Music for EFCA Theology Conference 2021

I’m looking forward to leading the music for this year’s EFCA Theology Conference! While I’m sad we won’t be in person (there’s something fun about joining with 400 pastors from across the country to sing LOUDLY together!), I’m thankful that we can continue meeting and singing despite a pandemic preventing us from all being in the same place. I try to use this conference to equip pastors with a couple ideas. First, that you don’t need a giant band every week. We can sing praises to God with just a piano and our voices, and sometimes just our voices! Second, I hope to gives pastors some ideas of songs (old and new) they can take home and teach to their congregations that are biblical true, easy to sing, catchy melodies, and will help move the head knowledge to a heart knowledge where we can take the things we’re learning and apply them to our lives. This year, I thought I would add links to where all the music can be found.

All Creatures of Our God and King

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery (Praisecharts)

Speak, O Lord (Praisecharts)

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death (Praisecharts)

Jesus, Strong and Kind

Behold Our God

King Of Kings (Praisecharts)

He Leadeth Me

Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right

Yes I Will (Praisecharts)

I’ve also compiled on these songs on a Spotify playlist that you can find HERE. Because of the theme of this year’s conference, I’ve also put together an additional playlist that is various musical interpretations of various Psalms, which you can find HERE.

Resources That Disciple Me

This past Sunday I preached on what we let disciple us, and shared a suggestion from Brett McCracken on the Wisdom Pyramid. It’s a helpful guide on what we consume and allow to shape us. I also share the various podcasts I listen to, and the books and music I’ve been enjoying the past week! Here’s the whole list:

Podcasts:

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols does brief historical ideas/stories

Bible Talk – 3 professors/pastors walk through the Bible, 15 episodes in haven’t even finished Gen!

BreakPoint – John Stonestreet, director of the Colson Center, news

The Briefing – Al Mohler, president of SBTS does daily news analysis from a Christian perspective. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s is unbelievably insightful.

Credo Podcast – prof. from MBTS on theology

Cultivated: A podcast about faith and work – Mike Cosper interview Christians 

Doxology & Theology – prof. from SBTS on how to better worship God

EFCA Theology Podcast – my dad does it so I have to listen

Every Square Inch Podcast – HIGHLY recommend. He’s insightful, articulate, careful, and pastoral

For the Church – Jared Wilson, author and speaker

Freakonomics – non-believer looking at some of the ways the world works

Gospelbound – Collin Hansen, part of TGC interviews various people about how to live a Christian life

The Happy Rant – a friend of mine, like to joke a lot

The Holy Post – Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales) Skeye Jethani (former editor of CT) discuss current issues

Like and Books and Everything – Kevin DeYoung, Collin Hansen, Justin Taylor talk about what it says!

Pastor Well with Herschael York – interviews with pastors

Pastors Talk – Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman various issues

The Pivot – musician named Andrew Osenga talks with other artists about how God has led them in their lives

Preaching and Preachers – Jason Allen, pres. Of MBTS guide to preaching better

Revitalize and Replant with Thom Rainer – self explanatory

TGC Podcast – sermons/lectures from their conferences 

TGC Q&A – various people answer questions about Christianity and living out our faith

Thinking in Public – Al Mohler talks to various authors about their writings and ideas in the public square

This American Life – stories from various parts of the country

This Cultural Moment – Mark Sayers is a pastor in Australia who is unbelievably insightful into reaching our secular culture

The Village Church Sermons – Matt Chandler

Books/Authurs:

JT English – Deep Discipleship

Will Wiight – Unsouled

DA Carson – John Pillar

Grant Osborne – John: Verse by Verse

Richard Lovelave – Dynamics of a Spiritual Life

Carl Trueman – The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

Athanasius – On the Incarnation

Music

Lots of instrumental music to study, Jon GuerraJon ForemanSlugs & BugsCityAlightGettysHillsong

Pandemic From The Trellis and the Vine

One of my favorite books on intentional discipleship is The Trellis and the Vine. I’ve been looking over it again to be reminded of its’ message, and found the conclusion of the book incredibly prophetic. It was written in 2009, but imagines a situation where a global pandemic has prevented large groups from gathering. How would it impact the church? Here is what they say:

As we write, the first worrying signs of a swine-flu pandemic are making headlines around the world. Imagine that the pandemic swept through your part of the world, and that all public assemblies of more than three people were banned by the government for reasons of public health and safety. And let’s say that due to some catastrophic combination of local circumstances, this ban had to remain in place for 18 months.

