Monday, May 28, 2007

Global Day of Prayer--Terre Haute

Wow! What a day! Check it out:

Words are hard to describe how I felt as I worshiped in song and prayer on Sunday May 27 at ISU's Memorial Stadium. This kind of event is always difficult because it is hard to communicate what it is and why it is being done. It is so Christian counter culture.

No big names, not big agenda's for any particular church or denomination. Just simply gathering together in a public arena to praise and worship God together simply as the city-wide church. This is a great Kingdom idea and agenda! Seven pastors prayed, no names announced, no churches announced. A worship band composed of members from throughout the city; no names; no billboard!

It was a hard day because not only was in Pentecost and Memorial Day in Indiana, it was race day and a rainy day to boot! I must say, I did pray for a two hour window off opportunity. We had thought that outside in a stadium was a great venue for this event. But, outside has its problems! We ran into those for sure in threatening weather and a lack of promised personnel to get the electricity we needed, but it all came together!

I was so blessed to see hundreds, maybe a thousand people from many different churches gather and worship together in one voice for the cause of Christ to sweep the world! The songs were great, the fellowship was awesome and the prayer time powerful. Seven different people used seven different languages to read the world day of prayer; prayer. It was pretty amazing and quite contagious to hear the world pray!

Once again, I just love the guys I prayed with! These guys are awesome and so humble to pray in this fashion and to surrender personal preferences for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom. We represented various churches and many different ways of worshiping, but on this day we were one! We shared hopes, dreams and hurts.

Thank you God for putting together that party! It was amazing! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

300 million children all gathered across the world to honor their Dad, enough said!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Spiritual Diversity

I have been doing a teaching series on "What We Believe" at MCC over that past four weeks. This kind of series is always hard for an independent non-denominational leader. I don't the luxury or difficulty in saying what my "group" says I ought to say. Our type of congregations try hard to do their theology in real time and in the context of community.

Community among believers has always been complicated; just look at Acts 15 if you don't think so! The issues of salvation and following Christ daily have always been caught up in culture, time and space. The same is true with us today living right here in Terre Haute Indiana. What one member of our community believes is constantly connected with what others believe. Sometimes those are pretty universal and ordinary; but at times it can get complicated and quite touchy.

I always use the examples of baptism, communion, eternal security and the gifts of the Holy Spirit as examples of those touchy kinds of beliefs. I historically like the challenge of trying hard to understand what is essential and what is not in regard to these beliefs. It is a challenge, it is not always a slam dunk.

Can Jesus remain the core of these issues? That is what is essential. Some times people equate Jesus with doctrine and that can be a huge mistake. He is not just a doctrine or a teaching! That would be to make him into what the Pharisees and others of the Jewish community tried to do. Jesus is a living person who interacts with us regularly in time and space, yes in scripture but also in life. I know that is a little scary for some believers, but none the less true. Look at Hebrews 4:12 and see it beyond scripture.

Now, how do we as a community relate to the "tertiary" issues of the faith such as speaking in tongues and the other miraculous sign gifts? I would hope we can take the same position as the Southern Baptist Mission Board and try hard to see some things as not necessary to separate us. Should any means of prayer divide believers? I don't think so! Yes, we may have our preferences, even those things we believe strongly, but not to such a degree we refuse to fellowship with each other!

I have lived the "fear" of those "weird" people who spoke in tongues! I have even been misinformed about the priority of such things. Honestly, wasn't that the core of what the Apostle Paul was battling in Corinth? That battle hasn't changed much at all. Just because I don't speak in tongues does not make it wrong for someone else to do so.

The real error in dealing with non-normative miraculous spiritual gifts is the personal experience weight of evaluating them. If "I don't" or I can't" then no one should! How prideful! How narrowing can you be in the body of Christ! The whole point of Paul's teaching was "some."

It is the "some" that makes us strong! We are a unique and diverse body, not a body of all who do certain things. This is the challenge of denominationalism and the comfort in such things. When we all believe the same thing there is comfort, but I wonder if there is power! I wonder if there is true equipment! I do believe it is disfiguring to what the body of Christ is to look like!

It is an honorable discomfort to be a member of a group of people who work hard at what is essential and allow for diverse beliefs in spiritual gifts. It is so hard in our culture to believe and live in a way that acknowledges the supernatural. But necessary. I challenge believers to believe and to live in ways that make power and spiritual encounter a regular part of their lives.

As Paul said, "He is able!" And as I would say, we are not! Never lose sight of those two facts of scripture and life.