Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Yesterday as I was driving around, I was listening to a Christian radio station. As I listened they started to talk about a survey that was taken at secular colleges. The question that was asked was “why are you not a Christian?”
The number one answer would surprise many Christians. We might think it would be various answers, but I find it interesting is that most who are not Christians are not Christians because Christians don’t live lives that “look” Christian. To them, the lives of many Christians look just like the world around them – there is no difference between the Christians and those who do not claim Christianity.
It’s also interesting that these same people believe that Christians should be working to change the world around them – instead of just sitting in church complaining about the world around them. I don’t think this survey would surprise many pastors. Pastors that I know feel like they are banging their heads against the wall trying to get his message across.
Romans 12:1-2 reads: 12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If one says they are a Christian, that person should look and act differently. Some would call this radical. Interestingly enough, those who believe that a Christian should look and at differently are also called legalistic. Unfortunately the Bible and Jesus calls us to live a life of radical faith. So is a person who is not living the Christian life biblically really a believer? I know only God knows who are the real Christians and the ones who are pretending to be one. The Bible tells us that in the day the Lord returns that there will be many who will cry out Lord, Lord and Jesus will say I do not know you. Are you living a life that is different from the world? Are you making a difference in the world you live in?
Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior?
Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever?
2 All day long you plot destruction.
Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor;
you’re an expert at telling lies.
3 You love evil more than good
and lies more than truth. Interlude
4 You love to destroy others with your words,
5 But God will strike you down once and for all.
He will pull you from your home
and uproot you from the land of the living. Interlude
6 The righteous will see it and be amazed.
They will laugh and say,
7 “Look what happens to mighty warriors
who do not trust in God.
They trust their wealth instead
and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.”
8 But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
9 I will praise you forever, O God,
for what you have done.
I will trust in your good name
in the presence of your faithful people.
Samuel Clarkson wrote a book called The Church at Home: A Plea for Family Religion (available for free @ Google Books) circa 1860. I wrote a post called Do As I Say, Not As I Do a couple of days ago with a quote from the author of this book.
Clarkson has some great things to say about what he called “family religion” or what we would refer to as the spiritual formation of our families today.
Clarkson lays out a plea for wise interaction with the Sunday morning sermon at church:
“It is the duty of Christian parents to take their children at an early age to the house of God, and to train them to take part intelligenty, earnestly, and sincerely in the worship; and if they wish them to profit by what they hear, they will do all they can to deepen the impressions made in the sanctuary.
They may do much in this direction by referring to what they have heard – by questions as to the subject of the preacher’s discourse – by explanations on some points which at the time might not be understood – and, more than all, by affectionate appeals to them at once to obey the truth.
Instead of acting thus, too many parents are in the habit either of criticising or censuring the preacher on their return home, in the presence of their children, or of wasting the time by talk on subjects as far away as conceivable from gospel doctrine and duty.
Every wise and holy parent, who sincerely desires the spiritual well-being of his children, will train them to receive the words of their minister as a message from God, to be attentively heard, candidly examined, seriously pondered, and honestly obeyed.
Instead of sitting in judgment in their presence on sermons and preachers, he will try to produce in them a conviction of their responsibility for the priceless privileges they enjoy; will not fail to remind them that they must give an account to Him for every sermon, precept, and appeal; and will urge them, by all motives of duty and delight, to yield themselves to their Maker and Redeemer.
So what about you… How do you engage with the Sunday morning sermon with your family afterwards? Earlier in the book, the author said that parents need to “second” at home what they learned at church so as to ingrain and instill the message of God into the very fabric of their lives.
Only that “second” from the parents can truly and in a relevant way, apply the truths of God’s Word and put them into action.
Remember that communication in a postmodern world has shifted from verbal explanation to immersed participation in events. The key to good worship is to stay away from entertainment models and return worship to the people. This generation wants to participate.
Sally Morgenthaler and Robert E. Webber, “Youth Worship Questions and Answers with the Experts,” Youthworker (July/August 1999), 38
“It is interesting how we can look at the past through rose-colored glasses. Don’t build up the past in your mind. Remember it for what it was. Don’t allow your present circumstances to pull you down by fantasizing about what has been. Protect your mind, and don’t look back. Remember the children of Israel? They had been delivered from slavery and guided by God through the wilderness. Yet they soon grew tired of God’s provision and wanted to return to Egypt. They spoke of the good old days in Egypt and in their imaginations magnified the table scraps of captivity into some sumptuous feast. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 9:62, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’ (NLT). These words contain an implied promise that ought to challenge us to the core. The Lord is telling us: If you do not move forward for My glory, then you will not be fit for My Kingdom. But if you move forward, then you will have an honored place at My table . . . forever.” -Unknown
We are about 1/3 the way through the craziest three weeks of the summer. Week one was Colossal Coaster World Vacation Bible School at our church. This week is District Conference and next week is Colossal Coaster World at our church in Waynesboro.
We had an awesome week all week at Vacation Bible School. I’m really excited about the seeds that were planted last week. We built some new relationships with children and there is the potential for several new families – which excites the whole Parkway staff. I highly recommend Colossal Coaster World which is put out by Lifeway. I love the fact that the Bible is front and center and so is telling the children about the importance of believing in Jesus.
Our family had a wonderful Sabbath yesterday. Pastor’s families really need them as much as anybody. It was good to just kick back and do nothing. I began today rejuvenated.
As you can see by the picture, tonight started our District Conference, which begins and ends with a Power Rally. The business portion will be tomorrow and we will have ordination service tomorrow night. Tonight we had a wonderful night of musical worship. I am blessed to be on the worship team and it was pretty amazing. The Power Rallies can always be a stretch musically for me, especially since I’m on electric rhythm and lead guitar, which is not my primary instrument. The energy level coming from the band was awesome. Rev. Jeff Keaton brought the word and it was encouraging for many pastors and leaders who are at churches that need a shot in the arm – I think that is probably most churches. I’ll post a few of the notes from the sermon tomorrow when I get a chance.
It’s time to get to bed if I want to get up and hit the treadmill tomorrow morning at 6 before some breakfast. So see you later!
VBS Highlight Video
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship and Invocation
Songs of Worship
To God Be the Glory
Your Grace Is Enough
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Worship Through Prayer
Song of Worship
Worship Through Giving
Worship Through God’s Word
Response to God’s Word
Seek Ye First
Proper 10 (15) (July 14, 2013)
3 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
4 Rescue the poor and helpless;
deliver them from the grasp of evil people.
5 But these oppressors know nothing;
they are so ignorant!
They wander about in darkness,
while the whole world is shaken to the core.
6 I say, ‘You are gods;
you are all children of the Most High.
7 But you will die like mere mortals
and fall like every other ruler.’”
8 Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,
for all the nations belong to you.
In light of the decision that was handed down in Florida yesterday, I find this morning’s reading from the Psalms to be completely relevant. As I read this passage of scripture, my mind went to this verse in 1 Corinthians: 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
My fried David Duncan posted this morning, ” let the Church be a place of mercy and forgiveness…not a place of criticism and judgment. None of us know all the facts, not even what was or was not presented in evidence. Only God is capable of judging because He was there and knows the hearts of all men. You don’t have a right to an opinion unless you place yourself in the position of being god. Not a good idea, folks! I would humbly suggest that we all do our part to be a healing agent in our hurting and broken world. They will know we are Christians by our l-o-v-e!”
God is the judge of this world – he knows all – he sees all. One day, ultimate justice will come – God will come to judge the quick (or the living) and the dead. One day the poor and the needy will be rescued. In the mean time, as my friend David suggests, let’s do our part to be a healing agent in a hurting and broken world.