Something About UsWho We Are and What We Do
Let me see.
How do you fill in a page like this? What are the rules? The etiquette? The modus operandi?
Do you simply list the important things you may have done or said or written or eaten or visited or felt or… whatever, in a resume, bullet-point type of order? Is that what people need to know to discover who you are and what kind of platform you have to speak from? And, if so, how then do you list them? Does your list move in chronological order from eternity past to the present, from the “foundation of the world” until last Tuesday?
Or do you maybe list them in the order of their importance? But then, important to whom? Who determines what is truly important and worthy of mention and what is just bland, boring, recycle bin fluff? Do you, the reader on your side of the screen? Or do I, the writer on this side? Maybe it should be my wife or my family? Possibly the neighbors across the street or the people I go to church with?
No, this seems too cold, too formal, and far too academic.
For the sake of brevity, I think I’m going to tell you a bit about me this way:
- Christian – I affirm that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and the passion of my life.
- Protestant – I affirm the five “solas” of the Reformation.
- Reformed – I affirm the doctrines of grace and in the sovereignty of God.
- Evangelical – I believe the Gospel (which is the original and truest meaning of “evangelical”) and I believe all of it.
- Conservative – I tend to be traditional and restrained in my beliefs and cautious towards change, especially when it seems to be change merely for the sake of change. Why? Because I don’t particularly trust the organized church, our government, the media, or the culture in which we live. Or you, for that matter.
- Unfinished – Absolutely! The Lord is still working on me to teach me, among other things, how great He is and how unfinished I am. Seems I have to learn that lesson almost every day. Sometimes twice.
Then, on a more personal level…
- Married – I am married to my best friend and have been so for a little over 35 years.
- Father – I am the father of five and the grandfather of ten and counting.
- Pastor – I am the pastor of The Church Without Walls (www.thechurchwithoutwalls.org) in Gastonia, NC. We are a church made up of people who love Jesus but have had less than a positive experience with church. Oh, do you know some people like that? I’m not surprised. They seem to breed like kudzu.
- Author – Finally, I am also the author of Love Jesus, Hate Church, which is a book that examines the senseless and hurtful experiences we often endure within our current church structure. It is a book about emerging faith, absolute truths, and offers hope to those who have taken an honest look at the church, scratched their head, and said, “You know, this ain’t the way church is suppose to be. Something must be wrong. Bad wrong.” You can download a free copy here.
What I Believe
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
The following is what I like to call my personal doctrinal statement. It is what I believe about the essentials and how that belief impacts my life. I guess you could call it my Creed. It is something that I believe with all my being, something I am passionate about, and something I will not compromise on.
I recognize that there is only one true and living God who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is worthy of all honor, praise and glory as the One who made all things and holds all things together (See Exodus 20:2-3; Colossians 1:16-17).
I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. I believe that He came to destroy the works of the devil and that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (See John 1:1,14; Colossians 2:15; 1 John 3:8).
I believe that God demonstrated His own love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (See Romans 5:8; Colossians 1:13-14).
I believe that I am now a child of God and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies. I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift and not the result of any works on my part (See Ephesians 2:6,8-9; 1 John 3:1-3).
I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. I put no confidence in the flesh, for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh but are divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds. I put on the full armor of God. I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one (See 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-20; Philippians 3:3).
I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing, so I declare myself dependent on Him. I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify my Father. I announce to Satan that Jesus is my Lord. I reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan in my life (See John 15:5,8; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
I believe that the truth will set me free and that Jesus is the truth. If He sets me free, I will be free indeed. I recognize that walking in the light is the only path of true fellowship with God and man. Therefore, I stand against Satan’s deception by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ. I declare that the Bible is the only authoritative standard for truth and life and I choose to speak the truth in love (See John 8:32,36; 14:6; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 John 1:3-7).
I choose to present my body to God as a living sacrifice and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. I choose to renew my mind in the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect. I put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self, and I declare myself to be a new creation in Christ (See Romans 6;13; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9-10).
By faith, I choose to be filled with the Spirit so that I can be guided into all truth. I choose to walk by the Spirit so that I will not carry out the desires of the flesh (See John 16:13; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18).
I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love. I choose to obey the two greatest commandments: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself (See Matthew 22:37-39; 1 Timothy 1:5).
I believe that the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth and He is the head over all rule and authority. I am complete in Him. I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ since I am a member of Christ’s Body. Therefore, I obey the command to submit to God and to resist the devil, and I command Satan in the name of Christ to leave my presence (See Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 2:10; James 4:7).
Note: For a more detailed Doctrinal Statement, see www.thechurchwithoutwalls.org
*From Neil Anderson’s – Steps to Freedom in Christ
To Find Out More About Our Church...
When we think of Jonathan Edward’s 70 Resolutions or a church mission statement, we know they are comprised of our bedrock values. So it is the same with each of us when we attempt to put on paper what we value most about God. For me, the choice was simple.
