Showing posts from April, 2013

When A Noise Is All You Got

Sometimes it's hard to worship God. Some days the energy just isn't there. Maybe you are like me and feel like if you can't give your best, than what's the use? Maybe you come to church on Sunday and feel like God skipped you when he was handing out the pretty voices. Maybe you wonder what gifts you possess that you God could possibly want. It can be discouraging when we go to present our offerings before the Lord either on Sunday or during the week and instead of gold, frankincense, or myrrh we have ragged nerves, a distracted mind, and maybe 10 minutes here and there to give.

But even in this God is gracious. While God does call us to be holy, our worship of Him isn't dependent on our perfection. If that were the case we would never be able to worship God. He also doesn't call us to only give only what we would consider beautiful and worthy. As Psalm 51 says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not de…

Sunday Singables: "More Than Amazing"

"More Than Amazing" by Lincoln Brewster, released on Real Life(2010)

Why I recommend this song for worship-

During the worship service there should be opportunities for instruction and response. After learning about our great God, sometimes all we can say or sing is "Hallelujah!" or "You are amazing!" Once the mind has been engaged with truths from God's Word, it is very appropriate for our affections to kick in with a joyful heart. This is what I would call a more affectionate worship song. It has some great truths in the verses about the life and work of Christ which lead into a wonderful chorus. It is very satisfying to sing this after a message filled with truth. The tune is easy to pick up for a congregation and there is even choir music available to make it into a larger offering if you have the means.

Changes I've Made- 

When we've sung this with our choir, as we did this morning in worship, we sang it as written. The other times when it …

Lacking No Good Thing

"The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."

This is the promise I hold onto today from Psalm 34. Over the years I've been greatly encouraged by this Psalm. God has used it to strengthen my faith in the midst of job loss, death, trial, sickness, seminary finals, injustice, and a host of other situations. I've even written a song about it. For some reason I find great comfort in its words, and I'm sure David, the author of this Psalm, did as well.

Today I'm feeling a bit sick, much like my family has felt during this past week. Not matter what I did, I couldn't escape the bug. I can empathize with these lions, suffering from hunger. I would love to just feel content right now, but I know that if I try and satisfy my hunger I'll probably regret it with a trip to the bathroom. Yet, the promise of this verse isn't that I won't be hungry, but that I'll lack no good thing. David echoes this in Psalm …

God's Plans For Sickness

When I went to bed last night I had lots of plans. I planned on being offline most of the day today, catching up on reading, maybe going on a bike-ride, and generally having what I would call a productive day. I envisioned my beautiful family (pictured on the left) waking up all healthy and ready to face the day. However, I forgot about Proverbs 19:21- "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."

God's plans began to be revealed around 3:00 this morning when our middle child, the one sticking her tongue out, began having the same symptoms our other two kids had the day before. Pretty soon she and my wife were... getting rid of some unwanted food shall we say. By the time the sun was up they were both incapacitated, which meant a "stay at home and try to get work done from there" kind of a day for me.

Some might complain about this. After all, the work I was going to do still has to get done. Just because real li…

Wind-Up Wednesday: 4-yr-old "Miracle on Ice" speech

I really enjoy the movie "Miracle" which chronicles the 1980 US hockey team's journey through the Winter Olympics. One of the most moving portions is the speech Herb Brooks gives to motivate his team to play the  undefeated Russians. A good friend sent me this link of a 4-yr-old giving the same speech. Enjoy!

Here is the original speech from the movie if you care to compare and contrast:

Don't Neglect God's House

I love my house. My wife has done some amazing things with decorations and paint to really make it feel like a home. Hopefully we all have a place like this, where we can relax and just rest from the troubles of the day. We put a lot of time and effort into these places, manicuring our lawns, buying furniture, hanging pictures, and getting just the right amount of technology to make our lives simple and easy.

Recently God confronted my view of our home in a little book called Haggai. Yes, Haggai is an actual book of the Bible. Maybe it still has that new-Bible smell in your copy. If you turn the pages too fast you'll miss it. It's only two chapters long; less than forty verses. This book is the recorded prophecies of a man (Haggai) who was sent to encourage Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem around 500 years before Christ. In it I read these challenging words: "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?... Thus…

Sunday Singables: "Show Us Christ"

"Show Us Christ" by Doug Plank and Bob Kauflin, released by Sovereign Grace Music on The Gathering (2011)

Last week I featured a song which is a great aid to reading and hearing God's Word. Today I feature another one that focuses on the preaching of God's Word and the many ways God blesses His people through this means.

