Tag Archives: Church unity

The Playground of the Christian Faith

I was born a child of a Baptist momma, and a non-denominational daddy.  We attended a Baptist Church when I was born, a non-denominational church as an elementary child, a Methodist church as a pre-teen through young adult and I finally settled in and was saved in an independent Baptist Church at the age of 34. Which now brings you up to date with my Spiritual walk, denominationally speaking. This has no doubt sculpted me into the eclectic believer that I am today. That being said…

I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am a student of the word of God. Not the best one I’m sure, and not by worlds standards of education. I’m certainly not one in comparison to many of the scholars of the past and several people that I’m familiar with today; but I also feel that that works in my favor too. It causes me to depend upon the true Educator of the day which is the Holy Spirit, He who “giveth to all men liberally” if we but ask. (James 1:5) And so I ask, especially in the matter of denominational belief and association.

I ask, because I’ve been taught to ask. Which is good. We should always be cautious with our affiliations to make sure that those who we commune with don’t put things in our minds that cause us to question scripture.

So I’m going to use scripture to prove my point about why a multi-denomination friendship is healthy. You’ll note I didn’t say multi-denomination church. That’s not healthy. That causes confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

So, how do we learn to play well together, when we have differences of the way in which our churches believe?

Every playground has rules:

Rule number 1: Started in the Old Testament with Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” and ended in the New Testament with the final work of the cross: John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Those who fellowship “in Christ” should all believe there is one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ. Not of works, lest any man boast. Jesus, plus nothing.

Rule number 2: There are no other Rules.

But there is a word from God about the fellowship of believers from the book of Mark chapter 9.

There’s a reason I titled this message “The Play Ground of Faith”

God refers to us as His children. We never fully grow up in faith. There is always so much to learn. But we are sometimes

Afraid to Ask

30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

Scripture told us that God will give answers to all men who ask in James 1:5, and we say we believe that God is the God of love, but we, just like the disciples fail to question God because He is after all. GOD. I don’t for two seconds think that Jesus would have minded if the disciples had said, “we don’t understand.” And He doesn’t mind if we say that either. But they were

Afraid to Chance it

Over the years I’ve questioned why Victory Baptist Church believed what they believed. Until recent years we were told it wasn’t wise to fraternize with other denominations because they believed different than we did. It wasn’t done with hate, but what leadership considered to be a protective mode.

One of the differences for our church is many other churches don’t use the King James version Bible. Our church does. But that’s not a part of this conversation. If I go to a  fellowship at another church and they read scripture from another version, I’m going to read it in my KJV. Case closed and no problem. I’m a visitor and happy to be there.

The Disciples didn’t ask God the question as to why He said He was going to die and be risen again, because they not only didn’t understand, but they also had their minds elsewhere; on leadership. Who’s going to be the boss?

34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Isn’t that often the case on the playgrounds of the school? One child is very dominating over who plays with who and what. Is church any different? So multi-denomination fellowships leads us to ask, who’s in charge?

Easy answer, Jesus is in charge, everyone serves. A hosting church plans the event, other churches attend, and hopefully they’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to be in complete control.

Afraid of the New Click

We should never be afraid to ask God anything, what parent doesn’t love it when their children come to them for advice?

36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

We come together as children of God. We receive each other and in so doing we’re behaving as Christ did.

Have you ever been the new kid in school? Nobody knew you, you didn’t know the rules or if they would like you. That’s almost how it is in church fellowships with different denominations. We each have our own click, and accepting new people into the click is sometimes hard.

God said if they were His children, we were to receive them. They can play too.

I have 6 grandchildren, my sister Shelia has 9, my brother Leonard has 8, and my sister Sarah has 3, but they live far away. Every other Sunday we gather at my 82 year old Mother’s house with our kids and grandkids; three tribes, up to 23 kids but usually more around 15. That is still a bunch! And they all range from 1 to 10. Lots of noise and lots of arguments about whose playing with who and what. Just like church folks.

What version of the Bible do you use? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of clothes do you wear? “Christian clicks.” And not things that we should bring into a multi-church fellowship where it’s God’s playground where Christians are coming together to celebrate Him. Not to discuss their differences. Come together to encourage one another in the name of Jesus. No clicks.

