Thursday, February 22, 2007

If It Looks Like a Duck...

I read a pretty unsettling blog today regarding an evangelical church in Seattle, Washington, which is hosting "Beer & Bible" men's Bible studies and has just introduced men's poker nights...all in the name of Christ!
In their own words: "It's not about poker, its about relaxing, enjoying the company of some men, making grunting noises, and laughing at Junior High humor. If you're a man, and you have 10 bucks, here's your chance to prove your poker skills or lack there of. Depending on the number of men who show, we will have several $5 games in before the night is through. Bring your favorite soothing beverage (barley pop, soda, water, etc.) and bring something fattening to eat! For the same price as a movie, you can enjoy some laughs and, if you're lucky, go home with a little extra. Invite your buddies! "
I expect that if Jesus were invited to stop off at the corner bar after work, He just might go. After all, He came to save sinners and there are, no doubt, as many there as there are in church on Sunday morning. If He were invited to go to a poker party, He might go, too, although He'd have an unfair advantage (being omniscient and all), so I doubt if He'd play a hand. I think He just might go...but I can't imagine that He'd lay in a keg of beer and host a casino night just to get the chance to talk to sinners!
Why do Christians seem to think that they have to camouflage Jesus' offer to reconcile sinners to their Creator God with worldly activity? Jesus never had to shout over a back-up band. He didn't have fund-raisers to finance His ministry. He didn't seem to care whether the world liked Him, and He walked all over the toes of the prevalent culture. And, although He hung around with sinners for 33 years, He never began to look or smell or act like them. I guess that's why our sin was so offensive to Him when He hung on the cross to pay for never tainted Him until He literally became sin for us. Why are believers so unwilling to be different for Him?
An old comparison seems apt here. If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck....Why do we think it's anything other than a duck? If God has transformed you into a swan, why do you want to be a duck again?
p.s. Thanks to Rod Albert for posting the link to this information at

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blessed by a Toothache

I never thought I'd thank the Lord for a toothache, but He has used one in my life today. After having a root canal procedure yesterday (which is only slightly more fun than a CT scan or maybe back labor), I woke up with a toothache today. Sore, achey jaw, headache, the works. Great day to stay home after I cancelled an appointment to have my hair cut at 10 a.m. And then...
Around 10 a.m. I had a phone call from a gal who needed prayer and encouragement for a meeting she was attending tonight. We talked for awhile, I shared some examples from God's Word with her, and then...
About 11 a.m. I had another phone call--this time from a man who's had multiple times of depression and discouragement. He called from Detroit to ask me about something else, to thank me for sharing Scripture with him when he needed to hear it and for being there to listen when he needed an ear.
How often don't I whine about pain and its inconvenience. How often don't I ask to have it removed! It's a good thing God doesn't always give me what I ask for. Today I can thank Him for the toothache that kept me home...where He wanted me...for the ministry He had for me today.
Thank you, Lord, for a toothache.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Looking Through His Eyes

Do you attend church on Sunday mornings? Does your church need a new roof? Have you taught your toddler to play "This is the church, this is the steeple....?

When you hear the word "church", what image comes to your mind? What do both Christians and unbelievers associate with the word "church"? An old children's chorus by Richard Avery and Donald Marsh said it well:

"The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple,
the church is not a resting place, the church is a people."

Nowhere are we told that the church is His bricks and morter. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus command us to build temples to Him. Instead, He says that we are His temple. We are not told to establish religious corporations. He says we are the corpse. The Bible says that the church is the Body of Christ...His hands and feet here on this earth. He is the Head, and we are the flesh and bones of His Body.

I wonder what He thinks when He sees corner offices in religious high-rises, mega-entertainment empires, and denominational power-plays. How comfortable would He be sitting behind an executive desk?

Recently I was appalled to see the following statement of purpose on a local church web page:

"_______ church exists to win the lost to Christ through equipping and training believers to present inspiring, dynamic worship services and events.”

