I’m not lyin’

My husband likes to watch the sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory”.  When he is watching it, I make him wear wireless headphones so that I don’t have to listen to it, because while there is SOME clever dialogue, I think that most of it is made up of adolescent potty humour.

Recently, before I could get my hubby to don his “head – wear necessary for the preservation of marital harmony”, I heard one of the characters, Sheldon Cooper, make the following statement,  “Everything I say is true”. I assume that because of his logical nature, Sheldon believes that he incapable of saying something that isn’t true. This is an interesting statement made by a character who is a theoretical physicist.

I found the following definition for the term “theory”:

“A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven.”

And a definition for the term “hypothesis”:

“A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

Don’t you find it interesting that both a hypothesis and a theory can be disproven? In other words, not true! Therefore, it is quite possible that some statements that the character, Sheldon Cooper, makes may, in fact, be untrue.

I am sure that all of us have had someone tell us an “un”truth at some point in our lives. This is especially hurtful when it comes from someone in whom we have placed our  love and trust. When we have been hurt in this way, it makes it very difficult to believe and trust in others. My wonderful husband is the most honourable man I have ever met, yet even after three years of marriage, I am still wearing a cloak of insecurity and guardedness that was fashioned during the 26 years of my first marriage to a man who was evasive, deceptive, and in the end, dishonest.

So, where do we turn to when the very people we should be able to count on and trust in deceive us and hurt us? Is there anyone out there who is completely truthful? Is there anyone in whom we can have complete trust, confidence and assurance? The answer is yes and absolutely! We can absolutely believe, trust, have faith, have confidence and be assured that God, our Heavenly Father, is always and forever true!

God describes himself as being full of truth:

Exo 34:6  And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Num 23:19  God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?

2Co 1:18  But as God is true,

1Jn 5:20  And we know that the Son of God has come, and He (Jesus)has given us an understanding so that we may know Him (God)who is true.

Not only is God true, but because of His righteous nature, God is completely incapable of lying!

Tit 1:2  on hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the eternal times,

Heb 6:18  so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us,

Jesus represented God here on earth and Jesus also exemplified the “true” nature and character of God:

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth.

Eph 4:21  if indeed you have heard Him and were taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.

Mar 12:14  And coming, they said to Him, Teacher, we know that you are true and you care about no one. For you do not look to the face of men, but teach the way of God in truth.

People may lie to you, disappoint you and hurt you, but our Heavenly Father, God, Abba, and His son, Jesus, will never lie. You can have complete confidence and trust in them. Whatever God has promised to do in His Word, he WILL do it!

Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isa 55:10  For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring out and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
Isa 55:11  so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.

2Co 1:20  For all the promises of God in Him (Jesus) are yes, and in Him(Jesus) Amen, to the glory of God by us.

Amen!

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The Purpose of Church

“If God is everywhere, why do I need to go to church?” I am sure that you have heard that question asked at some point in your life. Maybe you have even asked it yourself? I know that I have!

I, myself, often feel closest to God when I am outside enjoying His wonderful Creation. To me, the trees, flowers, birds, animals, rivers and mountains all speak of the glory of God. The “great outdoors” is my personal cathedral and it is there that I worship and praise Him the most.

However, there is a saying that “no man is an island”. God did not create us to live a life apart from other people.

Gen 2:18  And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.

God’s Word describes believers as being a “body” with Jesus as the “head”. God made all the parts of a human body to work together, and just as our human bodies work better if all the parts are present, so too does our “spiritual body”. Our weaknesses need other people’s strengths and our strength’s are needed by other people.

Eph 4:15  But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;
Eph 4:16  Through whom all the body, being rightly formed and united together, by the full working of every part, is increased to the building up of itself in love.

Rom 12:4  For even as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same function,
Rom 12:5  so we the many are one body in Christ, and each one members of one another. (BBE)

God’s word also describes us as being a family:

Eph 3:14  For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 3:15  of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named,

I am sure that most of us have experienced loss within our families. For me, it was the loss of a father and two sisters when my parents’ marriage ended. Many years later, I lost my  husband when my own marriage ended. The absence of loved ones can leave us feeling incomplete in our personal lives. So too,  the absence of members of our spiritual family can leave holes that need filling. God designed us to work together as a family –  loving, supporting and encouraging one another.

Unfortunately, I have also heard the following question: “why should I go to church when it is full of people who gossip, are selfish, unkind (and the list goes on and on…)? Good question!

Yes, unfortunately, some churches can be filled with critical, judgmental, unloving, sinful living, hypocritical people. Some church attendees may even be abusers, alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, prostitutes, criminals and homosexuals! What does all this mean??

I like the following comment that I have read in a few different places: A church is like a hospital and just as a hospital is filled with people who are physically sick, a church can be filled with people who are ‘soul and spirit’ sick. A hospital is where sick people go to receive treatment so that they can get better physically. A church is where hurting people can go to get treatment to get better “soulfully” and “spiritually”.

A  hospital patient hopes that the hospital staff, equipment, medicine and treatments all work together properly, so that the patient’s health will improve and he/she can go on to enjoy life. I am sure that we all want to come out in better condition than when  we went in!

In the same manner, people who are soul/spirit sick need to be properly ministered to in church. A church that is functioning as God would want it to, with correct teaching, done with love and compassion, will see people’s lives changed for the better.

Luk 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed,
Luk 4:19  to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Luk 7:22  And answering, Jesus said to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is proclaimed to the poor.

In church, the “medical staff” should be people who have a close personal relationship with the ‘chief of staff’ – God, an accurate knowledge of the medical textbooks – the Bible, and a loving bed-side manner. The better the “staff” are in using these qualities and abilities, the healthier the “patients” will become. Unfortunately, in this sin-filled world, we will always have “sick” people entering church, however, if God’s “church” functioned properly, then in time, the “patients”, should be enabled to become “staff” themselves. A healthy church is one that works together to bring wholeness to the lost, the sick and the hurting.

I believe that the following scriptures clearly describe the “purpose” of “church”:

Eph 4:12  For the training of the saints as servants in the church, for the building up of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13  Till we all come to the harmony of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to full growth, to the full measure of Christ:
Eph 4:14  So that we may be no longer children, sent this way and that, turned about by every wind of teaching, by the twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error;
Eph 4:15  But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;

and:

Heb 10:19  Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20  by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
Heb 10:21  and having a High Priest over the house of God,
Heb 10:22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies having been washed with pure water.
Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),
Heb 10:24  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
Heb 10:25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

I pray, in that whatever “shape” your church takes the form of,  you are gathering together with like-minded believers, exhorting one another to love and good works, so that God’s “church” will grow and be filled. Amen!

How should a church function?

Growing up, I thought that church was a very serious, solemn and perhaps somewhat scary place. I thought that you should walk in quietly, preferably with eyes cast down, sit in your assigned place (oh those hard, uncomfortable wooden pews!) (and don’t you dare sit in someone else’s “personal” pew). To me, church was a bit like Simon Says – you know – stand, kneel, sit, sing and pray as directed by the Pastor. If you heard any snoring, it may have been me!! After the service, everyone files passed the Pastor, maybe shake his hand, mumble a word or two –  and then walk as quickly as you can to the car so that you can get out of the parking lot before anybody else! Does this ring any bells?

I think if I was to ask a number of people what they thought church should be like, I would probably get a wide variety of answers. And I certainly have my own opinion of how  I want “my” church to function. But, is “my” way the right way? Is there only one way to have church? I am really going to throw a monkey wrench into this by saying both “yes” and “no”.

I do believe that God, in His Word, has given us some guidelines and examples. As I said in my previous blog, church is not a building but a gathering of people. Jesus held “church” in many varied locations: on a hilltop, in a market, on the seashore, on the Temple steps, in synagogues, in people’s homes and even at a wedding and a funeral! The first century church often met in people’s homes. It seems obvious that the location and the decor are not what makes a church.

In the Bible, we also read that a wide variety of people made up the “church”: families, widows, orphans, rich, poor, honourable and dishonourable, popular and lonely, young and old, male and female, educated and illiterate, loved and unloved. Jesus, the greatest equalizer of all times, drew people from every walk of life to himself through his love. This fact alone should be a huge clue on how we are to regard one another. There is no place for prejudice, bigotry, sexism, criticism or “holier than thou” attitude in God’s church.

I do not wish to go too deeply into church organization/administration in this post, but God’s Word does tell us about teachers/preachers/pastors (each one is slightly different), bishops, elders, and deacons. God tells us the qualifications and the responsibilities of these positions. God also tells us that we are to respect those who are in positions of leadership, however, we are not supposed to worship them! Our worship must be reserved for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father, the Almighty God.

How many people make up a church? Well, my previous post defined a “church” as a gathering together of people whom God has “called out” from sin and darkness into the light of Jesus Christ. A church is made up of people who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have not found anywhere in the Bible that mentions that there must be a certain number of people to make up a church. in fact, Jesus said the following:

Mat 18:20  For where two or three are come together in my name, there am I among them.

To me, that means that if I stand on the street,  meet for coffee or tea, call, text or even email  to chat with a brother or sister in Christ, and ask how they and/or their family are doing, share Godly words of encouragement and support, pray for them and share how God is working in my life, then I am having “church”.

God’s church is supposed to be a loving family, a family that many of us are missing. It is a place that we should feel welcomed, appreciated, safe, and above all, loved. Church should be a place where we are nurtured, so that we can grow into the fullness of who God created us to be.

“Church” should be a place where we can be fed spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We should come away from the experience feeling encouraged, uplifted and hopeful. “Church” should equip us to go out into this difficult world with peace, joy and hope. “Church” should be a beacon of light, hope and love to those who are lost and hurting.

If the “church” functioned the way God desires, then people would be drawn to it; you would want to go rather than feeling like you have to go. Church would be a blessing, not a burden!

While I don’t attend a church “building” every Sunday, I do enjoy attending a wide variety of “Church” activities every week. Like a snail carries his home around with him, I prefer to think that I carry my “Church” with me everywhere I go –  and I don’t have to sit on hard wooden benches and I don’t snore! (ok – maybe I snore a bit at night!)

While I think that God does have certain expectations of how a church should function – the accurate teaching of His Word, combined with love, kindness, humility and forgiveness – I also believe that God allows for the “shape”  or form of any one church to be as individual as the type of people who make up that particular church body. Jesus chose 12 apostles that had different personalities, abilities, ways of observing, learning, understanding, recording and teaching. In the same manner, God’s church is made up of a wide variety of people and personalities. Some people enjoy, and may, in fact, need a more structured, formal presentation. My father is Roman Catholic, and he has told me that he finds great comfort in the formal, traditional format of Mass. I, on the other hand, prefer something less formal and structured. Some people prefer the old, traditional hymns or gospel choruses. While I do enjoy some of the traditional pieces, I am a rock’n’roll girl at heart so I enjoy the more upbeat, contemporary music. Some people enjoy listening to  well-rehearsed sermons full of fancy words; I prefer a down-to-earth practical teaching. In all these things, style is not what is most important to God, it is the content. God wants His Word to be taught by “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” 2Tim. 2:15. God wants us to know of His great love for us and His plan to bring us back into a right relationship with Him through our believing in the atoning sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

If you are not enjoying your “Church”, if it is not feeding you in body, mind and spirit, then think about how you could make some positive suggestions and/or changes. If change is not welcomed in your “Church”, prayerfully consider looking for another “Church” family. It is of no value to stay where you are feeling frustrated, bored, and stagnant; this can lead to strife and bitterness, which are are tools of the enemy. Find someplace where you can flourish in the love and the knowledge of our God.

Eph 4:29  Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for giving necessary teaching, and for grace to those who give ear.
Eph 4:30  And do not give grief to the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were marked for the day of salvation.
Eph 4:31  Let all bitter, sharp and angry feeling, and noise, and evil words, be put away from you, with all unkind acts;
Eph 4:32  And be kind to one another, full of pity, having forgiveness for one another, even as God in Christ had forgiveness for you.

Blessings