As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio, Southern Michigan, and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.
Pleasant Chapel United Methodist Church, Van Wert, Ohio, Ron Lumm, pastor Facebook
Vending machine Jesus. Snickers Jesus? M&M Jesus? Zero Jesus Zagnut Jesus? Milky Way Jesus? Almond Joy Jesus? Insert money, pull the handle, and you will have your very own personal Savior!
Divine Mercy Catholic Church, Payne, Ohio, Joseph Poggemeyer, priest Website
St. Jacobs United Church of Christ, Payne, Ohio, James Langham, pastor No Web Presence
St. Marys Catholic Church, Antwerp, Ohio, Joseph Poggemeyer, priest Website
St. Paul United Methodist Church, Payne, Ohio, Facebook
No one knows how long eternity is or if it even exists. We do, however, know how short life is. Why spend your short life chasing after an eternity that does not exist?
Trinity Lutheran Church, Van Wert, Ohio No Web Presence
I tried to open the church door so I could get the keys to heaven. The door was locked.
You can tell a lot about a church without ever attending a service. All you have to do is read the sign in front of the church and it will tell you all you need to know. I love taking photographs of church signs, and now that I have an iPhone, I no longer need to take my DSLR with me every time we go out to eat or shop.
The iPhone camera is quite adequate for snapping photographs of church signs, so I plan to publicize, through my blog, the theology and message of some of the Evangelical churches Polly and I drive by on our trips to here and there.
The sign begs the question, how can we know God, not just any God, but the God of the Ottawa Missionary Church, inhabits our future? No one has ever seen or lived the future, much like no one has ever seen God. All we have to go on is words written down in a book by unknown authors thousands of years ago.
The next church, Faith Assembly of Believers, located at 1604 E Main St Ottawa, Ohio has a double-faced sign that catches passerbys coming and going. The church has no website. Larry Bibler pastors the church.
Faith Assembly of Believers, Ottawa, Ohio
This sign is believable only if you think the earth is 6,000 years old and believe it didn’t rain for the first several thousand or so years. Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark. Noah’s father Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born, lived 777 years , and died 5 years before the worldwide flood of Genesis 6-8. Noah and his father account for almost a millennium. And we still have to account for the ages of Methuselah, Enoch, Seth, Cain, and Adam to name a few. So quit your whining Californians. Your drought? Nothing compared to no rain for over two millennia.
Faith Assembly of Believers, Ottawa, Ohio
While I couldn’t find a church website, God, also known as Google, did tell me a few things about Faith Assembly Believers and its pastor, Larry Bibler.
In George Washington’s farewell address, he declared that two pillars were sustaining the nation, keeping it strong and free; one is religion and one is morality.
Pastor Larry Bibler, of Faith Assembly of Believers, sees this sentiment as absolutely true, yet something the country has gotten away from. That’s why he and his wife Jan, along with other concerned citizens, have formed the Ottawa Patriots and held a Tea Party on the Courthouse lawn July 4.
“People are frustrated about what’s happening in America and this gives them an opportunity to do something about the condition of America,” said the Pastor. “We wanted to come up with something local going out to communities” in and around Putnam County.
Bibler said the whole purpose was to make the people realize that they need to get back the Constitution, back to God and back to prayer…
…Bibler says the efforts of the group are based on the principles and values of Glenn Becks 912 project, found at theglennbeck912project.com. The project promotes the sacredness of family, justice, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, faith, and values like honesty, charity, courage and personal responsibility to name a few.
So, if you are lost, Pastor Bibler and Faith Assembly of Believers have just the road map for you. For those who want to freely travel down the road of life without Jesus GPS (gospel positioning system) plotting your way…beware…the road you are on leads to death, judgment, and hell. But, the ride sure is fun.
The overwhelming majority of Americans self identify as Christian. Here in rural NW Ohio, I suspect there are few non-Christians. The number of public atheists I know number three. That’s right, three. Christianity is on full display everywhere one looks. Churches on every street corner, Christian radio and TV stations, Christian book stores, Christian coffee houses, and business signs with the ichthys (fish) symbol, all testify to the fact that America is a Christian nation and rural NW Ohio is God’s Country.
Christians are free to start new churches and worship anyway they please. No matter how crazy their beliefs and practices are, there is no government or private agency keeping them from practicing their form of crazy. From strict liturgical churches to snake handling Baptists, there is a flavor of Christianity for everyone. Christian sects, churches, religious institutions, and pastors are given special tax benefits, from real estate and sales tax exemption to the clergy housing allowance. Christian churches are considered by many to be dispensers of morality, and when bad things like a school shooting, tornado, flood, or hurricane hits a community, local Christian clergy are called in to calm fears and let everyone know God is still on the throne.
