Category Archives: Theology in Practice
16 “I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick; but those that are fat and strong I will destroy, because I am a shepherd who does what is right. Ezekiel 34:16 GNT
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT2)
If the poor wounded man had desired to help himself he would only have done harm to himself and irritated his wounds. Had he remained lying quiet, he would have suffered all the same. This parable pictures us perfectly.
Let me tell you about the true Christian, the Bible Christian, and his view of this troubled and uncertain world in which he lives….He knows that the day when Christians should meekly apologize is over; that they can get the world’s attention not by trying to compromise and please, but by boldly declaring the truth of divine revelation with the affirmative signature, “Thus saith the Lord!”
761 Christ is nailed to the Cross. And you?… Still taken up with your whims and fancies—or rather, nailed by them!
Luther, talking about victim tended to by the Good Samaritan, describes the how completely broken and hopeless he is. Unable to help himself, unable to survive on his own, completely hopeless.
And yet it is such broken men and women that can and must provide the hope that this world needs.
Yes- they are the hope of the world… for they, as beaten and broken as they are… they have heard Jesus say, “thus saith the Lord!” Which really means “You are mine!” And that is the hope for the world, to hear those incredible words. It is as we are nailed to the cross because of our brokenness that we are united to the hope that is Christ. Those whims and fancies are killed off ( and ohh they struggle to come back to life)
The hope is actually found in Christ, through the Spirit who makes His home in us, who shines through our lives, who hope and love so fill out lives that it overflows, and draws people looking for answers in this broken world. For it is He who has come to look for those of us who are lost, to bring us home.
This is the truth we have to declare – the presence of the Lord Jesus in the lives of His people. No other religious tenet, no other truth works unless we bring that to the attention of those who are His people. From there we explain the cross – and how that means He is there… there to help, to cure, to cleanse, to bless. Any “truth” other than that tends to distract from that, and from the peace that God would have us know..even as we know His love.
The Christian’s view of this troubled and uncertain times is not to give up on the world, but to see the need for Christ’s love being brought to the world, as it was to us.
The Lord is with you!
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 341.
A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
Escrivá, Josemaría. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles, pray to God. 2Surely you have heard that God in his grace has given me this work to do for your good. 3God revealed his secret plan and made it known to me. (I have written briefly about this, 4and if you will read what I have written, you can learn about my understanding of the secret of Christ.) 5In past times human beings were not told this secret, but God has revealed it now by the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets. 6The secret is that by means of the gospel the Gentiles have a part with the Jews in God’s blessings; they are members of the same body and share in the promise that God made through Christ Jesus. Eph 3:1-6 GNT
There is in God’s judgment no greater sin on earth than when pious men and women despise those who lie in their sin.
Sin is, of course sin.
Let’s take the sixth commandment – it covers all sexual sin, where the blessing that God gave to a wife and husband is misused, and sexual intimacy is shared between any two that are not married. (in thought and word–as well as deed). Sin is sin.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, it has the same consequence, it divides us from God, each other, and even shatters who we are. Using the 6th commandment again, it doesn’t matter who the contact is between, or whether it is just in words – or thoughts. It is sin.
Luther claims to know that God’s #1 issue is when His people, or those who appear so, hate their brother and sister so much that they leave them in sin, unaware that the Lord has provided a cure and healing for the sinner, and will gladly transform them (2 Cor. 3) into the likeness of Jesus. To leave someone, helpless and unaware of this, to not have this basic level of compassion for them, is wrong. It shows a lack of love that is contrary to the love of Christ dying on the cross.
Compare that to Paul’s words about bringing the Gentiles into the Kingdom alongside the Jewish believers in Christ. He would work with everything he had, with the extent of making this mystery (which wasn’t really–the Old Testament tells over and over that the Gentiles would be called home.) known.
It is our responsibility now – not just pastors and missionaries–our responsibility as the church, to welcome everyone into the Kingdom of God, to see them cleansed from their sins, to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus.