In addition to His grace and mercy, His abounding love and forgiveness, the one attribute that I cling to the most about our Lord is His sovereignty. Yes, the Almighty is sovereign! Lord over all!
He is the Supreme Ruler.
He is the Creator.
He is the Final Arbitrator.
He is All in All.
There is nowhere to go beyond God.
He is Sovereign!
He is Sovereign!
So how can I communicate the greatness of His sovereignty? Let’s start with just a few verses that speak of that. We’ll begin with my life verse:
But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” – Psalm 115:3. Why? Because He is sovereign.
“Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'” – Isaiah 46:8-10. How can this be true? Because He is sovereign.
For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places – Psalm 135:5-6. How is this possible? Because He is sovereign.
And everything belongs to our Sovereign God.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters – Psalm 24:1-2. How can everything belong to Him? Because He is sovereign.
What does that really mean?
He is Omnipotent (all powerful).
His power is unfathomable to us.
It is infinite and has no limit or end.
And God is not limited to what He has already done.
God can do infinitely more than He already has.
What Does that Mean For Me Today?
Understanding God’s sovereignty and His unconditional love for you should forever remove any worry, doubt, fear, apathy, or depression from your life. After all, the very one who slung the universe into existence has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30). And it can’t get any better than that.
And how can He do that? Simple. He is sovereign.
In this message, we begin a deep journey into the prophetic words of Christ found in Matthew 24. Why? Because we are truly living in the last of the last days and it would do us well to see what our Lord has to say about the events that precede His coming. This set of His teaching is affectionately known as the Olivet Discourse. And we will especially look at the first sign Jesus told us would point to the beginning of the end, deception. That’s right, deception is planáō in the Greek and means “to cause to wander, to be led astray, to mislead, to seduce, to cause to err.” Or, simply put, good old-fashioned deception.
Which raises just a few questions.
How are we being deceived today?
And, if we are being deceived, how would we know?
Are there other places in the Scriptures that warn us against deception?
What kind of deception can we expect?
And what was the specific focus of the deception Jesus spoke about?
How Important is the Coming (and Present) Deception
To see how rampant deception is in our society, and as a sign of the end, look at how many times Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24:
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” – Matthew 24:5.
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” – Matthew 24:11.
And how powerful will that deception be?
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” – Matthew 24:24.
Did you catch that? If it were possible (and we know that it’s not), even the elect, those chosen and sealed by Christ, would be deceived. It’s gonna be bad.
Who Do You Trust?
One final question regarding trust and deception. Ask yourself this one question: Who do you trust? If you’re honest, your answer may shock you.
Unfortunately, in our walk with the Lord, Chaucer’s ancient adage proves true: Familiarity Breeds Contempt. It breeds contempt in the form of apathy, laziness, indifference, lack of honor or respect and, finally, of misplaced love. It seems to be the curse of Western Christianity that wants for nothing save the things that matter.
What can we do when we find our relationship with the Lord boring at best? What happens when, to quote the classic song by the Righteous Brothers, “we’ve lost that lovin’ feelin'”? What happens then?
How can we recapture what we have a hard time even remembering? We find the answer in the Lord’s letter to His church in Ephesus.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
The church at Ephesus, when John penned the Revelation, was only one generation removed from the life of the Lord. They were a hard-working bunch of committed believers who had a resume and doctrinal purity that would be the envy of almost any church today.
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary” – Revelation 2:2-3.
In fact, they worked for the Lord to the point of sheer exhaustion.
“I know your works (the results of employment, duty, business, something to be done), your labor (to toil to the point of exhaustion, the labor which demands the whole strength of a man exerted to the utmost to accomplish the task), your patience (to remain under, to bear up under), and that you cannot bear (support, stand) those who are evil (bad, worthless, wicked, vicious, harmful, bad in heart, conduct, and character). And you have tested (tried, to prove either good or bad) those who say (affirm, proclaim) they are apostles (messengers, sent ones) and are not, and have found (by examination, search, or inquiry) them liars (false); and you have persevered (to bear up under patiently) and have patience (to endure, to remain under), and have labored (to be fatigued, worn out, weary, faint) for (what) My name’s sake and have not become weary (faint from constant work).”
I get tired just reading all that they did. But, like the church today, they had missed the most important part of their relationship with Jesus. The relationship!
“Nevertheless (in spite of all this) I (Jesus) have this against you, that you have left (to forsake, quit, abandon, desert) your first love ( agapē)” – Revelation 2:4.
Sobering words. The Lord said He is “against” them… even after all the good they had done. How could that be? And what can they do to right their sinking ship?
It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things. Sometimes it is painfully hard.
“Remember (to call to mind, to keep on remembering) therefore from where (why, how) you have fallen (to fall off or from, to fall away, to fail, to be without effect, in vain); repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place— unless you repent” – Revelation 2:5.
Do You Remember?
It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things. Sometimes it is painfully hard. Consider the following questions to help begin the process of remembering: