Posts Tagged Church
Friday, March 22
Paul’s last words to the church encourage us that the battle we are engaged in it is not just physical. The prince of the power of the air that he mentioned in chapter 2 arrays a lot of enemies against the work of the church. Paul lists a lot of important tools to defend ourselves against the attacks of the spiritual powers, but notice with most important one is in verse 18. The most important 12 that you have on your journey is going to be prayer; and not just individual prayer, but prayer together as the church. A single soldier doesn’t want a war on his own, no matter how many Rambo movies they make. Wars are won by teams working together. And that’s with the churches. A team.
Thursday, March 21
This is a long passage, and it has a lot in it; but notice that Paul brings up the word walk again. It is our walk in love, not your walk in love. It is a shared walk – a shared journey. And how does Paul describe this journey? He puts it into practical terms. He talks about our families. He talks about our marriages. He talks about the relationship of masters and slaves. These are all different environments where we the church have an opportunity to walk in love. How can we bring a journey of love into each of these relationships?
Wednesday, March 20
This is the third time that Paul refers to the walk. This time, it is the walk of the Gentiles, and we are warned against it. Who are the Gentiles? They are the nations and the people who are separated from God.
Being a Gentile has nothing to do with your ethnicity. It has nothing to do with not being Jewish. It has everything to do with your relationship to God through Jesus Christ. The Gentiles are those who refuse Christ. The chosen are those who follow him.
Paul divides the world into two groups of people – people headed toward Jesus and people headed away from it. Which way are you heading? Even as a believer you can be headed the wrong direction.
TUESDAY, March 19
Look at how Paul describes a walk that is worthy of Jesus Christ. He talks about humbleness and gentleness and peace and long-suffering and patients. These are things that are not as common in human experience as we like to think they should be. Paul is harkening back to earlier in chapter 2 where he talked about those who walk according to the paths of the prince of the power of error. There is a contrast between the way we are to walk as believers and do “church” with the way we would walk in our default setting as human beings.
Monday, March 18
It is reassuring to know that he has chosen you and those you journey with to demonstrate God’s “manifold witness.” (v 10) in the public square, people want to downplay religion as secondary to real life. Nothing could be further from the truth according to Jesus and according to the apostle Paul. Our faith, the faith we share as the church, is greater than the greatest powers on earth. And that means we have a greater responsibility than even the president of United States of America. Our responsibility is not to the people of a nation, but to the Savior of all mankind.
Friday, March 15
God always wanted you to be saved, to be a part of his church. You are special, but all who are saved are special. You get to be a part of the thing that God has been doing for all of history. This is reassuring isn’t it? That God chose you as Plan A. You were not an afterthought. You were not an exception. He knew you. He touched you. Saved you. He brought you into the church. And he has a mission for you.
Thursday, March 14
Churches focus too much on being “appealing” and “relevant.” We forget that our purpose is not to appeal to people but rather to live out the ministry of reconciliation completed in Christ. Whether people want Jesus to be the Savior is completely irrelevant. Remember. The people he served crucified Him. People rarely want what Jesus offers. So, we should be about the reconciliation he modeled for us. Kindness, peace, love, truth, grace, forgiveness, repentance, hope – these things should define our relationships because we are defined by them. It is only because Jesus treated us in this way that we are still alive.
Wednesday, March 13
Sinners don’t need work to make themselves better. They need gifts from God (v 9). Grace is a gift. Forgiveness is a gift. Faith is a gift. Rather than trying to make things work, we should accept God’s gifts. They are the manifestation of his love to us; and we can become agents of grace, forgiveness and faithfulness to others as well.
Don’t just work Jesus into your life. Make Jesus your life and work out of His abundance. Let him define and redefine what you should and can do. A Church is a community gathered around Christ. We are all equally undeserving of Christ’s gifts, and thus we are all on even footing here.
Why is it that when we talk about children’s ministry in the church, we often think of cartoon characters and bright colors; but when we think of “adult church”, it is often drab or dark?
For Thanksgiving service this year, we printed out some color sheets and put baskets of crayons at the tables for families to share. Do you know who worked the hardest on their coloring sheets? It was not the kids. We had grown men and women diligently coloring in those pictures of turkeys and family dinners. The kids were so engaged with the activities of the evening because their parents were engaged.
Much of who we will become as followers of Christ begins when we are children. Sometimes I wonder if we are not sending our kids the wrong message about faith and life.
We tell them that being a kid is “fun” but being an adult is “serious.” Without thinking about it, we communicate to children that they might as well enjoy their faith now; because once they become an adult, they will have to stop enjoying it. They will no longer be able to worship in the language of laughter and creativity. They will have to worship through lectionary and liturgy.
I don’t think the church’s worship should be childish or foolish. I think there is a way to integrate the joy of creativity and interactivity with the “serious” activities of worship. Why should we have to dull our senses when we come together? And why should we feel we need to shield our children from worship they can’t comprehend?
I could be wrong, of course, but when I read the Scriptures, I see that the early church was a family affair. We tend to think that they worshiped the way that Paul wrote his epistles – barreling straight ahead in a doctrinal treatise. But there are hints and shadows that the worship itself was not like Paul’s letters at all.
The apostle Jude calls the church’s worship αγαπη, literally “love” (v 12). Paul speaks of their worship as day long celebrations that began with meals (1 Corinthians 11). He also reminds the churches that their worship is supposed to be full of singing and celebration (Ephesians 5:19). Paul’s letters are also full of instructions for all members of the household, including children and even slaves.
Worship is supposed to be vibrant and creative, interactive to the core.
But somehow, worship has become about listening quietly or overreacting exuberantly. Children still get asked lots of questions in Sunday School, but adults get asked none in worship.
Somehow, we have gotten it backward.
Somehow, the only time a parent talks to a child in the “adult” service is to tell her to be quiet or to sit still. Why? Because that’s what we have been told to do ever since we were children. Why doesn’t it occur to us that church is not a “be quiet and sit still” place? Why isn’t church an interactive space, where our minds are stretched and our imaginations expanded?
Are we so afraid of making mistakes or blowing it that church has become a place where you’re not allowed to express yourself? Not allowed to discover truth for yourself? Not allowed to interact with truth?
No wonder kids don’t like being in the services.
Some Sundays, I have a little trouble getting an idea out. This Sunday may have been one of those days.
The big idea on Sunday was this: when you look AT things I the world, what are you looking FOR?
In Luke 12, Jesus challenged the religious people of his day. They were able to interpret the sky but they could not see what God was doing. They could perceive creation but they were missing the Creator.
From a practical perspective, the question is simple: are we looking at what is going on around us and missing what God is doing? Are we failing to see Christ because we are too busy looking at everything from our own perspective?
To borrow the tired cliche, we cannot see the forest for the trees.
To borrow Jesus’ imagery, we cannot see the heavens for the sky.
I would encourage you to look at everything in your life differently this week. Don’t just look AT your situation, job, family, relationships. Look FOR Christ in these things. Find how Jesus is revealing himself even in the smallest aspects of life.