Author Archives: lifehelps
I find myself in a quandary: I thoroughly believe in gathering together as believers. Scripture seems to describe two different venues for this: “Temple” (Sunday Morning Church would be our equivalent) and “breaking bread from house to house”.
We have lost the second one for the most part. Oh, I know: There are small groups, Wednesday Night gatherings…but gathering just to be with each other doesn’t really happen.
I have tried to have gatherings in my home, but very few people engage…
Sunday Morning Church is largely uninspired and, quite frankly, boring for me.
So, here’s my thought. Below is a survey. I would like to hear about your desires and experiences:
1. What works for you?
a. “Just let me go to Church on Sunday Morning; don’t bother me the rest of the week.”
b. “I would thoroughly enjoy a small gathering where people really get to know me and I get to know them.”
c. “Sunday Morning gathering is richer when I have had contact with believers during the week.”
d. “I would rather meet with people who don’t go to the same Church as I do for my small group.”
e. “I want my small roup or midweek service to be with those who go to the same Church as I.”
2. Church is:
c. An institution.
3. Church should be:
a. run by clergy only.
b. A place where all believers use and strengthen their gifts.
c. Elder run.
d. Forget all that; just gather and have fun.
4. What makes “successful” Church gatherings to you?
a. A good sermon.
b. Beautiful music.
c. Rowdy, upbeat worship.
d. Good coffee and cookies afterward.
e. Good fellowship hour.
5. Do you have questions or comments?
Be careful about what you receive.
A few weeks ago, I decided to go see my doctor after a dream and a couple of conversations. (Getting me to go to the doctor is probably more difficult than geting a bill through Congress!)
He ordered a couple of diagnostics, including a chest X-ray, since I am at risk of lung problems.
My first X-ray showed a nodule in my left lung. As soon as I heard that, I called some friends and asked them to agree with me in prayer. My sense: I was not to pick this up; I was to stand in faith and not fear.
I had to get a second set of “pictures.” They came back “normal.”
This is the second time in my life that I have heard God say very clearly that I was not to own a diagnosis. The first one was in 2000: I had been told that I had FibroMyalgia. Immediately I heard, “Don’t pick that up; don’t own it. It is not yours.”
I had symptoms for almost a year.
Then, I was praying and fasting in preparation for a conference I was going to.
Most of the time, I clean house or work in my yard when I fast: It helps me to focus. This time was no different.
In the middle of cleaning the cat’s litter tray, I heard, “If anyone says you have Fibromyalgia, they’re lying: You have been healed.” I didn’t have a single symptom after that.
This time, the possibility of a life threatening condition challenged me to reaffirm my zeal for living. I’m searching out new goals and dreams; I’m pressing into prophetic words that still need to be fulfilled.
I will have a long, joyful, prosperous life; I will not accept anything less than that!
Now to be clear, I am not talking about Mind Over Matter or the power of positive thinking; I am standing on the word of God and declaring to you that you have choices to make: Will you receive curses, even “benevolent” ones – negative characterizations, predictions, diagnoses, general opinions – that are not in line with God’s plans for you? Will you hold to lies, such as, “God has made you ill…or poor…”
Will you seek God, his Kingdom and righteousness? Will you agree with blessings?
Take care: Choose what you will receive or not. Being able to say, “No” is vital to prosperous, blessed living; saying “yes” to the good things that God has for you is even more important.
By the way, it is equally important to guard your lips: Take care not to utter curses about yourself and others; be diligent in proclaiming blessings.
I write this as I struggle with Sunday Morning Gathering yet again. I have stopped going because I’m too discouraged about my inability to join in. This is not unique to the house where I have gone the past 5-1/2 years; any gathering that projects the words on a screen and plays music I don’t know will be inaccessible to me.
The challenge in the modern Church seems to be broader than this. It’s as though there’s a “Do not disturb” sign on the door: Anything or anybody that causes discomfort is neatly set aside.
