Love Wins for Teens by Rob Bell

When I saw a popular Christian blogger write, “Love Wins for Teens? No thanks.” I knew that was code for “It’s going to piss off a lot of Christians”. So I knew I just had to get it. Reading ‘Love Wins for Teens’ by Rob Bell is bound to deliver you into the path of a ‘heresy’ hunt.

You see, I find it very odd that Christians, who claim to follow the God who loves us so much that he sent his only begotten Son, would be so downright critical of a book about God’s love, especially a book that tells teens how much God loves them.

LoveWins-Teen-Edition

I get the feeling that Rob’s 20 years in ministry has given him some insight into the kinds of questions teenagers are asking about God. He presents those questions throughout his book and they are the same questions my own teens have asked.

Our kids have legitimate questions about God and about how some Christians are representing misrepresenting him.

In generations past, kids were told they could be seen but not heard. I think that is a dangerous way to approach raising teens in the era God has placed us in.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with Rob’s answers in this book, it behooves you as a parent to read it anyway. It will give you a clearer idea of what goes through a teens mind about the God you serve.

Rob unpacks the importance and responsibility we have with our free will. He paints an alarming picture of what happens when we “go out and do whatever we want” as well as what happens when we think we’ve “lived exactly as God tells us to”.  He parked it in the story of the prodigal family and reveals how we can be like one brother or the other, but uncovers the beauty of the most important person in the story, which is the father.

I found liberty through the pages of ‘Love Wins for Teens’ and wish I would have had this book when I was a curious teen asking questions about Jesus, heaven and hell. Along with that liberty, I found responsibility.. a challenge about what one naturally does once they know and experience the power of God’s saving grace.

‘Love Wins for Teens’ is now required reading for my teens. It’s not a book that promotes religion, it’s a book that inspires faith.

*Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for reviewing this book and I purchased the Kindle version myself. 

Other Reviews:

I believe Love Wins

Raising Hell

Hellbound?

 

sisterlisa


Failure of the Mega Church

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Where will they go after their exodus?

The last few years we have seen an exodus from organized religion as people became increasingly aware of their freedom in Christ. There remains an opposition as many clergy stomp their feet and pound their pulpits to demand that “god” commands people to go to church (and don’t forget that tithe check). Their long held tradition of mandatory church attendance can be traced back to the days of the mixture of politics and religion in the old world. Over the ages we have seen battles to exercise our freedoms and establish our true equality in the human race, yet some churches refuse to allow the Constitution to have any precedence in their organizations. In many churches today, women are not viewed as equals nor are they encouraged to be free independent women within their tradition.

Is it any wonder that traditional religions want to reinforce their ways in a world of ongoing growth and modernization? The Amish are adamant about preserving their religious culture and today’s Traditional Christianity seeks to do the same. It certainly is their freedom to do so, however we are not obligated to agree with their traditions nor adhere to them. The beauty of being free in Christ is that we have a choice in how, where, when, and how often we worship. Regardless of which verses some people twist in order to keep their women silenced and under foot, Christ seemed to think very fondly of women and never rebuked the women disciples from teaching or being an influence in their culture.

We live in a time where women are following the guidance of the Spirit to be ministers in today’s churches and more men are finding peace about sharing the pulpit with their female counterparts. As I read about the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am reminded of the turmoil that came with the fight for freedom and equality among the races. Is it going to be any different for women seeking equality in the churches? Will we be able to function as the Spirit guides us without opposition coming from Traditional Christianity? While the desire for equality among the genders continues, I’m afraid we won’t be able to see a solid break through without an onslaught of accusations of heresy and rebellion.

