Monday, August 24, 2015

Church #48. Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship

Well I'm still down here. And today was not the greatest, not gonna lie. Today I faced the all-dreaded Pentecostal/Evangelist Church field trip. O Joy! Not. So me and my group got up, got dressed, and drove out. This place is set up very much so like your modern large scale church. This one resembled a school gym in a lot of ways. Full stage at the front, a lot of chairs set up  on the floor and a raised seeting section higher up in the back. It also included a full display of different world flags on one wall.

On the wall, to the side of the stage, there was a projector showing advertisements for activities going on within the church and up-coming events. One of those up-cumming events. was entitled "Out of the devils Cauldron"hostessed by John Ramirez, quoted as being a "High Ranking Ex-Satanist" . 
This is what his face looks like.

And his book.

I haven't looked into this very much. I am almost curious about what the guy has to talk about. But quite frankly I am shocked that this is even being advertised. I just feel like inviting a "High Ranking Ex-Satanist" to speak at your church about all the horrors of the world, is something you would much more likely see in America before you would see it in Canada. Our southern neighbors have always seemed to have had a strong appetite for over the top drama and terror.

But then that brings up the question of what is real Satanism? For those of you that may not be knowing, their are two types of Satanism in this world the real one, and the fake one. Seeing as I am not an expert on this I decided to consult the "Church of Satan's" official web page and left it open to the Q&A section.

Also, I always get a kick out the old up-side-down cross. Because it is not a "anit-christian" symbol at all.

But what really gets me thou, is how "Satanism" is not the full opposite of "Christianity" . This is one of the reasons why.

Lets flip to Mark 12. ( NIV)

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.e 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’f 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’g There is no commandment greater than these.”

Pretty simple eh? Love God, and love everyone around you. So one might guess that Satanism is just the opposite? Don't love God, and use people however you like? Well the first part is consistent. Satanist are clearly atheists. However the second half is not. According to the "Church of Satan" its members are not free to go out and abuse people however they like. The Church has clearly laid out a long list of rules for human interaction, including bans on behaviors such as sex with children or animals, abuse of others, sacrifices and many other things. My understanding is that they believe that man, his nature, and personal choices can and will dictate what is right and wrong.

 I dont buy that. This is why. 

Sometimes in out world the lines between right and wrong are blurry, or different from one society to another. That may or not be for the right reasons, but as long as the goal behind that norm is to "Love your neighbor as yourself" personally, I am cool with it. Some would argue, that human beings would simply be able to lay out some fair practical laws, free of  all spiritual or religious influence, without making anything to crazy into something legal. 

I also dont buy that. This is why;

I was once was having pretty much this exact same discussion with a person who was putting up an argument for the "rational atheist" and I remember him saying "Well we can all agree that murder is wrong right? No place would ever make that legal!"  Guess what buddy? There is an entire country that already has. A place where there is such thing as a man that can turn in his own starving mother, watch her get executed and feel perfectly socially right about it. What is the name of this pit of hell fire you may ask? Two words;


( yes that was technically three worlds but give me a break) 

This book will BLOW YOUR MINDS!

Ted Talk on it too. And quite frankly, when an senior reporter says that this is literately the sadist story he has ever covered, you know it's bad.

Anyhow... where were we? service.. right....

So besides noticing this advertisement projected onto the side of the wall, my group (including our tow Muslim friends) got a chance to sit down and speak with one of the church leaders. He took some time to share with us a current social justice action that he is a part of. In this particular area of up-state New York, there is a noticeable problem with extreme under-funding of public schools. But why they are so underfunded is not as dry and cut as you think. In this area 9000 children attend the public school system, and 27000 attend private schools. And almost all of the children in the private schools are Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Yep, these guys.

Now the school board in each area is composed of the people in the area, with the representation equal to the demographics of the area. So there are a very large amount of Jews on this school board. Who have made the choice to make extensive cuts to the public school system. This church, and other churches in the area, a few mosques and non- ultra-orthodox Jews have teamed up and are calling for the state to step in on the situation to achieve some equal representation for  the public school system.

So now lets get to the actual church service. This is very much so your modern style church, contemporary music, lights, sound systems, full choir and rock band. Worship started out with song and dance, with the choir and band on stage leading the room.( ps. I appreciated the mini drum solo at the end there.) I noticed something the worship songs. There was this huge focus on "Jesus" and very little on "God" which I found interesting. Especially when Jesus spent so much time telling people to keep the focus on God. Then announcements were made. So keep in mind this place is an "Evangelist church" But in all honesty, this church acted nothing like any of the evangelist churches I have seen in Canada. Totally different animal.

This churches highest priority is to go out and evangelize as much as possible, and convincing people to become Christians. This is new to me. I know churches that go out and evangelize in Edmonton. But none like this. They are into it so much I feel like they have made it into a sport in a way. There were a lot of references to the amount of people they did or didn't convert, and a lot of celebration in their achievements. Or as I see it "high scores".

So after the music was over their were some announcements to be made. One of which was kind of a shocker. After going thru the list one of the last things that were mentioned, was that there would be a special meeting to pray for our Muslim friends during this time of Ramadan that they "may know the Lord". 

*aka. That they may come to realize the "true" significance of Christ, and become Christians.

I may not be Muslim. But even sitting 4 seats away, I could feel the wind off of that verbal sucker-punch-to-the-gut that my friends received from that comment.

Ouch. Sorry you guys had to deal with that.

For those of you that may not know. Muslims know Jesus. And  quite a bit about his mother, actually. Because Jesus is a profit, Muslims are required to know him and to believe in him.

Just not in the exact same way Christians do.
To further this, I thought I would send you two links.

This first one is 11 common beliefs between Christians and Muslims on the topic of Jesus.

This is a list of  6 things that Muslims and Christians disagree over.

But despite our standing differences, we still both love Jesus none the less! *peace and blessings be upon him!
 Then we got all the speeches.

One young lady come up and spoke about her mission trip to Morocco. Which was cool.

Then another fellow came up and spoke about his groups mission trip to Japan. That was interesting. They spent there time in what was know as the "Missionary Graveyard". This is a place where many had come to evangelize and all have failed. They ministered to students in school. Apparently they were even interested in possibly converting, however all of them declined. They told the missionaries that they were interested Christianity, but if they converted, their parents would literally kick them out.

Today we studied from the book of Joshua, on the topic of the conquering of the city of Jericho. We then learned about the recent discovery and excavation of the city.  And the surprising amount of common findings between the archaeologist assessment, and the details of the old testament. They both fully agree that the city was pillaged, conquered and destroyed by an earth-quake.

Quote of the day:

"I am a disgruntled Jets fan and I want you all to share in my misery!" 
 * Omg I have seriously never heard so many sports references or sports style talk in one church service.  

On another side note, the city of Gath was recently discovered. Home town to the famed "Goliath".
Discovery of Gath

* The bible actually gives a exact description of Goliath's actual height. Apparently he was roughly 9 feet tall.
* I was reading Samuel 2 and discovered that Goliath had a brother!

One last quote I found very interesting was:  
"We are the most dangerous when we think we can do everything on our own power. God makes us stumble out of grace, to help us turn back to God."  

I have mixed feelings about this statement. Weather us falling is the doing or the will of God, or not, you can't deny that I does humble a lot of people. It is regularly reported that in Canada, church going is highest in times of economic depression.

The more you know!

Have a good one! And see you next week!