Where do I Belong?

I've just recently read a 2 part posting of why a man had left a particular denomination in search of a "church" that was more suitable to his liking. He gave a brief description, in part one,
of his attendance to various schools in the persuit of a pastorial position, but decided not to enter that arena of "employment". In part two of his posting he describes in short detail many different "plegues" of today's "chruch". The end result of his "search" has been that he "landed" at a doctrine/denomination that even there he is not sure of.

Here is the issues that I would like to address and pray that he & others could gain better insight from.

Shame: the author mentioned twice of being ashamed of himself. One for having spent the better part of 10 years "searching" for a church. He feel the constant leaving on to try another could harm his family's walk with the Lord. The second, he stated that he was ashamed for his own personal traits of having a "check-list" (my words, not his) to gauge the various churches by. My response to this issue of shame or feeling ashamed is this; shame is an attack of Satan. We all know the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. They hid themselves from God because they were "ashamed". If you are the high preist of you home, as the Word of God describes, then your family will be ministered to. As for being ashamed of one's self, you are made in the image and likeness of God Himself, and He knew you before you even born. With this ever in our mind, as children of the Most High God, being ashamed of ourselves would be equal to being ashamed of our Father in Heaven.

Check-Lists: In regaurd to the afore mentioned "check-list", I'd say that it is my belief that even when Jesus Himself came to this earth and began His ministry there was many of the same issues this author mentioned. The twelve diciples were the first of the church to jocky for positions, think more highly of themselves, loose faith, doubt Jesus and, yes, even betray their leader. We can't fool ourselves into thinking that today's church would not have the same issues. When we resolve to attend services at a church to first receive God's word, from a pastor that is grounded in Biblical truth, and then owe no man anything other than to love him, as we love ourselves, we could then grow our own faith in God. Hopefully this would inspire others in the same.

Everything else: Now I would like to focus on the issues of denomination, searching for a church and even weather or not one should seek the "profession" of being a pastor. Scripture tells us that God directs the steps of a righteous man. I am NOT trying to say or imply that the author is not a righteous man. All are righteous who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. What I would like to impress to you is that no where in either of the two posts did the author mention, or even imply, his decissions were reached through thoughtful prayer. I have learned that when faced with life's decissions the ones that have turned out to be most benifical for me, and my family, have been the result of asking God to guide me. I may not receive the answer as fast as I would like. I may not even receive the answer I would like (at the time). But, when I receive the answer that God gives me and I am obedient to that answer, I have peace. A wise woman in the Lord once told me and my wife (we were facing a huge decission) to follow peace as a plumb line. That is to say, before making a final decission, weigh all the options, pray and the option that brings peace to our heart is probably the best.

As children of God, we should seek our Father in all things. Ask Him for guidance and obey Him when He answers. Give Him the glory, even in the times of testing. Look at others the same as the Father look at us, even with our faults. Know that it is His grace that has saved us. His grace that will keep us. His grace that we receive and then give freely to others. I read a quote that truely made a profound impact on my life and would like to share it with you. "God's providence will not place you where His grace cannot keep you." I do not remember the author of that quote, but for the quote I want to leave with you is from the Apostle Paul. "May the grace and peace of Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Interesting set of questions here.

First, I think the shame of Eden was actually a gift. The attack of Satan was the deception that encouraged them to disobey. The shame was their sense of the truth: they stood before God wicked and condemned. Seeing that truth prepared them to accept God's mercy. So shame/guilt is usually a necessary precursor to repentance.
(2Cor.7:10, James 4:9-10)
That said, I do think that Satan uses lingering shame and guilt to harm us. Once we have faced the truth and repented, shame/guilt has no place. Did http://sharperiron.org/article/get-guilt-out-of-way ]some writing about that here a few years ago and republished last year.

Second, the checklist. I can't see how anyone can avoid using them or what the point would be avoiding that. I mean, a formal written list might usually be unnecessary, but people have to find a congregation that mostly shares their beliefs and practices. The selection of a church obviously can't be just random. Sometimes people think that "rational" is inherently incompatible with "spiritual"--like the Holy Spirit is limited to operating in mysterious, intuitive ways. Scripture doesn't teach that.

About seeking pastoral service. Desiring the office and pursuing it partly out of that desire is sanctioned in Scripture. 1 Tim.3:1

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jimmy Anderson's picture

I do agree that shame and guilt are precursors to repentance, but I don't think I could convience myself to believe an attack from Satan is a "gift". The only gift that lies here is that of God's mercy we receive in asking for forgiveness. Isaiah 54 tells us that in the absence of God there is shame, but with Him and His mercy, there is no shame.

