More than Enough

27 Jul

This week I don’t have a compelling Scripture or a coordinating photo.

All I have is the thought that if everyone in the world was to be in the same room with Jesus, we would all see Him a bit differently through our need. Some would see the Mighty Warrior through their desperation. Others would be in the presence of the Prince of Peace because their lives were spinning out of control. Still others in the midst of grief would know Him as the Comforter. And some would simply be captivated by his glorious beauty.

The same God revealed, but seen through individual situations, perspectives, and longings.

In every one, and altogether, He is more than enough.



I will be in that room this weekend– with individuals gathering together with independent needs, but we will be united in task and purpose: to glorify the One who is more than able to care for all of us and all of our distinct needs. He is more than enough for all of that.

Though we will each worship a slightly different facet of who He is, we will be united because He is the unifying reason that we gather.

He is more than enough for each and all of us. And more.

Two Sides

19 Jul


I like to clean. Or, rather, I like a clean house when I’m done cleaning. Everyday I touch most of the doorknobs in our home several times (more than ever right now since we have a puppy and leave doors closed to keep her out of certain rooms). I don’t look at them or give them a second thought. My brain is engaged in more important task of remembering what I came into the room for in the first place.

But when I clean I do notice doorknobs. They don’t discriminate. Everyone turns them, whether their hands are clean or dirty. When I clean, I see the dirt, and I remember that touching them spreads germs. The rest of the week, I don’t notice the dirty build-up, but when I take the time to look, there’s no denying that a good cleaning is needed.

Several passages in the Bible hit me the same way. Or maybe they don’t hit me. Common passage that we all have memorized disappear in the text, hiding in plain sight.

This week I read through Revelation 2 and 3 – the Letters to the Churches. You probably have Rev 3:20 is addressed memorized: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Those of us who attended Sunday School as children remember a teacher holding a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking, while she told us how to ask Jesus into our hearts.

But that’s not what this verse means.

Looking at the context, we see that Jesus said this passage to a church, not an individual. Because the letter is written to a church, the implication is that individuals in the Laodicean church had received Christ. So why is Jesus knocking on the church door? If not for salvation, for what?

Because of their unrepentant hearts. The church had become proud, not needing anything. Not even Jesus. He was standing outside their church, knocking to be let back in. They didn’t realize they were poor, blind, and naked. The emperor had no idea he had no clothes. But Jesus did.

The church has the power, the ability– and the prideful audacity– to leave Jesus out in the cold, to adopt an SOP: of self-reliance, doing ministry out of its own human resources without the wealth offered by Jesus.

And so Jesus knocks, giving us the choice: do we invite Him into our church, opening the door with humble repentance, and enjoy sweet fellowship around the table?

Or do we leave Jesus outside?



What if I substitute “worship team” for “church” in the above? Is Jesus inside or outside the door of our worship team? Do we lead out of our own resources? Or is our leadership humble, repentant, and reliant on Him?

The wonderful promise we have in Jesus is that although His resources are costly, He gives them freely:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.”  Isaiah 55:1-2




12 Jul


You are Creator and the Word

The One who spoke and the Speaking

Speaking life out of nothing

Giving chaos meaning

You said, and it was so

Morning and evening


You are the Voice and the Way

The Narrow Road and the Whisper

Whispering which way to go

Hearing cries to deliver

The Way and Only Truth

Small Gate and Life-Giver


You are the Cloud and the Fire

Shekinah Glory and the Burning

Burning up soaked wood and stone

Igniting, overturning

Behind and before

Thirsting and soul-yearning


You are the First and the Last

The Final End and Beginning

Beginning all things new again

Glory never dimming

The Root and Branch of Jesse

Victorious and winning


You are the Lion and the Lamb

Perfect Love and Agonizing

Agonizing wondrous cross

Conquered death by sacrificing

Fully God and Fully Man

The Crucified and Hope-Rising


Opposites and paradox.

Remember Venn Diagrams from math class? Circles that describes sets – if one circle is “Green Things” and another is “Round Things”, the circles both contain the green lollipops, traffic lights, and round-cut emeralds, overlapping with an intersection of “Green Round Things”.

But what if the circles are “Green Things” and “Blue Things”? Do they overlap, or are they exclusive– independent circles without an intersection? What about “Blue-Green Things” (green and blue mixed to make blue-green). And what about rainbows… every color is part of a rainbow.

Groups that seem to be exclusive, after thoughtful inspection, do share concepts.

Sometimes the set names are so specific the intersection contains a single item.

Often God is described with conflicting concepts. Like Morning and Evening, First and Last, Lion and Lamb; like Crucified and Lord… At first these seem to contradict each other, creating a paradox. But think about these pairs and how they relate to each other. Taken together they complete the larger concept.

How wondrous that conflicting concepts meet in God!

He is the total set. The Both/And. The Ultimate Concept. The All-in-All. The Complete Union.

He is greater than any single concept for several reasons, among them that He created the concepts.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Eph 4:4-6

The intersection contains one Item.

And: Christ the Lord.



When I think about all the “ands” that describe God, my soul spontaneously worships Him.

Please leave a comment with other “and” statements that cause you to worship our Lord and Savior!



5 Jul

Yesterday 238 years ago, 56 men signed a document that changed everything. The world became a very different place because of their sacrificial act.

Today I am wondering what they were thinking 238 years ago the day after they scratched their signatures on parchment. Did each one spend extra time with wives and children, worried for their safety and lives? Did any take a walk through his estate, knowing it would soon be seized or destroyed?  Did they meet together, grim yet resolved? Did they rejoice that a new direction had begun? Did the gravity of what they had done weigh heavier than the oppression they had experienced as subjects of the British Crown?

Their freedom had been eroded by a despot, but all of the 56 did very well for themselves under King George’s tyranny. Their pledge to the new Republic, one another, and their descendants was total, all-in, sold-out, and no-turning back. The last sentence of their Declaration states: [F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. It is followed by the signatures of 56 men who had much to lose, and little to gain personally.

Watch the ever-eloquent Paul Harvey tell “The Rest of the Story”.

Can you imagine any of our current politicians acting this way?

Can you imagine followers of Jesus doing the same?

What if we signed away the rights to our future– to our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor? Is liberty more important than security? Before we can answer that, another question must be answered: What is liberty?

As Nelson Mandela was freed from South African prison after 28 years of incarceration, he had a moment to think about the turning point for his life. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

In Galatians 5 Paul describes ultimate liberty – freedom in Christ. Freedom from the law. Freedom from the tyranny of our own self-centeredness.

The Galatians were relying on circumcision to be the saving act for followers of Jesus. Paul, in his harshest letter to believers, wishes they would emasculate themselves (verse 12)! Paul was extreme and caustic because of what is at stake – their salvation and freedom in Christ! Nothing saves except the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No human act will ever translate us from darkness to the Kingdom of Light. Trusting in anything other than what Jesus did for us is the highest form of slavery because it tricks us into a false hope, keeping us from true freedom. This is the worst form of oppression.

Toward the end of the chapter (5:22-23) Paul shares what true freedom looks like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Imagine a world in which this is all that exists. Imagining that world is to have a vision of true freedom.  “Against such things there is no law,” there is only total freedom. This was the vision of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. This was Nelson Mandela’s vision.*

Living under the fruit of the Spirit is not about restriction. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they faced a tough journey filled with hardship and struggle, yet they were freer after signing than they had been the moment before. Nelson Mandela could have lashed out against the injustice he and many others suffered under despotic tyranny, but he chose the way of freedom. In both cases the world changed forever for the better. What would have transpired if these men and their families had given in to self-preservation and hate?

What can transpire if followers of Jesus turn away from self and pursue true freedom?

How will we be different? How will the church change? How will our cities, towns, and countries be different?



And how will our Sunday morning worship be different?


*I am not saying that the signers of the Declaration or Nelson Mandela were or were not hoping to establish a religious state, but that the ideals of the Gospel, specifically freedom and peace for all people, was their goal and motivation as they turned away from self-gratification.

The Same or Different?

28 Jun

IMG_3012Am I that different from the demons?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5-11.

