Saturday, March 19, 2005

Overcoming the Pain of Loss

This week I'm preparing to speak on grief and loss. I've come across a number of articles that I want to pass on to you if you are interested;

Easter week is a time to reflect on Jesus' sufferings. It's also a good time to reflect on your personal sufferings and find God's healing.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Why Bother with Church?

If organized religion has problems, why bother with church? (see my post below). That's a question I honestly ask a lot. But I'll tell you why...
  1. God doesn't have any "only children". God has a family and he wants us together. We may not like our family at times, but he calls us to love each other and spend time together. Just like reunions bring children together who have parents in common, church brings people together who share a common faith in God.
  2. The church speaks truth into our lives (hopefully!). When we gather for a worship service or a cup of coffee with other believers, God uses each other to speak truth to each other. Truth keeps us close to God and close to each other. Truth encourages us and frees us to become the person that God called us to be.
  3. We can impact a community in significant ways when we all come together and pool our time, talent and finances. It's easy to become independent and self-centered. Church keeps our focus on being a blessing to others.
  4. People are attracted to God and added to the family when we work as a team to honor God with our lives.

There are many more reasons, but these are the ones that keep me coming back! If you think there are better things to do with your time I want to challenge you to join us at Cedarbrook for three months and see if it doesn't change your life. (I'm talking about more than Sunday morning. Get involved with a small group and find a place of service). Give God a chance to show you what he had in mind when he created the idea of church in the first place. My guess is that you'll come to the same conclusion that I have; the church is the hope of the world and I have to be a part of it.

The Problem with Organized Religion

I spent time with my brother this week. He really has trouble with church. It's not church so much. It's the people. He thinks there is a lot of phoniness associated with the church - a lot of people who talk about God and Jesus who never let it truly affect their lives. He's one of those people that doesn't like organized religion.

The funny thing is, neither do I! That may seem odd (being a pastor), but I know exactly what he's talking about. Organized religion can do strange things to people! I visited a church recently. It was fine. The music was good. The message was good. The people were nice. But there was phoniness. There was baggage - things in place that weren't necessary ...expectations, assumptions..."If you become a Christian you need to be like us." I know that from their perspective they were just seeking to develop community. They didn't see the baggage. But I did. And it was disappointing because I sat there thinking, "If my brother was here, he'd be so aware of the baggage he wouldn't be able to hear the truth of your words." There are millions of people like my brother who would love to be in church but they feel like attending would actually compromise their values. They want to know God better but they don't want to take on all the "extras" that church seems to require of them. So they keep their distance.

The sad thing is, I'm sure that Cedarbrook has it's own baggage. I just don't see it. But I pray for eyes to see the baggage so we can get rid of it. Our only purpose should be to help people connect with God and then let God connect us with each other. Community and commitment can't be forced by intimidation or obligation. They develop naturally as we find ourselves following Jesus together. Is that too much to expect?