Archives For Worship

Earlier this month, Sandy and I spent a couple of relaxing days at Cape May, N.J., where the houses are Victorian, the breezes are fresh, and the beaches are wide. The only downer was the vicious cold I developed just in time for our little getaway. But even that couldn’t take away from the loveliness of our stay.

Actually, I used to be much more of a “downer” person. My tendency is to be introspective, perfectionist, even negative — and when looking within my own soul, I could catalog 10 thousand reasons why I didn’t measure up. I would stare within and find an awful lot not to like. Ever been there? I lived there.

Fact is, there’s always plenty of defect and stupidity and sin brewing around in our minds and hearts. Our actions, our desires, our thoughts, our words — they never do match up to the perfect standard of God’s . Not even close.

At Cape May, you can walk the wide beaches, and the sand seems almost infinite. Imagine trying to count not merely the smooth little stones that wash up but every grain of sand!…

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What songs should we choose for the worship service? What should we do for our fall campaign? How many minutes should the sermon be? How should we organize the chairs in the worship center?

The list could go on.

Pastors are constantly faced with practical questions. What to do has become the driving force of ministry, and as a result we spend our time trying to figure out how to do it. A vast majority of seminars and conferences today are focused on the “how”. Strategy is the name of the game and the equipment for playing is resourcefulness, creativity and innovation.

When faced with a question of what to do we immediately turn to the equipment above. Unfortunately, what this often means is that our strategy is determined by us, rather than God. In a sense, we lead as functional deists, believing God has left us to do his work in the here and now. By including one key piece of equipment in our strategic method we can help reorient our “how” under the authority and guidance of God. The piece of equipment that needs to be added is…

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Now that Christ has thoroughly obliterated all your reason for fear of death and the grave, what are you doing to ensure that you remain fully engaged, at maximum performance, and with sustained health? What does your life plan consist of?

Source: Serving Strong

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Get a Life!

By Jon Walker

“’And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,’ says the Lord. ‘But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.’” (Jeremiah 45:5 NKJV)

“Once you get into the real world, you’ll find it’s not as easy as that.”

“You’re in for a rude awakening when you get out of here and into real life.”

These are things we might say to students who’ve never experienced life outside of school. But the truth is, even after we graduate, we still haven’t reached our real life in Christ.

We become real, healed, full human beings when we connect with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Until then, we’re still sending postcards from a fantasy life.

Our maturity in Jesus brings us closer and closer to real life, as established by God before he set the foundations of the world.

Thomas Merton, the prayer-centered monk, spoke in terms of life in the nasty-now-and-now being like an onion. God keeps peeling away the layers until the real you is revealed.

In a sense, God is explaining that when he says, “I will bring adversity on all flesh” (Jeremiah 45:5 NKJV)….

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“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:1–2 NIV)

“Getting ready to go to church.”

What emotions does that phrase evoke in your family? In your heart? Your mind? The psalmist yearned for the next time he could be in God’s house, worshiping with God’s people. Do you anticipate meeting with God this weekend at church? How are you getting prepared? You do know, of course, that if you’re not in church, you can’t meet with him there. So first of all, get to church this weekend! God set a day apart every seven days not just for physical rest, but also for worshiping God with God’s people because he knew we needed it! He also commanded it.

Second of all, where’s your Bible? I hope you have already done so by now, but if you haven’t, go find it! Dust that thing off. Take it with you to church. The Bible calls itself “God’s Word” and also “the Sword of the Spirit.” Who would want to leave home without that?

Third, begin to get spiritually prepared. Spend a…

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I’ve just recently read “Mud, Sweat and Tears,” an autobiography by adventurer Bear Grylls. In case you’re not familiar with Grylls, he’s the star of TV’s “Man vs. Wild.” During each show, Grylls is dropped in some of the toughest terrains on Earth and then has to find his way back to civilization. Highlights so far have included him sleeping inside the hollowed-out carcass of a dead camel, paddling a tiny self-made raft through shark-infested seas, and wrestling a wild boar to the ground.

But the book’s account of his life story is even more intense than the TV show. We read of his gruelling SAS training (the daring special forces unit for the UK army) and breaking his back parachuting during a mission. Remarkably, after his recovery from this devastating event, he set his mind on a new goal and successfully became the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest. Incidentally, there are some nice insights into his faith in Christ running throughout the book, too.

I might actually be the complete opposite of Bear Grylls. Any thought I ever had of parachuting, building a…

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Your days are numbered.

