Tag Archives: denomination

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!

Are they glad you’re gone… or did you leave them longing…

chick longing

Good night a mighty! I’ve seen so many Christians tear down the body of Christ with their words and actions that there’s nothing left but the knee caps! Praise God… at least they can still pray. This is where my mind was when I awoke this morning in frustration. Coffee did make it a little better, but didn’t make the thought go away. Just so you know up front… I’m a Christ lovin’, Church goin’, Hymn singin’, Bluegrass pickin’, Blood Bought child of God, Saved by Grace through Faith alone, and not one bit concerned about what denomination you are so long as you have those last two in your statement of who you are as well. I’m not here to argue, I’m here to edify and encourage the body of Christ. When you leave my presence I want to have added something to your life, not taken away.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

To edify is to educate, illuminate, inspire, and nurture. Nowhere in its definition, nor biblical intention does it tell you to make someone feel like a dirt dog because they don’t believe as you do. That attitude will only serve to drive them away, which may not be a bad idea…Am I on a soapbox today? Oh possibly. Will the person who needs to read this see this post… probably not? My point of this ramble this morning is to encourage you to share Christ’s love and encourage someone today with your presence.

God said He sent us into the world with those job descriptions with a three fold purpose:

1 – Perfecting the Saints

We’ll never be perfect in these fleshly forms, but we are perfect in Christ Who is perfect. To perfect the saints is to bring them out of being babes in Christ to adulthood, ready for service on their own. It’s where I feel most churches are failing miserably and that’s in discipling young Christians , training them how to serve God and being an encouragement in their lives. So when they meet a negative Nellie of the faith that tries to suck the life out of them by pointing out their faults and failures, they’ll be spiritually prepared.

2 – Work of the Ministry

It is a labor of love, but it most assuredly labor! Working in the ministry is a 24/7 job whether or not you are full time ministry or a Sunday go to meetin’ kind of Saint. Somewhere within that Ephesian 4 description is your job title; now it’s between you and God which one it is.  But for certain it’s our job to tell someone about Jesus!!!!

3 – Edifying the Body of Christ

Back to my soapbox… who have you encouraged today? When you leave their presence are they longing for more… or glad you’re gone. I hope that I left you longing…

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!

Why Baptist don’t do lent… and other things

chick dance

Baptist don’t drink, dance, cuss or chew… okay, yes they do. They’re either really bad at hiding things or they just don’t care. Or perhaps they consider themselves liberal Baptist. Is there such a thing? Yes… they’re called backsliders. Oh dear, did I even go there? I’m not going to get into a debate about the morality of those things or any other things, or get up on a Baptist high-horse and say those things are the ruination of a nation. The ruination of our nation is a sin problem… enter your sin here [          ]. We’ve all got them. So what does that have to do with why Baptist don’t do lent?

Here’s my theory. And this is the theory according to Shari and carries no weight in the world, but I found it to be an interesting thought this morning, encouraged from the Facebook post of a friend of another denomination who was giving up social media for 40 days. My first thought was… God bless her! I’m glad I don’t celebrate Lent, or I’d feel bad. Because I’m a social media junky. I have a love/hate relationship with people disciplined enough to give up the things they love for a period of time. Because for me this is a big spiritual issue. I know there are things that need more discipline in my life and those people make me feel bad. And then to counteract the guilt I have about them, I think about the legalistic people who do “things” 365 days of the year and look down their religious noses at failures like me and I don’t feel bad anymore about not “doing” something. Because Jesus is not about the doing.

So why don’t Baptist do Lent? I personally think it’s because it’s a little too Catholic. I’m not going to get into a denomination bashing blog. I’m not about that. Do I think there will be Catholics in Heaven? Yes. So long as they get there the way Jesus said. But much of the Catholic faith is based on ritualistic living and not Christ relational living and that’s just wrong any way you look at it from the Bible perspective.

Now, back to my failures.

In Luke 4:1-13 we read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of fasting and temptation in much the same way God led the Israelites into the desert for forty years of wanderings. Lent is forty days of self-denial, although I don’t see any one doing it on the level of Christ. (Luke 4:1) Cut off from all of society, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. #HashtagAreYouSerious? (4:2-4) In the wilderness. #HashtagItsCold&BearsBite! Tempted by Satan, without preacher and church support.  #HashtagSinWaitingToHappen? Without food. #HashtagDoYouDeliver? (4:5-8) No Position in life. #HashtagIt’sNotAboutMe? (4:9-13) Facing the temptations of life without giving in. #HashtagDidIJustDoThat?

