Fatherly Advice

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

This passage is from Deuteronomy 6:4-9; and it’s one of my favorite in all the Bible. The Israelites are getting ready to cross over the Jordan River and move into their new homeland – the land that God has been promising them since they left Egypt. A lot has gone on between now and when Moses led them out that night. One of the biggest things to happen was that Moses got himself into trouble with God. And his punishment was that he was not going to be allowed to go into the Promised land with the rest of the Israelites.

For quite some time now, Moses has been their spiritual father. He has led them, cared for them, watched after them and even judged them. Without Moses they certainly wouldn’t have made it this far. And now, Moses has one last opportunity to give them some directions, some wisdom, some advice before they go on without him. This is like a parent sending their kid off to college for the first time – only these kids would never return. The book of Deuteronomy records for us what all Moses told his kids.

This passage you just read is one of the most poignant, inspiring and challenging of Moses’ messages. The last sentence is verse 9. Referring to the commandments that he had given them, he told them to write them on the doorposts of their homes and on their gates. As much as this was a literal command for them – it’s a metaphorical command for us. He told them to do that so that everyone who came to their home would know that without any doubt, that God was worshipped, honored and respected in that home. And also, it was a constant reminded for the family that lived there that the Lord was the God of that home. And that He was the center of their family. And that He, and He alone, would be worshipped, honored and respected in their home.

God hasn’t called us to write his commandments on our houses anymore. Instead, we are supposed to write them on our hearts and demonstrate them in our lives. Is your home a place where the Lord is the only God that is worshipped, honored and respected? Do you live that out so forcefully and so aggressively that everyone who knows your family can easily see that?

Take time with your family to look and listen to your home. Is what you see honoring the Lord? Is what you hear honoring the Lord? Maybe it’s time to write it on our doorposts again.

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Love Is . . .

I’ve seen my share of church fights – even a couple that ended up in members of the congregation deciding to pack up their bags. Some of them were just awful situations, but most were just dumb. You’re probably thinking of a couple yourself now. Of course, your perspective will always determine who was right and who was wrong. But we can always be sure of this – satan was the only winner. When God’s family fights with each other no ever wins. I just wonder if God isn’t left standing alone in the middle, as His children walk away from one another to stake their flags in their territory, left with nothing but tears of sorrow? Such a disappointing thought.

You know, even the best or most healthy congregations have problems. I know, kind of a simplistic statement. No church is immune from people going on power trips, being too sensitive or unforgiving or just having one or two folks who seem to be possessed by satan. That’s a joke – well, sort of ;-). So since it is the case that even the most healthy congregations have to work through issues, how do they do it? How are they able to fight through satans’ attacks more united, more in love with God and still growing strong? There’s really no simple answer. But here’s a thought for you to consider.

Jesus is pretty clear what He thinks are the two most important rules. Read this scripture with me.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important? “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

This kind of gives me the idea that if I would just focus on these two that I would have a good start on living a Godly life that will make my Savior proud of me and able to use me. That’s the same case for groups of people – especially the most important group of people – Jesus’ body.

You’ve heard of the love chapter – 1 Corinthians 13. Kind of ironic that the chapter isn’t about love at all. It’s actually more about a church fighting with each other over who had the greater spiritual gifts. Look at what Paul wrote to them. Only, you’re going to notice the scripture is written a little differently from what is inyour Bible. For every occassion where Paul wrote ‘love’, you’ll read ‘family.’ After all, isn’t that what a family is . . . love? Read it with me.

Families are patient, families are kind. Families do not envy, they do not boast, they are not proud. They are not rude, they are not self-seeking, they are not easily angered, they keep no record of wrongs. Families do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. Families always protect, always trust, always hope, always perseveres. Families never fail.

Kind of changes the perspective a little? May God bless you and your Church family.

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5 Acts of Worship

I love studying the Bible. Now, I realize that I’m a nerd. My little sister often points out particular evidence for this by reminding me that I enjoy buying religious text books and reading them for fun. She’s right. I do. But, who doesn’t love learning more about God? Who doesn’t love growing closer to God? Who doesn’t enjoy digging deeper and gaining a deeper understanding? Okay, you get my point.

Here’s a topic/issue that I have looked at a little deeper. I have heard many people refer to the “five acts of worship.” In the sense that there are five separate acts of worship that must be completed each time the church assembles in order to have a worship service. Those five “acts” are preaching, praying, sharing communion, singing and taking up a collection. Let me start off by saying that this is a man-made term and is not in any way a Biblical term. I’ll try to explain why.

The writers most often use four different Greek words that we (English speaking people) have translated as “worship.” The most frequently used (by far) is proskuneo. Here’s a little deeper info on this word. It’s a compound word. The first part of the word is pros. It’s a preposition that means or is translated as “to, towards or with”. The second part of the word is kuneo which is a verb that means “to kiss.” So combining the words you get the definition of kissing towards something or someone. This explains the word was originally used to describe the act of kissing the outstretched hand of a King. Much like the Catholics will kiss the ring of the Pope when he stretches out his hand.

This word began to be used to also include prostrating yourself before a person. In other words, physically bowing down lowly or lying face-down on the ground in front a person (like a King or idol) and kissing their feet or the hem of their robe or even the ground. Most all of the ancient cultures did this. Mostly because ancient cultures deified their kings.

From this point until now, the word is thought to mean an expression of a person’s attitude through a gesture of that person’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure. More literally, to fall down and worship, to do obeisance to, to prostrate oneself before or to do reverence to.

So when we talk about worship in the context of the New Testament, we have to consider all this information when we talk about the “five acts of worship.” It doesn’t make much sense to talk about a word or idea that was generated almost 2 thousand years ago and used our current definitions for the terms. But when we talk about the “five acts of worship,” that’s what we’ve done. I’ll let you consider this on your own as I conclude with two more thoughts.

The Bible does not ever refer to a collection of acts of worship, ever. No NT writer ever said, “you have to do these five things or else you are not worshiping.” But this is exactly what many Christians contend. So for example, on Wednesday evening Christians sing and pray together prior to or after going to Bible class, this would not be considered worship.

In this case it seems like we have taken an idea and run with it. Unfortunately, when we ran, it took us away from the Bible. This seems to be another example of tradition taking precedent over scripture. One last thing, given this definition (an accurate definition that Paul would have been using), is it possible that worship is so much more than what we have turned it into?

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