Saturday, September 29, 2012

Story 3

One of the churches we visited was a Presbyterian church. I had high hopes for this church, because of their Reformed roots. A couple of people made an effort to be friendly and engage us in chit-chat. The pastor was not one of them. Not that I expect the pastor to be the first person to engage everyone in the church, but when it is a small congregation (around 200, but less than 100 at this service), and he walks right by you a few times without even an acknowledgment, it makes you wonder. Good or bad, the pastor sets the tone for much of what the congregation will do. A third issue that I struggled with was the plans that the church had for an addition. It just seemed that the focus of the service was more about the proposed addition than it was about the reason for that addition, Jesus Christ. everything was geared toward that goal.

Now I don't discount the need for church buildings. But I also struggle with the lavish amounts of money that are spent while other needs, needs that there are definite Biblical mandates for, go by the wayside or receive a fraction of the attention they deserve.

I don't want to take anything away from this church or judge their hearts, I just knew that this place was not going to be a good place for us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Story

The church I attended last week was going through "The Story." It is a book written by Max Lucado. They are passing out the book, have the large posters up, and are preaching through it. Someone is making a lot of money somewhere, me thinks.

I was okay with the sermon. He was talking about Joseph and of the many trials that he went through, and how God was in complete control. Then he spoke of what was obviously a difficult trial he experienced. I am not sure if the child he spoke of was close to him, or if it were the child of someone in his congregation. In any event, in his illustration the child died. He then went on to say, "God did not do that, I could not worship a God who would do such a thing."

Read on in the story, because that is what God does to David's son. It is what he does to his own son. Dare we draw a line and say, "God, if you cross this line, I cannot worship you?" Did Joseph stop worshipping God because he was sold into slavery, accused of rape, put in prison, etc.? Was he not listening to his own sermon?

My brother used to say the same thing, I cannot worship a God who lets little children die. There is a fine line of difference between the two thoughts. In one, God is the cause. In the other, God watches helplessly. But I don't see the difference from a worship standpoint. If God is sovereign, then we should worship Him without reservation.

I think what we do is water down God, rather than lift Him up.

I think of my daughter, stricken with an awful disease. Currently she is under care and doing okay. We don't know what the long-term will bring. There are many complications in our life because of her health. Did God bring this on her? Even if not, He could remove it. So am I justified in ceasing to worship Him? David knew better. He prayed for his son, but to no avail. God took his son's life. And what did David do after his son was dead? He worshiped God.

When are we going to start preaching that truth?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Sunday Morning...

Today, many people will go to church to pay their penance worship God. As I struggle with what it means to worship, I also struggle with church.

Story 1: I attend a nearby church that has a good reputation and is doing some good things in the community. I am greeted by friendly people and introduced to others. I took a seat and enjoy the music. The speaker's pastor's message was next. He mentioned the name of Jesus several times during hte message, a plus. I really can't remember his title, but he spoke of our need to have Christian friends and surround ourselves with others who are Christians. It was all about me and what I needed to do to be a better person.

While I agree with the idea of communing with those of like faith, he seemed to take it to an extreme. Is this the picture of Jesus? Was he one who surrounded himself with "Yes men?" The speaker (I really can't call him a pastor) spoke of the need to give and accept criticism as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to be challenged (apparently be having others watch over us and correct our errors).

I took him to heart. A few days later, I received a letter from them, thanking me for my visit. Inside the letter was a gift, a $5 gift card from them redeemable at a local grocery store because that is what Jesus would do. I also recieved an e-mail thanking me for my visit and asking me to respond by rating and commenting on various aspects of my visit.

I rated them high for their friendliness and their music. I rated them weak in the area of the preaching sermon  message. I was not mean or confrontational, I just stated that I thought it was the weakest part of my visit. I never heard from them again. Apparently our need to talk to others does not include visitors who don't love every aspect of our service. Apparently the need to have thick skin when someone talks to us doesn't apply to preachers. Or maybe, if a $5 gift card and an e-mail are not enough to get someone back into a pew, then that person is just not reachable. I can handle that burden.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I needed to do this

I am back. I have taken a purposeful break from blogging. I wanted some time to sort through some things, and I needed to do it without interference.

The last few years have been a difficult journey. God has moved me to a different way of thinking regarding my theological (or lack of) stance. I wanted to make sure that my thoughts were not just echoing the ideas of others, but truly God led.

Well, things have not changed as I have entered this journey. I have had 2 church experiences during this time, which I hope to share later (but soon).

God is good, and I believe in Him completely.

I would write more, but I have some reading to catch up on...