The Problem With Submission…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” -James 4:7-8

I have a tough time with one word in this passage.
It has nothing to do with God, faith or salvation…it has everything to do with how this word is used in the world, sometimes maliciously, in order to put people in their place.

What is the word?

“Submit”.

I don’t do well with submission.
Honestly, it makes me feel like a prisoner having to obey the warden. (Images of Shawshank Redemption come to mind)…

Perhaps it is because I have personally witnessed that word being used and abused.
Perhaps it is because I struggle with my own need for freedom.
Regardless of the why, there is still the issue with the how…how do I submit…and the ‘who’ – who am I to submit to?

For some of us it is the trust involved in such an act.
Questions like, “what if my trust is betrayed”, and “can I really trust them”?
Many time it isn’t even about submitting to God, but rather authority figures in our own lives; Bosses, business advisors, managers, family members…etc. Then, when we have been burned by submitting to a faulty human-led system, we transplant this disappointment and disillusionment upon God…as if He too is imperfect and will let us down.

I too have struggled with this notion, meanwhile transplanting my own mortal experience upon an immortal God. But have I short changed God when I’ve done this? Do I still struggle with these trust issues? Can I fully submit to God in spite of my past hurts and the numerous failed dumpster fires of attempted human submission?

Maybe I’m overthinking this…have you ever done that?
I’ve counted all of the variables, outcomes, pros and cons way before ever taking a step. My 1st Grade Teacher’s voice keeps ringing in my ear as she said, “look before you leap.” But maybe in this case, it’s the other way round?! Perhaps I just have to go for it and place my all before God when I do.

In James 4:7-8, perhaps it’s more about coming near to God than it is about submitting to Him…because wouldn’t we naturally do that anyway when we really, really know someone? After all, didn’t God come close to us first when He sent Jesus into this messed up world? He met us more than halfway as He hung on a cross for our sins.

You see, I know all of the theological implications of such an act. I know Jesus intellectually, but are there still times when my heart does not know Him…when I’m not near to God, in fact, I couldn’t be further from Him? Have you ever felt like that? We have all of the head knowledge, but when it really comes down to it, there’s a heart issue that still needs working out.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re still trying to reconcile what submission looks like with God. I’ve been on this journey for quite some time, and I feel that the Holy Spirit has led me this far, I’m going to have trust Him in the things I have yet to figure out. He hasn’t given up on me, and I’m positive He certainly hasn’t given up on you either. Perhaps it’s not so much submission that He’s after, but rather a closer relationship with us. After all, doesn’t submission come from a place of trust? I cannot submit to something I don’t trust, and I cannot trust if I don’t come close enough to God.

The trouble with submission is we aren’t close enough to a God who desires a relationship with us…and I’m still working through this. I don’t have a Mary Poppins answer for you, just a notion and a nudge to deepen your relationship with the Almighty…we just might discover that is what was needed all along.

-Something more to ponder today.

Fear the Walking Faith…It’s a journey!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Oh how our faith can waver sometimes.
It seems that the gusting of a slight breeze of discord or worry can shake our quivering feet of faith.

Have you ever come to a moment of realization that your faith is not as deep as you once thought it was? We all encounter times, while on this journey, where the feel as though we have entered into the desert and we are found lacking in our resolve and fortitude. This journey will take us into places that require us to dig a little deeper and to endure the dry and thirsty places – where we find ourselves questioning everything and reaching further for God…who seems to have gone silent.

Have you been to this place?

I remember when I first learned to swim.
My parents would take me into the deeper part of the waters where my feet couldn’t touch and then let go of me, and as they let go of me they step back out of my reach. I remember there was a momentary panic. The saving hands were no longer on me and I found myself struggling to keep my head above the waters. I remember having to reach out my arms while kicking my feet so that I could reach the safety again. As I did this, without realizing, I began to swim by myself for the first time.

My intentions were not to swim. My intention was to reach the safe arms of my parents who were just out of reach.

