A View From The Mountain

 

Last week, my family took a vacation to a cabin high in the mountains.  We had an amazing time enjoying the sounds of the birds chirping in the mornings, the twinkling lights from cabins scattered across the mountains, the crisp and clean smell of pine-scented air, and the panoramic views from our mountain perch.

Besides all of the family connection time, I also really treasured the opportunity to sit quietly on a rocking chair with a cup of steaming coffee, cocooned in a warm blanket, and with my Bible in my lap.

They were simple times of quiet reflection — just pondering the passages I was reading, listening to what God was speaking to my heart that day, and basking in the warmth of the sun and His love.

The following Scripture is the main passage I kept reading during my devotional time last week:

Isaiah 57:15

15 For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

There I sat, viewing mountain peaks and reading about God’s “high and holy place.”  I began to cross-reference other passages.  I read the passages when the Israelites were camped at the base of Mount Sinai.  Joshua and Moses were the only ones to climb that mountain into God’s Presence.  The rest of the Israelites were too terrified.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be like the Israelites — to look at God’s holiness and to turn or hide in shame and to think that such an invitation is only for the “Moses’s” or “Joshuas” that we admire.  The truth is that each of us are invited through Jesus to enjoy the “mountain” of His high and holy Presence.

Gazing out over the distant mountain peaks, I could hear the quiet invitation from God…  He was inviting me to go “higher” with Him — to enter deeper into His holy Presence and His love.  He was telling me that there is “higher” or “deeper” to go with Him.

Ascending the mountain also represented an invitation to let go of the things that weigh me down and hold me back.

God’s Presence is pure righteousness.  As I enter “higher” with Him, I, at the same time, am asked to become more like Him and more like the person whom I was ultimately created to be.

Worship is the outflow of being in His Presence — His holy mountain.  Holiness was required to enter His holy mountain.  We need to allow God to purify us.  It’s a pure heart that shall see God.  At the heart of holiness is humility, and at the heart of worship is holiness.

Advertisements

Why A Baby?

baby damian

(FreeImages.com/Marco Ojeda)

My thoughts this season have frequently gathered at the sight of the baby, lying innocently and quietly in a manger.

I have contemplated the meaning behind why the Son of God came as a baby and not as a ruling prince in the prime of his life.

Why a baby?

What was God trying to teach us in coming as a baby?

I allude to some of what I was thinking on this subject in a previous blog post (https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/just-a-baby/).

As I pondered the meaning of a baby, something so simple but so profound struck me.

God taught us first to worship before He taught us to serve or to work in His Kingdom.

The angels, announcing the Savior’s birth, appeared to simple shepherds who were quietly watching over their flocks.  The shepherds immediately ran to find the baby and fell at His feet to worship Him.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, immediately sings a song of worship when she hears of His coming!

Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, immediately sings a song of worship when Mary visits, pregnant with the Son of God.

Simeon and Anna were two elderly people who daily visited the temple, waiting the birth and appearance of the Messiah.  When they see Him in Mary’s arms, they immediately recognize Jesus for Who He is and begin to praise God.

Wise-men from the East travel far to present precious and valuable gifts to the baby Jesus and to worship Him.

The Son of God’s arrival was announced by a Heavenly Host, praising God!  His birth resulted in worship.

The work part of His ministry would come later.

God knew that man would always be tempted to first seek a ministry or work before seeking to worship.  Why?

Because, it’s tempting to look to a ministry or work to find our meaning or to make us feel important, but authentic worship requires vulnerability and humility.

Instead, God is looking for worshipers and seems to indicate that worship is always the prerequisite to true kingdom-work.  In fact, worship and service are like threads woven together, and the third strand is always love in the center.

In fact, worship and service are like threads woven together, and the third strand is always love in the center.

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, let’s not overlook the most important part:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will to men!”

Just a Baby…

Nexus,hand,human,body

(FreeImages.com/Miguel Ugalde)

The background of our story:

Dusty roads; the rhythmic marching of a legion of soldiers; the poor and the infirmed begging for food; the elaborate robes and prayers of the temple priests; the bleating and smells of many animals; the jostle and bustle of the crowds; tables overflowing with dates, fish, and breads in the market-place; the din of merchants and customers haggling over prices; the wail of a child looking for its mother in the press of the crowd…

It was a world where you grew up fast, married young, worked hard, feared the oppressive rule of the Romans and the religious leaders, and feared the numerous diseases that could easily bring death to any family member at any time.

