’t laugh), I’ve come to realize that although fried chicken “ain’t” evil, it also “ain’t” that great for you. This is especially true if you decide to make it a regular part of your diet. Yes, it does provide life sustaining nourishment (sort of), but unfortunately there are about a million other foods out there that do a far better job of keeping you alive. Yes, you can eat all the fried chicken you want, but sooner or later you will begin reaping some of the negative aspects of eating that delicious oil soaked bird. These “blessings” include getting fat and probably increasing your chance for clogged arteries which leads to heart attacks and stroke. In other words too much of a “good thing”, might not be so good! Now your probably wondering where I’m going with this. Well. I can assure you I’m no health nut and although I deem what I’ve written to be good advice, this blog “ain’t” just about chicken!
Over the last few months, I have posted many thoughts on the glorious social experiment known as Facebook. With these posts have come a variety of replies questioning everything from my sanity to my devotion to the Lord Himself. Well, despite others best attempts to paint me as being a bitter, cynical, and terribly wounded Christian in need of intervention, I must refute these musings and their validity. Believe it or not folks, I still love Jesus and I’m still doing my best to find His heart for my life.
Regardless of that fact, I do understand why so many folks would believe these things to be true. Like I shared with a gentleman the other day. Facebook is great, but it only presents a snippet of the totality of any given situation. So, with that, I have decided to share my thoughts in a little more detail.
Brace yourself, because I’m not going to sugar coat it. The following statement may not be to your liking, but it represents my heart. I truly believe that the modern day, institutionalized church is a killer of biblical Christianity and does far more harm to the body of Christ than people realize. There I said it! Please note that I did not say, "being a part of the church is a killer". The two are very different!
Now, does making such a statement make me a negative person? Does having a different take on what the word says make me less committed to God or biblical truth? I think not. To have a different opinion based on experience (lots of it), prayer (lots of it), and the study of Gods word (yes….lots of that too), shouldn’t be a cause for labeling me a hypocrite, confused, or “back slidden”. Yet, I’ve found that the moment you dare to question tradition, or step outside of the bible belt’s box of comfort, you immediately become.....questionable.
Now, back to the chicken. What does fried chicken have to do with all this? You see, fried chicken is is not evil. It tastes great and is enjoyed by many. But, is it really good for you? Is it the best thing you can put in your mouth? No. Ask any doctor and they’ll tell you that fried chicken should not be a consistent part of your diet. Baked chicken? Yes. Grilled or steamed? Fine. But not fried! Why, because your body wasn’t designed to function well on the stuff. Yes, it will for a while. You can even eat it with friends celebrating wonderful times of joy, but sooner or later eating such things will cost you. The crash in your health will come and all those “great meals” will seem so foolish.
For me, the modern church is much the same way. For twenty years, I’ve pulled up to the table and eaten every thing our religious system had to offer. I was certainly part of the famed “twenty percent” that does all the work in the church and proud of it. I did everything I was told a good Christian man should do and listened carefully to the “spiritual leaders” God had put over me. I went to visitation, volunteered for projects and committees, taught, preached, and sang. Yet, in the end I realized that what I had was a lap full of religion and an anemic faith that was built on the shoulders of some good guys trying to be far more than God ever intended. Was I saved? Absolutely! But, for some reason after years of doing everything I could, I was not growing much at all. My fault? Maybe, but I can assure you no one especially the “shepherds” of the church ever took the time to investigate if the poor little sheep were actually growing up. They were more than content to feed us our weekly dose of milk and remind us that we could get more next week. On the outside we all looked good, and unfortunately for our leaders that seemed to be good enough. The church was growing, people were being saved, people shouted amen and put their money in the plate, but no one was growing up!
Just like that plate of chicken that tasted so good for so long, I eventually had to come to terms with the fact that maybe this “stuff” was actually doing more harm than good. You see that’s really it for me. It’s not that it’s all bad, because it isn’t. There are lots of good things going on in some "churches", but what about the “stuff” that is so often ignored. You know, the “stuff”. Stuff like “services”, “sermons”, professional “clergy”, dress codes, denominations, unbiblical leadership (boards, committees, etc.), fancy buildings that are only used a few times a week, church covenants, and an endless list of other man contrived religious practices that aren’t even found in the book. None of those things really help you grow up spiritually or foster a true relationship with God, yet realistically these are the very “things” we esteem to be vital to church life. The truth is these “necessities” are not only not necessary or very biblical, but also tend to keep the body of Christ in an apathetic state. Adherence to such practices has caused Christ’s body to become dependant upon a system and its leaders to spoon feed us because we lack the strength or maturity to eat the solid food God offers. No one ever "grows" up because the system is set up to keep everyone in a perpetual state of infancy. Is it done intentionally? No, at least not in most situations, but that is the end result none the less. Say what you like, but many of today’s “churches” look more like a corporation than a living body of family members sharing life.