Afraid to Change

That’s a big one. Few people like change. I happen to be one who loves it and embraces it. It’s my personality. But one thing I won’t change on is the doctrine of Victory Baptist Church. And you shouldn’t change on the doctrine of your church either, if that’s what you believe. And no one that comes into fellowship with you should come with that agenda. But fraternizing with other churches incites fear because they serve Jesus differently. The disciples were the same:

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

He didn’t say don’t have anything to do with them. He said “forbid him not.” And that if he’s not against us, he’s for us. If you’re in fellowship with a church that uses the Word of God, and celebrates Jesus as the way, truth and life, don’t stress your differences. Celebrate your likenesses. When we all get to Heaven, there’s only going to be one playground. We might as well get used to it!

Join the Journey

church unity

If you know me at all, you likely know that I have a burden for church unity. I think it partly comes from being a middle child, or a center child as I like to refer to it; that way it’s all about me. Center children are more often than not, mediators. My sister Shelia is an honest to goodness mediator for the courts, I’m sure she’s very good at it, because she like me is a center child; there are five siblings in our family. I’m sure that doesn’t always hold true but for me it does. Now to what brought me to this place this morning… This place is Heaven, and the biblical fact that we are already there, although the view isn’t quite what it’s going to be. So what does that have to do with church unity? There is no mention of a Baptist Street in Heaven, or a Methodist Avenue, or a Pentecostal Lane. And it doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that God stepped into another room so He could speak to a “certain group.” Nope. When God speaks He speaks in the presence of all. I believe there are two types of conversations with God. Personal and Congregational, and both are relational.

A Personal God

Philippians 3:20

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

“Our Conversation is in Heaven…” that’ll make you squirm if you think about a few road rage episodes or closet conversations between the Mister and Mrs. when you were in the heat of an argument. What part of the Holy Spirit living within us do we tend to forget, and the fact that the Holy Spirit is a part of a triune God and the other two are in Heaven? This puts our conversation in Heaven.

We serve a very personal God Who is all up in our business regardless of where we are. And  although there are times we wish God hadn’t heard what He did, how awesome is it that when we need Him to hear, we know He does.

A Congregational God

Hebrews 12:23

To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

A general assembly, a convention of sorts, under no denominational name other than Christian. That’s who we are in Heaven. We forget that down here. And while I understand the doctrinal differences and many man made differences that will not allow us to be together as a unified body, I still don’t understand the lack of unity. I’m not going to go to the Methodist church and try to persuade them they should be Baptist. Nor will they enter our church for the purpose of persuading us to be Methodist. But what about outside the walls of our congregations where the world gets a view of the inside, what do they see? And what does our conversation in Heaven look like to God? We’re not arguing about Christ. We all agree that He is way, the truth and the life and that no man enters Heaven without Him. So what are we arguing over? That idea should make a few church folks squirm too!

A Relational God

Ephesians 2:6

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Being a member of the body of Christ is not only about our relationship with the Lord Jesus, which should be first and foremost, but it’s also about our relationship with each other who He has raised together.

When my girls were little it would break my heart when they argued. I wanted to them to love one another and to know that they had each other’s back when it was needed. I’m pretty sure God feels the same way about us. Praise God my girls grew up and they do love each other, and if you mess with one you’re in a heap of trouble with the other. That’s how the church should feel.

On Saturday morning, myself and five other ladies met in town to start a journey toward Heaven together and yet separate. We’re from difference churches, but we want to impact our community for Christ together. I’m so in love with this concept… I think Jesus approves. Our next meeting is at the First Baptist Church in Grantsville on September 26th at 6:30 p.m. If you’re in our area, please join the journey!

5 Ways to Grow God’s Kingdom

CHICK COFFEE

1 – Pray Genuinely

Nehemiah 1:6

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

If we’ll all be honest, none of us have lived as close to the cross as we should have. Nehemiah takes this petition to the Lord in all sincerity that he and his fellow church folk are about to take some drastic steps to get right with God in order to get the Nation of Israel back under the protection of God’s mighty hand. I believe that if the remnant of the church in America followed Nehemiah’s suit, we too would be back under God’s hand.

2 – Pray Reverently

Nehemiah 1:11

O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah desired to fear God’s name. I believe that the church is no longer afraid of God. We’ve forgotten His power, and in so doing we no longer prosper. I can only speak for myself but I know that if I truly feared God as I should I’d serve Him better. I do not speak of fear in the sense of hiding under the bed, rather I speak of the reverence of His awesome power. He spoke the world into existence, His breath is life (and death). At His command our enemies can only go so far and yet we take the least amount of time possible to commune with Him in the course of a day. We  do not fear Him. We fear His wrath when things go wrong, but when things are right we just “assume” He’s got us and move on.

