Category Archives: Conferences

Static and the Need to Recharge

 

Like riding on a carousel where everything goes by too fast to focus on…

I mentioned a couple of posts ago feeling overwhelmed, discombobulated, and like my head was full of static after returning from the conference last Monday.  Actually I felt like that during much of the conference as well. Not overwhelmed in the sense of “I can’t handle this!” or “I don’t like this”,  but overwhelmed with input — experiences, places, people, teaching, thoughts, activities.  Much was packed into those five days and I’m not complaining at all, because it was fantastic, but I have been very aware this time of my need for processing it all.

I’ve written before of this sort of thing (archived here), quoting from a book I read a couple of years ago called The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney, PsD. It was the first time I’d heard of the introvert’s  special “need for down time, solitude, time to sift and sort through all the things that have been deposited…”

According to Dr. Laney,

Right-brained introverts (I’m one)… require large amounts of protected sifting and sorting time because they take in so much unconscious information. Without private time they end up feeling confused and fragmented.

The more introverted you are, the more you need a serene environment for processing stimuli and for recharging. Why is processing time so crucial? Without it, you get information overload. New input lands on top of old imput, and suddenly your threshold is reached and you shut down. Crash. Circuits are jammed. Numbness sets in.

She compares this to a bank computer, accepting deposits, allowing withdrawals, processing thousands of different transactions, and temporarily putting them in some sort of electronic holding area as the day wears on. At night bank clerks handle them all in a “batch process”, so that in the morning everything is where it should be.

But what if, she asked, the bank computer didn’t operate at night? The result would be —

Serious congestion and backup. Accounts would be incorrect, your balance could be too high or too low. You wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything. Human beings are the same. If you dont’ have time to process the stimuli you take in, you get backed up and congestion sets in. You can get fuzzy or go blank.”

This is just what I’ve been experiencing over the last few days, not only because of all the things I saw, felt, thought and heard on the trip, but all the things that happened afterward. The house was in chaos, in part because of the replacement of the dishwasher, but also because there were so many things needing or waiting to be done:  unpacking, laundry, dealing with stuff that had come up since I’d left, figuring out how to load and use the new dishwasher…

I’ve experienced the need to process this time, though, not just in the sense of feeling forgetful and discombobulated and like I have static in my head, but also in the way fragments of thoughts, disparate images, snippets of conversations  from the weekend seem to drift randomly through my head. I want to grab hold of them, make sense of them, figure out what to do with them… but they’re gone, replaced by another before I can.

Suddenly I’m recalling the man walking his three huge dogs in the park, or me sitting with royal family in the almost empty restaurant on Saturday afternoon, or waiting at the terminal in the airport for my fellow travelers to debark after me, or the fantastic panorama of cloud and rain and mountain and shafts of light that we saw as we circled the airport in Tucson waiting for a thunderstorm to move on… they go on and on.

And that doesn’t even count the actual lessons taught.

There’s also the sense that all of this relates to my bigger picture, having to do with all the new stuff I’ve allowed into my life as potential “necessary” activities.  I’d just about come to the conclusion before I left home last week that perhaps all these activities were not so needed after all. Now I wonder if  I am literally incapable of doing everything I’m thinking I want/need to.

But so far there hasn’t been time to sort it out. Or perhaps I should say, I’ve not given myself the time to do so…   So that is my plan for tomorrow.

 

Grace and Truth Ministries Conference

Willamette River, Salem, Oregon

Just back from attending the Grace and Truth Ministries 1st Annual Oregon Conference in Salem, Oregon, taught by Pastor Joseph Sugrue of Grace and Truth Ministries and Pastor John Farley of Lighthouse Bible Church in Florida.

Both men were mentored, trained and ordained by Pastor Robert McLaughlin of Grace Bible Church Somerset Mass, and now have their own congregations in Oregon and Florida.

It was an incredible trip and conference, maybe the best ever for me, despite how discombobulated I was.  SOOOO much happened during those 5 days that my introvert brain was — and still is — on overload. At times I felt like pieces of me were flying off in different directions.  I never seemed to know where any of my stuff was. Where was my camera? The rental car keys? My purse?  Where did I put my comb? My Bible? The sunglasses clip for my glasses…?