Again, let me make it clear, I KNOW THERE ARE GOOD THINGS GOING ON IN SOME CHURCHES, but that doesn’t mean this thing we call “church” is actually making disciples or represents God’s heart for His kids. It may satisfy our emotional needs and provide some of what we feel we need spiritually, but does it really represent God’s best for His kids?
Again, eating fried chicken isn’t evil, but is it really helping us to become healthier individuals, or the opposite. Just because it tastes good and is appealing to the senses does not mean we are gaining true benefits from eating it. It will keep you alive, but is that really the goal? I can tell you it’s not mine.
So who should I blame for leading me astray all these years? Was it the “preachers” fault? No. Was it my fellow church member’s fault? No. Was it God’s fault? Of course not. It really was not anyone’s fault. Rather I believe it was simply the natural progression that takes place in the human heart when it continues to look for God in a system that is in many ways unbiblical and foreign to the heart of God. It seemed to be working for years. It seemed to be doing the job, but in the end I realized I had become a part of a man contrived religious business. A business carried out in the name of God by some really good people who thought they were doing the right thing.
I could go on, but I need to end this (for now). Friends, the modern institutionalized church does help people. It works on many levels, but is lacking on many others and in the end will always fail us. Searching for God our way will always leave us empty and hungry. By the way, please don’t say, “There’s no such thing as a perfect church”. That is a really weak argument for the defense of a system that is not even found in the bible.
In the end, for me it’s not about finding “a system” that works, but rather a living relationship with a Savior that wants to be the head of my life and His body. Systems can mimic that successfully for a season, but eventually they fail you.
In conclusion, let me say that I love God’s people and do not wish to be divisive. Unfortunately, if you hold a view contrary to my own you will most likely view me as such. I realize it is not my job to change anyone. Only the Holy spirit can do that. If you are happy eating “fried chicken” have at it. For me, it’s just not something I desire, nor do I feel I need (or you need). Of course it could be that I’m the one who’s “diet” is out of whack. I’ll just have to let the Lord be the judge of that.
I am a Christian. I am a part of God’s church, and I love my brothers and sisters. I do not hate anyone nor am I angry, but let me be clear. I will not pretend to support something I feel is so very destructive to my brothers and sisters. If you disagree, and going to a “church” works for you, great! But know this, there are hundreds of hurting family members out there who have been left bleeding in the ditches so that the “church” could continue on, business as usual. If that’s happening (and it is), how could that really represent God’s best for His children?
Sunday, June 27, 2010
by Steve Jones
Everywhere, the belief persists that the local church is to be presided over by one leader who has been "called to the ministry." He is to be the principle teacher and preacher. The care of the church is primarily his concern. He counsels, presides over board meetings, visits the sick, marries the young, buries the dead.
His name is often in the bulletin and on the sign in front of the church building, as if it is somehow his church. When the spiritual vitality of a church wanes, he is often blamed and summarily fired.
Unlike the deacons or elders, the pastor is almost always imported from outside the church. Churches, in fact, "shop" for a pastor when they are without one. These clergymen are usually formally educated in theology. Often they are "licensed" or "ordained" by a denomination.
Many modern authors on church growth tout the need for a strong one-man pastorate. Such sentiments as those expressed by C. Peter Wagner are fairly common within churches today:
The local church is like a company with one company commander, the pastor, who gets his orders from the Commander-in-Chief [Jesus]. The company commander has lieutenants and sergeants under him for consultation and implementation, but the final responsibility of his decisions is that of the company commander, and he must answer to the Commander-in-Chief....the pastor has the power in a growing church.Reference1
But where is any of this reflected in the New Testament? If "the pastor has the power in a growing church," why doesn't Paul or John or Peter ever say so? Does this common perception of the pastor exist on the pages of Scripture?
Leaders in the Church
Amazing as it may sound, the New Testament does not authorize a single leader to be responsible for oversight of the church. On the contrary, the notion is flatly contradicted several times by the New Testament authors.