Some chose to “get ahead” by taking advantage of others.  The “some” encompassed government leaders and even religious leaders.  You never really knew who was trustworthy and who wasn’t.  Fear has a way of turning loyalty and integrity away.

There were those who lived in great wealth with a large collection of slaves to do their every bidding.  They lived in virtual palaces with elaborate tapestries, colorful gardens, elegant fountains, exquisite paintings, and magnificent, marble statues surrounding them.

On the other hand, many of the people lived in abject poverty: barefoot, dressed in rags, begging or stealing for food, exposed to deadly diseases, and the looming threat of barbarous punishment if caught trying to survive.

To live under the rule of the Romans was to live with the constant companion of fear and oppression.  (The Romans were known for their cruelty to anyone who was not a Roman citizen.)

It was into this dark and fearful world that we begin our story…

It had been 400 years since a prophetic word had been given by God’s people.  The heavens appeared to be silent.

The people longed and waited for a deliverer.  They imagined someone like David who would easily take on the Roman “giant” and would defeat him without them even needing to lift a sword.

Perhaps, their deliverer would be like Solomon and would bring prosperity and peace to their nation again.

Perhaps, their deliverer would be like Moses and would lead them to some new and promised land where they could live free of oppression.

Their dreams were always of a powerful and strong leader — someone they could rally behind, fight with, who would avenge the oppressed, who would set captives free, who would heal the sick, who would bring peace, who would bring hope.

Our story picks up outside a small town.

The glow of fires dotted the hillsides, while the sound of an occasional sheep bleating, the low hum of shepherds talking, and the lonesome notes of a pipe echoed across the valley.  Here on the hills, for a few blessed hours, there was quiet and an appearance of peace.

Suddenly, the curtain of heaven was pealed back!  Onto the stage of heaven and back-lit by the glimmer of stars and the glow of campfires appeared a shimmering host of celestial beings!

Heaven seemed to be making up for 400 silent years with an entire choir of angels, proclaiming two, coinciding messages: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will to men!”

Heaven chose to appear to simple shepherds, on a hillside, to proclaim the news and details of their deliver’s birth.

The shepherds immediately left the hillsides and traveled into the small town to find the baby, spreading the news to those who cared to hear.

The shepherds found a simple carpenter, a young woman, and a newborn baby lying in a crude manger on a pile of straw.   Unperturbed by the surroundings, the shepherds immediately fell down to worship this baby.

Perhaps, it was this very reason they were chosen to be the first to welcome the Son of God…

…the shepherds immediately fell down to worship…

The world had no idea yet what a momentous occasion this was!  Many wouldn’t have believed, even if told the circumstances, that a baby could be their promised and long-anticipated deliverer.

How could a simple baby — sleeping for hours and completely dependent on its parents for nourishment and care — be the deliverer?  Why would God present His Son in such a humble form as a baby?

Perhaps, it’s because of what babies represent and how we are to respond to them…  Babies require us to stop, to hold them, and to speak gently.  When you hold a baby, your soul learns to pause and to listen.

The very way the Son of God came also speaks volumes of Who He is.  He didn’t come with a show of power and wealth.  He came with humility and in simple surroundings, telling an entire world that God is aware of even the smallest and most vulnerable.  He sees those that others overlook.  

God was sending a simple but powerful message that peace doesn’t come in outward displays.  God was saying that peace and good will come from Him.  He was saying that His glory can be both celestial and majestic but also wrapped in simple purity.  He was also showing that what He treasures most of all is our hearts and that is from where true worship comes.

The name the Baby was given was Immanuel, which means “God with us.”  God was saying that most of all, He wants to dwell with us.  In the last book of the Bible, God once again reaffirms His purpose for us:

Revelation 21:3

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

As you follow His life, you discover that the way Jesus or Immanuel lived tells its own story.  He was kind where others were cruel.  He was generous where others were greedy.  He was humble where others were haughty.  He was loving where others were lewd.  He was forgiving where others were fuming.  He was scrupulous where others were scheming.

He healed the sick — no matter their station in life.  He raised the dead to life!  He fed the hungry.  He rebuked the arrogancy of the religious leaders.  He played with children.  He helped fishermen.  He recognized and honored women.  He associated with people from all walks of life.  He was never worried about His reputation; He only did what was right every. single. time.

