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Monday, July 25, 2011

What is “Ministering to the Lord?”

The phrase that is sometimes heard among those leading worship is that we must come and “minister to the Lord,” and since the word “minister” can bring to our minds the idea of “meeting needs,” we need to think seriously what we are saying. This is particularly interesting since God is self sufficient and needs nothing. The following found its spark from discussions in our Bible Study last Sunday, as well as a followup conversation with my wife, Kathy.

To be able to talk about the subject, I’ll list the more prominent passages that deal with ministering to the Lord as well as ministering before the Lord, which is similar. The goal here is not to provide commentary for each passage, but see the common elements that exist.

Old Testament:
Psalm 101:6
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.

Isaiah 56:6
And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—

Judges 20:28
with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?” The LORD responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”

1 Samuel 2:18
But Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod.

1 Chronicles 16:1
[ Ministering Before the Ark ] They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God.

Jeremiah 33:21
then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Acts 13:2 New International Version (©1984)
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

New Living Translation (©2007)
One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them."

English Standard Version (©2001)
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Numbers 18:2
Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law.

1 Samuel 2:30
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.

1 Samuel 2:35
I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

1 Chronicles 15:2
Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the LORD chose them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister before him forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:4
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel:

1 Chronicles 23:13
The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the LORD, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever.

2 Chronicles 29:11
My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”

Jeremiah 33:22
I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’”

Ezekiel 40:46
and the room facing north is for the priests who guard the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the LORD to minister before him.”

Ezekiel 43:19
You are to give a young bull as a sin offering to the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok, who come near to minister before me, declares the Sovereign LORD.

Ezekiel 44:15
“‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD.

Ezekiel 44:16
They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards.

Ezekiel 45:4
It will be the sacred portion of the land for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and who draw near to minister before the LORD. It will be a place for their houses as well as a holy place for the sanctuary.

Joel 1:9
Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the LORD.

Joel 1:13
Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God.

Joel 2:17
Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

There is an interesting addition in two passages in 1 Chronicles 16:4 and 1 Chronicles 25: 6-7. The first passage were to lead the praising of God through music, while the other describes their particular work was that of leading, being “trained and skilled” in music.

Old Testament Summary:
1. It was restricted to the priesthood.
2. It was tied to the carrying out of their responsibilities to offer sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people.
3. It was done in recognition of who God was and what He had done for them.
4. It was done in obedience to what God had commanded.
5. It was tied to worship.

New Testament:
The passages related to “ministering to the Lord” in the New Testament are limited.

The Acts 13:2 passage [“While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." NASB ©1995] might equally be translated “while they were worshiping the Lord” [NIV, NLT, ESV].

There are few instances where Jesus is “ministered to:” the first is after the temptation account in the wilderness and he was ministered to by angels [Matthew 4:11]. Another is Jesus being anointed in the house of Simon the leper by the adulterous woman [Matthew 26:6-13], and a general reference to the women that offered help to Jesus and the disciples [ Matthew 27:55-56] and the anointing of the Lord’s body after the crucifixion might be considered in this same light [Mark 16:1]. With the possible exception of the adulterous woman, which might be considered worship as well as service, the instances revolve around meeting the physical needs of Christ. The motivation for doing so was no doubt out of love.

In the Apostle John’s Revelation, the idea of ministering seems to center around a constant recognition of the character and nature of God, from the angelic beings that proclaim His holiness [Revelation 4:8-11], and His work of salvation, who in response bow down before the throne saying “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” [Revelation 5:12-14].

General Summary and Conclusions:
The common thread seems to be an awesome recognition of the greatness and majesty of the character of God and the recognition of His gracious redemption of His people through His great acts. Ministering to God would then involve an obedient response to God’s character and work, or how worship itself may be defined: “The obedience response to the revealed nature, character, and work of God.” As we worship God then, we are ministering to Him. The more that we understand about who God is and what He has done, the more that we can allow Him to renew and remold our minds and our thinking, the more that we will be better able to minister or worship Him.

God needs nothing, so there is no need in Him that we might possible meet, however God does have desires: He desires to have a relationship with us. He knows that the most satisfying relationship that meets our inmost needs is found in our recognition of who He is and our submission to the plan that He has for us. We can only come to that relationship through the confession of our sins and recognition of God’s saving act of redemption through His Son, Jesus. We must come to realization of the absolute power and authority of God over everything, and begin the process of grasping the depth of His love for us in what He did through Christ in redemption.

Our submission and obedience are tied to our understanding of who God is and what He has done. As we live our lives allowing His love and work as our point of reference, we joyfully submit our wills and lives to the One who loved us enough to give His own life to reclaim us, rising from the dead, showing His power and authority over even death itself. We respond in obedience to His nature and work. We can do nothing less than worship Him.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Preparing for Worship: Psalm 24 – Revisited

While doing some study in again in Psalm 24 recently, the Lord underscored some truths and helped me understand even more how necessary preparation for worship really is. Let’s look again at David’s psalm:

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

5 They will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory. [NIV]


Background
Psalm 24 could have been used as a song to prepare for worship, perhaps when the ark is brought to Jerusalem. Never the less, it still serves as a reminder for us today about preparing for worship. [I am indebted in great part to Tremper Longman and David Garland, who provide good insight and commentary into the Psalms in their volume on “Psalms” found in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, Volume 5, by Zondervan, published in 2008.]

Biblical scholars are uncertain as to the occasion for which the psalm was written, but its celebration as God as the Great King is central to the theme. In verses 1-2, the psalmist declares that Yahweh created everything, and thus He owns it, directs its, controls it. Part of the preparation for worship is the recognition that God is the Creator and Owner of all. We really have no rights to ourselves. He is the Absolute Master of all things. He created it all and made all the rules. We are His servants to do His bidding.

Once David has established that Yahweh is the great Creator-King, he has set the stage for the question, “Who may go and worship Him?” and the answers for the question [verses 3-6]. Knowing that God is the All-Powerful Creator is essential in recognizing just who is to be worshiped. We are not just approaching another important person, but God, Himself– Ruler, Creator and King. Because of who He is, not just anyone may approach Him. Who may come before Him to worship? “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” [4] By clean hands, the psalmist in not talking about whether or not someone has washed their hands with soap and water, but one who has been forgiven, and one whose actions are right. Those of a pure heart come to God with pure motives. Those that come to God come trusting in Him alone as God, placing faith alone in Him. Part of the preparation for worship is right actions and pure motives. We cannot approach Holy God with unconfessed sin in our hearts and lives. We cannot approach God with alternative motives for our own selfish gain or pleasure. Realizing that He alone is Lord and Master of it all helps prepare us for this.

Such trust is not without reward: “They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.” [5] God bestows His gracious loving-kindness on them and becomes their protector. The true sons of Jacob are those who approaches God without sinful actions, who comes with pure motives, and considers only Yahweh as his only God. The same is true for us today: coming to God rightly has its rewards: the unmerited favor of God, that is, His blessing as well as His protection, His vindication. God is responsible for my reputation; we can trust our safety and our reputations to Him for His honor and glory.

Once we realize that God is in ultimate control, once we are prepared to meet Him, then the call comes to open the gates to receive Him. This might have been an antiphonal song between the people and the leaders. They are not to “lift up their heads to an idol”, but to who? The King of Glory. In this context, it is a sign of rejoicing. The repetition is for the emphasis given to the preparation. The Creator-God is the King of Glory; He is the LORD Almighty. As LORD Almighty, is the Covenant keeping God who is the most powerful and most mighty, worthy of all glory, all honor and all praise.

The psalm speaks to us today to prepare for worship. We must realize that He alone is the Creator King. We must approach Him on His terms. We must open the gates and recognize Who, God is: the Creator-King who is also the King of Glory, the Great Victorious Warrior. He has already conquered sin and death. He already reigns over the universe. He is Yahweh Almighty, the Covenant Keeping Creator God who desires to have a relationship with us.

Application:
-What are you going to do today to prepare for worship?
-Will you realize that God alone is the Absolute Ruler and Owner of all things?
-Why not proclaim that out loud right now?
-Will you confess any sin and wrong motives and seek forgiveness from the Father? Preparation for worship demands that we approach God with clean hands and a pure heart, depending on Him alone as our God.
-Will we make those preparations necessary that honor Who He is and What He has done?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Elevator

After teaching about worship for twenty years in Latin America as a missionary and over ten years in Seminary, I am more convinced than ever that there is a greater desire now to worship God than I have seen in years past. As great as the desire is, there seems to be more confusion as to what is biblical worship and even more in actually worshiping. Worship has been confused with buildings, clothing, music, and a host of other things.

