Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Two

The original church of the New Testament has five distinct parts of worship. The first one is found in 2 Timothy 2:15 and 4:2 which explain that the sermon should be preached from the Scriptures. This may sound obvious but I once listened to a preacher go on and on about family and friends and read jokes and lots of unnecessary chatter, never once mentioning any scripture or Christ during his “sermon”. I was amazed that the congregation had nothing to say to this man who obviously was not there because of a calling to serve Christ.

Warnings about false teachers can be found in Romans 16:17, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Matthew 7:15-20, 2 John 1:7-11, 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Galatians 1:8, Revelation 22:18, Colassians 2:8, Titus 3:9, Acts 20:29, and Matthew 6:1-4 to name a few. We have to be actively looking for them and questioning what we hear in order to keep from being decieved. If you find a preacher teaching one thing that is not in God’s Word, how can you trust anything he is preaching?

Financial giving, which is actually linked to fellowship, is another part of authentic worship. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 he instructs the perishioners in Corinth to collect charitable gifts the same way and level of expectation he instructed the Galatians in their letter. He mentions his instructions to Galatia in hopes of encouraging them to do the same or better in collecting their gifts.

Years ago a member of our church challenged me to give 15% of my pay each week. He quoted the scripture in Malachi 3:10 where God promises he will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings with not enough room to receive it. I was so blessed as I struggled for several months to achieve my goal of 15%. I was blessed because I prayed up my struggles and God was faithful to bless my effort. He never left my side. Even during times where there wasn’t enough money to buy gas to go to work, something always came along to satisfy the need. A few years later I was blessed to challenge a young man whose wife had recently left him to take care of their home and their two small children. He was convenced it couldn’t be done. I shared my doubts about my challenge and how I overcame them and he was encouraged to try the same. I saw him a month later and he was elated. It was working for him too. He asked how he could ever thank me and I told him to keep it up and share with someone else who needs the blessing.

When we said “we are to be a cheerful givers”, our children thought we were crazy. But as they got older and had the means to give and watch their gifts bring smiles and tears to those they gave to, they finally understood. If you’ve never felt what it is like to give someone a financial gift, you should try it. Even if it is only five bucks, I promise you, you will feel the Spirit stir inside your heart. My favorite thing to do is to give the cashier extra money as I leave the drive through and instruct her to give it to the person behind me. They smile and pass on the blessing.

There are different names for Breaking Bread. This is the next part of authentic worship. Whether you call it the Eucharist, Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper, or something else; it is correctly referred to in Scripture as the Breaking of Bread. Scripture also explains in Acts 20:7 that the Breaking of Bread should be performed on the first day of the week; every week. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 he describes the manner in which it should be performed. Some preachers say the elements of the bread and wine take on the very presence or essence of Christ himself, which is in error. Scripture clearly explains it is to be done in “remembrance” of the sacrifice that Christ made. He also explains when it is not to be taken. We are to have our hearts right with God, having no unbelief or anger toward Him. Also not to treat it as you would a common feast but instead with reverence and awe.

Praying should be a part of every sermon as well. In Acts 12:12 and 1 Thesselonians 5:17 it explains how prayer was a vital part of the original church services. Some preachers get so wrapped up in their sermon or finishing up on time that they don’t pray with their congregation. Scripture is clear that praying during the course of the service is a vital part of authentic worship.

The last part of authentic worship is to make a time for everyone present to sing praises to God. Acts 2:42, Ephesians 5:19 and Colassians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:15 and Hebrews 2:12, all have examples of how this should take place. They sang without any musical instrument accompaniment…only the voices of those singing. Other scripture talks about instruments being in existence and used at festivals and weddings but nothing was played during the church services.

There you have it…the five distinct parts of worship of the original church of the New Testament. As always, I welcome your comments or discussions but please reference Scripture since God’s Word is our source of truth.

 

Posted in Faith, Hope, Jesus Christ, Life, Love

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part One

I have often wondered why churches are so different in styles and beliefs, thinking they were all pointing to Jesus. I was naive to think that and very very wrong.  I started researching what the different denominations were and why they are different. Growing up I just figured it was different friends and family that gathered at the different churchs for whatever reason. It took me a while to grasp the concept that it isn’t about Christ that makes their differences. It is about themselves. It is about satan. It’s about people twisting church into their own comfortable place to gather.  A place where their rules feel better than God’s rules. A place where man creates and controls the atmosphere. A place where the masks cover the sins beneath. Where worship is planned in advance thus removing the spontaneous authentensity. Where people put on shows of faith and generosity that don’t come from the heart or the Spirit. I’m not talking about the Muslim and Jehovah’s Witnesses and such. I’m talking about the Christians.

