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.

Advertisements

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.

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…

 

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!

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…

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…

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…