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Scubadude
May 25th 2008, 05:21 PM
Ten years ago this June I talked to the Lord, and He permitted me to stop going to Church. Deciding to start attending again is not a decision that came lightly. I imagine most of you will not think this to be a very big accomplishment, I'm counting on that. I'd like to hear from those of you who are regular Church attenders. No doubt that I've developed some thoughts that are useful and not so useful when it comes to parishioner-hood. So, I'd like to hear different thoughts.

About 13-14 years ago, I had a conversation with a friend. The topic was, "What would Church be like if the people who attended were only the ones who really wanted to be there?" The other side of the argument (his) was that we need a certain level of feeling religious obligation, otherwise we may have a difficult time keeping the Church open. He might say that is an oversimplification of his position.

My wife and I have chosen a nice little Lutheran Church. We already know a few people who attend there, so we've joined them on occasion. I would greatly appreciate your prayers, and be able to bounce some more thoughts off you all as I go.

In Christ,
Kevin

TrustGzus
May 26th 2008, 01:39 PM
Hey Kevin,

I read your discussion on this on the KJVO thread. This is a big accomplishment for you and I realize that. I'm glad to see you partaking in a local fellowship. I understand people's desires and reasons to stay away, but I don't think that's the right approach. I have prayed for you and would be glad to do so more.

For five years I tried starting a Calvary Chapel where I live because there isn't one that is local to this area in which I have moved. My attempt never grew beyond a very small home Bible study. For a while my wife and I traveled for long distances (1-1/2 hours or more) to stay in Calvary Chapels. However, with the continuing rise of gas prices, in 2005 we decided to find something closer. We became members of a church 20 miles from us (which in farm land is 20 minutes) that is very close in all our theological views - identical in most points.

I gather with local saints not looking for what I can get out of it. I've been a Christian for 22 years. I've read the Old Testament 20 + times. The New Testament 40+ times. However, each of us has gifts Jesus has given us to use for others. I see that as my primary reason. I have a responsibility to help those along who are newer to the faith than I. It is more blessed to give than receive. I hope and pray you find the same joy in giving back to local people some of what Jesus has given you.

Grace & peace to you, Kevin.

Joe

Scubadude
May 26th 2008, 08:49 PM
I gather with local saints not looking for what I can get out of it. I've been a Christian for 22 years. I've read the Old Testament 20 + times. The New Testament 40+ times. However, each of us has gifts Jesus has given us to use for others. I see that as my primary reason. I have a responsibility to help those along who are newer to the faith than I. It is more blessed to give than receive. I hope and pray you find the same joy in giving back to local people some of what Jesus has given you.




Aloha, from the sunny tropics, Joe!

Thanks for your response. I would never turn down an offer for prayer. And, I would want to encourage any believer to spend more time in God's presence, even if it's about me. Humbling as that may feel.

Hope you don't mind if I respond to your response with a question. When you read that I received permission from God to stop attending church, where did your mind go with that? Did you hear me say that God gave me permission to abandon my faith? Because that would be apostasy, and heresy. I don't want to set myself up by saying that such sins are beyond me or anyone, but that wasn't where I was coming from. I hope! I'm willing to be wrong. Please say so if you believe that.

"that which is not done in faith, is sin." I think that's in Rom 14. I attended church because I assumed that that was what I was suppose to do. If you love the Lord, you must attend a local church. That was it. Just because that's what Christians do. As time went on, I found that "Sunday morning guilt" was more the motive that pushed me to continue attending church. I didn't imagine that that was very pleasing to the Lord.

I felt moved to find out for myself if the Lord was "out there" as well as "in here". A passage that spoke to me was when the Lord told Isiah that he was wrong to think that all the prophets had been killed, and now he was the next target. In fact, God had many more believers that Isiah never knew about, and He would reveal them as he went. And, on a less spiritual note, I just wanted to stop working so hard. "If the Lord has set you free, you are free indeed!" was just completely missing me. I agree with you that we need to offer the gifts that the Spirit has given us. But, if there doesn't seem to be room for the gifts you have to offer, then demanding they be received does not open the door for living in peace. There had to be more!