Why I recommend this song for worship-

I believe the centerpiece of the worship service is the preaching of the Word. This is where God speaks to His people. This song does a wonderful job of emphasizing the grace that comes through hearing God's Word. Each line features another way in which God works through preaching. The chorus is a great response to these verses as we pray, "Show us Christ..." Even the bridge, with its reference to John 6, points us to the fact that only in Christ are found the words of eternal life. This song is a good one to sing right before the message and has the wonderful quality of being able to be sung no matt…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Ron Swansonisms

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Parks & Rec. Ron Swanson has to be my favorite character, and here are a few reasons why:

Death In God's Time

What is certain? What will happen? Once upon a time we could answer these questions with wishful desires. I will grow up. I will get married and have a family of my own. My children will be happy and those things aren't so certain. In different countries around the world hardly anything is certain. In places like Israel bombings happen everyday and no one is really sure what tomorrow will bring. Here in America we are getting a taste of just how elusive certainty is. What can we really believe in? What is sure? What will happen?

One thing should be abundantly clear to all of us. This life is not guaranteed to last beyond our current breath. At any moment it can end. As James writes, "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." None of us knows for sure what tomorrow will bring. We take steps to prevent death. We try to be safe. We exercise and eat right. But none of …

Sunday Singables: "Do You Tremble"

"Do You Tremble" by Wes King, released on Common Creed

This is an oldie, well, an oldie where I come from, but your kids are gonna love it. I first heard this in junior high back in the '90s when CCM was in its hayday and Sonic Flood's worship album was the first of its kind. We still use it in our worship services and here's why:

Why I recommend this song for worship:

God's Word should be the centerpiece of our time together on Sunday morning. This is how God speaks to us and how He continues to reveal Himself. In our service or worship, God's Word comes to us through scripture reading, biblical texts in the songs we sing, and through preaching. As we prepare our hearts to hear God's Word it is helpful to be able to pray scripture or sing scripture to help in that preparation. Songs like Show Us Christ, and Speak, O Lord are good choices for this (both of which will be featured soon). I would add this one to the mix of great songs that call us to have…

What's My Identity?

These are a few reflections from our most recent Men's Breakfast meeting at my church here in IL.

Each of us has many roles. Sometimes we have no choice about those roles, like being a son, brother, student, American, etc. Sometimes those roles are things we strive to achieve, like that of husband, mother, boss, or athlete. Other roles we may be less tied to, like Cubs fan, fisherman, scrap-booker, etc. Whatever roles we have, they all play a role in our identity. They help to define who we are. We may even combine these roles from situation to situation. On Sunday I may emphasize my role of Worship Leading Husband Youth Worker. My wife may strive to be an Athletic Homemaking Mother. Whatever our roles may be, they play a part in who we are and in who we hope to become.

So, where does Christian fall into your list of roles? Personally, I find it easy to just be a sports fan, father, son, or even a pastor. That isn't to say that it's easy doing all that these roles demand, …

Wind-Up Wednesday: Where Hot Dogs Come From

Today's fun video is very instructional. Have you ever where Hot Dogs come from, or how they are made? Watch this little video to find out. Just to warn you, it isn't pretty...

Sunday Singables: "And Can It Be?"

"And Can It Be?" written by Charles Wesley, music and arrangement by Scott Roley & Indelible Grace

Why I recommend this song for worship-
This song served as our call to to worship this morning. It combines the classic words of Charles Wesley with a fresh new tune. Part of my passion in music ministry is introducing classic hymns to a new generation as well as making older hymns sound fresh and new. Indelible Grace is a ministry that shares this passion. In order to rework hymns, sometimes just a new arrangement with the same melody is needed. Sometimes it means a whole new melody. With this hymn either one will work. I still love the original majestic tune found in most hymnals. However, the new upbeat music from Indelible Grace fits the joy that the words speak of very well. The repetitive melody is easy to pick up and allows the singer to really focus on the words without having to think too hard about what note to sing next. This will be one we use in our congregation…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Google Nose (beta)

April fools was just wonderful this year. We got several people to believe my wife actually wanted a dog and the Cubs may have tricked us into believing they are a good team (yet to be determined). Google, in typical Google fashion, also put a new app into their suite of programs to make searching easier. Take a look.

Introducing Google Nose beta

The Perfect Game

I don't often do this, but I want to repost something from a blog I follow. It's from Kevin DeYoung's post today about our national pastime, baseball. I love baseball. The strategy, the stories... there's just something about it that is magical to me. Whether you like it or not, Kevin's post is worth the read. He is an excellent writer and puts many of my own thoughts into eloquent prose I could never reproduce. Here is a sample:

"I have always been a big sports fan. I got that from my dad, saw it in my grandfathers, and found it in all my friends. Now I’m passing it on to my sons. Chicago-born, I’ve been a lifelong Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Sox fan. The rest of the extended DeYoung clan roots for the Cubs, but my dad had the good sense to switch loyalties with the Go-Go Sox of ’59, and now I’ll be a Sox fan for life...

I know the many knocks on baseball: The games are too slow. The season is too long. The contracts are too big. I know about steroids and s…