Friday, October 29, 2010

One size doesn't fit all

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about leading people into God's presence in corporate worship. During that same time period I had a very interesting conversation with someone.

The individual expressed their sentiments with what had happened at one of our worship experiences. The conversation was intense but civil. Over all we both expressed our feelings to each other.

Essentially this person was not pleased with some of what had happened at that service and a few other things. In the conversation it was mentioned that the service doesn't 'fit' with the individual. That really got me thinking because the reality is that any 'corporate worship' service most likely on a week to week basis won't 'fit' with everyone's desires and likes either. Perhaps they won't like the music, the way the scripture was read, the sermon, the slides used, that a child was crying to loud, etc...

Yet if the story ended their it wouldn't be much of a post:-) A week later after the conversation just mentioned, another individual came up to me and said how much they enjoyed the service. It was the same service that the previous person had brought to my attention and wasn't happy with some of what transpired in that service.

Now...first of all I can't remember if the person who came to me and told me how much they liked the service had ever done so before, again at least I can't remember. After this individual told me how much they liked the service, just a few days after hearing someone else say how much they didn't, I really had to stop and well...shake my head, laugh a bit because I really felt God was talking to me through all this.

No it wasn't an audible voice from heaven, it wasn't the, 'I opened the bible and there a verse popped out at me', it was simply God touching my heart and making me aware that well...'one size doesn't fit all''s difficult that one service will 'fit' everyone, every time. How many times have you perhaps bought a pair of shoes and though they are the right size (the size you always get) they don't seem to be the right fit.

It's also interesting that these two individuals are of the same sex, about the same age, and have lived relatively in the same area for a long time. Yet one was touched by the worship experience and the other not so much.

You know, I never read in the bible (as Francis Chan mentions/allures to in the video I posted a few days ago) that someone left their church because the service didn't 'fit' them. I know we live in a vastly different world with a multitude of options one would say. Yet we must come together, work together, and yes even at times compromise not in our fundamental biblical beliefs but in perhaps the methods that are used, because this experience once again put a stamp on the notion that...hey...'one size (worship experience) doesn't fit all'...

What do you think? Can one service be a 'fit' for all? If not what can a church do?

Note: I respect and love both the individuals not mentioned above:-) and the one that was not pleased with the worship service we spoke privately as it should be and I consider my friend. Praise God that people can talk to each other in love even if we don't agree.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Mission Field

Our mission field. Are we working it? Are we actively engaging those around us or are we simply going about our business and not our Father's business?

I recently saw the video posted below and it once again brought the questions above (and more) to mind.

If we as Christians believe Jesus when he said in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel shall be preached to all and then the end will come. Well we obviously have work to do abroad (10/40 window) but it's clearly become more and more evident that we have a lot of work to do here in our own back yards.

Things need to change, in our lives, hence in our churches. Jesus is coming soon or is He? The gospel must first be preached...I don't believe by preaching Jesus only meant 'preachers' but simply His gospel of good news being spread by His disciples that's all who call themselves followers of Jesus.

Honestly you know this, I know this...but what are we doing? It's time to stand up and as I talked about in my last post be weird, yet normal in God's eyes. 

Watch below (click HERE if you get this via email/RSS feed) let me know what you think. What needs to be done differently in your opinion to reach those around us? What do you need to do differently in your life to reach your mission field?

Our Mission Field from City on a Hill Productions on Vimeo.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why being weird is actually normal...

Image by hoveringdog
Most people don't like to be singled out as being 'weird.' In grade school the last thing any of us wanted to be called is 'weird' and I would venture to say that for many that same philosophy has followed us as adults.

To a great degree as Christians we don't want others to see us as 'weird' so we try to fit in as best we can of course without breaking any biblical principles. Sometimes within my own denomination many are careful to not want to be categorized as one of those 'weird' people who dress with 'weird' clothes (really there just wearing clothes from a different era), who claim that unless you eat certain foods, dress in certain ways, listen to a certain style of music, and adhere to the letter of the law when it comes to certain books you're not a good Seventh-day Adventist Christian. Sure we may call them 'legalists' but many will call them 'weird.'

Perhaps though, because of some actual 'weird' people like the ones i just mentioned above, and others within Christianity, like the guy at a big city corner with a long beard saying the earth is going to end therefore repent! We as Christians have shunned being...well...'weird.'

