Thursday, May 29, 2008

Coram Deo

Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My friend and I were having a discussion about discipleship: what it is and what it is not. We came to the conclusion in our churches discipleship has become a trivial part of our christian walk; even though we may have discipleship initiatives. Funny isn't it. The very thing that is meant to strengthen us is what is put on the back burner. Looking at the church in whole here is what the church in general does with each new convert. (1) Get them "saved" (2) Take them through a new believers class (3) Place them in some sort of ministry or in a small leadership roll. I don't see anything wrong with any of these individually. Don't get me wrong; I am a guy who loves to evangelize. I will throw out seed until I have nothing left to throw. But what happened to the seed that landed everywhere else but the fertile soil? It got choked, scorched, and eaten. Without proper care our people will be too burdened, burnt out or devoured by the enemy.

So where is the discipleship? Churches need volunteers and lay people but to what extent? I see more clearly why the majority of our youth start drinking and having sex, if they haven't already, when they go to secular colleges. They don't have a good foundation and they are burnt out on their faith. Also, it is why the deacon is sleeping with the church secretary and why the pastor fell from grace. Because we have not trained our "soldiers" to fight. They are missing a very crucial part of their training...the training.

Why can't our students defend their faith? Well, it could be because they don't know what they believe. We think discipleship is setting a solid devotional life. That is not accurate. A devotional life consists of Bible reading/study and prayer correct? Those things are good but they are not signs of a disciple. Those things, without decreasing their important value, are genetic instincts we should have as a Christian. Because I am a Christian I should pray and read the Word. Just as it is my instinct to get something to drink when I am thirsty or eat when I am hungry so should it be with prayer and Bible reading with Christians.

Discipleship is how we live "coram Deo" (before the face of God). Every God given moment of our lives we should portray and develop the fruits of the Spirit. Are we desiring to be more like Him or just enough like Him to get to heaven? Coram Deo is how we live under His authority, how we live to honor and worship God. Discipleship goes beyond memorizing is the holy scriptures living through us. Every thought we have, every word we speak, and every action we make is based on our desire to honor God. Discipleship must be more than an initiative. It must be more than a class. It must be a lifestyle. We don't become a disciple at a certain point in which we have reached the pinnacle of understanding. It is a lifestyle that is life-long.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where Would Jesus Worship?

Sup erbody. I recently read one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is called The Jesus Sensitive Church by Ron Auch and Dean Niforatos. It posses the question stated by the title of the blog. Where Would Jesus Worship? If Christ were in bodily form would He worship at your church or at my church? Most Christians probably would say "yes". Let's think about it though. It seems that many of the standards that the Father has set have become an offense to the church. The church tries to convince people to come by appealing to their vanity and pride rather than with the truth.

Have our churches substituted ploys (coffee shops, game rooms, free gas cards, give aways, feel good messages, etc.) for the presence of God? Here is a quote from this book:

"...we make His desires the primary thrust of the church. I don't believe there
is anyone more sensitive to the needs of those seeking than Jesus. When did we
ever get it in our heads that we had to protect the seeker from Jesus? When did
the presence of God become inadequate to do the work of God?...They (seekers)
need an encounter with Him, and that is not going to happen without a strong
sense of His presence in our services."
Is the method just as sacred as the message? Or have we come to the point to say "the end justifies the means"? They put it this way in the book. Why stop at a coffee shop if you want to draw people to your church. Why not have some female greeters dress in Hooters outfits to draw a mass of men to your church? If the end justifies the means why not? As long as we are not depending on the Holy Spirit to do the drawing than what would be the problem? People will come but would the presence of God come? Ploys have a way of doing more damage than good. Think about it. A ploy will attract a person but it can't change them. A church gets the person to come because of that ploy. But once, IF THEY EVER, start telling the seeker about the need for repentance they feel betrayed and turn away. Why? Because it wasn't God doing the drawing.

I have always felt that the seeker-sensitive philosophy is truly sinner-sensitive. Where we try to make sinners comfortable at church. Should sinners be comfortable at church? No! God doesn't tolerate sin. He convicts people of it. So when a sinner enters a church he should feel convicted, some tug at his heart for repentance, if the presence of God is there. We think the word convicted is such a bad word but it is what will truly draw a man to true repentance. True conviction is not a horrible experience but a sweet one because of the hope we have in Christ.

Maybe the churches now are like a chicken with its head cut off. The chicken's body can still run around even after it's head has been cut off. At first glance you can see a church body that seems lively, very active, involved in lots of things. But the head of that body is missing. After a while you would come to see that even though the body is's not attached to it's Head. Jesus is not in control. The source of all that activity wasn't God but man. Jesus is the head of the church and in order for the body of Christ to stay alive it must be dependant on the Spirit not a ploy.