Grace vs. Works

After listening to a sermon and also this one,as well as this one (TAG: “Household of Faith Community Church Gresham“) online full of works-based and man-made theology, my heart was grieved for the one preaching it and those who actually support and believe his message. So much emphasis on the actions, accomplishments and boasting of humans’ righteous acts, and so little spoken of the Living Savior Jesus. Before the sermon was even done, I could predict exactly what was going to be emphasized and even could recite some of the exact phrases used, because I’ve heard it so many times before.

However, now that this cult-of-personality preacher has culled his flock by marginializing those who don’t follow his ways of living, he’s become more emboldened to preach openly his beliefs that were there all along, and were subtly preached before. Those who tried to challenge his teachings left the church (though, some returned). Now he can start afresh without the hindrance of those who really weren’t “meant” to attend that particular local church. This is what happens when the Gospel of Grace is replaced with a works-based, Old Testament Law based message (and only the laws that they pick and choose to suit their interests). Take a look at this link about Christianized cult thinking here.

On Saturday night I had a wonderful experience of attending another different local church fellowship where the message was on Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest and Mediator (Hebrews chapter 4+). One of the ways I knew I had come out of some dark teachings was that I was filtering the preacher’s message with the filter of, “What’s he going to say about a woman’s role in sharing the Gospel?” And the answer was: Nothing. It wasn’t even on his radar. He never mentioned such a strange fixation on keeping women in the kitchen or following men’s leadership. The preacher in this other small fellowship I attended Saturday night emphasized the need that the “fields are white unto harvest”, and that we have an abundance of souls to meet their needs and show them the Savior. Not one word mentioned about how it’s a man’s responsibility to establish some “embassy” at home and wait for the world to come knocking on our door. Hmmmm, I started to notice that by the mere fact that I was filtering this man’s message whether he was going to emphasize some aspect of human flesh works and not on the finished Work of Christ confirmed for me, once again, that the teachings I had imbibed for years before were wrong and not the Gospel.

What a refreshing confirmation of the mercies of God this morning as well, when I received this devotion by C.H. Spurgeon in my inbox today. May God bring us Peace through Jesus Christ.
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“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” – Mark 16:16

Mr. MacDonald asked the inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda how a man must be saved. An old man replied, “We shall be saved if we repent, and forsake our sins, and turn to God.” “Yes,” said a middle-aged female, “and with a true heart too.” “Aye,” rejoined a third, “and with prayer”; and, added a fourth, “It must be the prayer of the heart.” “And we must be diligent too,” said a fifth, “in keeping the commandments.” Thus, each having contributed his mite, feeling that a very decent creed had been made up, they all looked and listened for the preacher’s approbation, but they had aroused his deepest pity.

The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great, but the Lord’s way is quite the reverse.

Believing and being baptized are no matters of merit to be gloried in-they are so simple that boasting is excluded, and free grace bears the palm. It may be that the reader is unsaved-what is the reason? Do you think the way of salvation as laid down in the text to be dubious? How can that be when God has pledged his own word for its certainty? Do you think it too easy? Why, then, do you not attend to it? Its ease leaves those without excuse who neglect it. To believe is simply to trust, to depend, to rely upon Christ Jesus. To be baptized is to submit to the ordinance which our Lord fulfilled at Jordan, to which the converted ones submitted at Pentecost, to which the jailer yielded obedience the very night of his conversion. The outward sign saves not, but it sets forth to us our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus, and, like the Lord’s Supper, is not to be neglected. Reader, do you believe in Jesus? Then, dear friend, dismiss your fears, you shall be saved. Are you still an unbeliever, then remember there is but one door, and if you will not enter by it you will perish in your sins. – CH Spurgeon

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8 Responses to “Grace vs. Works”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    This is what Gregg will most likely be preaching from his church pulpit again. (His teaching on the Kingdom of God is straight out of a Reconstructionist/Dominion Mandate playbook.) Gregg even boldly claims Christians are to have LOTS of children in his audio sermon I linked to; that they are to have big families. This is God’s command, and obedience of faith is required or you may need to reconsider whether you are truly saved, according to the teachings of Mr. Harris. It is basically his Seasons of Life Seminar repackaged, or Households of Strength seminar (can’t remember what they were named before). Here’s a heads up for those who can’t afford the ticket price of the conferences: Just attend HOFCC Gresham for the next several Sundays and you’ll get the whole seminar for free through his sermons.

