Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Church camp

Church Camp

I recently spent a week at our local church camp during a High School Week of camp and just had a great time.  As I get older, my body physically doesn't like the lack of sleep, but my oh my how my spirit is strengthened by the experience there!

I had the thought and I've had it before I wish our churches were a lot more like church camp.  It's really sad to me that students and adults have to go somewhere else to experience the type of fellowship, worship, and spiritual renewal you get at a week of church camp.  Wouldn't be nice if our local churches had this type of atmosphere, attitude, or experience? 

I know their are differences between being away somewhere and enjoying time away from your normal routines and buys lives, I still think the local church could implement and adopt some of the things we experience at church camp.  First, the worship is typically intimate and awesome. We settle for traditional,same ole same ole, predictability in our worship services at the local church and even in our children and youth ministries at our local bodies. We should learn to have worship services at our local church like camp, that are more touching, involve the worshipper, and move you.  After all, worship is about God and for God anyway, not us.

Secondly, I think the relationships you build at church camp are more authentic and real.  We really open up and make ourselves more vulnerable and accessible, while at the local church we come in and sit on our pew, closed off, silent, guarded, and go home without allowing someone to get truly close to us or us getting close to someone.  We need each other and the Bible tells us to carry each others burdens.  We need to rely on the body of Christ and be someone others rely on when we hurt, struggle, or have problems. 

Thirdly, the spiritual aspect of camp is always something I think we need to experience more back at home in our local churches.  While church camp typically has a great setting and you're away from your world, I think the local church should be an oasis too for the Christian and those seeking God.  Our churches have become too much business as usual, and doing the same things the same way for decades, and really becoming more religious social clubs and gatherings, and not the true body of Christ and a place for people to find refuge, healing, love, and change. I think we need to do a better job as a church at being relevant, practical, realistic, and loving.

Finally, I think church camp is a little glimpse of what the church is supposed to really look like and be like. While, we need our church camps and should support them, use them, and be involved in them, we also need to have the same type of attitude/atmosphere for both our members and visitors at the local church.  When they walk in our churches they need to sense the spirit of God there. They need to feel welcomed and loved.  They need to experience God in a variety of ways. 

I pray that all of our churches can learn to be more like we are when we go to church camp.  For most us who go to camp a lot, we love camp, miss camp when gone, and can't wait to go back.  That sounds like the way church should be.

Galatians 6:2(niv)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Vacation from God

Vacation from God

Well it's that time of year June-August where many folks will be taking a vacation somewhere or someplace.  Vacations are great, we all need time away, time off, and a vacation from our busy lives, our jobs, our normal routines, etc.   I think many people would benefit from taking more time off and not being too busy, or workaholics, or burning themselves out.

However, one thing that we should never take a vacation from is God.  If you need a vacation from God then your doing Christianity/Church wrong.  We need God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You are also a part of His Church that same amount of time.  While you may need a break from teaching a class, or leading a church program, or something, that doesn't mean you take a vacation from God or His Church.

We always need to be striving and working toward growing our faith.  If we get burnt out, discouraged, or frustrated with Christianity and/or the Church, remember it's not really God or His Church that you have those feelings/emotions with.  It's probably because you've allowed satan a foothold in your life in someway to discourage or upset you, or satan is using someone else to cause you those feelings/emotions.  Our God does not bring about those type of negative feelings/emotions that would cause us to want to take a break from Him or His Church. 

We as individual Christians have to be very careful to protect our hearts, keep our thoughts pure, and strive to for holiness like God.  We need to find balance in our service to God and not do too much.   We also need to not get so busy doing "church stuff" that we neglect our own personal spirituality.  You need to take time to be in church worship and bible studies too and not always being teaching a class, or with the children or teens, or whatever it is you do.   Make time to be in worship and Sunday school class, a small group, or bible study and participate.

I would also encourage you to that when you do go on physical vacations somewhere or weekend getaways that you don't skip church.  I know there are cases where you may be camping or in a place where going to church isn't possible, but more the most part wherever you are traveling there are churches.  It's very good for us to visit other churches  and see what they are doing and how they do things. It's also great just to go somewhere and be a visitor and enjoy worship. I would encourage you to take advantage of going to church somewhere when you are out of town, traveling, or on vacation somewhere.   Most importantly, don't take a vacation from your prayer life, or reading/studying your bible, your devotional time, or reading some good Christian related books.

God never vacations and we weren't designed by God to take a vacation from Him.  You will find the more time you spend with God if you're doing it right, the more rested in Him you'll be. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Yo Yo Christianity

Yo Yo Christianity
What is Yo Yo Christianity?  Well, a yo yo goes up and down and a lot of people who are Christians or claim Christianity are like that in their faith.  They are in and out of church.  They are not consistent or committed in their relationship with Christ and they go back and forth being involved and not involved, reading and studying their bible and not, attending church services faithfully and then not, and they are in and out of church and their faith.

I think the Bible speaks about how God desires us to be once we become Christians and a part of the body of Christ(The Church) when Paul wrote to Timothy in His 2nd letter (2 Timothy 4:7 ) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Paul was near the end of His life on this earth and He was able to write with confidence these words.  Can the same be said about you?  Will you remain faithful to God all the days of your life and stop yo-yoing in and out of relationship with God or in and out of His church?

I think the problem for people who "yo-yo" is that they either never really took their salvation serious in the first place, so i'd question whether you are even saved? Or it could be that when you become a Christian you never got involved or plugged into your local church and because you weren't focused on serving the Lord you continue to put yourself first.   Maybe the devil still has a foothold in your life and because of that you seem to always struggle because you live for the world, yourself, and not God. 

Faith is like anything else, it needs attention and nurture to grow.  Your Christian walk can be neglected, ignored, put on the back burner, or only used when you think you need it.   What if you have a spouse that wasn't committed to their relationship with you and they were in and out of your life, always in turmoil, and inconsistent would that relationship be healthy? Last? Bring joy? Give you peace? Grow? Absolutely Not! Then why do we think we're going to grow as Christians if we treat God this way?

Being a Christian is a commitment and an eternal one at that!  It means you, yes you, has to make the to read/study your bible, develop and grow your prayer life, and be faithful in attendance, service, giving, worship, and activity in the body of Christ(that is your local church).  If you don't make an effort and a commitment to Christ and His Church you will always struggle, be in and out of church, blame God, make excuses, and be just like a yo yo.

That is why Paul also told the Philippian church members in Philippians 2:12 "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" because your faith and eternity are your responsibility.  Our salvation is solely based on what Jesus Christ did for us and not anything we've done or can do.  However, our salvation is always based on our faith and faithfulness.  We should not gamble away or give up our salvation because we lack commitment, we won't truly surrender to Jesus, or because we won't take the steps necessary to grow and mature in our faith.

Don't be a yo yo Christian,  be faithful, stay faithful.  Be proactive and productive in your relationship with God.  Be committed and stay committed.  Your salvation and eternity are too valuable to not stick with it!