Archive | July, 2010

VBS, oh yes!

26 Jul

Vacation Bible School at Heartsong starts in 32 minutes! What an opportunity! Did I ever tell you about the time I got kicked out of VBS? I was just a youngster, but I noticed a puzzling fact in the bible story we were studying. It was about Adam and Eve and their children. I raised my hand (I’m sure the teacher trembled because I could be a trouble maker even then!). But my sincere question was: if Adam and Eve were the only two people, and they had all sons where did everybody else come from? She flushed deeply, immediately called me a trouble maker (true, but not in that instance), and kicked me out of class. It traumatized me. Really, I thought it was funny. The truth is she was unable to deal with my question, not that my question was causing trouble. But I guess in that system of absolute literal translation no matter the type of literature or the purpose it is trying to serve it would have thrown most anyone a curve.

That experience only made me more inquisitive about the bible. Thank God I was taught a deeper understanding of the bible that allowed me to have a great answer for that question myself. Do you have a great answer for that question or would you have had to throw me out too? Coming in just a few weeks at Heartsong is a new series called Best Text Ever: God’s New Message For Generation Now. It will be six weeks in and about the bible. If you hang in there with the messages and get into a growth group where you will have time to grow deeper and wider with them, you will find your own great answer to that and many other questions. It all starts September 5.

Until then, we won’t be throwing any young’uns out of VBS. We will take all their questions and smile. And if there are any the teachers can’t answer I’m sure they will say, “Ask Brother Steve that one.” And I will give them an answer even if I have to make one up. ;>)

Got to hurry off to the opening assembly now. Sure don’t want to miss that weak red coolaid and those tiny butter cookies with the hole in the middle. Just kidding! Our treats will be far superior to the ones I got served. And though I deeply appreciate the woman who threw me out for giving her time to try and help me, so will the quality of what we teach for Christ’s sake. Thanks be to God!

Pray for all those who come to and teach VBS this week that something will be said and/or heard that will spark a love for God in those children that will help both them and their families find their way home to Jesus and his tribe!

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2 very different ways to follow Jesus

19 Jul

Just this morning I got an email from someone who had heard a tv preacher slam what he called “joy churches and preachers” as being unholy in the eyes of God. Now, I’m pretty sure this preacher has never heard a single message from this preacher at Heartsong, but I’m sure we would be among those he is slamming. In fact, I have reason to believe we (and me) are exactly the church that got him riled up.

The person who sent the email was confused. He is a regular attender at Heartsong and love what we are up to for Christ’s sake. He was confused by the attack, and wondered what kind of response I would make to it. Here is exactly what I replied to him:

Dear (I didn’t ask him if I could use his name, so I won’t),

That is so sad. It seems like someone would be spending that precious time trying to woo people into spending life with Jesus instead of slamming others who are trying to do that. The truth is that there are two major divisions in understanding Jesus and how to follow him. One camp says that if you took the worst person you ever knew and peeled away all the bad there would be goodness at the core of their being because God made them. The other camp says that if you took the best person you ever knew and peeled away all the good at their core they would be badness because human beings by nature are bad. The second way believes that the only way to help someone to God is to scare them there, and to offer all kinds of rules and regulations to control them.

Honestly, I was raised in such a church and it only served to push me away from God and cause me to believe I was hopelessly lost. The first way believes that the way to help people find their way home to Jesus and his family is to encourage them and love them there. Obviously, we are a people of the first way. And Pastor Gaines and those who follow his teaching are of the second way. When you listened to him did you feel joyfully drawn to Jesus and his ways or fearful and discouraged? We too teach the whole gospel, including the warnings about blowing our lives and wasting our time here. It’s just that we do it in such a way that it still ends up loving and encouraging and appealing to the goodness God built into us at the very core of our being. We do that to the end of the scripture that says, “perfect (i.e. complete) love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

I can only share with you my experience, strength and hope. I am convinced that the second way of following Jesus is far easier and requires that we fool ourselves. It’s easier because it relies on rules and regulations someone else proscribes for us, and we have to fool ourselves into believing the rules and regulations they teach are the correct ones (and all of the rule keepers have different rules according to denomination and interpretation). Our way is more difficult because what we rely on is not what anyone else tells us, but our own one in a zillion personal relationship we build with Jesus himself through learning him through the bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and then spending our lives with him though the Holy Spirit (the same personality and will Jesus taught and lived) guiding us through those teachings into how to live the life of love every day in every way with every one. It’s harder than following some laid out plan, but far far more rewarding. I could not and did not want to follow Jesus the other way. No one could possibly ever stop me from following him this way. The second way led me to failure, discouragement and distance from God. The first way has absolutely made my life and continues to every day.

It saddens me that so many are being influenced to follow Jesus by fleeing fear for the security of a certain list of rules and regulations, when they could be influenced to respond to his great love and have the one in a zillion adventure of their lifetimes. The second way, in my opinion, leads to a fine religion. The first leads to the very reason we were sent to this earth in the first place-to know God (which Jesus said is eternal life- John 17:3).

I hope this helps you. It really is a choice as to how to follow Jesus. Pastor Gaines will go to the grave believing he has chosen the right way to do it. So will I. And only you can make your choice for you.

If I can be of help to you as you wrestle with this, please holler back. I would be glad to spend time in person with you to more deeply share why I have chosen the path I am on. Thanks so much for being willing to trust me with your struggle for the truth. My prayer is that what is in my heart and mind and soul has been of help to yours. I am,

Yours for Christ’s sake

Steve

Heartsong faithful, I hope that helps you have a clear picture of who we are as a people and helps you give an account of that to any who need Jesus, but live in a culture soaked in the fear of him.

Where ya been?

16 Jul

If you have been visiting this blog now and then that is a question I’m sure you have for me. I really intended to post regularly (for me that means 2 or 3 times a week), but life and time have taken me out of my game. The problem was vacation. I had a great time, but ever since then I’ve been out of my rhythm. Seems like I’m in a basic Steve Stone summer mode. I used to think that summers were for unstructured lay back and take it easier living. Don’t know what happened to that! Summers for me (especially this one) have been frenetic and all over the place. And hot! I’m living now for that first cool day-and for school to get started again.
Now it’s true I don’t have any school age children and don’t go to school myself (in fact, if you ever hear that I am ever again taking a course for credit please come and hit me in the back of the head with a shovel!). However it seems to me that when school starts back our whole culture gets into a more disciplined rhythm. I am longing for that rhythm.
I’m wondering if what is going on with me might be going on with you. Where you been? I sure am missing more than a few of you in the celebrations from Sunday to Sunday. I know that when school starts back many who have been caught in the undertow of summer will be back, but I sure don’t want to wait that long to see YOU again! ;>)
I hope you are missing me and all the Heartsong flock as much as we are missing you. Get your hinnie back in here as soon as you possibly can. To tell the truth my regular dose of the Jesus following happiness we share at Heartsong is the only thing keeping me human during this crazy summer. It might work for you too. Shoot, I know it would.