Makes Me Wonder…….

So, I’m working on reading through the Bible during 2014 (and I’m only 6 days behind schedule) and right now I’m plowing through some of the really exciting  chapters in Exodus where God is instructing the Israelites how to build the temple and how to make the priests clothes and robes and such.

The detail is rather mind boggling.    But then it made me wonder, “If God was that particular about how His people worshipped him in the Old Testament, why was worship styles and places much different in the New Testament and beyond?”

I think the reason for that is that after Jesus died on the cross for us, the focus became much less on following a prescribed ritual and more on a relationship with the one that saved us.

So, that raises another question – if the important thing is having a relationship with Jesus Christ and doing what He wants us to, then why do we argue so much about the style of worship?   Why does it make a difference if we use drums or an organ?    Why do some people get upset no matter what way worship is done?

God gave specific directions before Christ and worship styles have definitely changed and relaxed since then.   The important thing is not the how, but the relationship.   Are you studying a God who is out there?   Or are you having a conversation with a friend who can help you get through what you’re struggling with and can help you follow Him?

It’s not about the how, it’s about the who.  

Are you studying a God from afar or are you seeking a relationship with the one who saved you?

Tom

Christmas Letters (Cont.)

Once we had opened up all of the Christmas presents, my wife and I told them to sit down on the couch and I got three envelopes, handed one to each of our girls and told them to open it, read it and not respond until all three were done reading (they all read at different speeds).

It was the Gideon’s fleece moment. If they ran screaming to their rooms in sheer terror, then we’d have to reevaluate whether God was really calling us to do this.

We waited.

They finished reading. Their responses?

“I won’t have to be the baby of the family any more!”

“Cool except I don’t want a younger brother!”

“Can I have a younger brother?”

God opened a door and so we began to venture down that road. The path was fog filled and hard to see but we went one step at a time.

So we had decided we were going to do “something.” The girls were told and they were on board. How did we end up with Haiti?

Stay tuned……

Back and Forth

I was struck again this week with what a back and forth battle this life is.   Battle with who?

With the kids?   Well, sometimes, but not really.

With my better half?   Nope, she’s called the better half for a reason.

With who then?

With the devil.

I had the opportunity to help a local school system kick off a service project that will benefit both God’s Littlest Angels and also a local pregnancy resource center.

The stories that we’ve heard from some of the kids already have been truly heartwarming.   They are motivated to make a difference for kids who are less fortunate than they are.

And guess what – that makes the devil angry.

This week has been a week that has been full of a lot more frustration, “fog,” disappointment, difficulty and a distinct feeling that “someone” was trying to foil everything that was supposed to be happening.

E-mail would work, then stop working and then start working – all for totally random reasons that aren’t documentable.

Important e-mails that were written about church and orphan care “stuff” just disappeared.

Those are relatively minor and I could go on, but you get the picture.   It’s been a difficult week in many ways.

And what do I take from that?

  • Even when it’s difficult, God’s got this.   He’s got control of everything and He has a plan on how to work His work.
  • The devil really doesn’t like it when a church has deep discussions about how to “be church” better. 
  • The devil really doesn’t like it when people want to care for the vulnerable children in Haiti.

And he’s going to try to fight it in every way possible.

It’s back and forth, it’s a battle.   We know the final outcome but we know it’s not going to be easy until then.

But  in the words of Joshua in Joshua 24:15 – “As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

Carry on, the battle isn’t over.   But we know who is on our side.

Tom

When God Doesn’t Answer……

A friend of mine recently wrote this on Facebook…..

“In keeping with my natural, God-given, questioning nature which I have decided to embrace rather than ignore, I have been plagued with this thought for nearly a week. It came to the forefront once again after Soso’s thought provoking conversation about God being too busy to heal her twin.

Here it is…Why is it we are so fearful being real about the feeling of abandonment by God when He doesn’t answer or give us any sign that He listens when His own Son said these words, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” His own Son!

Seems to me in my human brain that being real before God and asking those hard questions simply isn’t as simple as quoting scripture.

It is about living faith while asking God why He forsakes us and then knowing He accepts our humanness, stores our tears and watches as we obey by moving forward despite no answers and believing He IS the rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Tom here……

For anyone who is dealing with unanswered prayers, illnesses that won’t go away and other struggles, I believe that it is okay to be real with God and to be upset about the unanswered prayers, while at the same time retaining the belief that God has a plan and His plan is better than ours.

But it is hard, very hard.

Of Rubber Bands, Original Paintings, Jesus and Social Media

I’m currently reading the book, “Love Does” by Bob Goff.   For the record, I highly recommend it.  This post is about something I learned from the book.

Chapter 22 is called “The Puppeteer.”   What is the “Puppeteer?”   Apparently it’s a very expensive painting that Bob liked very much.   Once he saved up enough money, he bought it.   When he picked it up, the art gallery gave him two paintings.    The original and a very good “fake.”    The thinking is that the original is too valuable to display, so you hide that in the closest or the safe and put the “fake” on display.

Bob didn’t do that.   Anyone who has read his book would know that a skateboard riding, mountain climbing attorney known for his epic rubber band gun fights with his kids wouldn’t put the fake one up.   He put the original one up.

And it got hit by a rubber band – hit in a way that it left a mark.   Now I don’t know how much the painting cost, but if an attorney had to save up money to buy it.    Well…….

So, did Bob get upset?  Did he ban all rubber band gun fights with his kids?   Did he bemoan the “ruin” of his perfect painting?

No, he didn’t.   He actually liked the painting more with the rubber band mark on it. 

Let me repeat, HE LIKED THE RUBBER BAND IMPERFECTION on the valuable painting.

Why?   Because it is a symbol of how God views us.   So many of us try to be perfect, try to look perfect, try to make it look like we have all of our stuff together.    But in reality, we’re covered with rubber band gun welts from losing battles.

And that’s the way God wants to see us.   He welcomes us with our imperfects.   He uses cracked pots, He uses scratched paintings – but for us to be used by God, we need to admit that we are those cracked pots and scratched paintings.

So how does this apply to social media?   Besides for the countless untruths being passed around on social media, I think that one of the biggest problems with social media is that it encourages people to put on a “front.”   You see the pretty pictures of the kids at Disney World, you don’t hear the stories about the car breaking down or the job loss or the emotional struggles.  

We can’t help each other and build honest and heartfelt relationships with each other if we can’t be honest with each other.

And being honest means not putting the fake front on, but showing the world our rubber band welts and scrape marks.

Tom