Posts Tagged ‘Church

02
Dec
09

Losing My Religion?

Once when I was covering the pastor-on-call an email came through from a church member asking about whether or not we can lose our salvation. Here is my answer:

We believe that once saved, always saved.  This is known by the term “perseverance of the Saints.”  I.e. if someone is saved, and they persevere to the end of their life here on earth as saved, they are truly born again.  We hold to a reformed theology on this subject, that a truly born again individual cannot lose their faith.  John 6:38-40 shows that “every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Another scripture is John 10:27-29 where we read “…I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Many more passages exist to support the view of the perseverance of the Saints including Romans 8:1 and 8:30.  Ephesians 1 says we are “sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit” and it is the “guarantee of our inheritance.”  There are so many other passages to support this perspective.  There are people who are close to the church that appear as if they have a genuine saving faith, but actually don’t. The best example I can think of is Judas who apparently exhibited saving faith but ultimately was not truly saved (Jesus called him the “devil”).  And also Jesus says in Matthew 7 “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom…”  If a person exhibits behavior that does not line up with one of a saved, and sanctified individual, it calls into question whether or not they were truly saved to begin with.  As I said, we do not believe that you can lose your salvation.  The Armenian view that you can lose your salvation often uses Hebrews 6:4-6 as the main basis for their argument: 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away,to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned – Hebrews 6:4-8 (NKJV)

In this scriptural example (reading on through verses 7 and 8), those who receive final judgment are compared to land which bears no fruit but rather bears thorns and thistles.  It appears that the author of Hebrews is referring to fruitlessness, and in scripture we see this as a sign of someone who is not a believer (see Matt 3:8-10; 7:15-20; 12:33-35). I.e. if you bear no fruit, you are likely not saved.  In John 15 Jesus says “every branch of mine that bears no fruit…” showing that there are branches that are fruitless.  Armenians use this verse to imply that branches that bear no fruit are still true branches on the vine.  We would say they are counterfeits. The term “enlightened” in verse 4 of the Hebrews passage simply means that they understand the truth of the Gospel, not that they have entered into a saving faith.  The argument for losing your faith is just not convincing enough when we have so much overwhelming evidence to support the reformed view.

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17
May
09

Hello Vineyard

“Hello, hello, I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello” – The Beatles

There are many twists and turns, rises and falls, on the road of life.  There are goodbye seasons, which can be bittersweet, and there are hello seasons, which are full of wonder and discovery. Sometimes God takes us down paths in our lives that are unexpected but the result is so amazing.

It’s like the father who is taking his son to his first trip to the zoo.  “Where are we going daddy?” the son asks.  “You’ll see,” says the father with the knowledge that his expectant son will absolutely love where they are going.  The father knows that when they get there his son will be excited and it will be a great experience and he will likely remember it for the rest of his life, so he holds back to get the pleasure of seeing that look of joy and discovery on his son’s face.  Our heavenly Father does that for us sometimes.  I really wish that I knew what was happening next, but God says, “Just wait, it’s going to be good,” and somehow He loves that element of surprise.  God knows, we don’t, and He’s good with that.  The little boy trusts his daddy, just as we should trust our Daddy in heaven.

Dina and I have been in a transition period in our lives.  Transitions are uncomfortable and this particular season was the most painful and difficult of Dina’s and my life. Always there is the unknown, and many times we asked, what’s next Father?  In response our loving God opened up door after door to lead us to a group of Jesus-followers that have a refreshing purity about them in their walk with the Lord and their fellowship with each other; so much so that it seems a special impartation of the Holy Spirit loves this place and has taken up residency there.  In hindsight, the road to this church was an easy one.  An email from an old friend, a coffee with a new friend, meeting, greeting, connecting, praying, plugging in, God speaking, and finally a sense of peace.  I wish all life decisions were this smooth.  In a time when Dina and I could have been hard-headed about what’s next and laid out our own agenda of what the future should look like, God had a special plan for us.  And now that we are here, full of wonder, we absolutely love it.

Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  We had patience and let the Lord lead us.  There really is no other choice.  You must trust.  www.vineyardcs.org

17
Aug
08

Concert of Praise/Recording Night

This Friday night we are having a Concert of Praise at MSC.  We do these intentionally throughout the year when I feel the Lord is speaking to us that we should gather with abandon in praise and worship of Him.  They are different from our regular weekend church services in that the music time is a bit longer (hence the moniker “concert”), a bit more passionate, a bit more intimate, and a bit louder. 

This night is significant in that it will be a launching for our church in to the Fall season.  It feels as though we have entered a new season at the church as well and hopefully this night will be especially glorifying to God and unifying for the body. 

