What Does SeqHim Believe?

This is long overdue, but better late than never. Please do not read into my tardiness that I do not believe doctrine is as important as the other stuff I have been discussing. I happen to believe it is far more important and actually drives the whole reason for starting SeqHim in the first place. I mean, if Christ has not risen then we who suffer for Him are to be the most pitied, right? (First one to chime in with the verse reference gets a root beer dum-dum…or at least a picture of one.)

Without further delay, here is a brief summary of what we believe from a doctrine perspective. I think you’ll find that it is a pretty classic summary of orthodox evangelical theology, though I am certainly no theologian. As Mercy Me says, I’m just trying to find my way home. Nonetheless, this is the mental model we are operating under.

God

There is one God, existing in three persons (“triune”): the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God creates and sustains all things. He is eternal…that is, he has no beginning and no end from a time perspective. He is infinite…that is, we can learn about him forever. He is perfect…that is, he does the right thing always. He is Holy…that is, he is unique and separate from human beings in his majesty.

Bible

Though penned by man, the Bible is the one and only divinely inspired text available to man today. Because it is inspired by God himself, it is inerrant, infallible and is to be regarded as the final authority on all matters of faith and practice for all Christians of all time.

Jesus

Jesus Christ (i.e. Jesus the Messiah) is the second person of the “triune” God. That is, Jesus is both fully God and fully man. Though Jesus is eternal, he was born into this world by the Holy Spirit approx 2000 years ago through the virgin, Mary. Jesus lives a sinless life and performed many supernatural miracles. He claimed to be God and the Jewish Messiah, was crucified, and then was resurrected three days later in authentication of his teaching. The resurrection was physical and bodily; many witnesses saw Jesus in the flesh after his resurrection. After appearing to these witnesses, Jesus ascended to Heaven where he is now exalted at the right hand of God the Father. He is designated as King and ruler of God’s Kingdom now and for eternity. As such, all people will bow to Jesus now or in eternity in submission to His authority.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the “triune” God. He is a unique person within the triune God, distinct from Jesus Christ and from God the Father. His ministry is to convict the world of sin and to be a helper to all believers in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells each genuine believer in Jesus Christ and seals them as a down payment on God’s promise to fully deliver the believer to Heaven.

Sin

Man was created in the image and likeness of God, but sin entered the world through the first man…Adam. Sin is moral imperfection present in every human being (except for Jesus) and cannot be tolerated by our Holy God. Without God’s intervention, the entire human race would be destined for Hell…a horrid place of permanent separation from God. Without God’s intervention, we would get what we deserve.

Salvation

God sent Jesus Christ to earth with one primary mission: to redeem the human race from the consequences of sin (i.e. spiritual death). Jesus accomplished this through his death and resurrection. His sacrifice on the behalf of those who believe in him is accepted by God as full payment for our sins. Therefore, we can be “saved” from punishment simply by believing in Christ. Believing in Christ means: first, accepting His teaching in full; second, receiving God’s gift of salvation (usually through prayer); and third, following Him in his life of sacrificial love for God and for others (starting with baptism). God changes us so that we are able to believe, then it is by believing and receiving that we are pronounced “not guilty” of our sin. The natural behavior of a changed person is to follow Christ in his sacrificial love for God and others.

Church

The Church is the universal and timeless union of those who have become God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ. While constantly under attack, the Church shall never be overcome by Satan and His evil forces.

Eternity

All human beings are eternal and destined to live life one time, die and sometime in the future be bodily resurrected to face a judgment that will decide where they spend their eternity. By default, all human beings are sinful and deserving of Hell, a physical place of eternal torment through final and complete separation from God. If a person places their faith (i.e. trust) in Jesus Christ alone to be saved from Hell, God will accept Jesus sacrifice as suitable punishment for that person’s sin and accept them into Heaven, a physical place of intense intimacy with God.

Satan

Satan is an angel of God who chose on his own volition to rebel against God. Several angels followed his lead in the rebellion and thus became known as demons. Satan and his demons are powerful with respect to human beings but inept with respect to God. He has been given some freedom to rule this world for now, until God redeems it. He is to be respected but never feared, because God is our Father and has him completely under control.

