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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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…

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…

Tolerance and Jesus’ Example

My tolerance is rock bottom. I need Jesus’s help to raise the bar. People don’t discipline their children when they do something wrong. They make choices without regard to whether it pleases God or not. They make decisions and life changes that go against the moral grain. Fake praises or condolenscences to make themselves sound good are a waste of time and look ridiculous. Talking about a subject they know nothing about while using big words that make no sense, may sound smart to the person doing the talking but others usually see through it. My patience is wearing thin. It is getting harder to keep my mouth shut. A part of me knows that my telling them the truth will fall on deaf ears but another part of me just wants to get it out.

Jesus knew what this felt like. When the crowd confronted the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, Jesus bent over and drew in the sand, more than once. He was giving them time to realize the wrong they themselves were doing. They missed the grace Jesus offeres to everyone.

John 8:6-9 (NKJV) This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

So while I rant and rave about the things that are wrong in the world, is Jesus bending over and writing in the sand while I stand and wonder what it is all about? Yea, I’m pretty sure He shakes His head and writes in the sand a lot these days.

Stay safe and God bless.

Change is Good, Week 2

This week was a little harder. You get tired of crunching all the time. And of putting a meal in the blender or bullet. I’m also running out of ideas. So I would recommend more planning than I did. I thought I was ready for this but I didn’t anticipate how quickly I’d bet bored with the crunching.

I’m also not praying it up as much as I hoped I could do. I get discouraged and tired and just eat and crash. It has become laborious now and I can see an early end to this adventure. I’m not giving up yet but it is really hard.

Praying for success…

Stay safe and God bless.

 

Change is Good, Week 1

I didn’t journal as much as I anticipated because this wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. I love all vegetables and fruit so this has been easy. The hardest part though has been my continuing to cook for the rest of the family. Not that I don’t have the will power to not eat what they eat. It is exhausting! I have learned to pace myself throughout my day but to make two suppers is getting old.

I’ve also had to rely on the internet for ideas to change things up. Lemon juice has become my new friend. Since I can’t put dressing on a broccoli slaw, for example, lemon juice works very well. Avocado has also become a good friend since I can spin it in the Nutri Bullet to make a thick dip or a thin dressing.

It takes time to pick out the right vegetables and fruit. It takes discipline not to give up and to also eat it all before it goes bad. Some days I wonder if it is worth it but I can tell you I feel better gut wise and I am sleeping better some nights. So on to week number 2.

Stay safe and God bless…

Do you have the answer?

I need your help! I’m not sure what this means but I can’t seem to figure it out. So here goes.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to see people the way He does. Instead, now I see all of their sin. Their stupid choices, their sinful decisions and behaviors, the willful disregard for God and His love. I find myself picking apart their issues. Being their judge of sorts but I am painfully aware that I have no business judging anyone. We all sin. So what is this? I don’t like it and I can’t seem to make it go away.

I prayed the prayer hoping to see the beauty in people. Instead I see the junk. Not everyone mind you, just the ones that I know for a fact have made or are making horrible choices. I don’t want to see the junk, I want to see the beauty. I know there is beauty there but for some reason the junk flies in my face. I don’t like it. I want it to stop.

I know we all sin and are all equal to one another in God’s eyes so why do I care so much about their junk? Why does their choices to sin bother me so much that it’s all I see when I look at them?  Am I so in love with God that people who toss Him aside make me this angry? Could that be what this is? Could it be that easy? It’s hard for me to even talk to them, it is so bad. I have to suppress the urge to smack them and shove the truth down their throats. Wow, that was harsh.

I have been praying for a few days for this to change. I’m not sure what God is trying to show me or teach me about myself or Him but I’m ready to get it and move on. Seriously, how do I make this stop?

Stay safe and God bless…

Are You Doing It Right?

I am constantly on a quest for self-improvement. I want to get so close to God on this earth that people will think I am already in Heaven. I know that sounds a little silly but I am happiest when I am in the presence of God and to be as close to Him as possible is a moment by moment quest.

It isn’t exhaustive by any means. It is actually easy as long as I don’t let the things of this world interfere. Today, as I was working on my studies, I came across this sentence. “Daily put-off the old self and put-on the new self by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” I had read and studied the passage in Ephesians 4 for years but here was a solution I had not learned before. Here was the HOW… “by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” 

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Suddenly I felt vindicated or something. I often wonder if I am doing things right or if God is shaking His head at me. But this tells me how I should be responding and that I am mostly getting it right. I’m not sure why this was a surprise or “ah ha” moment. I guess I second guess myself too much. Well, I just wanted to share in case you are like me and needed some clarification. We’re OK after all.

