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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer {Matthew 6:9-13}

Our Father in heaven,
Lord, we are commanded, encouraged to look to You,  the Creator of the Universe, in a personal way, as a perfect Father. As good as our fathers might have been, You, as “our Father in heaven” always responds in perfect love, perfect patience, perfect timing, for You alone know what has been, what is, and what will be. You are not limited to this physical world and time, but are in heaven, ruling over time and eternity. Help us not forget this prayer was given by the Son, who of His own will became a man, breaking through time and eternity to walk in the limitations of human flesh that we might see how much You, God love us, and also provide the way to forgiveness and restoration of that personal relationship that we might be able to call You, “our Father.”

hallowed be Your name,
Lord, You alone are hallowed, holy, separate from us, Creator, not creation. Holy is Your name, Your name is the personification of who You Are – The Great I AM, love, the Beginning and the End, the Eternal One, Righteous One, Lord God Almighty; and what You do: Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Redeemer, Rock, Fortress, Teacher, Protector, Provider, Comforter, Counselor, Friend.

Your kingdom come, 
May the way that You exercise rule and authority over all the universe, time and eternity be realized in this temporal, physical life that we experience now. Help us to become aware of that rule, and realize that we will see in more in its fullness when we are finally at home in heaven with You.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray that as Your will is a reality and is the natural response in every way in heaven, may it be just that way here on earth as well. That the worship we offer here, would be as the worship we will offer there; that the thoughts, words, and actions we have here will be the thoughts and words we will have there; that our understanding of You and Your will and ways would be as it will be in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.
We recognize that You, God are our Provider, Protector for our every need, and that those needs are constantly with us. Each day, we go to You for the food to nourish our bodies, for the provision of shelter and clothing, for the reassurance of Your presence and approval. May we not seek those things outside of Your hand, lest we accept less than what You would desire and what we truly need.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
You are the only One that can forgive our sins; we are absolutely helpless to do so on our own. The price of that forgiveness came at the cost of the life of Your, Son, Jesus. We seek forgiveness in no other person. In the way that you freely forgive our sins, help us to forgive those who sin against us –  To release to You those who offend us and to trust You to carry out  justice, as the Just and Upright One.  Help us to remember that no one could ever do to us what we have done that brought about the death of Christ; Help us to forgive as you have forgiven us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
While we live in this earthly tent, we know we cannot escape living among those desires and attractions that would lure us away from Your perfect will and plan. Help us to not succumb to shortcuts, and the easy way out, but patiently accept the disciplines of the formation of the character of Christ You are building into our lives.  Set our eyes and thoughts on “those things which are above;” help us to choose to avoid those things that trip us, and those “sins that so easily entangle.” Help us to be able to hear Your voice of warning; speak loudly so that we cannot mistake that it is Your voice that we are hearing. Provide that “way of escape that we might be able to bear it.”

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever, Amen.
For Yours alone, O God, is that authority to rule over all, the power to rule over all and the glory due for ruling over all as Lord God Almighty throughout eternity. So be it; so it really is.

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Lessons from Jonah for Thanksgiving

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah runs the other direction he heads far East toward Tarshish, on the coast of Spain; Nineveh, the principal city of the Assyrians, was far East in the opposite direction.  Considering that being a Hebrew and walking into the capital city and telling them that destruction was on the way would be like one of us going over to a Middle Eastern extremist group and giving the same message, one can understand Jonah’s reservation. Not only this, Jonah probably wanted God to punish this cruel and wicked nation. The problem was, that’s not what God had told him to do.  God will consistently move to see that His ultimate will is done: “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” [1:4]

The other members on the boat were not Hebrews, and when asked who he was, Jonah told them that he was running away from the God that made the heavens, earth, and sea, which was threatening to sink the boat they were in,   Jonah tells them to throw him overboard.  They resisted, but the storm only grew worse.   “Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.”[1:13-16]

 Notice that Jonah could have resisted and caused the death of all, but he doesn’t. This is the first glimmer of hope that he is having a change of heart.  Notice also that God can use even the bad circumstances to bring others to Himself.  

God sends a fish, granted a large one, to swallow Jonah and he stays there 3 days and nights.  It is there in the belly of the fish that he repents and prays for mercy. His prayer, recorded in chapter 2, is an amazing testimony of faith and trust in the goodness of God, despite the circumstances, for toward the end it turns into a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, even though he is still in the belly of the fish:
“When my life was ebbing away, 
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.
 “Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” [2:7-10]

Jonah could have been upset that though he escaped from the storm, he is swallowed by the fish, but God used this in his life to bring him to repentance. Jonah’s perspective changed: what could have been viewed as only making the situation worse, or no better, is now seen as God having mercy and saving him from the storm.  Repentance and gratitude begin to change his heart toward praise. God again directs and the fish deliver him to the shore.  Jonah was not useful until he became grateful.

God takes the initiative again by issuing the same basic command, almost as if nothing had happened. “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.” [3:1-3]

Surprisingly, miraculously the people of Nineveh respond.  One of the greatest revivals in all of Scripture occurs when this entire city repents and seeks God. When the people repent, God responds: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” [3:10] God could have sent an angel, or even another prophet to Nineveh, but doesn’t. Why? God wanted to teach Jonah about love and mercy and how deep His character and love are. He also wanted to show that salvation is for all who repent, regardless how pagan and evil.

Interestingly, the story doesn’t end here. Had the principle lesson been about the revival, the book would have ended, but it doesn’t. We do not have to read much into the story to realize that Jonah really had not paid much attention to the people responding and repenting, but God did. Look at Jonah’s response to God:

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” [4:1-3]

Jonah goes off farther East, hopefully to watch the fireworks as God destroys this enemy of the Hebrew nation. The Assyrians were a cruel and evil nation, raiding smaller countries around them and turning the inhabitants into slaves. Jonah hated them, and probably wanted to see God’s judgment on them, but God had other plans.

God’s plans for the angry prophet were not quite over. God prepares and gourd vine to grow which shades Jonah from the heat as he waits. Then God prepares a worm to eat the root of the vine, and then a hot dry wind to finish it off. In less than 24 hours Jonah goes from happy to angry over the vine. Listen to the dialogue between God and Jonah and how God teaches him how He cares for all people:

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” 
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” [4:9-11]

Jonah’s priorities were out of line. He cared more for his own convenience than he did for the souls of men. God uses the vine to illustrate Jonah’s selfishness and lack of love.

Jonah is a great little book, but what does this have to do with Thanksgiving?  Precisely that it was at the point of giving thanks, even before he was released from the belly of the fish, that Jonah was in a position to be used as God desired.  The following are some lessons that we need to take away as we read the book:

1. God will accomplish His will. He is willing to move heaven and earth to get it done. He desires that we obey Him willingly, but will use our rebellion against His will to teach us that obedience is always better.
2. Jonah was not useful until he became grateful.
3. God takes the initiative. Nine different times in the story God moves; He is not distant and far away when trouble comes, but rather as close as the nearest prayer.
4. God will bless even the unrighteous to bring them into a relationship with Himself.
5. Repentance and gratitude begin a work in our heart that can help us as we obey.
6. Many times we fail to see how merciful God has been with us. The “belly of the fish” we find ourselves in may really be a blessing in disguise.
7. God can and does use even the most mundane and ordinary things to accomplish His will. Never say that you are not “important” enough, or spiritual enough to be used by God. He used a storm, a fish, a gourd vine, a worm, and a dry wind to accomplish His task: He can use even us!
8. God will use the ordinary around us to reveal where our character does not reflect His nature.
9. God cares for all people, everywhere, for “He is not willing that any should perish.” [Matt. 18:14]
10. Years later, Peter is going to be in Joppa, the very town from which Jonah fled God’s will, and will have a choice to obey, even though it didn’t seem quite right, and he makes the correct decision to obey.

Are you in the belly of a big fish right now?  How will you choose to respond? What can you give thanks for right now?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas?

Soon we will gather together as the Body of Christ on earth and begin to celebrate His birth. But, some may ask, "Why all this fuss over a baby in a hay stall nearly 2000 years ago? What does that really have to do with me?"  I'm so glad you asked. That's something we would like to explore for just a moment.

We must begin with the beginning. I mean, THE beginning. Scripture says that God created the heavens and the earth. Regardless what else you may believe about what happened afterwards, we must begin with the fact the where did all there is come from?

Popular belief that rejects God has no real answer. As someone once stated, it is like the formula:
                                   "nothing + no one = something."
One doesn't have to be an intellectual scholar to realize the faulty reasoning in that statement. The stars and all the universe could not have just appeared all by themselves. There had to be a Pre-existing One, a Creator, and that Pre-existing One is God. God, who is eternal and has always been spoke into existence all the universe with the power of His Word.

So if we accept the fact that pre-existing God created everything, we also accept the fact that He did it intentionally and with purpose. What was that purpose? Listen to what the Scripture says in Eph 1:3-6–
 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the  creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

We were created to have fellowship with God. However, when the first man and woman had enjoyed a short time of walking with their Creator, they were tempted to reject what God said was good and chose instead to supplant that command with their own desires and opinions. They wanted the right to determine what was good and what was evil. The choice was fatal, and separated humankind from their Maker. Fellowship was broken. Atonement, or reconciliation had to be made to restore the relationship with God. We were unable to do anything to bring about the restoration necessary.

The result of this broken relationship was a vacuum in the lives of all men and women. Many, even today, try to lives their lives apart from the very One who could give them life, hope, fulfillment. The season of Christmas is just a hollow shadow, just a time to do something for others and bring on the party.

The sin in the garden wedged an eternal separation between God and His creation. The echos of the sin in the garden still are heard today in the refusal to seek God and His fellowship. Yet God provided a way for restoration, but it would be at great cost. God knew that the man and woman He had created would choose to follow their own path, so He provided a way to restore that
fellowship. That path, that way was the willing choice of the Son to become like one of His own creations to live a sinless life and become the willing sacrifice that would pay the price of our disobedience and through Him, restoring that relationship to becoming children of God.

Paul goes on in Eph. [1:7-10]
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ."

Somehow in the miraculous mind and plan of God, God becomes man through the birth of a virgin named Mary: [Luke 1:31-35]
"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

Some might say, "You are being too exclusive. Believing in Christ as the only way to God eliminates all other possibilities. That's too narrow." However, just think for a moment, truth by its very nature is exclusive: 2 + 2 = 4. To say that something is true, we have also have to be able to say that there are some things that are not true. Jesus, Himself claimed the be the Son of God. He said in John14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Here is the question we must answer: "Is what Jesus said  true?" For if it true then we must accept it, or reject it.{For more on this subject, let me encourage you to visit Ravi Zacharias' ministry website: I have found it to be a great source of help.}

One of God's gifts to man and woman at creation was the gift of free will; the ability to choose to follow Him or follow after their own desires. He wanted the fellowship with His creation to be one of free choice, not puppets on a string. When we choose to follow Him, we are  acknowledging that He is King of kings and Lord of lords!

What is our response to all that God has done? Scripture says in Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." And later, "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." We can respond to Him in faith, believing, accepting what He has done, receiving the eternal life that He alone can give. We can respond in worship!

All this came through a baby in a manger; that is why we celebrate this season. God became man and dwelt among us. God reached down to give us hope, to give us life, to restore the relationship that He has desired with His creation.

The only way we can truly celebrate Christmas is by the full recognition of Who Christ is. So much of this season has been pushed aside by making the center of the season what we want, and pleasing ourselves, yet we have seen the very heart of Christmas is the love of God and His provision to restore the relationship with men and women broken by sin, and restored by the sending of Jesus, His Son. Let's begin to shift that focus and put the spotlight where it really belongs, on Jesus Christ, the Living Son of God!

The question that remains is what we will do with these facts? What will be your response to all that God has done? The light that God has given is shining, literally thousands all over the world are seeking Him, seeking forgiveness, receiving eternal life. What about you?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What to Do When Criticized for Being “Too Young”

How do you respond when you are criticized for being too young? Many of those that lead worship are years or even decades younger that those for whom they lead.  Inexperience can lead to problems as David even described his son, Solomon, as young and inexperienced in 1 Chronicles 29.  How do you respond to such statements?  Fortunately for us, Paul must have had to deal the similar issues with criticism against his mentee, Timothy. The entire book is worthy of study, but for right now let's focus on just one verse:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. {1 Timothy 4:12}

Paul lines out 5 specific areas for Timothy to develop, and those same 5 are excellent things for our young worship leaders make a focus:
Speech: how you talk, what you say
Conduct: how you act, what you do, & live
Love: how you relate to others
Faith: the depth of your trust in God to act
Purity: holiness in your personal life

How do your respond when others think that you are too young? Paul's admonition is clear: be such an example that there is no room for criticism that can be substantiated.  Let's unpack these for a moment:

1. Speech: how you talk, what you say
Many times it is not just what we say, but the manner and tone in which it is said. Speaking before we really listen, or concentrating more on an answer while the other person is speaking, rather than making an earnest effort to hear their words and their intentions will only add to more confusion.

2. Conduct: how you act, what you do, & live 
Someone once said, "What you do is what you really believe, the rest is just hogwash..."  We will act out of our who we really are. Consistent conduct, not behavior that is is "on again and off again" leaves a testimony of perseverance, of being solid.

3. Love: how you relate to others
Love [here, "agape-" selfless love], is part of the fruit of being Spirit-filled [Gal. 5:22]. It is a reflection of the very nature and character of Christ, living through us. One only needs to refer back to Paul's description of love in 1 Cor. 13, [love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, etc...] to see the power that love has as we relate to others.

4. Faith: the depth of your trust in God to act
Another part of the fruit of the Spirit, faith is demonstrated when everything else may seem to the contrary. Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." It is one thing to say that we believe that God is in control of all things, and another to live that way when our circumstances seem to contradict that reality. We may be suffering under persecution, or other things, but the reality is that God is in control and as long as we are being obedient to His desires and ways, He will not allow anything that will not be for His ultimate glory and our good.

5. Purity: holiness in your personal life
"Integrity is what we are when no one is looking." I'm not sure who said it first, but its truth is undeniable. The greatest struggle will probably not be with those that oppose your opinion on music, styles, etc., but the most difficult area to master is living our that commitment to holiness in our lives. Purity implies “without spot or blemish,” which is difficult in a culture whose worldview demands tolerance of virtually everything devoid of moral virtual and intolerance for those with biblical standards.  This is a commitment we must make every day, 24/7.

You cannot control how old you are, but you can control how you talk, live, relate, trust and commit to a holy life.  Living a life dominated by these will silence the criticism, making them just hollow accusations.

One might be surprised that Paul waited to place love, until the third characteristic of how Timothy would avoid those around him from criticizing his age. Perhaps it is a reflection of a process.  Out of a commitment to a pure and holy life, comes the faith to believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Believing God will respond and live His life through us, empowers us to respond in love, which shapes our conduct and our speech.

So the next time that you are criticized for being "too young" for ministry, rather than try to argue or debate your way out of it, stop and refocus and compare yourself to what Paul gave Timothy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Buried Treasure for Worship Leaders

There are passages of Scripture that are a must for any worship leader to study and know. Unfortunately, some of these great lessons are buried in the lists of strange names and place in the Old Testament. One of these passages in found in the book of 1 Chronicles. Chronicles is the retelling of Israel’s history after the exile. At least one of its functions beside helping the people remember their own history, was to remember how to properly do what God had called them to do. Failure to follow God’s laws had led them into exile. Now, back from exile, they needed to know more than ever how to worship God and follow His commandments.

Here some buried treasure passages with which worship leaders should be familiar:

1 Chronicles 25:
5 (All these were sons of Heman the king’s seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.) 6 All these men were under the supervision of their father for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord—they numbered 288. 8 Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.

1. Heman was the prophet Samuel’s grandson. Even though Heman’s father did not follow in the footsteps of Samuel, the example of the grandfather must have been worthy of emulation.
2. God gave the children for the purpose of exalting God.
3. Fathers taught their children.
4. The children were trained them to be skillful. Implied that the fathers had become skillful as well.
5. Their focus was on service in the Temple for worship.
6. Young and old served along side of each other.

1 Chronicles 26:
6 Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiah also had sons, who were leaders in their father’s family because they were very capable men. 7 The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad; his relatives Elihu and Semakiah were also able men. 8 All these were descendants of Obed-Edom; they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work—descendants of Obed-Edom, 62 in all.
31 As for the Hebronites, Jeriah was their chief according to the genealogical records of their families. In the fortieth year of David’s reign a search was made in the records, and capable men among the Hebronites were found at Jazer in Gilead. 

1. Leaders were leaders because they were “very capable men,” not just because they were related to Obed-Edom.
2. Leadership demands the skill to lead and the ability to do the job they were called to do.
3. David reigned for 40 years. The search for capable leaders was even more crucial, since it was probably obvious that the king would not live much longer.

1 Chronicles 27:
1 This is the list of the Israelites—heads of families, commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and their officers, who served the king in all that concerned the army divisions that were on duty month by month throughout the year. Each division consisted of 24,000 men.
32 Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of insight and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hakmoni took care of the king’s sons. 33 Ahithophel was the king’s counselor.  Hushai the Arkite was the king’s confidant. 34 Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar. Joab was the commander of the royal army.

1. Each responsibility and duty related to Temple worship had been identified and assigned a specific group of individuals to take care that it was done properly.
2. Organization was for the effective functioning of worship, both when the ark was still in the tent in Jerusalem and when the Temple would be completed.
3. David surrounded himself with counselors, but one in particular was known as man of “insight and a scribe.”  This implied education, but probably close knowledge of the law of God as well.
4. David’s many wives bore him many sons, resulting that he could not carry out the responsibilities that a normal father would have done. This becomes tragically evident later in David’s life.
5. Everyone wants the ear of the king, so much so that friends who did not demand anything, but just wanted to be available for sharing were hard to find. David found such a friend and confidant in Hushai the Arkite. No doubt, he was someone with whom David could confide without risk of breaking confidential nature of the conversation.  David depends on Hushai to confuse the counsel of Ahithophel during Absalom’s rebellion.

1 Chronicles 28:
8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. 9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” 20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

1. Job one: Know the commandments of God and follow them. These words would have had more impact after the exile, because those returning would have lived to experience the pain of disobedience firsthand.
2. David had received from God the details for the Temple and how it was to be carried out.
3. David charges Solomon not to forget the law and to be “strong and courageous and do the work.” This echos Moses’ words to Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”
4. David had organized what had to be done, and who had to do it. His later life seemed to be focused on doing everything he could to make the dream of a Temple, a place for the worship of God a reality. The downside of this was that once Solomon had completed his father’s dream, he had no real dream of his own, and seemed to lean more on David’s relationship with God than his own.

1 Chronicles 29:
1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. 

1. Solomon would become the wisest man on earth, yet here he is described as “young and inexperienced.”  It is crucial that we don’t pass over that too quickly. Great ability and intelligence cannot bypass experience. Wise is the young worship leader who is willing to listen and not think that he or she knows it all, or fails to listen to suggestions or criticism.
2. The work we do is done primarily for the honor and glory of God.

All this can be quite overwhelming. Let’s summarize what we have seen:

1.  One of the most outstanding features of these chapters is the lists of leadership related to Temple worship. No one is left out; none seem more important than others. Their responsibilities vary from watching over those things used in worship, to being a guard or watchmen, to the actual leadership in adoration. Some of the guards were noted for being valiant warriors, or excellent counselors, while others were chosen for their musical ability.

2. They carried out their responsibility with excellence and with great skill, which at times included doing more than just what was required.

3. Organization was not just a way to reassign the Levites to new job positions, but providing that all could be done that needed to be done. Failure on anyone particular duties would affect everyone else’s ability to function as they should.

4. Fulfilling their responsibility with excellence was what distinguished them, not specific role they played.  Gatekeepers were not "less important" than some of the other responsibilities.

5. Everyone needs help from wise counselors; no one can know it all. These must be people with the wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word who have the freedom and responsibility to say that we may be making a wrong or poor decision.

6. These men left a heritage of God’s faithfulness for their families because their faithfulness was recorded.

7. Great talent and intelligence can not substitute for experience.

8. All must be done for the honor and glory of God.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What does it mean to be in the Presence of God?

God is omnipresent, that is, He is everywhere at all times. However, how we experience the Presence of God is through the reality of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives as believers. So, what does it mean to be in the Presence of God?  It will be helpful to trace some of the references related to God’s Presence to help us in understanding.

So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” [Gen. 4:16] If God is everywhere, then being driven out of the Lord’s presence must mean something else.  In the creation account, Adam and Eve had fellowship with God and walked with Him in the garden, but hid from Him after they had disobeyed God’s command.  This seems to be more than the omnipresence of God, but direct contact.

The tabernacle hosted the visible presence of God in the wilderness; God manifested Himself in a very specific way during those years, which included the cloud by day and column of fire by night. When God gave the “ten commandments” there was a cloud surrounding the top of the mountain. God even tells Moses that He will speak to him out the cloud so that the people will believe him. [Ex. 19:9]

Yet, after the incident with Aaron and the golden calf, Moses asks God who will go with them as they travel:
Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”  The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” [Ex 33:12-17]

Notice that Moses is not about to make the journey if God will not go with them, not just him. God’s blessing without God’s leadership is not what Moses needed.  Moses wanted the Presence of God to go with them as a people. Moses was interceding for them, not just looking out for his own interests.

Being in the Presence of the Lord implied being where He was, more than in the general sense of His omnipresence.  Being in the Lord’s Presence required cleansing and forgiveness. [Lev. 22:3]
Offerings were to be presented “in the presence of the Lord” and those who offered them before the Lord had to be ceremonially clean.

Moses was not the only person who heard the voice of God.  After the Elijah killed the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he runs from Jezebel and eventually is hiding in a cave:  “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” [1 Kings 19:11]

When the Northern tribes continued in their rebellion against the true worship of Jehovah, God allows the Assyrians to conquer them: “So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left,” [2 Kings 17:18] Even seeing this, Judah follows the northern tribes idolatries and separation from God’s Presence: “So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.’” [2 Kings 23:27] The punishment was banishment from God’s presence, the means was by the hand of the enemies of God.

The New Testament understanding of the Presence of God is expressed in the incarnation: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” [Hebrews 1:1-3]

God no longer is a mysterious cloud or fire; God has come in human flesh and dwells with His creation. Being in the Presence of God takes on new meaning; though it is not until the resurrection that the disciples begin to understand what they had been experiencing.  The Apostle John put it this way:  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:1, 14]

Before Jesus returns to the Father He commands His disciples to make disciples and gives the promise of His presence forever: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20]

The Holy Spirit came in fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” [John 14:16, 17]

The very Presence of God is with His believers, always; not only that, His Holy Spirit lives within us as well. We are in the very Presence of God, right now. Stop and think about it, for that is an awesome thought: God is here, right now; I didn’t have to scream to get Him to come; He is with me, He sees me, knows me, and lives in me through His Holy Spirit.

In the book of Revelation, the glory of heaven will be the reality of being in the Presence of God in the way for which we were created to experience.  The shadow land of our experience now cannot conceive of the glory of what God has planned and will reveal.

The Presence of God in the Old and New Testaments does have a common thread: relationship. The Omnipresence of God is a reality, it is a description of one of His attributes.  The Presence of God is a reality and is expressed in relationship with His creation. Whether through the act of forgiveness and the obedience in offering a sacrifice, to the hearing the voice of the Lord, God is revealing Himself so that we might develop a more intimate relationship with Himself.  Sin can break the fellowship, but nothing can change the relationship. Once we are a child of God, we may become disobedient children, but we are remain His children.  Being in the Presence of God is joy; banishment from the Presence of God is punishment.

If God is always with us, why can we always “feel” His presence?  The answer lies in our belief in the trustworthiness of the One who made the promise. It is not a matter of me trying to drum up enough faith to believe that God is with me whether I sense His presence or not, but knowing His character and nature, that He cannot lie and that He has promised it, I know that His presence is a reality. What does change is my awareness of His presence. My own distractions, frustrations, preoccupations, and of course sin, can dampen my sensitivity to the reality of the Presence of God.  He has not moved.