From earliest times, the church was governed by a body of men, not a single leader. Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Philippians: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Phil. 1:1, NIV).
Note that there was a plurality of bishops in the Philippian church, not one man. In his writing to that congregation, Paul never once addresses "the pastor," nor does he in any of his epistles.
Elders, Bishops, Pastors
The bishops are entrusted with the spiritual oversight of the flock. The Greek word episkopos literally means "overseer," and is translated that way in some versions of Scripture.
These leaders, whose qualifications are spelled out in the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus), are to be mature. For this reason, they are also called "elders." The words "bishop" and "elder" are interchangeable in the New Testament. This is obvious in Paul's letter to Titus: "This is why I left you in Crete, that you might...appoint elders in every town as I directed you, if any man is blameless...for a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless (Tit. 1:5-7, KVJ).
An elder, then, is a bishop and a bishop is an elder. There is no distinction between the two. The words give only different emphases. "Elder" (presbuteros) denotes maturity and "bishop," oversight. However, they refer to the same leaders, which are plural in number (see Acts 14:23; 20:17; Tit. 1:5; Jas. 5:14).
What about the pastor? Where is he in all of this? After all, didn't God give "some pastors and teachers" (Eph. 4:11, KVJ)? Yes, He did. But this refers to the same body of leaders elsewhere called "bishops" and "elders," not a single leader.
The word "pastor" (singular) is absent from most translations of the New Testament. The plural form "pastors" occurs only once, in Ephesians 4:11. It is a translation of the Greek word poimen. Poimen is translated "shepherd" or "shepherds" 16 times in the King James Version. The verb form poimaino also occurs in the New Testament. It means to "shepherd" or "pastor" a flock.
But poimen (pastor), presbuteros (elder) and episkopos (bishop/overseer) all refer to the same function. It is unbiblical to speak of the pastor, on one hand, and the elders, on the other, as if they were somehow different. The Scripture makes no distinction whatsoever between the two.
This is fairly easy to demonstrate in the New Testament. In 1 Peter 5, for example, all three words - in either noun or verb form - are applied to the same group of leaders. The apostle writes to the church leadership: "The elders (presbuterous) which are among you I exhort...feed (poimanate, "shepherd," "pastor") the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (episkopountes)" (1 Pet. 5:1,2).
Peter expected the body of elders to pastor the flock and oversee it. Can there be any doubt, then, that the modern idea of distinguishing between elders, bishops, and pastors is wrong? Paul conveyed the same idea while giving his farewell address to the elders (plural) of the Ephesian church in Acts 20: Paul "sent to Ephesus and called to the elders (presbuterous) of the church. And when they were come to him, he said...take heed...unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (episkopous), to feed (poimainein, "shepherd," "pastor") the church of God" (Acts 20:17,28).
Again, Paul makes no distinction between elders, bishops, and pastors. These are different terms for the same function. And so, the idea of each church having one man who is "the pastor" who is separate from the body of elders is a tradition without Scriptural support.
Having said this, there is actually one example of a single leader ruling the church as "company commander." His name was Diotrephes. John wrote of this man in 3 John 9,10. Here is a leader with far too much power in the church. He personally put people out of the congregation and refused to welcome the brethren. He did so without God's authority.
So the lone example of a "one-man pastor" in the Scripture is held up as a bad example. He is exposed as one "who likes to put himself first" (v. 9). That is not to say that all pastors are like Diotrephes. Far from it. Many are humble, virtuous men. T he point is that the New Testament never mentions one man as the church's overseer, except for one negative instance. Despite this, it has become the dominant pattern of leadership in churches - even those which ostensibly profess themsleves "Bible-believing."
The Lone Leader
There is a great deal of harm in the doctrine of the "one-man pastor." To begin with, it gives too much power to one person. Authority in the church was meant to be shared among several leaders. This provides a kind of check and balance against a powerful leader "lording over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3, KJV). Most Christians have heard horror stories about one minister ruling a church with an iron rod. Even if the members oppose what he's doing, they are impotent because of their subordinate "layman" status.
When authority in the church is shared, there is less of a chance of a dictatorial rule. The other elders can step in and prevent one leader from overstepping his authority.