The Beginning

God created everything and everyone – including Satan. Satan was glorious! His traditional name is Lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”. Satan rebelled against God and fell from heaven (Luke 10:18). His angels (demons) fell with him (Rev 12:9).

We are created beings (Gen 1:27). We fell from grace (Gen 3; Rom 3:23).

Both angels and humans were created by God, and both left His presence and were banished by God. Both wanted to be out from under God’s authority but found after disobedience to not only still be under His authority, but also be under His wrath (Matt 25:41).

The End

In Philippians 2 the words “should bow” are one Greek word: kampto – to bow or bend. The implication is not that they should bow, but that they will. Kampto means: “…the gesture of full inner submission in worship to the one before whom we bow the knee. Thus in Rom. 14:11 bowing the knee is linked with confession within the context of a judgment scene, and in Phil. 2:10 it again accompanies confession with reference to the worship of the exalted Kyrios [Christ] Jesus by the cosmos.”*

The little word and appears twice between beings in three locations: those “in heaven AND on earth AND under the earth.” The Greek word translated as and (kai) is “a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force.”** In other words, the addition of each group adds scope, breadth, and importance. The implication in mentioning every sphere in which beings dwell is that every one, without exception, will bow before Jesus, declaring Him Lord. (See also Rom 14:11 and Rev 5:13.)

Humans and fallen angels then, defined as created beings, will both worship Jesus.

The Same

Are there differences between humans and fallen angels? Certainly. Too many for this short post. However, the similarities are striking, and they are what have captured my mind lately– especially regarding worship. Another similarity of these two groups is that the eventual worship (kampto) of Jesus will not be forced. There are other Greek words Paul could have used in Philippians to describe obligatory homage. The picture here is that Jesus is so great – His name is so far above (Greek huper means far beyond and exceeding, not just the first or most important) every other name, we won’t be able to keep from bowing.

His presence will send us all to our knees.



The questions for me are simple… and profound: will I choose to worship God, and will I allow His presence to send me to my knees.

If not, am I any different from the demons?

*Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman
**Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.


21 Jun

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” wasn’t my family’s Golden Rule; “If it’s broke, fix it, and fix it again before you throw it away” was.

With grandparents who went through the depression, this was one of our Ten Commandments right up there with “Never pay full price for anything” and “You better have a really good reason for buying something brand new.”

All four of my grandparents have long since passed away, yet I continue to live by these economizing principles. They have evolved into a game for me. It’s a challenge to see how inexpensively I can accomplish tasks and replace needed items. Maybe it’s the primeval hunting impulse combined with my northern European upbringing. Whatever the source, economizing is part of who I am.

Although my family is no longer in the “have not” camp, we still watch and squeeze every penny. Today I took apart our patio chair cushions. (The whole set– glass table, umbrella/stand, 2 gliders, 4 chairs, and 6 cushions– cost me $40 on an on-line resale site!) Covered with a faded print from 1990 the cushions had several rips, so I had a good excuse to update them. (If they were in good condition, changing them for fashion’s sake would be blasphemy.) I cut the fabric away to find the inner fiber-foam intact but full of green mold and algae.

AlgaeNothing that a dunk in bleach water couldn’t fix! I submerged and agitated them in a large tote with my garden rake. The nearby chain link fence made a sturdy rinsing and drying rack. Four times I went over each section with the “jet” setting on the hose nozzle and watched the nasty greenies run down the length of each cushion.


Four times seemed like enough rinsing, but I still wondered if they were completely clean. What if the first rain brings out hidden green stains to the surface discoloring my new fabric? Maybe I should do the entire process all over again? My back told me “no” (saturated cushions are VERY heavy!) and my head told me I would probably never get them as clean as new. If I had wanted brand new, I should have thrown these out and visited the garden center.

WhiteAnd so they hang on the fence very white-looking and bleaching out a little more in the sun while I sit inside sewing new covers.

They remind me of my heart. Scrubbed clean with Jesus’ blood-bleach. The old has gone, the new has come. I am a new creation! He has washed me!! My heart is true and clean!!!

