Tag Archives: worship

What God Loves…

I’ve been in ministry for over 23 years now, and I can say that I have never been more encouraged to see God’s work than ever before. I have seen first hand several churches explode in worship attendance, in their disciple-making, and in ministry to the world around them. And there is a clear pattern: regardless of style, flavor, or culture, the churches which have a high view of the Word, challenge one another to holiness, and focus on discipling others in the Word are the ones that are healthy, stable, and growing. It’s amazing that I see very few exceptions to this rule. Yet these thriving churches exist all around as the light of Christ to the Midwest. This is so encouraging because it is clearly what God loves!

Of course, I also see the opposite, and yes, when I see this, I do grieve. Obviously, God doesn’t want unhealthy and declining churches. And unfortunately, just like I see a pattern in healthy, growing churches, I also see a pattern for unhealthy ones. In these churches, there are misguided people who focus not on the Word but on procedures, legalism, and even politicking. They place unceasing attention to the crisis of the day. They draw attention to the negatives and create divisions. They stir up trouble in the shadows of the hallways. And disciple making is reduced to an afterthought. The Gospel is secondary. The Word becomes a manipulative tool to attack others versus a revelation from God to live by.

And as we see in this text from Proverbs, God despises this practice:

“The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16‭-‬19 CSB

These are tough words,yet this is a truth we need to be sober about: God doesn’t want discord or strife from within. He doesn’t want His Bride disgraced, destroyed, and disgusted. He doesn’t want the Family of God to be distracted, from the Great Commission and the work of making disciples. He doesn’t want hateful strife and stressful hate. He wants none of that. For those in the church that practice this, it’s kind of hard to differentiate them from those outside the church. And this certainly grieves God the Holy Spirit as it should grieve His godly saints. And if it isn’t grieving you right now, then, well then that’s just messed up. Sorry, but that’s true.

The good news is that there’s always a better way, a much better way. That way is a way of grace, truth, and love. Since the Bride of Christ is not to be a place that is focused on power, a focus should be on Christ, because, after all, power should be completely in the hands of the Lord who we worship.

And we as members of one another should do what is opposite of our fleshly inclination: a practice of full and complete submission in love. This means to follow the biblical pattern to lift up one another, to love one another, to believe the best in one another, and to build up one another. That is a way of grace. That is the way of Christ.

Want to see others come to Christ, grow in Christ, serve Christ, and share Christ in a way like never before? Then repent, get out of His way, submit to His leading, live for Him and help others to do the same as an act of worship. Love, and love some more. And then love again. Yes, even those who are hard to love. No ands, ifs, or buts.

Because that, my friend, is what God loves.

Fran

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The God of the Possible

The fruit and potential of the land was amazing:

When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which was carried on a pole by two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there.” Numbers 13:23‭-‬24 CSB

Now think about it: The vine of grapes was so big, two men had to carry it! The land was beautiful, rich, and flowing. The Lord had promised it, and He came through big! All they had to do was follow God and do His will. No enemy, no inhabitant would stop God’s will for His people. They simply had to take a step. A step of faith.

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But they didn’t. They forgot the God of the possible, and instead created a god of the impossible. They ignored His miraculous work of the past and looked at the obstacles before them. But seeking to save themselves, they lost it all. They made a horrible, deadly choice and in a business meeting, individual by individual voted a resounding, faithless “no.”

Their “no” would change some of them forever. All if that generation would never see the promises of God fulfilled. Death would follow them when they could have had life and loss abounded when they could have seen gain. Most of all, the chance for God to be glorified by all Israel would be delayed for 40 years.

Have you been voting “no” to God’s work in your life? Has God challenged you to step out in faith? A year ago, I did something that made no sense to people (still doesn’t) and God has amazed me as I have seen Him working in many places I visit. He gets the glory!

And so, let me encourage you to do the same, to walk by faith, to fear nothing, to step out…and let God get the glory!

Fran

Worship starts with Obedience

Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord ? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22 CSB

Saul fell into a trap. He wanted to pick and choose when he could obey God, mostly based on what was most convenient for him. But Samuel would have none of that. No sacrifice or external accolades could ever cover over the sin of disobedience. Nope, you might be able to fool people, but you can never fool God.

Samuel’s response is a key passage of scripture. God is not mocked, and He does not want false, fake worship and hypocrisy. He does not want our praise, especially public praise, if we are not obedient to Him.

He wants obedience, not sacrifice.

Partial obedience is 100% disobedience. Before you worship, be sure to examine yourself, seeking God in every area of your life.

God delights in this sort of self examination, and a humble heart for Him will result in a deeper, more intimate worship than you have ever experienced before!

Fran

Worship in Pajamas?!?

Well, with worship cancelled due to the ice and awful driving conditions, I thought that I would try to do something different. I went ahead and had a Google Hangout Air with as many people as wanted to come to study the Word. Here’s the link of the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mkG6ydyoiU

All in all, it was fun. Yeah, we had a troll come on and try to distract the study from the topic at hand, but it was still very worthwhile. I can see application of this tool for a variety of bible studies and content delivery for the church. With a little practice, I foresee us using Hangouts for several applications. Keep in mind that won’t replace live, person to person interaction, but it is a good alternative in circumstances like what we had or if people have to travel long distances.

So let me ask- what ways can you see this tool used for the Kingdom? If so, how?

Snow Day for Worship?!?

First of all, I hate cancelling worship. I have always hated cancelling worship. I avoid it like the plague. Yet though deep down inside I felt that something was not right about it, I could never express what the reason was that I had. Until I read this post.

I don’t agree with everything that was written concerning cancellations, but this post did help me to think a bit more about the why of cancelling. Let me then restate some of the thoughts written and add my own on why I want to avoid taking a snow day for worship:

  • First, I never say never. I realize that some conditions merit cancelling worship. However, worship should be the number one priority for the church. Extreme or dangerous conditions may deem it necessary to cancel in the name of safety. There’s no reason to put people in danger, but this action should be taken rarely (if at all). That said, I don’t cancel worship unless it is indeed dangerous. By the way, 1-2 inches of snow is usually not dangerous. Inconvenient, yes, dangerous, probably not. If you doubt this, ask the Minnesotans or Alaskans and you’ll get a hearty Canadian sounding laugh out of them.
  • Second, I also think that other activities are open to cancellation. Team meetings, bible studies, and other activities are not critical if they are missed. We can be flexible and reschedule many of those events. We also have to be flexible in our use of ministries such as nursery and be understanding of those who can’t make it to church for various reasons.

So why is worship so important that cancellation should be avoided at all costs? As the author of the referenced post wrote, the glory of God is shown through worship. Sure, God’s glory is seen in other places such as our homes, our work, and our lives, yet the corporate gathering of God’s people now is a taste of what we will experience when every tribe and tongue will gather before the Lamb. We worship to give God His worthiness in a sacrifice of praise, and if we cancel because of inconvenience, what are we really telling God? As a leader who will stand before God one day, I must proclaim the worship of God with God’s people as most important.

Besides, again as the author wrote, if our brothers and sisters in persecuted countries worship with threat of physical harm, we should likewise be willing to step up and overcome some inconvenience to worship Christ. Our worship together is a show of solidarity for the persecuted church, that though we are absent from their conditions in body, we at least in a small way, are identifying with them in spirit.

I hope this helps. I am an imperfect and frail human, limited by my own knowledge and lack of gifts. However, by the grace of God, I press forward, hoping to see God glorified in a weak man that I am. May God be glorified today as we worship Him!

Blessings to you and yours,

Pastor Fran