Monday, September 26, 2005

"State of the Onion"

OK, a few days ago I had my first "encounter" with a family member that actually had the guts to confront me about the decisions I am making... It only ended because I stopped it. Maybe more on that later...

Afterward I started thinking and I talked through where I am in my thoughts.

I still believe that A Cappella music in worship is the best way, that has not changed. For me, it's less complicated and "purer". With A Cappella singing it is HARDER to get distracted (not impossible by any stretch) and more compulsive to participate...for me.

What has changed (the change started at least 12 years ago) is my understanding of the implications of instrumental music in worship. A Cappella singing is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament and worshipping in song with instrumental accompaniment is not rebuked or condemned. Whether or not we practice A Cappella singing or singing with instruments does not have salvation implications. Even if you could make an argument that the Bible implies that it is the best way, it does not condemn it (no more than it condemns someone for being paid to minister, even though it strongly implies it).

Given that it is not condemned or commanded, it is a preference...a choice. For the purpose of looking at a particular Church family to decide if you want to work with them long-term it now stands among other properties of a Church-body like:
  • Does it have a prison ministry?
  • Does it have a Youth Minister?
  • Does it have a dynamic preacher?
  • Does it have a strong senior's group?
  • Are they committed to foreign ministries?
  • Are there enough people there from your peer-group?

These are just a few examples, but you get the point. Some of these things will be more important to one person than the next. One person may not be very concerned that a congregation does not have a prison ministry, however another may be very excited about that fact that one does (maybe that person has a family member in prison). In any event, one or two of these things may not make a big impact on your decision to attend a Church body or not. However, if you add them all up, their sum makes a big impact.

The Church that I am attending now has so much going for it that it just makes sense to go, I want to be there, I want to be involved. Do I occasionally get uncomfortable about something that I see or experience? Yes. But that is no reason to dismiss it as wrong, inappropriate or unworthy worship! (see "We're not in Kansas anymore") I once wrote a lengthy letter to the elders of the congregation that I was going to a few years ago and in it a begged to "squirm in my seat", I want to be challenged and continually let God mold me into a tool for his use.

Throughout my entire life there were many times when something happened during worship or otherwise that I did not care for or flat out did not like. Some examples are (15 minute long rambling prayers, negative sermons made to make non-Christians and people of other faiths feel stupid, song services that feel like death marches, unorganized worship services, cold and unfriendly people...) I can now only assume that this happens everywhere, and that is just the point. There is no such church as as the one made just for me, wherever I go, there will be some compromise.

I have come to the conclusion that this is a complicated issue for some and a non-issue for others. For me, I am pushing it off to the side for more important matters - there are plenty.

(Thanks to a friend that reminded me that I need to watch my words...)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Just one step...

And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes
of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell
the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the
Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.' "
Joshua 3:7,8

This was a different command than the one God had given Moses some 40 years earlier. Joshua and the Isrealites just new they were to go to the river and stand there, they didn't know what to expect. Now, even though it had been 40 years since the last time God had asked them to cross a river in a dramatic fashion, they remembered... History reminded them of how powerful God is, there were chariots at the bottom of the Red Sea to prove it. Even though they didn't know what to expect, they obeyed...through faith.

This is very difficult, in fact, the Isrealites "missed the boat" here many times. They had to be reminded of God's power and influence in their lives constantly. But this time they remembered!

We have to do the same thing. As I have said before, I am tired of being around leaders that constantly question God's power and influence by their inactivity (they would never do so out loud!). How many times has God given so much more than we ever imagined or expected? How much has he blessed us as a country, as individuals and as a Church? Time after time, he has provided when we need it, often in an extraordinary manner. Yet we are not willing to walk down to the river and stand in the water and anticipate his power!

Church leaders talk about faith, yet they are immobilized by fear, even when time after time, God has provided when we needed it. It is refreshing to see leaders that have not stepped into concrete and waited for it to harden, but stepped into the water of the Jordan river anticipating God's awesome power.

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. Joshua 3:14-17

Monday, September 12, 2005


Ok, so my arm as been numb, tingling and in pain. I always said that I thought it would eventually "wake up", the pain would subside and it would start to function normally.

Lately, I feel my strength being renewed. It's a wonderful feeling...exciting. My challenge is not to overdo it. When dealing with renewed strength, I think some restraint is in order, but not too much. I feel like a football player in those first few plays after a long time off from an injury. It's very exciting and I really want to get back in the game, but I need to test out the feeling first...
"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18