Does that mean that all my Church needs to move to Ephesus – and walk in the footsteps of Paul? Or all go to seminary? No, but we can pray for these people, love them, and be guided by the Holy Spirit’s love to share with them the hope we have, because of Jesus, and the cross.
Ask God to show you who is ready to hear, Ask Him to give you the words, that they would come to know Him, and be transformed as God promises, as God planned. Listen, love, share… and realize you are a co-worker of Jesus, a person He shares His harvest with, and His glory.
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 282.
He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God 2 Cor. 1:4 GNT
I think we can say that most Christians have no clear end toward which they are striving.
The first and highest work of love a Christian ought to do when he has become a believer is to bring others also to believe in the way he himself came to believe. Here you notice Christ begins and institutes the office of the ministry of the external Word in every Christian; for he himself came with this office and the external Word.
Psalm 119:59 tells of a time of self-examination, a time where the Psalmist looked at his life and probably sight, stood up and began the journey again. It is a hard course of action to take, but one that we each need to do, and perhaps, need to do as congregations as well.
But 30-30 years after Tozer originally noted that we strive without a true direction, we still don’t find it. We get caught up on crusade after crusade. THe latest is to fignt human trafficking, prior to that there were battles on both sides of the CRT issue, and the LGTBQ issue, and this political issue and that one. It’s nothing new, I remember the church being directed to strive against rock & roll, promiscuity, divorce and greed growing up.
And in all of this, we’ve lost what it means to be the church, to have Jesus revealed to us, to believe, trust and depend on the work of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our lives.
and then to share that work with those who need it. Which is everyone we encounter. That’s the basis of what Paul is telling the church in Corinth. We need to strive to maintain the hope given to us in the life, death, resurrection and eventual return of Jesus–and then we need to share that with all who are broken.
I need to do this, but so do you. Luther’s clear about this being the work of both those called to shepherd the church. and those who are the church.
This needs to be our focus, our life, this hope of being a relationship with our creator, who loves us.
To strive after anything else, to think spiritual warfare is about anything else, is vanity
A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 255.
Thoughts driving me to Jesus, and to the Altar/Cross:
For seven days all the people of Israel who were present celebrated the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 18Since the days of the prophet Samuel, the Passover had never been celebrated like this. None of the former kings had ever celebrated a Passover like this one celebrated by King Josiah, the priests, the Levites, and the people of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem 19in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign. 2 Chron. 35:17-19 GNT
True penitence or contrition flows out of love for God and righteousness. Without such love it is impossible for man to hate and detest sin and to repent of it. An important problem in the doctrine of repentance, therefore, is the question of the origin, or creation, of such love in the human heart. Is it the result of man’s own efforts, or is it the work of God?
Staupitz answers the question by saying that such a love for God and His will is the product of two factors: (1) the revelation of the love of God in Christ and in His suffering for men, and (2) the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man. “The love of Christ kindles the spirit of the bride (that is, man).” “Love for God is created by the revelation of the love of God toward us.”56
The event that resoluted in the marvelous celebration of the passover was the finding the word of God, reading it, and realizing not only that the people of God were guilty of sin, but that there was a way that resulted in the people being free of the bondage created by that sin.
A freedom that was foretold in the story of the passover, a story that Israel was commanded to keep, that they would remember the love of God that assured them of His work in their lives.
It is with this hope, that they celebrated the freedom won for them, and the ultimate freedom that would occur when the Messiah came. And even only with hope of the future, the people of God threw a party that would be memorable throughout history!
How much more should we, who have that hope fulfilled in Jesus, celebrate the love of God, show to us in Christ Jesus? We have the two things necessary to love God – His love fully revealed, and the love of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts! We should be as excited to see God at work in our lives as the bride is, as she looks down the aisle to see her about to be husband.
The key to worship is not found in the band or organ, the type of music or when it was written. The key is the gift of repentance, the work that the Spirit does in transforming us, as we learned we are love, as we learn to love. The result is worship like hasn’t been experienced before, for it changes from being based on the future, to being based in the present.
