08 December 2008

Um, Where's God Looking?

The gist of a message I heard in church long ago...

It's true that God looks at your heart, but it isn't true that you can't tell what's on the inside by looking on the outside. If what's on the inside is pure and godly, it's going to show on the outside. What's on the outside needs to reflect God and His holiness. His righteousness.

So don't be strumpeting about in the wrong things here, ladies. If you think you can cut your hair ONE INCH and see the Kingdom of God, you are sorely mistaken. If you think you can wear those tight shirts and pants and make it when I'm not looking, it won't happen. God raises a standard in the book of Leviticus that you're not supposed to be wearing men's apparel and you're sure not supposed to be inciting lust.

And the TV. Do you think you can go to heaven for ONE MINUTE when that thing is in your house? Get rid of the hellivision and quit compromising. You can't serve God and "the world."

**

I decided shortly after hearing that sermon that I just wasn't cut out to be a Christian. Well, not AS Christian as they are there, anyway. I guess I'm a "carnal" Christian. A rebellious Christian. In short, I'm an American first, I suppose, because I resist the leading of the Man of God. I'm independent. I mean, if the pastor is "anointed of God" and spoke truth from the pulpit... and here I'm not in agreement with him, I'm in rebellion and backslidden. I have not been "convicted by the Holy Ghost" that I need to wear dresses only. I have been stiffnecked and refused this "revelation" and not only that, I don't attend Wednesday, Tuesday and Sunday nights as well as the morning service that could last until 2 p.m. Yes, it's true. I mostly live "in the world." Therefore, I'm pretty worldly. The pants alone should tell you that! How discouraging.

You know, with thoughts like this, I'm thinking I might as well go fornicate, do drugs and um... go parachuting or something. Well, whatever. D doesn't attend church (I know, you're shocked) and in his words, "What? Is God going to send me to Hell TWICE or something?"

So might as well have fun.

But how discouraging. Could you imagine growing up in this church? You have to ask the pastor before you buy a car or date a girl or whatever. If you live like this long enough, it's NORMAL. Everyone outside this way of living is "of the world." They're worldly. It all starts with that pair of pants, lady. Do you know how long eternity is? Do you want to take that chance and stray "off the path?"

I guess I'm there. Even if I haven't been fornicating, done a bunch of drugs or gone parachuting, my very salvation is like, totally over because I'm not obedient to the Man of God and the church.

You know, it's very interesting...

Have you noticed that before people get saved, folks in this church want to tell you that salvation is a FREE GIFT and you don't have to do anything to earn it? You just do this ABC thing, or maybe say this prayer and get baptized, or whatever the formula may be in a particular denomination. They LOVE YOU! They're worried about you. Can they give you a ride to church next week? Would you like a free Bible study? Did you need some bread? Because Sarah has three extra loaves from her work at the bakery...

Then after a while...

Well, then after a while you start to realize something.

Salvation isn't really free. You'd better shape up if you want to continue being accepted by this "family." And do you think God is cool with that word you said last Tuesday? And we need volunteers for Sunday School. We should all be doing "God's work," and hang on while the pastor cracks open that book of Proverbs... or better yet, Revelation! ... and tell you about it.

That's a cult. I'm sorry to say it. It might be a Christianish cult, but it's a cult. In the book of Galatians, it's clearly outlined how to deal with a believer who is "caught in a sin."

(Outsiders? Non-believers? God's spirit has to convict 'em because they're spiritually blind. No amount of chatting about it is going to do any good unless God supernaturally uses that chat to DO SOMETHING in that person's life. Hm. Which I guess is possible, but I think honestly prayer accomplishes a bit more. Maybe I'm wrong. Not to say I don't chat with people anyway, but that's more because I like to chat. And share cookies.)

Anyway...

Galatians 6:1 doesn't tell people who are "spiritual" to preach at people and browbeat them into submission. It says to restore them gently while watching THEMSELVES so they're not tempted to fall into the same sin.

And you know what? I've seen preaching against sin in other churches, and I think the difference between this church and a True church is that the preaching is done in humility and with that idea of coming alongside others as an equal and not The Man of God with all the answers. The feeling you get when someone at least TRIES to care for you and understands that we're all in this together.

