Why do we Create?

We sing songs. We draw, paint, and sculpt. Have you ever asked yourself why?

There are many ways in which a person can be creative… but where does it come from and why is it important to God and the church?

Below we will discuss “why” we create.


  • God created.

The first reason we as Believers should be striving to create marvelous things for the Lord takes us all the way back to the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 says,

In the beginning, God created…

The creation story that we are all familiar with found in Genesis continues in 1:27 to say,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We ourselves were created! God was, and is, the first ever creator and being made in His image we also should be striving to create! When I think about God as the first Creator and myself attempting to be more like Him then I am automatically pushed to constantly be striving to create with Biblical excellence that reflects the attributes and likeness of God. It is amazing to me that we can often fall into the trap of creating very mediocre things within the church and slapping the “Christian” label on them and calling them done.

As Believers our handiwork should be more than mediocre! In fact, we should be the BEST creators because we serve the best creator!

Psalm 104:24 says,

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 19:1 says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The vast expanse of the universe was created by a God who loves to create. The cells in our bodies that we can’t even see were created by a God who loves to create. God went above and beyond as a Creator and because of that so should we.

  • It is part of our mandate.

Genesis 1:26-27 says,

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.

Are you aware of the fact that you have been given dominion over the rest of creation? As creators that should overwhelm us with excitement because “the sky is the limit!” We have dominion over the things we create!

We know that for each person the way we create is different. Some of us may be musicians, writers, painters, chefs, inventors, skilled in design, etc. Some of us also are creative in the way we accomplish jobs, communicate with people of all ages, or view situations and scenarios. Regardless of our method and creative medium the call is still the same. Romans 12:6 says,

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

Ultimately we aren’t using our God-given creativity for ourselves. It is for Him alone.

Colossians 3:23 says,

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…

  • It is part of what we were made to do.

Let’s think about it… from the time we are born, there is a part of us that longs to create. A child loves to scribble, paint, and mold playdoh. When music is turned on it is natural for us to want to tap our feet, wiggle a little, and sing along.

A friend of mine named Will Croushorn has said,

While not every one of us will be the next Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh, every one of us has been given a gift to create and to imagine which can be used to share the greatest story ever told.

In fact, the first “paid” artisans worked for the church! Do you think it is a mere coincidence that some of the first people paid to create served God and His people? I say that to point out the fact that ultimately our God-given natural creativity was given to us for the glory of God, and the enjoyment of His people.

When a child paints a picture the first thing a parent does is hang it on the fridge. It doesn’t matter if the painting is realistic, technically precise, or if it is nothing but a splatter! A parent still delights in their child’s work. I personally like to imagine our Father in Heaven delighting in our “paintings.”

I love the idea that: God provided us with creativity for Himself.

God enjoys creating and creation. That is evident in the majestic and over-the-top way in which He created all that we see, and even the things that we aren’t aware of. In the beginning we see God enjoying creation when He walks through the Garden.

Genesis 3:8 tells us exactly that,

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

God walked through the Garden and enjoyed it! We know that because He is God… He could appear right where He wanted to, but instead He took a stroll through His handiwork and enjoyed what He had done. It even says that God came to the Garden in the cool of the day. AS someone who loves being outside hiking or exploring I like to think of God just strolling down a path through the Garden listening to the birds chirping and touching the plants along the way. God enjoyed creating and enjoyed His creation.

In the same way that God created and enjoyed His creation we can create… and all of our projects and efforts ultimately speak to who He made us to be!

  • To communicate the Gospel, and the greatness of our God.

If someone has ever questioned the authenticity of visual art as a crucial part of Christian worship, all they need to do is consider the priority our Lord placed on beauty when He made this world. Aesthetically there is nothing that can top God’s original creation! Clearly, God’s creative handiwork is intentional, God purposefully made what we see around and above us to be more than just functional. He designed all of nature so that it would point us back to Him.

Psalm 104:24 says,

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 139:14 says,

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

David as a shepherd spent many nights outside tending his flock and he probably wrote Psalm 19 as he lay on his back staring up at the stars. Psalm 19:1 says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

As creative people our creation ultimately displays and communicates God’s greatness and power. Every work of art, each scribble on a page, and every theatrical production that is staged is in some way telling the story of God and the gospel.

We all recognize that art has a way of communicating feelings and emotions that cannot be verbalized. Paul tells us in Romans 1:19-20 that,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Think about this amazing truth – what we can know about God is already made known to us through His creation! Through the work of Christ, we can know God, truly and intimately, here and now. When we spend our time studying science, creating art, understanding how the universe works, we have an opportunity to learn little by little about the God who created each of those things. Through His creation, God reveals His attributes, His personality, His characteristics, His greatness, and His power. When we in turn create we can display this story for others as well.

  • To serve.

Last… but definitely not least, we each have roles to play in this family of believers. The “creative” folk among us need to feel a freedom to create and inspire because in that, they are serving the body of Christ with the gift they have been given.

Our creativity isn’t just for ourselves, and our enjoyment, but it is meant to be shared with others.

There are many creative opportunities within the local body and when there aren’t then we should “create” some! Every church should have creative people inside it purposefully creating and “telling the story” of the first Creator through their handiwork. Those who don’t understand the need or importance of creativity obviously don’t understand whom it comes from and the value creativity holds.


Let’s challenge ourselves to create for a higher purpose! Let’s allow our handiwork to reflect the handiwork of the ultimate and best Creator.

 

 

 

Pause.

Do you ever feel like the Energizer bunny?

Many, if not all, of us have been through a season where it seems like for every one thing we get off of our to-do list two more are added. Maybe you are in that season now.

What do we do when our work is piling up and there seems like there is no escape or plausible solution to free ourselves from the busyness? Have a breakdown? Work overtime? Well actually there really isn’t an easy solution here with a guaranteed outcome.