How would your congregation of 120 members continue to function—with no regular church gatherings of any kind, and no home groups (except for groups of three)?

If you were the pastor, what would you do?

I guess you could send regular letters and emails to your people. You could make phone calls, and maybe even do a podcast. But how would the regular work of teaching and preaching and pastoring take place? How would the congregation be encouraged to persevere in love and good deeds, especially in such trying circumstances? And what about evangelism? How would new people be reached, contacted and followed up? There could be no men’s breakfasts, no coffee mornings, no evangelistic courses or outreach meetings. Nothing.

You could, of course, revert to the ancient practice of visiting your congregation house-to-house, and door-knocking in the local area to contact new people. But how as a pastor could you possibly meet with and teach all 120 adults in your congregation, let alone their children? Let alone door-knock the suburb? Let alone follow up the contacts that you made?

No, if it was to be done, you would need help. You would need to start with ten of your most mature Christian men, and meet intensively with them two at a time for the first two months (while keeping in touch with everyone else by phone and email). You would train these ten in how to read the Bible and pray with one or two other people, and with their children. Their job would then be twofold: to ‘pastor’ their wives and families through regular Bible reading and prayer; and to each meet with four other men to train and encourage them to do the same. Assuming that 80% of your congregation was married, then through these first ten men and those that they subsequently trained, most of the married adults would be involved in regular Bible-based encouragement.

While that was getting going (with you offering phone and email support along the way), you might choose another bunch to train personally—people who could meet with singles, or people who had potential in door-knocking and evangelism, or people who would be good at following up new contacts.

It would be a lot of personal contact, and a lot of one-to-one meetings to fit in. But remember, there would be no services to run, no committees, no parish council, no seminars, no home groups, no working bees—in fact, no group activities or events of any kind to organize, administer, drum up support for, or attend. Just personal teaching and discipling, and training your people in turn to be disciple-makers.

Here’s the interesting question: after 18 months, when the ban was lifted and you were able to recommence Sunday gatherings and all the rest of the meetings and activities of church life, what would you do differently?

Marshall, Colin; Payne,Tony. The Trellis and the Vine . Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.

Notes from December 27 Sermon

Here are the various Bible passages I used in my sermon for December 27.

Eph 4:11-16 “And  he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 

1 Cor. 15 

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Worship Acceptably 

Heb. 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.” 

1 Cor. 10:31 “ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Rom. 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

Gospel First 

Rom. 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 

Pray Fervently 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Attend Regularly 

Heb. 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

Give Generously 

Matt. 13:1-9 Parable of the Sower “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” 

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary,  bless, for  to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 

Serve Faithfully 

1 Cor 12:4-11 “Now  there are varieties of gifts, bu t the same Spirit; 5 and  there are varieties of service, but  the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is  the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of  wisdom, and to another the utterance of  knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another  faith by the same Spirit, to another  gifts of healing by the one Spirit,10 to another  the working of miracles, to another  prophecy, to another  the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another  various kinds of tongues, to another  the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually  as he wills.” 

Communicate Honorably 

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

Col. 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

Submit Joyfully 

Eph 5:15-21 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because  the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what  the will of the Lord is. 18 And  do not get drunk with wine, for that is  debauchery, but  be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Christmas Activities COVID Style

With us not meeting at church right now, I thought it may be helpful to have some fun ideas for you to enjoy at home! I’ve sent a few of these out already, but wanted to compile them in one place for you to look through the list! I’ll add new things at the top of the page as they become available so you don’t need to scroll all the way to the bottom each time. If you’ve got any ideas for other things we can add on here, please send them my way!

Jenna Paulson has put together a Christmas Bingo 2020 edition! I will give 10 Caribou Coffee gift cards to the first 10 people to complete a Bingo WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE!
The Young Families Group is making “Snowman Soup” then bringing it to neighbors and giving them an invite card to our Christmas Eve Service. (Thanks to Erin Rivenburg for giving me this idea!)
This concert was WONDERFUL! Lots of smaller groups you may not have heard of!
JD Greear’s Advent series at Right Now Media. This is a great, brief series looking at the 4 names of Christ in Isaiah 9:6.
Slugs and Bugs Advent videos at Right Now Media. My kids absolutely LOVE Slugs and Bugs, and this Advent series is no exception! If you’ve got little kids, they’ll probably love this.

Feel free to download the invitation card for your own use! Just right click on the image, then click “Download image” to save it to your computer.

Why I’m Preaching Through 1 Peter

I created a brief “bumper video” for our new sermon series looking at 1 Peter. After it had shown for a couple weeks I got a couple questions about it, so thought I’d share some of my reasoning for why I addressed what I did in the video below.

First, everything I mentioned in the video is something that is a bit of a “hot button” issue in our cultural climate today. I specifically mention: whites vs blacks, men vs women, democrat vs republican, masks vs anti-maskers, and faith vs science as things the world uses to say Christians are wrong and can’t speak in to what is really truth. Part of the difficulty is there’s people on both sides of pretty much all those issues in every church. That’s where a book like 1 Peter is so helpful because he doesn’t allow us to divide into our various factions and groups, instead the gospel compels us to break down all these dividing markers and keep our focus on the primary realities that Jesus died for our sins and now reigns on high in heaven from where He will someday return to judge the living and the dead, right every wrong, and bring about perfect justice and peace (that’s where I talked about shalom – true and lasting peace a couple weeks ago in my sermon). 

Second, specifically referring to the race issue, I believe the organization Black Lives Matter is an abhorrent group that is being used to attempt to subvert many of the things God’s kingdom seeks to bring about. Interestingly, they recently took down their statement of beliefs because it is so controversial (pushing to get rid of the nuclear family, being driven by transgender rights and seeking the marginalization of both males and whites). 

Thirdly, I will say that despite the BLM organization being horrendous, there is still a history of oppression and marginalization of non-whites in the United States that serve as reminders of the fact that we are not yet home, but long for the day when Christ returns to bring perfect peace and reconciliation (as Paul reminds us to pursue in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). There’s a couple at church who have 5 kids, 3 of whom are black and they have some very interesting stories of how their kids are treated differently, I’d encourage you to talk to them about their experience! There’s also some great resources out there on the history of race in America. One of which is a short video Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) put together here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY&pp=QAA%3D where he brings up historic laws like Jim Crow laws and Redlining that sought to marginalize non-whites from specific rights or opportunities. It’s also important to note that this isn’t just true of us today as there’s a history of racism throughout the history of the church. Peter wouldn’t associate with Gentiles when Jews were around (Galatians 2:11-14), Martin Luther wrote a treatise titled ’On the Jews and Their Lies’ and Jonathan Edwards, one of my favorite American theologians owned slaves (of which you can read a couple responses HEREHERE and you can hear a lecture on this issue from the EFCA Theology Conference HERE). As a brief aside, the EFCA did an entire conference devoted to this issue in 2018 entitled ’The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA,’ you can see all the resources from that conference HERE. Another helpful resource is done by Andrew Wilson, a pastor from England, writing on ‘A Short History of Racism’ and ‘On Structural Racism’ in which he links to the Phil Vischer video listed above.

Fourthly, part of the issue in our current climate stems from critical race theory, the idea that the only categorizations that matter are those who have and wield power and those who do not (or those who are the oppressors and those who are the oppressed). This is one of those ideas that stems from Marxism and has gained increasing traction in the past decade as the means by which we engage in any conversation. In this category, white males are deemed the primary oppressors, meaning that because I am a white, middle class, educated male I am inevitably the oppressor, thus anything I say is deemed as not true so I must cede any ideas to those who are more marginalized than myself. This is completely false within a biblical worldview because there is an objective source of truth that is not rooted in someone’s experience. (We’ll be studying in the new year the 7 “I Am” statements Jesus uses throughout John’s Gospel, one of which is where He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” So to get the foundation of truth we need to go to Jesus!) There is objective truth and it’s ultimately found in God himself, and captured in His Word, the Scriptures, which is why we preach, teach, and study the Bible every week together at church. We must be shaped and formed by God’s Word not the culture in which we live. Tim Keller has written a series of VERY helpful articles on this very issue which are all linked to at THIS WEBSITE, just to warn you these 4 articles are really long, but well worth the time it takes to read through them.

