I Want To Say I’m Sorry

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

So I want to say I’m sorry that I drew the line
I built the wall, the fault is mine
And maybe now the only way to find some peace
Is just to give it time and trust in grace

So this is my communion hymn
I want to sit beside you at the feast, my friend
Again, again and again
And again
~Andrew Peterson

This video was played at our recent Solemn Assembly. It was played during communion, as a communion hymn.

The last few lyrics, I think, are the most profound. What divides many people are walls that we have built up around ourselves. These can be grudges, hurts, guilts, and jealousy.

For followers of Christ, we build different walls around ourselves. Walls of law, doctrine, and liturgy. When we build these walls around us we think we are protecting ourselves, protecting tradition, protecting the faith. But really we are separating ourselves from the very people that God wants us to love, to be unified with, and to grow with.

Perhaps it’s time we say we are sorry. We are sorry for allowing our beliefs and convictions to separate the body of Christ. We are sorry for treating our fellow brother and sister in Christ as less-than us. We are sorry for destroying reputations of other churches and their people. It is now time to unite.

How can we do this? The lyrics give us a hint. We are to give it time and trust in grace.

Give it time. This will not happen overnight. Hostilities have been high, people hurt and abused in the past, it will take time to be able to trust one another and understand one another.

We need to trust grace. Grace, first, for ourselves. For without grace we would not have the favor of God in our lives to live this godly life. We need his grace to sustain us and to move us forward. Second, grace for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The same grace God shows you, in spite of your sin and shortcomings, is the same grace God shows your fellow believer. It is the same grace that we are to give to them too.

Sprinkle a little grace, a little forgiveness, into your conversations and interactions with other Christians and see what happens. Perhaps we can all sit at the same communion table in the future.

Chasm Between Charismatics and Cessationists Part 2

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

“Of all the theological squabbles that have plagued evangelical Christianity over the years, especially in the West, a particularly profound division centers on the power of the Holy Spirit and the ways in which He is at work today.”

I am continuing today talking about an article that came out of the Christian Post recently. They are asking the question if the chasm between Charismatics and Cessationists be bridged. For the sake of the kingdom of God, I hope so. The Christian Post asks a few scholars from both sides to weigh in. Here are a few quotes and my thoughts.

“And we do not ask them to come to our church, we’re not trying to offload anybody or tell them ‘If you don’t have the ‘fire’ of God in your church you should not be there.’ We don’t say that. I don’t agree with that at all.” – Jennifer Eivaz, author of Seeing the Supernatural: How to Sense, Discern and Battle in the Spiritual Realm – Continuationist

I think this is the key to Charismatics and Cessationists working together in the same community. We should not be undercutting our fellow sister churches in our communities. We should not criticize or talk down about another church. What we should do is teach our doctrines charitably agreeing to disagree. When we learn to love each other in spite of our differences we begin to show the world that we are indeed Jesus disciples.

“Brown told CP that the increasing visibility and overt presence of the demonic in popular culture will precipitate an even greater awareness of the reality of the spiritual realm.”

Seeing our post-Christian culture as it is today versus yesterday, it would lead one to believe it is getting worse, become more godless. Seeing the enemy work the way he does in our world pushes many Christians to seek our God and ask him to move in a powerful way.

When we go out evangelizing we will see the enemy working in ways we have not seen before. If you read any missionary biographies you’ve seen Charismatics and Cessationists alike encountering demonic forces they were not prepared for. But, by the grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit, both Charismatics and Cessationists were able to defeat the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ.

The one thing that Charismatics and Cessationists need to do, is rely upon God, his Holy Spirit, and his Word.

Chasm Between Charismatics and Cessationists Part 1

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

“Of all the theological squabbles that have plagued evangelical Christianity over the years, especially in the West, a particularly profound division centers on the power of the Holy Spirit and the ways in which He is at work today.”

The Christian Post come out with this article last week asking the question if the chasm between Charismatics and Cessationists be bridged. For the sake of the kingdom of God, I hope so. The Christian Post asks a few scholars from both sides to weigh in. Here are a few quotes and my thoughts.

“It is very possible that our differences may continue to keep some Christians from working intimately together on some ministry projects, but the overall ability to agree together on the essentials of the faith must be a stronger chord that keeps us together on mission.” Eric J. Bargerhuff, author of The Most Misused Stories in The Bible – Cessationist

As any student of Church history knows, there will always be churches and Christians who disagree with each other. But, the point I stress here on my blog is that though we do have differences we can still work together on mission. We can still walk the streets together in evangelism. We can still help the poor together; feed the hungry together; clothe the naked together; house the homeless together. The kingdom of God is an active kingdom that has not stopped being active when the apostles died out – of this I am sure we can all agree. Therefore, let’s work together getting our hands dirty for the kingdom of God.