Kevin

1of7000
May 27th 2008, 01:57 AM
You gotta go where God can teach/train you if only to poke your nose in to see what's going on.

Sometimes its a big church, lots of fun and a feeling a part of something.

Sometimes a home fellowship easier to be yourself and you don't get lost in the sauce.

Sometimes taking a break to figure some things out and find a new direction.

It's a man's personal walk with his very personal God.


(Elijah not Isaiah by the way 1Kings 19:18)

evrgreenjhawk
May 27th 2008, 03:24 AM
I am guessing that by "stop going to church" you mean attending a formal service?
I would be interested in hearing what you did in place of...?

I am a member of a small Lutheran Church that sits on a hill next to a berry farm ten miles from the nearest small town.
I had tried a few other churches and for whatever reason never made any sort of bond or connection. Mostly I think it felt like most were there just to be going through the motions. I honestly think I had no idea what I expected to get out of going to church, but I did know it was not so I could pin a label on my lapel saying, "Look I go to church every Sunday"

Your post made me ask myself just why do I go to church every Sunday now. My Pastor has also become my friend and has helped me through some very difficult times. It was after meeting with him for several weeks that he baptized my daughter and myself on Pentecost (his idea which I thought was way cool) But that is not the reason. The people of the congregation are real and humble folk who have also been so very supportive in time of need. Although I have few if any relations with any of them outside of the church. So that is not the reason. My daughter and I stand up as Lector regularly, we serve as greeters along with my wife. My wife and daughter both sing in the choir. My wife and I are both on the church council, but those are not the reasons I go to church every Sunday.
Matter of fact when I take a look at myself now and the role I have in my church, I can almost see someone who is just going through the motions, or at least how that may appear to someone.
Since my becoming a member of this church there was a period where my attendance starting becoming sporadic and I noticed things starting to change in my life, and not for the better.
The answer I came up with is that it is a place where I go to be with my Father. The give thanks and praise, to confess and pray. It is a sanctuary for me, safe from the world where I feel complete comfort in worshiping the way the spirit leads me to. I also think its all the things I mentioned earlier that let me feel this way. I don't really feel that I do all that much as far as works for the Lord there, but for me, not being very much a social creature, I hope I am making myself available to do so. It is also very uplifting to be with others who I know have the same feelings as I do and believe as I do, and that are genuinely happy to see me there to worship and pray with them.
Sorry to have carried on so but I must really thank you for the opportunity you provided me.

Peace and Prayers

TexasBeliever
May 28th 2008, 03:13 PM
I attended "church" regularly for years and then I didn't for years.

I never really felt comfortable in church, but thought it was a commandment so I went. When I started reading the bible, way back when, I realized that it wasn't.

Regarding "church" the New Testament says, "Do not forsake assembling yourselves together."

If you find a church that builds you up, ect. that's great, go to church I say.
If you are uncomfortable in church, either stay home and read the bible or look for a different one.

WE are the church, so fellowshipping with other believers is going to "church," not going into a particular building.

Jesus said "where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I Am, in their midst." So just two people can break bread together and share a cup of wine, doing this as the Lord said, "in remembrance of Me" and be in the Lord's presence. Nice!

turtledove
May 28th 2008, 03:33 PM
:)Just wanna add to what others have posted here that it is good to give this new church plenty of time. We moved and settled in the city (after country living and traveling for several years) last year and so have been in our new church only about 15 months. It is never easy getting to know folks. It takes time. Getting into a small group has helped since our congregation is very large with four weekend services. Hopefully this will work well for both of you and you won't get discouraged. Praying for that for you. :pray:

In Christ,

owl

Still in One Peace
May 28th 2008, 04:06 PM
Church is ment to be a place and time to worship, to grow, to be encouraged, to be convicted, and if it is none of thoes things then why would you go?
My little church once went through a very tough transition, we lost our bible preaching pastor and were sent a temp. who wasn't even a Christian. Talk about trying to find water in the desert. It shook the church big time. we had people leave just because they wernt getting fed anymore. And trust me i thought about it myself. But my whole family kept going. WHY? Because we didn't want Satan to close down our church. We didn't know how long the temp would be there or even when we got a pastor if that one would be a Christian but we stayed to encourage our brothers and sisters through the dry time. Sometimes you need to think of not just what you can get out of it but what you can put into it.