On the other hand, the "one-man pastorate" gives a single leader too much responsibility. God has granted a diversity of spiritual gifts to the church, but no individual has all of them. It is unreasonable to expect one man to excel in preaching, teaching, counseling, exhortation, helps, mercy, administration, wisdom, and knowledge. That is what the "one-man pastorate" calls for - an unrealistic, superhuman Christian.< /P>
True, many pastors have done good work in the churches. But the mutual ministry of "one another" mentioned often in the New Testament fails to flourish when traditional pastoral leadership is at the helm. Ministry is suddenly "his responsibility." That's why he's paid. It's his vocation. The "layman," accordingly, is not given much responsibility for ministry in most churches. Few "laymen" preach from the pulpit or officiate at funerals or visit the members - that is the particular province of the professional clergyman in many churches.
I believe that many churches, if they took seriously the ministry of the elders and the "one another" responsibility of the saints, could function very well without a paid minister. Many smaller churches might be relieved of an oppressive financial burden if they followed a New Testament pattern of leadership. People would also discover and use their gifts of ministry.
The tendency of the one-man pastor, however, is to stifle such activity, even when the pastor himself encourages it. It is nearly impossible to get the saints to assume responsibility for the church when one man is "the minister" and everyone else, "lay persons." The system creates a hard-and-fast distinction, sometimes unspoken, between "the minister" and "the ministered unto." Most church members, I believe, would place themselves in the latter group - truly a spiritual tragedy.
The Bible presents church leaders as those who equip the saints for ministry (Eph. 4:12), not as those who do it all themselves. An author from the previous century notes:
The apostle plainly tells us, that "if they were all one member there would be no body," and who is there that does not see in these words a condemnation of the clerical system, which presents the body in the form of one member only - the minister, the ordained, official, and salaried minister, who, whether he be appointed to his office by a prelate or a popular election, supersedes all spiritual gifts in the church? In such a system as that, the saints are reduced to silence, the body is dead, all the members are inanimate, the "honorable" or "feeble" are alike useless, and one individual is eye, mouth, ear, hand and foot.Reference2
The tendency of one pastor undertaking the bulk of church ministry cannot help but contribute to, or even cause, the "burnout" so common among the clergy. God never intended one person to shoulder so large a burden. When a pastor attempts it, the result is often exhaustion, depression, emotional distress, divorce - sometimes even a lapse into immorality.
The idea of importing pastors from outside the church is also without biblical precedent. The qualifications of an elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9) suggests that candidates have been observed for some time by a local church. How can a church know if a potential bishop is above reproach or has obedient children (Tit. 1:6) unless he has been in the church for awhile? This seems to suggest that overseers were "home-grown" leaders.
May the church of Jesus Christ put leadership back where it belongs, in the hands of those mature Christians (plural) who are "temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2, NIV). It is time for us to move forward, with our elders out in front.
1C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Grow (Ventura, CA: Royal), 1984, p. 65.
2Campaginator, Priesthood and Clergy Unknown to Christianity; or, the Church a Community of Co-Equal Brethren (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.), 1857, p. 47.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Most of today’s church practices have no biblical foundation, and in some cases, hinder people from having a genuine experience with God.
■ Church buildings were initially constructed under the Roman emperor Constantine, around 327. The early Christian church met in homes.
■ The pulpit was a piece of stagecraft borrowed from Greek culture in which professional speakers delivered monologues in public debates. There is no evidence that Jesus, the apostles, or other leaders in the early Church used a pulpit; it seems to have been introduced into Christian circles in the mid-third century.
■ The order of worship originated in the Roman Catholic Mass under the leadership of Pope Gregory in the sixth century.
■ Preaching a sermon to an audience was ushered into the church world late in the second century. Sermons were an extension of the activity of the Greek sophists, who had mastered the art of rhetorical oratory.
■ There were no pastors, as an official or director of a group of believers, until sometime in the second century. That was eventually furthered by the practice of ordination, which was based upon the prevailing Roman custom of appointing men to public office.
The biblical approach to "communion" or the "Lord’s Supper," was truncated late in the second century from a full, festive communal meal without clergy officiating to the presently common habit of having a sip of wine and morsel of bread (or juice and a wafer) under the guidance of a recognized clergyman.
Chances are you won't hear that on Sunday morning. That would spoil everything!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Today, "Boo" is still married to the goober. Throughout the years she discovered that he would probably never end up with very much money, and she has yet to see anything even remotely close to "animal magnetism" (unless you consider a fat belly "magnetic"). She even went as far as to procreate with the goober and bring four additional goobers into the world (trust me....they are goobers!).