Below we will talk about the importance of remembering Jesus in the seasons of busyness and some important things to keep in mind when we are neck deep in piles of work.


  • Don’t get so caught up in your work that you miss His.

Psalm 37:7 says,

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Those of us who are work-driven suffer from the mentality or thought that we have to work more and harder in order to get the work that needs to be done accomplished, that somehow God’s work is dependent on our 8-hour workday. Now on a certain level we all know that we can’t be “lazy” and expect things to get done… but this idea of work-driven spiritual success can be harmful.

Psalm 46:10 says,

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

We see a command in the Psalm above: Be still. The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.” In some instances, the word carries the idea of “to drop, be weak, or faint.” Christians often interpret the command to “be still” as “to be quiet in God’s presence.” This idea is true… but not always a helpful interpretation. Quietness in order to listen to and for God is certainly helpful, but the phrase also means to stop frantic activity, and to be still.

Sometimes it would actually be better if we slowed down and allowed the Lord to guide our work instead of franticly doing every project or list item that we can think of just to get them checked off our list.

A thought that helps me to remember to be still and let the Lord guide my work is: Does God’s will require this to be done at this instant… is He guiding me to do it now or is it my will that it be done?

To “know that I am God” means to acknowledge and be aware of who God is and what He does. This should impact our work because if we know God then we know that He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), omnipotent (all-powerful), holy, sovereign, faithful, infinite, and good. Acknowledging God implies that we can trust Him and surrender to His plan because we understand who He is.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go and let God work. We must remember that we don’t have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, we merely need to trust more.

Whose work is more important?

  • Presence is more important than position.

In times of busyness our relationships suffer.

Our families and friends know when we are busy, because our relationship with them is strained or suffers. The same goes for our congregations if we are ministers. Have you ever been working hard and someone shows up out of the blue “just to talk?” What was your reaction? This happens to me frequently in the office at church and I have to make a conscious effort to pry myself away from the task I am working on to be intentional with them.

After all, we aren’t called to get the lights programmed, the bulletins printed, or the website looking amazing. We are called to make disciples… and with that call comes an understanding that in order to do that we have to be willing to make an intentional effort to put people first before our “tasks.”

Relationships require a certain level of commitment… but at the very least you have to be present for them to work!

I’m not just talking about being physically present. I am talking about being intentionally present with more than just your body… your heart, mind, and spirit need to be there too!

We never know what someone really needs and what opportunity God is placing in front of us. We see a prime example of this in Acts 16:24-34,

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

In the story of the Philippian jailer we see that Paul fought the human tendency or urge to flee as soon as the prison doors flung open, and that unnatural response led to a life and a family being surrendered to Christ. Paul was intentional.

Paul cared less about his position as a missionary or apostle… instead he cared about being known for his presence when interacting with people! What good is a pastor who is always at church but who is unattached and has no presence among the people? What good is a parent who holds the position of authority but has no presence about them when they are home with their children? As a worship leader it does me no good at all to pick the best songs, rehearse diligently to a level of excellence, just to ignore those God has trusted me with and display no amount of presence when leading God’s people in worship!

I promise you that you lead more from your presence than you do from your position.

Let’s commit ourselves to being intentional and present with people because it glorifies God and honors the position He has ultimately given to each one of us.

  • Take the time to hear what He is saying instead of what you want to hear.

You may be saying, “I don’t have time to get done what I feel like God has already told me to do and now you are telling me to take more time out of my schedule!”

My response… yes.

We are all going to go through seasons of “busyness,” but in these times God isn’t silent. The season is in your life for a reason… what is God showing you, telling you, or teaching you?

Often the first thing that gets cut from a busy schedule is our own personal time of ministry. The time we take to hear from and speak to the Lord. We must minister to ourselves!

The best preacher you will ever have is yourself, so preach God’s Word to yourself everyday!

I think that the best example of surrendering to self is Jesus. We see in Scripture that the very night before his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to God’s plan. Mark 14:35-36 shows us this,

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.

We see in this passage, in this prayer, that Jesus surrendered himself to God’s will. He submitted Himself to God’s will even if it didn’t perfectly align with what He wanted. Let’s face it… we are all human and our will doesn’t always perfectly align with God’s, but way too often we get so caught up in doing our will that we neglect to hear or ignore the tender calling that accompanies God’s will.

Our time may be spent doing “good” things… but are they the things that God desires from us at this very moment? I do good things everyday in and around the church, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am being intentional in accomplishing the will of God. Sometimes we can desire good things that take work and that isn’t bad at all! We just need to be careful to not ignore God’s work in order to accomplish ours. Not to ignore his will because we desire something else.

We must surrender ourselves and take the time to hear what God is saying to us instead of what we want Him to say.


Pause.

Be still and know that He is God.

What is Guiding You?

Every successful organization has goals…

Every successful organization also has a set of guiding principles that it bases its decisions and endeavors off of. These principles are the foundation of what they do and they keep them on track to accomplish their goals. Having guidance prevents frustration, burnout, and the “side-routes” that often suck up much of our time and energy.

To any church “leaders” or ministers I would ask: What principles should guide our decisions regarding the worship ministries within our respective churches? To the average “church-goer” or layperson I would ask: What principles should you be noticing within your church’s worship ministry?

There is obviously no single “set-in-stone” list… but I believe there are four basic principles that provide for us a good foundation to build off of. I will discuss them below.


  • Exalt the Lord

Psalm 99:5 says,

Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!

That same Psalm continues in verse 9 to say,

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!

This couple of verses does well to form a foundation of where our worship ministries should begin. They set forth an obvious goal…

All of our efforts in music ministry begin with the priority of exalting the Lord.

