Saturday, December 14, 2013

What is Advent?


You might have heard someone mention that it is the season of advent but do you know what that means? Advent is the 23-29 days preceding Christmas that begins the liturgical year. (starting four Sundays before the 25th) The word itself comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming."  Observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. While the practice has fallen out of favor in the Protestant church, but in a time of vast commercialization of Christmas it can serve as a valuable counterpoint to such secularization and remind of what the birth of the savior really means. 

The Lord looking over the nativity while anticipating it's conclusion.
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Thursday, October 17, 2013

God's Authority and yours.

As already discussed the standard for holiness is God’s very nature. Jesus is a perfect model of that nature. This is important for church leaders to live up to across the board, but there is one area that is particularly important. That being God’s authority. However, this is often a very misunderstood concept that church leaders sometimes fail to live up to properly, just like our Pharisee predecessors. The Lord’s authority is often symbolized by the hand of God, but what we must remember is that God has two hands. A hand of stern discipline, and a hand of nurturing healing. We become effective church leaders by wielding both hands of His authority appropriately, not just the one we are comfortable with.  All those under the care of half a leader are at risk of being damaged and wounded by said imbalance, and carry a distorted image of authority and God. Even those who actually recognize both hands of God often make the mistake of compartmentalizing them. That the hand of stern discipline was strictly an Old-Testament manifestation, and the hand of healing is the only one that still applies under the new covenant. The world has always and will always need both hands of God’s authority. To offer discipline without healing begets only rebellion. To offer healing and no discipline results in what you might call rich kid syndrome. For even in the Old-Testament there came the time for restorative healing after the discipline was done. Even is the New-Testament there was a time to rebuke. We can clearly see this dual image in Jesus himself. When dealing with the sinners in their brokenness, he offered the hand of healing. When dealing with authorities who perverted God’s truth and offered no hand of healing themselves he offered the hand of discipline. Whatever was needed in that moment.  With that being said we must also recognize that the hand of discipline wields a two-edged sword. (Revelation 1:16). God’s authority does not merely point at others, but one edge always points at the wielder. To truly wield the duel edge sword you must live and hold yourself accountable to it.  Only those who do will have the discernment enough to know when to draw said sword, and when to leave that sword sheathed to offer the hand of healing.  We see this very concept being uttered by Jesus in Matthew 7.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.


To live under God’s authority, and not just apply it to others is to know its sting. To heed its sting is to deal with ones own sin. To deal with ones own sin is to realize there is often an emotional scar behind our sin, and a face behind every scar. This knowledge brings empathy and proper restraint in wielding the sword of authority. With that comes the wisdom enough to know which hand to wield in order to help and not just draw blood. Many in the church repeat the same mistake as the Pharisees by never offering healing and waving the sword of authority in the face of the broken, yet never at themselves. Yet, we wonder why so many have a problem with authority. 

man being cut by the sword he wields
To wield the double edged sword is to know it's sting

Monday, September 30, 2013

How is one truly devoted in worship?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

While I have covered the four main points of this verse already, there is still one point I would like to highlight about it. Specifically something not listed as a point of devotion for the first generation church. Which would be worship. Why is that not mentioned? Is it a mere oversight or is there another explanation? Did they take this shift in the covenant concerning the where and how of worship dead serious? Specifically the human body becoming the temple, and what we do in the body for God’s sake as living sacrifices, or acts of worship. If so the idea of a formal ritual might have seemed redundant to that first generation church. That in their eyes that devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer were their true acts of worship. Not that I’m saying that formal ritual is bad unto itself, but if your worship consists of that and that alone. Yet you’re not honoring God in your everyday life and actions, you may just be playing church; rather than engaging in true worship. True new covenant style worship is not something you do two times a week or less in fixed ways, times, and places in an obligatory and rote way. Worship is something you do sincerely everyday as you build yourself up in God’s holy image, as you inspire the people around you, as you build God’s kingdom. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20


 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. -Romans 12:1

a man in church who is oblivious to the spirit
The eyes of my heart have grown dark

Friday, September 27, 2013

Are you devoted to prayer?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

Now for the final point of our Acts verse which reveals what the priorities of that first generation church was, Prayer. It’s not something I’ve spoken of much; thus far. In fact, I didn’t even include it in the four purposes of church. 

Worship, Education, Outreach, Fellowship


Well why is that you may ask. I did not include it as a separate point, for it is a concept that can be applied to all four other points. This detail seems to indicate that prayer needs to take part in every aspect of our spiritual live. It’s no wonder so much has been written on the subject. Of course, you could read every word of it, and it wouldn’t mean a thing if you didn’t actually apply the practice as intended. The question is do you? The answer might be revealed in how you treat prayer. Is Prayer something you avoid or embrace? Do you pray routinely, or only when you need something? Do you pray privately, or only with others as prompted by them? If you do pray privately, is it for just yourself, or others as well? If you do pray for others, is it for their benefit, or are you just wanting people to do as you wish? Does corporate prayer make you apprehensive for fear of being evaluated harshly just because you’re not as eloquent as the next person? Do you like to go on and on to show off that you can be  rather flowery with your prayer? The answers to these questions can speak volumes as to where your heart is at, and ultimately how spiritually healthy you are. 

God bestowing holy fire upon a man praying
Baptized by fire

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our attitudes towards Apostles' teaching

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

I used this verse recently in a post on fellowship. However, all these points deserve a long hard look because these were the things of top priority to that first generation church. Why should now be any different?  For now, let’s look at the first mentioned. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” As I already have gone into great detail earlier, this is an element of church that has taken a big hit recently. Many are struggling to keep Sunday schools and small groups afloat due to a lack of interest. Which begs the question, why is the church of today so apathetic towards learning more about their own beliefs? I’m sure the reasons are many and diverse, but consider this idea. 

