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Showing posts from January, 2015

The Promised Lion of Judah

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In Genesis 49 we come to the end of the life of one of the patriarchs of the Jewish faith. Jacob is on his deathbed when he calls his sons together to bless and prophesy over each of them. If we look at the history of each of the sons we might guess how each blessing might go. Surely Joseph would get the greatest blessing being the favorite son and the savior of his family. However, that's not quite how it goes.

The first three sons are quickly dismissed as heirs to the main blessing. Reuban "went up to [his] father's bed" by sleeping with one of Jacob's concubines (Bilhah in Genesis 35:22). This removes the blessing of the first born from him. The next two in line, Simeon and Levi, are dismissed as well for their role in the bloody massacre of the men of Shechem (Genesis 34). That brings us to Judah, the fourth-born son of Leah.

Judah is an interesting character in Genesis. He was the one who had the idea to sell Joseph off to the Ishmaelites rather than killin…

RTM- All Creatures of Our God and King

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This week I've resolved to memorize (RTM) one of my favorite hymns. The words open with one of the themes of Psalm 19- "All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing... alleluia!" The hymn goes on to declare the glory of God from the heavens and all creation, urging us to join the refrain of praise.

The original words of this hymn are credited to St. Francis of Assissi. In 2013 the talented Baird family took hold of it and wrote some fabulous lyrics to add to the original work. They take the broad creational focus of the song and narrow it down to the redeemed people of God. By doing this they show us a wonderful picture of praise beginning with creation and ending with those who have been newly created in the image of Christ. (I wrote in detail about this in a previous Sunday Singable post. You can click here to read that.)

The reason I'm memorizing this is two-fold. The practical reason is that we do this hymn often in our church and I wan…

Heirs According to Promise

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One of the foundational covenants in scripture is the covenant between God and Abraham. There are many layers to this promise, beginning in Genesis 12 where God promises blessing. It continues in chapter 15 where God promises offspring, and then is officially cut in Genesis 17 where God promises to be the God of Abraham and His offspring, promising him eternal blessing and an inheritance in the land of Canaan forever.

"That's all well and good," you may say, "but what about me? I'm not a physical offspring of Abraham. Why is this a promise for me?" The answer comes from how we need to read our Bibles as New Testament believers.

The Bible is one story, given by one divine Author, written to focus on Christ. Jesus Himself showed the disciples this after He rose from the dead (Luke 24:27, 45). This is also affirmed in 2 Corinthians 1:20 as we read that all the promises of God find their "Yes" in Christ. The scriptures these passages point to are not…

Resolved to Memorize- In Christ Alone

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"In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song." Thus begins one of the most beloved modern hymns of our generation. The concept of Christ alone flows from every corner of scripture. The phrase is also commonly associated with the Protestant Reformation of 1517 as one of the five Solas. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)joins Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone) as the pillars of the reformational doctrine of the time. These foundational truths magnify God's grace, sovereignty, and purposeful hand in salvation.

The beginning and end of this song speak of the hope we have in Christ. This hope extends beyond the day to day needs we face, although I believe it does include those things. The hope mentioned in verse 1 encourages us to rest on Christ amidst trials and suffering. This hope continues into verses two and three and points us to our spiritual life of just…

Promise 3- Gracious Blessing

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In the first 11 chapters of Genesis we see a span of history that lasts several thousand years. From time to time Moses drops in on significant events like the Flood or the Tower of Babel. However, in chapter 12 things slow way down. We are introduced to man who would eventually be called Abraham and spend the next 14 chapters looking at his life and the lives of his immediate family. What was so special about this man? Why him? Have you ever thought about what endeared Abraham to God so much that he would lavish on him great blessing and place him as the ancestral patriarch of three of the worlds largest religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)?

Maybe it was his wealth. Perhaps he came from a solid family or was a man of great character. Was he handsome? Popular? Charismatic? Ambitious? All of these things may have been true about him, but what was it that made God call him out above all the other people of his day?

