Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Say My Name

As a worship leader - albeit not a very good one - I've noticed a worrying trend recently in new worship music. It's the use of the word "Love" in place of the word "God." Yeah, with a capital "L" and everything!Now, I know that 1 John 4:8 says that "God is love," but I don't think the Apostle John intended to imply that "Love" is an alternate name for God. I can't recall a single time in Scripture where God referred to Himself as "Love." God has referred to Himself as Jehovah, Yahweh, I AM, and a number of other titles and names, but never "Love."

I guess it might not be that big of a deal, but I just don't get it. Can't we just call God, God? It would make more sense to me if it was, like, one reference in a song and the rest of the song used the word "God." But it seems like I keep hearing more and more worship songs that are written and sung exclusively to "Love." Is love somehow less intimidating than God? Is love more lovely than God? Less scary than God? Nicer than God? If any of those are true for you, than you probably need to re-evaluate your understanding of God's love.

I apologize in advance to all of you out there who write worship music. I appreciate and covet your talent, but if you write songs that only address "Love," I'm probably going to rewrite your lyrics if I use your song in corporate worship.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Still Here

So it's May 21, 2011 and we're all still here, so far anyway.

Some of you were getting nervous though, I know it. Especially when the president started talking about a Palestinian state and putting an end to Israeli occupation. Yeah, admit it, your pulse jumped a little bit.

C.S. Lewis wrote something to the effect of not realizing how little faith you have in the strength of a rope until you actually are depending on that rope to suspend your weight off the side of a cliff. It's easy to say that we believe Jesus' words when you don't feel like you are actually depending on them to save your life. When it really hits the fan and the Day of the Lord truly arrives, will you have calm assurance knowing that Jesus' words are eternal, life-giving truth? Or will you find yourself in a panic, unsure of your security in Christ.

Think and pray about it. Jesus might not have returned today, but He certainly will. Watch and be ready.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 Days Left

According to an advertisement on the side of a bus, 10 days is all we have left here on earth. May 21, 2011 is the Judgment Day when God will settle all accounts. A group of people claims to have calculated the exact date of creation, the exact date of the end of the church age, and the exact date of the final judgment. According to them, we are currently living in the days of the great tribulation. If that's true, I must say that Jesus and the Apostle John really hyped it up to sound a lot more impressive than it is in real life. Of course, anyone who subscribes to this idea has to disregard Jesus' words from Mark 13:32-36.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping."

Even Jesus said He doesn't know the day or the hour. Someone claiming to know the day is also claiming that they have the inside track on Jesus - pretty impressive.

Anyway, the Owner of the house will return and He will find some servants sleeping and some keeping watch. Certainly, He will find some who were keeping watch for a long time and then just took a quick break to play Wii or check their Facebook for a few minutes. I'm sure there will be a servant who was lucky enough to hear the car pull up in the driveway and woke up just in time. And apparently there is a group of servants, who, instead of just constantly keeping watch like Jesus commanded, are spending all of their time trying to figure out exactly when the Owner is coming home so they can be ready when He gets there.

Is there any employee more frustrating than the one who only works when the boss is around? Which servant will provoke the Owner's anger more: the one who refuses to work outright, or the one who clearly accomplishes nothing but always appears to be busy when the Owner is watching? There is a reason that God the Father has revealed the day and the hour to no one.

I will make a point to post something here on May 22, 2011. Until then, whether it's 1 day, 10 days, or 1,000 days until He returns, heed Jesus' command: "What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" Mark 13:37

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gov't Shutdown

The government might really stop today. Good, bad, indifferent, regardless of where you stand on the budget issue, a government shutdown is a real possibility today. It could have vast implications for our mail system, National Park system, national museums, Amtrak, tax returns, and countless other areas of our daily lives.

"But our citizenship is in heaven." (Philippians 3:20)

This nation and this government, just like all nations and all man-made governments, is temporary and will eventually fade away into human history. Of course, we strive to be functioning, law-abiding citizens while here on earth. But our eternal citizenship is in heaven, in God's kingdom, under His government where Christ alone is King.

