Thread of Faith … Christian Support Discussion

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Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - 8:22pm Rear Flank Downdraft
kenklave
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Thanks, Chin, for starting

Thanks, Chin, for starting the thread. Just wanted to plant a flag for future reference with a couple comments.

On the pain issue, there is no problem with pain. This entire world is (borrowing from Mr. Bernanke) transitory. We are all destined to leave this place and our reward as Christians is eternal life. When asked a similar question about a building collapse that caused many deaths, Jesus said that those who died were not being punished. Rather that all will perish unless they come to him. And Paul when he had a physical ailment (losing his sight?) asked for relief and God said no. I dare say not a one of us would compare himself to Paul. We live in a fallen world and pain is merely a part of it. As unpleasant as it is to experience it, it is in these times that we can grow in our relationship with God and through our perseverance be as an example of faith to those who witness our struggles.

As to the comments perplexing Chin, I would say that to me it seemed rather clear what was being said. It has become popular today to discard and even scorn our country's European Christian heritage. There is an attitude among some that white people are evil oppressors and Christianity is their religion. Stephanie explained it pretty well. I don't think the comment warrants any concern.

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - 9:41pm
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Brick/Mortar/House/Home/Cell Church...What To Build It On....

My Story: I was pastoring a rural, central KY church in the mid-to-late 90's when I seemed to just notice one day that there were hardly any from my generation ("GenX") that we were reaching. That era began a journey of stepping away from the existing, establishment-type structure of that form of "doing" church. My wife and I never stepped away from our faith per se, but we were asking some harrowing questions....we were disillusioned with the format, the behaviors and its underlying values, which, wherever I went, seemed to be saying to emerging (and wounded) generations "you gotta be like us before you can be one of us." In doing so, we have entire generations who want nothing to do with church. I know it wasn't like this everywhere, and there were some churches doing some radical and solid things, but in my corner of staid, Baptist evangelicalism? Eh, not so much.....it's painfully obvious that Christianity in the West has lost its grounding as by the year 2000, 85 % of people were "unchurched" or "de-churched."

In a sense of a calling to start a new work to reach young adults, we moved to a college town here in OH and started a church in 2000. About a 1.5 years into that, we took some dynamite to our weekly worship gathering, blew it up and birthed several house churches, some of which we still do now (just practically speaking, it's quite challenging to maintain a resource-hungry, traditional-styled church plant in a transient college town). Compared to what other churches were doing at the time around us, we were pretty radical (but not really), but it wasn't fostering the kind of deepening community we knew was what we were to be about, especially since God was plopping a lot of really messed-up young adults in our path, the "rejects" from the churches in our area.

Moving "church" into the home, and seeing my living room, my barbeque/fire pit as the grounds for where church happens, the home became the seat of our most effective biblical hospitality and an indispensable and natural evangelistic tool. God saw fit to speak through our simple hospitality. Being without children has allowed my wife and I to mentor many young adults, having them live with us in our home and nurturing them in a shared communal life together bound by rhythms of the tasks of daily routines. We have become spiritual parents to several who still journey with us. We began to see our neighborhood as our parish and sought ordinary friendships and conversations as the fertile ground where Jesus shows up.

So over the years, a small band of us have and are vowing to one another to live in close proximity and sharing resources so we can better combine to serve our neighbors around us.

Though this has been the toughest, most grueling way to be the church that I ever dreamed possible, I cannot envision having ever encountered such transformation and beauty as I have in these last 10 years. I can't say that I would have ever encountered that in the establishment church. And, for a time, I was bitter because of that, but not outwardly or vindictively. My own sponsoring denomination and local association of churches vilified me unfairly for no reason early on, and pastors/church people spoke out against me without ever having met me. This hurt and caused me to philosophically and painfully deconstruct this whole thing I thought was "church." But, we focused on what we were here to do and God graciously gave me a voice several years later in my own convention to speak to other churches about what we were doing. We simply just hung on, because, even though we were misunderstood, and my own denominational family acted like utter buffoons sometimes, and was grossly dysfunctional here and there......it was still family. I could have blown them off. But I would have only had my own self-justification. There was strength and grounding I felt in staying connected, and having done so, we've been able to speak into that realm of Christianity about the things that has brought us life.