I have heard pastors say they shouldn’t be expected to visit people when they are in the hospital; in fact, I had that happen about 13 years ago. I hear believers say they “just want to experience God’s presence,” which turns out to mean that they don’t want to see to others when they are at Church; that they don’t care about the quality of music…they just want to feel good.
“What’s in it for me?” seems to be the measure of what makes a successful gathering – In a word, consumerism.
I always hesitate to pick on the Church too much: There is plenty of that; God loves His beautiful Bride.
The deal is, we need to repent, and soon, before this anesthesia kills us.
The Sign On the Door
“I’m a pastor, paid to pray;
Please don’t intrude on my life that way!
I don’t want to visit the poor;
Please note the sign posted on my front door.”
“We like our worship; it makes us grin.
We don’t care if you can’t join in.
Please don’t tell us you’re distress and bored;
Please note the sign posted on our front door.”
“Do not disturb,” it plainly reads;
We don’t care about your wants and needs;
Please don’t ask us to do any more;
Please note the sign posted on our front door.
Years ago in such a place,
A man came in who was full of grace.
He made a whip with many cords;
He ripped that old sign right off their front door.
Animals, money, vendors, they say,
Watched tables turn as they ran away.
“No den of thieves; not anymore!”
Disturbance had just come through their front door.
May this same God, who longs for his bride
To be pure and spotless when she stands by his side
Confront and deliver, heal and restore;
Till that dreadful sign is off her front door.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, we pray;
Forgive our sins; take our selfishness away;
Disturb us until we long for more
Of you in our lives; Please come through that front door.
You desire truth and authenticity, the freedom to be and do you; you want enough safety to become vulnerable; you want significance. I want that, too.
Like you, I learned to be cautious and mistrustful. I am anti-establishment and ever seeking new ways.
Do you remember wanting these things? I do.
What happened? Why did you give up on these and settle into the status quo?
I know so many of you – you still value authenticity, social justice, idealism and freedom. You have not lost the fire in your hearts that cause you to work for a better world.
Dear generations in between:
You want identity, prosperity and freedom.
Do these not add up to the same things that milennials and boomers seek?
We are in this world together, searching and working for the same things.
Let’s join hearts and hands and include each other:
Boomers need you, Xers, Mes and Milennials;
I hope you recognize that you need us as well.
There is such a lie that has been promoted – Anyone over 40 is done.
No! We’re still here; we’re alive and desirous of the same things.
Instead of opposing or excluding each other, let’s come together in the unity of our ideals and searches;
Then we’ll see what God makes from all of this.
“When I first began leading worship, I served at a tiny suburban church plant in West Fort Worth. The pastor of that church constantly reminded me that folks would never leave our Sunday gathering humming the sermon he preached. They’d leave humming the songs we had sung together. In fact, they were far more likely to have the words we sang rattling around in their minds all week than any words they heard from the pulpit. For whom do we sing? I believe we sing for ourselves and for one another, that we might come to believe more fully the truth of the words we sing and to love more deeply the God to and about Whom they were written.
That belief has transformed the way I personally worship God in song, the way I plan the musical portion of any worship gathering I’m involved with and the way I discern which songs should or shouldn’t be a part of our corporate worship life. If music is, in essence, sung theology, then things like lyrical content and melodic hook become significantly more important to consider.
However, that doesn’t completely quench my desire to know “why we sing.”
If that was all there was to it, then why not just leave the singing to the pros, and attend a musically excellent, theologically rich concert every weekend? Or, for that matter, why not just buy musically excellent, theologically rich music on iTunes and listen to it day in and day out? Why must we gather and actually sing together?
I’ve long been fascinated by the prayer Jesus prays in John chapter 17. He prays specifically for the oneness of those who will come to believe in Him. He prays that we, His people, may be united together; that we might be one just as He and the Father are one.
In the book of Acts, we find the early church living and worshipping together day in and day out. They share what they have. They break bread together. They seek God together.”
