Monthly Archives: September 2012
We worship what we enjoy. Is joy not in-part a feeling? Can a person rejoice and not be joyful (Phil. 4:4)? I suppose they could fake it but then would it really be joyful rejoicing? Is there such a thing as a joyless rejoicing?
John Piper says it like this: “Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.”
In his book, Whatever Happened to Worship, AW Tozer concurs:
Those of us who have been blessed with our own beings would not join any crusade to ‘follow your feelings.’ On the other hand, if there is no feeling at all in our hearts then we are dead.
If you wake up tomorrow morning and there is absolute numbness in your right arm-no felling at all-you will quickly dial the doctor with your good left hand.
Real worship is, among other things, a feeling about the Lord our God. It is in our hearts. And we must be willing to express it in an appropriate manner.
We can express our worship to God in many ways. But if we love the Lord and are led by His Holy Spirit, our worship will always bring a delighted sense of admiring awe and a sincere humility on our part.
Of course we ought not to make decisions based on feelings. Feelings are a fickle guide and that is why we must worship in truth, or according to the truth – it is the truth that sets us free. But we ought not to think that following God is a feeling-less exercise. Speaking of exercise – if you exercised and never felt anything as a result of the exercise, then you might wonder whether you were doing any good. So it is with worshiping God. If we never feel anything as we respond to his works and excellent greatness, we should at the very least be very concerned about the condition of our heart. After all, it was Jesus quoting Isaiah 29:13 who said, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”
There are many ditches that we might run into concerning this topic, but the main thing I want to keep us from is diminishing or even completely dismissing the importance of feelings as a part of the life of the Christian. God feels and God gave us feelings and so we should want to have Godly feelings.
The truth is that feelings are important, and if we feel nothing for God we should seek God and examine ourselves to see if something is wrong in us. Feelings are not the point of being a Christian but they may well point us to the truth about our hearts.
“If there is no feeling at all in our hearts then we are dead.” AW Tozer
Why didn’t Jesus write a gospel? Why did He leave it up to His closest friends and followers, and their followers?
Answer: I don’t know. Do you?
And though I don’t know an exact answer, I am willing to offer some answers that may matter.
What if Jesus did write “The Gospel of Jesus?” Four Suggestions:
- The rest of the Bible and the Holy Spirit might be minimized. I have read that some Jews or Israelites would elevate certain parts of the Old Testament above others. For example, some assigned to the Pentateuch (The five books of Moses) a greater inspiration than that of the other books of the Old Testament, which in turn led them to treating it as more authoritative. If Jesus wrote a book, would it be treated as more inspired and therefore more authoritative? My guess is that some of His red-letter words have been and even are treated as more special. There is a real problem with this though because it neglects to think of Jesus in the context of the Trinity. Jesus is God, but is not the Holy Spirit the same in essence? When the Spirit inspired the Old Testament and the New (Acts 1:16 and 2 Tim. 3:16), were the other words less inspired than the words of Jesus? Did not the Holy Spirit inspire the words of both Paul and Matthew who wrote the very words of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are not all the recorded and special words in the New Testament the words of men, superintended by the Holy Spirit? If we had a gospel penned by Jesus, it might be too tempting for many to have only one book in their Bible. I suspect that God in His infinite wisdom foresaw this and instead trusted it to many imperfect men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- It could result in pitting scripture against scripture and author against author. If Jesus wrote His own book we might be prone to neglect something that Paul instructed because Jesus didn’t instruct it. We might want to minimize one narrative because of a narrative written by Jesus. Again, in doing this we wouldn’t just be making Paul small, but the Holy Spirit. The Son of God and the Spirit of God are not at odds with each other.
- The witness of others speaks loud. It’s one thing to write an autobiography and another to have several biographies written about you. It’s one thing to tell people how great you are and it’s another thing altogether to have people want to tell the ends of the earth how great you are. Jesus was so impressive that several men went to great lengths to investigate and meticulously write about His life and teachings. And the bonus of course is that they wrote many of His own words and actions so that we have a saving and sustaining revelation.
- This is leadership and discipleship. Jesus entrusted this work of witness through writing to men He gave His life for and too. This is good leadership. This is delegation. Jesus could have done it, but surely the creator of language and writing could write a compelling and persuasive story. And He did; He did it by pouring His words and and life into others. Some say if you want something done, and done right, then you have to do it yourself. This was critically important and yet Jesus trusted the work of the Spirit in the lives of others. It’s hard to argue with results.
