Tag Archives: Church

I’m Content

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6 WEB)

No matter what people may think, I’m content with my life, my family, my work and my faith; so, stop telling me I need something more. I was thinking about this while lying awake in bed one morning. When I look at things in my life and consider what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve acquired (physical stuff, experiences, etc.), I’m content. Unfortunately, sometimes, when my frustration over things around me percolates to the top of my patience, I might present a temporary persona that doesn’t portray a contented soul. But that’s another subject.

One of the first things I thought about was my wonderful wife quietly asleep beside me. It’s the precise planning of God that brought us together at the right place and time to embark on an amazing busy, full and fantastic life. Two-thirds of our lives we’ve been together and I’m looking forward with anticipation to undertaking together the next 40 plus years of life and adventure God has planned. Like most married men I know; I often wonder how my love tolerated me all these years. But I’m content knowing God was gracious to me and gives her lots of patience.

We’ve lived through raising four children, watching them leave the nest and start a life of their own with their own families. I like my children’s spouses. I love them all and I believe they like me. Our children are doing well in a variety of jobs. We’ve got service managers, restaurant managers, teachers and soldiers carrying on the family line. I’m proud of them all. They’ve had their problems, we haven’t always seen eye to eye, but as family we work through things. Thanks to them I have a number of grandchildren that I love dearly. I think they love me as well. I know why God gives us grandchildren. It’s to insure we still have that delightful spark of innocence to encourage us in life. They have good and bad days, they’re little children and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m content with my family.

I’ve spent the majority of my life serving and working with the same organization in various places around the globe. I’d like to say everything was rosy and delightful all these years but the truth is there were hard times along with good times. Still, I’m content with what God has been able to accomplish through my work around the globe. More than once I felt ill-equipped for the job. It was then I watched as God stepped in to show His grace and let me know that I can do all things through Him. I can’t say I never had doubts about what I was doing. They would raise their ugly heads now and then until I reset my vision on the one who gives me strength. I can say I never had doubts about God’s calling me to this life. I’m content in my work and ministry.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned to God and asked, “Why?” Sometimes I found the answer. Some questions remain unanswered. I’ve railed at God in my frustration and anger and praised and worshipped Him at all times. Yes, even when I was furious I still worshipped God. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, some things I still don’t understand, but I trust in God in all things. I’m comforted understanding that I can come to God with praise, anger, questions and the small issues of daily life and He listens. He shows me grace, especially in my stupid times. He loves me always, even in my disobedient times. I’m content with my faith in God.

In all this I find myself wondering why I would consider not being content. I can stop and think and realize that this is a great life God has provided and like the verse above I have great gain. Sometimes people think I’m discontent because I’m frustrated with things or get angry over an encounter with massive stupidity. So I wonder if we’re not confusing contentment with emotionless living. Are they the same? I don’t think so. God gave us emotions to help us deal with life on this spinning rock. We can let them get out of hand but to dismiss them as ungodly just doesn’t ring true for me. There are some things, regardless of my godliness or contentment, which I suspect will always increase my blood pressure.

There are inconsistencies in the behavior and reliability of computers, an area I’ve worked with for over thirty years that make me want to test the aerodynamic characteristics of the device from any open window (which I have done). There are vehicle drivers who apparently didn’t attend driving school, forgot all they learned or had incompetent teachers. Some folks standing in line for ten minutes or more to pay for items wait until they reach the counter to fish through their fifty gallon purse looking for their credit card. Sometimes I just sigh and roll my eyes. Other times, for whatever reasons, I just get frustrated or angry.

Then there’s the modern church. As a faithful member of the congregation we’re never doing enough “for God.” We hear preaching about contentment and at the same time a message of “do more” which creates discontent because we’re not doing enough, in the eyes of the local church, to justify our claiming to be faithful believers. Rubbish! I’m concentrating on my walk in this world as a faithful follower of Christ. Just walking faithful with God through normal tivities of life is doing something “for God.” Where that intersects with a church ministry, such as being a full time missionary, I’m glad to go as God leads. I don’t doubt some future heavenly residents might need a little fire under their backside to get them moving but who lights the fire, God or man? Without getting into a pet peeve let me say I’m content with the ministries where God has place me and I’m not looking for more. If He gives more I’ll undertake it. Otherwise I’ll be content with the here and now.

