Thursday, May 30, 2013

Can evangelism be taught?

Here is a line from a previous post found here that I thought warranted further comment.

Witness has changed from relationship to salesmanship.

What are we drawing people to, Jesus or something else?

Should people even need to take evangelism classes? If we need to be taught to share what we already have, do we really have it? Sure, we need to be solid in the foundations of our faith. But that is what the church should be preaching about every week.

What is evangelism? Sharing Jesus. Why do we do it? Because we love Him. How do we do it? It should be the overflow of a heart that loves Him. It is not about just getting people to come to church, nor is it about numbers or our success. It is not about winning an argument or having the most logical thought process. It should be a natural, a result of the faith that dwells in our heart.

But what do we see? We see smiling, soft-spoken people with huge churches, mega-book deals, and fat wallets. Kinda blows that narrow road thing out of the water, doesn't it? Many times we see such leaders fall, because it never really was about Jesus now, was it?

If we really want to solve some of the issues that plague the church, perhaps a return to relationship is in order. Perhaps a commitment is what is needed, and not a commercial.

If we look at Jesus, He was not the best salesman. He allowed the Rich Young Ruler to walk away. And isn't that the kind of person that most preachers or parishioners would not want to lose. Many times Jesus let people walk away. That is because he was not trying to sell them something. He offered to give them something that some wanted nothing to do with. And when that happened, he did not try to box them in with logic, or beat them over the head with morality. He simply let them walk away and continued to look for those who were broken or open to his message.

I don't think I've ever seen an evangelism class like that, have you?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Participation to Observation

From a previous post, I want to comment on the idea that...

Worship has changed from participation to observation.

I think for many people, worship is something that is done on Sunday morning, period. No wonder some look at heaven and want to put it off as long as possible. Ten thousand years of singing His praise, and still no less days than before. That really hits home as we count down to the end of the school year! Six more days, then we get a break! But ten thousand years and we still are no closer to the end!

But what if worship is more than Sunday morning? What if worship is what defines us and our relationship to God? What if worship is how I eat, work, talk, rest, play, and basically how I engage with every part of life? Then worship defines me and worship is a part of me. Then I don't just worry about the part(s) of my life I give to God, but I give it all to him. (This is one of the reasons I don't agree with the concept of the tithe, where we give 10% and keep 90%. Doesn't it all belong to Him?)

So worship is not something I do, it is part of who I am. Think of Paul, singing out praises in prison. Was it Sunday morning and time for worship, or was this just who Paul was? If you don't know, try reading some of his writings! "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, again I say REJOICE!" I don't know how this can be done outside of worship, do you?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Celebration to Ceremony

This is one statement from a list on my last post that I would like to chew on a bit more. There may be others to come.

 The Lord's Supper has changed from a celebration to a ceremony.

Is this a valid statement or not? To answer this, we must look to the early church, what did the breaking of bread mean to them? Did they pass around a plate full of crackers? No, they had a meal. They shared life together.

Yet from the start, it became corrupted. Some where always the first in line to get the best food, others drank more than enough and even became drunk. That was not the purpose! If you're that hungry, eat a snack first!

The Lord's Supper was instituted in a somber moment, when Jesus ate the Last Supper with the 12. But it took on a different meaning after His resurrection. It was now a memorial of the greatest event in history, of Christ's victory over death and sin. A memory of His suffering, yes, but also of His glory. How can such an event be remembered and not be celebrated? But is that what we do when we partake? Some do for sure, but others? Where do the majority land? Where do I land?

It is easy to fall into the routine. That is the reasoning for some not partaking in the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis, but rather doing it monthly or quarterly. But in truth, are they any better off when it comes to just performing a ceremony. Paul warns us to examine ourselves prior to partaking. What is our reasoning, our motivation? Where do we stand before our God and in relation to our fellow Christians? That sounds like something I need on a daily basis!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Everything changes over time...

Blog Post found here.

In this post the author sites another blog's list of how things in the church have changed over time. Change is not always a bad thing, but it is not always a good thing either. Here is the list.

  •  The Lord's Supper has changed from a celebration to a ceremony. 
  • Worship has changed from participation to observation. 
  • Witness has changed from relationship to salesmanship. 
  •  Leadership has changed from servanthood to professionalism. 
  •  Mission has changed from being missionaries to supporting missionaries. 
  • Body life has changed from edification to entertainment. 
  •  Buildings have changed from functional to sacred. 
  • Child care has changed from the hands of parents to the hands of strangers
I find this an excellent source of fodder for conversation. And look forward to a some specific posting over some or maybe even all of these, sharing from my experiences over time. Could be interesting!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Of chickens and eggs...

You know the old question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Quite a conundrum. How can we have chickens without eggs? And how can we have eggs without chickens?

I think my mind goes here when I think about Calvinism and Arminianism. Then I ran across this idea by C. S. Lewis, "What difference does it make, if God stands outside of time." Yikes! I feel like my little stick-figure drawings, trying to imagine life in 3-D. How could there possibly be another dimension? How can God not be constrained by time? Yet, how can anything constrain God? Maybe that is why sometimes the Bible seems to say one thing, and sometimes another. Maybe it is because the reality is beyond our comprehension.

My God is so big, and I am so small.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Obedient Children

Article Found Here

I have posted this for me, so that I can go back and look at this article when I have more time.

One of the lines is this: Obedience looks like this: 1) act immediately, 2) without compliant, and 3) without back talk

So...Am I teaching my children what obedience looks like? But more importantly, do I know what obedience looks like? (I am a child too, a child of God.) Yeah, that one is a little tougher.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Prodigal Son had to face death

In Sunday School last week, the story of the Prodigal Son was brought up. The leader mentioned how the people of the area would have viewed him. He insulted his father when he left, and went and lived among the gentiles, fed the pigs, etc. Upon returning to his father, he must have looked a mess. The people of his hometown surely would have rejected him, right?

I think it a little more intense than that. I think they would have wanted to stone him. He basically told his father he wished he were dead when he asked for his share of the inheritance before his father's death. Folks back then took a pretty harsh view of such actions. Not only that, but he made himself an outcast and unclean with the lifestyle he chose. So coming back was not an option, for those who welcomed him back would have made themselves unclean as well.

Just like God did when he bore our sins on Himself. So when Jesus tells us that we must die to ourselves and pick up our cross (daily), think of the prodigal. He came back to face death. He humbled himself, wishing only to be like a hired servant, knowing that he had no right of his own to be a member of the family again.

But the father took the shame on himself and welcomed him. He embraced him. Wow!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Which is it?

Our Sunday School leader made a curious statement the other day. He was teaching on the chapter of "God's Astounding Opinion of You" (by Ralph Harris) that deals with the issue of God being our friend. I believe it is chapter 10, if not, it is close. He stated that he did not feel that this chapter was very theological, but none-the-less, it was a good chapter.

To quote Inigo Montoya (of the Princess Bride), "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." The word "theology" can easily be broken into two parts, "theo" (God) and "ology" (the study of). And what topic could be more theological that God's character and what it is He thinks of us? This should shape the very depths of how we view Him!

So during this lesson, we spent some time in Matthew 15, verses 12-15. Some commented on verse 16, where it says "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide."

So here is my theological question, one that has many implications and I believe must be wrestled with. What does it mean that God chooses (elects, determines, predestines, or whatever label you want to give it) and how does He choose?

Does He choose like the NFL draft, based on some attributes that we possess? Or is it more like sticking His hand into a bowl of M&M's and randomly getting a handful of different colors? I have my thoughts on this, which I hope to share, but for now it is off to work!