May 30, 2012 - Life, Panic Attack, The Bible, Trust    No Comments

Renewal Day

 

One of the things I love about Sunnybrook Church is that the leadership is committed to the exercise of spiritual renewal.  We are encouraged to take one full day a quarter where we spend half of the day in prayer, scripture reading/meditation.  I started my day off taking my backpack full of books, my Bible, my IPad, and my journal.  I drove out to a local park that has a scenic lake with a  couple of docks.  As I pulled up the sun was gleaming off of the water and I noticed a family of geese on the shore watching my every move.

On one dock were several retired men fishing.  The other dock is a boat dock so no one was out there.  That would be my spot.  I grabbed my Bible and walked out to the dock.  As I sat on the dock I came across Psalm 46.   Take a minute to read it.

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shieldst with fire.

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress

 

I believe that God is sovereign and in ways we cannot comprehend causes us to read exactly what He wants us to read at the moment He wants us to read it.  If you have followed this Blog for any amount of time you will know that I have struggled with panic & anxiety for going on seven years or so.  At times it literally sucks the life right out from me.  I have come to believe that God has allowed this to be a part of my everyday life in order that I can bring encouragement to others who struggle with it as well.  It’s my thorn in the flesh.

I have also come to realize that I am far better off being kept in complete and utter dependance on Jesus Christ than to be puffed up with pride.  I know me.  I mean I really know me.  If I did not have something keeping me dependent on God, it would be very easy for this guy to get full of himself.  But because of His strength working in me each week I realize that I literally can not do what I do week in and week out on stage if it were not for God’s working through me.

Take this past week for example.  I was having an extremely hard morning before the first service.  I was full of anxiety.  So much so that I asked a good friend  to come into a back room and pray with me.  He did and we really saw God move that morning.  The worship was better than it has been in a long time.  The Holy Spirit was so noticeably there!  I didn’t want to leave the stage.  The point is this; God uses our weaknesses for His glory.

So, back to the dock on the lake.  I opened up to Psalm 46 and it became the cry of my heart.  I began committing it to memory.  I walked around the lake reading and quoting it over and over again.  All day today I have said to myself  “God is my refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble…”

This passage has really spoken to me today.  You see the reason for my raise in anxiety levels over the past week is because I have been coming off my anxiety medication for the past month.  I am now on nothing.  It will take a few weeks for the medication to be completely out of my system.  So for now I am trusting and claiming His promises.  I am walking one step at a time and quoting scriptures that help me remember that He is with me every step I take.  He is what allows me to say like the Psalmist “Be still and know that He is God.”  So for this moment I am renewed.

 

Thoughts while ironing a shirt

 

This morning I did a funeral.  So last night I had to get my suit out, find a tie, and a dress shirt and iron it.  Now I am no stranger to ironing but maybe I was just tired but the thought came to me “Since I am wearing a jacket I really only need to iron the front.”  So I sprayed my heavy starch and began to iron the front.  As I was ironing the thought came to me that we Christians are just like that.  We clean up the parts of our lives that others are able to see.  We shine up so nice and pretty for church.  Depending on the style of church you go to you may wear your best suit or dress.  Maybe you go to a more casual church.  It makes no difference there is something about our Christian culture that thinks it is wrong for people to see that we have wrinkles and stains in our lives.  We show our very best then come home and take off our coat of piety or dress of pride while all along the real us remains staring back at us in the mirror.  Faults, sins, attitudes, and gods begin to show their head. We all have them.

I am no different.  I struggle, I battle, I hide.  But what if we took the time to iron out those wrinkles and cleaned up the stains of our hearts so we no longer need to hide.  “That’s not possible” you say.  Well I would disagree.  Our spiritual wrinkle releaser or spiritual stain remover is found in 1 John 1:9. Here is what it says   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   That is God’s promise from His Word.  Confession makes it possible to not have anything to hide.  Besides, isn’t it much more comfortable not having to throw on our spiritual layers in order to hide those things we do not want any one else to see.

Your heavenly Father knows you.  He knows your thoughts, your past mistakes, and is ready to forgive you from all your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness.  Notice it doesn’t say some unrighteousness or most unrighteousness.  He can and will forgive you of ALL unrighteousness.    He will make you whiter than snow.  So confess and stop worrying that people might come to see the real you.  We all have wrinkles, we all have stains…but we all have forgiveness just a prayer away.  Stop covering up! Clean up!