    Here are the Topics their Do Hard Things family will present at their new and repackaged seminar next year: dohardthingstogether[dot]com/

    Friday Evening, 5:00 to 8:30 P.M.
    5:00 to 6:30 Hotel Check In & Registration & Bookstore Open
    6:30 to 8:30 P.M. Friday Evening Session (Open to All, Free of Charge)
    7:00 P.M. Why Raise Kids to Do Hard Things?
    8:30 to 10:00 Making “Noble Plans” (Late Dinner or Desert– on your own)

    Saturday Morning & Afternoon, 8:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
    8:00 to 9:00 A.M. Final Registration & Bookstore Open
    9:00 A.M. The Goodness of God in Your Family Life
    10:30 A.M. Break 30 Minutes
    11:00 A.M. A Household for All Seasons of Life
    12:00 Noon — Lunch Break (Meet & Eat With Your Closest Neighbors)
    1:30 P.M. Raising Kids to Enjoy Doing Hard Things
    3:00 P.M. Break 30 Minutes
    3:30 P.M. Do Hard Things Together As a Family
    4:30 P.M. Appreciation to Our Host Team
    4:45 P.M. Closing Comments: Planning to Do Hard Things Together
    5:00 P.M. Seminar Closes. Onsite Bookstore Will Remain Open for 30 Minutes

    See Session Details Below ___________________
    ____________________________________________

    Friday Evening, 5:00 to 8:30 P.M.
    5:00 to 6:30 Hotel Check In & Registration & Bookstore Open
    6:30 to 8:30 P.M. Friday Evening Session (Open to All, Free of Charge)

    7:00 P.M. Why Raise Kids to Do Hard Things?
    •Why are so many Christian families today losing their kids to the world?
    •What are the benefits and the hazards of growing up in a Christian home?
    •What is the only real basis for moral character and how did we get it ours?
    •What is the relationship between nature and nurture in raising kids?
    •How does what kids believe relate to what they do (and why does it matter)?
    •What three simple steps can parents take to raise their kids to do hard things?
    •What can our kids do to stop living like guests and orphans in their own family?
    •What is the Rebelutionary Partnership between Strength and Wisdom?

    8:30 to 10:00 P.M. Making Noble Plans (Late Dinner or Desert– on your own. Stay overnight at our host hotel as a family getaway.)

    Saturday Morning & Afternoon, 8:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
    8:00 to 9:00 A.M. Final Registration & Bookstore Open

    9:00 A.M. The Goodness of God in Your Family Life
    •How does the goodness of God relate to raising kids to do hard things?
    •What is “the kingdom of God” and how can we participate in it?
    •Are there “jurisdictions” in God’s kingdom? If so, how do we relate to them?
    •Are there “Seasons of Life?” And if so, how do they unfold over a lifetime?
    •Why the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing (e.g. relationships!)
    •What does it look like to do hard things together in every Season of Life?

    10:15 Bookstore Overview & Giveaway (Catch the Rocket for a Free Book)

    10:30 A.M. Break 30 Minutes

    11:00 A.M. A Household for All Seasons of Life
    •What is the covenant at the heart of every Christian household?
    •What two key responsibilities have been entrusted the Christian household?
    •What nine practical benefits has the household provided for its own historically?
    •Which of these benefits should be restored to every believer’s household today?
    •How & why does a Psalm 112 household raise kids who are mighty in the land?
    •How & why does a Psalm 112 household prosper financially in God’s purposes?
    •How & why does a Psalm 112 household build neighborhood community?
    •How & why does a Psalm 112 household influence the civil government?
    •What can the Vikings teach us about doing hard things together as a family?

    12:00 Noon — Lunch Break (on your own)

    1:30 P.M. Raising Kids to Enjoy Doing Hard Things
    •How to raise your kids in much the same way God is raising you
    •In what ways are our children to be “like arrows in the hand of a warrior?”
    •In child training, why is it important to “train ’em ’til we like ’em?”
    •What is boredom & loneliness? And how are these two actually good for kids?
    •Why & how should we purge and restock our household’s “mental pantry?”
    •What is a “delight” and how does it revolutionize the educational process?
    •What is “the power of companionship” and how should it guide our social life?
    •How can we include our kids (and their fellow enthusiasts) on our family team?

