Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Monday
May302011

SATURDAY WORSHIP FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

In May, 2010, I had a vision / insight / understanding.

I was reading the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern and I ran across the term "Motza'ei-Shabbat" – literally, the "going out of the Sabbath," i.e. Saturday night.  By Biblical and Jewish reckoning, days begin at sunset.  So, where the text tells us that the believers met on "the first day of the week," it means Saturday after sundown, not Sunday.  See, Acts 20:7.

Now, for Americans Saturday evening is our high holy day.  It's the time when we expect and are expected to have the most fun, the most excitement of any time of the week.

There are ironies here –

+   Christian churches claim that they follow Scripture, but they worship on Sunday morning.

+   Nearly all Christian churches are shut up tight on Saturday evenings –- except urban Roman Catholic churches which have short masses for the faithful, so they can be elsewhere on Sunday mornings.

Thus, our congregations miss a great opportunity for witnessing and reaching out to those who have no relationship to Jesus – particularly to university students.

When I was a boy, one of the hit parade songs was "Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week."  True statement.

Yet, our churches seem to have no notion of the possibilities for Saturday night evangelism.

As a Lutheran of English-German descent who has worshipped with at least twenty different denominations, I have little confidence that Protestants – particularly the white churches of the Reformation -- could do Saturday evening worship properly.  Why not?

*   A Protestant assumption lingers among us: If you're really having fun, you're being ungodly.

*   For example, good belly laughs in church are bad form for Protestants.  The usual response to a joke told from a Protestant pulpit is either no response or a polite titter.

*   Most Protestant worship is a bland event which does no more than tweak the emotions.

*   During worship, Protestants are expected to sit, stand, or kneel – and especially to listen and give – but they are not encouraged to be involved in worship physically or emotionally.  And these weekly rituals and lectures are supposed to change their lives, making them more and more into little Christs.  Amazingly, this occasionally works.

So, if Protestants can't be trusted, who could do Saturday evening evangelism well? 

Messianic Jews.

Why?

+   They have a heritage of worship which includes both the deepest sorrows and highest joys.

+   They know how to have fun.  I've been to Hanukkah festivals that were laugh riots.

+   Members can really involve themselves in worship, particularly in group dancing.

My second choice would be African-American Pentecostals, for similar reasons.

Our churches spend a lot of effort and funds reaching out to university students.  The student ministries get limited response.  Most students are comfortable or even delighted to live as pagans – and ignore the Christians.  Our secular universities foster a pagan lifestyle.

So, what would university students' evangelistic Saturday evening worship look like?

A celebration.  A celebration together of Yeshua (Jesus) in our lives.

Start every Saturday evening at 6 with a dinner, preferably potluck.  Reasons are obvious:  Fellowship.  It's an economy for participants.  There's little organizational effort or expense.

Celebratory events for each Saturday in the month should change and develop – examples and possibilities:

First Saturday, instrumental music – a monthly, Christian, mini-Bumbershoot -- an opportunity to praise Yeshua with music.  Regular skilled performers and Messianic standards can be supplemented by new compositions and new performers.  The music can also include group singing and/or dancing.

Second Saturday, dancing -- Jewish and Israeli group dancing is a great way to get people involved.  Together, we can worship Yeshua.  It's also a courtship ritual without being overtly sexual.  The site should be large enough to provide separate sessions for beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Third Saturday, theater -- Scripted Bible improv sketches on every major character in the Bible can inspire thirst for Biblical knowledge, along with lots of laughs.  Advantages:  Only brief rehearsal time is needed.  Improv is great theater training.  Many people can be involved, particularly in dramatized prayer.

Fourth Saturday, a sing-in – Messianic Judaism has developed a marvelous catalogue of songs, with the Jewish heritage of strong rhythms and gorgeous minor keys.  Here are opportunities both for performance singing and group singing.

Also, each Saturday should include –

+   Time for sharing experiences of Yeshua.

+   A challenge to receive Yeshua as the One who saves and the One who leads.

+  Prayers for healing – not only for sickness and physical problems, but also healing from fears, anxieties, debt, learning blocks, hatreds, and cravings.

Advantages of Saturday evening worship –

+   It's a place where students can meet Yeshua and grow in Him.

+   It's a place where students can come without embarrassment when they don't have dates.

+  It is a realistic alternative to the regular Saturday night fares of loneliness, isolation, bars, clubs, and parties with drugs, alcohol and sex.

Stating the obvious:  Saturday evening worship cannot thrive by itself.  It must be a ministry of a congregation located nearby.  Those who experience Jesus in their lives will need –

+   The blessings of fellowship – regular worship, a place where everyone knows your name, a place where you can receive warmth, support or encouragement when you need it.

+   A Rabbi or Pastor as spiritual director, teacher, and the servant of the servants of God.  As Richard John Neuhaus said, "The vocation of a pastor is the vocation of each person in the fellowship."

+   Powerful Bible teachings and prayer fellowship – in discipleship, in small groups, in worship.

+   Mercy works – so students can help others help themselves – which is one of the best way to grow in Jesus and in fellowship.

+   The support and encouragement of fellow believers.

+  Opportunities for major spiritual growth, including baptism in the Holy Spirit, healings and, when needed, deliverance from demonic possession.

The congregation needs to exercise control over the Saturday evening worship so the sessions stay focused on Yeshua.  Some rules are needed:  No drugs, no alcohol, no weapons, no fights. 

The congregational elders have the same responsibility to Saturday worship as parents have to their college age children:  Support them, encourage them, give them wide latitude to succeed or fail, comfort them when they're hurt or down or in trouble, and be prepared to salvage crisis situations.  But, as much as possible, students themselves should run the events.

____________

Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2011 by Jack Towe

____________

 I welcome your reactions.  Please click below on "Post a Comment".