Tuesday, January 22, 2013 Comments (0)
I have begun reading “Vertical Church” by James MacDonald. I read a previous book that he wrote, “Downpour,” and was incredibly blessed, convicted, and challenged. So I began reading this book with eager anticipation! So far, I have definitely not been disappointed!
On pages 59-60, MacDonald makes this statement:
“When we ask people what they want in church instead of giving them what they were created to long for, we play into the very idolatry that church was created to dismantle. Most of us don’t bring carved gods in our pockets to church. Instead, our idols are subtle variations of self: my sexuality, my sincere religiosity, my stuff, my substance to abuse, my perfect little family for a second or two, my insatiable ambition – these are the forms of idolatry church is supposed to tear down. When our churches serve banquets of self-centered theology, we create disillusionment in the hearts of people who feel GOD has failed them; but in reality GOD has not met with them at all.”
MacDonald reminds us that “Church” was never meant to be safe. Or comfortable. Or predictable. GOD isn’t any of those things. Church is supposed to arrest our pride, crush our selfishness, carry our heartache, and comfort our affliction. Church is where we find community, express compassion, and engage in mission. But church without GOD does none of that.
Indeed, as the first two chapters remind us, “Church” involves acknowledging GOD’s transcendence and experiencing His manifest presence.
Moses himself testifies of the significance of GOD’s manifest presence. Read Exodus 33: 13-17:
Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.
And He said, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.
Then the LORD said to Moses, I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.
Note verse 15. Moses said, I can’t move forward one step unless you go with me. That is, he says, I won’t move forward one step unless you go with me.
In his book, MacDonald cites this verse. He then asks this question: “Am I ‘that’ terrified to walk a mile in ministry without the manifest presence of GOD? Does the thought of a weekend service or a counseling appointment or a meeting with the board – apart from GOD’s abiding presence – put you in meltdown mode?”
As you can see, I am going to enjoy – and “not” enjoy – reading this book. You want to talk about conviction? WOW!
Please join with me in praying that all of us will acknowledge GOD’s transcendence and experience His manifest presence in our lives – and in our church – and in our worship services!
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