no offense…but you’re worthless

It’s just not what you read in the newest self-help books.

It’s completely contrary to every trend in society. We adjust grading methods to make students feel better about themselves. We say that everyone is special and don’t stop to consider that by saying that, we make no one special. (this is well illustrated in the brilliant movie-cartoon: The Incredibles) Why do we do this? What’s the deal?

So many of the belief-systems in the world struggle to deal with the condition of humanity. I think this is very interesting. The fact that humans are bent on selfishness is quite possibly the easiest truth to demonstrate! We all hide our wrong and promote our good. Yes, even in churches! We look for the fastest lane in traffic, and the shortest line at the grocery store. We’re always looking out for our own best interests!

I love Christianity for many reasons, one of which is it’s realness. Jesus wasn’t out to flatter humanity. His disposition with humankind is very succinctly described by His half-brother James, who wrote that God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

One of Jesus’ most striking message to humanity was that we aren’t good enough. He raised the ‘bar’ of morality so high that nobody would be able to say they were good. That is why Jesus was always barking at the Pharisees! He called them white-washed tombs, and made no ‘bones’ (pardon the pun) about how he felt about their self-righteousness! In sharp contrast, He forgives and welcomes sinners who are repentant and aware of their moral bankruptcy. The Apostle Paul echoes Jesus’ message in passages like the third chapter of Romans, where he quotes various passages in the Psalms: “There is none righteous, no, not one… none who seeks after God… they have together become unprofitable (see title of this article)… etc., etc.

As Christians, our confidence is NEVER in ourselves. Not in the past, not now, and not in the future. We were never good enough, we are still not good enough and we will never be good enough! The technical-theological definition of grace is undeserved favour. Take a good guess why it is undeserved. Because we can’t earn it, and we don’t earn it!

Why are so many Christians BORED with the Christian life? I think we have forgotten just how BIG a deal God’s grace is!

May we live in the awe of God’s grace to the point where we see for ourselves just how ‘amazing’ it really is.

In Him,

Dale

through the week

Greetings,

So how was your church on Sunday?

This phrase illustrates how grossly incorrect we use the word ‘church.’ We use the word as if it means a place and a time (most commonly the church ‘building’ on Sunday morning). Some of you will be familiar with the Greek term behind our English word church which is ‘ecclesia.’ The literal meaning of this word is ‘those called out’ or ‘called out ones.’ So in the book of Romans for instance, the apostle Paul was not writing to ‘the building in which Christians meet’ at Rome, but to ‘those called out’ at Rome. Many of you will know that many early churches in the first century met in homes. For centuries, however, the majority of Christians have met in buildings. Lately, you will have noticed that the trend of ‘home groups’ has been popular all over the world.

Can I just say that I don’t really believe it matters WHERE or WHEN the church meets? Can I also say that even though we must meet corporately together, the Church is not (or at least should not be) defined by what happens when ‘it’ meets? We tend to compartmentalize our lives in to sacred or secular sectors, and this ought not be so.

In Acts 2, the earliest Christians met daily in the temple, but that was a central place of community for their Jewish culture. Reading these kinds of passages, you quickly get the idea that there was never a time or place when the early Church was not being the Church. We ought to follow their example. Didn’t Jesus himself say that WHENEVER two or more are gathered in His name, that He would be there with them? So why do we argue about where and when to meet?

In modern days, Christians are very concerned by how our services run, and what percentages of people are in small groups, etc. We find safety and comfort in such noble things as mission trips, bible studies and meetings.

I’m interested in joining God in being a part of a culture of Christians that are letting Christ live in them to the point that it makes sense that they bear His name. Not a once or twice a week irrelevant gathering of warm bodies, but an ongoing, constant culture of self-sacrificing, serving, slaves of Christ. May we begin that culture in our own hearts.

In His Grace,

Dale

tough going

Alright,

Let me share what I’m learning about how God shapes us.

People approach the Christian life with different mindsets. Some literally think that God’s sole purpose for their existence is that they can be happy, fulfilled, financially independent, popular, etc.

True; the Christian life comes complete with times of happiness and fulfillment. And yes, God will allow many Christians to live quite public and comfortable lives. He even sometimes uses that for His glory. But none of these are His sole purpose. He wants us to KNOW Him.

Our relationship with Him is a relationship that is not just initiated by faith but also grown and/or shaped by faith. And yes, I think the whole idea of faith has been prostituted in the church. Faith is dragged through the mud as some kind of force that you grab a hold of and harness and if you can manipulate it, you can have huge blessings. That idea is a gross mis-interpretation of biblical faith. Perhaps the best synonym I can think of for faith is the word trust. We don’t manipulate God to do something for us, but we trust that even if we don’t get all of our greeds, He will still provide our needs.

