An Enemy Called Formality


A man pushing or resisting (isolated on white)
A man pushing or resisting (isolated on white)

Today as I was taking a walk during my lunch break at work, I started thinking about one word, “Formality”. “A formality is something that follows traditional rules. Even though you knew your request for time off at work would be approved, you still went through the formality of filling out all the required paperwork. Formality also means to align with customs or etiquette. In this way, a formality is often something that’s more symbolic than necessary.” (vocabulary.com)

Formality requires a group of “experts” on the “proper way of doing things”. In the church today we have many experts on formality, but very little anointing. Formality does not promote, spontaneity, questions or discussions of any kind. Even their “fellowship” becomes filled with formalities.

One of the greatest challenges the church is facing today is indeed “formality.” The Pentecostals have their formalities, the Baptists have theirs, the Presbyterians, the Catholics, the Charismatic Black Church, the Latinos, etc. Formality is everywhere; but we should not pursue formalities; we should be organic in our relationship with God and in our relationship with one another.

For something to be organic it must derived from living organism. Have you noticed that organic foods are usually smaller? However, they are richer in substance and in taste. A formal church is usually boring and the focus becomes the order of service. An organic church is alive because it embraces a lifestyle of listening to God.

When you bring a small group of people and they spontaneously engage in conversations there is no pressure; it may start a little awkward, but if you have a group of true believers; they will always bring up the love of their lives…Jesus Christ! However, as soon as we make it look formal people gets nervous.  It becomes a public speaking event.

Jesus did it all; He spoke to large groups, in the Synagogues, to the disciples only and to individuals. But everything was organic and not formal. We never read that Jesus was the guess speaker; He just spoke.

Is amazing to me that the Bible makes reference to listening to our conversations, yet no reference to God listening to our Bible Studies and sermons!

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,

And the Lord listened and heard them;

So a book of remembrance was written before Him

For those who fear the Lord

And who meditate on His name. Malachi 3:16 (NKJV)

Have you ever been in Bible Studies where you have a few that seem to love to listen to themselves and share their great revelations, but when you catch them, “just talking” outside of Bible studies, Jesus is the last topic they chose to talk about it?

It is easy to put a Bible Study together; it is easier to just sit there and punch the clock, but if you want to see somebody’s heart, just listen to his or her conversation; that’s the real deal (Matthew 12:34). As my wife and I open our home for Bible Studies and fellowship, the challenge becomes to bring down traditions of man and enter into a place where we as God’s people can be free.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

 

Is it Ok to Cry?


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Is God greater than our pain? Yes! Can God do all things? Absolutely! However, none of these Biblical facts are able to minimize or dismiss painful circumstances, the lost of a spouse, a child, mom, dad, a best friend or so on.

         Come on brothers, it is not a violation of your faith to accept that you are hurting! Also, stop mocking pain and tears. In John 11:35 the Bible gives us the shortest Bible verse of all, “Jesus wept”. Even as Jesus knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus, He still wept. Why? He identified himself with the pain of the people. Don’t tell me Jesus wept because of the lack of faith of the people. If that were the case, Jesus would have cried for his own disciples all the way to the cross. He would have cried when they doubted Him, when Peter denied Him, when Judah betrayed Him and so on. Those were more dramatic examples!

         We live in a time when our churches don’t know what to do with pain. One large group focuses on all you can get (The prosperity Gospel) and the other focuses on doing. They place your call as the absolute most important thing in the world. So they fix everything with, “I must pursue the call of God in my life, no time to cry, no time to feel pain, no time to identify with nobodies pain either.”

           The reality is that Jesus connected with and continues to connect with people’s pain, and He tells us to do the same. The Bible put it this way,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (NKJV)

 

Beloved, it is ok to cry!

Church Styles of Sunday Services


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“Do you not know? Have you not heard? 
 The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
 does not become weary or tired. 
 His understanding is inscrutable.” Isaiah 40:28 (NASB)

 

The Prophet starts this verse with two questions, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” It seems like these two questions are as challenging today as it was when the prophet uttered these words. I would like for you to keep these questions in mind as we talk about church styles.

         As a young Christian I remember an older Christian lady telling me that congas were of the devil. Another lady told me that there were certain styles of music that were no allowed in her church. I asked her, what kind of style of music they allowed? She answered, Southern Gospel.

         It is obvious that people has gotten very comfortable with particular styles, not only music, but also preaching styles. People actually look for churches based on styles. Come on, we all know how traditional Baptist Churches do worship, we know how the Pentecostals do it, Presbyterians, Catholics, what about the Hispanics? What about the Blacks?

         We have grown so accustomed to styles that we have become totally insensitive to what we really need…the anointing. How can we serve a God who is called, among other things, Everlasting, Lord and Creator and manipulate our gatherings to the point where nothing is unpredictable? We pass out the little bulletins at the door with the order of service, how can that be? Do we not know the God we serve? Have we not heard of His mighty works? Have we not seen through the Bible how powerful He is? Have we not seen through the history of revivals how amazing He is?

         I believe the time is coming and, perhaps is now here, where people will be so hungry for God that they will throw away styles, buildings and prestigious congregations to go after the manifested presence of God. 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 tells us,

13 in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,” then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. (NASB)

 

         Beloved, this is Old Testament, how much more is available for us New Testament folks?

 

 

Un Vistazo a Nuestra Historia Como Pueblo de Dios Parte 2


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El mundo siguió de mal en peor. Adam y Eva experimentaron en su propia familia el primer asesinato cometido en la historia del mundo; sería el primero de millones de asesinatos que se han cometido hasta el día de hoy. El hijo mayor de Adam y Eva, Caín, asesinó a su hermano Abel. En Génesis 4:1-11 leemos sobre esta trágica historia,

 

Conoció Adán a su mujer Eva, la cual concibió y dio a luz a Caín, y dijo: «Por voluntad de Jehová he adquirido un varón.» Después dio a luz a su hermano Abel. Fue Abel pastor de ovejas y Caín, labrador de la tierra.

Pasado un tiempo, Caín trajo del fruto de la tierra una ofrenda a Jehová. Y Abel trajo también de los primogénitos de sus ovejas, y de la grasa de ellas. Y miró Jehová con agrado a Abel y a su ofrenda; pero no miró con agrado a Caín ni a su ofrenda, por lo cual Caín se enojó en gran manera y decayó su semblante. Entonces Jehová dijo a Caín:

—¿Por qué te has enojado y por qué ha decaído tu semblante? Si hicieras lo bueno, ¿no serías enaltecido?; pero si no lo haces, el pecado está a la puerta, acechando. Con todo, tú lo dominarás.

Caín dijo a su hermano Abel: «Salgamos al campo.» Y aconteció que estando ellos en el campo, Caín se levantó contra su hermano Abel y lo mató. Entonces Jehová preguntó a Caín:

—¿Dónde está Abel, tu hermano?

Y él respondió:

—No sé. ¿Soy yo acaso guarda de mi hermano?

10 Jehová le dijo:

—¿Qué has hecho? La voz de la sangre de tu hermano clama a mí desde la tierra. 11 Ahora, pues, maldito seas de la tierra, que abrió su boca para recibir de tu mano la sangre de tu hermano. (Reina Valera 1995)

 

      Mucho podemos decir sobre estos pasajes Bíblicos. Lo que quiero enfatizar es el hecho de que tanto Caín como Abel trajeron ofrendas a Dios. Hay algo en nuestros adentros que reconoce que hay un ser mucho más grande que nosotros; hay algo dentro de nosotros que ha sido creado para adorar a Dios. Mas Dios aceptó la ofrenda de Abel y no la de Caín. ¿Por qué? El verso siete nos da la respuesta, aquí Dios le dice a Caín:

 

Si hicieras lo bueno, ¿no serías enaltecido?; pero si no lo haces, el pecado está a la puerta, acechando. (Reina Valera 1995)

 

      Esto es una enseñanza poderosa, ya que Dios mira más allá de nuestros actos religiosos; Dios mira el corazón. Caín quería que su ofrenda fuera aceptada, mas intencionalmente hacía lo malo; su corazón no estaba en las cosas de Dios, sino en su propio orgullo y vanagloria. La asquerosidad de su corazón fue revelada cuando cometió este espantoso asesinato a sangre fría al acecinar a su hermano Abel.

      Esta violencia seguiría manifestándose en el mundo hasta que se convirtió en la razón principal por la destrucción de toda cosa viva con la excepción de Noé, su esposa, sus tres hijos y sus esposas, además de parejas de toda especie animal.  En Génesis 6:11 nos dice la Palabra,

La tierra se corrompió delante de Dios, y estaba la tierra llena de violencia. (Reina Valera 1995)

 

      Con ocho personas y toda especie de animal creado flotando en un arca, Dios comenzaría la raza humana nuevamente. Dicha arca sería la primera tipología de lo que hoy conocemos como la Iglesia. Fue otra oportunidad dada por Dios para que comenzáramos nuevamente.

 

Continúa…