Thursday, July 26, 2007

η αληθεια

The Truth never changes and it is always changing us. Or so it should be in us.

I was talking with a man the other day about church. We were discussing ways to get more people to show up. The question always tends to come up; "what are the people looking for?" The thing about people who do not know Jesus is they do not know what they are looking for. Should we let people's preferences dictate to us what we should be doing in church? I fear that if this is the case then we will have to dismiss the Gospel from our gathering. You see, the Gospel is uncomfortable, offensive even. We cannot expect sinners to walk into a service, be confronted with the Truth, walk away and feel comfortable. At first encounter it is possible, even likely, one would not interpret Christ's redemptive work as an act of love. Remember, the world's idea of majesty is far different from the King of kings, bloodied and suffocating, on a cross. This takes time to comprehend. Even seasoned believers cannot expect to fully understand the scope of the Gospel.

I wonder if the feeling of un-acceptance or of being un-loved that is often spoken of is in reality a misinterpretation of a feeling of conviction.

No matter what we do to appeal to our culture's senses we can never make this Gospel pretty. It is harsh and dirty. The most majestic choral anthems, the most dramatic dances, the best cappuccino, the most colorful and stimulating media presentations will never do anything to change the reality and true majesty of Calvary. Instead of changing the face of the Truth with our aesthetically pleasing elements of worship we should let the Truth change the way we live our worship in community.

The lost and unsaved do not need to be made comfortable, they need to be set free. "...you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:32


Grace and Peace,
Joel

Monday, July 23, 2007

Question?s

How do we worship God when He has taken away?
When is it easier to worship faithfully; in God's giving or His taking?
Why should we struggle with our faith when we have been denied what we think we need when we daily deny God what He deeply desires from us? (obedience, communion, fellowship, a relationship)
Why do we worship at all?

I want some answers.

Grace and Peace,
Joel

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

When Jesus was in the wilderness he was tempted in three different ways. He had been fasting and the Devil suggested He turn a stone to bread to eat. Jesus replied with Scripture. 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.' Two other times the Devil tempted Him and both times He replied with the Word of God. The Word is our defense in the hour of temptation. When I was younger and struggling with a particular sin, the Abecedary told me to focus on specific Bible verses in the moments of my temptation. Jesus said that we do not live by bread, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If we examined ourselves in light of this truth we would see that we have no need for the the things we are tempted by. We do not need that second plate of food. We do not need to spend the extra twenty dollars on another shirt. We do need to self indulge. We need every Word.

In planning for congregational worship I spend a lot of time thinking about which songs to use. I spend more time doing this than focusing on the Scriptures we use for worship each week. Have we given in to idolatry? Have we made our worship about music? Maybe we should spend more time in silence before the Almighty in corporate worship, listening for Him to speak into our being. Certainly there is time to lift our voices in praise. But there should also be time for reverent silence before the King of kings. Let the Word breathe in you before you breathe a word.

If our focus is on the Holy and our hearts are set toward the Kingdom and our desire the missio Dei our time and affections will be occupied in such a way that the temptations of the enemy will be of little significance. In a sense we will be too busy to get into trouble. I believe my grandmother always said that an idle mind is the Devil's playground. I say that a mind set on idolatry is his glory.

O Lord, help us to not make careless utterances before Your throne. Let Your Word be imbued on our hearts and lips that the 'Words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You our Rock and Redeemer.'


Grace and Peace,
Joel