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!

Dwayne

Fake It

 

What can I do? picture about regretI think most everyone fakes it to a certain level. I have accidently ran into people that I really don’t like being around and pretended it was good to see them. I have also faked having fun when I was really bored. I know that I’m probably the only one who has ever faked it. (Please note the sarcasm!) I do not like being faked out or someone faking it around me. I’ve worked hard the past several years to simply be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. I can simply be me. I don’t have to be rude or obnoxious when I don’t like something, but I don’t have to fake it either.

King Saul threatened David’s life even after he was anointed king. David was waiting on God’s timing and he was determined to show respect to The Lord’s anointed. David lies to Ahimilech the priest and I’m sure he was straight up desperate to survive his fugitive status with King Saul. David flees to Gath, the Philistine enemy, and seeks asylum. He figures out how to stay alive while there. Check this out…

10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, ‘Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

‘“Saul has slain his thousands,

    and David his tens of thousands”?’

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he feigned insanity in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. (1 Samuel 21:10-13 NIV)

David did what he had to do to stay alive. I think I could fake insanity if it meant survival. Faking it is closely related to false. I believe that faking it is really dishonest. I want to be liked so I pretend to like others. I will say that I have a pretty high tolerance of people that get on my nerves. I do have a threshold that once it’s crossed, it’s hard for me to take much more. I do believe that being direct and honest is probably a better course to take than faking it or pretending. I’ve found that the truth has a way of working it’s way to the top.

I will do my best to be honest and forthright to others even if it is hard. I know what it’s like to have people pretend to like me, and then talk bad about me behind my back – it hurts more than a direct confrontation conversation.

I want to be real.

I want to be kind.

I want to be direct.

I want to be gentle.

I want to be honest.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Counterfeit

 

Paper money on rope isolated on whiteI’ve always heard that bank tellers are never shown counterfeit bills; they are simply shown what the “real deal” feels like. They know what the real things feel like so that when a fake bill comes through it jumps out very quick.

I believe the Truth to work much the same way. If I will spend my time pursuing the Truth of God’s Word; when someone comes along with deception, trickery or even half-truths, I will notice the difference right away. This was obviously a problem for God’s people. Check this out…

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NIV)

Sometimes the truth is manipulated to say what someone wants it to say. I don’t believe Truth to be relative or to fluctuate with the times. There are truths that are set in concrete and they are simply not negotiable for me. I believe that the Word of God is Truth and that the Holy Spirit inside heart bears witness to the truth and helps me spot the counterfeit version a mile away. I believe it’s important to keep pursuing truth so that when the opposite opens its bag of tricks, then I’ll be armed and ready with the Truth.

Apart from the Word of God, we would not know the Truth of God. His Word should not be manipulated to say what I want to hear or to justify what I want to do. His Word contains time-tested truth – I would be wise to pursue it!

Pressing On!

Dwayne