Monday, September 15, 2008

Sad day to live in Ohio . . .

Unless you are a Steeler fan. The state of Ohio got beat up with the left overs from the last hurricane. The Buckeyes got it handed to them by USC. Then as usual, the Bengals couldn't be any worse, then the Brownies lost their must win against the Black and Gold. Good times. That is not all to worry about in this particular blog post. I actually have had a ton of things that I wanted to bring up to the blog world of the last few weeks, but have not been around the internet for enough time, so I'll bring up a couple and then hopefully post a bit more with the rest later on.

On Spiritual Gifts
For whatever the reason, the topic of spiritual gifts has come up a lot in my circles. Tim had a couple of blogs asking why most churches do not really utilize the power of the Holy Spirit, or at least not in context of teaching through and practicing the gifts. More specifically the sign gifts. This is really important for the church. The church where I serve does very little when it comes to the gifts. Without getting into a reason as to why, I want to comment on something that I see in the the church. The church (western culture) wether old school, or new school, dying or huge, has a major proclivity to emphasize only Sunday. Now this could not be more of a general statement. The more I think about it though, how many people only see church as a Sunday thing. This plays out in everything. Big seeker sensitive churches spend 70+ percent of their time working towards Sunday, then more of their time working on growing Sunday. Dying churches get into fights about tradition and methodology primarily circling what happens on Sunday (i.e. music style, pews, burn the organ/don't burn the organ, can we move the couch in the fellowship room?) This plays out in struggles for all of the other ministries at the church. Trying to get adult leaders to come and hang out with struggling teens, or serve in the food pantry, or whatever else in the middle of the week, leaves the church doing 80% of their truest ministry with 20% of the people. So, what does this have to do with sign gifts? Hold that thought. We have several students involved in a informal college Bible study at our church and after the first meeting several of them came to me, freaking out because they talked about sign gifts and had a mini 'healing revival/ slain in the spirit hoopla'. So, I met with the guy leading it, who is relatively new believer who is just working through his passion to preach, and minister. In my discussion, one of the things that same up was that this dude was not really plugged into a growing community. Being a person who considers himself charismatic, I wanted to connect with this guy, encourage him in his spiritual development, but also help put some order to what was going down.
So here is how this all connects. The spiritual gifs were given to the church, for the edification of the church. To encourage, build up, challenge, equip, (insert whatever verb applies). The problem when it comes to the gifts is 1 Corinthians 13. Chapter 12 talk about the gifts and then how the church works and Chapter 14 talks about tongues and prophecy a bit more in depth, but 13 gets into how it all connects under the umbrella of 'the most excellent way.' It talks about what love (agape) is to look like in the church. Anyone who has been to a wedding has heard it. You know, the patience, kind, slow to anger. . .etc. Here is my point. When the church is limited to Sunday and people are not deeply connected in service and ministry outside of Sunday, they do not have the opportunity to do 1 Corinthians 13. The easiest way for me to say it, if you haven't gotten mad at each other, (then gotten past it) you haven't been there. The gifts are so important for the church, but not without 13. When the gifts spring out without a base of connectedness in a church, I feel like the idea of order gets lost and maybe more importantly, the gifts lose potency, they are more easily dismissed and it adds to the argument against their existence and use in the church. When churches dismiss or neglect the gifts, they miss out on a major part of what drives the body of Christ. But it has to come through deep connectedness with other believers, serving together, loving each other, walking through trials with each other, seeking God in prayer together. So let's get after the gifts, but let's get into each other's lives as well.
The Baby or the Bath-water
I have recently been listening to/ watching Mark Driscoll on Youtube. If you haven't heard him, check him out. He is huge on reformed theology, men in the church and being angry. I agree with him 98% of the time, but he has some really good stuff to say about religion. My church is free from the ties of dealing with traditions that shackle a lot of churches that are trying to grow, many of who are dying. Without really getting into a long discussion on how to spur change within a church, I want to point out that when it comes to change, it all about methodology. It is always a struggle to adjust what used to work. Especially when what worked is woven into the fabric of who a church is. I think of the phrase 'don't throw the baby out with the bath water'. The problem is, for many people the baby and the water are hard to distinguish. What happens is, churches go to extremes to 'change' and they throw out truth in exchange for tolerance and universalism. That freaks out the other churches who decide not to throw out anything, and they just try harder to play the game by the old rules. All of that to say, the church by definition, is supposed to grow and reach people for Christ. When religion gets in the way, methodology takes over and people freak out over needing to change. Check out Mark Driscoll if you get a chance
Why John McCain should be president
Despite my over arching desire to not publicly support a candidate as I think everyone needs to think for themselves, I must point out how close the Republican candidate's name is to John McClain. Could he be the inspiration for Die Hard? He did help discover the wheel. . .

And now for a quote:
“I couldn't help but catch the 'Equetsu Orcha' part. Did you just refer to me as white devil?”