Oh and to finish the story, the temp went away we got a missionary/gospel preaching pastor and our church has grown and become so much better than even before. Praise God!

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 06:28 PM
For five years I tried starting a Calvary Chapel where I live because there isn't one that is local to this area in which I have moved. My attempt never grew beyond a very small home Bible study.

Joe,
One quick question. What happened to the small home Bible study?

Kevin

grptinHisHand
May 28th 2008, 06:43 PM
It is always good to hear someone is back in church. I agree with others that it is giving back what God has given us and sharing His love with them that truly makes it worthwhile to attend a local fellowship.
I have been blessed to find a new church and feel as much 'at home' there as in the church I attended for the first 40+ years of my life. I have wonderful friends and our pastor preaches messages that challenge me and others to be more for Christ than just 'bench warmers'. I have been on vacation for about 3 weeks and it feels so good to be back in my own church on Sunday!!

g

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 07:01 PM
You gotta go where God can teach/train you if only to poke your nose in to see what's going on.

Sometimes its a big church, lots of fun and a feeling a part of something.

Sometimes a home fellowship easier to be yourself and you don't get lost in the sauce.

Sometimes taking a break to figure some things out and find a new direction.

It's a man's personal walk with his very personal God.


(Elijah not Isaiah by the way 1Kings 19:18)

Thanks for your words, 1. I'm glad you caught the Elijah reference. I was just testing you. :P

I read your post and started humming the song "In every thing, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn." Do you think it is surprising for most Christians to hear that the Lord can also be found outside of church? I can't help but get the feeling that Christendom in general believes there is only room for a season of growth.

Dude

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 08:00 PM
There have been so may good posts, I wish I typed faster than my hunt-and-peck style would allow. But, let me try to address what I think I hear many of you saying.

Yes! We are going to give this church and ourselves plenty of time to get use to each other. Point well taken. We were in no rush to attend a church, and we aren't going to be in any rush to 'see results', what ever that would look like. The desire to see results always sounded a bit too demanding, IMO.

Some of you have said or suggested that you fell on hard times spiritually as a result of not attending church, or not having a good church to attend with a good spiritual leader. Are you saying that these hard times were not good and only served to strengthen your conviction that you cannot make it without being a part of a church congregation? That's what it sounds like you are saying. If I'm riding your wave, that concerns me.

Dude

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 08:19 PM
Church is meant to be a place and time to worship, to grow, to be encouraged, to be convicted, and if it is none of those things then why would you go?


Yup! Why would you want to go? Positive pier pressure is still pressure, even though we call it positive. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give. Not halfheartedly in response to pressure. When you have something to give that no one is asking you for, what then? Know anyone who might feel that way in your church?

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 08:37 PM
Jesus said "where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I Am, in their midst." So just two people can break bread together and share a cup of wine, doing this as the Lord said, "in remembrance of Me" and be in the Lord's presence. Nice!




Nice!!


In the absence of all other voices, opinions, demands, manipulations, church boards, and frightened believers, my wife and I keep coming back to what you said. Our strength is in the Lord.

And, I'll bet that where only one is gathered in His name, He is there in your midst, too. :hmm:

Scubadude
May 28th 2008, 09:18 PM
I am guessing that by "stop going to church" you mean attending a formal service?
I would be interested in hearing what you did in place of...?


