• QUOTE FOR TODAY

    "God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
    -- John Piper

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  • James 2:14-17

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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The Meaning of Marriage

I’m digging in to a new book called “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.”

I have to say that after 3 chapters I am really finding this to be a refreshing approach to the subject of marriage and the fact that it has been created by God.  I especially like the fact that it’s not bunch of self-help, problem solving mumbo jumbo, but rather a Biblical approach to a subject that is in need of the right perspective.

More to follow, but I encourage you to check out some of the reviews and take a look at the author’s website as well

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Focus on Worship: Sunday….In His Presence

On more than one occasion this week, I had people make some reference to the fact that it ‘was almost Friday.’

 

“At least tomorrow’s Friday”

“Is it Friday yet?” (Asked on Monday!!)

“The week’s half over…Friday’s comin’”

(…and this morning:  Finally, it’s Friday!)

I know there’s a ton of reasons why people long for it to be Friday (They get to be in the presence of their friends at the party or at the bar.  They cling to the shallow victory that work is done for a few days.  Friday somehow means that responsibility is over and they don’t have to answer to anyone, sleep, ), but with the prevalence of this question over the last few days, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say:

 

“Sunday’s coming”

“I can’t wait for Sunday”

“Is it Sunday yet?”

(OK, there’s the Monster Truck Rally guy:  Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!! But that doesn’t count).

 

The point is this:  The world wants it to be Friday for a slough of reasons, but do we, as Christ followers look forward to Sunday with the same enthusiasm?  Do we, as worship leaders look forward to Sunday as that time when we lead God’s people into his presence?  Are we praying that God will flood the meeting place with his presence?  Do we long to be in the presence of the Holy One?…..as always, I’m asking you these questions but I’m really asking myself these questions.

I think this topic was generally on my mind after listening to our worship set for this Sunday.

Every week, I put the songs for Sunday on my ipod, in order, and will listen to them during my devotional time, or my commute, or sometimes while I’m working.  This practice started as a way to simply learn the songs, but it has become about preparing for Sunday.  God continues to use this time to point out lyrics that I believe he wants to have an impact…words that we sing and need to sincerely and earnestly mean.

Check out these lyrics:

“Here I am….I’ve come to find you”  (You, you are God – Gateway Worship)

 “I’m reaching for you, I’m singing to you”  (Reaching for You – Lincoln Brewster)

 “You are my world, you are my God” (Hillsong)

And Finally:

 “Lord hear our song…your children worship…as we sing your praise would You make this a place for Your glory to dwell” (Jared Anderson)

 Sunday worship should be about meeting with God and asking him to make our sanctuary and place where his glory will dwell.

Is it Sunday yet?

Are We Irrelevant?

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted.   Too long.   It goes this way, I suppose.  Life events tend to dictate when we can write (or sleep for that matter) 

Anyway JP Troglio wrote a post over at I Hate Church that would be worth a few minutes of your time.  It got me to thinking about a question that many have asked before…..is the church in America becoming irrelevant?

I don’t mean irrelevant from the stand point of the culture and being ‘cool’ enough to reach this generation (the emerging churches clearly have this portion covered…to a fault).  I’m talking about significantly impacting the world around us.  I think we’re failing.  I think we’re content with being insignificant.  I think we like the safety of our friends and family around us on Sunday and we don’t want to get our hands dirty.  We don’t want to be uncomfortable.  I think (as JP points out) that we want big numbers because it makes our “club’ look good and it makes us look like we have our act together and that we are having an impact, but sadly, we’re missing the point.  It’s not about the performance….it’s not about the show or the rush to the doughnut table after service.  It’s not about the songs we’re singing or the sermon series or where we worship, for that matter. It’s about introducing people to God and letting him work.

Folks, it’s time we start getting real about the Gospel and taking it to the people and stop being so worried about what people may think about us.  Yes…I’m writing this as much for me as I am anyone who cares to stop by and read this.   If we cared about people the way that God cared about us, I think we would daily have to fall on our face in worship at the work God was doing.  It would be our natural response. 

I’m going back to work now….but I don’t think I’m done writing on this subject.   More to follow.

 

Jumping In

Kristen at We Are That Family wrote this post titled Someone is Waiting for you to Jump In yesterday.  Would you take a minute, head over to her blog and read the post?  After that would you begin praying about where God might want you to jump?  Here’s a little excerpt to challenge you:

And the truth? Standing at cliff’s edge, we wanted to say no. We asked if there was another way. We researched and begged. We cried it is too big, we can’t, we are afraid, we don’t know how.  We don’t want to love mercy.

We didn’t throw caution to the wind. We didn’t just jump into the chasm of the unknown.

We jumped into the very hands of God.