Deep Dive on Core, Fringe and World

In previous posts, I’ve described that there are three kinds of people in this world: ‘core’, ‘fringe’ and ‘world’. If you are new to this blog and have not read these, I suggest you do so. Here, I’ll start from the top but will quickly dive into some newer territory without making this post too long.

Remember we said…

  • ‘core’ people were obvious believers in Christ who lived consistently between the Sundays;
  • ‘world’ people refer to those who do not profess Christ at all;
  • ‘fringe’ people are those that are not living their Sunday life between the Sundays.

Fringe “go to church” primarily for social reasons, which may include participating in any “church activity” that they feel some kind of social pressure to participate in; i.e. community service, financial giving, bible study, parking ministry, children’s ministry, etc. These are the things it takes to “belong”, and so they happily do them. Core also “go to church” and engage “church activities”, but they do so because they desire to obey God in all things, regardless of the personal cost. See the difference?

Here’s the question that prompts us to think a little deeper on this: do we associate these labels with people based on their actual state or just their perceivable state? This question matters because the later path allows us to move forward, but the former leads to a quagmire of judgmental-ism. In this world, we cannot know a person’s actual state, and it is dangerous to assume that we do. That’s not to say that we can’t have confidence in our salvation or that we cannot assume that someone who exhibits certain biblical behaviors as being regenerate or not, but those are posts for another day. I’m just saying I don’t want to get into the business of trying to sort out who is actually regenerate and who is not. It’s impossible, and there is no value in it…only confusion, difficulty, and hurt. We simply need some terms to communicate observations of people that lead to our ability to help them; we don’t need terms that we use to pretend to know what only God knows.

Here’s another question that prompts us to think a little deeper: do we associate these labels with people based on their actual maturity or their intentions in becoming mature? This question matters because we as disciple-makers cannot control the process of growth, but we can control the environment in which growth occurs. We do not control a plant’s growth process, but we can influence the outcome of that process by understanding the it and creating an environment that allows that process to work most efficiently. This is the job of a disciplemaker…to understand the process of spiritual growth and help people create an environment that allows this process to work most efficiently.

When a person has become intentional about setting up this environment, regardless of the cost to him, he has by definition moved into the core regardless of how mature he is. A one spiritual-day old believer can become as intentional about the growth process as a 60 spiritual-year old.

And so the mission remains…move people from the world and fringe to the core, then support, encourage and strengthen those in the core as they engage this sometimes intense and difficult journey.

Are you in the core? Are you helping someone else in the core with their “environment”? Are you talking to someone in the world about following Christ more closely? Are you talking to someone in the fringe about following Christ more genuinely? Do you want some help? That’s what SeqHim is here for…make yourself known and let us know how we can help you.

Are you in the fringe? Do you want to move into the core and become intentional about following Christ? That’s what SeqHim is here for…make yourself known and let us know how we can help you.

Are you in the world? Do you want to know what this Christianity stuff is all about? Do you sense that you are not right with God and that bad things will happen after you die? Do you want to hear this amazing story of God rescuing a people he loves from certain destruction and how you can be one that he rescues from the fate you already sense? That’s what SeqHim is here for…make yourself known and let us know how we can help you.

As always, I continue to pray for you all…no matter which ‘zone’ you currently live in!

What is the purpose of a weekend church service?

There were several good and unique responses to the last post re: the “would you give up your seat in an easter service so someone else could have it” hypothetical scenario.  It’s actually a less hypothetical scenario than you might think.  I ran across a good friend of mine who was considering exactly that, and I was a little taken aback just because I had never really thought about it that way.

I thought about simply adding my comments to the last post, but decided to post what I think is an underlying and perhaps more important question.  I believe how you answer this question drives your response to the last question, so I’d like to pose it explicitly:

What, exactly, is the purpose of a weekend church service?

Note that the question is not, “what is the purpose of the local church”…I’m focusing in specifically on weekend services.  Why do we invest in them?  Why do we attend them?  What value do they bring?  What is the benefit?

