Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New House of Worship

We have purchased a new house. Since I believe worship should be my life 24/7 (Romans 12:1-2), I plan to worship God in this new house. I want this to be a house of worship.

Should I build a steeple to let everyone know it is a house of worship? Then if they want to worship God they will know they are welcome to come to my house and worship too?

Or should I go with the symbol of the cross? So they know Jesus is the focus of our worship.

I wonder how the early church let their neighborhood know they worshiped God.

I don't like talking to people.

Maybe I could put fliers in everyone's mailboxes, or advertise in newspapers and on the internet. :)

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why I need church

I do need church... and by church I mean the people. I need fellowship, encouragement, correction, care, prayer, etc... and a place where I can give the same in return.

If by church you mean the Sunday morning gathering... I have been rethinking my dependence on it.

I can get teaching/preaching through other sources. Recent technology like videos, blogs, and books can bring teaching into my home. With earlier generations the average believer would not have had access to most of the teaching resources that are available to us now. And yes, included in this is even our own copies of the Bible in our own language. Today we are very fortunate to have all these resources available. There are many great teachers who speak into my life on a regular basis.

Another big aspect of the Sunday morning gathering is worship. And I do love worship (if that makes sense). If worship is loving God, then I love loving God. However I believe worship should be my life 24/7 (Romans 12:1-2). Yes, music with a focus on God during personal alone time as well as during large group singing does help. I do love loving God. It's all good.

The Sunday morning gathering is not a bad thing. For many it may be a very important thing. I don't want to discourage anyone from going. If it's bringing you closer to God, and connecting with other believers... then I encourage you to go.

I am simply recognizing the aspect of church I can't live without is the people. The fellowship and community part of Christ's church I can't find without gathering face to face with other believers. I can't fellowship on my own... (duh?) So yes, I need church. I need to be part of a family of believers. I need fellowship. I need to walk side by side with other believers who are following my Lord.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Basic.Holy Spirit

A short clip by Francis Chan to stir our minds and hearts.

What did Jesus leave for us to follow?

Have we lost our focus? What/who are we following?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Following

Most religions of the world have a book to follow. Or some meditations to follow. Or some rules to follow....

Is Christianity any different?
  • Do we follow a book?
  • Do we follow some creed?
  • Is it about agreeing to some catechism, some list of beliefs?
  • Is there a list of rules to follow?
Or is it different because it is a person we are following?

There are many verses that speak to following Jesus. All the references to Jesus being a shepherd come to mind. Here are a few:

John 10:14 (NIV)
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
Matthew 4:19 (NIV)
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
John 8:12 (NIV)
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 10:27 (NIV)
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me"
It seems that divisions are created and maintained when we follow someone or something other than Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)
My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[a]”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

OK. But how can we follow Jesus today? Did Jesus leave us with a book to follow? How did He expect us to carry on?

John 14:15-21 (NIV)
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
John 14:26 (NIV)
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
What do you think? Is there a difference between following Christ and following a religion?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kingdom of Doers

Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom.

To enter the kingdom of heaven you must be a doer. Talking the talk just doesn't cut it.

Matt 7:21 - 23 (NIV)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
This passage does not fit well with an easy believism attitude that says all you have to do is believe. There is obviously truth in the fact we are justified by faith.

Rom 5:1 (NIV)
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (NIV)
But we can't rest too heavily on one side of the spectrum on this. James confirms actions are required.
James 2:24 (NIV)
"You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
I want to also look at the context of this Matt 7:21 - 23 passage.

Immediately before this is a warning about true and false prophets. The way to tell if someone is teaching correctly is to watch their actions. Watch their fruit. If they are not 'doing' right, be careful they likely are not teaching correctly either.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matt 7:15 - 20 NIV)
Then following is another familiar passage about the wise and foolish builders. Making the point if you know what is right, you better be doing what is right.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt 7:24-27 NIV)
This is a great reminder for me recently. I can easily get caught up talking about the kingdom of God. But I find it harder to focus on living my faith. All someone needs to do is read my blog to know what I think. But is there fruit? What am I doing?

My wife graciously reminded me of this recently with this verse: 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV)
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Needing Hell

Some discussions around Rob Bell's new book Love Wins has got me thinking today.