Another thing? I think that the people listening to the preaching need the same spirit toward the pastor and the people sitting in the next aisle. Which I'm not always good at but trying to cultivate. Ok, I'm crappy sometimes. Didya just hear me cuss?

This church I'm attending right now is very strange. Daja, you'd be happy to hear that the pastor thinks women should be preachers and evangelists just like men. He has some verses to back it up, too. Since he knows fluent Hebrew AND Greek, I can't really argue with him. I know I'll look stupid if I do.

Another strange thing is that, when you ask the pastor what you HAVE to do after your salvation prayer to stay saved, the answer is "nothing." That's it. I'm sure there are lots of good things we SHOULD do, but I've never had this pastor tell me which car to buy or what movies to see. I think if I did something obviously wrong and way "out there," I might receive some advice to be taken or left. And I do think there's a time to kick a member out if there is unrepentant, outright flagrant sin. But if it has happened at my church, I haven't seen it. No "disfellowshipping" someone from the pulpit here.

I haven't seen that nasty spirit in this place. I see problems. I see people who could do better, including myself. Sure, I see hypocrisy. Probably because I see people striving for a standard that is so perfect we're going to come up short. A lot.

The church at the beginning of the blog post? Well, suffice to say things didn't turn out so well for the pastor who preached these things. I wish him and his family the best after he repents of his own sin. I really do. But there have been many people hurt along the way. Many lives shattered. I think the people I feel the most for are the children who grew up there. Now that things have soured, and their ideas of "who God is" were so connected to that one church... well, God Himself has to heal those things. I'm praying that will happen and soon.

In the end I guess it doesn't matter much where you go to church. But there ARE many wolves in sheep's clothing out there. I hope this post doesn't sound overly critical. I hope it just speaks to someone else out there who needs encouragement that God and people who claim to speak FOR God are sometimes two very different things.

So are you wondering where God's eyes are? 1 Peter 3:12 says that God's looking on the righteous and listening to their prayers. May God bless you today. :]

26 comments:

  1. When Daja comes along, I'm sure she'll have a bit to say about this. :) I am not eloquent enough to write what I mean, so I'm not going to say much, except that I'm thankful that my only foray into false religions was as a child, and that God delivered me from it as a young 20-something year old.

    Also, I pray that "D" comes to know the Savior for who he is, not what he's heard at a false-teaching church.

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  2. Oh, and my sister-in-law and her children go to that church that you paraphrased at the beginning of your post. Since I haven't spoken in tongues, I am not going to heaven, according to her. Ish.

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  3. Sad thing is, I've been to other churches in this same denomination and they all weren't so legalistic. This particular denomination has a clause though that you can NEVER kick out the founding pastor... go look it up...

    But thanks for commenting. I literally felt the hugs through that. I only spent maybe a few months there, but that was enough... especially since you get so wrapped up when your good friends are from there.

    I hate drama but I love my friends.

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  4. PS Thankfully D never went to this place, but yes, he has been hurt in other places. I'm not sure quite where he is (feel free to answer, D!), but I do know I can't nag anybody into the kingdom of God. HEY, if I could, I think there would be like 6 billion souls on their way to heaven or something. I'd totally rock as an evangelist. :]

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  5. WOW! That is insane. I am glad I don;t attend that church. My dress/skirt only was something I prayed about. My church doesn't have a cress code that I am aware of. Everyone is called differently and it us up to know if HE is calling things or if it's the influences around us. I have a TV and went TV free for awhile no big deal, my church didn't mandate it. Some people need to get off the pulpit and take a good look at themselves.

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  6. Anita Ann, I have always wondered if I would have received this conviction were it not for the nagging (usually during "prayer") at this church. Would God have spoken to me differently? Or can I not hear God on this issue because of my own anger about this spiritual arm-twisting?

    What does God really think? And could that thing He's thinking be different for different people?

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  7. I mean in terms of personal convictions not specifically spelled out in the Bible. But you knew that.

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  8. What a peculiar church to be sure. And I'm with Daja; that was one of the things that initially drew me towards Quakerism. Even way back when they started women were allowed to get up & have their say & because of it they produced some of the great social reformers like Elizabeth Fry...which is off topic. I believe very much in the individual leading of the Holy Spirit, who tailors His direction, discipline, comfort, insights etc for the individual so blanket sets of rules just don't work. They never have, even way back in Leveticus. That's one reason, amongst many, why Jesus came to die. They couldn't keep the law back then & we can't keep it now but Jesus can & did & it is His grace that makes anything possible for the rest of us.

