Worship

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#TrueWorship#TrueFaith

Friday, September 17th, 2021

I’m coming close to finishing my series on Mark-The Servant King. The final 5 sermons will cover chapters 11-16. This week’s message begins what is often called “Passion Week” found in chapter 11.

I’ve decided to divide this chapter into 2 sections: True Worship and True Faith.

The first includes Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. I’m going to include a quote from a man by the name of Steve Lambert which shows the difference between Jesus entering Jerusalem and Mohammad entering Mecca. Since it a bit long for this post, I’m going to begin next week with it. I hope you will make your way back here to see that quote.  Meanwhile, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people were yelling Hosanna (which means “Save Now!”) and laying palm branches on the ground. Sadly, they were not praising Jesus because He was the Messiah. They were not pleading for salvation from sin but for blessing, prosperity, and deliverance from Roman rule.  I’ll let you make your own application to how that applies to today’s “religious” people.

The second is Jesus’ incident with the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. It is not easily understood by many because it seems harsh. A tree with leaves but no figs. Why was it cursed to a life of never bearing fruit?  I hope to explain that during this part of the message.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary of another time, once said,

God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.

May our faith always be the kind that trusts and forgives like Jesus did.  Check us out Sunday in person or online at 9 and 10:45. I’d love to have you visit with us. If not, please pray.

#OOPS#RePost#SheGetsIt

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

My deepest apologies to all of you who tried to access the post yesterday and found a big, huge blank.  In order to correct my “technologically-challenged” abilities, (or maybe FB not allowing it to be reposted because it’s not “woke” enough. I’ve been reading Owen Strachan’s book Christianity and Wokeness and I have even less tolerance for that doctrine of the devil than before. I’d say I’m sorry about that comment but I’d be lying. What does that one commercial say: “Sorry but not sorry”? Yeah, that would be me at this point), I’ll give you a written version of what was said.

The picture was of Sydney McLaughlin with an American flag and flowers and a gold medal hanging around her neck. The following are the words written by her Coach William B:

“This 21 year old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and one of the preeminent faces of the new generation of track and field athletes. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record and received the gold medal. Her words reflect her faith as she boldly said, “Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” And “I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.”

It is my understanding that she runs for the Gold against her chief rival tonight. May I suggest you Google her name? You will find out what you need to know about her there. She sounds like one phenomenal young lady.

From the previous post:

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world, and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship,  have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

#LetFreedomRing#GuestBlog

Monday, July 5th, 2021

I read the following blog this morning (Monday).  It is from the Church & Culture blog of James Emery White, Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church.  I thought you might enjoy reading it. Meanwhile, you might to also check out his website where you will find other blogs. Here you go:

On the 4th of July, I’m always reminded of times I’ve traveled in countries where freedom is severely curtailed. Or where the people have been freshly freed from the chains of injustice, and the joy of their release was palpable.

I was in Johannesburg on the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

I was in Korea when the border between North and South was electric with tension.

My most powerful memory came from Moscow, where I was teaching shortly after the fall of communism. 

One night a group of us went to the famed Bolshoi Ballet. It was a long, wonderful evening, and after we took the subway back to where we were staying, the students said, “Come and let us celebrate.” The other two professors with me were as tired as I was, but the students were so intent on our joining them, that we went. 

And then we found out what celebration meant to them. 

They wanted to gather in the dining room and sing hymns and worship God. And we did, late into the night, with more passion and sincerity than I have ever experienced. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know how to sing in Russian—we worshiped God together.

But I went to bed puzzled. I had never seen such passion for spontaneous and heart-filled worship. I was curious as to why they were so ready and eager to offer God love and honor. I received my answer the following Sunday when I was invited to speak at a church in North Moscow. A former underground church that met in secret (as so many churches had been), they were now meeting openly in a schoolhouse. I had been asked to bring a message that Sunday morning. 

I didn’t know that I was in for a bit of a wait.