And last night, when I went looking for the folder where my Important Papers were, like the documentation for the car rental and, more important, the confirmation number for my flight today… I couldn’t find them. Though I looked in the car several times, and in my suitcase several times, and the drawers and under the bed…

Yes. Doing that very thing I just mentioned of going back to a place you know full well you already looked in and found nothing.

Well, it was late… And I was exhausted. And sleep-deprived. And, as I said, overwhelmed with input. I need time to process it all, and so far, it’s been a continuous stream of input.

As it turned out, I didn’t need a single one of those papers. And losing the sunglasses will finally force me to make an appointment with the eye doctor that I’ve put off for almost 2 years now. So, even in that, everything is just fine.

I’ll post more tomorrow when I find my brain…

Remembering Last Summer: Barah Ministries Arizona Conference

It’s 10:55pm Sunday night. I’ve not worked on Sky for three days. Or at least not directly, though I’ve continued to read and study about the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 — a study that unexpectedly has been paralleled by Pastor Farley’s lessons this last week. I love it when God does that.

But I’m tired now, and information about the churches is still rolling about in my head in disparate pieces, so I thought I’d put up a post I did last summer about the Bible conference I attended that, for one reason or another I never got around to publishing… kind of a walk down memory lane, especially since it occurred just a couple weeks over a year ago, when we were in the middle of trying to sell my mother’s house. Thus, in the interest of getting to bed before midnight tonight, I give you my report on the 2011 Barah Ministries Bible Conference held at Wild Horse Pass Resort near Phoenix:

 

On Thursday, May 13, over two months ago now, and a week after my car wreck on the morning of the yard sale, I went to Phoenix for a Bible conference. It was the day after we met with the realtor to finalize plans for my mother’s house going up for sale. My sister went home to Santa Fe, and I took off in my little gas-efficient rental car for the Wild Horse Pass Resort where the Barah Ministries Bible Conference was being held.

This conference, hosted by Pastor Rory Clark of Barah Ministries, featured two invited guest speakers, Pastor John Farley (who is my pastor now) and Pastor Robert McLaughlin (who was my pastor for over ten years until last fall). The latter man was the main reason I went. He urged us in January 2011 to attend and I believe I made my reservations in February, not at all sure I’d even be able to go given the situation with my mother at the time. But I gave it a shot nonetheless. If God wanted me there, He’d find a way. I never would have guessed the way He found, but that’s hardly surprising.

Anyway, the conference officially started Friday, but I went up Thursday afternoon. Being the introvert that I am, I know that even a two-hour drive through bright sun will zap my energy and I did not want to arrive zapped before I’d even heard a word of teaching. I drove up alone, listening to my June Murphy Come See a Man CD (you can find it here) — she writes and sings all her own songs and they are amazing. Filled with doctrine, and they won’t leave your head after you start listening to them! My favorite is  I Will…. or is it I AM…?  or…When I Say I Love You…  Wait, I really like Come See a Man, too. Okay, forget it. They’re all favorites.

Anyway, going early is always fun, because you run into old friends you haven’t seen since the last conference, and there’s lots of opportunity to meet and visit. My friends Kelli and Richard arrived shortly after I did, and we all got settled, then went to dinner and after that Kelli and I went out and lay on the lounge chairs by the pool (see picture above), looked at the stars and listened to the Bible class that had been taught earlier that same night in Massachusetts (where they held their own little mini conference in Pastor’s absence.) It was awesome. Listening to teaching about God while looking up into the vault of heaven was quite an experience.

Wild Horse Pass Resort Lobby

The next morning I got up early, went down to the great rotunda (see the photo above) and got a latte and a muffin (they had no scones 🙁 ) and ate it by the giant window overlooking the pool, man-made river and golf course.  Below is a shot of the ceiling. There were birds flying about inside as well. And the rocks to the right are an indoor waterfall. Random Native American flute music plays here pretty much all the time.