We strive for many things within the Body of Christ. We know that we have one purpose of glorifying God, but we tend to take many routes and avenues to get there. That is fine… but in all of our goals we should have a priority of exalting the Lord. We should be continually striving for excellence in our efforts to exalt the Lord.

Psalm 96:1-13 says,

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Psalm 95:1-11 says,

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Ultimately in our worship ministries, and services, our music is offered to glorify the Lord.

1 Peter 4:11b establishes that very line of thinking where it says,

In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In our planning, leading, singing, and living we should be focused on helping other people to get a glimpse of the great God that we praise, so that they themselves may see that He alone is worthy of exalting.

A last side note to this point is that we should be living humbly and teaching an attitude of humility and service to our choir/ praise team members, soloists, and instrumentalists – so that God alone receives the glory.

  • Edify the Saints

Let’s acknowledge the facts…the world is a fallen place and Christians are bombarded all week with discouraging words and events. It is far too easy to live in a constant season of discontentment, discouragement, or in we need if refreshment. In our weekly congregational worship gatherings we need to intentionally be working to encourage those around us with the Gospel.

My advisor, Greg Brewton, at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary once told me,

If what you are doing doesn’t encourage you personally then there is either a problem with what you are doing or with your heart.

I think as leaders in our respective churches we all must ask ourselves: is our worship encouraging the people in our church? I hope so! After all, this is the Body and Bride of Christ that we were, and are, entrusted with to care for until His final return.

1 Corinthians 14:26 says,

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

We all have been given something! This gift isn’t for ourselves… it is for Christ and for sharing with those around us to build them up!

Romans 14:19 shares this thought when it says,

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Ultimately, every song, element, and aspect should have a purpose… and that purpose is to build up the church. All things that take place when we are gathered together are to be shared by Christ and His Bride (the church). Our songs and elements should build each other up… they should teach and admonish.

In fact, Colossians 3:16-17 says exactly that,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  • Equip for Ministry

Another foundation or focus we should have within our churches and ministries is to be equipping others for ministry!

I often have said that my goal is to replicate myself… in NO way does that mean I think highly of myself or that I have it all together. I just want to know that I am pouring into someone else and that if something were to happen to me then the particular ministry I am involved in could continue on without missing a beat.

Imagine yourself away from your ministry… what happens? Does it fall apart?

That is the true test on how you have equipped others in your ministry. The leading of the music is the easy part… the equipping is the hardest part. Ultimately if all we have is a band and no leaders of the Gospel then we have done nothing more than a public school band director. That isn’t a sucker punch at band directors… but that isn’t our job! We are ministers… which means we are to be ministering!

Ephesians 4:11-14 says,

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

This passage in Ephesians tells us that as leaders we aren’t the lone rangers of the Gospel. We aren’t to carry out ALL of the ministry. As leaders we are to be equipping others to do ministry. We are leaders who lead by example and equip those around them to live out the Gospel.

For us who are “ministers” this is a challenge because sometimes it is easier to just do the work ourselves… but our job is to equip, so we need to spend time enabling and trusting others.

As a “church-goer” or layperson this is also a challenge because it puts some of the weight back on your shoulders. Ministry isn’t just a minister’s job! You share in the responsibility… they are there to provide instruction, guidance, and support.

  • Evangelize with the Gospel

We all know the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The act of going takes priority in all other actions. If you are “going” somewhere then it is typically apparent to everyone around you. Sometimes we tend to forget that this is a commandment and not a suggestion. That commandment doesn’t exclude our worship ministries either!

The great commission is a commandment and worship ministry is not an exception to it.

Our worship services are also outreach opportunities! Our music ministries should support the overall vision and goals of the church – outreach, missions, etc. In the end, the worship ministry is a part of the church as a whole and not a separate entity. We are ALL to be evangelists in ALL things.

Let’s commit ourselves to not just focusing on our ministry or preferences!

We need to be singing and selecting songs that express the Gospel story in clear terms, and we must also be concerned with the spiritual condition of those within our music ministry – choir members, instrumentalists, children, youth, etc.

My advisor, Greg Brewton, at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has also told me this,

We have failed if we have produced trained musicians and a congregation full of music lovers, but have not produced Christians growing in their walk with the Lord.


So… what principles exist and guide your worship services?

 

 

 

God will be Worshipped

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the one of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Throughout His earthly ministry it was rare that people recognized Him and worshipped Him for who He really was: the Son of God.

But… in this case they did. Here comes Jesus riding in on a donkey and the people are lining the road and praising Him as the Messiah. The people are crying out “Hosanna!” This word was originally an appeal for deliverance, translating to “please save.” But here we see it being transformed into an expression of joy and praise for deliverance that only the Messiah brings.

The crowds that lined the roads recognized whom Jesus was and were moved to praise.

The reason this is such a big deal is because at this point, the people still believed that the Messiah was going to be a warrior king who would overthrow the Roman government and raise Israel to a place of political and military power. However, we now know that Jesus accomplished the will of God in a way that they didn’t expect. But… their preconceived notions or thoughts about the Messiah didn’t prohibit them from recognizing Him and His power and worshipping Him for who He was.

The story is continued in Luke 19:37-40 where it goes on to say,

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Did you catch the end of that verse?

The Pharisees were religious teachers of the day, but they let what they thought they knew about God completely blind them for seeing God right in front of their faces. Their religion was their God. It is what they worshipped.

Are we sometimes so caught up in the things that we “know” about God that we miss the workings of God taking place right in front of us?

If Jesus were to ride into our churches today would we be moved to worship and praise Him or would the rocks have to cry out?

This triumphant entry is the beginning of the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and when the Pharisees tell him to quiet the crowd, his response is simply amazing:

I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

What Jesus is saying is that because He is who they say He is, that He is worthy of their praise. Do we realize that? Jesus IS God, and He is worthy of all praise we can give Him and more!

So much that if people fail to praise him, then the stones themselves will because He is worthy of it! God WILL be praised. Regardless of willingness, circumstance, cultural acceptance, or even your participation!

This is one of my favorite stories in Scripture because it reminds me of how awesome God is, and it serves as a job description for all believers! Our job is to be worshipping God and bring Him the glory due His name. We should be constantly worshipping him!

Imagine hearing a rock cry out the praise of Christ. How incredible would that be? It is nothing more than a rock… but God is so amazing, that even it MUST acknowledge and give him praise. To be honest though, I don’t want the rocks to sing God’s praise because if they do, that means I’m not doing my job!


Our job is simple.

Psalm 150:1 says,

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

Psalm 98:4 says,

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.

1 Peter 1:8 continues along with this pattern and says,

Let your love of the Lord Jesus pour out; rejoice with a glorious inexpressible joy.

The crowds who had seen Jesus ministry, his miracles, heard his teaching, and had their lives touched were eager to speak and cry out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Their words were a confession, an acknowledgment that in Jesus they were placing their hope, their future, their security, and their salvation.

Has Jesus changed your life? What are your words confessing?


Brothers and sisters… will you confess God’s goodness and salvation message each and every day despite your circumstances, emotions, or what the world might say?

Will you cry out or will the rocks take your place?

Psalm 95:1 says,

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Is our “Worship” Self-Centered?

Every Sunday churches around the world sing, pray, preach, and fellowship together. Many of these churches do these same things in drastically different ways.

  • Some sing hymns. Some sing choruses.
  • Some have full bands and orchestras. Others have organs and choirs… or even sing a cappella.
  • Some dim the lights. Others don’t.
  • Some sit in chairs. Others sit in pews.

What is the difference and why has such importance been placed on our tastes?

I am not suggesting that having variety in our worship styles and environments is a bad thing! I am actually a huge proponent of it… but we have to be careful when having so many choices to make in regards to where we worship, who we worship with, and how we do it that we don’t allow it to cloud out who we are worshipping and why. When faced with so many choices we have to be intentional in remaining centered on what worship is… we have to fight the consumer mentality that plagues the masses of our culture.

We must change our worship culture. We have to fight the “what can I get from this” mentality. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… The primary focus of worship isn’t to serve us!

Nowhere in Scripture is worship described as something primarily focused on OUR enjoyment? So… how do we fight to change our worship culture into one that glorifies Christ? Let’s think together.


  • Stop evaluating corporate worship off our opinions.

“Worship wasn’t very good today.”

What does that statement really boil down to… and whose fault is it

Worshippers and worship leaders alike have to fight this mentality. Do we judge our worship based off our opinions on how “well” the songs were executed, how “well” the congregation received it, or how “outwardly” people displayed their worship?

Are we judging then based off our preferences and emotions, or the truth spoken of and the praise poured out to God?

Let me speak to the worship leaders for a second… Do we pick particular songs because our band plays them good or they transition well into each other to create a seamless experience? Obviously neither of these things should be entirely ignored, because as faithful leaders we should strive for excellence… even in our planning! But, they shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. We shouldn’t target or aim or services around songs that we know “go over well.” Instead we should be designing services that reveal things about God and allow our congregations to pour out raise according to those revelations.

Sometimes it is a real battle to use our music to both glorify God and serve the body while fighting against using it to glorify ourselves and serve our needs and preferences. Sometimes as congregations we have to move past the outward “sound” of our worship and evaluate the heart and purpose behind it.

  • Put the “Us” before the “I.”

Do we neglect to sing along in worship or dislike songs just because they aren’t our “cup of tea?” I mean… I totally get the worship was debate going on. New versus old… contemporary versus traditional. But in the end don’t all of our “worship” songs seek to fulfill the same purpose?

Move past yourself and allow God to create in you a love of serving others…even when it means in worship style!

My pastor once used an illustration where he said that a pastor of a church in the middle of a worship war asked the adults in his congregation one Sunday morning who was willing to die for their kids. Every single hand went up. Then he followed up the question with the question of who was willing to change their traditions and worship styles/ preferences to better reach and serve their kids.

That thought is sobering.

What are we doing? Who are we truly serving when our worship is self-centered? Our purpose is ought to be simple: to worship in spirit and truth, glorify the Father, and encourage the body. That takes sacrifice and a shift in priorities away from satisfying our own interests and preferences.

  • Theocentricity.

God-focused. God-centered. Theocentric.

Robert G. Rayburn once said,

It is fundamental that we recognize that all true Christian worship must be theocentric, the primary motion and focus of worship are Godward.

What does having a theocentric focus in a worship service mean for us? Its simple… our services should not be about the lost, the saints, or any experience. Instead it should be solely focused upon God. Now obviously in a service that is focused on God there will be much to glean from for the lost, the saints, and it is likely to be full of encounters and experiences… but we aren’t focusing on or targeting those things!

As worshippers our concern should be both His praise and His presence. We are drawing near to Him not only to glorify Him but also enjoy Him. True worshippers have the desire displayed in Psalm 27:4-5,

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Church worship isn’t something done for the congregation… it is something done by the congregation!

Hebrews 13:15 says,

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

We should seek to “draw near” to God in worship… not seek to satisfy ourselves.

James 4:8–10 says,

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Hebrews 10:19–23 says,

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

In Scripture we aren’t called to make ourselves comfortable or to be “seeker sensitive.” Instead we see passages like Psalm 29:2,

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 96:7-9,

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

And Psalm 100:1-2,

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!


In Matthew 4:10 Jesus said,

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Who does your worship serve? Yourself or God?