That’s probably where contentment lies. It lies in knowing you are where God wants you to be. It’s understanding the abilities God has given for the particular task and being content that God knows what He’s doing. Does it remove all emotion so we can be like good southerners and just say, “Bless their heart” when they do something ridiculous. At times it might. At other times life boils to the top and we are reminded we are humans, designed with emotions, by a God with emotions, to live in an emotional world. I’m content to live here, with all my foibles, until He takes me to that perfect mansion. Are you content?

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Missions

United We Stand

The United States of America was formed by a group of citizens united in their response, united in their purpose and united in their defense of their beliefs. Woodrow Wilson once said, “We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.” Even Benjamin Franklin realized cohesion was necessary when he declared, “We must hang together or assuredly we shall hand separately.” Americans are famous for sayings such as G. P. Morgan’s “United we stand, divided we fall.” Even naming our country embodies a reliance on one another for survival. What happened?

The church was united in beliefs, purpose and goals. As Jesus disappeared into the clouds from the Mount of Olives, the disciples remembered His reminder to be unified in their witness to Jerusalem, Judea and the ends of the earth. Together they returned to Jerusalem to share, as one, the greatest message the world would ever hear. What happened?

No sooner had the early church organized than dissension arose. Why do believers, seeking the same Savior, yearning for the same heaven, proclaiming the same Gospel continue to chip away at unity? Who cares? God cares. Lets look at this ubiquitous word and see how deep the implications dig into our theological stances.

First we need to understand the prefix “uni.” Webster defines this as simple “uni-prefix: one: single.” (Uni, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, G&C Merriam Company, 1979.) Nothing complicated, nothing debatable, just a single unit. Logically we would assume all words built on this prefix contain a sense of one, not multiple. As believers we are called to unity in the church. John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (New International Version of the Bible, Zondervan Corporation, 1989. All scripture quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.)

What does it mean to be in complete unity? Simple, we are to be working together toward the same goal. We are to be striving as one unit, complex in structure, to proclaim the Gospel and encourage one another. An old Aesop’s Fable stated, “In union there is strength.” As the church presses toward another century of service we need strength. God provides strength and also expects us to work with one another for strength.

The NIV Bible Dictionary describes unity: Used in the O.T. in the sense of togetherness of persons (Genesis 13:6), fellowship (Judges 19:6), and praise (Psalm 34:3). Isaiah 11:6-7 tells of a future time when there will be a togetherness among animals. The NT word speaks of the unit of faith that binds together the people of God (Ephesians 4:13). (Bible Source NIV Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, M.C. Tenny eds, Zondervan Corporation, 1989.)

In Chronicles, during Hezekiah’s reform the people of Israel turned back to God. Hezekiah sought God and serve as a King seeking God. He reopened the temple and encouraged the people to return to God. God provided the unity of purpose to accomplish this reform. 1 Chronicles 30:12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.

The psalmist reminds us of the good effects from unity. Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! God is pleased when we get along. I’m reminded of a pleasant aroma which rises to God and how that might be seen in this statement.

As Christians we have a pressing need to seek unity with one another. Our relationship to one another has a direct, perceptible impact on our witness to the world. John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Unity is a sign of God’s work in our lives. When we are splintered we present the wrong message to the world. This reminds me of Paul’s admonition. Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

How do we accomplish such unity? Our frailties make us prone to stand up for our point of view. We want to be right at all costs. Often we create division, not by design but as a result of our desire to be seen and accepted as correct. Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. Paul recognizes we cannot achieve the peace and unity called for by God. It’s only when we rely on God and rest in His hands and allow Him to do the work that peace and unity will actually come to bear in our lives.

It’s difficult for us to be humble and humility is the starting point for unity. We don’t like to give in to another point of view. Saint Augustine wrote, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” A good passage to contemplate and memorize is Philippians 2:1-4. When we can live this passage with one another we will have unity.

Will we always see what we are convinced is correct come to be? No. There are many Biblical Imperatives which cannot be soiled with compromise. There are many more Personal Convictions which need to be weighed carefully before being applied to others. Liberty in Christ is one of the most difficult concepts for us to understand and live.