There is growth within the tension and fear.
Growth that can only take place when we are left to our own devices.
Growth that can only transpire within the turmoil and desert places of our faith journey.

It is as if God steps back from us, and we are faced with the seemingly terrifying notion that we must step into the deep alone. The truth is that we are most certainly not alone, but rather there is growth that is only found in desert. And so we step out, unsure of ourselves…unsure if we can reach those safe arms of Christ again.

Remember Peter on the waters before Jesus?
He is asked to step out into a turbulent, uncertain space.
Peter takes a couple of steps, loses sight of the arms of Christ and begins to sink.
He takes his eyes off of Jesus.
He considers the impossibilities of such a journey.
He must have recalled his inability to do this feat, and as the doubt sinks in so does Peter.

We often chastise Peter for his lack of faith.
We often sermonize this passage to implicate the lack of resolve that ‘the Rock’ had…
But where were the other disciples?
Do we read about their steps of faith on the waters? No.
They were still in the boat watching it all go down.

We have to get out of our boats.
We will encounter dry and thirsty times in our faith journey.
It will feel as if we are all alone out in the wilderness, but we are not alone.
God steps back and watches us within the tension of deeper waters.
And it is within those deeper spaces that we grow.
It is through perseverance that our character and the very image of Christ becomes clearer in us.

Some have turned back and returned to the safe places.
Some have given up because they have felt abandoned.
Others have persevered and they have grown.
The Lord desires all of us to deepen our faith, and so these times of dryness should be seen as opportunities to grow up into this amazing faith.

Being like Jesus isn’t easy.
It takes determination and desire on our part.
Are you prepared to allow God to deepen your faith?
Is it your desire to get off of spiritual baby formula and begin to feast on more sustainable spiritual nourishment?

Take that next step…don’t be afraid, He’s got you, and He isn’t far from you right now!

Something more to ponder today.

Confessions of Solitude…

I am not too good with silence.
When I sit too long within its somber embrace, I get nervous…
I wait for the other shoe to drop (so to speak)…
I drum my fingers like a world famous rock star just to break its heavy blanket around me…
I am not too good with silence…
We aren’t friends.
But sometimes, we learn to cohabitant, her languishing about, while I attempt to ignore her call.

I find it interesting, given my avoidance of such an activity, that it is in fact a spiritual discipline.   This comes continually as a surprise to me and my extroverted nature.  I desire to be around people, around the noise of life, and around the fellowship of constant chatter…but silence?  That’s a discipline you say?  Hmm…

Thomas Merton once wrote:  “Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul. If man is constantly exiled from his own home, locked out of his own spiritual solitude, he ceases to be a true person. He no longer lives as a man.

Far be it for me to tell you how to acquire this spiritual discipline that I myself still struggle with maintaining , but here’s what I have learned along the way thus far:

Silence (or some semblance of silence) can be achieved by being still. 

What do I mean by that? Life is so busy, and we move at such a fast pace in our world.  We often times to not have the time or the patience to remain still.  We live in a world full of constant distractions, instant messages, cell phones, streaming services and the addition of modern technology.  There is certainly nothing wrong with these tools, but too much of a good thing can be detrimental to us…to the point of distraction…to the point of the absence of stillness in our lives.

When we have distraction, the presence of stillness cannot descend upon us…that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit cannot still speak to us.  He can do anything within this world since He has authority over all, but can we hear His voice within the distractions?

Silence brings freedom from the powers of life and replaces it with compassion…

Richard Foster says;   “Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.   When we become quiet enough to let go of people, we learn compassion for them.” (Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World)

Without aligning ourselves with the presence of God (which can be accomplished through silence and solitude), the needs of others through the lens Christ cannot be seen (or at the very least, this vision is greatly diminished).

Commissioner Harry Read –

STILLNESS AND STRENGTH

Be still, my soul, be still,
If you the Father seek
Be still, be reverently still,
If you would hear him speak.

Be still, my soul, be still,
God is not far away,
Be still, with humbleness be still,
Be willing to obey.