Don’t misunderstand…I am a Christian. But because of these differences, I consider myself a Christ Follower instead. I think it is a more specific description considering all of those differences. I decided to do some research to discover what Scripture says the authentic church should look like. I opened my Bible up to Acts to start my journey. The first thing I ran across were the requirements for membership into God’s church. This reminded me of my childhood when my cousins built a fort and put a sign on the door that read “no girls allowed”. I eventually made my way in but only after completing a dare. I don’t remember the dare but knowing them it was a creepy one. It seems there are always requirements for membership regardless of what we are joining.

I found the first step in Acts 2 which says that sinners are to hear the word of God (Acts 2:37). This makes sense since you cannot believe in something you don’t know or learn about first. How can anyone believe or know about Christ unless he learns about Him first? Romans 10:17 reinforces this and reads “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“.

Since hearing the word produces faith in Jesus as the Son of God, faith is the second step. Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person, belief that is not based on proof, and belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion“. This step is important since you cannot move forward to the next step without it. It is also important to be learning about Jesus from an authentic church and not learning things that are not true. Otherwise, what is your faith based on? Lies, half-truths, man-made rules and junk that will deceive you and destroy your walk with Jesus (Acts 2:22-37, John 3:16).

Adam and Eve knew they had sinned in the garden before their eyes were opened. They tried to hide from God but He knew what they had done. His reaction was not for His benefit but for their benefit. He wanted to hear from them whether or not they would tell the truth and be sorry for what they did. The next step is repentenance (Acts 2:38; 17:30). Repentenance is explained as “Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin [Century Dictionary]”. Turning from sin means not going back. Not repeating the sins we asked forgiveness for. Of course we all sin and yes, sometimes we recommit them, but having a heart of repentance and faith in Jesus can keep us from those sins if we choose to fully and deligently repent. It takes work. It takes prayer. It takes commitment. Trust Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

Confession of Christ must precede Baptism so this is the next step. (Matthew 1-:32, Acts 8:37, Romans 10:9-10) Since we are baptized into Christ (Galations 3:27), it is Christ we are to confess our belief in. Confessing in someone else would not make us Christians. Therefore baptism would be a waste of time. Being baptized into Christ declares our gratitude and love for our mighty saviour. It is Him and only Him that saves us.

Lastly we are to be baptized in water for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21) Let me apologize now. I don’t mean to step on toes but I have to be honest or this blog is for not. No where in Scripture is sprinkling for baptism used. You will find general sprinkling for other purposes (example Hebrews 9) but never for human baptism. I can only speculate about the ramifications of this error but I, for one, would not take any chances. I would encourage you, if you have the slightest bit of doubt, to be baptized in water so you will not end your days wondering if you did the right thing.

So there you have it. This is only the beginning of my journey. There are many more aspects of the authentic church to come. Please feel free to comment but I encourage you to back up your comments with Scripture since Scripture is the ultimate authority.

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Makayla

I first met Makayla when she was 5, I think. Her mom had died a few years earlier and my daughter was engaged to her dad. She was the cutest little thing, sweet and had beautiful curly hair. Today she is a sophomore in High School. Wow, the time does fly. But she is just as beautiful and sweet as she ever was and a little more. We love her without any “step” and she is a joy to be around.

But there is a problem. She hates her hair. It is so curly you cannot comb or brush it when it is dry. It fizzes if she plays with it so she keeps it up on her head in a bun of sorts. The bad thing is she doesn’t take care of it because she doesn’t like it. We have spent a small fortune on shampoos and conditioners, asked everyone for advise but nothing has helped.

She thinks she is ugly because she hates her hair. She sees pictures of girls on sees them on TV and doesn’t understand why she can’t look like they do. All of this has caused her to gain weight. She is an emotional eater. She doesn’t understand the limits or why certain foods should be avoided. She is pre-diabetic, which is what killed her mother, but she doesn’t seem to care because she blames everything on her hair.

So the following is what I want to say to her. I’m thinking it might be a little too abrupt. What do you think?

From the magazines at the grocery store checkout, from billboards to TV shows, it’s hard to escape the world’s twisted idea of what it says a “beautiful woman” looks like.  The world does an excellent job of seducing women and girls into thinking they are not beautiful enough. It offers everything from beauty products to surgery to help you attain the beauty it says you deserve. But why do you listen to the worlds definition of beauty? Why is the world an authority on what beauty is?

You are a child of God. He made you for a specific reason and He made you the way you are for that reason. It is imperative to study and learn how to embrace a biblical and spiritual balance that honors the God who created you. You don’t need to work on your outer appearance. You need to work on your inner beauty character. That is where your beauty blossoms and flows to the outside of you. God calls you beautiful! Exactly the way He made you. Not the way the world wants you to be.

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Vacation Bible School or Battle Mom Royale

This week has been amazing so far. I have been looking for the Holy Spirit to show up and He certainly has done so. I am praying for a particular woman though and I’ll tell you why.

The first day she and I had a small confrontation. It wasn’t just between her and I though, she made sure the entire church knew about it. I guess that sounds a little bitter. I am praying it up but I haven’t turned it loose yet. Hopefully this post will help make that happen.

She was standing on the opposite end of the same pew I was standing in. She was motioning to her daughter for her to go to her. She neglected to speak to me or my two co-leaders personally. She didn’t care that we have a checkout process. She was ready to go and wanted what she wanted. I was in the process of dismissing another child while this was going on, so I put my hand in front of her child to stop her and instructed her to wait. I specifically said “No, you need to wait”. That was all I did and said. The woman loudly proclaimed at me “That was rude.” I know I looked at her in amazement because I was dumbfounded. I didn’t think it was rude to protect her child. I didn’t know this woman from Eve and because I was already talking to one child, I had not heard her child tell me the woman was her mom.

Admittedly, I had hoped she would be polite enough to walk over and ask me for her child but apparently I was expecting too much. So as I stood there like a deer in the headlights, she had placed her hands on her hips by now and was glaring at me. I had to stop my gaze from becoming a glare and quickly turned to the next child hoping I could shake this and it be done with. I went home, vented a little and was ready for the next day.

Sure enough, the next day we were both back and ready to tackle anything. My joke, sorry. This time she was polite and waited for her child’s name to be called. Rather smooth but without any eye contact. No problem. Let’s move past yesterday’s whatever it was.

Thursday, today, rolls around. Her daughter responded to the invitation. Hallelujah! What an awesome time. I was excited, the workers were excited, so we were anticipating equal excitement from her mother.

Again she stood a pews’ distance from any of us three workers and said “Where’s Roni?” I remained where I was and projected politely to her, “She responded to the invitation.” Instead of smiles and other exciting exclamations she started rambling. As she rambled, she walked past me to where my two co-workers were standing without looking in my direction or acknowledging I existed. Her rambling went like this “She got saved two weeks ago. She knows all about Jesus. She doesn’t need to talk to a counselor.” By this time I stopped listening and started praying for her. I wanted to say a lot but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. My two co-workers tried to calm her down and explain that she still had questions but the mothers response was a rude and abrasive, “Yea, I get it. Roni is an attention hound.” And she walked away.

OK, putting this on paper, of sorts, did help me release the anger and animosity I think I had been feeling along with still being dumbfounded by her behavior. But now it has changed to sadness. I’m still dumbfounded how a mother could act that way let alone have those feelings about their child.

Today, Friday, I was talking with another leader who is a little more familiar with this woman and learned a few things. She has made being a foster parent a career. She has adopted five children and is working on number six. She is traveling at the speed of sound and missing everything God has placed in her path.

We have no idea what these children deal with on a daily basis, or the parents for that matter. I will be praying for Roni and her mom for some time to come.

Stay safe and God bless…

 

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People Continue to Amaze Me

What is it about people? You know, the ones who take credit for things they didn’t do. Like when you clean out your grandmother’s RV to help sell it and she tells everyone how hard she worked to get it cleaned up. And why does that make us so mad?

Or when you hear your mother-in-law mention time and time again that she wishes she had a gravy boat for her dining room table. You buy her one for Christmas and when she opens it she says “Oh, a gravy boat?” I looked high and low for that gravy boat. I poured  time, energy and love into finding her the best one to fit her taste. And she acts like it was a random regifted gift. And why did that hurt my feelings?

Or my sister. My mom and dad are 78 years young this year. Every morning they work all of the puzzles in the newspaper. My sister knows this but for whatever reason the other morning, my sister had an issue that required my dads attention. See, my sister has a knack for dragging us into her drama. So she walks into my room and peers through the living room door to see dad working the puzzle, naturally. Then walks back through my room mumbling nondescript words of discontent that he is working is blankety-blank puzzles as though he is supposed to know it is “drama time”.

Or the woman at church who is all about herself. She is a ruler. Yes, you can look up the definition and it will fit her, I promise. She is also a control freak. That definition will fit too. Anyway, the other day my mom and I went to the church the day before our festival to drop off a few items for a silent auction. She was the head of that too. Go figure. She was elbow deep in coleslaw and another woman asked her where she wanted us to place the items until she could get to them. Well, the woman came unglued. She started yelling that the sale wasn’t today, that we couldn’t buy anything until tomorrow, she started to explain what a silent auction was and went on and on and on. I looked at my mom and we headed to the office. We left everything with the secretary to handle and walked away. She clearly has issues that are not up to us to handle.

