I find it fascinating that we assume God is on our side when things are going well. I hear people say, “God answered that prayer”. And what do they mean? They mean their situation turned out the way they hoped it would be. We don’t say, “praise God, He answered my prayer” when He answers us “no”. At least I haven’t heard that before. In fact I rarely even find someone willing to say “praise God” when things are not going the way we’d hope. Now, to be fair, I’ve met some who will thank God for being there with them in the midst of a difficultly but it’s often long after the difficultly has passed. But what about in the midst of it? Is God still good when He doesn’t do what we want Him to do?
-What’s ahead and Why?
-The Case for Worship
-Extrinsic Action Creates Intrinsic Emotion (The 7 words for worship)
-Style is not part of the equation, but intimacy is
-In Spirit and in Truth
What’s ahead and Why?
We have a unique opportunity ahead of us as a church family. Friday, February 3rd will be our first church-wide worship night at Grace. And as excited as we all are in planning it, I started asking myself why? We’ve been talking about a worship night for years. So, why now? Is it necessary?
God cares about how we relate with one another. The Bible is full of practical and insightful wisdom when it comes to relationships. There is a design from the designer for how we are created to relate. However, just as in practically every other thing, sin has corrupted the design. We relate with sinners, in fact every relationship we have is with a sinner. While that let’s no one off the hook, it should make us all a little more patient and full of grace towards each other. And it should make God’s Word a more readily accessed text one connection. Not only does God provide us with wisdom to navigate relationships, but He provides to the power and transformation to all believers in Jesus. There are some who are moderately successful at relating using Godly principles without God (because they are still true!) however, the real power comes from the Spirit of God at work in us and through us in our connections with each other.
There is a story underneath the Christmas story as most of us know it. We know Christmas as Mary, Joseph and the manager. We tend to think about shepherds, wisemen and angels proclaiming big news. But what if we were to hear the Christmas as told from the perspective of heaven? Why were the angels so fired up? What was God dealing with?
In order to get the story underneath the story we actually need to go back to the book of Genesis. The first human beings were tempted by the evil one, succumbed and then sin entered into the world. And from that point forward every human being would be born with a sin nature. The evil one roamed the earth causing destruction and death through sinful human beings. This was not God’s plan and it warped God’s perfect creation.
We live in a culture that has unfortunately made the Bible either on an equal level with any other piece of information or in some cases less than. However, without the Bible we are left essentially without a reliable source of authority. Even among those who believe in the Bible, many often make themselves the authority and choose to follow only the parts of the Bible that they agree with. If you and I are the authority we are on shakey ground. For example think about yourself 20 years ago or even 10 years ago – remember what you believed, what you thought was important and what decisions you made. Now think of yourself today, any changes? Would you do anything differently? Do you see things today that you didn’t see back then? If it’s me, I would say 42 year old me thinks 32 year old me was lacking in lots of areas and don’t even get me started on 22 year old me. The point is if I’m my own authority I am likely to not know what I need to know and I’m likely to make decisions that I’ll regret or at least will be less than wise. Without a reliable, stable, unchanging authority (how most of the world lives – Christian or non-Christian) I am far from in a good place.
There is a lot that causes us stress that can be avoided. What I’ve learned by studying and preaching a series on the topic of stress is that so much of stress falls into the category of perspective. For example I’ve seen issues that could stress one person to a point of being unbearable, barely phase another person. I wondered, how could it be that the issue was identical but in one person it buried them in stress where the other person was barely impacted by it? I also discovered that perspective is more than just optomism. Perspective is developed by a number of different factors, the most fundamental being the “premise” we live our lives by.
The following blog post is quite different from my normal fare as it’s quite technical and “heady”, however, I think it’s important for us to understand biblical passages in light of current events. I asked a theologian friend, Pete Lackey about how my passage from this past weekend on “turning the other cheek” and retaliation would apply (if it applies at all) to a global situation like the ISIS killings and brutality. What follows is a more complete understanding of the Matthew passage in its biblical context. It also may provide a lens to look at assault and war.
The “tithe” has a fair amount of baggage in our evangelical culture. Here are a few of the issues that arise with it: 1. is the tithe an expectation in the New Testament? aren’t we living in the age of grace, so why would God expect it of us? 2. Wasn’t the tithe used to care for the poor and other people, and today doesn’t our taxes cover those things; so how much are we supposed to give? 3. We give a tithe but not to the church, we add up all the things we give to missionaries, charities, church etc and as long as it adds up close to 10% or more, we feel good about that.
Please read part one before reading the following.
In part one we examined one aspect of Christian community that has become seriously neglected in recent years. It’s likely been neglected because it’s been either done horribly/hurtfully in the past or we’ve become so self focused/self aware that we either don’t want to bother or are afraid to be exposed as a hypocrite. Yet, I am convinced that if we neglect this we jeopardize not only true biblical community but the spiritual growth and depth of one another!
OK, that title is a little overstating but I am convinced that as believers and members of a church we have lost much of what we might call “community”. We live in an individualistic society and so the idea of people who are part of the same church actually taking responsibility for one another seems to be a foreign concept or at least one that is quickly fading into nothingness. Yes, being a part of a church means we pick one another up when we fall, chip in financially to help others, and offer words of encouragement. However, being a part of a church also means we are willing to care enough about each other that we help each other grow spiritually. This means there will be times we need to confront and “correct” patterns, behaviors and sin. Most of us are so aware of our own sin that we feel hypocritical about approaching someone else. But let me ask you, “if not you, than who?” And one more question, “if we don’t take personal interest and responsibility for each others’ spiritual growth than how do any of us actually grow?” Are we depending only on the church, sermons, and programs?