Be still, my soul, be still,
Of God be now aware,
Be still, with openness be still,
Your heart for him prepare.

Be still, my soul, be still,
Receive God’s energy,
Receive his grace, his love, his will,
Receive your destiny.

Psalm 46: 10
“Be still and know that I am God.”

With every blessing,
(Harry Read, 23.09.18)

What if it is the stillness of God that I am afraid of?
What if in that stillness I am found wanting, and like the prophet Isaiah, I realize that I am severely undone?
Perhaps it is in this unspoken fear that I must embrace His still small voice, which beckons me to put down my distractions, my hindrances and kneel at His feet.

Am I able to be still?
Am I capable of such a step?
Are you?

Something more to ponder today.
(I will write more on this topic again soon)

Day 27 (Friday) -“Coffee Stains…”

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  Matthew 23:25-26

Jesus had some harsh words for the religious leaders of his day…but first let me share with you a story.  I love coffee…a lot!  I also have my favorite cups that I like to use every day. cup It’s the daily routine.  Every morning I wake up my children and get them ready for school.  Then I shuffle to the kitchen and brew myself a nice hot cup of coffee.  Most days my cup is clean but then there are days when my favorite cup was left in the car or in the sink…and it’s dirty.  There is a dilemma that happens, do I wash it or just rinse it out.  If I rinse it out I will know that the inside wasn’t clean…and I will be thinking about how it will affect the taste of my coffee as well as how it could affect my health to ingest bacteria from a dirty cup.  I could drink from it, but I won’t.

I would imagine that you would do the same – wash the cup.
If you’re anything like me, you care about your health and you want to ensure you take care of yourself…and cleaning is one way to help prevent illness and all-round health issues.

createJesus addressed a very real spiritual health issue with these religious leaders.
He was harsh, but straight with them.  They looked the part, but on the inside they were unclean.  Instead of dealing with their spiritual dirt, they pretended everything was okay.  They pretended to have it all together, but in their personal lives it was all falling apart.  Have you been there?  Have you at times pretended everything was okay, but deep inside you knew that there was dirt that needed removing?  That’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit!  He longs to cleanse us completely.  Without this continual cleansing – a full surrender is impossible.  We cannot run from this heart issue.  We have to confront the dirt.  Without confronting it, we will have this barrier between us and God.  The cleansing which comes from getting rid of the dirt is freeing as well!  Jesus went on to call these Pharisees “white washed tombs” – they looked good on the outside but on the inside they were dead inside.  This is a scary commentary by Jesus.  I hope and pray none of us receives this kind of appraisal of our spiritual lives.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be dead inside.  I don’t want to pretend everything is “holy” on the outside but inside it is anything but holy.

Are you prepared to clean the inside of your cup?
Are there areas that still need cleansing in your life today?
It can be a barrier and without that cleansing a detriment to our faith journey.
So let’s confess to the Lord today and allow Him access (perhaps once again) to our hearts and hidden spaces of our lives that no one else sees.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, cleanse me from the inside out.  I want to be yours completely.  Show me the places that require your cleansing.  Cleanse my mind from all malice and unhealthy thought.  Wash me clean and make me whiter than snow so that I can move past any barriers that keep me from full surrender.  Lead me today Lord and show me your glory!  In Your name I pray all of these things.  Amen.

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3 Worship Songs God Hates

tredWe must tread lightly here, for to insinuate that we know the mind of God is dangerous territory.  However, what we know of Him and that of human interaction with the Almighty, there are certainly forms of worship God hates.  Do you think the term “hate” is too strong?  Does God hate?

There are many scriptures that describes the displeasure of God.
One prime example of this is Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

So with that being said, are there things that God hates?
I believe the answer is YES!

