Tag Archives: church

I need you. Lord, I need you…

30 Jan

I’d like to pose a question.  Here it is: If the power of the Holy Spirit DID NOT move in our worship services, would anyone know or recognize the difference?  I read this in a book the other week, and I was immediately cut to the quick.  I had to begin to wonder if this was true in our services at our church.  Are we, am I, more concerned with the service itself, the songs themselves, the sound, or the atmosphere in the room that I lose sight of the only thing that really matters?  It has affected the way I plan a worship service each week.

Think of how vitally important the Holy Spirit is in everything that we do as Christians.  Without the Holy Spirit to guide us, we are lost when it comes to how to interact with God the Father.  My mind is taken to the words of Moses in Exodus.  Moses has already been up on the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments once.  He came down the mountain to the sight of all the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf.  He breaks the first tablets from God and punishes the people according to what God commands.  He goes back up the mountain and receives a second set of tablets.  At this point, God commands Moses to gather all of the people of Israel and leave from Sinai.  Moses and God then have this conversation:

Moses said to the Lord, “See you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.  You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore,, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.  Consider too that this nation is your people.” And [God] said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And [Moses] said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in you sight, I and your people?  Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

It is God’s presence that makes us, as Christians, unique from every other people on the face of the earth.  If God’s presence is not with us when we gather for worship to sing, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached, then we are doing it all for nothing.  Our songs are just songs.  The words are just words.  If God’s presence is not with us, if the Holy Spirit does not move, then we are simply singing and preaching for no reason.  However, when the presence of God is there, when the Holy Spirit moves, it is a glorious thing that happens.  Humans can commune with the Creator of the universe.  Simple people can interact with Almighty God.  Lives and destinies can, and are, changed for eternity.  When God shows up, in the form of the Holy Spirit, things are drastically different to the Glory of God the Father!

I pray for God’s Holy Spirit to descend on each of our services every week.  Because I want to take the position that Moses takes, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”

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It’s all about love love love love love…

14 Feb

Being that it is Valentine’s Day I can’t help but think of the many things that I love.

I love my Savior!  Jesus is amazing when you think about Him.  (Who am I kidding, He is amazing all the time!)  I am totally blown away when I consider the love that was poured out for me at the cross.  To see the intersection of God’s holy hatred for sin and His unfailing love for sinners is altogether captivating, terrifying, and uplifting at the same time.  I love that I can approach Him at anytime that I need Him.  I can approach Him even when I don’t have a request.  I can approach Him when I simply want to be near Him.  God is breathtaking in His scope and unbelievable in His immanence!  I love you Jesus.

I love my wife!  God has blessed me with such an amazing wife!  I love She-wood completely.  She is my helpmate, my best friend, my support, and my partner.  I cannot imagine life without her.  We have been through so much together in almost 12 years of dating (including almost 7 years of marriage).  She makes me a better man.  The way we are able to glorify God together with our relationship, the way we manage our family, and the ministry we do together is a blessing for me to experience.  God is so good to let me enjoy her, and I do truly enjoy my wife.  Everything about her gives me joy from the way she tucks her bangs behind her ear to watching her teach our children.  I love my wife.

I love my kids!  Wee-wood 1 and Wee-wood 2 are the craziest kids I have ever met, but they are a constant source of fun and love.  I never knew that having kids could be both one of the most frustrating and fulfilling things in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that having children is a huge God-given responsibility.  I love that Wee-wood 1 looks to me as her buddy!  The amount of emotion that wells up in me just thinking about that is great.  She loves me, and I am so grateful for that.  The way that Wee-wood 2 loves to cuddle and snuggle with me makes my day!  She is one of the most affectionate people I have ever met.  I cannot help but think of the little boy that God has for us as we are in the process of adopting.  I don’t even  know the little boy yet, but I know I will love him.  I so look forward to meeting the little man that God has for us.  Oh God you know that desire of my heart to meet him soon. I love my kids.

