Tradition: “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.”
Growing Up In Church
- Sitting in the same place every time.
- Using only the King James version
- Members urged to “go forward.”
A tradition created by religious leaders and preachers. Also known as “the invitation” or “altar call.” Reasons for “going forward” or “responding to the invitation” included:
- salvation, asking for baptism
- confessing sin
- requesting prayers from the congregation
- repentance for bringing shame and reproach on the church
Tradition or Scripture?
No where in Scripture is a person required to “go forward.” It’s not commanded, nor are there examples of it and it’s not inferred that anyone did. People responded to the gospel at all hours of the day and night, but there is no sense that it happened on Sunday mornings in church. The gospel was preached publicly, in the marketplace, or in homes with people gathered to listen.
But somewhere in our history, the “invitation” was offered whenever the church gathered, and over time it became a tradition and was elevated to the level of biblical authority. It became a sin to not offer the invitation.
Satisfied Our Justice
It’s legalistic practice grew to Pharisaic proportion. People were embraced or rejected based on going forward, or not. Church membership was tied to the practice of “going forward.”
If a member had “sinned publicly” then that member was guilty of bringing reproach against the church, of shaming the congregation. Therefore, they had to publicly repent and ask forgiveness of the church. Examples of shame:
- Public intoxication
- Sexual sins
- Unwed girls who were pregnant
- Rowdy or unseemly behavior
I’ve witnessed unwed girls “going forward” for forgiveness for shaming the congregation. The girls did most of the repenting, I guess pregnancy is difficult to hide. In forty years of ministry I have never seen a young man go forward for getting a girl pregnant.
And the Lord?
Repentance and Godly sorrow are good things. God is looking into our hearts and sees our humility and brokenness. Its good to seek his grace but I’m not sure that any of us has the right to limit it’s access to the front row of the church.
Too many have been judged and rejected because they failed to live up to the traditional expectations of tradition bound believers.
Here’s some sins I’ve never seen repented of in public:
- Judging others
- Self righteous attitudes
- Gossiping about church members
- Factiousness within the church
- Binding traditions as if they were the word of God
I guess those sins aren’t public enough to warrant walking down front.
the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation
Some are good and some need to die and be buried.
Mexican food on the left, hamburgers on the right and gumbo in the middle, we chose the left. When it comes to following our Lord, lets strive for down the middle!
“Teach us to count our days.”
Who Said That?
It wasn’t David or Solomon, or one of the prophets. It wasn’t Jesus. It was Moses, but don’t bother searching for it in the Torah because it isn’t in there, its found in the Psalms, its Psalm 90, “A prayer of Moses the man of God.”
Count Our Days?
Verse 2, “…from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Everlasting is a long time. Longer than we can count.
Verse 4, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day.”
A thousand years isn’t nearly as long as everlasting but its bucket fulls of years longer than we will live.
Verse 10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures.”
That seems more like it. Odd though that Moses wrote that and lived to be 120 years old. I guess he had lots of enduring strength.
Verse 12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Everlasting is hard to count in days. A thousand years is 365,000 days, I can count that high but I won’t live that long.
Seventy years is 25,550 days and eighty years is 29,200 days. Lets split the difference and call it 27,375 days. Okay Moses, we have counted our days and now we need a heart of wisdom. Has it come yet?
Was Moses saying its wise to admit that we won’t live forever so its good to live life fully? We only get so many days. We get whatever we get, but the point is, what are we doing with the time?
168 is the number of hours in a week, we all get the same amount, how do you use them?
936 is the number of weeks in 18 years. From the moment your children are born to the day they walk across the stage is 936 weeks. Count the days moms and dads.
40 Sundays is the national average for family’s having their children in bible school, forty Sundays a year.
45 minutes is the average amount of time a child will spend in bible school each of the forty Sundays they attend. Doesn’t feel like thats gong to be enough does it?
Moses was right. We need to count our days for they are not unlimited. What we do with our time matters. What we do today matters. How much we invest in the spiritual training of our children matters. Don’t miss it.
“Teach us Lord to count our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
If you read my VLOG last week then you know it was about my high school track experience. It was a message about striving to keep the faith and to run our race with perseverance.
What I didn’t mention was that in the spring of my senior year I decided not to run track. It wasn’t so I could play baseball or tennis. No, I joined the drama club, which proved a most unpopular decision. I was worried sick about what people would think and say. Some of those I worried about:
- the Track Coach
- the Track Team
- my friends
- my girl friend
- my parents
In a small town High School the boys that played sports played all of them. We were a fraternity. The best players in football were the best players in basketball and track. I was one of the best and they were depending on me.
My fears were well founded. I was ridiculed and teased. Some treated me differently, including the coach. But not my parents who supported my decision and not the Drama Club who were happy to have me. We rehearsed after school at the same time the track team worked out. I had played football and basketball and track since Junior High, and enjoyed it, learned from it, and won my share of medals and trophies. But as it turned out, I also loved being in drama and acting, it was so much fun.
A Hard Choice
My decision went across the grain. I chose drama over sports. I chose performing on a stage instead of competing on a track. It wasn’t easy to go against the grain, they called me “loser” and other words I won’t put in print. It wasn’t pleasant and I knew what it was like to be on the outside.
Our culture demands that everyone fits in, to do what’s expected even if it’s not in our best interest. Kids are under enormous pressure to blend in, to keep their heads down and not be different. Difference is a killer. Difference gets noticed and attacked.
For believers with kids, you face challenges that are bigger than ever. The dynamics are the same: the need to fit in, be accepted, and peer pressure will always exist. But the consequences are worse. The bullying and ostracizing are more intense.
I am struggling to accept it, but the nation I love is slowly becoming a place where living as the light of world is ridiculed, anathema and increasingly belittled.
Making the choice to be different is still the calling of God for his people. It has never been easy and now it seems harder than ever. Please accept my encouragement to keep trusting in God and to keep struggling to be the light of the world.
It’s never been easier to blend in.
God bless you, stay strong and keep the faith.
It’s not always about who is first, sometimes it’s about who finishes.
What Is The Value of Prayer?
I offer the following acknowledging that I am neither a medical doctor or a mental health professional.
When I think about the value of prayer I land on two primary benefits.
The Spiritual: Being a believer allows me to connect with the presence of God. The Holy Spirit takes me to the place that is not of this world. It’s a holy place, not a location, but a place of divine availability. It’s how I talk to Him. It’s how faith becomes expressed in words. It’s about heavenly power.
The Physical: Being a believer means that I can share whatever is on my mind, my heart and my soul. Prayer can be offered in a quick moment or in long periods of thoughtful reflection. Nope, God is not my medical doctor, my analyst, or my emotional guru. Prayer doesn’t fix everything or eliminate all problems. Here are some of the benefits prayer provides.
- connection to a higher power
- a relationship with the divine
- relieving anxiety
- the place to take problems
- the place to off load worry
- the way to ask for help
- the way to seek assistance for others
- the place to confess weakness, sin and struggle
Praying lowers my blood pressure and provides me a sense of peace and calm. Praying makes me feel better both spiritually and physically.
A friend of mine told me that he was struggling with something and the more he thought about it the more angry he was becoming. So, rather than stay angry or get even angrier, he decided to find someplace quiet and pray. It won’t be a quick prayer but a day of confession and connection with his heavenly Father. Whatever his mental and emotional condition when he begins to pray will not be his condition when he is finished. He will come back changed and for the better.
I’ll leave you with this.
“Rejoice in the Lord and I will say it again, rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”