Tag Archives: Scripture

Why Finding a Church is not about You…

So you’re looking for a church…

Sounds easy enough, but what exactly do you look for?

Churches come in all shapes and sizes and if you want to find one to fit your style, all it takes is a little shopping. But should looking for a church engage the same decision-making process as ordering a burger? Consider the enormous amount of choices we have when finding a church.

Exegetical preaching v. Topical preaching
Contemporary worship v. Traditional worship
Sunday School v. Small Groups
Big Church v. Small Church
Lots of people who look the same as me v. A more diverse crowd

And that doesn’t even begin to look at different denominational differences…

We have this concept of the church that we want and then we go out and find it. I want to challenge that paradigm. Look at who matters in that last sentence.

We have this concept of the church that we want and then we go out and find it.

It’s all about…….US.

I understand there are certain doctrines we should not waver on and we should run from heresy, but when it comes to personal preference, how strongly should our desires weigh into the equation?

If you’re single and there aren’t many singles at a church, does that mean you flee?
If you’re one race and the church is majority another, do you look elsewhere?
If you want your kids to be in a vibrant children’s ministry and the church is just starting, do you write them off?
If a church seems big, do you ditch it for a smaller one?
If a church is not active in missions, do you help begin a missions vision or ship off to an already established missions program?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, but when the primary consideration becomes about our comfort and preference we miss the boat.

Choosing a church in the area where you live is one of the most significant decisions you make. I am not arguing that we can not ask questions. I am advocating that we ask the question: God, where do you want me?

The answer may not come easy. The answer may need to come through much prayer and searching of Scripture. But, we must ask the question.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33

I’m convinced that many Christians have missed opportunities where God called them to serve, sacrifice, and lead in order to find a church that “fit” them better.

Ask yourself the question:

God, where do you want me?

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Christian Cannibals

Have words ever felt tangible to you? At times, they jump off the page and you interact with them in a way that seems almost personal.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

I normally enjoy reading other blogs. They inspire me. I try to vary who I read to better understand different perspectives and most of the time I come away encouraged. Today was different.

The hate, disgust, contempt were palpable. Upon reading the blog itself and the comments below it, I just felt dirty.

And this was a Christian blog.

It was written to attack one particular subculture of Christians. The author attempted to be funny, but the accusations and assumptions were enormous. The irony was evident as the author and those commenting unleashed a fury of belittling comments about how they had been judged in the past.I am not saying we can’t have dialogue and discussion. We can and we should.

The difference is that dialogue and discussion is beneficial to the body of Christ, where as just unloading on an entire group does nothing but alienate and wound.

I understand we have probably all had bad experiences with certain groups in the past. I just want us to find more constructive ways to work through differences.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

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Love is Patient – Day 25

I think we underestimate our capacity to love. We settle for this really mediocre brand of love. It’s like a terrible off-brand of soda type love. Maybe it’s because we feel like love should come naturally. So we don’t spend time working at it. But I wonder…why not work on love?

Our bodies need to be worked out in order to be in top physical shape. Some people need more work than others, but no one is naturally at the peak. It takes hours. It takes training. It takes work. And if we stop working out, the progress we make begins to deteriorate. We can’t work as hard or play as well because we’ve stopped working at it.

I think love is that way. 1 Corinthians 13 says this about love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

That’s a pretty difficult definition of love. But that is love. Anything less becomes a cheap imitation. Obviously, perfection is out of reach, but do we miss out on the beauty of what is described by settling for the way we love now. Do we want to display scrawny love or triathlon/athlete type love?

This morning, my patience was tested at work. Not because of anything people did, but because of communication barriers. I was speaking with people who didn’t know English well. And I admit, it became frustrating. But should I settle for just treating them o.k. enough to get by or can I pray and work on loving them better?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m off base. It’s just something I’m wrestling with. I say I love people, but am I willing to love them better? Even the best athlete always looks to improve and I am by far not the best at loving people. So take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 again. Where can you begin to work on love? How can you be praying for a love adjustment?

How can you Become Last today?

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Calvin and Hobbes Theology – Day 18

Calvin and Hobbes is like the Lebron James Michael Jordan (they are retired too) of comic books. The comic is head and shoulder above its peers. If you haven’t read them do not hesitate to buy a comic book here.

One of the reasons the characters are so lovable is the way you could relate to them. I saw this portion of the comic today and couldn’t help, but see myself in Calvin.

Not that I’m a top-notch scholar or anything, but I think we could all use a bit of examination. The Bible constantly calls us for us to examine ourselves (or for God to examine us). One such place is Psalm 26:2 where it says, “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”

We may not find “outrageous” sin, but I think the reason why we are commanded to examine is because we have a much more subtle problem. We get involved in and we do so many good things, so many ok things, that we lose sight of the best God has for us. Our lives become cluttered with all sorts of fine things and slowly, but surely, we have derailed from our purpose. We’ve become content with casual Christ-following. So I think from time to time, we’ve got to lay our hearts bare before God and ask Him to tweak, redirect, mold, or fix any part that’s not going in the right direction.

I hope that all makes sense. It’s one of those days where I have a hard time talking (writing in this case!). I just thought since we are at the halfway point in the year it would be a good time for all of us Calvins to do a little examining.

How can you Become Last today?

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Attitude Schmatitude – Day 17

This morning, I was reflecting on Becoming Last with my attitude. How do I respond to certain situations or people? Perhaps I’m a bit of an idealist, but I believe attitudes are contagious. Check out Philippians 2:14-15.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

That verse directly correlates my attitude with my witness. Experience proves that true too. Who really wants to follow a God whose people bicker, complain, gossip, and argue? I’m not saying that’s the way people think of Christians. I’m just saying I want to lay my attitude at Christ’s feet. And really, isn’t that an offshoot of becoming a Christian? Look at it this way. We accept Christ. We become Christ followers. We say, “God, here is my life. I’m here to serve. Here is everything.” When we’ve given Him everything, we have nothing left to complain and argue about! I think so much of my time is spent complaining or arguing or being frustrated over my rights or the way I feel I should be treated. It’s very freeing to say, “You know what? Treat me how you want. My identity, my purpose, my dignity is not found in you or how you treat me. It’s found in God.”

So anyway, those were some of my thoughts from this morning. Here’s a couple of ways I can begin applying this (I find if I don’t think of ways to apply, my thoughts never make into action. I would completely encourage you to always think through how you can put thoughts into action).

  1. Forgive Freely and Wholly – I’m very good at offering partial forgiveness. I forgive someone, but yet they still have to work to get in my good graces. That’s not forgiveness. That’s terrible. I want to forgive with abandon.
  2. Be a “Yes” Man – I want to practice saying yes more quickly when asked to help out with something, especially mundane things. For example, if my wife asks me to help with the dishes I want to jump at the opportunity. I’m very good at doing it, but making it indirectly clear that I’m really sacrificing to help. Pathetic, I know. I want to serve with abandon.
  3. Patience with Customer Service – I think this one is fairly obvious. I just want to empathize with anyone I come into contact with. Maybe they are slow. Maybe they are rude. That gives me no right to be angry. Love is unconditional.
  4. Practice Positive Gossip – How often do I complain about things to my friends and family? How often do I listen to complaining? Instead, I want to practice praising people when they do a good job. Brag on them behind their back.

I’m never going to be perfect in this life. I don’t even want to pretend to be close. I hope you find my openness refreshing, rather than condemning. I just want to be honest with the fact that I’m a work in progress and that I long for my life to be given fully to God in the pursuit of others. I want to love Him and others completely. If I’m called to be Christ’s ambassador, as it says in 2 Corinthians, then I want to be the best ambassador possible.

What does Becoming Last look like to you today?

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Filed under Chances to Serve, Excuses, General Update, Realizations, Scripture

A New View – Day 14

My study of 2 Corinthians and my life collided this morning. Last night, as I watched Wipeout (hysterical), I read chapter five of 2 Corinthians. I came to verse 16 which says, “So from now on regard no one from a wordly point of view.”

 A couple of days ago, I wrote that I see someone occasionally who is tough to love. This morning, I saw them again and I am glad to say I enjoyed talking to him. He asked me to do work for him that’s not my job and one side of me wanted to say, “Seriously? You can’t walk back there and do that?” or “No” or “that’s not my job”. But, I decided it was best to love him without condition. It didn’t hurt me to do a small favor for him, even if it did take a little bit to swallow my pride.

Slowly, my attitude is beginning to change. I’m beginning to see him in a different way. A new view, if you will. I can hear his quest for affirmation in the things he says and does. I can see his desire for community. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20 we are Christ’s ambassadors and I’m determined to do my best to represent Christ well.

How can you Become Last to those who get under your skin?

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Becoming Last – Day 11 – Great Afternoon

It’s been a great afternoon. I’ve started a study of 2 Corinthians today and it’s been blowing me away. First off, I’ve found a phrase that has to go into my Top Five favorites. When describing the Apostle Paul, the commentator called his life “permanently redirected.” Is that not awesome? Permanently redirected.

Does that describe our lives as Christians? Have we been permanently redirected? It’s not that our lives are supposed to look better than others or that we’re supposed to be nicer people or do so many church things. That’s not what it’s about. Christ comes into our lives and permanently redirects them. He changes the hard-drive. He rewires us. He gives us a new vision for why we exist. I told you that’s an awesome phrase. Permanently redirected.

The only other part of my study that I’ll share for now is the part on prayer. Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 1:11 that he believes prayer helps. What if this conviction were to take root in my heart? If we really believed prayer changes things, how much more would we be people of prayer? Talk about Becoming Last! How much more of my time could be used petitioning God on behalf of others. I think about my friend’s brother who is having a tough time in his marriage. Where is the burden on my heart to labor in prayer for him and his wife? I think about the woman I heard who lost her partner. Should I not be praying steadfastly for her in her time of grief? What of the many I know who don’t know God’s love or of the people suffering throughout the world. I pray God would give me a much greater burden and desire to be in prayer.

Finally, the last part of my great afternoon deals with our challenge for the week. I had an amazing conversation with my apartment complex manager. She was pumped about the idea of gathering food. She asked me if I could make flyers and put them around the complex. Um, YES! Then, we had a great talk about other ways to serve and love people. Is that not awesome? And to think I almost forgot to go over there this afternoon because I was too busy! You can bet I’ll be making some flyers tonight. I’m excited to see if her passion is contagious throughout our apartments.

Have you Become Last today?

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