Stepping Out of Our Cultural Worship

August 30, 2010 at 11:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized, Worship | Leave a comment

Psalm 96:3, 7-10.  “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.  . . .  Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.  Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.   Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’”

          God’s heart is for his name to be proclaimed among all nations and all cultures.  Often we get so caught up in our own cultural milieu that we forget his heart.

          We want our daughter to experience some different styles and cultures of worship and to have a heart for the nations, and since yesterday was a Sunday off, we attended worship at Living Hope Baptist Church, an African-American congregation in our denomination.  It was a great service.  Pastor Robin Holland was on vacation so youth pastor, Scott Sangster gave a wonderful message on the older son in the Prodigal story.  Good exegesis and great application.  Though my daughter said, before we went, that she is always uncomfortable visiting other churches, she commented, on the way home, how much she enjoyed the service at Living Hope.  In addition to the message, we appreciated the worship team and the great music they led; the enthusiasm for truth; the central place of prayer in the service; and the attitude of worship and thankfulness over the offering.  I’ve never been in a church where the leaders gathered around the filled offering plates and thanked God for his abundant supply – something more of us should try.  May God bless Living Hope with many who come to know the Savior through their ministry!

Uzziah’s Pride

August 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Wisdom | 1 Comment

2 Chronicles 26:16  “When he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God.”

          King Uzziah started out right, and God made him successful and prosperous.  “Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem.  He did right in the sight of the LORD, and as long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him.”  (26:1-5)  But he didn’t finish very well.  His successes went to his head and he became proud of them.  That was his downfall. 

          Knowing my own propensity to boast, I told God, many years ago, that I’d love to preach in a big and growing church, but I’d rather be in a tiny church, where I can be faithfully devoted to my wife and fully devoted to God, if the result of a bigger ministry would be my arrogance and loss of those two things.  God, help those of us in ministry to give you credit for the work you do in our lives and ministries, never becoming boastful as if we could accomplish those things ourselves, and help us to remain fully devoted to  you.

Every Man Has His Own God

August 20, 2010 at 8:43 am | Posted in False teaching, Theology | Leave a comment

Here is a profound thought I read this morning:

Every individual mind being a kind of labyrinth, it is no wonder, not only that each nation has adopted a variety of fictions, but that almost every man has had his own god.  To the darkness of ignorance have been added presumption and wantonness, and hence there is scarcely an individual to be found without some idol or phantom as a substitute for Deity.  Like water gushing forth from a large and copious spring, immense crowds of gods have issued from the human mind, every man giving himself full license, and devising some peculiar form of divinity, to meet his own views.

                        –John Calvin, Institutes (1, 5, 12)

It was written almost 500 years ago and describes the world of that day, but it is so relevant today.   The false teachers of our day fall into what this describes as “devising a deity to meet their own views,” and all of us, as he says, have our own gods.  Let’s return to the God revealed in the Bible rather than one of our own making.

My Anxious Thoughts Multiply within Me

August 18, 2010 at 9:19 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

Psalm 94:17-19  If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.  If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up.  When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.

I read these words in a recent quiet time and was struck by the last verse in particular.  Have you ever had a night when the anxious thoughts multiply within you?  I certainly have.  Occasionally I lie awake on my bed with a mind that won’t settle down.  The psalmist here reminds us that God can console us in those times, and that consolation can be our delight.  Imagine that – delighting through those anxious times because we know God consoles us!  In that regard, those long nights should be something to enjoy.  If only I could more often redirect my thoughts there.  Help us, God, to know, even through the long, busy-minded nights, that your lovingkindness upholds us and that you console us.

Four Novels

August 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

During my recent vacations, I took time for some pleasure reading.  Here are four novels I’ve read in recent weeks.

King Solomon’s Mines, H. Rider Haggard   This old-time classic was a childhood favorite of author N.D. Wilson (see my review of his 100 Cupboards) and the original inspiration for Indiana Jones.  Like the Jones movies, it was a fun fantasy adventure for a lazy campout.  I passed it on to my daughter to enjoy next.  However, it takes a few chapters to get into the author’s style.

Adam, Ted Dekker   Since a relative, who’s read all of Dekker’s books, recommended this as his favorite, I had high expectations, but I was disappointed.  Not that the book was bad, but it didn’t measure up to my favorites from Ted Dekker.  It wasn’t the page-turning excitement I found in Three; in fact, there were a few occasions I set it aside for a day.  And it wasn’t the fast paced fun of Blink.  This story of an FBI criminal psychologist tracking down a serial killer was interesting, but the means used to catch him were more in line with superficial fantasy than serious fiction.  (I expected Solomon’s Mines to be exagerated silliness, but I didn’t expect Adam to be that as well)  There was a totally unexpected plot twist at the end which greatly improved my overall impression of the book.

A Line in the Sand, Al and Joanna Lacy   This is the first Lacy book I’ve read, though they’ve written dozens.  I found it in the library and picked it up for the most recent camp trip, because the story revolved around the Texas-Mexico War and the Alamo, events I’ve found interesting since seeing the old Disney Davy Crockett movie years ago.  The story was fun and entertaining, and I’m engaged and curious just enough to read the second in the series, if I can find it.  However, the story was somewhat “Pollyannish.”  All the main characters were happy and wonderful Christians; even in the midst of trouble, life was good; all with whom the main characters shared Christ became believers; the struggles were trivial in light of their perfect faith.  In other words, life in the book was just too perfect to be real.

The Great Train Robbery, Michael Crichton   This was probably the best of the novels I read.  Crichton uses a famous event to stage his story, and writes as though he were giving a well-researched report on it.  However, it is entirely fiction.   The book was both absorbing and very creative, as has been every Crichton book I’ve read.  This one also had some surprises at the end to make it more interesting.

Do Not Neglect Your Spiritual Gift

August 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts | 1 Comment

          I’ve been camping in the mountains with my family this week and have had no opportunity to be on line.  Those interested in my last post might like to know that I’ve added a response to one of the comments.

          While camping, I enjoyed some lazy mornings to read the Word and ponder more than usual.  I read through First and Second Timothy some of those mornings.  An interesting thing that stood out to me was that Paul told Timothy about his spiritual gift on two different occasions.  In the first letter he told Timothy, “Do not to neglect the spiritual gift within you,” and in the second he told Timothy, “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.”  Isn’t it surprising that he had to be reminded to use his gift on two occasions?  Maybe we have the tendency to do everything else while ignoring that for which God most created us.

           As much as I love to preach and teach, it would be easy to neglect that gift because it takes work.  It is also easy for that gift to become stale.  I can grind out sermons without ever taking time in the presence of God and hearing his word, and without ever asking how it relates to my life and the lives of my congregation.  I too need the reminder not to neglect my gift and to kindle it afresh.  Maybe we all do on occasion.  Whatever spiritual gift God has given you, don’t neglect it, use it; don’t let it go stale, kindle it afresh through God’s spirit.

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