The Christian Noob (n00b)

born & raised Catholic, now going to a Presbyterian church & still learning

Sunday series: 10/31/2010 (#110)

Where: Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 11am

Bible reading:

“1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:1-12 KJV)

“5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:5-8 KJV)

Comments then:

  1. Reformation Sunday & All Saint’s Day
  2. standing by the soundboard (training, part 2) — Mackie 1604-VLZ Pro with Nick and Ian.
  3. Reformation Sunday — when Luther posted his thesis (95) on the door of the Church of All Saints (1517)
  4. Reading of the names of those who died in the past year, All Saints Day 2009 [to] today [regarding Necrology]
  5. “grant us grace so to follow your saints in courageous living that we may come to those joys prepared for those who live and die in your love” [regarding Introduction and Prayer, underlined]
  6. Dem Bones, Dem Bones [regarding Ezekiel 37:1-12]
  7. When Jesus told the disciples to go [forth] and profess the Good News [regarding Matthew 10:5-8]
  8. Raise the dead. We share more with the dead. We’re all in the promise of God’s love. [regarding Sermon Raise]
  9. “we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
    can separate us from the love of God”
    [regarding A Brief Statement of Faith PC(USA), underlined]

Comments now:

  1. Ezekiel 37:1-12 always reminds me of Dem Bones by The Wiggles. It’s just so much fun.
  2. Later that day, I met a Lutheran pastor and we talked about the differences between the Lutheran Church (WELS) and PC(USA). The following is the conversation I had with him, excluding names and any information that may identify him and/or the church.

    PASTOR:

    It was great to meet you at the street festival this past summer. I have seen you around the neighborhood a couple times here in the last couple of weeks.
    This past summer, you shared that you were attending a Presbyterian church in Manhattan. I invite you to check out our church soon. We have worship at 9:30am with Bible class and Sunday school for the kids following. Do you think you will be able to come soon?
    You can find out more about us at our website […] and our blog […].
    I hope to see you soon. Please consider my invitation!

    ME:

    I will try to make it tomorrow. Is there a dress code that I should be concerned about?

    PASTOR:

    That is awesome. I just got your message. There is no dress code. Wear whatever is comfortable for you.
    Our worship service is a special service at 10:30am in a bilingual format. Blessings on your worship!

    ME:

    I went to […] yesterday morning, at about 9:30am. I met Pastor […] who told me that the service had been re-scheduled for 10:30am. I had to excuse myself since I had something else that I had to take care of. I will try some other time. In the mean time, I will listen to your sermon as soon as it is posted on the […] website.
    By the way, I made a PRC file from the ‘This we Believe’ article in the WELS website (
    http://www.wels.net/what-we-believe/statements-beliefs/this-we-believe), which I will read during my commute.
    Once again, thank you for the continuous invitation.

    PASTOR:

    Sorry I missed you yesterday! I was preaching at another church in Washington, DC. Also the service time is almost always 9:30am except about 4-5 times/year.
    Let me know if you have any questions as you are reading ‘This We Believe.’ I am more than happy to answer. I am very glad that you are reading our beliefs. I always tell people that when they look for a church this is really the only criteria you should have: ‘is this church teaching the truth?’
    I touch base with you in a week or so to find out what you thought.
    God bless!

    ME:

    So far, this is what I have read and have understood of ‘This We Believe.’
    I know I’m fairly slow reading this material or any for that matter, but I make lots of notes on everything I read and do.
    You’re welcome to give me your positive, negative or neutral feedback/criticism. In all, I’m still learning and might never truly know enough.
    You may include Pastor […] in this ‘conversation’ since he might have other ideas and different feedback. Thank you.

    PASTOR:

    I have copied him on this email. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
    I’ll take a closer look at your blog later in the week.

    PASTOR:

    I have been following your blog and I also checked into your church in Manhattan. I thought it would be good for you to study the difference between what your current church teaches and what WELS teaches.
    I am convinced that the PCUSA has strayed from Biblical teaching and preaching, but you need to become convinced of this yourself. From what I understand, the PCA is a much better church body and closer to what we teach in WELS. Others have asked me in the past about the difference between Lutherans and Presbyterians. See below how I answered this question to another person below.
    You are doing the right thing by studying our beliefs and checking them with the Scriptures. As you go deeper into the Bible, my prayer is that you don’t blindly follow any pastor, but that you study the Scriptures and find a church that teaches and preaches according to it. This is my advice to everyone I come across.
    Please do not publish this email to your blog or forward it. It is a private email.
    If you have any questions, please ask!
    In Christian peace.

