Thursday, June 30, 2011

What about Children's Church?

I love this Spurgeon quote Mrs. Fuentes shared on her blog A Wise Woman Builds Her Home:

Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion
that Sunday School is intended
to ease them of their personal duties.
The first and most natural condition of things
is for Christian parents
to train up their own children
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

My husband and I are not a big fan of Sunday School.  First of all, I don't really care for the way that churches mimic the humanistic institutional method of separating children by age groups.  Secondly, I've seen too many Sunday School classes that look more like playtime with a story of Jesus thrown in somewhere.  I've seen churches put on a big Children's Church production every week (with characters singing and dancing across the stage) that rivals Disney Musicals. The focus is on entertaining the children and keeping them busy- not Jesus.

I've been to churches where children are not allowed in the service.  There have been times when Sunday School teachers have argued with us, making quite a scene as the pastor got up to speak, and have even grabbed our children's arms and attempted to drag them away from us into their Sunday School classes even after we have made our stance known.

I don't want you to think I'm completely against children's bible classes.  Certainly many children, especially those without godly parents, benefit from them.  However, many parents have surrendered this command to disciple and train up their children to the church- some in part, some completely.

I think many homeschool families may use Sunday School as a means of socialization, and certainly it is good for our children to fellowship with other families within the body of Christ, but children also should learn to worship, praise, and learn alongside their parents.  Obviously there may be times when certain subjects will not be appropriate for children's ears.  However, I believe pastors, teachers, and anyone bringing a message from the Lord should keep children in mind and try to present their message in a clear manner.

Somehow people have picked up this idea that children are incapable of understanding such "lofty" things from the bible without significantly "dumbing them down", but I have found that most children are able to understand more than we give them credit for.  Yes, there will be certain things they don't understand which parents can expand on later, but they will soak up quite a bit.  It helps for parents to explain what is discussed within the meetings over the days following. This not only helps the child grow in their understanding, but it keeps the message from evaporating from the mind as soon as the church service or gathering is over (at least, I have found this to be true for me).

I believe sitting within the church meeting, listening along with my parents, and reading the bible at home when I was a kid helped in other ways as well. My vocabulary grew, and I  learned how to define words by the context they were used in.  I grew up reading the King  James Version, which, even at six or seven years old, was not too far above my comprehension.  (We tend to read the NASB or Holman Christian Standard with our children, though.) I also learned how to sit still and be quiet for an hour or two.  I have heard many say this is impossible for young children, especially toddlers, but I can tell you, it is not impossible. Yes, there will be some days when things don't go so well, but children can learn to be still and quiet.  This is easier done when you start from birth.  Children have a harder time doing this when they have become accustomed to playing and being entertained during church meetings and services.

Another issue I have with children's church is that we don't always know what is being taught to our children.  When our children sit in the meeting or service with us, we hear what they hear, but when they are separated from us, we cannot be totally sure what they are being taught, even when we are given an outline or a sheet that explains it. At one church we attended, the only "test" a Sunday school teacher had to pass was a background check.  As long as their record was free of felonies and such, they were allowed to teach children. No one questioned their doctrinal beliefs.

Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying you cannot send your children to Children's Church.  This is something you need to pray about and consider yourself.  (I'm not going to judge you either way as it is not my place!)

Some have asked what we do.  When we visit the Church in Moss Bluff, Louisiana, our children attend the Children's Church classes.  When we have a Church meeting or a fellowship gathering in our home, our children often play in the backyard.  When we have a meeting or a teaching at someone else's home, our children usually sit on the floor and color or draw when we are not singing or praying. I believe they are capable of listening and taking in while they color or draw, so this is fine with us.

Most of all, we understand that we should not depend on children's classes, church meetings, services, or teachings to disciple and train our children. That is our task as parents which is to be done daily in the home as we walk together, talk together, and live together.  There are many moments and opportunities in every day life to train and teach them "the way of the Lord".

Monday, June 27, 2011

Christ in Every Day Life

Body life is only as good as your individual life with Christ. Don’t make the mistake of substituting relationships with people for a relationship with Christ.  (T. Stanley)

Fellowship is important. To say otherwise would be a lie, but too often, we put all our focus on fellowship, and we forget about Christ. While we certainly can (and should) worship, pray, praise, learn and grow as a group, it's important to understand that our relationship with Christ is very personal. Our relationship with the Lord must be nourished outside of a fellowship group setting.