Is this the way Jesus works though His body? Jesus did not die for an event or a building or a church franchise. He died for people. Did He not come as a servant/sacrifice/mediator to reconcile sinners to God? Maybe we should stop equating the church with events and empires. Maybe we should start looking at people--one at a time--the way He did. Bring Him to them one at a time, not through entertainment or self-help programs, but through personal sacrifice. If each believer made a point of being Jesus' hands and feet in someone else's life, people would really be able to see the church. And they could really see Christ.

I wonder what He thinks when He looks at me.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Case for Quiet

Today, Skye Jethani, on the blog Out of Ur, posted some insights on what he called “the quiet moments of inspiration.”

In our lives, there are often too few moments of quiet. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by noise and distraction. We are such slaves to cell phones and Blackberries that silence is often disquieting. Many of us avoid quiet because we cannot relate to it. And we don’t even know what we are missing. What great things could God prompt us to do if He could only get our attention.

Would Moses have even seen the bush burning or heard God call his name if he’d been concentrating on his DVD player in the wilderness?

Would David have written the Psalms if he’d spent his days listening to his IPod while tending sheep, instead of listening to God?

The writers of our greatest hymns wrote out of full hearts, not full ears. And some of their most beautiful songs speak of the quiet times when God spoke to them. They are intensely personal.

Good music certainly should have a place in our lives, but our deepest fellowship with God doesn’t need auditory or visual enhancement to make it happen.

We are too willing, I think, to depend on surrogates in place of genuine experience in corporate worship, too. Music, art and drama in a worship setting are just an imitation of the reality of God Himself. They are valid only when they are expressions of what has already taken place internally. Otherwise they are only noisy entertainment.

Many of us have become spiritual forgers, turning out counterfeit worship instead of giving God time to accomplish the real thing. We come together expecting to be sung at and entertained, not to listen quietly for God to speak—to actually have Him confront us. Few of us will hear Him speak from the burning bush when we are listening for nothing more than drums or tambourines or pipe organs to give us the cue to begin to worship.

If we are to present to our God authentic worship, personally or corporately, we need to make quiet a priority—not a novelty or a threat. David wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God…”

How ironic if God had to tell His people that again…after they’d just choreographed the perfect worship service.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lemonade in the Desert

Lately I've been following a number of blogs (mostly on SBC affiliated sites) that have stressed the need to maintain a position of separation from groups who do not hold to orthodox Christian beliefs. And if not separation, then certainly at least a healthy suspician! The Bible certainly warns Christians to expose heresy and to avoid fellowship with it.

Sometimes in our zeal to stay untainted by heresy, however, we lose our balance--avoiding fellowship with any church that does not agree with our understanding of Scripture. Today I had the opportunity to step outside the box and to visit another local church.

It was not my idea.

God, in His Sovereignty, stopped up the water supply at the building where Living Hope Bible Church meets each week. How we depend on water! When it became apparent that the problem wouldn't be fixed before Monday, it was evident that our Sunday service would have to be canceled. It was also evident that my husband would not be required to preach a sermon, as he does nearly every week. So...When God hands you a lemon, make lemonade!

That was what brought us to the 1st Presbyterian Church in Oostburg this morning.

Although we have lived in this community for most of our lives, we'd never worshiped with the Presbyterians, although we have close ties with many folks in that church. And, although we don't agree on some doctrinal issues, God gave us a "lemonade" opportunity to enjoy warm fellowship on a cold day (-16° here this morning). We thoroughly enjoyed singing the old hymns of our mutual faith. We appreciated the strong missions emphasis (and we do financially support several of the same missionaries). We appreciated the welcoming handshakes and were made to feel right at home. And we were blessed by Pastor Jim DeCamp's message about God's strength in the midst of our weakness (timely, since I'm teaching a Bible study on that topic tomorrow!).

When the Israelites had no water in the wilderness, God told Moses to strike the rock...and He provided water. When we had no water...He provided lemonade.