Encouragement · Worship

He Does…

I have been reading through the book of Daniel this week. As I read through chapter two I came upon Daniel’s prayer of blessing to God for revealing the truth about a dream. The declarations that Daniel makes about God’s sovereign direction and will are so encouraging.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.

“I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

It is such a privilege and blessing to serve a God that is control, that gives wisdom to those that seek Him, that reveals His will to those who ask and seek His face.

Praise God for His immutable character. Unchanging and enduring forever.

In Christ – Tim

Christian Living · Discipleship · Encouragement · Worship

Rhythm and Rhyme

When you hear “eurythmics” you might, if you are of a certain age, recall that it is the name of a musical group. What you might not know is that it is also a method for teaching and reinforcing musical rhythm. According to the website Dictionary.com, eurythmics is also “the art of interpreting in bodily movements the rhythm of musical compositions: applied to a method invented by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss composer, aiming to develop the sense of rhythm and symmetry.” In more generic terms, eurythmics helps folks understand and develop rhythm.

Why on earth did would I bother looking that up? Well, today while watching the incredibly talented drummer at our church seamlessly and passionately play the beats that provided a steady tempo and emphasized the words and phrases of our worship song, a thought…more like a concept…went through my mind. First, I thought how awesome it is when the drummer plays a consistent, unrelenting rhythm and sets the pace of the song and keeps us in sync with the worship leader. At other times the drummer will build in volume and stroke so as to reinforce and drive home the power and meaning of the words being sung. At other times he sits silently so that the words alone have an opportunity to be heard and their emphasis allowed to settle on our hearts without interruption or distraction.

While I stood listening and being led in song, I started thinking that there is a part of our spiritual lives that is a constant presence; a personal presence that helps us to keep in sync with the Leader, to grow through steady faithful reminders; a wise comforter that provides spiritual understanding and emphasizes spiritual truths and that is always providing a spiritual rhythm…a heartbeat…in our lives. That personal, living presence is the Holy Spirit.

John writes in his gospel letter: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

Later he writes “…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 15:13-15)

The Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us in truth. His work in our lives helps us to understand the mind of God himself. Much like the drummer that helps to keep rhythm and provide emphasis, the Holy Spirit works in our lives to provide a constant presence and heartbeat of God in our lives. He works in our hearts and minds to disclose the truth of God and emphasize the areas in our lives that need to grow in understanding.

Praise God for the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Discipleship · Encouragement · Worship

A Teacher Through & Through

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
Titus 2:7-8 NIV

These verses are not a “stretch goal” for teachers of the Word of God. They are the model for strong, biblical teaching. They set the bar where it needs to be because the truth of God’s Word demands and deserves no less.

Christian Living · Discipleship · Worship

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

DSCN9161“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

These words come at very end of the book of Second Peter.  They come at the end of instructions from Peter about Christian living; about growing and maturing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. They are a part of the doxology from Peter as he closes a heartfelt exhortation to his readers and in it he puts a worshipful exclamation point on his dispatch.

“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

To Jesus be all worship, praise, and honor all the time. We often think about bowing down in worship for all eternity, but Peter reminds his readers that they are to give Jesus the same intensity and purposeful glory-filled worship in this life as we are for all eternity.

“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

Our lives need to be living doxologies of worship to the One that has called us, redeemed us, and preserved us for all eternity.

To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen!

Christian Living · Christian Love · Discipleship · Worship

Church Speak

In his book Between Two Worlds, author John Stott wrote in 1982 about the future of the computer chip and the impact it would have on human relationships and the Word of God.  He wrote the following:

It is difficult to image the world in the year A. D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today.  We should certainly welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power.

Little did he know how true those words would be.  The positive impact of technology in our lives cannot be overstated.  But it has come at a cost to our human relations in ways that we are still discovering and learning how to cope with.  Stott went on to write this corollary statement…

Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary.

This statement has a lot of truth to it and you must admit that today, more than 30 years after Stott wrote that statement, we see the impact of our “smart” phones and “i”-everythings invade our lives at every turn, often hindering us from speaking with each other face-to-face or at least person-to-person.  We hardly ever use our voices, hands, and expressions to convey the depth of our feelings, ideas, thoughts, and dreams. Instead we use emoticons, acronyms, and abbreviations to convey the depth of our love, our frustration, and our laughter.

What is perhaps the most significant remark that Stott makes is that he relates the impact of technology on the church, specifically on preaching and teaching the Word of God.  He writes:

In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen.  In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less.

 

 

God is not silent…in fact He spoke all of creation into existence!  “And God said…” is what Genesis 1 says…not “And God text…”   God is a god that speaks to us.  He wants to communicate to us through his Word.

genesis-1-slant-view

How wonderful a privilege to gather together with others to hear the Word of God proclaimed. If you are not regularly attending a church where the Word of God is being shared, I would encourage you to get out there and find one.  Find a church family where the Word of God, the Bible, is taught verse by verse, and people long to dig into the truth of what God has said.

Get out there so that we all can preserve that Godly character trait of real, true, loving personal communication with God and with each other.

Between Two Worlds The Challenge of Preaching Today, John Stott, 1982 p.69
Christian Living · Worship

It Makes For Good TV

Something sensational, extreme, or bizarre happens and it takes no time at all for it to be plastered on TV.  It boosts ratings and people pay attention.  In today’s terms it is just like when something on the internet goes viral.  Everyone wants to see it or be a part of it.  Things like the “cinnamon challenge”, the “ice bucket challenge”, or maybe “Lady Gaga Carpool Karaoke”.  Don’t ask…  The bottom line is that people want to be a part of what is “trending”.  People want to be relevant.  And for better or worse, the church isn’t so different.

So if those kinds of things “make for good TV”, what “makes for good church”?

Is it singing the latest song from the winner of the Dove Awards?  Is it having a pastor that dresses in jeans and a t-shirt?  Is it having a great light show?  Is it having the most elaborate Living Christmas Tree program?  Are these the things that “make for good church”?

Don’t get me wrong, these things in and of themselves are not bad and in fact can be wonderful additions to our times in worship, outreach, and fellowship.  However, if you were to take the things that we in the western evangelical world consider to be “relevant” and perhaps deemed “necessary” for the making of “Good Church” and dropped them in the middle of South Sudan or central India, it would likely do more harm to the sharing of the Gospel message rather than further the mission and ministry of Christ.

The things that “Make For Good Church” are the things that bring glory and honor to the Lord; things that are truly worshipful and that fulfill the great commission.  The other stuff is interesting and perhaps adds something to the “experience” but good church is found in the true worship of God in all that we do and say.  John 4:23 reads “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  In Romans 12:1-2 Paul writes “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The things that make for “good church” are not the things that are patterned after the things of this world, but rather it is people whose hearts, souls, and minds are yielded to God, abiding in Christ, and being renewed by God’s Word to the mind of Christ daily.  It is people praying together, for each other and for the ministries of the church.  It is humble servants reaching out and impacting the world for Christ.  It is helping the orphans and widows.

The things that make for good church are people, who in light of the love, mercy and grace shown to them, are offering themselves as living sacrifices to God each and every day.

In the eyes of God that is what makes for good church – regardless of what country, time, or culture they may exist.

 

Christian Living · Discipleship · Worship

Hunger and Thirst

hummer

My wife and I have lived in several different locations and at each home we have been blessed with seeing God’s creation in all different shapes, colors, sounds, and sizes.  Perhaps the one critter that is the most intriguing are hummingbirds.  There is just something about them that makes them compelling little critters to watch.  Sometimes they are super territorial, chasing each other away from the feeder with incredible tenacity!  Other times several of them will be sitting peacefully around the feeder enjoying the sweet water.  They are shy, yet aggressive.  They are ravenous, but selective.  They are either going 1000 miles per hour…or nearly motionless.  They don’t say a lot, but when they start talking other hummers listen.  It is easy to see why it was no surprise when the Lord used one of his little hummers to teach me a lesson today.

As you probably know, hummingbirds are perpetually hungry and thirsty.  In fact, when it comes to food and drink, they eat all kinds of soft insects and they suck down nectar like crazy.  Amazingly, they can consume twice their weight in nectar each day!  How can they drink that much?  Why do they need that much nectar?  The short answer is that they have an extremely high metabolism and it requires a tremendous amount of energy for them to fly.  They simply have to continually consume it because they are constantly in need of it!

bird3In the hummingbird we see a balance of high energy and high consumption.  There are no fat hummingbirds.  There are no slow flying hummingbirds.  There are no hummingbirds that will casually pass up opportunities to get into a feeding hole and consume that nectar.  In fact, it is a battle for them at times to get to the food.  Sometimes they cannot even sit down to eat…but they are determined to eat anyhow.  They are tenacious.  They are driven.  They are purposeful.  You see, if they cannot get what they need…they will die.  So they are driven to seek it out, fight for it, and consume it as often as possible and at each and every opportunity.

