Church

Playing it Safe!

It all began in 1980…

I had been asked to lead the ‘music’ at the Baptist church in my home town where my family were members.  I had no idea what I was doing and only ‘mimicked’ what I was used to seeing every weekend from those leading music from the platform.  What else did I have to draw from?  I was a freshman in college and was trying my best to help my church because they had a need I could fill.

Now fast forward to 1985…

I graduated in 1984 from college and landed a ministry position in Las Vegas at a Baptist church that was wanting me to lead their youth ministry.  I had also picked up leading youth from my previous church…that old dual position role of Music and Youth! Then in 1985, I was given the opportunity to do both ministries again…which I embraced and led while the church was growing.  What was beginning to happen was the term ‘music ministry’ was evolving into more of a ‘praise and worship’ package.  Other instruments were being added to the piano and organ on stage (not a platform).  And the choir was not enough, more vocals were being added to those on stage.  Lighting was getting more sophisticated and we began using…overhead projectors to put the words on a movie screen.  High Tech!! The crazy thing about all this ‘change’ was some were embracing it, while others were hating it.

Moving into the 1990’s and beyond…

The church was getting too large and the ministries too complex to have one person overseeing them both.  So in 1990, I moved into the role of Worship Pastor.  I have not led a student ministry since then!  But had student choirs that toured and performed musical productions on the west coast.  I led worship until 2002 and then walked away to get my life back on track.  I was leading 5 services a weekend (1 on Saturday; 3 Sunday morning and 1 Sunday evening…yup that’s 5 services a weekend).  Monday was spent relaxing my voice so I could get ready to do it all over again the following weekend.  Then after moving to San Diego in 2003, I was hired by a church to lead their worship…1 service a weekend…it was delightful.  I did this for 3 years until moving to Texas in the summer of 2009.

I say all this, to make this point.  I have planned/lead more worship services over the years than most.  I know what it takes to make it happen!!!  I have colleagues that do it really, really good, this worship leading thing.  I have worked with top-notch musicians that could play anything I threw in front of them the first run through.

Today I was listening to a worship song that made me think…are we just ‘playing it safe’ when it comes to worship and the music we throw out there every weekend?  Do we allow the Holy Spirit to led us in bringing people to the throne of God?  We really do play it safe…because we can only take people in worship to a depth where we have only been.  I don’t want to be entertained in church during the worship set.  I want to meet God and hear a word from Him through the singing.  And about singing…the worship leader cannot worship for you…it’s an individual response to the God that loves you and wants YOUR worship and no one elses!

So, let’s not play it safe this coming weekend…God deserves our best…don’t be afraid to allow the person of the Holy Spirit to lead the service…God is waiting!

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COUNTERFEIT

Have you ever had anything that you owned that was ‘counterfeit?’  When you discover you possess something that is not the original or that it’s not authentic, there is a feeling you have been ripped off!  Why?  Because our expectations of the value we place into something leaves us feeling empty when it’s not an ‘original.’

Life can give us several different types of ‘counterfeits’ at every turn.  We see it in relationships, friendships, work relationships, neighbors, relatives, etc.  Just about anyone we come into contact with can be counterfeit.  Now there is one who is authentic and can be counted on as trustworthy…His name is Jesus!
The apostle John taught that authentic Christians will really love one another because the love of Christ abides in them. We can display this mark of authentic Christianity by really loving one another as Christ has loved us.  Take a moment to ready 1 John 3 and see what it means to really love one another!

I’ll continue this theme in my next blog post…

Lost In Translation

It seemed like a great idea at the time, and Braniff Airways officials still insist to this day that it was.  They wanted to run a series of ads promoting the leather seats in may of their planes, and they wanted especially to reach the Spanish-speaking community in Miami, Florida.  Accordingly, they launched a campaign in the Spanish media urging passengers, “Sentado en Cuero,” or “sit in leather.”  Technically, the language is perfect, but the execs failed to reckon with the pitfalls of slang.
“Cuero,” apparently, does mean leather, but it also means skin, as in bare skin, and…well…Braniff’s ads request that passengers “sit naked” on their flights!
Incidents like this are not really so very rare.  When Chevrolet came out with a new line of cars called the Nova, Hispanics, snidely noted that the name combines two Spanish words, “no” and “va,” which mean “it doesn’t go.”  And who can forget the time President Jimmy Carter’s interpreter told a group of Polish citizens that the Chief Executive had, not a deep love, but an erotic desire for Poles!

When moving from language to language, or even speaking in our mother tongue, we need to be careful, as Dr. Seuss’ famous elephant, Horton, once put it, to mean what we say and say what we mean.
Nowhere os this more true than in sharing the Gospel.  Too many times, ew fall into “churchspeak,” assuming that the person to whom we are witnessing knows that “vicarious atonement” means “Jesus dies for you.” or that “delivered from eternal condemnation” means “saved from Hell.”  1 Corinthians 14:8 reminds us that if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, no one will prepare himself for the battle.  We need to blow reveille in sharp, clear blasts like “sin,” “cross,” and “saved.”  Remember, it’s not enough that you understand what you say; the lost man must understand what he hears!