In one sense it is like the story of the hunters that trap a monkey by putting a banana in a cage with a hole just large enough for the monkey’s hand, but not with his hand holding the banana. The hunters catch the primate because he firmly held on to the banana resulting in capture, rather than let go and be free.  Our distractions, worries, and sin become the bananas that we refuse to release, all the while God is waiting for us to show us His love and help.

Feelings may or may not as a result of such times, but we need to be careful not to measure the depth of our relationship or maturity to the depth of feelings we have, but on the promise of God.  Sometimes I have a strong sense of His presence and sometimes I do not; that doesn't change the constancy of His Spirit in me or His presence with me. I can remember very well one experience of listening to some worship music, singing along and having a time that I was "very moved and very emotional", only to look down and notice that I was speeding. I really don't believe that what I was doing was "worship," since I was breaking the law by the carelessness. The point is that we cannot be dependent just on our feelings as a gauge as our spiritual temperature.

What does it mean to sense the Presence of God? It means we respond in faith and obedience to His promise, not depending on our feelings, which may or may not occur. Feelings are not the basis for our belief, but the surety of God’s Word. Like the old illustration of the train: Fact as the engine, Faith as the fuel, and Feelings as the caboose.

Why not thank God for the fact that He is with you right now?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Measuring Success

I was reading an article in Christianty Today online by Art Lindlsey* whose quote from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity started me to think:

“We all want progress," he wrote in Mere Christianity. “But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be and if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when we do arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistakes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”  

Many worship leaders want to be innovative, cutting edge, or “progressive” to borrow from Lewis.  It is so easy to get caught up in following the latest trends, copying or imitating the “hottest” Christian artists,  bands, or churches.  Most of these people artists are sincere and godly individuals seeking to follow Christ the best way they can.  However, many times young worship leaders copy the externals of theses artists' style, dress, methodology, etc., and miss the personal struggle and process God brought those individuals through to get them to this point.  Failure to see the process and circumstances God used to mold and make them into the individuals they have become can lead to a lot of expended energy and frustration when things don’t work out as expected.  There are no shortcuts. We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of wanting the results and ignoring the process. As someone once said, "God is more concerned in making us holy, than happy."

We need to be honest enough to evaluate what we are doing compared to biblical standards, not other leaders or churches around us.  When we get to heaven, I doubt seriously if God will ask us why we didn’t use the latest projection software, or how we did compared to another person. The goal is to become like the “full measure of Christ.”  It is so easy to forget the focus dying to self and allowing Christ to remold our character and responses, and to be obedient to the great commission and great commandments.

Look again at the Lewis’ quote:
“We all want progress, but progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be and if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

By what or by who are we measuring progress and success?  If it is anything less than Christ, we might need to stop and see if we are on the right road in the ministry. God doesn’t measure how many hits we get on our videos on Youtube or blog, nor is He impressed by book or music sales. The question is are we fulfilling His purpose for our lives by reflecting His glory, His nature and character?  If not, then, the smartest and most “cutting edge” thing we can do is get back on the right road.

How can we do that? Let me provide some links of previous blogs that will help us look in that direction. I hope and pray these might be helpful and useful.

Twelve Lessons for Worship Leaders from the Life of David
Where Am I as a Worship Leader?
When God Rejects His Leaders
Common Traits of Those Who Fail in the Ministry
Six Questions Those that Lead Worship Must Ask

*”Why We Need 'Dinosaurs' Like C. S. Lewis” .Art Lindsley/ APRIL 29, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What Is Delighting in The Lord?

Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

What does it mean to "delight in The Lord"?  Is it a magic formula to get anything we want? We read this verse and wonder, what does it mean?  Let's clarify a few things first: It is not telling God that you love Him and then expecting that He will give you everything you want.  It is not bargaining with God, that if He will do something, then you will do something else.  Biblical truth is consistent with itself, so then, what does it mean?  I believe there are some wonderful expressions of this passage in the book of Samuel that will give us insight and help us apply the truth to our lives.

1 Sam 16:13-14
"So Samuel got the animal horn that was filled with olive oil. He anointed David in front of his brothers. From that day on, the Spirit of the LORD came on David with power. Samuel went back to Ramah. The Spirit of the LORD had left Saul. And an evil spirit that was sent by the LORD terrified him."

Saul had failed to be completely obedient in the destruction of the Amalekites. Fear dominates his life, he lies to push the blame on others, but God knows the heart and Saul's heart and dependence was on himself, not in trusting God.  This was his last opportunity, before God would reject his leadership, yet he assumed since God had put him in that position, he would always be king.  Then God sends the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the new king.