What do you think?

Would it be better to stay home for Easter?

Here’s the situation.  You are attending a church that from Sunday to Sunday is approaching capacity.  Easter is only a few weeks away, and the church is working hard to pull as many of the “Easter crowd” to their services as possible.  They’ve added a couple of services to the weekend, but there is still concern that there will be enough space (especially in the child care areas) to hold everyone.  You are genuinely concerned that the church may have to turn people away due to the lack of space on Easter morning.

Here’s the question.  Do you consider keeping your family of five home to make room for Easter visitors? 

Very curious to hear your thoughts!

Confession

I have two confessions for you today.  The first is a personal weakness, and the second is a corporate weakness in the body today.

For those that do not know me, I do have a “normal” job in the IT industry.  I also have a full time family; therefore, SeqHim is mainly something I work on early in the morning and some late evenings.  As such, I figure I have to focus on one or two things to make meaningful progress.  Right now, these two things are fundraising and community development.  Problem is, I’m much more motivated my the later than the former, so I have made little progress on fundraising.  I’m praying through this, and I would benefit if you would lift me to the Lord as well.

I mentioned that the second confession is corporate in nature.  I mentioned Nehemiah a few posts ago, and I’ll quote him again here…

We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which you have commanded Your servant Moses.  Nehemiah 1:7 (NASB)

Nehemiah prayed these words as he was lamenting the plight of the people before he went before the King with his request to go back to Jerusalem.  I’ve personally remained committed to praying over God’s people almost daily as Nehemiah did, and it hit me in the past few days just how mistaken the Church has been in the times of prosperity and how we are suffering for it now that difficulty is increasing.

I have not yet done any formal “research”, but I do have enough relationships with enough leaders of local churches to know that generally speaking attendance is up but giving is down…significantly.  Just yesterday, a local church leader and I discussed the tie to our lack of training when times were good.  Churches today feel compelled to “dial for dollars” just to survive, and I feel increasingly certain that the reason we’re in this predicament is that we did not train disciples when we had the resources to do it…rather, we invested those resources in building a bigger audience.  We thought that the percentage of givers to non-givers would remain steady, but what we’re finding is that the “social givers” (as opposed to “cheerful givers”) are dropping like flies as they panic.  They were among us, but they were not truely with us. 

And so, I feel compelled to confess this corporate failing to the Lord, which I have already done personally.  Will you join me?

What You Believe Determines What You Become

I have not yet put a section on doctrinal beliefs or core principles for SeqHim.  That will be changing soon.  For those that don’t know me, my doctrinal beliefs line up with evangelical protestantism: sufficiency and innerancy of scripture, the virgin birth, sinlessness of Christ, atoning death of Christ, resurrection, sufficiency of grace alone through faith in Christ alone to save, the reality of heaven and hell, and Jesus return.  I’ll expand on all of these in the future, but this gives you a sense of where we are.  They do matter; and, they do shape everything we are doing.

What I want to exand upon a little more here is our core principles.  I’ve come up with five principles that will shape/guide this ministry unless the Lord leads us to change them.  I would love your feedback on them!!

Transformation is a Command of God

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2 (NASB)

Most (if not all) of the New Testament can be thought of as speaking to one of four major topics: a) what we were before Christ; b) what Christ has done for us; c) what we are after believing in Christ; and d) what our responsibility is after being redeemed. 

This principle focused on this last topic: what do we do now that Christ as redeemed us and given us a new spirit?  Do we go back to living the way we once did?  No, of course not…we are called to live as we are.  We are perfect and righteous in spirit, but our flesh needs to be conformed to this perfect spirit.  This is what we mean by “transformation” and what Paul speaks of in Romans 12:2.  All other responsibilities of being a Christian can be tied back to this one calling: loving one another; serving one another; worship; giving to the poor; etc.  All of this increases in a genuine sense only as we transform.  And so, if you can obey God’s command to transform, you will obey the rest by definition.