While I am washed clean, I also look forward to being being made completely new. Here’s where the analogy to the cushions breaks down. Right now, this very moment, I am brand new. But I also live in this world tainted with sin. However, there is a time and place coming – eternal life – when everything will be made new! A complete and total do-over! This “now and not yet” is both fulfillment and promise, position and hope, inheritance and dowry.

I deserve to wear rags, but my wedding gown is white.



The One who redeems me, who sees me as pure and clean, is also my bridegroom… and worthy of all my worship. To Him I am not a do-over, I am brand new, clothed in fine white linen.


14 Jun


The rich young ruler came to Jesus. He wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life. He has a conversation with Jesus – face to face – and goes away sad.

This passage holds enough truth to fill a book. Since this is a short post, we’ll stay with one thought: the ruler came to Jesus and went away sad. (A better translation would be that he went away grieved.) How could that happen?!?

He came for himself.

The ruler wasn’t interested in a relationship with Jesus. He didn’t come to sit at the Rabbi’s feet like Mary did. He didn’t come believing that Jesus could heal like the Centurion did. He didn’t come to worship his Lord like the sinful woman did. He didn’t come to follow Messiah; he came for information.

He came to find out what he could do to inherit eternal life– what HE could DO to inherit eternal life. He was used to making his own way and trusting his own efforts by doing all the right things. Jesus lists some of the commandments: don’t commit adultery, murder, steal or lie, and honor your father and mother, all of which the ruler says he has kept. He is focused on being good– Jesus saw that right away and calls him out in verse 19– and obsessed with getting life right, making his life perfect…. in order to deserve eternal life!

Jesus takes him back to the very first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me. Riches are not inherently evil, but to this man they had become a god, an idol more important than his relationship with his creator. In the very presence of God he values his possessions more than eternal life with Jesus Christ. What?!?

We must come for God.

He is the only one who can earn our salvation. He is the only one worthy of worship.

What we do is give everything over to Him and obediently follow and worship Him. We come to Him because He is the answer to everything we need.

What must we do to inherit eternal life? Come to Jesus and give up everything.

Anything less is lack.



Of course I never do this. Um yeah. I never come to my personal devotions or go to worship on Sunday with selfish motives. I never “make worship happen” on my own strength. Jesus is always my focus, not my own interests.

Even today… I will come to Jesus anew and give up everything.


Photo credit for top image of the Wilderness in Israel: Josh Lavender.


Excellence is not perfectionism

7 Jun


The intro was my responsibility. I strummed away and added the sweet guitar lick at the end of the phrase. The vocalists came in with sweet worship ascending to God from within our midst.

The keys came in, and everything came to an immediate dissonant end. I turned deep red, moved my capo to the correct fret, and we started again. I wanted to get away, to hide, to explain to everyone what had happened. Instead, I intentionally turned away from myself and worshiped God in my humiliation. After the service, many people commented that they had truly worshiped God.

I am amazed that when there are mistakes and glitches during a service, more people share how meaningfully they connected with God.

Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. Psalm 33:3

The word skillfully means “with excellence and great skill”. Excellence is one of our worship ministry’s top values.

Here’s why – if we are worshiping the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Father who sent His only Son to die for our sins and who adopted us, our Sustainer and Provider (and the list goes on); if this is Who we worship, how can we give Him anything less than our very best?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory.

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. Excellence takes many forms, is intentional, and includes sacrifice and includes–

  • Making personal practice a priority instead of “winging it”
  • Valuing mid-week rehearsal, being on time and staying engaged as it gets late
  • Not being satisfied with the status quo, constantly looking for a way to improve
  • Reading the equipment manual and learning new technical solutions to issues
  • Getting up really early every Sunday for a tech tun-through so that each element and its tech needs is tested and ready to go

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. If we trust God as provider, then we have to believe that he has given us everything we need to lead others in worship. We can worship him without a bass player. We can sing his praises with outdated sound equipment. He will be praised even with prerecorded music – as long as our focus is him and his glory. Envying another church’s stage design doesn’t bring God glory, neither does whining and complaining. He does not hold us accountable for what he has not given us.

