"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Grace Grieving 17: Bittersweet

     Translation: "We have moved in and dispossessed your family. Please feel free to pick another family--ELDER BOARD AUTHORIZED AND APPROVED, OF COURSE--at our WELCOME Center!"

     Actually, of course, it has not been discontinued at all, just relocated. Agape-in-exile now meets at 7PM Tuesdays at a home in Long Beach. Hosts: Cliff and Lisa Norman. All comers genuinely welcome!
     We had our first meeting there tonight and 36 people showed up. It was good to be together again. As previously, Dan Kanouse and his guitar led music, we shared refreshments and prayer, Rick Byrd continued his series on Revelation.
     But it was bittersweet. We were doing what the church has always done--but now we are not allowed to do it in church. I felt we were being incorporated into the universal persecuted church. That was sobering.
     Many of those we gather with on Tuesdays now have found other churches in the area to worship in on Sundays. Cornerstone is one of those which is receiving with open arms many of our shell-shocked, undernourished members. Our friends Bob and Margie Goble wrote us: We have been used to GBC for so long and in just two Sundays at Cornerstone it seems like the promised land has been found, gospel that makes sense, friendly united people and everything that goes with it.
     Another friend wrote, There are more people from Grace there every week. Executive Elder Pete Deeble's in-laws are now regular attenders at Cornerstone. Lahoma Sundstrom told mom she cried through the first sermon she heard Pastor Rueb preach (he has that effect on the weary from Grace. He's aware of the situation). Chuck and Bonnie Horton are now attending. The Bensons were there today as well as the Hagans and Jon Phelps. it's a place of healing and hearing the Word of God preached with clairty and authority once again. It is such a relief.
     From Ray and Ann Rittenhouse, who headed our Confetti Kids: Thanks again for shining the light of truth and exposing the apostasy and hypocrisy of Grace.  We have found a "home" at The First Baptist Church of Lakewood where the gospel of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is preached, taught and lived.  Where Missions and Evangelism are promoted and supported.  You have seen the doctrinal statement published by the pastor, Brent Eldridge.  How refreshing and unashamed he is to believe and present the Bible in its total inerrancy.  I grieve and pray for those who remain “in darkness” believing they are being properly led and shepherded.  Stay strong my friends as God shows you what to do even if you must "shake the dust from your sandals" as you leave that place.
We will always remain your loving friends in Jesus.
     At least one new church (in Downey) is coming out of this--maybe more than one. Maybe even a Bible Institute.
     God brings good out of everything and as He often has historically, He uses the scattering of His sheep--the diaspora--to spread the good news even further than it would have gone otherwise.
     Soli Deo Gloria.

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