It all boils down to the relationship and realizing what God is do in this relationship…
Uuras Saarnivaara, Luther Discovers the Gospel: New Light upon Luther’s Way from Medieval Catholicism to Evangelical Faith (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 22–23.
Solomon moved his wife, the daughter of the king of Egypt, from David’s City to a house he built for her. He said, “She must not live in the palace of King David of Israel, because any place where the Covenant Box has been is holy.” 2 Crhonicles 8:11 GNT
(Luther states) “We are free from the Law, which ceases with Christ in a twofold sense: first imputatively, when sins against the Law are no longer imputed to me, but are remitted for the sake of the most precious blood of the spotless Lamb, Jesus Christ, my Lord; then, by expurgation, when the Holy Spirit is given me, so that, having received Him, I begin to hate from my heart everything that offends His name and to follow good work.”
But here’s the Question: Do we cry out to Jesus to save us right now When you sing hosanna do you really cry out, or do we just mumble the words? Cry out!
As I read what Solomon did with one of his wives this morning, I felt convicted of my sin, but it took a while to process why.
And then I saw it – he stashed his wife away because the relationship he had with her wasn’t holy. Not saying it couldn’t have been holy, but he married her, interacted with her, and allowed her to keep worshipping the gods of Egypt.
And I wonder how often we do that with our sin, and our “religious life.” How often do we compartmentalize our lives, placing our favorite sins and idolatry in a different place? That way we can attend church, or a Bible Study/prayer meeting and not feel the conviction we feel. But it also means we don’t pray as we should, we don’t look for mercy as we should, we don’t “cry out” as JMT urges us to do.
We won’t cry out to Jesus to save us, until we see that there is something from which He needs to save us.
It can’t just be, “oh, I sinned again, I will confess it on Sunday,” as if there is no big issue involved in our sin, that we can deal with it anytime–this week, this month, next year, 10 minutes before Jesus returns.
Luther is right, – we need to learn to hate our sin, and everything in us that offends God.We need to hate those actions, those words, those thoughts, and what tempts us to do, say and think them. We need to realize the damage they do, and hate that as well. SO that we can – with JMT and all the angels and archangels and company of heaven cry out hosanna – save us! We need to desire God’s power reconciling us, and look forward to both private confession and absolution, and the confession and absolution given to us all as we gather together as the church.
This is a need in the church, in all believers, and the answer to our cry for mercy will transform the church, it will bring a time of revival, as people begin to live in hope–freed from the bondage of our sin. What joy will be seen and experienced as this happens! For happen it will.
Lord, help us to hate that which was never meant to be part of our lives, and let the desperation that hate causes lead us to the cross, where that sin is removed. Thank you Lord, for saving us, cleansing us, and making us Your Holy people. AMEN!
Uuras Saarnivaara, Luther Discovers the Gospel: New Light upon Luther’s Way from Medieval Catholicism to Evangelical Faith (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 13.
John Michael Talbot , The Lord’s Supper: A Eucharistic Revival. (Berryville, Arkansas, Troubador of the Lord Publishing, 2023) 71
10 One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else;
I would rather stand at the gate of the house of my God than live in the homes of the wicked. Psalm 84:10 GNT
For the entire gospel testimony is unanimous that Jesus’ words and deeds flowed from his most intimate communion with the Father; that he continually went “into the hills” to pray in solitude after the burden of the day (e.g., Mk 1:35; 6:46; 14:35, 39). Luke, of all the Evangelists, lays stress on this feature. He shows that the essential events of Jesus’ activity proceeded from the core of his personality and that this core was his dialogue with the Father.
Thus the spiritual life of the minister, formed and trained in a school of prayer, is the core of spiritual leadership. When we have lost the vision, we have nothing to show; when we have forgotten the word of God, we have nothing to remember; when we have buried the blueprint of our life, we have nothing to build. But when we keep in touch with the life-giving spirit within us, we can lead people out of their captivity and become hope-giving guides.