What’s your New Years Resolution?

As 2015 draws to a close many of us can probably look back at a whirlwind of a year that seemed to begin only yesterday. As I look back over the past year the faithfulness and provisions of God blow me away. We truly are a blest people regardless of circumstances or temporary bad situations.

What has God brought you through? How has He displayed His faithfulness in your life? What has He taught you?

As we think on these things it is impossible to not be thankful for the love of such a perfect Father, and to begin to look to what this New Year might mean or bring for us. Each and every year people all over the world make resolutions going into a new year… some make it longer than others.

There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing magical or extraordinary occurs at midnight on December 31, but nonetheless, we feel as if another page has been turned or another season has come upon us and this can be a good thing.

A New Year gives us a chance to access, evaluate, and set goals for our upcoming walk in life. As we enter into this New Year as Believers I hope that our resolutions center around our walk with Christ… below I will openly think about some of the things we should strive to do!

 Let’s resolve ourselves to:


  • To celebrate the birth of Jesus daily.

As we enter into this New Year the Christmas season is fresh on our minds. What a wonderful season of remembrance and celebrating the birth of our Savior! But… too often we limit the celebration of our Savior’s birth and coming only to the Christmas holiday when in fact it should be a daily celebration that we walk and live in!

Our God, perfect and holy, sent His son to pay the penalty of death for sin on our behalf! What else is worth celebrating more than that?

Jesus came into the world to redeem us because He wants to have close fellowship with us. My favorite name of God is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” I love the picture that this paints in my mind. What other religion can say that they serve a God who comes, or came, to His people to save them? None that I can think of… every other religion seeks to serve a God tat they must approach or earn their way to commune with. But our God wants to be with us, intimately involved in every aspect of our lives.

That is worth celebrating each and every day.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with remembering the birth of Christ on Christmas but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only thinking and celebrating His birth on that specific day. In reality, Scripture doesn’t provide a specific date of Christ’s birth and I believe that is deliberate for our understanding that the date itself is meaningless and not worth limiting our celebrations to… the simple fact that Jesus was born is to be part of the Christian’s thinking every single day of the year.

This year let’s make it a priority to think on and celebrate the coming of a Savior on our behalf each and every day.

  • To live like David.

Many of us are familiar with David as the young man who struck down Goliath with just a sling and a stone. But David also was the young man who had to live many years of his life on the run from King Saul who, out of jealousy of his appointed successor, put a price on his head. In many of David’s writings we can see that the theme of his life was perseverance and trust in God in the midst of unrelenting trial and obstacles.

In fact, many of David’s writings are seen today in the book of Psalm. David didn’t just suffer and persevere in silence! He trusted and sang about his faith in the Lord to be his deliver, shelter, refuge, and hiding place.

Isn’t it a wonderful goal and resolution to sing out about our faith joyfully in the midst of good times and bad?

We can see David’s faith displayed in Psalm 32:3-7. It says,

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

We can also see it in Psalm 30:11,

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness

David definitely wasn’t a perfect leader or a perfect man, but his faith is something to be admired. King David passionately pursued the Lord and His holiness with no care as to what others might think or say. David truly worshipped with abandon! Most of us know the story found in 2 Samuel where the men are bringing the ark into the city and David joyously danced in the streets… even to the point that his wife was displeased with him!

2 Samuel 6:14 says,

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.

Do we worship freely in front of others or are we afraid of what they may think or say?

Psalm 149:3 provides the avenue and instruction… we just need to lay down our pride and live with a reckless abandon in obedience to what The Spirit guides us to do. Psalm 149:3 says,

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Psalm 150:1-6 says,

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

If you could be whatever you desired and have anything you wanted, what would that look like to you? Where would Jesus fit into your priorities and lifestyle? Would you be more likely to do things your way or His?

This year we as believers should challenge ourselves to seek the Lord in the way we live. We should long to have the desires of David… the desire displayed in Psalms 27:4,

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

David possessed everything he could want when he was King, but yet as we read through his writings we see where his priorities truly were. David was a man after God’s own heart and we should strive to live with his trust and abandon Him as we follow Jesus daily.

Psalm 146:2 says,

I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

  • To have the faith of Job.

In this past year many of us have endured things we wouldn’t have wished on anyone… even our worst enemies! Some of us have experienced a loss of a job, a relationship, or even a loved one. Some of us may be struggling mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. As Christians who hold fast to the Word of God, and believe what it says, we know that these events aren’t meaningless and we aren’t suffering for no reason. It is hard to not ask “why” these things happen… but instead I think we should think of this one truth:

Our suffering only reminds us of the reprobate nature of this life. Everything around us is ultimately dying.

No matter how bad we think our situation is we should never think that God has left us or does not care. God works in mysterious ways and all things work according to His ultimate will and purposes.

What is God showing us through our trials? What is He teaching us in our suffering?

In this upcoming year I hope to have the faith of Job, more specifically I hope to remain steadfast in times of trial and to hold on to Jesus at all cost.

When Job had lost it all he still didn’t fail to recognize God’s faithfulness. Job 1:20-21 says,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

This year I wish to have the faith of Job throughout suffering and trial and to take the advice of King David as found in Psalm 27:14,

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!


I am more than excited to enter fresh into a new year pursuing Jesus. What are your New Years resolutions?s

I am a Child of God

 

1 John 3:1 says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

At New Hope we as a congregation have really latched onto singing a song by Bethel called, “No Longer Slaves.” It truly is a wonderful song about breaking the chains of fear and recognizing the work of God in our lives.

In this song there is a powerful declaration made lyrically. The writers conclude the choruses and the bridge with the simple statement, “I am a child of God.” Really, at first glance nothing seems too astounding or revolutionary about this statement because many of us have sat through countless Sunday School classes as children where we were told that exact thing… maybe in a more boring fashion.