 

After I’d finished my muffin and latte, and written a bit in my journal, I set out to explore the grounds, eventually finding a place under a cottonwood tree where I could sit down and finish doing my morning pages.

It was a beautiful morning in a beautiful setting and I loved the opportunity to just sit and enjoy the stillness. It had been a long time since I’d been able to relax and not have to worry about running off somewhere to take care of something…

After I finished my pages, I headed back toward my room, and on the way found a heron fishing in the stream that runs right by the hotel rooms.

 

Here’s a close up:

 

(I’d just gotten started using my new camera back then and was tickled to death with the close-ups I could get)

The conference started at 10am and was excellent as all of them are. There is always so much going on, from the doctrine taught, to the happenstance meetings in the halls, to the long talks over lunch or in hotel rooms… It’s just a wonderful time to fellowship with God’s people, drink in His word in concentrated doses, strengthen old connections and make new ones.

And now, back to this summer, June 2012 — I have a new conference to look forward to in a couple months in Portland. Already have my tickets. Can’t wait to see everyone! And to see what lessons God has prepared for me there.

 

2011 Arizona Bible Conference

For awhile it was touch-and-go as to whether I would be able to actually attend this year’s Arizona Robert McLaughlin Ministries Bible Conference held at the Doubletree Hotel (about a mile from my house) with all that was going on with my mother, but the Lord worked it out and I not only got to attend every session, but also went to lunch with friends from out-of-town one day and hung around for several fruitful conversations on the other days.

And I was absolutely blown away by the conference’s theme this year: Suffering.

Or, to be more specific, “The positive outlook toward suffering that all Believers can have, depending on their attitude toward that suffering.”

 Well, the timing of that subject could hardly be more appropriate. Pastor had mentioned that suffering was going to be the subject some weeks back, but I’d totally forgotten until I sat there in my conference chair and watched the words flash onto the screen. It blew me away. It felt like God speaking directly to me.

And of course He was. Here are some of the lines that especially stood out for me as recorded (and thus sometimes paraphrased) in my notes:

When we’re suffering, we have a desire for a finale — any finale. “God! Just let it stop!” And God said, “No, I won’t let it stop!”

In processing pain, we must identify what thoughts drive us. What thoughts are driving you? Pain and bitterness?  

How well are you caring for yourself?

How much are you surrounding yourself  with people who are feeding you? 

How much power do you give to people who don’t care about you?

You’re not weak when you’re hurting — you’re hurting.

God called me specifically to handle this. And in it I “could see God’s hand in the situation, moving the chess pieces as only He could.

At times it seemed like Bible Doctrine did not help. No. Of course it helped, we just don’t always use it. We let it sit on the shelf while ascribing to the Satanic view of suffering — that it’s punishment.

Or — my thoughts here now — that it’s wrong. That it shouldn’t be.  It’s that old concept from Star Wars — something is disturbing the Force. Something is wrong. It must be righted. In fact, that’s pretty much what novel structure is about. You start out writing, showing the protagonist in his status quo, where everything is right or at least comfortable or tolerable. Then you throw in something that stirs everything up, injustice, loss, pain, violence… and from there on the protagonist sets himself to solve the problem and set everything to right.

We watch that pattern unfold in countless movies. Sometimes, the protagonist finds that he cannot set things right because life just isn’t fair. I don’t like those kinds of movies. Sometimes the protag finds that he could set things “right” but the price he’d have to pay is too great, and he decides to live with the new reality, because again, life stinks, really, when you get down to it. I don’t particularly like those kinds of movies either.

Our culture decries any sort of problem, tragedy or suffering. The news is constantly telling us about something that went wrong, and then everyone wrings their hands trying to figure out how to make sure it never happens again.

A little girl, riding a familiar horse in a rodeo parade for the first time is killed in a not-particularly-freakish accident  when you consider that horses are involved. Now everyone is investigating! Oooh! How can we avoid this! How can we make sure this never happens again.

