Tag Archives: God


“The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of more than 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of this cosmic community, NGC 4388, is captured in this image, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3.”


“If God were small enough to be understood,
He would not be big enough to be worshiped.”

Evelyn Underhill

A Father Who Sings

Good Friday service at The Christian Village at Mount Healthy. April 14, 2017.

My dad can’t sing.

It’s true. He has one note. It’s not musically identifiable, but it’s low.

That never stopped him.

I remember hearing him “singing” in the shower in the mornings getting ready for work.

I remember sitting next to him in church and trying to sing a harmony part. It was hard.

But he still sang. He still sings.

When I was young I knew my parents loved me. If you had asked me I would have said so. The evidence was there. They provided for me. Sure, they punished me when I did wrong, but they always forgave me. They went to my band concerts. They put up with my immaturity. For these reasons and more, I knew they loved me.

But I discovered a whole new perspective on a parent’s love when I had my own kids. I began to understand how you can be so angry you can’t see straight, so hurt you feel like your heart has been ripped out, and so proud you could burst…all at the same time!

It was then that I began to appreciate the depth of my parents’ love for me.

Sadly, I realize that some reading this may not have had the same experience of a loving family. You may find what I’m about to tell you incomprehensible. But trust me, it’s true.

But honestly, even if you grew up with a loving family like mine, you may still find this difficult to swallow, but here goes…

How do you think God feels about you?

God feels about you the same way a good dad feels about his kid. Sometimes he’s mad at you. Sometimes his heart is ripped out by you. Sometimes he’s bursting with pride. Sometimes he feels all that simultaneously.

And sometimes he sings.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

This is a beautiful description of the way I know my dad felt about me. No, he couldn’t sing a lick, but that didn’t stop him.

And this is the way God feels about you.

In the last line of this verse is the word “exult.” This a good translation because the original word means dancing or leaping for joy.

That’s God when he thinks of you.

Can you imagine?

This idea may be foreign to you. Perhaps, like so many, you’ve come to think of God as caring more about rules and laws. When you imagine God seeing you, your feelings are more like what you feel when you see a cop in your rearview mirror.

Make no mistake, God does have a very specific way he expects us to live.

So did my dad. There were things I did, or maybe didn’t do, that I knew I would be punished for. I didn’t want to be punished so I avoided those things. Well, at least I didn’t want him to know about them.

As I matured, and grew to know my dad’s heart, I was motivated less by the punishment and more by the desire to please my dad and make him proud. I knew he “exulted over me” and I wanted to give him good reason to.

My dad lives in a nursing home now. He hasn’t punished me in decades. But I still find myself being guided by what I think would make him proud that I’m his son.

I live for his “singing.”

I will forever be grateful that he has given me an earthly example of how God feels about me.

Honestly, I don’t know if we can even talk about God having “feelings” in the same way we experience them, but this passage of scripture seems to indicate that he does.

Jonathan Edwards was a famous preacher in the early 1700s. He is most famous for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Yes, it’s true that God hates sin and punishes the unrepentant.

But my Father’s Day prayer is that, through the grace of Jesus, you can grow to picture yourself not so much as a sinner in the hands of an angry God, but more as a child in the arms of a singing Father.


Monday Picks ~ 3-20-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

3 Mistakes to Avoid this EasterDan Reiland
For far too many church leaders, Easter is secretly a great disappointment every year. Not because of the attendance, that’s usually very strong, but because so few visitors return the following Sunday…

3 Mistakes to Avoid:

1) Designing your Easter service primarily for Christians
2) Emphasizing the wrong numbers
3) Comparing your church to others

We try, but we can’t…

Rejoice! We worship a God we can’t control
Aaron Armstrong
worship And that’s good news for us because a safe god, a safe Jesus, isn’t one worth our time. A safe god is one we can control, usually by trying to make it happy in some way. And a god we can control isn’t a true god at all, but an idol.

This little article popped out at me because today is my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. He was 19, she was 17. My wife and I were barely 21 when we married. There are certainly challenges, but there are also many blessings to marrying young. Number three is my favorite. There is much more he could’ve written about that one…

3 Reasons I’m Grateful to Have Married Young
Michael Kelley
I read this week that the average age of marriage is now close to 30 years old. We, as a society, are delaying marriage. And while some of the reasons why are legitimate, I for one would offer a counterpoint to those arguments, for there are some great things in our own experience about having married at a young age. Here are three of them…


All Were Astonished

“Could ‘astonishment’ be a good synonym for worship?”

This question arose in one of my recent God Questions posts.

Luke 9 contains many amazing events. After Jesus heals a boy who was convulsed by an unclean spirit Luke tells us that “…all were astonished at the majesty of God.” (Luke 9:43)

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days, and it seems to me that “astonishment” may not actually be a synonym for worship, but I believe it is an important aspect. An aspect that is usually far too lacking.

I remember the very first time we used drums in a worship service. Some people were astonished. Some in a good way. Quite a few in a bad way. They expressed their astonishment in phone calls, letters, and notes on the “silent roll call” cards.

I remember the first time someone had the audacity to serve communion without wearing a tie. Many were astonished that the elders would allow it.

I remember a time when I used the phrase, “come hell or high water” in a sermon. I received a phone call from an astonished church member who couldn’t believe a preacher would use profanity in a sermon.

People have been astonished at the use of dramatic lighting, modern music, video preaching, removing the organ, removing the attendance and offering statistics from the bulletin program, the way the worship leader wears his hair, an awesome guitar solo, and more. Much more.

When was the last time you were astonished in worship?

What caused it?

There have been times during a communion service that I’ve been astonished that God could ever accept me. I know me. I’m sure He does, too. It’s astonishing to me that, in spite of my selfish sinfulness, God made such a horrific sacrifice… for me.

