March 2018

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
By Mike Woolley
Each year as the weather turns frigid in the north; you can look up at the sky and see the uneven “V” of geese heading south to play shuffleboard. The geese never invite the chickens or even their duck cousins. It’s just geese – hence the famous saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
 They fly in formation, rotating to the front to conserve energy. They leave together, fly together and arrive together. A goose left behind is in trouble.
All too often I hear of Christians who have begun to break away from the flock. It usually starts innocently enough. I notice a more sporadic attendance at church. Then I’ll check with somebody who is closer to them, and they will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, they’ve kind of disappeared. I reached out to them a couple of times, but they never responded.”
That’s when I know it’s serious. That’s when I’m pretty sure they’ve found a different group to fly with, and that new group is almost always flying in a completely different direction.
When the Bible says the first-century believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship” (Acts 2:42), the word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word koinonia. It can be translated, “partnership,” “communion,” or “fellowship.” The idea being communicated is that the early Christians were being taught the Word of God, and they wanted to share it with one another.
When you are walking with God, you will want to be with God’s people. And if you are not walking with God, you probably won’t want to be around God’s people. I have found that when you are in fellowship with God and getting into His Word, then you will want to share it with fellow Christians. You will want to be around fellow believers.
I have also found that people who are out of fellowship with God are almost always also out of fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is praying together. It is serving together. It is growing and aging together. These are the fibers of fellowship. Fellowship with God and fellowship with other believers go together.
Christianity is supposed to be a lot like a flock of geese. We all get tired and when we do, we need to have someone help us keep flying. We need friends who will fly with us, stick with us, leave with us, arrive with us.
If you are tired right now, don’t drop out. Find someone who will help you keep flying. One of these days they may need you to encourage them. You are flying somewhere. Make sure the flock you’re with is heading where you want to end up.
God gets the Last Word
By Taylor Roche
I got a lot of good advice from a lot of people a lot wiser than myself in college. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise. But as I look back on those days now years down the road, some advice stands out a little more clearly. Some continues to stand out in my mind and direct my actions as a Christ follower even to this day. One such piece of advice came from a Romanian professor I had in a class titled “Life and Teachings of Jesus.” I’m ashamed to say I have forgotten the professors name, but I do remember that his thick Romanian accent made him very hard to understand. But that’s not the point. The point is the advice he gave us, his students, on our final day of class that semester. He told us, “God gets the last word.” That struck a chord with me. It made me think back to when I was little and my younger brother and I would get in screaming matches  over whatever the topic of argument was that day. The argument would never end because neither of us was prepared to let the other get the last word. The person with the last word was by default in the right. They controlled the story. They spoke the truth. And neither of us could live with the thought that our brother may be right. So we refused to let the other have the last word.
But what does it mean to let God have the last word? Well, ultimately it means submitting to His word, knowing His word, and receiving His word as He intended, not as we intend. All to often I slip into a pattern of thinking where God and His truth is merely a part of a large whole in my life. That is to say I have many beliefs about the world, about politics, about people, about relationships, and I routinely turn to God’s word as vindication in those beliefs. Sadly, when this happens I’m merely using God’s word as I intend, so far as it serves me. Rather letting God have the final word means worshiping Him because He’s God and His word is Truth. Whether those words fit the framework of my thinking or not. I give God the final word by approaching His Scripture not in so far as it serves me or speaks what I want to be true, but rather reading earnestly and honestly, seeking His Spirit for guidance towards His Truth.
Interpreting God’s Word
By Brenda Woolley
I am always looking for a new book to read and I recently read a book about a woman who had endured being in an Independent Fundamental Baptist cult. It was hard to read. It was hard to see how herself and her sisters and brothers and other parishioners were treated and lied to and manipulated and abused both physically and spiritually.  It was good to read.  It was good for me to see how easily it can happen.
 It made me rethink many things about how we interpret the Word of God. I know that Satan is such a schemer and a liar and a destroyer. He loves messing with God’s people. But I have to say, when Satan twists scripture and has men and women use the Word of God for their own evil desires it makes me sick to my stomach. 
There is a verse in Acts 17:11 that talks about the Bereans and the Thessalonians and it talks about how the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians. Why? Because they received the Word with eagerness and they didn’t just hear it and accept it, they examined the scriptures daily to see if it were true. 
Every cult has one thing in common, they want to feed you the teachings, they don’t want you to question anything.  We should be checking out everything we hear from every Sunday Morning service, or Bible Study or any studies we hear on the radio or any books we read by anyone. The church/cult that this poor girl was a part of denied  them questioning anything and definitely did not want the men or women to examine anything. I was fuming reading it!  
It caused me to reflect upon man made rules we have let go in the churches today.  We have got to be so mindful of setting up these “rules” that have nothing to do with what God has called us to.  I am guilty of it too.  I have realized things I had heard when I was a new believer and just accepted them as fact.  I am just realizing now that they were man made, not doctrine or biblical. 
I love our church and that we value women, and children and are encouraged to dig deep into the Word, and to spend time examining what it says. I am not a scholar, and am actually quite far from it. However, I have all the means in front of me to study and know what God was intending in any particular passage of scripture.
I am praying for all those damaged by cults, or really bad teaching, or manipulative church leadership.  Today, I am challenged to question what I hear and read, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me discern what God has left for us in the Word. Praying the same for you too.    

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