Tag Archives: Church

The Bridge of Death

This is one of my favorite scenes in all of moviedom.  It’s silliness is beyond measure and that is what I love.  Its classic, silly, and ridiculous all at the same time.  It brilliant.  But its also deep. It might not seem that way upon the first viewing, but I think there is something here that comes to bear on the human experience.  We have all had or will have tough bridges over huge scary chasms that we must cross on life’s Journey.  Sometimes we face those bridges with uncommon courage and valor.  Other times fear overwhelms us and we never make it across.  In fact fear grips us so tightly that at times we would rather die than make it across that bridge. We have all been standing at the edge of the bridge and had to make a choice. Move forward…or turn around and go back.  What bridge has God asked you to cross today? How have you responded?

If you want to hear more about bridge crossing, come to the C&MA church in Morgantown this Sunday at 6pm.

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Entering into His Presence

2nd half of 14th century

Image via Wikipedia

When I started out in college, I quickly learned an important lesson. I found out that the more effort I put into the learning process the more I actually learned. If I studied, went to class, and worked hard I ended up learning.  Admittedly, I was able to skate through a lot of college with little effort, but I with little effort came little knowledge.  Sure I managed to do pretty well, but if you asked me what I actually learned in my classes the answer would probably be that I learned to get by with as little work as possible.

Unfortunately I think we treat our time in church the same way.  To many of us do as little as possible just to get by.  If you have your doubts about this then see if this seems familiar to you.  I know it does me.  We hurriedly prepare ourselves for church without putting much thought into an encounter with God.  We then hustle out the door when church is over without processing what just took place.  In fact, there may not have been any consideration regarding why we were even there to begin with.  There is barely any recognition that we were in the presence of God.  If we do have a reflection about the worship service it tends to be on what we didn’t like about it.  Perhaps the sermon was to dry or didn’t apply to what was happening in our lives.  Maybe we hated the music or were distracted by the crying baby.  Maybe the service ran too long and caused us to miss the beginning of the game.  Its a common belief that if a person leaves church feeling unsatisfied then it is the fault of someone else. Have we stopped to think that maybe the fault lies with us?  Perhaps we have failed to think about worship in the right way.  Perhaps we have failed to prepare ourselves for worship.  To often we forget that worship is about taking time to offer ourselves up to God (see Romans 12:1) for His glorification and has little to due with our own edification.

So when it boils right down to it, a lot of what we take away (positive or negative) has to do with us.  Are we distracted? Have we taken adequate time throughout the week to study and pray?  Do we even expect that God is going to do something when we come to worship Him?  Instead of blaming others for our perceived non-encounters with God, maybe we should look a little more closely at ourselves to see if we should adjust how we enter into God’s presence.


The Obedience of One Man

Revival has been on mind lately.  I have been reading about revivals to glean some insight about what sparks revival in a particular place and time.  Recently I stumbled upon a revival that I had never heard of.  It’s called the Fulton Street Revival and it occurred in New York City in 1857. Jeremiah Lenphier started a noontime prayer meeting On September 23rd. His story is a powerful one and you can see it here:

I love this story because it reminds me that one person can make a significant impact on the world.  Jeremiah’s risk to follow after God was inspiring.  He had no way to know how things were going to end.  For all he knew he was going to be alone praying by himself and for the first 30 minutes of his very first meeting that is exactly how it looked.  Yet, Jeremiah saw the need to pray for his city and its people.  Then, an amazing thing happened. God moved in the city and people came to know Jesus.  I wonder what would happen in our own cities if we followed Jeremiah’s example on Fulton Street.  What might God do if we gathered together to pray for our city and its people? How might God move in our communities and our churches?  How might God move in us? Lets find out!

Acts 1:14 “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers”

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

 


Stuck on the couch

New Couch!!!

Image by SimplySchmoopie via Flickr

For the last several days I have for the most part been stuck on the couch dealing with severe back pain because of a herniated disk.  Because of this I have been in a position that I don’t much care for — depending on others to help me.  My wife has been an  amazing help to me through this as have a number of people from our church.

This is such a tough place for me to be.  I hate to rely on others for my care.  It feels unnatural to allows others to do for me what I should be able to do for myself.  The truth is,  at the moment, I can’t do for myself so I must do what comes so unnaturally to me… allow others to help. I hate it, but God is teaching me something significant here.  While I am stuck on the couch, the world has not come to end.  God has raised folks up to help me in a number of different ways and to continue on in my ministry where I have been unable in the last couple of days.  Perhaps I should pay more attention to what God is capable of doing in my weakness instead of what I can do in my strength.

Consider 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (The Message)


Send Me on My Way…

I was listening to the Rusted Root song Send Me on My Way this morning and it got me to thinking about this passage in Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:1-9a

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

I know the song has nothing to do with this story about Isaiah, but I couldn’t help but think about  “Here I am.  Send me!”  in verse 8.  In this passage Isaiah’ sins are atoned for and his response is to answer God’s call.  I wonder how many of us respond to the forgiveness and atonement of our sins as Isaiah has here.  I know there have many time is my life where I have chosen to respond by saying “Not me God, send someone else.

In verse 9 God directs Isaiah to “Go and tell this people:” and then gives Isaiah a message to deliver in the following verses.  Each of us that have responded to the call to follow after Jesus have been given a message to deliver…we have been sent out to bear witness to the risen Christ Jesus.  Have you responded to that call by saying “Here I am.  Send Me” as Isaiah responded to his call, or have you responded by saying “Not me Lord, send someone else.”

Our message may be different from Isaiah’s, but God has sent each of us on our way to share the Gospel.  May we all respond with faithfulness as Isaiah did before us.

Oh…and in case you are unfamiliar with the Send Me on My Way song.  Here is the video.


living stones…

If you have been following this blog, you know that I have been reading Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together.  I have taken a lot way from this book about what it means to be in community with one another as the body of Christ, but I still feel like there is much to learn.  In preparing for Sunday’s sermon, I have been looking at 1 Peter 2:1-10 and in light of my interest in community have latched on to verse 5 specifically which states:

like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.  (NRSV)

I think this passage is significant for those who believe the church is nothing more than the building we meet in on Sunday.  I have known many folk that are members of the body of Christ, but fail to see the church as more than the building in which they meet.  If we hold this verse to be true, then God’s church is built upon the people who make up the body of Christ.  Those who follow after Jesus, are a living stone built around the capstone of Christ.

Perhaps our churches would be much healthier if each member resolved to see themselves as a living stone, or brick, in God’s building process.  There were many men and women of faith who came before us to lay a solid foundation for our church and there will be men and women of faith who will come after us and use our faith as their foundation to continue God’s building process.  May we all allow for God to move us from individual living stones to a spiritual house where we all may serve Him.


Christianity or Christ…

The message of Christ is not Christianity. The message of Christ is Christ. – Gary Amirault

I ran across this quote this morning during my sermon preparation and it got me to thinking.  How often do we try to convince people to come to church, become a member, serve the church and the community, but never really preach Jesus to them?  I know many church members that I have encountered over the years who were nothing more than Christians in name.  I have known many who refuse to become members of a church and follow after Jesus with more passion than most people who sit in the pews on Sunday morning.  I just wonder if we as the church do a great disservice to people when we try to assimilate them into our churches without ever really showing them what it means to follow after Jesus.  This is more food for thought than anything I guess.

What is our message…is it come be apart of this thing called Christianity (where more often than not its a particular groups brand of Christianity), or is our message come and follow after Jesus?

I would like to hear from you all.  In your experiences do churches preach the message of Christianity…or do they preach Jesus…is there even a difference?