We say we love Jesus, we go to church (really a building because we are the church), we live good moral lives, essential we are normal. Yet if we're honest with ourselves and if we're really reading the Bible we know that following Jesus in today's world, would make us 'weird.' But the question is to who?

I would say to those who really haven't surrendered all to Him. Let's really go deep here: Can a people who sit a pew once a week, read their bibles occasionally at best, and aren't involved in some kind of discipling work really call themselves followers of Jesus? That would be weird, because that's not what Jesus had in mind as one reads the bible.

Watch the video clip below (really do watch it!) of Francis Chan a well known evangelical preacher who spoke at the recent Catalyst Conference (an incredible conference of Christian leaders, I had to miss it this year) After starting and growing a church for 16 years in Simi Valley, California decided to leave the church he started and now is moving to Asia. Some have said he's weird...

Maybe reality is that God is calling us to be 'weird.' Weird that is to those that don't really know nor follow Jesus, normal to God and all those who have surrendered all to Him.

Catalyst East 2010: Francis Chan from Catalyst on Vimeo.

So are you afraid to be weird or more afraid to be normal in God's eye's and the weird adventure that would await you?


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gospel Affect

The 'Gospel of Jesus Christ.' When you hear that phrase or one similar to it, what comes to your mind? Along those same lines what does 'The gospel' really mean to you, particularly if you call yourself a Christian.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-"I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation, for everyone who believes..." The 'power of God'? This past weekend I mentioned in my sermon that if we are living a gospel that is not changing us, essentially not making us the people that God would have us be, a gospel that is empowering us to do things outside the 'box' as we say for God's glory, than we need to re-evaluate what kind of gospel we're really proclaiming to believe in!

I know it sounds a bit blunt, a bit strong...but does it really? The gospel is the power of God! What changes has the 'gospel' that you proclaim to believe in done in your life? I guess I'm sensing that God wants to do some incredible things in the lives of those who claim to believe in His 'power' yet perhaps the problem is that we haven't truly believed in the 'power' of the gospel.

Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power..." Maybe here is part of the issue...Has the gospel come to us in 'word' only? Is it something that we merely talk about but have not experienced it's 'powerful' works in our own lives?

The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

If you call yourself a Christian you automatically are saying that you believe in the gospel. So I ask the question for all to ponder and wonder (especially myself): What affect has the gospel we are proclaiming to believe in had on us? 


Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22nd, 1844: Does it still mean anything?

For Seventh-day Adventist October 22nd, 1844 is forever engraved in our history, for out of what happened, or didn't happen on that date a movement arose (technically it had already started) and became known today as the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Brief History

During the Second Great Awakening a Baptist by the name of William Miller through the study of Bible prophecy came to realize that Jesus was coming soon. One of the main texts he used is found in Daniel 8:14: "Unto two-thousand and three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Miller had come to understand along with others that the 'sanctuary' that needed cleansing was this earth. He also concluded that the 2,300 day prophecy began around 457 B.C. and would conclude sometime between March 21 1843-March 21 1844.

Miller's preaching moved, and stirred hearts as others began to study the same prophecies. A man by the name of Samuel Snow was the one that eventually came up with the more specific date of October 22nd, 1844 as the date that Jesus would return to 'cleanse the earth (sanctuary)'.

Obviously Jesus didn't return and thousands of Millerites were 'disappointed' thus we have what is called 'The Great Disappointment.' After this date believers scattered into different 'sects' one can say. One of them led through careful study of the bible by people such as Hiram Edson, O.R.L. Crosier and F.B. Hahn began to understand that something did indeed happen on October 22nd, 1844 but it obviously wasn't here on earth. They began to believe that the 'cleansing of the sanctuary' of Daniel 8:14 was not the earth but the 'sanctuary' in heaven that needed cleansing. Here is where the doctrine of the 'Pre-Investigative judgment' began and as stated before, the Seventh-day Adventist church arose from.

For a bit more information on Seventh-day Adventist beliefs click HERE.

Significance for today?

1844 was 166 years ago today! Jesus has not yet come! Yes we say, 'He's coming soon', 'sooner today than yesterday', 'Jesus come soon!' Nonetheless it's been 166 years and counting. Yet a few questions that Seventh-day Adventist perhaps need to ask themselves is if this date so engrained in our church still has any real significance in our lives? What does it really mean for us? Does it have any implications on us today in this 21st. century world?

