Archive | January, 2012

An Unhealthy Attachment

February 25, 2012

Lately on this blog I’ve been going through and highlighting thoughts on personal worship from the book Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven: Exploring Worship as a Spiritual Discipline.  It’s been a very healthy call to really make worship beyond just a Sunday event that I attend, and discover what the pattern of a worshiper should look like beyond the community worship we experience Sunday by Sunday.  Honestly, we expect a lot from the church worship gathering.  We need it to be this refugee of holy peace, and an escape from the noise of everyday life; we expect to commune our hearts together and to hear the intimate voice of God, and it needs to all happens within the confines of a specifically allotted one hour time.  However, a worshiper lives a life of devotion beyond Sunday morning.  And this book thus far has challenged us to make worship a priority, and to schedule a regular routine of it in our lives.

This leads us to another challenge: surrender.  We need to let go of the idols that compete for our time and attention.  Idolatry is often easily dismissed as an antiquated image.  In our minds we imagine some ancient tribal people group dancing ecstatically around a fire, late at night, bowing down to some carved wooden face, or other kind of statue.  In the Bible we think of the golden calf, or of asherah poles, and idols like the baals of the ancient Canaanites.  We don’t participate in any overt ritual action like that and so we think idolatry is not an issue for us.  But idolatry as theologian A.W. Towzer said is simply “worship directed in any direction but God’s, which is the epitome of blasphemy.”

Worship is anything that is more important to you than God.  It can take the form of many things, whether possessions, relationships, a job, a social cause.  It can really be anything.  I actually have this picture in my mind of the character Linus from the cartoon Peanuts.  He’s a very mature, articulate, and well adjusted young kid, but for some reason he’s very attached to his blanket.  It causes him great anxiety to part with it.  It goes everywhere with him.   That’s kind of how we attach ourselves to idols, and it is an unhealthy kind of attachment.  Idols can be the things that set us off emotionally, that give us a sense of peace and security, and cause us great anxiety when they are taken away.

The thing is, as Christians, holding on to an idol is an insult to God.  In the first two of the Ten Commandments God says we are to have nothing above him, nor are we to worship anything else.  Exodus 20:3-5 says: “You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.   You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”  (NIV).   God tells us very clearly there is no room in our lives for anything above him.

And neither can anything replace the satisfaction of placing God first in our lives.  Only God can make our future secure and guide us to true lasting satisfaction.  The Psalmist understands this when he says:

You make known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
 Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)

And so worship in our personal lives needs to be expressed in full devotion to God.  We need to be careful to live our lives free of idolatry, and to spend our time enjoying the presence of our God.  If there is anything that hinders us or tempts us away from Christ, we need to examine ourselves, and flee from it.   This will continue to transform us as a congregation when we come together to worship.

Lorn Gieck

Associate Pastor of Music & Arts

Lead Pastor’s Blog: The Tale of Two Men

Let me tell you about two men I know. Both men would profess to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Their independent journeys to find Christ are different but the destination is the same. The one man I know significantly better than the other man but let me tell you about them.

They were in a meeting together and the one man wore a button down collared shirt. The other man wore a faded tee shirt. One man wore jeans that had a hole in them by design. The other man wore jeans that had holes in them because they were worn. One man had well made shoes that matched his wardrobe. The other man had running shoes that had seen too many miles. When they were leaving to finish their respective days the one man put on his leather jacket and the other man slipped on a well-worn winter jacket.

One man walks to a lot of his destinations as he shares a vehicle with his wife. The other man drives in his newer model car and his wife drives in her own car. One man has a staff that works for him and the other man has a few co-workers working with him. One man has a curiosity about the inner city in which he lives. The other man has a passion for the people of the inner city in which he lives.

One man’s hands will touch drugs, puke, homeless people, weapons, dirt, empty bottles and backpacks in any given day. The other man’s hands will touch a laptop, iphone, ipad, books, bibles, office furniture and a personal coffee thermos on any given day.

One man’s hands will touch people in such a way as to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The other man will talk about the need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. One man will look into the face of one person at a time and tell them they are valuable and loved by God no matter what their circumstances might be. The other man will look at hundreds of people and remind them that because God loves them they need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who don’t know that God loves them.

One man’s heart is broken by the brokenness he sees in the people he serves. The other man’s heart is broken by the hardness of the hearts of many of the people he serves. One man touches the poor day by day. The other man reads about the poor once in a while. One man knows the poor by name. The other man knows the rich by name. One man stops and has a conversation with the poorly dressed person on the street. The other man walks around and avoids the poorly dressed person on the street. One man fights for the welfare of the disadvantaged. The other man fights to keep what he already has.

One man read Matthew 25:40 and had no problems because he was doing good to the least of these. (“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”) The other man read those same words and shuddered wondering how he could explain the words in such a way so that they would not apply to him.

Two men living two lives in the same city serving the same God. Something has got to change. We must stop looking at the people who are actually serving the poor as the weird, oddballs who have a strange calling. We must come to recognize that God “calls” each and every one of us who dare to call ourselves followers of Christ to serve those less fortunate than ourselves.

These days as I look into my own spiritual mirror I do not like the image I see of myself. I do not like the image of the church I see. Something has got to change……in me. What about in you? I came across this prayer recently. Will you pray it with me? “Here we stand, Lord. Purify us. Here we kneel Lord, we lift you up. Here we lay, our faces down. Wreck us, Lord. And do a mighty work.”

May God do a mighty work in me…and in you.