That’s Not How Any of This Works!

They’ve got it all wrong–as a matter of fact, we’ve got it all wrong too! In the Church we see many approaches to God, but most can be placed in one of two categories: 1. We have the High Church, those that worship with an emphasis on formality. You see it in their liturgy (order of services and the way people participate) and you see it in their ecclesiology (the role of the church and the people in it). 2. We also have the Low Church, where formality is thrown out and pretty much anything goes. Arguably many non-liturgical congregations are so legalistic when it comes to their services one could argue for their liturgical air, but that’s for another day.

Why do I say “they” and “we” have it all wrong? The finger pointing. The High Church thumbs their nose at the casual approach of the Low Church, while the High Church is criticized for their cold formal approach. Well, I believe there is room for the middle!

Let’s not approach God in rote manner or think of Him as so Holy and other worldly that we cannot know Him. However, we dare not approach Him as our homie or personal genie.

There is something to be said for the formality, after all, we are gathered together to worship our Creator. Still, there is room for a somewhat casual approach because we are worshipping our Father whom we have a personal relationship with. Liturgy can be helpful when it comes to memorization of important themes that make our theology. Catechism is just as beneficial for the Catholic as it is the Baptist! Far too many are ignorant to teachings of Scripture and this is one way to remedy this. Far too many will turn to the book of Hezekiah because of their biblical illiteracy and a little formality could help.

At the same time, I know many people that have let the liturgy and formality act as a barrier preventing them from experiencing God personally. They have let their leaders do the thinking and wrestling for them, they have allowed a church service and/or ritual to stand in as their faith.

There must be a place for the middle–a place where Jesus is our amazing Savior and Redeemer whom we adore, worship, and seek to know; while simultaneously realizing while He is beside us He is also above us, while He is knowable, He is yet unseen. There must be a place where we may approach God in formal and corporate procession and song, while also being able to speak to Him intimately and individually.

There is much more to say regarding this topic but for now…let this get you thinking. Let’s not point fingers, that’s not how this works…let’s learn from each other, let’s sharpen one another, let’s appreciate one another.


You Don’t Have to Walk a Mile

I have talked with people who said, “You don’t know what it is like to hurt until you endure what I am enduring.” I have heard parents say, “You do not know what exhaustion is until you have children.” I’ve recently heard, now that I am a homeowner, I will learn what it means to be broke and busy. I have friends who would say, “Don’t tell me life is tough until you have worked fourteen hours on a flight deck in blistering heat, just to get off and realize there are water restrictions because of a JP-5 issue which means you can’t shower, and to top it off today is your kid’s birthday and you’re in the Middle East looking at getting home some time next year.” Okay, that was a long one, but seriously, you’ve heard them and maybe even made statements like these.

I’ll be honest, I’ve made statements like these. I’ve accused people of being wrong, mislead, ignorant, and/or naive simply because they hadn’t walked in my shoes or becuase I have experienced something before them. Have you?

I am bringing this up because too often we dismiss the struggles of others, we brush them off and this is not Cristlike behavior. We are all different people with varying personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. Just because I have experienced something does not mean you cannot impart further wisdom in reference to that experience. Just because you are exhausted due to such and such, it does not negate the true exhaustion of another. Just because certain hurdles of life were presented to you, the fact that other people face obstacles must not escape you!

“You don’t know depression until you lose someone you love.” What about those that live life with diagnosed depression?
“You don’t know what difficult is until you serve in the military.” What about those that have fought through abuse and then addiction?
“You don’t know__until you__”
It’s time to stop thinking in terms that put self at the center and your experience as supreme.

I haven’t had the worst life but I know what hardship is. I don’t have kids but I know what it is to be exhausted. I have never had to worship God in secret but I know what persecution is. I haven’t lost the person I love most, but I know what pain is.

If you want to grow it begins with taking the focus off yourself.

If you want your relationships to grow, it begins with letting go of your way and realizing the experiences and feelings of the person you are looking at are real. When we disregard what a person feels, when we    disregard what a person has experienced, we are telling them we are better than they are–we are saying their life, experience, worth, and feelings are not as significant as our own. Some Fruits of the Spirit are gentleness, kindness,  goodness, self-control, and love. We must apply those to situations like these.

Next time someone is venting, complaining, unloading, or just plain talking, do not nullify their statements by claiming yours are supreme; listen to them, hear them, and remember… iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).


Excuses, Excuses

Some people expect a few sessions of counseling to change their world, even though it took years to get where they are. Some people get frustrated with counseling because they don’t see any growth, yet, all the counselor can do is give the tools; it’s up to the people to use them.

I see people blaming counselors for lack of growth and I hear people attempt to discredit counseling but it’s nothing more than a cop out. What good is medicine if you won’t take it? What good is a diagnosis if you ignore the doctor’s orders?

It comes down to people blaming counselors for their own indifference, laziness, pride, and stubborness.

By the way, same goes for a sermon, same goes for a bible study, same goes for church…