A good deal of my time this year has been spent contemplating the question that is the title of this post. I’ve had three distinct possibilities, three times I was a finalist for a position, and once I received a call to pastor a different church. All three interested me, and I dread the idea of having to decide between my present call and them.
But the question about where I am supposed to be is far deeper than a geographical location, or what vocation I have. In fact, the locations where we live and what we do are meaningless without the insight of “where we are” offered by the psalmist.
We have to imitate Jesus, and rely on our location in response to our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our identity is determined by our awareness of our proximity to God. If we know we are in HIs presence, everything else takes on a new dimension, a new meaing. Our families, our workplaces, our hobbies all become a way in which to experience God’s love, and to see the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
This is essential for the entire church – and it resolves with all of us taking our positions as ministers, as those who serve people, that they might know Jesus. Intimacy with God is the core of our spiritual leadership–it is also the core of our spiritual lives. Without interaction with God prayer, meditating on the gospel and the sacraments, there is little that we can and should attempt to do. Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI ) is correct – all we are and do flows from our intimate – yeah – intimate connection with God.
I believe that is what the psalmist knows, and puts into words… it is being there in God’s presence that is the most desirable place to be.
And then we can give people the hope we find there, with Jesus,… as they are called and drawn to the One lifted up on the cross.
Joseph Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 17–18.
Nouwen, Henri J. M.. The Living Reminder (p. 73). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
It was about three o’clock one afternoon when he had a vision, in which he clearly saw an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius!”
4 He stared at the angel in fear and said, “What is it, sir?”
The angel answered, “God is pleased with your prayers and works of charity, and is ready to answer you. 5 And now send some men to Joppa for a certain man whose full name is Simon Peter. 6 He is a guest in the home of a tanner of leather named Simon, who lives by the sea.” 7 Then the angel went away, and Cornelius called two of his house servants and a soldier, a religious man who was one of his personal attendants. 8 He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
9 The next day, as they were on their way and coming near Joppa, Peter went up on the roof of the house about noon in order to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; while the food was being prepared, he had a vision. 11 He saw heaven opened and something coming down that looked like a large sheet being lowered by its four corners to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!”
14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord! I have never eaten anything ritually unclean or defiled.”
15 The voice spoke to him again, “Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” 16 This happened three times, and then the thing was taken back up into heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of this vision, the men sent by Cornelius had learnt where Simon’s house was, and they were now standing in front of the gate. 18They called out and asked, “Is there a guest here by the name of Simon Peter?” Acts 10:3-18 GNT
St. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, was a master wordsmith, who wrote a significant portion of the New Testament. It comes as a surprise then that he vacillates so much on St Peter’s name in this passage. Talking to others, the angel uses his full name – “Simon Peter.” Yet when addressing the the Lord in a vision, the Lord only uses the name Peter was given by God, “Peter.”
Is it only a curiosity? Is it only something with a hidden message, that only those who have been introduced to the full mysteries of the faith are to understand? Or is it a message to Peter, to prepare him for a lifetime lesson?
For sure Cornelius’ men don’t know – all they have been told is to fetch Simon Peter.
But for Peter to hear Simon again, the name he had before he encountered God, should have shaken him. It would be like me calling one of you Saint and Sinner, identifying the before Jesus you and the you who is being transformed by the Holy Spirit. But identifying you as well as the Saint you are becoming… and are.
For Peter it is the lesson in a microcosm – the vision retold, personally…
God declared Simon Peter clean.
And as Peter hears the voice from heaven speaks, it addresses him… not as Simon Peter, but simply as Peter.
Peter the cleansed, Peter the one restored to ministry after he denied Jesus 3 times. (John uses the same Simon/Peter description on the seashore in the same way)
Peter will go and minister to those God would declare clean – even though the world sees them as sinners. He understands what Luther noted,
“Hence, even though you see your neighbor so weak that he stumbles, think not that he is beyond hope. God will not have one judge another and be pleased with himself, in as much as we are all sinners, but that one bear the infirmity of the other. Christ also pleased not himself, hence we are to do as he did.”
