Friday, October 17, 2008

End Times At Ridgemont High

Look, I believe all Christians should be ready for what a friend called the *caughtupture*... since the Bible doesn't ever use the word *rapture*, but does mention being *caught up*, I love think the term is perfect!
Now, with all due respect to those who love to study Revelation, I believe knowledge is power, but you are fooling yourself if you think you know WHEN it's going to happen.

There are pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation theories in abundance. I don't want to over-simplifiy, but doesn't it just make good sense to BE READY???
And doesn't it make good sense to put your energies towards living a godly life, and trying to be a witness to the unsaved, rather than invest those end time classes? They don't make you paranoid?? Hey, there is nothing wrong with spiritual preparedness, and if you enjoy speculating about Revelation as a class, knock yourself out. It's just that time is limited and it's kind of shooting yourself in the foot to spend time in class when their are souls to be saved, AND the clock is ticking...just saying:-)
Let me break it down for you in a nutshell: There WILL be an Anti-Christ. He will be charming and persuasive and somehow over the course of his rule, we will be required to accept some type of MARK on our forehead or hand for identification. You can niether buy nor sell without this mark. Christians WILL be put to the greatest test in history. It will be illegal to worship God as we know now. At some point we will be told to denounce Christ, or be beheaded. (I'll take a tidy beheading if you don't mind. A small inconvenience compared to eternity in hell.) But without going into gross detail: Christians will be persecuted to the point of martyrdom.
SO, we know that we are close to the *end times* because of what Revelation has to plainly say about catastrophes, terrors, Isreal becoming a Nation, etc... But TIME is relative. So what we may consider *end times* could last centuries or not. Maybe Jesus is coming any minute. Why take a chance??? Get your heart right with God, repent of all your sin, known and unknown, and tomarrow morning, be serious in your walk with Christ. Live FOR Him and LIKE Him.
The flip side of the coin is; How do I know WHO to follow? Well, I'd love nothing more than you all to become Anabaptist and join the nearest Mennonite Church... but.... it's not likely gonna happen. So, lets examine the signs to avoid in a bad church leader and the signs to look for in a good one:
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe church/leader.

1) Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

2) No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

3) No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.

4) Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

5) There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

6) Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

7) The group/leader will use intimidation techniques and/or public humiliation to retain members.

8) Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

9) The group/leader is always right.
10) The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Phillipians 2:12 ¶ "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" It is NOT the job of another (church/leader/pastor/priest) to do it for you!.

Ten signs of a safe church/leader:

1) A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.

2)A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.

3) A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.

4) A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.

5)A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.

6)A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.

7)A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.

8) A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.

9) A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.

10) A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.
This list comes from the site:
It is my opinion that the above statements are good starting points to validate your church leadership, and determine if your being mislead.
Remember: Even bad leaders have the best intentions. Most have ego's and having them fed is an addiction.

Good leaders are humble and open, and not easily offended.
May God lead you all to a safe Church where His word is being studied and lived out.
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