 {Just for thought... Though David has been anointed King, he did not assume the position until God actually gave it to him. God left a disobedient king in power for 40 years. God can still work regardless who is in power. The difference is that Saul did not receive the blessing of having been obedient to recognize the workings of God while he was king.}

Back to our story in 1 Sam 16:13-14.  Notice that when David was anointed king, the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power, but the the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul.  The reason was not that the Spirit could only occupy one person at a time. No, God had chosen one who was obedient and desired what God desired. It was the principle that David learns and share in Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Perhaps a little of the back story will help. Out with the sheep, David learns to love and depend on God. His heart's desire is to know God in an intimate way.  In 1 Sam. 13 Saul acts unwisely and takes the priestly role on for himself trying to keep his soldiers from deserting. He was driven by fear, rather than by faith in God and reveals that in a difficult situation he would rather trust his own resources rather than trust God.   In verse 14, Samuel gives God's evaluation of his kingship: "But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  {1 Sam. 13:14}

David had a "heart after God;" Saul did not.  Go back to Psalm 37:4, the delight of  David's heart was was God, so God gave him what his heart desired, more of Himself.  Saul delighted in power and his own abilities, and he got what his own abilities and power could produce, an evil spirit, jealousy, and ruling by shear force.

C. S. Lewis one said that there are two types of people, those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."  Saul represents the tragic later example.

God will allow us to go our own way and reap the consequences, to go to the empty wells of self sufficiency, self indulgence,  self glorification, and self confidence. Like drinking salt water, the thirst is never quenched and we only keep longing for more. But like the prodigal son, when we come to the end of our own sufficiency and we make Him the delight of our heart, He freely grants Himself to us. When we repent of our sin and seek Him, He will forgive. We will get what our heart desires and begin to learn the satisfaction of His sufficiency in all things.

God took David from tending sheep; he did not lay around in the grass dreaming that one day he would become king. He was diligent in the little things when no one else was around; faithful and obedient. God chose him because his heart sought those things things which pleased God.  In a similar way God takes us out of many different situations and places us in places to serve Him. But if we fail to trust Him and begin depending on our own strength and abilities, we will begin to delight more is ourselves than in God. God then gives us that which is our delight and all the heartache that comes as a consequence to such folly.  As the psalmist said in 106: 11-15:

   "The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.  But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel.  In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them."   

God delivered the people when they cried out to Him, but not long afterward, they forget all He has done. Then they began to crave for special foods, and God granted it, but it came without His blessing, and sickness overtook them.

While we live and breathe here in this temporal body, the temptations will always dog us at our heels. Temptations to seek personal gain over seeking God's will, temptations for self glorification, attempting to prove our worth by what we do, and the temptation to find delight in anything other than the Father. But if we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will be able to say as the author of Hebrews said:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." [Heb. 12:1-3]

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus," or choosing to focus our thoughts on Him through the situations we encounter reflects our focused desire in God. As we contemplate all He endured because of His great love for us, we will become encouraged, and God helps us to not grow weary, and helps us to get through the discouraging times.  Remember what the psalmist said in Ps 145:19:  "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them."

In C. S. Lewis' Narnian tale, The Magician's Nephew, the great lion, Aslan explains to how though the witch ate the fruit of the magical tree, she did it her way and not His. The results were not what she expected: “All get what they want; they do not always like it.”  The witch desired the fruit of the tree that would grant unending life, however eaten in contrary to the Emperor's laws it brought unending life, but unending misery as well.

The good news is that we can choose who we will seek after. We can choose to seek after God and God will grant the desires of our heart. Or, we can choose our own way, which God will allow, but with the tragic consequences that will eventually occur.

The larger question that remains is "Will you delight in The Lord?" It is a question that we must ask every day and it is a choice we make.  We will delight in someone or something, the issue is Who will be the object of our desires.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are there Characteristics of God’s Nature We Are Not to imitate?

Last week at the Seminary we had the privilege of having Dr. Paul Clark, Director of Worship and Music Ministries for the Tennessee Baptist Convention for our annual Crescent City Praise. As part of the various activities, Dr. Clark had several times to share in classes, but in one particular session that I was attending he shared an insight that every worship leader needs to hear. He shared that there are some characteristics of God’s nature that we should not imitate. {At this point he definitely had my attention.} I will just share a quick summary of his thoughts, but I promise if you will spend some time meditating on these, it will change how you approach ministry.

Only God is omnipotent, all powerful. He is God, you are not. Do not pretend to be, or attempt to be. Learning our limitations is a part of being human and it is a part of maturity.

Only God is omniscient, all knowing. He is God, you are not. Only He knows it all. After a few years it is easy to fall into temptation that we have got it all worked out and know everything we need to know. The truth is the longer that we are in the ministry, the more that we will begin to realize that we do not know it all, and that true humility is a sign of godly wisdom

Only God is omnipresent, everywhere present. He is God, you are not. Life and ministry will make demands on you that would require you to be in more than one place, were it possible. You can’t be; don’t try. We must come to the point that we realize God is big enough to meet the needs of those we love, regardless whether we are there or not.  This is another limitation that we must learn to accept.

