Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where Do You Belong?

I am packing for a trip back to Chicago and the annual Covenant Midwinter Conference. My attendance has been, at best, spotty over the past several years due to sabbatical travel last year and budget the year before. It's really a pilgrimage of sorts for Covenant pastors from around the country and world. We camp out in a huge hotel and linger in hallways catching up with old colleagues, friends and professors (who can be friends as well!).
It's a time for marking progress or regress, success or failure, joys and losses. Midwinter has been a part of my life since childhood, since my dad was a Covenant pastor. I remember Midwinters in St. Paul, Minnesota and house-guests who stayed with us the whole week, only getting their lunch at the church. It was a different day then.
Some of my colleagues have moved into administrative roles, using their accumulated professional skills as elders and advisors. Others are marking their 2nd and 3rd decade in the same church and wondering about legacy. Some have stayed in the same region of the country while others have crisscrossed the USA if not the world.
"How are things going in ____________?" will be the ubiquitous question asked over and over again. I used to answer that with numbers (attendance, membership, budget, staff) or programs (outreach, mission, youth) but now I'm not quite sure what markers to use other than "It's where I belong and fit for now."
Belonging has always been one of those evasive words for me, being a pastor's kid who grew up in two different parsonages in two different states. I have no doubt that my dad obeyed God's call in his life. As I grew older he would narrate how he discerned God's call to leave a place, go to a place or stay in a place. It was never about geography (though I doubt if he could ever imagine God wanting him on the West Coast), climate, size of church or paycheck. It was about diving in and serving a church until it was time to move.
Belonging also gets very local with people. With what groups and persons to you find yourself belong? Does it always stay parallel to your age cohort? In this culture and time I see very narrow lines of belonging: men's groups, women's groups, young mom's groups, high adventure groups. And while not bad, they are so homogenous.
This past week I visited with an 80+ woman and a couple who have been married close to 60 years. I asked both the woman and the couple what they were learning at this point in life and their responses were priceless. Their responses gave me hope and courage to lean ahead.


At 3:13 PM , Blogger Steve Finnell said...


Contrary to what men believe, only God can forgive the sins that have been committed against Him. Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young can forgive sins. Catholic priests cannot forgive sins. Lutheran ministers cannot forgive sins. There are no men dead or alive who can forgive the sins that men commit against God.


Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.


Micah 7:18 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity...

Only God pardons iniquity. Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, nor Lutheran ministers have the authority to pardon iniquity.

Daniel 9:98 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;

Mankind has rebelled against God and He alone can grant forgiveness.


Mark 2:6-11..the scribes...7...He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone? ....10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins"---He said to the paralytic, 11 "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home."

The problem with scribes was they did not realize that Jesus was God in the flesh. Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, nor any other men, are or were, God in the flesh.


Acts 8:18-22 ....20 But Peter said to him....22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

The apostle Peter did not grant forgiveness to Simon, he told Simon to pray to God for forgiveness. Note, Simon was already a Christian.


John 20:19-23 ....23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Jesus was not giving Peter and the rest of the apostles the power to grant forgiveness of sins to men on an individual bases, Jesus was not ordaining them as priests with that power. Jesus was giving Peter and the apostles the authority to proclaim the terms for forgiveness of sins. Peter and the apostles did just that on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:22-41...36 Therefore let the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified. 37...Peter and the rest of the apostles....38 Peter said to them , "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

Peter and the apostles did not forgive sins on the Day of Pentecost nor on any subsequent day. They declare God's terms for pardon.
FAITH: John 3:16
CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10

Christians are not asked to confess to Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, nor any other men, in order to have their sins against God forgiven!

Christians are to confess their sins to God in order to receive forgiveness. (1 John1:5-9 ....God is light... 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.)

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between men, the man Christ Jesus,

The only priest standing between men and God is the high priest, Jesus Christ.

NOTE: Confessing sins and asking God for forgiveness is only available to Christians. Non-Christians must have FAITH, REPENT, CONFESS JESUS AS LORD, BELIEVE IN HIS RESURRECTION AND BE BAPTIZED IN WATER IN ORDER TO THEIR SINS FORGIVEN.


( All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com


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