A loon guns down a congresswoman and several others in a Safeway parking lot… oooh! How can we make sure this never happens again?! I know! We’ll take away all the guns. We’ll insist that everyone speak nicely to one another and never disagree.

Don’t eat this, don’t do that, don’t go there, make sure you use your seatbelt, get a flu shot, stop smoking… and on and on. Our entire society is suffering-averse. Consider it a blessing? Consider it an honor? Consider it something we need? Are you nuts?

But it is. Adversity plays a major role in our lives, said Pastor Bob last weekend, because suffering is like a parent. How? What responsible parents do for children, suffering does for the adult. Suffering challenges us to learn to use the divine assets God’s given us.

In a way, it’s like learning to play golf by reading a book, or listening to lectures. Maybe even watching others play. That’s all fine and good, and part of the process, but you’ll never really learn to play if you don’t go out and swing that club!

You can say you are ready to die, are not afraid of it at all, since you’ll be going to heaven, meeting your Lord, etc, but until you actually face death, you’ll never know if you are or not.

More than that, one of the most important ways we bring Glory to God is by trusting Him. How can we do that if we never have to endure hardship, uncertainty, loss, pain? What’s the big deal about trusting God is everything is going well?  Elisabeth Elliot said, “Faith only works in the dark.” Very true.

Helen Keller said, “Character can’t be developed in ease and quiet. Only in experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

And the word of God elevates suffering to the same level of importance of salvation itself. Both are considered a gracious gift.

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”

If you’d like to listen to the messages from the conference you can find them at Barah Ministries for the time being, though I expect they should be up at the RMBM website shortly.

Two Days Later

Well, here I am, two days after the conference, finally able to post. Sunday was communion and a fabulous message on how when we truly believe we are reconciled to God and there is absolutely nothing more we have to do, when we are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are holy, blameless, righteous and the work has all been done, only then are we truly able to have a right relationship with others. Being wholly at peace with everything that happens in my life, knowing it comes from the hand of a God who loves me, who is for me, who will never leave me, no matter what I do, or don’t do, knowing there is nothing for me to do really but relax and take advantage of what He’s provided, then I can turn to others with a heart of restoration…

Once you get rid of the unrealistic expectations and the guilt and the demands you put upon yourself and just revel in His love and provision, once you stop judging yourself for never measuring up, then you can stop judging others. Then you will stop, because there is no need. If you have no expectations, for yourself or for others (and why would you, seeing as we all, in the flesh, have sick heads and deceitful hearts. We’re idiots really, especially when we think we’re wise and with it. We’re doofuses, pretty much completely at the mercy of forces outside ourselves which can descend at any moment and we can do nothing about it. Yet, we deceive ourselves into thinking we have control. That we can protect ourselves, do the right thing, avoid the problem, the disaster, the pain.

When in all likelihood the problem, disaster or pain is precisely the portion God has for us today.

Anyway, after the final message we went across town to the after conference party where I talked my throat sore. Great conversations. When my mother asked me today if we had a dinner at the conference, I suddenly realized how different these are from what she must think. From the normal conference someone might go to. These are more like family reunions. With great teaching. And conversations all revolving around that teaching, and the things that are going on in our lives which are always amazingly similar.  Activities develop as the Lord orchestrates. And orchestrate He does. Right down to the specific chair He wants someone to sit in at times.

Mary Hugill and I were looking forward to getting together for a long, face to face visit, but it seemed that every day we were pulled away and brought elsewhere. Finally on that last Sunday, we went into the dining room at the house where the party was held and sat down at the table. Before we could even begin the conversation, people began to join us. Somehow chairs were inserted between us, and soon both of us were engaged in conversation, just not with each other. That’s okay. We knew we were having the conversations God wanted us to have. And then, after all that, after numerous other conversations, I suddenly got hot and had to go outside. As I came around the corner I wanted right into Mary and the next thing you know, we were going outside for a walk. Down to the small lake we went to sit on a stone bench and watch the canvasbacks glide about the water where we talked until the sun went down and we got cold enough we had to go back in.

….Contented sigh….

It was a VERY good conference. But already I can’t wait for the next one, which will be in New England this summer.

