Saturday, June 24, 2017

Do you think America is favored by God? (VoF)

​God said this to the nation that he had chosen as his own special possession in the Old Testament, “what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
Now consider our nation: No fear of the Lord, a wholesale rejection of God and his ways. A nation which has legalized murder of the most helpless among us, and is systematically seeking to redefine the most basic of God’s design regarding marriage and gender. Sexual immorality is the rule, not the exception. In almost every way, we have called evil good and good, evil.
Are we favored by God? It would be the epitome of arrogance and ignorance to assume so. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Do children have responsibilities in your faith organization? If so, what are their roles? (VoF)

​In Reformed churches children do not have “responsibilities” such as specific roles in the worship service or congregational life. They are, however, joyfully counted as members of the congregation and are encouraged, within the limits of their growing and developing understanding and abilities, to know and believe all that the Bible teaches as they are taught it by parents and the church, to learn what it means to worship God both privately and corporately, and to be growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Perhaps the responsibilities of young ones are best seen in the responsibilities of parents and the church members toward them; namely to love them as a member of the body of Christ and to commit to assist them in Christian nurture, to teach them the principles of the Christian faith, to pray with and for them, and to set an example of piety and godliness before them.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In your view, how are religious schools – kindergarten to university – better/worse/different from secular ones? (VoF)

I’d say first that many religious schools aren’t any better than secular ones. True Christian schools, however, are far better than secular ones in that, by definition, they carry on the work of education within a biblical worldview, one that, understanding the need for true excellence in education, relates everything that is taught to the truths of God’s word; that all of creation declares the glory of God, and math and science an order which only makes sense in God’s universe.
In upper grades especially, Christian schools’ campus life fosters free exchange of ideas, a vanishing commodity in universities today, while recognizing the submission of every subject, every program, every thought, to the word of God.
Christian schools, when at their best, have as their goal to play a part in training young people up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and to bring every thought captive to Christ.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Join a Church?

In connection with the previous couple of posts, I thought I would mention one other category of people, those who think that they don't need to join a church at all. "I can avoid all of the problems of dealing with other . . . people, sinners, by 'worshiping in my own way'." There is a growing number of people, especially with the advent of "internet churches," who just opt to not join a local church.
There are others who are convinced that official membership in a church has no biblical backing and so become permanent visitors to a local church.
For those brothers and sisters, and for others who may be considering this, or wondering how to interact with friends who think this way, let me offer a link to a great little article aptly titled, "Why Join a Church?" that addresses very briefly some of the biblical issues that point to the need for membership in a local church.

When and Why to Leave Your Church (Part 2)

In my last post I began a consideration of why people leave their churches, which came from a recent Voices of Faith question. I identified three general categories of reasons, Economic, Theological, and Personal. We had gotten through the first two but need still to deal with personal reasons people leave churches.


These are almost always the least well-supported reasons for leaving a church.
Before getting too deep into this let me identify two main types of relationships that people have with their home churches today.
One is the traditional relationship in which you bind yourself to a congregation by the taking of membership vows and voluntarily place yourself under the spiritual authority of a local body and its elders.
The other is the laid-back 21st century American non-committal type of church relationship. Many churches, especially non-denominational churches simply don't have a membership, or the idea of membership is very loose. People come and go as their appetites change, and the leadership of the church does not pay too much (if any) attention to it. And church discipline is not even on the radar. A comparison of these two will have to wait for another time. Let me simply say that the second option, as popular as it is, makes proper, biblical functioning of the church body and its ruling body nearly impossible. But lets return to people leaving their church. 
Once you have joined yourself to a congregation and placed yourself under the care of that church and its elders (assuming the first model of church membership mentioned above), it should only be for the most serious of reasons that you would be willing to break the vows you made when you joined, which fall into the two previous categories, economic or theological.
Unfortunately, we have stood this on its head in the church. Staying with or leaving a church for theological or doctrinal reasons rarely happens (most people have very little idea of what their church believes, unfortunately), and personal preferences become the most important things in people's minds.
And just what are these personal reasons that have become paramount in the thinking of many? Let me list just a few:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

When and Why to Leave Your Church (Part 1) (VoF)

The question in our local paper's "Voices of Faith" feature this week was, "In your experience, for which reasons do people most often leave their place of worship?"
The real answer to that is obviously a complicated one. And one that is all the more difficult to answer for sure because most (almost all) people who leave do not tell the pastor or elders why, and the reasons that they give when they do share is often not the real reason. I think that many people have a sense that the reasons that people have for leaving churches are very often not good ones.
In my experience, which stretches now over ten years of ministry, there are three categories of reasons people leave a church. Economic, Theological, and Personal.


