Monday, January 09, 2017

THE PURPOSE OF CORPORATE WORSHIP AND HOW IT CAN BE MISSED!

One of these days VERY SOON I'm going to post a lengthy study and research paper I've done on the biblical materials about the subject of WORSHIP, particularly as it relates to what is commonly called the Regulative Principle and the Normative Principle. Put in simple terms those principles are respectively, “One can ONLY do things in worship services that the Scriptures give clear warrant to do," [Regulative] or, "One can DO anything they please in worship services as long as it is not condemned in scripture." [Normative]


I believe BOTH are aiming for something good. The Regulatives [Reformed folks basically] don’t want Scripture to be silenced. They want to take textual authority seriously. They don’t want Scripture to be a dusty set of standing orders that only functions to rule out certain things. I understand that and applaud them for it!


While the Normatives [Congregationalists basically] don't want to tie the hands of the Holy Spirit in leading us into new expressions of worship that can produce a legitimate hearing from the culture and might even give means to the Body of Christ expressing their giftedness. My understanding and applause continues!


But, as you can imagine if you know me at all, I think BOTH may be missing it a bit, and as a result congregations are being led into methods and means that may very well ROB them of adequately FULFILLING the scriptures themselves AND/OR manipulating them to have an experience that is just a bit short of being entertained. [Maybe not short of it at all!]


I'm convinced BOTH the Regulative AND the Normative may very well be MISSING what I see as the most important New Testament principle of worship which, for the lack of a better term, [I actually read it somewhere] I would call the EDIFYING PRINCIPLE of worship. This Principle is introduced to us from the text and gives us a freedom to be both creative AND discerning and would MAXIMIZE the gifts, talents and abilities of MEN AND WOMEN who are in the fellowship. Now I'm REALLY APPLAUDING!


This would allow us to get back to the textual guidance for the original purpose of corporate worship which is, as I see the text, NOT for a vertical emphasis, where it's all about FORGETTING each other and focusing on GOD ALONE, but , as the text shows, IS for a horizontal emphasis, [still talking about Corporate Worship here] where we focus on all the "ONE ANOTHER'S" of the scriptures and God is GLORIFIED [honored, experienced and seen to be present] in it all. You can see I believe that the "worship hour" may wind up having very little difference from "small groups," whether they're called community groups or flocks or___whatever! Corporate Worship is to be a congregational experience and NOT an Old Testament High-Priest experience! 


More to come later.

Monday, January 02, 2017

SOME THOUGHTS ON APPLICATION FOR 2017

I've been busy with the holidays and have had little time to write. So here is a somewhat short, maybe even a bit simple but I trust an on target statement, about application of the scripture when it is being taught.
I like real application of scripture when it is taught. I am NOT talking about the kind of application that most Christians think of, as in "What should I DO for God?" I mean the APPLICATION that leads one to say, "I hear and am OVERWHELMED by what GOD HAS DONE FOR ME and will respond!"

This is because,

UNTIL__ a Christian realizes they don't HAVE to do ONE thing for God, OR try to change themselves to obtain the FAVOR of God, OR make any commitment, promise or vow to God to earn that favor, and UNTIL__ a Christian knows GOD ACCEPTS THEM and LOVES THEM just as they are because HE HAS ALREADY DONE FOR THEM WHAT THEY CANNOT DO themselves, namely, forgiven and cleansed them, is present within them to progressively empower and change them, given them every spiritual blessing they will ever need to live life which has come by Grace through Christ__their FOCUS will be on the WRONG place [their sins] instead of the RIGHT PLACE which is their spiritual portfolio IN CHRIST! THAT'S where you START with application!

[THAT is a long sentence and may well need reading AGAIN!]

Most people read the Bible as if it is a rule book for behavior, when in reality God gave us the Bible as a love letter declaring the good news that He requires NOTHING of sinners and describing in that love letter what has ALREADY been provided sinners precisely and completely, IN CHRIST JESUS! [Remember, the Old Testament is the ROOT and New Testament is the FLOWER both pointing to the ONE PERSON of CHRIST]

If we don't understand this, when we fail, and we will, we would simply grit our teeth and try harder to DO good and NOT DO bad and would wind up being discouraged, defeated, and maybe even disillusioned.

Whereas, when TRUE APPLICATION [What He's ALREADY done on our behalf] is made when the scriptures are taught, we then can FAITH IT TO BE SO and we then can choose to do or live IN RESPONSE to His Grace and Mercy. That's obedience [serving] birthed out of faith and love BECAUSE we know He FIRST LOVED US!

Paul B.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A PERSONAL VIEW MAKING NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SECULAR AND SACRED!

I make no distinction between sacred "things" and secular "things." ALL "things" ARE finite and only God is infinite. I view God as the "SOURCE" of all THINGS [The One from Whom all things come into being or are derived or obtained. See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23] ! And, I view all "things" as simply RESOURCES for life. [Things that are available for use or can be used for GOOD or BAD].

Romans 8:5 says this, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the THINGS OF THE FLESH, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the THINGS OF THE SPIRIT." [ESV]



"Walking after the "things" of the flesh" [ a no-no] is simply using or seeing "THINGS" as the SOURCE for making life worth living. Any THING. American citizenship, family, appearance, relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it, can be seen as the SOURCE for what makes life worth living and, thus, become an idol. That THING is then taking the place of God in life.


