Friday, November 20, 2009

PurposePoints: Minister Musing on Ministry & Misc.

by Dr. James R. Brooks (

Christmas is nearly upon us. The store shelves are teaming with holiday decorations. The television overwhelms us with the items we “need” to give to those we love.

This year, I think that our best approach to Christmas is not to “give.” Please understand me. I encourage “end of the year” giving to the church. It benefits your tax situation and the congregation’s financial health. Financial giving is spiritually healthy. Giving to the church and the needy is a highly valued behavior for all of us. When we consider our relationship with the risen Lord, born this Christmas season, let me suggest something more profound, adoration.

When was the last time you adored?

I think that adoration is one of the most difficult activities for us to engage.

Adoration is selfless. When we adore God, we focus entirely upon God. How hard is that? When we approach the source of our life, the fount of our being, the healer of our wounds and the miracle for our loved ones; how tempted are we to bring our worries to God? In contrast, to adore God is to look upon our Lord and refuse all distraction, even the distraction of our most dear concern.

Adoration is primary. We adore God first and foremost. When the three travelers brought gifts to Jesus, they adored Jesus without reservation. The first thing those three men did was to adore Jesus. They knelt and worshipped the baby Jesus.

Adoration is priceless / worthless. Our adoration of God is inadequate to what we have already received from God. Our worship of Jesus is not equal to the love that Jesus extends to each of us. If we adore God with our entire being we would not be able to save our own lives. We adore Jesus because our life is already deemed worthy, valued, and saved. Our adoration is cherished by God.

Adoration is fulfilling / overwhelming. Unknown to many of us, we fail to adore God fully because it would overwhelm us. If we worship God without our worries and pleas, we then sufficiently focus upon God so as to experience the overwhelming love of God. Sometimes, our worries and concerns serve as a buffer between us and the unconditional love that God offers each of us.

Adoring God is so difficult and so rewarding. What does God require? To love the lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself.

How awesome a call is that? When we adore God, we are shaped to love our neighbor in a wholly spectacular fashion. A fashion that can change a relationship, community, creation.

May the Lord bless us this Christmas season. May we adore the the Son of God born among us.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unifying Experiences

Unifying Experiences

What provides unity among us as members and participants in this gathering of God’s church?

In some ways, we find our unity in similar fashion as the country where our denomination grew up. Like the United States of America, we claim our experience of freedom to be unifying. Each of our members and participants are both free and responsible to interpret the faith, read the Bible and serve God and neighbor. From our experience of an open communion table to our acceptance of members regardless of their form of baptism, we claim freedom to be a unifying principal and experience.

The more important unifying experience is our relationship with God, through Jesus, nurtured by the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21 - NASB) Jesus prays that we might be one so that the world may believe in God!

It is my understanding that the Christian idea of unity is that we become more like Jesus rather than more like each other.

This has profound implications for our experience of unity.

Let me begin with worship. The unifying experience hoped for in Christian worship is that we experience God who creates us, saves us and nurtures us. When I experience God in worship, I am more closely unified with my brothers and sisters of faith whether they are speaking a different language across the globe or singing a different song at a different hour in the same room.

God blesses us with more opportunities than worship. Our church picnic in September afforded us an opportunity for a unifying experience as we shared a meal and recreation on the church yard. In some ways, this experience of unity allows us conversation with our neighbor that we do not enjoy to the same degree in worship. In October, our Trunk or Treat gave us an opportunity to experience unity as we reached out to our community. Approximately 100 children and adults visited our church for the first time. Between one third and one half of those stayed to eat in our fellowship hall. Both these events were made possible because of the efforts of members & participants from both worship services.

We are truly blessed. I am blessed to be your pastor. I look forward to giving thanks in November with you all.

~ Dr. James Brooks