He spoke in parables and said, “He that has ears to hear, let Him hear.”  Jesus was saying that it doesn’t require a degree in religion, science, mathematics, or psychology to understand the most important truths.  He was saying that He loves to bring His greatest truths and greatest insights to those who are willing and humble enough to listen, to be led by Him, and to yield their hearts to Him.

He brought the truest form of peace to those who were willing to receive and see it.  He brought the bread of eternal life to the hungry.  He brought freedom from the greatest oppressors ever: sin, fear, greed, and shame.  He set the captives free because no one can enchain a soul that God has set free!

Ultimately, Jesus’ earthly life ended on a humble and crude note.  He died the death of a common criminal with shame, cruelty, and anguish His final moments.  Once again, the heavens responded by closing the curtain (darkness fell) and the earth itself shook (earthquake).  Jesus’ final words were “It is finished!”  He had finished what He came to do.  His death and resurrection were the means for our entrance into Heaven, eternal life, and fellowship with God.  He removed the sting and hopelessness of death at His death.

Heaven’s curtain is waiting to be lifted to reveal the final act on the stage of life.  It will be an act that will once and for all eliminate evil and will reveal the Son of God in all His glory to us.  At that time, “Every knee will bow…”

This Christmas, let’s take time to reflect, to ponder, and to worship… a simple baby but also a magnificent Savior!

Captivated!

waterfalls

(FreeImages.com/YaroosKonkret)

sunny mountain

(FreeImages.com/BiankaMarton)

Mountains & Valley

(FreeImages.com/BrandonKeim)

Monument Valley

(FreeImages.com/cmsler)

Snowy valley

(FreeImages.com/BillBlue)

Grand Canyon Point Royal

(FreeImages.com/MarkButler)

Antelope Canyon 4

(FreeImages.com/FrancoisEgli)

Flower

(FreeImages.com/AndreasDahl)

insect

(FreeImages.com/ElisaChang)

sleeping baby

(FreeImages.com/SS)

Beauty surrounds us everywhere!  There is beauty in the creation we see — from the tiniest insect, to vibrant flowers, to rainbows, to mountains, to valleys, and to the innocence of a baby.  So often, I go through life unaware of the beauty that surrounds me and to the greater purpose of what that beauty reveals.

This morning I read the following quote from the new study I am beginning, called Wonderstruck:

God extends uncounted invitations to encounter Him; yet, too often I sleep straight through.  Unconscious of the life God desires for me, I slumber in the presence of the sacred and snore in the company of the divine.

Wow!  In the study I am reading it is all about being aware and in awe of God’s Presence.  This study reminds me that you and I have been created to worship God.  That is our purpose.

To a selfish culture, the idea of being created just to worship God can sound very boring, or worse, we fear it.  We fear that we will lose ourselves and that we have no significance in such a purpose; so, we strive for autonomy at the cost of our own highest fulfillment.

An object that is created for a purpose will only function best when it fulfills its intended purpose.  You can try to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and may achieve limited success, but the screwdriver will suffer from greater wear than for which it was designed.  The user will suffer greater frustration for forcing an object to be something it wasn’t intended to be.

The same is true with us.

We fear that in surrendering control to the superior Being of God that we will lose ourselves – our uniqueness and our significance.  The truth is the opposite.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:25 is saying that when we surrender control of our lives and yield to our greater purpose, we actually then “find our life.”  That is when we truly live life to the fullest.

We actually don’t reach our full potential and find our greatest fulfillment and satisfaction until we become who we were created to be.

So if we were created to worship God, why does it often seem so elusive and challenging to be in a constant or even regular state of worship?  Shouldn’t it be easy to worship God?!!!

I was studying what it means to worship or wonder.

Three words came to mind when I considered the word wonder.  They are awe, inspiring, and captivating.

The thought came to me that in order to be in awe of something, we have to be aware of it.  Two people can be driving by a beautiful scenic mountain.  The one person is dozing and misses the entire view.  The other person is awake and is mesmerized by the scene.  Two people in the same location have two very different experiences.

The same can be true with our spiritual lives.

Some of us are too busy trying to “win” our way to God in order to experience Him.  The problem with that is that God’s love for us was never based upon our ability to be “worthy” of it.  We can’t experience God by trying to work our way to Him.

God, as the Giver, gave us, as the receivers, our worth.

Heaven paid its highest price in order for us to be reconciled to God!  We have inherent worth because God was willing to pay the ultimate price for us.  He wants our fellowship and a relationship with us that much!

