How to Fix Lethargic Worship

(Whenever I am trying to remember how big God is and if he can handle my current problems, I look at this picture and remember: God is good.)

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim
that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe

3 and has gathered them from the lands-
from the east and the west,
from the north and the south.  – Psalm 107:1-3

How to Fix Lethargic Worship

The cure for lethargic worship is a good memory.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist expresses praise to God based upon his faithfulness in the past. He reminds the worshipers that God is always good and deserves our gratitude.  He had rescued them from the hands of their enemies.  He had rescued them from their circumstances and gathered them back together again.

Have you ever felt in worship that you were just going through the motions?  You stood up and sat down when you were instructed.  You mouthed the words to some songs on a screen or in a hymnal.  You left the same way in which you entered.  The best way to describe your worship was lethargic.

The cure for lethargic worship is a good memory.  God has shown up all throughout your life. When you have called on God, every time he delivers.  The only proper response is worship.  Each new day is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us.

When we were in the middle of our adoption process, I was forced to remember this fact often.

READ MOREHow to Fix Lethargic Worship

A Healthy Fear of the Lord

Psalm 86:15-16

15 But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me.
Give Your strength to Your servant;
save the son of Your female servant.

Our fatherless society is killing our perception of God.

Whether you like to admit it or not, your relationship with your father often alters the way you view God.  If your father was absent, you might find difficulty accepting that God is near and cares for your smallest concerns.  If your father was a temperamental dictator, you might view God as the angry deity in the sky waiting to pummel you with lightning bolts whenever you step out of line.  If your father was a softy and a pushover, you might find yourself living more loosely because God would never really punish you for breaking his rules.  If your father was simply a detached provider, you might find yourself accepting God’s blessing without ever desiring his company.

Most likely, God is a lot different than you father.  God’s plan is that your father imitate him (Eph. 3:14), but unfortunately, that rarely happens.  We rarely see a combination of both love and holiness.  While God has many attributes, theologians categorize all attributes under those two headings – love and holiness.

This description of God, first mentioned in Exodus, is repeated many times throughout Scripture.  The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.  What is so shocking to us modern readers is that someone can be both compassionate and angry.

A common misconception is that Jesus of the New Testament was compassionate and the God of the Old Testament was angry.  How do you explain God’s constant rescuing of idolatrous Israel and how do you explain Jesus chasing religious people out of the temple with a whip?

READ MOREA Healthy Fear of the Lord

The Walmart Dilemma

We have all experienced the Walmart dilemma.  You enter into the massive store full of your city’s most eclectic citizens with the intention of buying one needed item.  As the greeter wishes you a good day, you coach yourself that you don’t need anything else except that one item.  As you return to your car, you are unaware of how you just spent $50 on drive-by items.

What’s even worse is when you have bags full but have forgotten that one item for which you came.  The Walmart dilemma is that you lose focus on what you came for because you are overwhelmed with all the other items clamoring for you attention.

The psalmist is in a similar position.  Other gods are present and vying for his worship.  The world powers claim they need not to swear their allegiance to the Lord.  Circumstances are apparent that distract his focus.  So, what does the psalmist pray?  He prays for an “undivided mind” in order to fear God’s name (v.11).  He is acknowledging the presence of distractions, and he is asking for God’s help to leave the store with solely the one item.

READ MOREThe Walmart Dilemma

Does Prayer Really Work?

My prayer life has been divided. Not so much in a division of what I pray for, but I have experienced the complete opposites of the spectrum concerning how prayer actually works. We all say that prayer is important and that prayer works, but what actually happens during prayer? Do we change God’s mind on the issue at hand? Is it just a tool that God uses to draw us to himself? Here are some of the options:

READ MOREDoes Prayer Really Work?

Holding My Son Down in the Hospital

This picture was taken a few weeks ago.  Eli was having some minor surgery, but as many of you know, surgery for a 3-year-old is never minor.  When your child is taken from you, knocked out, cut on, comes back loopy with tons of chords sticking out of him, it’s never a fun encounter.

I prize myself on being a tough father.  I’m that “it will be alright” kinda dad who can grasp that bumps and bruises are learning tools.  I was not expecting the kind of emotional turmoil that I went through that day.  I don’t know if it was the first time that my son was out of our protective care or what it was, but it was hard.  It was hard holding my son down for strangers to do things to him that hurt.

When he began to wake up, he laid on Mom a good long while and seemed content.  Later, they needed to check on him and begin to remove connected wires and such, so he was handed to Dad (thanks, a lot!).  Eli looked up at me and said, “Daddy, I want to go home.  Take me home, please.”

“I will in just a minute baby, but you have to let these people make you feel better.”

When they started to work on him and I had to hold him down, the look in his eyes was something I had never seen before.

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Trading the Ultimate for the Immediate

 

At Passion 2011, Andy Stanley gave a great message concerning temptation.  One of the lines he repeated over and over is that temptation is the act of “trading the ultimate for the immediate.”

The ultimate is faithfulness to your spouse, the immediate is the temporary meeting of a desire.

The ultimate is a godly legacy engraved in your children, the immediate might be another round of golf.

The ultimate is heaven’s rewards, the immediate is the passing riches of this world.

When we encounter temptation, one verse helps me more than any other verse in the Bible:

READ MORETrading the Ultimate for the Immediate

I Love Jesus

The other week, I had one of those cherished moments as a father.  The pic above is a cropped pic of my son, Obadiah, in a restaurant bathroom.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he will hate me one day, I understand, but I couldn’t pass it up.

As I waited for him to complete his business, he looked up at the two rails on the wall and shocked me with what he said:

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The Rapture Did Not Take Place on May 21, 2011

Above is a video of Harold Camping, the man behind the prophecy that the church would be raptured on May 21, 2011.

It’s now May 23rd.

While so many of made jokes concerning his prophecy, I honestly feel pity for him.

Harold_Camping

It appears in all that I have seen and read that he honestly believed it.  He also believed it the first time he made the prophecy but then figured out he had made a mathematical error in his equation.  And with numerous followers supporting and funding his cause, he is left to deal with the people on the earth he was so sure he was leaving behind.

So did you believe the hype?  Did you secretly wonder?  Did you wonder if the cicadas were more than a mere nuisance and they were actually a sign of the times?

I was asked a lot of questions over the last week, and this was my response:

READ MOREThe Rapture Did Not Take Place on May 21, 2011

Should Christians Rejoice That Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?

After reading and hearing so many interesting takes on feelings concerning the death of Osama Bin Laden, I had decided to write what I believe would be a proper biblical take on the subject.  In my own hometown, people have been very supportive or very offended by our local newspaper’s headline.  Can we actually rejoice that he is dead?  Some people say as an American we can, as a Christian, we cannot.

As I started to write a post, I found a link to where John Piper wrote on the subject so wonderfully.  He is smarter and more godly than me, so I am sharing his post in lieu of mine for your reading pleasure.  This post is from his Desiring God website:

God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.

In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.

It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

READ MOREShould Christians Rejoice That Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?