"Walking after the "things" of the Spirit" [a yes-yes] is simply using or seeing "THINGS" as a RESOURCE for making life a little better, but, all the while, seeing God as the SOURCE of it all. ANY thing, such as my American citizenship, family, appearance, relationships, job, recreation, preaching, church attendance, bible reading, giving, you name it. can be correctly seen as a RESOURCE for making life a little better or more enjoyable and, thus, would NOT be an idol. God Himself is correctly seen as the SOURCE for all of life!


All finite "things" will pass away. Only Infinite God will not pass away. Nor shall we, once our mortality [finite] has one day at the resurrection put on immortality [Infinite].


So the living of life ISN'T a list of things TO DO or NOT DO in terms of priorities. It is, however, experiencing and celebrating God in ALL THINGS in life and enjoying all those things as resources He has delivered to you in your particular realm of existence on planet earth.

[1 Corinthians 3:21-23]


AND, it is being a RESOURCE yourself for others along the journey choosing to introducing them to your SOURCE with the gospel message when possible. [Christ IS after all, the answer for life and life ABUNDANTLY.]

Thus, I make no distinction between SACRED "things" and SECULAR "things." All of LIFE is sacred and seeing Him as the SOURCE and enjoying HIM is the purpose for any THING!


Paul B.

Monday, December 05, 2016

SOME THOUGHTS ON CENTS AND SIBLINGS

It would do me well to ALWAYS remember these two little facts.

One___Every coin has two sides.

Two___There were two brothers in the story of the prodigal son.

So, "What's the deal with those two statements?" you ask.

FIRST the two brothers thing.

When I discovered the "far country" brother in the story of the prodigal son, I was ELATED because I could see myself in him. Grace IS wonderful, is it not!

Then I discovered the "In the field" brother and I saw how he condemned the "far country" sibling and I got ANGRY at the "In the field" guy and all those like him who condemn those who had been in the "Far country."

And to this day many Christians often condemn other Christians who may find themselves acting like the "Far country" guy, in their opinion.

"Boy, those 'In the field' people [elder brother] are REALLY filled with pride and they don't even see it, shame on those 'in the field' characters." I have said or thought judgmentally MANY TIMES.

But as I said that or thought that it was OBVIOUS I had failed to notice that the Father LOVED THEM BOTH. How novel is THAT!

NOW the coin thing.

It's amazing how so many so-called "Christians" can often be downright hateful and condemning in their words about the behavior of others, especially sexual behavior or divorce, and then excuse it with, "Oh I'm just expressing tough love by telling them the truth about their sin."


Can I say it? Baloney.

If we Christians REALLY want to tell the truth about SIN, let's deal with the pride, gluttony, selfishness, egotism, lying, hatred and anger, found in our own lives. Oh, wait, we can't go there, that’s our stuff!

I believe “tough love” REALLY means doing just that. Actually going there. Going down deep in our OWN life to do battle with the reality of our OWN garbage. Especially the stuff like our OWN temptation to be MORE concerned about being RIGHT than being GRACIOUS. Deep enough to face our OWN twisted need to have the LAST WORD and to WIN an ARGUMENT even if we have to be ARGUMENTATIVE and ANGRY to do it. In other words, facing our OWN propensity for winning at any cost.

Tough love means the love of Christ in us is tough enough to help us see the TRUTH [log] about ourselves before looking at the SIN [splinter] in someone else. The funny thing is, I think we’ll find REALLY ourselves being able to be far more gracious once we’ve seen our OWN “log.”

That’s having tough love.

That's what I would call side "A" of the coin.

But the flip side [B] of that coin is important too and it is being willing to know that our opinion on ANY ISSUE is NOT the last word. We would ALL do well to ALWAYS remember that our opinion is NOT the most important thing in any conversation whether in person or on the Internet.

When I remember this, I WON'T get caught up in thinking my opinion NEEDS to be heard. I think it MAY WELL BE that the ability to know what I say ISN'T the most important thing in any REAL conversation, is ALMOST as important as being willing to stand for truth. That's side "B" of the coin.

I guess you could call that the heads AND tails of the coin of sharing ideas and learning to do so with genuine humility. I need both sides of that coin in my life.

It may be good at this point to be reminded that TRUE HUMILITY, at least according to a friend of mine, isn't thinking LESS of yourself. It's thinking of yourself LESS. When my friend said that, he was paraphrasing what C.S. Lewis said with this, "An humble person will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can tell him the first step is to realize that one really does suffer from PRIDE, and that really is a problem."

What both my friend and C.S.Lewis said points out to me that WHEN I think that WHAT I think about other people's OPINIONS or BEHAVIOR is the FINAL WORD and MUST be heard, I've really got a pride problem.

My love for them and grace shown to them SHOULD be my final focus. When that's true of me, THEN I'll leave the "JUDGMENT" of their opinions AND behavior to the One Who knows the HEART of the matter! [Owe NO person ANYTHING except to love that person.The rest we can work out in a true relationship.

Paul B.