Worship

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July 23

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

I won’t lie. I like noise.

Most of the time.

I love music. Certain genres, that is. I almost always have music on. Working out. Ear buds in. Cutting grass. Ear buds in. Driving somewhere. Spotify playlist on.

There are times I want/need silence though. When I’m having my Encounter Time, I may have a song running through my head but I want it quiet. When I’m studying, unless it’s classical with absolutely NO singers. When I’m riding my bike. NO ear buds. That is way too dangerous since I need to hear oncoming traffic behind me. I also notice I can’t multi-task. Turn off the TV or the music if you want to have a serious discussion with me. I’m too distracted. My daughter, Tami, wore a t-shirt yesterday that had two words on it: Be Still. Was that for me?

Consider this then: if I can’t hear people with all the noise going on in my life, how can I possibly hear God’s still small voice? It’s like a whisper in my soul. But if all I hear is noise, how can I hear Him?

I think that is one of the reasons I like it quiet in the mornings. I want to hear. That makes me wonder how much or if I am missing something when the music is playing. Matt Redman once wrote: “When the music fades/And all is stripped away/And I simply come…”

Am I missing out? Do I need to turn off and tune in? Makes me wonder.

“Father, I already know I will have a ‘noisy’ weekend. Help me to be open to changes You might want me to make. Help me to hear Your still, small voice.”

July 13

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Sometimes people say something or write something that rocks my world. Or at least stops me dead in my tracks.

Time for an honest confession: I put a lot into Sunday morning. Study. Research. Study. Reading. Prayer. Practice to an empty auditorium.  Study. Did I say study? 🙂 All for a short (but hopefully not too painful) 20-25 minute span of a Sunday morning. And I have to keep reminding myself that most, if not all, will not remember what I said.

That is why what Bob Goff wrote stopped me dead in my tracks:

Words will never move people the way love does. If our actions are motivated by love, we don’t have to worry about having big platforms or positions of power, because nothing holds a candle to love that has no agenda. (p.233)

Ouch!! I take his words seriously. All my yacking from the pulpit “ain’t worth spit” if I don’t love. Hmmm. Sounds a little like I Cor. 13:1 doesn’t it?

Recently I texted somebody and said, “It is one thing to say you love and another to live it. You live it.” I was dead serious.

I believe it is important to be ready for Sunday morning, don’t get me wrong. But I also think it is important to get to the point of hating the spotlight (it glows off my bald head anyway) and just be a light. To borrow a further thought from Bob: hate the spotlight and just be a light.

“Father, help me to love by living for you. That light will shine brighter than any effort I may make.”

July 1

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

The greatness of the Son. The greatness of Jesus. That is what is going through my mind at this moment.

In my reading through the NT, I started Hebrews 1 this morning. So first, let me stop here. Please drop everything (okay so maybe not your cup of coffee or glass of pop or whatever else you may have in your hand) and open your Bible to Hebrews 1: 1-4. I know. I could link it to this devo so you can read it that way, but sometimes there is nothing like the feel of a Bible in my hand, opening it and reading it. It will take you all of about 2 minutes to read that passage slowly.

Okay…now that you have done that, let’s break those verses down.

  • God speaks to us through His Son. Prophets and word-of-mouth can’t hold a candle to the impact of Jesus. His Word is the only and last word.
  • God promised an inheritance through Jesus.
  • They (Father and Son) created the world together. “Let us make man in our image” we are told in Gen. 1:26.
  • Jesus is the exact representation of God, the Father.
  • Jesus cleansed us from our sin (the cross) and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
  • No angel comes close to Jesus. (Sort of pushes aside our worship of angels don’t you think?).

Only Jesus.

Only Jesus can do what Jesus has done. Only Jesus could do what was needed for us to be cleansed. Only Jesus receives the highest praise and the honor we are to give.

Only Jesus.

“Father, may my worship and trust be placed in Jesus. He alone is the exact representation of You. He is You in the flesh and totally worthy of my adoration and worship.”

June 25

Friday, June 25th, 2021

I want to help you to finish your week on a high note. I have a story to tell you that I believe will do that. It will also tell you and show you that we serve a phenomenally, awesome God. Here is the story:

Backstory first: We have been praying for a young man in our church fellowship named Robert Herrington for the past month or so. A month to the day on Sunday, Robert was lifting weights and sat up on the bench and hit his head. Not much. Didn’t hurt. He came home for the summer that same day and began preparing for summer boot camp (he is in a college ROTC program). He slept that next day because he was so tired and two days later began to stutter. Badly. Test after test showed no brain injury, except a concussion. But the stuttering continued. He lost strength (he was a weight-lifter). He lost cognitive ability and memory. And he wanted to sleep. A lot. The specialists told him it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before he stopped stuttering and got relief for the other symptoms. His outlook has been to trust God because He knows what He is doing. I admire a 20 year old with that kind of trust. Anyway, he came to church this past Sunday still stuttering.  I mentioned him during our prayer time and prayed for God to intervene and astound the doctors. Sunday afternoon he, and his sister, Abigail, were driving somewhere and he talked to her in his stutter. The next sentence out of his mouth had no stutter and he has not done so since then!  IS THAT NOT AWESOME?  I don’t use that word except to describe God or something He has done. When I visited with Robert and his family on Monday I did not know what had happened until I came face to face with him and he spoke to me. I said, “Hey! You aren’t stuttering!” They could not stop talking about God’s intervention and goodness. But according to Abigail there was a downside to it all. Robert never stopped talking for 45 minutes after that!  Doesn’t that sound just like a sister?  I love the banter. But more, I love that they are giving all the glory to God. He still has a way to go on some of the other symptoms from the concussion, but Robert told the doctor that the others will eventually go away but “at least I can talk.”  🙂

What a fantastic story to finish the week with don’t you think? And what a way to go into worship this weekend. Let that story encourage you that no problem is beyond His purview; no glitch is beyond His fixing; no obstacle is too big for Him to have it come crashing down.

“Thank you Father that you are still a God who performs miracles and astounds us with Your way. Wake us all up to Your majesty and power.”

Note: I wrote this on Wednesday and posted it for today. I wanted to encourage you. We will be on our way back from Ohio today so prayers would be appreciated, especially since I am in a rental vehicle due to the accident.

June 18

Friday, June 18th, 2021

HOPE.

An ‘oft used word:

  • “I hope it does/doesn’t rain today.”
  • “I hope it’s a boy/girl.”
  • “I hope my son/daughter gets a scholarship.”
  • “I hope God comes through for me.”
  • “I hope my new job is a good one.”

So many different ways we use the word hope.  Truth? We. all. want. and. need. hope. You take away hope and all you’ve got is a shell of a person left. You can see this in a person who has received the big “C” diagnosis and only given weeks to live. You see it in a parent’s worst nightmare-the loss of a child. From the biggest thing to a minor thing, we can see our lives are fueled and driven by hope. 

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” So says the old hymn.

Hope relying on things or people or circumstances will not last or hold together. Hope relying on horizontal fulfillment will not last. Only hope found vertically will stand the test of time and can be counted on.

You see…hope that lasts can only be found in a Person, that Person is Jesus. Hope found in Him will not disappoint us. (Romans 5:1-5) It will, instead, be the rock we can stand upon.

“Father, may my hope be in You and You alone. Take away all desires to find the answer to hope horizontally. Help me to push aside all the other imposters to Your throne.”

June 14

Monday, June 14th, 2021

One of the hallmarks of being a Christ-follower is living for others. Francis Schaeffer called love the “mark of the Christian.” Why?

I think it is because it is love that lives for others.

We are pretty obsessed with celebrity. We have celebrity chefs, celebrity athletes, even celebrity pastors. They find themselves flying all over the continent speaking at just about any or every event, consulting, advising, and interviewing.  And get this: some even wear $1500+ tennis shoes in the pulpit. I wear tennis shoes but I guarantee they cost barely a fraction of that (and wouldn’t really them anyway). Some take pride in how many followers they have on social media.

But Jesus had a way of life that was so different. His approach was making it about everyone else. How many times, for example, did He say, “Tell no one” after he performed a miracle. Even His birthday shows He came to give His life for someone else. I will often say, “We do this for an audience of One.” What it comes down to is that what I do, I don’t do for me.

To follow Jesus’ example is just that. I don’t get (nor do I need to have) the last word. I don’t live to see what I can get and how it benefits me. I don’t seek to be the #1 player, the star of the show.

It’s all about Him. Or as Matt Redman sang: “It’s all about You, Jesus, it’s all about You.”

“Father, help me to live my life for You and for others. Help it not to be about me.”

June 9

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

I’ve got a problem! (I know what some of you are thinking and no comments are needed from the peanut gallery). But in all seriousness, I have a problem.

“Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

My problem: how do I do that? How do I know if I have?

Paul David Tripp in his short devotional book 40 Days of Love says,

“We can know the true joys of human love only if love for God first rules our hearts.” (p.72)

I know that. Not sure I practice it all that much. There is no question in my mind that I am often guilty of idolatry-of putting people, places, and things ahead of Jesus. The sad part is that I know this but find it so hard to change it. I realize that if I don’t find my rest and comfort in God, I will seek for it somewhere or with someone else. Then I’ll be asking of Jo, or another person, or my bike. or an activity to do for me what only God can. Fill me and satisfy me.

But even as I write this I am no closer to an answer to my questions: How do I do that? How do I know?

Do you have any thoughts on the subject? I’d like to hear from you.

“Father, help me to love You as I am supposed to. Please help me to find the answers to my questions.”

June 3

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Have you ever had one of those “holy moments?” It’s one of those moments when you become so aware of God’s presence the only response is one of awe and humility. I’ve had several of those moments in my 45+ years as a pastor and my 60+ years as a Christ-follower.

The year was the summer of ’89 (no not ’69). It had been like many other summers-bike riding, preaching, ministry, moving Tami back from Florida. She lived with us for awhile as she settled in teaching at a school district north of our county substituting as a fill-in for a teacher on family leave as her husband battled cancer. One Sunday night something led her to visit another church in our city (we did not have evening services). She talked so much about her visit I asked  if she cared if I went. Of course not. She knew I would drive and also probably buy her something to eat or drink afterwards. Anyway, by August of that summer my life had been changed.

I experienced God’s presence.

My burning bush.

My ladder to heaven and wrestling with God.

My moment in the “temple” when “all was stripped away and I simply came” as Matt Redman’s song reflected. (Cue up The Heart of Worship)

That preceded a period of epic growth-for me and the church. I sensed God’s presence in everything I did. My speech. My preaching. My study. My activities. The church had 24 additions in about a 3-4 month period-18 of them new converts.  It also helped me weather losing my job because I wanted to be a spiritual leader, not a CEO type.

I long for that Emmaus time again-when my eyes are open and I realize I was with Jesus. When the communion with Him was special. When a bush burns (not literally) and isn’t consumed. When the things of the world grow strangely dim. When worship takes priority. When I experience a holy moment of being in God’s presence.

“Father, you don’t need an appointment to meet with me. You don’t have to say, ‘I’m coming at such-and-such a time. Be ready.’  I’m simply asking you to come and meet with me.”

{Note: Today I celebrate a very holy moment. 46 years ago God blessed Jo and me with our oldest daughter, Tami. Her birth was a “holy moment” for me. I continue to be grateful for her life and how God still grips her and she Him.}

May 10

Monday, May 10th, 2021

I’m on my second time through the Psalms in 2021 during my morning Encounter Time. I read Psalm 19 and 20 this morning. Several passages stood out to me. I’ll take a couple of days and unpack them during this time. I hope you will join me and feel free to add to the discussion.

Our weather in Indiana lately has been atrocious. Okay, so maybe that is a little above board but not if you like the warmth. We went from the sunny 70s just a few weeks ago (and I was cycling in my short sleeve jersey) to rain and wind, and this morning to frost on the car windows. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.”

I marvel at God’s creation and creativity. Who could have though of the diversity of creation like He did? In fact, all over creativity and creative juices derive from Him.

  • The sun during the day.
  • The moon at night.
  • The stars that we see shining are really burned out stars thousands of miles away. The words of God to Abraham apply here: “Your seed will be as numerous as the sand of the seashore and stars in the sky.”  My question: who can possibly count them?
  • The greening of creation every Spring.
  • The seemingly endless number of bird species. (Hint: over 35,000)
  • The endless list of creativity He exhibits.

Science says this is all by accident or just happened. Yeah right. “There was no Designer,” they say.  I’m thinking they missed the boat on that one due, in large part, to their own preconceived bias.

“Father,  may I never lost sight of Your creativity in creation. Than includes me! Help me to never stop looking and seeing.”

May 4

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Yesterday’s Living in the Shadow devotion was on pride and arrogance.  God must have felt I needed to learn something more because I read 2 Cor. 12 this morning, particularly emphasizing verses 7-10. 

Background: It is Paul’s account of his “trip” or visit to the third heaven. He wasn’t sure if was in the body or in spirit but he did come to a very solid conclusion:

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so  that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (7-10)

There is no question is Paul’s mind why that thorn was given to him: to keep him from getting proud. In fact, whatever the thorn was hit him hard. It brought him low. It took whatever pride was there and dumped it. Pride rears its ugly head…here comes the “reminder” thorn. It is humbling to be brought low or to be constantly reminded of our weakness. Such was Paul. Such is us.

What do you do about your weakness? How do you view them-as a curse or a blessing?

“Father, help me to keep a handle on my pride even it it means the thorn rears its ugly head. But, if it does, help me to run to You and see You glorified through it.”