Rethinking Church Practice and Liturgy

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.  No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say.  But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.  Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul.  One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said [ever wonder how he said it?], “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

There are so many things that are revealed to us within these various pericopes of the Bible; I must admit that I find my mind wanting to go in several different directions. But I ‘ll put forth a sincere effort to stay focused on what the title of the article indicates that the content found herein will be. I’ve thought about these things for a LONG TIME, studied them in Bible College/Seminary, but woke up this morning and as I worshipped, felt the desire to put some things down “on paper.”

Truthfully, I suppose that it was something I read yesterday that stoked these embers again. I was reading an About section a church had included on their website, and it read something to the effect of, “And we believe that worship [singing] puts us into the position to receive the preaching/teaching of the Word..” I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, and I began to think again: Why do we do “church” the way we do it? Why do we hold to the practices/liturgies that we do? And ultimately, why do we call what we do worship?

If you’ve ever studied Church History, the obvious answer to the questions I’ve asked extend all the way back to what is known as the Reformation. For the uninitiated or perhaps I should refer to you as “the blessed,” simply stated, the Reformation was what caused the existence of what we call the Protestant church. A breaking away from the Catholic Church ultimately resulted in what we have today: Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, and so on. The Reformers rejected many of the teachings that the Catholic Church maintained. And after much fighting and bloodshed (even amongst the Reformers themselves), the Protestant Church came to be. But the Reformers retained some of the liturgies and practices of the Catholic system, including the priest.  Only now he was called the Pastor. Insert spooky time travel music…, and we come to the year 2017.

Today, we have divided “church” into everything that comes before the Pastor preaches/teaches, i.e., worship and the “true reason” for our gathering together- The Word. Usually it looks something like this: 3 Songs (A good fast one to get ’em going, then some medium to slow ones to induce “worship”), the offering gets collected, the Pastor preaches/teaches (nowadays there may be a “team” that fulfills this position), prayers are scattered throughout at different points during the “service,” and then you go home. This paradigm has been “successful” for a long time. The trouble is: 1) According to statistics, it’s not working anymore. 2) You don’t find it anywhere in the New Testament.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Christ to the reality that we need to change. He is challenging us to prayerfully and humbly reconsider the practices and liturgies that we have made into idols. A mighty Wind of God is sweeping among his people: shifting, moving, changing, reviving, and stirring our hearts to surrender all. And asking those who lead, “Are you willing to relinquish control? Is it success or my heart that you truly seek?” Sometimes, the two are not synonymous.

Perhaps the reason for this “awakening” has come to remind us of what true worship is. Worship is relationship, namely, the perichoretical relationship of the Trinity. And our worship can only be “understood” within the context of this relationship, and our participation in it. It is not something we do apart from God, to get to him, or to get him to come to us. Worship is something we “do” in Him. Although worship may/will be expressed through our actions, it is not merely things that we do: singing, preaching, praying, Bible-study, service, etc… It is who we are, men and women living their lives in Jesus, participating in the very life of the Triune God. That which the Father, Son and Spirit have known from all of eternity has been given to us. Before there were angels, planets or people, there was worship. There is no Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…   Worship is not centered around any aspect of worship or liturgical practice, it is centered around the person of Jesus and his union with his people. And it can look different in every gathering as the Spirit provides the order.

As worship is relational, derived from the mysterious perichoretical union the Church has with the Triune God, our coming together is not designated to the control of any individual other than the Spirit of God. While there are leadership gifts,  the shepherds/pastors who feed, watch, care, and guard the souls of God’s people are but one expression. According to scripture, God has also placed within the Body Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists, who are also to equip the people of God for the work of ministry. And as we see in the passages above, when the Church comes together it is not only the “office gifts” that are used, but each member functions according to the grace that God has allotted. We do not have to fear that chaos will ensue, but can trust that as we humbly submit to one another, the Spirit will provide decency and order and correction if needed. To put it in today’s vernacular, “This ain’t no one man show.”

Before I am accused of denying that biblical instruction/teaching has no place in our gatherings, let me say that it should be obvious to anyone familiar with me or acquainted with my writings that I believe that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” As I have said so many times before, I’ve spent a lot of money and time acquiring my degree in Biblical Studies/Theology. I do however question the way we have limited the means by which the “impartation” of the Word is expressed. 

