Rhythms, Life and Why You Have No Idea Whats Going On Pt 1

God is Glorious

It’s Sunday morning, the coffee is flowing through my veins and our Worship team is blowing up some new bluegrass song that has everyone dancing around like it’s a straight ho down.  God is glorious.

That could be the end of this post. 

God is glorious, He is faithful and He is alive.  We can see it in everything, it’s written on our hearts, sung in our music and lived through our lives.  You may have jacked things up, rolling deep in some sin issue, but the fact remains God is glorious.  He makes all things good and even through our sin He isn’t stopped.  It’s the Good News, Jesus’ blood is sufficient. Our sins have been paid for at a high cost.  We sing about it on Sunday’s and we talk about it in small groups.  We press it out daily in our lives (hopefully) and we…. There is something missing.

Rhythms

Let me draw out a picture of how our Youth is run at the Bridge.  We meet weekly for a missional group.  It’s just that, a mission.  Currently, we are working through the Multiply curriculum, because we believe that middle school and high school teens are more than capable of understanding The Great Commission.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

So if we know that our teens can cognitively understand The Great Commission and they know the Good News, why are teens falling away from the Church?  Why is it so difficult to keep them engaged, wanting and yearning for the Creator of all?   It’s simple really, the church (notice the small c) becomes irrelevant and frankly boring to teens.  It’s the truth, eventually the programs, events and games fall short.  This shouldn’t surprise us,  all of these things are temporal.  So the question is how do we keep students involved with ministry?

You make the student ministry theirs.  You make their relationship with Jesus theirs.  It seems to me that Jesus doesn’t become a rhythm in the youths daily lives.  The Gospel doesn’t permeate their hearts and their minds and their souls.  This is true with students and it’s probably more true than we would like to admit in our congregations.  Fostering a desire or a passion is one thing.  Faking it for a social medium or to please something is another.

Five Ways to Promote Adding New Rhythms

  1. Focus on mission.  Mission drives community and action to teaching.  Your community should know who you are.
  2. Stop Talking.  Teach and develop leaders in your ministry.  It’s great that you can do what you do, but your going to die.  Don’t let the church die because you got smoked by a bus on your way to Starbucks.  We all have amazing God given gifts, foster them and develop future leaders.  This drives right back to Focus on Mission. Encourage and push the envelop on pressing the Gospel out in your community.
  3. Get life on life.  Yeah, yeah I now this is Christianeze for meeting up with someone every week.  Blah blah blah.  Get life on life, that means that you fall deeply in love with the people you shepherd.  If you can’t spread that much love, Train leaders.  You can’t handle everyone and fall in love with them or their families.  (Note: Jesus love, this love needs to have boundaries.)
  4. Get Dynamic and Organic.  If you show up too every meeting with a certain amount of questions and a stricted time schedule you automatically set up barriers and agendas.  You limit communication and make it really difficult to be real.
  5. Teach with the intention of mission.  If you’re teaching the Gospel it should be driving you to mission.  You’re community, your life.  If you’re teaching without the intention of mission you aren’t rolling out point 1 – 3.  You aren’t pressing towards The Great Commission and you aren’t following what Jesus commanded us to do.  

 

It’s getting long, there is a lot of information here… get at it.  Press the mission, press Jesus and build people up through love.

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Total Depravity and Fellowship

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize just how relient we are on Christ.  It’s so apparent when something doesn’t go right, or life gets stressed beyond where we are comfortable.   This is where we find ourselves in complete depravity, needing everything from the Creator. If we look deeply in the words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians we see that he found great joy in feeling completely in need.

This week in the Basic Series, we talked about fellowship which ultimately comes down to the interpersonal relationship that we have with Jesus.  It seems counterintuitive to think that an ‘internal’ relationship is directly responsible for our external ‘fellowship’, but through the scriptures I think that we can see how it directly plays out.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for  my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Fellowship is about relationship, and relationships are built around trust.  Trust is built off of mutual vulnerability, allowing others to see and feel our depravity.  It’s incredibly scary and it causes us to pull back.  But God.  His power is made perfect in our weakness, as we see above.  He wants us to recognize that it’s not in the fellowship that we as a group are made strong, it’s in Him.  See the relationship with Jesus works different than the relationship or fellowship that you have with your friends or even with the Church.  God himself came down in human form, vulnerable to sin and capable of death.  His resurrection defeated death and sin, so we can rest him him.  There doesn’t have to be mutual vulnerability because like the song, His love never fails.  Fellowship will fail, friendship will fail, but God…. our love fails,