The service lasted for nearly three hours. There were three sermons from three different speakers, with long periods of worship between each message. 

I was to go last. 

When it was over, I talked a bit with the pastor of the church. I was surprised at not only the length of the service, but the spirit and energy of the people. Throughout the entire three hours, they never let up. In spite of the length of time, they never seemed to tire. Even at the end, they didn’t seem to want to go home.

“In the States,” I said, “you’re doing well to go a single hour before every watch in the place starts beeping.” (This was before smart phones.) He didn’t get my weak attempt at humor, but he did say something that I will never forget.

“It was only a few years ago that we would have been put in prison for doing what we did today. We were never allowed to gather together as a community of faith and offer worship to God. And we are just so happy, and almost in a state of unbelief, that we can do this now – publicly, together – that we don’t want it to end. And not knowing what the future might hold for us here, we know that every week might just be our last. So we never want to stop. So we keep worshiping together, as long as we can.”

As I left, his words never left my mind. I thought to myself, “I will never think about worship the same again. I’ve been too casual about it, too laid back, taken it too much for granted. These people know what it’s about – really about – and because of that, they have been willing, and would be willing again, to suffer for it. To be imprisoned for it. To die for it. Because they’ve discovered that it holds that high of a yield for their life. It has that much meaning and payoff and significance. It matters that much.”

And it should matter that much to all of us.

Happy 4th of July.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

This blog was originally published in 2013, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.

#NewPost#FamiliarSongs

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Over at my other blog I have written a devotion which will post tomorrow. But I know that many do not read it so I thought I would post it here a day earlier. In that post I talk about a song which plays over and over in one’s head.  Here is the rest of tomorrow’s devotion blog. By the way, I’d love to have you join me on a daily basis as I write a devotion that I pray helps my readers face the day.  The link to that blog is here.  And here is that post:

Did you ever have a song in your head and it gets stuck there and it keeps repeating and repeating?  Maybe it was one you heard just before bedtime and you woke up with that song playing over and over in your head. Or maybe you were in a “mood” and a song just struck you right. Or you heard a song that had you waxing nostalgic, reliving a scene from the past that song dredged up.

A few weeks ago I had a medical diagnosis hanging over my head that was cryptic at best. “You have a mass of suspicious origin so I want you to get an MRI. It just looks different.” Of course all sorts of things run through the mind. He wanted that MRI to get a closer and deeper look. Thankfully, it was gall stones (which he was able to go in and take out with a process called ECRP.  That led though to a gall bladder surgery this past Wednesday. I’m glad it is over and out. But the morning after those initial words I was driving to the office and a fairly new song to me was playing on my Spotify playlist-Holy is Your Name by Petra. I pulled into the parking spot and found myself overcome with emotion and wept. I just knew no matter the outcome, I was going to be okay. (Here is the link to that song).

One of my favorite worship songs was playing last night as I worked on a jigsaw puzzle. I have related here before how my relationship with my father was sketchy at best. No need to repeat it. But the song hit me last night and I became emotional. “You’re a good, good Father that’s who You are/And I’m love by You, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” My earthly father loved me in his own way, I guess. But God!! There is no comparison. He is a good, good Father and I’m loved by Him.

Now…that’s a song to have stuck in my head and on repeat!! (Here is the link to that song).

“You are a good, good Father, Lord. I cannot thank You enough.”

#Worship#Religion

Friday, February 12th, 2021

Several years ago Victoria Osteen, the wife of entrepreneur, Joel Osteen, was recorded “preaching” and saying the following: “When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourselves because God takes pleasure when we’re happy…When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really, you’re doing it for yourself.”  I have seen that video clip and am still dumbfounded by it. What I have not seen since it was shared on social media is that clip of her saying that being paired with a scene from the film, Billy Madison where a man says, “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.”