So I can understand the disillusionment with the established church and talk to many people who feel left out and disenfranchised by a "churchianity" that has become a monstrosity as it begs for political clout, social capital and attention by cozying up to powers that be. Some feel that American/Western Christianity has been so behind the curve, that its rush to be super-relevant has invited compromise. On the other hand, dying, ineffective churches on life support are not a force to be reckoned with either as this society is ravaged and plundered.

Given the potential economic/societal calamity that looms above us, how can such a monolith be sustained? How will super-huge churches be positioned in a dooky-hits-the-fan scenario? Will churches with so much overhead be the persecution-proof structures that will translate the faith into a new way of life if things get really bad? (Take a look at the real underground Church in China, who now boasts, by some accounts, the largest number of believers in the world). Suffice it to say that submission and obedience to the Person and a people is what's required- not to a structure or a hierarchy.

Well, we find we can no sooner "go to" church because we ARE the church. For us, we have drawn from some of the ancient monastic traditions and incorporated them into daily routines and are intentional about sharing life together. We decentralized the main worship gathering as THE event, the big draw.....and majored on simplicity, stability, mutual obedience and service and have sought to weave ourselves into the surrounding culture. We meet weekly for a worship gathering in the home with a dinner that anchors all we do. What's more, is that we see our worship of God as part of seeking one another out the other 6 days of the week too.

This stuff is really terribly messy and ridiculously hard, this "bearing one another's burdens" stuff. As a pastor, I can't and do not want to hide behind that position. They see all my foibles and failures and inconsistencies and I get to grow and be sharpened because of that. And we're not really too good at following as faithfully as is needed. And we can't do it lone-ranger style; we need each other as we try and apprentice ourselves to the Master Craftsman, as he weaves this tapestry of a life we are forging together.

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - 9:42pm
Rear Flank Downdraft
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@Yooper Rick....

.....way to go man! Press on!

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 1:55am Bay
JoeKa
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Hey brother

Chin - Yes you are right. I am Christian.

But what's in a name right? More importantly is living right, being a good testimony and a blessing to others using our Lord and Savior Christ as a living template.

Lifestyle evangelism is always the best way. We are the 'bible' that some people will ever read.

I wish that were true - raking in the dough. I'm in a trading funk right now and sometimes it is a struggle between the flesh (trying to 'make' it happen vs allowing God to bless). I guess this is something our frail human nature continues to struggle with.

For those on here who are going through tough times be encouraged and of good cheer. Man may fail. But our God never fails.

Let our lips never fall silent of Praise unto God. For what we confess with our lips and believe in our hearts, God will honor and remember those whose names He has written on the palms of His hands.

To some these may sound like trifle generalities. But to those who are able to allow for a melted heart and contrite spirit, He will not despise and will surely answer him/her at the point of their need.

All we are to do is to humbly seek Him.

Forget us not for Your sake Lord and remember our good works. For You are faithful to keep Your promises to fulfill them all on that day.

Amen.

I am so blessed to be among you all. This song always brings tears to eyes.

May the Words of My Mouth
Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 8:08am
Larry
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So many good comments

It is heart warming to see faith displayed in so many good comments, stories, testimonies of personal spiritual journeys.

Lainey, as soon as I can put something together that answers your questions (left brick/mortar? story? where now?) and, at the same time, do an adequate job of relating my own spiritual journey, church affiliation(s) and where I'm being "fed the truth" now, I'll post it here. I actually started it yesterday and realized it was becoming a book, so I put it away for a bit, then got waylaid with earthly 'honey do's'. :) I'll try and finish and edit (chop) it into something that would be appropriate for this thread and be worthy of your time.

In the process of writing of my church experiences, I have to say that I gained insight about my own spiritual journey... and how much sense it made that I would wind up where I am today. The exercise wasn't cathartic, but it was revealing to, at one time and in one place, connect the dots in a chronological way, look back at the turning points and (in 20/20 hindsight), understand my own motivations and spiritual maturity at each turn on my path. I've only thought about my journey, both the long walk and in fragments over shorter periods of time... but never collected in the context of a single story. I think I'll really enjoy do this. May take a bit, but I'll get there and put it here.

