Tag Archives: the church

Heartfelt Worship

I was twenty years old before I attended my first liturgical style church service. I was raised in a church at the opposite end of the spectrum. The songs seemed to be all from before the 1700’s, and we had to do responsive readings throughout the service. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! How can anyone get into this?” It was then that God directed my gaze to a woman across the church. I could tell she was enjoying it and was worshipping God through the service. God was saying, “There’s more than one way to worship me because worship comes from the heart.”

In Matthew 26, Jesus was close to the end of His ministry. He was having dinner with a man he had healed when a woman came in with a perfume worth a year’s salary. She broke it open and poured it on Jesus. The disciples flipped out and called it a waste because they could have sold the perfume and given the money away. But Jesus responded in verse 13, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed” (NLT).

I’ve been like the disciples and have complained about other styles of worship. Because God gave us different personality styles, we express our worship differently. God is looking for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth with our lives, not just at a church service. The woman in this story worshipped with all she had and we are still talking about it two thousand years later. Imagine what the Church could do if we quit worrying about how each other worship God and focused on our own worship. Remember God is looking at our heart, not our outward expression.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Acting In Love

I work in the retail industry, which means I work with the public. There are times that the customer has done something with their purchase which voids the warranty. When they come in, they want to make an exchange under the warranty. Many times, I’ve caught reps saying, “Sorry. That’s just our policy.” I’ve found that using that phrase usually infuriates people. The rep usually then tries to educate the customer on our policy so they understand why we can’t do it.

I’ve spent some time working with them to help change their approach. I tell them, “Customers don’t care about policy or what you can’t do. They need compassion and empathy along with what you can do.” I explain that knowledge is not enough when it comes to something near and dear to someone. Knowledge does nothing to correct their problem. Even if we can’t do anything for them, showing some empathy will to a lot farther. 

In the days of the Early Church, there were many questions about what Christians could and could not do. Many arguments broke out that created divisions. People argued their side and tried to make each other more knowledgeable so they would change their ways. Paul responded in Corinthians 8:1, “Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church” (NLT). It seemed everyone had an idea or an opinion, but few had love for each other.

Even today, many of us have disagreements and try to prove each other wrong. All that does is puff us up as an individual. God’s desire is that you and I begin to act in love and empathy in order to strengthen the Church. We can’t forget that we are one body. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can always choose to act in love. We are co-laborers in Christ, not competitors. It’s time we stopped trying to make the foot a hand or a hand an eye. Let’s act in love towards one another, strengthen each other and learn to work together. 

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The Body In Harmony

I recently attended United Cry in Washington, DC. It was a multi-generational, multi-denominational, and multi-cultural group of Christian ministers who gathered together to join in prayer and repentance for our nation. It was a beautiful thing to see the Body of Christ working together. There were no discussions of doctrinal differences or jokes being made at the other’s expense. There were charismatics, liturgicals, blacks, whites, Asians, non-denominationals, small churches, and mega churches joined together in harmony with a single purpose: to pray for repentance and revival.

It reminded me of the church I worked at in Cairo, Egypt. There were over 15 denominations represented and more nationalities than that in one church. It was called a microcosm of Heaven. It was incredible to be on staff and watch as people from various backgrounds, denominations, and nationalities worked together to further the Kingdom. The Body of Christ can function as one and these two prove it.

Psalm 133:1 says, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (NLT) It is possible for us as believers to focus on what we have in common, instead of what divides us, and to live in harmony. I Corinthians 13:13 says, “But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” We do have differences, but so does a hand and a foot. They have different functions, but are apart of the same body. It’s time that we as believers started to live in harmony and work together to win this world for Jesus. It will take all of us doing our part to handle the coming harvest. Will you be one who differentiates body parts or will you be one working in harmony?

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Our Mission

We live in a dog eat dog world. Most people are only out for themselves. When I was younger, you didn’t pass someone on the shoulder who had a flat tire. You pulled over and offered help. Now, we say, “They have a cell phone. I’m sure they’ll call someone for help if they need it.” We don’t give them a second thought because we are going somewhere and we don’t have time to be inconvenienced by someone else’s problem. That’s a spiritual problem that has bled over into our physical world.

The Church was founded and built upon helping those in need. It was a beacon on a hill because it was different. It was a group of people whose mission was to serve and help those who were broken down on the Road of Life. The Church fed the hungry. They clothed the poor. The people brought their extra money and possessions to the church with the intent of helping the whole community. When the Church did that, it grew by the thousands daily.

Now, the Church spends its money on many things and has lost its mission. Look at a giving envelope. Very few churches still have a line item for alms and even fewer people give towards it. I believe it’s the number one cause for the lack of explosive growth in the Church today. We have ceased to be a communal organization and have become more like an exclusive club you can belong to. We accept people who look right, act right, and live right. We’ve forgotten our mission to help the broken and hurting.

