Tag Archives: holy

Disciples are…

Disciples Are…

“Remember from dust you came and to dust you will return.”

Traditional phrase used on Ash Wednesday

 

In our faith, we often use earthy elements as a means of God’s grace upon our lives.  In Baptism, the water reminds us that a free flowing grace has marked us as loved by God, called to be a part of the church, and a force of salvation in the world.  Ash Wednesday places a different mark – a reminder of our mortality and a call to change our ways as disciples.  What is a disciple?  Here are four possible answers this Lent.

A disciple is faithful.  This means our “yes” means “yes,” and our “no” means “no.”  We show up.  We promised God we would serve, and as followers of Jesus, we intend to live out this promise in the power of the Spirit.  We don’t let petty arguments, worldly priorities, or even theological disagreements cause us to abandon God and one another.  In our consumer society, we are told the lie that life should be filled with effortless happiness and products and services of pleasure.  People stop coming to this church or that church because they know they can find a church that scratches their itchy ears.  The Bible teaches us that to truly be disciples; we have to faithful to one another and to God in showing up.  “The one who claims to be in the light while hating a brother or sister is in the darkness even now.” 1 John 2:9.

A disciple is loving.  At both worship services recently we’ve sung, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  This is a quote from Jesus from the Gospel of John.  The love of a disciple is a love that is selfless and self-giving.  We don’t mind giving up something that we enjoy so that we can provide for the needs of others.  When we see poverty, we look for opportunity and ways to change the system.  When we see hunger, we share our food.  When we hear that someone is sick or dying, we give hugs and prayers of hope.  What is most amazing about this love?  It is given freely – without price or membership.

A disciple is holy.  1 Peter 1:15 says, “you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy.”  Holy is one of those words that has been smeared and overused to the point that it has no meaning.  Holy is Other.  We are called to be other, just as God is other than this world.  We are not citizens of this world.  We are citizens of the Kingdom of God that is here and is coming.  Are there things that we need to avoid in our pursuit of being other?  Yes.  We probably should avoid hate, apathy, and abuse of anyone or anything.  Are there things we need attend that will help us on our journey?  Yes.  We should often pray, read the Bible, study, take communion, sing the songs of our faith, and give of ourselves in charity.

A disciple is disciplined.  In the Gospels, Jesus would say “be stricter than the Pharisees in your faith” at the same time he put his arm around a prostitute welcoming her to forgiveness.  Following Jesus isn’t easy.  We have to fail, fall down, and get back up each and every time.  We are called to be comforted.  God loves us.  We are called to be challenged.  God wants us to change our behavior and the world.  Discipline means training like a weight-lifter, going to the gym and aching the next day.  Pray for ten minutes each day.  Try to give more time and money to the God through the church.  Give up that bad habit and take on a good one.  Discipline means no more milk and cereal because it’s time for meat and potatoes.  Read the Bible and let it change your opinion about politics, economics, and how you behave.  Bring Christ into the relationships you have with people so that they know you are a follower of the Savior.  Discipline means no more giving up.

This Lent, God doesn’t want you to give up.  God wants you to take up this cross, the cross of being a Disciple of Jesus.  More than anything the life of a disciple is the life of discipline.  During this season of Lent and for the rest of your lives: be a disciple.

 

“Repent and Believe in the Gospel.”

 – Mark 1:15

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Worship Wake

Someone asked me recently why I call this site Worship’s Wake.  The answer is because Worship should be and have Wake.

Worship should be like a Wake.  Not many people do this anymore, but a traditional wake, family night, or viewing is a gathering of loved ones around the deceased before the funeral.  They tell stories,  They cry.  They hug and support the family.  They are reminded that this life has impact, this life makes a difference, this life lives on in resurrection.  Worship should have all of these characteristics… and more.

Worship should be aWake.  We all giggle when it happens.  That elderly gentleman in the back nods off and we begin the hear the rumble of his snore two minutes into the sermon.  Worship needs to have an energy.  This doesn’t mean that we’re all moshing for Jesus or jumping in the house of God every Sunday.  But within the given context, the worship experience should cause a change within us from the potential to the kinetic, from the everyday to the supernatural, from the mundane to the spiritual.

