Friday, September 12, 2008

A Stake in the Heart


In May of 2005, thru a series of unexpected happenings, I began to study more carefully into my personal beliefs and understandings of the Bible. My family roots reach down into the soil where Seventh-day Adventism germinated and became anchored. My great great grandparents attended meetings where Ellen White's preaching laid out in graphic detail the images of future destruction. They wanted to be part of the faithful group that stood firm to the end and gladly joined ranks with the remnant. They started an unbroken chain of adherents to the Advent faith that linked me into its culture. I
felt safe in this sanctuary of certainty Four generations of SDA Robersons. My grandfather is the boy in back.that allowed me to 

grow without "worldly" interference. Within its preserve I thrived and prospered. While it kept most of the influences of the world at bay, it was not without internal predators. The people were, after all, humans who left inconsistencies and downright wrongs behind them the way flies leave specks. Some of the picayunish squabbles that resulted simply annoyed me. For those I affected disdain and withheld approval. Other issues seemed so intolerable or grievously in error that I charged them like a crusader riding for reform. Sometimes, increments of change resulted from my crusades. Sometimes I fell off my horse and nursed my wounds; but I kept getting up and trying to effect movement.

My family provenance provided me with the proper credentials to question and challenge the potentially destructive elements from within. We had followed the trend that one of my teachers at Walla Walla College called the "sociogram of Adventism": farmer, minister, doctor. My brother Three generations of SDA Middletons. My mother is the girl with scarf.and I became doctors who had grown up in the home of an Adventist minister whose father was a farmer in Texas. We gathered each evening for "worship" where we heard daily readings from Ellen White. They became so familiar to me that when I closed my eyes, I could conjure up the picture of that group of saints tiptoeing along tightrope mountain trails on their precarious journey to Heaven. I loved the cadence of her language and the rich imagery evoked in my receptive mind by her words. I felt fear-inspired resolve and not a small modicum of comfort in knowing that we were the chosen of God.


Adventism is an interesting proposition. The longer I live, the more complexity I see within its matrix. For much of my life, the church seemed quite monolithic and homogeneous. Perhaps I was just unaware of its mosaic character earlier, but I began seeing the divergence and cracks in the church during the 70's when I was a medical student at Loma Linda University. It was then that Ronald Numbers published the book that placed Southern California at the epicenter of a 6.5 tilt on the Heresy Scale. The relentless aftershocks that followed in succession eclipsed the mother quake both in intensity and magnitude. The resulting shift of the Earth under planet Adventism has spawned revisionism that would have seemed impossible thirty years ago.

In the past two years, the Adventist Church has undergone cosmic repackaging. Writers like Clifford Goldstein have been rewriting history to create a kinder, gentler Adventism. In his Adventism, the historical Investigative Judgment became metaphorical, and its definition a moving target. For Andy Nash, in Adventist Today, the church became "community" first, a place of belonging, an exercise in recovery that encourages the traumatized to tolerantly pat Adventism's infancy on the head and smile indulgently. For Samir Selmanovic the church is a forum for embracing inclusive expansion of heart in a manner reminiscent of Buddhism. For the writers of Red Books, Adventism is a family with a tree full of lovably errant characters who need to be forgiven in order to move on to maturity.

So, what is the unifying element in this newly multilithic society? What is it that prevents this evolving, confused and disparate group from fragmenting into its constituent parts? The one solid, immovable rock, the central lith, seems to be the Sabbath. It runs like a chain thru all of the keyholes and binds the separate pieces together as a whole. With all of the diverging views - liberal, traditional, and evangelical streams - which run so far apart, there is one unifying force: the Sabbath. A stake driven so deeply into the heart of Adventism that removing it would create a fatal hemorrhage.

Even the university-student generation that has heard little of the writings of Ellen White, and believe themselves unaffected by her prolific pen, plant their feet firmly on the central point of agreement within Adventism, the Sabbath. How they observe it would make their grandparents flush, but, nonetheless, its "truth" is non-negotiable - even among the young. On a more unconscious level, the state of the dead and the belief that God created the church out of the reinterpretation of William Miller's failed run at Heaven, are other subjects that remain unassailable in all of the various streams.

In pondering the "sticking" quality of those beliefs, I began to wonder why it was not the cross that occupied the place of sine qua non. The cross had always been more peripheral, more negotiable, defended with far less zeal and passion by my Sabbath School teachers, parents, ministers, and professors. I wondered why. The wondering grew into a compulsion to know. My attempts at understanding that conundrum form the core of the studies listed below. I invite you to join me in taking a closer look than you may have ventured into before. It may answer some puzzling questions you've had in the past. It may raise some questions you've never thought to ask. But if you aren't afraid to confront your core beliefs, you may find that you experience a deeper conviction and trust in the scriptures as a result. I did.


There is a section for comments at the end of each page.


Ultimate Rest is a look at the Who of the Sabbath instead of the usual "when" of the Sabbath.

Spirit explores the ways in which we are created in the image of God and how that changes the definition of "spirit."

Faith or Fear? is a juxtaposition of salvation by faith and the Investigative Judgment from a historical, but practical, Christian perspective.

Clicking on each title will take you to that study.
Where you end up may surprise you. It surprised me.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christ is the center of the Advent Message and I am sorry that your experience has been otherwise. Please note the following quote. Blessings.

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption--the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.--Gospel Workers, p. 315.

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL blog. Will look forward to reading and learning from your hard work on this site.

Gently Broken said...

Thank you, my friend in Christ. Keep in touch. Cherry

Dennis said...

This is a wonderful site. Thank you for sharing your flawless work. You have assembled a site that provides critical information to a small group of people that desperately need to get free. I am one of them and your work has been meaningful and needed to say the least. Thank you, thank you! May you continue to do what God inspires.

Gently Broken said...

In response to the anonymous writer who stated that Ellen White's writings are Christ- centered:

Thank you for your comments. I want to say up front that I found Christ within Adventism. In fact, I was born again in the process of driving from Western Washington to Eastern Washington while reading "Steps to Christ." I believe that God has preserved enough of Himself within Adventism that people can find salvation there. More and more Adventists are coming to the understanding that their salvation is truly based on faith alone in Christ and His sacrifice. I am grateful for that and praise Him for His mercy and grace even in less than ideal circumstances.

However, having said that, I also need to express my discomfort with the reticence of Adventists to squarely face up to the errors and falsehoods within the writings of Ellen White. Instead of clearly saying, "That is wrong. It is not consistent with scripture." they generally pick and choose to find quotations that are in harmony with Christian theology and showcase them as standing for the whole of her writings. That is a misrepresentation. In fact, the statements of truth can actually make the falsehood more dangerous in that it lulls people into a false sense of security causing the reader to stop exercising critical discernment.

It is much like a Trojan Horse. One can point out only the statements that look perfectly benign. However, the parts that are ignored carry the real danger. Those destructive elements are taken in with the rest, distorting the true nature of the gospel.

It is not the statements of truth within the Koran that bear the greatest consideration, but those that reveal the nature of its inspiration.

Rather than matching quote for quote with you, I would make a plea that you read all of the studies here and be willing to face up to the problems honestly - without trying to defend anything except the Word of God.

We are all far from being able to encompass the whole that God has in store for us. This certainly includes me. But there came a point when I could no longer remain silent as I came across serious discrepancies within Ellen White's writings that were not in agreement with the gospel.

This has not been an easy journey for me and it has not come without cost. But it has been well worth the effort. I know how difficult it is to even think of questioning a culture that has become so deeply engrained. So I applaud your courage to even consider the perceived risk.

Cherry

Gently Broken said...

In response to Dennis:

Thank you for your words of encouragement. Just one note like yours makes it all worth the effort.

Cherry

Dennis said...

To anonymous: One definition of the word occult is "to become hidden or shut off from view" a synonym is "unrevealed" in short when something is occult it appears to be something it is not. Usually it is such a close copy as to be difficult to discern the difference. I believe many, and I do mean many, churches have satanic influence. Just enough to throw them off the path to the real message. Fortunately Gods message is so powerful that it is not easily hidden. In any occult Church the biblical truth is there, it's just not easy to find amid all the "Doctrine".

The bible is very clear that when a prophet is wrong we should no longer listen to them. If you read this site and check out others you will find many cases where EG White is blatantly wrong. It is interesting to me that she said she was not a prophet but the church will not accept her word for it because they want that status. There is also a lot of income connected to her work.

Satan is on earth to steal kill and destroy. He cannot face people directly as they will reject him for the most part out of hand. We have Gods law written on our hearts. Satan's only real avenue to us is by way of trickery and deceit. Churches are the most fertile ground for him as they contain the people he is after and they have many doctrines and writings to manipulate. The SDA church is not the only one to be manipulated in this way.

I believe that one can find God easily in any situation with prayer. You did not come here by accident you have a reason unknown to us and I would say God is leading you. For now there are only a few important things for you to know with certainty and they are all found in each of the gospels. No other Gods, Love God completely, Love others as yourself and love yourself and accept Jesus as your personal savior. You don't need 50,000 pages of superfluous writing to get the point.

It is my hope and prayer that one day the SDA leadership will be strong enough to do the wright thing and say we need to clear up a few mistakes here. It would not be easy to admit to the world that there were a few problems. The payoff however is huge. The consequences to the people of the world of just this one simple act by just one of the many churches can not be measured.

My friend I will pray that you find what you seek. Peace.

Leigh Ann said...

OH WOW! I needed to find this blog and be set free. Thank you so much for taking the risk to write it. This journey is not easy for any of us. I can't wait to read more...

Gently Broken said...

So good to hear from you. I'd love to hear more of your story. You can share here or send an email at comment@gentlybroken.com.

Lord, pour out your spirit of wisdom and understanding on Leigh Ann and breathe your wind of freedom over her in Jesus' name.

Dennis said...

Amen!

Leigh Ann said...

Thank you for the prayer! I am working on gathering my thoughts to put in writing. I will be back in touch soon...

Gently Broken said...

Look forward to hearing from you!

Anonymous said...

My brother became SDA w/ a vengeance. So I did some research and found SDA lacking but to tell him so was to see an explosion bigger than M. Vesuvius. But then I read some of the testimonies of those also finding their way out of SDA falsehoods and it read just like my own seeking the one true God/relationship/truth in and among the Baptists. So, I guess all denominations have been infected with lies and falsehoods.

Gently Broken said...

In response to the annonymous comment about a brother who joined Adventism: When I left Adventism I had the naive belief that I would find purity of doctrine in the Christian churches "outside."

Alas, the Church is filled with human beings who add and subtract much from the purity of the gospel. That is one of the disappointments that most of us contend with as we resettle into the churches we now call home.

There are, however, some fundamental differences in the impurities of Adventist belief and doctrine that set it apart as particularly problematic. Here are some, to mention a few:

1) The Investigative Judgment is in absolute contradiction to the truth of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ. The two cannot co-exist.

2) The refusal to renounce the Investigative Judgment requires the associated teaching that the atonement was not complete on the cross.

2) While many Advenists would deny believing that Sabbath-keeping is a prerequisite to salvation, most would be afraid to give up the Sabbath - just in case. The diversion of attention from the person of Jesus as our rest to the act of observing a day as our rest results in a distortion the the meaning of grace.

3) The denial of a human spirit makes the full acceptance of the Holy Spirit nearly impossible. It also leads to a nonchalant attitude toward abortion.

4) Belief in annihilation robs a believer of compassion for the lost. That is not an equivalent sentiment as the one that lifts the specter of hell as a motivation for faith.

There are many other points that could be made, but those seem to put Adventism in a position distinct from Christian denominations that stray on points that are debateable. Sadly, many Christian churches proport to be The Truth, distracting attention from the Only Truth, Jesus Christ.

The Church stands as a spiritual parent to Christians. Because the Church is filled with human beings who place their own imprints on the final product, there will always be abuse of that sacred trust. It's amazing that God allows us to represent Him to the world. What grace.

Even with the skewed gospel in Adventism, He planted enough of Himself in it to lead many of us to salvation. The purpose of this website is not to cast aspersions on the Adventist people. It is to aid in washing away distortions and falsehoods that do injustice to the gospel in hopes of making the glass a bit less dark and thereby allowing the gospel to shine more brightly.

Anonymous said...

I grew up Baptist, but never understood why The Church did not observe the Sabbath. Seven years ago, I came into the SDA church due to my Sabbath convictions. I know the law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus, but I haven't been able to find Biblical proof that the 10 Commandments are now void. Moving from a Baptist to SDA culture came with a price. Culture...that's all I can say to describe what I left and what I landed in. I am not your typical SDA. I do not read the writings of Ellen White. I'm not a vegetarian. I'm female and work outside the home. I wear make-up and jewelry. I don't really fit in...nor do I want to completely. I do, however, feel that the Sabbath is a day that God commanded us to keep holy; as of yet, the SDA church is the only church in my area that I have found to share my belief in this.

Truthfully, I am very uncomfortable with the dedication of the SDA church to Ellen White. As I now have a child in the primary age-group, I am finding that her teachings are infiltrating into Sabbath School. On the other hand, my child has been challenged by Biblical truth in Sabbath School at a much deeper level and with a much richer curriculum than she would have been in my local Baptist church culture. It is quite sad to me...I love the depth of Biblical teaching, but I hate that it is so often "supported" by Ellen White.

I wish I could find a group of true Christian believers that observed the Sabbath day, but did not parallel Ellen White with Jesus.

My daughter is now old enough to be asking some deep questions, and that is how I came to find your site. She attends a private Christian school that observes Sunday, and she was relaying to me how other children react to her when she tells them about her Saturday church. My heart is broken. I want to follow Jesus, and it is my obligation to lead my daughter in the right direction toward Jesus, too. I'm just not sure where I am leading her right now... I look forward to reading more of your blog articles as I continue my life-long search for Jesus. Thank you, Ann

Gently Broken said...

My dear Ann,
I love your heart! It is refreshing to hear your openness and desire to follow the Lord wherever He leads. You are correct in discerning that Adventism has a number of beliefs and practices that are divergent from true Christianity. As you study more deeply into the foundational teachings of the church that fact becomes more and more apparent. Those teachings and beliefs are traceable back to the writings of Ellen White, another good observation that I believe the Lord has revealed to you.

As for the Sabbath, I hope you will read thru the studies here. I believe they will address your questions and give you the perspective of the New Covenant that has been given in the Christian era. The Sabbath looked back to the events of creation and the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and forward to the Rest we have from our works in Christ. Jesus came and fulfilled all of the prophetic symbols of the Old Covenant that were to lead all the world to the Savior. He didn’t destroy the law; He fulfilled and completed it and in doing so he became the Sabbath rest referred to in Hebrews 4. Hebrews speaks of a new law and a new priest. For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. Heb 7:12 (NIV)

In the Old Testament the Sabbath was given to the Jews thru the Law to point to the authority of God to be able to give them the Law. In the Christian era God points to the cross as the authority to give the New Covenant, not creation. The Law has always been the entire Torah – Genesis thru Deuteronomy – one cannot separate out the Ten Commandments from the Law – it’s all or nothing. Paul pointed this out when he said, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’” Gal 3:10 (NIV) The Ten Commandments are only a Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the Law. To illustrate, where are the rules that govern how one is to keep the Sabbath if one does not have the rest of the Law? The Sabbath only makes sense in the context of the entire Jewish culture and economy.

Ann, keep asking the questions, keep searching and the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth will be faithful to answer your desire for understanding. Pray for His guidance as you study and He will delight in revealing deeper and deeper truths. I bless your journey in Jesus’ name.

Anonymous said...

This is Ann again...I have been studying, reading, praying, and wrestling these past months since finding your website. With very mixed feelings I have taught my final Sabbath School class today. My family and I are now having our eyes opened to the truth about the SDA church, and it is being replaced by The Truth we are now learning from God's Word. I do not regret my time in the SDA church. It has taught me that the law convicts us of just how sinful we really are...just like God intended it to do, but now I realize that I am not bound by that law because it was only a shadow of what was to come...Jesus...and Jesus has come. In Him, we have freedom from the law. The SDA church is filled with wonderful and sincere Christian brothers and sisters, but God is leading me out to something greater. I do not know where we will go, but I do know that it is time to leave. Thank you for your prayers. May God continue to use you to lead others to freedom in Jesus Christ. Ann

Gently Broken said...

Ann, I am delighted to hear from you again.

Ann, what a journey your are on. I'm happy to hear that your family and you are facing this transitional time together. You are walking away from a closed system and that is never easy. There may be times when you are tempted to return simply because of the familiarity and comfort. Most feel that at some time or another after leaving.

Here's something to think about: falsehood has only one source. Truth has one source. We can choose to be controlled by one or the other, but not by both. You have chosen truth! You have chosen light!

That doesn't mean that from here on everything will be easy. I pray that you will be guided by the same Holy Spirit who has been leading you to your present place to find a solid Bible-teaching Christian church. It is important for you to be nurtured, mentored and embraced by a community of believers who can affirm your decisions.

No church is perfect, so don't even expect that. Many Christians don't understand the issues you have had to confront in choosing to leave Adventism. But several of us are praying that you will be strengthened in your resolve to always choose truth. We are also praying that you will find the Christian community that will envolope you with love as you continue on your God-directed path.

If you want to chat privatly go to http://www.gentlybroken.com/contactus.html and I'd be happy to answer any questions that you like.

Anonymous said...

thank you for this website. after many years of struggling with my beliefs i finally let go. i am no longer a member of the sda church. what a huge burden off of my shoulders. i feel like someone who has just been released from prison and getting their first breath of freedom. what a wonderful feeling it is. Praise God!

Gently Broken said...

To our newest anonymous friend: We rejoice with you. You HAVE been freed from prison and I am excited for your journey. There is so much to discover, so much joy and revelation as the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth. I trust that the Lord will bring around you mature, wise Christians who will walk beside you in this journey and encourage you for your willingness to pursue Jesus wherever He led you. Thank you, Jesus, for your work in this child of yours. You are the author and finisher of our faith. Rich blessings.

Flavio Lugo said...

[Part 1 of 2] Hello there. My name is Flavio. God’s grace and peace be with you more and more in Jesus name. Amen. I have never been a SDA as I see that is the abbreviation commonly used. I am a born again believer, rejoicing for 6 years now, that Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord. From a man who had no desire to know God to crying out to Him to help me because I couldn’t take it anymore, and true to His name as Faithful and True, He drew near to me and called out to me. And so I rejoice in the Lord my beautiful Savior.

I came across your blog because of a conversation I had with a fellow believer after attending service, on Bible translations as her husband had yet to have his own Bible and he himself is a new believer.

We spoke about the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, AMP even The Message. The interesting turn in the conversation was when she said, my Bible is called the “Clear Word.” I was puzzled. I have been made aware of every English bible translations even some Spanish bible translations but I never heard of the Clear Word.

She said she bought it in the SDA book store at the church she used to attend. I asked her if that was the name of the translation but she didn’t know. Inside a page or two or behind it, it said something along the line of being mixed with the KJV and the Clear Word, in which I found odd to reference itself.

I am not well versed or educated on many religions or occults. I have read up on many but I am not a scholar nor do I look to become one but no doubt I will be lead to know as I must know to speak of Whom I believe in.

I would like to ask you some questions. Could you pray for my friend? Reason I ask this of you, is because I have read in a other portion of your blog the back-to-back comparisons of the NIV to the CW and clearly there are apparent distortions the most heinous at least to me, was the mention of the Archangel Michael being mentioned as the Son of God. Especially when the Word says that Christ, was exalted and given the name above all names, and, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy”
(Colossians 1:17-18 NIV) and again, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:3-4 NIV). The rest of Hebrews 1 speaks with great clarity truths according to Scripture concerning the Son that clearly differentiates Him from angels in which the author drew from the holy scriptures especially in the Psalms that point to Christ the Messiah.

Flavio Lugo said...

[Part 2 of 2] Especially this one: “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:5-9 NIV).

I’m not here to list every verse that speaks to such but to make known I am no scholar but the Holy Spirit in a man makes it clear concerning the Son, men and even Angels. The Son is far superior to all because He alone, endured the shame of the Cross and humbled Himself as a servant and was obedient even to the death of the Cross and so God the Father made it known to all for all time, that the Son is exalted above all for all time. Not that He receive this high place and position for the very first time if He had earned it, but that the Father made it known to us, that the Son already had it, and the Father brought Him back to His rightful place—the right hand of God in which is held by honor, humility, mercy, justice, love, holiness and truth, in which is everything Jesus is and always has been, so this is why we read Jesus pray to the Father in John 17, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:5 NIV)


‘Before the world began.’ This is before Creation. Before [Angels]. Before human beings. Before church denominations and our willingness to distort the blessedness of God’s Word.

Now I ask you another question if you will be so kind to answer. Can you pray for me, as I pray for myself, that I by His Spirit may have the words to speak to her to present the truth yet let it be in humility, gentleness and patience?

I believe she desires to truly know Jesus and furthermore from what I understand she was never a “practicing” SDA. She is soft spoken, shy, and genuinely seems to want to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus. I am one who has encouraged, prayed and worshiped alongside them on Sunday services. I believe God brought me to this specific Church for such a reason not the only reason, but for such a reason to encourage them in the truth of God’s Word through the excellence of His grace and love. Why? The day I first attended, was the first day they attended and we were both invited by the same couple in which are our mutual friends.

Last question as this comment is long. Help me, in praying for the wisdom and knowledge and boldness to preach the Word of God without distortion, perversion or ignorance to all, whom the Holy Spirit leads me to.

I thank you for your words, your transparency, your passion for seeking the truth of God’s Word and for utilizing it to educate and encourage others who know and have experienced your struggle. You are loved and prayed for. God’s grace be with you and all who will encounter this page more and more. Amen.

Gently Broken said...

Flavio, thank you for your passionate response to your friend's comments about the "Clear Word Bible." Clearly, it is not the scriptures of God, but a statement of Adventist doctrine. I find it helpful, however, in pointing out what is necessary to change the scriptures to be consistent with SDA doctrine. Your care and concern can go a long ways toward helping her to see those distinctions. With you, I agree that the vast majority of Adventists want to be right with God, but are blinded to the truth by years of indoctrination and cultural reinforcement. Prayer is a key to change hearts and push back the darkness so that the Holy Spirit is able to whisper truth.

Your prayers for me are touching and appreciated. They are returned. Blessings.

Flavio Lugo said...

Hello there. His grace, mercy and peace be with you more and more.

As I was looking at my email, I saw that I had a response. I had forgotten the user name Gently Broken, so I initially thought it was a comment to a post from my blog. I rejoiced to see it was from you. Thank you for responding back especially as the last entry between you and others was in 2013. I pray, all is growing and thriving in your relationship with Christ. Within these last two years. God is faithful and Jesus, well, He is wonderful. I rejoice in God my Savior. I truly do.

I thank you for your prayers. I thank you for the time you put in, to respond back.

I wanted to share something with you. Last night as I was walking back and forth in my mother’s back yard while my dogs were outside doing their thing, I said these words to the Lord: “There’s a beauty to my lack of head knowledge yet the success of my heart experience when it comes to Jesus Christ the Lord causes me to rejoice without end.”

I certainly seek the Lord out to know Him more and more scripturally but I have come to know there is no substitute for knowing Jesus than a surrendered life that truly delights in Him and desires to please Him. What do you think?

I also want to share one last thing and I will go and have a snack as I am attempting to do an experiment, to see if Slim Fast actually works. Drinking a shake for breakfast and lunch is no picnic as they say, but I committed to do it for a month (11/23/15) and I will keep that word. This is what I want to share with you and it is quite personal.

The more I grow in Christ and as the years go by, I find myself greatly disinterested in the things of “church.” I greatly rejoice in the Church of Christ but the church, meaning, attending church on a Sunday, or scheduled days for specific things and outside these days there is no experience. Like communion only once in a while. Or baptism only on specific months. Only speaking about the Lord’s life, death, Resurrection and Ascension in March or December. These things are constantly in my heart and on my mind and it saddens me that collectively the church usually and schedually speaks about it or celebrates it on only those days.

I rejoice in Jesus. He drew near to me and called out to me when I was in sin, in a very dark place and was in need although I was not a giver but a taker. I was a poor excuse for a husband and I left my wife. Even though I was an adulterer, thief, liar, lusted after women and spoke murderous words to other indeed making me a murderer. Even though I turned my back on God for three years. He was gracious, merciful and compassionate to me. I was won over from that day forward. On July 3, 2009, Jesus became a very present reality in my life. He became my everything and to think that He is not rejoiced over but it seems more a religious ritual being followed than anything, is troubling to me.

I left a church that I attended for four years because I didn’t see a genuine love for the Lord but the practical good works as it were being done. I hadn’t stepped into a church from that point for 8 months. I’ve been attending this one since late July (2015) I believe, and although I came with great enthusiasm, genuineness and sincerity of love for Jesus Christ the Lord, I keep experiencing the same ritualistic practices of Christianity but not the love Jesus spoke of. Everyone is so busy with life, that Jesus has become a Sunday or Wednesday topic and gathering.

I most certainly know that people have lives and responsibilities but for goodness sake, where is the love and sacrifice for the sake of the Lord’s name? Because of this, I find myself distancing from this church and not desiring to go anymore.

If you have any wise words to share, by all means, please do so. If not, please pray for me, for this church, and also please pray for my mother, who is a new believer, yet I have not seen a persuasive evidence of the Holy Spirit in her and she isn’t growing in Christ.

God’s peace be with you. Amen.

— Flavio.
10/28/15

Gently Broken said...

Well, this time I will respond more promptly. I understand what you are saying about church. Many of my own friends have nearly stopped going. However, we are given the admonition by Christ to not forsake gathering together and even more as we see the day approaching. I'm not sure that has to be "church." The church in Paul's time were house meetings and to me that seems like an alternative. Perhaps you may like to look into a more charismatic church experience that is not liturgical. Or, Calvary Chapel that goes thru the Bible and actually studies it during church. I will pray that the Lord will help you find a meaningful group of believers with which you can fellowship with openness and joy. Bless you in that pursuit.

Flavio Lugo said...

Thank you for your response. It is actually in part confirmation. I have heard that scripture recited concerning not to neglect meeting together usually out of contexts especially when someone or many have stopped attending “church.” Yet I also knew in the time of such writing and inspiration, the Church was more movement and in a sense underground, as there were actual people looking to persecute the followers of the Way and at least in the majority if not all of the West, the U.S. that is, persecution is not what we read about in the scriptures or hear about if we are looking to be intimately aware of it in many other countries.

Western persecution, in part, is usually at the root, in the church itself, where many are hating on and gossiping about their so-callef brothers and sisters, and this is a great sadness to me that I have literally cried over many times, and in part, the ignorance of back sliders or what some deem atheist or agnostics making fun of Christians, yet that is also due to the hypocritical and judgemental way many Christians who are not truly of the Christ live and react to others.

Don’t get me wrong, as conveying emotion isn’t a textual strong suit on social media, and it may come across as I have a beef with the church or have a disdain for the Christian. I truly do not. I do love the true Church of Christ. I rejoice greatly in Her. I praise the Lord for all that She will be at His second coming and all that She is, by His grace and the power of His Word, in the present.

I simply long for real fellowship. Real intimacy. I long for actual believers in God’s holy Word, who lift up prayer and call on the name of the Lord in sincerity, genuineness of a pure heart, through humility and a clear conscience, in harmony, so that in all things and in every way, we grow in the Spirit, are united in His love and we are confident He approves of us, delights in us and is with us wherever we go and whatever we are called to do. I yearn for the Church to be in that special place, where all shared what they had so that no one was with a need.

Oh that, the Lord who is rich in mercy, abundant in grace and surpassing in wisdom, knowledge and understanding, would do this. Amen.

I am not a wise man by the standards of men and I am not a very ingenious man in ways of producing wealth, but I am a man who is more blessed than he can properly articulate, in knowing the Lord Jesus and in knowing Him, having been forgiven and having been forgiven, set free, and in freedom, able to walk in hand and in step with the Living God. Thank you Lord!

I don’t have the answers to every problem that presents itself in my life. I haven’t made all the best choices as well. I haven’t won over souls by the hundreds or thousands but I do have a new heart and in having a new heart, a new Spirit, and in a new Spirit, a renewed mind. Thank you Lord! I want with all that I am to please the Lord, to bless His name, to love the Lord my God with all that I am with whatever amount of time I am given.

Thank you for your prayers. The Lord cause me to rejoice to see them fulfilled and cause your joy to be full in hearing back from me when they are fulfilled. Amen.

You are loved and prayed for.

—Flavio
11/11/15

Gently Broken said...

Flavio, I love your spirit. May the Lord cause it to increase in the Church.

Gently Broken said...

This is from an email just received from a reader of www.gentlybroken.com regarding the story of Leigh Ann. I was touched by it and hope you will be as well:

Your story was very touching to say the least .I could feel the sadness and confusion in your words when you were searching for the truth , then the pure joy when you came to really know the Lord. A peace that surpasses understanding and a knowing of the truth that shines brighter than the sun. The Lord is so good and His love for us is amazing beyond words , oh how He loves us . We are His and no matter what , He will keep knocking at the door of our hearts right to the very end .
I was brought up catholic but thank God the indoctrination wasn’t nearly as severe as the seventh day Adventists members receive , all that’s basically needed is , remove a few statues and the confession of our sins thing to the priest and we are good to go as a true believer in Christ , well it’s a little more than that but never the less light in comparison .
A friend of mine is a seventh day Adventist and I can honestly tell you that every time we meet , we end up talking about the Word of God and not long after it turns into a disagreement , I’ll tell him about the gift of righteousness by faith and that it’s not of works so that no man should boast and that the Sabbath day keeping was just a shadow of the reality to come , our Lord Jesus that is the rest that we find in Him for our salvation through the finished work of the cross ( In any event the Sabbath that’s part of the commandments were given to the Jews and not the gentiles ) I have printed out many pages of truths that conflict with the writings of the SDA’s but this has had no effect up to till now .I do believe the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of his heart to see the truth .
It is absolutely wonderful that you have a website dedicated to SDA’s . I have no doubt many will come to the knowledge of the truth through your story .
Keep up the good work.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and may the blessings of the Lord be forever more upon you .
Love from a brother in Christ