BUT, don't feel too sorry for her. She still has the red truck (although it's not very shiny anymore), and more importantly, the love of a goober who is so very glad that seventeen years ago, a young gal completely lost her mind and married a......well, you know.
Love ya "Boo"!
Friday, April 9, 2010
Yes, that is indeed a very good question. If indeed it is the role of a “Pastor” to shepherd, teach, and serve as God’s chosen authority for the body of Christ, one might ask the question, “Who exactly is doing this for the “Pastor”? I've heard it said by many that God Himself is the “pastor’s” Pastor. “God is the head of the “Pastor” and the “Pastor” is the head of the church.” While that may sound splendidly spiritual, it unfortunately has little to no biblical support.
For the purpose of clarification, let’s look at an example of the typical hierarchical structure that exists in many of today’s modern churches. As you read through my descriptions, try and view this “structure” as a pyramid. Lots of folks at the bottom, less in the middle, and one lone fella on top. By the way, I have personally seen and been a part of many such structures several times myself. It goes something like this:
First, we start with the laymen or “laity” of the church. This group would represent most of the congregation in a typical church’s body. They come to receive what the leadership has prepared for them. Some may occasionally volunteer in various, menial tasks within the church, but most are happy just to warm a pew a couple of times a week. By the way, if this is representative of where you are in the “church” food chain, you are on the bottom and under everyone else’s authority...pretty much.
Next, we have our “lay leaders”. These would be your Sunday school teachers, committee members, small group leaders, etc. They are not part of the “professional” ministry team, but are responsible for much of the basic ministry that happens within the church. If you’ve ever heard of the old 20/80 analogy (20 percent of the congregation does 80 percent of the work), this group would certainly represent the blessed 20 percent. As a side note, I truly believe these are your real ministers within the body of Christ. Hard working, git-r-done folks!
After that, comes the esteemed “professional” ministers and the church staff. These folks are typically paid, although there are some who work as volunteers. The “professionals” are generally responsible for heading up the “major” ministries within the “church” such as children's, youth, and music ministry. Some are actually regarded as being “pastors” at least within their given areas of ministry, but they are all under the authority of the “Senior Pastor” (use caps for him).
Although the following group does not exist in all churches, most congregations do have something at least similar to a Board of “whatever” in place. The “whatever” could be elders, deacons, or like the ones I’ve been associated with, just plain old board “members”. These guys (not many women ever make it to this level...sorry gals!) are generally responsible for anything and everything having to do with the financial aspects of “church” life. They approve budgets and make the “big” decisions regarding how the money is spent that has been given to the church. Many boards have authority in some respect over the “Pastor”, but only in a business sense. Yeah, they can work to oust the guy if they don’t like him, but when it comes to “spiritual” authority, the “Pastor” is the man!
Finally, we come to the “Pastor”. In larger churches (or if he likes the way it sounds), he may be known as the “Senior Pastor”. It is the “Senior Pastor” who has been called by God and he alone has been given authority (by God) to be the head of the church. This is especially true in regards to spiritual authority. We are asked to “get behind” the “Pastor’s” vision for the church and follow his lead when it comes to ministry and how “church” should be “done”.
With that, let’s take a moment and try to put all this into perspective. If you are one of the following:
You are spiritually (and for the poor staff in a business sense...he’s the boss!) under the authority of the “Senior Pastor”.
Only one problem with that. Where exactly do you find such a notion in the bible?
You may think I’m being a overly critical in my presentation of the bogus hierarchical structure that exists in today’s churches, BUT...you know...for the most part...it’s a true representation of the roles that exist!
Now, back to my original question. Who “pastors” the “Pastors”?
Well, that depends. If you buy into the above mentioned church structure. Your answer will most likely be God. God is the authority to which a “Pastor” is subject to.
If that is so, might I pose a different question?
If the “Pastor” is able to reside under the spiritual authority of God and God alone...why can’t the rest of us?
Why do we need a “spiritual CEO”?
Are we stupid, "unspiritual", or just plain lazy? Of course not!
By the way, according to the modern church’s usage of the term “pastor”, the only way a person could ever hope to become a “Pastor” is to be hired by a church……to be a “Pastor”. Cause when you quit, or are fired, you’re obviously no longer a “Pastor” (according to the modern church). You're just another, run of the mill Christian.
