Monday, November 29, 2010

A Person or a Building?

Quite an impressive edifice, is it not? Likely to inspire reverential behaviour once one steps inside and views soaring ceilings, elaborate altars and sacred icons. Surely God must be in this place? Not necessarily.

I heard a piece on the radio (Christian station) this morning. It seems a family, including a teenage daughter and son, were attending a church service. Now this particular church had a "no technology" rule, where attendees were to turn off all electronic devices during the service. Apparently this family hadn't heard the rule, or were simply ignoring it. The son was engaged with texting messages on his cell phone throughout the service, while the daughter sat listening to her iPod. Neither one was paying the least bit of attention to the sermon; it was obvious that they did not want to even be there, and quite a number of people were aware of their being "plugged in", but not to what was going on around them. After the service, the family was told, gently and with respect, about the rule. Now the pastor and church are burdened because the family has not been back since.

After this story was told, the two radio announcers had a dialogue about it. Should they have been reminded about the rule? Should there even be a rule? Would it not be better for some kids, even if they have to be dragged there, to allow them their toys, because at least they would be in the building? Even if they don't hear the message (sermon), they might just somehow get something out of the setting, if only hearing bits and pieces of hymns, etc. Now I ask you, is that not a pathetic premise?

What have we, as Christ's body, evolved to, that we think we have to bring people into a "church" building to hear the gospel? Do we think that once through the doors, certain mystical forces will take over and they will somehow "absorb" truth, or God's love, or the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Do we need to drag people into a religious building, to the "experts" (pastors etc.) to learn about God? How sad.

I went to a church service yesterday, first one in two and a half years. I went with my home church group to support a granddaughter of one of the couples in the group. We stayed for the "worship" portion (it was the granddaughter's first time on the worship team) and announcements, then left to go and have our home meeting and fellowship meal. One of the announcements was about a movie night coming up at the church. It was an outreach event, apparently a "no pressure" thing, and all were welcome. There was to be no "bait and switch." It was simply an opportunity to bring people from the community to the building, a welcoming gesture. Another item was addressed to parents of the younger children. They were asked to accompany them to their class, where they would be instructed and encouraged in how to be teaching and discipling their children at home.

I am saddened to see that we have reduced being Christ's body on earth to needing buildings, and programs, and paid professionals to fulfill the mandate of being ambassadors of reconciliation and makers of disciples. That we have worship teams to "lead" us into singing hymns and choruses on a Sunday morning, and consider that our duty done in the worshipping of God department. That we judge one another according to which denomination we belong to, and consider those who don't attend many services, or become involved in church "ministry" to be as "spiritual" as others who do. That we can't train our children up in the fear of the Lord with only God's word and the Holy Spirit to help us. That we can't simply BE Jesus to those around us; our neighbours, family, friends and co-workers.

God no longer resides in a building. He has dwelt in a tent, a pillar of cloud and fire, a temple, and in His Son here on earth. Now He lives in His people!!!! In human beings!!! We carry Jesus with us wherever we go. We have His mind, His Spirit, and His power available to us. We are vessels of His mercy and grace, and our reasonable worship (service) is to present our entire bodies, our entire lives, to Him for His use. Yes, every one of us will agree to these truths, but we have tried to live them out through programs, and traditions, and legalism. In essence, we have made feeble substitutions for them when there is no need to. Blinded and numbed by centuries of tradition and religion, we have morphed into a worldly "institution" instead of a living, breathing body that is functioning by the power of the Holy Spirit, and joined (effectively) to its Head.

I don't intend to put people down in these comments. I was part of the Christian "system" too. For years I tried to do all the right things, and ended up in such a conflict of heart that I had to walk away from all things "institutional". But there is something terribly wrong with how we go about being Christ's church in this part of the world. When He said He would build it, He wasn't referring to a structure made with actual physical materials. He was referring to people, to souls, to an army of believers that He could live in and through. Let's give Him back His church, and let go of our "Christian" props and scripts. Let's be real, and let Christ be real in us.

Jesus, we are Your people, a people for Your own possession, to show forth Your glory here on earth. Lead us back to the place where You can live through us. Cut away every artificial aspect and man made tradition that quenches Your Spirit in us. We are sheep that need a Shepherd, a strong hand to guide. For your Name's sake. Amen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Keep It Simple

" O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. " Psalm 131:1-2

Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed? Not just with busyness, but by the world today. Television, for instance. It brings SO much information into your living room. About everything. More than you need to know. But then, how do you decided what you need or don't need to pay attention to? From the latest discoveries in the world of medicine, to the current natural disasters, to the realities of war in far off places. So much to consider.

A hundred years ago, people dealt with only a fraction of the details and decisions that we are faced with today. Even grocery shopping is a mundane chore made into a complicated mission to pick the right products from toothpaste (whitening, for sensetive teeth, cavity fighting, breath freshening) to yogurt (pro biotic, low fat, anti oxidant, sugar free), and trying to get the best price on top of it all. Nothing wearies me like shopping! Oh how I long for the simple life!

I used to struggle quite a bit with the "things of the Lord". That is, concerning doctrine. Which denomination was right? Which interpretation of scripture was the most precise? Should I be pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib? Dispensationalist, Covenant or New Covenant? Calvinist or Arminian? These things weighed me down, and I was desperate to be in the right "camp". And if I thought I was, I was desperate to convince anyone who disagreed. But not any more. I know what I believe about the "essentials" of the faith, and I trust God to bring other truth to me as He sees fit. Instead of focusing on "being right", I am more likely to simply focus on Jesus, and be content to learn whatever the Holy Spirit brings to my attention. It's a beautiful thing, this kind of rest.

I think the verse above says it all. What a priviledge we have to be in Christ, to have any enlightenment at all! Not that we shouldn't be always learning, but if we make knowing doctrine more important than a living, personal relationship with it's Author, we will be the poorer for it, no matter how "right" we think we are.

Thank you Father for teaching your children. Thank you that there are no exams to pass, or need to prove anything to anyone. Thank you that we can be confident that you will give us all the revelation that we need, when we need it. Help us to be patient with others, and with ourselves, as we grow in grace and knowledge of you.

Nest of Grace

We can become so good at the game of hiding ourselves. From behind a wall of what we think we ought to be, we sit and observe. We weigh and measure each response, every lifted eyebrow, and adjust accordingly. Behind the scenes, we continually re-write our script, always searching for that one right way to be. Yet we are unable to calm our anxious hearts, for we know full well that we will never be truly “right”. We are made this way, and have grown this way, however bent and gnarled we may be.

But we are no surprise to You. You knew us from our mother's womb. Foreknown by you, we were saved. Even our struggles, our hearts' straining to know truth, You foreknew. “All things” can only mean all things. So even in our weakness, our groans, our stumbling, You work out Your purpose for Your glory. Even in our constant turnings, worries over what we've said and done, You stand guard over us.

We huddle within You, like newly hatched sparrows in their nest. We feebly lift our upturned faces to You, eyes still dim, our mouth opens, straining to be filled with understanding, with knowledge of You. For this is our food and drink, this knowing of You. We know that this Truth is the answer to all of our searching. We can take it and hold it up against every thought, every situation. It lines everything up in order. It casts away the dross, and makes more brightly shine the gold. It polishes and chips away, even at us.

Lord we are safe in You, in this nest of grace. Within it we can take new steps, even the wrong ones. Our searching after You is done with our whole heart, and You will guide our eventual end. You oversee every thought and action, and even in our wrongness, You gently lead us to Truth. Up ahead is so dark, like a gloomy forest at dusk. But Your light shines before us, one step at a time. God, if only You can see our hearts, if only You can know us through and through, it is enough, it is become even our great hope. For even though knowing us, You still love us with an everlasting love. This is our resting place.

"How priceless is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings!" (Psalm 36:7)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good To Me

I called You "Daddy" yesterday
As so quickly I did pray
In thanks for all You do for me.
My heart was full! There had to be
Some kind of letting out

Of all that joy accumulated
Grace on grace,I calculated
From before I was yet born.
Blessings rich upon me poured
Beyond what I can count.

It just leapt out so naturally;
"Thank you Daddy!". Could it be
My heart is melting ever slowly
As You look on me, so lowly;
Yet precious in your sight!

Why are You so good to me?
I don't deserve it, can't you see?
I've gone for years with head bowed low;
For surely all the world must know
How far I am from right.

But You have lifted up my head!
And now I need no longer dread
The present, past or what's to come
I'm in You now, forever home
Content to simply be.

Thank you Father, from my heart
My life is Yours, in every part
Your goodness flows beyond all measure
Lord you are my dearest treasure;
You are so good to me!

Monday, November 22, 2010


harvest home

I love the Fall. To me, it is the "middle age" of seasons. It comes after the newness of spring, when shoots of plants struggle upwards like a child standing up to take those first tentative steps. The sunshine and warm temperatures call those things that were dormant, or hibernating, or had migrated south, to reappear, ready to begin another cycle of life.

Summer arrives, and plants come into their fullness of bloom and fruition. From spring until September, we reap their harvest and drink in the beauty of vast varieties and shades of flowers. This is the "adult" of the seasons, when maturity comes to those furry and feathered babies born in the spring, and they are weaned from their mother's milk, or nudged out of their nests, to strike out on their own.

Then comes Autumn. The changing leaves seem to be shouting a last "hurrah" before letting go and dancing prettily to the ground. Scooped and bagged, now more of a nuisance than anything, they wait by the curb, or blown by the wind they gather in ditches, slowly making their way back to the soil that first brought them forth. Farmer's fields become barren landscapes of dried up corn stalks and shriveled plants, all their bounty now gone, depleted of the new life that once made heavy their vines and branches.

I feel I am in that "mid life" season. I look behind and see the Spring and Summer of my life, now gone past. I gaze with longing on the energy and promise they held, knowing I can't bring them back. Still, this is a good season. For it can bring contentment; a sense of not needing to peddle so fast as in younger days. The frantic pace of child rearing is behind, leaving grandchildren as its rich harvest.

I'm not ready for the rocking chair yet, however, and God willing, I've got a few last "hurrahs" left to shout. The best part is that I've got Him to show me how, where and when. And even as the Autumn of life fades into winter, where this life ends, the next is waiting, full of more promise and joy than this one could ever offer

Which season are you in? Are you content where you are? Have you considered what life’s next season might hold for you? Have you considered Him who made those seasons, and offers one of everlasting life?

“and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)

Maureen Breakspear
Published in Millbrook Times 19/11/10

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Talks to me!
Asks me for a drink.

Eyes that see beyond plain sight.
Knows those things I’ve hid from light.
I’m exposed.

Every day
Brings me to this place

Tells of water ever flowing,
Prophet, this, who is all knowing.
Kind to me.

Speaks of God
Just as if he knew Him

Is this the Messiah here?
Holds me with his gaze so near;
I must tell them!

Leave my pot;
Quick before he goes

Hurry fast it’s not that far
Have to find them; there they are
“Come and see!”