Fifthly, although there is objective truth and one standard of truth, we all have different experiences which shape, inform, and influence the way we view and interact with the world around us. The difficulty becomes when one’s experiences become their defining characteristic instead of looking at the broader way in which their story interacts with the world as a whole. What we all need to do is bring our experiences back to the Bible and view our experiences through a biblical lens instead of viewing the Bible through our experiential lens. This is where Grant Osborne’s idea of a Hermeneutical Spiral  is so helpful as our experience shapes and informs our views, but then through study, mediation and sanctification we slowly become more and more what Christ has called us to be, that is holy (as we’ll be studying together this coming Sunday in 1 Peter 1:15). This is where it’s very helpful to talk to people about their background and story, because the gospel will cut against some aspect of every culture on this side of heaven, so we should look to see ways in which the gospel can encourage parts of any culture, and ways that we need to use the gospel to fight against bad parts of culture (Tim Keller is incredibly helpful on this issue, particularly in his book Center Church, and so is D.A. Carson’s book ‘Christ & Culture Revisited‘ in which he look at Richard Neibuhr’s five Christ and culture options from his book ‘Christ and Culture’).

Lastly, this entire discussion is where we need to be so saturated in God’s Word that we can gain an eternal perspective on any issue, and bring the truth of the Bible to bear on it. As we’ll be studying this coming Sunday from 1 Peter 1:23-25  God’s Word is the one thing that will last forever, nothing else will. This is where it is imperative for us as Christians to live as ambassadors of a different kingdom who serve a different king. We cannot be held captive by any political agenda, any cultural agenda, any racial agenda, or any agenda other than the one Jesus called us to: to make disciples of His Kingdom. This is where we all come together as God’s people from various backgrounds (be that different socioeconomic, cultural, racial, gender, or generational) and are eager to “love another another…from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). That doesn’t mean unanimity or groupthink, what it does mean is dying to ourselves for the sake of each other. So my hope and prayer with this series is that it cuts against the grain of any political agenda people are bringing to Sunday mornings, and brings us back to truth, the truth of the gospel message, that Jesus saves and we can place our hope entirely in Him, and that this message will be made visible in our lives as an adornment of the gospel message we preach.

June 26 Devotional

This week’s message we’ll be backing up and covering what we didn’t cover last week! Luke 9:1-9:
 
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.
 
This is the first time we see Jesus sending out his disciples as his ambassadors, charged with both representing him to the world and carrying out his ministry of healing. Think of how the disciples would have felt! They’d been with Jesus seeing him perform these miracles for a while now, and now it was their turn! Think back to when you got your driver’s license! Did you sense the immense privilege that came with that? You suddenly had the ability to go anywhere you wanted! At least as long as your parents would let you! This is a bit like what the disciples would have felt here. The training wheels were coming up and there was a new found freedom, a slight taste of what would be coming after Jesus’ resurrection. And even in the midst of their journey, Jesus would need to continue providing for them, as the only thing they were to take was the clothes on their backs. Talk about walking by faith! As they go on their way, Luke says they preached the gospel and healed. That’s a good description of what we’re called to today! We’re called to preach the gospel, and do our best to help take care of those within our sphere of influence. 
 
After giving us the story of the disciple’s first missionary journey, Luke then focuses in on one person’s response. Herod. Well, one of the Herods! This is during the time of the “Herodian dynasty” which was a bit like a soap opera! This is the same Herod who beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist in a fit of lustful exuberance. As Jesus’ fame spread, eventually word reaches Herod’s ears that there’s something unique about this Jesus guy. Some said that he was John raised from the dead, others thought Elijah had returned to usher in the new reign, or maybe even one of the other lowly prophets had come back. Because of this notoriety, John was intrigued enough to the point that he tried to go see Jesus. Some scholars think this is part of the reason Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee in the next verse to go to Bethsaida. Either way, one thing for us to take away from this is the need for us to live lives that are different so that others will see our changed lives and ask questions about why we are the way we are (1 Peter 3:15). 
 
SONG:
We’re going to go with a throwback song today with some old school Lecrae from my high school days! This song is called ‘Send Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 24 Devotional

We’ll be continuing Hebrews today looking at Hebrews 3:7-19:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Continuing to build upon his theme here, the author is reminding us to hold fast to our hope in Christ. He begins by quoting from Psalm 95, which every Jew would have known! It served as the call to worship every Sabbath gathering the Jews met in the synagogues. This was the reminder to don’t just become numb or callous to God’s Word, instead take it in, meditate upon it, let it soak and saturate your entire life. The warning that served the nation of Israel is just as important for us today! Do not harden your hearts in response to God’s Word, do not put Him to the test, instead remember that God is perfectly just, and we should do our best to keep short accounts with Him. James picks up this idea in James 4:17 where he says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This is another way of saying the same thing the author of Hebrews is saying.
 
