Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are you ready for some...thing more than football?

If you're a football fan at all, you know the theme song of Monday Night Football that Hank William, Jr sings...Are you ready for some football?!! I'm a football it as a matter of fact. But there are lots of things we should be longing for and preparing for ahead of some the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

We are celebrating the sacrament of Communion this week in church. We have, on our web site, a tab you can click that takes you from the Home page to of the Resources we offer are Communion questions. Unfortunately, very few know that we offer these questions, so I thought I'd offer them on my blog today...

First, take time in advance to prepare by reading 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: What are some things we need to prepare for? “Is my heart prepared as far as faith in the promises related to the sacrament? Am I really understanding that Christ is offered to me—His body, His blood, His life—that my organic union is strengthened through the sacrament? Am I prepared to believe that as I eat and as I drink? Am I acknowledging my need for the life of Christ to flow into me in deeper measure? Am I guilty of not preparing adequately for the sacrament?” Do I come to the Table believing I participate in the Supernatural? After all, if, as we learn in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30, coming in an unbelieving, unrepentant manner to the Table can cause sickness or worse, how much more are we to expect that if we come humbly, confessing our need and believing in God's goodness shall we we expect supernatural help for life and Spirit-empowered transformation?!

Second category of questions: “Am I believing the Gospel promises and living in light of them daily?” In other words, “Am I truly understanding the wonder of my justification? Do I really have an illumined heart that understands what it means to be treated just as if I’d never sinned, and just as if I’d done everything right? The promise of the life of Christ is offered in the sacrament to enliven that grace and to illumine my mind and heart to that doctrine. Am I believing that through union with Christ, I’m dead to sin, but alive to righteousness?” Another way to look at it, “Where am I living in self-reliance? Where am I using the sacrament as an opportunity for self-reformation rather than trusting the life of Christ to transform me?”

Third group of questions: “Am I ready to receive the life of Christ specifically, according to particular needs in my life?” In other words, “Where do I perceive in my life the beginning of hardness of heart? What areas of a sin am I giving in to more and more, and not really that repentant over? That is where I need the life of Christ to be strengthened in me. Where do I perceive that I’m sorely tempted, that I’m particularly tempted, and I need the life and blood of Christ to enliven me against that temptation? Where is my repentance shallow? Where am I sorry because I feel guilty and not sorry because I offended God’s holiness? Where am I not truly hating and despising my sinfulness?”

Fourth category: “What particular sins have I committed this past week that need repenting of? What sins of omission? What have I not done that I was supposed to do? What sins of commission? What have I done that I wasn’t supposed to do? What needs to be repented of that needs the life of Christ to transform me over? What idols are thee in my life that I’m trying to suck life and joy from, rather than getting life from the life of Christ Himself?”

Fifth category: With respect to the communion of the saints, “Am I living in light of my communion with others? See, if I’m organically united with Christ, and you’re organically united with Christ, then we’re united to each other. Am I living in light of that? Am I deeply concerned for the spiritual well being of Christians around me? Am I willing to forgive those Christians who have wronged me in any way? Am I concerned for those yet to be converted, that they would become converted? Looking at the Supper as an installment of the final supper, am I desiring the return of Christ, or am I too at home in this life?

Then lastly, am I willing to rest in the work of Christ, in the work of the Holy Spirit, even if I don’t experience anything? Am I willing to wait on the experience of the power of Christ, even though I may not feel it?”

One of the great tragedies of the contemporary church is that we have a tendency to de-supernaturalize the Christian life. We tend to deny the power of the Risen Christ in our midst when Paul reminds us clearly in 1 Corinthians 5:4, that as we assemble in the Name of the Lord Jesus that the Power of our Lord Jesus is present! Christ is spiritually and supernaturally present with the Church, especially in the Sacrament of Communion...are you ready?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Henri Nouwen and the Mission of Oak Mountain

I posted a link of an article by Henri Nouwen the other day entitled “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry.” It is a fantastic article…but it was also very encouraging to me with regard to the ministry of our church.

Read the article by clicking here.

Our Mission Statement reads as follows: “To glorify Jesus Christ by equipping every member to:
Seek Grace from God
Share Grace in Community
Show Grace to All.

What excited me is that our Mission Statement and Nouwen’s article fit “hand-in-glove!” Seeking Grace from God involves us seeking transforming grace from God through public and private worship…and parallels Nouwen’s emphasis on hearing the Father’s rejoicing over us (Zeph 3:17) through Solitude. Before we will move out in strength and love toward others, we need to be confident that we are loved and cared for—that we are NOT orphans! Apart from this element of “Seeking Grace from God” we will be trying to prove ourselves worthy or giving in to the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil that we don’t have what it takes to move out in strength and love toward others.

Sharing Grace in Community is parallel to Nouwen’s emphasis on Community where we experience “forgiveness and celebration.” Community is the place where the truth of God’s love for us and the hope of His transforming grace in us is spoken to us with strength. The Christian life involves solitude and Seeking Grace from God, but the Christian life, contrary to much popular opinion is NOT primarily about “privatized spirituality!” In the context of community we are affirmed as children of God, created by Him and re-created in Christ to represent and reflect God to others. The Community of the Church is where we experience the tangible expressions of the Father’s love…we are healed and restored to wholeness in the context of community.

Finally, as we experience the Father’s love through Solitude and Seeking Grace from God in public and private worship; and as we experience restoration through Community (and also contribute to other peoples’ restoration), it leads us outside ourselves in ever greater measure and we are propelled into ministry. In order for us to engage in ministry, we are called to exercise a radical trust in God, that He will, by the Holy Spirit, powerfully minister to others through our feeble attempts at service. We are to “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.” We are not to give in to the lies that we don’t have what it takes to bring restoration and wholeness to others…rather we are to believe that God can use “cracked pots” (or “crackpots”…whichever you prefer), to transform lives.

I’m so thankful that God has affirmed our Mission Statement through such a fantastic article. Let’s trust God for the grace to go from theory to implementation!