Friday, February 18, 2011

A Settling Pilgrim

By Grace, by Agape Love, by Providence the Mullaney Pilgrims have had the same address for over a year now. Settled? Not quite. However, we are taking steps to settle into a community of believers and this too is a part of the pilgrim journey. Where would this be? Just north of Worcester in West Boylston, MA at Bethlehem Bible Church (BBC).

This past Sunday I finished taking a membership class at BBC where we have been attending for the last year. I had lots of questions and the ones I asked were answered. There are still a few I would like answered before I take the plunge and say yes I'm in. In a number of ways I am already in, that is pretty good for a New England Church but after all I am a native. Actually, I was more skeptical of them then they were of me.
In the past nearly 8 years, we have been blessed by many believers up and down the east coast who have welcomed us into their midst, loved and cared for us, made us feel at "home." Upon returning to our motherland i.e. Massachusetts, we have visited several churches and had done just that - visited. Not until Dan started to attend BBC regularly (and yours truly dragging her feet which we won’t get into here) did we actually start to dialogue about making a commitment to this local body of believers.

It is still quite an adventure. Yes, this is in New England and in Massachusetts and in fact when the kids were little we went to BBC for Awana for 1 year. However, we are here at BBC meeting new people and digging deeper into the Scriptures, discovering and uncovering more truth as we continue on the pilgrim highway. No matter what anyone’s position is in this body of believers, one thing is clear; each and every one is human, imperfect, dependent on God’s grace, hungers for truth, loves one another and desires to serve the LORD, one another and those in their sphere of influence.

(Massachusetts seems to be the next stop for us. This being said after 3 years 3 months and 15 days back in the Commonwealth)

This type of settling is making a commitment. It isn’t quite like picking out the best spot on the beach and “settling in there” because we like it. A lot of Americans go to and become members of a church because they like it. And like any other blue blooded American I like to be comfortable and be at ease. It is a good thing to want to be at home with the people who you would want to call your church family. We need to want to belong to a local body of believers who love the LORD Jesus Christ, want to honor Him in all things, know the grace of God, preach and teach the Word of God, we would want to live in obedience to Christ and encourage one another to do so and above all Glorify God.

We had to pretty much push the like question down on the list. The questions ran more like this: Is BBC teaching sound biblical doctrine? Do they worship in spirit and in truth? Do the people at BBC love one another? Do they extend the hand of friendship and love welcoming those who come into their midst? Do they love one another enough to confront with the truth and exercise church discipline? Is Jesus Christ being lifted up and glorified? When these questions are answered in the affirmative, which they have been. Well then, YES we like it. (Are there things we don’t like? Sure but hey there are things we don’t like about ourselves and one another everywhere we go when we take the time to get to know one another. However, we are given the grace to put up with those things.)

For any of you who know of my pilgrimage, it has been quite interesting (and I am not talking about the 18 moves). So why this church? Well, Dan started to listen to the pastor’s radio show on the local Christian Station here and he like what Mike was saying. Dan couldn't believe that a pastor was saying what he was saying. Dan started going pretty regularly and I visited a couple of times. It wasn’t good for our marriage to be doing church separately especially since both of us wanted to become part of a community of believers. So, I finally came around and started attending, a bit reluctantly but with an open mind. Then something happened that I had never seen in a church and had only vaguely heard about and that was the exercise of church discipline. My second to last question was:
“Do they love one another enough to confront with the truth and exercise church discipline?” It was done with integrity, with love, with anguish and in the spirit and manner for doing so as it is laid out in the Bible. This was the tipping point for me. I could belong to a church like this because if I get really off the mark, I hope someone loves me enough to call me out, loves me enough to want to restore me and bring me back to the LORD. It was real, it was raw, and mostly it was sobering. And I thought “but for the grace of God there go I.”

In Churches there are weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. Do we gather on Sunday to praise the LORD, to hear the Word preached, to be equipped to go out into the world? You betcha. But life is not always “all good.” God is always good but life is hard. If you believe that God is sovereign, ruling over the good and the bad in life, then you need to be willing as a church family to take the good with the bad and deal with it effectively. Be mature, do the right thing, even with strangers in the midst. I recently heard someone say, “my life got harder after I became a Christian. I became aware of my sin. I want to honor God in my living not in order to earn God’s favor but out of gratitude for His saving Grace in my life.” Obedience to God is not so I can get into good standing. I want to obey because the LORD God has made me righteous through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Obedience is birthed out of gratitude. I have been bought by the blood and I now belong to Him. Just like a father loves his child enough to discipline him, a church ought to love enough to exercise discipline for their family members, don’t you think?

So what is the meaning of this post? To say Dan and I are looking to become members of a local body of believers and we know it will not always be pretty or perfect. Like I said earlier in this post, in a lot of ways we are already welcomed in as a part of the BBC Church family and it is our hope that God will continue to get all the Glory as we continue on the Pilgrim Path toward the Celestial City.


Art said...

"We need to want to belong to a local body of believers who love the LORD Jesus Christ..."

I really liked this post, Mrs. Mullaney. =)

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

Thanks Rebecca. We were not meant to walk the Pilgrim Highway alone.

Continuing the journey said...

AMEN, Sista!!! So happy to worship and serve with you and your family!! Love you!

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

Continuing the Journey,
I have more readers than commenters so would you mind telling me who you are?
I am thinking you are someone from BBC.