Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today's Prayer

Father, I humbly ask that you forgive me where I've failed you. I want so badly to be close to You and not focus on anything but You, but I realize as a human I'm prone to wander. That scares me to death, so I want to put my trust and faith in You that You will keep me close.

Also, I ask that you keep my heart humble and moldable for use in Your work. I don't ever want to get callused toward life, or toward people. Make me into a tool for Your glory that Your will might be realized.

Make me want to sacrifice myself daily for Your glory, so that all dross is burned off. I should not have pride, or anger, or jealousy, or fear, or mistrust in You, Lord. Instead I should have love, peace, longsuffering, kindness, hope, and charity. Help me to understand my shortcomings and surround me with people who would be able to see them better than I ever could by myself.

And Lord, please keep turning me toward You. I may fight it, but you are more than powerful enough to make it happen. You alone can harden or soften hearts, and You alone can change the will and the focus of my heart. I ask that you continue allowing me to focus on You, and form me into a Godly person, fit for work in Your Kingdom.

All these things I ask in Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Title Pending

Hey people. Sorry about it being so long since the last entry. Things got me all tied up and then I could NOT come up with a suitable topic.

But now I have one.

I am tired of seeing churches that graft themselves into the world to make the Gospel more palatable to people. There's a disturbing trend in this country (hopefully not any further) that causes people to try and water down the Bible to gradually get people used to what the crux of the Gospel really is--that it's not all about you, and that God didn't have to extend mercy if He didn't want to. Blending in too much takes much away from the glory of God's handiwork in converting the hearts of the lost. When well-meaning people try to be delicate about it, they're really saying "I don't trust that the God I worship can do what He says he can do, so He needs a little help". A saying I made up awhile back that I use as a sig for my emails is "The Gospel is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel". It's all about using the right tool for the right job.

I don't know, there's just a lot going through my mind on this topic. I'd like to attribute it to the fact that a lot of the lukewarm types aren't being called onto the carpet about their beliefs, or that the amazing amount of supposed religious tolerance in this country enables people to skew off in thousands of different directions. But one thing is for certain, this country, as powerful as it is, is practically impotent when it comes to spreading the Gospel. We spend so much time gossiping, and devoting hours of our precious time to infighting and arguing about STUPID topics, that nothing gets done. The workforce of God has become more of a "workfarce".

My dad and I were talking, and he's arguing online to people elsewhere in Missouri about what kinds of music are to be played in church. He's of the opinion that it doesn't matter, as long as it's within reason and is directed at God. Many other people think that certain instruments, or musical genres, are just completely out of line. I just cannot get into the argument because... I simply don't care. It's not apathy, it's just that I don't want to expend energy that I could be using toward learning more about Scripture, or praying, or sharing my time with people.

What did I even start talking about?

*scroll scroll*

Now I remember. Anyway, it's becoming pretty apparent that the American church is getting lukewarm. We aren't hot for Jesus as much as we could be, because we're handling preaching with kit gloves. The church I'm attending now is the first church I've been in where the pastor isn't afraid to preach sermons that can tick people off. Whenever I see new people show up, I think (and not in a hateful way mind you) "I wonder how long they'll stay". I've heard pastors from other countries say that they're glad they aren't preaching here because we just have too much silly fighting going on.

I can't even think of a time when an American was martyred for their beliefs on American soil. Are Christians getting to be so passe that we're largely ignored? Where's the tribulation? The worst I've endured are people giggling because they think I believe in some magical old man in the sky, or call me out on some Biblical "contradiction" that can be struck down in a couple sentences. Johnny Cash said "It's good to know who hates you, and it's good to be hated by the right people." If people don't boisterously hate us, are we really doing our jobs right?

Woo! It's good to be back. God bless.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Thickness of Praise

I don't often get the chance to go Sunday evening services because I work at a deli most Sunday nights, so when the opportunity came up I went NUTS doing things with families and friends through church. It was about 5pm before I realized I could still make it to evening service so I scarfed down the Mexican food I was eating and burned rubber to get there.

Tonight was pretty intense. I hate considering people that show up for evenings to be "for real" believers, but it does take a higher amount of dedication to show up at church when it's not normally expected. Serously, people go to church on Sunday Day, it's the American way and that's how it's always been. But to show up at night, or on a Wednesday, or maybe a Friday for whatever reason... takes some dedication.

The thing I enjoy the most (and one that I've almost forgotten the sweet taste of) is the degree of fellowship amongst us these nights. It just seems calmer and allows a heaviness take up residence that maybe isn't noticed because of the bustle of morning worship.

Tonight was no different, but there really was sort of a "thickness" about this evening. I even told somebody "that was a THICK sermon" and they knew exactly what I meant before I had to explain. Just... thick. I don't know. It's times like these where I feel so broken because I think I'm coming along nicely in my faith and then something happens where I get this feeling that I'm like a little kid who's seeing something simple, like GRASS, for the very first time.

There are a lot of people who, although they claim to be believers, maybe don't get what it means to truly celebrate God. For the longest time I thought it was just manufactured posturing but now I know better. And I don't mean just being happy that they're saved, I mean just celebrating God just because He's God. The desire to want to do that comes from God, and it's my sincere hope that everyone whose heart is Jesus' home experience just one good taste of what it's like to be fully centered on God, not caring about what else is going on, and then suddenly realizing that they're surrounded by fellow believers who are on the same wavelength. It's truly wonderful. Again, I feel blessed that a God such as ours would even allow such dirty fools into His presence, but that it pleases Him to show us His glory by doing something as simple as letting us see what He's doing... and then to take that a step further and let US be pleased by pleasing Him.

Just wow. I'm done. Praise God.