While authentic worship most definitely involves receiving the Word of God, I fear that we have failed in that we have come to see preaching and the “Bible-study” as the only means by which this is to be accomplished. It would seem that we have forgotten Paul’s exhortation to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We must remember that the Bible itself declares that the gifts within the Body are also they that strengthen, encourage, and declare God’s Word. The Word of God, engrafted, alive, and expressed in and through the hearts of believers, holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

I suppose I could talk about buildings, home churches, small groups, etc…, but I think all of that will work itself out as we sincerely seek the Lord concerning these matters. After all, the “where” of worship is any place that two or three gather in his name. So, when it comes to rethinking church practices and liturgies, may we be willing to lay everything we think we know at his feet and trust him to mold us after the kind intentions of his heart.








mys·ti·cal: spiritually allegorical or symbolic; transcending human understanding; inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery, awe, and fascination; of or relating to mystics or religious mysticism…

I rarely listen to the radio anymore. With Google Play, Pandora, YouTube, CDs, etc…, I just don’t have the need or desire. Anyway, while I rarely listen to the radio, I hardly EVER listen to “Christian Radio.” Today, I was reminded once again why I do not. Coming through the air-waves was some pastor,  somewhere, warning his congregation against “Christian Mysticism.” He exhorted them to beware of such things as “practicing God’s presence,” sitting quietly and waiting on God (meditating), getting yourself in a position to hear from God (he said something about brain-waves…), and pretty much anything along these lines.

Strangely enough, the one thing he DID do, was hold up the Bible  (and his denomination’s paradigms, by the way) as the only way to truly “hear” from God. I couldn’t help but see the irony: he encouraged his congregants to get truth from a book, a holy book that an invisible God uses to communicate his truths to mankind- sounds pretty mystical to me!

You know, I spent a lot of money and a lot of time in seminary getting my degree in Biblical Studies/Theology; I believe that what the Bible claims about itself is the absolute truth.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

But I want to say something very carefully: the Bible is not God. You can know the Bible, quote the Bible, teach the Bible, and pray prayers from the Bible, but still have no true knowledge or relationship with God whatsoever.

When Jesus was teaching, at one point he told his listeners, ” You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” With that one statement, he declared that true biblical knowledge, true theology, true revelation an life is relational. And how are we who are over 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ physical presence on earth supposed to have an abiding intimacy with him? How are we to be relational?  Well, it is through the Spirit who lives within us. Again, that sounds pretty mystical to me!

Consider the following:

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal…

…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

I could go on, but those are just a few verses that immediately come to mind. And again- it sounds pretty mystical to me!!

I think I do understand to some degree the motivation behind the warnings of many “Christian Leaders” regarding “Christian Mysticism,” but I’d like to offer a word of exhortation if I may:  Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds(Pastors), and Teachers are called to EQUIP the Church, not CONTROL the Church. And effective equipping involves understanding that each member of the Body of Christ is indwelt by the Spirit of God or as the Apostle John said, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” Care for the flock, feed the flock, Shepherd the flock, but understand that each of us have received the oil of God’s Spirit and are being led by that same Spirit of Truth. Do not let your desire for the well being of God’s people become that which quenches the Spirit.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

(Sounds pretty mystical to me.)





A Glimpse Behind The Curtain


…we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near…

…we hold to the hope that lies before us.  This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

One of the coolest things we get to be a part of as lovers of Jesus is unfortunately  one of the things I think we fail at the most. And that is, providing those around us with a “glimpse behind the curtain,” a “peak and taste” of the One who is our life and love. He who is in fact the One in whom we and all of creation lives and moves and has its being (Acts 17:25-28). No, I’m not advocating universalism or pantheism. But I am saying that the curtain which separated man from intimacy with God has been removed, granting to all men access to the most holy place through Jesus. And we are to be the instruments through whom the world comprehends this reality.

The Church excels in  bringing the world into the “outer courts.” We allow them to see the “place of sacrifice.” We also have no problem with providing them with the “rules and regulations” of worship. We are experts at spouting off our “code of ethics and morality.” But the disconnect lies in the fact that unless one sees behind the curtain, worship becomes ritual, and sin  devolves into some kind of “checklist.” We have become quite proficient in expounding on the “what” they must know, but provide few answers as to the “who” and the “why.” We come across (and portray God) as the proverbial parents who say, “You don’t have to understand. Just do as I say.” But it is only as we ourselves live life behind the curtain, encountering the essence, the energy the “ousia,” the love and holiness of our Abba God that we begin to understand and can subsequently (effectively) be the glory and the fullness of Him who fills all and all.thcnh86v2s