I recently met with two wonderful Christian women for a membership interview who were very surprised that we required such a thing. They were especially surprised since they had over the years been members at several baptist churches. Here is the summary explanation I gave to them as to why we do a membership interview for every person who wants to be a member at Eagle Heights.
1. The interview enables at least one Elder to know every person in the faith family of Eagle Heights.
- It is hard to feed, lead and protect someone if you don’t know them and know them personally.
2. The interview helps the Elders to protect the faith family of Eagle Heights.
- Jesus and Paul both warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15 and Acts 20:29).
- The Elders want to protect the purity of the unity of the church by guarding the front door.
3. The Interview provides the Elders the opportunity to immediately shepherd those who are committing to the faith family of Eagle Heights.
- We help people to think through their testimony by having them share it. We ask them to tell us what the gospel is. We ask if they have been baptized as a believer by immersion. We ask that they examine themselves for evidence to see whether they are truly in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
4. The interview is a time for the Elders to explain what membership means.
- Membership is not just a tradition or formality. It’s not a country club membership. Rather, it means that a person is publicly committed to Christ, and because they are committed to Christ, they are publicly committed to one of His local and visible bodies.
- Can you truly love Christ and not love His body in a committed and visible way?
- Membership is the way we express public commitment to Jesus and one of His local bodies.
5. The interview gives the Elders the opportunity to explain the collective expectations for the faith family of Eagle Heights.
- We want to gather together to build each other up for Christ-likeness so that we will go into the world, proclaiming the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
- We have a list of 12 expectations that we communicate to every prospective member.
6. The interview allows the prospective member to ask questions and clarify concerns about our Eagle Heights faith family.
7. The interview provides the prospective member the opportunity to make a decision about whether they want to express publicly/visibly their commitment to Jesus Christ and the faith family of Eagle Heights.
8. Membership identifies for the Elders and our faith family who it is that they are specifically accountable both to and for.
- A good shepherd knows the sheep for which he will give an account (Heb. 13:17).
- The Bible commands us to love one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, etc. Membership is to openly commit to do the one anothers with a specific and known group of people.
- We have substantive reasons for doing the membership interview that will help us build up a healthy local church.
- Our goal is not to exclude people from participating in this local church, but rather to rightly and necessarily include them in our faith family. What does it say about a person who won’t submit themselves to a group of leaders who are under the authority of scripture, and to a group of people (already members) who all have gone through the same membership process?
- We are not a country club of consumers but rather a committed community on mission for Jesus Christ, striving to observe all that He commanded (Matt. 28:20). This process helps us to advance that cause in a very strategic way.
I recently became quite frustrated with our lack of a consistent and disciplined routine, especially in the morning. It seemed we were not finding time in the evening to have a family Bible time and the mornings were filled with the distraction of Curious George and whatever Luke’s selection might be. I told our family that starting this week there would be no more TV in the morning. That announcement was met with some resistance, but sometimes a parent has got to be a parent and not just a friend.
So here’s what our family has just started doing:
- No TV in the morning. It has been surprisingly peaceful and it makes it easier for all of us to listen and focus.
- At around 7:30 we will have a time of Catechism. Catechism simply means to instruct in an orderly manner using questions and the Bible to answer those questions. Here is the one we have started using. Baptist Catechism. We will answer one question per week, reading one scripture per day. There are 118 questions so there is plenty of material. You can download for free the Catechism here.
- I also plan on alternating each day some personal time with the boys going over AWANA verses and praying for them. This I want to do before our family time.
This time does not need to be very long. I think keeping it short is the best strategy. But one thing it must be; it must be consistent and we must have a plan to do it.
The other point I would make is that the responsibility falls to the parents and especially the father to be disciplined in making it happen. We need to go to bed on time and get out of bed on time. We parents, and especially the man, have to be the pace-setters and have our stuff done so we can prompt the children. If a family devotional time isn’t happening in the house, it’s nobodies fault but the fault of the parent. We can’t blame tiredness or busyness because that’s always going to be there. This is too important of a responsibility to put on the back-burner.
My fresh realization of my responsibility is what recently prodded us to make a change. I hope it prods you to start, or do whatever you need to do to do something consistently in your house that teaches in an orderly manner the truth of God’s precious and life-giving word.