Well, I still can’t seem to get back into the blog routine, so I thought I would just post something I found worth reading.
Every Sunday, our pastoral team takes turns writing “blogs” except we don’t put them on the internet. We print them on real paper on the back of our church bulletin. I know…it’s so old school. Well, every once in a while we write some good stuff. I really appreciate @Ed_Lech ‘s commentary on worship so I thought I’d share it here with y’all, just in case you didn’t get a bulletin. As always, feel free to comment…
I love to worship God in song during our corporate meetings. For me it’s an opportunity to express my affection toward God – a time that takes me out of the cerebral and into the emotional. In fact, since I am here at all three services on Sunday morning I often stand in the back of the sanctuary and worship during all the services. Praise in song provides a time to lose thought of myself, my circumstances, and my life in general and focus my mind and emotions on God. Most of the time, the result is refreshment to my soul. I also believe it brings great pleasure to God.
Now I haven’t always known this kind of freedom in worship. As a young believer the embarrassment factor of a less than melodious voice along with the self-conscious thoughts of making a spectacle of myself when raising my hands or standing/kneeling in a public meeting often inhibited my experience in worship. What I have come to learn over the years is that praise involves sacrifice. Sacrifice can be defined as the voluntary release of something dear that may result in doing something that is uncomfortable to perform.
So what does sacrifice in worship involve? Well it may be any number of things but here are a few: my self, my reputation, my musical preference (songs or style), my embarrassment, my laziness, my self-consciousness, my anger, my frustration, my distractions, my stubbornness… Notice a common theme? My! Sacrifice in praise and worship begins with the sacrifice of me. It is the setting aside of myself for God. As we worship this morning, I hope you’ll take the time to make a decision to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”.
Be blessed in worship and lose yourself in God!
That month has come and gone….It’s been almost 3o days since my last post, and do I apologize. But please let me make some feeble excuses; I was out of town for 2 weeks. Yes, I know that doesn’t account for the other 2 weeks of the month, and yes I’m always connected. But here’s the deal. When you start getting used to a routine and then that changes, it kind of throws everything off the loop. Sure, I stayed consistent in the Word, but just didn’t have the same time to sit down and write up the blog. The problem is, it was such a rich two weeks with so much to write about and I could never find the time. So here’s a quick breakdown of how it played out-
Week 1: Preparing to leave
Week 4: Trying to catch up on everything that accumulated in my 2 weeks absence
So there you have it. Kind of lame excuses but it was a great month. That’s how it goes sometimes.
And just so this post is not a complete waste of time for yourself. Let me leave you with a great verse from my devotion this morning. Something good to take with you into any meetings you might be having today or this week-
6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
I don’t know if any of you are following the NBA Free Agency period. If you aren’t, let me just summarize that there are about 8-10 players who will most likely sign 5-6 year contracts for $100-$120 million dollars in the next week or so. Obviously I’ve been paying attention. I admit there is something about these type of deals that kind of fascinate me. Now I wouldn’t say I “Love” money or have a “desire to be rich”. If anything I need to develop a healthier “respect” of money (Don Miller has some good commentary on this). But for some reason, these words in the verse about contentment verses desire to be rich got me thinking about the NBA. So rather than talk about myself, let’s talk about Lebron James for a minute. I hear he’s blowing up search engines.
Now here’s the way the NBA works; it rewards players who stay with their current team by allowing that team to pay them almost $20 million dollars more with an extra year than an outside team can offer. So, if Lebron “desires” more $$$, than it appears staying with his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is what he’ll pick. However, if he’s not “content” being on a team that can’t win a world championship, than he can take less money to play for a different team that he thinks has a better shot at winning it all.
The other option is he could take less money and stay with his home team so they can afford to sign other top players. Either way, it’s good drama that the sporting world is captivated by (which I guess includes me too). So I’m not sure who’s more stirred up, the spectator or the spectacle, by this issue of “contentment” or the “desire to be rich”. Back to myself, I think I need to keep working on the “contentment” part.
But for the sake of polling, what do you think? Should Lebron James stay or should he go?
Our nation was founded on this innate longing for freedom but this world still offers many ways to be enslaved both voluntarily and in-voluntarily. As much as we have fought for liberty in some areas of life, we still find ourselves struggling with others, or still believe we remain captive to. But this should not be so. Christ did not die on the cross, only to remove the shackles from our wrists, and still leave us chained by our ankles and our neck. His death & resurrection has released us from our bondage of sin. Yes, we are still sinners, but we are no longer slaves to it.
So what should we do with our new found freedom?
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
So as we commemorate our country’s independence this weekend, let us celebrate first our liberty that comes from the Lord. Let’s not only share in BBQ & fireworks, but also let us participate in these acts of love and service that we have been given freedom for.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
I read through this book this morning, this letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonians, and found the chapters really connected together. So much, that I went back and read the Introduction to the book just in order to get more information on the background. If you click on the the link and scroll down below the scripture you can read these articles. Most of the letter hinges around the second coming of the Lord, being holy, what happens to those who have already died and such, and just catching up with the folks that he had been out contact for the last couple years. That is my brief summary. Again, read the book for the full story.
What stood out to me was how the book ended. The Benediction is really longer than what I’ve re-posted. But this little section stuck out to me so I’ll speak to it. The first three verses are great. They are very much the “Go Team!” encouragement we need. “Pray without ceasing”, immediately reminds me of reading Brother Lawerence’s classic, “The Practice of The Presence of God”. A great book, I picked up in 2007 at the Mount Hermon bookstore that inspired many of the songs written for the my 2008 record, Practice of the Presence. I highly encourage reading the book, and I suppose the records not too bad of a listen either.
Now, I could have just ended the post here, with “Rejoice Always”! And if that’s where you need to stop reading, that’s okay. But I couldn’t escape the following verses, -
Apparently, the Thessalonians apparently “despised manifestations of prophecy and hence were cutting off a valuable source of encouragement and extinguishing the Spirit’s fire. Test Everything. Rather than rejecting prophecies outright on the basis of inferior prophetic words, the Thessalonians need to weigh prophecies to distinguish the true from the false. Tests presumably include the prophecy’s conformity with authoritative revelation, its value for edification, and its evaluation by those with spiritual discernment. See 1 Cor. 14:29–33 and the note on 1 Cor. 12:10 regarding the operation of prophecy in the church. what is good. In context, this most likely refers to prophecies that pass the test.” -ESV
I appreciate this commentary because I find there are many that despise prophecies because it seems like the “prophets” that get the most attention are “quack-jobs” that don’t get tested. But when this text is sandwiched between -
It all pans out, you know? Don’t quench, don’t despise, test, take what is good, which means what is truthful, what holds up to scripture. And then stay away from all that is bad. Makes sense to me. Probably easier said than done, but I like it. What do you think?
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As a worship pastor, my brain seems to chime anytime I come across scripture that talks about singing, hymns, and songs. So upon reading Colossians 3 today, it was no surprise that these verses popped out to me. In fact, the first devotional (Parson to Person) that I wrote for Crossroads Church was derived from this passage. But I can’t stop thinking about this “context” thing that I discussed earlier this week. Here’s the exact definition:
1. The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning. 2. The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.
As I’ve recently re-started this blogging thing. I’ve tried to keep most of my posts focused on scripture because, oh I don’t know, it seems unquestionably, something worthy of putting our time into. One of my concerns in doing this “devotional” style blogging is scripture being taken out of context. Which I guess is really unavoidable unless I was posting the entire Old & New Testament and you sat and read the entire thing non-stop. But there’s something to be said for at least reading the complete passage, chapter, or maybe the whole book. But I’m blogging here, not writing a book or a thesis. So that’s why I include the hyperlink of the verses to the ESVstudybible.com site so you have that easy option if you want to read the verse in its context.
But for the purpose of this blog, I like to read a chapter or two and just highlight the first passage that comes to mind, or sticks out at me. I rather enjoy the book of Philippians. In fact, Phil 2:1-11 is one of my favorite verses. But when I think about verses, (and I know “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” – Tim3:16) I couldn’t help but think about how verses are often used like product slogans, or how the one I have above, I’ve seen tattooed on peoples’ calves, biceps. or this gentleman’s forearm. And I thought that’s funny. Maybe it’s because I’m too much of a wimp to get a tattoo or don’t have the physique to warrant such tattoo. And certainly a tattoo of scripture is better than many other things I’ve seen. But I still think context is important. I guess if you know the context of the verse, than maybe it’s okay to get it tattooed? I don’t know. My mind is starting to wander now to many different tangents of this topic so I think I’ll stop now. The floor is yours. If you have such a tattoo or something similar, please share your thoughts on this. Thanks!
I read this verse yesterday morning, and it stuck with me all day. I was all excited about posting the new album review that came out this weekend in Worship Leader Magazine, but after posting the link on Twitter & Facebook I had to stop before I put up on the blog so I could think about it some more.
It is just too easy to desire the approval of man.
I think this is apparent in some professions more so than others, but most of us don’t go through out the day with out doing this. Which means the “pause” and conviction I felt is a good thing, but the real focus of this verse that needs to be applied is on being a ‘servant of Christ’. And that is what we should be seeking first. If I am to be a servant of Christ, than all that I do must be to please Him first before trying to please man. The next thing to consider is context…
Here is an excerpt on this passage from the ESV Study Bible Side bar -
“Paul apparently is responding to criticism that he is peddling a gospel received from man, not from God, and that he is doing so simply to please man rather than God. Paul does not simply defend himself out of resentment or wounded pride but shows a pastoral concern: to reassure the Galatians that the gospel they received was the authentic one, not a false message delivered by an untrustworthy messenger.”
And this is why I love the ESV Study Bible. Being able to read into the cultural & historical perspective of the text is very helpful.
So now knowing the context & convicted to check my motives, I can freely make this next post, not to seek your approval, or the editors, but striving to be a Servant of Christ. Committing all that we do to His glory and not our own.
I’ve been a subscriber of Worship Leader Magazine for probably 7 or 8 years. It’s pretty relevant to what I do as you might guess. So I was pretty stoked to receive an album review of the new “Servant Songs” CD in this month’s issue. It was even cooler to be put alongside one of my all-time favorite christian bands, Delirious, for their feature review of their Farewell Live in London CD. If you’re interested in reading these articles I’ll let you take a peak at my digital copy. You can also pick up a copy of the magazine at your local christian book store. Thanks for reading!