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus is sharing what are referred to as the beatitudes, and he says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” A few verses later in Matthew 6:33 Jesus would say to the disciples “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness...

When I saw that little bird, I began thinking of my personal life and how I simply do not always live with that singleness of priority or determination to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I was reminded by that hummingbird that I need to pursue righteousness with zeal, fighting to make time for myself at the feeder, and drinking more than I think possible.  I was convicted of the need to seek first His righteousness and to remind myself that my failure to hunger and thirst after righteousness will leave me unsatisfied.

The righteousness that Christ spoke of is not selective or limited in scope in any way.  In fact, the Greek word for “righteousness” in the first passage is written in the accusative case.  That means that the hungering and thirsting is for the whole of righteousness.  It is like the difference between saying “I ate chicken for dinner.” and “I ate the chicken for dinner”.  Christ says that those that hunger and thirst for the whole of righteousness will be satisfied.  Also, notice it doesn’t say that those that have consumed and drank righteousness will be satisfied…it says they are to “hunger and thirst”.  Here again it is important to look at the original language.  The Greek words “peinōntes” and “dipsōntes” translate as “hungering” and thirsting” respectively.  They are to be ongoing real time activities in our lives.  We don’t stop hungering and thirsting.  We may sin or fail at times, but our never-ending desire is to be hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

hummer feeding clearer crop

As I watched that tiny bird I witnessed the passion with which the bird approached the feeder for food, I saw the peaceful manner while it sat there drinking in life, and the purpose with which this precious little creature would return over and over again to this available source of life giving food. Unlike food or drink in our lives, the hungering and thirsting for righteousness will never be met this side of heaven, but in our love for our Lord we seek His righteousness, we hunger and thirst for it.  We long for it.  Nothing else will ever satisfy.

My prayer is that as children of God we will all increase in our hungering and thirsting for the His righteousness and do so with intense passion, peace, and purpose claiming in our hearts the promise from God that the result of that hungering and thirsting is being satisfied.

Worship

“From that day on, they plotted to put Him to death” – A Modern Day Narrative

John 11:47-50 NASB
Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.””

The Jewish leadership looked at the works and signs of Christ, the Son of God, and saw in him a threat to their livelihood, way of life, and nation. As a result of their lack of understanding of who Christ was, and in fear of inciting the anger of Rome, they plotted and ultimately succeeded in killing Jesus. It was in their best interest they concluded, at least from a temporal and temporary sense, that he be destroyed. The Jewish leadership, in the name of “religion” and “righteousness” determined to destroy the Messiah. The truth is that Christ came to die on the cross. It was not their will being done…it was the will of the Father.

Two thousand years later we sit in a country that largely does not know or understand Christ. They do not understand who he is, what he did, or what he represents. As a result, our nation continues to seek to kill him and what he represents. He is seen as a threat to their way of life and the nation as a whole. Many leaders in our nation today kowtow to the threat of external influence and attack from man, like the Jewish leaders did in response to the potential threat of Rome, and seek to destroy the righteousness of God at every turn.

Jesus knew that his day on the cross would come. He also knew that this season in our nation would come. In fact, we are told throughout Scripture that these kinds of events will occur as the day of Christ’s return draws near. Jesus knew that the nation of Israel would bow to the Romans and through their actions, the perfect salvific purpose and sovereign will of His Father, would be accomplished.

This week a decision was made in this country that is deeply troubling to those that call Jesus Christ Lord. Take heart though…just like the events of those days were a part of the perfect will of God, His perfect will is being done in this nation and around the world to this day.

Psalm 47:8 declares “God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” That truth has not and will never change. We may not understand why things like this happen, and we should certainly be grieved by the things that grieve God.  But remember and stand resolute on the truth that our holy, heavenly Father is in control.

Worship

“Doer-ing” Worship In our Lives

In James 1:22, James writes these words “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (NASB). As beloved believers in Christ we are commanded to be doers of the Word. This is not a trivial recommendation or suggestion…this is a practical, daily, lifelong expectation that God has of us.

How we do this is unique to each of us and to each of our lives. God has planted each of us in a unique setting, at a unique time, around a unique set of people. Our obedience to God by living a life for Christ that is putting to work – a.k.a. “doer-ing”, the Word of God, is something that each of us are uniquely qualified to do, in our own uniquely customized life situation.

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul writes those familiar words…”Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Our presenting of ourselves, in all regards, in our “doer-ing” of the Word of God each day, is one of the ways we fulfill that spiritual service of worship.

Let us worship God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength today!