Someone visiting from another country would likely be amazed at the religiosity of Americans. I doubt they would see any signs of religious persecution, especially if they hail from a country where there’s real persecution. Thanks to fear mongering and lying by Evangelical preachers, Catholic prelates and priests, Mormon bishops, Christian parachurch leaders, Christian college presidents and professors, Christian TV and radio programmers, and Fox News hosts, many Christians believe they are being persecuted by liberals, secularists, socialists,communists, abortionists, homosexuals, and atheists. The annual War on Christmas® has now morphed into the War on Christianity®.
There is not one shred of evidence to back up the claim that there is a concerted effort to persecute American Christians and keep them from worshiping their God. From my seat in the pew, I see government at every level bending over backwards to accommodate Christians. As a nation, we value religious freedom so highly that we grant sects, churches, and each Christian special privileges. There is no other nation on earth that has more religious freedom, yet many Christians still think they are being persecuted. Why is this?
Here’s my take. When people live in a country that values personal rights and freedom, especially religious freedom, they tend to see small accommodations or denials as frontal assaults on their rights and freedom. When groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), American Humanist Association (AHA), American Atheists (AA), or the ACLU demand that Christians abide by the Constitution and the separation of church and state, Christians see this as personal attack on their faith.
Let me give a local example of this. Recently, the ACLU of Ohio sent nearby Edon Northwest School District a letter about the school district’s core values statement found in the front of the student handbook:
The American Civil Liberties Union sent a request today to a Williams County school district to stop what it calls its “sectarian policies and practices that violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The letter to the Edon Northwest Local School district, which is near the Ohio-Indiana border, cites the school system’s student handbook, which references “Christian values,” and what the ACLU says is a practice of inviting ministers to pray at mandatory school assemblies. John Granger, interim superintendent who joined the district in January, said he has not witnessed some of the incidents referenced by the ACLU, but that if the allegations are true, the district should make changes.
”This has already been settled by the United States Supreme Court,“ Mr. Granger said. “I would make a recommendation to the board of education that if we are in violation of the law, we should stop.”
The district’s website includes a copy of the student handbook, and the first page lists the district’s “Core Values.”
As we strive to achieve our Vision and accomplish our Mission, we value…” the handbook states, with “Honesty and Christian values” as the second entry.
The ACLU letter claims ministers attended assemblies before the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, and that students need parent approval to opt out of the events.
“These reports also allege that the ministers pray aloud, ask the students to join in the prayer and recite homilies concerning upcoming holidays,” the letter states.
The ACLU in its letter, signed by ACLU of Ohio’s Legal Director Freda Levenson and staff attorney Drew Dennis, recognizes that Mr. Granger is new to the position and the started before his arrival in the district.
“We now take this opportunity to make you aware of the unconstitutionality of the described practices, and request that you investigate them and bring an end to them immediately,“ the letter states…
I have no doubt that local Christians are outraged over the ACLU’s demand that the Edon Northwest School District abide by the establishment clause and the separation of church and state.I am sure they see this as a sign of religious persecution. It’s not. This kind of stuff has been going on in rural schools since the days I roamed the halls of Farmer Elementary in the 1960’s. The difference now is that groups like FFRF, ACLU, AHA, AA, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) are paying attention to what is going on in the schools and government and are willing to litigate any violation of the Constitution.
Today, Polly took me on a short nineteen mile drive on Route 18 between Defiance and Hicksville. The following pictures succinctly illustrate the religious climate in rural NW Ohio. They tell the story far better than I could.
The Faith4Freedom signs litter the rural NW Ohio landscape. According to their defunct Facebook page, 20,000 of these signs were printed and distributed in Ohio and Michigan. This is primarily a Catholic endeavor. Based on the lack of activity on their Facebook page, Twitter account, and a no longer available website, I assume that local Catholics have lost their religious freedom and are living in nearby catacombs. Once the black anti-Christ, Barack Hussein Obama, is divinely removed from office, they will no longer fear persecution and return to the safety of Facebook, Twitter, and the internet.
I am always on the lookout for church signs or public advertisements of Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Conservative Roman Catholic belief. What follows are a few photographs I shot while traversing the back roads of Paulding, Defiance, and Hancock County. Enjoy!
