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god in church

THE SUBTLE STUFF IN ANY CHURCH

The simple belief building events that do occur in
all areas of the greater Christian Church
.

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1.    INTRODUCTION

The so-called Pentecostal/ Charismatic path, which is the subject of the previous article, is far from mandatory for a Christian. It is there for those people who it just plain suits. And if the palpable yet unworldly events of the Charismatic movement just arent for you, then look to the plain old traditional/ mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant and Catholic church services. Sure, they lack the action of the movement but they make up for it in other ways. You should still build faith and belief there. In this article, I have explained the kinds of belief building events that can happen in these types of fellowships. And I have provided related examples from my own experiences to help guide you.

Remember too, no one has to continually stay in any one community of faith. I believe that it is good for us all to move churches occasionally, especially in the earlier years of our journey, as we head towards sound faith for ourselves. In any case, the Lord may well play a part in directing and redirecting you in this regard. I am sure he did that for me.

Under the following headings I provide examples of Gods presence that can be recognised in churches outside the movement.

2.    'LIGHT BULB MOMENTS'

Firstly, when attending these churches, try to recognise God there; open yourself to his presence. Newcomers, hoping to build belief, often come expectantly to church. As long as they have an open mind on the matter, God will do the rest. He can gently reach you in any service at any church you might attend.

Particular advice or reassurance from God might, for instances, shine out from a Bible reading, from a single line in a church leaders sermon (talk), a hymn (song) or prayer. In effect, it initiates an exaggerated kind of “Ahaaaaaa!” in your mind that provides a way forward on a life or faith issue that you have been very unsure about. One of my earlier church leaders referred to it as the Christian light bulb moment. Watch out for them, theyre common.

A friend springs to mind as a major example. I had invited him to attend my Protestant church because, although not strictly a believer, he was open to Gods existence. As background, his two greatest interests in life were his bank balance and his vegetable garden. I ask you, what subjects of everyday life did our church leader include within his sermon that very same morning? You guessed it: love of money and vegetable gardening. Not the two subjects youd expect to find in the same sermon at all. The high odds of the two topics coming together on his first attendance were not lost on my friend. Not surprisingly, he jumped to the conclusion that I must have had something to do with it and he challenged my sense of confidentiality, i.e. he believed that I must have spoken about him before his arrival there. I dont think that I have ever seen my friend as astonished as when I insisted that I hadnt said anything about him at all. The sermon on the danger of loving money, in particular, should have been a real Christian light bulb moment for him!

Sometimes God orchestrates a light bulb moment for the entire congregation, i.e. he broadcasts his advice. I have encountered that on many occasions, so it is worth watching for. I know enough of the organisation and planning for our church services to recognise the Lords presence there, in and through these broadcasts.

What happens is that a humanly unplanned, yet common theme, (an important message on faith/ life) emerges within a service through its sermon (church leaders talk), intercessory prayers and even choices of hymns (songs). What I mean is that a secondary issue, not intended by those presenting it as being a focal point, is raised continuously by different presenters during the service. And I mean that they do not mention to each other that they individually intend to raise the particular issue. So, to presenters, it is just an incidental point raised individually by them, but as the service moves along it becomes an overall focal point because of the repetition. To my thinking, God places the thought in each of their minds beforehand. His sovereign power, within life on Earth, allows him to orchestrate any event he wants.

Another church leader from the past admitted to me that the number of times that this happened gave him a buzz as well, so again it is not my idle imagination at work. This is all just small scale evidence of course, but it is still demonstrative of Gods presence in the Church none-the-less.

3.    STUFF JUST KEEPS HAPPENING

Stick with any congregation of genuine Christians and you may even come to witness some larger wonders. As my best example, our fellowship had two members over a period of time, one younger and one older, from different families, suffering with terminal illnesses. Everyone in our church knew of them and cared about them deeply at the time of their respective illnesses. Of course we always pray for all our sick brothers and sisters in Christ, but these two had both struck a special chord with everyone because of their dire circumstances and their closeness to us all.

We prayed for these two, powerfully as individuals, and in church services, and in various ministry groups to which we belonged, whenever we came together. Neither of them should have survived. Their recoveries certainly amazed their doctors. They both had secondary cancer (metastasis) for example. Neither had the right to accept that they would recover, but they did. To our church, these events have been just as edifying as a manifestation of a gift of the Holy Spirit would be to a so called Charismatic congregation, e.g. when my wife was cured of her stroke damage through a healing miracle. (And yes, miracles do happen ... please read that article).

I could go on and on, but I hope that you are getting the picture. Stuff just keeps happening in our church, and it never stops surprising and encouraging us! It indicates that when faithful Christians come together, no matter what the setting  traditional/ mainline and evangelical Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic movement or not Gods presence becomes evident amongst us. I will add a proviso though. The congregation needs to contain a good proportion of people who place their faith at the top of their priorities. I would not suggest you join a church where that was not the case! It provides the best environment for you to grow as a Christian; to be nurtured.

Also note that many churches, who are outside the movement, have actual healing ministries on offer. Clergy will lay on hands, anoint the sick with oil etc when requested. Results of such practises may not be as spectacular, as is possible to witness within the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement, but positive outcomes of some degree absolutely do flow from them! The Lord can still prove he is present there in a gentler manner and yet still edify his Church.

Remember too, that faith and belief building should also be happening within our lives as a direct result of our walk with the Lord. Results there compound with the events that we experience within the Church, and vice versa.

Continue to the next article, Involvement in ministry.