Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Youth Group Homework

Last weekend in our small group Bible study our High School students were challenged to write out their salvation testimony. Their assignment has been to write it out and then be ready to share it this coming week. They can share it with others during the week as well. Can you believe that a youth pastor gives homework??? Well, I did and I'm praying the dog doesn't eat it before Sunday. What about you, have you thought how to clearly communicate your salvation testimony?

Here were some questions to help guide their writing and thinking.

ADMISSION – How did I know I needed a Savior?

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

BELIEF – Who is Jesus Christ?

Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

COMMIT – How am I living for God presently?

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

Holy Worship

In 1995 a popular song came out by Joan Osbourne. It was titled "If God Were One of Us". The lyrics are interesting to read considering that the song came from secular pop culture. Here are some of the lyrics:

If God had a name, what would it be
And would you call it to his face
If you were faced with him in all his glory
What would you ask if you had just one question
And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
What if God was one of us

Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
If God had a face what would it look like

And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in jesus and the saints and all the prophets

Well... what if you were faced with God in all his glory? What would you see and would you even want to see him? In reading Isaiah 6 we can be certain that we will see at least the following three realities.

Worship calls you to see God’s holiness (6:1-4).
Isaiah saw a vision of God. God was seated on an elevated throne where his presence and robe filled the temple room. Hovering around God were seraphim (literally “burning ones”) who though they are burning with brightness they hid their faces & feet from God’s greater and brighter glory. In antiphonal praise the seraphs shout about God’s character. It is significant that they sing of his holiness above other characteristics, as well as the three-fold mention of it; “holy, holy, holy”. In Hebrew, the addition of adjectives multiplies its importance. Isaiah speaks of God’s holiness 59 times throughout his writing. Worship that does not recognize God’s glory and holiness falls short of true worship.

God’s holiness is attractive. Deep inside it is what we all desire. We long for completion, perfection and being whole. We pursue these desires in the wrong places which become idols or God-substitutes. The irony of this reality is once we encounter God’s holiness we cannot remain in his presence. It is so powerful and overwhelming that we get consumed with the weight of its significance.

Worship calls you to see sin’s influence (6:5-7).
Isaiah’s dramatic vision was overpowering. He saw divine holiness and was never the same. It ruined his old ways recognizing the sinfulness of his lips. Even more, he felt the weight of sin’s influence from the people he lived among. Isaiah’s response resulted in guilt and shame due to God’s convicting presence filling the space. However, God removed and atoned for the influence of Isaiah’s sin. The seraphs purified Isaiah’s lips with a coal from the burning altar in the temple.

When you experience guilt or shame it is important to respond appropriately. God gives you these experiences so you may seek him not run from him. He desires you to confess your sin and find forgiveness rather than avoiding the influence of your sin. God removes the influence of sin and its consequences through the atoning power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Worship calls you to see people’s need (6:8)
Following Isaiah’s cleansing from personal and corporate sin he hears God’s voice. A person cannot hear God’s voice unless they have found atonement for their sin. God called for someone to meet the missionary task of representing God to the people. Isaiah gave the most appropriate and worshipful response he could, “Here I am. Send me”. Worshiping God fills believers that they cannot help but share this glorious, all-satisfying happening with others.

Worshiping God is not confined to a room, a building or any other location. It is without walls, without limits and goes to the center of every lifestyle; it is your life. God sees your worship in the way you interact not only when you are alone but especially when you interact with others. He expects you to represent him to all those around you.

Taking It Home
· What do you think God looks like? Describe him.
· Why is holiness attractive?
· How do worship services you attend recognize God’s holiness?
· Do you view guilt or shame as a gift from God? If not, how could you begin to see it as such?
· Is worship more an individual or corporate action? Explain.
· Respond to: “A person cannot hear God’s voice unless they have found atonement for their sin.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Visionary Worship

Psalm 37:3-5 “TRUST in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. DELIGHT yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. COMMIT your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”

These few verses describe worship familiar yet distant ways. By observing three words you can gain a fuller picture of what it means to worship God with greater intensity.

The psalmist penned this word to point to God’s complete control over all of life. Since God is sovereign over all things you can trust him in every life circumstance you encounter. God promises to provide and protect those who trust in him. In a world that seldom holds promises and little can be trusted, God calls you to trust in him.