I love my church!  God has led us through a crazy past year in our lives both vocationally and ministerially.  However, looking back on the past year, it is blatantly obvious that God was guiding ever step in His amazing sovereignty to get us to where we are today.  I love the friendships we have built here and the minister that is taking place.  I love the heart of the rest of the staff for a proper mix evangelism and social justice.  I love that the people here love us and support us in many different ways.  I love that God has led us here.  I love my church.

What do you love?  Please let us know how God has blessed you and what you love today.

I find my place In serving You

14 Aug

Thanks to the Vineyard song for expressing my thoughts today in song…yeah I probably have never heard the song but I did my typical google and fell on them.

As I was sitting in church today I reflected that this is the first time during our marriage that He-wood and I haven’t been actively serving somewhere. It’s so weird to not have food to take to a sunday school class or small group (I’ve mentioned before I LOVE cooking right?!)…so weird to not get up so early and go to church to prepare to lead in worship (although, praise God He-wood did today, it was most enjoyable). We don’t have any meetings to go to you know the kind where sometimes you don’t really want to attend but do anyways. So weird to not get prayer request emails or newsletters or requests to bring meals to someone going through a difficult time. So weird to not get lunch invites after church..although it’s been good since our budget is tight.

That all being said….BRING ON THOSE THINGS AGAIN!!!!!!! I am so ready to pour ourselves into a church. I’m so ready for He-wood to go to work and for him to use his talents. I’m so ready to have meetings that frustrate, food to cook, and the occasional nursery work to fill in when someone is absent. I’m ready to take on some duties to help grow a church or relieve some stress from someone else.

It’s true we don’t know what we’ve got until its gone, but we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives. I don’t know who said that but it feels so true for me right now. I want normal back…I want the Wee-woods to not have to pray for their daddy to get a new job…I love that they pray for it but it’s still tough.

You are not alone, I am here with you

17 Jul

So She-Wood here…yep I’m alive. Throughout this process of a job loss and church shutting down along with some other things I have felt alone. Not that I’m a hugely social person but it has been lonely. There are a billion reasons why this is true but it has shown me how to better minister to people who have lost their jobs. Anyhow…service this morning was about not feeling like you are alone but I was looking up quotes last night about being lonely and came across this one:

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.  ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

That’s kinda how I feel right now. Trying to enjoy the solitude and looking for the blessings in this. He-wood and I have both grown in our walk and matured and we know eventually God will provide another place for us to minister and life with get hectic trying to minister, make new friends, getting involved and everything but for now we are resting. I know I am not resting as much as I should because I honestly do worry about providing for the mouthes to feed, making sure this transition is a smooth as possible for the We-woods and that their hearts would be protected from any hurt.

Anyhow just figured I should check in and blog. That’s my heart right now…trying to rest in the solitude of God and enjoy the blessings that he has given us right now.

A whole new world…

20 Apr

There is a new movie coming out this Spring/Summer.  It is called “POM Wonderful presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”  It is a new documentary by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who did “SuperSize Me.”  It looks to be a very interesting movie about the idea of product placement and advertising in the American culture.  I was watching the trailer for it earlier, and one of the statements made in it got me thinking.  Spurlock is interviewing Ralph Nader when he asks the question, “Where should I go that I will see no advertising?” Nader responds, “To sleep.”  I laughed initially, but then the thought hit me, that line of thinking can be directly applied to the Christian life.

Jesus and the Gospel should invade and take over every compartment of our lives.  If we are truly committed to and believe the Gospel and everything it entails, then our lives will be all about Jesus and sharing the Gospel with others.  In the early history of the Church it was reported by one secular historian that the Christians were everywhere in society.  They had become involved in the Roman Senate, business, entertainment, and every other sector of life.  Somewhere between then and now, that situation has completely changed.  The church and most American Christians have concluded to seclude themselves from society rather than infiltrate it with the Gospel.  This is a sad state to find our selves.  Why can’t we live out the Christian life that Jesus would have us to live out with the same mentality as that of the American advertiser.  The difference is that 1) we have a much better message to spread, and 2) Jesus can even be a part of our dreams when we are asleep.  There is nowhere that we can go to get away from the presence of God.  Therefore, there should be no compartment of our life where Jesus and the Gospel has not completely and radically changed the landscape.

