No One Should Be Left Out

“Praise the Eternal!
Praise the True God inside His temple.
    Praise Him beneath massive skies, under moonlit stars and rising sun.
Praise Him for His powerful acts, redeeming His people.
    Praise Him for His greatness that surpasses our time and understanding.

Praise Him with the blast of trumpets high into the heavens,
    and praise Him with harps and lyres
    and the rhythm of the tambourines skillfully played by those who love and fear the Eternal.
Praise Him with singing and dancing;
    praise Him with flutes and strings of all kinds!
Praise Him with crashing cymbals,
    loud clashing cymbals!
No one should be left out;
    Let every man and every beast—
    every creature that has the breath of the Lord—praise the Eternal!
Praise the Eternal!” (Psalm 150:1-6, The Voice).

As I read the words to this particular Psalm, I was reminded of something that John Piper wrote. He said that worship is the ultimate purpose of the Church. Missions, he said, exists because there are places where worship does not. Missions exists because there are people who still have not heard of God’s saving power in Jesus and of His worth and value and of His redeeming love.

Missions will not always exist. The Bible says that one day there will be a multitude of people from every ethnicity and race and language gathered around the throne of God and that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the seas.

Until then, we have the Great Commission, so that no one is left out of the opportunity of an eternity with God.


Awaiting the Storm


According to the weather people, Nashville is due for a storm tonight. There’s a tornado watch in effect until 1 am. Apparently, the bad stuff isn’t supposed to hit until around 10 pm.

Actually, I don’t mind storms as long as I’m not out driving in one. As long as I’m indoors, I’m good. Away from all the crazy people who can’t drive in perfectly good weather, much less inclement weather.

I used to be afraid of thunder. Specifically, I was afraid of the loud noises of thunder. I guess all kids are afraid of things like that. I outgrew my fear, although I really can’t tell you when that was. I just know that thunder doesn’t bother me anymore.

Everybody goes through storms. Everybody has seasons in their lives that don’t make sense, where the goal is just to survive until the storm passes.

God is in the storm. He’s before and after the storm. His is the voice that bids the winds be still. His is the voice you can count on and cling to when your storm comes.

I still love the analogy of storms and the fear of God. John Piper described the fear of God as being in a storm safe from the dangers but witnessing the power and majesty of it.

The truth is that God can be scary. He is a just God who hates sin. He has every right to punish that sin. But seeing God through eyes of mercy, I see what fear of the Lord means.

He could have nuked me, but He chose to save me instead. He could have let me have every bit of what was coming to me. Instead, He let Jesus have it instead.

So storms aren’t so bad. When you’re saved from the very worst, anything else isn’t nearly as bad.

Safe in the Storm

I’m sitting here typing contentedly away on my laptop and listening to the rain lash against the window of my bedroom. I hear the thunder rumbling in the distance. I love it.

I don’t love storms when I’m driving in the middle of them and can barely see the road through my windshield. But when I finally make it home, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I think it was John Piper who describe the fear of God kind of like being in a storm from a safe place. You’re able to witness the power and majesty of the storm while protected from the dangers of it.

I think we forget that God is all-powerful and all-present sometimes. We focus on the loving aspect and forget sometimes that He is also a holy God. Well, I do, anyway.

It is a good feeling to know that this God who could destroy me with one word from His mouth calls me His child. He has promised that He won’t leave or forsake me and that He will finish what He started in me.

He’s promised to bring me safely through those storms that come into my life. Not only that, but I will come out stronger on the other side.

I am learning what it means to fear God. I am learning that if you fear God, you need fear nothing else, for if God is for you, who could ever be against you? This fear of God isn’t a trembling terror, but more of a reverential awe of a God who is bigger than all that is and has existed before anything was. This same God who knows my name and the number of hairs on my head.

I pray you find that fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom. I pray you know that God is holy, but that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. By the way, the storm has passed, as all storms do. But God remains.