Can we then describe moments in worship and in song that could displease God?  Absolutely!  I should also clarify that the term “Worship Song” could be anything we do as we sing to God.  It can contemporary, it can be traditional, or somewhere in the middle.  Are there other things in “worship” other than song?  Of course, but just for this discussion, we are zeroing in on the topic of “Song”…

Here are 3 Worship Songs God Hates: 
Allow me to preface this with the following statement: If you were looking for specific names of songs that God possibly hates, sorry…that’s not what this particular blog post is about.  Again, sorry to disappoint you, I won’t be roasting the latest Chris Tomlin song here today.

But here is what I think are 3 Worship Songs God Hates and why…

1  Songs Sung Out Of Obligation
Have you ever gotten up on a Sunday morning to lead worship and the songs you have selected aren’t really resonating with you?  Sometimes it could be that we are just out of sync with our walk with the Lord…there are certainly seasons of life, and not everything is flowersgoing to be peachy.  But I believe God hates obligatory worship.  Imagine if I were to give flowers to my wife simply because it’s the right thing to do, not that I want to, but rather because it’s expected.  How do you think she would feel if, as I gave her the flowers, I said; “Here’s you weekly obligatory flower arrangement dear!”?  Do you think she would enjoy them and feel loved in my gift of those flowers?  Of course not!

In a way, when we sing songs of worship and adoration to God because we feel obligated, it’s like giving Him flowers that mean nothing to us and are given out of ritual not love and appreciation.  God doesn’t want our obligatory worship songs and our meaningless attempts at worship – He wants it to mean something to us, something that aren’t just meaningless utterances of lyric lines and memorized scriptures.  God hates obligatory praise!

2. Songs Sung Out Love For The Song
Which do we worship, God or our favorite song?
I’m not saying this happens all of the time, but sometimes those worship songs (or even hymns) we sing can become a false idol of our worship.  We just don’t “feel” it when we aren’t singing just the right songs…but if that all time “fav” comes up – we are rockin’ and rollin’ with our hands raised high.  hands

Let me ask a question – is it God that we worship or the song that we sing?
I would hope our answer would be “God”, but there is a danger of placing our favorite song on a place of worship instead of God himself.  God hates the worship of idols – He is truly jealous for our worship and that of us.  He wants all there is of us, not a portion – but our EVERYTHING!  I fear at times, we place the love for a song over the love for God.  Our worship cannot simply revolve around our emotions and how WE feel…We are to worship Him REGARDLESS of how we feel.  Perhaps that is the toughest thing to do, yet through discipline and perseverance, we can!

3. Songs Sung To Display Talent (The Concert Performance)
worshipWorship leader – beware!  Worship was never about how good YOU sing or how Awesome your Guitaring or Piano-ing is… Seriously, if all we do in worship is try to emulate a Hillsong or Jesus culture/David Crowder concert, then we’re going about it all wrong and we need to stop!

Jesus called the Pharisees praying loudly in the streets so that everyone could hear and see them – Hypocrites or Actors.  He certainly had a lot of harsh words to say to those kinds of people – people who knew better.  He even went so far as to call them a brood of vipers.  God abhors actors, fakers and hypocrites.  hypocriteOur worship of God ought not to be a circus displaying our vast array of talents for the world to see.  Real worship isn’t about a concert or our aspirations to be the next big thing in the Top Ten CCLI Worship Leaders.  All these things are earthly desires – as we strive for human accolades and praise.

Such things do not attempt to elevate the name of Jesus, but rather promote our name to the masses.  In the words of U2 “Then they put Jesus in show business, now it’s hard to get in the door…” (God Would Send His Angels, U2)

God hates performances by actors and hypocrites that should have been about who He is, not who the performers are.  Where is the depth of worship here?  I’ll tell you – it’s about an inch deep and a yard wide.  Do our best?  Absolutely!  But if what we do is called “Worship” but it’s not God we are adoring but rather the music and our abilities on stage, then perhaps it’s time to reassess and realign our motivation and goals once again.

Well, we have strolled lightly here today.
The Bottom line, God doesn’t want any substitutes or consolation prizes – He wants our hearts and our attention.  Are there times when we worship with a divided heart or mind?  Are our motivators God honoring or human praise seeking?