If you're not a Seventh-day Adventist and reading this post (I know there are some) would love for you to click the link above, go online, google 'Great Disappointment', learn about what happen and lets talk about what this date means here at 'Bathos.'

Many, many, people have died believing that 'Jesus is coming soon', believing and even understanding the significance of this date. But did understanding the significance of this date change the way they lived out the rest of their lives once they comprehended everything surrounding October 22nd, 1844?

You see the bottom line to a great degree is this. Once we have understood biblically what happened on October 22nd, 1844, then what? Good doctrinal information without transformation makes at best a person simply informed.

So this post is not about explaining everything that happened on October 22nd, 1844, it's not about unpacking the often debated 'Pre-Advent judgment' doctrine that we as Seventh-day Adventist believe. No, because if you call yourself a Seventh-day Adventist than you should already have some kind of grasp of what it's all about. The question again though is: Has it had any significance on how you live your life?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't buy things you can't afford!

Can you believe it? We have a little over a month before black Friday. Honestly I'm not one of those people that likes to get up at the crack of dawn to fight the crowds in order to buy a laptop, digital camera, or whatever it might be for a 75% discount.

Yet if you are one of those Lord bless you and keep you safe:-)

Beyond black Friday the day after Thanksgiving is essentially as we all know the mark of the 'holiday shopping season' and I saw this video that someone sent me and felt it would be good to share with you all. It's a good reminder for all of us;-) Plus it's just down right funny!
(if you get this via email/RSS feed click HERE to watch)


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our daily struggle

Recently I had someone come and speak at our church about discipleship. It was a great and challenging weekend. Yet this post isn't about discipleship, that is, it isn't about making disciples but about being a disciple.

The presenter while talking about 'personal devotions' said something simple yet thought provoking. Before getting to what was said, I would venture to say that the majority of Christians struggle with their 'personal devotions.'

First we must at least begin to define what a Christian really means by the use of the phrase 'personal devotions.' I would say most feel it's something 'we do' usually in the mornings or hopefully sometime during the day before we hit the bed at night. What 'we do' is pray, spend time reading the bible, perhaps even journal what you've read in the bible. Seems essentially simple enough, right?

Well it may sound simple but a few month's ago I took a pop poll in the Sabbath school class that I was teaching (same thing as a Sunday school:-) and though I was delighted that they were honest, I was saddened by it's result. Less than 50% of them had read their bible everyday. Professional polls that I've read and I'm sure some of you have also basically attest to the same thing.

Many call themselves bible believing Christians but simply stated, 'don't read the bible.'

Bottom line it's a struggle!

Perhaps it's a struggle because many see it as something 'we do' as oppose as seeing it as something 'God wants to do in us!' This was the thought provoking idea the presenter at our discipleship weekend mentioned. I know what your thinking not so thought provoking, ok maybe then a provoking reminder.

A reminder that God wants to do mighty things in the lives of the people that are called by His name, the very ones that call themselves followers of Jesus yet rarely read the Holy Spirit inspired book that speaks of Him!

It seems simple enough, right? Pray, read the bible, God begins 'to do' things in your life. I wonder if it's so simple why we struggle so much?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The world is truly smaller

The first time I wrote about the Chilean miners was HERE. Yet as I'm writing this post all 33 miners have been rescued and I'm watching the last rescue worker rise to the surface bringing to an end an incredible journey to rescue the now famous 33 miners. We should truly rejoice and praise the Lord!

The road to normalcy for the 33 miners and their families is just beginning though, as nearly the entire globe watched with amazement the rescue efforts, particularly within the last 24 hours. Which brings me to say, 'The world is truly smaller.'

One has to admit the Chilean government did an incredible job using technology and seeking the best help from around the world to get these men out. 'The world is truly smaller'

We got to see video of the men inside the mine and were able to watch every one of the 33 miners rise to the surface along with the rest of the world. 'The world is truly smaller'

In the midst of all the joy, excitement, and new stories the miners might tell of what really happened down there (especially the first 17 days when no one new they were alive yet), I just continue to find fascinating how this rescue show us once again that, 'The world is truly smaller.'

Since 'the world is truly smaller' it just leads me back to that text in Matthew 24:14 in which Jesus said, "The gospel shall be preached to all the world and then the end will come."

