A Kairos 90s Night of Worship (and Everything Else)

Tonight was right up my alley. We had a 90s-themed night of worship and I absolutely knew every single song. I had a revelation while I was singing these classics that a lot of the people singing with me weren’t even born in the 90s. That was both humbling and honoring (that God let me stick around this long).

Pastor Mike spoke from Mark 14 about the institution of the Lord’s Supper the night before Jesus was betrayed and crucified. He mentioned something that I had either never heard or forgotten. Apparently, when a Jewish man was proposing to the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, instead of offering a diamond ring, he offered a cup of wine. It was his way of initiating a covenant with her. If she accepted, she would take the wine.

It’s interesting that Jesus took that imagery when He offered the cup to the disciples. He was initiating a new covenant with them, one made with His own blood soon to be shed.

He didn’t make a contract where both parties would agree to hold up their end of the agreement. He knew we could never fulfill our part, so He made a covenant with us, like God with Abram, where He would do His part as well as our part. He would be the fulfillment of this new covenant by His shedding of blood, death, and resurrection.

In a world where all of us are constantly seeking validation and acceptance, it’s amazing to think that Jesus thought we were to die for. Literally. He thought the cross was worth it if you and I could be reconciled to God. That blows my mind.

Those 90s songs hit me differently tonight. I appreciate how much deeper and more solid they are than a lot of the newer worship songs. They remind us of a God who hated sin so much and loved us so much that He took our place on the cross so that we could take our place with Him in heaven. He died so that we might live.

I hope we have another night like this. It’s good to revisit the old classics from time to time.

Another Short Prayer

I ran across another beautiful short prayer that you can use when you don’t have words of your own. Or even if you do, sometimes you just don’t know how to calm your mind and collecting your thoughts is like herding cats.

I remember we called short petitions and praises “popcorn prayers.” I don’t exactly remember why, but I think it’s because they’re short and basically pop out of your mouth. Basically, they’re one-sentence offerings to God when you don’t have the time or energy for more.

Here’s one that might come in handy sometime:

“More purity give me;
More strength to over-come;
More freedom from earth-stains;
More longings for home;
More fit for the kingdom;
More used would I be;
More blessed and holy;
More, Saviour, like Thee” (Phillip P. Bliss).

The Judge Takes the Judgment

I love that. These days, any idea of God and judgment isn’t well received. Most people seem to view God as a benign deity who winks at our sin and never gets angry about anything. But the Bible presents a God of both love and wrath who hates sin. The beautiful part is that while God is the Judge, He took the brunt of the punishment — His own judgment on sin — on Himself in the person of Jesus on the cross. In other words, He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God, as Scripture says.

Yes, sin has consequences. Yes, sin leads to death and hell. But thanks be to God who in Jesus took the worst of the punishment for sin upon Himself and made a way that we might instead partake of eternal life and heaven. The only prerequisite is to receive that free gift of salvation through Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Thanks be to God!

Back to the 90s

On Tuesday, Kairos is doing something a bit different than the usual Tuesday night worship gathering.

We’re doing a 90s Night of Worship, complete with all 90s worship songs and plenty of 90s references and fashions. I plan on wearing a very 90s shirt, but I haven’t gotten much beyond that. What I need are some 90s style loud shorts that I think used to be called jams.

I have been working diligently on my 90s playlist. So far, it’s got all the essentials from Christian radio back in the day, including DC Talk, Jars of Clay, Plumb, Crystal Lewis, Audio Adrenaline and many, many more. It sounds like something straight out of one of those cheesy Time Life commercials.

I was not a fan of much of the 90s music back in the 90s. I was still upset that grunge killed the careers of lots of my favorite 80s hair bands. I didn’t quite get the baggy jeans and flannel look. But the decade has grown on me. Don’t judge me, but I think that for the most part, 90s music is better than 80s music.

But not to digress too far. Anyone in the Nashville area is invited to come to the Kairos 90s Night of Worship on Tuesday, May 23 at 7 pm. It’s gonna be whack. It’s gonna be all that and a bag of chips. It’s gonna be all those cringy 90s catchphrases that nobody uses anymore . . . except sometimes me.

Be there . . . or don’t be there.

Well Done, Timothy Keller

“Timothy J. Keller, husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, pastor, and scholar died this morning at home. Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead, and he breathed his last breath. We take comfort in some of his last words, ‘There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.’ See you soon, Dad” (Michael Keller on behalf of the entire Keller family).

I read that one compliment that touched Timothy Keller and moved him to tears was that he made Jesus beautiful. In the end, it wasn’t about how many people listened to his preaching or how many books he sold or how many people quoted him, but in that because of him, people met Jesus and saw Him as beautiful. I hope that will be my legacy some day.

John the Baptist said that it was his goal in life that he should decrease so that Jesus might increase. I think that was the life of Tim Keller in a nutshell. That was his ministry. That was his passion.

