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

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…

 

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…

 


 

A Picture of Paradise

Luke 23:43 promises we will spend eternity, forever with Jesus. The Scripture reads in part, “today you will be with me in paradise”. There are several key things in this verse that make me very happy to be a Christ follower.

First is the word ” today “. This word has sparked controversy for many years across many denominations. Personally it confirms to me that the people who believe in purgatory have got it wrong. Jesus would not have said ” today ” if He didn’t mean it. So I believe that if I die today, I will be with Jesus today because He says so.

Next is the word “you”. Throughout the bible there are several references to specific people. In Leviticus, God sent word through Moses to the Israelites about how He expected them to behave. Here though, He uses the word ” you”. So, in the absence of a specific people here, this tells me He means everyone.

Next is “with me”. This confirms that we will be with Jesus in eternity. If not, He would have worded this another way.

Last but not least are the words ” in paradise “. Wahoo!!! This is so cool. I can scarcely begin to imagine what paradise will be like. I can see it being the Garden of Eden, the way God intended it to be. A place where there is no darkness, no pain, no tears, no fear (Rev. 21).

I hope you are as excited about this verse as I am. Stay safe and God bless.