That’s Messed Up!

I had the chance last week to attend the “Leadercast” event which is held in Atlanta but then broadcast live throughout America and other parts of the world.

This was the second time that I was able to attend the event, and if my mind’s not slipping me; maybe it is, I want to do as I did last time and share a few thoughts about my experience.

Most often, especially in Middle Tennessee, the simulcast events are held at church buildings due to locality and other logistically related issues such as seating. So as the case was last year, this year’s venue was a church building in a neighboring county.

The thought that I would like to share this morning comes from something the church’s pastor said to the people in attendance. He invited everyone to visit the church and then added this caveat: if you’re not messed up don’t visit our church, we don’t want you here, cause we’re a bunch of messed up people.

My first reaction to that was, “That’s messed up.” My feelings had nothing to do with a self-righteous, high-horse, better-than-you attitude. It had to do with the fact that if a person is looking for some spiritual guidance then they need to find it from others who have it together – not from people who are messed up.

This has nothing to do with believing that I’m sinless (outside of the sinlessness that the blood of Jesus provides). This has nothing to do with believing that I’m perfect (outside of the perfection that is found in Jesus). This has nothing to do with with believing that I’m a “holier than thou” individual (outside of the holiness attained and provided through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus as the provider of the church). It has everything to do with the responsibility of the church’s membership to be distinctly and inherently different from the world (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). You know, the very things than an apostle of Jesus Christ corrected the church at Corinth for doing – they were messed up and Paul said that that was messed up!

But before you say Paul was messed up (as it seems a whole lot of religious people like to do), I would like to remind you that it wasn’t only Paul who felt that way – so did Peter (1 Peter 1:13-17), so did John (1 John 2:15-17), so did James (James 1:27, 4:1-4), and so did Jude (Jude 16-18). That doesn’t even include the recorded words of Jesus in the gospels that call us out of our messes and into his light. I can’t resist (Luke 13:1-5).

When I’m having car troubles I don’t want to take my vehicle to someone who has never had car problems. But then again, I don’t want to take it to someone who doesn’t know how to keep their car in good running condition! That doesn’t mean their car never has problems, but it does mean that when the problems come up they know where to order the parts from to fix them.

I’m not looking for a church that’s full of messed up people and neither should you. I’m looking for a church where the people have it together, and doesn’t mean…well, back up three paragraphs because I’m not going to rehash that hot-potato.

Am I messed up for feeling this way? Share your thoughts if you think so, or even if you don’t.

#christianity, #church-family, #church-issues, #holiness, #religion

Embarrassed in Bible class

Normally, our neighborhood is very, very quiet. At night, you can hear the wind in the trees, when it blows, and almost catch the sound of the grass stretching to grow. Last night, however, the university up the hill, about a kilometer way, must have hosted a rock concert. Though it wasn’t blaring, it was enough to wake me up around 3 a.m. The music went until 6 a.m., and I snoozing on and off. I did drop off before I crawled out of bed at 7.

• Today, from shortly after 9 a.m., until 6:30 p.m., we were with Christian family. That’s always a pleasure. I was pleased that the Taubaté church decided tonight to send a one-time help to a needy evangelist in the Northeast and a significant monthly amount, until the end of the year, to the Lar Cristão Children’s Home in the city of Cabreúva.

• The Missus prepared two large meals yesterday and today, for guests. So after church tonight, coming back Taubaté, we stopped off and got a burger. Yesterday, she experimented on us, trying out a new spaghetti sauce recipe. Was a keeper! Today we had a broccoli, cauliflower, and bacon salad, one of my favorites.

• I led the communion and offering meditations this morning in SJCampos, and preached tonight at Taubaté, starting that Bread and Butter series. I’m going to split the series between the two congregations, in hopes of putting it in writing. Next week, I preach in both congregations.

• For the communion meditation, I used the example of the 29-year-old Buddhist monk in China who immolated himself last week and cried “Long live the Dalai Lama.” In March another did something similar. Others before them have also burned themselves alive. (Shouldn’t that be ” burned themselves dead”?) But their deaths produced no results. Jesus’ death did, and does. Then I read Ephesians 1:7 and 2:13.

• I was a bit embarrassed in Bible class this morning. The teacher used me as an example of being proud of my kids, as faithful Christians. He transferred that to Abraham’s feelings when he died and left Isaac to carry on. He talked about it a bit longer than I thought necessary, hence my embarrassment. But I am proud of our kids, grateful they are serving the Lord as they are, praying they become ever more effective servants.

• Final thought, tonight: Ben-hadad’s men had heard that “the kings of Israel are merciful” (1 Kings 20:31 NLT). That’s a wonderful reputation to have, one I hope every saint acquires. And indeed Ahab was merciful to the defeated king, but he showed mercy when he should not have. So it seems it’s possible to be more merciful than God. And that incurs his wrath and judgment. Maybe we ought to consider that possibility and seek to avoid it. Reckon?

Have a great night, and a great week!

UPDATE: It appears WordPress has started using images in their ads. Please disregard.

#church-family, #meals, #mercy, #rock-concerts

Not a prophet, less of an economist, but this seems certain

Test of faithWonderful day with the saints in SJCampos and Taubaté! I missed hearing the Word taught in Portuguese and singing praises and encouragements in this expressive language. In the morning, I read the selected Bible passage, closed with a short reading and prayer, and proffered the announcements. In the afternoon, I led singing. Our groups are small, but strong.

• We think of Abraham’s great faith in offering Isaac (Gen. 22). Hebrews 11 says God tested the patriarch, and Paul in Romans 4 says, “He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (v. 20). When tested, do we waver or are we strengthened by trusting in the Lord and thereby giving him glory? What a powerful verse and marvelous reminder!

• I’m no prophet and even less of an economist, but this seems certain, just from seeing some scary numbers and irreversible trends: The U.S. is headed for hard times. The bottom is going to fall out. Brethren, pay your debts, save up, buckle down, for high inflation and unemployment as well as low dollar and housing values are going to test the country in the worst way since the Great Depression.

• In the coming crisis, the church will be greatly tested, if it will prioritize the mission of God in the world, or draw in upon itself and serve its own needs. Those congregations who are now busy in the Lord’s work will be well placed and practiced to continue putting the mission first. Those groups who have been serving self will likely close out any remaining impulse to do the will of God.

• A sister in Christ remarked in this morning’s Bible class, on Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in Gen. 22, that a great faith is a series of small decisions, such as those the patriarch made to get from his camp to the land of Moriah. Obedience is not as often a great single leap as continuous small steps in the will of God.

#church-family, #faith, #romans, #test-of-god