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not  perish but have eternal life.    For  God did not send his Son into the world  to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because  God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that  God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love,  not that we have loved God  but that he loved us and sent his Son to be  the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and  his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:8-13)

Paul can, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that  the power of Christ may rest upon me.” because he knew that God’s grace and sovereignty never fails.  His love never fails.  If we continue to breakdown how these passages lace back into our vertical relationship with Christ we see that God is love, and

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For  we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but  when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For  now we see in a mirror dimly, but  then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as  I have been fully known.  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

The greatest gift from God is love.  The power of Christ is love.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot love even one person.  We can’t love ourselves, we can’t love our kids, we can’t love our friends, we cannot love.  You can’t have fellowship, and you definitely can’t have true communion without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The passage in James continues to reenforce this point.

Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials  of various kinds, for you know that  the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be  perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers (community), when you meet trials of various kinds (depravity), for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (love).  And let steadfastness (love) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Depravity looks ugly and it is.  We are all capable of murder, but it’s God’s grace and continuing sanctification working through us that provides us with a glimpse of what it’s like to love.  Through that insight we can start and work towards loving each other in community.  True fellowship.  It’s through his gospel that we find love, the words of his scripture and a interpretation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

So my challenge today is that we focus on our interpersonal relationship with Jesus.  We work towards a greater communion with Him so that we can have a greater communion with His bride.

Grace on Display

There comes a day
When a man falls down
In his hand he holds
his bruised and broken crown
It usually comes to his dismay
For he was proud in sin
Throughout his day

His false throne in his kingdom remains vague
As he cries his thoughts are disruptive, haunting and plagued
And Satan stands above claiming the day
Before the Light comes into play

But the scene changes quickly when he chooses to say
The name of the great Redeemer
Who washes the sin away

Jesus Christ The Lord
The Creator of the clay
Has changed his life forever
And it’s to whom he must obey

In his current state
He knows he cannot stay
For he has been shown
The Truth, the Light, the Way.

The cost was heavy, but it was He whom chose to pay
So that we could walk in the light
As God’s grace on display.

Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

As we read the scripture we find that God has unchangeable characteristics and works in ways that we can’t fathom. The fear of The Lord, like in the passage that’s highlighted focuses us on the fact the God is sovereign and that we should not only focus on his unwavering love, but on his ultimate and unbridled power. I think we can start in

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)

And recognize that nothing started before God, hence he is the creator of all. That power alone is nothing short of awesome. We couldn’t exist without the Creator and with that mindset and a reverent fear we start to take “us” or our selfish wants, desires, and egos out of the walk with Him.

We can also pull out several passages in scripture that show God as the judge and again sovereign ruler over all such as

and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. But the sonsof Korah did not die. (Numbers 26:10, 11 ESV)

Where we see God open up the earth, swallow the disobedient Israelites as a warning to the rest as they proceed through the wilderness. Two things with this passage, God is showing what happens when you step away from him and want to be a slave to something over than his rule, the Egyptians in this case. And two that He continues to show grace by not destroying the sons of Korah. We can also we that God offers multiple opportunities and is not quick to anger but will be the judge in His time.

The argument then goes to…. That was the Old Testament God, but as we see in

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part ofit and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold theland for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:1-11 ESV)
God strikes down two people in the beginnings of the first church in acts.  There is lots here but for this discussion I think that it shows that God didn’t change throughout thescripture.

I think that if we truly visualize the description of God in several key texts we can also see that we would be so blown away by Holiness and Majesty that our natural reaction would be to fear The Lord, just as Isaiah did in

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV)
And John did in
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:12-18 ESV)
Both men of God trembled at his feet. I think that if we had that experience we would have a better understanding of why fear is the beginning of all knowledge. If we chose not to have a reverent fear of The Lord I feel like we start placing ourselves above Him, not truly embracing his complete and perfect power, his Love and his Holiness.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 ESV)