A friend of ours used to say (and probably still does), "Revival starts in the home."  People often want to see revival in their churches, but they seem to forget that revival starts within the individual. People want to see revival in their church, but they neglect their families. It starts with you, it spreads to your family, fills the church and floods out into the community.

I've been in groups who believe that it is their fellowship which saves. They don't have a solid relationship with the Lord Jesus, but they have a great relationship with their church community. They don't seek His truth and hold what they hear in their gatherings against the light of Scripture.  They base their whole belief system off a group or gathering or way of gathering rather than Christ alone. It is great to have a "brotherhood", but we must remember:

Just because a group has the "spirit of brotherhood" does not mean they have the Spirit of Christ.

Many groups have a spirit of brotherhood. My cousin onced explained that, as a marine, there is a spirit of brotherhood and unity among other marines.  I have been to gatherings of women where there is a spirit of "sisterhood" in that we are all mothers and have all experienced the trials of labor, birth, and babies.  We are united and have much to share with one another.

So many people believe because they have felt the spirit of brotherhood and have built relationships within a religious atmosphere that they somehow have built a relationship with Christ.  Unfortunately, most of the people who have done this are blind to it, and it will take a revelation of God to open their eyes.

Many have built their fellowship and their idea of salvation around another man's misinterpretation of the bible, and because they do not seek out the truth of the bible and are accustomed to reading the bible through a false filter, they continue to believe falsehoods.

Our relationship with the Lord is our own. If we don't seek Him, praise Him, and spend time with him (which means listening, speaking, and just "being" with Him), we aren't nourishing our relationship.

There may be times in our life when we are not able to fellowship with others for some reason or another.  Will we be starved because we have not built a real relationship with the Lord and do not know how to feed ourselves in Christ from the Scriptures without someone preaching it to us?

Do we only sing songs of praise and worship and really focus on the Lord when we are in a group setting, or do we have these moments when we are alone with God? Do we do this as a family, or do we reserve it only for "church"?  Or, do you not even do such a thing in "church"? I have been to "churches" where they do not understand or know what it is to praise and worship as a group, nevermind as individuals!

What does our personal relationship with Christ look like?  Do we seek Him out, meditate on His Word, sing of His glory and majesty, long for His direction and correction, and allow ourselves to just bask in Him when we go about every day life?

As much as I love to fellowship with others, I should really cherish my one-on-one time with the Lord. This is something I definitely have had to work at through the years since my conversion from "religious" to Christ-follower.

Some years ago, I found myself looking upon some of my Christian friends with envy. I desired to have a relationship with the Lord that they seemed to have.  I would later realize that my relationship with the Lord usually depended on how often I sought Him and poured my time into Him. It's amazing how we often get to thinking that we can have a great, flourishing relationship with the Lord but neglect Him in our personal, every day lives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday reads

Hey folks!  Today was an exhausting Sunday for us.  I had one of those good long naps that brought back memories of childhood Sundays.  I always thought my parents were really strange for taking midday naps on Sunday, but now I get it!  Whew, did I need ever that rest!  I  pray that your Sunday was been restful and rejuvenating.  It is my hope that you have been encouraged and strengthened in Christ, not only in your church gathering but in your own devotional time with the Lord. 

Here are some blog posts I've enjoyed "chewing on". I've included some excerpts, but definitely check out the full posts! 

Exactly one year ago, today, I left a twenty-five year pastorate and the professional ministry. The move came after a two year struggle of conscience where I tried to do what Wolfgang Simpson describes as “trying to cross the river without getting your feet wet.” After a year of reflection I offer to you the seven worst/best things I did as a conventional church pastor.

1. Took a full-time salary. Until I left the ministry I had no idea how corrupting a compensation package is to the church. It changes the way you think about yourself and changes the way people view you. You become a sort of professional Christian that floats above the unwashed masses of laity. It affects your decision-making almost every day. The Trinity becomes Father, Son and Holy Cash Flow. [.....]
-The 7 Worst (& 7 best) Things I did as a Pastor in a Traditional Church Ministry

In the previous blog post Longcuts, I shared that the expression of faith in simple, organic and missional paradigms of Christianity require intentionality on your part. Nothing is done for you. Your the initiator of the level of intimacy you want with God. Not only the initiator, but also responsible for your own maturity. Maturity is not easily or quickly attained, so the quicker we start on this journey the better. God expects us to mature, and Paul exhorts the Ephesians and us, in Ephesians 4:14-16 with, "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature".

