Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Box and a Book

Dear Reader,

This morning, on the way to work, I heard a powerful lesson on the preeminence of preaching in the church. The speaker contended that the supremacy of the written Word of God is so critical that it should pervade every aspect of our worship, from the amount of time that we devote to preaching in the service (should we spend an hour on the sermon? 30 minutes?) to the layout and architectural design of our church buildings. The title of this post came from that concern that our buildings reflect the significance we place on the Bible. The speaker stated that he felt that the statement would be best made if our sanctuaries contained nothing more than an elevated platform on which rested a pulpit with a Bible upon it. A single spotlight would illuminate God's Word day and night, so that anyone entering the building or even walking past the window would see that the Bible, the second most precious gift God ever gave us (after His Son, of course) is *the* central aspect of our worship. I have found that there are many churches in America and throughout the world where the Bible is not even opened on Sunday mornings! What else is there, if not the Word of God? Frankly, I tremble when I think of the time that many "churches" devote to fundraising, feel-good "chats" from the pastor, special music, and motivational DVDs.

What do you think? How central to worship do you think preaching should be? Is it important enough to fundamentally alter the design of a church building?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

DISCLAIMER: This is not merely an attempt to console those who may have spent today without a "significant other." Please, take it for what it's worth. ~Jonathan

Dear Reader,

Reflecting on the day, I was struck by a thought: Why should Valentine's Day be given over entirely to the romantic side of love?

As I drove home today after two weeks of the worst weather (well, most wintery, anyway; I am partial to snow) of the last century in this area, I couldn't help but marvel that, on this of all days, being both the Lord's Day and the day we traditionally celebrate love, God gave us a gorgeous, sunny day. Tomorrow, the weatherman is calling for another day of snowfall, but for one fleeting afternoon, the sun shone, the air was almost warm, and the sky was a bright, cloudless blue. It really made me to stop and think about the love that we, as Christians, have all been shown by our Father.

I heard a speaker on the radio recently talking about the pleasure that God takes in doing little things for us. If you've ever experienced the joy of finding that one perfect gift for someone you cherish, that one thing that you know will make their eyes light up, just imagine how much more joy God takes in blessing His people with good things. As I drove home today, I could almost imagine Him saying "Happy Valentine's Day, look: I made you this beautiful day." I could imagine Him, like the loving Father He is, saying to His children, "Come, look what I've got for you, you're going to love it!"

The flip side of that is a conviction: How many things do I take for granted? How many beautiful days have I let pass without even bothering to look up at the sky God made? I pray I might not miss all the little treasures that God has graciously woven into the fabric of my life.