    2:45 Bookstore Overview & Giveaway (Catch the Rocket for more Free Books)

    3:00 P.M. Break 30 Minutes

    3:30 P.M. Do Hard Things Together As a Family
    •Why has so much of history been made by small teams of fellow enthusiasts?
    •Study Hard: How you and your family can learn whatever you ever need to know in order to do whatever you ever decide to do
    •Work Hard: How your household is already a family business and why is it so important to “invest in tools instead of toys” for each member of the family
    •How to guide your kids through their choices of college, career & marriage
    •Party Hard: Why it is important to celebrate worthwhile holidays as a family and how doing so can increase both the joy and the influence of your household
    •How hospitality can enhance, enrich and support everything else you do
    •Campaign Hard: Why “voluntary associations” so often change the course of history and how you can collaborate with a few friends to found one as needed
    •How to help your family members and friends meet and marry the life partner God is preparing for them with no casualties and no regrets
    •How you can help unite your church and your home for the benefit of both

    4:30 P.M. Appreciation to Our Host Team

    4:45 P.M. Closing Comments: Planning to Do Hard Things Together
    •How can mountaintop light reach the paths of life where we have to walk?
    •How does loving God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength support having a clear life purpose, setting passionate goals, making informed plans and following through with bold, forceful action?
    •How will daily family worship support doing hard things together as a family?

    5:00 P.M. The Seminar Closes

    The Onsite Bookstore Will Remain Open for 30 Minutes

    ______________________
    ______________________

    [my observations]
    Another heads up: When it mentions things like “Why are Christian families losing their children to the world?” it’s a launching pad for him to present why Sunday Schools in church are bad. The same rhetoric used by Voddie Baucham.

    When it mentions: •What nine practical benefits has the household provided for its own historically?
    •Which of these benefits should be restored to every believer’s household today?

    And:
    •Work Hard: How your household is already a family business and why is it so important to “invest in tools instead of toys” for each member of the family

    These are code for “Owning a family business, run by your family, is THE Biblical command, so you had better believe and follow that command by faith.” This is what he will even most likely preach from his pulpit on Sundays in this series of the Kingdom of God, because the people who stayed at the church believe this teaching. So now he’s free to preach it. And he will, either boldly now or subtly, if confronted by some unsuspecting thinker.

  2. Nathan Straub Says:

    Mrs. F, I’m only a quarter of the way through the sermon, and already I’m seeing a different picture than you are. The main point was not “run a family business,” it was “live differently from unbelievers by marrying a fellow enthusiast in Jesus Christ, having lots of kids who will also love the Lord, and gathering wealth to share with the people of the world in a way that serves them and promotes the gospel.” Family business is not for everyone (just ask my dad), but family missions is something we all should be excited about.

    Please don’t assume that everyone left this congregation for the same reasons you did. A number of us left to find someplace in our local community where we could serve. This is a touchy issue, and it would be easier to talk about it in person, but I don’t think Mr. H wanted dissenters to leave. For his sake, I wish they would come back to build up the church and help hold him accountable, as he has asked. The hardest thing about being a teacher is not trying to say it right all the time in the eyes of everyone, but actually living up to what you preach.

    He’s our brother, not someone to fear or hate. And you’re my sister, not someone to fear or hate. So let’s pray for him, and whoever else serves in the pulpit at our old church.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    I posted what I believe to be the rest of what Mr. Harris will preach, because it follows what he has preached before on these subjects. The sermons generally (and sometimes almost to detail) follow what he teaches in his seminars. A man once told me he confronted Mr. Harris that he didn’t think it was a good thing to get the rehash of his seminars every Sunday. So, I do believe that Mr. Harris will eventually get around to preaching in this “Kingdom of God” sermon series the ideas expressed that he’s presented before: That “How your household is already a family business and why is it so important to “invest in tools instead of toys” for each member of the family” This is code for owning a family-run business.

    This is clearly not a mandate Jesus said we are to follow. Neither did the Apostles. Nevertheless, in this congregation, from this particular man, he teaches that to be truly walking in the “obedience of faith”, and so that men are not “weak and lacking in confidence” they should be having a family-run business. Just go back to all the citations and audio links I’ve listed in my “Exclusivity, Condescension” post, and you’ll see that he is teaching the same things.