May 22, 2012 - Set List, Sunnybrook    No Comments

Worship Set Lists

I am often asked if I can post the songs that we will be doing or have done.  I have decided to post the songs each week here on this blog.  I have created a page entitled “Set Lists”.  So head over to that page to get the latest set list info as well as a link where you can purchase set lists directly from iTunes.

May 11, 2012 - Spiritual Walk, The Bible    No Comments

Nevertheless

I love reading the narratives found in the New Testament that deal with the disciples and their interactions with Jesus.  This morning I read the fifth chapter of Luke and and a phrase popped out to me.  Here’s the situation.

The multitude came to hear Jesus talk about the word of God as He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret.  In the water sat two empty boats.  The fisherman had been out all night fishing and were now cleaning their nets.  So Jesus gets into Simons boat and asks him to give him a little shove out into the water.  As the boat drifts out Jesus sits down and begins to teach the multitude.  When Jesus wraps up his teaching he calls over to Simeon and tells him to push himself out  into the deep and let down his nets for a catch.

Simeon answers by saying this: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”   You probably know the rest of the story.  Simeon caught so many fish his nets broke.

There are a few things that jump out at me.  Simeon knew who was addressing him.  Notice that he called him “Master”.  Many people called him teacher, prophet, etc, but Simeon called him “Master”.  I believe Jesus really was his master.  You know why?  Because even though he did not understand why Jesus was asking him to throw out his nets again “nevertheless” he obeyed.

If you look up the word “nevertheless” in the dictionary it carries with it the meaning of “in spite of”.  So Simeon is basically saying that in spite of the fact that he has toiled all night and caught nothing, because Jesus is his master he will obey regardless of the task he is asked to do.

These are things we continually instill into our children.   We expect immediate & complete obedience regardless of their situation.  God expects the same with His children.  When God calls me to do something no matter what my situation, no matter the details, and no matter what the struggles or problems I think will come.  I must readily confess that He is my master and decide to deliberately obey Him at once.

If only you and I could say “nevertheless, I will obey God’s calling” we would find that obedience brings blessings.   No excuses, no arguing, no reasons why.  Simply “nevertheless” I obey.

May 10, 2012 - Life, Spiritual Walk, The Bible    1 Comment

Biblical Change

The other day I was standing in line at the store and I usually do everything that I can to not even look the way of the magazine rack that is usually right by the conveyer belt.  Honestly is there anything good that ever sits on those magazine racks?  Ok, maybe Reader’s Digest and Prevention, but other than those two magazines nothing good comes from looking at the magazine shelves.  In fact, I usually have to try and block the view for my kids.  I don’t want them to see the trashy stuff sitting there in plain site.

I say all that to say that while avoiding them the other day I caught a glimpse of the phrase “Better in 5 minutes”.  They headline promised the reader that if they bought this magazine and followed the directions in 5 minutes their lives could change for the better.  How many times do we see these gimmicks?  Just turn the tv on a Saturday morning and you will see change promised in a set time.  Take P90x for example.  It’s 90 days to a brand new you.  There are diet plans out there that say “Give us a week, we’ll take off the weight…”.  There are pills, there are diets, there are work at home scams, there are thousands of garden variety programs that promise fast change.

Is it any wonder that we as Christians become so impatient when it comes their own spiritual growth.  Often times we see someone come to Christ and expect that their life gets changed upside down and they automatically begin to do everything that Christians who have been Christians their whole lives do.  Now, I am not saying that when Christ comes into someone’s heart they aren’t  immediately changed and new.  They are! I have seen people’s lives change over night when they accept Christ.

I have heard stories of men that are alcoholics that come forward for an alter call and never again take a sip of alcohol in their lives.  That is awesome!  But for most of us, spiritual change takes time just like many other things in life take time.  You cannot rush a baby that is born today to grow up.  There is a given time frame that must take place until that baby reaches maturity.

