In 1 Kings 8:56 and following, we read these words from Solomon: “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.”
Ephesians 6:12-13a states: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God…”
There are clearly battles that are spiritual ones, yet I wonder if sometimes we try to do spiritual work on a fleshly/ personal level? Maybe a more important question to ask is: How much of our life is spiritual? Does our spiritual life impact our relationships? How about our work? Is deciding about how to spend/invest our finances a spiritual or fleshly decision?
Ok, here it is — I’ve tried to keep it hidden, but I can’t — it’s our slightly tongue in cheek attempt at rapping…
Livin’ the dream…
Here’s a fun clip we used on Sunday.
Over the years I’ve been asked about “deep teaching”. And I think it’s one of the most confusing phrases in our churches today. I know of people who have left churches because the teaching wasn’t “deep enough”. That sounds like a great reason to leave a church — I surely don’t want to be in a place that “waters-down” the Truth or gives me pop-psychology with a few out of context verses pasted on. But what troubles me is when I’ve asked many of the people who have left churches with the reason of it not being “deep enough” what they meant by that statement. The answers I received have caused me great distress and I fear that many are leaving churches with this “spiritual” sounding answer but far from what is true and actually helpful for them. What I mean is I believe there are Christians and church-goers who are missing out on what they need most and could be actually avoiding the very depth they say they want. Part of the solution to this comes in better understanding what deep teaching is.
On Sunday we discussed Josiah and it was definitely an example of a 60 minute sermon I crammed into 39-41 minutes and so there were several concepts that were so important but for the sake of time I had to move quickly through them. This blog is about one of them.
“Going Public” is the phrase I used on Sunday for sharing something God reveals in your life. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, my guess is you’ve had times of conviction. What I mean is as you’ve read the Bible or listened to a sermon you saw something beautiful that God designed for you to live, but for some reason you were not living that way. Or you realized that there was some pattern, habit or even character trait which was far less than who God made you. I’m not talking about guilt brought on by another person or failing to match up to some legalistic standard. I’m talking about sincere conviction — “God made me for more than this!” “I’m a new creation, and as such, I want to be more loving, less selfish, more patient etc etc”. I’m sure this is ringing all kinds of bells for you?
In the last post we looked at a rationale for increasing our exposure to the Word of God through reading, studying and memorizing. In this post I’d like to talk practically about how to incorporate more of God’s Word in your life.
One disclaimer before I get into the ideas: The key to taking your time in the Word to the next level is obedience. We don’t need more Bible knowledge without application! That is what takes the life out of it and makes it feel empty or routine. So if we’re going to increase our exposure to the Word of God we must first let it be the authority that it is by submitting to God’s Truth (not rationalizing or excusing disobedience). Once we hold up God’s Word as the authority then when it calls us to something we choose to obey, to follow what God says. There is a ton of stuff in the Bible about how we relate with each other for example and allowing the Bible to be our authority means it will shape how we do relationships in profound ways! Once you start putting into practice what you’re learning you will find yourself hungry for the next thing and you’ll see the Bible come to life in you and for you!
This Sunday we are “having coffee” with an Old Testament king. He’s a guy who had to grapple with God’s Truth (once He discovered it) and figure out what he would do in response. So it prompts me to ask us all: where is the Word of God in our lives? What place does it have? What priority does it hold? What authority does it have not theoretically but practically?
In my generation there was a significant shift that took place among christians. We were tired of empty rituals and routines. We observed too many “christians” who held strong to legalistic ideals without showing any love or transformation in their lives. Whether we were accurate or not, it’s how many of us viewed the christians we saw around us. This prompted many in my generation to want to shed rituals and routines — claiming that we didn’t want to “go through the motions”. And while I obviously agree that EMPTY rituals and legalistic rules without love are things we need to move far away from, I think we run into the danger of “throwing the baby out with the bath water” (as they say).
Let me speak briefly on an important topic. I’ve been mentioning how this is about heart change and vision movement. That is true and very key. But there are some practical things we can all do to be a part of the future:
1. Give. Yeah, yeah, you know about giving. Please keep reading — folks, there is cost beyond the emotional, physical — there is financial cost. And we will all need to evaluate if there is any way we can participate more financially, especially now! We are calling all of us to reflect and believe in what we’re talking about and to invest greater dollars in this kingdom movement. This is not just about programming and caring for people who are already here. This is about an aggressive movement to rescue people on the way to hell and to bring healing to our community, families and lives. We need resources to do it all. I seriously hope, regardless of whether you can contribute one more dollar or one hundred thousand more dollars that you will not underestimate how important your investment in this really is!!!
Please please read part 1 before reading this post.
OK, a few more technical questions about this 3rd service….
1. What would a 3rd service be like?
Well, we want to keep this simple. It will already be a challenging addition to our current workload and efforts to add a 3rd service in the evening. Plus we want to avoid creating a church-within-a-church. While I’ve personally been a part of movements like that which have been very successful — we feel that at our current juncture that would not be best for us. So we want to duplicate what we do best and the three worship services we will offer will be identical! This means the same worship songs and style, the same message from the same speaker, the same humor, news and interactive elements etc. We MAY add a few extra “goodies” to the evening service because there are fewer constraints on time. For example, we’ve talked about possibly adding a time where people could text in questions from the sermon or general life/ faith questions and we could possibly take 10 minutes of the evening service and answer live (or even do it at the end and dismiss those who need to leave and offer the Q&A time as a bonus). We probably wouldn’t do that every week, but it’s an example of a kind of extra “goodie” that we could add to the evening time slot. But bottom-line if you and your friends choose to be a part of the evening venture you will not miss out on anything the morning crowd would get.