Thursday, September 27, 2012

What is Truth?

Changing Churches: News & Views       
A Newsletter for Christians Concerned About Changing Churches  
- On this rock I will build my church. Matt. 16:18

What is Truth?
Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal, by Chuck Swindoll, is one of the most passionate and hopeful books on the church I have read. His thoughts and beliefs on the Truth of God's Word resonate with mine. Dr. Swindoll, a well known pastor, theologian and author, is also known for his Insight for Living radio broadcast. 

Swindoll addresses this book to serious churchgoers and church leaders, urging that the Word of God be central in church worship. He describes erosion that has taken place in the church over the years, a gradual slide from its past historical foundations. We live in a postmodern world in which many no longer believe in absolute truth. Quoting from Isaiah 12:32, "Men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do," Swindoll says the church needs discernment and clear heads in turning the tide of postmodernism that has caused the church to slide "into the murky waters of a post-Christian swamp."

"Men who understood the times..."
A sermon series on this very subject, and citing this same scripture, alerted me to the inroads of postmodernism into the church. We are in an age of skepticism which says you cannot know truth; it's not universal, not absolute. According to post moderns, truth is not discovered; it is created by the prevailing community. There are no timeless truths. There are no absolutes. This thinking is prevalent in the church as well as outside it. Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church, says you really can't interpret the Bible accurately and correctly because you and I were not there at the time. "We are making it true as we live it out today." 

No absolute truth? No absolute right and wrong? Lord, help us! I believe all Scripture is inspired. The Bible says so. "All Scripture is God breathed..." (2 Tim. 3:16) We try to understand the words in historical context. But we know there is something unique that sets Scripture apart from other literature. The truth of the Word is timeless and universal because it is from God. It is God's Word.

Church: We must guard the truth of the Word in order to know Him and be true to Him. No truth? Know Truth: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Guard the Word that was entrusted to you.

Blessings, Dottie
Dottie Parish

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Matt. 6:1-4 “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” NIV

Dear Father,
You have taught me to be more giving than I was in the past and this has its own reward. It feels good to give. I can see it would be easy to feel self-righteous about any giving I do, feeling pride in it and wanting to be admired or honored by others. It bothers me when Christians give with the understanding that their name will be made public as the donor. While I do want to please others I’m not comfortable being honored. I want to only bring honor to You.

Help me to be on guard against pride in my giving. Help me always remember that the giving I do is inspired by You. Until I learned Your way of love, my nature mostly kept money and things for myself. Self-centeredness continues, but less so. I’m sure there are other areas in which I am a hypocrite – deceitful, prideful and self-centered. Reveal these to me and change me, Lord.

Matt. 6:5-8 When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men….But when you pray go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray do not keep on babbling…. for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. NIV

I pray I am not like the hypocrites. Studying this has shown me how many times You warn about being hypocritical. Yet we all have our pretenses and a desire for attention or even acclaim. Show me sins in this area and help me be real - with no pretense in me. Paul says in Roman:12:9  “Let love be sincere,” which means literally unhyocritical. I enjoy praying in secret while public praying is more difficult. I know the key to both is praying from my heart. I need to be open and real and let the Spirit pray through me. All prayer needs to focus on You, not on what others think. Show me when I’m just babbling and help me listen to You more.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When Marriage is in a Rut

It's easy for a marriage to fall into a rut, to become routine and distant. We say the same things to each other over and over. We ask: "How was your day?" "What's new?" And our answers are also routine. “My day was fine.” “Not much is new.” We’re in a rut when we avoid all topics except those having to do with the children or our work. We’re in a rut when we talk mostly about the news, the weather and sports. These topics are all fine and some of them are necessary in order for a family to function. The problem is they do not help us get very close to one another. Nor do they give us much new information about each other. We remain stuck in a rut.

How to Get Out of a Rut
Couples whose marriage is in a rut need to change the way they communicate. Getting out of the rut will take effort and determination. Here are some ways to do this.