Many generations ago the church was defined by quiet and reflective worship and ritual. A time when Biblical literacy was far greater than it is now. It makes sense, for the simple fact that church was skewed toward people on the introvert side of the scale, people who naturally gravitated to thought and learning. However, this obviously did not bode well for those who naturally favored the extrovert side of the scale. Many extroverts left the church out of pure boredom, while the more devoted said; wait a second, this dispassionate style of worship is not Biblically sound; and it was true. Evangelical and Charismatic movements helped to foster a more extrovert style of worship. Granted, the Church should not be skewed either way and it’s good to bring a little happiness and passion in the spirit back to the church. However, the pendulum might have swung too far in the opposite extreme in many cases. This new extrovert style church seems more interested in having an experience or emotional high than obtaining understanding. As we have already determined, this was not what the original church was like at all.  As Jesus said to pilate in John 18:37 “I have come to testify to the truth.” So it’s obvious why the newfound church was dedicated to what the apostles learned from Jesus. Without a good theological standard of truth to hold our experiences up to, how are we to assure that said experiences are good and righteous rather than unrighteous and sinful? Clearly there is a lot that these diverse groups of people could teach one another in a true body of Christ sort of way. However, that will not happen if we defy Biblical diversity in favor of trying to force others to think, feel, and express themselves as we do for the sake of hollow unity.  

an extrovert dueling with an introvert with their way of life
Extroverts VS Introverts

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The 4 purposes of church - Conclusion

Worship, Education, Outreach, Fellowship


We have officially concluded the purposes of church thread I have been on for some time. For all those who have found themselves reading this I hope you have expanded your knowledge of what all these things really are. I say this because far too many of us we treat religion like sports. We offer our devotion to a team according to geography or whoever happens to be on top when we discover it. Even as recently as the fifties, Christianity was so common it was ubiquitous in America. It was easy back then, but now that it is less easy many are not showing true devotion by stepping up when we need them. It is no wonder that generation has failed to inspire subsequent generations. It is no wonder many church people really don’t understand why the church really exists, and why we don’t live out the purposes of church in a truly scriptural way. We base what we know more off of what we observe people doing, and we are observing people who learned from mere observation themselves rather than educate themselves. There in lies the problem of having been a too common of belief system. People start to equate it with “normal”  where in reality, Christianity teaches us to defy our normal sinful, selfish, and self-destructive tendencies. This has only led to a very weak, uninformed, and powerless church that plays it safe rather than live by faith. This is precisely why I started this blog, to combat the misconceptions that arise from of passivity in spirituality. I will continue to do what I can in order to carry on this mission.

two people comparing hearts with the average guy exalting his over the passionate one
No Comparison 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Purpose of church 4 - Fellowship part 2

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

This verse offers a glimpse of what that first generation church was like. Four simple things the first believers devoted themselves to. What I want to draw your attention to first is the third thing mentioned, the breaking of bread. You may think that this is a communion reference, but that is not strictly true. Granted it ties into the last supper as the communion does, but what you may not realize is that such practices did not begin with Jesus. This was a common practice that the Hebrews of the time routinely practiced at fellowship meals. Jesus just ensured that the practice was carried on by the church. So as you can see, the practice of the day was inherently tied to the second thing mentioned in the verse. So half of what the that first generation church was dedicated to was fellowship. The very thing many in the current church want to deem irrelevant. One of the ways we have done this is by ritualization of communion to the point that there is no fellowship in it at all. Yet, we wonder why the church can’t seem to get along with itself. If we can’t work together than we can’t commit to the ultimate mission of God’s kingdom. So how by any stretch of the imagination can we call fellowship irrelevant?

people engaging in communion as fellowship
Let us break bread together

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Purpose of church 4 - fellowship

Now we are ready for the last purpose of church, fellowship. It’s been said that church is not a social club. A statement which may not be strictly true. While it should be more than just fellowship. However, that does not mean it isn’t that at all. Let us not forget that there was a fellowship offering outlined in the old testament as part of worship. So who are we to dismiss the idea outright? There is much overlap of these purposes of church, and in many cases they are even dependent upon each other. That is rather obvious with fellowship. For we can’t help and educate one another in acts of Christian nurture as well to strangers. The theologian John Wesley called this social holiness, for he believed that true holiness could only be achieved through the help and strength of Christian community. So many of the stories of successful discipleship that I’ve come across involve a personal story or testimony in themselves. Let’s face it, true fellowship involves a bit of vulnerability. If we can’t bear each others burdens in order to build each other up in the knowledge of God, then our church will be less effective in our outreach due to a simple lack of maturity. So as you can see, a church can start to falter rather quickly when we dismiss this seemingly simple concept of fellowship.


Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  - Galatians 6:2 NIV

people helping a person with broken legs
Support 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Visual Parables now on facebook

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Like me on facebook to get the latest news and updates about my book.
As well as a look at more art.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My first book

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Also available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

My first book that uses art (visual Parable) to explore parable and other teaching methods used by Jesus.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - outreach (conclusion)


I know I have focused upon a lot of the negative side of how we the church have failed in outreach, rather than how we should proceed with evangelism. One of the reasons for that is there isn’t much to be said about how to proceed other than we need to approach it with love and humility as Christ did. Secondly, the churches error in this matter is so common and widespread that a serious light needs to be cast upon it. We need to be calling ourselves out on this one. In many ways, condemnation and criticism seems to be mankind's default setting. It was the teachers of the law and the Pharisees way of doing things in Jesus’ time, and we have been repeating that mistake consistently for the past two-thousand years. But here is the “good news.” The word gospel means good news, so it needs to put to the forefront, eventually. There is forgiveness for hypocrites who have tainted their Christian love with condemnation and criticism. They need only turn away from the hateful ways of the sinful flesh and turn towards the nurturing ways of the spirit. They need to face up to and confess their error; they need to repent in their heart. Then maybe God’s spirit would move us towards revival again.

