Posts

Showing posts from September, 2012

Songs We Don't Sing in Church

Image
As a worship leader flipping through the song book week after week to get ready for Sunday morning, I am amazed at the vast array of songs we don't know. Occasionally one will catch my eye, and I will do a quick search on YouTube to learn it.

That happened to me today. I came across song #93 in Songs of Faith and Praise. The tune was composed in the early 1800s and the lyrics were written in the mid-1960s.

It's called "God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens." Not the catchiest title, but check out the lyrics:

God, who stretched the spangled heavens Infinite in time and place Flung the suns in burning radiance Thru the silent fields of space We, Your children, in Your likeness Share inventive powers with You Great Creator, still creating Show us what we yet may do
We have conquered worlds undreamed of Since the childhood of our race Known the ecstasy of winging Thru uncharted realms of space Probed the secrets of the atom Wielding unimagined power Facing us with life…

Destroy Your Ba'als

Image
“You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."Exodus 20:3-6 How much more plainly could God put it? He's God. Period. Don't serve or worship or exalt anyone or anything else. Just don't do it! This is one of the most clearly stated commands we're given. He even goes to great lengths to explain all the things we're not supposed to do and the reason for the command.

You don't get that a lot. 

Yet there is one name that keeps popping up: Ba'al.

It literally means "Lord," similar to adonai or kyrios. Various deities were given the title "Ba&…

Bring Back the Real Refs!

Image
The talk of the NFL season thus far has been the replacements referees. The veteran referees are holding out on some labor dispute with the NFL and have been in a lockout for the past few months. So the NFL decided to bring in a bunch of replacement referees.

I bet football fans never thought they would be wanting their officials back!

The discontent has been growing over the past couple of weeks. A bad call here. A missed call there. Confusion about the call followed by a five minute staff meeting on the field.

But last night and this morning, all of football fandom is in an uproar over a botched call on the last play of Monday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

On a last minute Hail Mary to win the game, the Seahawks' quarter back tossed a jump ball into the end zone. The Packers' defensive back came down with the ball. Game over.

Except that the Seahawks' receiver had one arm wrapped around the defender with his hand touching the ball.…

The Bigger Picture

Image
Ya know, there are some verses in the Bible that I think we would rather ignore. I'm not necessarily talking about the difficult parts of Scripture dealing with war, slavery, women's roles, hell, etc. I'm talking about the simpler, toe-stepping passages that make you think, Yeah, but... or even, He's talking about someone else, not me...

As Mark Twain famously stated, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

I agree, Mr. Twain.

And one of those passages is this:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing,so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Philippians 2:14-15How many people in your church need to hear that preached from the pulpit? As you're tallying the number in your head, go on and include yourself in that. I know I sure need it.

How many times have you caught yourself complaining about things at church?…

Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, right?

Image
Here's a little sneak-peak of my sermon this Sunday morning.

These videos won't be shown, but they will certainly help you understand one of the biggest threats to Christianity in the West.






Wow.

If you are a follower of Christ, a believer in His Word, then these videos should probably give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Somewhere along the lines we have failed. I mean, people don't even know their basic info about the Bible - much less how to make it all fit into one coherent story of creation and redemption!

And we like to think that it's just those people over there. Well, take a look around next Sunday. How many folks actually bring their Bibles to class or worship? Of those, how many people actually open them and follow along?

Somewhere along the lines we've gotten confused. We want to read Colossians 3:16 like this:
Let the word of Christ dwell in red ink on paper bound in leather collecting dust on your shelf next to your Grisham novels. Or…

Are We There Yet?

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. - 2 Peter 1:5-7
Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love.

We started this journey with faith. We're ending it with love. If faith is the foundation of the house, love is the open door, the welcome mat, and the smell of fresh baked cookies. It is the storm doors that keep the chaos out. It's the AC unit out back that no one notices but everyone enjoys.

I think Peter fastened all these virtues together beautifully. I think we often begin with faith and are all too eager to skip ahead to loving anybody and everybody. Yes, love involves risk. But it also requires a thick skin sometimes.

If all Jesus had was faith alone, he would never have been able to forgive and sincerely love tho…

You've Got a Friend in Me

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection...   2 Peter 1:5-7

How many Facebook friends do you have? Go ahead. Open up a new tab, go to your profile, and see what it says.

I have 612. Six hundred twelve "friends".

But can anyone really have THAT many friends? Is it even possible?

I know what you're thinking. Most of your Facebook friends are more like acquaintances. You've met them once or twice and now they blow up your news feed. Or they're people you went to high school with and now you want to catch up - and by "catch up" you mean you want to see how much better your life has turned out than theirs.

Yet study after study shows that we only have a handful of true FRIENDS - and that number tends to slide as we get older. When you're in preschool, everyone is your frie…

Spiritual, Not Religious?

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness... - 2 Peter 1:5-6

We now reach a critical junction. Anyone who pays attention to the religious climate of the West will probably understand why this next one is so huge.


There is a sort of secularized spirituality working its way through our society. It's the idea that one can be "spiritual but not religious." In the name of religious tolerance and understanding, people will pick, choose, and blend whatever they like from the various world religions.

A little prayer here. A little service over there. Some inspirational quotes from this book. Top it all off with the gravy of love, and you've got a dinner plate of religious comfort that anyone could scarf down.

Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, and perseverance are all well-respected virtues for anyone who claims to be…

Never, Ever Give Up!!

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance 2 Peter 1:5-6
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
There’s an odd dynamic in the American psyche. That’s psyche – not psycho… Anyway, one moment we celebrate freedom and encourage others to throw all inhibitions aside, and the next moment we value strength, perseverance, and endurance.
Which is it?
I think Peter shows great insight by inserting perseverance AFTER self-control. If you have no self-control, how can you possibly persevere in anything?
How many people do you know who have tried every diet under the sun and within a week they decide that it’s not working. (I’m guilty of that one!)
How many peopl…

YOLO!

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. – 2 Peter 1:5-6

Now we come to one of the most neglected of the virtues in Peter’s list: Self-Control.
Again, this is awfully surprising coming from Peter. He was definitely the “act first, ask questions later” kind of guy. He never really thought to look before he leapt right into something. His tongue was always quicker than his brain. I bet Peter was a lot of fun at the parties…
Not exactly the poster-boy for self-control.
But, like I said about knowledge, everything began to change for Peter after the resurrection. Once he received the Holy Spirit, he was a new man. I think that serves to confirm that self-control is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).
Now look at the culture around us. Self-control is view more as vice than virtue. The latest motto of the millennials is “You only live once” (or YOLO!). That is basically an excuse to do whatever the h…

Knowledge is Power (to know God)

Image
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge. 2 Peter 1:5

The journey begins with faith - belief in God and trust in his saving power. But just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead (James 2). So, Peter says, add goodness to your faith. But goodness is more than just doing all the right things and avoiding the bad. Goodness is actually striving to become more like God - to exhibit His character, to love as He loves, to serve like He serves, so forgive as He forgives.

Faith.
   Goodness.
      Knowledge.

Knowledge in an interesting virtue to throw into this list. We don't typically think of knowledge as being important for the children of God. Knowledge is not mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) whereas many of these others are. Paul claimed that the only important knowledge was that of Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2). In fact, Paul, who was an ivy league scholar and professiona…