Tag Archives: Christian

What a Friend We Have In Jesus

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

by Joseph M. Scriven

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

It was never Joseph Scriven’s intent to write a hymn that would become famous and be sung by Christians from generation to generation.  He simply penned a poem that hoped would comfort his ailing mother. (What are you giving your mother for mother’s day?)  Scriven’s poem, originally titled “Pray Without Ceasing,” not only reminds us that Jesus cares about our needs and wants us to bring them to Him in prayer, but that He also desires to gift us with His intimate friendship.

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. –John 15

When we worship, both individually and corporately, it’s important that we recognize all that Jesus is to us – Savior, Redeemer, High Priest, Wonderful Counselor, Spotless Lamb of Sacrifice, King of Kings, Risen Lord, Intermediary, and Friend.  We should not focus on only His friendship and leave out his majesty, for instance.  Everything the Bible says about Jesus is true.  Everything He declared Himself to be is real.  He is the Bright and morning star, He is the Prince of Peace, He is the King who saves His people, He is the Everlasting High Priest, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and He is our friend.  We can’t skip that part.  He made it possible to approach the throne of God in awe and at the same time be embraced by the Son. WOW!

Many other hymns and spiritual songs refer to the friendship of Christ.  I Am a Friend of God, Jesus What a Friend for Sinners.

Who is Jesus to you? What other songs have you sung/heard that remind us of Jesus’ friendship to us? Please leave a comment.

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It Is Better To Suffer For Doing Good!

It’s been easy for me to get discouraged lately.  I read the news and watch the holy ordinance of marriage attacked by a godless society.  I read further and discover that religious discrimination is thriving in New York. There, it is not only lawful to deny churches the ability to rent public school space for worship, but it is mandatory – punishable by heavy fines.  Yes, in New York, it is a state mandate to discriminate against Christians!  At the same time Christian organizations are being forced to go against their biblical convictions regarding abortion.  Faith based companies are being forced to pay for healthcare that provides coverage for contraceptives including the abortion pill – deceptively labeled “emergency contraceptive.”  Don’t be misled.  This is not just an attack on Catholic hospitals.  This creates a problem for ALL faith based organizations.

Do you see why it easy for me to get discouraged?  Followers of Christ, we can not ignore this!  But we must also not be defeated in our minds and hearts.  Jesus said “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Do not be overwhelmed by this temporary suffering.  God is not mocked!  Christian, do not lose heart.  Jesus has overcome the world.  This world is only our temporary home.  Our victory, in Christ, is certain and eternal!

For a long time in the United States, we have heard and even joined the mantra “God and Country.” Somewhere along the way this changed.  While we were looking the other direction, our Country has declared itself to be god.  Now, it seems the government tells the church what is right and what is wrong.  The government has made it clear that it has no use for God or His church.  Our most treasured freedom is being dismantled.  Freedom of Religion and the free exercise thereof, has no meaning if our government mandates when, where, how, and to what extend the Church may practice Biblical teachings.

To the Christ followers in America this is unfathomable!  However, Christians all over the world and all throughout history have faced oppressions far greater than these – Yet They Stand!

My heart is heavy that these circumstances seem so dark.  Maybe you are fighting the same sense of gloom in your spirit.  Take heart – Be encouraged.   I find clear instruction and abundant encouragement from the following words in Eugene Peterson’s The Message; from Ephesians 6:10-18

A Fight to the Finish

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Because the trials of this life never take a time-out, because the world’s bombardment against Christianity never takes a break, we can not abandon the struggle.  I encourage you to pick up His banner and serve within your churches in community.  Serve outside the churches; everywhere you are. Stand up for what is good.  Let Peter’s words guide us daily as we seek to love those who hate the God we serve.

13And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good?  14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor  the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.  1 Peter 3:13-17


What Am I Afraid Of?

