Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's our problem?

It was my original intent to hold off on this for....well, I'm not sure how long I'd planned on waiting. This is one of those things I've been pondering for a loooong time and it's been one of those topics that's been plaguing my brain; I've even had a couple of people tell me I should start writing about it, that I had probably enough content to fill a book. Maybe I do...maybe that IS one of the things God expects of me...but, knowing myself, if I didn't just DO something about all the thoughts running through my head, I'd never even get started on it! THAT was what prompted the query about the modern threat to the Church.

What was the concensus? Well, you can read the comments here in addition to one on the Facebook link I did, but I gotta tell you--I saw exactly what I figured I'd see. Without putting a fine-tip-point on it, the answers all had to do with US. Everyone believes WE (the average Christians) are the problem. Do I disagree? Not even slightly. I believe wholeheartedly that we are the problem. If the Church IS people, then when it has problems, it's going to be the people making that Body up that cause the problems, right? Certainly the foundational elements of the Church that Jesus built aren't the problem, because He left us with perfection--a perfect plan, a perfect organizational pattern, and perfect (fully whole) instructions that did not require us to do anything other than read and obey. We don't need interpretation; we don't need man-made additions or revisions or traditions; God gave us everything we need when He revealed His perfect Word to the men who were inspired to write it all down for our learning. So why is the Church floundering amid a sea of false doctrine, opinions, and apathy?

A couple of weeks ago our Wednesday adult class began a study on Genesis. There is NO way we'll actually finish it, because we're now four weeks into the quarter and we just got the ark landed on Mt. Ararat last night. There's just too much meat in Genesis to 'snack' on! of the questions asked that very first night of class was, "What would we be missing if the Bible didn't contain the book of Genesis?" Have you ever pondered that thought? No creation, no flood, no nation of Israel, no Moses, no Joseph...there would be a lot of gaps! The conclusion we came to in that class that night was what got my brain-wheels turning again on this church-problem issue. You see, if there is not an adequate foundation, the rest of the Bible makes no sense. Without knowing the mind of God revealed to the patriarchs, we don't understand the nature of God and the disgust He has for disobedience--and the New Testament is senseless. Without Genesis, we can't understand sin. Without knowing God's initial plan for mankind, the REST of the story is pure nonsense. When you ignore His original intent, the rest goes haywire.

Look around you--what do you see in the church? HAYWIRE! Folks are neglecting huge portions of the Word of God because they don't know (or don't care) that God expects full and unyielding obedience from His people. People are putting aside God's Will and inserting their own--in doctrine, in practice, in worship, in their thoughts, in their deeds....self comes first to us, and that was the very first lesson humankind was supposed to learn back in Eden--that God expects obedience--our full hearts--regardless of what we thought, saw, interpreted, wanted, or reasoned.

Satan knows today, just as he knew back in Eden, which buttons to push to get mankind to question God's sovereignty, His truth, and His intent for us. And we are falling for it hook, line, and sinker just as Adam and Eve did! All he has to do with us, just like with the first woman and man, is change ONE word in a "thus saith the LORD", and he's got us. Satan probably penned the "God is my co-pilot" and "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" bumper stickers...because he KNEW all he had to do was add one teeny little thing to get us hooked into doubting God. What's that little thing? Self. Why isn't God our pilot? Why do we feel the need to be in the drivers' seat? Why do we have to "believe" it for a matter to be settled once God says it? Ladies and gentlemen, if God says it, that settles it, whether WE believe it or not!

So that was my big-revelation answer to the church problem? Self? Well yes, but not entirely. See, this has been a long time brewing in my head...but all the things I've pondered lead back to something...I'll get there. It may take another post or two, but I'll get there.

Actually, to make a really long story short, I believe that the biggest threat to the Church today is a lack of Biblical leadership. The biggest threat to Biblical leadership in my opinion? Self. (See, I can still connect the dots between my thoughts!) It's nothing new--Adam had a problem with being the leader God intended for him to be; Abraham shirked his leadership responsiblilities when it came down to his safety because of his relationship to Sarah; Moses didn't want the job God revealed to him at the burning bush, and even after he finally took it and saw just how powerful God coudl be through an obedient leader, he blew it when he inserted his own will--on a rock. A lack of leadership can make or break an organization, and while the bedrock of the Lord's Church is Jesus Christ Himself, He put in place a plan for on-the-ground leadership in the place of elders (the Biblical usage of pastor/bishop also refers to church elders); and a lack of sound leadership from these men can be the downfall of local churches and a huge detriment to the Church as a whole. Finally being part of a congreagation of the Lord's Body that HAS great leadership is what made it so vividly obvious what other [weaker] congregations were lacking. We (the church as a whole) have an ever-decreasing number of men who are qualified to lead as elders in the Church, and among those who are qualified there are even fewer who have the boldness to do the job God entrusted to them.

Think for a minute about a military unit at war (which we are); if a unit doesn't have a commander because there aren't any men who are qualified, or if a commander doesn't have the courage to stand against opposing forces and offer himself first as an example to those men who are to follow his lead and his direction...or if the direction he gives isn't cohesive with the battle plan, is the mission going to fail?