1. Vary your communication. Make one "different" statement each day. If you’re usually quiet – share something about your work, for example. Take a small risk and tell your husband or wife some of your thoughts and feelings; tell some of the things you want him or her to know about you, but don’t usually share.
2. Tell about your early life. Ask your partner to tell you about his or her childhood— in detail. Tell your partner about your childhood also. What was he/she like as a little boy or girl? Tell the worst thing that happened?  Tell the best time in your life? Describe the funniest memory? When were you happiest? Find out all you can about each phase of each other’s life. One easy way to do this is to get out old photo albums and look through these together, describing your childhoods as revealed in the photos. There is no need to do this all at once. In fact, if you spend an hour at a time and keep coming back to it, you may enjoy it more and learn more. 
3. Talk about the future.  What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions?  What do you each want to have or be or do? What are your career goals? What do you each hope to be doing five years from now? Ten years from how?  What kind of retirement do you hope to have? How would you like your marriage, family and children to be in the future?

Talk about your marriage. Describe the happiest day of your marriage. Which vacation was the best? What surprised each of you the most about marriage? About being a parent? About each other?  What do you like best about each other? Talk about the rut your marriage is in and how to liven things up between you.
During all of these discussions be a good listener and be positive in responding to each other. This will encourage further communication. Notice most of these topics focus on positive experiences. We tend to communicate more about the negative experiences we go through in marriage and we forget to communicate about the many positive things. Communicating in this new way may feel very strange at first. Go slow with it and be patient with each other.

Worship and Pray Together. One of the most effective ways to get out of a rut is to worship and pray together. Sharing your intimacy with God is life-changing. 

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NIV

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, September 7, 2012

Changing Churches: Are You A Church Switcher?

Note to readers: I plan to blog at least weekly this year and will cycle through (1) the commands of Jesus (the red words), (2) marriage and family issues and (3) church issues. For the last year I've sent a newsletter called Changing Churches: News and Views with information about church in today's world. I've decided to post these "newsletters" here occasionally so many more Christians can learn from them. Here's #1

Changing Churches: News & Views       
A Newsletter for Christians Concerned About Changing Churches  
                               - On this rock I will build my church. Matt. 16:18

Are you a "church hopper" 
...or thinking of becoming one?
Do you look down on Christians who change churches? According to a Lifeway study, 76% of "church switchers" are devout Christians! I plan to write about this difficult journey and give you information on:
  • The right reasons to leave a church
  • Managing the pain of leaving a familiar church
  • Searching for another church - the anxiety and adventure
  • Handling conflict between spouses about leaving and searching
  • Finding the new church that fits you and God's plan for you 
Do you wonder about vast changes in church?
Do you wonder what will bring church unity? And what will bring transformation in the church? I plan to write about:
  • Changes in worship and music
  • Differing world views and the postmodern church
  • Effect of our culture on the church
  • Biblical solutions to increase faith, unity and transformation
How am I qualified to write about these issues? Good question. I'm a two time "church switcher." I've walked this painful road. I'm also a clinical social worker. I know losing relationships is very painful - and church membership is about relationships with precious brothers and sisters in Christ. It's not easy to leave a church and most people don't do so nonchalantly. As a result of my journey I have read over forty books on churches in recent years. I also read Christianity TodayGood News, and Modern Reformation, and Chuck Colson's Breakpoint newsletter. I'm not a theologian or a pastor so can't give their learned viewpoint. But I will give you an honest "view from the pew." And I will summarize ideas from theologians and pastors. I write this to help build up the church - not to bash the church. I love the church. My husband and I have belonged to three marvelous but imperfect churches in the last twenty years. There are no perfect churches.

My hope is that this newsletter will interest and help (1) church hoppers, (2) devout Christians concerned about the direction of church changes, (3) church pastors and leaders who want to better meet the needs of church visitors and leavers, and (4) to all who would like to discover ways to refresh the church and even transform it.
Blessings, Dottie