As we look at equipping the saints in the churches we serve, understanding the sinner-saint dynamic will be important. We aren’t any better than Peter as we judge what we see in the brokenness of the churches and the schools we serve. We need to consider the work God can do with those who are broken, as we bear their infirmities, as they see God at work in our lives, so that they know that God can work in theirs.
We talk about the fact that we don’t have authority as ministers of the gospel. We only have the ability to influence people. And the greatest influence we can have… is helping them see how complete the work of Jesus is, in those weak enough to depend on Him.
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 169.
And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham’s father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square metre of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. Acts 7:4-5 GNT
So it is in keeping with the core of Biblical tradition to look at the ministry in the context of remembrance. Therefore I will discuss our spiritual resources by looking at the minister as a reminder: first, as a healing reminder, second as a sustaining reminder, third as a guiding reminder.
We are a people who have been taught to live in and for the present. That we need to be free our past, and we cannot let our anxieties about the future color our present life. We only live now, in this moment… ( o wait – that moment is now passed..hmmm…)
There is a point to it – that things past and future should not handicap our present life.
That doesn’t mean that we should divorce ourselves from either. We need the lessons from the past, the remmbrance of God’s promise to work in our lives, to intimately be involved in healing what is broken, in sustaining us in the present, and in guiding us into the future. Fr. Nouwen was right – our ministry is based in these reminders, both from the scriptures, and in the promises given through the hands of priests and pastors who baptize, absolve and give us the Body and Blood of Christ!
Abraham is a great example of counting on such promises. Stephen talks of his trust, his faith in God such that it was generations before the promise would be realized. It didn’t matter, the faith was there. Abraham depended on God being faithful to His promise, even thought he wouldn’t see Moses guiding people to the Holy Land, or Solomon’s Temple, or the death, burial and resurrection of His Lord Jesus Christ.
He would pass that faith on through the generations, some would have it, some would neglect it, but it was there, as God called people back, to bless them, to continue the promise. To trust and walk with God, sieing tht the promise is not just for us in this moment, as Peter notes, “39 For God’s promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away—all whom the “‘Lord our God calls to himself.'”
This is our ministry, facilitating the trust and dependence people have on God. It is not done with the strength of our character, rather by our ability to remember His presence, as He fulfills His promises to us, and those who come after us. And using the phrase, “our ministry,” I am referring to the church, not just to pastors, deacons and the like.
God’s promises will make the difference, and knowing about them is critical.
Lord, help our faith to grow like Abraham’s, and help us to minister to others – helping them remember Your promises and recognize Your presence! AMEN!
Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder: Service and prayer in the memory of Jesus Christ. Seabury Press; 1977, page 13
15The 50 prophets from Jericho saw him and said, “The power of Elijah is on Elisha!” They went to meet him, bowed down before him, 16and said, “There are fifty of us here, all strong men. Let us go and look for your master. Maybe the spirit of the LORD has carried him away and left him on some mountain or in some valley.”
“No, you must not go,” Elisha answered.
17 But they insisted until he gave in and let them go. The 50 of them went and looked high and low for Elijah for three days, but didn’t find him. 18Then they returned to Elisha, who had waited at Jericho, and he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” 2 Kings 2:15-18 GNT
In other words, the church is not just any assembly that happens to call itself by the name of Jesus for whatever reason or purpose, or where there may be orders calling themselves holy and so on. To counter a current heresy, the church is not just “people.” That assertion may rightly controvert the idea that the church is a building or even an institution, but it too easily forgets that the church is a gathering called and shaped by the gospel of its Lord, Jesus Christ. The Christian church occurs where the quite specific activity known as speaking the gospel occurs and the sacraments are administered according to that gospel. Where that does not occur there is no such thing as the church of Jesus Christ.
I look at the 50 prophets that Elisha encountered, and I see me.
And I see the church today.
We can recognize the Spirit of God on someone; we see the call God has laid on their life, But when they speak for Him, it is as if we didn’t know them, or we doubted they speak for God, and we go and waste a couple of days, doing our own thing.
