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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

A need for Community and Worship

July 28, 2011 1 comment

After a long time, I am finally back writing again. This summer has brought a busy schedule and not much time for writing, or thinking for that fact. However, as things are slowing down, I was glad to have the opportunity to start writing again.

This week in the social network realm of reality, a friend stated something to effect of “back from an amazing retreat, now back to real life.” After reading this, I became concerned.

You see, what my friend expressed in 140 characters, was quite a statement. It was something that I have struggled with for years. Ever since my first retreat in high school, I have wondered when a person arrives back home from a week away, why we feel as though we have arrived back into reality. This is very troubling for me because I know that “reality” is and can be what ever you want it to be. Don’t worry, I am trying to be metaphysical or anything like that. I am not trying to convince you that their chair your sitting in, isn’t really there. What I am trying to convince you of is the fact that the reality we experience in a retreat can be realized in the reality once back at home.

After years of processing this, the answer finally came clear to me. Their are two primary reasons that retreats give the exhilaration of a high. While there are many other reasons that people latch on to, it all boils down to two reasons. These two things are something each of desperately need. These two things are some God designed us for and meant for us to experience in our daily life.

Most kids come back from a retreat thinking that the media had something to do with coming close to God. Maybe it helped, but I doubt this was the primary reason. Some kids believe that the smoke and lights brought them close to God. Well, again, not likely. While some may have inhaled too deeply and experienced some kind of enlightened feeling, it wasn’t one of the two core reasons.

God created us for two primary reasons. These two reasons can initially be found in the book of Genesis in the garden, and then through every book and every chapter of the Bible after that. These two things are: worship and community.

We were created for worship. God created us to worship him. It’s in our being. It wasn’t until that first sin when this became a challenge for man. Worship is at our core and when we enter into worship with others, we feel it. Worship is like coming back home. It gives you that peaceful feeling that not much else can give to you. So, when these retreats are filled with worship, its no surprise that these people are on a high because they feel that closeness with God.

The second purpose is community. Community is also found in the very beginning. Once man was created, the first thing that God said of man was “It is not good for man to be alone.” God spoke truth. We were never meant to be alone, to live life alone, or to walk with God alone. He created us for community. These retreats provide a week away with peers for and gives one a heightened sense of community. From Adam walking with God in the garden to Jesus meeting with His disciples in the other garden, we were meant to be with one another.

So when my friend thinks that after experiencing a week of worship and community he needs to get back to real life, I think that he is actually leaving real life. Most of us live in a world of busyness and avoid worship and community on this level. What if we made the commitment to experience worship and community on a weekly basis like we do when we are away? Worship and Community aren’t two complicated things, they are the two primary needs that God designed us to have. So when we don’t experience these on a daily basis, we are running away from what God intended for us.

In closing, I want to challenge my friend (and you) with this thought. Don’t look at returning home as coming back to reality. Look at it as a challenge to continue in reality. Reality is what you make it. God intended our reality to be filled with worship and community. Gather with friends and make it a point to walk with God and worship Him with all you have. The lights and the video, while cool, are not what brings you close to God. It is walking with Him just as Adam did in the garden and the disciples did in the other garden. So from garden to garden, let’s actively participate in worship and community and truly experience what reality is!

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Today it begins!

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The fall is here! Can you believe it? The summer has gone and the change of season is upon us. I can tell becuase I get sick at the change of seasons. And guess what! Yep, I’m loaded up on Dimatap. Well, thats besides the point. I am looking forward to tis fall for a number of reasons. First there are just a ton of opportunities available for adults at TCCC. Not just things to make us more busy, but opportunities which will refine us from just trying to get through life to someone who is on the path with Jesus taking victory over every challenge!

Second reason I am looking forward to the fall is that I hope and pray that adults at TCCC get serious about their faith. In James 2:17, we read faith without  actions is dead. Did you hear that? It’s dead! Now, that is kind of harsh, but ask yourself, did Christ really die for us on a cross and rise again so we could just sit back and proclaim faith? I don’t think so. Even Christ says, carry your cross. That means work, and it means that it may be a challenge.

This year more than any, I am putting out a call for those who proclaim faith to take the next step. It’s time to stand up, take up your cross and follow Him. It’s time  to bring actions back into the faith. Yesterday, lead singer for Casting Crowns, Mark Hall tweeted, “They [the world] know what we are against, let’s show them what we are for!” Maybe you’ve  sat back and just watched and thrown out the complaints when you see something you don’t like. Well, let’s stand up and show the world who we are for and what we are for!

How do you do this? It’s easy. Look at your schedule. First of all, are you honoring Christ with your schedule? Do you spend time with your family? Or are you at work all the time? Second, look at your checkbook balance. Are you honoring God with your money? Thirdly, are you trying to “do” life alone? Are you walking through life and not letting others in the church “know you”? If you are alone on this path, get plugged in. A big misconception about Sunday School and LIFE Groups is that they are there only if you have time and want something extra to do. That is not the purpose of them. They are there specifically to connect people to one another, to help them grow in their relationship with Christ and knowledge of Him and to create long lasting relationships with others.

