Customs & Traditions

Chapel In New EnglandI grew up in a small church in South Central Kentucky. I remember that we had about 75 people each Sunday when things were going well. We had our way of doing things for sure. I remember that we sang three songs from the Hymnal then a prayer song, communion, offering, sermon, invitation song, closing prayer, closing song. You could count on this same schedule of events each week. We also had about five men in the church who would publicly pray. One guy, Mr. Webb, would recite the same prayer each time he was asked to pray. I can almost recite that prayer some 40 years later. We always wore our “Sunday best”. We never “dressed down” to go to church. Looking back, we had traditions that seemed more important than where my heart was. I served in one church where one of the leaders got so frustrated that a young man wore a hat in the church on a Wednesday evening that the young man was actually asked to leave.  We created customs and traditions that are far from being scriptural, but because “we’ve always done it that way” it becomes “code” in our place of worship.

I believe that some traditions and customs frustrate the Lord. He cares way more about people’s heart than the clothes on their back or a hat on their head. He cares deeply that our seeking Him is genuine. He wants our worship to be way more than words that we sing beautifully. He wants our heart totally devoted to Him.

What if the church just gathered for a time of intense prayer – no music or sermon?

What if the church gathered for simple Bible Study and prayer in a bar rather than a fancy building?

We have made our faith in God much to do with tradition that we drowned out the call of God upon our hearts. We are so busy doing things for God that we can’t hear Him gently call upon our heart.

Jesus called out the Pharisees and really ticked them off with His comments. Check this out….

And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15:6b-9; 19-20 NLT)

I’m not trying to say that all traditions and customs are bad. I am saying that if they draw more attention themselves rather than to the Lord, they should be removed immediately. I have asked the Lord to forgive me many times when I faked my worship because of tradition and customs of the church, rather than repentance of my sin.

The Lord cares way more about my heart than anything else I could possibly do or say. He want my heart to be open, shapeable, moldable and pure before Him. The words I speak and the actions I choose reveal exactly what is going on in my heart. He helps me daily with cleaning up my heart and pushing back on man-made traditions & customs that have become meaningless to my heart.

Pressing On!


Family Traditions


Feet familyThere have been some many family traditions over the years that I probably can’t count. I remember special days and holidays and how we celebrated as a family. When I began a family of my own, we started some family traditions. We had special meals on certain days of the week. We celebrated birthdays together. The holidays started getting special with my children through our special traditions on Christmas. It also is a bit sad that since my grandparents have died, some family traditions passed with them. Traditions contribute to rich memories of my past for sure.

The Jews in captivity to Persia really “dodged a bullet” by this guy Haman. He had the king’s ear and was given great authority. Because Mordecai had frustrated him by not bowing down and showing him the respect he thought he deserved, he decided to wipe out all the Jews in Persia and it’s provinces. Once his plot was exposed, the tables were turned. Haman was punished by death. The king issued the decree that the Jews could defend themselves. The other people in the province also joined in helping the Jews defend themselves. They were successful in wiping out many of the participants in Haman’s plot. They decided that because of what they had been through, they should remember this for generations to come. Check this out…

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Esther 9:20-22 NIV)

Some of our most keen memories are connected to suffering, struggle and fear. I remember vividly the funeral of my grandparents, as well as some of the tragedies and struggles of our nation. Some of the personal struggles of my life, I certainly don’t want to celebrate, however the victory over these struggles is certainly worth celebrating each year. I remember vividly the day I married my sweet wife and my life felt whole again. I remember when my kid was declared cancer-free! I think tradition and celebration that comes from victories are fun to celebrate. I’ve also have traditions of hurt and hardship that are etched in my memories. I do like to visit the burial site of those who’ve gone before me to once again honor their lives. I don’t do this often, because it hurts my heart a bit – but it’s healthy.

I am learning to celebrate daily the Lord’s blessing upon my life. I want gratitude to be a daily tradition or custom component of my life. I love the tender moments when the Lord speaks to my heart from His Word. I want to keep a tradition of reading His Word and spending time with Him. I want to trust Him without worry because He is so faithful.

Pressing On!