Category Archives: Doxology

Silence . . .

silence

Four hundred years of it to be precise.

No prophecy.

No revelation.

Nothing.

Did HE forget about US?

I know we have forgotten Him many times. But, did He finally give up on us?   We are living as captives in our own country, it is occupied territory. Did He forget His promise? We are supposed to have a KING, not some emperor in  far away land.

Which reminds me, aren’t we supposed to be the nation others look to for hope? Because, right now, I can’t remember the last time I had hope. I remember being taught the songs of our people. Songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of expectation, songs of exultation,  and songs of lament. Lately it is one of those last ones that springs to mind. You know the one, it starts out, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

Indeed, how long? . . .

AND THEN! . . .

Then, an angel of the Lord  stood before  us,  and the glory of the Lord  shone around us, and we were terrified.   But the angel said to us, “Don’t be afraid,  for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior,  who is Messiah  the Lord,  was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”   Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth  to people He favors!

Wait, what?

A Baby?

No, not just a baby, a savior. Finally! A Savior! Descendant of Kings.

Can it be?

Dare we hope?

I have to see this for myself.   And there He is! So tiny, so frail, so ordinary. Wait! No, not ordinary. Just normal, like me. But He is so much more too. He is special. The angel called Him a Savior, our Savior. My Savior.

Wow! Now my soul is reminded of another song. This one is at the end of the book. It goes like this (in case you don’t remember it),

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah!

Praise God in His sanctuary.

Praise Him in His mighty heavens.

Praise Him for His powerful acts;

praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast;

praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dance;

praise Him with flute and strings.

Praise Him with resounding cymbals;

praise Him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!  

Indeed, Hallelujah!

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Filed under Christmas, Doxology, GRACE, Joy, Psalms

Death? No such thing.

On that hour the sun darkened, the clouds loomed, the rocks split, and the whole of creation groaned.  

WHY?  

Becuase the Creator died.  

On that day, men knew regret, mothers knew grief, children saw cruelty, and no one saw hope.  

WHY?  

Because Jesus was being murdered.  

In that moment, true loneliness took on form, unrivalled pain was known, and eternal fellowship was broken.  

WHY?  

Because the sinless became sin, and the Holy One could not bear to look on Him.  

On that day all hope seemed lost, all joy placed beyond reach, all courage drained out of the hearts of men.  

WHY?  

Because, it seemed it had all been a lie.  

On that day, in that hour, it could not possibly have gotten worse. It was the darkest day in history. The cruelest hour of humanity. The most hopeless moment of all time.

Friday.  

Sin, when it has born its fruit brings forth death.

DEATH.  

But on Sunday . . .  

On Sunday Jesus, maker of all things, defated death.  

On Sunday, death died.

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Filed under Doxology, Easter, General Thoughts, SIN, The Gospel

Rejoice! A King is Born!

God throughout history has issued many commands.  He has demanded obedience, worship, faith, and fear.  But on this night He commands men to rejoice!  He tells us to give Him glory.  In the silence of a field populated by sheep and shepherds God sends His angels to proclaim the greatest announcement — EVER!

God became a man!  The eternal became time-bound, the perfect became like us.  Not like the rich and powerful, but like the poor and the lonely.  He was born in a barn.  Not a clean, neat, picturesque Norman Rockwell-like barn, but a filthy, smelly, manure filled place where animals live.

And He was BORN.  The sovereign King of all the universe had His umbilical chord cut and His diapers changed.  He learned to walk and talk.  He fell and scraped His knees.  He who had never felt pain or discomfort came to know and take on all of ours.  And when He was born he was put in an animal’s feeding trough.

He was frail, and weak.  He was a baby.  He who had spoken galaxies into existence now had to cry to be fed.  The one who designed the seasons now suffered from the heat and the cold.

The one who had eternally existed in the glory of the throne room now shared space with sheep and oxen.

There had never been a stranger event in all of History.  God had become a man.  So when the angels said rejoice they were not talking about a simple minute of awe and wonder.  The angels were talking about a new and incredible event that would forever cause men everywhere to sing!  The angels announced the birth of the Son of God.  And His birth is what we still celebrate.

God became flesh.  God came to be with us so that we might one day be able to be with Him.

Word of God become flesh.  God with us, Emmanuel!

He also became sin for us that we might become His righteousness.  It was not just the birth of God incarnate the angels announced.  It was the birth of a Savior!

So as you worship the Christ today remember He is not a babe in a manger.  He is the King of Glory come to redeem us from sin.  He is God in the flesh.  He is the Messiah.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.  He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He is the Wonderful Counselor, and the Prince of Peace.  He is our propitiation, and our atoning sacrifice.  He is Jesus!

Glory to God in the Highest!

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Filed under Christmas, Doxology, General Thoughts, The Gospel

Why the Church?

Have you ever wondered why God would ordain an institution into existence like the church? I have. I know that for most of us the church could be separated into two categories; the ones we love and the ones we avoid. Notice that I did not say that there are good and bad churches, or that the ones we love and the ones we avoid are not the same church at different times.

There are times when we are in a church and it is the place we long to be most. We crave the fellowship and we desire the nearness of others like us. But, there are other times; times when we dread going to church. It might be someone we feel has wronged us and we want to avoid. It may be that we are in sin and want to stay away because we fear being exposed and convicted by God’s word. Whatever the reason I think we can all agree that “church” is not a perfect concept. Don’t get me wrong! I did not say that God messed up when he instituted the church. I said that the church is not perfect. Ever wonder why? It’s because of YOU! (And me, and every other human being that makes up the church!) One of my mentors used to say that ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people. I agree. So, if God is omniscient (and HE is) then why would he pick an institution like the church for His people to gather in and worship? I believe there are two reasons.

The First reason is because it will bring Him glory. The Second reason is because it will bring Him more glory! Allow me to explain. God is desirous of absolute praise and glory. This is not egomaniacal or proud. It is right and good. (See the writings of John Piper on this.) God is WORTHY OF ALL WORSHIP!!! The church exists to bring HIM honor and glory and praise. It is HIS right! Some of you may want to argue that the church exist to spread the gospel. To you I would kindly say that you are wrong. Christians have the command to spread the gospel, disciple and baptize. The church is in part a means where this is facilitated but it is NOT the church’s (or the pastor’s) job to evangelize. That job falls to individuals.

So, if the church is not a place for evangelism, then what? I want to make it clear that evangelism can and does take place in the church. My point is that evangelism is not the purpose of the church. The purpose of the church is to glorify God. Doubt me? Then check this out. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21) That is purpose number one.

Purpose number two is what makes the church amazing! How does an organization that has as its purpose to glorify God bring God more glory? Look at that verse in Ephesians again. It happens by Christ Jesus. It is by becoming like Jesus that we glorify God. It is by loving one another that we become like Jesus. I mean why would anyone want to be a part of a church? There are people there! If we are all alike in our humanity then I don’t want to be anywhere near them!

It is said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Whether you agree with that or not it is true that few things can hurt as much as the words and actions of people. In the church it can be even worse. Why? Because generally, these are people we love and trust, and when they show that they are still sinners it hurts. I know that not only have I experienced this but I am guilty of doing it also. It is this that brings God glory. Not the sin, the fact that as we grow in Christ likeness we change and do those things less and less. It is this that is God-honoring. It is this change in the makeup of the church that brings God glory. So this weekend when you go to church, remember that you are there for one reason and act in a way that would bring God glory!

Until next time,

PM

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Filed under Doxology, General Thoughts, State of Christianity, The Church, Worship

My Favorite Story

I would like to take a brief break this week from the Fruit of the Spirit to talk to you about my favorite story. Of all the stories ever told in the entire History of man, no other story has the power this one has. No other story regardless of how grand or well thought out has the widespread distribution this one has. Nor is there ever to be found a more compelling tale. This is no work of fiction. It is not a light tale either. The elements of it are at once both simple and complex. The level of raw emotion in this story is so high that many cannot contain their tears as they hear it. I for one have difficulty containing my own tears as I tell it. For some it is merely a story. For me it is the crux of human existence. Of course I am referring to the Story of Jesus. His birth. His life. His death. And, of course, His resurrection!

 

The story of Jesus is one of sorrow and joy. It is a story about life and death. It is a story about despair and hope. The best part is that it is the only story I know where there is no end. You see, there can be no end to a story about Jesus. As the old song says, “Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.” Sinful men (just like you and I) crucified Jesus. They did it because they hated Him. Not because they had any reason to hate Him, mind you. Of all the men who have or ever will walk this earth no one was like Jesus. He was perfect. No sin. Nothing anyone could ever accuse Him of. And for that they hated Him. They falsely accused Him and then sentenced Him to die.

 

And die He did. But He did not stay dead. Three days after they crucified Him He rose from the dead. That is what we celebrate at Easter.

 

I have to warn you up front that I love Easter! It is the best day in the history of humanity and one that we as Christians commemorate yearly. I wholeheartedly support the commemoration of the resurrection. But I also feel as if we have forgotten that when we gather together on Sundays to worship God that we come to worship a risen Savior. So often I sit in church and wonder why we are so “ho-hum” about the best thing that has ever happened to us.

 

Christians gather and sing as if they were at a funeral. All serious and sad, glum faces all around. I hate to break it to you people but my Jesus is alive and He loves to break up funerals! He healed the sick, brought the dead back to life and there is no one who would enjoy an upbeat service more than my Jesus.

 

This is why I love Easter Sunday. For once we come to the house of the Living God and act as we should. We sing with gusto and joy. We smile and reflect on the fact that our God is not buried and dead, but alive and among us! Why do we forget that, when His friends were gathered to grieve over His death, Jesus walked in and told them to stop and be at peace? My friends, Easter is a great day. But it is a great day because the Jesus who rose from the dead over two thousand years ago is still alive today!

 

I urge you now my brethren to rejoice in the Risen Son of God, not just today but every day. And when you gather together to worship, remember that you are not at a funeral. Jesus’ tomb is as empty today as when Mary went to it many years ago. Rejoice! Shout praises to God! Raise your hands in worship! Sing to Him the new song He put in your heart! Whatever you do don’t you dare act like He is dead.

 

I would like to leave you with these words which remind us of the wonderful, joyous truth of our faith.

 

THE DAY OF RESURRECTION

John of Damascus, early 8th century

English translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866

 

The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad—the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God! From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky, our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory!

 

Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light; and, list’ning to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain, His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

 

Now let the heav’ns be joyful, let earth her song begin, let the round world keep triumph and all that is therein; let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend, for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end!

 

 

 

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On Doxology

Praise. It’s a small word. In our surroundings this word can make many cringe. After all most that use it jump from praise to music. RELAX! I am not going to talk about music. But I do want to draw your attention to the principle of worship. My goal is not to be controversial, but rather to remind us all of the absolute necessity of worship. You see, we are made to worship. Even complete atheists have to worship something. For Christians, however, there is much more to this need, there is purpose!

 

We have the opportunity to worship The One that made us to be worshippers. What is so great about Christian worship, also known as doxology, is that only in Christian worship is there true fulfillment of the need we have to worship.

Think of all the people you know that are bound up in worshipping anything but God. Personally I know a few individuals who are caught up in the worship of many things; science, money, family, work, power position, etc. Out of all those I know, not a single one could be described as even remotely happy, let alone joyful. Why because the very things they worship are vain and empty. The object of their worship has no power. What they adore has no lasting value.

 

For the Christian worship fulfills the longing of the heart, the need of the soul, and the breadth of the mind. When it comes to the heart of man it is a vile thing that is utterly wicked, but in Christ it finds forgiveness and cleansing, and through those it finds peace. Man’s soul finds regeneration and redemption, and in those reconciliation with its maker. As far as man’s mind it is only in God that the insatiable vastness of the human intellect finds its superior. The most brilliant minds in history could never even come close to understanding who God is.

 

It is this that for me is so inscrutable when it comes to worship. My heart wanders from time to time from its proper place of worship to God. My soul aches at times when sin renews the barriers between God and me. And my mind? My mind reels from the sheer vastness of the simple idea of an eternal, perfect being that is sovereign over all. It really is incomprehensible.

 

The bottom line, though, is that God is and the he made us to worship, not just something, but HIM ALONE!! Nowhere else is there joy, peace, love, grace, mercy, and all the benefits of knowing God, but at the altar of worship. You want meaning? It is at the place where you worship. No, not your church. It is found when in your heart and soul and mind you truly worship. When your entire being is engaged in giving uncompromising praise and adoration to the one true God. Only then does our life have meaning.

 

Some of you may be thinking, “O.K. so you made the point about the need for worship, but what about the why?” Why do we worship, beyond the point of our being made for it? Simple. Because God is worthy of worship! No not because He loved us, or because He gave His Son for us. Simply because HE IS WORTHY OF WORSHIP!! Can I be more emphatic? Let me try. If you worship anything but God you are in sin. If you don’t worship God you cannot truly be a Christian. You may be saying, “Man that is harsh!” It may be, but it is also true.

 

A Christian is one who knowing the God of the Bible accepts the truth and worships. A roman 10:9 says that to be saved one has to acknowledge Christ as LORD. That is an act of worship! Beyond the fact that God is worthy is the fact that God demands worship. That’s right, I said, “demands. Isaiah 42:8 tells us that God will not give HIS glory to anyone else. God is passionate about HIS own glory.

 

There is one more reason to worship. To me it is the one that is the easiest to comprehend and the one I most forget. We should worship God out of gratitude. The apostle Paul continuously gives thanks to God. (By the way, THAT is praise!) Paul praises God for grace and mercy, love and so much more. These were not merely things that he received from God, but evidences to Paul of who God is. If you have experienced the redemption of your soul, you OWE God worship, not just once or twice a week, but continually. So give it a try, take some time today to worship, you were made for it, and God deserves it!!

 

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Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

This past week, as you all know, we celebrated the holiday called Thanksgiving. I have spent the last few days thinking about what it means to be thankful and would like to share my thoughts with you.

First I would like to tell you about a few things I am thankful for:

I am thankful for a Godly heritage.

I am thankful for Loving Godly parents.

I am thankful for a wonderful wife (I love you, Jenn).

I am thankful for three wonderful children.

I am thankful for God trusting me to raise these children for His glory.

I am thankful for God’s unending mercy.

I am thankful for God’s loving kindness.

I am thankful for God’s grace which is always sufficient.

I am thankful for God’s love which is unconditional.

I am thankful for God’s care which is tender and continual.

I am thankful for God’s sovereignty which ensures I cannot mess things up beyond repair.

I am thankful for God’s holiness that made Him send His Son to die for me.

I am thankful for God’s provision of all I need.

I am thankful for God’s adoption of a sinner like me.

I am thankful for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who teaches me how to live to please the Father.

That is just the beginning of a very long list. But these things have one thing in common, they require action. You see true thankfulness is more than just a feeling. Thankfulness is action. How I respond to the things I am (or should be) thankful for shows whether I truly am thankful or not. Do I tell the people I love that I am thankful for them in my life? Do I take the time to thank God for all that He does for me on a daily basis? One comedian joked that God keeps the world spinning at a constant speed so our watches don’t get messed up. Have we thanked Him?

This may be nothing new to some of you, but for me it is a needed reminder. Ungratefulness was the first sin the nation of Israel always committed before straying from God. Let us not make the same mistake. Take some time today and pray through Psalm 103. We have so much to be thankful for.

To those who are reading this, I want to thank my family, and friends for helping me along the road to Christlikeness. I have not arrived, but I am closer thanks to your role in my life. God bless you in accordance with His will, and my gratitude!

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