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Monday, June 25, 2012

Short Term Mission Trips: A Change in Perspective

I came across this article the other day, just as I was thinking of posting my thoughts on short-term mission trips. But there it was, better written than anything I could do. I agree whole-heartedly with the content, and almost everything it mentions was exactly what I wanted to say, except they said it better. Please take a look into this new perspective on short-term mission trips. If you'd like to hear my thoughts expounded on the topic, I'll be glad to write about it at a later date. Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short Term Mission Trip

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Problem With The Reformed Church

Today I have a controversial topic that I want to address concerning the Reformed church, also the denomination I am currently affiliated with. First of all, I have nothing personal against the Reformed church in their doctrine, as far as I can tell. I still don’t understand all the 5 pts. of Calvinism, and therefore adhere to only four. Yet I’m not going to pick on their doctrine, rather what has been on my heart lately and what I have observed from reformed churches. I’ve been to quite a few reformed churches, not just one or two, quite a few. I was formerly an Independent Baptist as well. So when my family made the switch to a reformed church due to Biblical convictions, which I also am in full agreement with, I noticed a major difference. Baptists tend to have brimstone and hell-fire preaching. They preach with great conviction, earnestness, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s very obvious. They sing hymns with gusto and tears. There’s a sincerity to the whole thing. Stepping out from that to a reformed church was a bit of a shock. All of the reformed churches sang with a lack of emotion, like a drone of people singing because they had to. The preaching is not preaching at all; it’s teaching. Reformed preachers just explain the Scriptures; there’s no conviction in it. They never apply the Scripture to our own lives or reveal the sin present within our lives. There’s no life in the service, but there certainly is a vivacity to teach the congregation about Theology. And that’s what bothers me the most. And that is why I believe the reformed church is largely dead. Yes, I said it: Dead. There’s no life in the singing or preaching. And I tend to wonder, “Why?”. As I took a step back, I realized why. Yes, knowing what you believe in is great! Yes, understanding large Theological terms like exegesis and eisegesis are great as well. But that’s just it. That’s all the Reformed church is concerned about. They’re so focused on the head knowledge, that they’ve completely missed the heart knowledge, thus leading to the lack of life in their services. The same goes with the Baptists. They’re so focused on heart knowledge, head knowledge is thrown aside. Heart knowledge is probably the best of both worlds, as it is inclined to focus on prayer and Bible reading- knowing God personally and intimately. Yet at the same time, there are downfalls to neglecting the head knowledge in understanding one’s own Theology. If you cannot explain what you believe in or why, you’re headed down a dangerous path. Knowing why you believe what you believe grounds you in your faith so you don’t waver. Heart knowledge and head knowledge should be balanced out equally. This is more so disturbing in the Reformed church, as lack of heart knowledge has caused the church to be dead. Nobody talks about how to develop a prayer life or about spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis. Nobody talks about getting rid of the sin of pride, lust, anger, impatience, or greed. Nobody talks about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and how powerful it can be. Nobody talks about the joy that a Christian can have just in growing closer to God. And it seems nobody understands that. When I look around at the people in the Reformed church I wonder, “Have they ever overflowed with abundant joy over the fact that God saved them? Do they know that Christians can be overflowing with the Holy Spirit? Have they ever felt that before? Do they know just how wonderful that is? Have they ever felt so close to God that nothing else on earth matters?”. I wonder that and many things. I lament over this imbalance in the church. So I’m writing about this today, hoping others will see this and realize this. Realize that when a non-believer walks into your Reformed church on Sunday morning, what do they see? Do they see someone who is bored, emotionless, and just like them? Or do they actually see the power of the Holy Spirit? I don’t know about you, but I want to the best of both worlds- heart and head knowledge. I want the power of the Holy Spirit to be moving in the preacher as God works/ed in Tony Evans, Leonard Ravenhill, Paul Washer, and Paris Reidhead’s preaching. I want to be so convicted I am disgusted with my sin. I want to know God intimately. I want my life to be so drastically different that it is desirable. And I want the Reformed church to be an example. Let’s step up and change the estate of the Reformed church today. Let’s not be like the church in Revelation- "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. (Rev 3:1-2 ESV)