    I would like to know the differences between what the Presbyterians believe and what the WELS believe.
    ________________________________________
    Just as all churches that bear the name ‘Lutheran’ do not teach the same as other ‘Lutherans,’ so not all churches that bear the name ‘Presbyterian’ teach exactly the same. We can, however, speak of what Presbyterians believed historically and compare it with what confessional Lutherans believe.
    Historically, as strict Calvinists, Presbyterians taught that from eternity God elected some to be saved and some to be damned (double predestination), By no means all Presbyterians believe this today. Confessional Lutherans believe that from eternity God chose those whom he would convert through the gospel and preserve in faith to eternal life. See Ephesians 1:4-6; Romans 8:29,30). Confessional Lutherans reject the notion that unbelievers were predestined to damnation, for ‘God does not will that any should perish….’ See 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9.
    Historically, and as a corollary of the Calvinist belief in double predestination, Presbyterians taught that Christ atoned for the sins only of those predestined for life in heaven. Confessional Lutherans believe that Jesus Christ, the God-man, was sent by the Father to atone for the sins of all people, and that he did so. See Romans 5:18,19; Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:19; John 1:19.
    Historically, Presbyterians believed that it is impossible for a believer to fall from the faith. Confessional Lutherans believe that it is possible for believers to fall from faith. See 1 Corinthians 10:12.
    Historically, Presbyterians have believed that Sunday has replaced Saturday as the Sabbath, to be observed in a way similar to the Old Testament regulations. Confessional Lutherans believe that New Testament believers are free to gather for worship on Sunday (or any other day), without special rules regarding work or recreation. See Colossians 2:16,17: ‘…Do not let anyone judge you…with regard to a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.’
    The name ‘Presbyterian’ means ‘having elders (teaching and ruling or presiding),’ as the only form of church government that has God’s approval. Confessional Lutherans believe that the Lord has instituted and provides for the gospel ministry, but that there are no commands in the New Testament as to forms of organization. Like other Protestant (non-Lutheran) churches, Presbyterians do not believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace – forms of the gospel through which the Holy Spirit gives and strengthens faith. Confessional Lutherans believe that Baptism gives new life (Titus 3:5) and cleanses from all sin (Acts 2:38). Confessional Lutherans believe that as believers receive Christ’s Body and Blood under the bread and wine they also receive the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 10:16). Like other Protestant (non-Lutheran) churches, and unlike Lutherans, Presbyterians do not believe communicants receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in his Supper.

    ME:

    Just making a quick note, I was not planning to publish or share this email.
    By the way, when you mentioned PCA, did you mean the Presbyterian Church in America (
    http://www.pcanet.org/)?
    Now it’s time to go back to read your email in detail — thanks.

    PASTOR:

    Yes, that is the one.
    Looking forward to hearing what you think.

    ME:

    Your quote about the sacraments is a bit off — well at least considering today’s practices by PC(USA). Then again I could have misunderstood you.

    ‘Like other Protestant (non-Lutheran) churches, Presbyterians do not believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace – forms of the gospel through which the Holy Spirit gives and strengthens faith.’

    Baptism is the way we’re accepted into God’s kingdom and the way we commit ourselves (adult baptism) and our children (infant baptism) to be children of God (http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/theologyandworship/faq-baptism/).
    The Lord’s Supper is the banquet that God has ready for us in Heaven, a taste of the feast that’s to come, remembering that Jesus died for our sins and the acceptance of God (
    http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/theologyandworship/faq-lordssupper/).
    In both cases, the sacraments are a way to accept God (Holy Spirit) inside us — in God’s grace and belonging to God (
    http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/today/sacraments/). This is how we’re taught and re-taught at least once a month — Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month and Baptism on the second Sunday of the month.
    Of course, the Lord’s Prayer (although not a sacrament) is recited and professed every Sunday — hopefully each one of us with our hearts in our hands.
    As a matter of fact, these three practices are similar even in the Roman Catholic Church, in which I was born and raised. For the record, it took a lot from me to come back to the Church in general after a 13-year break. I was just tired of the corruption, lies and sex perversion in the Church. I finally found in FAPC a good and welcoming spiritual home (09/2008). This is why I might seem very resistant and stubborn when talking about my religious belief system.
    Changing the subject, you used the term ‘Confessional Lutheran’ that means ‘those who accept the doctrines taught in the Book of Concord of 1580 (the Lutheran ‘confessional’ documents) in their entirety, because they believe them to be completely faithful to the teachings of the Bible’ (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessional_Lutheran). I have known of the Book of Concord (http://www.bookofconcord.org/pdf/TrigBOC.pdf) for a long while and have read a little of it. At 481 pages, it seems to be a huge task that even some of my Lutheran friends haven’t finished reading.
    Said all this, I do agree that Christ in no way established a governmental structure for the church (bishops, cardinals, popes, deacons, elders, etc). Nonetheless it’s a good idea to make sure that (1) everyone is taught the same, (2) everyone can have an opportunity to be part of the church administration or pastoral care (for example, Stephen Ministries), (3) moneys don’t take a walk, (4) no person grows greedy and corrupt without getting punished (usually kicked out of a position) and (5) to maintain control and order within the church as an organization. It’s basically order to the chaos of human nature.
    By the way, I saw on the shelves in the church that you had Bibles from the Biblica Ministry (publisher). I guess these are NIV. Is this the translation that WELS recommends or is it simply the translation that Sure Foundation prefers? I personally have KJV (1769), AMP, NRSV, WEB and even Geneva (1599) on paper and electronic versions using Xiphos (
    http://www.xiphos.org/) or GoBible (http://gobible.jolon.org/) (Sword Project, http://www.crosswire.org/sword/).
    Is service this coming Sunday (11/07/2010) going to be at 9:30am? I would like to know if I can move my schedule around this coming Sunday or in worse case scenario the following Sunday (07/14/2010). Once again thank you.

    PASTOR:

    It is hard to discuss this topics over email. Would you like to meet up sometime to discuss in person? We have a bible information class that deals with these very subjects. It would be more appropriate to discuss in that context. I would be happy to take you through it. Probably the best thing you can do is speak with your own pastors about the differences between our two churches and then make a decision based on which church teaches God’s Word.
    Yes, our service tomorrow is at 9:30am. I hope that you can come.

    Needless to say (type), that pastor and I never communicated again. By the way, the latter is NOT in any way or form a negative experience with the Lutheran Church. I’d still want to go to one of their services.

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SARAH MAX RESEARCH

I am not writing about what we know...I am writing about what we don't know.I am voice for voiceless and you help me to discover this crazy world together. BE INFORMED, NOT OPINIONATED !

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