In the meantime, I ran across a website several years ago containing a 7-part story that I found very interesting, titled, "God and Money". I've never done business with theses folks and don't agree with everything that is said in this but it was worth my time and added to my "big picture" of gold and silver. Hope you enjoy, and I'd love to see everyone's comments on the article (and their retail website in general).

https://www.yehudmint.net/godandmoney1.htm

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 8:52am
Larry
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@Stephanie

Last night I had a terrible thought and wanted to address it here. It occurred to me that I may have written something that could be taken the wrong way. First, forgive me if I offended you with my warning about "New Age" beliefs. My intention was not to disrespect you or your beliefs in any way... and I really mean that. I don't know you, I don't know your heart and I have no idea where you are in your own spiritual journey. For all I know you are a bible expert and have a great relationship with God. So if I have offended, please forgive me.

My belief, in a nutshell, is that the only way to spiritual salvation, forgiveness of our sins and life everlasting is by having a good relationship with Jehovah God through our Savior Jesus Christ. I also believe that Satan was cast out of heaven and has been allowed to rule over the earth... until Jesus returns. That being said, I know and respect that we all have free will, we all determine our own core beliefs and we all chose our own path to our desired destination. We all get there in our own time and in our own way, unless we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. My path has certainly not always been a straight one.

Here's the thing: since the beginning, humans have been led astray by idol worship, multiple false gods (earth, wind, fire, wood, rain, lizards, cats, dogs and everything else under the sun... including the sun). Throughout history men have created churches with wildly differing rules and dogma. If the ten commandments or the scriptures were too limiting, some "religious leaders" simply obfuscated the meaning or created their own commandments. Humans have also, through intelligence, experience and free will, developed many philosophical alternates to God. We think of it as alternatives to traditional church, but if we're not in the Word, studying and living by the Truth, we're just in the world of man. And we see where that always gets us.

The danger in all of these things and in spiritism is revealed throughout the bible. These things always lead to death and destruction. Now, I realize all this gets kinda "heavy". Perhaps I should avoid some of these subjects on the thread. But please know that my motivation is only and always to help others. Part of that is to warn of known and documented spiritual dangers.

No stone throwing at all. Only love and care.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 9:40am
LaMachinna
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Be encouraged beloved....

Needed to hear this this morning.....

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 9:54am
seadocks
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Rear Flank

All the commentary on Brick and Mortar: I think Rear Flank has hit the target with (clip )"Well, we find we can no sooner "go to" church because we ARE the church." (end clip)

My belief is that it is not so much brick and mortar as the attitude of those there. If "brick and mortar" is defined as a denominational or independent church that has service on Sunday, Wed night and perhaps other times: then I would suggest that there are some of those churches that abide by RearFlank's comment. A few.

From my perspective, most of the old line denominations have lost that concept.

I attend a small non-denominational church where I believe a great percentage of the attendees have the attitude that the church is not the building, but instead, the church is the body of Christ.

From my perspective, every believer needs to be in a fellowship; for lots of reasons: encouragement to others, and to be encouraged; if you have wisdom, to share it with others; if you have teaching ability, to share it with others; you get the idea... whatever spiritual gifts God has given you, it should be shared first in the body, and then; as the Spirit leads, outside the body.

Now where is that local fellowship: I contend it may be a brick & mortar (use wisdom in determination) or it might be a home church (again, use wisdom in determination). Whatever, a local fellowship is extremely important. I would point to Biblical examples that no matter where Christ was, or where Paul was : when the Sabbath came, they went to the local fellowship.

This is a good thread, that I enjoy reading.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 9:55am Rear Flank Downdraft
Laineyisat
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Rear Flank Down: re: your journey

Wow. That is very intense.

Thank you for sharing. I am touched by your humility and openness.

It IS messy. Anytime we drop the facade of religion to BE CHRIST to one another, it is incredibly messy. Maybe I'm still in waiting mode because I'm still in recovery mode.... Perhaps I am still recovering from a VERY painful episode that preceded our journey away from the brick and mortar...

But hope glimmers in my hunger for what you describe!!!

Thank you for sharing.

Lainey

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 9:55am Rear Flank Downdraft
Laineyisat
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Rear Flank Down: re: your journey

Wow. That is very intense.

Thank you for sharing. I am touched by your humility and openness.

It IS messy. Anytime we drop the facade of religion to BE CHRIST to one another, it is incredibly messy. Maybe I'm still in waiting mode because I'm still in recovery mode.... Perhaps I am still recovering from a VERY painful episode that preceded our journey away from the brick and mortar...

But hope glimmers in my hunger for what you describe!!!

Thank you for sharing.

