Archive | Christianity

Topics of interest relating to Christianity, apologetics, the church and more (from a biblical perspective.)

Exegeting Proverbs 18:22 (How I misread the meaning of “find”)

When it comes to finding a wife, I was using Proverbs 18:22 as proof positive of the belief that I needed to exert as much effort as I could to successfully find a woman worthy of marrying (and who saw me worthy of marrying too.)  I pulled this verse out again when having an argument with a dear friend who said I needed to learn how to wait on the LORD instead of taking matters into my own hands, using it once more to refute my friend’s point.

But then I went back and re-read the verse carefully, and for the first time I realized I had been too presumptuous about the meaning of the word “find.”  According to Hebrew’s lexicon, the word here is matsa’ (transliterated), and carries a variety of related meanings (based on the Hebrew tense Qal):

  • to find, secure, acquire, get (thing sought)
  • to meet, encounter
  • to learn, devise
  • to come upon, light upon
  • to happen upon, meet, fall in with
  • to befall

What the word indicated more than anything else was a state of discovery, yet I misinterpreted “find” to mean “to actively seek after,” which was NOT what the verse was indicating at all.  Had the writer meant whoever actively sought after a wife would find a good thing, he likely would have used the word “baqash” instead, which is translated, “to seek to find.”

After all, one can find or discover something without actually looking for it.  I had completely read the verse wrong.

So does this mean I should no longer actively seek a wife?  No, I don’t think I’d agree with that either, it only means I no longer have the biblical justification I thought I once did to comb the entire world until I finally find my bride to be.

Some things really are better left up to God to handle, especially when it pertains to something as life changing and important as marriage.  But rather than go from one extreme to the other (from exerting all human effort to meet someone, to hiding out in the closet and expecting the world to be handed to me), it’s better that I focus on renewing my faith in the LORD’s promises to give to those who ask of Him, and mentally preparing myself to be a good husband and friend to whoever God sees fit to bring into my life.  Beyond that there’s no use fretting over things that I ultimately have no control over.

How churches today abandoned the Christian single

During the time that I attended a service in Colorado, I noticed a few curious things that had me pondering about the state of Christian singles today and how churches treat them.  There were so many groups and ministries that were specifically tailored for couples, families, children, men’s groups, women’s groups and youth groups, but virtually nothing for singles.  Typically the singles group would really be the youth groups: teenagers or college students who are just getting started with life, and even then the central focus isn’t about pairing people together for marriage, but social endeavors to keep the young people happy and staying in church.  And when they stay, they can also be utilized as cheap labor for church projects.  It’s win-win (for the church that is).

We have a culture that promotes and provides an infinite variety of venues for short-term dating, hook-ups and flings, and yet the churches offer virtually nothing to counter that.  They simply refuse or fail to take a more proactive role in helping singles get married, when in fact it should be one of its major priorities.

Why is it so important for Christians to get married?  Marriage provides the training ground to breed new leaders and caretakers for the body of Christ.  We read over and over again that a man cannot effectively lead the church unless he has first had the experience of raising and leading his own family.  Women likewise are more effective caretakers and nurturers because of the experience of raising their own children.  A marriage and family successfully functioning as one cohesive unit provides the skillset needed to run a church as one cohesive unit.

Our enemy (Satan) is well aware of this.  That is why he seeks to destroy these cohesive units wherever he can find them.  If he finds a single, he will try to keep that person single.  If he finds a marriage, he will try to destroy it.  If he finds a church serving Christ as one effectual body, he will introduce cliques to fragment that body and severely weaken its collective power.  Our enemy is all about creating dissension, schisms, cliques and divisions.  Divide and destroy.

For the single, the potential threat of them becoming leaders and a powerful force within the church is removed for as long as they remain single.  In spite of the growing number of singles we are seeing today, rarely does the church ever consider that they may be existing in an unnatural state.  The presumption is that God hasn’t meant for them to get married “at that time,” so rather than find them spouses, singles are instead pushed to do missions, missions, and more missions.  Marrying early, despite no biblical sources to support their premises, is strongly discouraged.  Young women are not urged to marry, but do missions, and if God means for them to have a husband, they’ll find one when the “time is right.”  The idea of marriage is then put off indefinitely, with the focus instead on supporting church projects, ministries and outreaches.  It occurs to very few that there may be little wisdom in perpetuating a lifestyle where both man and woman would have to resist and abide by a constant burn for intimacy and marriage for literally years without relief.