So how are we shaped by faith? God allows really frustrating things to happen to us. Yep. If God wants you to be more loving, He doesn’t create the most likely environment for love, but instead will allow the most frustrating person you’ve ever met to cross your path. To build patience, He’ll allow you to switch from lane to lane on the motorway only to find that each lane you force yourself into becomes the slow lane! He’s not
interested in our comfort, but our character!

“Hey church! When you fall into different trials, see the joy in it, and know that God is testing your faith and wants to build patience!” James 1:2-3 (Dale’s loose paraphrase)

In His Grace,

Dale

not the doctor

Howdy,

Last week we addressed how poor usage of time can and will keep our churches and lives from being ‘hospitals.’ Hopefully, we all took a much needed look at just how busy we are.

This week, let me share some more thoughts, taking the hospital analogy just a bit further…

How DARE we act like WE are the doctor!!! What am I talking about? Am I contradicting myself? Let me explain…

We are NOT the doctor. Nope. Not in the ‘hospital’ of the Church. We can be assistants, nurses, janitors, and even patients, but we must never call ourselves the doctor. The Great Physician, Jesus, is the One who mends, heals and saves. We are His apprentices, and yes, sometimes His patients.

As apprentices, we need to KNOW the Physician more and more. As we do, we will get better and better at the work He wants to do through us. We must not try to improve on His methods or timing, but trust that He knows what He is doing. Are you trying to be the Doctor in someone’s life? Are you trying to ‘fix’ them? Or are you leaving room for God to grow that person, using His methods and in His time?

As patients, we need to TRUST the Physician. He allows us to get hurt but has a purpose for it and wants to use it to grow you. Later in life, you can be there for someone going through what you’re going through now! Are you upset that God is letting you go through a certain situation? He is NOT there to keep every bad thing from happening to you (though many Christians act, believe and pray this way). He IS there to be TRUSTED. Let the Physician work. Are you resisting the authority of the Doctor? Are you trying to ‘fix’ yourself? Hello? YOU CAN’T!

He will allow you to struggle and struggle to ‘fix’ yourself and succeed for a while and then fail. You know the cycle? Up, down, up, down. You have to take your hands off the wound for the Physician to get in there and heal it. Yes, taking your hands off of it might mean others will see it, but it’s the only way for REAL healing.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” -Jesus

In His Grace,

Dale

what all did you do today?

Alright,

Last week we looked at an analogy between churches and hospitals. Makes sense enough, right? Well, there is one thing that will KILL our ability to turn our churches into ‘hospitals of grace’…

Being busy.

Want to know one force that NOBODY has ever been able to stop or even slow down??? The force of time. It just keeps on going. That’s why it is so precious!!! Many, many attempts are made at helping us ‘make the most’ of our time. The race is on to see how much ‘stuff’ we can get done in the least amount of time.

Much more could be said, but suffice it to say that our busy lives are killing us. We are tired, worn out and lethargic. This has a lethal effect on our ministry. We show up for ‘church’ once and twice a week, and wonder why it often seems so meaningless, so irrelevant, so…. dead.

We need to make more time for church in our lives. No, not more of what we do on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights (or whenever), but time for the growing of relationships. Ironically, the church ‘building’ isn’t usually the best place for ‘church-building’.

(that sentence might deserve a re-read)

Please, I beg you, take a look at your schedule. Write it all out if you need to. Cut out the bad stuff, cut out some good stuff, then leave time open for the best stuff. STOP patting people (or yourself) on the back for being busy! It’s cancer to individuals and the church!!! And we’re all prone to get it!!!

“for my yoke is EASY, and my burden is LIGHT” – Jesus

Love and Grace,

Dale

excuse me, nurse?

Howdy,

This week, I want to focus on ‘realness’ in our Christian lives. Let’s be honest, most of the time, Christianity is a dog-and-pony show where the ‘most spiritual’ award goes to the one with the least sin, and the biggest smile on Sunday morning. Is that the goal? Is that even reality? Is that what Jesus had in mind for the church? I think not.

We need to be open and honest with each other. I look at a church (not the building or the time spent in the building, but people) as a HOSPITAL. Hospitals are full of people that are hurting. Hospitals are places where people go to have their wounds healed. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if an injured person went to a hospital and the doctors and nurses were appalled and disgusted by the wounds they had?

“I’m sorry, miss, but we don’t allow bleeding here, can you please cover that wound? It’s making many of the others uncomfortable.”

Is this not what we do in our churches? Sure, we give much lip service to the idea of being a place of healing, but secretly, we wish for good, clean, sin-less, happy, European, comfortable church members that are more ‘like us.’ I desire to be the kind of Christian that people know they can come to when they are hurting.

This week, ask the Holy Spirit two questions…
1. Am I the kind of person people can confess sins to? Can people be ‘real’ with me?
2. Am I confessing my sins (specific) to anyone? Am I being ‘real’ with others?

May our lives and our churches be hospitals of mercy and clinics of grace…

In His Grace,

Dale