    You and I may come to a different understanding of these convictions, but I truly do try to understand what Jesus Christ has told us to focus on in the light of the New Covenant in His blood, and not Old Testament Laws and dictates. Types and shadows, while Christ fulfills the Law.

    I do know that others didn’t leave the congregation for the same reason I did. I confronted these teachings long ago, along with some others.

    About the “have lots of kids”. Where does that put people who have special needs? Is this a biblical mandate for all Christian married couples? Or does it also apply to unbelievers? ( if it is based on Gen. 1:28?) How does Jesus’ Great Commission/Matt. 28:18-20 work itself out if the emphasis is more heavy on Gen. 1:28? Does that mean you don’t have “lots of kids” unless/until you reach the same amount as Michelle and JimBob Duggar? How many is “lots”? What does Jesus say about the number of children? Was there a number in the O.T. that was an accepted number by God? How does insulin-dependent diabetes of the mother and the health of the baby and any future children factor in? Is it a lack of faith on my part (assumed by some I’ve spoken with) that I don’t continue to “fill” my quiver?

    An anecdotal account: My mother was not a believer when she was having children. She had 10 pregnancies and had 8 living children. Mr. and Mrs. Harris had 7 children (and two are twins), so does that mean my mother is more blessed and had more “obedience of faith” than Mr. and Mrs. Harris? Silly, really, but the “more is better” mentality is there, just like believing that more children means you are more obedient to God, or more blessed by God

    How does technology factor in? Is technology (modern medicine, surgeries, etc.) evil when it involves the human reproductive arena? (I’m not talking about abortifacients; that is not what I condone). If technology (like a tubal ligation) is evil to prevent future pain of children having double-outlet right ventricle (heart) and a life of suffering, than is it a sin of lack of faith, or lack of “obedience of faith” to decide to prevent future pregnancies? (through tubal ligation of the mother.)

    I ask because these were real issues for me to deal with while I attended that congregation with the teachings that were emphasized. If these are “liberty garden” issues, than who is to judge that I made the right decisions with my husband? None of the people there ever even walked that painful part of my life with me, and yet I felt judged and was even judged for not having more children in an online discussion with one of the members of that family of churches. If there is an exception for my case, how many other intricate, personal cases can have an exception to the “rule” ? (which is still ambiguous to me how many children we should have). How is the Gospel magnified with such teachings? Why are these issues not addressed there in an honest and open format? Are they afraid of questions to their teachings that they claim is straight from the Bible?

    Here is another question about these teachings: How did Mr. Harris and his family acquire all the “wealth” that they have? Did they also use volunteer workers to operate their non-profit endeavors (that afforded their sons to go to a private college)? How many of the small, family-run businesses in those churches get the luxury of having a large amount of volunteers, get to write off expenses as a non-profit tax write-off, in order for them to acquire their wealth?

    If you listen to the upcoming sermons he’ll be preaching, you’ll find that what is laid out in his seminars, is what he will be preaching from the Sunday pulpit. And in those sermons, listen carefully to the way he says things, that if you are truly “obeying” God, you’re lifestyle will line up with what he’s saying. You do understand “cognitive dissonance”, don’t you, Nathan? That is what I wrestled with (like the Emperor’s New Clothes) while I sat under the teachings from the pulpit and private conversations with them. They are the spiritual “leaders” who watch out for our souls (I truly don’t believe it to be the case at this point, and am learning more and more of my own discernment as we are admonished to do in the Scriptures). So, while trusting them to give me spiritual encouragement, they were feeding the congregation these teachings that didn’t line up with what I had already known to be true in the Word. This can cause a person to either reject the teachings and know them to be faulty, confront them and bear the weight of consequences, OR slowly integrate them into their thinking, bypassing their own intellect and reasoning skills because their perceived authority has already deemed these things to be “truth” or the logical conclusion. It has been described by some cult analysts as a form of spiritual manipulation and even, subtle mind control.

    We must be diligent with His Word, and ready to give an answer and live our consciences.