Overload

The trouble with conferences is that I quickly get overloaded. There are so many wonderful doctrines taught, so many wonderful, significant, even life changing conversations that you need several days just to process the first day!  Then the second day begins.

I went to bed last night thinking of something I wanted to write about for the blog and right now can’t recall what it was. Of course, I only have about ten minutes to finish getting ready and get over there for day three.

One of the things God has been showing me is that a lot of other people are going through similar things to what I am and in some cases a lot worse so I feel ridiculous complaining about anything at all in my life right now.

Lessons have continued to be fantastic. I am going to download them onto my mp3 player when it’s over and just listen to them repeatedly, even if Pastor Joe does say we can’t convince ourselves of these wonderful truths.

Oh! I remember what I was going to write about… why we care so much what other people think.  Because we’re social creatures and we’re fallen… but I don’t have time now.

Anyway, yesterday I had a long conversation with Pony at lunch in an almost deserted bar that was awesome. Then we went to the “Ramada Meeting” (we don’t have tents out here) where I talked to Lorraine and Theresa (who found out midway through the proceedings that her littlest girl whom she’d left with her hubby and little boys back home in Northern AZ) had hit her head and been taken to the hospital. Talk about a distraction! She weathered it fine, though, and her daughter’s okay.

The meeting went well. We had a big group in the ramada next to us having a party, all sitting around at tables as they ate. They couldn’t help but hear. In case they didn’t understand English, Emelio Nana got up and gave the gospel in spanish. Faisal John also spoke — did a great job — and Tom Cotroneo finished up with some great points.

Then it was back to the hotel, some visiting with various dogs that had come along with their owners, and evening class. Challenging stuff. Still swirling in my head. Q& A afterward was without pizza because of hotel rules, but good nonetheless. Many questions on the matter of right pastor and can you listen to other pastors and what does it mean to submit to the authority of your pastor in the midst of also listening to other pastors.

One of the last questions was on how one can know who is your right pastor out of a number of excellent pastors? And a really good answer came from the audience — when the trials come, it’s the one you NEED to go to every day for answers, and the one from whom you consistently get those answers.

Okay, gotta go.

Opening Day

A friend emailed me a response to my last post on the 2010 AZ conference:

“…not that I would ever want to put pressure on anyone….but I would love an everyday posting from your perspective of the conference…would help with the blues I get when I miss one…but no pressure. ha lol”

Okay, Rita, did you read Pastor’s notes or something? Haha. Working phrases from the first lesson… “Relax!” “No more saying, ‘I’m sorry'” and “Stop putting pressure on yourselves to live up to unrealistic expectations…”

The first message was awesome. As I was driving over, I was talking to the Lord, asking Him questions about things I was not understanding and in less than an hour, Pastor just answered them. Not only those, but his words re-emphasized some of the things that the Lord has been talking to me about lately.

For example, as I was falling into the hurry phase yesterday before going to pick up my mother to take her to get her “leucine shot” and lamenting how I always get flustered and tense and tight when I do, the Holy Spirit said, “Jesus was never in a hurry.”

That stopped the racing “gotta do this, gotta do that” thoughts tumbling through my head. I still had an objection, though: “Yeah, but He didn’t have people expecting Him to be there at a certain time.”

And the answer: “Jesus was late for the wedding.”

The wedding at Cana. Yes. He was. Hmmm. So what exactly does that mean? Well, for one, I think that it’s more important to stay in fellowship and not get all tense and flustered than it is to “be on time.” And boy but that provokes an interesting responding thought… Because my first inclination is to say, “No, it’s right to be on time. It’s honorable. It’s considerate.” Perhaps, but what good is being considerate if you’re out of fellowship?

Think on that for a few moments. It kind of turns all one’s thoughts (or at least mine) about what’s right and how we’re to be on their heads.

Anyway that was yesterday. Today I got up, my DH and I went to breakfast and I got to the conference about 15 minutes before time to start. Ran into people from Oregon right off. Don’t know them well, but hopefully I’ll remember their names after this time.. Larry, Barbara, Gail.

