God is smart!

20 02 2009

Note to the faithful readers: Ryan pulled a Jeremiah Johnson on me, so I guess I’m temporarily in charge…

My dad, Bob, just got back recently from Cameroon and I wanted to share a very exciting aspect of his trip. Dad works with ITEM to train African pastors how to better shepherd their flocks in a biblical manner. Many of the local church leaders suffer from limited resources and bad training. Because of this, there are many issues of concern for the African church such as the wealth and prosperity doctrine and syncretism.africa

Dad has been to different parts of Africa many times, but there was an exciting new wrinkle in his last trip that just goes to prove who is really running the show. Prior to Dad’s trip a friend of the family who is a deacon at my church felt led to accompany him to Cameroon. Bob typically travels to French-speaking areas because of his fluency, so Tim was thinking he would go along as a source of encouragement and support.

As the departure date came closer, the details crystallized and Dad let Tim know that they would actually be going to one of the few English-speaking areas in Cameroon. While this was all well and good for Tim, what didn’t sit as well was when Dad told him that he could now teach some of the sessions! Read the rest of this entry »


Changing Worship

16 10 2008

My local church is working through a debate about worshiping.  I should qualify that because while we call our entire morning service “the worship service” (which entails singing, giving, and preaching), we’re pretty much just debating the singing part.  It amazes me that people will get so worked up about differences in opinions about singing styles.  Please understand that I don’t say that condescendingly, because I have strong feelings about it myself.  The operative word, of course, being “feelings”.

I spent the first eight years at my church experiencing worship in song with one leader, one pianist, and everyone holding a hymnal, and I loved it.  “The Solid Rock“, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin“, “The Love of God“, and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” are all ingrained in my soul and their words have helped me commune with God throughout my life.  Seven or so years ago, our assistant pastor (you may know him) took over the music ministry and instilled much needed focus and purpose.  All that was lost on me except that I noticed now we had words projected on the wall and we sang a lot more so-called “praise songs”.

I didn’t like it.

I liked my hymns and I had heard horror stories of churches turning into concert venues.  But the silly thing was that I knew I had no justifiable reason to be upset or worried.  The new songs we were singing were doctrinally sound, many of which I sang with vigor by myself listening to the car radio.  Understanding that I was just holding on to temporal preferences, I went along with the new format and gave Ryan a chance to work out his ministry.  Eventually we added an acoustic guitar, two accompanying singers standing off to the side (that’s important), and for a while we had an electric bass.

Now all these years later, I love the way it is.  In addition to the great hymns, I have “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us“, “In Christ Alone“, and “Blessed Be Your Name” which also help me praise and connect with my Creator.  I serve in the music ministry, and I enjoy the blended attitudes of duty and relaxation that our team carries. I have to say I love hearing God’s people sing.  But more change is around the corner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stick with Your Work

22 09 2008

In both life and ministry, it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of whose work we’re really doing.  Years ago I came across this wonderful and anonymous quote.  I have returned to it again and again to remind me of where my focus is to be.  I hope it encourages you today and helps you keep your eye fixed on the prize and your hand to the plow!

Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work.  Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you.

He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed.  He has never bidden you defend your character.  He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood (about yourself) which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation.  If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.

Keep at your work.  Let your aim be as steady as a star.  You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men.  But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, ‘I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.’

Bob Kauflin: The Partnership in Corporate Worship

27 08 2008

I am reading through Kauflin’s wonderful book, Worship Matters, and I’m greatly encouraged by this brother’s understanding of an issue many people are confused about or fighting over.  His high view of God and of His Word really reflect a “worship leader” who is properly prepared to lead people in corporate worship.  Also, this right view helps him properly approach potentially divisive issues like, “Who gets more time Sunday morning, the musicians or the preacher?”  Check out how he understands the partnership between the two.

Dr. Packer’s Advice for the Next Generation

1 08 2008

Came across this short interview of J. I. Packer by Mark Driscoll.  Packer detailed the top four areas young leaders should focus upon in light of the current trends in the Church and the areas of lack he sees in our generation.  Here are the top four areas, but check out the link for a more detailed description.

1. Understanding the Doctrine of Regeneration

2. A God-Centered Approach to Theology

3. Realizing that our Christian Living begins in the Home

4. Delving into the Doctrine of the Trinity

Ah, Holy Jesus

20 05 2008

I asked one of our pianists to pick some of the songs for our evening service this last Sunday. One of the songs she chose was “Ah, Holy Jesus.” I had never heard this song before, but was blown away by both the humbling message and the haunting melody. The lyrics brought us face to face with our sin (or better said “me face to face with my sin”) and the minor key that drives the accompaniment set the perfect musical tone.

Thank you, Becky, for expandning our musical library!

In case you’re not familiar with this song, below are the lyrics and a link to the music.

“Ah, Holy Jesus”
(click for midi file)

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
That man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
I crucified thee.

Lo, the good Shepherd for the sheep is offered:
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered:
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was thine incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation:
Thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee
Think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

T4G08…Day 3

18 04 2008

We should have expected it when we heard the title of John Piper’s morning session.  His message title was “How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice.”  Here’s a little advice: when you hear a sermon on suffering, be prepared for God to help you put it into practice!  But before we get to the day’s adventure…

Piper’s message was powerful.  He demonstrated, from the book of Hebrews, that it is the supremacy of Christ (Christ being “our treasure”) which motivates believers to endure and even rejoice in all manner of suffering.  Piper explained that this is especially true when it comes to what he called “radical suffering.”  Why would anyone “accept joyfully the seizure of their property” (Heb. 10:34) or “choose… to endure ill-treatment with the people of God” (11:25)?  Because they understand there is something better, something of greater value than “stuff” and “comfort”; because they understand the “treasure.”

As Piper talked through this idea, it became evident that he was really expounding the true theme of Hebrews.  The book holds up Christ as supreme, as better than all the old ways, and it does so for a very practical reason.  The audience was enduring suffering and intense persecution for their commitment and obedience to the Christian Gospel.  However, some were starting to waver and abandon the faith.  Why should they stick it out and pesevere?  Because Christ is better than anything else!

After wonderfully expounding this idea, Piper then moved on to show how a book that focuses on Christ as the supreme “means” (Christ the ultimate sacrifice, Christ the perfect high priest, Christ the author of our faith) really calls us to see Christ as the supreme “ends.”  Here he raised the question: what is God’s purpose for all things?  His purpose is that His glory would be manifested supremely through His grace for our joy.  And what is the ultimate expression of God’s grace for our joy?  It is Christ’s glorious saving work!  What will be our joy in all eternity?  What will we rejoice in and sing about and delight over for all eternity?  As Piper put it “The worst event in history [the cross] will be our song in eternity.”  The “means work” of Christ becomes the glorious ends we will celebrate.

Understanding this, that Christ and his glorious work is the treasure we’ll celebrate forever, Piper challenged us to “go to Him outside the camp” (Heb. 13:13), to find him in the midst of our suffering and to endure suffering, even rejoice in it, if that is where he is. That, he explained, is the point the author of Hebrews is making.

Following the message, there was another great panel discussion (which involved Piper’s unique praise of the women in his church “I could just marry them all!” and teasing John MacArthur for having a Bible with tabs).  The most profitable part (although laughter is good medicine!) was the discussion on preaching.  It was very insightful to listen to these godly brothers talk about how they prepare themselves for the preaching moment.

After the wonderful morning session, we headed back to the hotel and readied ourselves to head home.  We decided to skip the last session since it ended after noon and our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30.  Our thinking was, with over 5,000 pastors descending upon the airport, we’d want to get there early and get through check in and security.  Turned out that our ways were not God’s ways!  I think He would have rather we stayed for C. J.’s session (and I am truly disappointed that I missed it).

And here is where our adventure began. Read the rest of this entry »