2009/02/26

Removing Routine

On any given Sunday, millions of people follow a habit of heading to church. What is the reason behind this routine? What is it that these people anticipate as they gather?
For those upfront, is it a performance from which accolades are expected? For those in the audience, is it to renew friendships or to maintain appearances?
It may be startling to some but “worship” is a verb as well as a noun. Because a person is seated in a place of worship, does not mean that they engage in actual worship. For worship to take place, those who are gathered must express praise and adoration to God. This entails more than just singing choruses or hymns and more than just an inspiring speaker.
Worship involves humbling oneself before God and acknowledging their dependence upon this divine being. Worship involves uninhibited expressions that are not orchestrated or rehearsed. Worship involves loving the people who are seated in the audience as well as those who are leading the framework of worship.
Worship does not concern itself with what a person receives but in what a person gives. If one leaves a ‘worship service’ concerned about peripheral items (length of service, style of music, or their personal comfort), it may be that the God they are worshipping is no larger than themselves.

2009/02/14

ABSOLUTELY NOT

The concept of absolute truth seems to be an abomination of Jesus' words, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 08:32 N.I.V.). In a western, logical approach, this becomes a futile exercise of pursuing knowledge and splitting hairs. In an eastern mindset, the word know would imply more than just gaining additional insight. Rather than increased information, the idea of intimate relationship would also be understood. If one understood Jesus from this perspective, then it is an intimate relationship with Him that would set a person free.

Instead of placing such emphasis on mentally grasping the concept of absolute truth, it could be understood that Jesus Christ is the truth. The challenge becomes to live in this freedom. In sharp contrast, an intense pursuit of a theological or a philosophical end--such as absolute truth requires restraints and divisions that divide not only followers of Christ but also followers of Christ from our neighbors. The saints become subject to rules and interpretations rather than to loving.

An intimacy with Christ would cause a person to love God with all of their heart, mind, and strength and in this same way to love their neighbors. The challenge facing the Body of Christ is not additional information (Paul states that knowledge puffs up) or Bible studies but simply living in the freedom of love.

2009/02/10

It's Not Just a Potluck Dinner

The western church has excelled in many regards but has not consistently met a key objective for the church--that of fellowship. Why is it that one of the most important aspects of church life has been replaced with a penchant for buildings, technology, education and programs?

In viewing Biblical fellowship, the bar is raised very high. In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus desires the fellowship that was enjoyed by all that comprises God prior to Jesus' coming to earth. This fellowship is to be at a spiritual level that includes confession, encouragement, intercessory prayer, and accountability.

The western concept of "individual" Christianity prevents consistent, genuine fellowship from taking place. Over time Christianity, has moved from a spiritual community which sustains and supports each believer to one in which the Christian often faces challenges with little or no input from the church. A few Christian friends may "pray" for us but all too often we left to act independently.

In our desire to build bigger buildings and first class programs, it must not be forgotten that fellowship is to be a key component. The interesting twist to this is that this must take place among believers. While many believers may desire this type of fellowship, all too often it is an afterthought and not an emphasis within church planning.

2009/02/02

Living Abundantly

This the fourth trip that I have taken that was intended to be of a serving nature and it was incredible. In retrospect, it seems that the previous trips were nothing more than positive experiences but this time it was amazing to see God intervene in so many ways.

Each of the trips (two to Honduras, one to Ghana, and this one to Liberia) opened my eyes to the marked differences in cultures and values. None of these countries enjoy the material accumulations that are common place to me but each of them live life abundantly.

The overwhelming, eye opening item that grabbed my attention is the spiritual poverty in which I live. Each of these people groups rejoice in the Lord and live in confidence of God's care and provision. They expect that each day God will influence their lives and work to make all things work together for His good.

The physical eye can see the absence of material goods in which they live, however; it is easy to miss the spiritual abundance which gives them direction. On each trip I have received more than I have left and this time God made it pointedly clear of me need to be fully dependent upon Him.