God Alone Transforms People, But We Have a Role to Play

Does that mean that we can somehow transform ourselves?  No!  Only the Holy Spirit can transform us.  But, in his soverignty and for reasons I do not understand, He has chosen to use us in the process somewhat like a tool.  We must cooperate in a sense with the working of the Holy Spirit within us.  And, a Spirit-filled Christian wants to cooperate…it’s part of what we get when we are first regenerated.  We long for and strive for and work for the day when we are “set free from this body of death”.

What then do we do?  I believe there is a very simple model that we can remember, embrace, and act on day-by-day.  It is that iterative growth model that I have mentioned before.  If you missed that post, you can catch part one here and part two here.

God Expects us to Help One Another Transform

I can’t imagine being obedient to our calling to love one another if we did not help one another in this mission of transformation.  What greater expression of love is there than to help someone embrace the gospel and grow in Christlikeness?  Giving to the poor is critical, and we should all do it; but, what if we invested more than we do today in people to help them transform to the point where they are even greater givers than we are?  Is that not how we exponentially grow (in number and in maturity) the Kingdom.  One person helping three others become more like Christ, so they can help three others become more like Christ?

Preaching, Teaching, Small Groups, Bible Studies, Books, Podcasts, and all other forms of “mass” instruction have a significant role to play, but at the end of the day the real work is usually flesh on flesh.  It’s person on person helping them practically apply what they are learning to their lives and interpret what the Holy Spirit may or may not being doing in their lives.  It’s defeating the lies of the world that cause us to compartmentalize our lives into our “church life” and our “work life” and our “family life”.  It’s being able to see “Bible teaching” in the lives of peeople we know the best and the people who know us the best.  This is how we ultimately reach the ‘fringe’ and the ‘world’…we must encourage and complement the proclaimation of God’s word with the genuine living out of it and explicit honest interaction with others on it.

Modern Technology Can Be Used for Good, Evil, or neither

My background and career is in technology, so I see first hand how it can be used for good and evil.  I also suggest that it can be used to have a neutral effect.  And this is as true in the Church as it is in business.

With every technological advancement, people first figure out how to make money off if it; cultures then change as a result of broad adoption; and sometime later, the church eventually comes around to doing something with it to stay “culturally relevant”…whatever that means.

I’m not going to go into all of the nuances of this right now.  That’s a series of posts for a later date.  But, I will assert that…

  • …technology should be embraced as a way to win treasure in heaven just as aggressivly as business embraces it as a way to win treasure on earth.
  • …the church has a moral obligation to carefully assess when and how it is used, because it can easily become distracting to the mission of the Kingdom just as the ‘cool’ factor in business can distract from it’s mission of delivering value to shareholders.

Therefore, we will pursue technology aggressivley but only to the extent that it builds the Kingdom in a God-honoring manner.

The Wisdom of a Crowd can be Greater than the Wisdom of a Few

As with the other principles, this can easily be a series of posts on it’s own; but, I will try to concisely explain the intent of this principle.  I, and many others, have noticed an accelerating movement for people to use the web to do things and not just consume things.  There are many, many examples of this…software development (e.g. open source), finance (e.g. Kiva), publication (e.g. wikipedia, blogs, istockphoto), and social networking (e.g. facebook) are just the tip of the iceberg.

These initiatives, and many others, are successful because technology enables the untapped potential of the amateur crowd.  This is a group of people who possess passions outside of their day jobs that are strong enough for them to devote extra time to working with others in their field.  They include amateur bird watchers, scientists, software developers, engineers, philanthopists, and many others.  And, the quality and speed of their production can exceed that of the “professionals”; e.g. compare Linux (open source) to Windows.

And guess what, this amateur crowd also includes faithful disciple-makers.  SeqHim is here to give you, God’s called disciple-maker, a means of working with others to do something as significant as facebook, or Kiva, or wikipedia…only, the significance is for the Kingdom and not for the world.  Can such a crowd be used for good or for evil as technology can?  Do we have to be careful to protect the integrity of the Gospel and the Kingdom itself?  Absolutely!  But there is a way forward to gain the productivity of the crowd without sacrificing the integrity of the Gospel, and I will continue to expand on it future posts…praying that many of you will join in the fight and help shape this thing.

