Truth is not a sport that wins with the score of popularity or power won. In our postmodern world, we can believe what we want. We can pay a company to spin information or post fake news on social media. Consequences do not matter. We are driven to win at […]
As we reflect on an election season, here is a psalm to help us focus our worship–loosely paraphrased from Psalm 21. My eyes see have seen The Hill, My ears of heard the POTUS proclamations, My Twitter feed full of hateful power. But, where does my help come from? Does […]
Do I really need to go to church as a follower of Christ? When Jesus talked with the “Woman at the Well” about places of worship, his point wasn’t that place was unimportant. Worshiping in “Spirit and truth” can be done anywhere, so we know it is not about the […]
Mystery cannot be contained by two dimensions. We seem to escape mystery within the walls of our binary reality. If life was as simple as a switch, we could simply turn off or turn on solutions. In fact, we do that very act every day to choose hot or cold […]
A few years ago, a young adult very openly expressed his frustration with worship at church. “Rich, why is it that I feel closer to God at a Coldplay concert than I do at church?” This was a stunning admission, because it represented not just his experience but that of many and perhaps spoke to some doubts in my own mind. However, what came from this conversation changed how I viewed worship in church. Worship at church should either be made more like the secular music out there, if that is truly more spiritual. Or, there is something missing in the worship at church that needed to be changed. I tried the first, making relevancy a goal, but I think that hand has been overplayed. So, I am left with the second idea. What is missing?
If you are an avid worshiper of Christ and attend church on a regular basis, you probably already know what a fantastic worship experience is to you, right? Or, maybe you don’t attend church as often as you might because your past worship experiences never hit the mark. Having been to church more than many, I see the gamut and know that even when one person is soaring in their version of a worship service, another may be unaffected. There are many factors that contribute to why there is so much disparity, but I think I found ten reasons that will aid you in your experience of worship. I hope these help you!
Old stories such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Little Red Riding Hood” were meant to put fear into children. Lessons such as Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” were likely to prevent a child from basically ringing the fire alarm for fun. Fear is a motivator. It works. Fear of losing your job can be leveraged to keep you and your coworkers from offering legitimate grievances and used in turn to add hours and workload without additional compensation. From TV news to Facebook posts about the ending of the world, fear sells and gets our attention. Our fight or flight chemistry is amped to the max. It’s a science and it works.
I will be periodically posting a series of essays this year: “How We Worship Matters: Essays on the Worship Battles We Should Fight.”
As human beings, we live in the physical world. Our spirituality is connected to this and there is nothing like the Incarnation to give us a picture of how this mystery exists. Jesus is fully God and fully human. What did Jesus display to us? Spirituality is housed in people, not in stone temples or in only one physical spot.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost only amplified this by entering the life of every believer on the planet. We can now pray in concert with people all over the world because of our connection with the Holy Spirit. Our worship is empowered, no matter at a mountain campground, warehouse turned house of worship, or country chapel.
We all need signs. Where am I? I love the arrows on maps that tell me exactly where I am and the context. Real life scares us because rarely are signs this clear. When it comes to faith, signs were sought by many of our Bible heroes. Whether I am praying and leaving out the fleece at night or putting my fingers into the holes in the hands of Christ, it is all the same. I need to see. Those that truly saw God like Isaiah wreathed in the fetal position. Honestly, I may ask for a sign, but may not want the real deal. If God truly shows up, it seems I might have to change as anyone is “undone” in his presence. This is the reason why Christ came as a baby. God knows we just can’t handle it.
Real life is never lived in a straight line. In fact, it’s the turns and bends that teach us about who we really are and reveal the Creator’s intervention. I confess that often I forge out straight into the gauntlet, hoping the speed of a dash in the right direction will get to the destination. I might fail as badly as Halo’s Master Chief would if he were to run–outnumbered and out gunned– directly into the “zombie-fied” flood. Unlike in a video game, there is no replay in life. Or, the replays are very limited. That straight line tactic simply does not work.
There has been a lot of dialog in the Evangelical world in recent years about a war on Christmas. The cry was to say “Merry Christmas” in defiance to something like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Regardless of the words we use, the war on Christmas is fed from law suits to remove civic-sponsored Nativity Scenes and school prohibitions about mentioning the Jesus of Christmas. However problematic the external forces of our society press against a Christ-centered Christmas it may be our in-house disregard of Advent that sets us back. Could our fight for Christmas be a fight against Advent?
In the news recently, Michael Gungor made some remarks that caused a backlash and disparaging of his character and even his intent. He said that Adam and Eve were not literal people we all came from, and basically that to think so is like believing in Santa Claus. Yes, I strongly do not agree with that part of what he claims. Even some scientists appear to disagree with him when you consider genetic studies that propose a “Mitochondrial Eve” existed–albeit not one they would claim is the Eve of Genesis. Yes, Gungor’s tone admittedly was defensive. But, why would Gungor not be defensive? Are we able to even talk about our differences without that being the case?