Sometimes, when I look around me on Sunday morning, I’m astonished at lives that are changed through the ministry of my church. God does that. He uses us broken sinners to bring healing and hope to other broken sinners. Astonishing.

I see our worship team, our children’s ministry volunteers, our greeters, and many more servants, and I’m astonished at the number of people in my church who give an astonishing amount of time, energy, talent, and money in serving in the church, and in their community through Whiz Kids, Habitat for Humanity, and elsewhere. Astonished and thankful.

Sadly, I’m also astonished at the people who refuse to see any of that because they’re uncomfortable with the music, or the lighting, or whatever.

I don’t think comfort and astonishment mix very well.

“And all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
Luke 9:43

What astonishes you?

I think it depends on what you’re looking for.

Next Sunday morning, look for God.

He’s there.



Where did that come from?

No automatic alt text available.My mind kind of goes wherever it wants when I’m on a run. That is, if I can distract it from the actual…you know…running.

I feel my heart beating and hear my lungs breathing.

I wonder: where did I come from?

I could say I was born in Louisiana, but I lived most of my life in and around Cincinnati, so when someone asks, I tell them I’m from Cincinnati. But that’s not really what I’m asking.

Where did I come from? My life, I mean.

My heart has been beating for 63.5 years. What started it? My lungs have been breathing, maybe not as hard as they are right now, but for just as long. What started this? My thoughts? My questions? Not just these specific thoughts and questions, but the existence of any thoughts and questions.

Where did they come from?

I begin looking around at my neighborhood and the streets of Cincinnati. Where did they come from? I suppose one answer is that a bunch of Germans, a bunch of Catholics, and a bunch of folks from eastern Kentucky decided to build a city here. (I realize that’s a major generalization, but I’m trying to keep this short.)

But where did they come from? And what was here before they came to town?

I suppose there were some Native American folks here. Some wildlife of some kind. A river.

But where did they come from?

I don’t know all the details, but I think science tells us that the animals and people probably evolved from fish. The river was probably formed by the ice age. Ok. That’s what all the evidence seems to indicate. But still: where did the fish come from? What caused the ice age?

Where did the ice itself come from? Well, it’s frozen water.

Ok, but where did the water come from?

Well, I know that a molecule of water is comprised of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. So I suppose that if you can somehow combine two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen you would get water.

I think this might be harder than it sounds. I don’t really know if it can even be done. I saw Matt Damon do it in The Martian, but I don’t know if that’s science, or just science fiction. Either way it begs the question:

Where did the hydrogen and oxygen come from?

Where did anything come from?

No automatic alt text available.Back to me.

I occupy a few cubic feet of space. What was in that space before me? Air? Probably. Before that?

Or maybe harder yet…

What was here before there was a here here? Where did this few cubic feet of space come from? Was this space always here? The truth is, this space wasn’t always here because it’s moving. The whole planet moves around the sun. In fact, the entire universe is in constant motion, so the actual few cubic feet that I occupy is never stationary. So, what occupied that space before I got there, and what is there when I leave?

More than that, where did the motion come from? What started it? A big explosion of unimaginable power?


But, where did the explosion come from? What caused it?

An enormous compression of all the matter in the universe into an indescribably monstrous black hole until it could no longer take the pressure and caused an energy release of cosmic proportions?

I just made that up. I know that smart scientific minds can explain it better than I can, but I still have a question:

Where did the matter come from?

Well, it’s been here for billions of years of time…maybe even billions of billions…

Ok. But that still doesn’t answer the question.

Where did it come from?

Where did any of this come from?

Was it always here? Always? For eternity? No beginning and no end? Seriously?

I really don’t know how atheists do it. I think most atheists look at belief in the existence of God, and Christianity specifically, as so much fairy-tale make-believe. The thing is, if I’m honest, I have to admit I can see their point. It does sound that way to me sometimes.

Until I start asking the questions.

Where did the thoughts, the ability to think, a sense of good and bad, right and wrong, DNA, an atom, the energy that holds the atom together, the solar system, the universe, movement, time, love, eternity, the ability to even think of the concept of eternity…where did any of this come from?

I love science. Scientists can analyze and describe what is. And the more they do, the more amazing it all becomes. But scientists can only theorize about where it all came from.

And then there’s the big question…


Science can’t even touch that one.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about while I was out for a run.


Sounds Like God

Image result for preaching

“But something happens when you stop submitting
to the communal listening of congregational worship,
and start filling the air with your own free range spiritual rhetoric.
Your talk of God starts to sound less like God.
He starts sounding like an idea, a theory, a concept.
He stops sounding like the God of the Bible,
the God who commands and demands,
the God who is love but also holy,
gracious but also just, et cetera.
He begins to sound less like the God ‘who is who he is’
and more like the God who is as you like him.”

Jared Wilson

Them Apples

Image result for honeycrisp applesYou know what
It is about TV?
You can turn it off,
“Click,” just like that!

You know what
It is about doors?
You can close them,
“Slam,” just like that!

You know what
It is about people?
You can leave them,
Turn and walk, just like that!

You know what
It is about books?
You can quit them,
Close the covers, just like that!

You know what
It is about God?
You can’t do anything about him,
He’s there, just like that!

How do you like them apples!


Number ninety-two in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney

(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

How do you like them apples?

You know what
It is about TV?
You can turn it off,
“Click,” just like that!

You know what
It is about about doors?
You can close them,
“Slam,” just like that!

You know what
It is about people?
You can leave them,
Turn and walk, just like that!

You know what
It is about books?
You can quit them,
Close the covers, just like that!

You know what
It is about God?
You can’t do anything about him,
He’s there, just like that!

How do you like them apples?


Number ninety-two in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney

(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)