You should come to church to “give” and not to “get”

Years ago when we were visiting a large and well-endowed fundamentalist church here in Greenville, South Carolina, the Sunday school teacher went on a bit of a tirade about how wrong it was to come to church to “get.”

“You’re only supposed to come to church to GIVE,” he rebuked us. He went on to express his disgust with people who come to church wanting something, Continue reading “You should come to church to “give” and not to “get””

When “moral failure” is redefined as “you didn’t submit to church authority”: thoughts on the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal

I’ve been trying to follow the implosion going on in the James MacDonald mega-ministry world, with one person after another from his church speaking out about his alleged arrogance, mismanagement of funds, lack of accountability, deception, foul jokes, threats and intimidation, and other alleged behavior that seems very much opposed to what he teaches and would, if true, disqualify one from being an elder of a church if not cause one to be subject to criminal charges. Continue reading “When “moral failure” is redefined as “you didn’t submit to church authority”: thoughts on the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal”

The secret to living a life that pleases God

Some time back when I guest blogged on a friend’s website, I aroused some controversy (which is no news now, but at that time it was unusual). Though the topic was whether or not church attendance is pleasing to God, the underlying question was one I had thought about, pondered, and prayed over many times and much over the past months and years:

How can I please God in my day-to-day life? Continue reading “The secret to living a life that pleases God”

Looking for “evidences of grace” in the life of an abuser

A friend described to me how her church did marriage counseling: the married couple had been told to come up with a list of “evidences of grace” that they saw in each other’s lives.

We were to say them out loud in front of each other and the elders meeting with us. They were, after all, constantly reminding us that Scripture called us to “believe the best” of each other, and this exercise was meant to help us do that.

I went first. Wanting them to see that I wasn’t bitter and really did love my husband, I came up with a long list of everything I could think of: Continue reading “Looking for “evidences of grace” in the life of an abuser”

The vision of James MacDonald, mega-church pastor who sues bloggers’ wives

Conservative evangelical bloggers are discussing what I believe is a first: a megachurch pastor is suing not only bloggers who are publishing criticisms of him and his work, but the wives of those bloggers, as well as a news reporter who is working on a story about him but hasn’t even published it yet.

So . . . of course I’m intrigued.

The pastor is James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area and head of a church planting enterprise. Continue reading “The vision of James MacDonald, mega-church pastor who sues bloggers’ wives”

What place does “striving” have in sanctification? A response to Heath Lambert

This is Part 3 of 3. You can read Part 1 here. You can read Part 2 here.

Recap

In yesterday’s post, I quoted Heath Lambert as saying that sanctification involves striving and moral effort (trying to be good). My contention, and that of others, is that our sanctification, godliness, holiness, power over sin, and pleasing God are all taken care of in Jesus (His perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and seating), and we have no striving to do to accomplish it; we are only to look to Him in faith for all these things to be accomplished.

But Lambert uses several Bible verses to support his point (laid out in Part 2), so it’s important to look at them all. Here they are, with my commentary. Continue reading “What place does “striving” have in sanctification? A response to Heath Lambert”

Reconciling the “resting” and the “striving,” with some thoughts from Heath Lambert

This is Part 2 of 3. In Part 1, I expressed the consternation I had experienced over Scriptures about “resting” and “striving” that seemed like they didn’t fit with each other.

So what do those “resting” verses really mean?

The Lord used several means to help me in my understanding: my Bible studies—especially Galatians, Romans, and Colossians—a sermon, and some key books. Even though I didn’t understand at that time the importance of asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the Scriptures, still He had mercy on me.

The resting (in case you had as much trouble getting it as I did) is NOT about becoming a couch potato, lol. Continue reading “Reconciling the “resting” and the “striving,” with some thoughts from Heath Lambert”

Struggling with “striving”: When should I strive and when should I rest?

My despair

Back in 1994 when I was studying Leviticus (because it was my wilderness book), I wrote this in the margin at Leviticus chapter 2 (the boldface is added now):

II Peter 1:4 says that we as believers should be “partakers of the divine nature.” This passage shows the priests literally partaking of that which represents the divine nature of our lovely Lord. Then that bread of life becomes a part of us and we are influenced and strengthened by it. In all these ways mentioned, we should be striving to be like Him: the sweet-smelling life, the full anointing by the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of His sufferings. How far, how far I have to go!

Do you hear the wailing in my voice? Continue reading “Struggling with “striving”: When should I strive and when should I rest?”

Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part two)

Recently Tim Challies wrote a two-part blog series about the ninth commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”), what can be seen here and here. Part one of my response was posted yesterday. Today I’m continuing to respond to the questions he asks that he says are prompted by the ninth commandment. Continue reading “Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part two)”