So why don't we have enough qualified (and willing) men to lead today's Church by the standard God gave us? There's your next question...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What do YOU think?

What do you think is the biggest threat to the Church today? I have my thoughts, but I'm interested in hearing yours!

Sooo....what'cha think?

"Just" the ten of us...

This picture was taken the day before Jon left for Afghanistan, at a park not too far from Fort Campbell. We'd gone up there early that Sunday to meet him and Chelsey at church, go out for lunch, and then spend the day together. It's one of those memories all of us will hold onto till we get to see him again in November.

Funny thing about this picture...I'm sure to the other folks around us that day, our entourage looked huge! Consider that we also had two others with us--Pete's father and his wife--so there were a total of twelve of us both at Golden Corral for lunch and then wandering around the park that afternoon. To us, though, it doesn't feel so "huge"; ten just feels like family. When I look back at pictures of our family when it was just four of us, I'm reminded just how positively tiny it looked...and incomplete.

Do we feel like our family is "complete" now, with seven children and the prospect of having more naturally not a possibility anymore? No, we don't. To be perfectly honest, both Pete and myself ache for an even larger family; we just knew that adding to our family naturally was not just dangerous for my health, it was a risk neither one of us wanted to take. Call that a lack of faith if you want, but it's a decision that was definitely made with much prayer and self-seeking. We know our motivations were right this time, and while we're "okay" with it, the prospect of not bearing anymore natural children does bother both of us. You know what? If God were to want to grow our family further via adoption, we'd both be thrilled! I'm sure we'd have to pick all of the grandparents up off of the floor...but children ARE a blessing, no matter how shocking their addition is to any family!

Our family is really nowhere near complete, I hope! By the end of next month, we will have two children who have graduated from high school and we know it is the natural course of things for them to strike out on their own and begin families of their own. It's not a sad thing for our "nest" to begin emptying--it's what is supposed to happen! our nest empties, the nests of each of our children will, hopefully, begin filling up. I hope one day to need to "move" our dining room into the bonus room that is now the girls' bedroom! I hope one day we'll NEED a Duggar-sized table to seat all of our family members. It is my dream to have holidays that are just busting at the seams with sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and a ton of grandchildren! Oh...and it has been our hope and prayer for years to be able to have a church family that functions almost as a biological family--and we have that here finally!

So yes, we're actually making plans to extend our family to FAR more than "just the ten of us"! I hope that's God's plan for our family too!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lessons Learned

I was thinking the other day that Pete's vasectomy reversal and the five children we've been blessed with following that reversal have given us a very unique set of circumstances--we really DO get to "do it over". I've often heard parents of teens or young adults talk about what they'd do differently if they had the chance to, and what's ironic is that MOST of them would have been stricter. I guess that's a sad fact of my generation--still trying to eek out from under the iron fists of the baby boomers, we went a direction that led us and our children down a path we'd have avoided had we known the outcome.

Well....I know that outcome, and I'm blessed with the awesome task of somehow correcting mistakes with the second "set" of children. Don't get me wrong; I don't think my older two children are hopelessly broken or that they're awful people. Quite the contrary. Both Jon and Kelsey are pretty good kids, now that we're past the "worst" of their rebellion (I hope). Problem is...somehow we missed the mark in training them how to be holy--and by "holy" I don't mean self-righteous Pharisees, but in the truest sense of the word--set apart for God's purposes. Unfortunately, giving in to many of the things that even our Christian parent-peers were doing with their own children has left our children blind to the fine line between black and white. I want to be sure that our younger children learn to detest the "gray area" just as much as the darkness. THAT is where we went "wrong".

I know I'm not going to earn the Mother of the Year award for any of this; I really couldn't care less about that. I just want to see my children grow up to love the things of God more than the things of this world. And it is not going to come easy to any of us. I can't sacrifice too much more than I already have with the first two--except my comfort. This is going to be hard work for me, and most of it is new territory, because I know of very few people who hold their children to higher standards than their worldly neighbors; most Christians, it's sad to say, are just like "everybody else" except they may not participate in the "truly" sinful stuff. Is it any wonder that a whole generation of children raised in the church are spiritual midgets without true conviction not only regarding doctrine but also conduct, thoughts, and what they worship?

What would God say about the quasi-idolatry of putting things, friends, "fitting in", and entertainment (yes, entertainment....look at what most youth groups around the country DO and you'll see what I'm talking about) before the true task of living God's purposes in our life? What would God say about how floppy most Christians' definition of idolatry is?

Pete and I have a growing list (based on the results we've seen with our older children and their peers) of things that we're doing differently with the younger girls. Listed by themselves, each thing would be considered a tyrannical abomination to most kids/teens.




From here on out, if it doesn't fulfill God's purpose for my children, it won't be happening. Sorry. My girls' lives will be far from "bland", I can assure you. They will have friends, as do their parents; they will have enjoyable activities; they will have everything they need. But as far as the "rest" goes.....

As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
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