Thursday, November 30, 2006

When I'm too busy

When I'm too busy, I don't blog. So, if you visit here and I haven't added anything new, you can pray that I'll keep my eyes on Christ as I feel like I'm not getting enough done.

Soli Deo Gloria

Loving broken people - some thoughts

I'm not good at loving broken people - part of it being that I don't know many - or even any. I have been reading different books, articles, etc... about loving the needy. I think I'm on a journey. Donal Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, has been fascinating - but I'm not done. The Church Of Irresistible Influence (or click here) was very good (Robert Lewis), and a few articles have been great (even in the EFCA Today magazine - a quote from Rick Warren - about having been to Bible college and 2 Seminaries and never noticing the 2000+ verses about helping the poor).

Here are some quotes from an article by Jim Palmer (let me say that I do not want to promote all of his theology at all - but I like these tidbits). I don't have a source for this - it was pasted in an email to me. Hope it helps you think a bit.

The theology I learned at seminary in the northwest suburbs of Chicago didn't add up to much in South Asia when I sat across from a little girl moments before she was raped. I would have long since conveniently buried this experience beneath a mountain of rationalizations if I hadn't looked deep into the vacant eyes of a 12-year-old sex slave and vowed never to forget. Returning to my past world of ignorance would relieve my grief, but I can't go back; it no longer exists.

The common question is, "Where is God in the midst of pain and suffering of the world?" The better question is, "Where are you, Jim, in the midst of the world's suffering?"

Jim Palmer is the author of Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you) (W Publishing Group).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Sermon(ette)

I preached for our Ecumenical Thanksgiving service. It was short - it was supposed to be short - 12 minutes or so. It's hard to do any justice to a text in that amount of time - and yes, I tried to stick with a text.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Note that it's the end of each of the commands that totally make them hard - "always", "continually", "in all circumstances". I can be joyful when things are going well. I can pray - sometimes. I'm as thankful as the next guy - especially around thanksgiving. But these commands are so much more.

I talked about how important perspective is when it comes to these commands - and closed with perspective on thankfulness.

As long as you think your life is so unfair and that you deserve more, you will never become a thankful person. But when you understand that you deserved eternal punishment and separation from God -- yet in His grace and mercy God instead gave YOU what HE deserved, and HE took the punishment YOU deserved, and EVERYTHING you have -- including every breath you breathe -- is a gift -- then you will become a thankful person.

That's not profound. It's just something I said.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Problem Of Evil (Theodicy)

We've been talking about the Problem of Evil in youth group lately - from both an apologetics standpoint as well as from a Biblical and practical standpoint. An old song has simple, but great words - and I thought I'd share it - maybe some here are struggling (just possibly). Be encouraged. Oh - and one reminder from Job - God is wise, Almighty, and good. Trust Him!

Babbie Mason

All things work for our good
though sometimes we can’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two
sometimes blind us to the truth.
Our Father knows what’s best for us;
His ways are not our own.
So, when your pathway grows dim,
and you just can’t see Him,
Remember He’s still on the throne.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.

He sees the Master plan.
He holds the future in His hands.
So don’t live as those who have no hope.
All our hope is found in Him.
We walk in present knowledge,
but He sees the first and the last.
And like a tapestry, He’s weaving you and me
to someday be just like Him.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Worship through Music

Musical worship is such a hot issue. I just went through and made a chart of every song our church has done in the last 6 months, and the dates we've done them. Some say too many new songs, others say too many hymns. We've done 2 new songs in 6 months (none too many in my book), and 30% of our songs have been hymns.

I have led worship once every 3 weeks with our "youth band" (that simply means our high school students who play an instrument or will sing up front) for a couple years now. They are going at it without me now (and yesterday was their first day without me). They are doing a fantastic job - I don't know why I didn't let them do it alone sooner.

Here are the top 25 songs according to CCLI (the copyright licensing place that churches use and report to). The list comes out twice a year, and this is the new one. You can access this list and check out the top 25 songs for different countries here. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 OR 5 SONGS?


Here I Am To Worship

Hughes, Tim


How Great Is Our God

Tomlin, Chris \ Reeves, Jesse \ Cash, Ed


Blessed Be Your Name

Redman, Beth \ Redman, Matt


Open The Eyes Of My Heart

Baloche, Paul


Come Now Is The Time To Worship

Doerksen, Brian


Shout To The Lord

Zschech, Darlene



Tomlin, Chris


You Are My King

Foote, Billy


Lord I Lift Your Name On High

Founds, Rick


Holy Is The Lord

Tomlin, Chris \ Giglio, Louie


God Of Wonders

Byrd, Marc \ Hindalong, Steve



Barnett, Marie


You're Worthy Of My Praise

Ruis, David


Trading My Sorrows

Evans, Darrell


We Fall Down

Tomlin, Chris


The Heart Of Worship

Redman, Matt


You Are My All In All

Jernigan, Dennis


I Give You My Heart

Morgan, Reuben


Draw Me Close

Carpenter, Kelly


Above All

LeBlanc, Lenny \ Baloche, Paul


Better Is One Day

Redman, Matt


Lord Reign In Me

Brown, Brenton


Beautiful One

Hughes, Tim


Days Of Elijah

Mark, Robin


Give Thanks

Smith, Henry

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Preaching on Thanksgiving

How do you go about preaching for an ecumenical thanksgiving service? I guess I'll find out cause I'm doing that soon. I think my time limit is about 12 minutes. That alone creates an almost impossible challenge. I do have many thoughts and questions. Mabye I'll get some answers.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Why are we to be thankful? What's at the core of thankfulness? Thankfulness alone doesn't seem helpful.
Why did 9 out of 10 lepers not thank Jesus?
Does the historical reason for thanksgiving matter during a Church thanksgiving service?
How do I keep from being extremely cynical about such a service (ecumenical)?

Let me end this post with the words of one of my favorite hymns - as far as simple words go (by the way, Blessed Be the name of the Lord seems to be a new version of the same idea). Thanks to God for My Redeemer

August Ludvig Storm

(1) Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

(2) Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace the none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond conpare!

(3) Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav'nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks thru all eternity!

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Love the NFL - but not the same

I've been an NFL fan for quite a while. I love my Minnesota Vikings. I've cheered for them every season since I can remember - and many of them aint' been pretty.

I'm not sure why, but things have changed for me when it comes to the Vikings. I love them as much as ever, but how they are doing doesn't affect me much. I used to be frustrated for quite a while after a game - I could be down for a few hours. I think my saddness lasts about 30 seconds now. Praise the Lord.

I must say that the disgust with the Vikings over having no offense against the worst defense in football was easily overshadowed by watching the "Mighty" Bears fall on their faces to the Dolphins - Oh what joy his mine.

Here is an ode from Scripture.
12"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13You said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;[a]
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.'
15But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.