Tag Archives: John 17

Unchanged and not the Same

5 Apr

Highpoint wall

The chapter and verse don’t matter.

During the morning I read a friend’s sermon and planned the songs to close out the worship service later that night.

My cell vibrated just as my friend started preaching. I left the room to take the call from my son. Family trumps ministry for me. (Or maybe I should say that family is my first ministry.)

He was upbeat as he shared he didn’t have a hernia. Instead he has cancer.

We talked a little about treatment and insurance. Since he had just came from a series of medical appointments, he didn’t have many details yet. But he does have cancer.

I went back to the service and to the sermon– the same sermon but not the same.

It could have been any chapter and verse. The point is that my circumstances changed, and I was now listening to the same sermon I had read a couple of hours earlier from a different perspective.

What I found was that the Truth remained unchanged. Even though I heard it through being in a different place in life, the foundation was still solid.

Nothing about my new circumstances changes the Truth of God.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In a world where changes happen faster than anyone can comprehend, this alone is reason to worship God.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Before leading a song about God’s faithfulness that night, I shared my news – not for shock effect (although people were shocked!), but to give glory to God for his unchangeable truth even in– especially in– my changed circumstances

Interestingly, the sermon text was John 17, specifically he was on verses 1-5 about giving God glory. I came back from my phone call to hear my friend say: “You have to choose to give God glory. Jesus didn’t receive glory for his own sake, but in order that the Father would be glorified. If we don’t choose to glorify God, we take God’s glory for ourselves.”

When all else is upside-down and backwards, giving God glory turns me upright. I focus on his power, not my situation, putting my sites on his unchanging Truth when life is disorienting.

Much like a lighthouse anchors every direction in a ship captain’s soul when waves have turned the ship around and tossed the compass overboard, God is steady. He is with us through the turbulence, and he is also above the chaos.

I worship him for this. And even when I am wind-whipped, I can lead others to him.

He is constant.

Alleluia!

 

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Dissing Unity

29 Mar

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Hobby Lobby. World Vision. Westboro Baptist. Noah. Chik-Fil-A. Duck Dynasty.

Is anyone else tired of talking about all this instead of Jesus? I know I am.

About mid-week my heart was so heavy, I wanted to scream: STOP IT! Of course no one would have heard me among all the other voices, so instead I thought and pondered, asking myself if there was anything positive I could do in light of all Christian messes in the news lately.

My search took me to John 17 – Jesus’ last words to his disciples. Jesus prayed for himself, for the ones surrounding him, and for us– those who will believe.

“I do not ask for these (the disciples) only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  John 17:20-23

In his last moments with his friends, Jesus prays for unity. Why? Not so they will all feel good about each other and their relationships. Not so they will be emotionally healthy and fulfilled. Not even so they would have peace.

He says it twice: so that the world may believe and know God loves them.

Jesus could have said any number of things knowing that he would be arrested in a few moments. He chose unity; the if-you-missed-everything-else-I-said-get- this.

Christian unity is a big deal.

The main reason my heart has been so sick over the news stories lately is that more than the issues themselves, the disunity is what the world is noticing– the opposite of what Jesus prayed for right before going to the cross! Even in that moment he knew we would blow it, just as he knew Peter would. Yet he went forward to Golgotha for Peter… and for us.

Every facebook status, every blog post, every news report about these stories makes me ask: How can I be part of the solution? I’m not a player in any of these events. But I definitely have a part to play in the greater story. And so does every Christ follower.

Remember the principle in the Sermon on the Mount? “You have heard it said… but I tell you….”

Several times Jesus refers to the Law, then takes the issue further into the soul.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

What does this have to do with unity? Jesus repeats this pattern in Matthew 5 indicating that he is concerned with all heart-attitudes not just the few examples he gives. He starts the New Covenant ball rolling expecting us to keep it in play.

External obedience is not enough. Not if we claim to follow Jesus.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Unity isn’t a problem for worship teams…. right?

No one is ever jealous of another’s ability or opportunity.
No one ever thinks he/she could do a better job than someone else.
No one checks out what someone else is wearing on stage with a critical eye.
No one ever talks badly about another team member.

Especially not the worship leader.

Christian unity begins in the small interactions of everyday.

Team unity is a big deal. If we aren’t unified, will those in the congregation sense the love God has for them or be distracted by a spirit other than The Spirit?

And as the leader, I set the tone.

 

 

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