Leaving Christianity

The Minstrel's Wife:

A picture thought of my previous blog. Says it all really.

Originally posted on lovefirst conversation:

One of the requirements for the journey that I have embarked on was to be absolutely honest regarding “Christianity.” But I had never contemplated that the outcome of this honesty would include leaving the same religion, which was not only hard, it was terrifying.

Many, many people are exiting Christianity and this is still happening on a large-scale today. Perhaps the keepers of religion are able to define someone when one leaves “the faith” and as a former “insider,” the reasons will generally be associated with scriptures from the Bible. But for the Bible to carry any weight, it must be infallible and inerrant, which is a doctrine as fresh as the nineteenth century. This is a period where the Pope was made “infallible” and the “Rapture” theory was established as well. But I agree with one well-known writer who quotes “the Bible is covered with human fingerprints.” 

With nowhere…

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Quality not quantity?

A very sad and unfortunately normal fact for the Church in the Western world is that it is not growing, and so many churches are closing, being demolished, or being turned into nightclubs or trendy apartments in cities. This is something we should be very concerned about, and we should be being proactive in dealing with head on. How many church mission statements cover this rising trend by saying they are looking for “quality and not quantity” in their congregations.

Acts 2 shows us the wonderful Day of Pentecost, and the growth of the early church was not just in the amazing numbers, but geographically also. The Gospel didn’t just stay in Jerusalem, it went throughout the world within a few years. By the end of Acts, the Gospel had hit most of the Middle East, and even Europe and possibly England itself. What would have happened if the first church had the same attitude as we seem to have in the 21st century? It is possible it would have been a short phase and just fizzled out before the disciples had died.

A healthy church is a growing church, not just in growth of numbers, but spiritually as well. It sees its congregation growing in their walk, in their life and as they change and grow, they spread the wonderful good news of the Gospel to all they meet and live with. They live and relate in different ways to those around them, to the point that people know there is a difference to them, a feel that only knowing God can bring.

A church that only looks inwardly, that only wants to stay as it is, is destined for self – destruction. It cannot sustain itself. It becomes burnt out or it could only take one major incident that could split the congregation to the point of closure. A church cannot survive without growth, or any imbalance in how it is lead or taught.

Teaching and preaching is what we in churches do. That is part of our roles, all of us. Older, mature brothers and sisters mentor the younger spiritual members. Leaders bring teaching and leadership that gives the congregation the strength and confidence in God to go out and live the Gospel and new life they have. We all have a role of some sort of evangelism. I believe there are those with specific evangelism gifts by the Spirit, but we all have a role of evangelist when asked about our beliefs. We have the job to pray and bring those around us before the Lord, to bring the Gospel to them. How are they going to know about the new life God gives if we dont show it, live it and tell them the why and how? Don’t leave confusion of preaching christianity and then not living it. It brings words like hypocrisy into minds where there should be a wanting to know more. It is a sacrifice, it is laying down our lives to God. Its how we live for God. Its a change that happens inside when we truly understand what He has done for us and what He has saved us from.

Periodic Table of the Bible

The Minstrel's Wife:

brilliant idea! good for learning where they all are quickly.

Originally posted on adamlickey.com:

This infographic has a lot of useful information on it concerning the books of the Bible.  In Periodic Table form, we can see any given book’s position within the Bible, number of chapters, and genre.  Cool little resource.  Click to enlarge.

Used with permission.

bible_periodic_table

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Some Days Just Suck

The Minstrel's Wife:

Some suck more than others, but keep going. Keep looking up and trusting.

Originally posted on Paws for your Soul:

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Some days are just a bit harder than others. But take heart:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” Jeremiah 29:11 The Voice

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First Church, Church First?

I love reading Acts, and learning about the first Church and how they lived and interacted with each other and those who came against them. Most of the early years had believers who had followed Jesus during his time on earth, or who knew him throughout his life and even those who had never met him but knew of him. It was an exciting time for the Apostles as they watched their new baby Church growing each day with converts whose life was transformed by the name of their beloved Christ. They were strong and dynamic leaders who did not shy away from discipline and teaching. There was structure and community and they each devoted themselves to knowing God more and more and encouraged their congregations to do the same. It would be unusual for a believer not to want to know more, not to want to grow and mature.

Acts 2 vs 42 – 47

Fast forward 2000 years to the Church of God today. I know many who would love their churches to be more like the church of Acts, myself being one of them. I know its not possible, and not because I dont think we can do it. We are a different generation and its a completely different world now. The first church was the benefit system for a start. It was a hard life for those who were orphaned and those who were widows. There is a safety net today that was not there then. It does not mean we don’t have an obligation to still look after these precious people anyway, but we don’t seem to think we have to. I know many older people who are using Food Banks while they are members of a church. Why? Because we dont think they are our responsibility anymore. They are. We are still a community whether we lived 2000 years ago or in the 21st century.