Children have everything done for them. We don't expect anything different, and neither do they. Of course, we want them to mature, to become more and more responsible for themselves in all areas. We move them into adulthood. We call this maturity. That is one of our main purposes as parents and adults in their lives.

Unfortunately, we don't have this same mindset in much of the church. The defining of maturity seems illusive, like a target we never hit or sure of where and what it is. We claim we are training, teaching, leading, etc. people into maturity, and yet they never seem to reach it! All through the process we communicate messages like: "you need me for your spiritual growth", or " without my leadership, you and everything else will fall apart", or "your not ready yet, and I'll be the one to know when you are".
-Longcuts , and the following post, Time to Grow Up

This is my hypothesis.  These parents aren’t trying to train their children to obey, they are trying to control chaos.  Their discipline is based on the amount of chaos they can handle at a given time.  Deliberate disobedience is far less of a concern.  Therefore the child learns to monitor their parent’s mood and the situation closely knowing that the things they can get away with are not dependent so much on them and their behavior as on their parents and the environment.  This is a disaster for kids.  It makes the parents patience and tolerance the real trigger for discipline instead of the child’s behavior.  It trains kids less how to obey and more how to manipulate a situation.  This leads the child to routinely push his or her parents to the edge since they have been systematically trained to find that edge of tolerance and keep their parents there continuously.  How exhausting for the parents.  How destructive for the children.  And when they see an obedient child their reaction is, “I wish my child had that temperament”.  So they blame their child when they have spent years training their children to behave in this manner.  There’s a much better, easier way.
- Controlling Chaos VS Obedience Training for Young Children

The author of this post so clearly puts into words what I love about being part of a simple home church that seeks to "do life" together. I truly love the people we meet with and am always looking forward to fellowshipping with them again.  The Spirit bonds us together as we share our heart and our struggles, teach, rebuke, and pray for one another, as well as join together and lift our hands in worship and praise to God.

- Read: I've Got Your Back

One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ character is His radical inclusivity. When Jesus walked this earth, He despised the spirit of separatism, elitism, and self-righteousness (Mark 9:38-40). And He still does today (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV).

Augustine’s famous line still holds true: “In essential, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

These essentials of the faith embody what C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity—“the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” (An earlier version of the same idea was put forth by Vincent of Lerins: “Christianity is what has been held always, everywhere, and by all.”)

In this post, I’d like to make a few observations about the “non-essentials.”

To put it in a sentence: If the perfect interpretation of the Bible were the standard for Christian fellowship, then I would have had to disfellowship myself twenty years ago! I’m still learning, thank God, and my interpretations of Scripture are maturing. None of us has a corner on the truth. And if a person thinks they do, they’re deluded. In the words of Paul, “We know in part” (1 Cor. 13:9).

I have to wonder what will happen when Jesus returns. I can imagine all the Christians who specialized in “perfect doctrine” passing out after they discover who made it into the kingdom. Angels will be running around all over the place with smelling salts to wake them up!

The church of Jesus Christ is one. But we are called to maintain and guard the unity of that oneness (Eph. 4:2–3).
 - Rethinking Christian Unity

Love and Blessings in Christ,

The More I Seek You...

This is one of my favorite songs. I sing it throughout the day.  It's so simple and soothing yet heartfelt and intense.  Most of all, the words are so true... the more I seek Him, the more I find Him. The more I find Him, the more I really do love Him!

Have a blessed Sunday full of fellowship, worship, and praise!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beware of Pinocchio Prophets

2 Peter 2:1-3
   But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

I live in a city filled with churches, and, sadly, most of those churches are filled with false doctrine.  I know because my husband and I visited many of them and walked out of a few mid-service.  There are many forms false doctrine.

There's the doctrine of uber-grace which says we can be saved yet have no evidence of it in our lives, no victory over sin, no change.  We can live "freely" as we desire, ignoring God, ignoring the Scriptures, ignoring the Holy Spirit but claiming to be "Christians".

There's the doctrine of works, which is the background I come from.  It's much like the Pharisee doctrine which had added to God's word through human tradition and oral law.  There was no room for grace.