We must remember that as priests our function is not only to minister to the Lord, but to be a liaison between God and man. In Jesus, as we live by his Spirit, we are to be living pictures of the life God has offered to mankind. And as we with unveiled faces behold and reflect the glory of God, we “pull back the curtain” allowing those around us to see expressions of the grace, the mercy, the hope, and the love of God. It is behind the curtain that we realize that holiness is not merely “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not,” but rather the beauty and life of the One who is altogether “other than” and unlike anything else- the One who invites us to come and be like Him. And consequently, the world witnesses the True Light shining off of the faces of those who live life behind the curtain. As we grow in the Love of God and our understanding matures, we communicate the reality of Jesus in words not taught by the world, but by the Spirit. Abiding in the Vine, behind the curtain, we come to rely less on the carnal tree of the knowledge of good and evil and become more complete instruments of the power of God, revealing the good news about Jesus that pierces hearts and minds, that pulls back the veil allowing the people in our lives to see the truth behind the curtain.

Step right up ladies and gentlemen! It won’t cost you a dime!! Step right up, and be amazed as you see the awesome wonders that await you behind the curtain!!

Is anyone thirsty?
    Come and drink—
    even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
    it’s all free!
        Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
    Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
    You will enjoy the finest food.

Come to me with your ears wide open.
    Listen, and you will find life.

What About Bob?

I received a text yesterday from someone who, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call Bob. The text read simply, “I’ve lost my way.” The moment I read it I knew what he meant. You see, Bob has had experiences with God and has as we like to say: “Made a profession of faith.” But his whole life has been in again, out again, in again, out again, and now-he’s pretty much “out.”  Shortly after receiving Bob’s text, we talked on the phone. We talked about many things, and I don’t feel like I did a particularly extraordinary job in giving my counsel. So Bob, if you’re reading; this one’s for you. (And all us other “Bobs” out there as well.)

When it comes to having “lost your way,” you are not alone my friend. I have been EXACTLY where you are!! Even now, after walking with Jesus all these years, I still lose my way. There are times in each of our lives when we blow our own minds and freak our own selves out. We look around and ask ourselves, “Where am I, and how did I get here?” Sometimes, it’s nothing we’ve done or haven’t done, it’s just life. The way gets dark and confusing. It happens to all of us. But there is a reason why He’s called the Good Shepherd Bob- He comes to seek us out! He loves you and desires you to be filled up with His love. The mere fact that you reached out to me proves He’s still working, and that you’re not too for gone. This time in your life is one more instance in which He is saying, “I love you Bob. Follow me.” Let Him, bring you to Himself. He wants to.

So, what about the addiction problem. Bob, you know I KNOW.  I can’t count the times in the past when I threw the drugs away, out the window of the car or whatever and then turned right around to find them. And yes, the complexity of addiction encompasses a lot more than I can go into in a single blog article. But I’ll give you the first thing that comes to mind, from one addict to another if you will. Ready? Here goes: the drugs aren’t your problem. The drugs are the way in which “the problem” manifests itself. And like I said, the complexities of addiction are vast, but allow me to TRY and simplify it.  Our lives are made up of things others have done to us and things we’ve done to ourselves, and in some of us the hurts play out in addiction. But Bob, let me tell you, addiction is no match for the love Jesus has for you.

The Holy Spirit can heal you of the hurt and the pain that has lured you into addiction in the first place. I know it has become a “stronghold” in your life, but he can demolish it, along with all the other strongholds. You don’t have to be ashamed. Let the addiction be a reminder in your life that you so desperately need the grace and love of God. And remember, his grace can shine through your weakness. And as He keeps on freeing you, saving you, and LOVING you, you will be used by Him to show others the way. This brings me to the part where we talked about relationships.

Like I said on the phone, I know the Enemy is whispering in your ears, telling you that if you give yourself to Jesus you’ll have to forfeit the relationship you’re in. I know the deceiver is paralyzing you with fear when it come to this issue. You can’t imagine letting go, and perhaps you’ve told God, “I won’t let go.” Well, whether or not it will come to that, I don’t know. But I have observed in my own life that the things I “instinctively protect” and make off limits to God are definitely areas that need addressing. This may sting a little. The Bible calls it idolatry. Again, I don’t know, but I’ll bet that you do. It would seem that we always do. But I do know that whatever giving yourself to Jesus entails, His love will empower you to do it. Know this: this person can’t fill the place in your heart that was created for the Great Romance. That is a fact.