The church described in Acts was a healthy growing community. It was devoted to God and each other, devoted to prayer and fellowship. Church is like an organic mass of people. It needs things to grow, it needs structure and support. It got that from prayer, Gods living water and teaching. Strong leadership but not to the point it was suffocated and its voice was drowned out. We need exactly the same things to grow today. We are no different in these ways than then, even if our world is a very different place to live. We might not be able to be the church of Acts in many ways, like living as a community, but we can still care and love each other as Christ loves us. How unlike those in the world around us would we be if that is the attitude we took. If we stop being so concerned about how we look if we pray for our friends and family, the shopkeeper who is having a bad day, the officer handing out parking tickets, the guy who serves our coffee in the cafe. We would start to see change and would be known as a Christian without having to say anything because we would be so different and it would make an impact.

Living Stones

The Church of God is built of us all, we are the living stones held together by the mortar of Jesus Christ. We are a family of stones, all connected by our Lord. A family of believers who are here because the first Church who walked the Earth with Jesus, gave all they had and all they were to make sure that the Good news and the Gospel of Jesus was spread across the entire world. They died for their belief, gave up all they had, their families, homes, jobs, the lot. They wanted to make sure that until the day their Lord came back to Earth, the message He sent them out with never faded or died with Him. They did their utmost, and we are here today in the 21st Century still with His Gospel. If we sit and think of all the years the same message has been the same, how it has changed the world and peoples lives as it passed from one year into the next, we would be there for a while. Our Church family, our spiritual relatives, were martyred and tortured to make sure we go to heaven with them. They were so brave, and lived for their Lord. What about us? Will the message of hope be the same message in 100 years? How about 500? What would we give up to make sure more people go to heaven with us? Would we give our lives, desires, families, to make sure we save as many as we can? What will it take from the 21st century believers to make sure Christ is known throughout the world?

Living stones are connected and a community. It doesnt matter the miles we are apart, even if we are on separate continents. We are all motivated by the desire to honour, love and live for our Lord. He has saved us from horrors we could never describe. He has saved us from ourselves, our sins, the sin of human nature that is opposed to God. The separation that was created with the first sin has been bridged for us. That sacrifice is the most precious gift we can ever be given. If we don’t do anything else in this life, we need to make sure that is the one thing we pay attention to and accept. We learn dependence, on God and each other. We belong to a safe community that has unity in the Lord who it loves. We learn to be cared for and learn to be who we were intended to be before sin and separation pulled us away.

1 Peter 2 vs 5 “You also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.

Come let us go up

Isaiah 2 vs 3. “Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths”.

I have already looked at Haggai, and bringing timber to build the house of the Lord. This verse is for when our house is built, our home for our Lord.

The House of the Lord was on a mountain, Mount Zion, and will be there in the Millennial  Kingdom of Christ. As in Israel today and the Old Testament, the Temple of God is high up. To get there, you travel up the mountain. The Temple was a beacon, a light of God’s glory. All could see it and could worship God with sacrifices and drink offerings. The City where God dwelt was sacred. It was where the King of Kings was, where the King of Israel of God lived and worshipped. This city was the most important city in the Old Testament life and worship of those who loved and lived for God. They travelled regularly there to worship and offer gifts to the Lord.

We are the Church of God. We are the beacons now, the Temple. We are to live God-centred lives as a community of believers and lovers of the Most High God. It is through us that the Church grows, through us bringing the Gospel of Christ to others and seeing salvation happen around our local communities.

True Christianity, living for Christ, loving others, having faith, is not religion. We have a relationship with God and He relates to us as His Children. It is this that makes us different. Our God wants to relate to us, to know us fully, to adopt us as His children and give us an inheritance with His true Son Jesus. No other religion in the world has this beautiful relationship to offer. That is the difference that we need to show those who are desperate. Those who have no one. Those who need love. Those who have no purpose. A life of love and acceptance is there ready waiting for them, but what are we doing to show it to them?

If we are the light on the hill, a city shining, what are we showing? Are we showing discord, unforgiveness, dislike, disdain? Or are we showing others love, joy, acceptance, hospitality? Do we love everyone who happens to step through the door of our churches?

I want to go up to the mountain of the Lord. I want to sit at His feet and just be. With Him. He is my groom, I am His Bride. The Church is the beautiful bride. She is the most beautiful bride the universe has ever seen. I dont want to go with stained gowns, with an unloving attitude to others. I want to see my Church family be the very best they can be for their Groom as well.

We are building a Church of people. Millions of us all worshipping and praising God together. Lets keep bringing our timber to the House and keep building a House for God that grows and gets more beautiful every day. This is how we make ourselves ready for Him.

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