I shake my head in disbelief that a religion like Traditional Christianity would push so hard to continue in such opposition to freedom for all. They resist women, gays, and in some neighborhoods they still have prejudices for the poor and those of other races. I don’t foresee this ending any time soon, but thankfully we do have freedom to depart from such prejudiced gatherings and begin our own. The battle for abiding by the Law versus living a life of grace in Christ is ongoing and we were told clearly that they would always be at war. Those of us who have left Institutional and Traditional Christianity find the opposition to be disheartening to say the least. Some argue against those who say Jesus came to free us from religion. They insist that Jesus came to make religion perfect and that we are required to continue in it. If that were so then why aren’t we all converting to the Jewish faith? If Jesus came to perfect what was already in place, to continue as a follower of Jesus the Jewish Rabbi, then we most certainly would be attending a synagogue rather than a church.

Author and Public Speaker, Frank Viola, paved the way for inquiry into the traditions with his book, ‘Pagan Christianity’. We read books like Rob Bell’s, ‘Love Wins’ and Julie Ferwerda’s book, ‘Raising Hell’ in 2011 which sparked an insurgence of freedom fighters who braved deeper inquisition into what has been commonly called, Orthodox. As those in traditional Christianity continue their arguments with one another over gays, which version of the bible is most accurate, and if women should teach men, lets not fail to keep the momentum of freedom going so those who leave the nest in search of freedom can find a community of people who are not getting caught up in the fray. Lets be ready to receive those who are in exodus and help them be free from the fighting and walk with them in the path of peace and grace.

Where will they go after their exodus? where can they gather with people who have suffered the same as they have? Who will they find camaraderie with in their journey to freedom? Some may want the utmost break from Christianity all together, but some may want to continue in faith with others who are free. Who will be available for fellowship with them?

Power and Grace by tww, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Tom

Francis Chan Reconsiders Hell

Shortly after I read ‘Love Wins’, by Rob Bell, I saw a video published by Francis Chan where he seemed to genuinely and lovingly shared his grievous heart about the open discussion of hell. I can understand that concern, since I had been in a hell fire brimstone church for 15 years. I understand that concept as they teach it and by golly if you believe unbelievers will go to hell forever you ought to be more vocal about it. But many times Christians wrestle with how to be loving while telling someone they’re going to hell. Most Christian parents would forbid their children from ever telling someone, “Go to hell”. Yet, at the same time isn’t telling someone they ARE going to hell, in fact, worse than saying “Go to hell”?

So Francis Chan, with a heavy heart, began studying this popular topic of hell and Charisma magazine reported that Francis Chan has reconsidered this teaching a bit. His new book ‘Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and the Things We’ve Made Up’ is scheduled to be released in July. It will be interesting what he has to say, yet I highly recommend you read Julie Ferwerda’s new book first. This topic of hell has had me intrigued for quite a while and I have taken what Rob Bell opened the discussion with, and Julie’s thoughts, into serious consideration. Julie presented a very detailed in-depth study in what I believe is well within context of the plan of God to make all things right.

I believe there is indeed a Judgment, however the way in which that plays out is not so clearly defined. Key words such as grave, fire, flames, darkness, etc are used in symbolic ways throughout many parables and symbolic teachings. When I personally look up the word ‘hell’ in an English version of the Bible, then look in Greek I find the word ‘hades’ which is actually ‘grave’. Just a few days ago, I passed the local cemetery and didn’t find any grave spouting up flames anywhere. I also find that Jonah was in ‘hell’ for three days, God heard his prayers, and delivered him out of ‘hell’, all while Jonah was still alive. Then in the book of Revelation we see hades (the grave) emptied and destroyed (which means no one stays in the grave, ‘hell’, forever). There are many instances like these that leads me to believe that ‘hell’, or more accurately translated ‘grave’, is not quite what I was previously taught.

But this is not my intended purpose for this post. It’s just the beginning. Many Christian writers, pastors, teachers, theologians, and many others including Atheists and Pagans are reconsidering what the overall message of Christ really is. In the history of growth of the congregations on this planet, we have seen changes in their teachings. New denominations are formed regularly and anyone with a small group can file for a 501c3 (in America) and begin a new religious establishment. Do we really need more churches when we see so many of them dispersing into homes as it is?