Do you want to join the mission?  Send me a note (jreeves@seqhim.org); check out the get involved pagepray with us; comment on this post; keep coming back…we’re pressing on and accelerating by God’s grace!

Deeper Dive on Growth Themes

In my last post, I introduced the concept of a growth theme.  Think of themes (joy, compassion, humility, perseverance) as the more concrete sub-components of the growth dimensions (knowledge, character, and behavior).  And remember, growth on these dimensions within the themes is a result of hearing, believing and obeying God.  Later, I’ll go a little deeper on hearing, believing and obeying God…the things we do.  But first, lets look a little closer at what we are trying to become (increasingly joyous, compassionate, humble, and persevering).

Joyfully forget yourself and focus on others forever.

The above statement is something I made up as a kind of personal mission statement.  Notice how it includes each of the four growth themes…joy, humility (forget yourself), compassion (focus on others), and perseverance (forever).  We are followers of Christ if we do this increasingly, genuinely and in the context of God’s truth.  Note that I did not say we are “saved” because of it.  We’re “saved” because we professed faith in Christ and He gave us life by His grace alone.  What I’m taking about here is actually following Christ after we have been regenerated.

Now, let’s look under the hood.  Are four themes really enough?  What about love, wisdom, righteousness, contentment, faith, dependenance, generosity, etc?  As I said before, we created a mind map to organize these characteristics so that we could get our arms around the different facets and begin to eat the elephant one bite at a time, so to speak.

Here is a link to that mind map: Themes v0.3

Remember, this is one of an incalculable number of possible arrangements.  This is just one that works for our purposes.  I’m happy to take feedback on it, because I do want to improve it…but, let’s not miss the forest for the trees either.

And so you will see that we’re framing contentment as a joy issue.  If you do not have God’s joy, it is possible that the underlying cause is a contentment issue.  With this kind of vocabulary, we can use it in a number of different ways to help people.  Here are a few:

Assessment: Helping Disciples Know Where They Are

We can develop a means of helping people understand where they are in their walk with regard to joy, humility, compassion, and perseverance.  This then drives where/how they spend their time addressing areas of weakness (rather than simply ammassing knowledge by an endless stream of “bible studies”).  The intent of “assessment”, would be to help someone understand that contentment is a bigger issue in their life than say generosity.

Guidance: Helping Disciples Know Where to Go and How to Get There

Guidance can be attached to the same vocabulary.  Guidance (e.g. passages of scripture, teaching, books, podcasts, disciplines, ad-hoc experiences and advice, etc)  can be provided on how to become more generous, for example, and loaded into a shared repository.

Search: Helping Disciples Find The Best Stuff Fast

Now that guidance has been loaded against a specific vocabulary, and a person understands their need using the same vocabulary, an extremely efficient search capability can be put into place that helps a disciple find exactly what they need almost immediately.

There is alot more to be said, but alas…it will have to wait until next time.  Until then, I will continue to pray for all of you as you strive to become more like our Savior.

Themes of Spiritual Growth

Let’s pick up on a thread that I started several days ago re: spiritual growth.  Remember that we discussed two basic principles:

  • spiritual growth occurs along three dimensions: knowledge, character and behavior.
  • growth on these three dimensions occurs by iterations of hearing, believing and obeying God.

And, we used the following as a picture to illustrate the basic concept.

Iterative Growth Model
Iterative Growth Model

Now let’s break down the components of knowledge, character, and behavior so we can get to something that each of us can use in our daily lives and help others to do the same.

Several months ago, some faithful buddies and I brainstormed “christian attributes”.  We asked, “what are the characteristics you would expect to see in a follower of Christ?”  Obviously, many attributes came to mind, including wisdom, righteousness, humility, generosity, love, contentment, etc.  We then organized them into four major themes: joy, humility, compassion, and perseverance.

Therefore, when we talk about growing in knowledge, we’re really talking about growing in knowledge of what it means to be joyous, humble, compassionate and persevering.  When we talk about growing our character (internal attitudes and unseen behaviors), we’re talking about developing a joyous, humble, compassionate, and persevering character.  When we talk about growing in behavior (externally observable behaviors), we’re talking about acting joyous, humble, compassionate, and persevering.