I have well over 100 hundred books on worship and worship related topics in my personal library in my office and more seem to be published every week. With all this information about worship, one would think that there would be less confusion rather than more. If information alone could transform our worship, then we should have long since seen a revolution in our church services. But information is only part of the solution. Learning how to apply what we know may be the biggest challenge we face.

One of the key issues is not so much the amount of content available about worship, but how to worship. Over the years I have asked scores of groups how they knew that they had had a worship experience and the answers have been literally all over the map. If we are not sure what biblical worship is, we certainly will never know if we are following what Scripture teaches. More than likely, we will be basing our judgement of the comparison of others, other groups, or even just our on feelings to measure our worship. My sincere desire is to help push back all the preconceived notions and give some practical helps as we gather together for corporate worship. There are a multitude of resources available for personal spiritual growth and I would encourage their use, however the focus of this text is personal preparation for corporate worship.

When we gather as the Body of Christ we center our focus on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith and we do so as the Body of Christ, not just as individuals. Many look for what may be happening on the platform to determine their worship experience, but I believe one of the keys that has been missing is the what is not happening in the pew. Blame is placed so easily on the preacher, the music, and so many other issues, without having examined to see if the Bride of Christ is ready to meet her groom. Regardless of who may be on the platform, only God’s Spirit can transform those moments together into what may be called “worship,” and there are some definite things that the Body must do so that worship may occur. What are they? That’s the heart of this book: Worship HeartCries

Friday, July 15, 2011

Six Ways to Transform Boring to Fruit Bearing: “Why do I have to study this stuff in the first place?”

The above statement is one that crosses the minds of most every student that is required to take a course in history, be it the History of Christianity, Music History, or Hymnology. A related question may have also been vocalized: “After all, all these people are dead, and why do I have to know all those dates? This stuff has nothing to do with today!” At first, the statement seems to only be that of a “whiner” and should be ignored, however the truth that the question raises is actually more revealing: Material has been taught without adequately explaining the need for knowing that particular content.

Countless students have been subjected to “boring lectures about dead people” rather than giving them an understanding of how what has happened in the past is an integral part of their present and future. Unfortunately, Scripture itself, has been taught in the same way with similar results. I would not accuse all who teach of this crime, nor would I say that not all students would sit eagerly awaiting the content if presented adequately, but I do wish to lay down some helps that might aid both in transforming “boring to fruit bearing.” With that in mind, please allow me to give my “two cents” toward a solution to the problem. I would first like to give some technical background and then some biblical understanding that I trust will be helpful.

Warning: technical information ahead. Please keep reading, the road may be bumpy, but will get better soon.

Time, space, nor purpose allow for trying to explain how we learn, but basic to learning itself is understanding the levels at which we grasp material. I am not claiming to be an expert on learning, but only a learner myself. I share these things because they have been a great help to me in my journey of teaching. “Bloom’s Taxonomy” can give us a basic understanding of the various levels of learning:
[http://www.utexas.edu/student/utlc/study_groups/pgm_study_strategies/studying_blooms.pdf]
Knowledge: Observation and recall of information
Comprehension: Understanding information, grasping its meaning.
Application: Using learned material in a new context or applying the rules, methods, or theories learned.
Analysis: Seeing patterns, recognizing hidden meanings and identifying and organizing parts of a whole.
Synthesis: Generalizing from known facts, putting together ideas or knowledge from several areas to create new ideas, drawing conclusions, seeing relationships
Evaluation: Comparing and discriminating between ideas, assessing the value of theories, ideas, presentations, or plans; verifying the value of evidence, determining the objectivity/subjectivity of information and value of evidence, sing reasoned arguments to make choices

Our levels of understanding are much deeper than just “knowing” the content, the most basic level, yet this is the one that is most often the focus of testing and retention. If we are to move past just a superficial understanding of any subject, we must move on to comprehension of the information, application of the information, analysis of that information, and hopefully to a synthesis and evaluation of that information.

Allow me to give an example of how this works using Martin Luther as an example:

Knowledge: Observation and recall of information
– Luther protested non-biblical practices by nailing his 95 thesis to the door at Wittenberg.
Comprehension: Understanding information, grasping its meaning.
– His belief that Scripture dictates practice led him to remove from the mass those things which Scripture did not teach and to change to a language that all the people could understand.
– This led him to emphasize the importance of congregational participation in public worship

Application: Using learned material in a new context or applying the rules, methods, or theories learned.
– Just as a study of Scripture revealed to Luther that congregational participation is important to public worship, so as we plan worship, we need to keep in mind corporate worship must involve the entire congregation.
Analysis: Seeing patterns, recognizing hidden meanings and identifying and organizing parts of a whole.
To accomplish his task of involving the congregation and teaching Scripture to the congregation,Luther paraphrased passages, such as Psalm 46 [A Mighty Fortress], and wrote melodies in which the congregation could sing. He also encouraged the writing and composing of hymns on biblical topics for teaching.
– This is contrasted with Zwingli, who did not allow music in worship and Calvin, who allowed only unaccompanied psalms sung in unison in worship.

Synthesis: Generalizing from known facts, putting together ideas or knowledge from several areas to create new ideas, drawing conclusions, seeing relationships
Though each of these reformers were godly men and seeking Scripture as their guide, each approached the issue from differing viewpoints.
– In time, all three would influence a future generation of worshipers and play an important role in the development of congregational worship.

– There are various worship related issues today that are similar to past ones; perhaps seeing how they were dealt with then could help us today.
Evaluation: Comparing and discriminating between ideas, assessing the value of theories, ideas,presentations, or plans; verifying the value of evidence, determining the objectivity/subjectivity of information and value of evidence, using reasoned arguments to make choices.
– As those who followed the practices of these reformers grew, modifications and refinements were made, so that over time, the singing of hymns was included in most of the groups that previously only used the psalter.
– As groups react with one another, there is a tendency to become more fixed in certain beliefs, and at the same time refine others. Though this change may take more than one generation, adjustments will be made.
– An evaluation of worship practices in Southern Baptist churches in the 1950's differed greatly with those of more Pentecostal leanings, however, the current worship practices of many SBC churches is similar to those of some charismatic congregations.

The previous statements are given as an example and represent personal opinion, but do provide an example of the various levels.

The evaluation of the past for guidance and understanding of the present and direction for the future is a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures. Moses commanded the people to teach their children so that they would be able to follow God’s laws and understand the meaning for why they did what they did. [Exodus 12:26], Joshua did the same after crossing the Jordan [Joshua 4:6]. Psalm 78 is a wonderful example of explaining sharing the history, but also the reasons for which they needed to do it:
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.


Asaph continues giving detailed histories of God’s mighty acts and how the people continued to sin, were punished, and about God’s abundant mercy and grace. The purpose for doing so had been established in the first eight verses.

Paul in Romans 15:4 gives us similar encouragement: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” A key to moving beyond boredom to fruit bearing is to seek out the lessons of the past and apply them to our present situation.

I can remember a high school student complaining about having to go to Sunday School saying, “But I’ve heard all those stories before!” The sad truth was that the only thing being shared was content. Somewhere there was a well meaning teacher repeating the content that had been shared to him or her, and now the process was just repeating itself. What little application there might have been, [“we all need to trust God more,”] was never shared with “how” to trust God more. How do we do that? It takes some work, some thinking, but it is well worth it.

“OK,” you might say, “but how do I start doing all this? No one ever taught me that way, how can I do it?” I would start with learning to ask questions related to the material involved. Learning the content is just the first step, and asking pertinent questions can help mine out the deeper things that can make the difference and even life changing insights. For example:
[Knowledge] What is being said? Who, when, where, and how is it being said?”
[Comprehension] Why is it being said? What difference did it make?
[Application] What difference would it make if we were to do it? How can we apply some principles from this?
[Analysis] How were they able to overcome the obstacles and make it work? Why did it not work? What were the outside influences involved and how did they affect the outcome? Can I break it down into smaller parts
[Synthesis] Have there been other times when similar things have happened with the same or differing results?
[Evaluation] What might happen if this were tried now in our situation?


I’m sure that you can think of many more, for the questions change with the material to be shared, but these are just for starters to help get you going. Sharing the riches of God’s Word and helping students connect the past with the present is an exciting adventure and not one without bumps along the road, but it is definitely one that I keeps me ever digging more and learning more myself. God bless you in your journey!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“Let Us Take the Adventure that Aslan Sends Us...”

C. S. Lewis is my favorite author and his Chronicles of Narnia my favorite stories. We often listen to the Family Bible Radio version when on long trips in the car, so much so that I can’t count how many times my wife and I have listened. Our family’s trek into Narnia began years ago when our children were very small and each night Kathy would read aloud a chapter before the kids went to sleep. We lived in Panama at that time serving as missionaries, and Kathy’s nightly ritual was not only a favorite for our children, but became mine as well. For whatever reason, I had never read them before and became fascinated with the characters and the parallels that Lewis’ paints of the Christian life in each book. Aslan, the lion, understood as the Christ figure, and his power, wisdom and love, as well as teaching the children lessons about themselves and himself are the dominating themes.

Recently, on a return trip from Atlanta to New Orleans, we listened again to the last of the seven books, “The Last Battle,” and was taken by a phrase I had often heard in some of the other books, but seemed to come alive at this hearing. More than once, the major characters, facing an uncertain future or even death itself, place themselves under the “care of the Lion” and in courage and obedience to him say, “Let us now take the adventure that Aslan sends us...” I apologize for those that might not be familiar with the books, for these words would certainly not mean much without their context, and especially the context of having read the Chronicles. Be that as it may, I believe that Lewis’ insight into human character and biblical truth can give valuable help to not only the children for who the books were written, but on a much deeper level for the rest of us.

The truth is that many times we find ourselves at a point of obedience, but surrounded by uncertainty. When this happens, we must come to the point to act on our belief, to engage our trust is who God is, and what He has promised. We will be driven by our fear, or fed by our faith, but either way, we choose which will inform our decision. We must come to the point that we step out in faith and “take the adventure that God sends us.”

I would like to reference an occasion in the life of Christ that on the surface may not seem to have any connection whatsoever, but hopefully might have some parallels or points of contact. While on the cross, our Lord cries out the first verse of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We must understand that David must have been going through some unspeakable horror himself, to have written what is written, and later is understood as fulfillment of prophecy in the life of Christ. In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion [chapter 27], the Jewish leadership had already been mocking Christ with the phrases, “he saved others, he, himself he cannot save; if God delights in him, let God save him.” [27:42-43] Jesus’ cry of Psalm 22:1 comes some three hours later. The witnesses of this Roman execution could not have avoided seeing the nails in his hands and feet, which references Psalm 22:16. The point is that many times we stop there in looking at Psalm 22 and the crucifixion, and miss the transition of faith and hope that is found in the end. Verse 24, states: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” I would encourage you to complete a study of the entire psalm, for there is not space or time in this context, but as you do, you will discover that David does not end with the same despair that he begun. In the midst of deep despair, God is there. In the face of hurt and confusion, disillusionment, God is in control.

“So what of it?” you may ask. Jesus, of course, would have been familiar with the entire psalm as would have many at Golgotha that day. In a similar fashion that one might think of the entirety of Psalm 23, by only hearing the phrase “the Lord is my Shepherd,” many might have remembered the ending of Psalm 22 and the hope and confidence in the midst of suffering that David verbalized. So the expression of the anguish on the cross is not just a reference of the incredible agony of the Son of God dying and paying the price to redeem all humanity, but giving the implied hope of victory as well. [I am indebted to Mrs. Jessica McMillan, one of our DMA students and her work in “biblical laments” for help in this area and to Dr. Dennis Cole, Professor of Hebrew at the seminary for his insights and encouragements in the vast areas of biblical worship that virtually lays untouched in worship today.]

Having anguished over the decision in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, in full obedience to complete what had to be done for our redemption, did not run away, but accepted what he knew would soon happen. One might say that He “took the adventure that God had sent.” We too, in faith can approach these critical days with the confidence that God is in control. That, though the future may not seem bright, we too, are as Lewis puts it, “between the paws of the Lion.” God cares. God is in control. We can trust ourselves to Him. So the next time you face a seemingly impossible situation, take heart to remember, who is really in charge, so that you can “take the adventure that God has sent you.”