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« Tennessee shooting: Mixed motives... | Main | Obama prayer plot thickens »

Monday, July 28, 2008

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BroKen

So, Rick, if you pulled up in your car, what would your order be? (he asks gingerly)

Rick

Pretty simple...

Liturgy. Quietness. Order. Reverence.

Mommynator

My husband and I have been having this discussion. We left our last church because the pastor was frantically schizophrenic - not in a medical sense, but I could not sit there and listen to his sermons. They made no actual sense and wandered all over the galaxy and sometimes made side trips to others.

Our kids have been attending a church founded by a young man who is a very talented preacher. But in their zeal to do church that's going to speak to new people, we believe that they've lost out on things that make church meaningful.

This was brought home to us when we went to church while on vacation. It was a regular old-style Baptist church in semi-rural Maine. And the things I realized that I missed and that I felt was more conducive to the kind of community we should have were all there.

I love liturgical church but can't stand the mariolatry and saint stuff. If it was only to point out how they managed to overcome their flaws and such, it would be okay, but this appealing to dead people to somehow circumvent the supposed heavenly red tape to get what you want is disturbing. I know The Anchoress hates when I say that, but it's true.

xtnyoda

Consumer driven is the acceptable name of the game in church growth communes.

We are adrift.

We've required God to the back of the bus.

Mommynator

That's exactly it - in our zeal to somehow make the gospel more "accessible" or "relevant", we're adrift and mirror our society's inability to form long term relationships and actually care for each other.

BroKen

Yes, xtnyoda, I think that is the point of the video. (Quite nicely done, I should add.)

Mommynator, I want to encourage your continued discussion and investigation into the nature of the church.

Rick, yours is a lovely list. It is not quite what I expected but it is probably what I should have expected.

The video mocks the attitude that church should give people what they want. Of course, the church should give people what they NEED whether they want it or not. But guess what, people need the church. Yep, as fouled up as we are, people desperately need the church for what we have (Christ) and for what we are (fouled up people who at least on some level want to follow Christ.) The implication of the video is that if people don't get what they want, they won't come back. Now, the people in the video want what they want. I think that you, Rick, want the church to be what it should be. That is an important distinction. But it seems to me that the response of those in the video (hit the road) is the same as yours. Am I right?

Your point is very important, BroKen.

The most profound experience I had in church was attending under a pastor who:

1. knew how to form community.
2. knew what we needed to hear, not what we wanted.
3. profoundly affected me by his preaching because he always went straight for the heart of the matter, thus convicting me.
4. gave me hope because Christ's life, death and resurrection is all about hope.

xtnyoda

What the child of God hungers for is:

Genuine worship encounters with God.

We have tended to replace genuine encounters with God by supplanting personal preference...what "worship does for me," instead of what "worship does for God."

We seem to have lost the fact that worship is for God...not for us?

How many of us enter into worship with the question, "How am I going to glorify, bless, delight, magnify, extol God today in my/our worship of him?"

Also, do we worship God at times with the attitude that if we "please" or "convince him that our cause is the right cause," then he will grant us the "goodies" we desire? When do we simply come to worship God...because God is God...period?

2Ch 16:9 The LORD keeps close watch over the whole world, to give strength to those whose hearts are loyal to him. (GNB)

That's what God is looking for, those whose hearts are loyal to him...for his own sake...not for our sake. Who will take God's interests to heart above our own interests?

Just for thought.

Rick
... it seems to me that the response of those in the video (hit the road) is the same as yours. Am I right?

Seems to me that my response to your question was as honest and heartfelt as I could make it.

Seems to me that I long to worship God corporately in an atmosphere where my goal is a shared goal.

Seems to me I've been unable to find that place though admittedly I can honestly say that I could probably try harder.

Also seems to me that you're placing me in the same boat as those in the video who are decidedly and obviously and wrongly self-centered in their motives.

Seems to me that this is the kind of judgment from those in the forest who can't see the trees that I've come to expect.

BroKen

>Seems to me that my response to your question was as honest and heartfelt as I could make it.

Yes, it was. I'll just add that I was expecting an addition of something like "hold the plastic hypocrites." But again, as I said, it was a beautiful response.

>Seems to me that I long to worship God corporately in an atmosphere where my goal is a shared goal.

That is always nice when you can find it. But how different is that from worship with people "just like me"? Just askin'.

>Seems to me I've been unable to find that place though admittedly I can honestly say that I could probably try harder.

So, it would have been possible to take my comment as a friendly reminder that you could try harder. Maybe even with a chuckle?

>Also seems to me that you're placing me in the same boat as those in the video who are decidedly and obviously and wrongly self-centered in their motives.

If you want to see it as the same boat, that's up to you, but I tried to make it clear that I see you are on a different level.

>Seems to me that this is the kind of judgment from those in the forest who can't see the trees that I've come to expect.

I guess that means I'm wrong? OK. Help me see the trees. How is your response different from "hitting the road"?

Mommynator

I have to disagree that worship is for God. He is not some fragile egomaniac needing to hear how great He is all the time.

From what I've read and digested, worship is something He demands from us because it is good for us - like a mother making her kids brush their teeth and eat right.

Worship is a response to the greatness and goodness of God, which is why I think there is so little real worship any more. We're fixated on FEELING good instead of reminding ourselves of Who God is and What He Has Done that deserves a response.