Some thoughts about worship

Jesus didn’t die for our good works or good intentions. He didn’t die to make good people better. Or for that matter to make bad people good. He died to make dead people come alive. He died for our dark places, our wicked deeds. He came to take our blame and our shame and give us His perfection. Jesus died to make us worshippers.

John Piper says in effect, Worship, not missions, is the purpose of His people. The reason that missions exists is because for so many peoples, worship does not. People can’t worship a God they don’t know. People can’t worship a god made in their image that is too small to save or love or rescue anybody. Redeemed people worship a real God. Really when you look at it, missions and evangelism are both forms of worship– declaring the great worth and works of God to all peoples.

Worship is Romans 12:1-2, offering our bodies as living sacrifices. In the Old Testament, part of worship was offering sacrifices like bulls and goats. Since Jesus did away with the old sacrificial system, what we bring as our offering of worship is ourselves. Worship is giving to God our bodies, our souls, our true selves. Worship is giving back to God what was already His and acknowledging that He owns it all, including us.

Worship is James 1:27. When we give to the widow and the orphan, we give to Jesus. Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. Jesus didn’t choose the popular or strong or wise; He chose the throwaways of the world, the lepers, the outcasts and the abandoned to be His worshippers. Worship also means keeping yourself unstained by the world, to be set apart and different. Worship is either a 24/7 lifestyle or it’s nothing at all.

Worship is taking your two loaves and five fishes and watching Jesus turn it into a meal for thousands. When we give what little we call our own to Jesus, He takes it and not only blesses the multitudes, but gives back to us more than we can contain.

Worship means to kiss, to adore and to sacrifice. It is saying that God is supremely worthy of all of me. It means I will give my life away on a daily basis for the Kingdom of God. It means that every breath is a praise and every thought a prayer.

Honestly, after all this, I still don’t really know what worship is. I’m not very good at it. Or I should say I am not very good at worshipping the right thing, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross and rose triumphantly from the grave and has all authority in heaven and on earth, including authority over my life.

In the New Testament, when people worshipped, they fell on their faces. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John fell on his face before Jesus as a dead man. That’s what I pray for: to die to everything else, to fall on Jesus, and live to Him, with Him and for Him only.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6)

When I think of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, I don’t think of when I would like dessert after a good meal. I don’t even think about when I am late for a meal and how “hungry” I feel. I think of someone who is starving to death and the lengths they will go to get food. To hunger and thirst for righteousness means more than simply wanting to in right standing with God and to please Him; it means that everything in me longs and yearns to see God glorified by my life.

The Message puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

The question is: How badly do you want God? Not how badly do you want your prayers answered or how badly do you want gifts and blessings from God, but how badly do you long for God Himself? Honestly, I seek after many other things more than I seek after God, including but not limited to approval, attention, a dating life, and spiritual experiences. Is it any wonder that these things, whether I obtain them or not, will leave me empty and hollow? Only God can fill a God-shaped hole in my heart.

The hard part is that if you love and long for God, you will love and long for fellowship and community with His people. If you don’t love and long for His people, you don’t really long for God. Jesus says, If you love me, you will love my church (and that doesn’t mean you will love a building or a campus, it means you will love God’s people). If you are pulling away from God’s people, how can you say you are drawing near to God? I know there are seasons of solitude that God calls us to, but if we have no desire to pray for and support and encourage our brothers and sisters, we really are saying we have no desire for God.

Sometimes, when someone isn’t in a place where they can seek God and God’s people, we can rally around that person and pray God’s healing and restoration for him or her. A friend of mine said sometimes when you can only give 40%, I must be the one to give the 160% to make up the difference.

What does it mean to be filled? It means overflowing beyond your capacity to receive. It means God gives you so much that it runs over in you and spills into the lives of those around you. To be filled means to have life abundantly, or life to the full, that God will give beyond anything we could ever ask or expect or hope. As John Piper says, “God will not give up the glory of being the Giver.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.