Stay safe and God bless…

 


 

Change is Good

I am embarking on a new journey. One of sight and sound and smell. Hopefully it won’t be the twilight zone but it should prove to be remarkable.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2010 after several years of unexplained symptoms. I have continued to do research because the doctors don’t have any answers. I recently found a book by a doctor who is also a devout Christ follower who breaks down into layman’s English each aspect of the human body and what is probably causing all of the symptoms.

He has designed a system to eliminate the elements that invade our bodies and creates havoc on then. He uses food and supplements to reverse the issues that cause the symptoms.

I will document my journey and share it with you. I plan on involving God in this journey too. After all, it is all about Him.

Old-fashioned Communication

All too often the people we love die before we have time to really get to know them. Most of us never know how we feel about each other because we always think that tomorrow is another day. What’s the hurry? We’ll have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other later.

I knew my Nana’s favorite bird and her favorite color but she had no idea what my favorites were. It isn’t her fault, I was more observant or I never let on what my favorite things were. Maybe she knew all along and I was too young to realize it.

So I got to thinking about my grandchildren. I love them dearly and while I was privileged to spend many years with them when they were younger, now I am 10 hours away and the phone and computer just don’t seem to be good enough. Those things lack the intimacy that spending face-to-face time with them holds. So I decided I would write them a series of letters or cards and express my love and appreciation for them. I personally would keep these and store them away forever but I don’t expect them to do that realistically. I just want them to see and read how I feel about them while I still can. I don’t want them to ever have to wonder about that.

I had to warn my daughter of these impending letters so that she wouldn’t think that something medically horrible was going on with me. At least that I know of. I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell them how special they are. Even it if means more to me that it does to them. And while I re-read this, I should probably make mention of how proud I am of my own children. They are amazing too.

I will post the letters as I send them. I know they love getting mail even if there isn’t any money in them…lol.

Stay safe and God bless.

And the Winner is…

I was reading my morning devotion and the scripture verse was Exodus 34:14 “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God“. It went on to talk about how Paul explained to the church in Corinth that he was jealous for them with a godly jealously in 2 Corinthians 11:2 (For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.”). And more scripture that tells us we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him”). If jealousy is in His image then how can it be a bad thing? So I started to wonder about this jealously Paul (and others) was speaking of since, in my understanding of the word, ranks up there with envy.

To make matters worse, envy is defined as “the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another, covetousness”. OK, so now, we’ve added yet another word to this issue that is clearly talked about in scripture under the heading of “Thou shalt not”.

But never fear, my trusty dictionary will clear this up. I dug around in the “jealous” department and discovered that it isn’t actually similar to envy although we sometimes use the different words and meanings interchangeably. Way down in the definition of jealous I found that it also means “solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something” and ” intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry”. Phew!

Now we’re getting somewhere. But as I pondered my own “jealously” issues for Christ, it brought up questions. Could all those people standing around preaching and yelling (“repent and be saved” or “Jesus is coming, get right with God or die”) and a variety of others, actually be reacting to this world out of Godly jealously? We tend to think they are a little nuts, ignore them and continue on about our day but what if it is real honest Godly jealously? What if they have it right and we are just uncomfortable with their delivery? What if, instead of ignoring them and walking briskly away, we shaked their hand and acknowledged our new understanding of their mission?

I don’t know if this will help me when I get passionately defensive of Christ or if it will fuel my patience and love of those who choose not to follow Him. But at least now I have a new found understanding and tolerance for those who choose to shout it in the streets.

This ending wasn’t anything I had envisioned for this post when I started it. I paused a lot and prayed a lot over it so hopefully it is what God directed me to write.

Stay safe and God bless.

And the Verdict is…

My dad was working a puzzle today and asked me if  g-u-i-l-t-y was the correct spelling for the word “guilty”. For the first time that word hit me like it never has before. I was slightly stunned as I sat there and pondered what it felt like to be pronounced guilty of something. Yes we are all guilty of lying but hopefully grow out of that as maturity sets in. And I’m sure everyone has gone home with a pen from work in their pocket from time to time. So what was it today about this word.

It felt as though I had just been given a moment to physically feel what being guilty really feels like. That shock when you think your life is about to change forever. Just a brief amount of time that couldn’t have been more than several seconds but felt longer. I am guilty, me, I did it. For that moment I felt guilty. I felt condemned. We talk about that and explain it as we spread the Gospel but this was the first time I had ever physically felt my guilt.

But God wasn’t done with me yet…

Before I could feel bad about that guilt, God replaced it with feelings of redemption, forgiveness and grace. I love it when God gives me small glimpses into His heart.

Stay safe and God bless.