We all have things that we are afraid of. Some are small fears, some are bigger fears. For instance; some people are afraid of heights or spiders or clowns.  To my knowledge I don’t have any fears that cripple me like that.  But I do have some smaller fears.
It could be said that I’m afraid of ketchup. It’s not really so much a fear as it is just being really grossed out.  More specifically, when a glob of spilled ketchup on the table that has reached a state of being half dried out, but is still gooey and sticky so that it hitches a ride on your sleeve and you find it later on the front of your shirt from when you crossed your arms or on the inside of your jacket sleeve.  Has this ever happened to you? – (me either.)  I’d swear that the evil, half dried, sticky, ketchup glob inspired the comic villain known as venom.
Well that’s an example of small fear – minor, insignificant, not really life shaping.  Other fears can shape our lives.  Worry can cripple us from truly living.  We fear something bad will happen to our families or to us.  We fear not being able to succeed at our jobs or not having enough money to pay the bills.  These are reasonable fears and it is very understandable that we would have them from time to time, but we cannot live there. We have a hope in Christ and he has promised to meet all our needs.  We must pray for wisdom to recognize the difference in ourselves between needs and wants. ex. I want to drive a newer car, but I don’t NEED one.
Personally, I have a fear greater than these.  And I know that God is bigger than our fears and that He is sovereign, but I can’t help but fearing that the church is falling/has fallen away from her first love. Some churches have traded the gospel in for a gospel of works, adding to “by grace through faith alone.” Other churches have exchanged the gospel for a health and wealth gospel, that if you really love Jesus, he will make you healthy and wealthy.  Jesus is their Prince of prosperity rather than the Prince of Peace.  This false gospel is a contradiction to the very teachings of Jesus.  If you are praying for God to bring you wealth, then you love a another god. (Matt. 6:24)  If you are keeping your wealth for yourself, while reading the story of the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-24), then you have stored up your treasures where moth and rust destroy. Yet, this is not my greatest fear.
My greatest fear is that the church in America won’t be able to get their focus back on Jesus.  I’m afraid that Christians who fill our churches everywhere will remain silent about their faith.  I’m afraid of seeing people love the ways they worship more than they love the person of Jesus Christ.  I’m afraid that if it came to a choice between Jesus and the church, most Christians would choose the church.  I’m afraid of believers being more interested receiving the blessing than in giving sacrifice.
Father, call us back to You and open our ears to hear You.  More than knowing about Jesus, help us to know the person of Jesus.  You are a relational God.  As you have blessed us, help us to bless others, and to recognize that You have indeed blessed us so that we can give as You gave.  Let us not cheapen the work of Christ on the cross by proclaiming works as an added requirement of salvation.  Jesus death was payment in full.  “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” May we worship You as You truly are and lay aside the way we think you should be. You created us in your image, forgive us when we try to redefine You in ours.

“An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.” A.W. Tozer


Christmas in October

One of the fundamentals of the life of a worship pastor is that, every year you get a whole lot of Christmas.  Having the responsibility of helping the congregation celebrate every year means you start with rehearsals in October.  And to do that, you must at least begin sifting through music in July or at the latest, August.  It’s not Christmas all year round, but it can feel like it.
So, tonight I’ll begin introducing a few of the Christmas anthems to the choir.  I remind them each year that the Christmas rehearsals in October are just as, or more important that the ones in late November.  I firmly believe that when our Christmas celebrations go well, it is because of the work we did back in October and that begins tonight.
I still am a fan of Christmas; the wonder and mystery, a big fan, actually.  But my favorite holiday continues to be Thanksgiving.  If I must begin Christmas preparations so early, it makes since to give thanks beginning even now.  Now I’m rambling.
My thought today is, as I begin preparing a choir to lead in Christmas celebration, is to not wait.  Don’t wait until December to wonder at the Lord and ALL He has done and is doing.  If you have trouble finding the wonder and awesomeness of God, read a few Psalms.  Perhaps your heart is troubled and you feel alone.  You are NOT alone.
Too many times we as Christians approach the mystery of God as if He was a puzzle to be solved.  That is not the purpose of His mystery.  He is not like us, yet we try to humanize Him.  Allow the mighty mystery of the Father, King and Creator to overcome you.  Stand in awe of Him.  Don’t try to figure Him out or explain Him using human understanding.  Study as a disciple, yes.  But as a disciple, never lose the wonder of the Master.
I like how Eugene Peterson describes this wonder in Psalm 29.
29Bravo, God, bravo!
Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor him!
3 God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.
4 God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.
5 God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.
6 The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.
7–8 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.
9 God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.
11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace. 
Oh, God, my Father.  I never want to lose the wonder I have for you.  Your love is so amazing, I can
not fathom it. Your grace is so free, I can barely appreciate it.  Your blessing so generous, I run out
of time trying to name them.  That You would choose to love someone as unloveable as me is beyond
my human reasoning.  I can only say Thank You and allow my heart to wonder at Your Holy presence.

