What Would Jesus Do?

            Do you remember the “WWJD” bracelets of the 90’s?  Those letters stood for the question: “What Would Jesus Do?”  Thirty years later, some think the answer is rioting, looting, and burning.  A tweet from comic book artist Dean Trippe equating the violent riots to Jesus overturning the tables in the temple has gone viral and is (for some bizarre reason) gaining a lot of traction among Christians.

            To make his case, Trippe referenced the accounts in Matthew 21:12-13 and John 2:13-17. When Jesus arrived at the temple in Jerusalem, he found it in bad shape. Money-grubbers had overrun the house of worship and turned it into a marketplace. In response, Jesus drove them out, saying, “My house will be called ‘a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

            There is no similarity between that and the violence happening today.  The comparison is ignorant on a number of levels.  Trying to compare Jesus pointing out and removing the corruption from His temple to what is happening today shows an ignorance of what the Bible teaches completely.  He is God and has every right to clean His own home. He didn’t violate anyone’s rights. It’s Jesus’ house He was cleansing!  The idea that we could then turn that into looters going into other people’s houses and businesses and destroying them is absolute insanity and it shows a total ignorance of the biblical worldview. It was His house. 

            When we see people, that profess the name of Jesus, inciting riots and looting and trying to help with that and trying to put a Christian veneer over it, it breaks our hearts.  God abhors racism and His Word is very clear about victims’ rights.

            The only answer is Jesus!  God is holy; we are sinners. We are rebels against a holy God. We deserve hell. And all these things we see in our nation right now is an expression of the evil and wickedness that comes from within people’s hearts. It’s coming from deep down within and the only escape from that is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

            Would you join with us in praying for a spiritual awakening and revival in the hearts of His people?  Here is a list of Specific Prayers For Revival and Spiritual Awakening:[1]

  1. Ask God to bring deep conviction of sin, spiritual brokenness, a holy fear of God and genuine repentance among His people. There will be no revival without these elements and only God can produce them in His people. After all we cannot program or work up genuine brokenness and repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
  2. Pray for deep cleansing, genuine repentance, and spiritual power to engulf pastors and Christian leaders. Revival and spiritual awakening are extremely unlikely without a mighty move of God in pastors and Christian leaders. Renewed pastors are absolutely crucial to a move of God in our day! (Ephesians 6:14-20)
  3. Pray for God to bestow spiritual hunger in His people and draw them to fervent intercession. God has to grant people the genuine faith and the fervent desire for prayer. With all our promotion and programming, we cannot “produce a genuine prayer movement. (Philippians 2:13)
  4. Pray that God will bring loving unity in our churches and a deep harmony between our churches. Many churches need healing among members and many churches need to stop competing jealously with other churches. (John 13:35)
  5. Pray for God to fill His people with a passion to see people saved. (Only God can give a genuine burden for souls.) Until God’s people intensely pray for the lost and do aggressive soul winning revival will tarry. Be sure you are constantly praying for many lost people by name. (Romans 9:1-3)

[1] https://www.absc.org/articles/10-specific-prayers-for-revival-spiritual-awakening/



“Tune My Heart”

           I have been thinking.  Having been a Worship Leader, I realized that we could get away with a lot in the first song each Sunday, if I really wanted. Very few would even notice.  People are coming in late, trying to settle their kids, silencing their phones, checking their phones, wrapping up conversations, or just generally disoriented.

            The truth is many of us walk into worship not quite ready to worship. We need a little time to center and focus ourselves. Some of us are frustrated with our kids. Some are disheartened about our work. Some are stressed about the demands of school or the deadlines of our jobs. Others are depressed or apathetic about life. Yet others are fearful, distraught, or mourning. Weekly worship calls us back into a story with the emotional highs and lows of sin and salvation, so we all need to recalibrate.

            The beginning of worship is a critical moment when we release everything else demanding our attention into the capable hands of the very One we are preparing to encounter.

Tune My Heart

            Some historic hymns seem to run on an endless tank of fuel. No matter how many times we sing them, they speak to us, stir us, and lead us to worship. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is one of those hymns for me.

Come, thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace.

          Tune my heart. It’s like guitar in its case, or left out on a stand, it’s not the same guitar. When it is picked up a few days later and strummed, it’s out of tune. Because of forces inside (wood, tension, aging strings) and forces outside (temperature, humidity), a guitar left alone will always fall out of tune.