Worship should have a Wake.  When a boat goes through the water, it causes a ripple behind it called a wake.  When other boats hit this wake, it causes them difficulty and changes their course.  God knows where our boat is heading, and God willing, the Lord is the captain with the vision.  Our worship experience needs cut through the waters of this live and other boats should be affected by it.

Worship’s Wake is my site for helping this happen.  Community Worship, Energetic Worship, Visionary and Transformational Worship.  Knowing God is in the mix, I’ll do my best.

Called or Coming, Sent or Seeking

When people ask me how I got into ministry, my typical answer is kicking and screaming.  A good retort, and one I’ve never heard yet, would be, “then why are you in ministry?”  It isn’t for the money.  Even with my masters level education, it won’t make me rich.  It isn’t for the honor.  Clergy today are cartoonishly depicted in the world, and we probably deserve it.  It isn’t for the power.  Just because we get to talk for 15-20 minutes each week to an audience doesn’t mean they are listening or agree with us.  Surely it only by the Will of God that anyone would do this job!

The Church spends a great deal of time talking about “the Call to Ministry.”  While most acknowledge that there is a call for all Christians in our baptism, and we also say that certain professions have a calling (ie. teaching, fire-fighters, nurses, etc.).  Still ministry gets lifted up as “the Call” in the way we talk about it.  When did you receive the call?  What is/was your call to ministry?  How are you living out your call?

I have no doubt that there is a spiritual and divine action within our lives.  God is in the mix.  But that doesn’t mean we get to blame God for our choice in how we serve and live out our lives or go about making a living.  God loved us enough to make following Jesus into salvation a choice.  Why would God suddenly switch gears after you enter into the fold and force you to do something you really didn’t want to do?

“I’m sorry, Nathan, I know you had your heart set on being an organic chemist or bio-engineer, but I’ve decided you’ll herd sheep instead.  Trust me, I know what’s good for you.”

Serving as a pastor, preacher, minister, etc. is a vocation, a calling, but it is also a choice.  The Will of God is much more fluid than solid.  The river is going to head downstream, but what turns and waves it makes are not determined by God alone.  As Adam Hamilton states in his book, Why?, “God is more co-author than author of our lives.”  God gives us choice.  There are a variety of paths that God is happy with in our choices and lives.  Sure, there are spiritual nudges to go this way or that way, but free-will still puts the ball in our hands, and we get to decide the sport we’re going to play with it.

Moses had a choice, he could take off his shoes or turn and ignore God and the suffering of his people.  Esther had a choice, and she agonized over it.  Her cousin Mordecai promised that even if she didn’t serve, God would find another way to bring salvation to his people.  Even Jonah had a choice, and thank God he chose to ignore God’s calling or we wouldn’t have the beautiful conversation between the two on the hill overlooking Nineveh.  Notice we are left not knowing what Jonah’s answer will be or whether or not he continues in the ministry.

Even Jesus was given a choice.

I don’t know how many times I heard, “If you can imagine yourself doing anything else other than ministry, you shouldn’t go into ministry.”  That’s huckabuck and a load of crock.  I think clergy like to boost our egos by believing that we’re somehow special.  We’re not.  We like to put ourselves in the story as the prodigal son or daughter who had a Paul-like moment in which we were kicking against the pricks and were blinded by the truth.  The truth is that we call ourselves just as much as God calls us.  Most clergy need to be needed.  Most clergy have severe doubts about faith.  Most clergy are in severe spiritual drought.  Most clergy came to ministry just as much as they were called to ministry.

I came kicking and screaming into ministry.  I didn’t want to put up with petty relationship arguments, entitled pew-sitters, and pathetic denominational programs and goals.  “Then why are you in ministry?” I wanted to serve people at their holiest of moments, birth, transformation, marriage, sickness, death.  I wanted to walk with people on the journey of faith.  I wanted to hear their story as it blended into the Good News of Christ’s story.  I wanted to serve.  Thankfully, God was willing, nudging, and co-writing that into my story.