Can you envision trusting someone who is completely faithful?

Hebrews 13:5 “be content with what you have, for he himself said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’.”

Many people view a relationship with God as a simple past decision they made, lacking joy and passion. Such a decision minimizes the intimacy and ongoing relationship a believer has with God. Trust in God calls for enjoyment in him as completely satisfying in all of life. Realizing this truth, the believer should intensify his or her pursuit for God. As an athletic fanatic or empty entertainment seeker, a believer should find extreme delight in God.

Commenting on this verse, John Piper says, “The great hindrance to worship is not that we are pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures… Being satisfied with all God is for us in Jesus is the essence of the authentic experience of worship.”
[1] Worship is the most important thing you will do and we must have the right object of worship rather than satisfying ourselves with things of lesser value than an eternal God.

Can you envision delighting in someone that overflows with satisfaction?

Psalm 16:11 “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

The word literally means to roll in or to lay wallowing. In other words, the psalmist calls you to go all in when it comes to trusting in God. Half-heartedness and lazy discipline are contradictions when it comes to following Jesus. God is looking for passionate, white-hot worshipers.

Can you envision committing to someone that inspires faithfulness without drudgery?

Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

1 John 5:3-4 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."

[1] The Dangerous Duty of Delight, p. 55-56.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Worship. There is so much to that single word that we do not know where to begin to try and understand it. But, we’re going to try anyways because God calls, desires, demands us to. On Sunday nights our youth will explore several facets of this life altering word. Certainly this series will increase our knowledge about the subject. Our minds will be challenged and stretched as we reflect upon what it means to worship and how every person is a worshiper by nature. However, I hope that is not all that happens. I pray that our heart affections might be transformed from being contently satisfied with physical and worldly things to having an insatiable thirst and pursuit for the eternal God of the Bible. Only worship of Jesus will fill our lives with meaning and lasting joy.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lessons Learned

Some lessons parents teach will always stay with their children. I can remember growing up that my parents taught me the lesson of winning and losing with grace. As with most children, the thrill of winning a game gives them great joy. However, when they lose it can be quite an ugly scene. One personal example was when I lost a card game playing against my Aunt Susie. I hated losing so much that I slapped her in the face! I was about 7 years old but that certainly was no excuse and my whooping was the proof. Another lesson I learned was following through in your commitments; don’t be a quitter. As an active child I was involved in several sports from football, basketball, t-ball to even bowling. Before the start of each season my parents reminded me of the commitments involved and if I started something I needed to finish it. They understood the value of perseverance and the satisfaction of a task completed. Indeed, this has been a tremendous value to me through the years of college, young adulthood and in my family life.

As we start another Fall and year of student ministries I pray that we follow my latter lesson, don’t be a quitter. Think about it. As parents and adult leaders we set the example to our children. When we start ministries we need to be tenacious. Yes that’s an odd word but consider its meaning. According to Webster, tenacious means “not easily pulled apart; persistent in seeking something valued or desired.” Too often we can be tempted to give up and pull away right before we reap the benefits. In the face of difficulty or challenge we quit and abandon everyone else. Not only is this a selfish attitude but it denies the group and team (the body of Christ) the opportunity to support one another and grow from struggles. Besides, when did the road to God’s blessings become paved with ease and comfort?

So, to all the new Sunday School teachers, Awana workers, every other ministry leader as well as to every family member, don’t be a quitter! We need to model tenacity to our children and to those in our community who are wondering if the gospel really matters. Trust me, perseverance pays off and will leave a lasting impression on the generations to come.

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Some of the idea for this post was adapted from http://www.childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=1940

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

feet to faith

The role of every Christian is faithfulness to Jesus. That does not require having the best talent or the most money in the world. It simply means being faithful stewards with who you are and what God has given you. God expects you to use your life for his glory and not your own. Are you allowing your faith to inform your actions?

One of the things I try to do in ministry is partner our student ministry and church with opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus. I want our church to get out of comfort zones, outside the "church building" and engaging the world around us so we can reflect who Jesus is through our actions. I call it putting feet to our faith. We have an opportunity right around the corner on September 27 as we 'Embrace Baltimore' and partner with FBC Dundalk to serve and love others in the name of Jesus. I hope you will consider joining us. For more information email me or our church office.

The apostle John said it like this:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? …Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:16-18