Why do people continue to amaze me? I’d hate to think that I’m as self-centered as they seem to be. God is so good! Why is it that even though we pray and trust Him, when things work out, it is always a “WOW!” moment. He’s got it under control regardless of how out of control we may feel.

So, chill out…speak the truth with love…and hang on to Jesus for dear life. The ride will be worth it!

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Christopher

I met Christopher when he was four. His mom was very ill and the families of the fire department were taking turns helping with babysitting. His dad, my son and my daughter all worked together so we already felt like family. His mom got sicker and died expectedly. Christopher was the one who found her in bed. He was devastated to say the least. He didn’t fully understand anything expect that she was gone.

For almost two years the fire department was their extended family. He was such a cute and sweet little guy. Despite what he went through, he remained a mostly happy little boy. Fast forward almost two years and my daughter became his step-mom. It was a role she was born to do. Of course, having such a sweet child made it all the more easy.

So here is the letter I will send him.

My dearest Christopher, you are my pride and joy. You will always be my oldest and first  grandson. No one can take that away from me. You were chosen. I want you to know how special you are so I am writing this to you. I don’t want you to have to wonder or question my love for you. It is bigger than the whole universe. You are special and I want you to know that.

 

Posted in Family, Life | Tagged

Change is Good, Week 4

Final week! Yay!!! I ate a lot of steamed veggies this week. I have struggled to mix it up but didn’t give up. Of course it helped to pray a lot because I wanted to give up. I wanted some real food and some cheese and my favorite peanut butter and chocolate…lol.

But I held on. I lost a total of 6 1/2 pounds and that was the cool part. Now I get to add foods back being careful not to include the preservatives and additives that will make you sick and have lousy gut symptoms.

So that’s it. It was a long hard month but well worth it. Not just that I lost weight but mostly because now the garbage is out of my system. It’s like starting over.

Stay safe, Good luck and God bless…

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Change is Good, Week 3

Wow, what a week!

I dropped the ball keeping this up to date but this adventure is working. It isn’t meant to last for the long-term, only to give your gut a restart. Next week will be four weeks of vegetables only, or steamed but not cooked any other way. After that, start adding meat and cooking the veggies. The key is to stay away from prepared food and foods with additives and preservatives. But all in all, it has made a difference in how I feel. So if for nothing else, it has been worth that.

Stay safe and God bless…

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Who Is He? He’s My Dad!

He use to take me fishing on the weekends when I was growing up. He worked out of town during the week so our weekends were special. We’d get up early in the morning, load our rods and boxes and head out. We usually went to Haulover Canal and picked out a nice quiet spot. Not too many people went there so it wasn’t hard to find a good place. As I look back, I wonder what we took to sit on. Back then they didn’t have those folding canvas type chairs. We probably turned over a bucket or stood most of the time. After all we both were a lot younger.

He is such a gentle soul. I remember he would bait my hooks depending on what we were using. I was a tom boy but some things I just would not do. He never laughed “at” me or made me feel bad about that. He encouraged me to try things on my own but was always there to help when needed. He taught me patience, humility and gentleness. I doubt he even realizes this.

I can always count on dad for any kind of help or brain storming. He has a natural mechanical mind and can come up with solutions to just about anything. As a kid I called them “Jerry-rigs”. Now I understand it to be slightly short of genius. Several things I would see him do as I watched him while growing up have since then become real actual things you can buy.

He has days when he feels regret for not being home more when we were kids. But he was a wonderful provider and spent his free time with his family and not in bars. I think he is a wonderful example of a dad. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. He stands up for us, he leads and guides us, he corrects us when we don’t exhibit the best behavior possible. He does all this and so much more with a loving and kind heart.

I don’t remember very many whippings from dad. But the ones I do remember, I deserved. He is an excellent judge of character. Many times he would point out things that weren’t kosher with my friends that would come around. I didn’t always like hearing such things, but I knew my dad had my best interest in mind.

We use to play chess often. He taught me how to when I was very young. I have yet to beat him. I don’t lose on purpose mind you but he is the master who taught me so I guess it is supposed to be that way. I also taught my children to play. They were such bad losers that I refused to play chess with them until they learned how to lose. We would play endless games of Tic-Tack-Toe. After a few weeks, they finally learned how to lose and just have fun. It was a strange strategy but it worked.

