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Hiding our sins from God

By: Yves Blouin
Note: below are a few thoughts I had shared with friends at our communion service and that my attempts at humour might be misunderstood or simply poor and for that I ask for your grace.
book shelf
It always amazes me how God is mindful of us.  Why should he love us?
Hebrews 2:6-8 NKJV
But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
That passage refers to Christ but in a lesser way it refers to humankind.  Why would God treasure us above all his creations? Definitely not because we deserve it.  Only his grace, mercy and love makes this possible.
If I wasn’t a sinner what would be the point of coming together to celebrate communion?  The Lord’s Table reminds me of what Christ’s love did for me.  He gave up his life to redeem me, a sinner, so that I could have fellowship with him.
HBCWhen I was 10 years old my best friend and I were looking at knives at the local Hudson Bay Company store.  I held the knife incorrectly by it’s sheath with my thumb over the handle.  It was very tight fit and wouldn’t come out.  Eventually it did free itself from the sheath and sliced the full length of my thumb, right down to the bone.  At that moment I was more concerned about what my parents would do to me than the pain I was dealing with or how gross it was.  We went to my friend’s grand-father’s apartment and wrapped the thumb in so much bandages that it was nearly a half-inch thick all around. thumb
When I arrived home I tried to hide it from my mom but she caught sight of it and asked me what I had done.  I answered like any 10 years old would… “Nothing” I said.  The blood had soaked right through the thick bandages and the colour was a crimson red.  My mom opened up the bandage to take a look and I thought she was going to faint at the sight. She rushed me to the hospital after which, it took several stitches to properly take care of it.
We often behave similarly towards sin.  We hide our sins under layers of pretense and self-righteousness – I know I’ve sure been guilty of this.   Just like how those bandages couldn’t hide my injury from my mom, no matter how well we deceive ourselves into thinking that our sins are not that bad or that no one knows, we need to remember that God knows.
scaleYet, we rationalize our sins and think that we’re not as bad as the next person.
It’s been well said that you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. I’d add to that, you can never fool God.
My first job after college was working in the Imperial Oil maintenance dept.  The leadership was interestingly composed of a majority of 1st and 2nd generation United Kingdom citizens.  There were some Scottish, Irish and English descendants.  One of them told me this tongue in cheek saying of how they thought of the other’s application of religion:
There are four kinds of people in the UK –
First, there were the Scots who kept the Sabbath – and everything else they could lay their hands on;
Then there were the Welsh – who prayed on their knees and their neighbours;
Thirdly there were the Irish who never knew what they wanted – but were willing to fight for it anyway.
Lastly there were the English who considered themselves self-made men, – thus relieving the Almighty of a terrible responsibility.
Fortunately since I’m descended from a french heritage I’m safe here 🙂 Kidding!vive la France
As an interesting note you wouldn’t know to look at her but Geeta (my Guyanese spouse) is 12.5% Scottish!!  And we know that Marc of his own admission at the pulpit a few weeks ago is approximately 28% Irish.  Not saying anything just stating facts. 🙂 Thankfully as Christians we’re not bound by our cultural heritage but by our spiritual heritage in Christ.  Our behaviour doesn’t always reflect this and the communion service is a good reminder of our need for forgiveness and our position in Christ – forgiven sinners.
I’m reminded of the story of the sinner and the pharisee. What a good illustration of how not to examine others but how to examine ourselves:
Luke 18:9
 

pharisee and publican

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Paul had this prescription related to the communion service:
1 Corinthians 11:28 AMPC
Let a man [thoroughly] examine himself, and [only when he has done] so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Notice that it doesn’t say to examine others which is much easier. How many times have we thought and even said: hey honey you heard what the preacher said… Meanwhile I should be thinking about how to apply it to my own life.
1 Corinthians 11:31 AMP
But if we evaluated and judged ourselves honestly [recognizing our shortcomings and correcting our behavior], we would not be judged.

C.S.Lewis

CS Lewis had a thought that wrapped this up nicely:
“It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.”
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Lifestyle Evangelism

Adrian Rogers

We are the only ones who can witness to others about the grace that is ours in Christ. In Acts there was explosive growth in the Church…because they lived what they believed! And they shared with others the hope every person needs. You can do this too. Find out how.

Listen to Adrian’s message here: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/listen//lifestyle-evangelism-560227.html

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Literal interpretation of Bible ‘helps increase church attendance’

Churches that are theologically conservative with beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible grow faster than those with a liberal orientation, according to a five-year academic study.

“If we are talking solely about what belief system is more likely to lead to numerical growth among Protestant churches, the evidence suggests conservative Protestant theology is the clear winner,” said David Haskell, the Canadian study’s lead researcher.

The findings contradict earlier studies undertaken in the US and the UK, which attempted to discover the underlying causes of a steep decline in church attendance in recent decades but concluded that theology was not a significant factor.

The results of the new study are likely to fuel anxious debate among church members about the reasons for decline and what measures or approaches might stimulate growth. Those promoting evangelical styles of worship and strict adherence to what they see as biblical truths will be bolstered by the findings.

The authors of Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy surveyed 2,225 churchgoers in Ontario, Canada, and conducted interviews with 29 clergy and 195 congregants. The paper is to be published in next month’s issue of the respected international journal, Review of Religious Research.

The researchers compared the beliefs and practices of congregations and clergy at mainline Protestant churches whose attendances were growing with declining churches. On all measures, the growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and were more diligent in things like prayer and Bible reading,” Haskell said.

Among the key findings are:

  • Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
  • 71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
  • 46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
  • 93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
  • 100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.

The study also found that about two-thirds of congregations at growing churches were under the age of 60, whereas two-thirds of congregations at declining churches were over 60.

Services at growing churches featured contemporary worship with drums and guitars, while declining churches favoured traditional styles of worship with organ and choir.

According to Haskell, research on general social groups has shown that those with a consistent unified message and clear boundaries with people outside the group are attractive to outsiders.

“Conservative believers, relying on a fairly literal interpretation of scripture, are ‘sure’ that those who are not converted to Christianity will miss their chance for eternal life,” he said. “Because they are profoundly convinced of [the] life-saving, life-altering benefits that only their faith can provide, they are motivated by emotions of compassion and concern to recruit family, friends and acquaintances into their faith and into their church.

“This desire to reach others also makes conservative Protestants willing to implement innovative measures including changes to the style and content of their worship services.”

Theologically conservative believers were more unified in terms of priorities and what was right and wrong, he added. “That also makes them more confident and, to those on the outside looking in, confidence is persuasive all on its own. Confidence mixed with a message that’s uplifting, reassuring or basically positive is an attractive combination.”

Haskell said he expected the findings of the study, which was not commissioned by any group or organisation, to be controversial. “If you’re in a mainline church and that church is dying, and you’ve just heard that the theological position that you have is likely what’s killing it, you’re not going to be very happy about that,” he said. “Theological orientation cuts to the very core of the religious practitioner.”

In the UK, attendance at Church of England services dropped by half between 1980 and 2015. Statistics published last month showed that 960,000 adults and children – less than 1.5% of the population – went to church each week during the sample month of October 2015. The C of E has launched a programme of evangelism in an attempt to stem the decline.

The Pew Research Centre reported last year that that the congregations of Protestant churches in the US were decreasing by up to a million people a year. Canada’s four largest mainstream Protestant churches have seen their membership drop by half since the mid-1960s while the population has nearly doubled

 

 

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A Few Sighs From Hell

John Bunyan Statue

How many poor should have the many filthy blind priests to answer for, do you think? How many should have they been the means of destroying — by their ignorance and corrupt doctrine? Preaching, that which was no better for others souls — than rat-poison for the body — and all for filthy lucre’s sake (O you priests — this word is for you!). They shall see, that they, many of them it is to be feared, will have whole towns to answer for; whole cities to answer for.

Ah, friend, I tell you — you who have taken in hand to preach to the people, it many be you have taken in hand you cannot tell what. Will it not grieve you to see your whole parish come bellowing after you to Hell, crying out, ‘We may thank you for this! This is because of you — you did not teach us the truth! You led us away with fables — you were afraid to tell us of our sins, lest we should not put meat fast enough in your mouth. O you cursed wretch, that ever you should beguile us thus, deceive us thus, flatter us thus! We would have gone out to hear the Word abroad — but that you reproved us; and also that us that that which we see now is the way of God — was heresy, and a deceivable doctrine! And were not contented with that, blind guide as you were, to fall into the ditch of Hell yourself — but have also led us there with you!

~John Bunyan

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