The Song in My Heart series #2 “The Giant”

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David’s life is the most chronicled in the Old Testament. Through the lens of Scripture each generation has had the opportunity to not only read about his highs and lows and his victories and his failures, but to scrutinize them as well. Few of us would be comfortable with our lives being recorded and studied as David’s has been for generation after generation. Yet, the fact that Scripture provides us with such and honest and thorough narrative of His life allows us to relate to his story and to be challenged by it. What we find in David is a flawed man, just like you and I. However, that is not his whole story, he was also a man who lived a life of complete trust in God. His trust wasn’t a blind trust but one rooted in a keen understanding of who God is and how He operates. As a result, David was labeled, by God, a man after God’s own heart. David’s complete trust resulted in the glory of God being displayed time and again in the highs and lows of his life. And his story is an encouragement to each one of us that our flawed life can be a song revealing God’s glory when we allow our life story to be a display of our complete dependence on God on every page and in every chapter.

 

Life Support series #2 “Sustaining Life”

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Genesis 1 forms a foundation for much of what we understand about life and how to live it. God creates humanity in His own image and delegates to humanity the responsibility for the care of creation. In Genesis 1:28 we find important truths about how we are to live life, support life, and even mulitiply life on this earth as God’s image bearers. We see that life thrives and multiplies when we live sustainably.

 

Kingdom Chronicles series #4 “Withstanding Error”

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Paul continues his breakdown of the armor of a follower of Jesus Christ with the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. These pieces of armor are critical for withstanding the onslaught of subtle lies and deception that the enemy throws at the believer.

 

Summoned to God’s Table series #8: Sabbath – Rejoice the Heart

Along with the 7 annual feasts that God established for His people, He also established the weekly rhythm of 6 days work and one day rest. We call this one day of rest the sabbath, and though it is grossly misunderstood and misused within the body of Christ, God designed it to be a glorious gift that we need in our lives to function as He has created us to function. One of the benefits we see through Scripture of seeking to enjoy the gift of sabbath is that through practicing sabbath our heart rejoices as we abandon ourselves to God’s sanctifying grace.

 

Summoned to God’s Table series #7: Sabbath – Restore the Soul

Along with the 7 annual feasts that God established for His people, He also established the weekly rhythm of 6 days work and one day rest. We call this one day of rest the sabbath, and though it is grossly misunderstood and misused within the body of Christ, God designed it to be a glorious gift that we need in our lives to function as He has created us to function. One of the benefits we see through Scripture of seeking to enjoy the gift of sabbath is that through practicing sabbath our soul is restored as we focus our gaze Godward.

 

The Story series #14 “Riven”


We all need a fan, someone to cheer us on and root for us even when we struggle to root for ourselves. As we continue looking at the history of the nation of Israel unfold we see that God is humanity’s biggest fan. Even when the nation of Israel is doing everything to defeat themselves God still relentlessly pursues them and roots for them to live within His borders and enjoy His promises.

 

Valuing Our Vision series #1: It’s All His

message title: It’s All His

message text: Psalm 24

message date: 05.30.10

Ownership matters.  When I possess something as its owner I also possess the authority to determine the usage of that thing.  This series will answer questions of ownership and management.  It will look at the world, our lives, and our resources in light of the reality that God owns everything and therefore sets the parameters for our management of all we have and are.  In this message we will start at the beginning, God.  As Creator and Keeper, God possesses the title deed to everything.

 

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Babies, Bulls, and Buddy Lee

            Love is one of the most sought after and needed things among the human race.  Studies have shown that babies who are depraved of love actually experience long lasting physical, emotional, psychological and physiological damage.  This was clearly evidenced by some information compiled by Rene Spitz. In a South American orphanage, Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others. Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages 3 months to 3 years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, cuddle, and talk to them as a mother would. After three months many of them showed signs of abnormality. Besides a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep well, many of the children lay with a vacant expression in their eyes. After five months, serious deterioration set in.  They lay whimpering, with troubled and twisted faces. Often, when a doctor or nurse would pick up an infant, it would scream in terror. Twenty seven, almost one third, of the children died the first year, but not from lack of food or health care. They died of a lack of touch and emotional nurture. Seven more died the second year for the same reason. Only twenty one of the 97 children survived, most suffering serious psychological damage.   Love isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity.

Unfortunately, love is also one of the most misunderstood and ill defined notions within humanity.  I came across a story in Reader’s Digest this week of just such a mistaken understanding of love.  A young man was attending a junior stock show when a grand-champion lamb, owned by a little girl, was being auctioned. As the bids reached five dollars per pound, the little girl, standing beside the lamb in the arena, began to cry. At ten dollars, the tears were streaming down her face and she clasped her arms tightly around the lamb’s neck. The higher the bids rose, the more she cried. Finally, a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000, but then announced that he was donating it to the little girl. The crowd applauded and cheered. Months later, the young man was judging some statewide essays when he came across one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb had been auctioned. “The prices began to get so high during the bidding,” she wrote, “that I started to cry from happiness.” She continued with: “The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get returned the lamb to me, and when I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb—and it was really delicious.”  Everything we perceive as love isn’t necessarily.