I grew up in a group that claimed to be "the only way" and every other Christian group was "false doctrine".  Yet, what I read in the bible clearly says that Jesus is the way and those who follow Him in faith are His bride, the Church.  No one denomination (or "non-denomination") as exclusive rights to Jesus.  He cannot be put into a box.  That is false doctrine.

We need to understand that doctrine is important. Now, there are some things that are not salvational issues (such as where we meet, whether a woman can wear pants or cut her hair, or if one can eat pork or not), but there are foundational doctrinal views that are extremely vital.

While most of modern Christendom has rejected the importance of doctrine and the centrality of preaching in public worship, correct doctrine was an obsession for both Christ and the apostles (cf., Ac. 20:28-31; Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Tit. 1:9; Mt. 1:9; Mt. 5:21-48; 7:15-27; 2 Jn. 9-11). There are many reasons why our Lord regarded doctrine so highly. (a) Correct doctrine is foundational to biblical Christianity. The system of doctrine taught by Scripture defines God, Christ, salvation, ethics, sin and everything a person needs for faith and life (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Without correct doctrine the object of our faith is false and all is lost. (b) Correct doctrine is crucial because false and man-made doctrine drives out, replaces and nullifies true teaching (Mt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:8, 20-23). The apostles had the responsibility to lay the foundation of the church by planting congregations and by delivering their inspired teachings and writings. If the shepherds became corrupted, so would their followers. Therefore, we can understand Jesus’ very strong concern with purity of doctrine. We hope and pray that some day many of the modern evangelical churches will share that concern.
                         [Christ’s Warning Concerning False Teachers, Brian Schwertley]
Schwertley also makes another great point,
[O]ur Lord’s warning is directed to the twelve apostles. It is not directed to backsliders, new believers, unreliable professors or ungodly persons but to the cream of the crop. The twelve apostles had forsaken all to follow Jesus. These were men who were dedicated to the Savior; who had been under His personal care and training for quite some time. These were men who had absolutely no sympathy for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. There is no indication whatsoever that the disciples were being influenced by any false teachers. Yet, it is the apostles who receive this strong warning.
            The fact that our Lord’s admonition is directed to the apostles tells us that no one should consider himself to be immune to the influence of false doctrine. There is never a time in our walk with Christ when we can let down our guard. There is not one person who can claim a level of knowledge, sanctification or theological maturity that protects him from the doctrinal assaults of Satan. Even the most godly and knowledgeable believers are able to err in doctrine. In fact, the more we understand about God, Christ, faith and life, the more we realize how feeble our knowledge really is. Therefore, regarding doctrinal matters we must be very humble. We must be very prayerful and careful regarding the doctrinal achievements on which we stand. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr. 16:18). And it is often pride and arrogance regarding one’s own knowledge, abilities and genius that has caused many a theologian and pastor to be seduced by Satan.
            It is not an accident of history that many dangerous heresies originated with pastors or teachers who were the brightest, most creative minds in seminaries or colleges. Indeed, the greatest heresies that have caused severe havoc in Christ’s church have all come from respected ministers of the gospel; from men notable for their teaching ability or intellectual skills.

How to we protect ourselves from false doctrine? How can we spot it?  We must be as the Bereans who "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

If we depend on other pastors, preaches, ministers, and friends to tell us what is false and what is true, we can easily be led astray.  In fact, Paul tells the Galatians, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!"  God will not contradict Himself! Remember that!  The answers are in the bible, and the Scriptures are not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20-21), but a revelation of wisdom according to the Holy Spirit.

Inspect your doctrine. Check what you're hearing in your fellowship gatherings and worship settings.  Test what is being preached to you. Have you fallen for a lie?

Read Christ's Warning Against False Teachers.

Comics from

Friday, June 17, 2011

Children in the Word

I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of my son reading his bible this morning out in the backyard!  Moments like this warm a mama's heart!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spoiled Rotten

If you live in America, you're spoiled. Even if you're among the poor in the states, you're still incredibly spoiled compared to the 80% of humanity who lives on $10 a day. You see, in the states, we have all sorts of programs and funds set up to help the poor- insurance, food stamps, housing, grants- but in other countries, that don't have such luxuries.