Frustration and failure are destined for those who attempt to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. This was never in God’s plan for us, but to learn to trust Him to be Who He Is.  There is only one God, and He desires that we allow the nature and character of Christ to be fully developed in our lives: His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.  As we grow in His nature and character we will also grow in our faith and dependence on Him, not try to compete for His power.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

When God Rejects His Leaders

{Numbers 20:2-13} 

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

Before we unpack this passage, let’s review just who Moses was:
– raised in the household of pharaoh, having access to the best education and lifestyle of the day
– God appears to him in a burning bush, speaks to Moses face to face
– especially set aside by God to bring the Israelites out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage
– Used by God to cross through the sea on dry ground, while drowning the Egyptian army
– the intermediary between God and the people,
– first hand witness to the miracles of the manna, quail, and the fact that their clothes did not wear out during the 40 years of the desert
– strikes a rock with the rod that God had changed into a snake and water comes out
– interceded for the people before God
– had received the tablets with the commandments written by the very finger of God, twice
– of whom God, Himself said, that He spoke face to face as with a friend

There is just not another resume in the Old Testament or New, outside of Jesus like that of Moses. No he wasn’t perfect, yet God used him. Yet for all that Moses was and did, one mistake kept him from entering the land that had been promised to him. One. It wasn’t the murder of the Egyptian, or the marrying of a foreign wife. It wasn’t breaking the tablets with the commandments written on them in a fit of anger. What then, was it? That is the subject of Numbers 20: 2-13.

The children of Israel once again find themselves in a position in which they must trust God for the provision of water. This was not the first time. Previously, God has told them: “I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.” {Ex. 17:6} But this time, it was different.

Pent up frustration with a complaining disobedient people tempted Moses to assume that he was too important.  When the problems came, they went to Moses. They came in droves, and he became overwhelmed with the load. A restructuring helps and added judges help, but through the trials of desperate needs the people complained about God and Moses’ leadership. There might have been some sense of defense of his ability to lead in the action mentioned in Numbers 20. There could have been a need to show that he, Moses, still had the power to lead by proving that he would bring them water. As for what personal motivations there might have been, we will probably never know, for Scripture is silent. However, God was not silent in explaining to Moses what displeased Him so much that God would cut Moses off from entering the land he as dreamed of for 40 years.

God had commanded to “speak” to the rock; much different that the command to “strike it” before. Notice that even in Moses’ disobedience, God still provides for the needs of the people. God’s will and plan not be thwarted by man. Water flowed, the people drank, and everything on the surface looked fine. However, there was one issue: Moses had struck the rock rather than speaking to the rock. If fact, Moses actually strikes the rock twice. God’s commentary on the situation was quick, austere, and final:  “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” [20:12] One of the most amazing figures in all the Old Testament drops the ball toward the end of his life and ministry. What is going on? How could God do that?

Stop and think about what God had just said:
You didn’t believe Me enough to just speak to the rock; 
You didn’t believe me enough to regard me as separate, absolutely holy, different than you. 
You did not trust me to provide, even after all the miracles you had seen Me perform. 
Moses, you wanted to have the glory for yourself; you wanted the people to see how big and important you were. 
But, Moses, I share my glory with no one. 
You did not honor me as holy in the sight of those whom you were trying to lead.  
Moses, this is too serious to let slide by; you cannot enter the Promised land. 
Moses, I don’t always do the same thing the same way. Don’t presume to have figured me out. 
I AM God. There is none other.

As a worship leader who serves in front of a congregation, I am painfully aware of the many well meaning church members who appreciate the work and ministry, but who would place you on a pedestal and focus praise and attention on you. Those of us in highly visible ministries are at the constant temptation to allow the fruit of the hours of preparation just go to our ego and heart and miss the real blessing.  Music leadership must work hard at developing the craft, talents and skills to lead and play, yet we must never let the words spoken to Moses get very far from our hearts and seek out the praise of those for whom God has called us to minister.  We must always have an awareness that our obedience and inward lives and character cannot substitute for allowing the Spirit of God to shine through in simple transparency, to trust in Him enough to honor Him as holy.

As James said “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” {James 3:1-2} Leadership in the ministry will be judged more strictly. We must be models worthy of following. When leadership stumbles, it does not stumble alone, it causes many to fall as well. Any taking of the glory from Christ so as focus it on ourselves is a form of idolatry. It is a serious matter to God and He takes serious measures to correct such actions.

I am totally at the mercy and grace of God. I am ashamed at how many times I have failed in this area, and even more amazed that God would forgive me, especially when I see that it was just this one time that made Moses loose his position. As I enter the last part of my life and ministry, I want to finish well and one way toward this process is to “trust  enough to honor Him as holy in the sight of His people.” I pray that many would join me in the this prayer that in all we do that we live and lead in such a way that we trust in Christ to honor Him as holy.