My belief of having a check-list, written or mental, is an indication that I trust me to make better decisions than God. (Isa. 55:8) Furthermore, your reference to 1 Tim.3:1 is not the issue. The issue is more of the case found in 1 Cor. 12:18. It is a worthy desire to minister the word of God, but one should have that call on his/her life. I think that it is just as wrong to not enter a pastorial postion when God wants you there as it is to be a pastor not of God's calling.

God did give man the ability to reason. It is with this reason that we, as believers, do follow God's will for our lives. 2Cor.10:5 With this in mind, if we look to God for direction, and are obedient to His guidance, where is the "random"?

A fellow soldier for our LORD, Jesus Christ.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just to clarify, no, I wouldn't call an attack from Satan a gift either.
Guilt, though, is usually conscience making us aware that we've sinned. It's gift to have that knowledge.

2Cor.10.5 is about casting down ideas that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God--taking them captive to Christ. It's not encouraging us to avoid reasoning. Where the randomness comes in is if we don't make choices based on principles and reflection on likely results.

Prov 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.
Pr 14:15 The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.

In short, God encourages us to use the minds He has given us to discern. Though we are seeking His direction, we don't find it by getting a gut feeling or feeling a peace, etc. We do it by pursuing wisdom and thinking.

Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

1Cor.12.18 is true, of course, but 1Tim.3.1 is still there. I think the Timothy passage assumes a man who is committed to serving the Lord. The result is that if he has a desire to seek the office, it's likely the desire itself is a reflection of giftedness/"calling." This isn't always the case, though, which is why there are lists of qualifications for elders/pastors in the pastoral epistles.

Occasionally, I've encountered someone who had the desire to preach, for example, but even after years of training showed no facility for it.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jimmy Anderson's picture

I did go and read your earlier posting concerning guilt. I also reread our previous conversations posted here. I feel that you and I agree for the most part. What I would like to know is do you agree or disagree with the last paragraph of the original post. (reposted below)

"As children of God, we should seek our Father in all things. Ask Him for guidance and obey Him when He answers. Give Him the glory, even in the times of testing. Look at others the same as the Father look at us, even with our faults. Know that it is His grace that has saved us. His grace that will keep us. His grace that we receive and then give freely to others. I read a quote that truely made a profound impact on my life and would like to share it with you. "God's providence will not place you where His grace cannot keep you." I do not remember the author of that quote, but for the quote I want to leave with you is from the Apostle Paul. "May the grace and peace of Lord Jesus Christ be with you."

My goal is not to give offense to anyone here. But rather help others with what I myself am learning. That is that God's grace and favor and blessing and eternal love should be the goal of understanding. I'm not sure, but I would think that the first question one should ask, when another tells of "searching for something", is have you prayed about it? That is to say, Have you searched out God's will? God has given us the ability to reason, and I would be the last to suggest that one leave an important decision such as what church to attend simply to chance. But, as I stated in the original post, the author did not ever mention that he had given "prayerful" consideration to any of his choices. I believe the scriptures say to seek first the Kingdom of God and all other things will be added unto you.

A fellow soldier for our LORD, Jesus Christ.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
What I would like to know is do you agree or disagree with the last paragraph of the original post. (reposted below)

I agree with the gist of it. There are a couple of items in it I'm not sure I'd embrace. I'm hesitant to say that we give God's grace to others. Depends on what's meant by that I guess. Certainly God gives edifying grace through believers.
I don't see anything else there I'd differ with.

The problem I occasionally encounter with people's understanding of God's guidance is that they get to thinking God is only guiding when the guidance comes to us in a non-rational form. That is, they tend to think that if they have reasoned it out, it's not from God but if it came to them intuitively or in some unexplainable way, or they "felt" it, it must be from God.

There are two problems with that:

  1. Scripture does not teach that God is unable or unwilling to guide our reasoning (in fact, we're urged to pray for, and expect to receive "wisdom" and, in Proverbs, "wisdom" involves doing a good bit of thinking. James 1:5).
  2. Scripture does not teach that feelings/intuitions/unexplainable stuff in general must be from God. These can be "our own" just as surely as reasoning can be.

    I think the key is understanding that God is able to guide and speak to us (or "use") what we think of as "our own" thoughts or "our own" understanding. I'm using quotes there because we get confused about what "our own" means, too, in certain contexts.
    Prov.3:5 - "your own understanding" refers to understanding that we exercise outside the context of seeking God's wisdom.
    Isaiah 55:9 - When God says "my thoughts are not as your thoughts," etc. in Isaiah, He is speaking--in the context--of the thoughts of the wicked (see Is.55:7). Of course, His thoughts are always higher than those of any of His creatures, but in Isaiah, the passage is a call to repentance put in terms of how wicked thinking is contrary to God's thinking.

    Short version: God is able to guide us. When He does and we're receptive to it, "our own" thinking is in harmony with His.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.