Clearly, there are many, many ways to organize these attributes.  This is just the way we did it, and I think it works pretty well.  In future posts, I can share the detailed “mind map” that describes how we organized the attributes and dealt with “super-themes” like righteousness and wisdom.

Now, remember the second principle that describes how we grow in the three dimensions and their four components.  Generally speaking, we grow in knowledge by hearing God; we grow in behavior by believing Him; and we grow in behavior by obeying Him.  Therefore, we grow in our knowledge of what it means to be joyous by hearing what God has to say on joy; we grow in chracter with respect to joy by genuinely believing these truths from God; and, we grow in joyous behavior when we obey these new truths that we genuinely believe.

I have lots of examples from Scripture and from my own experience to share, and will do so over time, but for now let’s start with one from Acts.  Do you remember Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16)?  They behaved in an extraordinary way.  First, rather than grumbling (which I’m sure I would have been), they are singing and praying.  Then, when the earthquake hits and the prison doors are busted open, they did not flee.

Now look, I’m excited by the growth God has caused in me over the past several years, but I am nowhere near this level of mature behavior.  Paul and Silas were so focused on the welfare of their guard, they essentially sacrificed themselves for him…a non-Jew and a non-Christian.  Why on earth would they a) be singing in prison; and b) not leave when God “obviously” was trying to set them free by way of the earthquake?  In the first case, they had learned to be “content in all circumstances” (we bucketed contentment within the joy theme).  In the second, they had serious compassion for the jailor and knew what “the right thing to do was” (see my previous post).  Why were they so joyous and compassionate?  Because they knew the promises of God and they genuinely believed them.  They had already invested years into knowing God’s word and practicing the disciplines required for training themselves for just such a moment.  Of course, Paul (at least) had the additional experiences of supernatural encounters with God, but these are not necessary to grow to the point Paul was.  We can all get there by studying God’s word, proactively training ourselves to believe it, and them acting upon it in any circumstance.

And so my encouragement is simply this: know God’s word, believe what you know, and obey what you believe.  Over time, learn a little more, believe a little more and obey a little more.  Just keep moving forward and never stop. 

If you need help, please raise you hand.  I, and many others joining this community, are here to help you!

The Ultimate Goal

In my last post, I spoke about the specific and immediate goal of ministering to God’s people.  But what is the ultimate goal?  How does the mission of SeqHim converge with and support the ministry of the Church?

I mentioned what I believe is the ultimate goal in my last post, and I want to expand upon it here a bit: bring glory to God.  That ought to be the underlying reason for anything we do (or do not do).  Otherwise, what is the point?  Do everything you do for the glory of God, and work hard at it.  Yes, it is good to just chill from time to time, but even that brings glory to God…it acknowledges a) that God designed us to need rest and recreation; b) that our efforts are not nearly as important as we usually think; and c) that God himself rested and commands us to rest as well.  And so, go play golf, take a nap, or watch HGTV this weekend knowing that you may be bringing great glory to God in the process!

Given that it is good to rest and it is good to work, what do we work at?  What work brings glory to God?  Is it only “ministry” work?  Am I bringing glory to God when I go to church, serve in the nursery, help little old ladies across the street?  Sure, but does that mean that I am not bringing glory to God when I am writing a computer program, changing diapers, taking out the trash, leading a marketing project, punishing the kids, performing financial analysis, studying for a test at school, and so on?  I certainly hope not, because most of us spend most of our time doing these things that are usually perceieved as less or even non-spiritual.

Then how do we glorify God in everything we do, whether it is a ‘rest’ activity or a ‘work’ activity?  Here is a phrase that has helped me tremendously through the years: ‘do the right thing for the right reason’.  As long as you are doing the right thing (with pure motives) in any situation, you are bringing glory to God.  Sounds easy, right?  Ha!  If you think that is easy, you have never really been serious about it because it’s incredibly hard!  As a matter of fact, it’s impossible as long as we remain in this fallen world prior to our perfection.  And so, allow me to revise our goal statement to make it a bit more accurate to what is really expected of us: “strive to do the right thing for the right reason”.  We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength…to do the very best with everything God has given us to do the right thing.  Thankfully, God’s grace enables us to try and still accepts us when we fail!  But the true measure of our faith is the effort we put into doing the right thing, purifying our motives and avoiding the wrong thing…regardless of the personal risk.