Partially. I also meant that I stopped spending any energy trying to answer the question, "What does it mean to be a good Christian?" It's akin to the question, "How can I improve my Christian witness?" I don't think they're good questions.

When you say "In place of...?" I'm assuming you mean what did I do with the extra time I had on my hands? How did I fill in the gap of lack of Christian input?

BTW: Even though you say that all those things you and your family do at church aren't your reasons for attending church, they are really the reasons you are attending church. Wright? I think they are beautiful reasons.

Jerome1
May 29th 2008, 12:27 AM
I'm curious to know, what do you mean you talked to the Lord and he permitted you to stop going to church?

Why would God give anyone permission to stop going to church? What was the reason for God giving you permission to stop going to church?

Why would you decide to go back to church, did God give you permission to start going back, or did you just decide yourself? Did he tell you to start attending again when ever you felt like it, or only after he gives you permission?

Scubadude
May 29th 2008, 01:04 AM
I'm curious to know, what do you mean you talked to the Lord and he permitted you to stop going to church?


When a christian wants to honor the Lord by submitting to His authority, she/he will seek His will and guidance on all matters. By accepting His answers we bring Him glory.

evrgreenjhawk
May 29th 2008, 02:51 AM
Partially. I also meant that I stopped spending any energy trying to answer the question, "What does it mean to be a good Christian?" It's akin to the question, "How can I improve my Christian witness?" I don't think they're good questions.

When you say "In place of...?" I'm assuming you mean what did I do with the extra time I had on my hands? How did I fill in the gap of lack of Christian input?



In place of a formal service how did you practice your faith, is what I was asking. As others have posted you need not attend a church in order to worship and fellowship.

Myself I don't have a Church background, my family never attended when I was a child nor did I as an adult until just 2 years ago. I always maintained that God and I had our own relationship and for the reasons I mentioned, never felt it necessary to go to church.
Since I have found and grown in my faith I have also learned how important it is for me and my family to spend time with God. With out going to church it got way to easy to put that off. If I did not feel the way I do about my church or had to find another one, I am not sure how I would handle it.


BTW: Even though you say that all those things you and your family do at church aren't your reasons for attending church, they are really the reasons you are attending church. Wright? I think they are beautiful reasons.

Not really...Like I said I feel comfortable there and close to God. I think its kinda like feeling at home, no one really wants to mow the lawn or vacuum the floors or do the dusting or dishes, but you do those things because of the way you feel about your home and the way it makes you feel...:hmm:

Since you mentioned you are going to attend a Lutheran church also, I can suggest some very light and easy reading that my pastor first gave me. It is a bit about Lutherans and is written and illustrated completely by hand, it is called: "Baptized We Live" by Daniel Erlander.

I always had a hang up with "Denominations" and still don't exactly declare myself as any one in particular. I do attend a Lutheran Church, but I am simply a believer in Christ :pray:

Peace

1of7000
May 29th 2008, 03:23 AM
Thanks for your words, 1. I'm glad you caught the Elijah reference. I was just testing you. :P

I knew that :spin:


I read your post and started humming the song "In every thing, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn." Do you think it is surprising for most Christians to hear that the Lord can also be found outside of church?

Nope, most Christians have a hard time making the Word of God their own. They distance themselves from God and do not embrace Him. Come sundays they put on their smiley face and best clothes put on a show and pat themselves on the back. Then go home thanking God that He didn't follow them.

God called you to be you. If others don't like it they can go suck eggs.:mad:

If you take the time to look at those God called in the Old testament you can't find a bigger group of derelects.
Women, Murderers,con-men.. and who is anyone but God to judge.

On a lighter note, when I lived in Hawaii I went to a home fellowship in Aiea it was biblical and it was sweet and it was family. I've lost touch with the leader but I think he is still on Oahu.

I still think the best plate lunch is in alemoana beach park:thumbsup:

Jerome1
May 29th 2008, 07:34 AM
When a christian wants to honor the Lord by submitting to His authority, she/he will seek His will and guidance on all matters. By accepting His answers we bring Him glory.