The author then uses this well known call to worship to exhort his congregation to not be like the people of God in the past! This is part of the reason we need to regularly gather together as God’s people! The author here is commanded us to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ’today.’” That is, we should seek to be encouraging each other on in our faith, as the author of Hebrews reminds us later “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  This is yet another reminder that when we are called as believers, we are called into a community. There are both individual and communal aspects to our salvation, and we cannot neglect either of them! We must do our best individually to follow Christ, but we cannot do it alone, we need to look for opportunities to encourage others to be obedient in their faith.
SONG:
Today’s song is a Sovereign Grace song titled ’Not in Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 22 Devotional

Happy Monday! We’ll be looking at Psalm 10 today:
 
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
   he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
    he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,
    and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
    and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
    that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever;
    the nations perish from his land.
O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
 
Do you find it funny that anytime a disaster strikes people begin to ask “where is God?” I distinctly remember September 12, 2001 when it seemed that every newspaper headline had that question as their lead article. This Psalm is asking that exact same question. But the author here has come to a different conclusion than The Beatles who said “When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” The Psalmist isn’t content to just “let it be” everything within him cries out for justice! He is asking God to uphold his promise to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Specifically, the Psalmist is comparing the way of the wicked. Many times it seems like they get away with their evil schemes! They seek to take advantage of the oppressed and marginalized and in the midst of that they are renouncing God. As D.A. Carson has said they have de-godded God himself, committing idolatry, putting themselves in the place of God.
 
But God doesn’t just sit back and let evildoers get away with it, and the Psalmist knows this to be true! So he begs God to arise and don’t forget those who are opposed and afflicted! God sees everything that takes place and will being people to justice. Those who have no one else to care for them can look to God as the perfect Heavenly Father to care for them in spite of the evildoers who are continually trying to take advantage of them. And that’s the hope we have in this life. The Psalmist says “The Lord is king forever and ever, the nations perish from his land.” Because God’s throne is unceasing and unfailing, we know our outcome is secure. No matter what evil is done to us on earth we know God will execute His perfect judgment at His perfect time when He returns to judge the living and the dead.
 
SONG:
Today’s song is a cover song by the band The Digital Age called ‘Break Every Chain’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 19 Devotional

Happy Juneteenth! We’ll be skipping ahead just a little bit in our sermon passage this week, and looking at the feeding of the 5,000 in Luke 9:10-17:
 
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
 
This takes place right after the disciples have gone on their first missionary journey apart from Jesus. He has sent them out to preach the good news and heal people, and they have just returned, so Jesus decides they need a break. But his notoriety is spreading so that break is not to be had! As soon as they get to their vacation destination they see a crowd in front of them. Thankfully Jesus is more patient than many of us, and he welcomes them and heals many of them. Because Jesus is a preacher, he preaches a long time! And the day gets away from him, so his disciples exhort him to send everyone away to find food and lodging. But Jesus turns this in to a teaching moment. So often as we read these passages we have a tendency to jump immediately to application to our lives today, but how do you think the disciples would have interpreted everything Jesus is doing? In John’s account of this he even explicitly says that Jesus is asking his disciples about this to test them. 
 
What conclusions do the disciples come up with? They see 2 options that are solely based on what they can do. Who do they forget to ask? JESUS! The guy who has given them more fish in one cast of the net than they’d ever caught before! Yet even despite them not asking him for help, he still answers their unrequested prayer. Once again, Jesus has proven that he is Jehovah Jireh the provider. Just as God has continually provided for his people throughout the entire Bible, He continues providing for them here. The question for us is: do we really believe that God will provide everything we need? Or do we presume upon Him and refuse to acknowledge our dependance and need for Him to continue providing everything we need? This is the heart of the gospel message! God has provided an over abundance to us through the death of His one and only Son. Do we see that?
 
SONG:
Today’s song is by Citizens, one of my favorite bands writing slightly different songs for the church to sing! This song is called ‘Light of Your Grace’ and you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.