A mishmash of topics. This was taken from an e-mail to a friend, but I wanted to share a little of my life.
The PCUSA (on allowing homosexual clergy) - I wouldn't call them Reformed or anything else. I like that the news article mentioned the Anglican Church of North America being formed from the Episcopal Church getting more and more liberal (2003). They are the latest. The church I went to last week was part of an Anglican breakaway group from 1977. From the diocese of the church I visited last week:
"The Anglican Province of Christ the King is a body of Anglican churches which was formed in 1977 to ensure the continuation of historic Anglican Christianity in America. The need for the new Province arose because of changes in the fundamental faith and practices of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA)."
All I can say is good luck to those who wish to follow the Bible in the PCUSA. It may be time to break away.
So far my denomination has resisted this. I have seen this firsthand at Conference, and sometimes the debates get heated. I remember one year a group brought a proposal to the floor that we issue an official statement on marriage - that it is between a man and a woman. There was some argument, though it eventually did pass. On the whole, my denomination is still fairly conservative. We do have some liberal churches (including one in New York state that is infamous), and we do allow female pastors (I disagree with this).
Today I listened to Dr. James White's podcast. The last two programs have been on homosexuality, and Thursday's will be also (he'll be interviewing Dr. Michael Brown who just published a book on the topic). It's hard, hard stuff to listen to, but it's the truth, and the truth is not always pleasant. How long will it be before stating those opinions is considered hate speech?
I also listened to Mark Driscoll's recent sermon on the parable of the persistent widow. Good food for thought there. What if God wants me to pray for L. not because He's going to change her, but because He wants to change ME?
I do believe in prayer. After my week in Seattle dealing with my Dad - MY DAD! - dying, I know prayer is real and that it works and that God hears and answers.
And God has consistently laid my friend Scott on my heart since Scott drove me to the Seattle church and home and we spent the day together. He's suffering with his dad's slow decline. I am powerless to help him or change the situation; I can only pray. John Piper says that God sometimes uses prayer as a means to getting things done. Perhaps He wants to use me to help Scott. I feel bad for him. I often end up in tears when I pray for him, and I barely know him!
Driscoll's sermon on that parable was a good. I did, however, figure out what bother's me about him while listening to one of the "Fighting for the Faith" episodes (Chris Rosebrough). The host won't badmouth him because he preaches Christ and the cross in every sermon, but he did make a comment that he is on the "fringes" of the Reformed movement. This would explain why the first sermon I heard by him (the first in a six part series on the book of Ruth) was a turn off and I came away thinking he was Arminian!
I am glad I heard that sermon though, since that put him on my radar, and God was going to use a sermon that hadn't yet been preached ("Heaven and Hell") to answer questions I didn't yet have. That is sovereignty, lol. :) That sermon turned me around. And combined with a couple of Dr. White's programs about man-centeredness vs. God-centeredness, God screwed my head back on straight.
I can't emphasis enough how much my Dad's death rocked my world and my faith. I am so glad God took an active roll in helping me to get my focus where it should be. In the end, my new Reformed beliefs stood despite the onslaught, and have grown deeper roots. Every time I lose that God-centered focus, God takes me by the shoulders and turns me around, saying, "That's the wrong question. Look at it this way."
Now I'm just pouring out my heart and totally lost how this started - on Driscoll. Driscoll, Piper, and White help me keep a proper focus and give me good teaching where my own church might be lacking, either from the pastor's time constraints, or his own Arminian views.
I'll end just by saying that we're into the final 10 days here at work before they think the rapture is going to happen. Those of us who don't believe in Camping could use your (and anyone else's prayers). It's hard. We are watching the final moments before a horrible accident, powerless to stop it, knowing that the end will not be good, but no one having any idea how bad it will be. I don't usually ask for prayer, but this time I will - not just for me, but for all the faithful people who work here.