Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Church Kills

Don't know if this church sign is a blooper, funny on purpose, or even if it's for real...but I do know it's true.

No, I'm not saying that attending church services will kill you. Though I've been in some that almost put me in a coma.

It's dying to self that I'm alluding to here. It's getting rid of the bad past and stepping into the good future.

It all relates to what the Apostle Paul asked in Romans 6:2, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"

Or even more to the point, hear the words of Jesus:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NIV)

Truth is...as long as my life is all about "I, me, me, mine," I will be prone to worry. It would be much better to, as Petra put it in the following song, "kill my old man" (figuratively die to my old way of living). And yes, involvement in a church can help with that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We Are The Reason

It was the summer of 1981 and even with a beautiful wife and a baby daughter, my life felt like it was going nowhere fast. I had a job at which I excelled, but which gave me no sense of satisfaction or accomplishment. The only spark of joy outside of my immediate family was being a volunteer with the high school students at my home church.

That summer, at a week-long conference run by Christ In Youth (I was attending as a chaperone/coach for the teens), it seemed like the only message that came across to me, no matter what the actual topic of the workshop or sermon, was, "You could do more, Dewey. Your life could have more of an impact."

And then somebody sang the David Meece song, We Are the Reason.

All of a sudden, it all came together for me.

We are the reason that He gave His life.
We are the reason that He suffered and died.
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live.

Thirty-four years later, there are a few nit-picky things in the lyric I would change if I were recording a cover, but at the time, that song was the soundtrack for a whole new direction for me.

Truth is...it still rings true. Jesus gave His all. How could I ever desire to do less?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This Word...I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

I can't know this without a doubt, but I'm pretty sure that when God wrote The Ten Commandments He didn't include any redundancy. The thing is, the way a lot of people talk about them...including a best-selling author or two...Yahweh apparently slipped up a bit.

Specifically, I'm referring to the first and second entries on God's Top Ten. Put succinctly, they are: 

  1. No other gods.
  2. No idols.

A lot of folks  okay, I'll take the gloves off and just come out and say it  Kyle Idleman, in his book, gods at war, equates idolatry with putting other gods ahead of Yahweh...as if the first and second commandments are the same thing. I quote from godsatwar.com:

There are gods at war within each of us. They battle for the throne of our hearts, and much is at stake. This is why idolatry is the most discussed problem in the entire Bible. Behind every sin struggle that you and I have is a false god that is winning the war in our lives. Don't give in to the myth that gods are only statues that people of other cultures or long ago worshiped. Pleasure, romance, sex, money, and power are just a few of the gods that vie for our allegiance in today's society.

Now, take a look at the actual wording of the second commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." (Exodus 20:4-5)

At first glance it might seem like "Have no other gods before me" and "make no idols" are different ways of saying the same thing, but think of these two commandments in this way: Commandment number one tells us to worship the one true God, and then commandment number two partly answers the question, "How am I to worship the one true God?"

It is one thing to worship the correct god. It is another thing to worship God correctly. The golden calf incident (see Exodus 32:1-6) was not breaking the first commandment...they were attempting to worship Yahweh, the God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The problem was, they wanted something physical to focus their worship on and settled for a statue of a calf, made from their melted-down earrings and bracelets.

Truth is...God desires a personal relationship with His children. When we let a sculpture, or a symbol, or a catchy phrase, or a book (even a Holy Book - gasp!) take the place of a real relationship with a real being, we miss the mark. We fall short of the goal. We break the second commandment. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fare Thee Well, Andrae

Music in general, but gospel music in particular, lost a pioneer on January 8, 2015.

Andrae Crouch was vitally instrumental in bringing gospel music out of the churches and into the streets. His album, Live at Carnegie Hall, was the second "Contemporary Christian" recording I ever owned. He proved that music by people of faith wasn't inferior in quality or secondary in significance.

Crouch brought Gospel to the masses and the masses to the Gospel. He was musical arranger for the films The Color Purple and The Lion King, had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and won seven Grammys.

But it was never about Andrae Crouch as an entertainer or personality or celebrity. It was always about the music and the message that the music conveyed.

One of his biggest "hits", if you can call it such a thing, was also one of his simplest compositions...proclaiming the simplicity of Jesus being the answer for every issue faced by any individual throughout the world.  

Truth is...Jesus Is the Answer is an old song, but the message is 100% fresh and current. Thank you, Andrae.