Lent is serious business. And I respect the decision of those who determine to do a Christ honoring denial of something. It’s not a Baptist thing… it’s technically not a Methodist, Catholic or Episcopalian thing. Anything that we give up in honor of Christ is a child of God thing. It’s not necessary, its “another way” to worship. The issue comes when it’s done for discipline sake and not relationship sake.

The harsh reality for me is I could use some discipline in my life in a number of facets. Building a relationship with Christ is a 365 day trek in the wilderness. Satan doesn’t limit it to 40 days. For those of you celebrating Lent, I love you… but you’re making me look bad. I pray today finds us all in relationally living with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Contact me if you don’t, I’ll show you where to meet Him!

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Stop Judging Drummers

I love pickin’ and grinnin’ with my bluegrass friends. It makes my heart happy to play “Old Joe Clark” and “Angelina Baker” on the fiddle and to strum my way through “Child of the King” on the guitar. There’s something about music that makes life fun! I feel the same way about serving Christ only multiplied. Whether it’s sharing the gospel in word or song you’ll find me grinnin’ ear to ear with unexplainable joy in my soul. That is why I don’t get sad sack Christians who are spoiling the fun for the rest of us and not giving anyone who’s lost a desire to know the One who put a giggle in my soul.

At a local bluegrass event last night I invited a fella to church and made him very uncomfortable. He said he couldn’t go to church because it always seemed like the preacher was preaching right at him. I told him that that’s how it was for every one there; there was a personal message from God to everyone who attended. I tried to explain to him what fun we had in church… he smiled and nodded politely and quickly changed back to a less convicting subject. And then I thought of a few saints that I know; if they’re happy about their salvation they forgot to tell their face, their mouth and their attitude. Is it any wonder that a lost and dying world doesn’t see the need for Jesus, they can miserable in their own right?

As we played music and laughed in the fellowship of musicians (they’re highly tolerate of my inability to cut the muster with their masterful bluegrass skills) they loved me anyway. Diehard bluegrassers can be a tad clickish. They’ll kick you out of the club for playing drums. It’s true! Traditional bluegrass people play strings, drums don’t have strings so they’re not allowed in the band. Well, I know a few Baptist who feel the same way about Methodist and visa versa. Just sayin’…. And all the while the world around us dies and goes to Hell because the church spends more time worrying about who’s got sticks and who’s got strings. Can I get a witness? Enough already.

Just speak Jesus. And smile for cyrin’ out loud.

Matthew 6:16

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Will the religious Pharisees and Sadducees please get with the program? Church is fun! And the really funny part for me (although it’s not really all that funny) is your reward is your grumpy britches. Me? I get to have a party down here and in Heaven! But the really sad part about it is that our friends and family believe that there’s no joy in Church because there’s no joy in the face of the church they see. It’s Saturday… and my thoughts are already on Sunday, because I anticipate joy in the house of the Lord. If you’re a child of God that should be your heart as well, else you’re living beneath God’s intended design.

And stop judging drummers….

Repeat after me… I’m not God

I really shouldn’t be trusted with scripture. I can be somewhat of a smart aleck, so as I read John 1:47 this morning I had to back up and go off on a short (very short) study of what Jesus said. Because when I read it, I read it with attitude (surprising right?)  as if Jesus were poking fun at Nathanel. Because that would have likely been my response to Nathanael when he made fun of my hometown.

46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

But Jesus wasn’t poking fun of Nathanael. Nathanael could have meant, that according to what he had been taught, Moses said that He should come out of Judah and the prophets had assigned the city of Bethlehem as the place of his nativity. Jesus knew that Nathanael was sincere in his comment, not degrading. No guile, meaning there was no pretense but rather sincerity in his comment.

