To Know Him is to Love Him

“To Know Him is to Love Him.” Sounds trite. Sounds like a 60 girls group song (actually th-2it was recorded by the “Teddy Bears” in 1958). But it is a truism. IF you can’t love the
God who is revealed in Scripture, then you do not know Him. You can’t; because He is loveable. What often gets in our way is the faulty perception we have of who God really is. Instead of reading, studying,searching the Scriptures for ourselves, we let others create for us our understanding of who God is and what He is like. But friends, to worship a caricature of God is to worship a false God. Let me give you some examples:

  • All love; no justice God. This is the god of the “abundant life; prosperity gospel groups (I hesitate to call them “c
    hurches.”).
  • Hyper Calvinist God.  This brings to  mind groups like the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. One need only see the URL of their “church” to know what they are – it’s godhatesfags.com. Please don’t bother to go there.)
  • God of the worship service. The music’s hot; pastor’s cool; the message is lukewarm.
  • God of the “Thou Shalt Nots.” This is pretty much the opposite of the top group in the list. These are often the “Independent, Fundamental, Friendliest Church in Town” groups.

Justice, love, majesty; these are words that, in part, describe the God of the Bible. Here is a true depiction:

But the Lord sits enthroned forever;

    he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with
righteousness;
    he judges the peoples with uprightness.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.


11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
    Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
    he does not forget the cry of the .

13 Be gracious to me, O Lord!
    See my affliction from those who hate me,
    O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
    that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
    I may rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
    in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
    the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.  Selah

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
    all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
    and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

                                                                                                     – Psalm 9:7-18.

To Know God

Eons ago I was a grad student in history. All the faculty, save one, were, at the very least socialist. The one holdout was a man whose father had been a Hungarian count and held a grudge. Each of these professors had one thing in common. They spoke and wrote about history with a capital “H”. Each of them had deified history. History was their God. History, they taught, is the force that moves people, creates philosophies, is responsible for events. The reality is actually something quite different, of course. The God whom so many seek so desperately or try to clone – or create in their own image – already exists. All that struggle to create or crown some false God is unnecessary.th

As we look at the realities about God over the next few weeks, this will be our touchstone:

The starting point for a satisfying & obedient life in Christ is our relationship to God, the Father. A correct understanding of His character is what’s necessary for a full life.

Let’s look at a few points made in Exodus, chapter 20.
First, we are told that God must be our God – none other. In verses 2 and 3 we read,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery

“You shall have no other gods before me.

God, in verse 3, is making a claim on our allegiance. “I am your Lord and God,” He has already told us in verse 2.  In other words, He already is our God. Whether we acknowledge it or not, God is still God, He already is God. He doesn’t need our approval. He doesn’t need us to “create Him in our own image,” as so many have tried – which, in fact, all of us have tried to do at one time or another. There are a lot of more or less standard views about God circulating. You can be

  • an Atheist, who claims there is no god
  • a polytheist, who believes in many gods
  • a pantheist, who mixes up God with the universe He created
  • or even an agnostic, someone who claims to be “not sure” about the existence of God.

None of these belief systems will change the truth a bit. Believing hard enough in something won’t make it real. You can believe all you want that the Red Sox won the World Series last year, but the reality is that they finished dead last in their league. No matter what we believe about God is does not change the fact that He is; and that he has been active. He’s the creator and sustainer of the universe. He’s the owner of the universe.

Next week I will continue this train of thought. In the meantime, I would like to know what YOU, readers,  think about God and the prevalent attitudes/beliefs concerning Him.

 

Guest Post – A Brief Explanation of Why We Don’t Do Children’s Church

One question myself and my church frequently gets is why don’t we have children’s church on Sunday mornings for our little ones? When asked that question I typically want to respond back, “why do you have children’s church?” Based on their answers and my past experiences, here are the two typical reasons why most churches choose to separate families and remove the kids out of worship: First people will argue, “The little kids won’t understand the adult service. They need something on their level.” I think it’s obvious that a three-year old doesn’t understand what themes like justification and imputation mean, but I would counter how do we expect them to ever learn them if we always dumb everything down for them? Here is an example my pastor used recently: he said that many kids enjoy playing dress-up and using mommy and daddy’s clothes. The little boy may put on his dad’s oversized shirt with the sleeves hanging off his arms and then slip on dad’s shoes and traipse around the house with dad’s shoes flopping like flippers. This is the picture of the child sitting in the adult service with his family.

IMG_4545_jpglargethumbWe acknowledge that the service does not fit him properly yet, however we are fully expecting him to grow into it. Lastly, I flat out reject the notion that children are incapable of praising God. The position of both Christ and the Psalmist was that children were capable of praising God. (Matt 21:16 and Psalm 8:2).

The next argument I frequently hear for the case of children’s church is that a little child will have difficulty sitting still and being quiet during the entirety of the adult service. Again, this may very well be the case, but it does not necessarily have to be. I think many times we sell our children short, and our expectations of their abilities far fall below what they are actually capable of doing. I personally think children can sit still for longer periods than most parents think, with a big qualification. That qualification is that sitting and being attentive in worship must be practiced. This means that a child should regularly be working on sitting still and listening during family devotionals in the home. The adage practice makes perfect rings very true and if a little one is practicing participating in worship every single day during family devotional times, then they will naturally be more apt to devoting attention during corporate worship. Of course herein lies a great problem because most parents completely neglect any type of family worship. Which leads me to my next point: the task of instructing and leading children in worship is not the duty of the local church, but instead is a task the scriptures give to parents. Of course the church is there to support the parents in this most worthwhile endeavor, but the primary responsibility falls on mom and dad.

This desire to throw off such a great responsibility leads to a last answer why many parents are fine with children’s service. This is the answer that hardly anyone ever confesses if you ask them why they support children’s church, however I think it is a true reason, even if not readily admitted. The reason is many parents enjoy passing the responsibility of instructing their child in the faith onto someone else. It pains me to write that sentence, but it’s true. For those who would argue against it, I simply ask you to examine the lives of those parents around you. I challenge you to examine your own life. Examine and ask this question, “is my child’s faith the most important focus in my raising them?” How much time a week do you spend catechizing your child compared to how much time you spend trotting them off to sporting events? How much time do you spend reading the scriptures to your child versus how much time you spend watching TV with them? When so many parents neglect to invest in the spiritual lives of their children, how can it be expected they would want to do so for another 90 minutes on Sunday morning? If the parents aren’t practicing regular family worship, then of course their children will be fidgety during the sermon. Is it easier to lovingly discipline their child, making sure to teach the child the utmost importance of sitting under the preaching of the Word, or is it easier to send the kids off and let someone else deal with them during that time? I regrettably have to admit that the latter seems to have won out in too many of our churches today.

I will close with this last thought on why children should be with their family during the worship service. God has included our children as members of the new covenant community of Christ. They may not possess the outward saving faith of the adult members, but God has made promises to the young people that He deems them part of the church family. With these great and precious promises, why would we dare want to fracture this beautiful covenant family? We wouldn’t dare go on a summer vacation to the beach, but then tell our kids they are staying home for the week because we’re afraid they might get antsy at some point of the trip. How much more preposterous to tell our kids they aren’t welcome in the greatest and most important time of our week, the corporate worship of our Heavenly King, simply because they might fidget and make noise?

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