One of Christ’s first acts in His ministry was to gather 12 men to meet and fellowship with daily. Guys, if you think that you don’t need to meet with others, think again. Even Jesus needed this. He was fully man and fully God, His human side needed this. His God side was showing us what we need. Jesus didn’t do life alone, neither should we. These groups are to help you become more like Christ. They are there to connect you with others and to help you put actions with your faith.

Tonight is the first night of Adult Ed and on Sunday more classes start up. If you’re reading this and you aren’t signed up for something. It’s not about just another thing to do, its about forming relationships with others. As iron sharpens iron, one man will sharpen another.

Call me today at 384-5038 if you’re ready to make the change in your life and you want to get off the couch and follow in the footsteps of Christ.

What I learned from the DMV

I’ve been in the quest for a passesger CDL license the last two weeks so I can drive a bus for our After School Children’s program this upcoming school year. Every time I’ve been down to the DMV I have begun to learn one very clear truth: Monotony can be a dangerous things. The County government employees of the local DMV see to the same issues over and over again. The people who come up to the desk always come with the wrong paperwork and the wrong identification cards. Over and Over again they move people through the beuracratic process of licensing and testing.

What’s this say about what I do? We all have the same preconceived notions of what we’ll find at the DMV, but do we all have to fall into that trap? I wonder if we treated people like people instead of an ID card or another license. Even for those on the other side of the  counter, I wonder if we treated those at the DMV like people too, not just someone who is out to make our day worse off than it already is.

Is it possible for people like me and you to make a concerted effort to make someones day. Sure we have our ups and downs, but think about the last person you didn’t give the time of day too and think of that person whom you smiled at and greeted warmely and genuinely. I wonder if we were to make this effort if we could actually make a difference in the lives of people who may not know Jesus. I wonder if we could put our pride aside, our bad days, and just love people.

Just like me and you, Jesus had a bad day too. Days when a friend dies, days when your closest followers wouldn’t seem to listen, days when He was getting nailed to a cross. Did he lash out? Nope, he went out of His way to make sure that those around Him knew God’s love.

Next time you’re around a stranger, whether at the DMV, Starbucks, Kohls, etc. show someone the love of Christ and see what happens!

Categories: Community Tags: , ,

Sharing in Suffering

(inspired by In the Company of Jesus by Bill Donahue)

This world is not short on suffering. In fact we see or hear about it everyday. We see it as both positive and negative. The positive would be suffering through childbirth or the negative, death or loss. Either way, its all around us.

Jesus knew about suffering all too well. He suffered through temptation, through the loss of a friend, and through His own death on a cross. He knew about suffering. His experience with suffering makes it a little easier to come to Him as a friend in the times when we suffer. When we are in times of suffering, we need someone with us. Being alone has never helped anyone deal with the reality of suffering. But more than just having someone there, we want someone who has experience what we are dealing with.

We don’t want someone to come up to us after a devastating loss and ask us, “How are you doing?” After opening our fractured heart to them, they would respond, “Oh that sounds bad. I just got back from Hawaii and my life is great!” In fact there is an old Jewish custom, when someone experiences a loss, a friend would come and sit with them. They wouldn’t need to say anything, just sit.

This is how deep friendships are forged. Friends will share in suffering. Bill Donahue, in his book In the Company of Jesus says, “Deep, enduring relationships are not built on the shifting sands of convenience or camaraderie-they are forged through pain, sacrifice and commitment.” In fact, Jesus was sent to this world to share in our sufferings. He was sent to experience death, so we would not have to.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

People suffer for a number of different reasons as we talked about before. “But it was endured and shared as a means of union with Christ, a pathway to intimacy with the suffering Jesus.” Now, this makes it sound like suffering is something we should seek out like many people do in order to appease their gods. This is not what Jesus is asking. However, Jesus never tells us that following Him would be a walk in the park. Jesus states,

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

He reminds us, while we should not seek out suffering, when, not if, we should rejoice. Does that seem a little backwards? Jesus came to transform. Remember when we said, “Unless you change?” He is asking us rejoice with Him. After all, He experienced death so we wouldn’t have to. He’s asked us to share in the joys of life, and in the sufferings of life to.

Acts 2:42-47

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Have you ever just stirred on these words? What would our world look like this was what our calendar looked like? Great things were happening during this time. Amazing sights and wonders filled their minds and inspired these early christians in their belief and faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ.

They met together daily to ensure that they would be ready for the return of the savior. They did not want to the outside culture to step in to this new found belief and salvation through Christ. They waited patiently for what they hoped to be His return.

I like this passage, becuase we are still waiting patiently for His return. Whether its in our lifetime or the next, let us continue to devote ourselves to the apostles teachings (the Word of God), to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.