This person is a PROUD American Christian, as is Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Photograph of Ottawa Missionary Church sign in Ottawa, Ohio. I have previously posted a photo of this church’s sign.
Photograph of Melrose United Methodist Church sign in Melrose, Ohio. My first response to the message, improvement begins with I? So does intercourse and intoxication.
Jesus is the reason for WHICH season? It’s against the rules of engagement for the War Against Christmas® to put up such a sign before Thanksgiving!
Sign in front of rural Hispanic church. It is safe to assume that this message refers to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Hmm…so…we live in a nation where every home has a Bible, often multiple Bibles, and there are churches on virtually every street corner. Shouldn’t this mean that our society is quite safe? How’s that working out for Christian America? And exactly what “morality of the Bible” should we follow? The polygamous, genocidal one of the Old Testament? The Ten Commandments? Or is that just the Nine Commandments? Which version of the Ten Commandments? The socialist morality of Jesus or the capitalist morality of Paul? If we obey “the morality of the Bible” does that mean, for a fact, that our society will be safe? Or is this just a cheap cliché that is not believed or practiced? So many questions…
Polly and I took a road trip today to Hardin County, Ohio. We finally got a decent day weather-wise (except for 30 mile-per-hour wind), so I was itching to load up my camera equipment and hit the road. Our destination was a sizable rural Amish community between Kenton and Mt Victory, Ohio. While the Amish proved to be elusive, we did stumble upon several interesting churches as we traveled to and from Hardin County.
Mt Zion Old Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ.According to an Old Regular Baptist forum, Mt. Zion is part of the Sovereign Grace Association. The church meets once a month for worship. Their beliefs are as follows:
SOVEREIGN GRACE ASSOCIATION OF OLD REGULAR BAPTIST CHURCHES OF JESUS CHRIST.
This appears at present to be one of the smallest Old Regular Baptist Associations. They are however one of the strongest representatives of the original doctrine, faith and practice of the Old Regular Baptist in modern times. The churches of this association stress the Godhead, Inflability (sic) of the Old and New Testament, Election by Grace, Original Sin, Justification by the Imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ, sinners being called to Repentance, Eternal Secruity (sic), a properly ordained ministry. Their ministers preach a Travail from Nature to Grace, (there must be a begotting (sic) before there can be a birth.)They believe in a Last Day in which there will be a resurection (sic) of the dead the just and the unjust, the joys of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal. They baptize by immersion, take the Lord’s Supper with wine and unleavened bread which is followed by feet washing. Old Regular Baptist are non-instrumental prefering (sic) to line their songs in different meters. The members of this association practice modesty of dress. Sisters belonging to these churches do not cut their hair, brothers do not let their hair grow long. They have no secret orders among their membership. Sovereign Grace Association doesn’t however infringe on any of it’s (sic) Corresponding Associations and leaves them to settle their own matters. Like all Orthodox Old School Baptist they deny Freewillism, Arminism (sic),Gospel Regeneration, Works for Eternal Salvation, Pre and Postmillenalism. While there are young people attending their churches, there is no Sunday Schools, Missionary Societies, ETC.. Sovereign Grace Old Regulars believe the church of today has no right to place something in the church that Christ and the Apostles did not establish; that to do such would be adding to the Word of God. You will find these churches are very open to newcomers/outsiders. Visiting one of these churches is like taking a trip back in time, you will often hear shouting and praising the KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS, old time singing and love being manifested throughout the service, if you long for simple New Testament Worship vist (sic) one of these Old Regular Baptist Churches.
First Baptist Church, Forest, Ohio. The church is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. If you are looking for an opportunity to talk to God, he lives at this church. Stop by and listen to what he has to say. On July 1, 2003, Evangelist Don Hardman was holding a revival meeting at First Baptist when God sent the church a message. According to Hardman’s wife Laura:
About halfway into the message, we could hear the thunder and see the lightning through the stained glass windows, During his preaching, when a loud crack of thunder rang out, Don would say, “Yes, Lord, we are listening.” He made reference to the verse God’s voice was like thunder. (Psalms 77:18)
All of a sudden, a lightning bolt hit the church and burnt out the sound system, blowing the light bulbs out of their sockets behind the pulpit. We could smell the burning wires but still did not know we had taken a direct hit. Not once did we lose our electricity, so Don kept preaching on Solomon’s prayer of repentance. About 20 minutes later, a women came running into the church and said, “the church is on fire.”
Evidently, this message from God did not make much of an impression on the church’s pastor. Not long after the lightning incident, the pastor of the church was removed due to sexual misconduct.