    Did you listen to when he preached the sermon the other week when he said this:

    “The best way to stay away from sin is to pursue righteousness, joy and delight. The reason that you see those of us in this church that are mature in Christ and have gotten this through into our hearts and our minds — we’re living *this Christian life; this “WAY” of life. FOLLOW US AS WE FOLLOW CHRIST. NOTICE WHAT WE DO AND WHAT WE DON’T DO, AND IMITATE, IF IT’S A GOOD EXAMPLE, OF SOMEBODY WHO’S A MATURE CHRISTIAN — IMITATE, NO MATTER HOW OLD OR HOW YOUNG YOU MAY BE — IMITATE THOSE WHO ARE PURSUING GOD WITH A PASSION. “BECOME” LIKE THE ONES YOU ADMIRE, AND ADMIRE PEOPLE THAT ARE TRULY ADMIRABLE IN LIGHT OF THE WORD OF GOD.”

    Gregg Harris, Sunday sermon 9/13/09
    This teaching should alarm people on so many levels. The sermon seemed to be a justification of his and his family’s and others’ particular “way” of Christian living and that others are to “follow them as they follow Christ”. This is taken from the Apostle Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 11.

    So, he really DOES teach that people should imitate their way of living (homeschool, home biz) because people should “follow THEM as THEY follow Christ.”

    It’s as clear to me now as it ever has been that this is dangerous idolatry. To set themselves up (to a congregation that seems to already have the basics of the Christian life ) seems to me that Gregg is really telling them to follow their lifestyle.

    There are MANY debatable aspects to his teachings. And yet, there’s not the atmosphere to question them/him without it being turned around on the questioner that a) they just don’t have enough faith to step out, b) they are lacking in the “obedience of faith” (a stronger admonition), and c) they are “weak and lacking in faith” (a put-down in order to spur by way of insult to excellence).

    I actually appreciate you being willing to dialogue with me on this. What I experienced as an outsider for years (I say outsider because my husband and I could not, as hard as we tried, to fit the mould of owning our own business, having “as many babies as the Lord allows”, and every other issue of conscience we had to deal with. Fellowship was difficult because people couldn’t understand where the Lord has had us in this process.

    Nathan, you said:
    “but I don’t think Mr. H wanted dissenters to leave. “

    Then why did he say some of the things he said? Why did he make it sound like some just didn’t “fit” the hofcc model? That is insulting (though, people could just turn that around on the person insulted and say, “well, love is not easily offended….” ). At what point do people decide that it’s not worth trying to “fit” into a congregation where their giftings aren’t wanted or recognized?

    As far as I can tell, because of his exclusive and UNbiblical teachings that he pulls out of the Scriptures to fit an agenda, these teachings and attitudes will continue there at that congregation. It is like his analogy of the terrariums he used to create. He and others who support him are creating a terrarium where only certain types of species can grow and thrive. I made the comparison in my “Exclusivity” post that only certain kinds of plants can thrive in an enclosed terrarium (which he used as in a sermon a while back), but others would fail to thrive and possibly die. However, in his teachings he creates the “bounded choice” that if one does not draw the same conclusion, one must not be saved or is not a very diligent Christian if one does not come to the same conclusion as he lays out from his interpretation of the Scriptures.

    I do pray for him. I pray for those caught up in his teachings, too. I also trust in the Word of God through the Spirit of Jesus that His burden is light and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, many years of sitting under that teaching took a spiritual toll on my and I doubted where God was leading our family and myself, because we didn’t “fit the lifestyle”. It has sent me to my knees in prayer and tears, and straight into the Bible to research all these passages that they’ve emphasized through these teachings and I found that the Scriptures were not represented well. There has been an agenda. I’m just trying to shed more light on it, and from my own experience in these teachings.

    This isn’t about hate. This is about accurately handling Scripture. It’s about searching out diligently what the Scriptures teach. It’s about discerning the Truth from the doctrines of men. It’s about this:

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. — 1 John 4:1

    And this, by the grace of God, I will do.

    Thanks for listening, Nathan.

  4. Nathan Straub Says:

    Wow…. I hope I didn’t take your time away from anything important to write that long of a response. I’m sorry if I don’t hit on all your points; here’s my attempt after a second read-through.

    The verse in Romans 14:5 says “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” It’s the same passage Mr. Harris used to get the “liberty gardens” idea. Just because he has strong opinions on how the Bible should be lived out in his life doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have differing opinions. If we think he’s not following Christ in a matter, we can just ignore it (or point it out to him). He airs his opinions because he believes they’re true based on experience, and they’re the only opinions he has.