3 – Prepare for Action

Nehemiah 2:5

And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

The problem with reading or writing a blog such as this is once its written there’s an unseen “The End” as we complete the reading. We’ll say “Ain’t that the truth!” and then we’ll pour ourselves a cup of coffee, and go about our day unchanged. When Nehemiah got a burden to see his city restored, he prayed about it, and then come what may, he sat into action the plan to make it happen! By even going into the presence of the king with a sad countenance he risked death, but that didn’t deter him from following through. What risk are you and I willing to take to rebuild our church? And will we follow through?

4 – Prepare for Adversity

Nehemiah 2:19-20

But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?  Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Stepping out in faith will get you laughed at and despised; either because they’re against what you believe or they don’t have the gumption to step out and do it themselves. And the bigger the task you have before you the bigger the enemy.

5 – Put Your Differences Aside

I won’t list a scripture reference for this point because it would take the entire third chapter. It’s the “And next unto him’s” that got my attention. Israel came together, different tribes, different families and began rebuilding the wall. My greatest frustration right now with the Church of God, and that’s the Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. say they serve the same God, but you’d never know by the way we serve. Christ did not die for Baptist alone… and yet there are some Baptist that secretly believe that, and every other denomination. In these end times that we most likely all agree we’re in, when the world is running out of time before Jesus returns, we should be laboring to get souls into Heaven, not pointing out what another church is doing differently (therefore in error) to a non-believer. How on earth will they get saved?

Tell them about Jesus. Build the wall around your community and get as many people into the Kingdom of Heaven as you can. If they go to another church, give God the glory that you’ll see them in Heaven when we all belong to one church.

This is why the church is not prospering, we’re too busy disagreeing.

One wall was built around Jerusalem. Lots of gates, lots of different jobs to do, but only one wall. We have only means of protection for our friends and family and that’s Jesus Christ. Preach Jesus… get your people behind the wall and let’s serve together until Glory!

Put your coffee in a thermos to go, we have some work to do!

Knitting Lessons

Every year our annual tent meeting has a different flavor. We’ve had years when the fires of Heaven came down and stirred out hearts, this past year it was a calming of the heart having just lost our Pastor of 20 years and facing an uncertain time. This year there seems to be a mending of the community for the Kingdom of Christ. Tears well up in my eyes and joy bubbles in my soul when I write those words this morning. I’ve desired it, I’ve dreamt about it… a time when saying the name of another church didn’t come attached to an emotion of frustration. We can’t worship with them because they don’t believe like us, dress like us, talk like us… Woah… I can feel the room getting quiet.

Hasn’t Satan won a mighty battle in the church when he has us at odds with one another? How many souls go out into Hell each year because they didn’t see Jesus in our testimony, just us? And believe me that won’t save anyone. We’ve spent more time telling the lost what’s wrong with the church rather than what’s right. They see no difference in the house of God than they do a social club because isn’t it really just another “click?” Your friends, your family, your four and no more? Harsh topic this morning and one that has the potential to create a ruckus, and that’s okay, I’m up for the fight.

The preacher of last night’s meeting brushed over one of my favorite bible stories; the story of two best friends, David and Jonathan. I love 1st Samuel 18:1 where it says “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” That’s a deep friendship, an example of Christ-like friendship. Jonathan was willing to betray his own father for the sake of David because he knew his father was wrong and that David was a chosen, anointed man of God. It was more important for Jonathan that he be right with God than right with man.

Which brings me to the question of doctrine. I’m not talking about linking up with churches who do not believe that Christ is the virgin born, Son of God, walked among men, crucified and risen the third day, sitting at the right hand of God, Redeemer.  That would make us accountable for sending souls to Hell if we linked ourselves with anything else. But I speak of born again Christians who believe Christ is Lord of all and Creator of the universe, but they do it a little different than I do. It’s not a different doctrine, but rather a different style that has most churches at odds. Doctrine is the foundation of truth, all else is the foundation of men. What are you standing on?

Christ sat down with sinners and we won’t even sit down with each other.

Colossians 2:19 says –

And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

If we hope to increase the Kingdom of God we need to do more knitting and less splitting. Whew! That’ll preach! You cannot detach yourself from another child of God without a disconnection of Christ at some point. Because God is the God of all. And if the “Head” of the church is not Christ, then the blood supply is shut off. Scary thought…

Christ said we needed to nourish one another, feed our souls on His goodness and then share it with everyone. I pray that this year’s tent meeting is the beginning of a knitting session with other Christ believers in our community. I love them…preach on preachers! Hope to see everyone at 7 tonight at Victory Baptist Church!