Victory in the Cross Ministries, Blanchard Avenue, Findlay, Ohio. Regular readers of this blog might remember that I attended Findlay City Schools from eighth through eleventh grades. According to one of the signs in front of the church, the United States was founded on the Word of God. Victory in the Cross is pastored by George H. Jarrell. Here is what the church’s website has to say about Harrell:
In 1990, I fully rededicated my life to the Lord. Then in 1996 God called me to be a Youth Pastor for the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Lima Ohio, which is Pastor (sic) by my eldest brother.
The Lord opened a door for me in the year of 2000 to be the Pastor for the Gilboa Pentecostal Church of God in Gilboa Ohio. During this time I began to learn the Message of the Cross as taught by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. As I tuned into Sonlife Broadcasting Network (SBN) I grew in the the (sic) Message of the Cross and God opened up His Word to me as never before.
In the beginning of 2011, through some problems and disagreements I prayfully (sic) left the PCG. With the Leading and Guiding of the Lord I ventured out and began an independant (sic), non-denominational church. We strongly believe in the Pentecostal experience, which is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised the people that they would recieve (sic) Acts 1:8; and the speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance as in Acts 2:4.
This sign is in front of an Amish home outside of Kenton, Ohio. Not a church sign, but interesting nonetheless.
Yesterday, Polly and I took a road trip to northeast Indiana. We drove to North Webster, Indiana, made a circuitous route south of Fort Wayne, and into Ohio, landing in Defiance to buy groceries. All told, we were away from home nine hours. We had a great time, even though today my body is screaming its objections. Along the various roads we traveled, I kept my eyes open for “signs” that showed me God’s true church was nearby.
Poe Christian Church and Holy Family Center, Poe, Indiana. Poe Christian does not have a website. Based on their Facebook page, I have concluded that they are an Evangelical church.
Evidently, this is the church attended by Champions in Christ, whatever that means.
After reading this sign, I turned to Polly and said, In the cold winter, skip church, pour a hot cup of tea, grab a book, and wrap yourself in a blanket. Much better than a dry, crusty sermon from a Lutheran pastor.
Hoagland Community Church, Hoagland, Indiana. Hoagland Community does not have a website. Based on their sign, the church is Fundamental and Independent (Evangelical).
I hate to break it to the folks at Hoagland Community, countless atheists will go to bed tonight with a peace that passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Unlike Christians, atheists find comfort and peace in their embrace of reality. We do not need promises of heaven, threats of hell, or never-fulfilled reservations at God’s Ramada-in-the Sky. In fact, for many atheists, believing in the Evangelical God was anything but peaceful. How can Christians truly have peace when they can never know for sure if they have offended the God who sees, hears, and knows everything? For atheists, peace comes through knowing on a given day we have lived a good life, doing what we can for the people they love.
And as far as paying attention to the “creator”? Evangelicals-turned-atheists did pay attention to the creator and that is one of the reasons they no longer believe. They looked in vain for signs pointing to the existence of this benevolent, kind, loving God.
Bible Baptist Church, Grover Hill, Ohio. Bible Baptist does not have a website. (What’s up with these churches not having websites?) Unlike Hoagland Community Church, which is Fundamentalist-light, Bible Baptist is an old-fashioned fire-breathing, King-James-only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. According to several directories listing King-James-only churches, Bible Baptist was/is pastored by Patrick Holt, a follower of the late Jack Hyles.
Bible Baptist evidently has some sort of van ministry. Such ministries were roundly criticized by IFB luminaries in the 1970s. Vans were proof of small thinking. THINK BIG, these preachers would say, and buy a bus. Fill it, and then buy another, and another, and another. The red van pictured above must be unusable. It is filled with junk, and weeds are starting to grow around it. In IFB circles this is a sure sign of “sin” or evidence that God has withheld his blessing from the church.
Hello to all and much love. My name is Melvin Heiniger and I am the pastor at Green Chapel Redeemed Church. Thank you so much for taking 5 minutes to visit our website. I truly believe that every individual must evaluate their life. and make one very important decision . What will happen to me when I pass from this life? Will I go to a place called Heaven, or wind up in a place called hell where there awaits only suffering and pain. Some may say that if we do good things, we will go to heaven. According to the Bible, That is not so.
Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
1 John 1:8-9 says, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I guess now we know that we all make mistakes.
Now for the Great news! John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” Wow… isn’t it nice to know we don’t have to worry anymore! Romans 10:13 says “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the lord, shall be saved.” That “Whosoever” means YOU!!