Some of us are too distracted by inconsequential things to focus on the more important.  We miss the “vistas” because we don’t want to get out of the comforts of our cars or leave the predictability of our homes.

To experience the presence of God does not require we have to necessarily leave our normal routines.  It does require us to be in a place of receptivity and awareness.  We can’t receive from God if we are unwilling through pride and/or fear to be vulnerable and receptive.

In order to be aware means we need to be less self-aware and more God-aware.  We can be so caught up in ourselves that we miss the greater wonder surrounding us.

I wrote a list this morning of a few wonders that I take for granted:

  1. His Word — bored or read it from a sense of duty rather than desire sometimes.
  2. Prayer — instead of being amazed at the opportunity to partner with God, I am distracted and/or doubtful at times.
  3. His creation!  I often don’t stop and savor the magnificence of creation.
  4. His Presence and communication with me.  I can be distracted, lazy, anxious, or selfish — instead of resting, “entering” into His rest, abiding in His Presence, and listening and waiting on Him.

This morning, I was challenged to pause, consider, savor, absorb, and be inspired by the God of the Universe.

The more I consider the magnificence of God, the more humbled I am by the significance He gave me by desiring a relationship with me!  It is overwhelming and amazing to consider that He cherishes and desires my worship!

One simple refrain repeats itself upon my lips: “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus! Jesus.”

How Our Worship Might Change…

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/enlightened-praise-1409297)

I have been considering the concept of worship a lot lately.

True worship is incredibly beautiful!

Worship is also a very important part of our relationship with God.

Worship fulfills our purpose in life, which is to worship God.

Worship helps to “re-align” ourselves with God (brings us into submission/surrender to Him).

Worship brings us into fellowship with God.

For all of its significance in the Christian’s life, it is amazing how little we really practice true worship.

I believe that a lot of what we think is worshipping God is more our own words, formats, and programs.  Let me explain…

A couple of weeks ago this so struck me.  I was pondering how we come to “worship meetings” with our “cups” already filled with our own thoughts concerning God.  In other words, we look at Scripture from our perspectives and pull out of it what we think “worship” should sound like or look like.  We then bring our thoughts and present it as worship to God.

I believe we often come to “worship” God with our “vessels” already filled with ourselves — what we think sounds “worshipful”?

What if instead, we spent quiet time alone with God, simply “resting” in His Presence, listening to Him, seeking Him in His Word, and waiting for Him to fill us with His thoughts, desires, and Presence?

What if we, from the outpouring of abiding in His Presence and His filling us with His Words and excellencies, then proclaimed this in heart-felt response to Who He is?  Wouldn’t the “flavor” or “tone” of our worship be more authentic and be what truly glorifies God — rather glorifying our own words?

Matthew 15:9

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”[a]

Mark 7:7

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’[a]

John 4:23

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:24

24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 

Harmony In The Dichotomy

Three gears in action. Shallow dof, focus in the theeth that make contact. Metaphorical illustration of Industrial workforce, business worflow, teamwork cooperation, energy, transmition,  motor

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=4169713&searchId=f5d7e2532cc9ad16bc2a41222d76f269&npos=6)

When we study the character of God, the complexity of it can be overwhelming.  In its complexity, we can assume that it is contradictory and therefore choose to ignore parts we don’t understand nor appreciate.

Yet, as we study the character of God, we do not find dichotomy that leads to division and chaos. Rather, we see a contrast of character that within the complexity of its dichotomy blends into a beautiful harmony.

There is harmony within the dichotomy of the nature of God.

The following quote speaks of some of this:

The Lion of Judah conquered because He was willing to act the part of a lamb.  He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday like a king on the way to a throne, and he went out of Jerusalem on Good Friday like a lamb on the way to the slaughter.  He drove out the robbers from the Temple like a lion devouring his prey. And then at the end of the week, He gave His majestic neck to the knife, and they slaughtered the Lion of Judah like a sacrificial lamb…

So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is His glory — “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”  — John Piper in Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

And another quote from Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ:

We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility.

We admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension.

We admire him for his uncompromising justice but even more because it is tempered with mercy.

We admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty of meekness.

We admire him because of his equality with his God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God.

We admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil.

We admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission.

We love the way he stumped the proud scribes with his wisdom, and we love it even more because he could be simple enough to like children and spend time with them.