“And when we speak of the sufficiency of Scripture we don’t mean that we have a relationship with the Bible. We mean that God’s Word is His one and only Word — that there is only one Bible and that nothing else can be called Scripture or claim to be the Word of God for all people.” – Michael Brown, author and talk show host – Charismatic

This is a huge hurdle for the Charismatic and Cessationist alike. Many Cessationist accuse Charismatics of downgrading the sufficiency of Scripture by using the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation. There is much evidence in the past, and still some circles today, where these gifts are misused outside of biblical boundaries. But this is not to say that all Charismatics and Pentecostals don’t believe the Bible or not see it as the final authority. Likewise, it would be foolish to accuse the Cessationist of not be “full gospel” because they don’t exercise the gifts.

Let’s come together knowing our Bible to be the sole source for our gospel and see our communities changed for Jesus Christ.

Why Have A Solemn Assembly

Photo by John Price on Unsplash

Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
and cry out to the Lord.
Joel 1:14

The term “solemn assembly” comes from the verse in Joel 1:14. A calamity had befallen Israel—an invasion of locusts. Locusts are a grasshopper-like insect that can be devastating to a region. Swarms can contain millions of locusts. They eat every form of vegetation, including all the crops that people are meant to feed on. Locusts leave behind a barren land: famine, hunger, and devastation. In Joel, God is calling upon Israel to repent. But if they continued in their idolatry, another invasion will come into Israel: a great army. In its wake will be complete devastation.

Therefore, God asked Joel to call a “solemn assembly” in order to gather together in unity, to turn from their wicked ways, and return to God.
In our area, there is another type of calamity: having a plentiful harvest but with a famine of laborers.

Many in my region are unaffiliated with any religion. In the 2010 census, 69% of the people in Lapeer County are unaffiliated with any religion. We have a harvest. The Lord said, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

With so many churches in our area, I wonder, are we truly being effective in our ministry?

The call for a solemn assembly is not a “so we can judge each other” on the lack of action in our county. But it is a call to the Church, and individuals, to pray, repent, and re-consecrate ourselves to the Great Commission Christ has called us to.

It will also be a time of encouragement. When we see each other, multiple churches come together, we will see that we are not alone in our work for the kingdom of God. We will be like-minded, partnered together, striving side-by-side for the gospel. Together, we can impact our communities in ways we could not do it alone. We can work together, to put a dent in that 69% in our county.

I pray you will be there on March 11!

You can find the Facebook event page by going here: www.onechurchlapeer.org

You can download a flyer to print for your church here: Flyer

How Do We Work With Others – Part 2

Recently I have been responding to a post from The Gospel Coalition’s website titled, “When Should Doctrine Divide?” Gavin Ortlund gives us four guiding questions to ask ourselves before we work with other churches.

These are:

  1. What kind of partnership or unity is in view?
  2. What kind of partnership or unity will best serve to advance the gospel?
  3. Do I naturally lean toward a separatist or minimalistic spirit?
  4. Even when I must formally divide from other Christians, is the attitude of my heart gracious, humble, and inviting toward them?

I’ve previously talked about the first two. Here are the final questions.

Do I naturally lean toward a separatist or minimalistic spirit?
This is a question that you need to ask yourself. We each have our own tendencies towards minimalizing doctrine in order to appease those around us, or, making our beliefs a matter of contention and a means of separating ourselves from others.

Do you strive to live peaceably with everybody? Or do you find areas of contention and hammer out your 5 point argument why you are right?
Do you speak the truth in love? Or do you avoid speaking the truth in order to not offend?

Examine yourself against the Lord himself, who still ate and drank with both sinners and Pharisees alike.

Even when I must formally divide from other Christians, is the attitude of my heart gracious, humble, and inviting toward them? There comes a point in our Christian lives when we do have to separate in order to keep the peace. But, when we do part ways, we want to be as gracious and loving to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Never should our doctrines and traditions move us to hate, to belittle, or to minimize one’s standing with Jesus Christ.

If we continuously ask ourselves these four questions I believe that we will stay on the path of loving our neighbour and our God as we look to partner with each other in this dark world.