I must ask, do you know Jesus as your Lord and savior? If not, do you want to? Is something inside of you saying “this feels right?” I hope you will say this little prayer with me and accept Jesus!
Just say, Jesus, I repent of my sins and make you my lord. I believe you came and died for me. Then arose that I could make Heaven my home. Help me be what you have called me to be!!!
Congratulations. You are now a Christian!
Welcome to the family of God! Please feel free to call and share your life changing experience with me! God bless and keep you!
Good news! I prayed the prayer and I am now a — drum roll, please — Christian!
Lakeview United Methodist Church, somewhere on a back road in Northeast Indiana, Michael Lamarr, pastor.
The church does not have a website. I have awarded Lakeview the Crooked Lettering of the Year Award, given to the church that can’t be bothered to cash in a certificate of deposit to pay for a professionally lettered sign.
Lick Creek Church of the Brethren, Bryan, Ohio, Dr. Nancy Berkheiser, interim pastor. Organized in 1853 — the first church organization in Williams County — Lick Creek is known for “steak suppers, homemade ice cream and made from scratch apple dumplings.”
According to the church’s website, Lick Creek “follows the teaching of Jesus.” The church’s mission is to “provide spiritual direction, unity and purpose to all people by continuing the work of Jesus Christ peacefully, simply, together.”
If I were asked to give advice to this church, I would tell them…immediately, without delay, gather up the book the stupid sign message came from and burn it. Baseball bears no resemblance to Lent and Easter. In the future, THINK before putting a lame message on the sign. Hint: 99.99 percent of church sign messages are lame. Don’t make it easy for unbelievers to make fun of your sign. Will the Lick Creek church listen? Of course not. Putting stupid ass messages and clichés on church signs is the in thing to do.
Movement Church, Glenwood Middle School, Findlay, Ohio, Eric Ferguson, lead pastor. Movement Church is a cool, hip Evangelical church for millennials (based on photos on the church’s website). According to Movement’s website, the church is:
a place for people to learn more about God, no matter what stage he or she is at in seeking God. The church places a strong emphasis on connecting to the community with outreach and volunteer projects.
Movement Church, similar to countless other Evangelical churches established over the past two decades, wants to put a friendly face on Christianity. However, as country folks will tell you, you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, and Movement Church — based on their doctrinal statement — is no different theologically than nearby Fundamentalist churches Trinity Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church. Behind the nice smiles and promises of kindness and servanthood lies commitment to the inerrancy of scripture and the eternal damnation of all those who refuse to join the movement.
Faith Baptist Church, Ottawa, Ohio. No pastor name or website available.
Faith of the Apostles Church, Paw Paw, Michigan, David Harn, pastor. Faith of the Apostles periodically has a service called Jammin for Jesus — a diverse worship experience you won’t want to miss. According the church’s website, Faith of the Apostles members believe:
WE BELIEVE the Bible to be the infallible Word of God.
WE BELIEVE in JESUS ONLY, the visible expression of the invisible God.
WE BELIEVE in one God whose Name is JESUS, who is Father in Creation, Son in Redemption and Holy Ghost the Comforter.
WE BELIEVE in water baptism by immersion in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
WE BELIEVE in receiving the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues as on the day of Pentecost.
WE BELIEVE in living a Holy and Sanctified life apart from which one cannot please God.
WE BELIEVE in the Rapture, when our Lord Jesus Christ will appear to catch away His Church.
WE BELIEVE in the Resurrection of the dead and the Final Judgment wherein all who were not in the first resurrection will be judged according to the deeds done in the body.
WE BELIEVE in a real HEAVEN with Eternal Life and a real HELL with Eternal Damnation.
Based on their statement of beliefs, I suspect Faith of the Apostles is some sort of Jesus-only apostolic or Pentecostal church.
Redeemer Covenant Church, Arlington, Ohio, Caleb Hackworth, pastor. Redeemer is a Reformed (Calvinistic) Baptist church affiliated with FIRE — Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals. Buzz words abound: Reformed, Baptistic, Congregational, Integrated Family Worship, Word of God Preached with Authority — Producing Real Worship and Community. The church is currently studying the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Redeemer is also a part of the Northwest Ohio Reformation Society and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Put it all together and what you end up with is a Calvinistic, Independent, theologically Fundamentalist Baptist church.
As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent months.
