Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bodily Worship (from Jonathan Edwards, 1722)

This is what Jonathan Edwards thinks about using your body during worship. I must concur! What is required of us is "manly worship"!! (see below to understand that reference...)

"I don't suppose that any understanding men, of whatsoever sect or opinion, will say that God is really pleased with bodily worship as such, that is, that merely such and such gestures and motions of body are what delights him as a part of virtue; but only as they are helps to the exercise of real virtue and the worship of the mind. Now there is an indissoluble, unavoidable association, in the minds of the most rational and spiritual, between things spiritual and things bodily. Thus when we are joyful and express our joy, 'tis natural to do it with a lively voice; and when we express sorrow, to do it with what we call a mournful voice. This is natural to us, and the association becomes much stronger by use in other matters.

Therefore if, when we come to praise God or confess our sins, we resolved not in any measure to alter our manner of expression for sorrow or joy, we must restrain that which is strongly associated with the joy and sorrow; and thereby shall unavoidably, in some measure, forever restrain the spiritual affections themselves, till we quite dissolve the association: which cannot be, in the most rational, while in the body. So we are necessitated to join some gestures to some habitudes of mind in common affairs, as uncovering the head, and some other gestures besides fitting with reverence. Thereby there grows a strong association, so that if one be restrained the other will unavoidably be restrained too. So that some bodily worship is necessary to give liberty to our own devotion; yea though in secret, so more when with others. For we having associated the idea of reverence and other habitudes of mind to such and such gestures of body, it would restrain our notion or apprehension of another's reverence, etc., if we should see those gestures which we have associated to contrary dispositions; so that our own devotion would not be so much assisted by theirs but restrained, and the communion in the duty in some measure destroyed, and so the end of social devotion. 'Tis necessary that there should be something bodily and visible in the worship of a congregation; otherwise, there can be no communion at all.

I acknowledge, that the more rational a person, the less doth his disposition of mind depend on anything in his body; and that if he practises gestures of body in worship, where there is no necessary and unavoidable association, it tends to make him, or to keep him less rational and spiritual. But yet there are some associations of this nature that [are] equally unavoidable, and coeval with the association of soul and body. So many as are thus necessary, we are allowed in gospel worship, and more [than that] are contrary to its nature; for the gospel supposes the church to be no longer an infant, but as come to the stature of a man. Wherefore the weak and beggarly elements are rejected, and the childish bodily ceremonies cashiered, as being fit only for children, and unworthy of those who are come to riper years; and the worship that is now required of [us] is only that which is manly, rational and spiritual."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I am so broken right now. I don't even know where to begin.
I have attended 2 seminar type thingies in the past couple months and I have felt the Holy Spirit move in my heart, in my way of thinking, and in stirring my soul. I have to say that I am done with the way that "church" is usually carried out. Done.
I am broken because I realize that over the last century we have categorized, organized, programmed, and ultimately cheapened what the true Church is supposed to be. In doing so we have robbed people of a chance to know Jesus fully, and have created a culture of unbelief in the Gospel. I have been both a victim of this and an instigator.
I grew up hearing about all the behavior change I needed to do to please God, and how my life didn't look like it was "supposed" to as a Christian. I never really understood what the church leaders were talking about other than that what I was doing "wrong" (sin) didn't make God happy. I was a young man that made a lot of mistakes, so of course I figured (and was told) that I needed to change the way I acted. I needed to be better, nicer, more holy, quit doing this and that, and now..... now my heart is broken. Was there ANY truth to it? Yeah, there was some truth, but it was never presented to me correctly.
I was told that Jesus died to take away my sins, but I was never told that His work on the cross was sufficient in every way. Nobody really ever told me that Jesus paid it all and that when I stood before Jesus at judgment God the Father WOULD, in fact, see my sin, but that it would be on Jesus and not me. All that was preached to me was what I could do to be in a better standing with Jesus, not that there was nothing I could do to "earn" salvation.
Why didn't someone tell me early on that Jesus loves me no matter what I do, and that He is NOT disappointed in me when I sin. What Jesus does when I sin is says, "Don't worry Jim, I got this one." And you know what? He does it EVERY time. Every stinkin' time he loves me, and that will never change. Why didn't someone tell me that?
For a HUGE part of my life (and even still) I struggled with things such as greed and lust, and I would beat myself up over these things after I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled and stumb.... Why didn't someone tell me about the freedom that believing in Jesus brings?!? Why is it that when I kept beating myself up someone didn't tell me about my unbelief in the completeness and sufficiency in the Gospel?? I realize now that the reason I kept (keep) struggling in certain areas in my Christian walk is not because of my iniquity, but because of my inability to claim the Truth that Jesus is bigger than anything. It is unbelief that Jesus paid it ALL. It's me still thinking that I can "do better" or "do something" to earn Jesus and make Him happy with me.
The Truth is that Jesus already is happy with me.
The Truth is that Jesus already has paid my debt.
The Truth is that Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection was sufficient to conquer sin & death.
The Truth is that Jesus stands before God as my intermediary.
The Truth is that my righteousness is not my own, but it is Jesus in me that enables me to be counted as righteous before God.
The Truth is that all the fear, doubt, timidity, weakness, anxiety, worry, hurt and stress I have is a result of my unbelief in the power of Christ and the Gospel.
So, my heart is broken because I know that I, along with the traditional "church", have also fostered this false gospel of self-atonement and self-reliance. So I am taking this opportunity to reclaim God's Truth in my life; that God has already done it all; that Jesus' work on the cross was and is sufficient. From here on out I plan to live in the Truth of the Gospel as God's adopted child whose righteousness is not found on my own merit, but in the merit of the work of Jesus. My response is thankfulness and worship.
I am also inviting YOU to come with me. I know that Jesus' work on the cross has already covered my/our sin against His people. Much of what we do week in and week out needs to be redeemed, especially the way "church" is done on Sunday rather than through our every day living. Let's get to living normal life with Gospel intentionality. It's time to get to work. Let's not prepare the way of the church program but prepare the way of our coming Lord!