Are you unified with your brothers and sisters to proclaim the Gospel or are you at odds on how to proclaim the Gospel? Are you unified with fellow believers in discipling new believers or arguing over the proper methodology? Are you on a tangent or on target with the body of Christ?

Let us work together. Let us consider more than one point of view. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus as the goal of our life. Let us bring unity back to the church.

Colossians 2:2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Venture Capitalist Missions

Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:3 WEB)

I know I’m not young so when I think to myself, “I miss the way things were,” I feel even older. But I must admit I do miss some things from the past. I miss some of my old music, my hair, and other things I don’t want to talk about. I do want to talk about the old approach churches took when considering new missionaries for support.

I remember going from church to church presenting the work of the ministry, presenting how we were called to the ministry and presenting our desire to bring God’s love and grace to a world in need of salvation. We were looking for opportunities to share the work of the ministry with the people of the church to encourage their prayer for the impact of the ministry. Yes, we were also hoping God would lead the church or people in the church to support our financial needs in the ministry.

guam97God touched their hearts and they did partner with us. In those days you shared your calling with the body of Christ and received prayer, encouragement, financial support whatever was needed for the ministry. Of course, folks had to be convinced that you were sincere about your calling and they received assurance when they prayed on your behalf for clarity and confirmation. If your life reflected the calling and commitment and the body was convinced through God’s reassurance, then you were sent off.

Folks expected to hear now and again about how God was working in your life and the lives of those where you ministered. Just sharing a story or two of how things were pressing forward and how God was helping your spiritual growth in the process was enough to encourage the church and continue to affirm your ministry and calling. It didn’t take an analytical demonstration of the efficaciousness of your particular style or methodology weighed against the numeric counting of those claiming conversion to understand God was working in and through your life and ministry. People wanted to simply know that God was working and you were still committed to obedience to God’s call to ministry.

The definition of a call to ministry has changed. It isn’t that I’m called by God to server where He leads. It’s that I’m called and here are the spectacular, awe inspiring, facts, figures and examples of how you’ll be impressed with my calling. Support (financial, prayer or spiritual) has changed from trust in God’s calling someone to ministry to become man’s statistical analysis of a person’s potential. Just ask any missionary trying to raise support in the accountant guided world of church administration. Numbers and spectacular new methods are the guiding indicators of whether someone should be supported or their support should be continued. Like venture capitalists trying to convince potential investors (aka supporters), those in ministry must come up with a new and spectacular methodology for presenting an ancient simple message to a complex and technologically advanced world. If my story isn’t better than your story then I lose. It has become a competition for those called by God in the human arena of predictive bang for the buck. They must convince the body of Christ by presenting a new flashy ministry, complete with astounding numbers, that they are called. If we can’t quantize it, then it isn’t sustainable and thus unworthy of the church’s backing.

Why should someone feel guilty and need to apologize for not having large numbers, personal encounters and spectacular stories of salvation? People usually come to the Lord in the simple, everyday ways of life. Even with the increasing number of avenues for proclaiming the simple Gospel message people still respond in simple humility, not spectacular world shattering declarations. But that’s what we came to hear about. That’s what the church and the mission committee wants to hear, the spectacular.

But God, spectacular as he is, isn’t looking for spectacular people but humble people who recognize their need and turn to him. He’s not looking at the bottom line of a ledger but the end of a pathway that leads to salvation. God’s not calling workers into special ministry based on their high tech approach or their book sales or their ability to captivate an audience with spiritual literary quotations. God is calling humble servants willing to follow him wherever, whenever, and however he needs them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Where is the Cross of Christ

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV)

I remember growing up attending church most of my life. At the front of each church was a platform with all the appropriate trappings including a cross, pulpit, communion table, organ or piano and seats for the choir. Many churches included a prayer or altar rail as well.

In most of those churches the cross was at the center of the platform. It was usually as large as practical for the space available. In all cases it was the center of focus for all entering the auditorium. The pulpit or lectern, where the Pastor stood, was located on either side of the platform in many cases. Thus the center of attention was always drawn to the empty cross of Christ, not to the efforts of men.