I wrote this in his birthday card last year:

“I wanted to write something eloquent and brilliant and smart. Something that tells you how much I appreciate you and how grateful I am for everything you have done for me and for everything you have taught me. For teaching me about Jesus and being a great example of His love. The best way I know to do that is to tell you that I love you!”

Now that Father’s Day is upon us I am grateful to still have him here with us.

Happy Father’s Day!

Stay safe and God bless.

 

 

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Spring Vacation

Vacation… A time of relaxation and rejuvenation. A time to visit family and old friends. A time to unwind and look forward to a restart. Actually, vacation went very well. The only hitch was mom getting a stomach bug. But everything else was great.

My sister still tried to back us out of Sunday, right up to that morning but I smiled, held my ground and held God’s hand. It was awesome to see my son and his little family dedicate themselves to Christ. It was more than worth the extra miles and aggravation.

Stay safe and God bless…

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The Art of Misunderstanding Revisited

Just when you think enough is enough and it can’t get any worse, it gets worse. I have concluded that 99% of the problem is a total lack of communication. None! Two people talk over here while two others talk over there and never do they all come together in the same conversation. Thus, no one is on the right page, let alone the same one.

So we drive for an hour to the train station. We get comfortable for about an hour or so watching all the people come and go. Then I notice the status sign is blinking that our train will be delayed for an additional hour. Not bad, we can handle that.

You see, this whole mess started when we decided to go to North Carolina for a week. My son asked if we could come up a few days earlier so he could attend a Masonic event with my dad. Since no one else wanted to go up early, and dad has been wanting to ride the train up, we decided this was a good time to do just that. The misunderstandings started there and have snowballed every turn since.

About the time the train should have arrived in the station to prepare for boarding, an announcement was made. The engine could not proceed in the condition it was in so they had to send for another one from Jacksonville. By way of Tampa, it would take an additional seven hours before the train would arrive in Orlando. Bottom line, we would not be boarding until about 4am the next morning.

Now I’m not beyond camping out waiting for a plane or train or whatever but that is a very lone time. So I consulted with the attendent about the timing and our ability to reach our destination in time to attend the event we were going to in the first place. He advised it was not possible to reach our destination in time. So we got a refund and waited for our ride back home.

We’ll all drive up together like we originally planned in the first place. Everything happens for a reason and while we are disappointed all around, we have to trust the reasons we don’t get to see. Faith runs deep even when we don’t understand everything. We just have to trust God and know He will work it all out. He always does.

Stay safe and God bless

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The Art of Misunderstandings

So, I’ve been busy for a while working on my Etsy store and dealing with other obligations. I’m back mostly to vent. Go figure! If I don’t, I might explode.

I am recovering from a bad UTI but I’m having lingering abdominal pain. I called my doctor last week, last Thursday to be exact, and have not heard back from them. I suppose I won’t. I plan on calling them tomorrow but I doubt if I will get favorable results. I know what the pain is. I’ve had it before. I have a new doctor since my previous one decided to go to a VA. Lucky for them but now I have to start over.

I have AS (spinal arthritis), Fibromyalgia, regular arthritis and a host of other things. Since they are mostly pain related, no one believes how much pain I am in. I don’t take pain pills mostly because they don’t work for me but also because I don’t want to give in and live like an addicted zombie.

This new pain is low and constant. Back in 2006 I had the same pain. I thought it was an ulcer. I was in the middle of a separation and my ex was making my life miserable. My doctor prescribed me a small little pill to take three times a day and it did the trick over the course of a few months. Who would have thought that anxiety could cause so much pain. I hate thinking I will have to prove myself all over again. Not to mention not being able to get a response from the doctor in the first place.

Pain and all, I’m leaving Friday for North Carolina, with my dad, for a weeks visit with my children and grandchildren. My dad gets to go with my son to a masonic shindig while we are there and that will be very cool for them. They haven’t had much grown-up time to spend with each other. I’m just looking forward to being able to take my dad up by train. Something I do often but he never has. My mom and sister are driving up the middle of next week. Then we’ll all drive back together. Yay boy! What fun that will be.

Well I’ve learned my lesson even though my feelings are destroyed right now. I will never try to include them in anything ever again. I won’t care when they say I didn’t let them know about something in time. When the grandkids graduate or whatever, I’ll go and they can see the pictures. It just isn’t worth this pain. So here I am. I’m trying to understand why my parents and sister don’t think the newest great grandchild’s Christening is important enough to take an extra vacation day to attend. I just want to cry. A once in a lifetime thing and they could care less. I just don’t understand.

Yes, I’m giving it to God but it still hurts.

Stay safe and God bless…

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