Is It Really "Love"??

There’s a popular notion that has crept into our way of thinking over the past... well, since the beginning of human relationships. The issue at hand, though, is that we are glorifying this cultural mindset more than we ever have before. The issue I’m talking about is how we view love.
Let’s start by taking into account what so many of our musicians and artists are saying every day about how our culture views love, because, let’s face it, they represent our thought patterns and lead us into a specific line of thinking. Love through the years has certainly changed its tune in America over the past 60 years or so. Think back to some of the songs that have defined American culture over that time. In the 1950’s America had a “love” affair with Rock music, which centered around having a good time, hanging out with friends, and objectifying “love” to make it something that is achieved. Top 5 songs in the 50’s: Johnny B. Goode, Jailhouse Rock, Rock Around the Clock, Tutti-Frutti, Whole Lat of Shakin’ Going On. In the 1960’s we saw songs like Respect, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. We start to see a shift in the objectification of love to the searching of the feeling of love. By the 1970’s we started to see the message (apart from disco & drugs influencing everything) “love can be tough but we can get through it together” coupled with “do what feels good” take hold in the mindset of American music. Songs like Stayin’ Alive, Let It Be, More Than A Feeling, and I Will Survive defined much of the 70’s. In the 80’s & 90’s we start to see this idea of “love is an emotion” continue on, but it also began to transform into a sex driven “love” with songs like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Like A Virgin, I Will Always Love You, I Want It That Way, and ...Baby One More Time. And in the 2000’s, well, let’s just say the love = sex/emotion is all you hear on the popular music stations. Songs like I’m A Slave For You, Promiscuous, & My Love hang entirely on presenting love as an emotion (that usually translates to sex).
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, it seems that we are confused as to what love really is! What is love then? I’d like to enter into the discussion as this point that love is NOT an emotion or a feeling (*sarcasm*) like we so often use it in every day speaking.
A good friend of mine spoke an amazing truth into my life when she made the statement “Love is a choice.” I had never thought of it that way before. At first I was a little appalled that she should say that, but then I really started to chew on that. Okay, if that’s true, then what does that look like? I figured a good place to start was looking at the example of love that we should all strive to follow... God & His Word.
If love isn’t an emotion but a choice, what does the Bible have to say about that? I began looking at the instances where God shows His love for us and I began to see a trend forming. I saw that love has absolutely nothing to do with the recipient, but it has everything to do with the giver! Think about it... can we earn God’s love, or does He freely give it to us? I began to see what love truly is, and it’s beautiful!
Enter LOVE. Love IS, in fact, a choice that is made by the giver. It is not a feeling or emotion. Feelings and emotions can come along with love, but in and of itself love is a decision. Does this cheapen love? No... not all all. In fact, it makes it so much more beautiful! God loved us while we were still sinners (and sinning). We were doing everything He hates, yet He still chose to love us and even kill Jesus for us that He could rise again and conquer those very same sins (sin = death). So, God loves us, but I’m sure it doesn’t make Him happy when we sin. The Word tell us our sin grieves God’s heart, but He still loves us! This is a love that is not happy feel-good fluffy garbage (like we want to think of love as), but it’s a love that endures.
If our spouse does something that makes us angry we must choose to love him or her. Naturally we recoil from this thought because it may not make us “feel good” to love him/her at that moment, but this is what love truly is. This is why when someone comes to me and says, “I just don’t love him/her anymore” I tell them that they just made an incredibly true statement. Then I tell them, “You’re right. You have chosen to no longer love that person anymore.” There is almost always a rebuff immediately because how dare I suggest that they may be at fault. “I just don’t have the same feelings for her anymore” or “He just doesn’t make me happy anymore” are statements indicative of a heart condition. It’s a heart condition that is filled with pride and is devastating to any relationship.
I once read this sentence and it made a huge impact on me, “If you can’t choose to love one spouse, then you will never be able to love another.” This is so true! Another quote that is specifically geared toward men is, “A man who says ‘I’ve never loved you’ is essentially a man who is saying essentially this: ‘I’ve never acted like a Christian.’”
We have cheapened the word “love” to include any feelgoodery type of mindset. This must change. I challenge you to be VERY CAUTIOUS in the way you use the word “love” as it’s of upmost importance to our understand of what love really is! To use it correctly you might always think of it like this: I choose to love you.

