Pastor's Corner

Being in the ministry for quite some time, I have heard many "kind" statements/requests from believers. As a Pastor, Preacher, Teacher and Musician, I struggle at times with some of these statements. I love God, His Word and I passionately love to worship Him with my whole heart in music. I enjoy playing my guitars and leading His people into exciting and deep adoration and praise with music. I  love to see His people whole heartedly abandon themselves in honest worship in music.

Yet, there is a statement that at times concerns me as a Pastor. Now, this  may sound like semantics. To a point it is. And, I am sure this little thought journey may spark some strong feelings and responses. But please just read it for what it is… a Pastor guy thinking out load.

The statement goes something like this… "I hope we worship the whole time today" or "Maybe the Lord will move and we will worship the whole time" or some variation of these words. Now please don't get offended yet. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with "worshiping the whole time". I love to do that. I look for the times when you sense and feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to continue in musical worship. My concern is what are we saying when we make this statement in today's Church culture.

Worship in both the Old and New Testaments as a whole carries the idea of reverent devotion and response to God's very presence. Worship is simply giving worth to God. There are many Hebrew and Greek words in both the Old and New Testaments that express different ways of worshiping God. Music is but one vehicle of expressing worship, but it is not worship.

Isaiah 43:7 says "Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."  God made us for His glory. In His very image He made us (Gen. 1:26). Since God made us for His glory should not our very life… all that we do and how we live be worship? God's Word says so in Ephesians 1:11-12 "… also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory".

Our life is to be a constant living act of worship. Everything we do is to be life giving active worship of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". Music is only a part of it… actually a small part. Worship is not music, lights, guitars, keyboards and your favorite popular worship song written by a cool Church worship team. If music is what moves us into worshiping God… then we should rethink our understanding of worship. Before the music ever begins we should be worshiping God. Worship is living a life in obedience to His Word (John 14:23 Read it). Musical worship is but an expression from a life filled with His presence and the daily working of His Word in and through us. For the Scripture says, "… the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Never negate the power of God's Word taught and preached faithfully in the Church. It may not be as "exciting" as music and songs that we know and love, but it is truly as powerful if not more.

The thought. Do not stop worshiping God with music, but do not negate the power of God's Word preached and taught in His Church. Remember, music is not worship. A life daily lived in Christ for His glory is the worship.

Just some thoughts for today.

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This week I began a sermon series based on topics and questions from our Church Youth Ministry. They approached me about the idea and I whole-heartedly agreed to do it (I had no idea what I was about to embark on).

I asked the group to submit the topics on 3x5 notecards… I am still a little "Old School". I also, for their comfort and to foster complete honesty, asked them not to put their names on the cards. They gladly did so.

On top of the small stack was a notecard that simply said "Life". The next one had 5 red bullet points that I felt related to the first card. These bullet points read: "Feelings, Hate, Dying inside, How do you know you are in love and Mistakes". Wow! The honesty was overwhelming.

After sitting and praying for this anonymous young person, a verse from the Bible came to my mind and heart. One that I have through the years made a "Go To" verse in my own life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight".

With a limited space let me share one or two thoughts concerning life from this Scripture verse.

Trust is the key word in Proverbs 3:5-6. The word speaks of confident assurance and the feeling of safety and security when one can rely on someone or something. It then points us to the very One in whom we can place our trust… God Himself.

Life is hard. It is even harder when we have a foot in both Christ and the world. Placing our safety, security and reliance in this life upon anyone or anything else other than God Himself is having feet in the world.

We are to never "lean on our own understanding" in our daily life. If He is "the life" (John 14:6) then we must be able to trust Him with our very life, past, present and future. And, our feelings, desires and wants must be placed under the authority of God and His Word.

As we "trust in the Lord with all our heart" and "in all our ways acknowledge Him", we will see a beautiful relationship begin to happen. A relationship that is far better than any the world can offer. A relationship that is not build upon performance, guilt, consumership or any of the like.A relationship that is grander than the one held by Adam and Eve in the garden. Yes, the Christian life is better than the "Garden" variety! This relationship is based upon abiding… we abide in Him and He in us (John 15:4… another topic for another day).

Last, as we "trust in the Lord with all our heart" the Scriptural promise of God comes forth. The passage says "…and He will make your paths straight". A simple truth to those who trust. God's loving voice and promptings will be yours to hear. He will make His home in you as you make your home in Him.

