Greetings dear Friends:
I appreciate you visiting with me today.
Americans are great church hoppers. If they don’t like a church, they jump out. Americans pretty much hop and jump all the time, whether from a church, a job, or even a marriage.
There is certainly a lot to be said about jumping, but let me focus on just one thought.
Sometimes we hop out because we haven’t given enough forethought as to where we jump. Then once in, it didn’t look like what we wanted. For example, that great church with the great choir only wanted my money; that pretty girl had no character, and that boss at work was a jerk.
From time to time, a counseling or spiritual direction client will ask me how to pick a church. It is an incredible task. I have studied many church websites, and the “what we believe sections” generally have severe information lacks.
I go into detail about how to pick a church in Listen with the Ear of Your Heart. For now, I present the article below that might shake you up.
by Abbot Oscar Joseph, OCCO
I have a rather profound and vital question for us.
But first, let me tell you a sad story.
A few years ago, I was helping a local church build its community. As a part of that, I asked them to describe what makes their church so different that others would be persuaded to join? None of them were able to do that.
I then asked what the founder of their church believed regarding the permanence of salvation?
They were all quick to answer, “Once saved, always saved.”
Actually, that was the wrong answer. The church’s founder believed in the possibility of losing your salvation.
When I told them, they all freaked out!
The purpose of my story is to encourage you to get to know what your church believes.
What does your church believe regarding culpability through participation?
For example, if your church believes that abortion is a grave sin and if you were to drive someone to the abortion clinic do you share the same sin as they do?
What if you were to vote a political or religious official into office would you be culpable for their sinful legislations?
If you are culpable, then to what degree and what are your subsequent moral obligations?
The above is a moral conscience developmental question.
What does your church teach?
From The Joy of Spiritual Freedom p. 7
“It is an injustice to say, “I have said the healing prayer. God answers all prayers. Therefore you are healed if you believe that you shall receive.” What effectively is being said is, “I have done my part; we can trust God to do His part, now how about you do your part? You must have enough faith.” If the person is not obviously healed, he now has two problems: the illness and the guilt that his faith was not adequate. Once again, we have made ourselves God.”
A current exercise in power is applying guilt to persons, places, and things. We must measure up to a standard set by others if we are to receive approval. All too often, we believe that God does the same thing.
Let’s make it clear. When we were at our worst, God sent us His Son not to judge but to redeem us. The cross illustrates God’s love. He has already given His love to us. We are already approved.
God does want us to get closer to Him as a lover would wish to his beloved. God wants us to make Him first in our lives as would we would want our beloved.
From Memoirs of a Christian Healer p. 5
“It is impossible to name the large number of supporters, mentors, and friends who encouraged me during those years. Certainly, perpetual thanks and gratitude go to my immediate family.”
If you are participating in any kind of ministry do NOT even attempt to do it alone. If you try, Satan and his human collective will destroy you.
Before you begin, a ministry makes sure that your immediate family is 100% on board and that they and you know the terrible cost that will have to be paid.
Ministry is a sacrificial service that requires much love and courage.
From Listen with the Ear of Your Heart p. 2
“We, you, all of us suffer the universal fears of abandonment and annihilation. Or put in simpler terms, fear of rejection and fear of death. It is easy to understand the fear of rejection. You might even do things out of character to win the approval of others. You might assume the personality or characteristics that your family, culture, employers, and churches dictate are the most acceptable.”
We spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to earn the approval of others. The rub is that those we wish to please don’t have a clearly defined standard for acceptance. They often don’t even know who they are.
It would be better for us to know how God “feels” about us. I often ask my counseling clients to write a description of how God “feels” about them. It is very encouraging. I ask you to do the same.
God told me, “I am a son of God, brother of Jesus, heir to the kingdom now and forever.” I am to show my inheritance now through being a prophet, priest, healer, and teacher.
When I remember God’s definition of me, I am much less influenced by my weakness of desiring others’ approval.
Abbot Oscar Joseph has been a Christian Counselor and Spiritual Director to hundreds over the past thirty-five years. He has also conducted healing services throughout the East Coast of the United States. He is currently a Bishop and serves as the Abbot General of the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross.