reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
It's a long time since I had the experience, although it brought memories flooding back of being a staff worker...recently for the first time in ages I spoke at a Christian event where quite a number of individuals sat and talked, laughed, left the room and came back and ignored me while I was speaking.

So I was offended - and I need to get over that.

But what I was doing was a kind of led Bble study from the front. And said-same people in the time they were supposed to be looking at God's word (ironically in a passage that itself describes God's word as more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey) messed about, some of them didn't even pick up the printed out text to read it, and talked about all manner of things except the Bible.

I mean, fair play if you don't want to listen to me - I can be boring and irritating sometimes - but to so blatantly ignore God. It makes me sad. Gutted really.

This makes me sadder: we then had a 40 minute "worship" time where the same people passionately cried out to God to change them, help them, grow them from the inside out. He's happy to. Through his word. The exact process the passage , Psalm 19, describes, in fact.

There was endless praying for anointing and blessings and all manner of things. But little respect for one of the greatest blessings God has given us - his precious word.

It makes me sad. I guess I'm a little cloistered these days, not having seen that "theology" in action for a while, I assumed it wasn't really out there any more. But it is. With a vengeance.

Passionate "worship" without a regard for God's word. It needs a modern day minor prophet.

It makes me sad. How many riches are there in God's precious word if we will only actually look at it, dig into it and treasure it. It is restoration for the soul, and light to the path.

So sad. Pray with me for a generation who will see that what God has to say to us is infinitely more important than what we will sing to him.


Blogger becci brown said...

that is sad.

6:03 AM  
Blogger RagingAvatar said...

Very, very sad.

Mo, can you post (or perhaps email me) the Bible study?


6:21 AM  
Blogger thebluefish said...

Gutting. I don't come across it often but I have seen it.
Next time, be the minor prophet and read the Psalm during the "worship" time...

12:29 AM  
Blogger Levi said...

My days! At first I thought you meant evangelistic event so I wasn't overly surprised - but still saddened - but it was Christians doing this? That is devastating. That's why you should call it singing, then no-one gets any false pretences about worshipping God whilst ignoring Him.

12:43 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

That is frustrating Mo. I've had this same experience a few times. Sometimes its them, sometimes its me. I'm trying to be slow to say which one these days.

What I'm about to ask will irritate you, but it needs to be asked - out of humility if nothing else: How long ago did it happen? If it was yesterday, or a few days ago, then I might be tempted to encourage you to be slower to start pointing the finger. Are you really sure that it was all them and not your style/delivery? I think we need to be cautious about saying that people don't want to listen to us, because of something wrong with them - even more cautious in saying that they don't want to listen to God, because they don't want to listen to us. Sometimes I've worked out that I just haven't managed to grab their attention properly. Did you play a clip? Did you use a relevant introduction for them? Did you tell any jokes? Did you draw them in with stories? How did you break up your session, with exercises, discussions etc? Were your illustrations things that they related to? I'm sure you did, and that you really were relevant for the audience you were communicating with. But it's good to have the opportunity to examine ourselves and sharpen up what we do. Use your suffering, to examine yourself.

Or perhaps your analysis is absolutely spot on. They just want to sing songs. And at least give the appearance they they are interested in the things of God. But perhaps they are just acting out a culture - they might be looking for identity and insecure, so 'being' passionate in singing might be something that they do. No different from a pair of K-Swiss shoes, or having an iMac. Fashion statements. Perhaps they are practically illiterate (able to apply themselves to reading complicated technical information and writing at work - not able to read decent Christian books outside work for some reason). I like the comment that Levi makes - we need to call it singing. It's so stupid calling it worship?

At least you have the material in a useable state and you can have it read to deliver to people who will really feast on it. Let me know if it's near London and I will come and listen.

2:03 AM  
Blogger Little Mo said...

Tom, you are a nice man. And quite right about my material, which does, no doubt need refining. And as I said, if its just the issue that I don't like people not listening to me, you are right, I need to get over it and write better talks.

My real issue was with the time I just asked them to look at the Bible and talk about it - that's what is gutting really.
You're right though I need to think more and talk less.

6:03 AM  
Blogger thebluefish said...

I've have you come and teach Psalm 19 to the team any day.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hames said...

1 Thessalonians 2:13,
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

Martin Luther:
“Tis a right excellent thing, that every honest pastor’s and preacher’s mouth is Christ’s mouth, and his word and forgiveness is Christ’s word and forgiveness… For the office is not the pastor’s or preacher’s but God’s; and the Word which he preacheth is likewise not the pastor’s and preacher’s but God’s.”

“[God] condescends to enter the mouth of every Christian who professes the faith.” [Therefore preaching must be] “believed as though God’s own voice were resounding from heaven”

John Calvin:
“When a man has climbed up into the pulpit… it is [so] that God may speak to us by the mouth of a man.”

2nd Helvetic Confession (Heinrich Bullinger):
“The Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”

Karl Barth:
[Preaching is] “the speaking of God himself through the lips of the minister.”

“…in what Church preaching says of God, God Himself speaks for Himself.”

Stories, jokes, clips, whatever. Those people refused to listen to the Lord Himself. I'd say Mo has every right to be angry when, having opened the Bible to speak the very words of God, he was met with ignorance.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Brance said...

I agree with thebluefish, call them on it next time. be the minor prophet. This kind of behavior shouldn't be tolerated at church (you said Christian event, so I'm calling that church since the Lord's people gathering together is what the church really is), especially from "Christian" people. I won't even tolerate it from unsaved individuals. They came to church, the Word is what we do here. Pay attention and your life might get changed!

I teach the youth at our church and I've had to deal with this a lot in the past, not so much anymore. I know it happens, and it discouraging and frustrating. Be assured though that God used you for His exact purpose that day. Somewhere in that room someone was paying attention, and I'm sure God spoke to their heart through the Word.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Of course it hurts when we're treated disrespectfully and, for most of us, "getting over it" actually proves difficult. I think what is needed is to break out of the mould of thinking that says "it hurt, it shouldn't have" or "I sinned, I shouldn't have. I'm so sorry Lord". Frankly this is actually a legalistic way of thinking since it effectively amounts to little more than 'I need to try harder'. We need to be reminded often that our sinful hearts are far more sinful and deceitful than we think and that we are saved entirely by grace alone through faith alone by a Saviour that is far more loving and merciful and compassionate than we think. When we reflect on these things (i.e. the gospel) it reminds us that justification and regeneration are a work of God alone, that we are accepted through faith alone, that our walk is by faith alone, indeed that sanctification, also, is by faith. This then sets a framework which enables us to look beyond how we've sinned and ask *why* did I sin? To find the sin behind the sin as it were. That's when we start to discover the false idols and unbelief that rob us of our joy in the Lord and we can start to apply the implications of the gospel as the only cure. Invariably, on a ‘functional’ level we will seek our worth and our comfort in anything but the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, when something said to me hurts then I ask why did it hurt and I start to discover that I was deriving my sense of self-worth from others having a favourable opinion of me. In effect it’s a form of self-righteousness. But the gospel teaches us that we deserve far worse than we have received and yet God has given us far better than we deserve in Christ Jesus and that the only right and real worth I have is as a child of God, a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me . In fact, it shifts my focus from self, whether that be my ‘successes’ or ‘failures’, to the only worthy object of my attention, the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything other than the gospel offers no power for overcoming.

PS. I learnt this stuff from Timothy Keller (Redeemer’s Galatians study) and Jerry Bridges (Gospel For Real Life and Disciplines Of Grace). I cannot recommend them highly enough.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

I believe what I posted previously also has implications for the problem you encountered. What many are seeking is effectively something experiential. In their understanding and/or experience doctrine and teaching doesn't offer that. Often, what is behind this is self-seeking. Whereas we should be seeking God and *then* right experience will follow. What is needed is a way of proclaiming Christ (since that is what all exposition of the scriptures should be doing) that is addressing the false idols at work in a way that is relevant to the postmodern mindset. e.g. (very crudely since I'm not a preacher) "our hearts crave satisfaction, peace and joy, we long for meaning and purpose and value. Yet our sinful hearts look in the wrong places to things that will never provide the satisfaction for which we yearn. No wonder then that we are ever thirsty looking for the next 'fix'. No wonder then we are broken and hurting, for something has taken the place of the Lord Jesus Christ. For whatever we yearn for, whatever our hearts run after when we're fed up, whatever it is that, when it is taken away from us, leaves us feeling robbed, *that* is our false idol. If we are not both humbled and awestruck by a vision of the glory of the Lord manifest in His creation, if we are not regarding His Word as sweeter than honey it is because something else is more awesome to us, something else is sweeter. We need to be reminded that all that appears sweet in this world, will, in the end turn bitter. That the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the wine, the milk, the honey, the meat, the richest of fare that our souls long for."

Until such time as people are hungering for the Word of God and value doctrine, then, as has already been suggested, the distinction between teaching and worship needs to be blurred. An approach such as that outlined above lends itself to this and it makes the teaching even more practical.

Hope that helps. Time and ability are against me in explaining myself more clearly!

Grace and peace,

7:47 AM  

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