Do You Have to go to Church?

The simple answer is No. You don’t have to go to church.

But you do have to be part of the body of Christ. And the very best way to be part of the body is to create intentional and purposeful opportunities to build relationships with others in the body. That is best done through serving and worshiping alongside one another.

You can do this in a variety of ways, however, the simplest way is to discipline yourself to attend a weekly gathering where you have the opportunity to engage and serve with members of the body whom you wouldn’t normally encounter in your day to day life.

Is the Bible a Start or an End?

I read this quote somewhere, but I can’t find the link. However, it’s so good that I wanted to share it with you.

The Bible in Jesus world was a scroll that you saw someone reading in the center of the room, in the midst of community.

And then you all discussed it. You surrounded the words…you encircled them literally, physically…and then you engaged with them. Together.

It was a communal experience.

Picture all that energy swirling around the room, picture all those opinions, picture really wise people saying interesting and profound things, picture that crazy uncle rambling on and on and making no sense.

And then you’d come back next week and do it all over again.

The Torah started the discussion.

For many in our world, the Bible ends the discussion.

Age Effectiveness in the Local Church

I’ve been thinking about the effectiveness that age brings to the local church. It seems to me, that as leaders in the church, we fall into three separate age groups of effectiveness.

Ages 20 to 35
From age 20 to 35 – you’re learning and establishing what kind of pastor you will be – education, influence, success and failures. Lots of rebellion, lots of hard times, lots of growing. You can fight with older pastors/churches – but you aren’t going to win.

Ages 35 to 55
From age 35 to 55 – you are building the culture of the church. The culture is established by what you determine is important, how well you lead your church, how well you disciple the people in your church, etc. You are trying to recruit people younger then you and learn from people older than you while creating the church that God has placed in your heart.

Ages 55 and beyond
From age 55 and beyond – you are simply a caretaker for the next generation. They aren’t going to do church the way you want them to. It’s going to look different. It’s going to feel different. They are going to treat the church differently then you would. And you can fight it or you can trust that God knows what He’s doing by putting these people in charge. The worst thing you can do is complain about the younger generation.

How do you see age effectiveness in the local church?

Did God Abandon Jesus?

Sometimes I read scripture and and struggle with understanding it fully. A great example can be found in Matthew 27:46 where he calls out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have forsaken/abandoned me?”

Here’s the question that I have – is Jesus symbolically quoting Psalm 22:1 as a way of expressing human emotion or is Jesus actually stating that in this moment, He has literally been abandoned by God?

I would contend that Jesus, despite his obvious pain and suffering, maintained a high degree lucidity throughout the crucifixion experience and in this moment, quoted David in order to accurately convey the distinctive human emotion of feeling/sensing separation and distance from God. I would contend that Jesus cognitively recognized that God had not abandoned Him, but rather choose to quote David as a way of conveying to future generations the necessity of turning to scripture in those times of great need and stress when it appears that God has abandoned them.

However, there seems to be a popular belief that God actually turned his back and literally abandoned Jesus during this time. Proponents of this belief seem to argue that because Jesus took on the sins of all mankind and that God cannot stand the sight of evil (Habakkuk 1:13) and cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked (Psalm 5:4-8) that God abandoned Jesus because of this sin (Romans 1:28).

That seems inaccurate in light of Jeremiah 16:17 where God clearly says that He sees every sin and does not turn His back on the those in need (Psalm 22:24). 2 Corinthians 4:9 clearly tells us that we are never abandoned by God and John 3:16 would support the theory that because God saw the world and all of it’s sinfulness, that He gave Jesus in order to give us eternal life.

Here’s the dilemma I find myself facing.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was abandoned on the cross by God.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was not abandoned on the cross by God. 

What I can find is that God does not abandon man simply because man has sin in his life. God sees that sin, He hates it and cannot tolerate the sin, but he still loves the man enough to pay the price to cover the sin in order to restore the relationship between God and man.

I can find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 2:14-18 which reinforces the fullness of Christ’s humanity. From this perspective, Jesus had to be made like his brothers, like man, in every respect so that he might become the high priest in order to make the sacrifice for the since of the people. This would seem to eliminate the argument that God would not abandon man, but would abandon Jesus simply because Jesus was God’s son. Or that Jesus had some supernatural strength of some sort that allowed God to abandon Jesus, but not man. In order to make the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus had to be made like man in every respect.

I can also find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 4:14-16 which reinforces the affirmation that because of the fullness of His humanity, Jesus has experienced every temptation that we have, including the temptation of believing that God has abandoned Him in his time of need, but that He experienced these temptations and did not sin. 

A secondary supporting argument to this can be found in Romans 14:23 arguing that temptation to lose faith in God is akin to sin and because Jesus didn’t sin, Jesus could not have actually believed that God had abandoned Him otherwise that would have meant that He had sinned.

Therefore, based on on the primary and secondary supporting arguments, I believe that I can say with confidence that God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, but that Jesus, in the fullness of His humanity, experienced the very same emotional response that every human being does in times of high emotional and physical stress. And that as a result of that stress, the words that people heard was that Jesus felt as if God had abandoned Him in His time of need. However, the truth of this phrase is that in this time of crisis, Jesus turned to scripture in order to give Him the strength to continue on.

So, that said, I’d be interested in some scripturally-based feedback on this topic.

Understanding Toxic People

Toxic people/customers are always going to have a particular kind of response. They’ve self-aggrandized their position in life and have lost the core competencies of what it means to be a human being. As such, you can either seek to reform/reeducate them or you simply have to walk away. Confronting them does nothing because, from their perspective, they are in the right.

Three Kings Quote

The following is a quote from the Gene Edwards book, “A Tale of Three Kings” Enjoy.

This particular kingdom is different from all others. This kingdom is composed of God’s people. It is a spiritual kingdom. I tell you emphatically, no rebellion in the kingdom of God is proper, nor can it ever be fully blessed.”

“Why do you say this, Sage?”

“For many reasons. One is obvious. In the spiritual realm, those who lead rebellions have already proven, no matter how grandiose their words or angelic their ways, that they have a critical nature, an unprincipled character, and hidden motives in their hearts. Frankly, they are thieves. They create dissatisfaction and tension within the realm and then either seize power or siphon off followers. They use their followers to found their own dominions. Such a sorry beginning, built on the foundation of insurrection. . . . No, God never honors division in his realm.

“I find it curious that those who feel qualified to split God’s kingdom do not feel capable of going somewhere else—to another land—to raise up a completely new kingdom. No, they must steal from another leader. I have never seen the exception. They seem always to need at least a few prepackaged followers.

“Beginning empty-handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them. Their every word, if truly understood, tells of their insecurity.

“There are many lands unspoiled and unpossessed. There are many people in other places waiting to follow a true king, a true man of God. Why don’t ‘would-be kings and prophets’ simply walk quietly away, alone, then find another people in another place, and there raise up the kingdom they envision?

“Those who lead rebellions in the spiritual world are unworthy. There are no exceptions. And now I must go. I must join the passing parade.”

“Tell me, Sage, what is your name?”

“My name? I am History.”