Zion’s Lutheran Church, Defiance, Ohio, Timothy Reynolds, pastor. Zion’s Lutheran is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Tim is a friend of mine, so I won’t be too snarky about his church’s sign. While the message certainly reflects orthodox Christian belief concerning sin, my first impression was to say, no the heart of sin is RELIGION. Remove religion — specifically Christianity — from the human experience and the notion of original sin and the need for redemption go away. Mankind is no longer viewed as broken and in need of fixing. While the concepts of evil and bad behavior would remain, I suspect our “sin” lists would become much smaller.
The Gathering Place, Defiance, Ohio, Richard Buttermore, pastor. The Gathering Place is a nondenominational church. According to its website, The Gathering place is:
a place for Christian believers to who want to experience the presence of God and mature in their faith and relationship with the creator. What is taught here are promises God has given to us and the walk of life required to reap these promises. We are not here to pass judgement on others about what they have done in the past but to help one another progress towards a better life through Jesus. Everyone is on a different page in their walk with Christ and here we gather to have fellowship amongst other believers where we can come for healing in the physical and the mental aspects of our lives. It is through the power of Jesus who spoke it from the beginning in which we are capable of doing these things so come check out what God is doing here in Defiance.
It is is only March, but I was tempted to give The Gathering Place the Stupidest Church Sign of the Year Award®. I decided to wait. We plan to go a lot of traveling this year, so we could yet stumble upon church signs that would knock The Gathering Place off the Stupid Church Sign Leaderboard.
One side of The Gathering Place’s marquee says, Be an Organ Donor, Give Your Heart to God. So, according to the sign, when people become Christians they give their the blood pumping organ in the upper left side of their chests to God. If we take this literally, how is the Christian God any different from the God of South American tribes centuries ago? Tribal priests would cut the hearts out of people and offer them to their God. If people literally give their hearts to the Christian God, doesn’t that mean they will be d-e-a-d after doing so? Perhaps The Gathering Place means for the sign message to be taken in a Biblical or metaphorical sense. But even here, the sign distorts what the Bible actually says about the heart. The Biblical heart is not the blood pumping organ that is central to our existence. A careful study of the word heart reveals that the word means mind or the seat of human will. Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
There are Christians who will dig their literalist heels in on this matter and refuse to accept that the word heart does not mean the organ. I have one question for them. If a Christian has a heart transplant, does that mean he loses his salvation and has to get saved all over again?
The other side of The Gathering Place marquee says, One Nation Under Me, God. Meant to be a statement affirming Christian nationalism, my dirty, carnal, atheistic mind thought, so…God likes to be in top?
As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent months.
Coburn Corners Church of Christ, St. Joe, Indiana. Hey you, yes you, Lose Jesus? I don’t have Jesus, but good luck finding him.
Faith Baptist Church, Ottawa, Ohio. Damn, since Jesus is dead, this means there is no hope for anyone.
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. St. Peter Lutheran is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America (ELCA). This sign is on U.S. Hwy 6. Nearby, travelers will find roadside shrines erect to memorialize people killed in accidents. Evidently God forgot to send his angels to protect these people.
North Leo is a mixed crowd. Some grew up in this church or in other Mennonite churches, some come to North Leo from other faith traditions, some come to North Leo from no faith background at all – but have discovered the grace of God and found a loving community where they can grow. Diversity is a healthy thing. God created us to be in community and God also created each of us as unique individuals. North Leo Mennonite Church is a family where your experiences, perspectives, and ideas are welcome and valued.
Most people don’t really know what a Mennonite is. There are a lot of ideas. The simplest way to describe the Mennonite Faith is to say that we are Christ-Centered. We take all of Scripture seriously, but we look to Jesus’ life and teaching as our clearest example of what God is like and how God invites us to live. We believe that God created the world and said it is good. We believe that sin creates brokeness in our relationship with God, in our relationships with each other, sin creates brokeness in us, and in our world. We believe that Jesus offers reconciliation and restoration from all our brokeness. We believe God is still at work in the world. We believe in eternal life through Jesus that begins here and now. We believe that Jesus is coming back again. Until that day comes we are called to share with others the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has given us – because God is all about putting broken things back together again and we get to be a part of it.
If this sign is true, most of the seven billion people on earth live worthless lives.
Frontier Baptist Church, Frontier, Michigan, Terry Farwell, pastor. Frontier Baptist is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I prayed my last prayer in November 2008. Since then, I have never had a day where I felt the need to pray. I have found that my time is better spent doing things that actually make a difference.
Madison Church of God, somewhere in Northwest Ohio.