This then is how you should not pray. You may or may not recognize those words. If you do, then you know it should be this then is how you should pray. But you’re much more likely to remember what comes after them. It’s The Lord’s Prayer. Or maybe you know it by the Our Father. Depends on what denomination you are. Or what you’ve heard. But I’m curious, how many of us know the part that comes before the words so many of us know? In any case, before we talk about should, let’s look into should not. It’s interesting.
Being encouraged by going to church is far better than being discouraged. But given what “church” is really about for Christians, it should be a whole lot more than just encouraging. Going to church should be things like exciting, uplifting, energizing, and the like. It should encourage us to build each other up. And it should lead us to want, more than anything, to be more Christ-like. More loving. More forgiving. More alive!
So what do you think? Which of those words describe your church-going experience?
How can I be angry at him? He’s dying. At one level, this is the story of me and a dog. The little guy in the picture below. At a higher level, one specific man. But at it’s core, it’s about every person on the planet. Not as a group. As individuals. And while it may sound sad, it’s a story that can have a very happy ending.
Is God loving or angry? There’s no simple answer to the question. The complex answer is yes. Yes, God is love, and therefore God is loving. Incredibly loving. Loving in ways that we can’t even understand. But yes, God is also angry. Can you really blame Him? Look what we do to each other. What we do to Him. And what we’ve done to pretty much every part of His creation that we can reach! Who wouldn’t be angry? Why do we wish for a loving God, but expect an angry God?
The headline in Christianity Today is shocking: Gallup: Fewer Than Half of Americans Belong to a Church. How can that be when somewhere between 70-80% of the population claims to have some religious affiliation? Ultimately, what does istsay when fewer than 50% of the people in America belong to a church?
Jesus healed a leper. But if he was healed, why did Jesus him to see a priest? The event is recorded in three of the Gospels. And they all tell it pretty much the same way. All three leave us with questions. Why did the healed man have to go see a Jewish priest? Why was that necessary? And to make it even more odd, Jesus told the man not to tell anyone how he was healed! What’s going on?
Religion. The word generates lots of different emotional reactions. They run the whole spectrum from extreme love to extreme hate. But given all those emotions, what is religion really about? Do we even know? We know what it means to us, as individuals. But we each have our own view of what religion means. So I’m asking, do we even have a sense of the dictionary or even the generally accepted meaning of this emotionally charged word – religion?
Just imagine each of the doors being an entry to one religion. Let’s say Christianity. Open that door, and there’s another set of doors where each door is a denomination. Then you see a third set of doors, where each of them is a conference. That’s followed by yet another set of doors, where each is an individual church.
You think the door opening is over. But probably not. …