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Archive for the month “November, 2017”

Singing Without Understanding?

Live Life! God's way

I confess. I’ve sung lots of choruses and hymns without understanding. Have you done likewise?  Thankfully, there have been worship leaders, in various settings, who’ve unpacked the truths of the text as part of our worship experience. They have read Scripture, defined terms, tied the hymn or chorus to a particular Biblical event or explained the occasion in the composer’s life when the words were first written down.

What does the children’s hymn ‘When He Cometh’ reference in Scripture? What are the ‘jewels’ that He is coming to make up? When will that happen? Do any other Scriptural texts help unpack this truth in a field of theology filled with conflicting interpretations?

I’ll leave you, as the reader, to sort through the answers while I move on to post a hymn on the same text, penned by John Newton.

Malachi 3:16-18 This is the text upon which John Newton reflected…

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Abbreviated Worship?

Live Life! God's way

Are God’s children ever guilty of abbreviated worship? Do we ever rush through the process of worshiping God in spirit and in truth? Many times we must plead guilty to such a charge.

We abbreviate prayers. We abbreviate services. We abbreviate hymns. Many of the original composers of solid hymns throughout church history would marvel at how many stanzas we have left out. I recall one funeral I conducted years ago, when the other officiant decided that four verses of ‘How Great Thou Art’ were too many. Which one should he drop? He felt the one which declares, ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in….” I was preaching on the gospel, so I opted to reinsert the text as part of my sermon that day!

I’ve shared in worship services in other cultures, where they practice what…

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Jonah – More of An Environmentalist than an Evangelist?

Live Life! God's way

How would you describe the prophet Jonah from the pages of Scripture?

a) a prophet?

b) an evangelist?

c) an environmentalist?

In 2 Kings 14, we meet Jonah in the context of the history of the nation of Israel. The nation is divided at this point with the Northern Kingdom known as Israel and their Southern counterpart, Judah. If Jonah had a contemporary LinkedIn account, I’m sure he’d describe himself as a Spokesman and Servant of the LORD. He spoke for God as a prophet and had been used to predict a remarkable restoration of the boundaries of the northern nation. 

Here’s a map to show the restoration under Jonah’s preaching –

His joy and delight was in serving Goduntil he was commanded to head to Nineveh in an evangelistic mission. ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it!’ Jonah resolutely refuses and sets his…

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A 3000 Year Old Strategy?

Live Life! God's way

Satan, the enemy of the souls of people, is not very original in his strategy.  In the life of King David, Israel’s second monarch, Satan spotted an opportunity, a sinful desire–common to all people–to disobey God. Like the pattern so well established in the life of Adam and Eve, David saw, desired and took what was forbidden.

John Newton, as he penned these words in 1779, reflecting on the tragic account of lust, adultery, murder, etc, pastorally knew that sin remained appealing and that temptation should be rejected as appalling. Noone should consider themselves ‘temptation proof’ as Scripture warns us, ‘Let the one who thinks he stands, take heed, lest they fall.’ In today’s media-saturated societies, the online ramps to the thruway of temptation multiply daily. May we remain vigilant, urging each other on not to miss the voice of God by hardening our hearts.

Apart from the language, Newton…

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