Enough said......

Hey everyone... Just a quick note about holding fast to belief in Jesus as the only way to God. I saw this post on Mark Driscoll's profile and thought it was worthy of posting in a sustaining fashion, thus prompting me to write this as a "note" and not just a status update. Anyhoo, I told you it was short, and it is, so here you go:

Atheist Christopher Hitchens debating a Unitarian minister, “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Prayer of Jabez???

Perhaps you've heard of the prayer of Jabez phenomenon that went on a few years ago. It seemed to take the "christian" world by storm! I think it started as a good thing, a prayer to increase your influence for Jesus, but I fear it began to take the form of the "prosperity gospel" crap that is still so prevalent today.
If we are going to pray about our situation(s) and so on, allow me to offer another perspective than that of what the "Prayer of Jabez" ended up as.
Consider David. Yeah, David. The King who danced around in his underwear in front of the entire congregation of Israel while his wife told him he was an idiot. The same guy who got mixed up with adultery and then murdered the woman's husband for fear of being caught (as luck would have it he got a son out of the deal anyway!). The same guy whom his predecessor, King Saul (the 1st King of Israel given by God... much to God's dismay...), chased through the wilderness and in and out of caves because Saul was apparently a little punch-drunk on his own self-righteousness and thought David was conspiring against him. And YES... the same David who, through all of this, God stills says that he is a man after God's own heart.
Though he failed throughout his life (repeatedly & admittedly), David still saw God as his greatest treasure and hope, and ultimately his strength, guide, and deliverer. Even though life was brutal for David at times, sometimes his doing & sometimes not, he truly, throughout his life, clung to Yaweh. And ultimately, when David prayed, his heart was revealed and we see that he loved God above all else. Sure, there were times in his life that he loved himself more, but ultimately he loved Yaweh God.
So, in light of his many prayers, and of his many persecutions, allow me to offer up the thought that we need not pray for a new BMW, a new house, a million bucks, faster internet, an amazing retirement, or even for life to magically just get better. Rather, we should pray for God to direct our paths so that we may be able to walk with him and bring glory to his Name and Kingdom. David illustrates how to pray, with the right spirit/heart, for deliverance from rough situations:

"To you O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For YOUR NAME'S SAKE, O LORD (Yaweh), pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you..."

Psalm 25:1-21

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


"I'll bring the Perspective..."