Is your belief in Hell a cornerstone to your faith?

If you discovered somehow that the wicked were not destined to a conscious eternal torment in Hell... how badly would that rock your boat?

I find it interesting what is considered and essential to the Christian faith.

I haven't read this latest book of Rob Bell, nor any other book of his for that matter. I don't know if I agree with all of his conclusions. But I respect his ability to ask some great questions.

A year and a half ago I took a look at Scripture to determine if my traditional views on hell were well supported. It wasn't as clear as I once thought. I understand it is a hot topic. I concluded:

If scripture was clear, I don't think I'd be asking the above questions. But there are enough verses to give me some doubt. I'd rather admit I don't know for sure one way or the other, than give someone a potentially false image of God.

Either way eternal life with Jesus is still the obvious choice. I'm just questioning if the doctrine of Hell, that most denominations support, is clearly true to scripture. To be destroyed or perish may simply mean that those who do not choose life with Christ do not get to live eternally.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

After we took the Scriptures into our own hands

"Just as our forefathers fell away from the true God and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and of the right faith in him . . . , so today, too, every man wants to be saved by a superficial faith without fruits. . . . In the same error we too lingered, as long as we heard and read only the evangelical preachers. But after we took the Scriptures into our own hands and consulted them ourselves on many points, we have been instructed"

Who said this? Sound like a some current blogger?

Anabaptist Conrad Grebel in 1524.

One of many interesting quotes in a free pdf book Secret of the Strength.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kingdom or Stuff

Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom.

Matthew 6:28-34 (NIV)
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is another popular passage with reference to the kingdom. The contrast is someone who is preoccupied with their own needs.

"I need food"... or for my corner of the world "I want good food"

"I need clothing" ... or "I want nice clothing"

and then "I want that new gadget"

"I want a new car"

"I want a bigger house"

"I want a nice vacation"

"I want to be entertained"

These are the things "pagans", or I suppose those who don't really know God chase after.

This is contrasted with someone seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness. Someone seeking to follow and submit to the rule and reign of God. The promise is nice too. The promise is that God will provide the kingdom seekers with all that they need too.

So where are the desires of my heart? Kingdom focused or stuff focused?

Monday, March 7, 2011

All Things to All People

Suppose I was in some tribal land where once a week they all gathered together and listened to one person give a great speech, and then they made music unique to their culture. What would I do?

Assuming there was nothing really wrong with what they were doing. I would want to go and do what they are doing, and try to fit in, so I could be Christ to the people in that community.

If I didn't go, I wouldn't fit in, and my impact to that people group would be limited.

So what does God want me to do with the traditional Sunday morning worship service? Considering the relationships God has brought into my life... I will try to be all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:22). I'll try to fit in the best I can, just in case God wants to use me in this peculiar people group.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kingdom Come God's Will Be Done

Like most christian children, I memorized the 'Lords prayer' at an early age. I heard and prayed it often. As for the part about 'your kingdom come', I assumed I was simply praying looking forward to going to heaven.

Maybe I'm the only one who thought that way...

Now that I have been learning about the secrets of the kingdom, it has taken on new meaning.

Matt 6:9-13 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Youngs Literal Translation vs. 10:
`Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth. '

I am now recognizing that the kingdom of God is not just a distant future reality, but an active kingdom that God wants me to be part of right now.

This prayer takes on special meaning when I recognize I can call on God to reign now, in my life, in my surroundings. To pray that God's will be done in my present situation is to pray for God's reign or kingdom to be active and present in my life. It is also to pray that I can be part of what God is doing in this world as His kingdom advances.

When we combine this with the previous kingdom passages in Matt, we can assume that God's healing powers will also be active when we call for His kingdom to come.

In terms of being held captive by sin. Praying for God's reign to come will deliver us from the evil one. The only way to be free from the kingdom of darkness is the join the kingdom of light.

We can also assume this rule or reign of God will be good news to the poor, that God will provide for the needs of His people... that He will give us today our daily bread.

So after all these years, this prayer has become my favorite prayer again.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Playdough Scripture Hebrews 10:24-25

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up going to church meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25 (Playdough Version)

Could other forms of meeting together count?

When do I encourage others towards love and good deeds?