30 August 2010

C'mon people now

Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now
- The Youngbloods
Last night I accompanied our church’s worship team as they went to a church about 10 miles away to join with several other worship teams for a couple hours of worship and fellowship. There were Baptists, and Nazerenes and Non-Denoms and it was good.

There was very little posturing. There was open and frank discussion between people of different congregations (because let’s face it – there is only ONE church) but it was conducted with mutual respect and love.

Nobody was trying to sell anything, no one was recruiting for “their church” , worship teams and individuals were not “competing”. Some people came dressed up, some came very casual – and it was okay.

I have no huge problem with denominations per-se. Christians have certain ways they are comfortable doing things and so they naturally gather together in those groups. Some will say the big deal between denominations is doctrine – how it is interpreted by various bodies. Predestination or no? Spiritual gifts or no? Male clergy, female clergy. What does baptism entail? Where does the Virgin Mary fit in? There is that. But I think it is more cultural. We just feel comfortable when church goes a certain way.

Some like much structure and order. Others like free flowing and organic. Some are very uncomfortable with “them”. Others embrace them. What kind of music? What kind of seating? What does the pastor look like? How does he speak?

As long as they hold the basic tenants of Christianity – come on, you know them: Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a perfect and sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, is sitting at the right hand of God the Father and is coming again someday to judge everyone…. As long as other congregations hold to those beliefs – aren’t the rest just minor details?

At least minor enough that we shouldn’t talk badly about each other; we shouldn’t avoid each other; we should not resist working and playing and worshipping together for His greater glory?

Can we not come together in the spirit of brotherly love? Can we not come together in the Spirit?
Can we not leave the competition and blustering out there – and unite as one in Christ?

Last night, I had a taste of that and it tasted good.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? - 1 Corinthians 3:3 - 4

25 August 2010

Christians in Community

Lately, I have been hearing the call, feeling the pull… Oh, it is very faint and gentle – but I sense it nonetheless. It is the pull to gather with others; To simplify. I have a longing to share – share myself, who I really am, to experience real relationships without all the trappings of class and status and other man-made constructs that get in the way of living and loving each other as God intended. There is also and element of wanting to withdraw a bit from the madness and filth that surrounds us and that I see only getting worse in the days ahead.

Referring to Babylon we can read:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
– Revelation 18:4

But really, it is more a pull to than a pull from. A pull to gather. Together. In community. Christian Community.

And I am not the only one who is hearing and feeling it. Others are as well. Could there be something to this? Could this be God speaking in a whisper? “…Come out of her, my people”

Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD's anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger. – Zephaniah 2:1 – 3

Recently, my wife and I met with five other Christian families to discuss what we are calling CiC – Christians in Community. We are basically trying to get a handle on what a Christian Intentional Community would look like. How would it work? How could we (none of whom are made of money) possibly make something like this happen? What would be the pitfalls?

I know this – I really enjoyed just sitting in that living room having adult conversation that was Christ-centered in that we are all seeking His will and guidance, and yet open and free enough to let each person discuss his or her thoughts and feelings even if they were different from those of others.

Question on psychological tests: I am happiest when _________________.

I’ll tell you this, I feel very happy when I am gathered together with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ and, instead of following our agenda – we are allowing Him to guide and lead us. I am very happy when I am focused on Christ and God’s love for me and you instead of the world.

I believe I could be very happy living in a Christ-centered community that was mostly “self-sufficient” (God sufficient), where Brothers and Sisters worked side by side, played together, shared, and yet still had private spaces and time – as and when they saw fit.

I would like to be living in a Christian Community.

24 August 2010

There IS No Box

It seems to me we try so hard to put God in a box.
“What do you mean, ‘we’, Joe?”
I mean all of us to one extent or another. If a particular example does not apply to you or if none of this applies to you – very good! But I bet you still try to put God in a box in some other way…

First, we literally build boxes in which we want God to exist. We call them churches. Some are simple, some are worn down, some are big and bright and shiny. Some have awesome sound systems and very comfortable seats. Some even have coffee bars and restaurants! Surely God would be happy in such a box!

Many of us expect to see God in those specified boxes but we really don’t want to see Him elsewhere – like when we are at work, or hanging out with our buddies, or driving in rush hour traffic. No, no, it just would not DO to see God outside of His box.

We also build boxes of expectations. God will do this if only we…pray hard enough, act good enough, worship reverently enough. Or, God expects our best – and look what he decided to wear to church today – has he no tie? Or for those who don’t wear ties to church – Doesn’t he have a nicer shirt than that to come to God’s house in? We expect God to bless some people and withhold His blessing from others. We expect God to answer our prayers the way WE want them answered or in OUR time.

We build boxes of rules we are just sure God would approve of. Indeed, we know that if our rules (we intimate they are actually His rules) are not followed by some then they are not truly walking with the Lord. “We don’t play musical instruments.” “TRUE worship requires musical instruments”; “we raise our hands in praise” “We are reverent in His house” “Christ drank wine”; “No, He didn’t” “One is only truly saved when one…”
…..Us, Them. They don’t do it right so they are “outside”. We understand completely so we are “inside”.


Our God is an Awesome God.
MY God is an Awesome God.

I think He laughs at the boxes we build to try and contain Him.
I think He may also weep…

God Loves You – and so do I,

Who certainly does not have it all figured out