Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Friday, February 17, 2006

Marching Contently

Last Sunday, we went to church twice. I promised that I'd come back and make some comments, so here it goes...

I originally intended to offer some thoughts on both experiences, but the reality is that one experience really stands out. It has stuck with me the whole week. I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't referenced that experience one way or another.

On musical and reflective worship...
Sunday morning was especially hard for Christine and I. We found ourselves in a new church we were checking out and we were missing our worship pastor, micah. Micah is a great friend and someone that I've grown to trust in leading me to a unique place of experiencing God. You know how some people get up to lead worship or preach and their voice changes...they get all syrup-y and get that "love" voice thing going. Well, Micah doesn't do that.

Someone that reminds me a lot of Micah is Troy at Mars Hill. So, Sunday night was a blessing because he lead us in worship much like Micah would have. And it was a sweet time of singing some old hymns and saying some prayers together and having some time to reflect and pray. No syrup--just how I like my worship!

On teaching and listening worship...
Jeff Manion (teaching pastor at Ada Bible Church) was the guest orator at Mars Hill. I was so encouraged to see the depth of relationship b/w the leaders of these two churches. I think other churches in the area feel like they are "competing" with Mars Hill. Not here. You could tell that there was mutuality and synergy between Jeff and the Mars Hill staff and their mission. So, when Jeff got up to preach, it was as if he was teaching HIS community, even though he was a guest.

There are many times we go to church and get (and feel) preached AT. Not with Jeff. He draws you in. He compels you to follow him through the text and into some stories and then out into real life. He did this for me as he talked about CONTENTMENT. He brought a kind of balance to the conversation that is usually lacking. He called us to be content BOTH in shortage and in plenty. He said, "We sometimes do 'poor' well, but we aren't so good with abundance." What he means here is, I believe, our level of dependence and trust in God. When we have little or nothing, we are more likely to be broken before God for all of our needs. In times of great need, it doesn't take discipline to rely so heavily on God. But when we've got ALL we need and so much more, it takes a kind of commitment and exercising so that we will trust and rely on the presence and faithfulness of God in our lives AS IF we had nothing.

worship translated into life...
I don't have a lot of concrete ways this applies right now. I can say that instead of going out for coffee this morning, I was compelled to stay home and have a tea (yes, for those of you that haven't heard, I've become a tea drinker). For me, right now, it has implications at a heart and mind level. Am I content this week--no job, no leads, cleaning the house, working on projects that have been neglected? Will I be content as the weeks go by and I still have not had any indication from God what might be next? Will I be content if God calls me for some period of time to work a job that pays me $8 or $10 /hr? Will I be content while he works on me during this time in my life?

I hope so. I have enjoyed much of my time this week. I've had more time and energy to do the things that make my wife smile. I'm hoping to use this time of unemployment to do some reading and get some counseling as it relates to the next steps for me (First on the list is engaging with the enneagram, which I'll fill you in on in a future post).

What do you think? Is it easier to be content in abundance or when we are lacking?

Here is the link to Jeff's sermon at Mars Hill 2/12/06
http://www.mhbcmi.org/listen/index.php

13 Comments:

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous rapraptorman said...

Greg, I love reading your blogs. I'm not sure which is harder to be content in. The thing with wealth is that it's never enough. The thing with being poor is that when some of your basic comforts and even needs aren't there it can drive you to lust for a "normal" life. I've never had much money, but now that I'm out of school and making some, I find it easier to be content. As for your comments on worship, I think on the one hand yes - gifted worship leaders aid us in our worship as well as gifted musicians and forms of music that touch our heart. At the same time I think we often put too much emphasis on what is going on up on that stage and not enough on what I am doing in my heart - what I am willing my heart and mind and soul to do before God no matter what is on stage, no matter what form, no matter what distraction. I don't particularly like the organ music in my present church. I see God using even my public worship experiences as a time of refinement - dying to my whims and my emotionalism by worshipping in the forms that connect for most of the rest of the community. Raptor's two cents.

 
At 12:45 AM, Blogger ben said...

For Andi & I, we've been most content in the days of lacking (aka right now). Every day is and has been new... neither of us have much money, belongings, etc... but we have eachother. And as sappy and lovesick as it sounds, thats enough.

But abundance does result in contentment, as well, but in a different form. Having an abundance of friends/family surrounding you ... now that is contentment.

Sometimes I wonder if poverty was actually a part of the created order... and that the fall resulted in the over-distribution to the rich, which causes them to turn a blind eye to the poor. When Scripture speaks of how God "blessed" mankind, the Hebrew root word is "barak" ... which means "to cause to kneel." God blessed mankind when He created them, but it wasn't a blessing of abundance... Rather, God created man to kneel in His presence, relying on Him as their life-support.

Anyway. I'm preaching a sermon, and I think the choir is my audience. I wrote a whole paper on the poverty & created order... if you want to read it... it's 10 pages, and I got an A on it. Go me. Haha. (hmm would I be content with a lower grade??....)

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Raptor, thanks for your 2 cents. I'm with you on the content issue. I've found it easier since being done with Seminary. The danger is moving from content to complacent...

On worship, my focus wasn't really on "style" which is the typical argument. My critique was on substance (and some on leading). And I don't think I said that I wasn't able to give God my heart at the one and not the other. Mostly, I wanted to share what was going on "in our hearts." Over the past few months, we've been shaped and lead by Micah, who granted brings a particular style, but we are also appreciative of his substance. ON sunday, we were missing that. Our hearts were broken. And we (as best we could) worshiped God in the midst of that.

Maybe you could introduce some tambourines to accompany the organ--you've got rhythm. Or Kara could come play the accordian!

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Ben, great thoughts. Can you give me an example where poverty would have been lived out prior to the fall?

The question for you in regards to contentment is "what will happen when the $$ and security that come with it start rolling in?" How do you protect against becoming complacent when you've got much?

I'm still waiting to hear your news...

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous rapraptorman said...

Here's a question: when it comes to worship how much can we separate substance from style? Can we separate them at all? I think Marshall McLuhan has something when he says the medium is the message. As for going from contentment to complacency perhaps when complacency sets in it's time to start giving away money until it dissappears and we're forced to seek contentment. The new testement teaches generosity when it comes to giving - not tithing. perhaps generosity is an antidote against complacency.

 
At 10:36 PM, Anonymous raptorbaby said...

I thought of an example of poverty before the fall. Adam and Eve were buck naked. They had no clothes. In all seriousness: It would be nice to know what a typical day was for those two: that is if they were historical people at all. (don't tell I said that).

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger ben said...

Greg, check my Xanga... I'm doing a series there called "A Theology of Poverty." I hope to post daily.

http://www.xanga.com/crockpot84

 
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