 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart and Nathanael knew Jesus. We’re not afforded the luxury of knowing another man (or woman’s heart) yet so often we assume we do. Color me guilty. As a baby Christian I was taught to take nothing as the gospel, except the gospel, to try everything I heard and read by the Holy Scripture and see if it lined up. What I often discovered is not even the good guys always line up with scripture. Well intentioned Christians, without guile, meaning they’re sincere in what they believe, often make assumptions about another person’s heart by how they speak, dress or behave. We label people as we see them approach, we hear them speak and red flags go up with warning signs “They don’t believe like you!” And so we turn them off.

What we should be saying is “I’m not God, I don’t know their heart.” And then we should spend time getting to know it. But we’re denominationally taught that our way is the right way and their way is wrong and we should tell them.

What if that had been Jesus’ response to Nathanael? What if He had said, “Nathanael you’re an idiot, I know what Moses said, and it’s true, but there’s more to the story.” If that had been His response, Nathanael would have turned Jesus off the way people turn off self-righteous Christians that think they’re right and in them there is no guile… which is usually not the case, because they usually have pride bubbling up and that’s full of guile. Just sayin’.

For the record, I know what I believe, and why I believe it; but I pray that when I meet folks that don’t believe exactly the way I do, that I won’t assume I know their heart. I pray I’ll take time to get to know them, and just maybe we can have sincere fellowship. If somebody new comes in to your midst today. Just shake their hand and say to yourself… I’m not God.

Does religion cloud your relationships?

There was once a man named Ralph who had gotten saved one day before his death. Upon arrival in Heaven one of the angels was assigned to give him the grand tour, and Ralph was in awe at the sights, they were indeed beyond words. As they entered the City the mansions were so very unique, obviously made exclusively to the tastes of the one who dwelled there. But there seemed to be a similarity to groups of mansions so Ralph questioned the angel about it. To which the angel explained, “That group of mansions over there belongs to the Pentecostals, they’re loud and we had to put a little distance between them and the others. Now, this group over here is the Catholics, they insisted on all the gold trim, and when Jesus shows up it just about puts your eyes out. Now the group in the middle are Methodists, they wanted their lawns to butt up against everyone else’s; that way they could cross over to their side if they thought they weren’t right about something. Ralph noticed a group of mansions a great, great distance apart from the others, “Who are they,” he ask? The angel shushed him and said they’d talk about it later, but for now they had to be very quiet when they passed by, and they by no means could stop and visit on the way to Ralph’s place. They tiptoed past the mansions and made it to a large gate, once inside the angel told Ralph he was free to speak. “Why did we have to be so quiet,” asked Ralph? The angel rolled his eyes and said, “Because those were the Baptists, and they still believe they’re the only one’s here.”

Ralph smiled, he’d met several of them before getting saved. He understood. Now Ralph looked really confused. “What’s wrong,” the angel asked? Ralph said, “I just got saved yesterday, I hadn’t had a chance to join any church. Where am I going to live?!”

Don’t panic, nobody’s homeless in Heaven; and your mansion… well, because you haven’t had religion to cloud your relationships, you’ll be living right next door to Jesus.

Yes, I’m a Baptist, and praise God I’m a Baptist with a sense of humor. I don’t think we’ll be the only ones in Heaven. I do stand solid on the doctrine of my church, else I’d have no foundation or assurance that I’ll be in Heaven. I’m grateful for that. But because other denominations don’t believe like I do, doesn’t stop me from fellowshipping with them. I believe that was a lesson Peter learned in Acts 10:44-48 ~

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

There’s a few key points we all have to agree on

1.      Salvation in Jesus only – we are redeemed, bought back, by the blood of Jesus.

2.      Virgin Birth – Not up for debate, else He would not have been fully God.

3.      We serve a crucified, risen on the third day Lord, Who has victory over life and death.

4.      The Holy Spirit dwells “in” the believer. If you’re saved He’s in there, and there should be evidence.

5.      Baptism is key, not to salvation, but to Spiritual growth. There are no secret service Christians, if you’ve been saved you have the desire within you to outwardly prove that. You may squelch it, but it’s in there. I know because I fought that battle and won.

You may want to add more to the list, and that’s okay. I just awoke this morning with it heavy on my heart that we are so busy being Baptist’s or Methodists or whatever denomination you claim, that we forget we’re supposed to be telling people about Jesus. Don’t let religion cloud your relationships.

That was my first attempt at joke writing, or actually rewriting an original thought. So, how’d I do?