Church Misfits: Charismatics & Nazarenes

>Halesowen Church detail 2photo © 2009 Tony Hisgett | more info (via: Wylio)

Over the years, I’ve had a rich and varied ecclesial experience–having attended, or belonged to, many different churches since Jesus found me in 1988.

Such as:

Charismatic:

Where they once prayed over me to receive the gift of tongues. Not, mind you, because of its evangelistic potential, but rather because it–tongues–is the initial evidence of the indwelling–the very presence of God in my life. Proof that the Holy Spirit was indeed in me.

Think that over for a second with me, will you? They were asking God to prove that He was living in me. Because, apparently, He’s in the business of showing signs and wonders to sinful men. Proving Himself as if He were a man. But I digress.

Anyway, since the rapture didn’t happen last month as (so errantly) predicted, I highly recommend those of you wanting to try to experience this gift–put it on your list before October. Because apparently, according to Harold Camping, that is when the real judgment is going to occur. Or something. So get it on your pre-flight checklist. Also, if they sit you down in the middle of sweaty middle aged men with yellow underarm stains, even better. Apparently those guys are prayer warriors. At least they smelled like it. And I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all. ;-)

Nazarene:

Where the people were loving, the songs were old… or, wait, was it the people that were old? Everything smelled like mothballs and Vicks VapoRub–even the hymnals. But, truly, the people were largely kind, and they sure knew how to eat, too!

I could go on, but the point is that there is no perfect church–because if there were, I blew it for them by darkening its doors. I’m just as much a misfit as those I described above. And so are you. We are all alike in our need for God’s grace.

So let’s share some today. Now pass the tater salad, will ya?

A Fresh Pair of Eyes

>captivating eyesphoto © 2007 Ibrahim Iujaz | more info (via: Wylio)

Today, someone I hadn’t seen in awhile complimented me on my weight loss. I thanked him, commiserated a little, wished him well. Then I reflected upon the conversation. I came to these conclusions:

1) Though I know I’m losing weight, it’s not always obvious to me, because I live with my body, and do not necessarily see it changing by degrees.

2) It took a fresh pair of eyes to remind me of this. Because he hadn’t seen me in sometime, my colleague readily spotted the changes that I don’t necessarily notice.

I think spiritual growth is a lot like this. If we are growing in godliness, we aren’t necessarily aware of it, for at least a couple of reasons:

1) Our focus is on God (and others), not ourselves; and,

2) This process of sanctification is, like weight loss, a changing by degrees–it happens gradually, over time.

These are, of course, my opinions, and do not carry the weight of holy writ, but I believe them to be true. I should think that if one was aware of his own godliness that his focus is entirely upon the wrong person. (“Fair I see, sad you see”). Because the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his creatureliness, his sinfulness. That, too, is my opinion, but I think it sound.

The difference comes down to perspective, and focus. Just as I don’t see my own weight loss, I am not aware of my own godliness. Because I can’t escape the bounds of my flesh suit, I particularly lack perspective regarding myself. I don’t feel myself growing in the Lord.

This is where community comes in; for it is only in community that perspective, and indeed encouragement, comes. Others can often see us better than we see ourselves–they experience the changes the Lord is birthing oftentimes before we are aware of them ourselves.

Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes.

Thanks for reading!

What lessons has life taught you lately about character, commitment, and/or perspective? How have you encouraged someone in their walk with the Lord?

6 Reasons Why I “Hate” Bryan Allain @bryanallain @myblogrocket

>no more hatephoto © 2005 Blake Emrys | more info (via: Wylio)

If you’re at all like me, then you hate Bryan Allain. The man is a menace! Not only is he everywhere on the Internet, but his reach is growing through this BlogRocket Community he’s recently launched!

Why do I hate him?

Let me list the ways:

1) He’s unfailingly kind. I mean, come on, nobody’s that nice, but he is! He takes the time to answer even the most inane questions, and makes one feel like they matter.

2) He’s generous with his wisdom–he truly does want to see you succeed. Not only that, but he always tells the truth about everything.

3) He makes me want to be a better blogger–which is costing me time, as I write (and rewrite) my posts. (He even gave me a guest spot on his blog!)

4) He challenged me, and others, to lose weight last month–and I did, which is going to cost me money as I buy new clothes! Thanks, Bryan!

5) He talked me into joining the BlogRocket Community mentioned above, where I’ve found many great new friends! But who has the time? ;-) (Here’s 10 Reasons Why You Should Join the community).

6) Being in the community, seeing what other bloggers are up to, has challenged me to step up my game. And the pressure I feel, the weight of responsibility to produce compelling content–I lay that at Bryan’s feet!

Those are but few reasons why I “hate” Bryan. Care to share yours in the comments?

PS This post is entirely tongue-in-cheek. Bryan is a pretty awesome guy!

PPS Because he’s originally from Massachusetts, Bryan pronounces the word fountain as “founht-in,” instead of “foun-ten.” You can hear that here
in his Ad Unbrilliance Video for a women’s event at his church.

Smelling Like Communion

>Communion 01 St John's Lutheran Asheboro, NCphoto © 2010 Blanche Knake | more info (via: Wylio)

Today, Jon Acuff posted a piece on showing “grace on a plane.” In it, he described various opportunities he’d had to do just that.

While an extremely cool idea, and the title itself not a half-bad play on “Snakes on a Plane,” it wasn’t the specific examples themselves that struck me, but the ending.

Jon describes how, a few weeks ago, a woman spilled wine on him. And how he laughed it off, helped her clean it up, and thereby showed her grace on a plane.

What I thought as I read the end of the post was that he must’ve disembarked smelling like communion. Now I realize that wouldn’t necessarily be the first thought of those he might’ve encountered that day, but hear me out:

In showing the woman grace, he’d (figuratively) left a sweet-smelling savor in her nostrils that day. The savor of kindness, and not of rancor. In his act of kindness, he was Jesus to her that day.

Shouldn’t we be about the same business? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we left the smell of our communion with the Lord in the lives others where, and when, we intersect with them?

I think so.

So let’s go, church! Let’s go forth and “smell” of communion today–and everyday!

What do you think? What savor do you leave in the lives of others?

Waiting to See

>Waiting Safetyphoto © 2008 Patrick Emerson | more info (via: Wylio)

I am looking forward to that time when the faith shall be sight, when the mortal shall take on immortality. It’s not some kind of perverse death wish, but rather a desire to be whole.

You see, for several years I’ve had sleep apnea. I had hoped that by losing weight this year it would improve; it hasn’t. I stumble from bed bleary-eyed and tired everyday. Added to this is hypothyroidism–which I’m having checked out today.

Don’t get me wrong: I have a good life, great kids, a wonderful wife, but my body is just so tired all the freaking time! It gets old, you know? And I’m not even (that) old–though my age at the end of this month will match the late Douglas Adams’s answer for life, the universe, and everything.

I feel naked, exposed, sharing this with you, but there you have it (and my purpose for sharing): will you please pray for me? Pray that we can these health issues worked out, that I can sleep well at night, that I can keep doing my thing here on the blog.

Thanks so much!

May I pray for you? Please share your requests in the comments.

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