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  9. Have just returned from reading about Elizabeth Fry... I had never heard of her before (sorry). I liked her bonnet. OK, I like those bonnets. I think it would be fun to wear those bonnets all the time, though maybe I would get teased a lot because they don't go with the jeans. :]

    But think how, with the bonnet, there is less fussing over the hair.

    Just thinking aloud. I can be off-topic too! LOL!

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  10. Bonnets would also keep your head cool or warm depending on what you needed. I would wear one just to wear one, becasue I am crazy like that.So crazy that people wouldn't say much about it.

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  11. I'm so lame, I saw your reply to me. God does speak different things to different people. Only one person was given the tablets with the 10 Commandments, not everyone was told give their son as a burnt offering, get the picture. IF you have anger it could have clouded what the Lord was speaking to you. But, he would tell you again.

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  12. lol. ''What *do* they teach in these schools?'' I think I've misquoted Lewis but you know what I mean. And I don't like the bonnets. So not cool & they wouldn't go well with my jeans or my kameeze either. I can't think how else God is meant to talk to me except individually.

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  13. What? A Quaker who doesn't want to look like the Quaker Oats man? LOL. I had an acquaintance in college who was *amazed* that someone was a Quaker but didn't dress the part (well, the part she thought the Quaker was s'posed to dress like). Yep, and this guy ate pizza, too, when he wasn't busy ferrying escaped slaves on his horse-drawn wagon, right?

    :]

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  14. Lol. You are a funny lady!

    There are some conservative Quakers who do dress that way ~ check out QuakerJane~ but not out my way!

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  15. Yeah, the whole dress thing...I've read those scriptures (a long time ago). I don't think that you have to wear a dress to look feminine. And that is what I strive for...to look feminine. I do not cut my hair short for that reason, but I do cut my hair, and it's not as long as it could be. I don't think anyone else is wrong to cut their hair short, but for me, long hair is what God has impressed on me FOR ME.

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  16. And here is my fourth comment: Where the heck is Daja? I really want to hear what she has to say!

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  17. I'm here! I'm here! My goodnes, Claire....give a big-fat-pregnant-lady a break! LOL!

    I'm so glad that you don't go to the church at the beginning of the post, Mrs. C! It's wrong on so many levels, I wouldn't know where to start.

    But, for you, just keep in mind that "it is for freedom Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) Jesus didn't just replace the Old Law with a New Law. He fulfilled the law and set us free to live in His grace!

    If you have to add ANYTHING (hair-cutting, church attendence, Scripture memory, dress code, etc.) to the FINISHED work of Christ then you are saying that what Christ did was not enough. But, Christ's work was ENOUGH! And IT IS FINISHED!

    You know, we always hear that there is nothing we can do to make God love us less (basically, that our sin won't separate us from God). But it is JUST AS TRUE that there is nothing we can do to make God love us MORE. If we attended church every Sunday, never said a swear word, never got a tatoo, never pierced our noses, never had a glass of wine, were properly homely looking so as to never cause another to desire us physically, took no joy in sex, and were the most pious people on the planet God would no more approve of us than He would the person who is hiding in a public restroom shooting up crack.

    We have to acknowledge that what God did was enough and that we cannot earn it nor derserve it, no matter how hard we try. So, we may as well rejoice in our freedom and tell the devil to get behind us!

    Enjoy your freedom, Mrs. C. and know that you are fully accepted in Christ--short hair, jeans and all!!!

    (Hey, and I'm glad your church supports women ministers....'cause Jesus did! *grin*)

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  18. LOL THANKS, Daja!!!

    And Claire, you're welcome to leave 30 comments on each post. More if you want! :]

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  19. Wait,let's not forget or under score the fact that EVERYONE is judged, saved and unsaved. Salvation is free, but you will be judged by your fruits/how you lead your life. We do not skipped judgment just because we are saved. There is no free pass here. We don't utter our repent and then continue to live as we did before. I think if we continue to habitually sin as before then our salvation is questionable to begin with. I am not saying saved makes you perfect, but if you think you can do as you did before without as much TRYING to be a better person and you will enter God's Kingdom then that is a serious misunderstanding. And makes Jesus' life completely meaningless if you think about it. Let's not downplay our judgment just because our Salvation is free and guaranteed.