By economic reasons I mean people getting transferred to another part of the country, or having lost their job and being unable to find work, find that they need to relocate to another area to be able to support their family. Certainly this is a legitimate reason, and in many cases an unavoidable one. This is also a common cause today, especially in these difficult times in the midst of a difficult economy.


The second reason is Theological. You are attending a church and there is a shift in a critical doctrinal teaching which you feel renders you unable to continue attending. Sometimes it is your church's leadership -- locally or denominationally -- that moves, or you yourself become convinced of one thing or another. And here I am speaking of serious doctrinal differences. Many people leave because they find out that their pastor is an "old-earth" or "young-earth" person. Or that their new pastor believes that Paul did not write the book of Hebrews. Those are not reasons to leave a church. However, if, as has happened in the mainline denominations over the years, the denominational leadership states that it is no longer important to hold to biblical inerrancy or full inspiration, or that Jesus need not be claimed as the one and only way to God, then you have reason to run to the exit.

I have personally experienced this. For years my wife and I attended a generic, non-denominational, Arminian, Dispensational church and were very involved in many areas of ministry. As I began to get more serious about studying the Bible and theology I began having more and more difficulty reconciling the teachings of my church with the teachings of the scripture in several important areas. I was discovering the "doctrines of grace," and a historic, biblical view of the scriptures that the church I was attending did not share, and in fact strongly opposed.

After a long time of studying and talking to people, including church leadership, I finally reached a point where I could not, in good conscience, continue there, and my wife and I began a search for another congregation. This was something we did not take lightly and that no one should. Though the spirit of the age seems to say otherwise, ones local church, the accountability that exists there, the relationships with pastors and elders and other congregation members are important aspects of our Christian lives, and contribute to our spiritual stability. They should not be quickly and easily rent, in the same way as you might stop going to a restaurant because you grow tired of the menu.
But theological reasons for leaving a church is certainly a legitimate reason to leave a church.

That being said, it is a rare reason. Especially today. Far more common is the third reason; Personal reasons. I'll pick that up in a separate post.

Pastor Gene

Friday, April 27, 2012

Schism Emerges Between Record Searchlight and the Facts of the Sufficiency of Christ Conference

I’d like to call on all the friends of RRF and of Biblical Christianity in general to pray for a situation in regard to the Sufficiency of Christ Conference being held today and tomorrow(April 27 - 28) here in Redding. 

Along with a call to prayer, I feel that I need to respond in some way to the situation that has developed regarding the conference. I do this especially for those who may be visiting our blog, probably through our Facebook page, for the first time, and possibly in response to this situation. 

This conference is “meant to edify ALL of the body in regards to Christ and the gospel, EXALTING Christ as sufficient in all things” (from the promotional flier). We are excited about the opportunity to pursue this biblical goal.

Earlier this week, the organizers of the conference were contacted and interviewed by our local paper, the Redding Record Searchlight. As a part of the interview, the organizers stated repeatedly and explicitly that the purpose of the conference was not  to “bash” a particular local group, known as Bethel Church. Bethel is a third-wave Pentecostal church in Redding which focuses on signs and wonders, and which has a huge following in our area.

The next morning the story hit the front page of the Local section of the Record Searchlight: “Schism emerges between Bethel Church and local pastors’ group.” As a relatively small city, without a plethora of sources of written news, I know that many of you read the Record Searchlight, at least on the weekends.

The article published in the newspaper, from the headline on down contains inflammatory language and misleads the Record Searchlight’s readers concerning the conference and its purpose.