And we admire him because he could still the storm, but even more because he refused to use that power to strike the Samaritan with lightning (Luke 9:54-55), and he refused to use it to get himself down from the cross.

It is the contrasts and unity of these qualities that lend itself to a greater beauty and more complete picture of the wonder of our God!

This is Who God is!  He is both the Lion and the Lamb.  He is conqueror, and He is healer.  He is grace, and He is truth.  He is just, and He is merciful!  He is holy, and He is also forgiving.  That’s my God!

Knowing that there is greater strength, beauty, and glory within the contrast, how does that give us hope and joy in our weakness?

It means that where we lack in all that is good, true, and noble, God is more than abundant.  It means that God meets us in our “lack” and fills the need so that the combination of God in us makes for a superior picture of excellence.

It is when we surrender our brokenness to God and ask Him to fill it with His wholeness, a beautiful “picture” of glorious redemption is portrayed.  Perhaps, it reveals a distinct quality of God otherwise unseen.

This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness…  Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”  (Matt. 11:28-29).  The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness.  And we love him for it.  — Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

We recognize the glory of God’s work and Presence within our lives.  Yet, the glory doesn’t end with recognition and wonder.  It is “fulfilled” when we respond to this “revelation” of His character with a life that is surrendered and filled with His Presence — this is the essence of true worship.

True worship leads to surrendered and triumphant living.

One more quote that can “set our hearts on fire” with the glory of our God and the life He has given to us:

But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious.  The gentleness and humility of the lamb-like Lion become brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lion-like Lamb.  Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden.  But there burns in every heart, at least some of the time, a dream that our lives will count for something great.  To this dream, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

The lion-like Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality.  And he reminds us that, in all authority, he will be with us to the end of the age.  This is what we long for — a champion, an invincible leader.  We mere mortals are not simple either.  We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions.  We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders.  We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts.  The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity.Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ

An Act Of Worship

this would be a sweet background!

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=358948&searchId=f7b0e354b768a2e09b31aa55744ef613&npos=16)

Sometimes, it’s easier to “do” church, to “do” worship then it is to really worship. 

Ever been there? 

I have been there before, thinking I was so “righteous” in my worship because I could state certain “Church-ese” phrases so eloquently.  I have thought in the past that I was worshiping God because my manner was so “holy”.  I have thought I was worshiping God because I was in a place that appeared to be worshipful.

The truth is worship is never about the outward.  It’s not about the look or feel of a place.  It’s not about the people in the place.  It’s not about the appearance of the other worshipers — their sobriety or their demonstrative expressions of worship.  Worship isn’t limited to a specific emotion.  Worship isn’t limited to a place or a group of people.

Worship is about a Person.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s about God the Father who sacrificed His very Son to give us a tangible example of what love really is.

I Googled the definition of worship off Thesaurus.com.  The following list includes other words that describe worship:

According to these other words, worship expresses a heart attitude (awe, love, veneration, adulation, adoration, glory, praise, etc…).

Worship describes a heart attitude that then expresses itself in adoration, praise, service, love, prayer, devotion, etc…

Exodus 20:3

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

God is to be the object of our worship.  Ultimately, He has the right to ask this of us as He is the One to Whom we owe our very lives, life, and eternity. 

Atheists refuse to recognize that there is a Sovereign Power that holds this universe together.  Yet, there is a “Force” keeping atoms from flying apart.  There is a Force that started matter/life in the beginning.

Even our very breaths pay homage to our Creator.  Here’s a quote from Jason Gray’s blog http://www.rabbitroom.com/2011/08/is-the-name-of-god-the-sound-of-our-breathing:

“…God’s name, YHWH, is comprised of aspirated consonants that, spoken, are the sound of breathing.”

So every time we breathe, our bodies literally say God’s name!  Is this just “happenstance,” or is it not significant to know that the God who created us would put His very name within each breath we take to remind us that our lives are truly and literally dependent upon His life within us?

Worship occurs every time we place ourselves in full surrender to God and hand over the reigns of control to Him.

So often we want everything on our terms — even our so-called “worship”.  We want to think God is limited to specific places, people, positions, practices, phrases, etc… The reality is God is worshiped among any and all who are surrendered to Him.

Every time, personal ambitions are put aside and we are surrendered to God’s working in and through our lives, God is worshiped.

