Monday, April 15, 2013

Satan is in the church!

Surely we've all heard of Westboro Baptist Church and their hateful malignment of God's Word. The name may not sound familiar, but this should put a bad taste on your tongue; they're the people that hold picket signs outside of funerals for fallen heros, and have their children wearing hatefilled t-shirts and singing songs about how God hates America. Yeah, THOSE people. Anyone looking at them, Christian or not can tell you that they are not in alignment with God. Anyone can tell you, the devil has managed to infiltrate...or start that 'church'. That's a pretty apparent evil. It's just disgusting the way they twist and pervert God.

They aren't alone though. Unfortunately many, many churches are leading people astray, the devil has his claws in many other denominations, and many other churches. It seems though, that he isn't being as obvious about it in those churches as he is in Westboro.

You have your "feel good" churches that tell you it doesn't matter what you do or don't do as long as you "believe in your heart" then nothing else matters because God loves you, so He doesn't care how you live your life, as long as when the question gets asked you say, "yes, I believe in God" they fill you up on touchy feely goodness, praise and worship songs, fellowship, and five million activities, throw a scripture at you occasionally, stick entirely to the New Testament-and only the good parts-they want your hiney in their pews and they don't care what they need to do to get it there. These are the churches marrying same sex couples, encouraging being pro-choice, that have no qualms with people living together before marriage, that never once broach any of the tough stuff. These are the churches that tell you it's okay to munch on the M&Ms and raisins and leave the nuts for the "feel bad" churches. ((we'll get there)) These are the churches that have created thousands of "Christians" that think that it's okay to live however you want, and ignore the Bible, because it make you "feel good" and God is love, so it's chill to live how you please. These are the churches that say, come AND stay as you are. These churches malign the Word of God in a seemingly pleasant way, a way that looks right, and loving, but it's not. It's leading people astray in droves.

I know what you're thinking; "Amanda, many of the things you listed ARE good." Right you are.

  • God loves you-totally true. (John 3:16)
  • God is love- yup. (1 John 4:8)
  • The New Testament is where it's at, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament-Yes, however, how are we going to know, understand and appreciate that without reading and knowing the Old Testament, you can't understand much of the New without the Old. You cannot just trash the Old Testament and pretend it doesn't exist. 
  • Praise and worship music is glorifying to God- most certainly! You can often find me jamming out to "Jesus music" whether cleaning my house or driving down the road. However, it should not be your ONLY form of worship. It should not take up more of your service time-time set aside to praise God- than the actual sermon, or Scripture. 
  • Fellowship is good- It's vital. (1 John 1:3) However, the focus needs to be kept on Christ. And, again, it shouldn't take away from the purpose of it-God.
  • What's wrong with church related activities? Nothing. Unless you're so busy doing 975 things for the church that you lose sight of the reason you're doing them. Unless doing those things fills up so much of your time that you aren't spending time on your knees in prayer. Unless those things are keeping you from The Bible. 
  • Coming as you are-Jesus accepted people as they are, and we should too!- Yes! Yes, we should. Come as you are, depressed, alone, weary, sinful, afraid. But, don't STAY as you are. Repent, turn from your sin, grow in Christ. It's a great disservice to encourage people to remain in a sinful state even after they have seen Truth. (Hebrews 10:26, Acts 2:38, and Luke 13:3)
None of this stuff is bad, it's all good. Some of it's necessary, the problem comes in when you allow these things to cloud over and obscure your focus on Christ. The way the devil works here is that he obscures your view of God. He takes the focus from God and gives you all this stuff to take up your time, he distracts you from God, which was your goal in the first place. He gets you so focused on the touchy feely side of Christianity, he gets pastors so worried about filling pews with hineys that they lose sight of filling hearts with Christ. He gets church leaders so focused on pleasing people and not hurting anyone's feelings that they stop mentioning him. Churches grow complacent, people grow complacent. We talk so much about love and kindness and happy, fuzzy things that we omit the hard stuff, and create blinders to it. In many cases if you are aware that it's happening, if you make sure that even though you're doing this that and the other you still have time for God amongst doing all of His work, if you make sure that your fellowship is centered on Christ and not on gossip, if you make sure that you're in it for God, then you can overcome the devil and his call to complacency.

However, if your church starts telling you things that are contrary to what Scripture teaches, leave. How will you know? Well, you're going to have to be on a first name basis with that Good Book.

Feel bad churches. These guys are a few steps above Westboro. They like the nuts, and want to skip over the M&Ms and raisins. These are the folks that are near opposite of the feel gooders, where the feel gooders like to focus on the New Testament, the feel bads are focusing on the Old Testament, fire and brimstone and all that. They bring you down, always pointing out your faults, give you a prescribed way to live, "spare the rod, spoil the child" is their mantra, they take modesty to the point that if you even say the word it puts a bad taste on some ex-feel badder's tongues, Biblical headship and submission are distorted in these churches, sometimes to the point of abuse ((the people that make us all cringe when we hear the word 'submit')) they isolate themselves into little holier than thou bubbles, and teach that everyone is worse than them. They talk about the devil so much, they've made him so commonplace that they don't even realize he's infiltrated.  They malign the Word of God in a slightly less appealing way, but only slightly...many people crave that structure, and discipline. Just like in the feel good churches, many of things are GOOD, many of these things are necessary. In response to you feel badders, let's break it down, just like we did earlier:

