Archive | May, 2014

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.


18 May

photo 2Three hundred feet of tangled rope needed to be cut into 20-foot lengths. Finding the end was the first challenge. The second was getting more than a couple of feet before hitting a huge snarl.

More than two hands would have helped a great deal. But I haven’t grown extra appendages, and I was at church alone. De-tangling the confusion was slow going and tedious. Every strand wrapped and twisted around every other strand, and the harder I pulled, the tighter the mess became.

And then, suddenly, there was more free rope than knot, and it fell apart at my feet.

Cutting the 20-foot sections only took a few minutes, but then I had a new problem: if 300 feet made a mess, how could I get all 15 pieces in the van and home to finish my project?

With knots! photo 1-1

Ironically enough, knots prevented knots.

I gathered five lengths together at a time and tied a large and loose knot in the center. The three big knots made a kind of handle that I held onto from the church to my van. I tossed the ends in a heap and set the knots on top of the pile in the back seat. Actually, the pile didn’t look that different from the 300-foot mess I’d started with!

But it was very different. The knots held the strands together intentionally lined up in the same direction. With the introduction of just a little order, chaos became manageable. When I got home, I lifted the easily-identifiable knots from the pile and the pieces followed easily without tangling. Relieved (I hadn’t been sure this would work!) I gathered all 300 feet up and walked inside to finish my project.


This week I’ve watched Christian friends deal with excruciatingly difficult circumstances and events. Chaos didn’t win. These dear friends are united with other believers – knotted and knitted together in heart, mind, and soul – and strong in the mess of life.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:19-21

Organized around our head and cornerstone, Christ Jesus, we are the holy temple of God– not because of our merits or specialness, but due to the strong “Knot” we have at our center. When life tangles us up, He pulls us up and above it. Life may be messy, but the twists and snarls don’t have the same hold hold on us when we He is our center.



Tomorrow morning some will tear up, some may wail, while others will come with light hearts – all intent on worshiping Jesus. Christ brings meaning to our suffering and also walks through the pain with us. And wonderfully and beautifully, brothers and sisters wind their hearts around one another – not in a tangled mess of frustrating knots, but in a strong and glorious community with one purpose: to honor God and praise Him.


Totally Gone

10 May


A friend of mine doesn’t know Jesus. She has LOTS of questions, and desperately wants to believe. This past week she and I have been trying to figure out what is keeping her from being able to surrender to him.

She wants the world to be fair. Honestly, so do I.

She doesn’t want people to get away with murder (or anything else), to be hateful, or to do anything to hurt someone else. I tell her and remind her that she wants this because God put it in her, that he wants it, too. And that, eventually, we will all get what we want when the Day of the Lord comes or when we get to heaven, whichever comes first.

The Lord Almighty has a day in store
    for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted
    (and they will be humbled),
for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty,
    and all the oaks of Bashan,
for all the towering mountains
    and all the high hills,
for every lofty tower
    and every fortified wall,
for every trading ship
    and every stately vessel.
The arrogance of man will be brought low
    and human pride humbled;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
    and the idols will totally disappear. Isaiah 2:12-18

There will be a day when all the idols totally disappear! Translation: everything will be made right!

Every wrong thing can be traced back to idolatry. Test it: murder (idol of self or power); theft (idol of possessions or greed); gossip (another self/power); meanness (idol of pride/self), and so on.

But there will be a day when all this is gone! No idols, only God to worship.

[On that Day] many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.” Isaiah 2:3



The second chapter of Isaiah is about the end of time, but it’s also about when Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God. In other words, this passage is also describing reality for today. Jesus paid the penalty for all sin – for idolatry. The idols in our lives have been dealt with. We need only to turn away from them and toward Jesus. The Kingdom is here and not yet, where idols are nowhere to be found. The ultimate fulfillment is heaven, yet those who have Christ in their hearts get a taste of this here on earth. No idols – only God to worship!

I. Can’t. Wait.

Who Am I?

3 May


This list has been around for a long time. However, the value of sharing the worth we have because of whose we are is foundational to worship, and that makes up for my lack of originality. How, after reading any one of these – or all of them – can I not worship the One who makes this possible? Without Him I am a worthless nobody deserving death. With Him I am…



If you are a Christian, then the statements below are true of you.


I am accepted…

John 1:12 I am God’s child.

John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1 I have been justified.

1 Cor. 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

1 Cor. 6:19-20I have been bought with a price and I belong toGod.

1 Cor. 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.

Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.


I am secure…

Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.

Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.

Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.

Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.

Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.


I am significant…

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.


Source: Freedom in Christ Ministries

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