Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop Going To Church

Yep, you heard me correctly - I was not stuttering or misspelling. I want you to STOP going to church. Going to church is like going to a baseball game, concert or grocery store in our culture. I go to baseball games and concerts for entertainment. I go to grocery stores for food products. When people go to church, they are often going for either entertainment value (I like the music, preaching etc) or for spiritual products (I need to be fed or my kids need spiritual input). Going to church for either of those reasons is, well, wrong. Not wrong like adultery wrong, but wrong like helping somebody out of jam so you feel better (it's a motivation issue). Now I do understand what 'going to church' means to most people. As part of the religious practice of their faith, attending church services is expected for personal growth, a spiritual experience and to worship God. When church happens, I think people do actually get blessed, encouraged and learn some neat stuff. I do believe that most often the motivations of people going to church are good. I'd like to suggest an alternative to going to church however. Before I offer my suggestion it is important to understand that the word church in the New Testament literally means "called out ones". In the Christian sense, it means those called out by God to be His people and part of His Kingdom through faith in and the grace of Jesus Christ. Therefore, church is not a location. Church is not a building. Church isn't even a meeting - in a home or bar or gym. Church can happen in a building or a home or bar or gym, but we don't go to church. Jesus didn't call us to attend meetings, we are to go to the world with Christ's message of redemption. We are to be the Church, working with God as He redeems the world. When we are being the church we bring glory to God. What might being the church look like? In groups small and large it may be taking cool water to thirsty people, helping others to finish projects or loving discussions that point to eternal life. We might even sing some songs, hear some teaching and give of our time, talents and treasures. Being the church is not a model (mega, house, traditional, emergent), it is a mindset. The church, the called out ones (saints) are to encourage one another to take the good news of Jesus to our friends and strangers throughout our lifetimes. Being the church is in the present tense. Going to church assumes attendance at a spiritual activity. Being the church assumes action (ministry that you do for others) and also living out the presence of Jesus to the world. Going to church seems to indicate that you are going to receive something from the church (which does happen almost every time for me :-). Being the church indicates who you are and all sorts of action can go with that: giving your love, smile, heart, gifts, energy, etc. for God's glory and for the building up of the saints. In a word - Missional. What are your thoughts about being the church?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can God be Refreshed?

Does the idea that God can be refreshed sound like a far fetched idea?  I mean, the God of the universe who can do anything He wants is the same one who never sleeps or slumber (Psalm 121:4), right?  I was quite surprised to come across this verse in Exodus 31:17.
"It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor and was refreshed."
Did creating the world take some of God's energy away?  Did creating cause Him fatigue?  How could one be fatigued when nothing is to difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17)?  I did take delight to learn that God rested on the seventh day and was 'refreshed', but I think that was more out of my sinful desire to be like God (thanks Adam :-) than anything else.  
So now that my vacation is winding down and I am refreshed, maybe I again have a glimmer of what God felt when He ceased from labor.  Maybe he felt relaxed, restored and energy replenished...or maybe God was simply trying to speak on our level.  Maybe He was trying to teach us how to care for ourselves by taking time to rest, so that we can be refreshed.  I think God loves us so much that He finds creative ways to communicate how we can best care for ourselves.
I have found out that one important way of caring for myself is to take time to rest and be refreshed.  Thanks God for teaching me important lessons on my level so I can understand. Thanks for showing me that you love me.
Do you have any thoughts about God taking a rest and being refreshed?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sand Castles

There are 15 Waken's (well, 14 + one boyfriend) on a beach somewhere hanging out, getting a tan and doing things we wouldn't think of doing normally. What am I talking about? Glad you asked. Here are some of the things that we have done that you normally do not find us doing... -swing from a vine suspended 15 feet above a pool over looked by a 25 foot water fall (some actually fell, I mean, let go of the vine and fell into the pool). - standing 25 feet above a pool of water and jumping over the waterfall into the pool. - making sandcastles with grandkids, children and adults. - snorkeling with hundreds of fish. - boogie boarding with fins on. - surfing (more like ungraceful falling down the face of a wave). - eating more fattening food than is legal. - sleeping more in one day than you have in years. - putting together jigsaw puzzles. - playing scrabble. - taking a dinner cruise and watching the sunset over the ocean. - going to be early (like 8:30pm). - begging and finishing a novel. - just being refreshed... I found a fantastic verses from Exodus that has to do with refreshment. I think you may just be amazed at what is said about refreshment - more on that later. Taking a Sabbath is good.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ants and the Bible

The other day I was eating my lunch at the high top table in our dinning nook when I looked down and noticed an ant on my tile floor.  One single ant.  My first reaction was to squish it with my foot, however, my left overs from "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant" was too good to stop eating.  I did, however, keep watching the ant.  It was quickly moving from one place to another.  I'm not sure if this ant had lost the chemical trail of his/her fellow ants or if it was simply looking for more food to bring its fellow ants to.  I finished my chicken kabob, sipped my water and got on the floor to watch this one ant.  My plan was sinister - to watch it for a while and then squish it.  I didn't want more of them on my tile floor.  As I watched this ant working alone I began to realize that even though it was alone at that moment, it was working for the colony.  It was either trying to find more food for the colony or it was trying to make its way back to the colony.  Either way, the colony was important.  What could one ant do alone without a purpose?  
"Finally, all of you should be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble."  1 Peter 3:8
Maybe ants have a better understanding of the Bible than I do...hmmm.