No budget debates. No voting. No corrupt politicians. No deficit. No economic meltdowns. No poverty that slips through the cracks. No disadvantaged children left behind by the system. No conspiracies. No red tape. No foreign policy. No law enforcement. No prison. No drug war. No taxes.

Name an area of our governments where sin has a foothold, and it won't exist in heaven.

Just love and praise for Christ our King who rules in power and love and might. A perfect government under a perfect God for His perfected people.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New Look And Feeling Old

I've updated the look of the blog a little bit. And I'm still trying to decide if I like it or not. Any input will be considered and appreciated. I am also adding the ability for you to subscribe to blog feeds, which made me feel old.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Daily Bread

Today I was reading Proverbs 30 and these verses stood out to me.

"Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." - Proverbs 30:7-9

What if I really prayed like this? How different would my whole life look?

We often read Jesus' words "Give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11), with the sense that God's first intent is to hold out on us and we have to make sure we ask Him to give us enough. As if our God doesn't give in abundance. But the writer of Proverbs 30 specifies, "give me only my daily bread." He knows that God gives in abundance. And he sees the danger that abundance could lead to: self-dependence and denying God as sustainer.

So his inclination would be to go to the other extreme and ask God for poverty. But he sees the danger there as well: "I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." Notice that he didn't write: I may become poor and starve to death. His primary concern is honoring God's name. Stealing makes him his own provider anyway, which is the exact same danger he encounters if he has too much.

Two requests: honesty and sustenance. We tend to think that honesty is subject to circumstances - we would be inclined to say that if he is poor, it's ok to steal to feed himself. The writer recognizes that stealing is dishonoring to God, regardless of the circumstances. How often do we pray that God would keep us honest? Sometimes we pray that God would put us in circumstances where it's easy to be honest. But do we pray that God would keep us honest, regardless of our situation? Are we praying that God would give us just what we need? Or are we praying that He would make us comfortable? Is our highest concern honoring God's name by being honest and recognizing Him as our provider and sustainer?
Imagine how different our families and our churches and our communities would look if that was true about us.

All of this wisdom God spoke through a man who claims at the beginning of the chapter, "I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man's understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One." - Proverbs 30:2-3

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Weird Things About Heaven

Just last week I was speaking with one of our church elders and we were discussing how little time we Christians spend thinking about Heaven. After all, that's where we're all headed right? That's the reward, isn't it? Didn't Paul say that our citizenship is in Heaven? (Yes, he said so in Phil. 3:20) Why don't we spend more time thinking and discussing and dreaming and awaiting Heaven?

One of the questions that always comes to my mind when I think about Heaven is this: what about sin and temptation? I know there won't be any sin in Heaven, that's given. But there's only two ways to eliminate sin - either 1.) it's unappealing and no longer a temptation, or 2.) it's appealing and just not sinful! Think of all the things that you are tempted with on a daily basis, they will all fall into one of those to categories. I'll explain why.

In Heaven, we will live in glorified, perfected, imperishable bodies - no longer attached to corruptible flesh. (1 Corinthians 15) So some of the things that are tempting to our corrupted flesh now, will just no longer be appealing. Certain sins just won't get our attention anymore. That's fantastic. I can't wait to be unburdened by facing and resisting endless temptations.

But there's another possibility. We have to go back to the garden of Eden to find it. In the center of the garden, God planted two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:9) God only said that they couldn't eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:16-17) Evidently, the tree of life was fair game. In their sin, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and then suddenly the tree of life was off limits. And the tree of life must certainly be appealing, otherwise God wouldn't have put supernatural flaming sword security on it 24/7. (Gen. 3:22-24 )

So, right now, if you were able to find the path to the tree of life, sneak past the angel guarding it, and eat its fruit you would be sinning. But, wait, the tree of life is still around in Heaven, too. John wrote in Revelation that Jesus says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." (22:14) In Heaven, we're going to eat from the tree of life! In our fallen state, the tree of life is off limits. But in a perfected state, it's fair game!

What else will become fair game when we get to Heaven? Heaven will absolutely blow your mind. I imagine that some of my first conversations with Jesus will go something like this, "So, Jesus, you're telling me that I can ___________ and you won't kick me out of Heaven?! You mean I can ____________ on the _____________ with ________________, and You will be glorified? You're alright with me moonwalking through _____________ and swan diving into the _____________ ?! I can put these _______________ into my pocket and then fling them at _________________ while hiding under the _________________ and Your name will be exalted by that?!"

Of course, I'm exaggerating. But the point is that you won't miss anything in Heaven. All of the empty pleasure of sin in this world will be eliminated in one of those two ways above. And the eternal, God-glorifying pleasures of Heaven will be vast beyond what we could ever imagine!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All We Can Do Is Pray

When you read that title, I bet the voice in your head has a tone of hopelessness. But if you believe in the God of the Bible, it should not be so.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

If that is true: God is in this for his own glory and He can do way more than we could possibly ask or even imagine. That means our prayers are quite powerful, because God wants to righteously one-up our prayers.

All life comes from God and He is glorified in creating, sustaining, redeeming and preserving it.
Pray for the people of Japan, that God may be glorified by answering in profound and unimaginable ways.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christian Secular Musicians

Right now the whole "blogosphere" is on fire about Justin Bieber's new movie and the Bible study that goes along with it. Yes, you read that correctly, the film studio partnered with someone to put together a Bible study that goes together with Justin's new movie. I'm not here to say that it's good or bad. I'm just here to make sure that any new converts as a result of this Bible study get issued a "New Beliebers Bible". Lots of people forget that Justin openly calls himself a Christian. And I can lead you right into the judgment trap by reminding you that he never saw worldwide fame until he partnered up with Ludacris. Sound like Robert Johnson to anyone?

But this whole thing has gotten me thinking about our attitude towards artists who call themselves Christians but perform largely secular music. Performers like Amy Grant and P.O.D. get a certain stigma attached to them for appealing to secular audiences or releasing non-Christian albums. It's even worse when a secular musician makes a profession of faith in Christ - think Bob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Mustaine, that one guitar player from KORN, and countless others. What often happens is that a successful artist converts, then releases a Christian album or two, sales decline, and then they go back to the secular music world and usually their career never fully recovers. And so many of us Christians just smugly sit back with a smile and chalk it up to an ingenuine conversion.

But can you imagine the satanic attacks they face? You and I would be lucky to have the opportunity to share the Gospel with one person per day. When a successful artist releases an album of Christ-exalting music, there is potential and likelihood for that message to reach millions. Don't you think that gets Satan's attention? For those artists who have truly come to a saving relationship with Christ, they find themselves on the front lines of spiritual warfare very early in their conversion. Is it any surprise that, in an industry fueled by record and ticket sales, they are so discouraged in their new faith that they are drawn back into producing secular music? Few of us would immediately send a new believer out on his own into a mission field without any support or training. Even Paul, after his conversion, spent years in training.

Maybe we should try to be a little less judgmental of those high profile celebrities and artist who profess a faith in Christ. Maybe we should spend more time praying for them. Maybe we should be praying that as God transforms their heart, He would also transform their career into a ministry. Maybe we should be praying that God would present us with more opportunities to share the Gospel. Maybe we should be praying that God sends us to the frontlines of spiritual warfare - and share a little bit of that satanic load.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To You I Pray

"Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray." Psalm 5:2

Pretty simple. David is humbly asking God to hear and answer his prayers.
This should be my prayer too. But how often am I actually asking God to answer me when I have looked for answers everywhere else but with Him? How often does my Psalm actually read more like this, "God why aren't You answering me and helping me? I've looked for help everywhere and now I finally have to come to You."
If I was humble enough to rightly view Him as my King and my God, I would automatically go to Him first. I would seek answers in Him alone and pray to Him alone - the way it should be.