My point in this article is about the changes. Each person has their own soul liberty in their journey to understanding the Divine Creator, however if we use the bible as a historical guide as to what has happened to the early believers we can see an over all theme and that theme is love, mercy, correction, and reconciliation. When we reconsider that hell is actually the grave, then the major premises of evangelicalism makes a swift change from threats of torture to a wooing of the Spiritual lover of our souls.

So can Christianity survive without threats of fire torture? I suppose that depends on what you think being a Christian is really all about. Surely the Bride of Christ, whose Head is Christ, will always survive because she can not disappear. The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Kingdom. However, if the head of a entity called “Christianity” is not Christ, then it will surely fail. Maybe we just need to ask ourselves if we’re following the real Christ, or if we’re following a man made copy all decked out in man’s bricks and mortar lead into a program of circus tricks, smoke, and mirrors.

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

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Loving the Poor

Reading the news online tonight I had to shake my head in bewilderment at the Circle of Protection that religious are forming in their fight about budget cuts that affect the poor. According to the article at the Huffington Post;

According to the Rev. Jim Wallis, the coalition has come together to send a message to political leaders: “If you’re going to come after the poor, you have to go through us first.”

Pardon me, but last I checked the bible clearly says that it has always been the faith community that is to care for the poor. It boggles my mind why the religious would be putting up a fight about it now after all these years of allowing the welfare programs to do it.

Maybe the churches are too busy trying to warm the pews by bribing people with giving away flat screen Televisions instead. But Rachel Held Evans is promoting a unity endeavor to raise funds for fresh drinking water and Rob Bell’s church also sends fresh drinking water to those who have lack. Now that resonates with my spirit since Jesus made sure to feed the five thousand before he preached to them.

For far too long we have seen many churches reject helping the poor financially and instead they send them to the Welfare line. Some churches give away food boxes, but only after they have sat through a church service.

In all fairness, I am glad to see some in the faith community taking a stand about providing for the poor, but perhaps the church as a whole has sat idly by for far too long while the world gets hungrier and thirstier.

Before they’ll listen to use tell them of He who will fill them so they never thirst again, maybe we could do a little more of providing for their basic needs before making them listen to our theology.

Can we come together in unity to help raise money for some drinking water? That means putting down our differences in interpretations and bible versions so we can come together in love for a greater good.

Loving one another as Christ so loved us.

Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.(NIV)

A Drop of Water by thriceblessed, on Pix-O-Sphere

{photo credit by Vicki}

The Drama I’d Rather Not Know About

If there’s anyone who gets angry at a pastor teaching false doctrine, it’s certainly the church members who have been deeply wounded by it. People I used to attend church with have no idea what I have gone through…and others like me who also left…they haven’t had their eyes open to it yet. I have no ill feelings toward those who are unknowing of those things and I have no desire at all to try and convince them. They wouldn’t believe me anyway. There are those who do know, who have confessed at seeing the abuse as well, and yet they stay, side with the man and reject me for crying out for help. This I don’t understand. I have sought the Lord on this so many times, trying to find peace within myself over it. It hurts. It feels like a stab in the back and they would probably deny that the dagger has their fingerprints on it.

I have studied the scriptures on how to handle situations like this and what I keep finding is that false teaching is rampant in the world today…and yet God has allowed it. Even john spoke about this when he said,

“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” 1 John 2:18

John spoke of it being the last hour during his time and that there were many antichrists in the world.  With each new generation and increased population we see more of these false pastors rising up. They’re like drug pushers, take one down and another takes his place. Why does God keep allowing this?

How can we live this Christian life with all these varying beliefs in the world? Is there any way to stop them?

I have come to my own conclusion and you are free to disagree with me, but I think the answer is, no. God is allowing these people to remain here on earth and he is allowing them to teach what they’re teaching.