Excellence is doing the best we can with what we have for God’s glory. The means, then, are perhaps more important than the end when it comes to worshiping God, because people are involved– and people matter to God. Delivering a perfect production with relational casualties in its wake doesn’t glorify God. Lost tempers, biting comments, drama and gossip behind the scenes are all sinful because they devalue people and do not honor God. Fretting over what could (or should) have been doesn’t honor him either. Soli deo gloria! 

Excellence is different from perfectionism.

Perfectionism strives for a flawless performance and is dissatisfied with anything less. My ego and reputation are wrapped up in delivering an impeccable performance. The goal is a flawless end product. There is an inherent “at any cost” mentality so that mistakes and what is missing loom larger than all else. Nothing about this brings glory to God, so why would we call it worship? And why would God accept this kind of “sacrifice”?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory!



Much of my week is devoted to getting ready for Sunday – communication with team members, assembling the Order of Worship, setting the stage (literally!), thinking through service element transitions, and encouraging everyone involved to remember all this is simply a vehicle taking us toward God’s heart. When something doesn’t go as planned, worship is not ruined, in fact, maybe there is a greater opportunity to worship Him… in spite of ourselves.

Because He is worthy.

Absolutely Absolute

31 May


Always. Never. None. Every.

Absolutes are never true– except that is an absolute.

And except for God.

He is all love and complete forgiveness. He never fails and is the source of endless hope. Everything we have and are is because of Him. Nothing I have is because of my own goodness, intelligence, or talent– it’s all because of Him.

He is absolutely absolute in every way. (Is that redundant? If so, I think it’s OK in this case.)

Recently, my Facebook newsfeed has been barraged with whiny posts about worship– why we should or shouldn’t do something during worship; what a horrible state church worship is in; and if we will only do these 4 (or 6 or 10) things, worship will be saved. All of them have one thing in common: if my personal preference is met, we will be able to worship God.

Really? There is something that must be in place before I can worship the great I AM, the One who redeemed my life from damnation and calls me His child? He is not enough? My preferences need to be met before I can give Him the honor He is due?

Absolutely not.



I will worship my Savior with organ hymns and with electric guitar rock. I will praise the great God in a stadium full of people and in a country church. I will sing and shout and declare how glorious, majestic, amazing, and wonderful my Jesus is. And absolutely nothing will prevent me. Not your preferences… and not mine.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth!

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96


The Difference

24 May

Chaos reigned.

Teens ran in and out, slamming doors. Several folks came in who don’t have the luxury of getting a shower when they want one. The AC wasn’t on; the air was heavy and close in the church basement. A couple of volunteers called in sick. The grill wouldn’t light, so dinner was late. More chaos.

“Am I making a difference, God?” I may as well have said it out loud – no one would have heard me in the din.

He didn’t answer – or I didn’t hear, because I was too busy running from fire to fire to put them out as best I could.

Several days later, I’m still wondering, but I’m wondering if my question might be the problem. Since when am I the one who makes a difference? What power do I possess that can vanquish chaos?

I’m well aware that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. (The entire chapter speaks to this.) The point of this passage is the power of God working through me. I know it seems like a small distinction, and this is precisely the point. When I get tripped up with making a difference, I’m after results in others’ lives. A good goal, to be sure. But that isn’t my purpose in Christ. Just far enough off to be a big difference.

In Christ I am to–

  • Love God and others
  • Have the attitude of Christ and become like Him
  • Do the works He prepared in advance for me to do
  • Be faithful in the above

Being concerned with making a difference distracts me from my true directive.

I wonder if the saints in Hebrews 11 or Dr. Leslie asked the question? On this side of history we know that God worked wonderfully through them.  All they knew was that they were faithful. And that is really enough. All else is pride – another distraction.

God effects change; we have the incredible privilege of cooperating with Him in His work.

If we are faithful.




People raising their hands when I am leading them in worship makes me feel good. Because it makes me feel that I’m doing “it” right, that my efforts are worthwhile. But again, that’s not the point, is it?

Not being able to affect change can be discouraging and demoralizing– when my value gets wrapped up in what I do. But when I go after the heart of my Savior and let Him change others’ hearts, I am free– the heavy weight of producing results is lifted.

I choose the latter.

And that, to borrow a line from Frost, has made all the difference.


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