What do YOU think?
Something more to ponder today.
God Bless You!

Dear Salvation Army, Baptism & The Great Commission?

16″ Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Salvation Army Doctrine #1:We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

I do not mean to stir the waters, pun intended, but I have often wondered what your Salvationist response would be on this topic.  I must confess that I have often struggled with reconciling our doctrine with the lack of fulfillment of the great commission as described in verse 19; “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”   Yes, I understand that we are non-sacramental in religious practice, but one wonders why even such a discussion often evokes the same response one might expect from a discovery of a sin issue.  Seriously, it’s generally frowned upon, knee-jerk reactions abound every time Communion and Baptism are even mentioned.  It almost seems like we treat such conversations as heresy and equate such talk to sin.  Why is that?
Why such harsh attacks on even the mention of these religious practices?

I bring the topic of Baptism up today in this pondering so that we can dialogue together, so that we might bring a deeper understanding of our theology to the forefront and that we do not linger amongst the shallow answers of “Because that’s how we have always done things“…but why?

water

Historical Context:
We ought to recognize that Industrial England, the birth place of The Salvation Army, certainly had it dichotomy of the upper class and the poor.  Many within the lower East-end would not have been welcome in The Church of that day.  Also, within the lack of practice of Baptism and Communion, we know that our theological tradition precludes the need of such symbolic practices because we are “baptized by the Holy Spirit” and “The Sacrificial life is more important than participation in the Sacraments”.  Understandably so, but I wonder if such staunch views have prohibited some in recent years of full membership?  What I mean is, does our lack of practice or participation in these fundamental “Christian” elements, distract some would-be soldiers in joining our ranks?  There are certainly many views on the subject.  On one extreme – there are those within other denominations who feel since one was never “properly” Baptized they cannot claim to be Christians.  And then on the other side of the spectrum, there are those who view practices of water baptism to be archaic and unnecessary.

 So back to my original question…
If we believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice, Why do we fail to include parts of the “Great Commission”?  Again I don’t mean to stir up controversy, but I would like us to answer this…I want you to help me fill in the content here that I struggle with.  No, I don’t have a baptismal in my corps building, no I don’t baptize my members, but I’m curious how we decide to fulfill some of the “Divine rule of Christian faith and practice” while excluding others?  Why is this topic so taboo?

Another question that comes to my mind then is this:  Are we a fluid moving Army or are there somethings that cannot change within our structure and practice?  I am in no way advocating we change our stance on Baptism or Communion; but is there a point where the reasons we refrained from such practices in another age and era should be reconsidered in another age and era?  Would this be going backwards or progressing forward?  Or perhaps there is too much emphasis on the baptism part and there ought to be more emphasis made on the “make disciples” component to the Great Commission.  Perhaps this is the “happy middle”?

go

Again, I’m curious on your answers here.
As always, I look forward to the responses that sound off with shock and awe that such a question should ever be asked within the Army.  Again, it is surprising to me how we often treat this topic as “hush, hush“, almost as if we’re talking about a sin.  Why is that?  Couldn’t we even deepen our understanding of our own doctrine by talking out-loud about such things and there by adding clarity to the topic for others?  Also, I am not looking for a lecture here either, simply a dialogue and what your response might be on this specific topic.

Something more for the Army to ponder today, hopefully you don’t label me a heretic for even asking the question.  Blessings on you today!


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinions and views of The Salvation Army, but rather the writer’s own thoughts, questions and opinions expressed.  Reader discretion is advised.  

Spiritual Growth – A Lawnmower Theology

What do you mean by “Lawnmower theology”?  you might be asking…let me first tell you a story.

I was mowing the grass the other day.
I greatly enjoy mowing, it’s cathartic for me and it gives me time to think.
We just got a new lawnmower and I had to put it together before using it.
So I begin by putting the arm onto the mower body and attaching the pull lever to the extended arm.  Then I put the nuts and bolts into the connector holes at the bottom of the arm that actually attaches to the base of the mower.  Long story short, I merely tightened them with my fingers and did not use the tool needed to tighten it fully – I’m impatient like that sometimes.