But… in reality, there is no statement more revolutionary.

John 1:12 says,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

What greater love has Christ shown to us than calling us His children?

Being a child entails and encompasses so many of the other things we already know about God and His sacrifice on our behalf.

What does being a child of God really mean?


  • Children will be instructed

To “instruct” means to direct, to provide with knowledge, and to train or inform. Like any good parent God does these things with us… His children.

Proverbs 4:1-4 says,

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”

As children of God we not only have the right to be instructed by God… but we also have the right to learn and obey!

Proverbs 3:1-2 says,

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

1 Corinthians 14:20 hammers home this idea of continued instruction and growth when it says,

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

It is actually simpler than the world would like us to believe! We understand that our walk with Christ is a process and we should be continually looking more and more like Jesus, but it is hard. If we want instruction and knowledge we are told in Scripture that as Children of God all we have to do is ask for it.

Proverbs 2:1-5 says,

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

There are many ways in which God responds to this “asking” and instructs us as His children. We have been given His Spirit to guide us, we have been given a direct line to the Father in prayer through the death of Jesus, and we have Scripture to instruct and inform us in the ways of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Rejoice! As a child of God you have been granted access to more knowledge than you can ever contain… the important thing for us to remember is simply to take God’s instruction!

  • Children will be disciplined

This is the advantage that many of us may consider a disadvantage…

Nobody likes to be disciplined. It is rare that an individual tells on himself or herself, or a criminal asks the judge for a harder sentence. Discipline isn’t fun… but it is often necessary.

Proverbs 13:24 puts it this way,

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

We understand that discipline isn’t done, or shouldn’t be done, out of anger, frustration, or spite… but rather it is an act of love to steer or guide someone away from something harmful or detrimental to them. Proverbs tells us that a parent who doesn’t discipline their child doesn’t love them…in fact they are said to hate them! It is for this reason that we know God disciplines us as His children.

Hebrews 12:5-11 says,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So… God disciplines us because He loves us. As children what do where do we go with that information?

Proverbs 12:1 says,

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

We should take the Lord’s discipline and learn from it. Discipline isn’t something to hate the discipliner for… rather it should cause us to love more deeply.

  • Children will be nurtured 

Psalms 103: 13 says,

The Lord is like a Father to his children, tender, and full of compassion to those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are, He knows we are only dust.

We are children of a tender Father who is full of compassion. If that doesn’t call for a loud hallelujah then I don’t know what will.

When snooping around online I found an article on a health website that had 8 things to do as far as nurturing a child goes. When reading those points all I could think about was, “That is exactly what God does for us… His children.” Those points were,

  • Encourage your child to express his or her feelings; respect those feelings. Let your child know that everyone experiences pain, fear, anger, and anxiety.
  • Keep communication channels open.
  • Listen to your child. Encourage questions. Provide comfort and assurance. Be honest.
  • Encourage your child’s talents.
  • Spend time regularly with your child.
  • Foster your child’s self-worth. Help your child deal with life’s ups and downs. Show confidence in your child’s ability to handle problems and tackle new experiences.
  • Discipline constructively, fairly, and consistently. Use discipline as a form of teaching, not physical punishment. Help your child learn from his or her mistakes.
  • Love unconditionally. Teach the value of apologies, cooperation, patience, forgiveness, and consideration for others.

How thankful are we for God and His gentle nurturing?

  • Children will be protected

My personal favorite part of being a child of God is the benefit of God’s protection that comes with it.

Psalm 91:1-10 says,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 34:7 says,

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

There is no problem, enemy, or force of Satan that is more powerful than our God. In our weakness His strength is magnified. In our trials His grace is evident and His mercy is liberating.

Psalm 46:1 says,

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Isaiah 41:10 says,

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The Lord is present. As God’s children we must merely ask.

Psalm 34:4 says,

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Because we are Children of God we have nothing to fear.

Psalm 27:1 says,

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?


There is nothing more freeing than being a Child of God. John Adams once said,

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.

God is our Father and educator and there is nothing more freeing than salvation. If you have been reborn as a child of God walk in that freedom… if you haven’t been born into His family all you have to do is ask, it is an open invitation.

I AM your portion.

We are, for the most part, a materialistic people. We live in an age of abundance.

We’ve all heard stories of families being torn apart over finances. Whether is debt or arguments over inheritance… it’s all the same. We all want what we consider to be ours!

As a child I can remember being concerned over equality of portions. It didn’t matter what it was: candy, cake, time, etc… Many times I robbed myself of my own enjoyment of whatever it was that I had just out of concern for what the other person had.

We’ve all done it! If you haven’t ever rushed to eat a slice of pizza as fast as you can so you can be the first to get up and get the last piece then you probably aren’t human… or a pizza lover like myself.

In fact, equality is a HUGE issue in today’s world.

When thinking about equality or “equal” portions my mind immediately goes to a story about one of the 12 tribes of Israel… the Levites.

We see part of that story concerning the Levites and their portion or inheritance in Numbers 18:20-23 where it says,

And the Lord said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel. To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting, so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”

We see it discussed in Deuteronomy 18:1-2 as well when it says,

The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the Lord’s food offerings as their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.

So… what is going on here? The context of these passages goes a little like this… the land is being divvied up and the Levites are told that they don’t get a share!

How do you think that went over? Imagine having 11 siblings and a piece of family property is being divided up amongst you. When all eyes turn to you for your turn to receive a “portion” or piece you are shot down and told that you are the exception and don’t get to take part in the sharing. Feelings are probably going to be hurt and you are going to leave with a variety of emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.

You may be saying… Tanner I know there is more going on here with these passages. Give me the context.

