Saturday, November 11, 2006

What You Wear To Church

There are some great truths that many children of God miss. There are many sites on the Internet that provide splendid insights into these truths. There are also many others that provide lies and deceptions. Sadly, the latter is more often the case than the former. When I see an author go down the wrong path, I'll try to talk it out with them, if they're open. Sometimes they admit they didn't address the issue correctly. Sometimes they're open to the opinions of others. Too often, though, I find the attitude of "I'm right, therefore you must be wrong."

I will admit to you right here and now, that's an attitude I cannot stomach. Yes, I come off like that too often myself, but I do try to make amends when I mess up as soon as I see it. (That's why I got bummed about the lack of response to the previous iteration of this blog, I think.)

There's one fellow, Bill Keller, who lives in Florida and has been part of a live call-in show in the Tampa area, and now on the "i" network. For the past few months, he's been right on the mark with his teachings, even though he tends to over-generalize sometimes and say that "all churches" or "all Christians" are doing something that, sorry, not all of them are actually doing.

A recent "devotional" of his, which can be found here, really helped show me his true colors. Read it if you want, but know that I believe he's got some serious errors in his thinking.

I've seen too many people be put off by churches that demand you wear your "Sunday best" to church, or you're out of God's will or worse. Keller's opinion is that it shows "respect" to Jesus.

My question to him was this: how can wearing "your best" (or, rather, what our society has determined is "your best") show respect to God, when God doesn't look at outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7)? Showing respect to someone has to involve the person to whom you're showing respect. You're not showing me any respect if you hurt someone else just because you think I think they should be hurt. For example, you're not showing me respect by crashing Keller's website. Vandalism of any type, including "virtual vandalism," is not something I condone, let alone respect.

God wants our hearts, our souls, and our lives. If the Spirit of the Lord tells you that means, for you, to wear a suit and tie, then go for it! For me, He hasn't said that. In fact, when I was part of a church that tended to respect clothes more than the person, I intentionally wore black denim pants (a.k.a. "jeans"), sneakers, and a collared "golf shirt," all of which Keller condemns in his missive. Why did I do that? I knew there were people who could've come in who may not have a suit and tie, or who may have come in off the street out of curiosity. God called me to dress down to encourage them more, to let them know that they weren't going to be condemned because of their clothing. (A secondary reason is that, being chronically overweight, button-down shirts do not work on me, nor do dress pants and shoes.)

God does want our best. He wants excellence in worship and service. As I said, He wants your heart, your soul, and your life, 24/7/365 (366 on leap years :-) ), 100%. He isn't interested in what our society considers "dress up" clothes. I feel it's safe to say that He abhors those who look down on others if their clothing isn't up to their personal standard. Sorry, there's no excuse for that.

By the way, what was Keller's response? Essentially he claimed that the Holy Spirit must've been "convicting" me (not him, of course — he's above all that), and reiterated some of what he had written earlier. Oh, well. Closed mind, hard heart, I suppose.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What's In A Name?

Churches have some interesting names. Non-denominational churches, especially, tend to get a little "creative" in their names, while some traditional churches go with "First So-and-So Church of This Area" or whatever. Some churches even include slogans with their signage and "advertising," speaking of "Full-gospel" and "Spirit-filled."

I don't know about you, but I find that these churches usually need some form of advertising, because nothing else draws people to them. No, I'm not saying that every church with a funky name or certain catch-phrases do this, but it seems that, more often than not, the more convincing a church's name or slogans tries to be, the less that church is what it claims to be.

There's nothing inherently wrong with denominational or non-denominational churches, nothing at all. What's wrong in too many churches, though, is that they rely on the name or the reputation of their leadership, denomination, or whatever rather than focusing on what's truly important.

Christ is the head of His Body, which is referred to as "the Church." I'm not talking about "the universal Church of Such-and-Such" or "the Holy Something Church." I'm talking about the family of believers who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. Many of these do belong to a smaller fellowship of like-minded believers, and that's OK. But when that fellowship, or church or whatever other term you want to use, loses sight of God's Word -- both Jesus the Word made flesh and the Bible -- and looks instead on its denomination, leadership, building, etc., that fellowship gets into trouble.

Churches in England are poorly attended. Over 20 Catholic churches alone have closed down within a year's time, if I recall the figure correctly. Many churches have an attendance in the teens -- no, not in age, but in quantity. A "megachurch" in the UK may have as many as 250 in attendance regularly. The USA isn't far behind, folks. As Christians abandon the uppermost authority of their lives, their so-called "Christianity" becomes worthless. That's when other cults and godless religions step in. Many of the shut-down cathedrals and churches in England have been turned into Islamic mosques. How long before we see the same thing happening in the US?

If you, reading this, are in any form of church leadership, the first step is for you to make a personal stand in your own life. Be willing to let go of denominational rules and statements of "faith" and anything else that may get in the way of hearing what God has to say to you. You may discover that the denominational rules and statements of faith are OK. You may discover some differences between those and what the Bible, taken as a whole, really says. By being willing to let go of anything other than the Word of God, though, you're taking your first step towards a whole new growth area. Then, as a leader, you can help lead your family and your church in a life-changing direction.

Let's face it, people don't need more fraternal organizations. People need a life-changing relationship with God. Set the example.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's BACK!

Okay, I couldn't keep away. :) I've realized how frustrating it can be to be posting something into the blogosphere, but nobody bothers to comment. On the other hand, I don't get any negative comments or personal attacks, so I guess that's a good thing. :)

Anyhow, I'm bringing this back online. I'm going to try to bring back the old posts, although I foolishly didn't save them all (thankfully those were just the jokes ... sadly, I remember them :) ).
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