Friday, February 16, 2018

Worship Styles

Several years ago I had an opportunity to attend a Pastor’s Appreciation breakfast sponsored by Houghton College. Houghton had put together a Master of Art in Theological Studies, so part of the reason for doing this breakfast was to introduce and advertise their new Masters level program.

Still, they had a wonderful breakfast, and then a message by Michael Walters, the Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Houghton. Walters said that many churches are polarized at one extreme or another in their style of worship.  I've been thinking about this again lately, with our change in worship style at Waverly FBC.

Walters had told of a trip to Australia with some students. The first church they attended was very informal, so much so that in the middle of the message people would get up and get some coffee and goodies, conveniently located in the back of the sanctuary. This was just way to informal for his liking. The following week, they attended a service at a very formal Episcopalian church, very High Church, with an incredible choir that sang only in Latin. Much of the elements of the worship service almost seemed to be in code for the students there, they were lost.

I suppose that the best place for a church to be is somewhere in the middle. Visitors need to be comfortable enough in our worship service that they can follow along, and know what we do and why we do it, yet it needs to be formal enough to experience the holy. Symbols can help, the practice of the Sacraments can help, the lighting of the Alter Candles can help.

Our Worship Style needs to appeal to the surrounding culture enough that they will be comfortable joining us, yet formal enough to give them a taste of the divine.

How are doing at that? Let’s talk about it. If you have any ideas, leave a comment, we’ll get a discussion going…

Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Beginnings

When I served as Pastor at Almond Union of Churches, we had a homeless shelter called the Samaritan’s Loft. It was a temporary emergency housing shelter, for one person or family at a time. A guest could stay up to thirty days in this one bedroom apartment while they worked on getting something else arranged. 

As the Pastor there, and since the apartment was directly above the Church Office, I had plenty of opportunities to spend a lot of time with the guests, and help them to see God as an integral part of their new beginning. Some were open to that, some weren't. New Beginnings are really what we were about. We gave people an opportunity to start over. 

Aren’t New Beginnings what God is all about, too? He gives us opportunities to be born again, born of the Spirit, starting over with a fresh slate. Our past failures are behind us, and we can move on, this time with a loving Savior to guide us. 

I used to feel really good when a loft guest moved out and I had the feeling that they were going to be all right. It was very rewarding to know that I helped one more get the new start they so desperately needed. And it can be incredible to know that God used us to help someone in a very important way.

If I felt that good over a loft guest getting their lives together and moving on, no wonder the angels rejoice when a lost soul is found, and one more sinner is born again…

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Good to Great - part 2

Yesterday I started giving you the ten practices that great Christians have in common, as found in Chip Ingram’s book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes: Ten Practices Great Christians Have in Common.

Today, I’ll give you the rest. These are actually 6-10, but numbered 1-5 to keep you on your toes. I hope you find some interesting things to ponder…
  1. Take Great Risks – Every great person has great faith, and great trust that God is leading him. Fear of failure never occurs to you when you are going where God is leading.
  2. Make Great Sacrifices – “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)
  3. Enjoy Great Moments – take the time to celebrate! The Christian life is an invitation to enjoy life, to live life abundantly. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 tell us this, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.”
  4. Empower Great People – Teach others what God is teaching you. Give others the resources and help them to be greater than you.
  5. Develop Great Habits – God’s plan for us is really quite simple, He just wants us to be more like Jesus. Develop those habits that would bring that about in your life – become more like Jesus.
I hope that you found something great in these practices. I really hope that you might find some to put into practice. I really, really hope that this will help you become great In God’s eyes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Good to Great

I've recently had an opportunity to reread Chip Ingram's book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes: Ten Practices Great Christians Have in Common.  I highly recommend that book, if you get a chance, get it!

He spoke about some really great things, and makes ten points, which are the which are the ten chapter titles.  Each chapter tackling an idea to become great in God's eyes.  I want to share these with you, hopefully so you'll want to grab the book for yourself.  Here are five – you’ll get the other five tomorrow:

  1. Think Great Thoughts – we are product of our thoughts – we become what we think about. Knowing that, make sure your thoughts are worthy of who you want to be.

  2. Read Great Books – We need to put great stuff in our minds if we want to have great stuff come out. We are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), reading the thoughts of others will stretch us, and renew our mind.

  3. Pursue Great People – We need to spend time with great people, and some of their greatness will rub off. Chip had a quote, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.” When I first shared the news that we were expecting our first child, a good friend shared with me the importance of controlling their friends. It really makes all the difference!

  4. Dream Great Dreams – Our dreams give us hope. God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things – and often he gives us glimpses of these extraordinary things through our dreams! What is your dream? I’ve noticed in counseling and sharing with people that use our food pantry that most people really don’t have any dreams. They’re to busy with the day to day, and have been let down too many times, and have given up on their dreams. A dream given up on is a dream that will never be realized.

  5. Pray Great Prayers – The greatest prayers are birthed in brokenness. You will pray great prayers when you pray about the things that really matter to you, the things that break your heart. “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24).

I hope these will give you something to think about. More tomorrow…

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sermons from FBC - Two Lists

This week we looked at Galatians 5, and see two lists.  One is a list of characteristics of those indulging the sinful nature, one of those living by the Spirit.  We'll dig into these two lists, and figure where we are, compared to where Paul says we ought to be. 

To read (or listen to message) click here:

    Two Lists

Hope you enjoy - love to hear your comments!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Finding Calm

In continuing the theme about worry – here is a thought: Can you really feel the full joy that Christ has for you, if you worry about something?

When we face a problem, or anything that we might worry about, we have two options: We can either fix our eyes on the problem, or we can fix our eyes on Christ. We can’t look both directions at the same time.

If our eyes our fixed on Christ, we won’t worry about the problem. If our eyes our fixed on the problem, we are filled with worry. If we are filled with worry, how can we be filled with joy?

It is probably quite natural to fix our eyes on the problem, come up with a preferred solution to that outcome, and then ask God to make it happen. But if you do that, are your eyes fixed on God, or the problem? Even if the solution is a great solution, if it’s our solution, then we aren’t trusting Christ.

Truly turning over our problems to Christ may be the most difficult things we as believers must do, and we may need to daily turn these over to God. But we can’t experience the peace that God offers if we don’t…

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Do You Worry?

My morning devotions for the last several days have dealt with the issue of worry. I don’t consider myself a worrier, but I have found some wonderful thoughts in these devotions.

I know without a doubt that God does not want us to be worriers. Passages like Luke 12:22-34 give us a very clear mandate not to worry.

I also came across a short saying that verifies this – “Never try to carry tomorrow’s burdens with today’s grace.” We pray for God to give us our daily bread, to take care of our real needs today. And we promise to trust Him each day for those needs. When we worry, aren’t we taking back that promise? Aren’t we telling Him we don’t really trust His provisions?

If we are surrendered, then we surrender the problems as well as the rest. In fact, maybe especially the problems! How can we worry about the problems if they are surrendered? Unless, we aren’t really surrendered ???

If you are surrendered, you trust Him to handle your lives. You have given Him control of your live. To worry is to take back that control. To tell him you don’t really trust Him to control your life in that issue, or at that time.

God wants all of us. He wants us to be totally surrendered to Him. If you are, you have nothing to worry about…

Worship Styles

Several years ago I had an opportunity to attend a Pastor’s Appreciation breakfast sponsored by Houghton College. Houghton had put together ...