If that’s so, who’s authority would a former “Pastor” be under? See the logic? It’s foolishness to say that this man “chosen by God” only possesses authority over the “church” while holding an exalted position within the “church”. Lose the job, no authority. Did God strip it away?
Truth is, he NEVER had any more "God given" authority than you, me, or any other “run of the mill” Christian.
It’s time we dropped the middle man friends. The veil was torn into. Through Christ, we all have equal access to the Holy one. He alone is our ultimate authority and He alone is our Chief Shepherd. Yes, I'm quite aware the bible speaks of the elders as shepherds and of their "shepherding" the people, but it DOES NOT speak of a hired gun, one man show "Pastor". If your "church" doesn't have multiple "elders" leading the people, you don't have a biblical leg to stand on, so don't waste your time on pointless, feel good arguments. Our Father has given us His spirit to “bring us into all truth” and we are all called to live as brothers not “lording” power over each other.
As a side note: If you think I’m being a little harsh in using the term “lording”, try working for a “church”. The “Pastor” is the “boss” and most don’t waste any time in letting you know it! BUT don't blame the "Pastors". All the blame goes to the "church members" for allowing non biblical leadership structures to remain in place.
Does God use leaders and allow for leadership to exist within the body of Christ? Absolutely!
Does this leadership look anything like the man-contrived positions of authority that exist in the modern church? Absolutely...not!
Bottom line: Leave the false “pyramids” of “church” structure where they belong.....in Egypt!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Everything that I've written below slapped me around for a good long time before I had the courage to write about it. Please know I don't share it "looking down my nose", but rather "looking up to see the ground".
Okay.....now you can read it.
The other day, I ran into an acquaintance of mine of whom I had not seen in quite a while. After the initial, "Hey, how ya been" stuff, he proceeded to ask me the one question I find to be most peculiar among Christians here in the good ole US of A. That of course being, "So, where you guys going to church these days?" Now, in the past I would have responded to that question with the expected response of, "Oh, we have been going to __________". But, over the last few months I have come to realize just how strange that question really is. I mean I just don't get how I can "go"….to what I "am".
Confused? Well, let me elaborate.
The bible clearly states that WE (that means all Christians together) are God's holy church, the body of Christ. Now I’m no genius, nor have I been to seminary, but I’m fairly sure that when the bible uses the term “church”, it is speaking of God’s kids. Yes people, not buildings. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to be all that difficult to assume that “going to church” is....well impossible! Yet for some reason, modern day Christians continue to spout this nonsense about “going” to something that in reality is simply....”themselves” (that may be grammatically improper, but true none the less)!
In fact, nowhere (at least as far as I can find) do you find anyone in the bible ever talking about "going to church". They might have visited “the church” in a certain city or province. It even speaks of “the church meeting at" so and so's house. But, nowhere have I found this idea of "going to church" in the bible. I mean it's not as if we don't understand what it means to "go" somewhere. We "go" places all the time. We "go" to Wal-Mart. We “go” to the movies. We even “go” to school. Yes "going" is a concept that even a young child can understand. We “go” to a “place” not to a “person”. Yet, why do we persist in using religious jargon that not only makes no sense, but more importantly has no biblical basis?
Here’s a thought for you (and me).
Could it be that somewhere along the way Christians have found that attending a “service” of some type a couple of times a week is far easier and far more convenient than actually having to "be" what God has called them to be?
You see folks, it’s a heck of a lot easier to commit to “going to church” a few times a week than actually having to embrace the idea that we are called to BE “the church” 24/7. I mean “going to church” is easy. Why? Well, if you “go” to church, the good news is that you eventually get to leave “the church”! Not so if you “ARE” ”the church”. Bottom line: Bigger commitment with far bigger responsibilities that you just can’t drive off and wave bye-bye to!
By the way, I'm still working on the 24/7 part. I'm up to about 1 1/2 hours twice a week!
Yes, we live in society that loves labels, traditions, and convenience. We live in a day in which the "status quo" rules and reigns supreme. It's true of the world and unfortunately very much true of the church of Jesus Christ. By the way, if you dare challenge that "status quo", be prepared for some angry looks and hostile words. People don't mind you "rocking the boat" as long as it's not the one their in!
So let’s end this, shall we?
If you're reading this, (you obviously must be bored out of your mind) you must certainly have an opinion on this particular subject one way or the other. Please allow me to state the obvious.