Forgive me for being sceptical but i don't believe everyone who tells me the Lord told them something, and neither should anybody else.

I'm still curious as to the details that God permitted you to stop going to church?

evrgreenjhawk
May 29th 2008, 01:16 PM
Forgive me for being sceptical but i don't believe everyone who tells me the Lord told them something, and neither should anybody else.


Romans 14:4 (NLT)


4 Who are you to condemn someone elseís servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lordís help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.

Jerome1
May 29th 2008, 04:03 PM
Romans 14:4 (NLT)


4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.

1John4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Note also that i didn't condemn anybody, i said it is foolish to believe everyone who says that they have received a message from God. I'm not saying that the thread starter did or didn't receive a message from God. I am sceptical when someone states the Lord told them it was fine not to go to church. I wanted more details so i could test the spirit, as John teaches us to do.

Scubadude
May 29th 2008, 08:37 PM
I'm not saying that the thread starter did or didn't receive a message from God. I am sceptical when someone states the Lord told them it was fine not to go to church. I wanted more details so i could test the spirit, as John teaches us to do.

I appreciate you asking the question. I must confess that at first I wasn't sure if you were just trying to pick a fight. That can be fun! I'm not against it. Really. I see your concern is for the truth, and it's hard not to respect that. Soooooo..

I realize that my original statement sounds a bit dramatic, "The Lord gave me permission to..." Part of the difficulty I'm facing is looking back on 10 years of relating with the Lord in a way that made sense to me. No doubt there are many people who have had similar experiences, if I am unique, it is that the Lord has given me a history that no one else can put words to like I can. And, even then, when you look at the experiences where you know the Lord moved with power, isn't it difficult to rap your verbal hands around that experience? It's just too big! There's too much to say. My leaving the church was such an experience.

17 years before all of this, I was voracious for knowledge. This is not more drama, this is understatement. All the Bible studies, scripture memory, ministries, conferences, books (Oh, the books!), witnessing, theological debates, theological training, missions, philosophy, sociology, all the 'ologys' (just as a quick side note, if someone reading this happened to have been my room mate while I was studying psychology, I beg your forgiveness. :cry:), and the books. Did I mention all the books? The books! I think I was obsessed, but it was so much fun. And, I got nothing but encouragement to continue from the people who were involved in my life. This is where things can get a bit difficult if you are trying to determine weather it was the Lord's voice I heard, or something else. Not trying to convince you of anything. I'm enjoying the opportunity to describe something I haven't written about before. Having so many brothers and sister paying attention to what I'm saying feels like a gift.

Is this it? Can I honestly say that after everything I've studied and learned about the Lord, that I am one step closer to knowing the Holy One? The more I moved towards knowing Him with my mind, the more I experienced His presence as crushing. It was as if the infinitely creative God was trying to show me the impossibility of what I was hoping to accomplish. I began to miss the Lord, like a husband can miss his wife even when he spends all day thinking about her. I got the first inkling that the Lord was leading me in a different direction, and it was exhilarating. But, everyone kept encouraging me to keep up the faith. "But, all I'm offering you is my mind! Don't you want more?". I could be passionate about what was on my mind, but it was still just my mind. The truth is, my heart is a mess. In church, there is little room for peoples hearts. Messiness doesn't make for good organization, measurable growth and manageable attrition. Wright away I suspected that God was beginning to spoil the milk for me. I just wanted to be sure I saw the curds. For almost 4 years I prayed, had conversations with friends, considered what we knew about God and if such a request was that unusual. I'd like to say that leaving the church came with big argument, pleads to reconsider, offers to struggle along side, but I can't. I just woke up one Sunday, thanked God for the freedom to rest, and that's it. No one ever called. At first I was miffed, then I accepted it as a painful confirmation from God that He was in this. (even if people had called, I wouldn't have changed my mind)

Again, I appreciate having this chance to hear different peoples experiences and thoughts and be able to interact this way.

evrgreenjhawk
May 29th 2008, 10:45 PM
1John4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Note also that i didn't condemn anybody, i said it is foolish to believe everyone who says that they have received a message from God. I'm not saying that the thread starter did or didn't receive a message from God. I am sceptical when someone states the Lord told them it was fine not to go to church. I wanted more details so i could test the spirit, as John teaches us to do.