When diving deeper into this subject we see that the Levites were the tribe of Israel in charge of the tabernacle and the sacred rituals. They were the priests of their time making sacrifices on behalf of the people.

How does this apply to us?

We are more like the Levites than most of us know or acknowledge. A study of the New Testament reveals that now because of the work of Christ Jesus all of us Christians are adopted and saved into a priesthood of believers. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:5,

You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:5b-6 says,

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The Levites were priests and now because of Jesus we are too!

Now that we have established our priesthood what is next? Below, we will break it down into some particular points for organizations sake and develop our idea of living as a priest.


  • We must offer a sacrifice.

Now, because of this “priesthood” we have been given all Christians can offer unto God spiritual sacrifices. In fact, it really isn’t that we “can,” offer sacrifices… we SHOULD!

Romans 12:1 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The good news is that we don’t need anybody except Jesus to mediate this transaction!

Hebrews 4:14-16 says,

All have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ, our High Priest.

So I hate to break it to you… but when it comes to offering sacrifices and living like the Levites (priests) our equality is tossed aside. In all actuality our sacrifice starts with “our” portion.

When we give up what we think to be “our” portion we actually gain the best inheritance of all… Jesus!

  • We must live as a Levite.

Some of you may glance at that sub-heading and say, “This dude is crazy. I’m not giving up everything I have (food, shelter, money) and managing a Tabernacle or “tent church.”

But if you will hear me out I promise you that it will be beneficial.

When thinking about my personal priesthood and the priesthood of believers I wonder… do we really understand the magnitude of importance in being priests according to the new covenant?

1 Peter 2: 9 says,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Many of us when reading that passage immediately notice that we are chosen, but too many of us miss or ignore the purpose for which we have been chosen. The turning point in the verse happens right smack dab in the middle with the three simple words,

“that you may”

We have been chosen to fulfill the purpose of proclaiming Christ’s excellencies here on earth!

Therefore, what does it mean for us to live in accordance to our type of priestly calling? Worshiping, serving, and praying for each other is certainly a good start. Our ultimate calling is to walk as Christ walked.

The verse out of 1 Peter 2 continues on in verses 11-12 to present us with ways to live as a chosen priest. It says,

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Hebrews 13:15 says,

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.


Side-note:

One thing I do find important to point out is that not every Levite had the same role. When studying the Levites we can find out that there were four divisions of the tribe of Levi. Some handled the primary priestly roles and others fell into “supporting” roles.

Some Levites made the sacrifices and handled the sacred rituals and artifacts. Others served by doing the on-going maintenance, disassembly, transport, and erecting of the Tabernacle, etc.

An understanding of this can help us to avoid frustration. We are all chosen for the ultimate purpose of proclaiming Christ… but the methods may be different. Obviously all of us can’t be pastors, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, etc. But, we all can be servants which is ultimately what a priest is.


  • We shall not want.

The Levites (priests) were called to give up their inheritance and portion to follow the call on their lives.

There is a story of a rich young ruler in Matthew who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. In that story we see the dangers of trying to follow Jesus but hold on to our “stuff.” When Jesus told him to sell all he had, give to the poor, and then follow Jesus, the rich young ruler refused because he trusted his “portion” to satisfy his needs.

We see that story in Matthew 19:16:22,

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

When the Day of Judgment comes which inheritance do you want to hold? The inheritance of Jesus or the inheritance of the world?

We know to live like Christ we must trust in Him solely to satisfy and fulfill our needs. Ultimately, He is sufficient.

In Luke 9:58 Jesus says,

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

If Jesus is the ultimate high priest and we are to model our priesthood after His then I think the command and call is simple.

  • We must hold fast to our inheritance in Christ.

Hebrews 10:23 says,

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

We should hold fast to our inheritance given by Christ because out of the twelve tribes of the Israel the Lord chose one to be His own. The Levites. The priests.

Numbers 3:45b says,

The Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.

Because we have been chosen we must hold fast because our inheritance is greater than anything we can attain here on earth.


Psalm 16:5 says,

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.

Lamentations 3:24 says,

The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.

Why are we Confident?

A problem many people face today is a lack of healthy confidence… Christians aren’t exempt from this phenomenon. In a world that is so twisted and unpredictable it is difficult to be truly confident in anything. Fame can diminish in seconds. Fortune can dwindle at the snap of fingers or the stroke of a key. Success can change like the wind.

With all of these things completely out of our control how can we be confident? Why would we be confident?

Merriam-Webster defines confidence as:

  • a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
  • a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
  • the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true

So… as Christians what does our confidence look like and where does it come from?

How can we feel confident as believers even though sometimes we feel as if we don’t even have a choice in the matter?

Psalm 44:6 says,

For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.

The Psalmist in this passage could seem to have a “self-confidence” issue if we approached the passage without context and foreknowledge of what is really going on here. We see in Psalm 44:1-3 that that the Psalmist doesn’t trust in himself because his trust is fully in the Lord who has proven Himself to be worthy of our confidence.

Psalm 44:1-3 says,

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.

We see here that the Lord has proven Himself worthy of our confidence. Where else better could we place our trust?

Below we will talk about confidence in Christ and why we can and should be confident in Him alone. These things can serve as lessons or even reminders to help us maintain of confidence in the work of Christ in our everyday lives.


We are commanded to be confident in Christ.

The Bible tells us not to “throw away our confidence” in Hebrews 10:35,

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.

Joshua 1:9 echoes this commandment to be “strong” and confident and provides a reason and way for to us to do so.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says the same thing,

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you.

We are commanded to be confident in Christ not only because He is with us “wherever we go”… but also because He will not “fail” or “forsake” us.