Lainey

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 10:01am
Bay
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Hug each other and keep sharing

Free Hugs in Sondrio, Italy
Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 10:33am LaMachinna
JoeKa
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Jer 29:11

I will gladly you give u all my hat tips just for reminding us all of this verse. Brilliant stuff. :)

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 1:47pm Rear Flank Downdraft
Bay
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Messy in deed

Rear Flank

Thank you for sharing all that you have gone through. It appears you have been experiencing book of Acts church life. One only has to consider Paul's first letter to Corinth to see how messy it can be.

I have thoughts of Jesus walking the shores of Galilee and choosing his twelve. Many were fishermen and some tax collectors. These fishermen smelled and probably were foul mouthed like the seafaring men they were. The tax collectors of that time over charged the taxpayer and then skimmed off the top. How about that bunch. What a band of misfits they were. As you know Jesus persevered with them and then worked mightily through them. He still looks for men like that today and it appears some are at your doorstep. What a blessing you are to one another.

Rear Flank said ...

This stuff is really terribly messy and ridiculously hard, this "bearing one another's burdens" stuff. As a pastor, I can't and do not want to hide behind that position. They see all my foibles and failures and inconsistencies and I get to grow and be sharpened because of that. And we're not really too good at following as faithfully as is needed. And we can't do it lone-ranger style; we need each other as we try and apprentice ourselves to the Master Craftsman, as he weaves this tapestry of a life we are forging together.

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)
17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Love this as well ....

Moving "church" into the home, and seeing my living room, my barbeque/fire pit as the grounds for where church happens, the home became the seat of our most effective biblical hospitality and an indispensable and natural evangelistic tool. God saw fit to speak through our simple hospitality.

God will continue to bless brother as you continue to keep Jesus the head of the church.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 2:28pm kenklave
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You are welcome

kenklave,

Thanks for posting brother. Christians do have pain at times and it is a problem and very real for them at that time. Read Job ... read many of the Psalms of David.

C.S. Lewis wrote "The Problem of Pain" after loosing his wife to cancer. He married her late in life and took in her and her two son's. She was the only woman he ever loved. She took him out of his shell of his earlier years of life and God used her to open other avenues in him. Depressed over her loss he went into a shell and would have nothing to do with the boys. He didn't turn them out mind you but he had his brother tend to their needs as he could not deal with the reminder they were of his precious wife.

God got his attention for some things through that trial in his life. Yes we go through pain and trials to grow in Christ. The pain is very real or it would be of no effect.

kenklave said ...

As to the comments perplexing Chin, I would say that to me it seemed rather clear what was being said. It has become popular today to discard and even scorn our country's European Christian heritage. There is an attitude among some that white people are evil oppressors and Christianity is their religion. Stephanie explained it pretty well. I don't think the comment warrants any concern.

Last time I will post on this. Stephanie's comments helped to clarify a possibility which I acknowledged. I posted an apology to ewc58 if that was the case. Sorry to say he has not responded.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 4:25pm
Yooper Rick
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to Stephanie

You must accept the gift of salvation before you can receive the Holy Spirit. Then the Holy Spirit will help you to understand God's meaning for passages in the Bible rather than making up your own interpretation. Jesus is Lord! Romans 10:9-10

yooper rick
Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 10:32pm
JoeKa
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Faith and Logic

Personally, i think logic hinders one coming to know God and who He really is. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. Our ways are not His ways. That is the eternal divide which can never be crossed with a logic bridge. By going against God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of life and death (or tree of all knowledge) Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise.

This divide can only be crossed by the Faith bridge. For many, this is an impossible path to cross because of pride, arrogance, hardened heart, false pretenses, false doctrine, cultural hindrances, past failings, sin, etc

However the Word of God says that without Faith it is impossible to please God - Heb 11:6

Jesus Himself alludes to the power of faith in John 20:29 when He says "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

While it is good to be questioning and dig into scriptures for answers or even ask God directly, many allow the pursuit of logic and logical reasoning to lose focus on the very thing they need - F A I T H.

Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Unfortunately many 'hear' but even fewer 'listen' and end up missing the whole message.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 10:59pm
ginger
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This is an amazing thread.

This is an amazing thread. This will be an amazing place ..because, He is here.

I just found this thread earlier today but haven't posted yet because I wanted to make sure that I read all the posts and tried to catch up the best I could. Chin Music and all, thank you so much. This is just amazing. Hopefully I am not being overly dramatic to say this but such a thread is in and of itself a miracle in this day and time. I am really just stunned that this could happen here and now and in the way that it is unfolding. Make no mistake ..God has a plan and will be honored and uplifted with the glorifying of His name here.