Agree with me that using the religious jargon such as "go to church" is foolishness and does nothing but confuse unbelievers and believers alike.
Disagree with me and believe that using the phrase "go to church" is not a problem whatsoever and think I'm being critical, cynical, and generally a pain in the butt.
You are a BIG pansy and just want to keep everyone happy (I have played this role many times myself). “Let’s all just hold hands, skip through the daisies, and be friendly”. "I mean what’s a few words between friends?” “Can't we all just agree to disagree even if it means clinging to unbiblical bologna?”
The answer by the way is no.
Yes my friends, join me won’t you? Let’s all quit “going to church”!
You’ll be much happier and happily I’ll have other folks out there to take some of the “heat” I get for being so very.....mean spirited and cynical”.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The following is but a small sampling of such "things".
1. The ability to make people laugh has served me well throughout the years.
2. If I eat to much, I get fat. If I don't, I get grumpy!
3. Krystal hamburgers (nicknamed "gut bombs")are delicious, but are notorious for causing me "intestinal distress" and vicious bouts of diarrhea.
4. Star Wars is cool. I would love to be a Jedi Knight so I could throw cars from the road that get in front of me and drive to slow.
5. Bigfoot is real. He lives in the woods behind my house.
6. Elvis is dead, but lives on in my sideburns.
7. Being tall is generally cool unless you are looking for pants or having your colon inspected.
8. Getting older affects the body in ways that are unholy.
9. Mullets, playing bass guitar, and Oldsmobile cars can give you a leg up in getting chicks........if you live in the 80's.
And finally, my favorite!
10. Questioning anything about the bible, God, Jesus, "church", or generally anything dealing with Christianity and it's modern practices will always cause people to get ticked off at me!
Even when they know.....it's true!
Monday, March 29, 2010
This Sunday, people everywhere will "attend church" dressed in fancy new clothes purchased especially for this very special day.
This Sunday, people everywhere will "attend church" dressed in fancy new clothes purchased especially for this very special day. While there, they will exchange pleasantries, read specially printed bulletins, and go through several rounds of standing up and sitting down.
This Sunday, people everywhere will "attend church" dressed in fancy new clothes purchased especially for this very special day. While there, they will exchange pleasantries, read specially printed bulletins, and go through several rounds of standing up and sitting down. Most likely they will sing songs, listen to special music, bow their heads to pray, and of course listen to the all important Easter "sermon".
THEN.....at some point.....this all important, most sacred Easter "service".....will end.
and then......"people everywhere"
will walk away
not even realizing that they completely
missed the point.....and the purpose.....and the precious Savior.
Does this offend you?
If so, maybe you are just another one of the "people everywhere"!
Maybe.....I am too.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
This describes where I am.....and it's no fun!
The Black Hole
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman
..."My grace is sufficient for you...." - 2 Corinthians 12:9
If you are older than 35, you may recall the early days of the space program. I remember the early spacecraft launch with John Glenn. One of the most exciting and tense moments of his return to earth was his reentry to the earth's atmosphere. I recall the diagram on television of the heat shield on the capsule that had to withstand incredible temperatures to avoid complete destruction. There was a blackout period for several minutes in which mission control had no radio contact. He was in the "black hole." It was a tense time. Either he would make it through, or the spacecraft would burn up in the atmosphere. There were several minutes of silence that seemed like an eternity. Then, mission control shouted with joy when they reestablished contact with the spacecraft. It was a time of rejoicing.
Have you ever had a time when you were in a spiritual black hole in your life? I have. The pressure was unbearable. No sense of God's presence. No sense of anything going on around me. God was about as far away as the man in the moon - at least from my perspective. I think every Christian who is called to make a significant difference in his world experiences times like these. These are the times when we question the reality of God, the love of God, the personal care of God. And He demonstrates to us that He was there all the time. These are "faith experiences" that God does in every person who is called to a higher level of relationship with Him. These times are needful in order to know that we have the "heat shield" that can withstand the incredible heat that comes when we follow Him with a whole heart - a heart that is radical in a commitment to fully follow His ways. Elisha had that spirit. He slaughtered his 12 oxen and burned his plowing equipment so that he would not have the opportunity to return to anything if God didn't come through (see 1 Kings 19:21).
