Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Parable of the Bronze Serpent

Once upon a time, the Most High God, the Creator of all that is, bestowed promises and blessings on a people. Having rescued them from a life of bondage and oppression, He sent His messengers before them with many signs and wonders, giving them food and water, and victory in battle. Yet, the journey was long and difficult in the eyes of the people, because they could only see jagged rocks and barren land. They had never seen the land to which they were heading and many times thought that this barren wasteland would be their fate. As they drew near to the promised land, their way was blocked so that they had to take another more difficult path. Disappointed and angry, they grumbled against the Most High God and despised His provisions, biting and blaspheming against the hand that fed them. In return, the Most High sent serpents to hiss and bite at them. Realizing their sin, the people repented and confessed their sins. The Most High then instructed that a serpent made of bronze be placed on a pole to save all who were afflicted by a serpent bite, because the bite was deadly. When a person who had been bit beheld the sign of their sin and affliction, that person would live.

Soon the people entered the land and they carried with them that bronze serpent. They became a prosperous and mighty nation in a good and bountiful land, as the Most High had promised. Yet, they exchanged the glory of the Most High for images and created things, including that very sign of His grace, the bronze serpent on the pole. So, the Most High cast those people out of His sight, reducing their kingdom to little more than a memory.

Hundreds of years later, The Most High again returned His people to that special land. They dwelled in the land and the holy place of the Most High was rebuilt. A voice cried out, calling that people to repentance, which many did; Having rescued them from bondage and oppression, a sign was given to them, which like that bronze serpent would cause those who looked to it to live. The Most High not only sent healing and relief through the new sign, but instruction also. Although the instructions were not new instructions, those who looked to and listened to the sign began to be called by its name. The Most High sent His messengers before them, and worked great miracles through those people. In time, however, some who were looking to this sign began to forsake the Most High who gave this sign of grace for the sign itself, and they too worshiped as their god the created rather than the Most High God, the Creator of all that is.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on Empty Pews...

You may think that the things I wrote about in my last post are limited to one or two congregations, that I base my observations on very limited experience. My husband and I, however, regularly encounter all sorts of congregations as a result of my husband's vocation. Our encounters are not even limited to one denomination, although the majority are mainline protestant. Only a very few groups exhibit a wholehearted passion for their Creator and Savior.

Too many people are only putting in their payment for the Jesus Christ insurance policy. Those who have become insurance salesmen have been trained how to illicit a positive response. Effective ones can draw hundreds, even thousands of individuals to come forward in an alter call. I have seen nearly whole audiences walk forward. Yet, I know that most of those people did so because they are only acting out what they think someone is expecting of them, they were following the cues in the script. The ones who are genuinely giving their lives to God at those times are often left without support and guidance; like babies left on a sidewalk, they don't know how to find sustanence and die for lack of love.

Every Sunday people go to churches and put on a show. They smile and shake hands, sing a few songs, nod their heads (some in sleepiness, some in response to someone's command), meanwhile inside their hearts they have personal struggles, questions, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety that remains. There is also a sense of guilt that people carry as they think that something must be wrong with them for having these feelings. Afterall, no-one else who has this insurance policy feels that way right? And so, most people pretend that they have the perfect Christian life and home. The difficulties of real life are never addressed and people go home no better off than they were before they went.

The church should have two main purposes: the first is to love YHVH with all their hearts, minds and souls; the second is to love one another as Messiah has loved us. Its not about going through the right motions, instead, it is a way of life, an attitude and posture of the heart. The modern church has become religion for the sake of religion. Our devotion should not be to a denomination, a building, or to certain practices, but to YHVH. We need to walk in obedience to Him, not to organizations. When we are facing Him, our lives will become a reflection of Him and a witness to everyone we encounter.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Empty Pews, Missing Generations

Most church organizations that have existed for more than 30 years have a major concern. That major concern is that the majority of their members are over 40 years old, with only a small minority of younger members. Between the efforts to draw in the younger generations(some frequent and extensive, while others as rare as once every few years), members and clergy ponder the age old question: "Why?"

As one both on the inside and on the outside (and falling in that <40 category), I will attempt to shed some light on this matter. First, I say I am on the inside, because there are times when I encounter "church" every day of the week. I am now stuck living literally within the beast until circumstances change (and prayers are answered). I have intimately observed "church" for over 10 years. I was once highly involved for six years, holding a variety of offices/lay positions. Volunteering in such ways consume a large amount of time and energy. While I used time and energy as an excuse when I first began resigning from my numerous 'jobs,' these were somewhat minor issues.

The main reason I left was because I became disgusted. I became disgusted that in the 6 years while I was seeking to learn and to help others learn, only a very small group of people ever signed up for the pastor's bible studies; I was disgusted that while Easter and Christmas were supposedly about Jesus' death and birth, over half the congregation would ask my children what Santa and the Easter bunny brought them, while none told them about Christ; I was disgusted that old buildings are more important than people; and finally, I was disgusted that tradition was more important than faith, truth and love. So, after six years I knew that I would no-longer remain in this man-made society, wrongly called "church," where scripture is only a reminder that Christianity has something to do with God, while paper Easter bunnies are taped up on walls and windows amidst arguing over what kind of tape is proper to use on the sacred walls.

Now, to be fair, I'll also mention a few things that I did like... the few things that gave me hope that perhaps there was a light in all the darkness. There was a very old, but resilient woman who would stand up in the congregation each time she was there, leaning heavily on her cane, who while using all her strength to speak would give praise and glory to her Creator for some blessing, whether small or great, which she received that week. There was the adult sunday school teacher who faithfully attempted to teach and study eventhough there were only 3-5 people who came to class. There were a couple sweet and humble people of faith who sadly were so overwhelmed by church politics and gossip that they had no energy left to take a stand.

This is the grim reality of the state of the "church" today (especially rural churches). I have more to say, but it is late, so I'll probably write some more on this another day.