Paul called out Peter on his false teaching and I would imagine that cause quite a stir. Here was Paul, a former persecutor of the church correcting Peter, a man who was discipled by Christ directly(Galatians 2). Paul was clear in his disagreement with Peter about circumcision, yet some time later Paul directed Timothy to get circumcised even though it wasn’t necessary.(Acts 16).

We see this scenario played out a lot in today’s world. Then we see Paul, who was contacted about the trouble at the church in Corinth. They obviously had some serious drama going on, as Paul felt the need to send two letters to them.

Lets take a look at what Paul opens his first letter to them with:

1 Corinthians 1: 2To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:  3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (italics are mine for emphasis)

Paul begins his letter with the acknowledgment that they are believers, that they are believers WITH ‘all’ those ‘in every place’ who call upon the name of the Lord. He didn’t use any -isms to describe their doctrine. He simply acknowledged them as believers. He even says in verse 8 that they will be,  “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So here we have the apostle Paul writing a letter of correction to the church at Corinth and while they are being corrected he says they will be guiltless. We know that we are guitless because of Christ alone, not because we have the “right” doctrine.

His compelling words that begin in verse 10 really make me think of the ongoing saga between The Gospel Coalition and Rob Bell. Paul says very clearly to us today “You are not of Tim Challies, you are not of Rob Bell, you are of Christ”

Paul wanted the church at Corinth to be of one mind and of the same judgment, which is Christ the Lord. Certainly there are some false teachings and they are rampant in the world today, but Jesus didn’t say we would be known as Christians by our doctrine, but instead we would be known by our love for one another.

I think Paul’s words in this first chapter of this first letter to Corinth is speaking loud and clear to us today.

1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

So much of what we think is correct doctrine will certainly pass away one day and be burned in the fire. Maybe this happens for each of us individually as Christ sifts through our hearts to sort out all those things that lift themselves up against the knowledge of God. Jesus is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds and there certainly is a fire in that process. He did the same for me when he delivered me from legalism and he continually heats me up to remove the dross.

Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. (KJV)

1 Corinthians 1:17 shows us that Paul had a specific calling and it was not to baptize, but to preach the Good News, Jesus is risen. Jesus opened the flood gates of grace and we can now come boldly to the throne of grace because of Christ.

His admonishment beginning in verse 26 take a whole new meaning for me in this day of the rising population of false teachers,

26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being  might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

There certainly are many in the world today who exalt their doctrines above Christ our Lord, thinking they have the only “right way” to “get grace” through Christ. Yet we can certainly see how God will take down all those things that puff themselves up against the Lord, pull those strongholds down, so that we really truly rest on our only foundation, Christ our Lord. Let our only boasting be that of Christ.

We have no part in our salvation, it is Christ alone.

There is no step by step, point by point process in which we can “get Christ”. He willingly gave himself to us. It’s a done deal.

When you come to believe this is true, praise God! You can then begin to walk in the reality of who He is, the Savior of the world.

But other than that, we will continue to study the ancient writings to try and figure out who God is. Each person will receive some different perspective, but one thing remains true, Christ our Lord.

There is another thing He invites us to do, now that we have believed, He says “follow me and be my disciples”. But I’ll save that topic for another time. My purpose in writing this is to remind myself and any who are willing to hear, that we love one another even when we disagree. Paul made it clear that the one thing he wanted to know was if people believed. Everything else that we learn is part of the journey of discovery.

1 Corinthians 2: 1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Lets not be so worried about the drama going on in other camps of Christianity, lets be focused on the fact that they believe Christ and then live with love for one another.

Colossians 3:14 “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”

light house (1) by tshack, on Pix-O-Sphere

All scripture quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.

This article in no way implies that any of the above mentioned pastors are false.

The Heretics

There has been some humorous teasing going on around Facebook about the word ‘heretic’ and in many churches the word ‘heretic’ is used in a way that does not fit the context in which they are using it. Some endearingly accept the label of heretic as a confirmation that they’re headed in the right direction. Some claim to be a Christian heretic while others shake their heads wondering how a Christian can be a  heretic and still claim to be a Christian. What I have found in the Greek about this topic is quite eye opening.

