Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Father God, I am clay in your hands,
Help me to stay that way through all life's demands,
'Cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
And every little thing I make up my mind to be,
Like I'm gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,
And I'm gonna be a husband who stays legit,
And I pray that I'm an artist who rises above,
The road that is wide and filled with self love,
Everything that I see draws me,
Though it's only in You that I can truly see that its a feast for the eyes- a low blow to purpose.
And I'm a little kid at a three ring circus.
I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
-Tobymac "Lose my Soul"
It's not all about you. No really, it's not all about me either. This whole thing we like to call "life" is about God. Really. I'm for serious, for real. But you see, we've been taught (by a variety of sources) that everything is all about ourselves. I mean, as preschoolers we sing songs like "Jesus loves Me". Emphasis on the me. I know, we need to stress to people how Jesus loves them so they can want to know Jesus too. But, it's like, over and over again...Jesus loves me....God loves me...my friends love me...my parents love me...sometimes we forget that we have to love them back. It's not all about me. We turn our focus during worship to be about us. We read passages of scripture we like and just ignore the rest. Our church, our prayer lives, and our relationships suffer when we move the focus from God to us. We've become just like the self-seeking nonbelievers and we blend in. But, we're called to a higher purpose. We're called not to blend in with the nonbelievers or the Christians that blend in. As Americans, we have embraced this concept called "cultural Christianity" by some. It's so easy to be a Christian, we have nothing to lose. But, if we can lose this idea that this "Christianity thing" revolves around ourselves...we can see some things happen that we can't even imagine.
Our first problem is that we are more interested in our Christian cliques than God's glory. People united for a common goal can do amazing things, but people united for God's glory will do miracles. Think about this for a minute, what if we quit wasting time bickering with all of the other churches/ministries in the area about who was going to "win over" which people and we united together to try and win people to the cause of Christ. What if we quit fighting over the "right" way to baptize someone? What if instead of claiming a denomination, we claimed Christ? I think this whole denomination thing is pretty stupid, honestly. I understand, we have differing beliefs, but would God want us to be split like this? Imagine the impact we could have in our communities if we would stop arguing about the little stuff and just love everyone. Imagine the impact we could make if we would stop competing over "who had the biggest youth group" or "who had the coolest sound system". What if we all bonded together for God's glory? What if we stood up to make a difference and reach out in unity? I think that nonbelievers would be much more likely to embrace and accept the gospel if we weren't continually bickering about who was going to win them over and therefore showing hypocrisy in the process. Our churches should not be about the numbers. Honestly, I'd much rather be in a church with 5 other people that genuinly wanted to worship and know the Lord than 5 million that were just there because it was the "cool" place to be. I don't want to be at the "cool" church, I want to be at the "God" church.
Problem number two is that we tend to value the "pretty" people and the "flashy" gadgets. We view church as a form of entertainment, something to do to occupy time. So, just as the lastest blockbuster hit has all of the newest lighting and sound techniques and the best actors, we want our churches to have the same. Too often, we "worship" our leaders more than the Lord. We want to be part of the latest and trendiest ministry. We want to hear from the best pastor. There are some great speakers out there, don't get me wrong, they are working for the Lord. But, sometimes we as people, put such an emphaisis on the fact we just heard the latest and greatest pastor/speaker that we don't even hear the message. For example, Francis Chan is a great speaker. Amazing. He has some great insight and is truly inspired by the Lord. But, me wanting to drive to his church to hear him speak could be wrong. If I was just going to hear him speak. Now, if I wanted to go hear God speak through him...I've got the right motives. We need to remeber the master over the pastor. 1 Corinthians 1:17 says, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News- and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power." What Paul is saying is that God didn't send him to be the best speaker. Because God doesn't just want people at church to hear a cool speaker, beacause this brings problems. The Cross loses its value, its worth. Also, we don't just want to be the prettiest church on the block. It's cool to have pretty people that want to be there. It's cool to have pretty stuff that decorate the building. But, it's not cool to just go somewhere because it's cool to be there. We should learn to value the gifts of all people, even the not so cool ones, and learn to value the Word over oratory skills. Yeah, I like a pastor that can preach an entertaining, funny message that captures my attention. But, I would much prefer a pastor inspired by the Word of God that wasn't so entertaining any day. Because, you know what? It's not all about me. It's about God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:4, "When one says 'I am a follower of Paul', and another says 'I am a follower of Apollos' aren't you just acting like the people of this world?" People of this world follow their leaders. People of God follow God. Don't follow your pastor, don't follow your church. Don't follow your denomination, please. Follow God. Keep your eyes fixed on him. In verse 7 Paul says, " It's not important who does the planting or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow."