In the meantime, we have singles being given leadership roles within the church that they have no business taking on.  The result are amateurs without a strong marital foundation and the needed experience to draw from to effectively lead the congregation.  (Even David had his lions and bears before he finally confronted Goliath.)  They are novices, and true to the warnings of Scripture, they become lifted up with pride and fall under condemnation.

And yet, the singles crisis is often ignored because it’s couched in the veil of good works.  After all, what could be wrong with putting off marriage just for a little while longer to serve the church?  What’s wrong with a single going on missions and feeding hungry children in Africa and witnessing to the lost? Is this not a sign of true holiness and proof they are putting ahead the interest of the kingdom of heaven ahead of their own interests and happiness?

Except that, it flies right in the face of Paul’s numerous instructions on running the church, where marriage is prioritized before members can begin taking more active roles.  And while he speaks of the virtues of being single, he clearly expressed that this was his own opinion and not God’s, and described singlehood as a gift.  If a man has no necessity, then and only then is he is encouraged by Paul not to marry.  Any man who burns however would not be able to serve God without distraction, precisely the advantage he was supposed to have if God had truly granted him such a gift.  This is the key distinction that too many churches gloss over.  They must be confronted with the reality that there are many Christian singles in the church who remain that way OUTSIDE of the will of God, not because of it.

But rather than prayerfully consider whether the single is single by the gift of God or is merely existing in an unnatural state, the churches instead exploit them.  Without a spouse or children of their own, such singles offer much time to volunteer and money to give.  It is simply not in the church’s own financial/materialistic interest to see such a single get married.  And thus, off to missions they go.

So programmed have members become to this way of thinking that we have a generation of Christian men riddled with guilt and frustration at the lack of prospects and a generation of women who rate their holiness not in having a successful marriage, but in the number of mission trips they embark on.

And yet notably there is another group that eerily shared this same trait: the ceaseless effort to travel thousands and thousands of miles to make a convert in the faith.  They were called Pharisees.

Churches have focused outward, and as a result have ignored the dead bones within.  Singles who remain true in the faith are being left behind, treated as pariahs and exploited for selfish purposes.  The time will come when judgment will begin, not with the lost or in the huts of India, but within the house of God itself.  May the churches consider their ways before then, and repent accordingly.

Why I will probably never attend church services again

Before leaving Colorado I decided to attend Sunday service at Springs Church, headed by Gary Wilkerson, who is the son of the famous David Wilkerson.  David Wilkerson was one of the few Christian voices I truly trusted before he passed away, but I believed his son was equally as passionate and would continue giving out the red meat of the Word that I was looking for.

I walked into the former auto mall that housed the church to find a few booths here and there, one offering plant sales, another offering coffee, and a few more offering signups for community outreaches and the like.  At least I think they did, as I wasn’t really paying attention.

I continued inside the auditorium and sat down just as the contemporary worship music began, led by a group of teenagers basking in the ambiance of glowing lights and smoke (there may or may not have been a smoke machine.)  Instead of feeling compelled to worship, I kept getting the urge to find a cigarette lighter and lift it over my head.

Rock on, Jesus!

Rock on, Jesus!

Maybe I’m getting old, but I didn’t like the idea of following the lead of teenagers with a worshiping style that was so obviously designed to cater to their generation (while ignoring everyone else.)  Ah well.  With worship a bust, I sat back to pretty much observe how the rest of the service would play out.

After the loop of songs ended, a woman got on stage and started talking about community circles (an updated spin on cell groups common to large churches.)  She was the “communities pastor,” and while she was talking the only thing that sprang to my mind was,  “Wow, she’s got some great looking legs there…”

Seriously, I’m a dude, you don’t think I’m gonna notice this? Even my mother complained that her attire was inappropriate, but then my mom represents a backward, primitive generation that isn’t hip and happening like the more enlightened, forward-thinking youths of today, so what does she know. /sarcasm

Anyway, she says a prayer, gets off stage, and the jumbo-tron comes to life, with a bouncy looking youth pastor (yet another woman) reminding the congregation of a few events that would be taking place in the next few weeks, and don’t forget about the youth group meeting every Thursday night too!  (She says, in an especially blonde sounding voice.)  Apparently everyone’s a pastor here, and half of them are women.  Awesome.