I imagine that the first words he heard in heaven were from Jesus telling him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But far more than hearing the words, the best part for Tim was seeing Jesus, having his faith made sight and his joy made complete. He has not really died, to borrow words from Billy Graham. He is more alive than ever. He has simply changed his address to an eternal destination.

Wounds of Mercy

“Sometimes the most gracious, merciful thing God could ever do is wound you. To wound you (and in that wound bind you to Himself), is far more gracious than to bless you with everything you want and have you not know Him” (Matt Chandler).

I read a book once called A Severe Mercy, about a man who lost his wife to cancer and all that God taught him through the process. I don’t for one second believe that God gave her cancer solely to teach him a lesson. I think that it’s the result of a fallen world and God’s sovereignty. I don’t begin to understand why God allows these things, but I trust that God is good and that God is great.

C. S. Lewis once said that pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. We typically don’t listen to God very well when all is well with our world. When we are flush with success, we forget God and think we did it all by our own might (and I think the Bible has something to say about that).

But trials and hardship are where we learn the most about God. They’re where we learn not just about God but also where our experience of God goes from theoretical and theological to intimate and personal. As much as we want those proverbial mountaintop moments of joy, the valley of dull drudgery and patient suffering is where we grow into who God made us to be.

Just as Jesus chose the nails and the cross, so He told us that if we want to follow Him, we have to take up the cross daily. We go where Jesus went, through death into life, through sorrow into joy. But the best part is that Jesus goes with us through all of it.

May we embrace these wounds given in mercy as they draw us closer to the One who was wounded that we might be healed.

Story Time

Today I automatically renewed my subscription for Audible, the wonderful app that lets you listen to all sorts of audiobooks. It’s like back in the day when the family would go on vacation and we’d stop off at the library to check out books on CD to listen to along the journey to pass the hours and make the endless tedium of interstate travel a little more bearable.

Now, they have it all contained within the confines of your smartphone. Instead of the bulky packaging of all those books on CD (or books on tape if you’re really vintage), you can get all the books in a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Ain’t life grand?

Currently, I’m in the middle of listening to the Complete Sherlock Holmes mysteries, taking me back to good old Victorian England. Next up will be one of my favorite authors, Charles Martin.

Having these audiobooks makes my daily commute bearable. In fact, I look forward to the drive so I can delve into the adventures of one Mr. Holmes and his trusty sidekick Watson as they solve all those crimes and match wits with the dastardly Professor Moriarty.

I can be stuck in rush-hour traffic and at the same time be transported back to 1890s London with the horse-drawn carriages and the gas-lit street lamps. The rainy afternoon drive home that used to get me stressed now only serves to add atmosphere to these British stories.

If you love good books and good stories and spend a lot of time in the car, I recommend Audible. It’s definitely worth the money, especially if you know how to wait for the sales and 2-for-1 credit deals.

A Prayer of Surrender

Sometimes when you can’t find words of your own, it’s helpful to pray the words of others. Sometimes, they can express your thoughts and longings better than you can. Often, they are the tried and true petitions that saints of old have offered up to God through the ages.

The best is praying God’s word back to God. Also, prayer books such as The Book of Common Prayer, The Valley of Vision, and Every Moment Holy are useful. Sometimes, you can repeat the words of fellow saints when their words echo your own.

Here’s one I love that you can pray when you come to the point of absolute and ultimate surrender:

“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever. Amen” (Betty Scott Stam).

An Honest Prayer

“Lord, Thank You
I am not the mistakes I have made.
I am not the plans I have failed.
I am not the wrongs I have done.
I am not forgotten.
I am not abandoned.
I am not alone.
Because You say to the lost: Come.
You say to the Unlikely: Beloved
You say to the Battle Weary: Rest.
In a hard and beautiful world,
Your grace is the only pillowed relief for my tired soul
to rest in the Your making all things new.
#HonestPrayers” (Ann Voskamp)

Lord, thank you
That I am who You say I am
That I am Whose You say I am
That I am kept and loved and cherished and protected
Until the day faith becomes sight.

Our Daily Bread

“…you hear God whispering it like freedom today?
So take His words like a key & walk out of whatever cage you’re in:
Today’s bread is enough bread.
Today’s grace is enough grace.
Today’s God is *more than* enough God” (Ann Voskamp).

I’m thinking about those Israelites wandering in the desert. When God provided manna, some got greedy and tried to hoard it. But that manna wouldn’t last beyond the day. Instead, it rotted and had maggots and all sorts of grossness. God meant for them to learn the secret of living and trusting from day to day.

When Jesus tells us to pray, “Give us our daily bread,” He’s teaching us the same lesson. It’s no good worrying about something six months or six years down the road when all God has called us to be is faithful for the next 24 hours. God doesn’t provide for something we will face in the future. His abundance is for the present, for the moment you’re in.

I always love the prayer that goes along these lines; “Lord, I come to you with open and empty hands. If all I get from you is You and the next breath, that will be enough. Amen.”

Today’s God is indeed more than enough God for any circumstance.