    On specifics:

    1. “How did Mr. Harris and his family acquire all the “wealth” that they have?” By providing a service that people were willing to pay for.

    2. “Did they also use volunteer workers to operate their non-profit endeavors (that afforded their sons to go to a private college)?” Yes and no. Volunteers including my family did what they did for the sake of the message. And fellowship. Volunteer workers from church also helped remodel my house, which added to its retail value. So what, that was their choice. No… the twins’ tuition came from a scholarship awarded at a debate tournament.

    3. “How many of the small, family-run businesses in those churches get the luxury of having a large amount of volunteers, get to write off expenses as a non-profit tax write-off, in order for them to acquire their wealth?” If you ask me, paid help is more reliable. Sounds like an extra headache in recruitment. Sure the non-profit aspect is unfair, but that’s the nature of the tax code. And it reflects the esteem people have for the message that Noble Institute is deemed educational/religious by the IRS.

    “[Running a family business] is clearly not a mandate Jesus said we are to follow. Neither did the Apostles.” Then take it or leave it. Seems like the church doesn’t have much to go on if this is the common ground we desperately cling to.

    4. “About the “have lots of kids”. Where does that put people who have special needs?” It puts them in a special situation. 🙂

    5. “Is this a biblical mandate for all Christian married couples?” No, it’s a motivation rather than a command. Malachi says he made the husband and wife one because he was seeking godly offspring.

    6. “Or does it also apply to unbelievers? ( if it is based on Gen. 1:28?)” Sure. Just like the command to believe the gospel applies to unbelievers. 🙂

    7. “How does Jesus’ Great Commission/Matt. 28:18-20 work itself out if the emphasis is more heavy on Gen. 1:28?” I guess this works itself out in the area of making disciples… the more disciples you have in your family, the more missionaries you’ll have in the future.

    8. “Does that mean you don’t have “lots of kids” unless/until you reach the same amount as Michelle and JimBob Duggar?” I don’t know. That’s between you and God… the preacher just points out the Biblical motivation.

    9. “How many is “lots”?” It doesn’t have to be lots. Look at Rachel or Hannah in the Bible. It’s a matter of asking for the right things with the right motives and being thankful for whoever he gives you.

    10. “What does Jesus say about the number of children?” Nothing. Unless you count the attributions in Hebrews 2:10-13, which are talking about the disciples and the elect. How “many sons” will be brought to glory? 🙂

    11. “Was there a number in the O.T. that was an accepted number by God?” Twelve. It’s gotta be twelve… but that was only achieved with the help of four wives…. 😐

    12. “How does insulin-dependent diabetes of the mother and the health of the baby and any future children factor in? Is it a lack of faith on my part (assumed by some I’ve spoken with) that I don’t continue to “fill” my quiver?” You’re accepting the physical condition God gave you, and trying to make a wise, ethical decision based on it.

    13. “My mother was not a believer when she was having children. She had 10 pregnancies and had 8 living children. Mr. and Mrs. Harris had 7 children (and two are twins), so does that mean my mother is more blessed and had more “obedience of faith” than Mr. and Mrs. Harris? Silly, really, but the “more is better” mentality is there, just like believing that more children means you are more obedient to God, or more blessed by God” Sounds more like common grace than a conditional blessing in your mom’s case.

    14. “Is technology (modern medicine, surgeries, etc.) evil when it involves the human reproductive arena?” No, people are evil, so they use technology in evil ways, for evil purposes.

    15. “(I’m not talking about abortifacients; that is not what I condone).” I’m glad.

    16. “If technology (like a tubal ligation) is evil to prevent future pain of children having double-outlet right ventricle (heart) and a life of suffering, than is it a sin of lack of faith, or lack of “obedience of faith” to decide to prevent future pregnancies? (through tubal ligation of the mother.)” I know they used BC, and he wished he used it less so they could have had more kids. I don’t know… you could probably exercise faith either way, depending on the situation; for example, if you had a divine promise of healing… or you could trust him to bless you in other ways if you knew there was a probability of not conceiving a healthy child. I still don’t know. Maria has been a huge blessing in my family, and we both know that abortion is wrong. There could be some way to apply Galatians 4:27. Your proposed situation is an ethical issue that we just hardly ever consider. That’s the difference between a pastor and a seminar instructor.

