Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

planting a new church — July 1, 2020

planting a new church

It is quite popular these days to include the word “point” in the name of one’s church.  I know of a Lake Pointe, North Point, Life Point, Center Point, New Point, Mission Point and City Point Church and there are many more. 

I have occasionally toyed with the idea of planting a new church.  I already have a name.  It would be, “What’s the Point” Church. 

In my work as a Hospice Chaplain I have encountered many church dropouts who think of the church and wonder, “What’s the Point?” 

These folks were often raised in church and have sweet memories.   But somewhere along the way they were wounded by church people.

One young man was falsely accused by a church lady of stealing from her purse.  Another person was pointed out by the pastor from the pulpit.  Another was turned off by ugly church politics. 

There are those who are disgusted by the hypocrisy that grips so many in the church.  Then there was the adulterous pastor.  And what about the church board that tried to cover up the abusive Sunday School incident.

Some have been repulsed by the pastor that drones on about money and the monthly tithe reminder envelopes that come in the mail.  Others gave up on the church because they were forgotten during their hospital stay. 

These wounded understand what the church ought to be and are discouraged by what it is.  They rightfully wonder, “What’s the point?” 

What can we say to these dropouts?  What can we do to make sure that we do not become, or cause the next casualty?

1. Remember that we continue to be sinners, saved and sustained by grace.

Take a spiritual selfie.  What do you see?   Can you honestly say that there is never inconsistency in your own spiritual life?   We understand that we are sinners saved by grace.   Once redeemed we remain to be sinners, sustained by grace.  The apostle John wrote to Christian people saying, “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8

          Most of us do not want to fail the Lord and or each other – but we do, and we will because we are still made of flesh.  Expect to be disappointed by others.  If needed apply Galatians 6:1, “If a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.”  Don’t skip the last half of this verse.  “Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.”

I had a seminary professor that used to say, “If you should ever find the perfect church, don’t join it, because you’ll ruin it.”

 2. Keep your eyes on Jesus

The author of Hebrews pictured the Christian life as being a race.  He then advised us to keep our eyes, “on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:2. 

          Every competitive runner knows that taking even a fraction of time to glance at the other runners, slows you down.   We need to stop looking at others and fix our eyes ahead on Jesus who stands at the finish line

He is our master.  He is the one to whom we answer, and He will one day address the dumb things that each of we Christians have done.   Let’s leave the judging to Him. 

3. Keep His commandments

When I served as a pastor, there were times of frustration when I asked the Lord, “Are you sure that the church is your best idea for managing your people?”  He ignored me because He already answered the question in Matthew 16:18. “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”   He expects us to be an active part of a local church (Matthew 18:15-18; Hebrews 10:25)

Recently my grandson asked, “Why do some Christians give up on church?”  I explained to him much of what I wrote above.  Then I said,” Buddy, I have personally been so wounded by church, that I would probably drop out if I could.  But I can’t – because my Savior expects me to continue to be an active part of His church.”   He says to me, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

My mom was a fantastic cook but there was a time that she burned dinner.  I was so upset, I vowed that I would never eat again.  That’s ridiculous of course. 

We will be burned at times by church people, but never should we forsake Christ’s church.    The blessings of being with the people of God far outweigh the bumps along the way.

Biblical references come from the NET Bible ®

doofus gets a moonroof — January 22, 2020

doofus gets a moonroof

This may be a cart-before-the-horse kind of thing, but my wife and I bought a nice, but used RV to go camping with grand kids.  Great except that my pick-up truck is underpowered and has a manual transmission which my wife can’t operate, and it seats only 3.  Where would we stuff the grand kids? 

Since I bought the cart, I needed a bigger, stronger “horse” to pull it.  We found a used Toyota Sequoia with enough life in it to last the life we have left in us. (hopefully)

It’s packed with every option ever to come out of Detroit (or Tokyo).  Heated leather seats, separate temperature controls and best of all – a moon roof.  Golly gee, we have never had a moon roof before.  So, one balmy December eve, we opened the moon roof and went out for some pizza.

The next day my wife Sharie discovered that we (and I emphasize we – don’t listen to her) – we, forgot to close the moon roof.  And of course, an overnight rain storm left us with a serene reflecting pool in the console of the SUV. 

Unpleasant things seem to happen when we fail to use the protections we have been given. 

If I forgo my gloves when I clean the gutters, I slice my hands.  If I skip my vitamin regimen for a few days, I get a cold.  When I fail to seal the moonroof, I get a moon river. 

This carries over into the spiritual realm as well.  We have been given protective measures from God to keep us from spiritual calamity.   When we fail to employ them, temptation prevails, and our faith fails.  Spirits darken, marriages are wounded, addictions grab hold, and God’s mercy to us takes the form of His painful discipline.

His Word is a crucial protection. Paul likens it to a sword that slays our spiritual adversaries.  (Ephesians 6:17) The old King James asks, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:9).  

I read my Bible each evening.  If I fall into a pattern where I skip it or I read the words without really chewing on them, my attitude starts to look like the pre-Christian me, rather than the Christ-empowered me.  My family senses it (and would like to knock some sense into me)

Another essential protection is the Holy Spirit.  He alerts us when we get too close to sin – like a smoke alarm only not as obnoxious.  Some of us have silenced that blessed alarm.  (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Change your batteries. Confess your sin and get a fresh start (1 John 1:8) 

Jesus instructed us to specifically ask God to, “Deliver us from evil.”  (Matthew 6:13) Evidently, we need His frequent divine intervention and lots of it, but it is something that comes in response to our prayers, says Jesus.  

And what about the fellowship of the saints?  Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception.”  NET Bible ®   

I am frightened when I hear people say, “I am a Christian, but I don’t do church.”  This passage and many others tell us that we need our fellow believers.  Without their voices, we become hardened to sin.  Hey, I know that churches are imperfect – but so are you. 

It’s all there – everything we need to protect ourselves from the influences that threaten to ruin our interiors.  So, seal up your soul!   Don’t be a doofus with a moonroof.

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