2007_06_01_ruineburgmodeling-076Today, in many churches, the cross is no longer center stage but is behind the pulpit which has moved to center stage. The effectiveness of recognizing the empty cross of the resurrection is often overshadowed by the animated preaching of the Pastor. I have even recently experienced churches where the cross was colored to blend into the wall color making it easily fade from sight.

Jews demand miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV).

Paul preached Christ crucified. The cross is the crux of the Christian Life. Without the cross and the shed blood of Christ there is no redemption or washing away of sins (Hebrews 10:19-22). The crosses in churches where I was raised were empty. This empty cross pointed to the foundation of Christianity in Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

In the sermons found in the New Testament the messages of the Cross and Christ are central, not the qualifications or efforts of the speaker. How often have you read or seen a church falter as a body when the Pastor takes another position? We see this in areas such as missions, youth ministries, and music where a long time servant of God departs and the ministry suffers and many times stops functioning effectively.

It may appear to be dependent on the servant of God and their method of ministry. This is at times true and we find ministers who preach for their own glory and importance. However, more often than not I’ve found the ministering servant to seek after God and desire to draw others to God and not themselves. Unfortunately this leaves us with the uncomfortable thought that we are partially, if not sometimes fully, to blame.

What are we seeking when we enter the church each week? Are we looking for the Sunday message to inspire us, the choir to lift up our spirits as they sing, or a chance to reveal our own vocal or theological talents to those seated near our Holy pew or chair? Or, do we come because we love and desire to see God through Christ, to worship Him because He is worthy of worship?

I’m guilty! Yes, I must admit the quality of music, the comfort of padded seats or the impressiveness of the message are often at the forefront of my thoughts as I enter one of God’s houses. I have to stop myself when I discover I’m seeking entertainment, not worship. I’m wrong!

Our ability to undauntedly justify our thoughts and actions leads us away from worship into self seeking entertainment. We come telling ourselves we are prepared to minister to others and yet, we minister because we expect to receive. Often we will easily be hampered, if not stopped in our ministry, when we are not praised and lauded for our efforts.

Where is the Cross of Christ? Is it at the center of our life as a decoration? Or, is it on the mantle of our heart providing direction and inspiration? We must be sure our ministry and worship are inspired by a heart overflowing with God’s love and not boiling with the pride of man.

For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel,” (Romans 9:3). Paul saw Christ at the center of his ministry. He desired his own destruction if it would bring salvation to the Jews. We need to be willing to give everything to bring others to the cross.

As we gather together to worship, we must truly give ourselves to worshiping  God, not the inventions and trappings of men or the church. As men we are worthy of nothing but condemnation.

. . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,. . .” (Romans 3:23).

God is worthy of worship without question.

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)

Let’s put the Cross of Christ back at the center of our lives and our worship. Let’s be sure it’s not a physical face lift to our spiritual auditorium but a real true building on our foundation of faith.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Emergency Baptism

. . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, . . .  (Ephesians 4:5 NET)

One year I was able to experience a first in my ministry. I performed my first Bathtub baptism. Normally baptisms for our church in Vienna were held at the Old Danube river. We even had one scheduled that summer with a number of people on the list to publicly declare their faith in Christ. So you might wonder why baptize someone in a bathtub when we had one scheduled at the river.  (I’m tempted to start singing Shall We Gather at The River.)

Baptism in the Alte Donau

A new believer declaring their faith in Christ.

This what we call an “Emergency Baptism.” I know, that sounds weird. You might wonder if the person was about to die of some dread disease? No. But time was limited. This person came to us through the son of their best friend who happened to be in Austria. The young man put them in contact with our church through one of our ministry folks.

The candidate was in town for only few days and wanted to be baptized. They would be headed back to their home country in only three days. Theo, one of our other elders, and I talked and decided we could use the bathtub of one of the ministry folks. The bonus would be that they could also provide translation from the candidate’s native language into either German or English. It was into German :-).

We arranged to meet the candidate at this gentleman’s home and talk. If things went well, if we were assured of the candidate’s faith, we would proceed. Fortunately for me, the candidate spoke a modicum on English making things a little easier. We listened to the story of living in a country and a culture inundated and controlled by another religion. As a child the candidate heard about Christianity from some family and friends who were Christians. But, there was no gathering where they could learn more.

You see, such a gathering, when the candidate was young, and still today, was and is forbidden. There are believers in the country but unless their spouse, or close friend, is also a believer they live as an island in a dangerous land. This is learning to lean on God and God alone. After growing up and a failed marriage the candidate realized their cultural religion didn’t work. There were too many things which seemed contrary to living and there was no hope. The candidate remembered what they heard as a child and started seeking this Christian God.

To make a long story short the candidate came to salvation several years before. They met and married someone who is also a believer. The candidate’s visit to Austria was short and they wanted to be baptized before returning. Gathering as believers for church, worship, bible study was and is forbidden in her homeland. Baptism was and is also forbidden. The candidate wanted to make a declaration among witnesses of their faith in Christ and their desire to live faithfully for him. This was their one big chance.

We listened to the story, with many more details and knew the candidate was part of God’s family. The tub was filled with warm water (a definite improvement over the cold Danube). We gathered in the bathroom, those of us who could fit. Imagine six people with a bathtub in a room the size of a coat closet.

The candidate sat in the tub scrunched to one end. We asked a few questions and they made a declaration of their faith in front of the witnesses. Then back the candidate went, under the water. With praise in our hearts and on our lips, a new family member rose out of the water declaring to the world, to their homeland, to their past culture and religion, they are now and forever will be a child of God. They were saved by God’s grace through Christ’s blood. We’re talking big smiles and excitement.

This was a testimony to God’s work even in the face of cultural and national adversity. (I think this is the first baptism where I didn’t get soaked :-). I’m thrilled to provide them the opportunity to declare before witnesses their faith. I hope one day we’ll have the chance to baptize their spouse as well.

As I wrote this this new family member was back in their homeland, living in a land diametrically opposed to their faith but assured of God’s grace and strength. Pray for their walk with God, strength when opposition comes, and assurance of God’s constant presence.

God is amazing. We sometimes just need to be reminded through the testimony of others.

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Broken Offerings

“But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you. “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:8-11 NASB)

I recently worked my way through the Minor Prophets as part of my morning reading of Scripture. I’m amazed at the depth of revelation concerning worshiping God to be found amidst the condemnations and encouragements to the Israelites. During Malachi’s time the people continued to offer sacrifices to God in their attempt to fulfill the Mosaic law. This was how they showed their devotion, their repentance, their desire to know God better. But it was flawed. Not the process. Not the law. The people were flawed. Their offerings were flawed. Their concept of God was severely flawed. They felt God wasn’t really paying attention!

The Israelite’s implementation of unworthy sacrifice was based on the thought that God either didn’t pay attention or didn’t care. But yet, the people wanted to implore God for assistance and blessing while offering blind sacrifices. They were offering animals which were not perfect but lame. The offerings they brought before God they wouldn’t dare present to the local officials, or friends. If they were the recipients of such low-grade gifts they wouldn’t be inclined to reciprocate with assistance or a polite response. And, neither would God.

We can look back at the prophetic writing, read these words of condemnation, and shake our head in agreement and disgust. They just didn’t understand. They didn’t get the concept that a perfect offering, the best of the flock, the first of everything was appropriate for God. Even that is less than God deserves. It’s easy to be sanctimonious and spiritual when we’re using hindsight. It’s also easy to think we do better before God, especially when we think God really isn’t paying close attention.

Bob and Beth share special music at the TWR retreatConsider Sunday morning. Am I meddling? Possibly. Do we, notice I’m including myself, offer the best to God in our worship? How about in our thoughts? Or how about in our relationships to one another? Then we must ask ourselves, “How is our offering in the financial realm?” All of these are good questions to ask as we enter God’s house for a service of worship and praise. We have choices to make as we join others for worship.

We could just mouth the words and pretend we’re singing because it isn’t our “type” of music. We could, not sing at all, but stand tight lipped and at attention, hoping others will see our disgust. We can sing our choruses, over and over, until we feel happy and at peace with ourselves, in spite of present personal events, broken relationships and anger that God didn’t provide all we wanted the past week. We can make ourselves look good to those around us as we sway with the music, raise our hands, smile at anything and everyone, and keep our plastic smile hardened on our face. If we keep those around us at a distance, maybe God will keep his distance and our feeble stage play will receive applause and acceptance.