The military’s phrase, “Leave no man behind,” should be the Church’s mission statement. If we want to reach thousands, we have to get back to that communal place where our purpose and mission is helping others wherever and however they are broken down. It’s not our pastor’s responsibility to make that happen either, it’s ours individually. You can’t read the New Testament as if it was written to pastors, leaders, or even an individual. It was written to each of us as a community of believers.

In Ephesians 6:18, right after Paul tells us to put on God’s Armor, he tells us, “Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out” (MSG). That is written to you and me as individuals in the body. The burden is on us to heal the broken by loving them, to give to those less fortunate to help them along, to support those who are struggling in life, and to encourage those who are down. If each of us will do our part, we will revive not only the Church, but our nation and world.

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Holiness Over Hygiene 

When I was younger, every once in a while, our church would do a foot washing service. I typically reacted like Peter: You ain’t washing my feet! Number one, I don’t like taking off my socks and shoes in public. Number two, it’s uncomfortable to sit in a chair, in front of everyone, while a leader in the church washes your feet. Even though I understand it a little bit better now than then, it’s still one of those things that makes you want to protest having it done for you.

In John 13, the disciples and Jesus were at the Last Supper. After dinner, Jesus took off His robe and put on an apron. He poured water in a basin and began to wash their feet. When He got to Peter and he protested, Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing” (MSG). Jesus wasn’t just talking about not being a part of the foot washing, He was talking about not being a part of building His Church.

Peter’s reply to Jesus was to not just wash his feet, but to wash his whole body then. I’m sure Jesus and the others chuckled at that. But Jesus’ next words were the crux of what He was trying to do. He said, “My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene.” It’s not about having your feet washed. It’s about being humble enough to serve someone you lead or to allow yourself to be served by someone you respect. Either way, it’s humbling.

Jesus is teaching us that none of us will ever become so great that we will be above doing the most humbling of tasks. Nor are any of us so insignificant that we are below having those we respect serve us in a manner that honors us. On both ends of the spectrum, our pride clashes with humility. Either we have too much pride to humble ourself completely to serve someone else or we have too much pride to let someone we respect humble themselves at our expense. Jesus said if we fall into either of those traps, we will have no part in what He’s trying to do.

I Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another” (AMP). We are to put on the apron of humility like Jesus did, free ourselves of pride, and serve one another if we are to be a part of building His Church. It’s in the ground of humble servanthood that holiness grows. Pride is a weed in that garden that will choke it out. Get rid of your pride and learn to serve others in humility of you truly want to be like Christ. 

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Fit Perfectly Together (Video)

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

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God’s Garden

Recently I was talking with a lady I have known my entire life. She was sharing how her grandfather had a garden, her father had a garden and how she and her husband have a garden. She’s worried because she doesn’t see many people after her generation planting gardens. The art of digging into the earth, planting seeds in their season, watering the seeds, keeping weeds out, tending to the growing plants and bringing in a harvest is being lost. Some are ok with the thought of that being a past time, but with it goes a lot of understanding of scriptural principles too.

Whether or not people continue to plant gardens, the law of sowing a reaping will still be true. Will the next generation understand what sowing and reaping is if they never plant anything? If they never plant anything, will they understand the time and dedication it takes to reap a harvest? If they don’t understand what it takes to bring in a harvest, how can they be expected to work in God’s vineyard? Jesus said, “Pray that the Father would send laborers to work in the vineyard.” The idea of labor is hard work.

God is looking for people who are not afraid of hard work. Ones who know that to get a harvest, it takes tilling, sowing, tending and watering. People who know that just bringing in the harvest is not enough. There’s more work to be done after you bring the harvest in. Once the harvest is brought in, you have to prepare the land for the next planting season. The work of the Kingdom is like that, it never ends. It’s a continuous cycle just like the garden. We must continually be about our Father’s business. We must always be tilling, planting, watering, tending and reaping. Our work won’t be finished until he comes.

The more we plant, the bigger the harvest we can expect. My friend told me that her husband planted 18 pounds of potatoes and got 500 pounds in the harvest. Imagine if he had planted a hundred pounds! The harvest we are seeing in our churches is small because we haven’t planted enough. It’s time we began to sow the Word of God into the lives of others bountifully. We then need to water that Word with prayer. We can tend to it by having conversations that are godly and uplifting. When the time is right, those souls will be ready for a harvest. It won’t be just them, but their families too.

What are you planting into the lives of others? If you haven’t been planting, you can start today. Yes, it’s hard work and it won’t be easy. God made gardening hard work on purpose. He’s looking for people who aren’t afraid to dig in to the dirty parts of life, plant seeds of His love in their life and then shower them with blessings. It’s time we got back to the basics of what we were called to do. It’s time we started planting again because there can be no harvest if no one plants. Whose life will you sow seeds in today?

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