The answer is nothing. God chose Abraham because he wanted to; …

Resolved to Memorize- Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

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One of my favorite calls to worship is this week's song Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Line after line speak to my heart. At its core this song speaks of the sovereignty of God over all things, including our circumstances and His creation. Each verse reminds us of His gracious care and love, leading us to the only response that is appropriate- praising the Lord.

At the end of the third verse we see the line I highlighted in the picture to the left: "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do if with His love He befriend thee." When was the last time you pondered what friendship with the Almighty meant to you? Do we realize that King of all creation has chosen us to be His friends? We didn't befriend Him. We looked down at us in our brokenness and rebellion and said, "I will call that one 'Friend'." It still blows me away that God would choose to do that.

The scene captured above is from The Chronicles of Narnia. It's the moment when Aslan speaks t…

Promise 2- Preservation from Destruction

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Each Sunday in 2015 our church will be reminded of one of God's promises from His Word

And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.
The Lord said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man... Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."
- Genesis 9:12-16, 8:21-22 -
A fun question we used to ask to get to know people was this: "If a huge natural or man-made disaster was to hit the world, what do you think it would be?" The answers tol…

Resolved to Memorize- Grace Unmeasured

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Grace is one of the most important themes in all scripture. It is the heart of the Gospel- getting what we don't deserve. I love how this song captures so many of the nuances of this simple word, borrowing some great theology from Ephesians 1-2, wrapping it all up in beautiful poetry.

When you think about the grace of God in your life, what comes to mind? Does this idea begin and end with your justification, or does it continue into the daily routine of your everyday life? Something this song brings to the definition of grace is its ongoing nature. Grace didn't end when we were justified and adopted. Grace "abounds" as this song says in verse 2. It continues to flow, giving us the desires to be like Christ and strengthening us with the Spirit to act on those desires. This song also reminds us of the finishing work of grace, how it brings God's work in us to completion (Philippians 1:6) as we go through the doors of death into our eternal reward.

The chorus summa…

Promise 1- The Defeat of the Serpent

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"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." ~ Genesis 3:15 ~
"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus Christ] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil..." ~ Hebrews 2:14 ~
In 2015 our congregation (at Hixson Presbyterian Church) will be reading through the promises of God each week. This is the first promise we will read in our worship service. It is one of the first promises in scripture and the beginning of the revelation of God's plan for salvation. Theologians call this the Proto- Evangelium, or the First Gospel. This passage begins amidst the tragedy of the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. Mankind is now lost in their sin, separated from God's grace, on their way to eternal damnation. But God has a plan. He promises the serpent that One is…

Resolved to Memorize- Come Thou Fount

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We all have resolutions for the new year- weight loss, get out of debt, spend more time with family, etc. I've thought a lot about what I can work on in 2015. All of the goals mentioned above are worthy, and I'll probably attempt all of them in the coming months. However, I wanted to go a bit deeper and work on something that will engage both my heart and mind. That's why I've decided that my main goal for this year is to memorize more songs.
My profession is to worship. What a privilege! Each week I get to craft a service that focuses hearts and minds on the Creator of the universe. When Sunday roles around I want to be as prepared as possible to lead in worship. I recently preached on this topic (you can listen to that here) and have become increasingly convicted that I need to do more on the music end to be personally ready. One of the things that will really help me is to memorize the music that I lead each week. This will keep me from being so tied to my music an…

New Posts for the New Year

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After almost an entire year off I think it's time to get blogging again. I have a few new things I'll be writing about throughout the year, some in relation to my ministry at Hixson Pres, some just personal musings about life.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to memorize more of the songs we do in worship. You can read more about that in my upcoming posts. Each week I'll feature the songs that I'm memorizing as well as a lead sheet and some thoughts. I'm hopeful this will detach me from my written music more and help me engage with the Lord and the congregation more effectively.

The other regular feature will be a weekly promise from scripture. We'll be reading through 52 promises from God's Word as a regular part of our liturgy and I'll put those up during the week before we read them on Sunday.

My desire is that you'll be encouraged and helped in your personal time of worship during the week. This will also help me to be active in my own…