Personally I don't see the relevance in this instance. It's not like he was trying to deliver a message that he had been told from God to change opinion or in any way lead anyone. It would be the same if I were to tell you that God has shown me that I need to attend church. How are you to test the spirit that I feel leads me in this way?
Now if I were to say that God told me to convince everyone that they must go to church or must NOT go to church, to me that would certainly bring reason for skepticism.
I am always curious when someone says they have been told by God anything. Curious of the experience, of how they know or felt or the circumstances...Myself I can't say I have ever known absolutely without ever a doubt that anything I felt was from God, was indeed. That is where I believe faith comes in...

BTW: Condemn was not my words nor did I mean to say that you were condemning anyone. It just happened to be used in that translation. Your free to look up the verse in any translation you like. I like the Living Translation because it is in English and it is worded in a way that can challenge me where others IMO, tend to soft soap it.

Romans 14: 1-3
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

Scubadude
May 30th 2008, 12:19 AM
Why would God give anyone permission to stop going to church?

I've asked myself this question many times. The short answer is when church stops being church. However you understand it. This answer, I think, puts the responsibility for your decision back on your understanding of faith.



Let me make a preemptive strike here for anyone. I refuse to enter into a debate regarding predestination verses free will. Not gun'na do it. Wouldn't be prudent. I'll just say that the wrangling about of words, there is no end.





Why would you decide to go back to church, did God give you permission to start going back, or did you just decide yourself? Did he tell you to start attending again when ever you felt like it, or only after he gives you permission?

Good question! My answer is "Yes". Here's what I heard for the sermon Sunday: God answers our prayer in one of 3 ways. Yes, no, and not now." Personally, I know God to be much more chatty than that, much more conversational. I think trying to make a sermon out of how I understand 'the way' God interacts with us in prayer, my parishioners would complain about the length I went over time. :saint:

It took 40 days of conversations between God and Moses for him to get the 10 Commandments. But Moses had the freedom to trash the holy tablets because he was mad. I always suspected Moses had some ulterior motive in doing that, as he got to go back to be with God for another long period.

So, which was it? Did Moses just decide on his own to bust the tablets because he was hacked off at a stiff necked people, or was he following through on something God told him to do? So often God speaks without giving us any more of an answer than, "I AM!" We could question Moses' motives until the cows come home, but in the end I think he would have to say that his choice depended on his relationship with the Lord.


BTW: I'm not trying to suggest that I am like Moses in this. I'm not very humble. :blushsad:

Jerome1
May 30th 2008, 12:21 AM
Personally I don't see the relevance in this instance. It's not like he was trying to deliver a message that he had been told from God to change opinion or in any way lead anyone. It would be the same if I were to tell you that God has shown me that I need to attend church. How are you to test the spirit that I feel leads me in this way?

If someone told you God gave them permission to stop attending church would you believe them, or would need more information before you could make a decision? The implications of someone saying that God gave them permission not to attend church, may make other people believe it is ok for them not to attend church. If you told me that God told you to attend regular church services. I'd ask you did he tell you, or did you feel that is what he wanted you to do? Then i would ask what church did you feel he wanted to to attend.


For almost 4 years I prayed, had conversations with friends, considered what we knew about God and if such a request was that unusual. I'd like to say that leaving the church came with big argument, pleads to reconsider, offers to struggle along side, but I can't. I just woke up one Sunday, thanked God for the freedom to rest, and that's it. No one ever called. At first I was miffed, then I accepted it as a painful confirmation from God that He was in this. (even if people had called, I wouldn't have changed my mind)

Again, I appreciate having this chance to hear different peoples experiences and thoughts and be able to interact this way.