Worship refocuses our lives from us to Him and the Bigger Picture, which helps us to live through all the crap life throws at us and the messes we make.

And that's my disagreeable two cents.

BroKen

Not disagreeable at all, Mommynator.

Worship is what we were made for, so it is good for us. And when we sense the Presence of God, worship is the most natural thing for us to do. Even more natural than brushing your teeth. Problem is, as you say, we are so focused on all the crap and messes and OURSELVES (not just our feelings) that we no longer sense His Presence. That is why quietness and reverence, like Rick says, are so important to those of us who long to worship; experience the Presence.

No, God doesn't NEED our worship, but it is what He made us for, to reflect His glory. We worship because He is worthy (yes, that is circular reasoning since "worship" derives from "worth-ship") It is good for us, but we would be wise to do it even if it wasn't. It is like a moth to a flame... or better, like the Narnian horse Bree who meets Aslan face to face for the first time and says something like (shoot, where's my copy of The Horse and His Boy) "You may eat me if you like, Sir. I would rather be eaten by You than be anything else in the world." Now that's worship!

xtnyoda

So BroKen and Mommynator, would you say that God does not experience pleasure?

Mommynator

Of course not! He made us able to feel pleasure through many different venues and we are created in His image.

I imagine His pleasure in our worship is more on the lines of a child crawling up into your lap, muddy from playing, tired from the day, maybe cranky from all sort of things, and telling you, "I love you!" Who among us parents wouldn't feel pleasure at that (unless you're some OCD clean freak with delusions of perfection, which God is not).

xtnyoda

This is a very important conversation!!! Of course that is from my most humble opinion! ;-) Thanks Rick, Mommynator and BroKen!!!

Now, Mommynator and BroKen, don't we in essence fulfill the message of the video when we make statements like "worship is good for us" and thereby making worship all about "us" and not about God, first and foremost?

And I have heard your statement Mommynator in various forms over the years, "He is not some fragile egomaniac needing to hear how great He is all the time." By statements like this we are arguing from a preconceived idea that God desiring our worship, God seeking our worship...somehow makes God fragile and ego-maniacal. Where has this line of human logic come from? It certainly doesn't come from the pages of scripture.

[Psa 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psa 115:2 Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"
Psa 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. ESV]

Our "worship" needs to be centered on God first, God is the 1st priority of worship...we are totally secondary in our benefits received, and it seems to me that just must be our understanding lest we become consumers.

Thanks for the discussion again!!! God Bless!!!

Mommynator

Saying worship is good for us is not the same as insisting that you hypnotize yourself into some kind of ecstatic state to convince yourself you've worshipped.

It is good for us. It's a fact. Can't get around it. But that's not all it is.

And like I said, and Ken said, it is our poor attempt at becoming close to God who then goes beyond our imagining and actually gets close to us.

I'm not deluded into thinking that I have any special claim or precocity that will earn that closeness, but God blesses me with His presence and Himself time and again.

All this while just receiving extremely horrible news regarding financial aid for our youngest's schooling - and I'm trying instead of panicking, tears and becoming angry, to ask God to show us what He wants out of this whole stupidity. Because the major reason was a stupid lawsuit brought against my husband by a liar whose sleazy lawyer got a judgement against him by not informing us of court dates, etc., and having to go into bankruptcy to avoid that particular debt even though we have paid everything else.

Now to answer to the three fingers pointing back at me.

xtnyoda

Goodness Mommynator!!! I'm praying for you and your family.

And in your situation, the mess of it all, your worship of God is actually probably the purest of worship! Jesus gave us this form of worship on Calvary by pointing us to Psalm 22.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...(vs, 1 then vs 3 follows) yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel..."

Jesus wasn't just making a statement of desertion but rather pointing us to Psalm 22, which is a great worship song in the midst of feelings of abandonment. Verse 22 is then quoted in Heb. 2:12 pointing out that Christ himself joins us in our worship of the Father. So as you offer to God your genuine "sacrifice of praise" (Heb 13:15) as you feel like you have been taken out to the refuse pile as in the preceding verses before vs. 15 show Christ being rejected as refuse...Jesus joins you there...in the trash heap...worshiping the Father from there...for no other reason.

Pure worship, and it thrills God's heart.

Thanks.

BroKen

I want you guys to know that I e-mailed Rick an apology for what I have come to see as an unwarranted provocation.

I also need to apologize to the rest of you for messing up the Chronicles of Narnia. I still haven't found my copy of The Horse and His Boy but I checked in a bookstore this afternoon and found that it wasn't Bree but the mare, Hwin, who tells Aslan that He can eat her if He wishes because Aslan is so beautiful. I still think that is the essence of worship.

Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

That makes it pretty clear that worship isn't about us. The problem I see is that our worship is OUR worship. It is something we do. So there is always the danger that we watch ourselves as we do it. It is much better when we keep our eyes on the beautiful, awesome, magnificent Lord. When we fail to do that then our worship begins to sink beneath the waves.

Does God experience pleasure? I think it is quite clear that Jesus did and since he is the "image of the invisible God," I think we have to say, "Yes, and sorrow and pain, too."

Mommynator, I like the image of a child climbing into a trusted lap giving pleasure to God.

Oh, this is completely off topic but since you brought up OCD... "I have CDO. It's like OCD but the letters are alphabetical, like they should be!" Ain't that a hoot?

I'm praying for you and your family.

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