I was really anxious to start up the new mower and get to mowing our neglected backyard.  So I start it up for the first time, and it just purrs – it was wonderful (I know I’m lawnmower nerd).   I begin to make my way around the yard, meticulously ensuring I don’t miss any wayward grass as I pass with the new machine.  It was really starting to look good…and then it happened – the arm that I had attached with the nuts and bolts came loose.   I had not tightened it enough and through the constant jostling and vibration of the engine, one of the bolts had come loose and was no where to be seen.   I looked aroundbolts in the tall grass and in places I had already mowed, I couldn’t find it anywhere – it was gone, *poof* vanished.   I searched for another five minutes only to recognize that in my haste to get the job finished, I had lost a crucial component that held everything together.  I had to make a run to the hardware store and purchase a new bolt and nut – only this time I used the appropriate tool (not my fingers) to tighten the bolt into place.   Now, it’s not going anywhere!

Why do you I tell you this tale?
What’s the point?
I think our Spiritual Growth can be a lot like this lawnmower of mine; or rather, how we put this “Christian life” together.  We are often impatient with ourselves and with God.  We want to just get out there and live for him, and so we take shortcuts.  I took a shortcut wayin assembling my spanking new lawnmower – I thought I had tightened everything down good enough only to discover I had misjudged my strength and the terrain around me.  Perhaps in our lives this rings true too.  We get ahead of ourselves.  We cut corners and take shortcuts because we think we already know it all.  We don’t take the time as we should in our Spiritual lives and explore the spiritual disciplines necessary for long-term spiritual growth and success.  Instead we settle for the quick fix.  We go to a service here or there and we think it’s enough – yet the things that hold our “Christian” lives together isn’t enough, and it’s certainly not strong enough either.

Why do we think we know better than God knows us?
Why is it that we become impatient with God when He seems to take a long time?
Do you get impatient with Him?  I am embarrassed to say this, but I do sometimes.
I don’t always take the time I know I need with Him.
Sometimes I do all of the talking and I hardly ever hear what He has to say to me.
And so I get out there in life and I plod ahead full-steam only to realize I’m not as put together as I thought I was.  I find that I, all too easily fall apart – because I didn’t take the time to truly tighten things down in my prayer life, or my faith walk.  Sometimes I’m a mess…and it’s all my fault.

Have you been there?
Are you there right now?
I have to confess I’ve been there more times than I care to admit.
I’ve run so far ahead of God only to fall apart.
It’s in those moments that I realize just how much I need Him.
It’s also very humbling to know that I still have much work to be done within my life.
There are perhaps a few missing nuts and bolts that have to be replaced by God – but I have to be willing to let Him work on me.  It’s painful sometimes to admit this.
It’s embarrassing to recognize that although I’ve been a Christian most of my life – I still need help, I still need work, I still fall apart from time to time.

Have you been running ahead of God in your life?  hs
Perhaps you recognize right now that there are pieces missing in your life.  That somewhere along the way you have taken a shortcut and you really aren’t as “put together” as you want everyone to think you are.   The Holy Spirit still has work to do with us!  He longs for us to expose those missing pieces, those broken pieces, the dirty old life that still remains.  He wants us to surrender it all to Him.   It won’t be easy – but in the long run we will be made whole without any shortcuts or missing pieces.  He has something much better in store for us – if we allow Him complete access to us daily, even moment by moment.

So how about it?
Are you ready to put the lawnmower together the right way this time?

Something more to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

Redemption’s Call (An Easter Poem)

…And then it came to pass
that my heart was rent and broken,
turmoil spilled the spoken word
with nail and sword they killed my Lord. free

The veil was torn
redemption born
the Lamb was made to bleed.
For He stepped in
relieved my sin
and we are free indeed.


As the cost explodes the night
no grave can hold Eternal’s light
For we’ve been bought –
from blind to sight
The God-man, love’s true might.