I think it is time that we begin to live out what we say we believe.  As a great friend of mine has stated, “The Gospel demands action!”  We must cease to sit in a state of inactivity with the Gospel hidden in our back pocket while there are people within walking distance of where we are who are in desperate need of a Savior, namely Jesus.  Let’s begin to shift the way that we think about living in this world as a Christian.  We have to live a life that is completely consumed by, and with, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must live as we have been called by Jesus to live, and evangelism will undoubtedly be a byproduct.  However, evangelism in itself is not the ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, for the past 50 years or so evangelism on its own has become the goal of the church in America.  The church has amassed a great number of conversions to proceed to drop the ball in helping those converts to then become disciples.  There is a big difference between a convert and a disciple.  And quite frankly, we have never been called to make converts.  In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us, “Go and make DISCIPLES…”  Now, where in that sentence do you see the command to simply convert people?  Yes conversion must occur, but it cannot stop there.  Those new converts must then be discipled into what it means to drop everything and become a follower of Jesus.

We must heed the words of Peter, when we tells us in 1 Peter 2:9-12, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Our conduct must drive people to Jesus.  Meaning that every part of our lives must be consumed by and display Jesus to everyone around us.  If we do this we can move toward a whole new world in which we live.

Inch by inch, row by row going to make this garden grow

1 Feb

Over the years I’ve been part of many congregations. Had friends at fellow congregations and I’ve seen people move to and fro, in and out. Yes it hurts when people leave, however sometimes there is relief when a person leaves. Recently, I had some time to ponder the fact of people leaving one congregation. I thought of it much like a garden. In a garden we plant the seeds and patiently wait for fruit, aka Christian service, love, devotion, and love (I mentioned that right?!) But weeds also grow in the garden and the gardener, if he is good, with hardwork removes them. Yes, some gardeners may lament that the plant is no longer living but I’ve never known a gardener to go replant weeds in a different place, compost them yes but not replant. Why because weeds do not bear delicious fruit. Often they bear thorns and choke the life out of the garden, they are rampant. Rampant like gossip. Growing up we grew dill one year. Grew in our garden is all we did…we planted and harvested not much pruning or weeding. That dill took over everything. I’ve never seen anything as big. To this day I don’t like dill. But it was a great example how if given free reign that dill would overtake everything.

I hope I’ve fully hashed out this analog for you. I tend to think in song lyrics and analogies…one day maybe my life will be like a song lyric but that will take lots of thinking. Much love to the gardens (church) and fruit bearing plants!

I’ve had choices since the day I was born

14 Dec

Oh how true that opening line of George Jones song is. I’ve actually never heard the song and just read the lyrics but they fit what I needed to write about today. For a long time I’ve known I would be a pastors wife but there’s something I need to confess. It’s nothing really but a stupid “blonde” moment. I’m not blonde and I’m not prone to these DUH moments but this certainly is one. Astounding thought really: My family and I would never be able to “choose” our church body that we worship with. Now let me explain, yes we make the choice to attend worship on sunday but since they pay our bills we can’t up and go when someone makes us mad. We can’t leave if we don’t get our way. And that’s such a duh moment and I’m fine with God choosing our place of worship because well I think it should be like that.

Think early Christian Church…well you don’t even have to go that far, think outside of the US. Gasp not everyone has the luxury to pass 13 churches on their way to their church. Not everyone can choose how late they want to sleep, what type of music, and if they like the pastors speaking. Many just take what they can get. Not everyone can have the most well schooled and conference attending staff. So in times of frustration I will remind myself of these truths.

In times of frustration I will remember God has us at that church for a reason. I will also persevere through tension to make the situation better. I’ve sadly watched many church members take the easy way out and switch churches. This to me is much like walking out of a marriage and then not dealing with the fall out. Watching a building be destroyed and not cleaning up the rubble. Extreme maybe? but as humans and as Christians we tend to “Church Bash” and that harms the Universal Church. I’ve been on the Big C church kick lately. See little church is where you worship. Big church is the Bride of Christ…everyone together, you know how it will be in heaven. No segregation of language, race, sex, or even age!

I’m going to write a book and have t-shirts made…Go Big C!