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The Difference Between Singing Praise Songs and Worship.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

15  But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. 16  Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! 17  Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. 18  For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. 19  Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Isaiah 38:15-19 (NLT2)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ lays hold on us with all the authority of sovereign obligation. It says that the Christian church is to go and make disciples—to go and make disciples of all nations. The moral obligation of the resurrection of Christ is the missionary obligation—the responsibility and privilege of personally carrying the message, of interceding for those who go, of being involved financially in the cause of world evangelization

“Pray! For hope no longer lies in arms but in God. If anybody defends us against the Turk,18 the poor children who pray the Our Father will. Our wall and firearms and all the princes will probably leave the Turk untouched. I told the master builders too, ‘Dear Sirs, why are you spending so much time building? Unless prayers build a wall that declares that angels surround you with protection, your wall is worthless.

As I am pursuing a doctoral degree in worship, talking to people has been interesting.

They think this is a music degree, that it has to do primarily with the instruments I play, and the songs I have written.

It doesn’t.

My breakfast with a friend this morning was an experience of worship as much as when I pick up my guitar and play with our liturgical band on Sunday morning. As we talked about the brokenness we’ve witnessed (and went at the side of others!) As we talked about where God has guided us on very unique tracks to where we serve, him in the public sector, me in the church, there was a sense of what Hezekiah talked of in the scripture passage from Isaiah above.

We’ve experienced it all, the need to be humbled, the oppressive anguish, the discipline (corrective action) taken, I have had the challenges to health, he’s witnessed others experience them, and we’ve seen God deliver us from it all.

Sharing that is worship. Appreciating, even being in awes of how God has guided us is praising and glorifying God. I left a little less tired, a little more able to expect to see God’s work today, a little more determined to pray before the actions I know are coming, and less time building the walls which cannot protect me.

Tozer talks of a sovereign obligation to be missional—that because of the resurrection, we must share the hope born from experiencing God. I agree there is a need for that action, but I don’t think it is as much a moral obligation as we think of obligations, something done in repayment of something that has benefited us. Rather, it is as a subconscious spiritual compulsion to love those we are sent into the midst of, for surely God has done sent us into these places.

Surely singing is part of this, how this attitude is formed, how it buries itself deep in our sub-conscious, along with hearing the word of God and receiving the sacraments. The Holy Spirit uses all of this to form us in a way where the life of worship is just part of who we are. We struggle with it of course, allowing sin and the brokenness we observe to distract us temporarily us from our life in Jesus. Even then, God is at work, delivering us, calling us back,  and getting our attention.

And because of that, with Hezekiah and all who have been re-born in baptism and faith, we worship Him. In sanctuaries, and our homes, and even over breakfast at Polly’s.

God is good.. and He is with us!

 

 

A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 419.

The Church Can Endure this as it does ALL Challenges.

Nothing else mattered! Just being with Jesus, and knowing His love

Devotional Thought of the Day

7  If your servant comes in from plowing or from taking care of the sheep, would you say, “Welcome! Come on in and have something to eat”? 8  No, you wouldn’t say that. You would say, “Fix me something to eat. Get ready to serve me, so I can have my meal. Then later on you can eat and drink.” 9  Servants don’t deserve special thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. 10  And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then say, “We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10 (CEV)

We come now to the taproot of our surefire program: intimacy with the indwelling Trinity. To put it simply: the main source of deep conversion is to fall in love with endless Beauty. A genuine person will gladly sacrifice for real love. Christic martyrs are in love. Jesus tortured to death on the Cross is the icon of perfect love, unconditional, selfless love. All the saints imitate him in their heroic virtue because they too are in love. Their concern, determination, and motivation are rooted in and arise from their intimacy with triune Beauty who is purest and endless love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8).

1025 You will have as much sanctity, as you have mortification done for Love.

When you love someone, truly love someone, you are willing to embrace pain and suffering if you know it will help them. I know a husband who gave a kidney to his wife, or couples who have endured hardship to stay together. I don’t know if children of any age ever realize what their parents give up, so that they can have things the parents never had at their age.

That is what love is!

It is the same as the servants, who have cared well for their master. It is just the way things are supposed to be. We are just who we are – nothing special here… just doing what we do….

We need to grow in this as the church. Whether it is in trying to help the poor, or train up more people to serve in ministry, here or abroad, whether it is in giving of time or treasure, or letting someone else learn to serve in our place and coaching them in it, we need to learn to sacrifice our preferences in view of the love we have for God, and the people He’s created.

It may be even sacrificing our preferences, in order to work with the government during times like this. ( I hate saying this… but hey – gotta preach to myself as well as to you!)

The key to this is the cross, to being drawn to where Jesus is lifted up, not just as an observer, but being transformed into His image, as we are united to Him on the cross there. There everything is so based in a love so incredible, so deep, that everything else, including the work to help others be drawn there… is nothing.

Being loved by Him becomes everything. – other challenges… – what challenges… God is with us!

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 99.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Really God, You Want Me (or Us) to Do What?

Devotional Thought of the Day:photo(35)
7  LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. 8  Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout, “Violence! Destruction!” LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time because I proclaim your message. 9  But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (TEV)

FOR AN INITIAL MEDITATION, I propose that you consider the ministerial mission you will receive. Having been formally commissioned, you will be confronted yet again with this reality: you are created and saved by the same Jesus who now calls you to serve as ministers, and you will therefore need to exercise the discerning generosity required for greater service in this specific mission.

MUCH TO OUR CONSOLATION, scripture has preserved for us the special relation that was established between the Lord and those he sent on mission: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Joseph, and so many others. All of them felt deeply their own inadequacy in the face of the Lord’s request: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exod 3: 11); “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa 6: 5); “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak for I am only a youth” (Jer 1: 6); “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matt 3: 14); even Joseph, who made plans “to dismiss Mary quietly” (Matt 1: 19). There is the initial resistance, the inability to comprehend the magnitude of the call, the fear of the mission. This sign is from the good spirit, especially if it does not stop there but allows the Lord’s strength to express itself through human weakness and to infuse that weakness with consistency and solidity. “I will be with you, and this shall be the sign that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exod 3: 12); “He touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’” (Isa 6: 7); “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you ” (Jer 1: 7-8); “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3: 15); “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1: 20).  (1)

I’ve tried to write this blog a number of times. It is…difficult at best, because most people don’t see ministry as something that should be challenging, that can break a person who is serving others, who is loving them as Christ commanded, as Christ demonstrated throughout His life and on the cross.

We forget that Jesus even, as He was preparing to die, showed how the pressure could break someone.

It does matter whether you are a parent, ministering to your children (or as common these days, to your parents) It could also be a teacher ministering to her students, or a youth ministry person, trying to help a family work through adolescent traumas.  It could be the musicians and singers who facilitate worship, trying to lift spirits of the congregation while they themselves are grieving.  It could be the pastor who struggles with needing to repeat the same lessons over and over.

Ministering, serving to others, is rough.  You have to go to where the people live, into the lives of pain, or doubt.  We end up immersing ourselves, even to the point where we often find ourselves over our head.

We have to face facts.  As much as we want to be capable, as much as we want to be successful, on our own – we cannot.

We can’t do this ministry. It is beyond us, just as it was beyond Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, John and Paul.

We can’t handle it on our own, but only by remaining focused.

Not on the ministry, not on the problems, but focused on Christ.  As we know His mercy, His compassion, His love and His faithfulness…… for that is what sees us through.

Cry out Lord, have mercy!  Trust in Him, even while you have to pray that He strengthens that trust.

AMEN

 

(1)  Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (pp. 35-36). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

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