From The Fountain by Doug Jackson

HE IS RISEN!

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

From Matthew 28:1-9 (TNIV)

WAS IT A MORNING LIKE THIS

Was it a morning like this
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem? And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead
Was it a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem? And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon
Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound “He is risen!”
Over and over in a never-ending round “He is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem? And as they raced toward the tomb
Beneath their feet was there a tune?
Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound “He is risen!”
Over and over in a never-ending round “He is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!”


EASTER WEEK 2012 – FRIDAY!!!

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

From Luke 23:4449 NIV

Good Friday is a day when I feel the weight of the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Normally, I can go about my day having some awareness that I’m broken and sinful, but my soul isn’t very disturbed. Do you know what I mean? However, in this season when I slow down to reflect on the details of Jesus’ death, I come face-to-face with the consequences of my sin.

Darkness. Suffering. Death.

With each detail, I’m drawn into the emotion of the day. In verse 49 above it says, “…those who knew him (Jesus), including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”Those who knew and loved Jesus watched him die. There was tremendous hurt and grief . . .

Caused by my sin.

My human mind can’t reconcile the unfairness of an innocent man taking on the penalty for the guilty. I want to apologize and take back the things I’ve done to wrong God—as if a mere “I’m sorry” would ever be enough. I can’t make things right. I can never repay the debt I owe God. There is nothing I can do.

Regret. Shame. Helplessness.

As I focus my eyes on what happened on the cross this day, I realize once again the depth of God’s love for me. I always know he loves me, but remembering the details of this day forces me to look at the depth of that love and the great cost attached to that love. Jesus’ death means life for me, and he endured it because of his love for me. How do you wrap your mind around that type of love?

Gratitude. Hope. Love.

So, today, I slow down. I reflect. I remember the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf. It weighs on my heart and there is a tremendous sadness. I sit here and let it stir in my soul. And as I do, it causes me to fall even more in love with Jesus.

Buckhead BLOG

EASTER WEEK 2012 – THURSDAY!!

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

From John 13:1–17 (NIV)

Do feet make you cringe? Maybe it’s the memory of having to clean your nasty feet after playing in the yard with no shoes. Perhaps you’re like me and aren’t a fan of touching someone else’s feet. But in the verses above, it’s not just the feet that make me cringe; it’s the fact that it’s Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Emmanuel, washing men’s nasty feet. He has no business doing this. It’s uncomfortable.

Peter would have agreed. Imagine the appalled look on his face as Jesus approached him with the basin. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6 NIV). This wasn’t right to him. Christ shouldn’t have been cleaning their feet; they should have been cleaning his feet. Why wasn’t that the case?

These disciples were ready to give anything and everything for this man they knew to be the Savior. They trusted his every word and stood true to his side. But this was bizarre. What he was doing was a servant’s job; in fact, it was the least-favored servant who was tasked with feet washing. It wasn’t a dirty job; it was the dirtiest job. It was unfit for Jesus, unfit for the Son of God. Yet somehow it was a beautiful act of service. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew he was to suffer a criminal’s death, a crucifixion, the dirtiest, and lowliest of executions. Unfazed by the future’s events, he took the opportunity to instruct. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 NIV). In one incredibly humble act, Jesus showed us our charge.

This humility would be especially hard to repeat for those first-generation Jesus followers. They had status. They had been one of the twelve chosen to follow Christ. This was surely beneath them. But Jesus addressed this too: “Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16 NIV). Then the playing field was leveled.

This playing field remains level.

Nobody showers when he’s already clean, so how can you offer cleanliness unless you go where the dirt is? No bath keeps you clean forever, so how can you offer eternal cleanliness with earthly solutions?

The point isn’t that Jesus is offering cleanliness; he’s offering an incomparable purity. He’s offering newness before God, a life free from the bondage of sin. He’s offering cleanliness greater than any servant, master, or king can provide.

So during this Easter week, consider what you would do if Jesus washed your feet. Would you sit and do nothing, or would you try to spread the good news of this cleanliness? Once you’ve made up your mind, snap back to reality and remember . . . he didn’t just clean your feet.

He purified you from head to toe.

Buckhead BLOG

EASTER WEEK 2012 – WEDNESDAY!

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I don’t know exactly what Jesus did on Wednesday. I’m sure he either went back to the Temple, talked to people in Jerusalem, or went to talk to people in the country side. I’m sure he was teaching people and spending a lot of time in prayer.

I know something was happening behind his back. Remember, just a few days ago his disciples were walking with him into Jerusalem. They were with him in the Temple. They were hearing his teaching and watching him heal people. But one of them, Judas Iscariot, was deciding to make a little cash. He heard Jesus say that he was about to die. Judas wanted to secure his future, with money. He should have been thinking about securing his future with God!

Judas went to the preachers (chief priests) and asked how much they were willing to pay if he handed over Jesus. They gave him 30 silver coins.

So from that time on, one of Jesus’ own disciples started looking for a way to turn Jesus in.