Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent Day 14 (Wednesday)

Exercise: cycling 24 miles.  This was just a nice gentle ride today.  No  major pushing or riding crazy.  Very relaxing

1 John 3:18-24
The Message (MSG)

When We Practice Real Love

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

Thoughts: Why don't I attend church regularly?  I'm not sure what the format of this post is going to look like when I'm done with it, as I feel like this will end up being an ongoing topic for a while as I get led back to it through prayer.  My wife and I were discussing a blog entry online, and it brought about an interesting thought process for me.  She suggested that I maybe should use it for a blog entry, and instead of just setting it aside to "process later", I started writing down my thoughts as notes and a semi-outline.  I may try to flesh out these sections, or I may just leave them as open ended questions and thoughts that I need to expand upon as I have more details to write about.  

Thus, Why do I not attend church?  hint: it's not because John Wayne is missing from the pulpit.  What is the real problem that this author is attempting to solve?

How many of my friends are MIA from church these days?  What are we searching for?  What aren't we finding inside the church "community"?  

What is the impact of my lack of participation to my spiritual walk and my interactions with others?  How much does not going to church on Sunday impact my interactions with others, especially my children? 

How often do I feel like the boy in the "Emperor's new Clothes" story?  People proclaiming that the Spirit is in this place even if it's not?  I have throughout my life seen people that proclaim the good news with their lips, but deny him with their lifestyle.  They proclaim that the "Spirit is in this place" while metaphorically desecrating the holy of holies with their actions.  How much does this impact my willingness to participate?  

How much has the "suburban lifestyle" impacted this?  Thinking back to my church growing up, and how transient church is for me now.  What ideal that we being sold for how "church should be"?  Is it historically accurate?

How much have our worship habits have become similar to the 1st century Hebrew nation?  Have we rebuilt the same worship structure that failed the Hebrews?  How does this tie into the rebuilding of the temple as marked in Revelations?

I really don't feel like I have any of the answers to these questions, and each question I pray on raises more questions.  So at the end of this longer post, the "short answer" is that I don't go to church regularly because I do not feel led there by the Spirit.  I do not feel that the modern day church can capture the Spirit of God by magic tricks and rock concerts, and mystically make people show up.  I don't feel that the preacher is the answer, or the problem.  The problem is the other people in the pews.  The only time I feel a connection to others in church is when I already know them when I show up.  Often times when I go I feel alone in a crowd more often than I feel like I'm participating.   This includes spending months being regular going to worship, Sunday School, and other church related events including small groups.  

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