Finally the sermon began, and I was disappointed to see it wasn’t Gary Wilkerson giving the sermon, but some jeans sporting guy I didn’t know from Adam.  Because of my hearing difficulties I could barely follow along, but what little I did hear sounded like cotton candy fluff to me.  Something about beautiful stories and hidden stories and not to share every detail of your life to the world, or some such thing.  It might have a been a good sermon really, to be fair, but a combination of fatigue in trying to follow what he was saying, along with the urge to get out of there finally had me tuning out before long.

After the sermon was over and the service concluded, people RAN to their own little social circles to yak it up, and I took a few minutes to continue sitting back to watch people as they clumped together into cliques, with the thought that this was all very much starting to look like high school to me.

The social barriers here were beyond silly.  I wanted to consider this church (or any church I visited really) as my extended family, and within that family I would not only find true believers to fellowship with, but also eventually meet the girl I could someday call my wife.  After all, it’s not like I’m gonna find a devout Christian girl sitting in a hotel bar (except possibly by divine intervention.)

The one saving grace was the men’s prayer group I attended a few days before, where it was much easier to break the ice and talk directly to others as well as making prayer requests.  Sad that despite this being a church of over 1,000 members, only 3 MEN showed up for this weekly meeting.  Figures.

As small as it was, their prayers on my behalf were still enough to give me the good news I was hoping for regarding a close friend of mine.  It occurred to me that I’d be better off bypassing the usual Sunday services altogether, and just showing up for the smaller meetings instead, whether it was a men’s prayer group or a “communities” circle, or an outreach ministry, or whatever.

That’s probably wishful thinking though, as I rather suspect if I had stuck around on a regular basis, I’d be banging heads before long, questioning the structure of the church, the hierarchy, the endless splintering of small community circles that I think actually hurts the church body more than helps it, the improper exegesis of Scripture, the corporate worship style that shamelessly panders to the youth, the fact that women should not be taking on pastoral titles or most other leadership roles, and on and on.  There are elements about modern churches today that have become so predictable in tone and format that any Christian today who watches this parody is probably going to understand exactly why it’s so hilarious (and sad at the same time.)

I can’t be a part of that, and if I tried, I would still feel the disconnect, the ovewhelming sense that I don’t really belong.  For now, the wilderness will continue to be my home.

Losing a Shepherd

Pastor David Wilkerson SmilesI originally wrote this in 2011, but posting it again here to honor David Wilkerson’s memory on the anniversary of his death.

Taking a break from my normal blogging after receiving the heartbreaking news that my favorite pastor, David Wilkerson has passed away.  He died in a fatal car accident 85 miles outside of Dallas.

David Wilkerson’s ministry was the inspiration behind the book and subsequent movie, The Cross and the Switchblade many years ago, but I knew him more for his more recent works and Times Square Church Pulpit series newsletters, written sermons I’d receive every three weeks by mail. These newsletters did more to feed my soul than any church ever could.

In a time when we have used car salesmen like Rick Warren teaching fluff and polluting the gospel into a marketing campaign, Wilkerson was one of the precious few who told the hard truth, about the need for repentance, about turning away from sin, about trusting in God for all things, and that suffering and afflictions were in reality a large part of the Christian walk, despite what prosperity teachers might otherwise tell you.

I could count on one hand the voices in modern day Christendom that I could trust explicitly, and now one of those voices is gone.  It’s despairing to consider the loss of somebody who’s had such a profound impact on my life, and I wonder, what do we do now?  Who can I trust to feed me the word of God wholly and uncompromised in Pastor Wilkerson’s stead?

Indeed, many of the stalwarts in Christianity that I’ve grown to admire all my life are now in their twilight years, and I fear to think of what will happen once they pass on.  We seem to be fast approaching a time when there will be no left to preach and teach the true gospel of Christ.

My prayers are with Wilkerson’s family, and for the speedy recovery of David Wilkerson’s wife.  May God grant them much needed peace during this time of grief, and take comfort in knowing that he is now in the company of prophets and angels.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

Clicky

%d bloggers like this: