GROWING UP IN CHURCH

I was reading about a church in Florida which is for “Exvangelicals.”

I, like a lot of you, grew up in church. It was the same church that my dad went to, my aunts, my grandmother, and about half of Wrightsville attended. Most of the weddings, church suppers, Christmas eve services, funerals, family activities, and even the Boys Scouts met there. We even had an evangelist come once a year to stir up the spiritual fire. That fire always seemed to burn out a few weeks after the evangelist left town.

CATECHISM CLASS

Not being a Christian then (I didn’t get saved until I was 16 years old), I saw everything through a set of eyes that reflected the world’s standards.  I didn’t have spiritual eyes that could see everything through the lens of Christ. The one thing I remember from those years of growing up in church was catechism class. Pastor Wilson met with a dozen of us 6th graders every Saturday morning for about 6 weeks. Now, I don’t remember the particulars, but I do remember Pastor Wilson emphasized: “None of these facts matter if you can’t back them up with Scripture, because Scripture is God’s Word given to man.” For a dumb 6th grader who knew little about the Bible, those words would have a great impact on me later in life.

THE REASON FOR THE HOPE YOU HAVE

I do not believe that the Apostle Peter ever had to go to catechism class, but he learned the same truth which I learned on those Saturday mornings. Peter wrote in I Peter 3:15, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. As Pastor Wilson would say, everything we believe, we need to be able to back up with Scripture.

THEY NEVER ASKED THE QUESTION

Growing up in the church, I had a lot of friends who learned the same songs that I did, who heard the same Sunday School lessons and attended the same youth group as I did. However, they never asked the questions: “Why did Jesus die on the cross for their sins? Is Jesus God? Are the Scriptures the only source of truth that can provide hope for Christians everywhere?”

EXVANGELICALS

I frequently remember Pastor Wilson’ words. Just this week I was reading about a church in Florida which is for “Exvangelicals.” This is a church with all of the trappings of an evangelical church, without the presence of someone “telling” you what to believe. If you have a problem with hell, fine, this is the church for you! Tired of people telling you what the Bible says about sexuality? Then settle in, because you have come to the right place.

OUR SOURCE OF TRUTH

Sadly, this movement is spreading throughout the country. It reminds me of those friends that I had growing up in church. They believed that if you want to be a Christian, just act like a Christian; you don’t have to believe like a Christian. Acts 17:11 says: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Remember, it is essential that the Scriptures always be our source of Truth. It provides an awful lot of answers. Gee, I wish we would have had some Bereans in the church that I grew up in!

GOD IN THE MIDST OF SORROW

These past few weeks have been overwhelming.  I already had trouble comprehending the slaughter of over 1,200 people and the taking of hundreds of hostages on October 7th.  Then I saw on the news thousands of people not regarding October 7th as terrorism. Beg your pardon, but “terrorism” is defined as: “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”.

STUNNED AND STILL STUNNED

What about October 7th was not violent, against civilians and not politically motivated?  What was the purpose of murdering women, children and babies?  I was stunned and am still stunned. 

HE FRUSTRATES THE PLANS OF THE WICKED

As my soul was grieving over the senseless violence, I came across Psalm 146:3-9: Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but He frustrates the plans of the wicked.

I FORGET WHO GOD IS

In the midst of all of this, I often forget Who God is.  I have made the mistake of expecting governments to do the right thing.  The writer of the Psalm is totally accurate regarding powerful people: “There is no help for you there”.  

HOW BIG IS MY GOD?

How big is my God? He “frustrates the plans of the wicked. He keeps every promise forever”. Afterall, He “made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them”. It can’t get any better than that! In the midst of this, I have become blind to seeing the Hand of God.  I dearly need the One Who “opens the eyes of the blind”. 

I HAVE A CHOICE

What is going to overtake my heart and mind?  Is it fear? Anger? Frustration? This is the God Who knows where the weapons are, Who knows where the hostages are, and the God “Who lifts up those who are weighed down.” I have to pause.  I have to let Him open the eyes of my blind heart.