Lastly, you said on the phone that you didn’t know how to “give it all” to God. Well, it’s really not all that complicated. It’s another lie we tell ourselves. Let me ask you, how have you given yourself to addiction? How have you given yourself to your “person”? Think about it, we all know how. And the cool thing is that He will give you the grace and faith and love required to do it!! He is able to do more than you can even imagine. And believe me, I know first-hand how great an imagination you have.

I love you “Bob.” And any faithfulness, loyalty, compassion, gentleness, etc… that you’ve seen in me is only a small reflection of the perfect LOVE He has for you. You will make it. He is working in you RIGHT NOW. Give yourself over to Him. Just say, “Yes.”

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Caught In The Rain

I got up this morning and headed out the door for my morning……. I don’t know what you call it- I run some and I walk some. Any how, I knew by looking at the sky that it would probably rain at some point during the day, but it seemed all clear. So, I proceeded. As I made my way across Lake Murray Dam, looking across the lake, I could see heat lightning off in the horizon. Well, I made it across, but about a quarter of the way back the bottom fell out, and I walked/ran the last mile or so in the pouring rain. The Spirit whispered, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6: 1,2)

It is possible that as you walk with Jesus, you can find yourself caught in sin, caught in a place you know you shouldn’t be. It wasn’t planned, you didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “You know what, I don’t care anymore. I think I’m gonna ______ .” No, what we’re talking about here, what Paul was talking about, is more of being “caught by surprise.” Now, we could get into reasons for this “being caught,” but that’s another conversation. The fact of the matter is for whatever reason, you’ve been trapped. You’re still a disciple of Jesus, but somehow you’ve got yourself caught. Maybe even groups of believers are caught in this dilemma. You may be thinking, “Man, the whole church is caught!” What are we to do?

Whether or not we’re dealing with an individual or larger groups of people, the emphasis is to be on restoration. So often, in our self-righteousness, we want to lash out, tell them the reason why they’re so messed up and make them feel good and guilty about their present state. (I’ve had this disposition, and I repent of it.) We think to ourselves, “If this person truly loved Jesus, he wouldn’t be all jacked up like this.” But notice, Paul says that we are to treat the ones caught in an offense with gentleness. In fact, this gentleness is a mark of true spirituality. It is not a condoning of sin, but  compassion for a brother or sister (or the church) who is caught in an offense. It is a fruit of the Spirit (ironic that Paul lists these fruits in the preceding verses) in the lives of “the spiritual” that desires restoration and freedom more than proving how spiritual they feel themselves to be. It’s one thing to point out sin and problems, but the truly spiritual man or woman has a heart of gentleness, a compassion and desire for those who are  trapped to be restored. They are humble of heart for they know that they too, except for the grace of God, could be tempted and caught.

When we see people who have been caught in the rain it’s so easy to think, “What an idiot!” Some folks (like the ones riding across the dam this morning) even ride by, and try to splash more water on you-to further emphasize your idiocy.  But we should note that the truly spiritual desire to help bear the burden of those “caught in the rain.” The ones who are living by the Spirit are not content to sit back and pompously point out the obvious, they are willing to get a little wet themselves if that’s what it takes to help. They’re response is, “Do you need a ride?” or “Here’s an umbrella.” Instead of, “Man, you’re an idiot.” In this way the law of Jesus is fulfilled. They behave like the One who not only saw the sin, but totally assumed the dilemma, bearing it within Himself and providing the solution.

I made it back across the dam this morning. You could say I got soaked to the bone, but I’ll say that I was “baptized” in the cleansing rain. Lover of Jesus, are you caught out in the rain today? Can I tell you that you will make it back? You’ve come too far to give up, and God’s grace is enough to see you through. I pray you learn from the downpour you find yourself in, that cleansing and renewed zeal towards God be yours on the other side. I pray the “rain” reminds you of your first love, and the One who first loved you. I pray that you reconsider the kind intentions God has for you in Jesus. The clouds will break, and you will walk in the Son.


Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heartLet the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.(Ephesians 5:19 & Colossians 3:16)

I think it’s safe to say that music  plays a more integral role in “churches” today than perhaps in any other time in church history. (When I use the term “music” I am referring to “singing” as well.) Everybody knows if you want to have a successful “church” you’ve got to have good music and a cool band. Right? I remember  that I was once told (when I was a “worship pastor”) , “Now, we need to play these kinds of songs if we want to reach our target audience.” The thing is, when I read the above verses, especially within the context of the epistles in which they find themselves, I can’t help but think that we’ve missed something- a big SOMETHING! So, let’s wade through these verses (It’ll probably take a few articles to do it.), and see if we can get a better handle on the subject.

