Cultural Shock – My Personal Journey

I spent a lot of time in my teens building my library from the local “Baptist Book Store.”  Seemed strange since my classical apostolic background was anti-Baptist. But I was really led to Church History and Biblical Interpretation. So while my musical skills were growing and I played the organ regularly in churches around town, my hunger for God was being pursued in my private prayer and study times.  

I have at admit my real introduction to life outside my small church and social community in Baltimore in the 1960’s was being drafted in the Army. I had few friends; I was a loner and deep thinker; and my dad’s church had done a good indoctrination job on me. I had more questions than those around me could adequately answer. So I entered the military with a limited world view of society at large but I got a quick education in people, relationships, and religion.

My best friend in Basic Training was a red neck from Kentucky who had never personally interacted with Black people before.  We seemed to be drawn to each other out of the shock of the new environment we found ourselves ultimately having to adjust to. Our favorite pastime was singing “Sly Stone’s ‘60’s hit, “Don’t Call Me Niger, Whitey.” It really didn’t take me long to score high with a rifle and become an expert in hand-to-hand combat. So while the army was molding me into a soldier, I was also developing discipline that would shape my ministry career for many years to come. All the while trying to figure out where I should go from here.

This is Part 7 in the series

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Or continue on to Part 8 here –

This Memorial Day

Today, this MEMORIAL DAY, we celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice of defending our nation as well as honor those who are today in foreign battlefields facing dangers every day.. Memorials are appropriate. They challenge us to stop, remember and give thanks. Throughout scripture, The Lord instructed His people to set up memorials and to remember His faithfulness and deliverance. He knows us well, that we are a forgetful people. Thankfulness must be cultivated. Memories of God’s faithfulness strengthen our faith and fortify our love for God. While we are memorializing this day, think of making an memorial to God marking and thanking Him for countless blessings.

The Worship Dilema

The current climate in churches today is not to create an atmosphere to worship and praise God but to attract and appease people. Most people are only attracted to a church where they can “feel” God. A George Gallup polls suggest that, “We are having a revival of feelings and not the knowledge of God.” The church today is more guided by feelings than motivated by knowledge. We want a good feeling, not a good experience with God in worship. That was the attraction of the two “Great Awakenings” a need to experience God emotionally apart from what we knew intellectually. It also was the motivation of Western “Pentecost.” In 1906 with the popularity of the Azusa Street Revival, we shifted worship from getting to know God to seeking to be empowered by the presence of God with major spiritual empowerments.

Passion for God – the ability to seek God with your total being has been substituted for a need to express my release emotionally while addressing my status as a gifted saint. Is it wrong then to want to feel God? No, but it is danger if all we want to do is “feel” and not get to know God. That is the beauty of intimacy. Not just the feeling but the communication. We move from one extreme to the other. If we seek knowledge from God the danger is being labeled an “egghead” and “dry.” If we seek the presence of God only in music and song, the danger is becoming “too emotional” and surface orientated. The balance is expressed when we can seek God intellectually without getting “puffed up.” Then we can become “passionate” for God without it becoming a celebration of my talent and not an elevation of God’s Glory. Keep in mind promotion carries two parallels. The danger of pride and the demotion of self-glory to the danger of becoming more than a player on the cosmic stage to the star of the show.

What We Need

We need a new breed of worship leaders that understand the mandate of prayer and praise. New leaders who are not making news headlines, but delivering the Good News of the kingdom; Honest leaders that will take the time to sanctify themselves to and for God in this hour; Charismatic leaders that are not just speaking for God (prophets) but speaking to God (priests) regarding the sins of nations, governments, societies, and churches.  Leaders that will propel us into the future with a healthy perspective of lessons from the past. Finally, we need true intercession in this hour, warfare prayer that restores and refreshes the supernatural power of God in the earth. Not by a troop of gossiping prayer bands, but a worship leader who can both discern and command the conflict and calm the storms of life.

The Methodology Of Worship

The methodology of worship has dominated the Christian Church world as we are more focused on how we express our worship (my way) than how it is regulated to please God. What worship should accomplish is to get us into God’s presence. The purpose of worship in the body of Christ is not to appease God and make one feel good and enjoy all the blessings of prosperity. No it is to honor the Father through Jesus Christ as our mediator with the aid of the Holy Spirit. We are as divided over worship as we are over doctrine. In fact, worship has gotten so systematized in America that we offer people a menu of choices like a restaurant. Instead of fighting over styles today we just blend a choice of options – Traditional, Modern, or Contemporary. Take your choice and sit and enjoy the sideshow of worship being focused on your taste instead of God’s glory.  So we divide over the day, style, music, and prayer language in our worship services.

Defining The New Testament Church

Paul used several metaphors to relate his interpretation of the “church.” In Eph 2:19, he refers to the church as a “household” and in v21, as a “building” and a “temple.” Also in I Cor. 12:13-27, Paul sets out to make an analogy of the human body as a metaphor for the church.  The people who received the message of Jesus Christ were then called the “church.” They met in cell pockets in different locations and discipled new converts into the Faith. The importance of where they worshiped and what they called “Houses of Worship” was a later development and could be concluded as adding more complications to the genesis of the church. Paul sought to give clarity to a new concept of worship and theology that would change the entire world.

The Place of Praise

I am convinced that the greatest singular act of personal worship that you can render the Lord is to have a thankful heart.  I believe that the Lord desires for us to worship Him with the fruit of our lips as we receive blessing after blessing.  When we are thankful, it ultimately crucifies self-interest and motivations.  Being thankful helps us recognize God for who He really is, as the source of everything.  Thanksgiving is always able to reach God  in the midst of difficult circumstances. God is to praised, and sees beyond the pain to the plan for now.  If you are a thankless person, you have missed the point because the whole of our Christian life is to finally come to the place of thanksgiving.

The F.O.G. Concept

We live in a society, more importantly, an environment, where we are constantly challenged by the atmospheric conditions of our time. If the air we breathe in facilities does not affect us, we are threatened by changes in the weather that carry disease and viruses. With all the attacks on our physical surroundings, it is a blessing to know that The Lord has charged our spiritual atmosphere with the ““(F.O.G. Favor of God).

In Prov 14:35,  the Hebrew word ,Ratson,  refers to what a king can or will do for someone he likes. Ratson represents a concrete reaction of a superior being to an inferior being. In other words, it is what God will do, even though the recipient cannot repay. When used of God, Ratson may represent that which is shown in His blessings.

Having Favor also means giving Grace. Grace is so closely linked with Favor that it is impossible to talk about Favor without bringing to mind Grace. It’s a classic Christian paradox, isn’t it? Just when you think it’s time to pull out the Law and read someone the riot act, Jesus shows by his behavior that it’s better to embrace that person with a costly love. And Grace does cost. It obviously cost the Son of God everything, and for you to extend Grace will cost you. The Lord forgives us because of His Mercy.


Resurrection Truths

Jesus brings the experience of the resurrection from the realms of hope and then introduces it to the arena of faith.  Many times our problems seem too difficult for us, but they are never out of range from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus stated that “I am the Resurrection”.  That is a powerful statement in light of hope and an even more powerful concept when we view eternity.  Jesus is stating that He (Logos)  is the eternal life and He has the power of the Holy Spirit.  The difference between Lazarus and the believer today is that we will come back more than we were.  Lazarus was restored to his previous existence. We will be resurrected a new creation.

The resurrection to us should mean three things: New Life—the body will become lifeless; but the spirit will become glorious and the soul immortal.  (2)  Perfect restoration of All Saints- – we will no longer be affected by the cares of this world, and (3) The Immortal Kingdom- the New Jerusalem- the place of the presence and power of God Almighty.  By accepting the fact that Jesus is the resurrection, we experience the life-giving power of God within us.  One hidden truth of the resurrection is to take our eyes off the event and focus our attention on the one who gave it.

The power of the resurrection lies in who gets the glory.  If we take credit for our success in life, we miss the mark.  The principle is to give it all to Jesus.  The hope of the resurrection is in what we expect.  Our expectations should be to fulfill our purpose and calling.  The joy of the resurrection is to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.  Another truth is really knowing your own personal identity in Jesus Christ.  Paul expressed that he was “crucified with Christ,” but his identity was not replaced, he lived.  We have to realize that resurrection power lies within your inner man. The power to accept the counsel of the Holy Spirit without doubting.

Remember, Jesus made the resurrection personal. Having faith for the present battles prepares us for our ultimate victory in glory.  The truth of resurrection power is not to believe in a death experience only.  It is the ability to take on God’s abundant life in our flesh today.  The need to express confidence in who you are will telegraph a message to your enemy that you are indestructible.  Go ahead; boast to the enemy.  We must also learn to demonstrate a power praise.  Praise that has the authority and the ability to get the job done and overtake our enemies.

Some Desires Require A Real Investment

Some desires require a real investment of ourselves. People often wonder if working a long time for something they desire is worth it. As stated by Paul in Romans 8:24-25:

24 We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have.

25 But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently.

Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen. It is a sure and confident expectation in God’s future faithfulness and presence. The horizon of Christian hope extends beyond death into an eternity prepared by God himself, the reality of which is guaranteed by Jesus Christ.

The point is we need to be patient with the process and trust the fact that God knows what and how to provide ^DG