Saturday, September 1, 2012

Modern But Not Cold

A sinus infection, on the heels of the first week of a new job, made it so sleep was not the best all weekend long.  I hadn't had a chance to plan out the week's church, and honestly I was exhausted.  On the spot, I adjusted one of my criteria for this blog-- I will visit two of any particular type or denomination of church.  Two Baptist churches, two storefronts, two internet streaming services.

Problem solved, and I turned to Saddleback Church.  I had heard of this particular congregation (they have many locations, apparently) after reading "The Purpose-Driven Life" many years ago.  I had seen Rick Warren speak in interviews on several occasions, and I wondered what his services were like.

After seeing Joel Osteen and his mega-church earlier, I thought I knew wat to expect.  I expected Rick Warren to be more approachably dressed, perhaps, but I was still imagining a huge congregation and a giant sanctuary.

Nope.  Service began with a college-looking young man inviting me to their campus, virtually or in real life.   He described some of their programs, and was immensely youthful and welcoming.  It switched to another young man in a comfortable and informal setting, reading aloud from his iPad.  I'll admit, the iPad made me smile because it was such a modern touch.  A praise group sang and lyrics were displayed for small groups who might meet and watch the service together.  (This is something that the website explained-- I really like the idea of having worship available, no matter what the location.)

Then out came Rick Warren, and I was surprised once again.  Casually dressed, comfortable in his own skin, and utterly approachable, he didn't seem like the head of a megachurch.  I don't know if this is typical of their services, and that is one shortcoming of this particular project.  I do research the churches online, though, and this was the streaming service that I was able to find.  

The entire service was about identity theft, how Satan wants to whisper slyly in our ear and take our true identity.  Who does God want us to be?

1 Peter 2:9-10

King James Version (KJV)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.  


1 Peter 2:9-10

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

From these verses, he spoke of our five fingerprints, proving our true identity through Christ.  All errors are mine, but I think you will get the idea.  I was moved and inspired, personally.  

1.  We are a chosen people.   

2.  Jesus made us acceptable, and we are completely accepted.

3.  I/We am eternally loved.

4.  I am, we are, capable.  (Phil 4:13, one of the first verses I ever learned.)

5.  I am, we are, forgiven.  God does not hold grudges.

Each of these had other verses, and more information.  I found it a little difficult to keep my concentration online, but I often find my mind wandering in regular church so it might be me.  Online it is especially difficult BUT I can hit pause on the streaming so that helps.

I found the service moving and inspiring.  And at the end, in what might be his usual closing, Pastor Warren said:

"Now go and live it."

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