Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Power of Music.

Music for most of us is like a big cold glass of ice water on a hot summer day.  In fact, Deitrich Bonhoeffer that great German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and dissident who stood up to the evils of Hitler's Third Reich said, Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

Martin Luther surely knew something of the healing power of music when he said,
“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.”

God has given us 150 chapters of songs in the book of Psalms, and if you took notice the book of Psalms is the largest book in the entire Bible.
The word psalms is derived from the Greek Ψαλμοί (Psalmoi), perhaps originally meaning "music of the lyre" or "songs sung to a harp" and then to any piece of music. Psalms expressed Israel's religious faith and were sung to give God praise and glory.

The idea of music as a means to uplift and encourage is woven throughout the entire Bible. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the believers at Ephesus says that they should be----"
speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord...5:19.

Well, that brings me to a song that I've been hearing on Christian radio frequently---it is sung by Big Daddy  Weave----he is big, but his voice is even bigger. The song is "REDEEMED."  Let my share one of the stanzas with you that just rushed in and exploded on my inner man:

                                                         "I am redeemed, You set me free
                                                          So I'll shake off these heavy chains
                                                          Wipe away every stain, 'cause I'm not who I used to be"

he concept of redemption is central to the New Testament, for Christ came to bridge the gap between man and God. The word redeemed carries the idea of purchasing back something that was previously sold. The concept in the Scriptures is that man was lost and a slave to sin; and our Messiah came to purchase us back to himself (cf. Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7-8).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 gives us a crystal clear picture of what it means to be redeemed, when the Apostle Paul writes:

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

As I look back at my life of being redeemed for nearly four decades I can sing as Big Daddy Weave sings:

               "I'm not who I used to be."

Monday, January 7, 2013

A man on his knees.

A few thoughts on a quote by Robert Murray M'Cheyne:

                      "A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more."

The other night as I started to pray this quote came to mind. For me this quote has become a maxim for life.

Let me offer a few thoughts on the power of this quote:

I'll observe in the form of answering why "a man's character is what it is when he is on his knees."

1. When a man comes before his God, he comes naked and stripped of any pretenses that he might  otherwise hold onto when dealing with his fellow man-----

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do Hebrews 4:13.                          

2. When a man comes before his God he knows that he is helpless, poor, and needy, he realizes that his strength comes from God----
... Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy Psalm 86:1. and The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped Psalm 28:7.

3. When a man comes before his God he is acutely aware of his selfish heart and even his tendency to pray self centered prayers----Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus  Philippians 2:5.

4. When a man comes before his God he is pressed with the weight that the christian life is not about him, his ministry, his life, his comforts, his character, no, he realizes that he must die daily, so that his God would be magnified through his life----For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21.

5. When a man comes before his God, he leaves with a deeper sense of living in the humility of Christ----
...and to walk humbly with your God Micah 6:8.

Believers we will stumble and falter, but take hope you can always drop to your knees.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ?

What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? If you could name one marked contrast between the two what would it be?

The other day while I was on face book, I came across a post that had a list of practices that were considered ungodly by the poster. It was a rather long list of rules and regulations that in the poster's mind if practiced by any person would disqualify that person from being a follower of Christ.

The list caught my attention because of some of the things that were on the list. Now let me state for the record, I knew what I was going to be dealing with as soon as I posted an objection to any of the ungodly, abominable, sin-filled practices which were set forth by the poster.

But I was feeling like having a little fun so I indulged myself. I posted that I myself practice some of the ungodly, abominable practices that he had listed. Out of his extensive list I'll  give you what I told him that I practice in my heathen life.

The first thing that I noted was that I listen to music other than "christian music," yes, the heathen that I'm, can you imagine that? Next, I noted that from time to time I even can be found imbibing some sort of liquid. I noted that I find no prohibition in Scripture against drinking alcohol, just warnings against drunkenness.

I then went on to note that you might even find my family and myself at the beach on a nice hot summer day, and yes, even wearing bathing suits. This one really set off the poster of the rules and regulations, it seemed to be the "mother of all sins." He went on to say that I was making my wife out to be a whore and that I was eternally condemned to hell fire.

With that being said let me get back to the original question: "What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? Let me share one small story as told by our Savior in the gospel of Luke chapter 18: 9-14.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Let's look at how our Savior describes these two men who went to the Temple to pray.

The Pharisee:

1. He looked down on others

2. He was confident in his own character and righteousness.

3. He stood up ---a particular commentary notes this about the Pharisee standing up----he said over to himself what he had done, and what was the ground on which he expected the favor of God.

4. He prayed about himself, bringing to God all his human works of religiosity.

5.He compared himself to others---note not to God, but to other men.

The Publican:

1. He stood at a distance as he prayed.---being conscious of his unworthiness to approach the sacred place where God had his holy habitation.

2. He would not look up---a sign of submission and humility.

3. He beat upon his chest---An expression of grief and anguish in view of his sins. It is a sign of grief among almost all nations.

4. He asks God for mercy---This is the prayer of a sinner, realizing that he was poor, helpless, and in need of God' mercy.

So now I ask again: "What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? If you could name one marked contrast between these two men what would it be?

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...