I was watching one of my favorite animated movies the other day and a line from it stuck out to me in a spiritual way. This is not a normal occurrence, but I figured it was timely given that I had just watched/listened to a sermon out of Mars Hill Church in Seattle called "Humble Christians" (by Mark Driscoll). I can't remember the line from Ratatouille word for word, but it's the part where the food critic Ego comes into Gustav's restaurant for his "final" review. If you don't know the part that I'm talking about I'll explain a little.
The premise of the movie is that a young, out of luck, not good at much human kid is struggling to find his place in life. There is also a parallel storyline where a young rat (literally) is struggling to chase his passions for cooking rather than giving in to the "normal" rat way of just eating garbage. The human kid, and the rat kid, eventually meet up and team up through some random happenstance stuff. The rat is truly the great cook, and the kid just begins to get credit for the cooking because... well, let's face it, a rat cooking in a kitchen is not exactly the chef that humans expect and/or want. So, more funny and random events happen and the movie boils down to this food critic, named Ego, entering the restaurant and challenging the kid to make him something amazing (because, for the movie's sake, Ego's opinion is the only one that matters).
So, now we're at the crux of the movie and the waiter asks what Ego would like to order; Ego replies, "Perspective." Of course the waiter looks at him dumbfounded wondering what he wants (because obviously "perspective" isn't on the menu) and he fumbles all over himself. Ego then goes on to clarify, becoming somewhat miffed at the incompetent waiter, "Very well... if you can't provide the perspective then have the chef serve me something, if he dares, and I'll provide the perspective..." Again, this is loosely quoted, but this isn't my main point.
The main point I'm trying to make is this: "What is the perspective in our life? How do we view life?"
As believers, do we worry about what we're doing? About doing the right things? About doing the wrong things? Do we ask questions like: What do I need to do to get to heaven? OR Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
I'm writing this message to make a point, and I promise I'm getting there. Are you ready for it? Are you ready, Christian, to know what point I'm wanting to make? Have you figured out my point yet? Ok... here goes... here it is... are you ready?
This is a concept that I usually sum up with two words: KINGDOM PURPOSE (or Kingdom Mindset).
How does this apply to our lives? How do we get there? Well, I’m a baseball player so I’ll start with a baseball analogy... When a baseball player goes up to the plate thinking “don’t strike out” or “make sure you hit the ball” or “hit a home run” or something to that effect, the plate appearance usually ends badly. Rather, when you get up to the plate thinking about how you can best facilitate your team gaining advantage things usually go better, and things tend to be simpler. The thoughts change to be more like “just punch the ball through on the right side” or “hit a ground ball to the right side” or “I should bunt because there are runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs, and that’ll move them around.” See, you start to think with a greater purpose than just your stat line. Instead of worrying about your batting average, or how many home-runs you do or don’t have, you start to think about what is best for your team gaining advantage. It’s all about how you perceive the situation and the game.
The game of life isn’t a lot different. In fact, I might even go as far as to say life is slightly more important that baseball (*sarcasm*), but we can certainly learn from our national pastime. In our lives we tend to focus so much on “me” or “us” and it suffocates what our perception should be. Rather than thinking about the steps we can take, or how to remedy a situation on/in our own power, we should begin with focusing on Jesus. Even more so, we should think with Kingdom purpose. How does this effect the team I’m on. Oh, and by the way, the “team” we’re on is Jesus’ team, and the goal isn’t to win the game per say (because He has already conquered sin & death) but to make His Name great and to work for His kingdom! Rather than asking the question “how do I fix my situation?” we MUST start with “how does/can/will God receive the most glory?”
Ultimately, it truly is a matter of perspective. I wish we would just get over ourselves, get off our high horse, and get real! God created us, we didn't create Him. God created the Earth and everything in/on it. Who are we to think that we matter MORE than He does? I'm not saying we completely ignore our situations or anything because, in fact, if we don't take care to watch what we do (and the way we live our lives) we don't bring God glory. We have been given one life, one body, one set of Earthly family, and the Bible clearly tells us to take care of those things. But how do we best "take care" of those things? What does God say about that? The answer is Himself! He is how our life finds fulfillment. HE is best for us. Jesus, God's plan of salvation, is best for us! God already knows hat we need and how we are most satisfied, and it's in close communion with Him, and by following Jesus' example and making much of Him! When we seek Jesus, when our life's decisions revolve around God's Kingdom first and foremost, He is most glorified and we are most satisfied.
So, what's our perspective? Does our thought pattern revolve around us (most likely), or does it revolve around making much of Jesus and His Kingdom?