Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sculpting Sound Doctrine

I've never really sculpted.  Oh, I've made a snake and a snowman out of Play-Do but I'm certain that artists would not recognize my work as actual sculpting.   I am however intentionally pointing out areas in peoples lives where a sharp chisel needs to be placed and then hit with a hammer to remove an edge or two.  I am attempting to sculpt sound doctrine into the lives of people.  Although I've not sculpted in marble or stone, I imagine it takes a long time and a lot of care.  Sculpting flesh is a long process as well that is full of joy, pain, pausing and pursuing.

In the book of Titus, Paul instructs Titus to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." Paul then goes on to talk about what 'sculpting' sound doctrine in the lives of people looks like.  It looks like older men have integrity and strong godly character.  Older women are to behave in a manner that honors God and to have their conversations full of grace and goodness.  Paul also says that sound doctrine looks sensible in the lives of young men and goes on to tell how sound doctrine should be lived out in the business world, the church world and in regards to our interaction with governing rulers.  It should all look the same by the way, we shouldn't look/act one way on Sunday morning and another way in Tuesday's sales meeting.

I'm learning that sound doctrine, although full of truth and absolutes, has much (maybe much more) to do with how we live.  What if how we live actually exposes the truth of faith in our hearts?  Can we go to church each week or read our Bibles daily and not really be concerned for the poor, widows and less fortunate?  Can we simply believe certain 'doctrines' and yet live how we want?  Should we be allowing consumerism to swallow us whole without a strong fight?  Should we horde our money instead of using it to spread love and help others.  Would Jesus encourage us to save for our retirement or to help out a widow who needs new windows in her home?

Whatever you think about my questions in the previous paragraph, do become active in sculpting sound doctrine in your life and the lives of others.  Get out your spiritual hammer and chisel to add depth and beauty in the lives around you.  How we live does matter.  Faith without works is dead.  So get alive and spend your faith by living out sound doctrine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Are You Observing?

I have to confess that I like to people watch from time to time.  I like to pull up a bench and just watch the people go by.  If I am with my wife, we have a good time pointing out people and wondering what they were thinking earlier that day.  
I will often just sit and observe with purpose.  My purpose is to watch what is going on in the world and to see how people respond.  I'll look at T-shirt slogans, I'll watch what people are attracted to in the mall windows or I'll watch how people respond to a little child or a homeless woman or a good looking man or woman.  Observing is a good way to learn.  
Paul practiced observing folks so he could know about people, their needs, thoughts, beliefs and weaknesses in order to help them move towards God.  In Acts 17:16 the Bible teaches us while Paul was at Athens, "...his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols."  Paul was taking inventory of way people lived in Athens and it was bugging him.  His spirit was provoked, he was uneasy, there was a spiritual battle ensuing around him so he took action.  He began conversations with people (v. 17) both in religious places (synagogue) and in the market place.  He did this everyday.
I can learn from Paul's example to take some time to simply sit and people watch.  I can observe how people live and what is possibly important to them by what they wear, who they are with, where they shop, how they talk and what they talk about.  This can then be used by God to begin conversations with people which may end up leading to conversions.  
Get out there and cast some seeds.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Church is a Who not a What*

" The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands...Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Acts 17:24 & 1 Cor. 3:16 Church is not something you attend it is who you are as a Christ follower. That understanding of church changes everything. Church is not a service or a sermon or a hot worship band or a program. Church is the people who are called by God where Jesus' presence is their center point. They are a family who takes God's message and mission of redeeming His creation to the world we live in. Even though many who are part of our church community know church is not a building or a service, some of us (me included) often fall back into default settings when we think about church. Here are some thoughts about church that I would like you to [re]consider...
  • Instead of expecting to get something, expect to give something (1 Cor. 14:26).
  • Plan on staying with your church (spiritual family) forever, only leave when Jesus directs you to leave, not when things get hard.
  • (Phil 4:2-3). Leaving will become rare if this is practiced.
  • Realize that wherever you go, you take the church with you (1 Cor. 3:16) so enjoy church all day, everyday!
  • The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) and Jesus is the head of His body (Eph. 4:15) so spend time listening to the head of the church. You'll find He is a good leader!
  • Because you are the church, you can worship anywhere (John 4:20-24).
  • You are responsible to live out your faith in consistent ways (Eph. 4:1).
  • Don't go to church to be 'fed', feed yourself throughout the week (Col. 3:16).
  • Church is not a building made with human hands (Acts 17:24) but is a temple made of flesh (1 Cor. 3:16).
  • The church is not your pastor's or shepherd's or bishop's, it is Jesus' church. We should only refer to church as Jesus' church (Matt. 16:18).
You never go to church, you simply are the church! Realize that because you are the church, the spiritual family (church) that you are part of will only be as strong as you are. What do you think? *Thanks to Reggie McNeal who I first heard coin this kind of lingo at the Organic Church Conference in February, 2009.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Little Verse Bugs Me

"But as the church is subject to Christ..." Ephesians 5:24 Ok, what does that mean? This verse bugs me because it is hard to get my head around it. In this section of Ephesians, Paul is instructing wives and husbands regarding how they are to relate. This is the section where Paul says that "Wives are to be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord." (Eph. 5:22). The whole of verse 24 reads, "But as the church is subject to Christ also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." So wives are to be subject to their husbands in the same way that the church should be subject to Christ. But how is or should the church be subject to Christ, that is what is bugging me. In another post I shared that church is a 'who' not a 'what'. As a who, church is understood to be the people not a building or a service lead by a clergy person. So the church, being made up of individual Christ followers, is suppose to be subject to Christ but how can this happen in unison? Maybe the answer is in the word, 'subject'. The word for subject is hupotasso and is a voluntary attitude of giving into, cooperating with, and yielding to the admonition or advice of another. That is helpful for understanding the concept and it certainly helps when I think about wives being subject to their husbands (don't miss Eph. 5:21 either). However, understanding the word does not help me to know how this is lived out. How can individual believers corporatetely volunteer to cooperate and yield to Jesus' advice when He is not physically here to converse with? How does corporate subjection to Christ work out practically? How does a house church work it out? How does a group of house churches work it out? How do we subject ourselves to Christ regarding what happens when we gather together or deciding what we will do together missionally or what a focus for a specific time might be? Can you help me figure this out?