    Whenever I hear the word legalistic, I usually see it applied to a personal conviction. I think many people do not understand the concept outside of 'your convicted, I'm not, it's not a sin.' But, if God does convict you to wear a dress/skirt and you choose NOT to.....it is a sin. So let us be very careful about telling others that it is legalistic. While it may be so to you, for others it is not. Counseling them against God instructions for them is also a sin.

    I am convicted on most of the things you all find so oppressive,false teachings,and wrong. I teach my children that in addition to being saved, we must pray and ask God what is pleasing to Him and answer His personal convictions for us. Turning every thought captive to Him, making Him the center of our life, offering up every single part of our life to Him. Am I wrong? Are my poor children born into a life in which they need to be pitied? I don't think so. Nor do I think whatever personal convictions you pass on to your children are to be pitied. I am deeply grieved each time I see Christians striking out against other Christians whom merely are convicted differently. It is the division of the Body of Christ.

    I think we need to keep in mind that while these things or churches may not be a fit to us, we are instructed to love each other. We rebuke/admonish in love as well. If our rebuke/admonish comes from a place of mean spirit,snarkiness, bitterness or righteousness it will not be taken well. And could lead another to stumble. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. We can not witness if we pointing fingers and looking down our noses.
    God Bless,
    Michele the Lurker

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  20. I don't have a problem necessarily with the teachings themselves (women ought be simply dressed, or we oughtn't go for worldly entertainment). As I've mentioned in the post, I DO have good friends who came from this particular church. Hopefully I also made clear that I think this is a problem in that particular church, not the denomination as a whole.

    Though I am a bit soured on the denomination because of my experiences in that particular church.

    I know several people who are very convicted on the skirts and hair that I greatly respect. They don't have internet, though, and I don't want to point at that group of people and kick them while they're going through a split and are down.

    The leadership, though, is a whole 'nother story.

    The position of "conviction" in a believer's life can't just come from the pulpit. It can't just come from seeing other Christians, that they refuse to do "TV" but are ok with "monitors," which are really TVs with no reception. Then *whoops,* some of the boys in church played pornos on these. But we don't have that CNN being piped in... Sometimes on these things, we strain a gnat and swallow a camel.

    All that to say...

    It isn't *so much* the particular conviction one has, but the spirit in which one imparts teaching that conviction to others or practices it for oneself (you know, like the love passage in Corinthians, I'm thinking).

    And while I would not want to cause division in the Body of Christ, I've gotten to the point where I see manipulation and lying, even going so far as to accuse children who have gone to the police after being molested as LIARS from the pulpit...

    These people are NOT part of the Body of Christ IMO. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I think some of the abuses in churches like this demand to be spoken against.

    This particular church has several members and extended relations from the same family. I don't want to get too into it, but based on my experience, I DO see how hard it is to GET OUT.

    I would never advocate just living a sin-filled life full of whatever I feeeeel like doing right then. But sometimes, when something is being preached against, I'm seeing that there is manipulation behind it. Like... giving. You're blessed to give. But you could see how that could be exploited in a church.

    Or lots of other things. Hopefully you get the gist of what I'm saying, however.

    I'm glad you delurked so I could clarify a bit.

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  21. "Though I am a bit soured on the denomination because of my experiences in that particular church."

    And that is my point. If your rebuking even a preacher/pastor/single church in this manner then it is not coming from a feeling of love rather than a soured feeling. Which could cause another to stumble. If we can not speak out in love, then we shouldn't do it at all.

    The Bible is meant to convict or condemn. There is no Oprah-ism in the bible where everyone who think good thoughts get to go to Heaven free of charge. There are clear instructions. Not just for salvation but for daily living so that our fruit does not rot on the vine, but flourishes. If we teach it as what one must do in the least (just the requirements of salvation) then we will be judged accordingly.

    And I guess my issue is, if convictions do not come from others (being other Christians or the pulpit) where do you think they should come from? It isn't always so that we just happen to think, oh....I will wear a skirt from now on. It is more than likely a person, a church or what have you that has made you think and pray on the subject.

