Archive for May, 2006

31
May
06

Supreme Folly

Sunday morning we wrestled with the third to last phrase of the Apostles’ Creed—the forgiveness of sins. I trust today you have a deeper appreciation for the forgiveness of your sins. I know after reading R.C. Sproul’s book entitled The Holiness of God, I have a deeper understanding regarding the forgiveness of my sins. Provided below is a copy of Sproul’s poignant remarks:

Hans Küng, the controversial Roman Catholic theologian, writing about seemingly harsh judgments of sin God makes in the Old Testament, says that the most mysterious aspect of the mystery of sin is not that the sinner deserves to die, but rather that the sinner in the average situation continues to exist.

Küng asks the right question. The issue is not why does God punish sin but why does He permit the ongoing human rebellion? What prince, what king, what ruler would display so much patience with a continually rebellious populace?

The key to Küng’s observation is that he speaks of sinner’s continuing to live in the average situation. That is, it is customary or usual for God to be forbearing. He is indeed long-suffering, patient and slow to anger. In fact He is so slow to anger that when His anger does erupt, we are shocked and offended by it. We forget rather quickly that God’s patience is designed to lead us to repentance, to give us time to be redeemed. Instead of taking advantage of this patience by coming humbly to Him for forgiveness, we use this grace as an opportunity to become more bold in our sin. We delude ourselves into thinking that either God doesn’t care about it, or that He is powerless to punish us. The supreme folly is that we think we will get away with out revolt[1].
[1] R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1985), p. 117.

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31
May
06

What Makes A Great Worship Leader?

Have you heard the good news? We have found our first full-time worship leader. His name is Bryan Haskins. And, if the Lord is willing, your Personnel Team will present him to the church on Sunday, June 11.

The search for Bryan has been a fascinating journey. So fascinating, in fact, that on June 11 Bryan, your Personnel Team and I want to tell the story of how God brought us together.

One element associated with Bryan’s call involves an article I wrote early one morning while praying through our search process. The document describes what I consider to be the attributes of a great worship leader. I believe after you meet and befriend Bryan, you will discover he possesses these traits in increasing measure.

Please pray for Bryan (& Charma) as he prepares for June 11.

What makes a great worship leader?

1. A great worship leader is CLOSELY CONNECTED TO GOD.
A worship leader must first worship God privately before he or she worships God publicly. I believe a great worship leader has an intimate connection with God. He or she should be someone who yearns for time alone with God, who thirsts for the living God; always asking himself, “When can I go and meet with God?”

2. A great worship leader is a DEFLECTOR.
Leading people to encounter the Presence of the Living, Most High God is a formidable and audacious task. Great worship leaders know how to deflect attention they received and point it directly to God. It would be senseless, arrogant and ultimately the greatest exercise in futility to do otherwise. Imagine a human being taking credit for something God has done through them or for them.

3. A great worship leader is CONSTANTLY GROWING.
Most churches are stuck in a worship rut because the worship leader is not in tune with the times or with God. Worship should be always evolving and developing. Drama, multi-media, praise teams, and praise bands have radically revolutionized the worship experience the last 20 years. What will God make worship look like 20 years from now? A worship leader must stay in step with those changes to be great.

4. A great worship leader is SENSITIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Worship is defined very simply as encountering the presence of the Almighty. Man cannot worship God without the Holy Spirit enabling him to direct his attention and praise to God. A great worship leader must stay in step with the Holy Spirit, so when the Spirit changes directions, the worship leader automatically follows.

5. A great worship leader SEEKS TALENT.
Besides the preaching ministry, worship is the most influential ministry of the church. A great worship leader will proactively search for others gifted in the skills of worship to include in this ministry. Moreover, he will also take time to develop the marginally gifted so they too can lead in worship.

6. A great worship leader BELIEVES WORSHIP IS MINISTRY.
Worship is ministry, not performance. Too many times worship leaders perform and thus distort the purpose of worship. A great worship leader realizes worship is a ministry experience. First, worshipers minister to God, which results in God ministering to His worshipers.

7. A great worship leader is LOYAL TO HIS PASTOR.

The relationship between the worship leader and pastor is unique and can often be fragile. The worship leader knows this and does whatever he can to serve his pastor in order to serve with his pastor. He must therefore protect and defend this delicate role. When the relationship between the worship leader and pastor is weak, the church suffers. When it is strong, the church thrives. A great worship leader is loyal to his pastor.
25
May
06

Understanding Difficulties in the Church

A pastor friend of mine sent me this quote. It is an honest observation about difficulties in the church. Although no author can be cited for the content, it is obvious someone of great spiritual discernment composed it. The commentator said:

It is not God’s intention that we should in ourselves be adequate for our tasks, rather He wants that we should be inadequate. If we only accept the tasks which we think are adapted to our powers we are not responding to the call of God. The church is always in a crisis and always will be. There will be difficulties, limitations, insolvable problems, lack of people & money, a menacing outlook, endless misunderstandings & misrepresentations. We are not only to do our work despite these things; they are precisely the conditions requisite for the doing of it.

Now that is a good word for CrossPoint, as well as every other kingdom enterprise advancing the gospel.

24
May
06

I…sought…the…Lord…and…He

Several years ago I developed a lethal habit. I started the dependency when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My grandfather is the one who got me addicted. The habit is memorizing Scripture.
The earliest passage I recall putting to heart was Proverbs 27:1:

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Another early favorite came from Philippians 4:13, which says,

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

More recently a sentence from the Psalms is now finding its way into my heart. Psalm 34:4 reads,

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

The best use of Scripture memorization is to pray through the passage after you have it memorized. When you methodically pray through a passage, the Lord has a way of speaking to you more profoundly and deeply.

Here is one way I pray through Scripture. Repeat each line slowly and distinctly, emphasizing the last word. As you state each line, listen for what the Spirit teaches you.

Provided below is an example from Psalm 34:4:

I
I SOUGHT
I sought THE
I sought the LORD
I sought the lord, AND
I sought the Lord, and HE
I sought the Lord, and he ANSWERED
I sought the Lord, and he answered ME
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; HE
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he DELIVERED
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered ME
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me FROM
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from ALL
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all MY
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my FEARS.
Let me know what the Lord taught you.
24
May
06

A Marriage Made in…

An article on page 3A of Tuesday’s Birmingham News (“Clintons still together, though rarely public”) deserves attention. Patrick Healy’s piece focuses on the decidedly strange marital relationship between former President Bill Clinton and his Senator-wife, Hillary. In short, the Clintons are tweaking the public facade of their marriage as Hillary prepares to run for president.

The middle paragraph strikes me as particularly odd. Healy writes:

The effect has been to raise Sen. Clinton’s profile on the public radar while somewhat toning down her husband’s. He has told friends that his No. 1 priority is not to cause her any trouble. They appear in public spotlight methodically and carefully: The goal is to position her run for president not as a partner or a proxy, but as her own person.

I thought the No. 1 priority of every husband was to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26). I guess not causing “her any trouble” is what you do when your priorities are out of whack. Strange, isn’t it?

22
May
06

Organizing My the Best Part of My Day

At the end of last week I wrote about the first part of my day being the best part of my day. The first part of my day is the best part of my day because that is when I spend concentrated time alone with the Lord. For those of you who are interested, provided below is a brief summary of how I spend my time alone with the Lord. Perhaps you can use the tool for your personal quiet time.

I divide my time into six segments:

STUDY: First, I read the Scripture. I read my New Testament Bible reading for the year. CrossPoint is presently working through the Gospel of Luke. I usually read the passage several times, check the cross-references, and make notes in my Bible or journal. Next, I take a few minutes to study a key passage(s) the Lord has recently used to speak to me. Some current key passages include Psalm 130; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 10:35-45. Finally, I take a few minutes to work on my Scripture memorization. This time of reading, studying and memorizing usually takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, or longer.

PRAISE: I spend the next 10 to 15 minutes of my time alone with God praising Him. Praise is acknowledging who God is; it is attributing to God who He is. During my time of praise I use songs, hymns, CDs, and Scripture. Some of my favorite Scriptures of praise include: 1 Chronicles 28:10-14; Psalm 100, 139, & 150; Colossians1:15-20; & Revelation 5:11.

THANKS: I spend the next several minutes giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving is expressing gratitude to God for all that He has done. Thanksgiving is easy once you get started. I try to think of a dozen items for which I can express thanks. My whining throughout the day decreases the more I give thanks.

CONFESSION: I spend a concentrated time asking the Lord to reveal to me the sin in my life that demands confession. Psalm 139:23-24 is a great passage to pray while asking the Lord to reveal to you what to confess. Confession is agreeing with God about your sin. Confession is not a matter of informing God about your sin; He already knows about our sin. Confession is a matter of agreeing with God about our sin; admitting to Him that it is wrong. Confession is the key to communion with God. I have found I can never spend enough time confessing my sin.

OTHERS: By now I have invested an hour or more in study and prayer. It is usually at this point I have the urge to get on with my day. Most of the time I resist that urge, because this is when my prayer life becomes dynamic. This is when I pray for others. I pray first for my family, then for my friends. I conclude by praying for you, my sheep.

MYSELF: I learned a long time ago to wait to the end to pray for myself. When I do, I usually cannot recall my needs; they seem to dissipate as I pray for others. After spending concentrated time praising God, giving thanks, confessing sin, praying for others, there is usually very little to pray about for myself.

This method for a quiet time can become burdensome if you used legalistically. If you follow the Spirit, however, it can be very liberating. Any time you follow the Spirit, it is liberating.

Keep the faith.

19
May
06

Best Part of the Day

How do you begin your day? I suggest the way you begin your day determines how you spend your day. When I waste my morning with haste and hurry, I usually lose my way in the chaos of the day. However, when I invest my morning with the Lord, He usually has my attention throughout the day.

I try to begin every day with the Lord. It is usually the first thing I do—that is, after I take our dog out to run around in the yard for his morning routine.

Beginning my day with the Lord is the best part of my day. A few mornings ago the Lord encouraged me to start meditating on Psalm 34:1-4. David writes:

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

The next few mornings take five minutes to meditate on this passage. Try these three exercises, and then tell me what the Lord says to you through His Word.
First, take a day or two to memorize the passage. Next, start reciting the passage the first thing each morning as well as throughout your day. As you recite the passage from memory, start searching for the one word or phrase that makes the strongest impression. Finally, after chewing on the passage a few days in a row, identify the specific lesson you learned from your meditation and then write in one sentence what God wants you to do with what you learned.

I look forward to hearing from you.