Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Giving at Christmastime

Some rambling thoughts about giving at this time of the year:

God began the giving by giving the most costly gift ever given!

Giving is truly giving when nothing is expected in return.

Giving needs to take into account the real needs of those to whom we are giving, or we may have given the wrong gift.

Orchestrated giving where we agree to buy each other gifts is not giving either as it's expected and .... see above.

The body of Christ has in many ways forgot how to give.

In America we would be in far worst financial and economic stress, if people would give only to needs of friends and relatives rather than giving to wants and expectations.

The Voice

Communication in our times has become a very interesting venture, with many avenues to carry on conversation with one another. Because of the myriad of ways, we can sometimes be trite in what we communicate, meaning that we really don't mean what we write or say or we try to impress people with our supposed knowledge on a certain subject. Truthfulness is many times lost in the outcome. Some of these problems are to be expected in that each of us comes at a topic from our own individual backgrounds and previous information we've learned.

We also say a lot by what we really don't verbalize through body language, gestures, facial expressions, etc. Since in many venues of communication today we are not face to face and thus only have words in print, it really becomes a matter of putting words together carefully so our voice is communicating as nearly to what we really intent to reflect.

This is one of the reasons I've been so long in posting this new edition as I've thought through the implications of my past two blogs and even though I've had ideas for this and future editions my reluctance to post is my attempt to be clear as possible on the message.

What is the voice we need to hear? The body of believers needs to be clear in its communication with the world. Since we remain so fragmented, as noted in a past blog, the message to those outside is very garbled. Each faction presents usually only part of what I believe Christ would have the church present. In a sense this is incongruent body language on our part and we wonder why we are so often misunderstood.

Another example of the problem is when parts of the body pick one part of what we should be saying and say it loudly, in as many ways as possible, and declare it to be the only thing that matters; we again disrupt communication of central points of our faith. Facial expressions and improper tone of voice do not make it more important. I could mention certain issues that come to mind on this point but that would be beside the point.

Sometimes the way we behave and act says so much more than what we actually verbalize. To understand this point I will give an example. What do you think someone who truly is living in poverty with a variety of financial and social needs thinks when he hears that Jesus cares about his troubles but hears it coming from a studio with marvelous furniture and located in a huge magnificent edifice with a parking lot full of the latest model SUV's and being driven by folks in the finest designer clothes? Most of the church truly cannot speak to the real needs of the world because we do not truly understand their plight. Because of this conundrum our voice becomes silent as more and more often, those in poverty will turn away from the voice which should not only be telling the good news but really understanding it in it's entirety.

Church! we need to speak loudly so all can hear the good news but we need to make sure we are also bearing the good news. This is also part of the voice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wilderness

The wilderness is composed of individualized segments of all kinds with barriers impenetrable in many ways. We are a very individual separated society in many ways. Look around you and you will soon discover we live for ourselves and don't even try to understand each other mainly because we are very selfish and want to be left alone.
Commitment to relationships is a thing of the past. When we are part of a group we tend to be exclusive in that relationship. Look at our church groupings. We want people to become members so we can force our brand of thinking on those who are part of us. God help us if you should have a slightly different understanding of doctrine, practice, lifestyle or belief. So we put up walls that we may be "pure". What are we thinking! Is not the gospel for the whole world?
This isolation is also true of political parties. I don't know if I need to say a whole lot about this except to tell you to have a look at how we do government or political campaigns. We don't try to get along and understand the others point of view. Instead we tear down each other rather then trying to understand common ground so we could govern.
Need I tell you of family fractures? Broken marriages and estrangements are all arouund us so that today we need all kinds of counseling and therapy agencies to try to mend these fractures.
I could go on with examples from all areas of our society. If you think about it you can think of situations in your own life where this exclusivity is present. Where walls of misunderstanding and isolation exist.
This is the wilderness we live in. In future blogs I will begin to flesh out where I believe we need to go to tear down these walls and begin to build bridges to hurting people

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Church

The church of today is a far cry from that which Christ described in the gospels. His admonition to the disciples as described during the judgement of the righteous and unrighteous was that "many will say Lord! Lord! but the judgement will be depart from me, I never knew you! What an indictment! Others will enter that perfect rest wondering how they made it. Those are they who "saw someone in prison and visited them, cared enough to care for the sick, saw someone in need and fed and clothed them.
The church today is composed of those whoregularly attend a Sunday morning "worship service" for an hour and a half and regularly put the offering envelope in the collection plate or bucket because they feel that is their service as they obviously need to tend to their own personal needs the other 166.5 hours of the week. Occasionally they will volunteer to weed the gardens around their magnificent structure for "worship" and have even sang in the choir or worship teams. Many times 0ur "programs"are really shows for the accolades of men rather then the adoration of the Almighty and Most High God. Do we really need bigger and fancier edifices to meet in, where very little service goes on to meet the needs of hurting and destitude families.
I dare say if the real poor and outcasts of society began to show up in our assemblies most of us would probably seek shelter in another congregation as we would not want to mingle with the vagrant and down-trodden of society. How do I know this to be true? All one needs to do is look around you at the parachurch organizations, who continually cry for help and finances, receive very little help in meeting the needs of the ills of society. A large percentage of Christendom today when asked to participate in some way respond that that is not their gifting or they have no talent for those kinds of programs. Some even go as far as to say that's not their calling. Check again and I believe you will find it is the calling of every person who follows Christ to give his life in service to others and not to regard our concerns for what to wear or what to eat as our heavenly father knows our needs and will supply. Far too many people will sit Sunday after Sunday in their wonderful buildings and not even volunteer for service in any of the programs within the church. So many say they can't even teach the children's classes when asked. Incredible!! Wake up! Church! What is wrong with this picture when adults feel they are incapable to teach spiritual truths to our children. The Church is destitude itself and dying rapidly because we know little of the wonderful magnificent salvation story. I'm claiming the premise Christ gave us that there will be many who will follow the broad way and few who understand how to follow the narrow way He asked us to commit to.