I went on and there was Mary with a present for me! Ooh. “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!” she said. But before I could put my stuff down to open it, I spied Larry and Pat and had to give them a hug and their daughter, Debbie, and… their son who was at our conference for the first time! I think I made him terribly uncomfortable when I hugged him, but too bad. I remember when I used to feel that way too. Anyway, turns out he’s been a new name on paltalk, kctwister, so that was cool to have the face with the name and more important in this case the relationship with the name. I am soo jazzed that he was there.

Then I saw Marc from Florida and said hi to him, and Debbie and her hubbie from Wyoming. I love Debbie but had never met her husband before… And suddenly Pony is swiping me away from them to meet the new people she’d brought, who just happened to have connections with Mary and Patrick Hugill… and a little boy about the same age as Hugill’s… Then finally, just before service I managed to open my package and it was just right — a really pretty journal (Mary knows me well: I can never have too many journals) and a CD of favorite music she made. And while I did that Lorraine and Theresa were there from Northern Arizona and they are so cool. I loved talking to them, too…

And then after all that and more I skipped… it was time for class. And class was amazing.

Opening line: “In this conference we’re going to be noting the importance of learning to live in the rest and peace that comes from understanding you’ve been reconciled to God.”

Snippets and thoughts: We need to relax, to take away the expectations and rules we’ve made for ourselves. Stop caring what others think. Stop thinking about how you have to improve this and that about yourselves. The thing I tend to do in the morning — cycling through all I have to do, adding task by task as I go — STOP it! God’s done all the work and provided everything we need for both the natural and the spiritual life. So I don’t have to worry about any of it. Don’t have to worry about the book or the chores. If I’m filled with the Spirit, God will see that what He wants done is done…

Afterward people swirled around making plans. I was invited to spend the day with one group at the Desert Museum, but that didn’t seem what I was to do. They left and I ended up going out to the hotel patio to sit with various “royal family” and share a burger with Kelli until I got too hot and sun blind and decided it would be nice to come home and reflect on what had been taught.

Can’t wait for the next installment tonight, and if I can remember to bring the camera this time, maybe I’ll even take some pictures.

2010 Tucson Arizona Bible Conference

Well, it’s conference time again, and for this one I don’t even have to leave town. The 2010 Arizona Bible Conference officially begins tomorrow, but I’ve already been down to the Doubletree Hotel to welcome arrivals… Hah! That sounds so civilized. Actually I’m jazzed to reconnect with everyone.

Familiar faces from GBC in Massachusetts, from Florida, Colorado, Wyoming, California. Met some new people from Pennsylvania and it happened again — though they were strangers, something clicked and it felt like I’d known them forever.

Went off to dinner with Mary Hugill and her family from Utah and it was wonderful to sit about in the Taco Bell talking about everything, stuff I can’t talk about with very many people. The likemindedness is such an energizer! And a reminder of what true unity is all about.

Tomorrow the teaching begins with class at 10am and 7:30 pm. Who knows what the afternoon will bring, but I expect it’ll be cool. I may or may not be able to post tomorrow, though I’m going to try. I don’t think I’ve ever done  day by day postings in the midst of a conference before, so we’ll see. Right now I have to publish this and go to bed so I won’t fall asleep in class tomorrow (ha, fat chance of that!)

NoCal Conference 2009

karen Golden Gate

Well, I got back Monday afternoon from the Northern California Bible Conference which was held in Burlingame, CA (just south of San Francisco on the Peninsula) and sponsored by Grace Bible Church but which my Pastor did not attend, and so, obviously, did not teach at. Instead it was taught by one of the pastors my pastor has ordained, a man who has started his own ministry out here in the west.

The subject was Authority — how it is the most important thing in the universe. The question asked was “Do you know who/what your authority is?”

The answer… it’s a threefold construct — a triangle of God, His Word and the Pastor Teacher God has assigned to you to communicate that Word.

We were reminded that God is not the author of confusion. (I Co 14:33)

That God does things in ones — One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5) — and that we each have one spiritual gift and one pastor teacher assigned at a time.

We reviewed the scriptures that document the fact that we are assigned a Pastor Teacher — Ephesians 4:12, 13 which tells us the gift of Pastor-Teacher is given for the training of the saints for the work of the ministry. I Pe 5:3 reveals that each pastor is assigned a specific congregation, and I Th 512 adds that each believer is assigned a pastor… and thus a specific congregation as well. The local congregation operates as a body in itself, and all the parts are needed by all the other parts. (I Co 12)

In times past the notion of staying loyal to an assigned pastor and local assembly was mostly unchallenged due to the difficulties of travel and the limitations of technology. If you wanted to hear someone you had to be there. Or perhaps, as in the first century, ou could rely on letters or books. Now with the explosion of printed material as well as internet technology which puts the works of thousands at our fingertips, and with transportation having advanced to the point you can travel thousands of miles in a day… this is more of a challenge. And that challenge was what the bulk of the teaching — and the conversation — at the Northern California Bible conference was about.

With the proliferation of prepared, doctrinal pastors in recent years, many of whom have their messages recorded and made available through the internet or other digitized means, it has become very easy to go “church hopping.” Don’t like what your pastor is teaching this week? With a couple of mouse clicks, you can see what Pastor B is teaching. Angry and offended because your pastor has dared to tell you the truth and thereby become your enemy (Gal 4:16), you can click out of his site and go to someone else who teaches more in line with what you want to hear. Do you just want to accumulate knowledge?  Feel good about your life and your self? Or are you simply curious as to what else is out there? Are you bored? Familiarity can be a subtle attack on your mental attitude with respect to doctrine which can cause you to become dissatisfied, restless or feel dry — though sometimes that dry feeling is just part of the Christian life, a test to see if you will proceed regardless or wander away in search of something new and more exciting.

The problem with this “spiritual adultery” (as the concept was taught this weekend) is that even prepared, experienced doctrinal pastors disagree in what they teach. Some say the rapture will occur at the end of the church age and other place it mid Tribulation. Some say we don’t need rebound (confession of sins to regain the Filling of the Holy Spirit) and others say rebound is central to the function of the Christian life. Some have taught that you can reach in this life a state of sinless perfection and others are aghast at such a suggestion.

All of them can support their positions scripturally because, as my pastor says, you can make the Bible say anything you want it to. So then, how does the congregant determine which is right? To think that you have the ability to discern through all the different teachers and pick out which one is correct here and which is correct there is really pretty arrogant. It assumes that you out of all of them are the one with the greatest knowledge and ability to see truth. It’s especially arrogant if you consider the fact that most of the men you are critiquing spend their days digging into God’s word, study the Greek and Hebrew and have spent years doing so, whereas the average congregant has devoted maybe only 20% of the same amount of time to their studies.

Actually, that mindset, the one of roaming about sampling from this and that source as you determine (or perhaps you think the Holy Spirit is guiding you… but not anyone else, apparently, or wouldn’t they be right?) is pretty close to today’s post-modernist thinking that says you don’t need an authority, someone to teach you, but that you can figure things out for yourself. It says that there is no absolute truth, either, that image is more important than words, that personal experience and emotion trumps reason.  A 2002 article in Christianity Todaypoints out that “when we speak of truth…our postmodern neighbors hear just one more opinion among many.”  I wonder if that might not also apply to some of our fellow Christians, their thinking influenced by the prevailing viewpoint of the times. 

But the Bible doesn’t hold that a man’s opinion or his experience is important. God’s ways are not man’s ways; His thoughts are not man’s thoughts. The fool is right in his own eyes. The ways of a man seem right to him… And pastors were given to train and instruct the saints for the work of service. Yes, the Holy Spirit is our ultimate teacher — we can’t understand a thing the pastor teaches apart from Him; nor can the pastor study and teach correctly apart from Him. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the gift of pastor teacher has been given for our edification and we need him. One pastor. One human authority at a time to respect, trust and submit to — not merely to the man himself, but ultimately to God, who provided the man and delegated the authority to him.