We do this with each other, and we do this even with the scriptures. Liberal and conservative alike, we look for what resonates with our emotions and our thoughts, blissfully forgetting those emotions and thoughts have been twisted by sin.
We see that to an extent in the claim that “people are the church,” when people are talking about the buildings, but even more about the structure and those in responsibility. No longer is the church where God’s word is preached, and He blesses people with the sacraments. Forde rails against this–for where is there hope given, where is life cleansed, where else is there a chance to be still, and be revived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
While church should serve man, it should not serve his desires. Elisha was grieving, but he was also aware the time had come for others to step up, for Elijah to rest. The 50 should have done the same, for they saw God at work. When we hear the gospel, when we see the miraculous sacraments, I pray that we can be like Elijah, and work from that place of communion, humbling ourselves, and repenting of our trying to replace God.
Lord, help us to recognize the Elisha’s in our lives, help us to hear Your word, and receive your sacraments, and then help us to die to self, and see Christ live with us. AMEN!
Gerhard O. Forde, “Proclaiming,” in Theology Is for Proclamation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1990), 186–187.
No, I’m not drunk, sir,” she answered. “I haven’t been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the LORD. 16Don’t think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I’m so miserable.” 1 Sam. 1:15-16 GNT
Are we presently missing important elements of worship in our churches? I speak of the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves as we worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who can object to pious and righteous talk? Soon the whole enterprise takes off like a magnificent balloon, rising on the strength of its own hot air, with marvelous descriptions of the Christian life, the abundant life, spirituality, and the like. The minister becomes a guru rather than a proclaimer. The balloon rises perhaps until the stratospheric air can no longer support it and so it bursts and falls ignominiously back to earth. Or it is like Andersen’s fairy tale about the emperor’s new clothes? Everyone feels compelled to go along with the game until the naive little boy blurts out the truth: “But he’s naked!” Then all the pretense collapses.
But it is obvious to most that real worship and praise isn’t bursting forth from the average Catholic congregation during the opening hymn or song. We aren’t experiencing the jubilatio of St. Augustine’s communities. But we can! The next time we sing at Mass, let’s dare to really sing. Sing with all your heart and soul. Dare to open your mouth and praise God
I wonder what would happen if Tozer saw today’s church, if he would see the missing parts of worship restored. I can think of people here and there whose sacrifice seems significant, yet, I don’t know it is., or what really lies behind the sacrifice–or if it is really one.
I fear that for many of us, our worship is like Forde’s critique, that we are no more than a spiritual version of the Emperor’s new clothes. I fear that we will find there is nothing there, that my sermons have lifted people into a pious, blind life that seems to soar until it crashes. That the verses and choruses we sing are sung out of a love for music, and not without recognizing the presence of the One our voices praise.
We need to sing with all our heart and soul, and that doesn’t mean loudly, or with great power. It means all of it – much as Hannah does in the reading from 1 Samuel. To pour out the pain, the brokenness, the barrenness, to just let it flow out….
You see, praise comes from meeting God in that place, and letting Him raise you up. It means pouring out everything in our prayers, holding nothing back, to let God minister to us. Then our praises take on an other worldly quality, coming from our healed hearts and souls.
It doesn’t take courage as much as desperation.
But the result is glorious – for we come to depend on God in a way that cannot be created or maipulated by skilled planning, or the most incredible of organists, choirs, praise bands or soloists. Yet each, as they encounter a God who cares, adds their voices together–lifting the God who lifted us up.
And for every Hannah, we can then become be like Eli, who ministered to her, on the Lord’s behal
Tozer, A. W., and Gerald B. Smith. 2008. Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings. Chicago: Moody Publishers.
Forde, Gerhard O. 1990. “Hearing.” In Theology Is for Proclamation, 137–38. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
Talbot, John Michael. 2023. The Lord’s Supper: A Eucharistic Revival, Berryville, ARK. Troubador For the Lord Publishing.