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The Greatest Gift We Have January 13, 2014

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity, Church, devotional, Leadership, ministry.
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This is not the result of some divine vision, where I was lifted to Heaven or shifted to another realm. This is not the result of a voice, plain as day, calling out of a bush or thin air. No, this comes from a tug at the heart of a worshiper, a heart that thought worship services were a collective display of approval, commendation, love, and adoration to God from His believers, not just His children, His believers; and that heart’s  experiences as a church staff member.

What’s odd, and by odd I mean disturbing, is how many Christians don’t see the problem, don’t see it as a problem, or deny it exists because it supposedly “works.” What is the problem? For one thing, “true and proper worship” is discipleship (Romans 12:1.) Worship and discipleship are supposed to happen within the believer regardless of circumstance or setting. Worship, as a gathered community, has certain Biblically inherent principles, such as returning the Word to God, singing praise to Him with gladness and bowing down in worship (2 Chronicles 29:30.) I’m sure people who make it through this reading and disagree will argue that I must also wish to include sacrifices and burnt offerings too, because that was also part of that 2 Chronicles passage. So I’ll state right now that no, those were made obsolete by Christ’s death on the cross. The new offering and sacrifice is your time and skill, heart, mind, soul, and strength: your love. Returning to the Romans 12 passage, self is the offering which is Holy and pleasing to God.

Problem- part 2: When did “go forth,” or as modern church calls it, “outreach,” become about how effectively you can get people to come to you? Many Church leaders claim a heart for seeking the lost, yet preach it from the pulpit (stage, to the modern church folk) on Sunday mornings and talk of it in meeting after meeting, leaving themselves little if any time to set the example. They spend their lives in havens of the found, where they know those they seek are not flocking. So, rather than meet them where they are, the example they set is to turn the church property and worship services in to magnets to attract the lost to them. This makes the non-believer and those new to the faith leaders in the church, whose opinions shape what is or is not worship (not that veteran Christians never make it about themselves.) It is written in 1 Timothy 3:6,

“They (church leaders) must not be new followers of the Lord. If they are, they might become proud and be doomed along with the devil.“

The leadership resource churchleaders.com has this to say of pride in the church,

“Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body.”

To segregate the Body, even just within the local assembly, because veteran Christians and/or new converts demand it be about them before they’ll attend the collective display to God from His believers, drips with pride like a tomato freshly cut with a butter knife. There are a whole lot of individuals in the assembly, but few members of His body.

If there’s one thing I believe the Church needs to be told, its found in Galatians 5:7-9,

“You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough.”

These days, the Church is so pridefully leavened, so fluffy and puffed up from the yeast of personal satisfaction and business-defined successes, that one can look through one side of the loaf to the other without obstruction – there’s so little Bread anymore, so many air holes like the space between a spider’s webbing. Its time for outreach ministers to GO forth, let go of the worship services, and seek those who know they are sick (Mark 2:17.) Instruct these people in the meaning of true worship, so when they come, they do so not as consumers, but as those who brought gifts to Emmanuel.

All it takes is the generations proclaiming through words or action, “Its about me, my pleasure, my satisfaction, my professional resume, and my sub-culture,” for the whole loaf to need started from scratch. Sadly, church leaders around the world who aren’t causing it are letting it happen.

Our selves: lovingly, unconditionally, and collectively offered, may well be the greatest gift His believers can commission. Who is willing to go in on that gift?

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God’s Best-Seller List November 7, 2012

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Many people have a difficult time getting on “the same page” with each other. Its often caused by people waiting to write “that page,” whatever “that page” may be, until they meet someone who’s already written “that page” and they can plagiarize it into their own book. They freeze at the idea of not “selling” (i.e. being popular) if they write a page that no one else has yet. With God as co-author and editor, you and your free will can write the next hit on God’s best-seller list.

You’ve probably, at some point, watched or read a mystery or a “who-dun-it?” Inevitably it follows one of a few progressions, hence the popular assumption, “The butler did it!” You can watch the clock and or the page numbers and know if its too soon for the person being interrogated to be the bad guy. Predictable. But who would’ve thought that a baby, shoved out to sea, would return, grow into a stammering, unsure man who would write the page where he led God’s people out of slavery? This man wrote what were for most people, and himself at times, unimaginable pages.

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of tired of “reading” the same book every time I meet someone new, especially in ministry leaders. We all just go to conferences and plagiarize the same pages into our book. We edit out what makes us us, and become generic. We become like someone a block away or 3,000 miles away because they are popular. We become what we didn’t like about our former leaders, much like the ending of the book Animal Farm, with others who look from pig to human to pig again and are unable to tell the difference. We covet what God gave someone else instead of what He wants to have.

Sometimes God tries to ghost write for us, but we don’t let him, because we “know better than he.” He’s trying to help us write another best-seller. Custodian or pastor, we have to let go and let God. Write when its right, hand over the pen when he has a plot twist that’ll make our story a stand-out worth reading. Leave the popularity seekers to their own hopelessly derived works.

The World and the Warriors May 7, 2012

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The story of the transfiguration is told in 3 Gospels: Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9. In the story, “Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” The voice of the Lord came over them in a cloud, said, This is My Son, whom I have chosen.” Peter was silenced for putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. Before this, Matthew 16 shows Peter, once again, the subject of correction. “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

To paraphrase John 12: The Word of the Father, as commanded by Him to be spoken through the Son, will judge the world. Jesus ate with sinners, let sinners wash his feet, healed them, cast out their demons, taught them in mass, but individually offered little more than “Go and sin no more,” as a guidepost for the lives of the world. But – when it came to his disciples, those who he had chosen to spread the word, he took a more disciplinary tone and vernacular, correcting words and thought. Those chosen to spread that Word were held to a higher standard, corrected in their interpretation of, or reaction to, the Word. As Christ followers we too must hold each other above the world’s morals and goals if we are to bring the word to the world. In the Church, we are all, first and foremost, brothers and sisters in Christ. A priesthood of people…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Warriors called to Live as free people, yet without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but live at all times as servants of God. Warriors, training to rise above the world and spread the word, with grace and mercy as our safety net, not our sidewalk. Warriors who “have in mind concerns of God,” not “merely human concerns.”

The Body of Christ is the Church. The Church is the people, not the building. The trend: Complacent, Sunday Christians who offer meaningless apologies, sexually harass each other and don’t see it as a problem, and deny their heritage as “a royal priesthood,” called to “display the virtues and perfections” of God. Are you growing and training a Church of warriors, or fostering a social club for people of the world? You’ve been given armor, be a warrior.