    17. “If these are “liberty garden” issues, than who is to judge that I made the right decisions with my husband?” No one, I guess. Is it still ok for people to wonder and ask?

    18. “None of the people there ever even walked that painful part of my life with me,” – I wish we had.

    19. “and yet I felt judged and was even judged for not having more children in an online discussion with one of the members of that family of churches.” The format doesn’t really lend itself to compassion, does it?

    20. “If there is an exception for my case, how many other intricate, personal cases can have an exception to the “rule” ? (which is still ambiguous to me how many children we should have).” That’s why I called it a motivation, not a rule. Having many godly children is a biblical priority that is often ignored by the wider church, but it’s not the main priority. This realm of application is the hardest to deal with, and when application issues aren’t ever discussed, it makes you wonder whether people are paying attention and expecting to apply a teaching.

    21. “How is the Gospel magnified with such teachings?” Because it exalts God as the sovereign ruler of history… who loved people before they were born and chose to let them be conceived by a couple who thought they were done having children until they attended a seminar and heard that children are a blessing…

    22. “Why are these issues not addressed there in an honest and open format?” Because we’re not honest and open people. Because they would be uncomfortable for children’s ears in a family-integrated format. Because they’re not comfortable for anyone. So they’re likely to be mentioned only in a big book by Dr. Dobson or in a college bioethics class.

    23. “Are they afraid of questions to their teachings that they claim is straight from the Bible?” Probably. That’s ok… it keeps them/us humble.

    24. “You do understand “cognitive dissonance”, don’t you, Nathan?” Yes. I’ve experienced it.

    25. “Fellowship was difficult because people couldn’t understand where the Lord has had us in this process.” Can you try to help them understand? Have you found a way way to be sincere with people without easily getting offended?

    26. “At what point do people decide that it’s not worth trying to “fit” into a congregation where their giftings aren’t wanted or recognized?” Well, for us it was after seven years. Some people recognized our giftings and some didn’t. That’s not the point. I think the point is for us to understand why God gave us giftings… not so we’d feel accepted (because he already accepted us before he gave us the gifts), but so we could build up one another.

  5. Nathan Straub Says:

    I just remembered that there’s a couple who had a similar diabetes/sterilization issue, who used to go to the church. They told about it at a baby shower for a child they adopted.

  6. Kathleen Says:

    Nathan, with the thoughtful responses you’ve given, I would guess there is a pastoral gifting in you somewhere 🙂

    This has been a productive discussion, I think. It really helps me to understand that though someone holds a “perceived” authority from teachings (Mr. Harris) and associations, he may very well just be full of opinions and people can take those opinions or leave them. I have chosen to leave them, even though his seminar speaking is persuasive enough to make a person believe that they are biblical mandates.

    The good thing in all of this pondering and asking has been that it’s put me in deeper study of the Bible and conviction of what the Scripture is teaching me by the Spirit of God.

    On a completely unrelated note: My daughter will be mailing you some information from the teacher in Taiwan to you.

    Have a great evening 🙂

  7. Kathleen Says:

    Well, I listened to the following sermon (10/11), and I’ve got the impression that Gregg does a bit of reading of my blog. Maybe that’s total presumption on my part, but some of the things he presented in his Sunday Seminar, er, I mean Sermon, were right along the same lines as I pointed out a week before he preached (pretty sure he’s done this before). The phrase “have lots of kids” (and repeated over throughout his sermon) comes to mind. It actually makes me feel sorry for the man that he uses a bully pulpit instead of really just exegeting the Scriptures accurately and with pastoral care. He sounds like a warped, broken record filled with his seminar ideas. Is there no refreshing, revelatory insight into the Scriptures, including the precious New Testament promises and treasures that comes to him?

    The O.T. Law: James 2:8-13

    “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

  8. Kathleen Says:

    Nathan, I don’t think I ever got to meet the couple who were dealing with diabetes and adoption. Since the idea of sterilization seems to be an area not left to liberty in some circles but to breaking the “command” to be fruitful and multiply (and all its related verses on childbearing, ala Psalm 127, etc.) I wonder how they perceived such teachings. I would have liked to have met them.

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