The Nature of Worship

26 06 2007

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:21-24)

Worship is not what you feel when you look at the ocean or when you are enjoying a wonderful mountain lakworship-at-the-beach.jpge. It’s not the way you feel smelling the cut grass of a perfectly manicured golf course or hearing the squeak of perfect snow under your skis. Many of us confuse worship with inspiration. Inspiration occurs when God illumines our lives with His gracious presence. Worship is our response to those moments. If we truly want to honor the God who gave us perfect swells, clear trout streams, ski slopes, golf greens, beautiful children, and loving spouses, we should enjoy those things six days a week and then give God the worship He commands on the seventh. Worship always includes gathering with God’s people and participating in “spirit and in truth.”

–Tod E. Bolsinger, It Takes A Church To Raise A Christian: How The Community of God Transforms Lives, pp93-4





Warring For Peace

19 06 2007

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
(Ephesians 4:29)

About 20 years ago, I said something impromptu to the new members lined up across the front of the church. As we received them, the Holy Spirit prompted me to add, “And now, I charge you that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone—myself, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else—that you stop that person in mid-sentence and say, ‘Excuse me—who hurt you? Who ignored you? Who slighted you? Was it Pastor Cymbala? Let’s go to his office right now. He’ll apologize to you, and then we’ll pray together so God can restore peace to this body. But we won’t let you talk critically about people who aren’t present to defend themselves.’

“I’m serious about this. I want you to help resolve this kind of thing immediately. And know this: If you are ever the one doing the loose talking, we’ll confront you.”

To this day, every time we receive new members, I say much the same thing. That’s because I know what most easily destroys churches. It’s not crack cocaine, government oppression, or even lack of funds. Rather it’s gossip and slander that grieves the Holy Spirit.

–Jim Cymbala, pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle





The Final Apologetic

16 04 2007

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.”
(1 Peter 4:8)

rural-church.jpgBe energized by the concept that your church could become the most loving church in the world. I find this compelling. There will be many things your church may not be. It may not be the most educated church or the most innovative church, or the most evangelistic church, etc., but it can be the most loving church. There is nothing to stop that from happening except your lack of determination and/or the will of the people. Love, after all, is the sign of maturity as a church.

Now, if you are seeing this, you will find ways to encourage love. This will mean that you will work out ways for people to be in your home, and in the home of the other church members. You will think of ways to get people to really know the insides of each other. Sheep need help to overcome their reserved nature. They will need to be commended for acts of love, just as Paul often did. You will need to set the pace and demonstrate a passionate love for the people. Dream about this. And, my experience is (and the Bible’s teaching is) that this is a powerful way to witness. The love of the people of God for each other is, as Francis Schaeffer said, “the final apologetic.”

–Jim Elliff
from an article entitled, The Rural Church Dilemma





Arminians And Calvinists Hugging

28 03 2007

We are told that when John Wesley was dying, he tried to sing, but his voice was nearly gone. He was almost ninety. He had traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on horseback, preaching three or four times daily in founding a great church. He was plainly Arminian in his theology, but as his Christian family and friends gathered around his bed, he was trying to sing the words of an old Calvinist hymn:

I will praise my Maker while I’ve breath, And when my soul is lost in death, Praise shall employ my nobler powers.

That is why I cannot get all heated up about contending for one theological side or another on that issue. If Isaac Watts, a Calvinist, could write such praise to God and John Wesley, an Arminian, could sing it with yearning and they both can meet and hug one another in glory, why should I allow anyone to force me to confess, “I don’t know which I am!” Why should anyone bother me with an issue like that?

I was created to worship and praise God. I was redeemed that I should worship Him and enjoy Him forever.

That is the primary issue, my brother or sister. That is why we earnestly invite men and women to become converted, taking Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

–A.W. Tozer





Making The World Wonder

29 01 2007

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

(Acts 2:44-47)

 

andrewmurray.jpgWhen the world sees a church from which selfishness is banished, then it will acknowledge the Divine mission of Christ because He has wrought such a wonder: a community of men who truly and heartily love one another

–Andrew Murray
1828-1917





They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Bumper Stickers

21 10 2006

 

“The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You love Me.”
(John 17:23,24)

The other day I was driving on one of Atlanta’s many over-crowded, clogged arteries and pulled up alongside a car bearing two defining marks: one, a bumper sticker advocating a sectarian call to “Boot Sonny” (Georgia’s governor) out of office and the other, a proudly stuck fish emblem with a cross inside it on the other end of the back windshield. Behind the steering wheel sat an oblivious female, staring straight ahead at the traffic in front of her, with an elegantly long cigarette dangling precariously from her lips!

I’m not sure anyone else caught the duplicity in it but I wonder what message it would have sent if she’d had a bumper sticker that read, “I may not agree with all of Sonny’s policies, but he’s my Christian brother, and I am committed to loving the Christ in him!”

What would the world think then?