Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pick a Side?

As I sit and reflect, I find that many groups within Christianity seem to pick a side and stick with it. For example: many feel that churches need to be downtown and working/living with the poor. Or churches need to be traditional and stand apart from culture. Or others feel that churches need to be cool and technologically hip. Or others feel that churches… and the list of comparisons can go on.

Why does it have to be either/or? Can't it be both/and?

So can a church gathering be both relevant and bathed in prayer? Can a church leader both fast regularly and decide to use an entertaining video/culture to communicate truth? Can a pastor both care very deeply for others to be in biblical community and create a series with the very purpose of drawing a crowd? Can a church reach both poor and rich? Better yet, can a pastor use his volunteers and staff to give care to the whole community or is it the pastors soul responsibility? (Add more here….)

It is true that we can find plenty of Scriptural examples of fasting, prayer, personal confession, repentance and biblical community. But we can also find New Testament examples of Jesus, Paul and others being relevant, creating inviting environments, using humor and entertaining stories and preaching to large crowds. So, why is it that people pick sides?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Things that make you think?

Last weeks post raised a lot of questions as to what we can do...stay tuned as I am working with someone to figure out something....seriously!
I just came across this on someone else’s blog. What do you think?

Sometimes it helps to know the kind of churches that you never want to go to. Here are five actual, real churches that I have visited and that I would never go to again. And I hope you won’t either.
1. I will never go back to the church that exists for itself. So many churches just simply exist for their own members, their own comfort. They never seem to care about those who are far from God and yet close to the doors of their church that they could reach. They have a mission-blindness because they are so focused on self-preservation.
2. I will never go back to the church that resists change. It’s the church of Jesus Christ that understands what never changes and what ever-changes. The message of the gospel is timeless, but the methods with which it is delivered are and must be timely.
3. I will never go back to the church where everyone is not welcome. It’s hard to believe even in our day that there are churches that are prejudiced; prejudiced against race, mixed marriage, and a hundred other issues. The truth of the matter is I would never go to a church that just simply doesn’t exist for people. It’s been my contention the church doesn’t exist simply for Christians, it exists for everyone so that anyone and everyone should be welcome. But we all know that’s not true. One of the biggest sins churches commit is when they put up signs reading, “Everyone Welcome” when we all know they are not.
4. I will never go back to the church whose basis of authority is tolerance and inclusion. The basis for authority in any church are the Scriptures. God’s revealed word is the truth on which we are founded. The gospel is the story of redemption based on truth, justice, mercy, grace, and love. So I want to be part of the church whose foundation is not tolerance, but truth; because tolerance without truth is just sentimentalism. I want to be quick to say that I also want to be part of a church who speaks the truth in love; who doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear, but tells me what I need to hear in a way I can hear it.
5. I will never go back to the church that preaches a works salvation. So much of what you’ll hear tomorrow in churches across this land is based on a works salvation; a redemption by being better. How many sermons will we hear about being more like Paul or Peter, or John or Moses, or David or Joshua, or even like Jesus? The good news of the gospel is not that God came to make bad men better, but that He came to make dead men live.
Relationship with God through Jesus Christ is based totally on the work of Christ on the cross and through the Resurrection; not on the basis of my good works or my promise to be redeemed. Christianity is not a sin-management program. It is a life-transforming relationship that you enter in through Jesus Christ to the Redeemer and God of your life.
These are churches I would shy away from. If I were looking for a brand new church, I would simply turn these upside-down and make sure I go to a church tomorrow that is mission-minded, that receives people with joy no matter who they are or where they’ve come from; that proclaims the truth of the Sacred Scripture and elevates the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope for the world.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How are you feeling now?

I wonder if GOD wants us to love others so much that we would go to extremes to help them?
I wonder if GOD wants the church to be known for giving...of our time, our money and our abilities? In doing so, we can begin to alleviate some of the suffering in the world and change the reputation that the church has in our culture.

"I believe in GOD, just not in organized religion." How often I hear that...I am not sure that people would say that if the church really lived like we are called to live.

So, I had a coffee today with someone who is in the process of calling the church and the rest of the country to stand up for the rights of children. In a nutshell this person is bringing attention to the issues of Child Pornography in our nation.

Did you know that the victims of child sex images are getting younger and younger and the images are becoming more graphic. 83% of those arrested for possessing child pornography had images of kids 6-12 years old. 39% had images of kids 3-5 years old. 19% had images of infants and toddlers under the age of 3. How are you feeling now?

Hey, did you know that most pictures involved children who were gagged, bound, blindfolded or otherwise suffering sadistic assault and 21% of those images depicted rape, bondage and/torture? How are you feeling now?

Did you know that in Canada some summary convictions of child sex crimes are only 14 days? Did you know that the sentences are often house arrest and community service or a conditional sentence (thus no jail time). How are you feeling now?

Did you know that these children who are victims will suffer life long trauma and life with the fact that these images will be on the net forever? How are you feeling now?

I wonder if GOD wants us to love others so much that we would go to extremes to help them?
How are you feeling now?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Are You Kind?

"I choose kindness... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me." - Max Lucado