The same phenomenon happens in our hearts. Between Sundays, we get knocked around, and the forces inside and outside of us — our sin, others’ sin, and the fallenness of the world — send our hearts in all kinds of directions. When we come back to worship together, and the Holy Spirit begins to strum the strings of our hearts, we hear dissonance. Hearts always require re-tuning.

            Because this kind of calibration is critical, but can be difficult, consider a few tips for how to prepare your hearts well for worship.

Worship starts before you enter.

            As many have said before, we don’t enter into corporate worship and begin to worship. We come into the space already worshiping. Our hearts have been loving and desiring in all kinds of directions this week. The first step is to simply recognize and confess that fact, praying that the Holy Spirit would increasingly narrow the gap between the worship offered on Sundays and the worship offered Mondays through Saturdays. The worshiper who grows in orienting their heart toward God Monday through Saturday (whole-life worship) will find themselves more calibrated for Sundays (gathered worship).

Center your heart before worship.

            Before a worship service, all of us can do things that make entrance into worship easier. We can meditate on a verse or two in Scripture or pray through a psalm. We can listen to music that stirs and orients our hearts. Perhaps just ten minutes of quiet is what we need. Certainly turning our phone to “do not disturb” (or even off) can be a helpful, intentional practice to calm our frayed, distracted minds.

Arrive early.

            Few things make it harder to fully engage in worship than arriving just on time or late. Arriving early gives us plenty of time to find a place to sit, and then center our hearts through the word and prayer.

            We’ll also have a chance to prepare for worship by greeting others. Some people think the only way to prepare for worship is to quietly pray and ignore everyone else. That’s a one-dimensional way to approach worship. Because worship is both vertical (us and God) and horizontal (one another), greeting the people worshiping next to you is a wonderful way to calibrate your heart for corporate worship.

Make the most of the first moments.

            Jump into the deep end. Let the call to worship and the opening hymns or songs flood your mind and heart. Sing loudly, breathe deeply, feel passionately. Sometimes, participating physically actually leads our affections to engage spiritually. Recognize that the opening of worship is meant for our calibration, and let it prepare our hearts to worship.



My Relationship With God Is Cold

My Relationship With God Is Cold

 

“How did you get close to God again? I’m not sinning, like doing drugs or drinking or swearing, but I get mad easily and don’t feel that connection with God. I just want my relationship with God back.”

If you are a mature believer, questions like this may be familiar. Here is an answer that has worked for me.

Do what the early church did.

42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42 NASB

  • Devote yourself to the apostles teaching — study the Bible regularly
  • Devote yourself to the fellowship — don’t go it alone. We need one another. We need the accountability of the body and we need to share our time and stuff with one another in sacrificial ways.
  • Devote yourself to the breaking of bread — again, we need to worship the King together. We need to remember the sacrifice of the cross together with other believers.
  • Devote yourself to “the prayers” — the text and most modern translations say “prayers” not “prayer”. The plural is important. Most scholars will say that the meaning is not just to “saying your prayers” or praying and talking to God regularly. The plural has a very specific referent. Either it means the 3x a day pattern of Jewish prayer in the first century or, and more likely, it means they devoted themselves to the prayer book of the Old Testament, the book of Psalms.

My own experience is, that when my walk with God has grown cold or lukewarm, doing these things restores my passion and appreciation for the wonders of the gospel and the beauty of my Savior.

Give it time. Doing these things is not a shot of adrenaline. They are exercises for your spirit and will “pay off” over time (just like physical exercise) as you continually make the “devote yourself” investment.

Ask yourself this question, what commands of Christ am I not doing that I know I ought to be doing? Why this question?

Look at John 14:21

21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” NASB

Jesus ties further revelation of himself, greater intimacy with himself to our obedience to the commands he has given us.

Look at Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and a]the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” NASB

Live your life by faith not by how you feel.

Train your heart to act on truth revealed not how you feel in the moment.

Finally, check out your love life?

Read Luke 7:38–50, especially verse 47.

47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” NASB

“He who is forgiven little, loves little.” Whenever I, or any of us, forget how much we have been forgiven our faith will become stale and inconsequential to our lives; but when we go back to the cross, when we spend time meditating on how much we have been forgiven, new springs of joy will begin to arise in our hearts.



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