Our broken offerings often look good on the outside while the inside reveals all the cracks and blemishes hidden by the external paint. Our real attitudes are often masked by a carefully crafted facial expression guaranteed to appear like a peaceful, obedient, loving Christian. We are no better with our offerings than the Israelites in the days of Malachi.

We need to sing, with all our abilities, or at least, if our abilities are limited, think on the words and bring them before God’s throne in speech and prayer. We can put ourselves in a better position to truthfully, fully, without blemish or lameness, worship God if we seek to treat others better than ourselves.

Contrary to popular myths, wallets don’t feel pain when we open them to give back to God a portion of what he gave us. We can’t blame an inanimate pouch for our reticence to hand over our money to God. When we relate well with one another, trying to set things right, actually forgiving versus sweeping things under the rug, we can concentrate on God, seek his face and give ourselves fully to him in worship and praise.

Our offerings need not be blemished. Our hearts need not be lame. It isn’t easy. It takes effort and time. It takes openness to work with others and listen to faults while recognizing our own faults. God’s name will be praised around the world, with our without us. I, for one, plan to work on being part of that praise to God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

A Passion From God

We often consider gifts from God. Routinely our thoughts go to the Gifts of the Spirit as listed in Scripture. However, I, like many Pastors, believe there are innumerable gifts not listed in Scripture. These gifts serve to edify, encourage, and train the Body of Christ. Passion is a word approached with fear by Christians. Our first thoughts are often towards physical passions and the dangers they bring. But passions are also gifts from God. Passions for the things of God and the work of the Body.

We can inflame passions, quench passions, ignore passion and some try to kill passions. I believe it is within our passions that God often reveals the gifts he has provided.

Paul had a passion for the people of Israel. His fellow Jews so filled his heart he desired eternity away from God to bring them salvation. This passion was honored by God to make Paul an instrument to reach the Gentiles.

David was filled to overflowing with a passion for God and music. These worked together to provide history with songs of praise, worship and adoration for the creator of the universe.

Where are our passions today? What sits upon our heart and brings out emotions of love, desire and a need to accomplish? For me one of my God given passions is for music. I can be moved through well crafted and heart filled music. Where logic would fail to reach my heart, music waltzes in and moves my heart to dance.

As a pastoral student many years ago, I began to quench my passion for music. I “learned” the place of music in a worship service. I was taught to “use” music to reach the start of teaching or preaching. I have now come to learn teaching and preaching are not the end all goals of the Christian Life.

Teaching and preaching tell us about God. These cornerstones of the present day church convince and guide but do not necessarily glorify God.

Art and music are two key aspects instilled in us which can glorify our Creator. In music we move our hearts and spirits to glorify God. Those impassioned by God are inspired to compose and perform in order to glorify and worship God. It’s such an overwhelming passion they feel confined and defeated when unable to express their gift.

How powerful is music? Paul and Barnabas lifted the hearts of prisoners during their darkest night. So encouraged were the prisoners they attempted no escape when the prison doors were opened by God’s earthquake. In an earlier era, David calmed the tortured heart of Saul providing solace from demons within through the dulcet strains of music.

Why do we sing an invitation after an inspiring message of salvation and dedication? To provide time to respond? Yes, but also to lift up the questioning heart with melody and music that stirs our inner souls to respond.

I write of music because I know and understand this gift from God. Maybe you also feel this pressure for music and long to express your love for God through song. Maybe you feel restrained because it’s not teaching or preaching. Maybe you feel God is inspiring your passions in other areas of art, helps, comforting or many other possibilities. It’s time to let God work fully in our hearts as well as our minds.

Let us open up to glorify and worship God using the passions He provides. Let us not do this without careful consideration and confirmation in the Word but yet with the fullness of our heart.

Let us realize, understand and accept we do not need a prayer time, Bible study or sermon to make a gathering for worship complete. We have worshiped God when He has been glorified in ourselves and in the Body of Christ.

What is your passion? How are you using your giftsfrom God to glorify Him? Have you begun to seek after God not only with your head but also with your heart?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions