Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What is worship?

This is what I wrote for my page in the church newsletter...

If you have had an opportunity to attend the 8:50 service on Sunday mornings then you may have noticed that things have looked a little bit differently the past month or so. We have aimed to redirect the focus back toward the cross. Our hope and desire is for our members and visitors to experience a more life-changing worship experience so that they can take that experience and completely change their lifestyles.

When I think about worship, I don’t think about songs that we may sing, or dancing, or really anything having to do with music. I think of worship as a lifestyle both in and outside of church. The Apostle Paul helps Christians gain a better understanding of true worship in his letter to the Romans.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:1,2 (NIV)

I really like how Eugene Peterson states that first verse in The Message. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering”

Paul sums worship up pretty easily. It’s a lot more than what we do each Sunday morning. It’s how we live our lives everyday. It’s sacrificing your life each and everyday to God. When I think about sacrifices in the Old Testament, they are always called to be perfect. When an animal was to be sacrificed, it was to be always be the very best animal that the person doing the sacrificing had available. This mentality should mold our daily lifestyle sacrifices to God, causing us to say: “God, let everything I do today be for Your glory” and allowing that mentality to be the determining factor of what we do, causing us to give and do our very best for God at all times.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You ready for this?

So, I've been meaning to write this blog for over a week now, I'm just such an excellent procrastinator that I would've hated to do it when I had originally planned. This is one of those deep thought provoking theological posts that probably won't get any comments, but should get you thinking outside the box. Are you ready? This may even blow your mind! (Or you may have already come up with this "what if" epiphany and just failed to inform me about it. If that's the case, shame on you for not sharing your own epiphany).

Ok, I've been going through the book "Wild at Heart" with one of my recently graduated seniors and in one of the chapters, Eldredge quotes some of Revelation 12. I have read this passage before but never had this epiphany before. Just shows the value of reading Scripture daily no matter how many times you've read it before b/c God is always prepared to teach us something new.

Revelation 12:1-5 gives the introduction and description of an enormous red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads that is wanting to destroy the male child that is about to be born to a woman and will "rule all the nations with an iron scepter." The child is born and snatched up to God and His throne while the woman fled into a desert place prepared for her by God. Then beginning in Revelation 12:7...

"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."

Now, here and in Isaiah is where (to the best of my knowledge) the Christian faith has developed the story of Satan causing a big ruckus and being thrown out of heaven with all his "angels." And we expect that this happens at some point either before or during creation, before Adam & Eve first sin....because Satan is obviously on the earth to tempt Eve. There is a lot of theological discussion to be had simply in those previous two sentences that I am not going to cover.

I want to really focus on the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and the first temptation. So, we know that Satan tempts Eve with the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. What was the fruit? I think we have no comparison, because it was obviously the only tree of its kind so I would imagine its fruit was one-of-a-kind as well.

Growing up, I've always been taught and seen pictures of the "Fall of Man" with Adam, Eve, a tree, and a snake. But Scripture never calls the crafty tempter a snake, only "the serpent." Our idea today of a serpent is a snake, but what about thousands of years ago? What if the serpent is this enormous red dragon? Remember Revelation 12:9 says: "The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray." If I'm Eve, and see this amazing dragon, I'm gonna be both scared and in awe at such a creature that can talk! I know it would be way easier for a dragon to tempt me to eat fruit from a tree than it would be for a snake. Just like it would be easier for a lion to tempt me to eat than it would for a house cat. Something about the awesomeness of the creature.

And think about the curse that God puts on the serpent in Genesis 3:14. "So the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.'" For starters, the curse kinda drops the serpent on the "wild animal power rankings" below like everything! Which also means that he was probably ahead of at least most things before the curse. Snake? Not so much. A dragon? I'd say so! Then there's the other part of the curse. The serpent is forced to crawl on its belly and eat dust for the rest of its life. This obviously means that it wasn't crawling on its belly before! Let's say a dragon has wings and legs. If you take those away, what is its only mode of transportation? Crawling on its belly. In fact, if you think about a dragon and take away its legs and wings, what does it look like? It looks like a huge snake in my mind! (I just think about the movie Anaconda or something).

That's all that I could think of while writing this post, I'm sure theres more stuff in my head that won't make its way to the surface right now.

So, the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Was it a snake like we've been taught since we were little kids or was it a powerful dragon? Think about it and let me know what you come up with.