Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Faith
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." (Luke 17:16)


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What we have in Christ will take all eternity to describe. But for one segment of one sermon, a great preacher made a mighty attempt.

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Sleepwalking Through Life

January 4, 2011

Seeing is believing. Or so we are told. But what if there is a truth behind the obvious? How do we get to that? Poets, do your job!


When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." Genesis 28:16

Most of us won't get a "wake up" dream like Jacob got. When he woke up his whole world had changed. Even though this is our Father's world, we can view it flatly, in mono, black and white instead of color, lacking the lacking the heightened wonder that HD brings. This is a gift the Spirit brings.

William Blake the poet/illustrator noted that our tendency is to see only "with" the eye, when the possibility exists to see "through" the eye, beyone to the deeper truth that lays just beneath the surface of a thing. And C. S. Lewis picked up on this theme as well, in a poem he titled A CONFESSION.

I am so coarse, the things the poets see
Are obstinately invisible to me.
For twenty years I’ve stared my level best
To see if evening–any evening–would suggest
A patient etherized upon a table;
In vain. I simply wasn’t able.
To me each evening looked far more
Like the departure from a silent, yet a crowded, shore
Of a ship whose freight was everything, leaving behind
Gracefully, finally, without farewells, marooned mankind.

Red dawn behind a hedgerow in the east
Never, for me, resembled in the least
A chilblain on a cocktail-shaker’s nose;
Waterfalls don’t remind me of torn underclothes,
Nor glaciers of tin-cans. I’ve never known
The moon look like a hump-backed crone–
Rather, a prodigy, even now
Not naturalized, a riddle glaring from the Cyclops’ brow
Of the cold world, reminding me on what a place
I crawl and cling, a planet with no bulwarks, out in space.

Never the white sun of the wintriest day
Struck me as un crachat d’estaminet.
I’m like that odd man Wordsworth knew, to whom
A primrose was a yellow primrose, one whose doom
Keeps him forever in the list of dunces,
Compelled to live on stock responses,
Making the poor best that I can
Of dull things…peacocks, honey, the Great Wall, Aldebaran
Silver weirs, new-cut grass, wave on the beach, hard gem,
The shapes of horse and woman, Athens, Troy, Jerusalem.

In humbly denigrating his ability as a poet, Lewis begins with the least important things - peacocks strutting, and climaxes with the most important,  with Jerusalem and all that lies behind it.

This is calculated by Lewis in order to express his desire to see beyond a mere city of stone, and instead to see through it, comprehending the spiritual and eternal significance hidden there, hoping in so doing, to better come to understand the heart of God.

What better thing could we ask of God in 2011, that he might grant us eyes to not just see with, but through - to the ultimate realities - to God himself, and his plan in history that continuously unfolds.

 






Faith That Can Withstand Anything

November 30, 2010

Life's difficulties test the mettle of our faith, which can either unravel or turn into refined gold. For Mary Rowlandson, it was the latter.


They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. Hebrews 11:37-38

We've all seen enough westerns to know that back when this country was being "tamed," the natives had other ideas, becoming a constant source of danger and terror to anyone who dared make a home among them.

In 1675 some settlers in Lancaster Pennsylvania felt the full wrath from a small army of Indians. It was as harrowing an event as has ever been experienced anywhere, and Mary Rowlandson lived through a nightmarish capture, later publishing her experience in a book titled THE SOVEREIGNTY AND GOODNESS OF GOD.

Here's how it all began:

On the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great numbers upon Lancaster: their first coming was about sunrising; hearing the noise of some guns, we looked out; several houses were burning, and the smoke ascending to heaven.

There were five persons taken in one house; the father, and the mother and a sucking child, they knocked on the head; the other two they took and carried away alive. There were two others, who being out of their garrison upon some occasion were set upon; one was knocked on the head, the other escaped; another there was who running along was shot and wounded, and fell down; he begged of them his life, promising them money (as they told me) but they would not hearken to him but knocked him in head, and stripped him naked, and split open his bowels.

Another, seeing many of the Indians about his barn, ventured and went out, but was quickly shot down. There were three others belonging to the same garrison who were killed; the Indians getting up upon the roof of the barn, had advantage to shoot down upon them over their fortification. Thus these murderous wretches went on, burning, and destroying before them.

It gets worse. Mary and her six year old daughter named Sarah, both with bullet wounds, were captured and taken away. Given nothing but water for a week, the child died in her arms. The full account can be read here:

http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/rownarr.html

Many thousands of prisoners in hundreds of wars have had similar tragic tales to tell. What makes Mary's story unique is the way in which her faith in a sovereign God carried her through the entire experience. She seems unable to ever question God. There is no "Why God? How could you do this to me?" She concludes with this "take-away."

Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I lived in prosperity, having the comforts of the world about me, my relations by me, my heart cheerful, and taking little care for anything, and yet seeing many, whom I preferred before myself, under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness, poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous least I should have my portion in this life, and that Scripture would come to my mind, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 12.6).

But now I see the Lord had His time to scourge and chasten me. The portion of some is to have their afflictions by drops, now one drop and then another; but the dregs of the cup, the wine of astonishment, like a sweeping rain that leaveth no food, did the Lord prepare to be my portion.

Affliction I wanted, and affliction I had, full measure (I thought), pressed down and running over. Yet I see, when God calls a person to anything, and through never so many difficulties, yet He is fully able to carry them through and make them see, and say they have been gainers thereby. And I hope I can say in some measure, as David did, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."

The Lord hath showed me the vanity of these outward things. That they are the vanity of vanities, and vexation of spirit, that they are but a shadow, a blast, a bubble, and things of no continuance.

That we must rely on God Himself, and our whole dependance must be upon Him. If trouble from smaller matters begin to arise in me, I have something at hand to check myself with, and say, why am I troubled?

It was but the other day that if I had had the world, I would have given it for my freedom, or to have been a servant to a Christian. I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them. As Moses said, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14.13).

Truly, this world was not worthy.






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