In the words of Johnny Lee, “[We are] lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many places.”  If most of were asked to give a definition of love we would hem and haw around a little, stumble and stammer a little more and then come up with some definition that was a conglomeration of clichés like, “love is a warm fuzzy,” and “love is never needing to say I’m sorry.”  But regardless of most of the definitions we give, eventually we recognize that they fall short of what love really is.  We see what we think to be love carried out but then realize it has fallen short of what we sense to be love, but still we can’t seem to get our arms around.

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote centuries ago that God is love.  I would say that most of us have heard this phrase at least one time in our lifetime, but have we really let it sink in?  This is a statement about who God is within Himself.  Love originates in God and perfect love is supremely expressed in Him.  This is the love we are looking for!  But, as with any of us, this is something that we cannot know about God, or know at all, unless He reveals it to us.  Fortunately John also tells us that God has shown His love to us through giving His Son, the object of His eternal love, to forgive us of our sins.  In this great act of forgiveness God reveals to us the greatest expression of love the world has ever known.  And it is right here in front of us.  Unfortunately, we are constantly rejecting, reinterpreting, and redefining this love and accepting crumby counterfeits in a futile search for this love that God is openly offering to us.  It’s as if we are walking through life and at every turn God is offering us the very love we are so desperately searching for, but we are so focused on the phony fabrications that we miss it at every turn.  Looking for love?  If you are not looking to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers at the cross then you are most assuredly looking in all the wrong places.

Set Free to Sing

shoes in mud            I once took a group of middle and high school students on an adventure hike through the woods.  As part of this hike we were to cross a small stream bed that had not completely dried up yet.  Upon approaching the stream bed I thought nothing of the crossing until I planted my foot on what I thought would be semi solid ground.  My foot sunk in mud to my knee.  Getting it out was like trying to remove my leg from quick drying cement.  When I finally did get my leg out the mud had claimed its first victim, my shoe.  This was only the first victim, as each student crossed the treacherous bog the mud got increasingly greedy.  At one point we thought we were going to lose one of the students who stepped in and somehow ended up with both feet in the mire enveloped from the waist down.  It took two of the strongest adult chaperones on the hike ten minutes to pull her from the clutches of the sludge.

            On another occasion my family was on vacation at the beach.  My father had taught me to body surf when I was younger and it was one of our favorite pass times when we would vacation at the beach.  I had never body surfed on waves so big and powerful.  They were pushing me farther and faster than I had ever experienced.  I was having a great time until I caught one of the waves a little too low and it drove me to the sandy bottom.  I hadn’t taken enough of a breath because I wasn’t expecting to be underwater so my air supply was quickly dwindling as I frantically searched for the surface.  When I finally hit the surface another wave immediately slapped me in the face and drove me once again to the sandy bottom.  This time I thought I stood a strong chance of not making it back to the surface.  Fear and panic set in as I mustered every ounce of strength left in my body and with lungs screaming I fought my way to the surface.  By the time I got back to the beach I was so weak and tired I just lay there breathing in deep gasps of air.  I had never been so grateful for air in my life.

            A poet once used these two metaphors to describe what it was like for him when he was in one of the lowest points in his life.  He combined the thought of being stuck in a miry mud pit at the bottom of a well sinking deeper and deeper with each thrash with the idea that in this well was also tumultuous water.  It was as though as he sank deeper and deeper into the miry mud there were Hurricane Katrina-ish waves blasting him from all sides.  It’s all he could do to get a mouthful of air. 

            In the midst of this mayhem the poet cries out for help and waits for a response, which makes sense when one realizes that the situation requires more than a self-sufficient response.  That was what the young girl did who found herself stuck in the mud to her waist.  She not only cried out but cried a lot of tears as she waited for rescue too. 

            The coolest part of the poet’s verse is his proclamation after his deliverance.  After being lifted out of the chaotic sludge he proclaims that God put a new song in his heart, God is the one he cried out to and also the one who lifted him out of the mucky mess by the way.  I find it interesting that we equate joy and gratitude with singing or whistling.  When someone has just received good news from a doctor or from the boss, or when a young married couple finds out they are going to be having a child, these things are often accompanied by melody of some sort.  It’s been said, “Those who don’t sing, at least in their heart, are people who do not cherish anything very deeply, or feel intense gratitude for anything.  They are the sort of people who take life for granted.  They never soar with a sense of joy in their heart.”

            There are times when it takes the absence of something for us to really appreciate and cherish it.  For me, it was air that sunny afternoon on the beach.  As my family and I walked off the beach that day I couldn’t help but sing a joyful song with each new breath of fresh air.  God had put a new song in my heart.  It may not have been worthy of American Idol or Casey’s Top Forty but it was a joyous song.  He can do the same for you regardless of how chaotic your situation may appear.  Just cry out to Him and wait for His response, and while you’re waiting you might want to read Psalm 40, that’s the poet’s proclamation of God’s deliverance and a record of the new song God put in his heart.

The Core series #1

thecoremessage title: Creator

message text: Genesis 1:1

message date: 10.04.09

Our faith is built on non-negotiables that if compromised erode our evangelical faith.  The first of those non-negotiables is the conviction that God is creator and everything begins with the God of the Bible.