So what is it that causes biblical change in us? Let us look to scripture for in it we find everything we need.  Romans 12:2 says  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Change involves several ingredients:

  • “Do not conform to the pattern of the world.”    Once we come to know Christ we are different.  Our thought process is different.  We now thing on things that are good, pure, holy.  We no longer are a carbon copy of someone that is of the world but we are now a carbon copy of Christ.
  • “Be transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind.”   I love what Psalms 119:11 says “I  have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Scripture is our roadmap for change.  Like a GPS it gives us our next turn and next direction. For biblical change to occur what is in scripture must make it’s home in our hearts and our minds.  It is following this map that brings change.
  • “Take every thought captive” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”  For our minds to be renewed and for our thoughts to be Holy, we must guard against every thought and filter it through the Word.  If it does not align with the Word of God than we quickly denounce it and begin to think of other things.  So what are those other things we are supposed to think about?
  • Philippians 4:8 says Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. These are the things we focus on.  These are the things that will help keep us on the road to a renewed mind. If there is one more thing I want to add it would be this.
  • Joshua 1:8-9  “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
These are things that are a vital part on the road to change.  Change cannot be guaranteed without you and I having a certain amount of discipline.  It can be a long road, but take courage.  The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Sanctification is a process that will take a lifetime.  But it is what we are called to as Christians.  We are to be different.  We are to be set apart, a holy people.  Are you set apart?  Are you different?  Maybe it’s time for you to change!
May 8, 2012 - Church, serving, Worship    No Comments

Worship ages Part 2

 

 

 

Last week as my family and I were driving down the road when I saw a little Baptist church’s sign that read “Blackwood Quartet Sunday 6pm”.  I grew up in a family that loves music.  It didn’t matter if it was a symphony,a broadway musical, worship or southern gospel.  We listened to it.  At a very young age the love of music was instilled in me by my parents.  To this day my parents travel down to Nashville to go to the National Quartet Convention.  Because of their love for music I developed a love for gospel music; yes even southern gospel.

I am not ashamed to say that my itunes library consists of all types of music but admit that there are some southern gospel groups in it including the Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haas & Signature sound, the Booth Brothers, and yes, even the Cathedrals.  So when I saw that the Blackwood Quartet would be in town I thought it would be fun to take my seven year old son with me to hear them.

We arrived at the church.  The first thing my son said was “This is all old people”.  I laughed and told him to be quiet but for the most part he was correct.  There might have been 20 rows of pews on each side of an isle.  It reminded me of when I was a kid attending a small baptist church in Illinois.  The quartet was phenomenal and my seven year old was enthralled with them and absolutely loved it.  On the drive home he asked me if we could buy some of their CD’s sometime.  I thought that was pretty cool.

As I look back at that concert there is something that stands out to me.  It wasn’t that a couple of them are fairly old.  It was’t their songs or even their incredible voices.  It was the offertory. You see half way through the concert they turned it over to the pastor and he  announced and prayed for the love offering that was  being taken.  When he said “Amen” men began passing the offering plates and an elderly man began to play a Clavinova  electronic piano.  He had to have been close to ninety if not already in his nineties.  It was that event last night that got this whole discussion about age rolling again.

That man played a hymn on a piano setting with strings and it was beautiful.   It spoke to me.  It was a reminder that we never retire from using the gifts God gives us.  How this fits into a contemporary church setting I am not yet sure of.  But there is one thing that is for sure.  There has to be a place for believers of every age to use their gifts.  Now…what does that look like for my ministry?  I’m not sure yet.  What does it look like in your church?  How do you give every age an opportunity to minister with their gifts?  What does that look like?  I want to hear from you!

Giving Thanks

If you know me or have have followed my blog very long you know that I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks on and off for years.  A few years ago my pastor told me that the cure for anxiety is thankfulness.  You see it is very hard to worry about things when you are being thankful.  Somehow thankfulness can over shadow things like anxiety, worry, covetousness, idolatry, impatience, & even anger.  I guess that’s why we are told to be full of thankfulness and to do everything with thanksgiving.

There are many times when I am not content.  For some reason I always want more. Why is it that my heart often wrestles with contentment?  Am I alone in that or is that something you too struggle with?  When discontentment roars its head start listing all that you are thankful for.  It will make you forget about the wants of your heart and bring you back to a place of gracious contentment.  Just wanted to encourage you to be thankful today.  What are you thankful for?  Make a list and thank God for them. You’ll be glad you did.

Pages:«1234567...33»