Tag Archives: worship
I posted the church’s sign on social media with my encouragement for people to run far away from such a church. That started a conversation with friends from all over about the intentions of the church and whether having door prizes was a good idea. Some viewed this as a good way to “attract” people to church so they could hear the Gospel. The thought was, get them in the doors and share Jesus with them. If they get saved then it was worth it. The opposing thought was that this church was cheapening grace and the Gospel with enticements.
The difference between “freedom of religion” and “freedom of worship” is very distinct. The fact that our president says he believes in “freedom of worship” over “freedom of religion” is a warning to be taken seriously.
A group of Pentecostals were meeting in a home church group when the local police came and said they would drive them from the home in accordance with a new law. That new law allows “freedom of worship” but severely restricts “freedom of religion.”
Recently in Russia, a proposed law received overwhelming support from lawmakers and was approved by president Vladimir Putin. That law put restrictions on missionary work, teaching, preaching, or seeking to “recruit” people into a religious organization. The law also restricts people from sharing their faith in their home, online, or anywhere outside of a church building.
Can we truly worship God apart from our emotions? The debate over what “worship” in churches should and should not be like confronts us with the idea of whether it is possible to be divorced from our emotions and truly worship.
That question has been on my mind as I rethink what it means to worship. We know that we are to “worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) But it seems the practical application of worshipping God “in spirit and in trust” is what is up for debate.
Discussions and comment threads over the use of instruments (and the banning of others); the use of dance (and the sin of dance); and the use of traditional hymns versus modern songs (aren’t the Psalms the most “traditional” hymns?) has made the discussion difficult to learn from. Each side is convinced of their right-ness on the issue. And in many cases opposing sides are willing to “agree to disagree”; a nice change from the typical name-calling (“legalist,” and “hippie” come to mind). But this is important.
The worship of God is not like the disagreement of whether or not Christians should drink alcohol. Our worship of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is central to our lives as believers. Refusing to think critically about this topic could be spiritually deadening.
The case of the Bronx Household of Faith is a storied one that has spanned decades. It began when the New York City Board of Education changed a city policy forbidding churches to rent public schools for church services. Other organizations may rent public schools, only churches were barred from using them. The Bronx Household of Faith sued the city for unfairly targeting the free exercise of religion.
In 2012 a lower court granted a full injunction which barred the city policy from taking effect, this allowed the churches to continue meeting in schools pending the ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The 2nd Circuit reversed the lower court ruling last week and allowed the city policy to take effect. Without intervention by the full 2nd Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court churches in New York City will now be homeless.
The good news is that newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports allowing churches to meet in schools like everyone else. In fact he made such statements more than once during his campaign. After the ruling Mayor de Blasio was quoted as saying:
Can I let you in on a little secret? It’s one of those things everybody used to know but somewhere along the way it got lost and now it seems fewer and fewer people know this; but it’s no less true today than it ever was. The big secret is this: kids are not the center of the universe!
In the past I’ve written on the danger of becoming a narcissistic parent. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, and equally as dangerous, is falling into the trap of worshipping your kids and believing they are the center of the universe. Countless well-meaning parents fall victim to this idea that children are the center of the home and parents are simply there to serve them. One prominent family advocate shares this message:
National Religious Freedom Day, being marked today in the United States, reminds us that freedom of religion or belief is a pivotal human right, central to this country’s history and heritage. It is also recognized as such by the United Nations and other international bodies. Yet the issue frequently sparks debates that too often generate more heat than light.
That the mere mention of religious freedom triggers such powerful emotions, in the United States and overseas, helps explain why this critical right has not been accorded the centrality and respect it deserves, especially as a component of U.S. foreign policy. But whatever the reason, the United States must still look closely at the issue – and why it is key to successful U.S. foreign policy.