    Furthermore if pulpit can not be used to teach personal convictions then that REALLY limits the scope of sermons does it not? I mean outside the 10 commandments isn't it ALL just a story if we are not to teach a conviction? We have to be real careful about making our churches politically correct where it is taboo to talk about TV, modest dress, how we school our children. That does not mean that there won't be those who teach false doctrines. There are many who do now and a lot quieter than those you speak about. But do we throw the baby out with the bath water? NO, we make a choice to go where we are fed or ignore the rubbish and take what is good. If we start saying because there is bad we have to stop all good, it makes no sense. Go where your fed, speak in love and let God sort the rest.

    The thought that pastors are above it and should not preach if they have sin is really questionable. Unless of course you are Catholic and think that the Pope is infallible. I am not for that very reason. I know we are all sinners and the only infallible one sits in Heaven. And if sin stops us from preaching then we would never have anyone to lead us. If your looking for someone without sin to lead your church, then good luck.
    Thanks for letting me respond.
    God Bless,
    Michele

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  22. "And if sin stops us from preaching then we would never have anyone to lead us. If your looking for someone without sin to lead your church, then good luck."

    See, that's exactly the attitude I think that leadership ought to have. Not one that manipulates others or uses the processes in place (as outlined in the Bible) to make people do what it is they want.

    It isn't the preaching against sin that is (in my opinion) the problem. It's the *extreme* authoritarianism and extreme paternalism that keep people from freedom in Christ. I mean, I think I ought to be able to buy a used car from whatever dealership I wish without repercussions at church. Unless they're selling porno magazines with each oil change or something, I think these are choices that should be left to the individual believer.

    You can disagree if you want, but there's a line there somewhere I'm not going to let these pastors cross in my life. If that means I'm in rebellion or self-righteous, I'm hoping that other Christians will pray for me and gently lead me back to the Truth.

    But pointing fingers and calling someone a LIAR, in the middle of a Sunday service... for going to the police... a CHILD... I think it's just way over whatever line there is pastors should never cross. JMO

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  23. PS... And like I said, I have been in other churches of the same denomination. And all the pastors are NOT like that, even in the most conservative circles.

    Because of the split in the church I mentioned, there are a lot of people jumping to other churches in the same denomination. A lot of drama. Thanks, but no.

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  24. Mrs.C,
    I tend to agree, for myself and my family that kind of church would not work for us. Not because of the personal convictions that were preached about that you don't agree with but because of the calling of liars and for going people in mental health of a child. It seems like your saying the two go together. If the church just spoke with authority (which I am not sure how a pastor could NOT seeing that is his job) on hair cutting, TV and modest dress.....would you have said they were legalistic and a false teaching?
    God Bless,
    Michele

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  25. Always keep in mind that we are living in the age of the saints. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. Your pastor does not have a different God than you. You do not have a junior Holy Spirit, Mrs. C. You have the complete authority as a Christian to judge what comes across from the pulpit. You can search the Scriptures for yourself and judge whether or not something is Scriptural. Not only do you have the right to do so, you have the obligation to do so. You cannot ignore your inner witness while acknowledging and accepting the authority of the church.

    God put in place a FIVE FOLD ministry. Yet, in the American Church (at least in many congregations) we have a one-man show where the pastor's word is law. This ought not to be. God gave us apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists to benefit the whole body and to bring us into alignment. The Bible says by the mouths of two or three witnesses a thing was to be established.

    Just keep in mind in whatever church you attend and under whose authority you choose to submit yourself, that you do not have junior Holy Spirit. You are made a King and a Priest in Christ Jesus.

    Love you!

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  26. Thanks, Daja! mmmm.

    Michele, I don't have problems with people being of the opinion that gay sex is ok, or marrying more than one wife, or whatever. It's not my job to tell someone what their convictions should be. But past a certain point, I think I need to decide for myself if those convictions are "Christian" ones, yk? And maybe your line on where that is is different from mine.

    FWIW I'm not so repulsed by the message that one should dress modestly, grow hair out and not watch TV. But when it's preached with a bullying spirit, the message itself is distorted. It is no longer a Christian message. It is bullying wrapped in a Christian principle.

    I need to think on this and blog about it again some other day.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)