When we hear a religious figure say out loud that we do not worship God for God, we know that is patently absurd. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says the exact opposite of what Mrs. Osteen and others of her ilk say. It says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Sadly, much of contemporary Christianity has changed that to “God’s chief end is to glorify man and enjoy him forever.”

One pastor said, “It is possible to go to church and hear little about God and much about you.”

How can a person argue with that when it is staring us in the face?  “I didn’t get anything out of church today.” “What a waste of time today was. The music was too slow and the sermon didn’t touch me at all. I got nothing out of being in church.” What a difference it would make if we flipped that and asked, “What did I give God today? Did I give Him my full-on worship? Did I listen intently to the message as it was delivered from God’s Word? Was my heart into worship today?”

My sermon Sunday will tackle some of these thoughts as I use Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 to talk about Religion Investigated. I would love it if you would watch the live stream if you are unable to come.  If you are I look forward to seeing you in person.  And, as always, I appreciate your prayers.

#GreatDay!#PraiseSong

Monday, January 11th, 2021

As many of you know I have have Covid since before Christmas. I tested the Monday before (the 21st) and received a positive call on the 23rd. I stayed in jail, I mean quarantine, until Monday, the 4th, even though I was done on December 30th. Just wanted to be safe. It sapped all my strength. I slept more in one night than I think I had the previous year.  (Yeah…slight exaggeration but it sure felt like it).  Anyway, there are some symptoms that have “hung on” that have made life a bit uncomfortable at times. But Saturday I had had enough. I put my bike on my inside trainer and rode for 30 minutes. I think for the first time in weeks I felt alive.

It was during that ride that I ran across a song which literally rocked me. I was about 20 minutes into the ride when a song came on my Spotify playlist, one I had never heard before.  As I rode my bike tears flowed and my hands were raised to the Father in absolute wonder and praise. I though I would start your week off with a good song to fill your heart and mind with. Enjoy!

And here is the song:

#Unknowns#SimpleMen#WiseMen

Friday, December 4th, 2020

The title gives it away. There should be no question who my sermon will be about in my A Grand Production series. 🙂

Life is full of surprises as we all know. Christmas morning is full of surprises.  When I was growing, when I still believed in SC,  Christmas morning in the Grandi household was one big huge surprise. We went to bed with nothing except lights in the windows. No tree.  No gifts. No train. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. But when we woke up life was full of wonder and surprises. Our living room had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland.  A well-lit tree. Gifts under the tree. A running train (my dad’s pride and joy). Even up to the day she died mom had pictures which showed our surprise as we hit the top of the steps and then came down to see what wasn’t there when we went to bed. I now know-or should I say I no longer wonder-how mom and dad stayed up all day. Oh yeah…coffee.  Lots of it. I know they had to have stayed up late at night, maybe most of the night putting everything together to make a magical surprise.

I don’t imagine there could be anyone more surprised than the shepherds when the angel and the host of angels visited them on the hillside with an announcement which shook their world. And to see how the wise men followed the star which took them from their home in the east to Bethlehem by way of Herod’s court is the stuff of legends. Come to think of it both of them are the stuff of legends even though we know nothing more about them than what we are told in Luke and Matthew.

I am afraid we have sometimes lost our wonder. Like the young man in Polar Express,  we go through a crisis of belief and settle too easily for the mundane. Excitement awaits us if we follow Jesus.

I’d appreciate your prayers if you are able and would love to have you join us via live stream.

#Blessed#CountThem

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Many of us can remember the old song “Count your many blessings name them one by one/Count your many blessings see what God has done.” It was especially pulled out of mothballs every Thanksgiving. And rightly so. But then again, it is sad. Why focus on blessings and saying thanks for them only when the holiday comes around?

British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said, “Memory is very treacherous, by a strange perversity-it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected.” I’m afraid that is true for many of us. We get so caught up in the bad of the past that we often forget the good that has happened.