The first observation I’d like to make, though brief and fairly obvious, is that the music mentioned in these verses is a function/result of  spirit-filled lives  joined and growing together in Christ. The Church is the “target audience.” This type of singing is not an attempt to attract “outsiders” and enhance attendance, but is instead a vital part of true spiritual growth. And participation in this “activity” is not confined to “worship leaders” on a platform, but inclusive of all who come together as members of the body of Christ. There are to be no mere observers. Everyone is to be a sincere participant. Each individual in whom the word of Jesus dwells is to participate in a Life-giving chorus.

If you are a lover of Jesus, a member of his body, you were created for more than simply going to a building every week, hearing some really cool music and “getting your praise on.” No! Your song is invaluable to your brothers and sisters. Be continuously filled with the Spirit and sing!

GMOs & The Genetically Modified Church of America

“I am the true Vine…”

I got into a conversation with a friend the other day about GMOs. That conversation prompted me to do a little research on the topic, and I came away with what I guess is a rudimentary understanding of the issue:

1) “Genetic modification is the process of forcing genes from one species into another entirely unrelated species.”

2) The process is producing “food” that’s  not even really  “food” anymore.

3) While the manufacturers claim that they produce GMOs to help feed an ever growing population, closer scrutiny suggests that the true motivation may be “profit.”

As I pondered these things I came to a very disturbing realization that much of what passes for church in America, what is called the “body of Christ,” is actually a “genetically modified organism”- The Genetically Modified Church of America (GMCOA).

The true Church is made up of individuals who, through their abiding union with Christ, have become one body. It is through this abiding union that they are nurtured, strengthened and maintained. Each part “does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Its “DNA” is holy and pure in that it is derived from Jesus. This Church, this Organism is strong, vibrant and able to prevail against “herbicides, pesticides, insects and draught.” Its Life flows from the true Vine, and needs no “enhancement” of any kind. But as the American “church” has perceived itself as being increasingly threatened in today’s world, to defend itself, it has begun to “force genes” from an entirely “unrelated species” (i.e. the world) into the Body. This “fusion” has resulted in the production of the GMCOA which may look like the Church in some respects, but lacks the reality that only comes from Jesus. Unfortunately, because many “corporate manufacturers” (pastors of the GMCOA) fear that the “church” is losing its’ place in society, much of what passes for worship in today’s churches is merely an emotional, surface level experience. The Spirit of God is stifled or  quenched altogether as the GMCOA endeavors to resist the “pesticides of culture,” and attempts to make the “church” more appealing to the world. (A more blatant manifestation of the GMCOA can be seen in the recent actions taken by  Presbyterian USA and the United Church of  “Christ.”)

Just as GMO manufacturing results in the production of food which is not even really food, the infusion of “foreign genes” into the body of Christ is manufacturing Christians who aren’t really Christians. American church goers are habitually being fed an adulterated, modified gospel that in most cases merely serves to stroke the wounded self-image of the hearer. Congregations are told that Jesus just wants to make them into the best “thems” that they can be. True union with Christ, life in the Spirit, repentance and faith has been lost amid the promises of fulfilled destiny. Jesus, who is Life itself, has become nothing more than an ingredient to add to your life to make it better. The meat of the Word has been reduced to hash-tags and fluffy tweets devoid of true substance by the purveyors of the GMOCOA. Like Samson who scraped honey out of the carcass of a lion, ate it himself, and then gave it to his unsuspecting parents; the GMOCOA’s “gospel” is pleasing to the taste. But instead of experiencing life and wholeness in Jesus, those who eat it are left wanting.

Most opponents of GMOs in America insist that while the corporate manufactures claim that they produce these organisms to help feed the world’s population, the true motivation is profit. I think a similar motivation may be found within the GMCOA. As many within the American “church” sense the impending doom of the traditional Christian corporation, the desire to keep their “corporations” in tact is concealed within the words of “the great commission.” So many pastors today are doing everything they can to keep the “business” up and running. The building or complex has become the church, and the people (those in Christ who actually are the church) are merely the means by which to maintain it. Sadly, much of what is done “in the name of Jesus” today is actually an attempt to keep the “business” and the “business men” in the black.

