How to Worship More Effectively

Question:  Do you have any ideas for how to improve the quality of my worship experience?

Answer:  Here are some tips…

Try talking to God out loud in a place where you feel free to do so without distraction.

When seemingly inappropriate thoughts come up don’t try to squelch them but rather use the opportunity to talk to God about how He wants to deal with them.

Use what you’ve read in your quiet time to speak back to God about how great He is.

Try various postures (kneeling, laying flat, standing with head toward the sky, hands raised, etc.) as a way of bringing your body into conformity with what your heart is feeling as you worship God.

Use music to stir your heart.

Let the worship of others stir your heart.

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How can there be a hell if God is love?

Church of the Unity (Unitarian), by Herman Buc...

Image via Wikipedia

Question: I have a friend I work with who told me that she doesn’t believe in hell. She said that God is love and God is everywhere so how can there be a hell? She attends a Unity Church here in town and said they do not preach if you died today do you know where you would go. She said if this earth were all there was, she would be fine with it because she wouldn’t know anything else. What do you think about this?

Answer: I think she is not doing justice to her own internal sense of justice. When she sees someone has used a child for pornographic purposes, abusing them sexually and videoing it for financial gain, what does she think love should do? I think she is not doing justice to her own internal sense that this world is not enough and that deep down she desires something better, because we were made for perfection. I think she is not doing justice to her sense of her own sinfulness, to her own capacity to do evil. Where did this come from? Did God create us this way or did we rebel from His original intent? If we rebelled, then what is the penalty for such rebellion? Does He just say, “Ah, it’s okay. I forgive you.” Then He is not very just Himself. And consequently, He is not very loving, because He lets people who have done unspeakable evil get away with hurting people who did not deserve to be hurt.

Paul says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God” (Romans 11:22). You are not a whole person if you do not possess both attributes. There are things worth getting mad about, and certainly things worth demonstrating kindness about. But if you are only one or the other you are neither emotionally healthy nor loving. Why would we expect God to be only one or the other?

Randall Johnson

What does your church believe about baptism?

Open air believer's baptism by the Jesus Army

Image via Wikipedia

Question: What is Central’s position on baptismal beliefs including immersion and sprinkling and adult/infant baptism?

Answer: As far as baptism is concerned, our church believes that both immersion and sprinkling are legitimate modes of baptism and that the individual should make a choice as to what mode they prefer. What matters is one’s heart when it comes to baptism. Am I submitting my life to Christ who alone can save me? Then I am truly being baptized as a symbol of that fact. I must be baptized. I cannot baptize myself. I am a passive participant in the process, a fitting picture of my passive participation in the salvation of Christ. It is faith, not the act of baptism, that saves me.

We do not baptize infants, only those who have indicated that they have believed the gospel, whatever age they may be.

Randall Johnson

Is man the only one made in God’s image?

An old man from Tajikistan.

Image via Wikipedia

Question: Genesis 2:7 says that God breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Does it say this of any other creation of God?

Answer: It only says that of humans and might lead us to conclude that only humans have a spirit that is in God’s likeness. Animals are said to have spirits (Ecclesiastes 3:21) but not spirits made in God’s image. Being made in God’s image means we have the intellectual, emotional and spiritual capacity to have intimate fellowship with God. Now, of course, that image is marred by our sinful propensity to misuse our gifts in contradiction of God’s will.

If, however, we ask ourselves if there are any other beings in the universe who have the intellectual, emotional and spiritual capacity to have intimate fellowship with God, angels would certainly be an answer. They too have among them those who marred the image and sought to live independently of God. Unlike us, they do not have a sacrifice to pay for their sin and are not said to be redeemable. We are not told all we might want to know about them.

By way of application, the question we might ask ourselves is, “How am I using the gifts God has given me for relationship with him?” I am built for relationship with God, yet I often find pulling away from God easier than drawing near him. What other passions have I let take precedence in my life? What could I do to increase my passion for God? What gifts has he given me that he would use for his glory and my joy if I submitted them to him?

Randall Johnson

How can there be a hell if God is love?

Question: I have a friend I work with who told me that she doesn’t believe in hell. She said that God is love and God is everywhere so how can there be a hell? She attends a Unity Church here in town and said they do not preach if you died today do you know where you would go. She said if this earth were all there was, she would be fine with it because she wouldn’t know anything else. What do you think about this?

Answer: I think she is not doing justice to her own internal sense of justice. When she sees someone has used a child for pornographic purposes, abusing them sexually and videoing it for financial gain, what does she think love should do? I think she is not doing justice to her own internal sense that this world is not enough and that deep down she desires something better, because we were made for perfection. I think she is not doing justice to her sense of her own sinfulness, to her own capacity to do evil. Where did this come from? Did God create us this way or did we rebel from His original intent? If we rebelled, then what is the penalty for such rebellion? Does He just say, “Ah, it’s okay. I forgive you.” Then He is not very just Himself. And consequently, He is not very loving, because He lets people who have done unspeakable evil get away with hurting people who did not deserve to be hurt.

Paul says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God” (Romans 11:22). You are not a whole person if you do not possess both attributes. There are things worth getting mad about, and certainly things worth demonstrating kindness about. But if you are only one or the other you are neither emotionally healthy nor loving. Why would we expect God to be only one or the other?

Randall Johnson