Different– Not Wrong: Embracing All People

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I’m taking a course called, “Journey” at Engedi Church in Holland, Michigan. Our latest session dealt with connecting/ building relationships with people different than ourselves.

“Jesus’ desire wasn’t just that more people would believe in Him. Rather, He desired that those who followed Him would do so in complete unity. This means people from every nation, social strata, language, and culture worshipping and serving God together in the local church. Celebrating and learning from their differences, and growing more and more in the image of their Creator.”

God’s loves His people. He loves our diverse differences. He’s not a boring Creator that wanted us all to be the same.  As such, our “differences should be celebrated and learned from rather than ignored. Avoiding diversity and living in sameness runs contrary to the reconciling power of the gospel.”

“We need to stop seeing each other as wrong-Christian or right-Christian and value the diversity of the body of Christ.”

“How much could we all learn from each other, if we simply put aside our self-focused ‘values’ and considered the values of others?”

Like A Bride Waiting For Her Groom…Even So Come

I adore the song on the Passion record called, “Even So Come” written by  Chris Tomlin, Jess Cates and Jason Ingram. It moves me to my core. Recently,  as I listened, I developed a picture in my head of a bride, waiting. There is a sense of longing in this bride as she waits for Christ’s return. She’s expectant.

I painted this watercolor from that image I had in my mind.

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If you don’t know the song, here’s a brief part of the it:

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

 

Shadow Faith

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For some, this blog will mean nothing to you…but for others…it might be the day a light bulb turns on.

I heard an astounding talk by a man named Rob Flint (#Central Wesleyan). He shared on a topic called: Shadow Faith. I didn’t know this term until he broke it down. I have quoted his words from his message.

“There is an epidemic of people in our country raised in the church who say later that they didn’t fully understand who Jesus was or the gospel  until now.”

Why? A shortchanged gospel. A gospel that isn’t taught in it’s entirety. “It becomes a transactional thing where we recognize sin and then we need this Savior and that’s all it is. It’s a transaction: my sin for his righteousness. And it is that, but it’s SO MUCH MORE. When we only preach sin and forgiveness, it will lead to Shadow Faith. Shadow Faith is when we know what the Bible says but somehow create expectations in our minds of who God should be. Shadows don’t ever show the real picture. We don’t get to see the fullness of Christ in shadow faith.”

“Question: Do you follow Jesus to get from Jesus, or do you follow Jesus to get Jesus? Somehow in our culture we have begun to treat God like a cosmic vending machine. We come to him, pray for something and blessings are supposed to pop out and we open them up. Or we treat him like a divine genie who is supposed to answer our wishes and whims and when he doesn’t, we get mad. There is entitlement in that. We are taking from him, and if he doesn’t bless us, there’s a problem. It has a lot to do with the prosperity gospel that has been sweeping our nation for a while. It has taken deep root in the culture of America. In short, the prosperity gospel says: If you have enough faith or put seed money in or plant things down, then God will bless you.  And your “harvest” will be greater. If you have enough faith or give enough money, then he will give it back to you in greater ways.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

“When we shortchange the gospel, it leads to shadow faith, which leads to shadow joy. Because if you have a shortsighted view of the gospel that God is supposed to be doing for you, and when he doesn’t do what you expected, it will be difficult for you. When the cancer doesn’t go into remission or the divorce does happen or the son doesn’t come home, those are the moments that God has to be ALL that you are satisfied in because if God never was the ultimate goal, then whatever you get from God will never satisfy you. It will always lead to emptiness. People will say, ‘I can’t believe God did this to me.’ No. God didn’t meet what you thought he should do, or the expectations you placed on him. A lot of people think God should fix our pain or make us feel better, but God didn’t come to fix your pain. He came to redeem you, and in that, he’ll redeem your pain. He’ll redeem your brokenness. There isn’t a version of Christianity where you’re adding God into your life and punching the buttons in the machine for what you want from God. The real Christianity is full surrender to Him. There has to be a reclaiming of the understanding of the gospel.”

To hear the talk from Rob Flint in its entirety please go to: http://www.centralwesleyan.org/current-series?album_id=35

 

 

 

Monday Morning Joke: Why the Water?

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The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built the altar, put wood upon it, cut the steer in pieces and laid it upon the altar. And then Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times.

“Now, said the teacher, “Can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the steer on the altar?”

A little girl in the back of the room raised her hand with great enthusiasm. “To make the gravy!”

Reference: http://jokes.christiansunite.com/Sunday_School/Barrels_of_Water.shtml
Picture Reference: http://www.garlandisd.net/departments/student_services/attendance.asp

#Joke #ChurchHumor