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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Children of the Kingdom

I am continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom, taking a look today at  Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)

"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."

Why do you think Jesus would say such things?

Is it that some of us think we are more important than others? In many work environments it may be true.  Some people will be in positions of authority over others. In difference circles of influence it may also be true.

But in the kingdom of God it doesn't seem so. In this world you may be the king or president of a great nation, a CEO of a large company, or the leader of some organization... but we see Jesus saying that anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. 

Why would Jesus say this? I think kingdoms work best when there is only one king. If somebody wants to join the kingdom of God, but also want to be in charge somehow... it's just not going to work out well.

I'm sorry, but if you want to be a king in the kingdom of God, it seems like there is no room in the kingdom for you. That position has already been filled.

Children are welcome. There is always more room for children of the King. 

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plugging In and Fitting In

A conversation I had with a brother recently got me thinking about stories in a book Finding Church that I am reading. In the book, a number of different people share their stories of looking for church, finding problems with each church, and moving on and looking elsewhere.  I know many people who have similar stories, moving from church to church. For a time they feel like they have found a home church, later to discover something is missing.  Some of them eventually give up and stop looking for the church that best fits their needs. Some settle on a church community but are not really satisfied, others give up and quit 'going' to church.

There are many different reasons people leave churches and go looking for church elsewhere.

I think I recognize a common desire in most of these stories. People often want to feel like they belong and fit into a church community. 

Many Christians struggle with this need of belonging. It could be because people are encouraged to 'fit in' by 'plugging in' and serving in some church program.  After visiting for a few weeks, if someone wants to belong, the first step is often to find some ministry where they can volunteer and contribute. In some cases serving side by side with others does build relationships. However for others it doesn't work out that way.  After a few years of working side by side with others, some people still don't really feel like family. For whatever reason, some people will form stronger relationships than others.

A problem with this could be that churches often focus on plugging into programs - and simply hope that relationships will form.

What if people were encouraged to plug into church by building relationships first?

If church was viewed primarily as believers, and whenever they get together - a primary focus of the church could be building relationships with each other whenever we get together - to build each other up to become more like Christ, and encourage each other to go and share Christ with others.

If you take an honest look at the church of the New Testament, you should notice that relationships come before programs.  There isn't much mention of church programs.  But there is a strong emphasis on the 'one another' relational aspects of gathering together as the church.

So here is my suggestion for those that feel like you don't fit in with a community of believers.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Plug in by building some relationships and see if things change.

Advice for those that do fit in with a community of believers but are concerned about those that don't.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Instead of encouraging fringe people to fill a ministry need, take the time to build a relationship with them.  Take whatever opportunity you can to encourage others to become more like Christ.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

If I Become The Next Pope

With the current Pope resigning, I thought I'd put some thoughts together just in case I am selected as the next Pope.  If I was the Pope, and had the power to direct the church, what would I do?

  1. I would make a decree banning all Christian denominations. All followers of Christ would be instructed to recognize that there is only one church.
  2. I would hold a mass ordination where all Christ followers would be ordained as priests.  Imagine how much could be accomplished by encouraging the priesthood of all believers.
  3. I would lay off all employee's of the church.  With millions of new priests volunteering their time and lives, it wouldn't be necessary to pay some.
  4. I would sell all church property, and distribute the money raised to the poor.
  5. I would make a decree that Jesus is the only head of His church.
  6. I would then resign. 

What would be left after I destroyed what the church has worked so hard to create and maintain?  The vision I have is that the church would return to the way it was in the early days - before the days of church buildings, special staff, and special programs.  The church would be scattered back into the world - to work together, care for others, and share Jesus with those outside the church.  

I recognize that the Pope does not have influence over the other 30,000+ denominations out there.  But I suspect if the Catholic church took these steps of reform - many other reformers would follow. 

Did I miss anything?  What would you do if you were Pope?

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Do You Know Your Lusts of the Flesh

When you think about lusts of the flesh what do you think of?  I believe Galatians 5:16 - 21 has a list of different lusts of the flesh . I suspect we often reduce this list and ignore a few.

I'll start with the good old King James version since it translates epithymian as lust.  Side note: this Greek term often gets translated as desire, for example Jesus desired (or lusted) to eat passover in Luke 22:15.

Galatians 5:16 - 21 (KJV)
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

OK, there is quite the list here of desires or lusts of the flesh - things that are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit that are listed next in the popular Gal 5:22 - 23.

I want to highlight one that often gets overlooked when we think about lusts of the flesh.

In the KJV list we see listed heresies - from the greek haireseis.

Other translations go with terms like factions, divisions, sects, or schools of opinion in Gal 5:20. 

SECTS is a naughty lust of the flesh. 

I dare you to speak this truth the next time you are with a bunch of Christians.  Then spell it out because I'm pretty sure you'll be misunderstood. :)

We have a natural human tendency to be divisive.  A simple look at church history and the 40,000+ Christian denominations, sects and factions is proof enough.  This is not the work of the Spirit - it is contrary to the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, peace, patience, and meekness.

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