During the lecture and within the discussion of 1 Corinthians 11:27-32
"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (NKJV)
The biggest impediment continues to be my own struggles in my spiritual life and for some reason, I respond exactly as the enemy wants me to; I back away from the things that help me get closer to God. I know the enemy is really getting to me when I don't post on other blogs. Satan really had me thinking that my spiritual troubles should keep me from expounding on any issues related to faith.
Finally, the straw that broke the camel's back: we received a letter from our church that the Sunday Contemporary service had been "postponed" due to financial issues. Needless to say, it was a rough week.
After going today to one of the last Contemporary Services for a while this morning, I wanted to delve into some spiritual stuff that has been coming to a head in my life for a while now.
I have been pretty involved in my church since I started attending there. I don't really feel a need to jump into everything that I do, that is not important. The important thing is this: I have been debating for months about leaving my church to go to one closer to home. I have a great deal of friends at my current church and I feel that the clergy there appreciate the things that I do and the passion I bring to the community. The biggest problem is this: though my soul is eternally fed through the service that I provide, I still need something more from Sunday service to make it whole. I need teaching and to be challenged by sermons and the enthusiasm in the worship service.
As we all sat in the service and lamented of its "postponement," I could not help but feel sad. Even though it was stressed that this was temporary, it did not feel that way. Pastor Burt shared a few things with the group. These are not quotes, but the gist of the conversations that he shared with us.
He shared that even though it was the giving campaign, he was not going to sit and beg for money, instead, he reminded all of us that we should "give ourselves first to the Lord, even though sometimes where God wants us to lead us is not where we want to go." When your relationship is right with Christ, all other things fall into place, including giving. You are called to make a decision not to conform to your own or someone else's desires. He said that he understood if some of us are not at a point where they will be able to go back to the stuffy service downstairs (our service is in a loft.) He asked us to pray and let God work to allow us to be back worshiping upstairs as soon as possible.
In all the sadness and he confusion one thing God continued to show me was the following scripture:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
All this seems to make a little sense considering the other things that have been occurring in my life, gradually leading me somewhere else. I posted this little diddy about a month ago and sometimes feel like I may be "church shopping" if I leave my current church, but I feel God is calling me to do something a little different. My heart calls for more input, more challenge, more worship. If I go, I will miss the clergy, the staff, my classmates....all the reasons I have not tried to move in the past. If I go, I may actually be challenged to the level that I feel the Lord is calling me. In the end, if I do not give myself to the Lord, and surrender, then whether I leave or not, I will never be at peace.
As I finish this post out, I ask this, please pray for my church. There are some financial issues that I do not even understand. There is a need for pray that the church may follow God's will in all that they do and, ask Pastor Burt said, "give ourselves first to the Lord, even though sometimes where God wants us to lead us is not where we want to go."
"Christian spiritual formation understood in this way is automatically ecumenical and inclusive in the sense that those thus formed, those who live in obedience to Christ, are thereby united and stand out as the same in their obedience. The substance of obedience is the only thing that can overcome the divisions imposed by encrusted differences in doctrine, ritual, and heritage. The lamp that is aglow in the obedient life will shine. The city set on the hill cannot be hid. Obedience to Christ from the heart and by the spirit is such a radical reality that those who live in it automatically realize the unity that can never be achieved by direct efforts at union. It is not by effort, but by who we are: "I am a companion of all those who fear Thee" (Ps. 119:63,74)."
Since I was originally searching for some comments about obedience, I skimmed the article and, just a scripture can, at times, be taken out of context, so was this quote. As I read it, I was thinking, "This is cool! It talks about the ecumenism that I so feverishly talk about to everyone I meet." When I read the full article, I realized that, it was a philosophers view of faith and "spiritual formation." I ended up really liking the article for a couple of reasons different than what I had intended (see God does answer our prayers, just it is sometimes in a way that we may not like, but need.):
1.) It challenged me to dig deeper into scripture for a complete understanding of what it will ultimately mean for me to live out a Christian lifestyle.
2.) It challenges all Christians to really live the conversion to Christ in our hearts, allowing ourselves to be changed from within, and the fruits of these battles to be visible without, not the other way around.
3.) Even though I know the Truth of Jesus Christ, many people out there feel they can achieve the same "spiritual formation" from other religions.
4.) In dealing with faith, things can be "too Catholic." I do not believe that....well, I believe that somewhat to be true, but I do not always think that is a bad thing.
In words I shared with Jason a while back, "This article can get a little 'heady'," but that is the best part of it.
Father God, allow me, through my "disciplines" and studies, come to know you in a more intimate setting. Guide me down a path that leads to eternal life while allowing me to make those much needed mistakes along the way. After reading this article, I can see there is so much more and will never be too much for me to learn about Your mysteries or Your love for us. Help us to become a unified church again, focusing on the real "dealbreakers" and not the superfluous rites, rituals, and laws. I ask this in your loving name, Jesus. Amen.
This morning on KSBJ, a young woman called in to "New Life Wednesday" to share her conversion story. She said she had been listening to KSBJ for a few years, but had not given her life to Christ because she did not want a man controlling her life. After a few bouts with some life changing events, she accepted Christ and wished she had done it sooner.
I write about this because I realize that there are a great many people out there that, for whatever reason, either do not accept Christ, or do not totally surrender to Him in their conversion, and thus, they continue to struggle in their life (myself included). Those that are obedient to Christ's call, have lives full of freedom. They are not obedient, those that only surrender half-heartedly, are always chasing their tails and not truly living.
I ran across this little gem by Ingo Breuer entitled How to Bring Every Thought to the Obedience of Christ? Within this document, Ingo speaks to the metal thought process of sacrificing one's self to Christ, about being His property, and about fighting the battle for thought supremacy each and every day. (see also Spiritual Discipline III) Breuer also challenges us to turn off all forms of "occasion" to sin...TV being the biggest culprit, while immersing ourselves in scripture, church, and fellowship.
Have you focused your thoughts on Christ, to a point, in which your obedience brings you freedom from guilt and condemnation? Or are you like I am at times, surrendering certain parts of myself to Christ, while denying that He can help with the other struggles I have, because I am not really ready to let them go? My challenge to you this week is to read through Breuer's article and practice a few of the lessons taught within it. I know I will, as I continue to look for the courage to completely give myself to Christ - mind, body, and soul...not some mind, body when I want to, and soul on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Saturday.
Father God, help me to trust You in all things, not just some things. Help me to realize, that when I give myself to you completely, I will be at total peace, content with all that You have blessed me with and all that You have in store for me. I ask this in your Holy Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
One of my favorite shows and movies is Firefly and Serenity. I figured I would post a little YouTube action (thanks Jason, dragging me down that road), with some clips from Firefly and Serenity. I wish I had the knowhow to create one of my own....'cause I have a good montage in mind.
Without further ado, Firefly and Serenity.
My favorite Episode from the series.
One of the Best Scenes in Serenity...IMHO