And here we are – a second chance
from sin’s cold grasp to love’s first glance
the choice is ours, redemption’s call
His blood can cleanse and heal us all.
…His love WILL heal and cleanse us all.

SES
3/24/16


 

Are We”Doing Church”All Wrong?

A lot has been said about what “Church” should look like.
Thousands of books have been written about it.
There are many, many workshops and educated teachers whose primary purpose is to instruct the Church how to be…how to exist.

But…

What if we are doing Church all wrong?
church2
Many denominations have glommed onto specific acts of worship – Baptism, Communion, Flag waving, Altar calls, Speaking in tongues, Music Styles, Multi-media blitzes…etc.  -And these are all good things -sometimes important elements of worship, BUT what happens when these “good things” become the main focal point?  Could they become over emphasized?  Could these mere elements of worship become worship itself – completely devoid of its original purpose?

In the process of becoming “Church”…are there times when we lose sight of why we’re a Church in the first place?   I don’t mean to deconstruct the Body of Christ today, but I feel very strongly about this subject.  I believe our belonging to Christ is enough…we do not need rituals to maintain or get closer to God.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that these elements of worship are all rituals, but when we do them week after week, month after month, year after year – and we just go through the motions of them…are we in danger of making these outward expressions of the inward change a ritual?

I am not saying that we throw the baby out with the bath water here, but perhaps we need to be more conscious of what we do in worship.

churchAnother question that I often ponder is this –
Is the Body of Christ really supposed to look like the Churches that we see in our communities today?  Are we really supposed to be separated and divided?  
Again, this is not a bash upon any church or denomination, but rather an intern perspective here.  I believe that man made edifices have, at times, taken the holiness out of our holy of holies.

When we try to organize everything, and building our kingdoms, when we try and grow our congregations and sometimes compete against the church down the street…have we lost sight of why we’re a church in the first place?

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ACTS 2 Church 
The Acts 2 church looks vastly different that any church that I know of today.
These men and women lived in community together…kind of like a commune, but more like a family…not a cult, but a body of Christ built together out of love.  They shared EVERY Resource that they had.  They ate together, they prayed together, they added to their numbers daily.  People saw their love of Christ and it was infectious!

We live in a very individualistic society today…we don’t really understand the Hebrew culture of the Acts 2 church.  We don’t get to be that close any more in our churches.  Sure, we invite one another out to eat after church, or we go to one another’s homes…but our worship services today are so structured and methodical…there’s an order to it.  I am not saying that this is wrong, but sometimes “Community” only becomes achieved on Sundays for an hour or two, and maybe a during another hour at midweek.  We don’t look like that early church anymore.

I wish I had an answer in how we can recapture some of that fellowship…wait there is – Discipleship.  Fellowship.  Family.

We must be more intentional in our church families to be disciples as well as disciplers.
We don’t always operated as individuals  in the Body of Christ – we are joined together, and we need that fellowship – just as God desires that kind of fellowship with us!
What if true Church was more about that fellowship than the number of scripturally accurate hymns or contemporary songs we sing on Sundays?  What if God desires more than just a water baptism or a morsel of bread and wine on our lips?  What if it’s not about flag waving but heart changing?  What if Church is more about what we do outside of the walls of a million dollar structure than what we do on the inside?

I think we get so blindsided by our elements of worship that we forget to look outside.
Sure, we need to be fed, but if all we do is gorge ourselves in our buildings while the world around us is starving, are we “Doing Church” right?

holyI think that before we can “Do Church” we have to “BE Imitators of Christ“…We have to experience the inward change of our hearts before any of these outward things can be evident and real.  After all, wasn’t it God’s instruction to “Be Holy”…not “Do Holy” (Lev 20:26)  We get these backwards many, many times.

I pray that within our walls of “Church” we first focus on being reflections of Him, then we take that reflection into the world so that others might see Him and believe as well!

Something more to ponder today!
You might disagree with me…so be it.

To God be the glory!

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