How much are we drawn to comfort, to the stable, to what we know. To that which fails to challenge us or take away our breathe.
I read this article, I presume it is satirical, where a world renown sushi chef gives reasons why granola bars are better than sushi. He writes that sushi in unpredictable, hard to prepare and goes off. Granola bars are none of that. (here) This is why he argues granola bars are better.
Sushi is not boring. No two sushi are the same. Its very temporal nature is what makes it interesting.
So is life. It is temporal. It is inherently unreliable.
Lets not treat life like a muesli bar when in fact this life we have been given, for God only knows how long, is something to be treated as interesting, full of possibility, full of challenge, full of the opportunity for joy.
We had Nancy Beach preach at Inglewood Church on Sunday. It was a profound message on the seasons of life. Dealing with every season…..Understanding how to react, how to pray, how to care for others going through a different season.
Listen here. HERE
I have studied and been interested in hearing Gods voice and understanding the gifts of the Spirit most of my Christian life. Having attended a conservative bible college and been quite stringent in my views I found myself at quite the crossroads during a stressful and enlightening time in my journey.
What I needed and was experiencing from God was taking my faith deeper and into places I previously though biblically untenable. What I discovered was that my lack of experience was no reliable test to disregard the stories of peoples encounters with God as outlined throughout the bible and in the book of Acts in particular.
In fact the Bible is full of people just like us encountering a gift giving God intent on making our journey with him real and full of spiritual life.
Recently Reverend Allan Demond from New Hope Baptist Church spoke at Inglewood Church on this very topic. It was the best treatment of the scripture on this area I have ever heard.
You can listen here
Music is the soundtrack to significant moments in our lives. It becomes part of that moment. Like a favourite smell, hearing a familiar song takes us back to that moment.
Whenever I hear a ‘Hoodoo Gurus’ track I’m instantly taken back to surfing down at Dunsburough with some mates. High School was done, I had no real idea what I was going to do with my life, and the curling surf off Yallingup was as scary and exciting as the girls watching on from the carpark.
Midnight Oil chanting out ‘US forces” brings to my mind a cassette player someone had on a Scarborough High Excursion. We headed off to Balcatta High School for a volleyball tournament. Heading into that high school felt like we were stepping onto the set of “Grease”. We met and played against teens from a vastly different social group to our own.
Music conjures up memories of significant times.
When someone chooses to follow Jesus, either when growing up in the church or at a later stage in life, the music of that time will be important to them. Is it any wonder the people who found Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade swell with pride and sentiment when a glorious hymn is cranked up?
When I became a Christian one of my favourite songs was, ‘Lord I lift your name on high’. I could sing you all the words right now. It takes me back to those exciting evening services at Albany Church of Christ. But can my faith stay in that moment? No of course not. God changes, grows and refines my faith, deepens it. In fact He is always saying something fresh to the church, bringing new manna. There is no question we should be singing a new song. A new song is for the community as it is now. So often the song we heard and sung when Jesus became real to us was new in that moment as well.
This is where the ‘worship wars’ get real. We confuse spirituality with sentimentality. A new sung does not allow us to be caught up in sentimentality, it pushes us into spirituality. It causes us to ponder, meditate and be swept up in what God is saying now, today, for the community you are part of in this season.
As Pastors and leaders our past hurts will flavour our reaction to present ministry situations.
If we have been criticised, betrayed, let down and disappointed by people, this will cause us to be insecure, reactionary and untrusting in present ministry situations.
If there has been a battle fought and won in a particular area of ministry, when that discussion comes up again we may very well be overtly defensive about it. The pain inflicted by fighting that battle may still be real and present. So we shore up our defenses. It feels like we are being attacked all over again, even if we are not.
The ability to reframe your perspective to your present situation is crucial. The past battles have been done. Its time to trust, hope and believe again.
My church is going through a significant time of growth at the moment. Every week we have people checking us out, coming in and enjoying our times together. We are even seeing people with little or no church background come to our Sunday services. It really is a significant period we are going through.
What I am keenly aware of though is that in order for people to become part of your community, they need to become part of your community. At Inglewood Church we believe we are offering real times of significant spiritual input and opportunities to worship and experience a sense of God’s presence together.
But in our increasingly marginalised and insular society people are still looking for what they have always looked for, friendship and community. Part of being a church is having space and time for relationships to deepen as we journey together on a spiritual journey. Learning, being challenged, serving.
The Apostles Creed is not scripture. However I believe it accurately articulates some important aspects of the Christian faith.
I think theology is important. There are some great theologians, and some that are perhaps less than great. However theology is important, it can inform our expectations of God and life.
Neither creeds nor theology are actually what is crucial to the Christian faith. Jesus Himself made this clear. Love God. Love others.
Love of God, knowing Jesus, having a relationship with Him with all that entails is crucial to our Christian faith. Hearing from Him, listening to Him, worshipping Him. This is essential.
Love of others. Caring about our neighbour, seeing justice on earth, caring for the poor, sharing our faith, helping people say yes to Jesus. This is essential.