Today, maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by the drudgery of your current affairs.  Perhaps, life feels bitterly cruel to you today because of current trials you are experiencing.  Perhaps, you are lonely or alone.  Perhaps, you are living in a home with an unsaved spouse or unsaved parents and siblings.  Perhaps, you are the only individual at your work who is saved or appears to be saved.

This is for you, my friend.  No matter where you are, with whom you are, how you are feeling today, you have something to offer to God.  You have yourself!

The gift God asks and wants more than anything else is You!  Yes, You! 

God doesn’t ask you to wait to come to Him or to wait to be used by Him until you are “all-beautified” or “perfected”.   God wants us to come as we are to Him.  God asks us to give ourselves to Him — just as we are. 

Dear friends, He will take the rubbish.  He will take the wounds.  He will take the sickness.  He will take the hurts.  He will take the past.  He will take us just as we are, and He will transform and redeem what we give to Him.

Yes, dear friends, this is grace!  Jesus just wants you.  It means though that you have to surrender to Him, offer yourself to Him, and stop trying to fix what you can’t fix.

It’s all about the holy act of surrender — that is the essence of worship.

Surrender to God, and allow yourself to be a gift of worship to Him, revealing the matchless grace and power of Jesus!

The glory is and always has been His all along.

He is the reason we live and breathe and hope!

Job 33:4

“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Doctrine Or Is It Tradition?

IMG_6344

Anyone who has previously read my posts on the subject of truth knows that I believe in absolutes.  Setting that aside, let’s delve into the topic of doctrine versus tradition.

So many churches cling to their traditions.  These traditions were often established to give a sense of order and “security” to those who like the comfort of familiarity and order within their worship.

Order is good and beneficial.  In fact, God is a God of order.  Most of life functions better within some sort of order.  The opposite is true; randomness breeds chaos.

The danger with our forms of order and/or traditions is the following:

  • Tradition can easily become so familiar that it becomes part of what we “worship.”  Worship may seem like a strong term to use, but if we follow something with no willingness to change the way we practice it, then it is part of what we obey and therefore “worship.” 
  • Sometimes, the practices we follow are more a result of the familiar and personal preferences then of actual conviction or of Divine guidance.

It can become difficult to distinguish between what is doctrine and what is tradition. Differentiating between the two is extremely important.

Tradition is an order, a form, a preference, a practice that has been established over a length of time (generally passed down from generations).  It is merely a personal preference.  This does not make it necessarily wrong in and of itself.  It can become very wrong though when it is adhered to with as much staunch teaching and in practice as if it was doctrine itself.

Doctrine is clear, Biblical teaching, based on the truth of God’s Word.  It is to be obeyed. 

It is also important to delineate between major and minor doctrines.  So often minor doctrines are emphasized as if they are major doctrinal tenets of our faith.  As some have said, “Don’t major in the minor.”  And another famous cliche’, “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

What becomes even more dangerous is when we are unwilling to change when it becomes apparent that the tradition is no longer applicable and has no reason for staunch loyalty due to its lack of Scriptural teaching.

Fear and pride can be the “root” of many of our traditions and resulting practices.  On the surface, it can all sound good, spiritual, and wise.  Yet, if we put our traditions above actual Scriptural teachings and use it to become the “pulpit” upon which we “bully”, ostracize, or discipline fellow Christians, we must ask ourselves, “What is really behind why we do the things we do?”

I love the following quotes taken from the book, Think Differently, Live Differently by Bob Hamp.  He said:

“Familiarity becomes tradition and unbending tradition becomes rigidity. Rigidity refers to a way of viewing reality. It is a mindset that says, ‘We’ve always done it this way, and change is evil.’ … Rigidity is a way of thinking that limits the fluidity of life and in so doing, reduces the quality of life. The Pharisees believed that a crippled woman should stay crippled because people were not supposed to ‘work’ (including healing) on the Sabbath. But Jesus healed her on the Sabbath because He had a bigger and better understanding about the true purpose of that day. Rigidity is not the same as order, though its proponents would say it is. It does not allow for change, growth, context, priority or any one of a multitude of factors that influence life. Rigidity is often the precursor to collapse. In the building industry, architects and engineers have discovered that in order to build earthquake-proof buildings, they must allow room for flex. When the ground moves, a building that is too rigid will topple. If the structure has some ‘give’ to it, it will sway with the movement and remain standing and intact.”

Traditions can replace the life of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but there is “fluidity” where God’s Spirit is working.

Don’t let your order become your god.