Tuesday, January 18, 2011
“He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Where does a person’s need for personal comfort end and a person’s commitment to the costliness of the gospel begin? Where does one leave personal comfort and personal preferences about worship styles, hymns, pastoral visitation expectations, and the way we prefer to do church to embrace the biblical mandates given to all believers “to go into all the world,” “to take up our cross [no comfort there] daily” and follow Jesus? Now, for me, that is the real question. Until our leaders and church members get here, I’m not sure many of our churches will reach the new generation, and many of our churches across this country will close their doors and become recycled churches turned into bookstores, restaurants, or community service centers (Edward Hammett, Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations (TCP Leadership Series).
Prosperity gospel preachers preach that the ultimate sign of God’s favor is, in essence, a comfortable life. Yet Jesus tells us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34). Over and over, Jesus reminds us how a desire to be comfortable in this world serves as a snare to our pursuit of him. Paul even talked about how riches are more of a curse than a blessing (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
What are some areas where our personal preferences are elevated to tests of faith? “Worship styles, hymns, pastoral visitation expectations, and the way we prefer to do church” can become that worldly snare. The only ‘personal preferences’ that should dictate are God’s personal preferences. I personally love folk music, reggae, and Bluegrass—and could say, “Boy, that style of worship music could really minister to me.”
But it’s not all about me. And it’s not all about you. It’s Christ’s church. We are Christ’s body and His bride. The Bible is God’s Word which points to Christ at every turn. Our hearts need to beat the rhythm of Christ’s heart.
The personal preferences we have in church may not be evil—they may be perfectly legitimate. But we must hear John Piper in his book A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Prayer and Fasting—
The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
We must beware of making good things ‘God’ things.
Read John 9.
Pray for your the three that need to know Jesus.
Fast to disconnect from the world—what earthly thing is distracting you?
Journal your journey.
Worth a look:
- Baptist Press posted an article by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church’s Jeremy Haskins called “Confessions of a Former Racist” (click here to read). Jeremy spoke at our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday 2010 back in September. He has adopted two children from Ethiopia (handsome young men they are!). May God use this article to draw out any “residue” racism in our hearts—so that it may be gone!
- We had 180 people at our morning worship this past Sunday. Good seeing our college students back and our senior adults back from illnesses and able to come due to better weather.
- We had a great turnout for our Trinidad Missions Luncheon for our Trinidad Missions Trip March 31-April 8, 2011. We had $179 given toward our trip—this will help for everyone’s expenses for airline tickets, vaccinations, passports, and other expenses. Would you be willing to pray for us and help us in this?
Nine days down, twelve to go! I’m praying for all of you!