Sunday, November 23, 2008

some videos to make you think

So last night at church, they showed some videos that really amde me think and I wanted to share then with you. Tehy're a bit of a spoof on the Mac vs. PC commercials on TV these days.

I know that there are people out there who would not necessarily agree with the idea of a Christian versus a Christ Follower, but I think that there is a point being made in these videos about how we tend to view things. As someone who has grown up int he church, I can find it quite easy to get caught up in how things "should be" - how I was told they should be growing up. But sometimes I wonder if that really is effective.

These videos made me think and I hope they do you too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

when silence falls

Do you ever have those times when God seems silent? When you can pray and your prayers seem to just bounce off the ceiling? Or you read your Bible and as soon as you have read it you forget it?

Up until last weekend, that is the way I felt for much of this fall. It seemed like God was not there - like He did not hear me. And, I can say, it is not a fun way to feel or a fun place to be. But there was a song that kept me reminded that He was still there even when I did not know it.

It is called "When Silence Falls" by Tim Hughes. This has become one of my favourite songs over the past couple of months.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

being versus doing

I was sitting on the beach the other day watching some ducks swimming by and struggling to go against the wind and the waves. (Yes, it was still warm enough to sit on the beach, but not without a warm jacket, gloves, and a blanket.) As i watched the ducks go by I started to think about how what they were doing paralleled things in my own life.

The ducks were working hard and making very slow progress fighting against the wind and the waves. I started to think about how in my own life I can so easily get caught up in doing stuff - really just busy-ness - and yet when make little progress in anything. It was a bit of a realization that sometimes all of our doing isn't what we should be doing. Sometimes we need to just be.

I get busy with doing stuff at church and doing stuff with my friends and doing stuff at work and I forget that sometimes I just need to be. I need to stop all of the busy-ness and just sit. Be still and listen for what God may be trying to tell me. I can't always hear Him when I'm caught up in the busy-ness of life, but when I take time to slow down and just it for a while that's when I hear what He is trying to say.

Really, that's what had happened when I was sitting on the beach the other day. I had stopped in the midst of my busy-ness and just allowed God time to speak when I was listening. It wasn't easy, there were many moments of that time when I just wanted to get up and go do something. But the longer I sat there, the more I realized that I need to learn how to just be sometimes. To just stop and sit and be in God's presence.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

why i love the church

So, I've had a few conversations with people lately that have been disillusioned with the church. Many times these people have been ready to walk away from the church altogether because of that. It has made me think a lot about how I feel about the church . . . and I've come to the conclusion that I love the church (now before you jump down my throat for that statement, please read all this blog).

I know that the church has done some things that have hurt people. I know that the history of the church is filled with as many mistakes and dark times as successes and exciting times. I know that the reputation of the church in the world is not always a good one. I know that the church has it's share of problems. But, despite all of that, I love the church.

To clarify, before I go any further, when I talk about the church, I am talking about the body of believers - those who identify themselves as disciples of Christ. But, I'm also talking about the church as an institution primarily (at least in this case). I honestly believe that both of these are important. The body of believers is important definitely, and I have found very few people who are disillusioned with the body of believers. Most of the people I have talked to are disillusioned with the church as an institution.

One of the reasons for why people are disillusioned with the church as an institution that I have heard is that the church was not designed to be an institution. I would like to point out that right from the beginning there has been a structure of leadership and organization that has existed. In Acts 6, it talks about the Apostles choosing other people from among the early church to be responsible for caring for and assisting the widows and orphans, so that they could devote themselves to teaching. Paul's letters in the New Testament also speak of him finding leaders and setting organization in place in all of the places that he travelled to preach the Gospel.

So, after reading that, I can do nothing other than conclude that there was structure and organization to the early church. While the church may primarily be the body of the believers, it is also an institution. And, in my opinion, a needed one. Without the church being organized there would be many things that the church is called to do that would not be done.

The church has a rich history going back almost 2000 years. It is a history that has times of great revival, times of great persecution, and times of graves mistakes we made. And yet, through it all the church has persevered and, in many instances, has thrived. We must not forget or ignore that history. We should be making an effort to learn that history so that we can learn from it - both from the mistakes and the successes.

I think that if we had any real idea of the history that we are a part of as the church, we would not be so tempted to walk away from it. We may still not always agree with everything about the church and we will probably still be hurt by the church from time to time, after all it is still made up of broken people just like us, but I do not think we would be so easily disillusioned with the church.

As I have learned more about the history of the church - both the church as a whole and the individual church I am a part of. That is one the main reasons why I love the church. And it is one of the things that has caused me to refuse to turn my back on the church even when I have found myself hurt or not liking something that the church did.

The church is not perfect. It is made up of broken, messed up people, so why do we expect it to be? Maybe instead of expecting the church to be perfect to our standards we should seek to be the church we dream of ourselves (Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne). Rather than seeking fault in the church, let's choose to look for the good and to be the good we want to be. The church is the way that God has chosen to spread His message to the world, so rather than walking away from it, we should seek to make it what it should be.

I love the church! And I think we need more people who do. Because when we have people who do love the church that is when we can become the church that we are called to be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

God's small, quiet tuggings

Do you ever have those times when you feel like you're supposed to go to something or somewhere or do something? I have, and I've come to realize that most of the time that's God speaking to me.

Take last Saturday night for instance . . . I really didn't feel like going to church, as a matter of fact it was the last place I wanted to go. I tired to to justify my not going that evening, by telling myself I would go in the morning instead, all the while knowing full well that I wouldn't get up in time to go on Sunday morning either. No matter what excuses I made for not going I couldn't justify it in my mind. So, I got in my car and headed for church . . . telling God on the way up there that I really didn't want to be going.

But, as usual in those situations, once I got there and the service started, I knew that I was supposed to be there. God wanted me to hear and be a part of the service that night, and He made sure it happened despite my efforts to make it not. (I'm still making sense of it all that night, so I won't be going into details about why this time.) As the service progressed I knew unmistakably that God had wanted me there that night.

In the week since then, I've been thinking a lot about listening to that small, often quiet tugging in your heart. I wonder how many times I've ignored it and missed on what God had in store. My guess would be that it's happened more times than I realize.

So, then I started thinking about how I can get better at listening to it and responding to it. I know that part of this is making sure that I'm walking in step with God in my life in general. I've begun to think that another part of getting good at recognizing this is listening to that tugging and following through on it when I do hear it. Like I did last Saturday night . . . I need to do what that tugging is telling me I should do when I do recognize it. By paying more attention to it, I will learn to recognize it better.

What about you? Are there things that you do to recognize these tuggings on your heart from God?