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again. We cannot force people to live righteous lives. Holiness that does not come from the heart is not genuine. The only way we can truly encourage people to choose Jesus’ teachings for themselves is to inspire them. We cannot do that if we are not living the life ourselves.
(Genesis 39:2-4)

Do everything in love. -1 Corinthians 16:14 

‎"It is easy to know that 'there is a way somewhere,' and even perhaps to know that others aren't on it... But this knowledge is useless unless it helps one find the way. If it merely becomes a standard of judgment, a means of showing up others and judging them for having lost their way, it is no use to anyone." 
-Thomas Merton

bullied rose
Bullied Rose
"Why should it bloom, look what it has to open up to."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 4


Maybe you’ve heard that 6 of the 10 commandments deal with how we relate to each other. Human interaction was certainly a mainstay in Jesus’ teaching as well. So obviously how we treat each other is important to God, so naturally we need to keep this in mind with our outreach efforts. Let’s do that by looking at Matthew 7:1-5, it’s not a passage typically associated with outreach, but maybe that’s why we have failed in it. 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. NIV

Verse 1 is often given credit for being the most quoted in all the Bible. That fact in itself is a testament to just how hateful this world really is. People are using it to defend against the barrage of criticism we experience every day. Yet, most completely overlook verses 3-4 where we are instructed to turn that discerning eye upon ourselves. Let’s face it, change cannot happen without willingness. As much as we wish we could, we just can’t truly make people feel the way we want. The best we can accomplish with condemnation is the insincere surface obedience of forced submission. Yet it’s quite easy to produce just the opposite result when we fuel the spirit of rebellion by correcting without love. It’s no wonder Christ encourages us to focus on our own righteousness before others in this passage. Our own errors are precisely the faults we have the most power to change. But have we embraced or even noticed that detail at all? Yet, if we really lived that way and dealt with our own sin as intended. Our eye would be clear enough to realize that to correct in pride and anger is nothing more than correcting sin with sin, which is ineffective for obvious reasons.  Which is just what verse 5 revels to us. Yet, when we do correct in our arrogant pride what happens? Well Christ warns us of that in verse 6. If you are ambitious enough to look that up for yourself you may realize that the church is experiencing that now more than ever. The nonbelievers are very much trampling all over the truth and turning on believers via the media because of our unloving and self-righteous attitudes. 

Let me close by reiterating this thought. Righteousness is something we should never take pride in. Not just because it invalidates our righteousness. (Psalm 31:21) For in the end righteousness can only be achieved with God’s help, strength, and spirit. Scripture confirms this in many ways. Including the subsequent verses following our central passage (verses 7-12) Anyone who has truly repented and dealt with their sin by the strength of the spirit would have humility to realize this is something we need to be thankful to God for, not seeking credit for ourselves. We should be praising our savior for it, not cursing people. If we truly took this passage to heart we would be helping people in their walk toward holiness, not condemning them for their failure. 

person accusing another without first looking at his own faults
I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over your plank

Friday, April 26, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 3


“We must stand up for the truth!” A phrase heard uttered by many believers today. A sentiment we follow in an effort to do evangelism. Granted we must stand up for the truth, as long as we are actually standing up for the truth in the process. What do I mean? Take for example, those who crucified Christ. In their mind, they were standing up for the truth. They were protecting their beliefs and traditions to do so. Yet they broke the law of Moses that they held sacred in order to do so. Current believers do not do much better when we correct in pride rather than humility. We walk over all that we hold sacred when we correct without love. Ultimately whenever a believer chooses to correct with impatience, unkindness, boasting, rudeness, or any other action that’s the reverse of the loving actions portrayed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; The opposition is quick to point out “this is how they love, they claim to be about love, but what they do in not loving at all, not even by their own standards.” Which puts the opposition in a good position to redefine love in their own self-serving image. A position we have put them in, and they have taken full advantage of. All because of sinful impatient non empathetic prideful believers who thinks righteousness can be achieved by shame. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that dayyou will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” - John 14:15-21

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:9-17

It seems that Jesus could not stress this point enough, yet still we fail at it.

man bowing down to the concept of love in worship while defying true love in practice
Non Practicing 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 2


In the end when it comes to outreach all one can really do is inspire. The best way to do that is with the lives we live everyday. While you can try to force someone to act as you believe they should, you might even convince the government to back you up, but all you are really doing is whitewashing someone else’s tomb. If it’s pointless to do that to yourself, how much more pointless is it to do that to someone who hasn’t even chosen that for themselves. (Matthew 23:27-28) You haven’t really changed people where it counts, that place being the heart. Yet, the closest thing a lot of so-called church people get to outreach is condemnation. There are very few things that are less inspirational than condemnation and criticism. Ask yourself honestly, do you respect those who treat you critically? Do you go out of your way to please such unpleasant people? Or do you go out of your way to defy them? So why do we expect such methods to produce any other results when we apply them to others? I’ll tell you, it’s the sinful nature of the flesh. The flesh always chooses the phony quick fix. Just look at the ways of sinful flesh nature listed in Galatians 5:19-21 and take note of just how many can correspond with critical condemnation. Then ask yourself, why do we deceive ourselves into thinking this is righteousness.  

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. - Genesis 39:2-4

hypocrite painting over someone else's scars against his will
Whitewashing someone else's tomb

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - outreach


Outreach is essentially education turned outward rather than inward, not that we treat it the same as internal education.

The church as a whole has been making a grand push towards outreach these days. Sadly, it’s often only out of necessity, not because it’s the right thing to do though. They often end up trying to use people to build the church rather than use the church to build people when it’s merely about numbers. Such an attitude comes from self focus rather than love. Yet they wonder why God is not blessing their efforts. 