Can I back up just a minute??... Larry, sometimes in my posts over on the main forum (depending on what I have been reading online and depending on my level of anxiety in my life at the moment) I tend to let some of my fears spill out through my words/posts in subtle ways that I don't even mean to do. Maybe it's just an immature-ness in me that feels suddenly overwhelmed and afraid and in a sort of desperation I post trying to reach out for some perspective from others. It was amazing to me in how you responded in that thread. I sat there and read your words and re-read. I knew in my heart that your words were meant for me to read and God had something for me in your words. Then Chin Music did the same and continued it and you both have no idea how you spoke to me in that thread. It was uncanny in how your words cut through to exactly what I needed to hear and think about. I guess what I am saying is that I felt it wasn't you who was speaking to me but that it was the Holy Spirit through you. Chin, your book recommendation just cut right through to exactly what I am struggling with and you'd better believe that I am getting that book. I can't wait for it. I feel there is something in there that I need to read. I will be ordering it next week.

Back to this thread.... I sat here and cried through most of this thread. First at Chin's story of his son and then at the struggles some are going through on their spiritual journeys and to find places of worship and then I smiled at the wise words of hope offered in scripture like Jer. 29:11 and just when I wasn't crying anymore then I click in to JoeKa's song only to start crying again! ...Thanks JOEKA!! ...LaMachinna, I had Jeremiah 29:11 pulled up on a tab on my computer screen all last week. I would click over to it and just sit and read it at various times through the week as I needed to let Him remind me.

I don't want to get so long-winded here. Just know that I am honored to be counted in among you all. Everyone's post was an absolute blessing to me to read. I want to learn more about you all and about what the Lord has done and is doing in each of your lives. I hope we will be a blessing to those searching for meaning and a deeper relationship with a loving God. ....I loved the personal stories. It was so much fun learning that Lainey is Doc J's wife! (Doc J is one blessed man!) and it was great (FANTASTIC!) to see a moderator chime in on a thread like this and contribute! I hope ewc feels welcome here and will return because Chin's heart is as humble as a man's can be and I believe that he only spoke as from the heart of a servant. EWC.. you are welcome here friend as Chin has already stated. ...Anyway, I don't want to call everyone's individual name because I will leave someone out and I would not mean to do that because every post truly was a blessing to me. New posters choosing this forum for their first posts is proof enough for me that our Lord is in this place.

..... I hope to contribute here. I already feel at home here. I guess what you need to know about me is simply this: I am a sinner saved by the Grace of my Lord, Jesus Christ though completely undeserved by me. I am no better than those not yet saved. The only difference between me and them is that I am a saved sinner and they are yet lost sinners. God loves us all equally and enough to send his only Son to die up on that cross for all who will simply accept Him. I try to start every day thanking Him first for no matter what is going on He is always in control, He is always gracious, loving, merciful, kind, and He always knows His plans and they will be fulfilled in time. ....Then the 2nd thing I pray is that I will within my own self be decreased and He will be increased.

This thread is no coincidence. This WILL be an amazing place. A place where a group of strangers who have never even met are bound together by a 'thread of faith' and with the love that God has shown us each and has enabled us to each show to others. Matthew 18:20 says that "where 2 or 3 gather in my name, there am I with them". So.. we can count Him as our most honored guest because I feel His presence in this place.

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 11:50pm
ginger
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Awesome In This Place

I hope praise and worship music that we want to share is ok in this thread?? I know that the Holy Spirit can speak to us in many different ways through different things but wonderful praise music is something that I dearly love and it always gets my heart in a deeply worshipful state. So, thank you JoeKa for that beautiful song. (Who sings it? I just loved it.)

I feel Him here in this place. He Is Awesome In This Place:

Awesome in this Place (worship video w/ lyrics)
Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 11:59pm
ginger
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Chin, I just watched that hug

Chin,

I just watched that hug video again. I remember when it was posted on the old tf blogspot site. I cried then (I'm sorry....BIG crybaby here) ....and it was no less wonderful now. Thanks for sharing it and reminding me of it again. ....What it makes me feel is that there is a whole world of people out there who are hurting and a simple hug is just so powerful.

.....

Ok. ......I'm here talking to myself tonight. ....Great!...I found y'all just in time for the place to be turned in to a ghost town!

:D :D