i need more than God

Category : God, Jesus, worship

A few months ago I heard the phrase “Jesus is my boyfriend” on Scotterology.  It was used to describe a certain brand of Christian music that seems more like an angst-filled love song, than a song about God.  At first I didn’t like that term.  I scoffed at the whole idea.  “There isn’t really music like this.  He’s just exaggerating!”

But then I started to listen to some of the lyrics.  (You can see a bunch more at Pomomusings).

“Friend of sinners, Lord of truth
I am falling in love with you
Friend of sinners, Lord of truth
I have fallen in love with you
Matt Redman“Friend of Sinners”

“You are my desire, no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else could take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Kelly Carpenter - “Draw Me Close”

“In the secret, in the quiet place
In the stillness, you are there
In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for you
‘Cause I want to know you more
I want to touch you, I want to see your face
I want to know you more
Andy Park“In the Secret”

I’m still not convinced.  To be honest I even like a lot of these songs.  But it’s had me thinking for the last few months.  Exactly where is the line?  And how do we know when we’ve crossed it?  Some songs get uncomfortably close.

That’s when Erwin McManus said something that surprised me.  He said that we need more than just God.

“Wha–?!” I thought.  “That’s a pretty bold statement.  He’d better have a good argument.”  And you know what?  He did.

After God created the universe, and then man, it was God who said things weren’t quite right.  It was God who said man needed more.  So he created Eve.  God created us to need more than just him.  He created us to need community and relationships.

Could it be that we’ve become so focused on God that we’re losing the other important aspects of our faith, like community?

While our salvation rests only on God.  There’s more to life than our death.  There’s certainly more to life than overly sappy Christian music.  Everything exists in community.  People.  Angels.  Demons.  Even God himself exists in three parts.  I want God to be at the center of my life.  But I don’t want God to be the only thing in my life.  And I don’t think that’s what he ever wanted either.

photo provided by flicker user scootie

what if…the church led the way?

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Category : barbarian, different, radical, revolutionary, taking action, worship

……….

What do spiders, silk and missionaries have in common?

For one missionary living in Madagascar in the late 1800’s they meant inventing a device to extract spider-silk from spiders, without hurting them.  While this invention didn’t go very far (it’s hard to get enough silk to work with) it has spurred modern inventors, who have now created a 2-pound rug out of spider-silk.

One of the things that I think the church (in general) has moved away from is leading society in the areas of science, art, and thinking.  Some of the greatest minds in history have been from the church.  For many years the church was the repository for knowledge.  It held the scholars, the educated, and the literate.  Much to our shame, the church used it’s knowledge to secure it’s position in society.  Which in turn held back literacy and education.

However, the church also did remarkable things.

What if the church led the way today?  What if we focused on giving back to society instead of changing it?  What if the church led scientific research?  What if the church was tops among inventors?  What if the church was the most innovative organization on the planet?  What if the church made a tangible, day-to-day, impact on everyone’s life?  What if the church didn’t just improve the spiritual well being, but also physical well being?

What if…

What if the church led the way?

Can you imagine the possibilities?

what’s the point of a memorial day?

Category : hope, sharing faith, sin, worship

……….

Today I was out eating picnic food watching the rain fall.  As I was sitting there in the breeze I began to wonder about memorial day.  Why is it that we celebrate?  What are we hoping to remember?  Should it be enthusiastic and fun?  Or quiet and solemn?

As I thought about it, I decided it doesn’t really matter.  The point isn’t how we celebrate, it’s the fact that today should be different than every other day.  The whole point of Memorial Day is to remind us that what we experience isn’t free.  It was bought at a price.

Our lives are so hectic, so busy, it’s easy to get sidetracked with the countless responsibilities we have.  We can easily lose track of the sacrifice our freedom cost.  The same is true of our faith.

One of the biggest reasons I go to church isn’t for enlightenment, relationships, or worship (although I get all of those things from church).  I go because it breaks up my week.  It forces me to do something I wouldn’t normally do.  It forces me to remember that our freedom from sin cost God his son.

