I'm reading Bronte's Villette and getting ready to study for the Praxis I (taking it Monday...pray for me!!), so of course I need to think of a thousand other things to do :). Don's not here to keep me in line (soccer stuff at Lovett), so here I am, thinking about Bishop Earl Paulk and how crummy the whole thing is.
I'm sure you guys have heard about it: mega church in Dekalb (off Wesley Chapel), been around a long time-- those of us in our 30's might remember the Alpha stickers that high schoolers plastered everywhere...for me, as a little kid, I was so fortunate to have, as the people I wanted to be like, kids who were in high school and totally sold out to the Lord. MAN, I wanted to be like Candace, who was a homecoming queen at Heritage and played softball and had a cool room in the basement of her house, and she drove me to covenant community meetings (our cell groups) and took me to lock-ins and really showed me that THAT was the kind of high schooler I wanted to be. Their big plans were getting as many people crammed into cars on the weekend to go to Alpha, where the music was great, the leader was charismatic, there were skits and tons of other teenagers.... I only went a few times without my folks, who were young believers, too-- I was in elementary school-- but the impression it made on me...cool people were Christians. It was cool to be crazy about Jesus. Today, the opposite seems to battle for the affections of our youth-- you guys have been up against it, the kids in the youth group, the colleges we go to...
But last night, I looked around at the first of what could be some really fun times to make a habit out of. House church. My heart keeps coming back to it-- don't get me wrong: I love our church. It's important that these relationships are strong and the accountability and agelessness of regular churches stay fresh (or get fresh, depending on where you're "at"), but house church...little kids singing, modeling worship-- Cameron feeling the freedom to dance with her little horse in the middle of the room while Matt and Justin taught us some really great songs...Then Keith Keller breaking out the FLUGLE (WHY did I not get a picture of that????)....community. That's what my young heart loved about going to Chapel Hill. Our family found it other places later, and God is good, but my heart is heavy today over the fact that sin such as that could run so rampant, so freely, among leaders who professed to understand the fear of the Lord.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's basically this: the main pastor and his brother (and likely other members of the staff) had ongoing sexual relationships with other younger members in leadership (notably, the girls were often in performance ministry, or some other subservient position administratively...hm...we could break that down, couldn't we?) and manipulated them by telling them that they were serving the Lord. I don't feel like going much further into it-- you can look it up in AJC from this past week if you want, but know that it's not as simplistic as I just made it sound. Because that part's not my point.
If we as believers are not actively pursuing Christ for ourselves and critically analyzing the scriptures and seeking Him for Himself, we cannot hold each other accountable to the extent that we must. Back in the Dark Ages, people were manipulated by church leaders because they could not read the text for themselves--- if the vicar says it's this way, then it must be. Such power. Today, we have the ability, the right and the responsibility to read it for ourselves. You cannot support sex outside of marriage, you cannot support adultery, you cannot support any kind of manipulation with scripture. But combine a charismatic, attractive leader who is not in right relationship with the Lord (and how can you know for sure without discernment?) with a believer with little knowledge of the word looking for a mentor and you have a recipe for trouble. Any day of the week.
So we will study TO SHOW OURSELVES APPROVED. These kinds of things are contributing not only to the excuses of nonbelievers to steer clear of the church, but chasing current believers away. That is not the tragedy-- the tragedy is the fact that there are millions who do not know that Jesus is GOOD and pure and holy and that these things have no place in Him.
Our faith will be shaken by personal difficulties (a sickness, a particularly ugly break-up, problems within significant relationships, a leader who sins, etc.), but we will not be overcome if we are grounded in His very word. Because it should be IN HIM that we live and move and have our being. He will never fail or be exposed as a con. Even if every man on earth should be false, He will always be proven true. So bring your swords tomorrow, prepared to dive head first into Ephesians. I've been studying and am excited!!
PS--- chili cook off (Don is a major contender, but the Elliotts are strong competetors) and wings cook off tomorrow afternoon. Joey and the boys have dragged the couches down to the fellowship hall for the last couple of years, so that might be happening again. It's going to be FUN!!! Hope to see you guys there--Love,Sam