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Be Bold, Be Strong for the Lord our God Is With Us

Faith, Youthwork and Family…

Month

July 2014

Does It Change Anything?

I have an eclectic taste in music, my ipod has anything from Will Smith to Blur, and Christian worship songs to songs which may not go down too well, if they were played in a church service!  I enjoy songs more when the lyrics mean something to me, putting a worship song on and being able to sing my heart out to God saying how awesome he is and how much I owe him, makes me feel great! But I am conscious that although I have sung songs like “History Maker” or “I surrender” as time goes on my passion/surrendering falls by the wayside!

I am sure that I am not the only one, there was a big christian event in our town which wasn’t as well supported by the local churches as it could have been, due to disagreements and poor communication between the leaders of different churches, one church didn’t even know that there was going to be a outdoor service with a stage in our local park, when it was virtually on their doorstep!

But the “anthem” chosen for this event was “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin, at the time, I was like “Yes lord we want you to be God of this city! We want greater things to come in this city!” But we missed a few major things! What on earth were we doing it for?

  • If it was to encourage Christians, apart from Q&A sessions, not that many Christians went!
  • If it was to evangelize, non-Christians hardly knew anything of it, as the publicity was shocking, Tough Talk were invited but no advertisements went to gyms (A load of hard men/body builders lifting ridiculously heavy loads and no one thought to share it with those who might be interested?!)

I sometimes wonder what effect a “Billy Graham Mission” type event would have?  Would many come? Has that whole lecture/mission type event had its day due to TV, and other more interesting ways of getting information, taking over? If you watch the God Channel, America still flock by the thousands to them but the British aren’t?!

My daughter loves Katy Perry, so I consciously removed certain tracks from being downloaded to her tablet as I would like her to remain as pure and innocent minded as possible.  I used to have a Gorillaz CD, which I wasn’t listening to, so a younger boy asked if he could have it, seeing no reason why not, I gave it to him, a few days later his mum came and told me she broke it in half because it had “offensive language”!

What effect does particular music have on you? Can we truly blame Marilyn Manson (and the like) for massacres like at Columbine High School as the film “Bowling for Columbine” suggested? Do we not have a responsibility for what we watch, listen to or allow ourselves to read? Surely we have a responsibility to not expose our children to things which will affect their judgement, so they don’t find themselves stabbing a friend to appease a ghostly myth!

If we go to a conference like Hillsongs or Spring Harvest or even ministry-based conferences, we get “conference fever”, we get really excited by what has been said, commitments we have made, changes God has made in us, but it lasts for how long? Our New Years resolutions sometimes have more longevity!

I wrote about the parable of the sower a while ago, some thoughts have come to mind

  • Like the seeds laid down on stony ground, some songs/words are considered irrelevant and fall on deaf ears!
  • Like the seeds, which land on thorny ground our “conference fever” gets choked by life’s challenges!

What I would like to know is how can we be like the seeds which fall on the fertile ground? How can we ensure that all the good teaching which God wants to grow in our hearts, along with the commitments we make, the growth in us continues?

How do we use the fruits of this knowledge and growth to bless and nourish those who need to know God’s love and ability to change our lives for the better?  Every day we should be thankful for what we have, even when it feels like a bad day,

  • Be thankful that you can see the light of day,
  • Be thankful that you can hear the birds.
  • Be thankful that you can walk/travel to a job (or that you have one at all)
  • Be thankful that you can taste your breakfast/coffee/juice,
  • Be thankful that you can wake up in a bed,
  • Be thankful that you have money to buy lunch.

Surely, when we are out in the world, knowing John 3:16 off by heart, knowing god loves us, that he gives us all we need, we should be joyful, and our joy, our smiles should be contagious!

If the words in songs or from sermons have no effect, we need to ask why? Are they in essence, nonsense?  Are they just words? Are you stuck in a rut, more concerned about your own life than what God is trying to say to you?  Maybe it is time to for us all to remove the “weeds”, let the love of God flood over us and become fruitful for God again!

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#6 Is there space for the holy spirit in today’s church?

For most of my early life, I had a major problem with “Organised Religion“, but then I found myself working at a residential centre that was Anglican-based (God has a sense of humour I tell you!) It opened my eyes to things that I had prejudices about, like actually taking communion with the wafers, Some churches weren’t as boring as I thought they might be!

I was not surprised however, when talking to a few young Anglicans, to hear insincere reasons for “confirmation” i.e “I was hungry, I wanted to eat the bread”, “just the next thing to do…”.  I visited a local Baptist church, who were really welcoming, (an attribute of most Baptist churches it seems) and I felt happy especially as their theology was similar to mine.

A little background perhaps- I spent most of my childhood growing up in a church that started as a “house church” i.e met in a home with a few people and grew from there. So my ideal of how church services should be was based on that one. My ideal is to have lively worship songs and then opportunity to “hear from god” and pray for one another, hopefully the talk/sermon will have hit a nerve or challenged some of the congregation into going for prayer and asking for healing/God’s help/God’s forgiveness.

So I struggle with services that are too structured, and my attitude was that Christianity should be a “disorganised faith”.  If you put too much structure in place for a church service when do you give space for the holy spirit to work?

Now, what confuses me is that when we say the “sinners prayer” and become a true follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills us and we are “temples”, yet a vast number of the churches in the developed world appear lifeless.  The same spirit which came upon the disciples at Pentecost and made them able to talk in languages they didn’t even know, lives within us!  So what on earth is going  in our churches today?

One church I have been to, appeared to only ask the Holy Spirit to come when people were being baptised, he wasn’t welcome at any other time, or so it seemed.  The only place for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to be used was in the church members meeting (where you debate church policies and practicalities about the building?) This in contrast to other churches that I have been to where every single week you see people being healed, people speaking in tongues (yes I know it freaks some people out, and I know if it is used to prophesy, there should be a translation!) They even stop the preacher from preaching a whole sermon because he has said enough and the holy spirit is moving already (Shock, horror!!)

So what I want to know is

1. If you do not give the Holy Spirit the space to work, how can you then expect him to inspire people to want prayer afterwards, he is in us, yet if we deny his presence then he cannot move within the congregation, can he?

2. We say Christianity is a faith not a religion, the only thing Jesus wanted us to do with any frequency as a group of people was to break bread and drink wine to remember him. So what is with the oranges in foil with cocktail sticks (christingle), lighting candles for the deceased, and singing carols about winter weather (when Jesus was born most likely in the Middle East in September ?)

Your opinions and comments please?

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