What’s Worship?

Posted October 20, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Church, Worship

dancersIn my last post I talked about how worshiping together – physically and weekly – builds up the body of Christ. But there is a problem with making that the focus — we may miss the actual point of worship. Stopping where we left off yesterday, we might get the impression that worship is more about us than it is about God.

Apart from whatever it does for us individually or as a body, God simply deserves our worship. In fact, God is the only One who deserves out worship. And worship is happening, all the time it’s happening. Take in this scene from Revelation 4:8-11:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

So why do we gather for worship on Sunday mornings? First and foremost because God deserves it. This is our opportunity to corporately and publicly acknowledge his worth and to praise him for it. His “worth” includes both who he is and what he’s done. It’s a blessing to us to savor this knowledge and to love him for it. Yes, God wants our knowledge of him to bring us joy and to make us feel secure going into the future. But this can only happen if we focus on him rather than our feelings during worship. Feelings fluctuate. God’s character and promises don’t. Read the rest of this post »

Covenant Renewal: Spiritual Practice 2 – Gather with God’s People Weekly for Worship

Posted October 19, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Church, Worship

churchsunriseThis week’s spiritual practice for building up the body is “Gather with God’s People Weekly for Worship.” Let’s take that statement apart.

First, we gather. One meaning of the Greek word for “church” is “gathering.” In other words, coming together and being together is fundamental to what it means to be church. Ultimately, this understanding of church grows out of how we understand God, especially God as Trinity: three Persons so “together” that they’re one God. It’s this actual, practical, physical togetherness on Sunday mornings that helps us hold on to our sense of being one body when we go our separate ways. Jesus got physical when he took on human flesh. He gathered around himself men and women who physically lived with him.

Then he sent them out.

We gather with God’s people. Our’s isn’t a random gathering. In other words, we don’t just gather with whoever happens to be at worship on a Sunday morning. This is our family. These are our people. More importantly, this is God’s People, and we are Christ’s body. Read the rest of this post »

Covenant Renewal: Spiritual Practice 1 – Meet God Daily in the Scriptures

Posted October 12, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Covenant, Scripture

TimetoGrowDecember 4 will be Covenant Renewal Sunday at BRC. Our theme for that day and the weeks leading up to it is “Building up the Body.” Each week we’re inviting people to reflect on one of Nine Spiritual Practices that the Scriptures tell us are important for the functioning of a growing, healthy “body,” or what the New Testament calls “the body of Christ,” Christ’s church. At BRC we believe that being the body of Christ is an extremely high calling. We feel both honored and humbled to part of a community that is intentional about playing our part in Christ’s mission to the world. Obviously, in order to make Christ known, we have to know him ourselves. In order to make disciples, we need to be disciples. Read the rest of this post »

No Offense

Posted October 5, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Body, Church, Suffering

Friends holding hands outdoors

A line from this morning’s gospel reading: “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” So why would anyone take offense at Jesus? Frankly, I can think of a number of reasons. Here’s a couple of them.

In this instance the “someone” is John the Baptist. He’s pining away in Herod’s dungeon, no doubt wondering why Jesus hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation. Then there’s the fact that John’s reputation is on the line. John had predicted that the one coming after him would come with a winnowing fork in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, and then burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. John probably figures that if Jesus was in fact the Messiah, there should have been some winnowing and threshing by now. Read the rest of this post »

On This Eve of Lent

Posted February 9, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Adversity, Authenticity, Commitment, Forgiveness, Mission, Reconciliation

Lent2So will this Lent be a mere “season” of the church year or an actual journey? Will it only be a time for reflection or will there be actual movement in our spiritual lives?

Like I said on Sunday, no one has to do Lent. The word Lent isn’t in the Bible. And there aren’t a whole lot of “have to’s” in this New Covenant that Jesus initiated with his own blood.

But what if we get to? What if we get to actually move to a different and better place in which to live our life with God, with one another and with the world – the very real world that you and I spend our days in?

There are 40 days in Lent (apart from the five Sundays, our weekly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection). On Sunday we reflected upon the transfiguration of Jesus, when Moses and Elijah showed up to help prepare him for the journey ahead. Of course, all this was intended to help Peter, James and John prepare for the journey as well.

In case you find yourself also wanting to prepare for the forty day journey of Lent, here are the questions raised on Sunday, just in case they spark a desire in you for something deeper, different or more.

Forty day journeys have a rich and varied tradition in the Bible. Significant things happen during 40 day journeys. Read the rest of this post »

Clarifying the Mission

Posted January 7, 2016 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Church, Commitment, Jesus, Mission, New Creation

MagiYesterday was Epiphany. It’s easy to miss. I’m even a day late talking about it. Part of what’s challenging is that it always happens on January 6, so it rarely falls on a Sunday. (It doesn’t help that we’re all still recovering from Christmas.)

The historical backdrop for Epiphany is the story of the Magi. The official line about the meaning of Epiphany is that it marks the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles.

So, given how infrequently I’m writing blog posts these days, why am I writing a day late about a day in the church year that has already come and gone (especially since I have yet to start my sermon for Sunday)?

Epiphany reminds us of our mission. Mission isn’t just one of many other things we do as a community of disciples. It’s why we do all the other things, especially until Jesus comes back. Read the rest of this post »

Having the Right Tool

Posted November 11, 2015 by Rich Scheenstra
Categories: Prayer, Spiritual Disciplines, Stewardship

ToolsAny handyman or woman knows that having the right tool is the key to the efficient and successful completion of many if not most projects around the house. I can think of three minor repair jobs I was able to complete over the last couple of days with relative ease because of having the right tool.

One was a right angle screwdriver that helped me with an electrical repair. Another was a plastic tool I’d never seen before but ordered online to help with replacing the sprayer next to my kitchen faucet (which happened to be the source of only one of three leaks under my kitchen sink!). Finally, I was able to replace my sports watch band last night with a handy spring bar tool that was a definite improvement over the butter knife I’ve used in the past.

On Sunday many of you received a tool for helping you reflect on your life as a servant/steward of Jesus Christ. I’m certainly not suggesting that it’s the best tool for the job. It’s primary purpose is to help us reflect upon how we are investing three critical areas of our spiritual portfolio – who we are, what we do and what we have. It’s a tool, not a rule. In other words, it’s meant to be used only if it’s actually useful. I’m hoping that just reading through it will get you thinking and listening to God. What you do with it is up to you. Read the rest of this post »