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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where we are and where we are going

Some of us just do not know anything else. We have been Christians all of our lives, just like Mom and Dad. Most of our earliest memories are being at church, or church camp, or VBS, or any other of a number of things that are unique to being brought up in a church home. We feel as if we were found under a pew and bathed in the baptistery.

Others of us see all of this as something completely knew and maybe even foreign. We do not understand the subtle little references and the “code words” spoken often by those who have been in church their whole lives. We see things differently for this is all new and maybe even somewhat confusing to us. We have never been to a retreat, or a youth rally. We have never spent an entire day, much less a whole week at church. We think when we hear VBS that it must be a TV station like CBS, or TBS.

Then there are us who were drug to church each and every time the doors were open by our Moms, and maybe Dad (for special occasions; this arrangement can be reversed though). We grew to enjoy hanging out with the youth group and enjoyed Youth Rallies because it was an opportunity to meet girls (or guys) from other churches. We liked the community and the friends we made, but there was not really a spiritual connection for us. We heard all the rules and the why’s and wherefore’s and could quote a memory verse for a treat. We grew up, got the “Gift Bible” and “The Charge” on Senior Sunday, and then promptly fell away from the habit of church for other habits that seemed more enjoyable, and that definitely conflicted with the schedule for church attendance.

Now we are all gathered here, we all sit in the same building and listen to the same lessons and sermons and all sing the same songs and hear the same prayers. However, we all hear them with the ears of our experiences. There are different songs that stir our hearts in different ways, there are prayers that speak to our needs more than others. We all have filters that process the things that we hear because of the things and people that we have experienced in our lives.
The question I have today is, “How well do you know your pew buddy.” When I was driving the school bus, we would designate “seat buddies” for the students as a way of being accountable to have everybody back on the bus before we pulled out. So how well do you know your “pew buddy?” Do you know the things in their life that led to them sitting here this morning? Or the distractions in their lives that lead them to maybe not being here this morning? Do you know how they came to be saved, or what it is they struggle with during the week? Chances are if they are a family member that you do know this, maybe. If they are not your age, or your neighbor, or sit somewhere else; then chances are we know not these things.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
John points out that Christ laid down His life for us. Whole this is true in the physical sense, it is also true that Christ left behind the life lived side-by-side with God. “He left the splendor of Heaven…” for a life on earth with people that would argue with Him, and plot to take His life. Jesus left all to come so that we could have a savior that could relate to the lives we have led. We see that he was raised up in the church, yet as an adult he became an “outsider” to those in the synagogues. He was willing to become sin for us, to be uncomfortable for us, to put aside himself for us, to better know us in a way that was meaningful to us.
Are we willing? Can we set aside our wishes and wants for someone else this morning, next week, for the rest of our time here on this earth, so that we can better serve them and their needs. So that we can better understand our “pew buddies,” and the things that they are in need of. And then help supply for those needs.

Let’s all of us commit to getting to know someone in the church here better. To set aside our lives for theirs. This will make us a stronger church, and better able to meet the needs of one another. It will make us look more like Christ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Wonderful Savior

I am touched this week with how wonderful our God is. Nothing special has happened and nothing earth shattering has been halted, I am just in awe of Yahweh. It is so neat to see the moments when God becomes clearer in our lives, those brief moments of clarity that we find when alone and quiet. I think that God calls us to these times to show us His glory.

I know I am rambling, but in the last two weeks i have witnesses and read of people hearing and seeing God in new ways. He answers our prayers in ways that are meaningful to us as individuals, and to see that in the lives of people you know is simply amazing.

I am so glad for this journey that God has put my family on, and so joyful for all of you that have participated in the journey with us.

May God bless you all, and may you feel His presence in a new way this week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A new round of questions...

I bought this album the other day, Todd Agnew Better Questions, and while not everybody's cup of tea stylistically, I must say the thought that goes into the lyrics stirs me. I remember as a young man coming up in the church, that I had questions that were just not supposed to be asked ou loud. If you were bold or nieve enough to ask them out loud, the answerr was "because we have always done it that way," or "that's just the way it is."

I think that there are questions like these that just come naturally, and we are afraid sometimes to ask, because God's answers to these questions force even tougher questions. The hard questions that examine my motives for ministry, my heart for the lost, or my love for my Savior. These questions are more than about, "am I doing everything I can to get to heaven," and instead lead me to examine if I am doing everything God wants me to do to call out and help bring freedom and life to the lost and dying around me. It is about me standing at the edge of the burning bush and doubting that God will do everything that I have faith for Him to do through me to free His people held in captivity.

I also think that God answers our questions in a way that forces other harder, deeper questions to show us that it is about more than the destination. As hard as I might try, I just cannot compleltley wrap my finite mind around eternity, or heaven, or actually being in the very presence of God. (I want so much to crawl up in His lap and hug and kiss my Creator, but it is difficult to think that way somnetimes. As if the idea was less than dignified).

Anyway, I just wanted to share this article with you to see if the questions were still there. If we stop asking them, we stopping growing in Him.

Love You All,

P.s. check out this link for an interview with the artist.