This night is also significant because we’re only going to play songs written by members of the MSC worship team and record the event to become our next full-length live worship CD (targeted for release in Spring 09).  The team is fasting, praying, and doing a book study together.  This is warfare on many levels and I believe we are going to birth something in our church in praise and worship.  It makes sense therefore that there is spiritual warfare happening.  But what we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven an we’re loosing joy and adoration of Jesus Christ and I have to believe that in the heavenlies there will be victories as well. 

13
Jun
08

In Everything Be Thankful

Psalm 100:1-5 says, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he, who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

What an amazing scripture! The faithfulness of God is a humbling thought. Look at the past few months and see how he has looked after all the details of our lives! Thanking and praising him doesn’t mean that difficult times become easier, that problems disappear, or that good times get even better. It just means that God gives us hope through Him in every situation and that when we choose to acknowledge Him, we take on His perspective instead of our own. Be encouraged to take a minute each day, remember to bless and praise the name of the Lord, and watch Him work in and through your life!

12
May
08

The Complainer

So I was thinking about the general nature of the complainer this week.  We had a guest speaker at church since our Sr. Pastor is in Israel (“lucky!”) and he asked the congregation in each of our 3 services “be honest, how many of you have not prayed for your pastors, any of them, even one time in the last 2 weeks?”  Most people raised their hands.  I’ll give them this, they are an honest congregation (I absolutely love this church).  He said, “so you never pray for your pastors, but when something gets said from the pulpit you don’t like or the music is not quite right you are so quick to send off an email to them and complain.”  Wow.  Being a pastor I was one part edified and another part squirming a bit.  If you are in public ministry you’ve heard it.  The complaints: too loud, I couldn’t worship, where are the hymns?, it’s obvious this is about you and not about God.  Yes I’ve heard a lot of it.  In fact, I myself am a complainer.  I complain about all sorts of things that make my life difficult, or anything that pulls me out of my comfort zone.  Just this morning my wife said, “you ought to squeeze in a bike ride, the weather is nice.”  I got up put on bike shorts and jersey, socks and shoes, and then asked “what’s the temperature?”  It was a little cold for the clothes I was wearing.  I complained because I had to change my clothes.  I did end up on a bike ride and am very happy I went.  She was right, the weather was beautiful this morning.  And I did find myself praising God for His creation which I often do when I go biking.  But I just HAD to complain at some point didn’t I?  But it seems that when people uncork on a pastor in the church, it’s quite vile.  Why do these complainers feel the need to spread so much venom (yes, venom) when they complain (actually said to me in church: “how dare you assume to know what I need to worship God”)?  Congregational church is about giving back to God (see 1 Peter 2:9); declaring His praises.  That’s the primary purpose of the church.  But some people arrive with a consumer mentality and are just flat out furious when it doesn’t conform to whatever standard they have imposed on “church.”  With the American church body rife with complainers are we really acting as His disciples and “lov[ing] one another” as Christ commanded (John 13:34)?  What do you think?   

02
May
08

National Day of Prayer

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer.  This special event was different than some others I have been involved with.  This year was a joy to coordinate and the tangible results were all good.  At Mountain Springs we had a noon event and then at night I led worship at a city-wide event.  All day long at church we had various groups meeting and praying.  This year seemed special.  It seemed that there was more unity among God’s people.  During both events I led at, I sensed true spiritual unity and thus, power in the prayers.  Maybe it takes a season of losing ground in order to spur people into action.  Colorado Springs is one of the most unchurched cities of its size in the country.  15 years ago something like 29% of the people in this town went to church.  Now the stat I heard is 18%.  That means in our mission field, we’re losing.  We’re not proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel loud or often enough.  But yesterday I saw believers from all over the city gathering in faith, praying; offering supplications of repentance for what we, the church, has or has not done for the Lord.  It was inspiring to me. 

There was also a time of prayer for pastors.  People came over to Dina and I and prayed for us.  That was fantatsic.  Unexpected that it ministered to me so much.

Three worship pastors from somoe of the largest churches in town (that would include us) led worship.  We sang songs before our Senior Pastors came up to pray.  No agenda, no ego, no one-upsmanship, just joy in serving each other and the Lord.  It was great to be a part of that kind of unity and connectivity.

Footnote: I read a sad article from someone complaining that the National Day of Prayer was lame because of how it excluded people.  Like Buddists and Muslims.  And also that since Shirley Dobson created it, it must exclude anyone who is not a right wing evangelical.  Funny that in an effort to be inclusive, people ultimately become exclusive themselves.  If we changed the National Day of Prayer to include all belief systems and faiths, wouldn’t that then ultimately exclude the people that gravitate towards it as a rallying point for their worldview and faith?  If buddists wanted their own National Day of Prayer in America don’t you think they would be asking for it? 




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