  • The Old Testament is important!- Yes, I already talked about this, but so is the New. We need a healthy balance. We need to know the purpose of the Old Testament, and we need to know that it has been fulfilled. Just like we can't ignore the Old, we can't ignore the New, either.
  • It's good to know our faults- Sure is. It's vital, Matthew 18:15-17, however, without the mushy stuff, without the John 3:16 reminders you won't get anywhere. It won't matter, and I'm sorry, but likely you'll be falling into Matthew 7:1-5. These types of churches are often seen with their magnifying glasses to other people's eyes all the while ignoring the plank in their own ((doing the sin in which they are faulting the other person))
  • YOU have mentioned not liking having rules and guidelines to follow!- Yup. They are important, but they can easily become more important than The Word, than following Him. They can easily overshadow Christ, we can fall back into Old Testament patterns of rules and regulations governing us. Guidelines are important, but we can let them entirely govern us.  
  • Children need discipline.- Yeah, but they don't need abuse. This often slips easily into too much discipline. These are the churches that make people think that all Christians beat children. NO. Discipline is one thing, abuse is another. Children should be allowed to act like children, and not worried about your belt coming off or of the "spanking stick." 
  • Modesty. YOU are complaining about modesty?!?!?- Yeah, I am. If you know me at all you know that modesty is super important to me. However, it can be taken too far, and often is in these types of churches. Often times these young girls are told that if they dress a certain way and get raped it's their fault! NO. I value modesty, but it is NEVER, EVER  a woman's "fault" I don't care if she's naked, she doesn't deserve to be raped, and if your church is teaching you and your daughters this, LEAVE.
  • Biblical headship and submission are taught in the New Testament that you're yammering about (1 Corinthians)- Yup, one of my favorite books. However, just like in disciplining children this gets taken too far and often steps into abuse in these types of churches. I say I "submit" to my husband, but that does not mean I walk two steps behind him, with my head down and call him 'sir' these are the churches that give society this idea. These are the churches that made a PRIEST cringe when I mentioned a situation in which I was submitting to Tom's wishes ((traveling two hours for church, to a church I liked too)) Men are to submit to God, and love their wives "as Christ loves the church" if you're abusing her, and forcing her into what society sees as submission, then you aren't doing as commanded, so don't even bring that verse up to me. 

None of this stuff is bad, it's all good. Some of it's necessary, the problem comes in when you allow these things to cloud over and obscure your focus on Christ. The way the devil works here is that he obscures your view of God. He takes the focus from God and gives you all this stuff to take up your time, he distracts you from God, which was your goal in the first place. He gets you so focused on the rules and the "how to and not to" of Christianity, he gets pastors so worried about abiding by the letter of the law that they lose sight of what Jesus did for us on that cross. He gets church leaders so focused on him and his evil deeds that they don't even see him. They are so busy looking for the devil, that they miss him when he take over the church. We talk so much about destruction, despair, and Hell that we omit the fuzzy stuff, and create blinders to it. We need to balance discipline and rules with what the Bible says about love and forgiveness. Just as we can't let the "stuff" of the feel good churches cloud our vision, we can't let the rule of the feel bad churches obstruct our view of God.

I've seen many a person leave a feel bad church for a feel good church and vise versa. They get sick of feasting on nuts and start craving the softer stuff, or they get tired of the soft stuff, and want something crunchy and salty. The problem with these two extremes is just that, they are extremes. They latch on to certain things and omit others, they don't give you the fullness of Christ. So what's a person to do?

Read your Bible. Know your Bible. Know it in your heart and your head. Be aware. Never lose sight of Christ. Find a church that serves you a nice mix of nuts and raisins. No church is perfect, because no person is perfect. We are all flawed, and sinful. We are humans, it's what we do. You'll never find a church that is completely perfect and does no wrong. Of course not, because you'll never find a priest or pastor that's perfect, because they're human too. I'm just saying to be on your guard  Be weary of churches with too much Hell or too much fluff. Make sure you find a church that uses the Bible as their guide.

It is possible, I had a great church family, we talked Old and New Testament, we heard the hard truths and of Christ's love. We had fellowship centered around Him, and an activity for everyone ((it's YOUR job to not take on too many, and cloud your view of God)) was it perfect? No, no church is, no person is. But it was balanced. It was on par with the Bible, and it was on fire for Christ.

As a child we were church hoppers, not really any "religion" but once in a while my mom would have a friend  or boyfriend that attended this church or that, and we would go. I've sampled them all. From rolling on the floor, speaking in tongues, to there is no such thing as sin. I have been in all kinds of churches, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So, I am not picking on any one church or denomination, but rather sharing with you some simple observations I've made.

Simply put: the devil is everywhere, and in order to know whether or not you're falling into his traps you have to know what you believe, and you aren't going to know what you believe unless you pick up your Bible. Catholic you aren't off the hook, so wipe that smug look off your face. I've been in Catholic churches that are out of alignment too. No parish or priest is perfect, you have to know your Bible and your Catechism.

We have to know it in our heads and our hearts. The devil can be quite attractive and innocent looking, that's one of his greatest talents. 

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