In 1973 a popular song by the duo Seals and Croft called "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" contained these lyrics: "Life so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away".

Life is not a game and neither is the life we have in Jesus. Never let His life in you slip away.

Just some thoughts for today.

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I was thinking about this today.

Not long ago I was asked a question that caught me off guard. The question was "What advise would you give to young Pastor's today"? Immediately… that movie effect happened where a person is asked something and then they move through that fast tunnel thing and they are then standing in a different place? A little dramatic, but that is how I felt.

I stood there and thought… "Who said I am old and had any worthwhile advice"? Then very quickly reality set in. I am not "old" but I am also not young anymore and the journey of my choices and the grace our Lord Jesus have produced a few life lessons I could share. So here we go on a "Thought Journey".

The verse that slammed right into my heart and mind was Proverbs 4:23 "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life". This verse and what follows carries great wisdom not only for young ministers but for all of us as we walk through life (and in the Church).

Let's look at a few words from this great passage of Scripture first.

The word "Watch" means to guard, keep, observe, preserve, hide. It speaks of maintaining things entrusted to us. It is used for keeping the truths of God in both our actions and our heart. We could almost stop right here… but we will not.

Another word written here is "Diligence". This word continues Solomon's advice to his son. Diligence means to guard, to have custody over. It simply means to continue to guard. It gives the understanding of safety and security.

Our last little word is "Heart". Dr. John MacArthur wrote in his MacArthur Bible Commentary; "The "heart" commonly refers to the mind as the center of thinking and reason, but also includes the emotions, the will, and thus, the whole inner being".

Solomon gives the reason for warning his son to "Watch over your heart with all diligence". The warning is… "for from it flow the springs of life". Our heart is the storehouse of all that affects our words, how we view things and our daily conduct.

Life is hard. Pastoring makes life even harder. Believers can be hurtful, cruel and cause deep wounds upon each other. Yet, God's Word calls us to walk with higher purposeful steps. It calls us to walk like Jesus whether others do so or not. We are to "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2). Sadly, this is is not always how we or others act. Yet, If we do the things mentioned in Ephesians (forgive as Jesus forgave us, be imitators of God, know we are His children, walk in sacrificial love as He did) we will maintain a diligent watch over our hearts. This watch will keep our life flowing in the grace and presence of Christ daily. It will also heal wounds and keep us pressing "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

When all believers, (especially) young pastors, diligently watch over their hearts in Christ, we will be wells of life to the world with a fragrant scent of Jesus in the water.

Just some thoughts for today.

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Back in the 1989 a Christian artist named Tim Sheppard wrote and recorded a song entitled "I Am Determined". This song (if I may) struck a chord in my heart. The words sank deep and at times would bring tears to my eyes as I listened to it over and over again. I tried to sing it one Sunday morning at our church service… I did not do it justice. The congregation was kind and forgiving in-spite of my attempt.

The lyric "I am determined to live for my King" took hold of my soul and rented space in my heart. I asked… "Lord, is it possible to be this determined to live for You and stay that way"?

Through the years I have come to this conclusion…. Yes it is possible, but something must come first or the determination will wane.

Determined, according to Webster's Dictionary, carries the meaning of having made a firm decision and resolved not to change it. The word also means to be firm, insistent on, committed. It is a commitment that must be preceded by something first. What do I mean? Simple. Is the object of our determination worth our commitment? To be determined we must be convinced that the object of our determination is worth it.

There is a verse that comes to mind from God's Word that I believe carries the answer. We have read this and heard it spoken and preached, yet I submit that we seem to skip over a very important word.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

Convinced means to be persuaded, to be moved or affected by kind words or motives. When used  in an absolute sense it means to be convinced, to believe. Dr. John MacArthur wrote in his commentary on The Book Romans that "Paul closes this magnificent chapter with what might be called a hymn of security". To be determined one must feel secure in the decision. To be convinced one must be secure

Dr. A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of The New Testament wrote that the word "convinced" translates carries the meaning of "I stand convinced". One stands on what one feels is secure and is steadfast on what one is convinced of.

In these verses (Romans 8:38-39) we are told that there is nothing on this earth that can separate us from God's love for us.The very things that we dread cannot detach us from His love. Why? Because it was securely build upon the very sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8).

When we stand convinced of His love it is because He said nothing can separate us from it. When we are convinced of His love, there is no question that we as believers in Christ can boldly say "I am determined to live for my King".

Just some thoughts for today.

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