Monthly Archives: September 2012

As You Wish

I’m sure that many are excited that “The Avengers” released on DVD and blueray  this week.  I know I am.  But I’m even more interested that this is the 25th anniversary of “The Princess Bride.”

I must have watched that movie a hundred times during college – mostly in my friends apartment.  It’s always been that movie that “had it all.” It has action, adventure, mystery, intrigue and the kind of quick witted comedy that will have you rolling around on the floor shouting “rewind it, rewind it!” (although that would mostly be Bryan)

In addition to celebrating this great movie, my mindset as a believer points me to the overall theme of this movie -True Love.  From beginning to end this movie offers up its model of true love with the phrase “as you wish.”  This too is how we should show our love to our heavenly Father.

In our day and with the great draw of Christian worship music, we are constantly tempted to believe that when our music in church is well done, then we’ve worshiped God well or that if we love the music, then God felt loved by us.  It’s true that singing our songs of Praise is an act of love toward God, but it is not our complete worship offering.  Yes, singing to God is commanded in scripture, but in itself, it is only a small portion of our love demonstrated.

True love for God is saying “as You wish,” then doing it daily, whole heartedly, gladly and faithfully.  Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)  But he didn’t just demand obedience, he demonstrated it by showing in one act his love for the Father and for human kind. “When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

Will you also surrender your whole obedience to God as your offering of true love? Are you willing to demonstrate “as You wish” love for Christ and keep his commands?

 

In the Garden Jesus prayed to the Father, “not my will, but yours be done.” (As You wish.)


Because He Lives

Why do we sing the songs we sing in worship?  What makes them appropriate?  Are worship pastors purposeful in the songs we select or guilty of picking their favorites or the songs most requested by others?

The only true “series” I keep with on this blog is the “Why do we sing that?” series.  I like series, but I just haven’t found the kinds of serial topics that work with my designated purpose for the Schoeneblog. Yes Wiseheimer, the Schoeneblog has a purpose.  If you missed it, I blogged about it here.

A couple weeks ago we sang the great hymn by Bill and Gloria Gaither, “Because He Lives.”  You know the song.  We’ve sung it in our churches for years.

Because He Lives

Verse 1
God sent His Son they called Him Jesus
He came to love heal and forgive
He bled and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove
My Savior lives

Chorus 1
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives

“Because He Lives” is a great song and I will continue to slot it into services of worship when it is the right fit for that particular Sunday. But I want to use it as an example of the positive and negative potential of a song that has been in our lives for an extended time.   I’ll start with the positive power of such a song.

  • The positive influence of Familiarity. Songs can become the sound track for our daily living.  Worship songs remind us of truth that Jesus lives.  We live with this truth directing our steps each day.
  • The positive side of Sentiment.  A song can bring us back to a moment when God was performing a particular work within us.  When we hear that song again, we are reminded that God is active and working in our lives.  We also are reminded of the commitment of surrender that we have mad to Him.  We can also be reminded of the great heritage of faith that passed the songs down to us.

Okay, now for the disappointing news.

  • Familiarity can breed apathy. When we become too accustomed to a song we tend to mentally “check out” during worship.  The is something we should never do since we are instructed to Love the Lord with all your heart with all your mind and with all your strength. I realize that people can “check out” during a new song as well, but right now I’m reminding us of the adage that familiarity breeds apathy.
  • Sentiment can deter our focus. If a song has attached itself to a particular memory or feeling, we tend to give our hearts permission to remain in that memory rather than participate in the presence of Holy God. For me, I can’t hear “In the Garden” without thinking of a casket.  It doesn’t make it a bad song. It just makes it a challenge for me to focus my worship on God.

When we sing songs in worship that we have heard at least 50 plus times, we are prone to the apathy that comes with familiarity and the sinful side of sentiment.  But it doesn’t have to be so!  As you see, there are great benefits that can only be reached by repeating a powerful song often enough that it becomes a helpful companion on your faith journey.

I thank God for the song Because He Lives.  As a child standing on the pew and peeking over the top of the shared hymnal between my mother and father, the song made it clear to me that Jesus is alive!  And it reminds me still today!  The fact that He Lives propels everything we do as a church family and as followers.  At FSBC, it’s the first three words of our purpose statement.

Because Jesus Lives! FSBC exists as a local body of Christ to: worship God; share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ with our community and the world: encourage and equip believers in the faith; and serve others with mercy and love.

It is implied in our statement of mission: Connecting people with God and one another. We seek to connect people to a LIVING God. Were Jesus not living, we would pursue our mission statement in vain.


I Appreciate You!

Many churches across the country designate October as a month to tell their pastor that they appreciate them.  I have experienced this in  each church I have had the privilege to lead as pastor of worship.  It’s difficult to express just how much a word of encouragement from someone within the congregation can lift my spirits.

Somewhere I heard theses  statistics.  Upon receiving good news, a person will tell 3 people but when receiving bad news, the same person will tell 11 people.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think the church as a body can take a different approach.  When someone does something well, we should tell them.  It matters.  It’s encouraging.  It’s instructed by God and recommended by Paul!

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Jesus words) Matthew 7:12

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

At the top of this blog is a picture of my collection of encouraging cards and letters I have received throughout the years of my ministry.  I keep them all.  During times of discouragement I pull them out to be reminded that I am doing something that really does have a positive effect on the lives of those I’m called to serve and lead.  But it’s not always a Dayspring card coupled with a favorite candy bar.

I also have received my share of criticism and hate mail.  I hope you are not familiar with this style of communication.  It usually looks something like this.  The letter is addressed to you, but your name is spelled incorrectly.  If it comes in the mail, there is no return address.  Most likely it was found by the secretary because it was left on her desk, however, it is more likely that stepped on it Monday morning because it had been slid underneath your office door.  It is not signed.  The subject matter is almost guaranteed to en-capsule an event – which you do not remember – that happened months ago.  The handwriting is barley legible because of the spots where the goading instrument broke its lead or forced the ink through the paper onto the other side. The letter continues with a generalized evaluation of your ineptitude and lack of qualifications and social graces.  Several names for your misguided leadership style are suggested.  It is not signed.  This is where I file these letters.

Thankfully I have not received a letter like this for a long, long time.  If you have a pastor or staff of pastors, it is likely that they have received one or two of these during their tenure.  But this is not a blog about unfair critics and hurtful comments.

Please take the time to encourage your pastors next month.  Ministry can be full of discouragement and it’s easy to become disheartened.  A simple word of encouragement from you can go a long way.  Consistent prayer can go even further.  When both take place consistently, your pastor will begin to feel like he could move mountains!  Based on some of the best encouragers I’ve known over there years, here are a few ideas on how to encourage your pastor(s).

  • Send a card that expresses how much you value the role they have as your pastor. (cards are easier to file than emails)
  • Let them know that they made a difference in growing your love for Jesus. (often times the enemy tries to convince us that we aren’t making a difference)
  • Be specific about something they said or did and how it benefited your relationship with the Lord. (sometimes the deceiver tries to convince the pastor that no one notices)
  • When offering spoken encouragement, look your pastor in the eyes. (it’s a nonverbal way to communicate that you are their friend) (-Pastors sometimes falsely believe that they aren’t allowed to have friends among the people they lead. – I reject this thinking!)

I know that this blog has readers who are in a lot of churches other than mine. So I feel comfortable offering this as a 3rd party intermediary.  Don’t say to your pastor, “hey, I read this blog and it said I should give you this.”  Feel free to leave me out of it and make your encouragement your own.  Be personal.  Be genuine.  And let me know how it goes.  Share here on this blog what you did to encourage your pastor (or what you intend to do since it is not yet officially Pastor appreciation month.)

Bill Hybels has said on many occasions that he believes “the local church is the hope of the world.”  It’s true because the local church – when healthy – carries the light of Jesus.  Healthy churches are led by encouraged pastors.

And to my pastors; Joe and Andy, I love serving with you.  Thank you for being pastors for me and my family.  Know that I’m praying for your leadership and I submit to you as brothers and leaders under Christ (Ephesians 5:21).  May God bless your ministries wholly and completely as He has blessed me through each of you.