What’s even more disturbing is the response our church leaders are getting to outreach, regardless the motivation. Sure you can do a sermon on evangelism, you can ask them to write a check in support of missionaries, you can even ask them to memorize the great commission, and it’s all good. However, if you ask people to get directly involved, many start throwing a fit. Sure, they want to see growing numbers, but they don’t want to have to make any kind of sacrifice for it. Despite the fact, that true worship involves sacrifice. It’s quite revealing as to where peoples hearts are at. It reveals a lack of spiritual maturity as well as a lack of empathy. 

Apparently, the church has failed somewhere along the line to create such a heartless generation of believers. Until the hearts of the people who make up the church can be rebuilt to the point where there is room enough for the lost, any efforts to do outreach are hampered greatly. If the church wants to grow numerically, then its present members need to grow up in the spirit. 

a heartless zombie offering a gift
Your heart's not in it

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Living Education


One last thing about our second purpose of church, education. People today tend to view belief, knowledge, and action as three separate and distinct things. So when we read verses like John 6:29  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” It may seem like knowledge and action are irrelevant. But what if I told you that the audience that initially received this message didn’t see it that way. The Hebrew point of view saw belief, knowledge, and action as integrated. If you truly belied, you showed it by expanding your knowledge of it. If you truly believed you acted upon said knowledge. 

In recent days, the phrase “Christian atheist” has entered our culture. The idea being that there are people who claim to believe in God yet do not live as if he or his commands matter in everyday life. I’m sure this idea of fragmenting knowledge from belief from action is at the root of it. 

Now we live in an age where people get into such heated debates over definitions; as if believing the right definition is enough. Take for example, the debate over predestination. Do we live any more or less righteously either way? I think not, so why do we let the issue lead us into unrighteous behavior? We do just that when we try to convince people otherwise with impatience, unkindness, rudeness, or boasting, we just end up forsaking our Lord’s command on love; all because our belief, knowledge, and action are not integrated.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. -Titus 3:9

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. -James 3:9-10

man with faith strong as paper
faith on paper

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Worship vs Education


I opened this section with the fact that the ancient Hebrews has a separate word for houses of worship from houses of learning. (Temple VS Synagogue) As well as the question weather it’s right to combine said practices into a single convenient service as we do now. It’s not a simple thing to answer, but if you’ve been paying attention; thus far, you will realize that music is a crossover element in both concepts. As well as there was a huge change in the concept of the temple and ultimately worship as a result under the new covenant.  Let us also look at 1 Corinthians 14 which offers some insights to how the first generation church was conducted.

26 My friends, when you meet to worship, you must do everything for the good of everyone there. That’s how it should be when someone sings or teaches or tells what God has said or speaks an unknown language or explains what the language means. 27 No more than two or three of you should speak unknown languages during the meeting. You must take turns, and someone should always be there to explain what you mean. 28 If no one can explain, you must keep silent in church and speak only to yourself and to God.29 Two or three persons may prophesy, and everyone else must listen carefully. 30 If someone sitting there receives a message from God, the speaker must stop and let the other person speak. 31 Let only one person speak at a time, then all of you will learn something and be encouraged. 32 A prophet should be willing to stop and let someone else speak. 33 God wants everything to be done peacefully and in order. (CEV)

It would  seem that the first generation church was the genesis of the practice of merging the concepts. So it would not seem that scripture does not condemn the practice. However, this passage also reveals church practices that are far removed from the church of today. These verses paint a picture of a church that was far more interactive. It all didn’t center around the efforts of but a single teacher, and everyone else merely a consumer. A wide assortment of people was involved. Many helped in bearing an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit, and they were eager to do so. So their Christian education was in no way diminished by such a merger, they were truly living the body of Christ concept. Can we still make such a claim?
     Let me also share this. Over a century and a half-ago during the abolitionist era, when slavery was the big social issue. Many people in the church felt that the governments approval of such a horrific crime against humanity was a sign of the end. A perception that was compounded by a fact that many churches were not taking a stand on the issue so as not to offend their members that were getting rich off slavery; in their mind this was the church of Laodicea come to pass. When the civil war officially broke out the abolitionist side of the church was so utterly convinced that the end was near that a grand campaign to save as many people as possible was implemented. They didn’t worry about a deep rooted knowledge and faith. They just tried to give them enough to keep them out of hell.
     This false perception is probably but one of many events that has lead to the decline of education in the church; and the church as a whole has just declined with it. No we don’t need to separate education from worship, but we probably need to take both concepts far more seriously in our lives, by getting back to the level of dedication that the first generation church had. The Sabbath was an all day observance in Biblical times. Now it’s often no more than an hour and a half. If we tithed our time and only counted waking hours, even that would be 11 hours and 12 minutes.
       As scripture reveals in many places; man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. We feed our physical bodies every day, even multiple times a day if we have the means. However, many of us starve our spirit by only feeding it when convenient. For many see the church as merely a place to consume spiritual fruit, not bear it as Jesus called us to; as the first generation church did. (John 15:8) When a church is filled with nothing but consumers with very few producers, it’s no wonder the crop is so small.

missing the mark by diminishing worship and understanding
Veiled glory 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Monday, March 4, 2013

Purpose of church 2 - Education part 2


Last time we talked about how Jesus taught. Yet, another concept we should take to heart is how Jesus did NOT teach, yet the church sometimes does. Christ-likeness isn’t about doing as he did, but avoiding faulty methods that he did as well. 

Forced coercion - Submission is actually a very Biblical concept. Many dismiss Christianity for that reason alone. All because people don’t recognize the difference between submission and forced submission, even within the church itself. Biblical submission was meant to be an option made of ones freewill. (Joshua 14:15, Luke 14:25-33) To see and recognize the value of Biblical truth and choosing to submit to its authority. Jesus valued sincerity, if you did not choose to follow him of your own volition, he didn’t see you as ready to be his follower. The Bible actually records people rejecting Jesus a number of times. (Matthew 8:34, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 4:28-30, John 6:60-69) While Jesus would sometimes elaborate on his position, not once ever does he prevent someone from using their freewill to abandon him or his teachings in any way. Let me put it all into perspective for you. If you pointed a gun at someone's head and demanded that they say “I love you” they would probably do it. Yet, the words they uttered would be meaningless; there would be no truth or reality within them at all under such circumstances. You are only kidding yourself if you think otherwise. It is no different when we try to force righteous behavior upon people. It can be nothing more than a phony external whitewash to keep you off their back at best. At worst, it’s just a source of rebellion. 

Harsh words - Granted Jesus could be tough on certain people, specifically religious people who should have known better. Yet offered much grace to those who were less knowledgeable. Church people often do the exact opposite by condemning and criticizing people for not knowing better already, yet soft on their fellow church folk who shouldn’t have to be told. So where should we draw the line? It’s a valid question we would do well to try to understand and act upon, rather than just reacting emotionally. To answer that, let’s do a compare and contrast between Jesus and the religious people he was the toughest upon, the Pharisees.  Jesus sought to do what’s right, where the Pharisees sought to be right. Jesus sought to help the lost, where the Pharisees sought to belittle the lost. Jesus sought to serve others, where the pharisees sought only to serve self and their agenda. Jesus sought to do everything in love, where the Pharisees loved only themselves and their traditions. This is what separates vitriolic criticism, condemnation, and guilt from good and proper correction. The easiest thing in the world to do is to hate those who hated you first, so when we correct with fleshly anger filled hate we are only painting our beliefs in a negative light. It only serves to accomplish the exact opposite of what you intend. When it comes to correction are you more Christ like or Pharisee like?

man assaulting someone with Bible
A truth made undesirable 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Purpose of church 2 - Education part 1


Church serves as a place to explore and learn about the faith we profess; or at least curious about. This may seem to be a rather obvious fact with little to explore. However, I believe there is in reality one aspect of Christian education we should explore, yet the church hasn’t done as much as we should. That being the question of, how did Jesus teach? Religious leaders talk about Christ likeness all the time, yet seldom do I even see the concept being applied to how he taught. I think it’s about time we did. 

How Jesus taught

Discipleship - The concept of discipleship is so equated with Jesus many assume that he invented the practice, but that is not the case. It was a common practice in Biblical times, even before his birth. We often throw the term around loosely, but the practice went farther than mere mentorship, as we sometimes treat it. Discipleship involved becoming as much like the one you were following as possible.

Example - Jesus didn’t just command us to do things; he told us to do as he did. To love as he loved, to obey as he obeyed, to serve as he served. (John 15:9, 14:31, 13:14-15) As St.Francis of Assisi said, “preach the gospel everywhere you go, if necessary use words.” Yet, often what we observe today is many words being uttered with very little example to back them up. Words that don’t have a good example to back them up possess very little impact.

Scripture  - Jesus quoted scripture often to those who recognized its authority. There isn’t much mystery here, for even current church leaders utilize this as the church always has and should. Yet, sometimes we try to utilize this on people who do not yet recognize the Bible’s authority, to little effect. This is where good example is better suited.

Parable - One of the primary ways that Jesus taught, yet very few pastors do, is parable. However, it’s a concept I utilize in my artwork, only I use illustration rather than words to provide the narrative. I have a whole website dedicated to the idea of parable and my execution of it via art. So rather than repeat myself here I’d encourage you to visit my website. Visual Parables

Pastor teaching in a way far differently than Jesus did
Christ-UN-likeness

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Worship - conclusion of the first purpose of church


Worship, what is it really? Jesus once had this to say about it.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” -John 4:23-24

This certainly reenforces the idea that worship should be a sincere act, and not a systematic obligatory act done by some formula or checklist. Jesus also has this to say. 

“If you love me, keep my commands.” -John 14:15

Keeping his commands is part of holiness, and as we already revealed pursuing holiness is part of worship. Yet, what does Jesus reveal in this verse about what should motivate us in all this? Love. Worship should all be done with the motivation of love. It may begin with fear of the Lord or familiarity (Psalm 111:10) but it shouldn’t stop there. As the apostle John said, perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18) That’s the goal, to worship in love. To show honor out of love. To show gratitude out of love. To pursue holiness out of love. If you wanted to summarize the definition of worship into one phrase, it would be, expressing love for God.There has been much talk about the concept of the love languages these days. Well worship is God’s love language. In our everyday relationships expressing love can be tricky, for not everybody is the same, consistent, or even clear on how to do that for them. However, God is so very different.  He is always the same and spells out the language he receives love by quite clearly to those willing to seek it from his word. Yet just like our everyday relationships we often try to make it about us, not the other person. We try to express ourselves in a way that makes us happy or comfortable. We just love the feelings they spark in us, not the person. That’s where love goes wrong, and it’s where worship goes wrong. All because of selfishness, and love is a selfless act, not a selfish one. (1 John 3:16) There is a rather famous praise song called The Heart of Worship. In it, there is a line “I’m sorry for the thing I’ve made it.” What have we unconsciously made worship indeed? Is it what it should be? I think we would all do well to ask ourselves those questions. 

worshiping God in the spirit and truth
In the Spirit

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Worship and Music?


The music of worship has been a rather volatile subject in the church for centuries. Mainly because so many people are trying to apply principle where the Bible does not. So I think the best way to deal with the subject is to start with what scripture actually reveals. 

Music is part of worship (1 Chronicles 6:31-47, 2 Chronicles 29:27-28) Do not confuse this statement with the idea that music is worship in itself. Many try to do this in practice, since it’s an easy way to provoke a good feeling, but as we already revealed that’s not the ultimate focus of worship. While one can honor God, offer thanks to God (Psalms 95:1-2, 147:7) or even learn of holiness via music. We should not limit such expressions to God via music alone anymore than we should limit our expressions of love for our families to a single way. Plus, knowing of holiness does not make one holy in itself either. Our pursuit of holiness must eventually lead towards actual transformation.

Music can be a learning tool (Colossians 3:16)

Music can be used to prophesy (1 Chronicles 25:1-31)

Instruments can be used in music (1 Chronicles 15:16, 2 Chronicles 7:4-6) For some this may seem like an odd fact to lift up. However, there have been denominations that have forbad the use of instruments in worship, deeming them worldly; so all music had to be performed a cappella. This idea is not Biblically sound at all, for instruments are mentioned frequently in the Bible. Keep in mind that many of the ancient words used to designate instruments in the Bible are quite vague. So translating them precisely to a specific instrument is often impossible. So trying to say one instrument is okay, where another is evil based on weather it’s mentioned in the Bible is not a valid argument. 

Even the prudent and wise should have music in their lives  (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Music can be exuberant (Psalms 33:1-3, 65:13, 66:1-4, 71:22-23, 81:1-2, 98:1-6) In all these verses listed musical references are placed in conjunction with the action of shouting. So it seems safe to say that the idea that church music has to be dull and dispassionate is not Biblically sound. If one is going to use music to praise God, then praise him sincerely and passionately as if you mean it, not as a lifeless obligatory action. 

Music should be used to Praise God (Psalms 92:1-3, 149:1-5)

making an offering to God via music
Audio Offering

With all this being revealed let’s, have a look at these aversions concerning music. Most emerge from the idea that righteousness and being dispassionate are synonymous. Many in the church both past and present have made it their mission to stamp out everything that provokes a pleasant feeling, like music and dancing. While feeling good is not the goal of worship; it shouldn’t be interpreted that it’s forbidden. (Psalm 68:3) Just do a keyword search of the word rejoice or Joy in the Bible. You will get hundreds of hits on both. Joy is even one of the gifts of the spirit listed in Galatians 5. It’s not that feeling good is bad in itself, it’s what you are seeking joy from that can make it good or bad; for good and evil lies in the hearts of those performing the music, not the music itself. Those who disallow people from finding joy in God and his righteousness are ultimately just driving people towards seeking joy in the sinful nature of the flesh. If anything, it’s those who try to destroy all feelings, making no distinctions between those of the fleshly sin nature and those of the spirit, who are truly guilty of something. They are guilty of extinguishing the spirits fire. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) 

In the end, the Bible is pro music. While Biblical era music may have sounded different from what it does today, scripture never makes any kind of judgement or commands on how it must sound other than it should glorify God and his truth. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Purpose of worship 3 - seeking holiness 2


What is holiness really? You might have heard that the word literally means “set apart.” Well what sets us apart exactly? By what standard is holiness defined? Every believer should be able to answer that question, not just posses an abstract notion of it. Is it a universal truth that even God must answer to? Or is it merely what God wishes it to be? The true answer is this, the standard of holiness is God himself. It is a reflection of his very nature and character. God is holiness incarnate. To be holy is to emulate him. (1 Peter 1:15-16, Psalms 99:5, Isaiah 43:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 4:22-24)

The concept is so very simple, yet somehow we manage to make it complicated. Which is precisely why we must seek holiness with God’s guidance and strength. Approaching holiness through worship is a critical step towards that. Not by our own efforts in a misguided attempt to make ourselves worthy of his presence. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10, 1 Peter 5:7) Without God, it is truly impossible. The reason we complicate the simple, lies in our dual nature. While our spirit gravitates towards the holy, for that is its natural desire. There is another side to us though, which is the flesh, where our sinful nature resides. Our flesh wants to go in the exact opposite direction that the spirit does. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that following and giving into the sinful nature is so very easy. Yet, there are still those who get so caught up in the “don’t do this” mentality, that we tend to forget about what we can and should do in the spirit. This mentality often just turns into a standard by which we look down upon those who fail at holiness. Is that how the holy should act though? The truth is we fail at holiness the moment we take pride in it. (Proverbs 13:10 & 21:24, Psalm 59:12 & 69:26-28) So there is nothing left to take pride in once we do. If we were really so righteous we would want to help people in their pursuit of holiness out of love, not condemn them. Only those who have honestly tried to overcome the flesh via God’s strength could ever be sympathetic towards the plight of self-destructive sinners, or even have a clue how to help them; rather than just criticize and condemn them.  As Galatians 5 reveals, the spirit does not lead us toward hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions or factions as critical self-righteous people often do. That is not proper worship, those are unholy products of the flesh. Besides, you can’t truly say you’ve succeeded at holiness until you are following the spirit, not just denying the flesh.

offering heart in worship via obedience
Heart of Obedience

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Purpose of worship 3 - seeking holiness 1


Dealing with sin was a critical part of Old Testament worship. Again, Jesus has made the ultimate atoning sacrifice for us which allows us to approach God fearlessly. Before we had to be ceremonially cleansed of defilement just to approach God, because you did not make any form of offering in an unworthy manor in those days. Now we can go to God directly for said forgiveness. Still, there is the matter of repentance, the New Covenant equivalent of atonement. Which is a change of heart as much as a change of actions, as Jesus himself revealed, our actions originate within our hearts. (Matthew 15:19) Seeking holiness is ultimately allowing God to cleanse and transform our wretched hearts by his grace and power, for there is no way we could ever do such a thing on our own. (Matthew 19:26-26) Is that how you approach it though? In many ways, I see believers trying to carry on as if we’re still under the old covenant. We get all fixated on our action and disregard the origin of said action, yet wonder why we constantly fail like the people of the Old-Testament. Then act as if we’re unworthy to approach God and try to clean ourselves up on our own as if grace does not apply to us, as if we can get back into God’s graces by refusing his grace. Where do we get such backwards thinking?

Remember, there is still the matter of confession. It was right there in the original list of the purposes of worship under the heading of holiness. Protestants often see this as a Catholic thing, but it is Biblical and still relevant under the New Covenant. (James 5:16) It has an accountability aspect that Protestants often miss out on in their church experiences.  Which can be very beneficial to personal growth. With that being said, true Biblical confession extends a little farther than even the Catholics take it. True confession is not just an admission, but an agreement. This can be seen in original Greek word for confession, which literally means “To say the same thing as.” Biblical confession is acknowledging that what God says about sin is true, that sin is harmful to the sinner, and your relationship with God. Plus there is also value in just being honest with God and yourself about your failings. (Luke 18:9-14) We cannot change or get to the bottom of what we refuse to acknowledge after all. This level of confession can eventually move us from doing things legalistically, to purposefully, and sincerely. True holiness is a sincere act of the heart, not an external whitewash. “This is your true and proper worship.”

unable to escape sinful heart
Wherever you go, there you are.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Purpose of worship 2 - gratitude towards God


Again, it may seem pretty obvious why gratitude is part of Christianity. Yet, we might not have ever looked at this in the context of worship before. In a way, it’s but an extension of the honor aspect of worship. If we are truly being honorable towards God, we’re certainly not going to be ingrates about it. Yet, there is value in being deliberate and formal with offerings of thanks, and treating it as worship certainly can do that. One way they did this back in Biblical times was with something called a fellowship offering. (Leviticus 3 & 7:11-34) It was about giving thanks to God, and it involved a communal meal. Sound familiar? I’m sure the very Biblically literate pilgrims had the fellowship offering in mind when they had that first Thanksgiving. Too bad most people have forgotten the origin and purpose of it these days. This also illustrates how the four purposes of Church overlap, as mentioned before; in this case, fellowship merging with worship. Yet, the current church tends to think of fellowship as something independent of, and less important than worship. I’d encourage you to remember this next time you go to church. I’d also ask that you make a mental note of this next Thanksgiving. To NOT just go through the motions of the traditional meal as a stepping stone to all the Christmas sales. Rather treat it as an act of gratitude and worship of God, as we should.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. -Deuteronomy 8:17-18

giving thanks to Jesus as offering
Gratitude
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” -Luke 17:11-19

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Purpose of worship 1 - honoring God


Previously, we revealed that one of the purposes of worship is honoring God. It may seem obvious, but is that really what we do though? Do we really choose or change churches according to their devotion, commitment, or surrender to God? It’s certainly not what I’m hearing. It’s more like what I have listed below. 

“You do altar calls, that’s not what I’m used to, I don’t feel comfortable with that.”
“You do your service differently than my last church, I’ve always done it that way, I don’t feel as if I’ve been to church unless it’s like that.”
“I prefer the old hymns, they are familiar to me and remind me of my church experiences as a child, it gives me a feeling of comfort.”
“I like the new praise songs; they make me feel good and alive.”

I’m sure you have heard or maybe even uttered similar sentiments yourself. You may not even see anything wrong with that, but is there in fact, something amiss behind all this. It has to do with the common element through all these statements; that would be feelings. In so many ways, people are driven by their feelings. In everything we do we just want to feel good, or at least not feel bad. That often extends to our perceptions of what church should be, as if it exists to make us happy. However, if we go into worship just wanting to feel good, then all we are really doing is trying to uplift self; not God. Uplifting self is not worshipping, at least not of God. It’s showing devotion to ones self, not God. It’s showing commitment to self, not God. It’s surrendering to self, not God. It’s honoring self, not God. Such a tiny little detail that can distort our worship immensely. Not that it’s wrong to find joy in honoring God, but our focus should be on uplifting God first, and let God worry about uplifting us. (James 4:10) The church as a whole seems rather powerless right now. Perhaps this is one of the critical reasons why we are not experiencing God’s blessing right now. 

 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” -John 6:26-27

church person exalting self before God
Self-Exalter

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Purpose of church 1.1 - Worship


Last time I said we fulfill the purposes of worship with our lives, not just ritual. What are those purposes though? I think the best place to look is God’s instructions for worship in the book of Leviticus. Granted, we are under the new covenant now, not Mosaic law. Again, the new covenant is just a fulfillment of the old one, not something independent of the previous covenant. While the sacrificial system that the old covenant worship centered around is obsolete due to Jesus, for he was the final and absolute sacrifice under that system. The basic principles behind these offerings are still valid. I have them listed here under three different categories, for many are very similar with only minor distinctions. 


Honoring God
*Devotion to God
*Commitment to God
*Surrender to God

Gratitude towards God
*Recognition of God’s goodness & provision
*Giving thanks to God

Seeking Holiness
*Atonement for sin
*confession of sin
*cleansing of defilement
*restitution of sin
*seeking forgiveness from God


All their ceremonial acts of worship served one or more of these purposes. Our motivation in coming to church should be no different. It’s just not done through animal sacrifice any longer. If we honor God by studying his word on our own, we are worshiping. If we show gratitude towards God by supporting his church with our resources, time and talents we are worshiping. If we seek holiness by applying those teaching to our lives and following his commands we are worshiping. Not that I am saying there is no room for more formal acts of worship. I’m just saying we need to be more deliberate with our worship in its many forms. We need to respect God everyday, not just on Sunday. Always keeping these ten basic principles in mind, and on our heart.

reaching up to God in spirit
Worship

Friday, January 18, 2013

Purpose of church 1 - Worship


Worship is one of those words we tend to define by what we have experienced at church, but if asked to define it we would probably struggle to find the right words. Since we are seldom asked to explain exactly why we worship, let alone what it means to us. If you looked it up in the dictionary, it would say something like religious ritual. Somehow I find that definition inadequate as I’m sure most true believers would. Mainly because worship under the new covenant does not need to be so rigidly ritualistic as it was under the sacrificial system of the old covenant. What do I mean?

Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Sacrifice equals worship in this verse, even in The New Testament and the covenant that goes with it. Only now our offerings are living, and done with our own bodies. Meaning we fulfill the purposes of worship with the lives we live, not a rote ritual or the forfeited life of an animal caracas. It goes deeper than that still though.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

This is a fulfillment of what happened in Old Testament days. When either the portable tabernacle under Moses, or the permanent temple under King Solomon was made complete, God’s presence would arrive, as illustrated in Exodus 40:33-34 and 1 Kings 8:1-21. It was made complete when the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments were placed within the Ark of the Covenant, then the Ark placed within the most Holy Place of the temple or tabernacle. God’s spirit resides within us in the same way. However, under the new covenant our tabernacle or temple that needs completion is our own bodies, and the stone tablets have been replaced by our hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3) You don’t have to wait to go to temple or church to worship, for you are already there 24-7. 

human body as temple
Temple

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Purposes of Church


The next thing we will be exploring are the purposes of the church. While there are many, most fall under these four categories. 

*Worship
*Education
*Fellowship
*Outreach

We will be exploring each one individually in future posts, but keep in mind that there is much overlap in these categories, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. For example, one of the ways we learn and expand our knowledge of God is through one another. So fellowship and education are ultimately tied to together on this point. 

Yet, the Hebrew tradition that the Christian creed emerges from does make one surprising distinction where the present day church does not. It can be found in the words temple and synagogue. I’m sure you’ve come across them from time to time, and perhaps assumed they were used interchangeably. That is not the case though. Temples are for worship, and synagogues are for eduction. This detail raises an obvious question. Should the present day church lump worship and education together into a single convenient entity by including a sermon in our services? Or should all education be done more interactively via small groups. It’s certainly something we would do well to think about, and hopefully as we define and explore these ideas the answer will become more clear to us.

parting the temple from the synagogue
Two houses for one God

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Body of Christ: conclusion


The Body of Christ means unity in diversity. We’ve explored the concept rather throughly over the part several posts. Yet, the question of, do most churches live up to this model, remains. I wish I could say yes to such a question, but the reality is this is frequently not the case. Many churches are often identified with a far more singular approach. There are many reasons why this may be, and we really can’t face or deal with anything we don’t acknowledge or recognize. So I came up with a list of reasons why we defy God’s model for church in favor of singularity.

  • Someone of power and influence has a gifting or desire in a specific area - This can fall on the pastor or other dominant member. While it is good to pursue one’s spiritual gifts, nobody should assume that their calling is everyone else's as well. No mere moral has the right to force others to model their lives after themselves. All such people are doing is centering everything around themselves rather than Christ.
  • Comfort and familiarity - Church singularity can be as simple as an act of maintaining a comfort zone. People just want things to remain the same as it was in their youth, or fit into their vision of what they wish things to be. While our God can be a God of comfort, when one really needs him to be. He is also a God who wants his children to grow. Growth never happens in places of comfort. Everyone has to step up and be an adult sometime, even in the sprit. 
  • It’s what’s bringing the people in right now - When churches face declining numbers, the temptation to sacrifice integrity for a good bottom line is very real. Resorting to playing on peoples emotions via entertainment and two-dimensional feel good messages alone will certainly attract people. However, it does not induce spiritual growth, transformation, or any kind of real righteousness at all. Anything less than the whole truth, is no truth at all. 
  • A perceived neglect - At times when certain people feel an aspect of the truth is being neglected, there is a big push to emphasis said truth. Which there is nothing wrong in itself, but sometimes that can also lead to neglecting something else as a result of this over emphasis. Churches have split, and denominations have arisen out of this idea. This is why the present day church is more defined by factions than the body of Christ. (Matthew 23:23, Galatians 5:19-20)
  • A perception that one thing is more righteous than another - For example, the current church seems to be at war over which is more important; love or obedience. Both sides of the argument seem to mistakenly perceive these concepts as separate and mutually exclusive. The love side of the argument forgets that obedience is one of the ways we express love for God. (John 14:23) If we neglect that then we are just taking love without reciprocating, there is a word for that and it’s called selfishness. Love is a selfless act, not a selfish one. (1 John 3:16-17) The obedience side forget that we are commanded to love as Christ loved. When we fail to love, we are being disobedient to God. (John 15:12) Love and obedience are ultimately tied together, if we fail at one, we fail at both.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but reflects what I have observed. I would welcome other observations on this one. 

forced to submit and conform to the will of mortals
Drag

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Body of Christ: part 9

team work
Invisible Support,

Let me throw out another idea for you to wrap your mind around. If wholeness is found through Jesus, and we are the body of Christ, then naturally one of the ways we experience Christ and his wholeness is through each other. Someone else is strong where you are weak, and they can be that support for you, just as you are strong where someone else is weak, and you can be that support for them. That can never happen if we are only concerned with our own wants, needs, and desires. The irony is such selfish people are robbing themselves of a level of fulfillment they could only dream of.


Non-believers won’t read the Bible, but they do read Christians. We are the only Christ they will ever experience. if we truly reflect and emulate his holiness and character as a group, as well as individuals; it may inspire them to look closer. Rather than turn them off with our constant internal struggles keeping us focused on ourselves. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Ephesians 2:19-22
Philippians 1:27
Colossians 3:12-17
Hebrews 10:24-25