We've been blessed far beyond our "basic needs". We not only have clothing, but we have so much clothing our closets, dressers and laundry baskets are overflowing. We not only have shelter, but we actually have houses with divided rooms for privacy. We're so spoiled, we think that a four bedroom house is too small for a family of six. We're so spoiled, we get our panties in a twist if someone messes up our burger (Ew! I asked for no mustard!) instead of being thankful for what's before us. We're so spoiled, we get to have variety in what we wear, eat, and do where as in other countries, some people only have one or two things to wear and eat the same gruel every day! We're SO spoiled that we get all in a tizzy when the electricity goes out for a couple hours or, woah, a couple days. Here in Texas, we complain about our A/C not keeping up when it creeps up to 76 F! Nevermind that a quarter of humanity lives without electricity.

We're so spoiled, we complain about running out of juice or soda and having to drink water. Yes, folks, we're so spoiled, we can instantly have water with the twist of a knob, and we can soak in steamy hot baths daily and allow the water to run while we scrub our dishes or brush our teeth. Let me give you some statistics:

(Read the rest of this over at

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Truth is This (Bob Williford)

Our friend, Bob Williford, posts regularly on his Facebook Group called the Fence Post Digest.  His messages are always timely, and always seem to line up exactly with what I'm currently studying.  (Amazing how that happens!)  In keeping with the Truth and Holy Spirit theme I have been thinking upon lately, I hope this post encourages you as it did me.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6.

"I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth..” John 17:15,16 .

"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” John 16:12-15.

Jesus says of himself, “I am
  1. The Way
  2. The Truth
  3. The Life
  4. NOT of this World
Jesus says of us, “They are not of the world…”
Jesus asks of the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth…..”
Of the Holy Spirit Jesus says,
  1. Is the Spirit of Truth
  2. Will guide in all truth
  3. Will glorify Jesus
  4. Will disclose the heart of Christ to the us
There are 6 most important things to take note of here:
  1. Jesus is not of this world
  2. His disciples (Believers) are not of this world
  3. Jesus is Truth
  4. The Holy Spirit will guide the Believer in ALL Truth
  5. The Holy Spirit will disclose the Heart of Christ to the Believer
  6. The Father will purify (sanctify) the Believer in Truth
Because of Christ, the Believer is not of this world. The Holy Spirit empowers us in the discipline of Christ and to complete the transformation of the change wrought in His Son, the Father purifies us in the Truth. There is absolutely no achievement in holiness that is possible because of attainment of man. We are completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit in these matters.

Jesus is Lord

Friday, June 3, 2011

Feeding on the Word- not someone else's interpretation

Are you feeding on the Word, or are you feeding off someone else's "word"?

This video really hit home with me because I grew up feeding off someone else's "interpretation" of the bible. I read the bible, but I always read it through this filter I was given.

I remember that day my husband and I knelt down and cried out to God, "Show us your Truth! Take away this filter and fill us with Your wisdom and understanding as we read it with fresh, open eyes."

That was life-changing moment.  God opened up the Scriptures to us in such an awesome way. Have you ever read the bible with a clear mind, without any preconceived notions and ideas?  Too many people twist and bend the bible to fit their own forms of religion.

I love what one poster said in the comments of this video: "If truth is really truth, then it will stand up to the hardest questions. I wouldn't feel comfortable at a church that was afraid of questions."

For with the measure you use....

For what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Think on it.
-What if you were judged as you judge others, condemned as you condemn others, forgiven as you forgive others, would you find yourself condemned and unforgiven?
-What if people talked about you the way you talk about others? Would you feel comfortable with the words they would be speaking?
-In your time of need, what if you were given only as much as you had given others?  Do you joyfully help and give of your time, finances, and "stuff" or do you grumble as you give as little as you can?
-Do you treat others as you'd want to be treated?  Do you give little out of the much you've been blessed with? 

I fall so short in these areas. It is my desire to live as Christ lived, to give as Christ gives, to love as Christ loves.  Less of me, more of Christ.  I pray that the Lord would help me be selfless and humble. 

I am a "lover of self".  Our society tells us to do whatever makes us happy- to put ourselves first- and urges us to think of "me-me-me".  The bible tells me to put God first- to do whatever would glorify Him- and urges me to serve others through the love of Christ.  Help me to love others more, myself less.

Help me to set aside my excuses. My excuses will fail when I stand before Christ.

I have especially been considering these verses in terms of giving. Help us all to be extremely giving, not greedy.

Here are some great clips from Francis Chan I really enjoyed: