Monthly Archives: October 2012

Guest Blog by Sybil Kolbert

That Still, Small Voice

The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will. – Isaiah 50:4 (NLT)

Have you ever thought that God was speaking to you? I have felt the nudging of the Lord before, but never as much in the past six months. What has changed? Has He just decided that He is now ready to communicate with me? Honestly, I think He was always ready. It was me who wasn’t….

To check out the rest of Sybil’s blog, click here.
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Hear and Obey

During a time of transition at Bethany, I’ve been thinking about how we live as followers of Jesus.

Recently I read a story about a unique applicant for an open coaching position. In England, the Middlesborough soccer (football) team had lost their manager, who left to coach the England national team. The team was conducting a nationwide search for a replacement and a 25-year-old guy applied with absolutely no coaching experience. In a letter (which you can view here) accompanying his application, he pointed out that apart from a year with a group of 11-year-olds, his coaching experience came exclusively from playing the computer game “Football Manager 2005.”

If that logic holds, I should be able to get a job in the future as a starship captain because I won the computer game, “Star Fleet Academy.”

Does “computer game experience” translate into the Christian life? We all know there is a big difference between “simulated experience” and “real experience.” It’s important to learn things from books, but until we test out our knowledge in the real world, we can’t say we’ve mastered a skill. Just ask anyone, who has taken years of a foreign language in school, how their experience went when they went to that country to practice their bi-lingual skills. In order to really “know” something well, very often we need personal experience.

That is why this quote from Leonard Sweet really jumped off the page when I read it this week. It got me thinking: am I an expert or actual witness?

“In court there are two kinds of witnesses; expert witnesses and the actual witnesses to an event…. We often try to be expert witnesses for Christ instead of being actual-event witnesses to what we have seen and experienced in our own lives. We prefer to talk theory of Christ rather than to talk about our life in Christ. Is it because we have been counting the cost too much and holding back from actual followership?”[1]

It seems to me this is like computer game learning. In contrast, there are John’s words in 1 John 1:1-3. John spoke with boldness as a follower and witness because he had been with Jesus. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

This passage gets me asking, “What kind of witness am I?” The first disciples were witnesses of Jesus’ works and words, and they were later witnesses to people everywhere. The Greek word for witness is the word from which we get martyr. Eventually, the Disciples became witnesses with their very lives. They were martyrs.

But how can we be witnesses like this when we don’t have the opportunity to actually walk with Jesus? I think it starts with hearing and obeying Jesus today.

How do we hear? Reading the word and allowing the word to read us. Inviting the Holy Spirit, whose job is to teach us all things (John 14:26), to speak today is a constant practice for me.

As many of you know, I grew up in a small town. I didn’t travel much as a kid; we were a pretty “local” family. But through the years, as I’ve listened and said “yes” to God more and more, I’ve discovered my stability and lack of travel has shifted.  I’ve become a person more comfortable with change.

Karen and I have always sought to hear and obey God in our lives. We seek to be willing to follow him, wherever He leads.  This month the leading has taken a new direction and we are leaving Bethany Church; I have taken a new job at Tabor College as Director of Theological Education at the Tabor Wichita Campus.

We’re seeking once again to move beyond the video game obedience to actually coaching a team.

So how about all of us? Do we talk about Jesus from what we know in a book or do we talk about Jesus from what we know and how He’s impacted us?

Pastor Rick


[1] Leonard Sweet “I Am a Follower” Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2012

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Let’s talk about the Elephant

I love Bethany Church.  This is my home.  I can hardly put into words how much this place means to me.

But every Sunday morning I walk into the sanctuary and there is this gigantic elephant in the room.  I think you know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, let me enlighten you.

We have a wide range of ages in our church.  And this is beautiful.

This wide range of ages enjoys different styles of things.  And this is beautiful.

Music is one of those things.  It just so happens, music is that elephant that I mentioned.

And every Sunday morning I walk into the sanctuary and there’s that elephant, and I feel like it’s looking at me square in the eye.

You see, we are a multi-generational church and there’s beauty in that.

But even more so, there is beauty in worship.

Let’s get this straight though.

Worship does not mean music.

Music is what we listen to and sing along with.  I love music.

Worship – that’s a lifestyle.

I listened to a song recently called “Clear the Stage”.  In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to it on repeat.

This may be the most convicting song I’ve ever listened to, and I’m going to ask you to take a listen.  But please, stop whatever you’re doing for 5 minutes and just listen.  The words are powerful.

Take time to listen and then finish reading.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6smGew7dGto

Here are the words to help you follow along if you’d like:

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze

If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols

Jerk the pews & all the decorations, too

Until the congregations few, then have revival

 

Tell your friends that this is where the party ends

Until you’re broken for your sins, you can’t be social

Then seek the Lord & wait for what He has in store

And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful

 

‘Cause you can sing all you want to

Yes, you can sing all you want to

You can sing all you want to

And still get it wrong;

Oh, worship is more than a song

 

Take a break from all the plans that you have made

And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper

Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak

And pray for real upon your knees until they blister

 

Shine the light on every corner of your life

Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open

Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard

Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

 

‘Cause you can sing all you want to

Yes, you can sing all you want to

You can sing all you want to

And still get it wrong;

Oh, worship is more than a song

 

We must not worship something that’s not even worth it

Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it

 

Anything I put before my God is an idol

Anything I want with all my heart is an idol

And anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol

And anything that I give all my love is an idol

 

‘Cause I can sing all I want to

Yes, I can sing all I want to

And we can sing all we want to

We can sing all we want to

We can sing all we want to

And still get it wrong

Worship is more than a song

 

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze

If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols

Do we care about the idols that we unknowingly have or is ignorance bliss?

During the bridge it says, “Anything I put before my God is an idol”.

That includes everything we put before God moment by moment.

Recently, I struggled at a Bethany Church service.  I sinned.  I was so angry.  There was a song that some people didn’t like because the instruments that were being used weren’t of their liking.  They were asked to stand and they sat.  Many of who had their arms crossed.  Later, instruments changed and everything changed.  All who were sitting stood up with a smile on their face, arms no longer crossed.

I believe that what I’m about to say is a terrible truth.

Instruments and “performers” during the singing are idols to many people.

That includes the drums.

That includes the organ.

That includes the bass.

That includes the choir.

That includes contemporary music.

That includes hymns.

You can disagree.  That doesn’t bother me.  It doesn’t bother me because I’ve witnessed it time and again and I know this to be true.

When people say they’re going to leave the church because the choir doesn’t sing often enough, that’s sin.

When people say they’re going to leave the church because the music isn’t loud enough, that’s sin.

I say this in as much love as I can muster to a place and people I dearly love.

Please.  Check your heart.

If you’ve said these things or have thought these things, that’s sin.  You have turned all of these different aspects of the music into idols.

I’m no different.  I’ve had thoughts on the music.  We all do.  If you’d like, I can share them with you.

But that’s not the point.

The point is this: We are sinning and we don’t care.

1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols”.

Flee.  Run.  Take off.  Turn away.  Don’t look back.

And when we begin to worship anything else but Jesus Christ, we’re wrong.

So we need to humble ourselves, get on our knees, and repent.

This is wrong and to be frank, this should make us sick.

And I confess to you, I’m here as well.  I need to confess, humble myself, and repent.

I’m no different.

We are sinning and we don’t care.

“You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong.  Worship is more than a song”.

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