Seems like we're close, perhaps closer than we sometimes might realize for that text to become a reality, for 'the mission to be accomplished'...because you know...'the world is truly smaller.'

Even so come Lord Jesus...

So do you believe, 'The world is truly smaller?'


Monday, October 11, 2010

Charity:water campaign: The final tally

First and foremost I want to thank everyone who contributed to my charity:water campaign to help the nearly 1 billion people without access to clean, fresh, water.

The campaign lasted for 90 days and although we didn't reach our ultimate goal I praise the Lord again for all who gave as we were able to raise $800 and therefore bring water for 20 years to 40 people!

I hope that you will continue to keep this water issue which affects 1/6 of the worlds population ever present in your mind and continue to support when you kind by going to charity:water's website.

Here at Bathos we will always use this blog to promote and bring awareness to this tragedy, for it runs deep in my heart and I pray that God will continue to open the doors for me to help wherever I can.

Remember giving water=giving please let us continue to help...for I would venture to say none of us are dying of thirst.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peculiar but not Particular?

Today as I was getting my hair cut (the hair i have left:-) I heard this statement being made, "peculiar but not particular." Though the statement was not made in the context of a religious statement, it certainly caught my attention for many reasons.

Mostly perhaps because if you are reading this post and have grown up Adventist, or you've been an Adventist long enough to understand some of the inside 'lingo' you know that often we refer to ourselves as being, or called to be a 'peculiar' people. The reasoning for being 'peculiar' is to be separate from the world which understood in its proper manner is a good thing.

Yet could it be that some are being 'peculiar but not particular' and this may go for Christians of all faiths. In other words people who are calling themselves followers of Jesus making sure that their not like the 'world' (again I know that's a loaded statement) but they are not very 'particular' in how they fulfill what Jesus has called us to do, "Go therefore and make DISCIPLES..." (Matt. 28:19)

Just imagine for one moment if even half of our churches were very 'particular' in fulfilling this great commission! I would venture to say that would make that congregation very 'peculiar'! What if half our congregations called upon the Lord of the harvest to put before them ONE person that they will disciple and bring them to the knowledge of the importance of being a 'peculiar' Christian. One that is fully devoted in being a disciple and making disciples! Just one every year.

Maybe it's time to redefine what it means to be 'peculiar' and be 'particular' about it?


Monday, October 4, 2010

Corporate worship & God's presence

One of the most solemn and at the same time difficult tasks that many church leaders who are before a congregation on a regular basis face and perhaps it's not mentioned often enough is the aspect of 'bringing others into the presence of God' or 'ushering others into God's presence', or however you would like to phrase it.  The focus in this post is corporate worship.

I will admit 'ushering/bringing others into God's presence' is a loaded statement and for that matter a loaded task. Can we really 'bring' or 'usher' people into God's presence? I would venture to say that unless they want to be brought or ushered in, this won't happen. One would assume that if they're in a worship setting (like church) this is what most want from the experience. Yet even if that is so, people have different ways of thinking and understanding how to come before God which makes the issue of how to 'bring' or 'usher' people before God all the more daunting.

Churches will discuss (sadly to say at times argue) over issues of order of service, music, how long, or even how short a service should be to name just a few of the more discussed items. Though churches must have this 'discussion' one thing needs to be kept in mind and that is we want to above all things have an environment in which people can experience the presence of God within the 'church service.'

Along with what has already been said, one must also realize that as one comes before God in their respective congregations regardless of what 'style' it may be. One of the main points of coming together (if not the main) is to respond to what God has done, is doing, and will do in each one of our lives. To give Him all worship and praise as we participate in the worship experience through song, prayer, giving, and the preaching of the word which in itself should bring the congregation to some kind of a response to God in their lives.

Therefore when we come together in our places of worship as people who claim to be followers of Jesus, this is NOT just another weekend event, or 'thing we do' for God. You see here's perhaps something to evaluate: maybe it's not so much about being led into God's presence as a congregation because God is already there, but it's about if we will bring ourselves into God's presence as individuals within the corporate worship and respond to His working in our lives in praise and adoration.

So what do you think: how have you experienced the presence of God in corporate worship? How many times have you attended a worship service and not experienced God in any way? Why did you or did you not experience the presence of God?



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