So you felt that God didn't want you to attend that particular church? Isn't that different from attending church services all together?

Scubadude
May 30th 2008, 01:33 AM
The implications of someone saying that God gave them permission not to attend church, may make other people believe it is ok for them not to attend church.

You ask a lot of good questions. Let me ask you, how do you think I could have handled this situation better? And, why are you convinced that that would have been a better path for me to follow? I'm willing to be wrong.




So you felt that God didn't want you to attend that particular church? Isn't that different from attending church services all together?


There is a bigger picture here you seem to be missing. You are stuck on the question, "Is it a good thing to not attend a church?" Does that sound close? You're concern is to protect the fellowship of believers. Remember, I'm going back to church. :pp

evrgreenjhawk
May 30th 2008, 03:14 AM
You're concern is to protect the fellowship of believers. Remember, I'm going back to church. :pp

Hey thats what I thought you said, glad to hear it :spin:

Scubadude
May 30th 2008, 07:07 PM
Nope, most Christians have a hard time making the Word of God their own. They distance themselves from God and do not embrace Him.

It makes me sad that I have to agree. Maybe well meaning christians feel that insisting someone go to church is the same thing as saying you need the Lord? The form has become more important than the function. Fear seems to be at the root of this. The Lord is always more than we think he is, yet many people go to church in an effort to understand Him. What they are left with is a religion that they ultimately control. "If I can say God is _______, than that means I will _______." Just fill in the blanks. If you are struggling with something, what you usually get are the answers from the formula, and your heart is not considered. I think this has something to do with why parishioners have a hard time making God's words their own. His words are made formulaic, and people are personal.



If you take the time to look at those God called in the Old testament you can't find a bigger group of derelicts.
Women, Murderers,con-men.. and who is anyone but God to judge.

I wouldn't say that being a woman naturally makes you a derelict. :rofl: Although, the one I'm married to is a natural born instigator. ;) She likes to keep my neatly organized categories in a jumble....... God bless her heart!



On a lighter note, when I lived in Hawaii I went to a home fellowship in Aiea it was biblical and it was sweet and it was family. I've lost touch with the leader but I think he is still on Oahu.

Cool!


I still think the best plate lunch is in alemoana beach park:thumbsup:

MMMMMM! Plate lunch! That park use to be one of my favorite places to go when I was cutting class in high school.

Teke
May 30th 2008, 08:17 PM
Ten years ago this June I talked to the Lord, and He permitted me to stop going to Church. Deciding to start attending again is not a decision that came lightly. I imagine most of you will not think this to be a very big accomplishment, I'm counting on that. I'd like to hear from those of you who are regular Church attenders. No doubt that I've developed some thoughts that are useful and not so useful when it comes to parishioner-hood. So, I'd like to hear different thoughts.

About 13-14 years ago, I had a conversation with a friend. The topic was, "What would Church be like if the people who attended were only the ones who really wanted to be there?" The other side of the argument (his) was that we need a certain level of feeling religious obligation, otherwise we may have a difficult time keeping the Church open. He might say that is an oversimplification of his position.

Hesychasm can be a good thing for a Christian at times in their walk. What I mean by hesychasm is, retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. Sometimes we have to achieve a stillness to hear God's direction.

I attend church regularly, but went through a hesychastic period that led me to eastern Christian thought. Had I not been in that still quiet state, I doubt I would have heard God amidst all the things of the world which effect our senses, and which even happens to us in church. That "still" period lasted five years and included much prayer and study. Which was not so much for me to gain knowledge, but to still all else to hear the Spirit leading.

Some of the greatest Christian literature I've read, was simplistic writings by desert dwelling fathers of the church. Even Jesus left all and went into the desert alone.


My wife and I have chosen a nice little Lutheran Church. We already know a few people who attend there, so we've joined them on occasion. I would greatly appreciate your prayers, and be able to bounce some more thoughts off you all as I go.