Psalm 103 reminds us to “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His hold name…Forget not all His benefits.” Here are four thoughts about God’s blessings that we should be aware of and I will be highlighting this week:

  1. God’s blessings are numerous and varied.
  2. God’s blessings are beyond what we deserve.  {Ain’t that the truth!}
  3. God’s blessings are poured out on the just and the unjust.
  4. God’s blessings have a purpose.

This Sunday I am going to begin a two-part sermon series on thanksgiving as part of my Q & A series. It is titled What about Being Blessed?  If you happen to live near us and attend or plan to, we will not be meeting in person this week. Strictly online.  You can find the links on our church’s website.  Our live stream will begin at 10:45 and will be scaled down to an opening song (prerecorded), a communion thought and the sermon. There will only be 3 of us in the building-me, Jo and Ryan.

Your prayers would be most appreciated.

#Surrender#Preparation#ReadingGod’sWord

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking for something in one of my old journals. I found it, along with the thoughts from the previous post.  I would like to include what I was looking for in this post for you to keep and have available.

There is a story behind this. Back in late 2016 and early 2017 I was dry. I had been hit by a hit-n-run driver while riding my bike in November of 2016. In February I did an endo while going down a hill. To this day I have no clue what happened. But as painful as the lessons were, combined they woke me up from my slumber.  This reading was one of the first things I latched onto after the first accident (or shortly before). I knew I wasn’t right and something had to give. I share it with you:

O Holy Spirit of God,

come now and live forever in my heart and in my thoughts.

Be the inspiration, through the Word,

for all my thoughts and deeds.

Take possession of my imagination and grant

that all my thoughts may be in line with the Word.

Take possession of the deepest core of my will,

and through Your Word, control my life in its totality.

God-given Word, be with me in my silence and in my words,

when I work and when I relax, in the freshness of the morning

and also the melancholy of the night.

Grant me the grace, Spirit of the Word, to delight

in the mystery of Your pronouncements.

Make my heart an altar and pour the

purifying fire of Your love into it.

Spirit of the Word, be with me today in everything I do.

Don’t let me deny friendliness and courtesy to those around

me, for I know I’m being true to the Word in the way I treat others.

O Holy Spirit, be with me when I

read and study the Word today.

Grant that it would refresh my spirit

so that I will keep on seeking in it

the pure, and the good, and the true.

Lord Jesus, You broke the bread there at the lake,

break every day Your Bread of Life for me, O Lord.   Amen.

It reminds me of the hold hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” and I would find myself breaking out in a quiet song after reading it. May this reading open your heart to listening to God speak through His Word.

#GlorifyWhom?#YouWantMeToWhat?

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Talk about worship and you are sure to get a bunch of different ideas. Some of our ideas will be determined by our generation. Some are determined by our likes and dislikes and preferences. The struggle was so intense several years ago they called it “the worship wars.” Imagine fighting over worship. But they did. It started with the music. Hymns were replaced by worship songs and choruses. Admittedly some of them were cheesy and mere fluff and extremely repetitive. The battle intensified when the whole seeker-sensitive approach hit the fan. Preaching was replaced by “talks” and drama. Worship music was replaced by pop songs and shallow songs pushing horizontal type of worship. There was more “me” than there was “Him” in our singing.

But IMHO that all missed the mark of what should be our focus: the worship and majesty of the Holy One, Jesus. God the Father and God the Son. (I’m not into worship of the Holy Spirit since the Bible tells us His purpose is to bring glory to Jesus). A church that worships is a church that is pleasing to God. Not for the purpose of self but for the purpose of lifting up and glorifying the only One worthy of it.

John MacArthur calls worship the ultimate priority. Chuck Swindoll calls it the irreplaceable priority. In other words, it is important and cannot be downplayed. That is the topic of my sermon this Sunday as I continue my series on Faithful. I’ve titled it Glorify Whom? My prayer is to lead us into a higher view of worship this Sunday. I’d sure appreciate your prayers.