So, may this be an encouragement to you today.  Strive to do the right thing, moment by moment, for the right reasons.  Make it your number one priority, higher than any any other objective you have for today.  Expend yourself learning how to determine what the right thing is, seeking the Lord in His Word, asking the Him for moment by moment wisdom, trusting that He has granted you that wisdom (James 1:5), and then acting accordingly, confidently and courageously.  In this way, you will be a delight to the Lord, He will be glorified, you will be transformed, others around you will be loved as Christ loves them, and others will be attracted to the Savior through your example of Him.

Is God at the Center of your Life?

For six years, I have engaged a wonderful ministry called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  I often tell people that I have not benefited more from any other ministry (or church, for that matter) than BSF.  This morning, I spent time in Numbers Ch 1, 2 and 3.  In these chapters, God takes a census and assigns encampments to Israel.  He places His Tent of Meeting in the heart of the encampment.  Why?  Because God should be at the center of the life of His people.

Ok…nice cliche, but what does that really mean?  It means that faithful obedience to God is more important than work for God (or anyone else).  It means that it is more important that we know God’s word, believe it and obey it ourselves than teaching or helping others to do the same.  It means that it is more important to obey the higher principle of love than sacrificing it for family, vocation, ministry, or even adhering to religious tradition (like attending a church service).

Does this mean that we don’t have to go to church?  (Gasp!)  We don’t have to give sacrificially?  We don’t have to take communion, serve the poor, etc?  Well, yes and no.  Here’s the rub…people who know God’s truth, genuinely believe it, and desire to obey him want to worship him.  They want to give sacrificially.  They want to obey Christ’s command to be baptized and to take communion.  They want to perform works of service.  They want to work hard at their vocation.  They want to pay all of the their taxes.  They want to build healthy famililies and sacrifice for them.  These are all things they naturally want to do and do them as well as they can (given the obstacle of our flesh).  If you don’t want to do these things and are constantly looking for ways out of them, God is not yet in full control of your desires.  That’s a problem that needs to be (and can be) addressed.  (BTW, if you want help with this, keep following the blog or send me an email, jreeves@seqhim.org.)

For example, let’s say it’s Sunday morning…you’ve got the family all dudded up for church, about to walk out the door, and the phone rings.  It’s the neighbor down the street (who is a ‘fringe’ person that frankly you don’t care much for).  He is supposed to be at work in 15 minutes, and his car will not start…he’s asking for a ride.  What do you do?  I’ll argue that putting God in the center of your heart means caring more about providing for this person that you don’t even really like than taking your family to church.  It means understanding that the love of Christ is better manifested by sacrificing the benefit and desire to worship with other believers.  It means understanding that the blessings that come from sacrificing your desires for others are more significant than performing religious ceremony and tradition.  It means providing an example of love to your family is better than getting them to church so they can hear a description of love.

So, ceremony and tradition are good things.  Christ commanded baptism and communion for a reason.  Worship is good, and we should not forsake gathering together on Sunday or any other time. 

BUT, the goal of all of these things is not to make us rule keepers; it is to transform us to the point that we no longer need the rules!

My prayer for you and for myself is that we be transformed to the point that we are so much in tune with the heart of Christ that we no longer worry whether or not we are in His will…we are confident that our desires are His desires and can freely and aggressively pursue them.  We don’t worry about God’s favor if we choose to leverage the resources He has assigned to us to manage (time, money, materials, relationships, etc) in a way that is non-traditional, because we are confident that we are focused on His Kingdom and not our own comfort or preferences.  

I’m a long way from this personally, but as I’ve said, I’m praying for it because I believe God desires it for us and is the ultimate goal of our perfection.