In the broadest sense it doesn’t matter if I go to a Catholic church, Presbyterian church, nondenominational or what have you.  It doesn’t matter if worship is lead by a rock band or a choir.  What matter is I break my normal routine and focus on what my freedom costs.

I would like to remember that more often, I think.

living out a life of faith – example #73

Category : different, taking action, worship

  

“If you have people like that representing your church out in public, you’ve got a problem.” – Anonymous Upset Man

I’m feeling pretty miserable today.  I can’t seem to shake these colds I keep getting.  So this post is going to be short and sweet.  Although it’s a perfect illustration of what we talk about on R3: living out a life of faith, or as I sometimes like to say, “how to not act like an idiot.” 

A voice mail was left for LifeChurch.TV from a man who was angry at one of their members.  Not because this member had stolen from him, lied to him, or harmed him.  But because they were taking their time at a gas pump.  Apparently the woman in the car simply sat at the pump, oblivious to the man behind her waiting to use it.

Here’s the catch: if you consider yourself a Christian, you need to realize that you are always being judged.  Someone is always looking at you to see if you live the way you talk.  For some it’s because they want to know if our claims about God are true.  But others are simply looking for a reason not to believe.  Everything we do as Christians reflects back on God. 

Who’s knows if this guy had a point or not.  But what we do know is he blamed a church for this woman’s actions.

As we seek to live out a life of faith, don’t put makeup on at a gas pump, don’t drive like a lunatic if you have a Christian bumper sticker, and don’t stiff the waitress at breakfast before church!  Don’t be unChristian.  Just be aware of the people around you.

Sometimes evangelism is nothing more than being considerate towards others.  That’s not so hard, is it?

 

away in the manger

Category : God, faith, hope, taking action, trust, worship

  

We’ve all heard the story of Jesus’ birth.  We know that he was born into a family of humble origins.  That he was born in a manger because his parents couldn’t find a room.  We know that Mary was a virgin, and that it was through a great leap of faith she had Jesus.

But whenever I hear this story, I find myself thinking about Joseph

Often we hear this story told from the perspective of Mary or the Wise Men, or even Jesus.  And those are all good ways of looking at this story.  But I think sometimes we lose sight of Joseph’s profound faith.  Remember, he was well within his rights, by Jewish law, to have Mary put to death for adultery.  They had been pledged to be married, and instead she was pregnant. 

Yet he didn’t. 

Instead Joseph trusted a dream he had was from God.  Joseph trusted that God was doing something special, and that even though he didn’t understand, he would act in faith.  All of this means Joseph must have been quite a man to have put his faith in God like that, especially in an honor and shame culture.  After all, Mary knew she hadn’t “known” anyone.  Joseph, on the other hand, had to take her word for it (and of course, the message he received from God).

It would have been easy for him to begin believing the rumors that must have been swirling in such a small community.  You can’t keep secrets like that in a small town.  Yet Joseph remained faithful to both God and Mary.   

There are many times I hear about a tragedy or some extreme act of heroism and I would like to think I would have acted the same.  I’d like to think that when push really comes to shove, I’d be willing to trust God over everything.  But would I?  Would I be able to marry someone who said they were pregnant, but the child was God’s?  Would I believe God spoke to me in a dream?  Or would I believe the snide comments being made by my neighbors?

I will never know.  But I think there’s a really good chance I would have chalked that dream up to a bad slice of pizza.

prayer thursday: thanksgiving

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Category : God, different, faith, hope, miracles, worship

 

Today is Thanksgiving.  A day we Americans typically eat a ton of food, spend time with friends and family, and watch the Lions lose.  And it’s also the conclusion to R3’s series on thanks giving.  I’ve found that just writing and thinking about these posts has really impacted my perspective.  I find I’m a lot more thankful for just the random stuff in my life.  I hope you find the same.

Thankfulness

God – Thank you for everything you do in my life.  Most days I simply don’t take enough time to thank you for all the miracles I experience.  If I’m honest, I almost never thank you for anything.  In fact, my attitude tends to be one of ungratefulness, rather than gratitude.  I am sorry for that.

As I sit here thinking about how complex life is, I am amazed that my body can breathe air, type words, and hold a conversation with you all at the same time.  Even though I usually take it for granted, I am grateful for a working body. 

Mostly though, I find today I am very thankful for you.  You’ve completely changed my life.  You’ve completely changed me!  And you did it for no other reason than you love me.  Not because I deserved it.  Not because I earned it.  Simply because you are love.  For that I am thankful. 

As I enjoy thanksgiving with friends and family, I ask that you watch over them, and everyone else.  Perform miracles, heal the sick, and do amazing things – and I am thankful even when you aren’t doing those things in my life. 

You are a loving God.  For that I am thankful!  Amen.

<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer of thanks>

follow-up: right where I need to be

Category : God, faith, hope, trust, worship

   

Last week I wrote about something that really struck me: God has given us a big enough responsibility in just being obedient, we don’t need to worry about “making something” of our lives.  It’s easy to think we need to do more to become successful, but how do we define that success?  

More often than not by the world’s standards.

God defines success so much differently, which is why we’re just asked to be obedient.  This thought hasn’t left my mind all weekend, so I wanted to focus on it again.  But instead of me trying to find words to for my thoughts, I think I’ll just let Building 429’s song Amazed do it for me. 

Where did it go
33 and it’s gone so fast
Thought I knew who I was
I thought that You were leading me

But this depression is
Crashing in on me
And I’m not half the man
I hoped I’d be

But I won’t question in the dark
What is true out in the light
I will follow after You
Through the storm and through the fight

Cause You’ve got me
Right where You want me
Yeah You’ve got me
Right where I need to be
And I’m standing amazed

 

style and tradition

Category : God, different, faith, worship

  

I admit, I’m a creature of habit.  I like to park in the same parking spot.  I’ve bought the same brand of toothpaste for years.  I even like to drive home from work the same way.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I think most people have preferences.  I think most of us have a routine – even if that routine is to not have one!  

Maybe it’s the fact we have so many choices in life that leads us to  getting so bent out of shape when it comes to church.  We seem to spend so much time arguing the drawbacks (or benefits) of so-called “contemporary services” instead of focusing on what really matters – connecting people to God. 

But I have to wonder, are our personal preferences preventing us from following God? 

God isn’t against traditional services, and he’s not for contemporary worship.  What he cares about is that we get to know him a little bit better then we did when we started. 

prayer for strength

Category : God, prayer, worship

         

God – I see just how far I need to go, and once again just how broken I am.  Please, please forgive me.  I want to sin, even when I say I don’t want to.  Please help me stay on the right path, because only through you can I change.  Only through you do I have strength. 

I want to act when  you tell me to act.  Please give me the strength to mean that and not just say it…

when we make our own gods

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Category : God, bible, worship

       

Few things aggravate me more than wasting time.  I combine trips so I don’t have to drive the same street more than once.  I get furious when I’m stuck behind slow moving traffic.  I’m even a big fan of foods that are “instant.”   

But the irony is I fill my life with wasteful things.

So often I am content making decisions based on desire, fear, or convenience.  I all too often walk around assuming that the things I set up in my life as important actually are.  But as they say, not everything is created equal:

Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
       over it he prepares his meal,
       he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
       He also warms himself and says,
       “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
       he bows down to it and worships.
       He prays to it and says,
       “Save me; you are my god.” (Isaiah 44:16-17)

This is exactly how I am tempted to live my life.  I have been so eager to set up gods out of work, friends, influence, or perfection that it never even occurred to me that I was wasting my time.  But I was.  All of the things I think of as important are worthless if I miss the big picture – having God at the center of my life.

How can anything we create be a god?  Saying “this is god” doesn’t make it true.  Because if it did, what a small god it would be.