Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What if We Actually Had Church?

I'm gonna be honest, I want to plant a church so bad it makes me crazy.  I have two different models in my head, one being a straight up house church plan, the other a hybrid of the house church plan with a more centralized location for teaching and activities and such.  One requires more overhead than the other.  Both plans include the bulk of what we call "church" being done in houses.

Here is my concern with what we call Church.  It's not church, it's a worship service, and often a one man + the band show.  The people come in, they sing along with the band, listen to a pastor preach and go home.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy worship music, and I love to listen to good preaching.  Jesus stood up and taught in crowds and preaching is a great ministry, but it's not church.  Church is not a gathering to listen to a sermon.  It's a time to connect, share, encourage, expression devotion to Christ, praise and worship and fellowship.  There should be multiple people sharing (more than announcements) and multiple opportunities to connect.  What we do in Sunday School is more church than what we actually do in the church service.  Why?  Why do we do church like this?

I have thought of several different reasons, but I've come to one conclusion, cause we don't know anything else.  It's the way it's been done, so we just keep doing it this way.  It was brought about post-Constantine with the Catholic church and we've never done aything else.  What if we did,what if we were brave enough to do church like the Apostles, like Antioch, like the early believers? What if instead of it being one man and his band, we all shared and brought more than a bottom to put in a chair?  What would it look like? I think it would look like Church.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Want to be Rich in Years

I read a lot of books, most of them theological, I just finished one that really made me think.  The book is called Rich In Years by Johann Arnold.  I don't think a whole lot about growing older, and to be honest I don't think a lot about caring for aging family members.  My only living grandparent is surrounded by family half way across the country from me, my parents are both gone.  I have talked to my wife briefly about when her mother gets older, but she is healthy and very independent, it's hard to think about her needing care.  My wife's grandparents are aging and there are times I think about them, they are fortunate to have lots of family close.  Things seem to be good, but could they be better?

Arnold talks about the fruit that comes from being older, but looks how as a society we have blown it.  I am thankful for the older men in my life and the wisdom they share.  A great man and mentor of mine passed away recently, I am so thankful for his investment and wisdom.  We need to not only care for those who are advanced in years, but take time to learn from them.  I have found the poorest leaders I have known have not taken time to have older and wiser mentors.  I don't want to be a poor leader, I want to have those older and wiser than I invest in me.  I have tried to take time to be connected, and as I grow older, I pray that God grants me wisdom to pass on.  Most of all, I hope there is a generation willing to stop and listen.  I hope we will be a generation to do the same.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wisdom, Where Does it Come From?

I need wisdom.  I need lots of wisdom because I have a family and a job and people who ask me for advice.  I'm not currently serving as a pastor, but I may again someday.  I need wisdom.  I look first to the place that holds the key to wisdom, the scriptures and I read in James: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach. 1:5.  That sounds good, but knowing that you can't read a text without a context, I read the passages before and after, and I find out it's about suffering.  It hits me, maybe we go through hard times because it makes us patient, faithful and wise.  After all, thinking of the wisest people I know, most of them have struggled and went through hard times.  I need wisdom, and for that I need to suffer.  I have suffered some, lost my parents to cancer young, had struggles with my health with my GERD and reflux, I haven't always had the best time in ministry.  I think I have struggled some, and I know there are more coming.

I continue to look, and I look to Proverbs, and the second chapter tells me to incline my ear, to listen to wisdom and value wisdom.  To seek it from God, to listen to His word, to pick my company carefully and be around those who are wise.  Avoid the foolish, which is not easy today.  You can't even turn on the TV without seeing and hearing foolish men.  I remember the story of Rehoboam who refused the counsel of the wiser, older and more mature advisers and listened to his friends and split the kingdom in two.  I am young enough to still make bad choices, I must remember to heed wise counsel from wise men.

So, here is my plan.  First, find the wisdom and the knowledge in the trials and the suffering.  Grow and understand that bad things bring growth.  Second, seek after wisdom, read and study and learn from God's word and from those teaching God's word.  Lastly, make time with wiser, older and Godly men who can impart on me wisdom.  Avoid those who are foolish and who promote foolishness.  Avoid that which would cause me to act foolish and cling to wisdom.  It's not always easy, sometimes the foolishness seems like fun, but I know I need wisdom.  I need wisdom like I need air, so you can pray for me to find it and cling too it and grow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let the Dead Horse Lie, No More Calvinistic Arguments

My brother and sister, the dead horse has been beaten beyond recognition. Every day I see on blogs and twitter and posts fight and arguments about Calvinism and Traditionalism. I think the scripture points out where we are today in Titus.

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:9

Friends, we are there. This conversation has become without value. Most of what I see has become hostile on both sides. There have been words used like "evil" or "heresy" or "satanic". Both sides have declared that the opposition has come from the pit of hell. I have seen a book published that pretty much comes right out and says that Calvinism is from hell. The Calvinists have thrown around words like Pelagian and heretic. This has become all together unprofitable.

We have become arrogant, thinking we are totally right, they are totally wrong. We have become hateful, spiteful and down right ugly. I am pleading with you, my brothers and sisters to let it go. We have to find common ground, commonality and the shared foundation. If we cannot, it may be time to separate the SBC, something I would hate to see happen.

We have divided ourselves over this theological position in a way that even the results to bridge the gap have been burned. Cinders and ashes are all that is left of much of the goodwill we need in the SBC. Can we not work together for the cause of Christ? Can we not focus on reaching out, serving, loving and caring? There must be more too us than our division on an aspect of soteriology. There is much about the act and realities of Salvation we agree on, and we all know we must preach Christ and His death, burial and ressurection.

Above all, we must be a convention united behind the cause of Christ. I know I have said and been part of the problem in the past. I apologise to all those I have insulted or offended. I pray that God blesses your ministry and that we can be a united SBC, working together for the cause of Christ.

Remember, above all, we are to love God and one another, so can we focus on that?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

To Blog or Not to Blog

I blog for a couple of purposes. First, writing is what helps a writer become a better writer, and as you can see, I need more work. Second, I blog to release some things that I bottle up inside. I'm not what you would call an expressive person, blogging helps me. Lastly, I blog because I want to share my thoughts and ideas. I write because I hope people read it and enjoy. With these things combined, there are moments I must stop and ask myself "should I blog about that?"

I haven't always "blogged happy." In fact, I have been dealing with a lot of anger lately. It seems to have been building over the last 18 months, I find myself dreaming about releasing the anger. I have prayed for the anger to go away, I have tried to let go. I have as of yet been unable. It then seems like things get added to my anger that make me even angrier. I remember the verse that tells me "the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God" but I'm still angry. I am not sure I could even call it righteous anger, because it's mostly selfish anger.

The point is, I sometimes struggle with what to write and what to post as I work on this blog. I try to write as often as I can, trying to stay with uplifting, Biblical and theological themes. Sometimes I just write what I am feeling or where I am. Today, all I can do is the blogging equivalent of sitting in the dust. I'm blogging about blogging. I have to admit that in my flesh and in my writing, I am full of weakness and frailty. I often have trouble looking outside this self-centered shell I have constructed. I see my issues, my anger and those things that matter to me.

So, when to blog and when to stay silent. I struggle sometimes, post stuff that causes me to get angry text messages or facebook comments. Sometimes I blog before I think about the consequences, just throw stuff out there. Being angry makes that easy to do. It's easy to get mad and write a blog or facebook post or twitter message. Maybe it's best if we slow down and don't blog angry.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are You Good Enough?

Well, are you good enough? Good enough at your job, your hobbies, your passions? A good enough child, parent, spouse, worker, athlete, musician, artist, writer, dancer, singer, etc?  Nope, probably not. We know we live in a world full of flawed, imperfect people, so why do we expect perfection?

We have expectations for others that are reasonable, but often we tack on unrealistic ones.  I remember asking a leader one time if he could keep the expectations he placed on others. He admitted he could not. We expect others to do what we want, when we want, how we want. At the same time, how many of us are able to do what we want, as fast as we want, as well as we want? Much of the time, we don't keep our expectations for ourselves, but do we show grace to others?

We live in a "work for what you get, get all you can, can all you get, don't give in and do it your way" society. We expect hard work, long hours, blood, sweat and tears. Why? I think it's because we enjoy suffering, but mainly it's to feed the biggest, fattest and ugliest part of ourselves, our ego. The ego want us to be the best and greatest, and we allow it to hold others to the impossible standards. I remember the prayer of the Pharisee "Lord, thank you I am not a sinner like this man." God wasn't impressed, and He's not impressed with you or I either.

It's time to stop expecting the world from the world. In the same way, it's time to stop coming to God on our terms. We often have expectations of God that  He has no interest in meeting. God wants you to love Him, love others and be holy. Happiness, wealth, good health, those are optional. Once we find the true meaning of humility, seek God out of who we really are and who He really is, we will find we are enough. Maybe we will find that those around us too are enough too, and they don't need us setting the bar.