Problem number three is that our church has a lot of gifted people that are "baby" Christians. We hear so often the phrase "Do not judge, lest you be judged." As Christians, we think it is our duty to judge everyone, but the judgement really lies in God's hands. Yes, if you are in an accountability relationship, it would be appropriate to tell them where they are straying off the straight and narrow. No, it is not appropriate to stand on street corners judging those that walk by. Nonbelievers are calling the church hypocritical because they are judging people, and yet they have problems themselves. We need to work on ourselves before we work on others. After you are living the pure and sinless life...we can talk again, okay? We are killing the cause of Christ by doing this. We tend to have mixed motivations, so as you work for the Lord, you should watch your motivations. If you are doing something for God's glory, you should make sure that it's God you're trying to glorify, not yourself. So often, we take our salvation for granted. Take your calling from the Lord seriously. It's not just your reputation at stake...it's the Lord's. I think Tobymac sums this whole cultural Christianity thing up good in his song 'Lose my Soul' when he says, "Lord forgive us when we get consumed by the things of this world that fight for our love and our passion. As our eyes are open wide and on you grant us the privilege of your world view. And may your kingdom be what wakes us up and lays us down."
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
- Graduate college.
- Fall in love and get married.
- Have kids (after number 2!)
- Dance in the rain.
- Go to New York City.
- Become fluent in another language.
- Plant a garden.
- Run/walk a marathon.
- Win a game of minesweeper.
- Book a flight on short notice and just go!
- Change someone's life.
- Learn to do yoga...and be good at it!
- See a broadway show (see number 5).
- Learn to sew my own clothes.
- Buy and decorate my own house. Maybe a renovation?
- Learn to ballroom dance.
- Do something spontaneous (and number 10 doesn't count!)
- Travel to a foreign country.
- Learn to bake a great cake.
- Find a cause to be passionate about.
- Go backpacking.
- Learn to be content.
- Go to a ball.
- Change the world.
- Find the cure for something.
- Learn to bellydance.
- Change the world.
- Conquer my fears.
- Live in the now.
- Go to England and find Harry Potter.
- Learn to rap.
- Lead someone to Christ.
- Go on a mission trip.
- Adopt (a kid...or a cat).
- Read through the entire Bible.
- Invent something.
- Become a real blogger (and have more than one reader!)
- Visit all 50 states.
- Make a wish on a shooting star.
- Ride an elephant. Or a camel.
- Climb a mountain.
- Go to the Olympics.
- Go to every Disney park in the world.
- Invent my own flavor of ice cream.
- Be a mentor.
- Visit a castle.
- Own a small town bookstore.
- Visit Hollywood and meet someone famous.
- Be in 2 places at once.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
But- before I go any further- let me share a story from a book entitled Tortured for Christ- a novel that tells the story of Christians in Romania living behind the Iron Curtain.
“One of our workers in the Underground Church was a young girl. The Communist police discovered that she secretly spread Gospels and taught children about Christ. The decided to arrest her. But to make the arrest as agonizing and painful as they could, they decided to delay her arrest a few weeks, until the day she was to be married. On her wedding day, the girl was dressed as a bride -- the most wonderful, joyful day of a girl’s life! Suddenly, the door burst open and the secret police rushed in.
When the bride saw the secret police, she held out her arms toward them to be handcuffed. They roughly put the manacles on her wrists. She looked toward her beloved, then kissed the chains and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.” She was dragged off, with weeping Christians and a keeping bridegroom left behind. They knew what happens to young Christian girls in the hands of Communist guards. Her bridegroom faithfully waited for her. After five years she was released, a destroyed, broken woman looking thirty years older. She said it was the least she could do for her Christ.”
(Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ pg. 37 & 38)
Wow. Wow. That's all that could go through my mind. I know that she (the unnamed bride) had been waiting for her wedding day her whole life probably. She had wishes...and dreams. And yet, she was willing to give them up- or at least delay them- for the call of Christ. She didn't argue with the police. She didn't say "Wait- can I just finish my wedding?" She allowed them to take her and only said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel [the hancuffs] He presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.” She was able to thank God in the midst of a not ideal situation. I have to wonder sometimes about what I would have done if I was in her situation. I mean, I have all these plans already, and I'm not anywhere close to being engaged even. Imagine going through with all of the planning, all the hoping, all the anticipation, and then to have it taken away from you in an instant. She put God in front of her own dreams and desires. She knew what was worth more.
I live in America. At the moment, it's a fairly confortable nation. I also am blessed to live in a financially stable family where I never have to worry about food being on the table or having a warm bed to sleep in at night. I have the freedom to worship God, to go to church, and to tell others about God without fear of being persecuted. I don't have the thought running through my head during church, "I wonder if the Secret Police will raid the church tonight? I wonder if I will be able to escape, to run fast enough, or if I will end up in jail or be killed?". This freedom is a blessing. I am so thankful for it. Hey, I even live in a small town in the Bible Belt. There's a church on every street corner and church fliers posted in the newspaper. But, sometimes I wonder if it would be better- if my faith would be stronger- if it wasn't as easy. If I had to try a little harder, if it cost me something. I mean, right now, what do I have to lose? I can plan my wedding- and not be concerned about it being crashed by people trying to arrest me. What's my faith worth? Anything? Something? Nothing? What's your faith worth? I think one of the strongest points in my faith was in Auburn when I had a friend I sat next to in class that was very anti-Christian. Anything Christians agreed with- she would disagree with. And yet, she asked me some of the toughest questions about Christianity. I didn't know all the answers. But I was willing to try and find it out. She made me want to fight for my faith- to figure out why I believed what I believed. I got closer to finding out what my faith was worth. It made it worth something to me.
So...what's it worth?