It is totally unnatural for us physical beings to have confidence in something we can’t see. When we have confidence that a chair will hold us up part of that confidence is attributed to the fact that we can visibly see the chair that looks reasonably sturdy underneath us as we go to sit in it. But… on the other hand some of that confidence comes from past run-ins with chairs or furniture. They have held up their end of the deal in the past, and because of that we can be reasonably certain that they will do so again. It’s along those same lines that we can have confidence in Christ. The ultimate test of that that confidence was the cross, and we can clearly see that Christ held up His end of the deal! The price is paid in full… so why would He fail us now!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

There is no opponent bigger than God.

Psalm 27:1 says,

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?

Easier said than done…

When the world comes at us hard how are we supposed to maintain a sense of confidence that we are secure in Christ?

Job 11:18 answers that exact question when it says,

You will be confident, because there is hope. You will look carefully about and lie down in safety.

We can stay confident because there is hope in Christ! Like we stated earlier… the price has already been paid on our behalf. What else is left to fear? We understand that times will get hard but ultimately we will overcome because Christ himself overcame.

John 16:33 says,

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

We see an outstanding story of confidence in Christ in Exodus 14 when Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt and the Egyptian army is pursuing them. That passage says in verses 10-14,

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

When we face trials that test our confidence in Christ sometimes the thing we need to do is the thing that is hardest for us to do: that is to be silent and trust.

Our strength doesn’t come from ourselves.

Too often our lack of confidence comes from our memories of distant or even recent mistakes or failures. We all fall short and none of us can make it apart from Christ.

Philippians 4:13 says,

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Many times we place our confidence and strength on ourselves and our own abilities or skillset or on those around us, unfortunately, we know that we are all human and we all fail and fall from time to time. Confidence placed on any mortal cannot truly last the test of time because people will fail us. We will even fail ourselves.

Proverbs 3:26 does well to remind us as to what our strength and confidence truly rests on and comes from.

For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

It is because of Christ and His perfection that we can securely place our confidence on Him and His work. It is enough. It won’t fail us.

Hebrews 4:16 says,

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God hears and stands beside His people.

The last and most life altering point to increase our confidence is knowing that we do not stand alone. A soldier may think twice about walking into battle alone… but luckily for us we have an army of saints around us and are led by God into every trial we face.

Isaiah 41:10 says,

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

We can have confidence in knowing that Christ hears all the prayers of His people and doesn’t turn a blind eye or deaf ear to our need.

1 John 5:14 says,

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Psalm 55:22 says,

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

We WILL face trial… and come out the other side victorious in the end.

Psalm 34:19 says,

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.


We can see that confidence in Christ and His work is something that can completely change the life of a believer. With the confidence that only Christ can give we can shake loose the chains of fear and inadequacy.

Colossians 3:3 says,

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

So because our lives are hidden with Christ in God we can be assured that when that test of confidence comes that God is with us and is sufficient to “rise to the occasion” on our behalf. Romans 8:28 says,

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Does your life reflect Thankfulness?

As a rollercoaster holiday season approaches one word gets tossed around quite a bit… thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful? How does one live life thankfully? Is it a natural response or a choice? What are we thankful for?

Often times we dumb down a life of thankfulness to simply giving “thanks.” When in reality it’s so much more… a life of thankfulness is a behavioral style, a thought pattern and mindset, an attitude, and a choice most of all.

Psalm 107:8-9 says,

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Being thankful is something that’s always within our control.

Nothing turns us into bitter dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. We see it all around us! We live in an ungrateful dissatisfied society and unfortunately that spirit has made its way in and is prevalent in our churches. Nothing robs us of the joy of Christ and our salvation faster than neglecting to recognize and be thankful for the things around us.

We see in Romans 1:21 that when humanity rebels we neglect to recognize and give thanks to God. It says,

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Have we forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything?

Let’s not be foolish or ungrateful. Let’s give thanks.

Below I will offer some thoughts and applications on how we can develop, maintain, and nurture a thankful heart which is then exhibited through a thankful lifestyle.


  • Focus on Christ.

Psalm 103:1-6 says,

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

When we read this thankful Psalm it is necessary to notice that the first thing we must do is focus mind and heart on God! Looking at the passage we can see the priority that the Psalmist David places on recognizing that all we have to be thankful for comes from Christ. Everything within the Psalmist David, and hopefully us, should rejoice and say “Bless the Lord” first in all situations.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19-20,

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Let’s open our eyes to the glory of God! But, if that alone isn’t enough to spark your flame just count up the numerous undeserved gifts God spreads before each of us every day!

  • Remember how far we’ve been Brought.

This lengthy section out Psalms 107:13-32 recalls the numerous deliverances the Lord has provided His people,

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

We can also look into the Old Testament at the story of Moses and see how God used him to accomplish His task of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Even when Pharaoh and his army pursued they were crushed by the sea at the hand of God.

So… let me ask…

How has the Lord delivered you?

What is your testimony? What did the Lord bring you out of? We all have a story, because we are all undeserving of anything expect a sinful, pitiful life that ends with us being in Hell.

But… God ransomed us while we were still undeserving sinners.

Isaiah 53:4-6 says,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We all have plenty to be thankful for. Give thanks.

  • Make the Choice.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to say,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As believers we are called to be a thankful people! We have the most to be thankful for out of anyone… think about it, the riches of the earth are temporal but the gift of Heaven is eternal. So… we don’t have to be the richest, most successful, or popular people on earth to have a thankful Spirit. In Christ we have more than enough to rejoice over!

2 Corinthians 9:15 says,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Thankfulness is a choice.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is the will of God that we live in a constant thankful attitude!

Choose thankfulness. There will always be hardships and trials but because of Christ we have hope and that is enough to be thankful for.


Psalm 106:1 says,

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!