That cheery thought occurred to me — not for the first time — as I read a USA TODAY story headlined, “How long do I have, Doc?” Patients often hesitate to ask their doctors that question, but many would like to know the answer. They can visit a new website that offers rough estimates of life expectancy based on their answers to a set of questions. Similar online tools predict longevity based on age, nutrition and level of physical activity.

One medical professional interviewed for the article questioned the value of such tools. “My experience is that patients know and families know that life is not infinite,” she told the reporter.

True, but occasional confirmation of your mortality — if not the actual date — can put things into spiritual perspective, regardless of age or health. “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom,” the psalmist prays (Psalm 90:12).

Time is a holy thing, if we make it so. It is our daily, hourly, moment-by-moment opportunity to love God. We can use it for Him, or we can…

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In 1990, my wife and I moved to Castaic, California to start a church.

Because we had limited start-up funding and because we realized that starting worship services was the expected method to start a church, we determined to hold our Grand Opening on November 4th – just three months after moving.

Once we set the date, we worked really hard to get ready for the first service and to let everyone in our community know that we were starting soon. We prepared two bulk mailings, newspaper advertising, door hangers, and signs. We held a sports clinic, picnics in the park, and completed a door-to-door survey. We embraced an approach that attempted to get as many people as possible to our Grand Opening!

We also made certain that we had good signage, greeters, ushers, nursery workers, sound equipment, bulletins, children’s curriculum/workers, refreshments, sound equipment, welcome packets, giving envelopes, banners, plants, special music, and someone to count the offering.

Just a few weeks before our Grand Opening, Bob Logan (my mentor) said to me, “Dave, just prepare yourself to have a premature birth.” I was shocked by his statement….

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Handle with PrayerI’m wrapping up a message series on the subject of prayer this Sunday, and I’ve grown in my personal prayer walk as a result of preaching it. I’ve learned from some great sources and wanted to pass along a list of my favorites…

Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God’s Strength for Living by Charles Stanley

Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, The: Experience the Wonders of God through Prayer by E. M. Bounds

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Prayer, the Great Adventure by David Jeremiah

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

On Prayer and the Contemplative Life by Thomas Aquinas (currently free in Kindle edition)

On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively by Warren Wiersbe

Prayer: Asking and Receiving by John R. Rice (out of print, but one of the best)

Praying the Lord’s Prayer by J. I. Packer

The Power of Prayer and Fasting and How to Pray by Ronnie Floyd

Too Busy…

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

In faith, we know this to be true:

God manages circumstances.

Whether I turn to the right or to the left, my ears will hear a voice behind me, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).

He makes my paths straight as I lean on him and acknowledge him (Proverbs 3:5–6). He’s placed a hedge around me and he blesses the work of my hands (Job 1:10).

God says he is the only one capable of interpreting circumstances: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . . As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9 NIV).

When I see the circumstances the way God does, he says, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of…

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When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NIV)

TimeTiming was important to Jesus; everything in its time at just the right time. On his mission to bring you and me from death to life (Romans 6:13), he never rushed or struggled to play catch up.

He clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. He never arrived late and he never arrived early, he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus was born at exactly the right time to be in Bethlehem with his parents, right as the stars aligned to announce the birth of Israel’s long-awaited king. When he was older, he stayed to study Scripture in the temple, even though his parents left for home.

When others thought he was late, Jesus arrived just in time to raise Lazarus from the dead. When his brothers wanted him to go with them to the Festival of Shelters, Jesus told them, “Go on to the festival. My time…

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If a crowd of children was coming to your home for an Easter egg hunt, would you just give each child a carton of raw eggs as they arrived? Of course not. You’d boil and color eggs, decorate, and prepare prizes and snacks.

For churches, Easter Sunday is like that. Extra preparation is essential for such a special day. It’s one of the highest attendances of the year, and many who come may not know Jesus as their personal Savior. Will your church be well prepared? Need ideas? Here are a few items to consider:

  • Offsite parking. If a guest can’t find a parking space, he may just drive away. Rent or borrow offsite parking lots, then shuttle leaders and members to the church by van or golf cart.
  • Request extra prayer. Contact your church’s homebound members to ask for their intense prayers during Easter Sunday’s worship service.
  • Contingency plans. Appoint an umbrella crew, in case of rain. Double the number of decision counselors, parking lot greeters and childcare volunteers. If your normal attendance fills more than three-fourths of available seating, consider adding worship services or overflow video viewing areas.
  • Move…

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