With the slow re-opening of the country back up, and the likelihood of church gatherings being restricted for awhile, leveraging small groups is critical. Many churches want to be a church a church of small groups. This crisis is a great test of how well … Continue reading Small Groups: the amazing opportunity of now
Who turned out the lights for a brighter future?
Every once in a while an article or articles you post online blows up your feed. Clearly, lighting in a worship center is a sensitive issue. In the ground swell of discussion there are a few concerns and patterns that need to be addressed. The lighting issue is a symptom of a greater issue within the North American Church, issues we do need to repent of.
One God, sneaky idols…
Churches worship methods as Christians worship preferences. While churches decry consumerism, Christians can point out the out of balance focus on methodology. Shedding light on modern idols is essential. We should operate from our theology and not our methodology. Methods change, who God is does not. On the individual side, church is not a commodity or business, it is a family. Being the church via one’s preferences misses a major point in the Bible: It’s not about you. Let us be frank: method worship and preference worship are major idols we the church need to remove.
One family, many discussions…
We are too quick to end discussions, as if the truth is already clearly known or understood. We are too quick to take offense. For example: The no light crowd pounces on the non-biblical issue with a side of evangelism. The all light all the time crowd brings out the design and Bible issue. Boom. Then there are people on the entire spectrum who say we shouldn’t discuss such things as there are more important issues. All three shutter discussion that is healthy and important. As Christians we stop discussion way too often and to our hurt. Cue the passages that talk about listening.
One creator, numerous stories…
Design communicates. Design matters. How we act as a church communicates our message as much or more so than what we say. For instance: Try communicating about Jesus’ birth in a brightly lit room, or discuss heaven in a dimly lit dark one. In both these scenarios the environment is antithetical to the story. Both these stories also need to be communicated with utmost clarity. We must stop treating the arts, such as design, as a non biblical, minor issue. Our mission to clearly communicate and proclaim who God is requires that such be brought under the light of our theology to reach a darkened world. After all, artists are a part of the body of Christ.
One church, open back doors…
In the last few decades there is a price the church paid: the de-churched. The idolatry, shuttering of discussion, and schizophrenic views on the arts cost the church too much. After all, we are family. Perhaps church growth would improve if our back doors were what we shuttered and not discussion, if we valued the glory of God more and our little kingdoms less. We can open our front doors more with artistic brilliance as more darken the seats of our worship centers. That is a worthy discussion, but there are sins we as a church family must repent of first. We’ve already paid too high a price.
The bottom line:
How we light our churches is not a big deal. How we discuss it shines a light on a dark stains the blood of Christ can easily wipe clean. While lighting may not be significant, there is too deep a price we paid. So, why not have the discussion and let the grace which God lavished on us and predestined before the foundations of the world conform us to the image of His son. Why not focus on the long-suffering and patience aspects of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. As a family we can and must do better.
Prayer Mentoring: Endurance
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. ~Psalm 69
Waiting on God is the hardest task of the Christian. In the wait you struggle with profound emotions, the pain of the situation, and sometimes unbearable anxiety. Often times we lose sight on how to even prayer. Often this isn’t a lack of being spiritual but being mentally tired. Here is how to pray for endurance!
Search the Psalms!
Search and find a Psalm that speaks to your soul. The subtitle I give to the book of Psalms is ‘Be Real.’ The Psalms are loaded with emotion, and being real with God. We think we fail spiritually when we don’t tell God the way it is. Psalms helps us get over that and gives us the freedom to truly voice what’s on our heart. Dig in and find a Psalm.
Pray it back!
Pray the Psalm you found back to God. Make it your prayer, your Psalm, your plea. When you’re exhausted from having to endure, rest on God’s Word to guide your prayer life. This isn’t vain repetition. It’s allowing the Spirit to work through you. The Bible is our greatest resource in enduring life’s challenges.
Even in being real, the Psalms often end with praise and acknowledging who God is- even when they didn’t feel that way. Part of being real is remembering that God is God and we’re not. There are challenges we wish no one to go through, and yet through such valleys there is an aspect of God’s Glory that shines through. You don’t ever wish to go through the trial again, but you can’t help but marvel at the glimpses of God’s goodness that you see. A key to praying for endurance is worship.
You’re not alone…
Too often we think that our trials are unique to us. In some ways they are. Remember, though, that facing trials is nothing new. Trials are only new to you. The Bible is full of stories of people who’ve been there. Jesus, our great high priest, has been there too. You’re not alone.
Pray for endurance
Step 1) Find a Psalm.
Step 2) Pray it back to God.
Step 3) Make the Psalm yours.
Step 4) Worship God!
Step 5) Remember you’re not alone.
Prayer Mentoring: God in your day
The Bottom line:
We need God in our day, not God as a part of our day. Here’s the difference. Paul tells the Thessalonian believers to rejoice, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks- all a part of God’s will.
A spirit of worship keeps our focus on God. A heart of worship is critical to being in God’s will. In your prayers, how are you worshiping God?
Pray without ceasing
Prayer is life long conversation with God. Some prayers are long, some are like texting, others a quick phone call. The idea here is we consistently talk to God throughout our day. After all, God is with us. How often do you pray?
Thanking God is trusting God. When we thank God in all things it does two things: 1) it focuses us in on God 2) it shows we trust in God’s plan for our life. How are you thanking God?
God wants to grow us and bless us. By fulfilling these three things we’re saying that we trust God to accomplish His will in our life. Don’t fall in the tyranny of God’s blessing where we think if we make the slightest mistake God won’t bless us. That’s not Gospel. Jesus died for all sins. All challenges we face are to conform and sharpen us more and more into the image of Jesus.
One more time:
Rejoicing, praying and thanking are three critical things to our prayer life. Doing these three things puts God in our day and not just a part of it.
People often ask for peace. I spoke with young men this morning about for keys to having peace. A good reminder for us all.
1) Work through conflict Phil 4:2-3
Work through or help others work through conflict. Avoiding conflict will result in a lack of peace. Choose courage and work through conflict.
2) Worshipful spirit Phil 4:4-7
When we rejoice and thank God for all situations we have peace. A worshipful spirit means we trust in God’s plan. Choose joy, it demonstrates faith.
3) Make disciples Phil 4:8-9
What we focus on we’ll see in others. By focusing on good things we’ll see it others, and then take the next step to apply to our own lives. This is the discipleship process. Making disciples leads to peace. Choose to focus on Nobel things and live them out.
4) Be content Phil 4:10-14
Possessions can distract us or they can propel us. We can accomplish God’s will with what we have. We can bless others and help others accomplish God’s will when we have an abundance. Choose to be content with what you have, it will maximize your ministry.
The bottom line:
If you’re lacking peace from God, check these areas as a start. They’ll take you a long way on the road of peace.
God is big, man is small
1 The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty ;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength ;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old ; You are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.
4 More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.
5 Your testimonies are fully confirmed ;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore .
~Psalm 93 NASB