…”How many acts of worship are communal in nature? Congregational singing lends itself perfectly to the togetherness & vulnerability that the Gospel demands, deserves and seeks of those living in community. We, together, are the people of God. We, together, are the bride of Christ. Therefore, it’s right and good that we, together, with one voice, should express our affections for our great bridegroom, Jesus.
When we step outside the familiar walls of liturgical tradition and peek back in through the window at all the people standing and singing and raising their hands together, it may look a bit foreign or silly. But, brothers & sisters, as I said, it is absolutely vital to the life of the Church and to the lives of the individual believers therein.
When we gather together, let us lay aside any concern about the quality of our singing voices. Let us lay aside any reservations about whether or not we “feel worshipful” in a given moment. Let us sing. Let us sing as an act of discipline, training our hearts to believe more completely the Gospel of our salvation. Let us sing as an act of community, knowing that the people around us are our brothers and sisters and that they need the truth of the Gospel on our lips to ring in their ears.”
From “What’s the Point of Singing,” by Luke Brawner
I’m reminded of something Paul writes in Ephesians and Colossians:
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,
and making music to the Lord in your hearts. …
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
I have had more than one person tell me that they don’t care about the quality of music or musicianship; they just want to feel God’s presence.
That sounds good, but it’s not biblical.
God designed us to worship, individually and together. He calls us to join in unity (Psalm 133) He tells us to sing to each other…
I think this is especially important in a day when people are so isolated. The last thing we need is to go to Sunday Morning Gathering for more of the same.
There is also a synergy that happens when the worship is made up of live voices. It has a vibrance to it that simply cannot be communicated in recorded or streamed music. Joining our voices says, “I’m with you. I know and love you, here and now.” We desperately need that.
By the way, Scripture also admonishes us to dance, raise our hands, shout and declare.
Here is a short list; a sampler, if you will, of who we are:
Temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Reflections of God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)
God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
dearly loved children (Ephesians 5:1; 1 John 3:1)
Light (Ephesians 5:8)
Dead and raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1-3)
God’s chosen people (Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:9)
A royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)
A holy nation (1 Peter 2:9)
Saints (Colossians 1:12)
Heirs (Romans 8:17)
Joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
Apart from God, this is nothing more than grandiosity.
Because of Jesus and in Him, however, this is reality!
Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom are varied indeed:
Some are conservative while others are progressive;
There are liturgical believers and evangelicals;
Rich, poor and those who live “in between”;
Well educated, professionals, tradesmen, laborers, those who don’t work at all;
People of every race and tradition.
Yet these ambassadors have the most important thing in common:
They belong to Jesus.
They love and serve Him;
They share in the joy and abundant life he gives;
They want to bring others into God’s household
So that the family will grow.
There is a trend in much of the western Church these days: “All or nothing.”
Either I embrace everybody, including all religions, choices and lifestyles as true….
I reject people, based on their beliefs, identification, words and actions.
Me? I say neither of these is biblical.
Jesus definitely met people where they were; yet he didn’t accept their choices out of hand. He told the woman caught in adultery, “Go. Sin no more.” That was after he confronted her accusers and refused to condemn her. He told the rich young ruler, whom he loved, to sell everything he had and “come, follow me.”
He accepted the offering of tears and ointment from a woman known to be “a sinner.” His reply to the teachers of the law indicated that he forgave her for all she had done.
When the woman who had come to the well in Samaria encountered Jesus, her life was changed. He totally read her mail; yet did not condone her lifestyle. He addressed her as a real person – likely an experience she had not had in her whole lifetime.
I can accept anybody as a person, created and loved by God.
I can – and do well to – disagree with all that is not biblical and true.
One road leads to Heaven; not all of them.
One God is true; not whatever or whomever someone decides to glorify.
Sin is sin; idols are idols.
I have heard more than one source say that love means I accept people, behavior and all.
No. Love means I accept the person and speak truth to him or her.
Are you looking for abundant, healthy, eternal life?
Give your heart to Jesus: The Way, The Truth, The Life.