Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA, the church, & the constitution

Today the United States Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.

The issue of same-sex marriage has continually been elevated in media and culture.  My feeling was this ruling was inevitable.  I realize we do not live in the United States of Christianity.  That who you love or what you choose to believe is a choice protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.  But as I browsed through the internet looking for responses and reactions from the rest of the world, I was...

...relieved to find this excerpt from Andrew Marin (from an article in Christianity Today). 

But Andrew Marin, founder and president of The Marin Foundation, an organization that seeks "to build bridges between the LGBT community and the church," says difficult conversations about sexual ethics and theology will remain complicated whether or not same-sex marriage is legalized.

"As a body, whether people agree or disagree with the rulings, the church must start functioning in the reality of this new world instead of continuing to function in one's ideal, best case scenario, which does not exist," he said.

Now, the battleground ought to shift toward religious freedom, in order to protect churches' right to preach according to Scripture, which in a number of situations will go against today's ruling, Marin says. But he adds that there is reason to be encouraged on this front: In a statement this morning, President Barack Obama emphasized that the need to "maintain our nation's commitment to religious freedom [is] vital … and how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions."

I agree with Andrew about building bridges.  He is doing an exceptional job.  Me on the other hand, I am not...doing much of anything. 

I am also thankful for the President's words.  That as the decision on DOMA was based on the Constitution and the protection of the civil rights of citizens of the United States, our First Amendment rights will also be protected as well.

With this ruling, the issue of same-sex marriage/relationships will continue to elevate.  What does Jesus ask us to do?  How does he call Christians to respond? 
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

So dear Christian, however you choose to respond remember that yes, love God, honor Him, exalt Him in your response...

...but love your neighbor, as well. 

(Agree? Disagree? I'm just thinking out loud here. I'd love to talk. It'd help me get clarity on what I believe and why. Thanks...& peace.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Good" Worship

For those of you who go to church, you most likely know what the term worship is referring to.

It's the part where we sing the songs before the message/sermon.

As a worship leader at my church for the last 6 (almost 7 years...or is it 7, almost 8? I can't remember!) there have been a few times where people have come up to me and told me that they were blessed by my the songs that I had sung.  I understand what they mean.  I hear it as I did a good job singing the songs and being the lead singer for the band.  I really appreciate that. I do.  My confidence isn't that strong, so when people come up to me and share kind words like that, I am blessed. So thank you.

But from my vantage point, here's what good worship is to me.

When all of our hearts come together and give glory to our God; Our Savior who rescued us from hell. And by His mercy, grace, and love forgiven us, when we put all our hope and trust in His Son Jesus who laid down His life as the payment for our sins...past. present. future.  When our hearts respond to the revelation to that truth...that is "good" worship.  It's not so much about how well we sound or which songs we sing, but more about if we mean what we sing...what we say...what we pray.

There have been times at the H.I.M. conference with the main room filled to capacity and David Crowder Band leading the church where God's people sang out with all their hearts because of what He had done or what He is doing in their lives.  You could just sense something more than singing was happening in that time.

But there were times just as amazing but far less extravagant.  It was one of my first times to Fiji and a few of us went to a Fijian prison to minister to the inmates there.  As we entered the facility, we were lead to a room.  The walls were some kind of stone and there were bars on the windows.  The chairs were cold and metal.  As the inmates were brought into the room, they sat down and watched us perform and heard us share our stories of how God made a difference in our lives.  At some point after we shared, they shared a song with us...and I remember being in awe.  The passion that they sang with blew me away.  The power in their voices seemed to make the walls shake.  I remember thinking to myself, "Wow. Look at these men. They only have a limited amount of free time out of their cell and they choose to come here, to church.  Not only that but when they come, they worship and praise the Lord with such passion. They who have so little (compared to myself), they who seemingly have much less to praise the Lord for, worship the Lord as if they have been given everything."

So what is good worship? It's not when we sing the newest song.  It's not when have the biggest band.  It's not when we sound like professionals.  It's when we can truly say that in whatever we do, we do it with all of our heart in honor of our Lord and King.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24 ESV

These are just some thoughts that I've had. 
What is "good" worship to you?