To combat GMOs, the experts say it is best to “go organic.” Perhaps the same advice should be heeded by us Christians. Let’s turn away from the artificial and contrived additives we’ve introduced into the body of Christ. And being motivated by Love alone, let us pursue true, living intimacy with Jesus and each other.

Onward Christian Soldier?

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before…”

I’m thinking this morning of the “war” American Christians are fighting today. And I’m thinking that perhaps we are a bit misguided as to how this “war” should be fought, and for that matter, with whom we should be fighting in the first place. Do we really believe that legislation is the cure for what ails the land? Do we really think that the kingdom of God is furthered by amendments and laws? Can we genuinely extend God’s love, grace, and mercy to people that for all intents and purposes we are at war with?

joels armyWe love to throw out scriptural lists of the kinds of people that will not inherit the kingdom of God. We are quick to take up arms, march out of classes, gather for public demonstrations and get riled up when a TV show gets cancelled because the stars were Christians. Could it be that it’s so much easier to do those things than it is to get on our faces before God and repent of our ‘own’ sins? Maybe the answer to what ails the land is congruent with what ails the church. Perhaps we in the church should repent of murdering our babies, cheating on our wives, spending hours looking at porn on the internet, getting high, etc… Maybe then, after ‘we’ return to the Lord with all our hearts allowing him to cleanse us and continuously fill us with his Spirit, our lives will be a living gospel, transforming those around us. Could it be that what the world needs to see is a church arrayed in the beauty of holiness, a church consumed with love for her Lord, a church meting out agape instead of amendments?

Why are we surprised that the world is behaving immorally? Have we forgotten that we once lived our lives the same way? That’s what sinners do-sin. Let me ask you, did some law get passed that forbade your besetting sin, and then you miraculously turned to Jesus? Of course not. Then why do we think that we can ‘legislate’ a new heart for the world now? Or is that really our goal? Could it be that we are so in love with this world’s system, having confused the American Dream with the blessings of God, that we fear that the nation’s sin will bring God’s judgment on the land, and we might lose all of our stuff? Spirit of God, search our hearts.

Let’s come together in prayer and repentance, asking God to give us a hatred for the sin resident in our own lives. It is time for us to repent of our sin, turn away from our dead religion, quit running to “Egypt” for help and wash our garments. Let us who are called by his name run to the cross, weep and pray between the porch and the altar, turn from our own wickedness, and return to the Lord in truth. For if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the wicked. Do I hate sin because I am in love with a holy God, or because I am in love with a self-righteous me? Yes friend, there ‘is’ a war, and judgment ‘is’ coming. But it begins with God’s house. So, onward Christian soldier, just make sure you’re fighting the right battle.





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“To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout…” (I Peter 1:1)

What picture comes to mind when you think of the word scattered? Probably, the first thing that comes to mind for many of you (especially here in the U.S.) is the Waffle House: “scattered, smothered and covered.” On a more serious note, I think we tend to view the word as some kind of capricious, random occurrence devoid of any real purpose or meaning. I think maybe we’ve missed something.

Peter was writing to communities of believers who were scattered (“diaspora”). They found themselves living in places that perhaps they would never have chosen for themselves. Maybe they were even wondering, “What in the world has happened?” But if we dig a little deeper into the word, we find that the type of scattering Peter is talking about is anything but an accident. The word actually has to do with the sowing of seed. Check it out: “diá, ‘through,’ intensifying /speírō, sow or scatter seed, which is the root of sperma, ‘seed’) – properly, thoroughly scatter, distribute seed widely.” These believers had been chosen by God, and yes, scattered by God as well. They had been sown as seed throughout the land, not by the hands of fate, but rather by a God who desired that they bring Jesus to light in the places in which they found themselves.

So many of us feel that our lives have been scattered, strewn about by the arbitrary winds of change. We are in places we never thought we’d be, and we think that we have failed, that God has failed. We think to ourselves, “This is not what I intended!” It could be that relationships, jobs and/or ministries have “failed,” and we find ourselves scattered about into unfamiliar, uncomfortable places. I want to suggest that it is not that we have been randomly plucked up and thrown into the wind, but purposefully sown by the Spirit of God into new ground where we are to continue to bear good fruit. Your “scattering “is not without purpose.

Resist the tendencies to become bitter or angry if you find yourself being scattered. You are in the hands of a loving God, acting for your good and his glory. Could it be that you are right where he wants you to be? Well then, bloom where you are planted!