In Christ,
Kevin

Bounce on. Much love and prayer to you and your wife in your journey with Him. :hug:

merjorg
May 30th 2008, 09:14 PM
"If I can say God is _______, than that means I will _______." Just fill in the blanks. If you are struggling with something, what you usually get are the answers from the formula, and your heart is not considered. I think this has something to do with why parishioners have a hard time making God's words their own. His words are made formulaic, and people are personal.

I'm glad you said this, Scuba dude! I am very much an introvert. I love to stay in and read (oh, the books! I'm devouring them at a rate of speed I never thought possible...lol), study, and develop my personal relationship with God. When I first got saved everyone was telling me, "You have to go to church!" I had read "The Purpose Driven Life", which is a simple read, but it showed me some good reason why I SHOULD be in church. So, I went. A year-and-a-half later, I have developed some good friendships - a couple deep, God-centered friendships and a lot more friendships that aren't as deep, but that are fun and enriching for me nonetheless. I still go in, sit in the back (by myself, unless I've invited someone or a friend urges me to sit with them), and leave right after service, and I serve/volunteer in the church in different capacities on other days.

What's amazing to me though is this: That hour-and-a-half that I'm there every week is absolutely my favorite part of the week. I love it. I can't wait for it. The music, the worship, the feeling of being in a place filled with my brothers and sisters - my family, the unity in that place, the oustanding messages that bring my studying/reading to life ("Hey...what I read last night has really happened to our pastor!), soaking up the experiences of others who have walked with God far longer than I have, the opportunity to hear something preached and to question it based on my readings, seeing how we all fit into the body in so many different ways, etc, etc.

With all that said, I believe God has given me the freedom to not "have to" go every single weekend. By no means do I feel that He says to me, "Don't forget about church, now!" Not at all. But, the home He has planted me in is truly awesome - even for the introvert who, 8 times out of 10, sneaks out the door after service. :P

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Scuba Dude! I'm glad you shared how you were able to grow, learn, and maintain (or enhance) that all-important intimate relationship with God for many years, while not attending church. All in all, my experience (be it short) has been that I can have all the alone time with God that you talk about and still go to church. I find many more reasons to go than not to go.

merjorg
May 30th 2008, 09:59 PM
I guess I kind of contradicted myself in talking about the "unity" of the place and then saying that I sneak out the door. What I mean by unity is that everyone kind of looks out for one another, the atmosphere is very welcoming, joyous, and genuine. Hulk Hogan might say, "I feeeeeeeeeel the love, brotha!"

Jerome1
May 31st 2008, 02:16 AM
You ask a lot of good questions. Let me ask you, how do you think I could have handled this situation better? And, why are you convinced that that would have been a better path for me to follow? I'm willing to be wrong.



I don't doubt that God can lead people in a different direction, but just because you felt he was calling you out of that particular church, doesn't mean he wanted you to stop attending all together.

I very rarely miss church, usually if i'm not feeling well. I feel i owe it to God to at least give him forty or so minutes out of my week to go to church. I myself stayed away from church for a long time.

I was baptised a RC and started to read a lot of material and pray for discernment. I started to go to church again, and now realise the importance of attending regularly. It is also a useful witness for those that don't attend church.

1of7000
May 31st 2008, 03:48 AM
I wouldn't say that being a woman naturally makes you a derelict. :rofl: Although, the one I'm married to is a natural born instigator. ;) She likes to keep my neatly organized categories in a jumble....... God bless her heart!

I'm sure you know, but for the benefit of our viewing audience women in the Old Testament were considered slightly higher in the food chain than pigs and dogs but still below camels and cows. Today the culture is much different and women have attained much higher esteem.

And I'm stopping there because I see I have started a very nice hole for myself. :help:

Scubadude
May 31st 2008, 04:58 AM
And I'm stopping there because I see I have started a very nice hole for myself. :help:


:lol:

You're crack'in me up!