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...
Some of the hardest questions in the Christian life have to do with God not answering our prayers— no matter how much we pray or how much faith we can collectively muster. Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Why didn’t God do what I prayed He would do? Why doesn’t God love me? Because if He did, He would not have let happen what happened? Where was God during my time of deepest need? I prayed to God for ________ and it did not happen.
Which inevitably leads us to ask this: Why God? Is the problem with me? Am I not doing enough to get my prayers answered? Or is the problem with You? Are You showing favorites and am I on the bottom of Your list? What’s the problem? Help me understand this, God, because this is hurtful and doesn’t make any sense.
You’re Right, It Doesn’t Make Much Sense
And the reason for that is our reliance on Cliff Note theology. We grab a few Scriptures, usually out of context, and hold on to them like a life preserver vainly trying to get them to say something they don’t. Consider these:
1 John 5:14-15 – Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Did you notice something? The key, according to this verse, is praying “according to His will.” When that happens, badda bing, badda boom, prayers get answered. But when we ask for something not according to the will of God, all bets are off. The answer will be, “Not today, not ever.”
Matthew 18:19 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
First, this statement by our Lord has nothing to do with prayer, but with dealing with a sinning believer. And even if it did give us a prescription for prayer, can two people agree for world peace and the end of all wars, and it be a guarantee from the Lord? I think not. Why? Because God has already revealed to us that in the future we “will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6). God has already spoken prophetic truth to us and won’t violate His Word because of our prayers.
Do you want to know the reason God often doesn’t answer our prayers? Because the reason will change the way you look at God and prayer from this point forward. If you want to know more, then keep listening.
You want some great advice? Good. Then “do the next right thing.”
When we’re faced with depression, chilling disappointment, or numbing loss, what are we to do? What happens when all our dreams come crashing down around us like Jenga pieces scattered on our dining room floor? What happens when the intimacy we once felt with our Lord evaporates right before our eyes— and we don’t know why? What do we to do when the only voice we hear is our own doubt and paralyzing fear? What happens when our pain compels us to sleep 18 hours a day, and we forget who we are and Who we serve? What are we do to then?
“Do the next right thing?” Simply stumble forward.
Do you realize that if your goal was to run 5 miles and all you could do was stand and then fall flat on your face, eventually you’d get there. One body length at a time. That’s exactly what our Bible heroes of old did. They stood on their feet and did he next right thing. They chose to not doubt in the dark what they believed in the light. After all, truth doesn’t change. But our circumstances do.
What did Moses do when decades passed and it looked like God had forgotten and forsaken Him? He did the next right thing. And remember Elijah, who was struggling with self-doubt and depression to the point he wanted to die. What did God say to him as they met at the mouth of the cave? Essentially this, “Do the next right thing.” How about David when he learned his son was dead due to his own sin with Bathsheba? What did David do? The next right thing.
The Scriptures are full of those, just like you and me, who stumble forward in the dark faithfully doing the next right thing, even when we don’t know why or how. They just did what was right. And they made sure it was the next thing they did. Do you want to know more about putting one step in front of another and doing the next right thing? Then keep listening.
The ladies in our church are going on a women’s retreat in a couple of weeks and the theme of their study will include the abundant life found only in Christ and the idea of true worship. And, as would happen, just today I discovered a blog post by Jeff Kinley that addressed some of the issues I have personally struggled with when it comes to true worship (as compared to the lame stuff we call worship today).
I pray this will be a blessing to you as you prepare this Sunday morning to worship our Sovereign God.
Read ‘Em and Weep
The following are 10 reasons many of us rarely experience true worship. See if you can relate to a few of these.
1. While most Christians struggle with the challenges of life, many live defeated lives, never achieving the “more than conquerors” victory that Scripture claims is the normal experience of those who have been redeemed.
2. Many professing Christians simply stop growing after an initial burst of interest and enthusiasm. Bibles gather dust and heart-fires start burning out. As a result, the process of sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is often short-circuited, fueled by sin, Satan or self. These people end up as spiritual children living in adult bodies. Churches are FULL of these folks.
3. Many have never taken the time to really understand salvation— studying what actually took place at the cross, contemplating their dark, sinful condition and future outside of Christ, and learning to regularly bath in the infinitely deep ocean of God’s grace and love. Understanding how and why God saved you is the key to contentment and joy in life.
4. Most Christians have little clue about how great their Lord is. I mean, how could they? They rarely, if ever, crack open the only Book God wrote to reveal Himself to them. Ignorance of the mind-blowing truths in Scripture concerning who God is and how amazing His attributes are is a guaranteed one-way ticket to Bland Land. Bank on this: true theology and doctrine is never, ever boring. Rather, it infuses our hearts with awe and wonder, inspiring pure, explosive heart-worship.
5. Face it. We like comfort and often choose the path of least resistance when it comes to our faith. Living for Jesus is hard, and few American believers have the lungs for the long, uphill race. So we rest comfortably by the wayside, occasionally admiring those “Super Christians” who run by on their way to maturity.
6. We refuse to exercise faith in the daily challenges of life, and almost never branch out and trust God for something truly supernatural, especially if it could cost us a bundle. We treat sacrifice and suffering like tax season— with a sense of dread and avoidance. Fear rules many of our life decisions, not faith. Safety and security becomes our style, influencing everything from friends to finances. And that makes Heaven yawn… and grieve.
7. We love the idea that God is loving and compassionate, but fail to grow past those sentimental attributes. Godly discernment, on the other hand, may lead us to actions that others may interpret as unloving. So we continue enabling people in their immaturity and sin— and do it all in the name of love. But in reality, hidden behind this “love” is simply a weak and impotent heart. Boring.
8. We ignore the direct application of God’s Infinitely-Wise Word where it really matters— on the job, at home, in our marriage and in our parenting. And we wonder why we’re so screwed up. We trust in ourselves because having faith seems to be complicated and intangible. We settle for “what works”— expediency, pragmatism and peace. And when we do look for advice and counsel, it’s usually from someone just as messed up as we are. Logical?
9. The average American Christian checks into church 2x a month, way too little for it to ever have any real, life-changing impact on their lives. Like working out 2x a month, there is never any real progress or growth. Truthfully, there’s always a “good reason” to prioritize something else over gathering with your spiritual family – sleep, work, friends, fun, movies, sports on TV, etc.
10. Honestly, we want a God who entertains and serves us. We prefer that He act like we want Him to and at the time of our choosing. And when He fails to deliver or meet our expectations, we lose interest and become bored with His “ways”.
Do any of these resonate with you? They do with me. Ask our Lord to give you His “living water” and teach you to be the kind of worshipper He seeks. And remember these wonderful words of Jesus to the Samaritan women He encountered at the well:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when (who) the true worshipers will worship the Father (how) in spirit and truth; (why) for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must (what) worship in spirit and truth” – John 4:23-24.
Strive to become the worshiper the Father actively seeks to worship Him. Because that, my dear friend, is the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10). And begin that faith journey with Him today.