Original Word: αἱρετικός, ή, όν

Part of Speech: Adjective

Transliteration: hairetikos

Phonetic Spelling: (hahee-ret-ee-kos’)

Short Definition: factious

Definition: disposed to form sects, sectarian, heretical, factious.

Cognate: 141 hairetikós (an adjective, derived from 138 /hairéomai, “to choose, have a distinctive opinion”) – a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions “to win others over” to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions (used only in Tit 3:10).  (hairesis).

Disposed to form sects. That sounds like the various denominations to me. They have formed sects. Half truths and misimpressions. This is taking verses out of context and forming new doctrines where there is none. To reveal where their half truths are, will bring out the name calling label. If you have been labeled a ‘heretic’ by a denominational person, then you are the one who are free and discovering their half truths are just that, half. And the one calling you a heretic, is indeed the real heretic.

In my religious studies of various denominational view points, I have carefully compared the viewpoints of each denomination on the matters they all divide over. What I have found is they each have partial truths mixed with their own opinions. If they could just sit down together in love and with patience and really study TOGETHER, they would find what I believe to be the whole truth on those matters. Instead they divide the people from one another’s view points. They are heretics.

I have been labeled a heretic many times, but I don’t ask people to divide over disagreements, I have been trying to show them where they all have something in common and try to encourage them to really look at each other’s views. They each have a piece to the ‘puzzle’ and they withhold their pieces from one another and push each other away when the topic comes up in conversations.

Using the word ‘heretic’ as a name calling method to scare people away from other believers who are studying..who are being like the Bereans, is divisive. THOSE are the heretics. They want to cut off others who believe differently, they create sects.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with carefully studying the Bible, double checking the Hebrew and Greek and presenting your findings to your fellowship. This is what we all should be doing. Asking tough questions about why some people get a mansion and others get the lake of fire or what the hell is hell anyway are acceptable questions. It is time to grow up, get out of the high chair, no more spoon feeding. Those who insist that we remain in the high chair, refuse to give the meat, and who rebuke you for wanting to grow up, are the real heretics.

Will the real heretics please stand up?

1 Corinthians 11: 17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions(factions, heretics) among you. And I believe it in part,d 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

When these, who seek to divide and create sects, stand up and begin name calling..we will know who they are. They are the heretics.

But they are needed. Paul said it is so that those who are genuine can be revealed. Those who are willing to be like the Bereans, who study and walk by faith. Those who offer the same freedom to others. Those who limit our freedom to be like the Bereans are divisive. When you are studying and walking by faith, being like the Bereans and you are labeled a ‘heretic’ by a sectarian, then you have received a truth telling that you are genuine. The believers will then look for fruit. Are you just stirring the pot just to stir it? Or are you walking your friends through freedom in Christ? If you bear no fruit, then you are no different than those real heretics..you’re just causing more sectarianism.

Discovering truth is not just to cause problems like some class clown does in grade school. Discovering truth is to bring people to freedom.

The recent revealing of Rob Bell’s upcoming book, ‘Love Wins’ has caused quite a stir in the faith community. He presents some of the questions that people have been secretly asking for many years. His introduction video presents topics that Anne Hutchinson brought up many years ago that landed her in prison. We live in a time when we are protected from such treatment for disagreeing with someone’s theology. No matter what Rob Bell’s book reveals about his beliefs, he has shown courage to stand up and present his views in the face of the Christianity community.

When we see disagreements about the interpretation of the Bible, look for the fruit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: because against such there is no law. {Galatians 5:22-23} When you see people openly disagreeing with Rob Bell, or any other writer, speaker, or blogger, is their fruit among their disagreeing? Any sort of insult, belittling, or accusations are not of the fruit of the spirit. That would be a work of the flesh, a work called strife. {Galatians 5:20}

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

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