The apostle Paul asked God to remove the heat from his own life one time. God's answer was not what he wanted to hear.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP)
How's your heat shield today? Can it withstand the heat that would want to burn up everything in your life not based in Him? Christ said, "My grace is sufficient." Is that really true in your life? Let His grace be your shield today.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Disclaimer: If you are a "Grammar Nazi", prepare to be.....disappointed!
Words matter. Say what you like, but words have power and carry weight. The same is true of titles. When we acknowledge someone according to a particular given title , we inevitably relate to that person in light of that title. The use of honorific titles may be a necessary evil in this world, but they have no place within the church.
Few things in the modern church make me want to barf as much as the use of honorific titles. I simply CAN NOT STAND IT! Several years ago, I actually heard a “pastor” rebuke a child who dared to call him by his first name. With a gentle grasp of her tiny hand he pointed out to this poor disillusioned child that she was to call him “Pastor ______”. Again, I could have thrown up!
It seems men of religion have always loved being addressed in such a way as to receive honor. In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke the following words of such men:
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'
But if you continue to read, you’ll quickly see that Jesus says, "don't be doing that"!
“But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus condemned the worldly practice of the exaltation of men through the use of honorific titles. Why? Because we are ALL brothers and have only ONE Master.
The use of honorific titles in the modern church is one of the most widely accepted non-biblical practices in existence today. Terms such as “Pastor”, “Reverend”, “Bishop”, “Father”, and yes my southern favorite, “Preacher” represent just a few of the many titles we confer to ordinary men. These men may be gifted leaders and upstanding individuals, but in no way deserve such recognition. This honor is reserved for our Lord Jesus and Him alone.
If you ask someone to share their thoughts regarding this practice, most would declare it to be a “non-issue” with them. My response can only be, “HOW?”. How can this be the case when such titles reinforce and solidify the continued adherence to the heresy of a clergy laity distinction? How, when our Lord has obviously commanded us not to do this? Yet even in light of the plain truths spoken by our Lord Himself, we continue to follow the well worn path traditionalism has paved smooth throughout the years.
Friends, the use honorific titles may be the norm for a fallen world, but they have no place in the holy assembly of God’s chosen people. There is but one Lord, one Master, and one Head of the church. If honor is to be bestowed, let it be to Him who is worthy!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
If "pastoring" is an office and not a gift, why do we not find this word being used in the New Testament in it's singular form. Not only do we not find it in its singular form, but we never find that word being used to describe any individual. We do find elders/overseers/bishops and deacons, but not pastors. Both Paul and Peter exhort the elders (plural) to "shepherd" the people, but these men are never referred to as "pastors". Also, it is important to note that you will never find anything that even remotely resembles the modern day pastor in the New Testament. Even if you do truly believe "pastoring" is an office, you could never biblically justify the "CEO"model that exists in the position of the modern day "pastor".
Now before I go any further, let me make it completely clear that I am not against these guys nor do I have an "ax to grind" with any particular "pastor". Actually, I deeply respect and care for them especially the one serving my own family (so quit thinking I hate Keith...I DON'T). These guys work their tail off and go through more bull than most folks ever could imagine. Although it may not seem so, I would consider myself to be one of their greatest advocates. How you may ask? Well, if "pastoring"(especially what we demand positionally of modern pastors) is indeed outside the boundaries of what scripture teaches, we are forced to admit that we have required far more of these brothers than the Lord would ever have approved of. The truth is it is far easier to dump our responsibility to be ministers of the Gospel off on "hired guns". Oh yes, we may volunteer in some capacity to "help" the real ministers, but that falls far short of embracing our God given call to be ministers of the Gospel, a "Royal Priesthood"! Like it or not, our continued reliance upon "professional" clergy leaves most of the body of Christ in a state of apathetic dependence while heaping unrealistic demands and pressure upon the shoulders of a passionate few!
If we truly want to see the body of Christ "come alive" in the fullness God desires, we must return to a biblical model of leadership. Only then will we begin to see our places of work, schools, and communities in general transformed by the power of the living God.
If you disagree, I would challenge you to return to your bible. Search out for YOURSELF what our King has to say. You do not need commentaries or the "wisdom" of theologians. God has declared, "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29. You have the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth.
It is not my goal to be considered "right". My heart simply desires that we become the "Royal Priesthood" God has declared us to be. I am convinced this can not happen until we refuse man contrived traditionalism and once again embrace that which God has ordained for His children and for the fulfillment of His purposes!