I Think My Eyes Are In Backward

A SHORT STORY – FROM A MADE UP DIARY
I think my eyes are in backwards and all I can see right now is myself. I’m blind to the needs of others around me. To me, they don’t even exist. All I can see are my needs. It doesn’t seem to be hurting me, but if it does, I think I’ll have to do something about it.
I was talking with a friend the other day who was asking for prayer and advice regarding some tribulation that had come his way. I thought about his story and it reminded me of something similar that had happened to me. Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly the same as what happened to me… come to think of it what happened to me had nothing at all to do with my friend’s situation, but I told it to him anyway. We both had a good laugh, but he seemed to go away sad. It was hard to tell, because all I could see was me. I think my eyes were put in backward.
This morning at my accountability group prayer time we each asked for prayer, but when we prayed I noticed no one was praying for the requests I had made. Maybe they just didn’t think they were that important. I know, I’ll bet they just didn’t know what I meant when I said “unspoken.” On my turn I was very careful to name the person Luke had asked for. You know, his friend who had cancer… or was it kidney disease? No, I remember, it was a hemorrhoid… no, no that’s not it either. But I prayed for him by name, or was it her? Come to think of it, it wasn’t his friend, it was his sister, Jill, I mean, Joanne… I can’t remember. I’ll have to ask him later. I think I just prayed for “Luke’s request”. God knew what I meant. I’ve gotta get my eyes fixed!
My ministry team meets tomorrow. I can’t wait to share all my ideas. They are going to love them, and if they don’t I’ll just join another team. I mean, if they didn’t want to do it my way, then why did they ask me to be on the team? They better not “tweak” my ideas either. I know God gave these ideas to ME, and it must be because He wants them done the way I would do them. Why else would He give me the idea in the first place?
My favorite radio station wasn’t coming through very well today so I tried out a couple other so called “Christian” stations. I couldn’t stand this one station. No matter how low I turned my volume down in the car, the music still sounded too loud. I didn’t like it. This music can’t be honoring to God, can it? I’m just sure that God doesn’t like that kind of music. It’s too grindy. God doesn’t like grindy music. At least not my god!
My eyes are still in backwards. I’m going to have to get that checked out. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my daily life, however, so perhaps I’ll put it off. Like I always say- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Feeling Enriched

…And yet I/We have so much work to do!

What a great Marriage Enrichment Workshop at FSBC family. Thanks to all the team who worked so hard today so that other couples could relax and take it all in and focus on their spouses! Also, thanks to the team from West Side Family Church for their great leadership and all the break out classes.
It helps all of us to take an honest look at ourselves in regard to all walks of this Christ life but even more so in this most precious gift of God… MARRIAGE. I think we can easily get weary of continually trying to compromise/get our way/give in/give up, that we take so much of the simple wisdom for granted. Jesus is the center – period. There is no other way. We honor Him to work hard at unity. Here is the the list of things I’m trying to apply from this weekend. Remember this is just me, not Melanie. She has her own take away which will also benefit us both.
  1. Be the Lamb and/or Owl (the other animals don’t work)
  2. Compromise sometimes means the other person gets their way. (and it’s okay!)
  3. Communicate at level 5 always (even when you don’t feel like going upstairs)
  4. When you come to an agreement keep it (and forget the other options you passed over – they are no longer relevant or helpful)
  5. Talk about your budget (yeah that means together)
Well, If I can do these things and keep Jesus at the CENTER of 1-5 and all the rest that well follow, then our marriage will keep getting better and better. It’s what we wanted when we said “I Do” and we want it more than ever now and for tomorrow. I’m so happy I have a godly, patient and growing wife! It was a great time for us to stop and refocus.

Revolutionary

I just finished a book by George Barna and I have to say it is one of the most inspiring reads I have come across in a long time. I want to be a Revolutionary Christian!

This is the statement of the common Revolutionary (according to Barna);

“I am a Revolutionary in the service of God Almighty. My life is not my own; I exist as a free person but have voluntarily become a slave to God. My role on earth is to live as a Revolutionary, committed to love, holiness, and advancing God’s Kingdom. My life is not about me and my natural desires; it is all about knowing, loving, and serving God with all my heart, mind strength, and soul.”

I pray that I will so live.