Why? Why do the uncomfortable? Why go beyond the comfort zone and risk so much? Every one of us has a unique purpose for our lives and our blogs. It’s a risk finding that purpose. It leaves you exposed and open to criticism and fear and failure.

  Would you also pray about helping them with Mercy House?

Focus on Worship – Salvation

I read a quote from John Piper yesterday:

God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose

Piper’s words got me thinking about our worship and whether we have the passion of God’s heart when we worship.  God’s passion is for people.  He desires that all people would know Him and worship Him.  I think we need to be careful that we don’t develop a disconnect between our worship, and God’s desire that we bring people to him.   Pastor Steve frequently points out that “worship is not the warm-up,” but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I think the Piper quote points out the fact that worship of God and Salvation by God are effectively inseparable.
To illustrate this further, Read through the lyrics from “Break the Silence”

Christ, our Lord
All praise is yours

We will face this world
And break the silence
We will sing your song
Where injustice lies

Crying oh-o-oh
Heaven pour out your glory
Crying oh-o-oh
Heaven pour out your glory

We will carry your dreams
To heal the earth
Take the kingdom of God
To the broken and hurt

To the far ends of earth we go
Your love story must be told
We will not live in comfort anymore

I was really amazed at the way Piper’s words echo the sentiment of the lyrics from Break the Silence.   In our worship Sunday (and every day) what we sing and play isn’t just about that one song or that worship set.   It’s about celebrating Salvation…it’s about coming into God’s presence because he desires our worship…but it’s also about showing those who are apart from God what walking with our Creator is all about. 

Focus on Worship — Are we amazed?

I came across a song titled Amazed by Jared Anderson.  The lyrics really got me to thinking again on how we enter the presence of our HOLY God.  Take a look:
 
You dance over me,
While I am unaware.
You sing all around,
But I never hear the sound.
 
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
How You love me.
 
How wide
How deep
How great
Is your love for me
 
My perspective these days is this:  One single sin separates us from God.  The simple fact of the matter is that when God sees the sin in our lives, he sees that his law has been broken.  The payment for breaking God’s law is death….eternal death.  Yet, when we trust in the blood of Christ poured out over our hearts and God sees our sin, instead of pouring out death on us, he is SATISFIED with the SACRIFICE of his perfect, sinless Son.  The payment for sin is poured out on him instead of us.  Read that again:  The payment for sin is poured out on JESUS INSTEAD OF US!!!!!  Somehow, this doesn’t overwhelm us like it should.  It doesn’t amaze us anymore.  Why it is that knowing that ALL OF GOD’S WRATH was poured out on JESUS CHRIST AND NOT YOU AND ME doesn’t knock our legs out from under us to where we have no choice but to fall on our face before him in worship?  Why doesn’t God’s love AMAZE us anymore?  Why Doesn’t Jesus’ sacrifice AMAZE us anymore?
 
Seriously, folks, do you think that Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of the cross, or the flogging, or the nails?   Not a chance.  That torment was the direct result of anticipating ALL OF GOD’S WRATH being poured out on HIM!    This was the final sacrifice.  No ‘do overs’ with another lamb next month…no priests interceding again and again.  This was the final sacrifice.  Remember Jesus’  last words?  IT IS FINISHED.  (For some background go read Leviticus 16 and then read Hebrews 9)
 
GRACE, LOVE, and MERCY cannot just be something we pay lip-service to.  Very simply, we have been called (in part) to worship him.   For us, it is imperative that God’s grace, love, and mercy are hidden in our hearts and evident on our faces as we stand amazed before him. 

Focus on Worship…Creation

I caught an interview with Mike Massimino on Letterman last night.  Massimino is a NASA astronaut who  is featured in the  IMAX 3D movie on the Hubble Telescope.  He was one of several astronauts to complete the spacewalks that upgraded the Hubble Telescope.  In the interview, Dave asks him to describe what it was like to be in space and look back at Planet Earth for the first time.  Take a look at this clip

I was amazed when he said that when he first looked at the Earth he had to look away.  He said that the thought that went through his head was this “this was something I’m not supposed to look at…it’s a secret….people aren’t supposed to see this…..There are no words to describe this beauty”  He goes on to say, “The second time I looked I started to get a little emotional.”  And Finally he says of his third look at the Earth from space, “the thought went through my head that if you’re in Heaven, this is what you’d see…”

I don’t want to get into a discussion of what we are going to see from Heaven, but as I consider the song, Son of God from Starfield, and the opening lyric that says:

Son of God, Shaper of the stars, You alone the dweller of my heart.  Mighty King, how beautiful you are”

I know that when I enter His presence, I want to say, as Massimino did, “there are no words to describe this beauty.”