Today’s the day!

Or I guess tonight’s the night – that our church will vote on a new Pastor. For nine months we’ve waited… I find that amount of time ironic, perhaps it’s symbolic of a new birth of new ideas and new direction for my beloved Victory Baptist Church. For me personally it’s been a knot in my stomach that I’ve been waiting to untie. I want this chapter of the unknown closed. We’ve had nine months of leadership that was crème de la crème. As the scripture said in Isaiah 49:10

They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

We’ve not thirsted, nor been exhausted; we were led by the sweetest waters of the gospel and guided by the Holy Spirit. But it’s not the same as having a full time, committed man of God to oversee the flock. The visionary of the congregation. One of the wisest men of all times, King Solomon himself said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18.

A Pastor sets the vision, the goals of the congregation for growth of the Kingdom and the longer we were without someone in that position the further away we became from the previous vision. Although we had great temporary leadership, the uncertainty of what the new leadership would bring always made the direction we were going hesitant.

So what now?

Tonight we vote yay or nay to the new man. If you are a person of prayer, please take the time today to lift our congregation up to the Lord for wisdom and unity. This journey has not been without bridges to cross. There has been more than one side, but the river of life clearly flowed between them both. Wow… I guess I’m speaking very metaphorically. A church the size of ours, and as vocal as we are in a small community gets attention; and it’s not always good. People from the outside look for cracks in the armor of God and it doesn’t usually take them long to find it. We’re not a perfect people, we’re a perfectly loved people. We don’t always agree and sometimes things are said that should have never been said. We’re human and most importantly we’re family. I’d challenge anyone to look me in the eye and say they’ve had a perfect relationship with everyone in their life or that you’ve never stood in need for grace.

Am I saying there is a great division among our people? Nope. I don’t know that there’s any division among our people, but I know that if Satan has his way, there can be.

Here’s my prayer request for you:

  1. Pray for direction
  2. Pray for a unified church
  3. Pray for the Pastor candidate and his family

My prayer for you is that you are a part of the body of Christ and are serving in the congregation of the Lord that He has chosen for you. Being an active part of a local church is vital to your spiritual growth. Choose wisely!

You’re Welcome on my earth… but not my island?

island

I’m never more sickened than when I see a Christian (myself included) snarl their nose up at another person in disdain for their behavior, circumstance, opinion or position in life, but I see it so often. We tend to use a person’s station in life to judge whether or not they should be allowed entry into our world. I’m not talking about entry into Heaven; no Christian in their right mind wouldn’t want every soul in Heaven, but many don’t want them in their space down here. Believe me when I say “I get” when people make you uncomfortable for any number of reasons. Their language, their demeanor, their culture, their attitude… it’s a long list! But as children of God it is unacceptable to not accept them; and not just on your earth, but on your island.

In 2 Corinthians Paul was counseling the church of Corinth (in the Bible according to Shari, and we know that’s dangerous) But as I understand there had been a man excommunicated from the church, the reason not known. And I believe that’s because for future reference God wanted you to be able to fit it to your circumstance, so He left the reasoning broad. But none the less many people in the church had punished this man. So much so that he was at risk of being swallowed up in sorrow. So Paul advises them to prove their love to him by forgiving everything he did and giving this man a fresh start at grace.

2:6-11 ~  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

I dare say that no Christian is immune to falling into the snare of Satan when opposite world’s collide: Sinner/Saint, Rich/Poor, Democrat/Republican, Bold/Meek, Zealot/Passive, I won’t even go in to denominations! It’s not so much forgiveness that I’m talking about as much as it is acceptance. Sometimes we’ll be forgiving but will not be befriending. We want them on earth, but not on our island. At a distance they don’t make us uncomfortable.

When I began to pray and search for a topic this morning the word comfort came into my thoughts because that’s what I personally am in need of. But a trip down that path lead to a fork in the road and then as only God can do it came back to the original path. As if to say “I know you need comfort Shari, but you can’t have it without finding the source of the discomfort and getting rid of it.” So we went off my path to His own and then back to mine, and in so doing I found what I was looking for.

Paul told the Philippian Church in Philippians 2:1-4 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

There will never be comfort in any body of believers unless there is unity, and not just among a single church, but the entire body of Christ. (Those believing that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and no other).

God’s advice to me… you’ll find not only the comfort you’re searching for, but the answers you’re searching for when you love my people… all of them.