Monday, October 25, 2004

Unity In God's Church

I had the most awesome conversation last night with some of the Rescue guys during a 4-5 hour trip back to Portland from Monroe, WA. I'm not sure if most people realize it, but all the guys come from different church backgrounds, including me. A few are Baptist, some church of Christ (like me), and now Jay McKinney is working with a Presbyterian church. It's amazing that people with differing views can come together when there is grace and the power of Jesus involved.

We got onto the conversation of working together and core beliefs because of upcoming member changes. Some of us believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, and some don't. All of us agreed that our beliefs are fluid and change and evolve over time. After an hour or two of talking about this, we kind of stepped back and saw what had just happened and realised that though we all have differing beliefs and different backgrounds, we still came together and could make a consensus that we each believed that the true power comes from Jesus and his death and resurrection.

One of the things I gained from the experience is that God desires unity in His church and that for so many of us this is at the back of our minds. We care less about loving and care more about being right. Remember that judgement is not ours to make. Our job is to love.

Romans 14:8-23:

8 While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died. 10 So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'" 12 Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. 13 So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path. 14 I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 20 Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. 21 Don't eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. 22 You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. 23 But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn't eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Using Our Gifts For God

Romans 12:6-8 says:

6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
After reading this again for the first time, it has greatly encouraged me to do what I do to the best of my ability. A lot of times I see people who have tremendous gifts squander them only to pursue things that they desire. I have seen amazing, gifted musicians pursue money, tremendous fund-raisers pursue music, wonderful encouragers scratch and claw for a chance to speak, and on and on. I am sure we have all done this with a true desire to serve the Lord, but to what extent, and at what cost? We have squandered away our gifts for our own desires or our own thoughts of what God has planned for us. I have no doubt that we are given the freedom to serve any way we can as long as it is for God, but each of us has been given a gift or gifts, and these are to be used for God's glory. We are told not to hide our gifts, but to embrace them! Let them ring out for God's increase and our decrease!

I can only guess how many times I have wanted to do something that requires great training and extra work, only to stifle opportunities to use the gifts I already have. I am definitely a proponent for refining and learning new talents and gifts, but not at the expense of ones that God has given openly. It is my prayer that we use what we have been given and build upon that, never replacing them with busyness, personal gain, or selfish ambition.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

New Computer!

In order to record the college group I direct, I have purchased a new dual 1.8 Ghz Powermac G5 with 1 Gb of RAM. That's right, I've joined the other side and now am a double agent in the MAC/PC war. It's very nice and I've been having a blast loading all my cd's onto it and playing around with Pro Tools. It's a great computer, but I doubt I will ever totally dump my PC. There's just something about having software. It's something I enjoy.

Dependence On Technology

Well, I have moved and just got my internet back up and running. I have come to realize how dependent I have become on email and internet to stay in contact with people. I started out going through withdrawals not being able to check my email anytime I wanted to and not being able to just hop on the internet to see what is going on in the world (I don't have cable anymore and only have 6 channels now). The last few days have been quite refreshing, however, not being bothered by normal things and not being accessible is sometimes a good thing. I'm happy to have my computer running again, but maybe now I'll take more breaks from it.