Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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.

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Happy Dependence Day

 

Wednesday we will celebrate the anniversary of when the United States first declared its independence from the oppressive empire of Britain.  (This is history, not politics.)  In contrast, every Sunday, as believers we celebrate our dependence on Jesus Christ.  The United States, at its very foundation, gained its freedom by declaring itself sovereign then fighting and winning a war for liberty. As believers, we recognize Christ as our sovereign.  We trust in the battle that Christ won on our behalf; His death on the cross a substitute for our sin, His resurrection from the dead that we might have life.

The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:35-36

In this word picture, Jesus explains why He, the Son of God, had to be the One to pay the debt of sin owed by humanity.  We are all slaves to sin because of our sin nature.  We owe a debt that we cannot pay.  As slaves, we do not have authority over sin.  We cannot break its power over us by our mere, limited words.  But Jesus could pay our debt and He did.  And after paying our debt, Jesus as God’s Son, has the authority to declare us free!  And He does, to all who believe in Him and call upon His name!

Christ is the One who has made us free!  Let us celebrate our dependence on Him.

This post originally appeared in “The Connection.”  The Sunday morning publication of First Southern Baptist Church Lawrence.

 


From The Inside Out

From The Inside Out

by Joel Houston

Verse 1
A thousand times I’ve failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in Your grace
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Verse 2
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Pre-Chorus
In my heart in my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Chorus 1
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

This song by Joel Houston and Hillsong has gotten a lot of play on christian radio lately.  And I hope congregations are singing these words as a “healthy part of a balanced worship.”  At FSBC Lawrence, this song is our theme song for our “What Is God Searching for?” summer sermon series.

In this summer series we have taken on the challenge of living out the christian life so that the world sees Christ as he truly is and not the “stereotype” of christian the world has gotten to know in recent years.  We will look at several attributes demonstrated by Christ, but our underlying theme is that Christ is the one who changes us “from the inside out.”

Moralism would have us believe that we please God but simply living good, moral lives.  But moralism is a false Gospel.  The picture we are given in the gospel is one of surrender.  According to the gospel it is not possible for us to live good lives.  In fact even our very best effort, which Isaiah calls “our righteous deeds,” are no cleaner than “filthy rags.”

“We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isaiah 64:6

It is important to recognize first that we can not change our behavior by simply “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We can only be changed by the person of Christ.  When we fully surrender, He comes in and begins a new work in us that changes us “from the inside out.”  In the words of Paul…

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

The church has a responsibility to instruct and encourage the body to live rightly before God and to live our lives as a testimony to a rebellious world.  But as we offer such instruction, we must always be clear that changing our moral behavior is not the means or the end. Rather it is the follow through, and obedience, of a heart that has already surrendered to the Savior.

Only Jesus Christ can save and redeem us.  Logic follows that only Jesus Christ can than transform our lives, “From the Inside Out.”


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


New Life Has Begun

As Christ followers, we hear how we are new creations, but what does that mean?When each of us first came to Christ we confessed our depravity and our need for Him.We made a conscious decision to believe that He is the living Son of God who came to die for our sin, taking our penalty upon himself.We also made a statement to make Him our LORD.

His role of Savior AND Lord are purposefully interlinked.Trusting Him as Savior may happen for us at a single point in time, while giving Him Lordship is a daily decision.This truth is at the heart of our 2011 theme TRANSFORMATION.

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

It is as we daily surrender ALL the details of our lives to Christ, that he TRANSFORMS our lives.In 2011 may allow Jesus Christ TRANSFORM OUR LIVES, by letting Him live through us.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.


SURRENDER

Today’s word is… “Surrender”

This is such an important word when it comes to worship. Joe spoke yesterday about the big “S” as well as the big “O” obedience and the big “C” commitment. I’ll focus on Surrender. We must surrender in order for worship to take place. In fact God says this through His prophet Isaiah

Isaiah 29:13

13 And so the Lord says,

“These people say they are mine.

They honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

And their worship of me

is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

I pray to my Father not to be guilty of this, but daily I find myself failing to but away the temptations that invite me to put myself first and ignore God’s voice. I am not first. I cannot be first. It is not about me. This life I have been given to steward is not my own.1 Corinthians 6:19-20


19
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. Our bodies, Our whole selves, inside and out, top to bottom, mind, heart, will and soul belong to God! We are just stewarding this earthen vessel. Daily, I want to acknowledge the truth of this and surrender my body, mind, heart, soul and my very will to the One who has saved me and loves me everyday. Echoing Paul’s words;

Romans 7:18-20

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

When we surrender, this is what we are giving up. Nothing good lives in me (my sinful nature). That should be easy to surrender because I don’t even want that. Why is it not?

Romans 7:24-25
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

So we MUST surrender. It is a prerequisite to worship. The very act of worship is acknowledging the object of your worship to be what you are giving your life to. When we give our life to Jesus, it is an act of worship. When we give our will to the Father, it is an act of worship. Too many times we define worship as a “feeling” or “emotional expression.” It is NOT. While feelings and emotional expressions may be byproducts of this act of worship, they are not themselves the definition of worship. Let’s think of it this way; Surrender and Obedience are the opening act of worship. Thanks and Praise and Songs are what follows.