Tag Archives: Worship

A Gift Worth Giving

How’s your Christmas shopping going?

Now, be honest: how many of the gifts you’re giving are just stuff you feel like you are required to give? These “gifts” don’t have any real significance to you OR the recipient. And, if the truth were known, they will likely end up in a land-fill sometime in the foreseeable future.

But there are other gifts, aren’t there? A few of the gifts you have planned are special. These are gifts that you have thought long and hard about. You’ve searched and/or labored to make sure this gift is exactly right. It’s significant. The recipient will likely keep this gift for the rest of her life and every time she sees it or uses it, you will come to mind.

I’d like to tell you about a birthday gift I received a few years ago.

The gift is a desk. It’s a lovely piece of furniture. Here are a couple of pictures of it…

DSC_0174

DSC_0175

What do you think this desk is worth?

Now there are several things to consider when you try to figure the value of something like this.

One thing would be the raw material. This desk is made from solid cherry wood and fitted with fine hardware.

You would also have to take into consideration the time and labor.

But another factor would be the quality of the craftsmanship involved. I mean, a desk made by me wouldn’t be nearly as valuable as one made by a skilled master craftsman. So the identity of the person who made it affects the value.

Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because if all you’re considering is the skill of the craftsman, that’s one thing. But what if you actually know the person? What if you have a personal relationship with the one who made the thing? How does that affect the value to you?

What if I told you that the person who made my desk was my dad?

SCAN0039

Suddenly the value changes, doesn’t it? All of a sudden, the value of this desk, which may be worth a large amount of money to most folks, has increased exponentially to me.

Now, if you look inside the top drawer you’ll find a small brass plate that looks like this…

DSC_0177

It says, “Lloyd | Mk. 1:11b | Dad & Mom | 8-15-04.”

Do you know what Mk 1:11 says?

It says: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Now…how much do you think this desk is worth to me?

This Christmas, when we are all very wrapped up (See what I did there?) in gift giving and receiving, I want to take a little time to consider the gifts we give to God.

I want to suggest that the service we offer to God at our church or in our community – whether we preach, teach, sing, greet, bake, rake, shovel, tutor, clean, cook, listen, visit, or any of a hundred other acts of kindness to individuals or involvement in church ministry … whatever you do – do it as an act of love and worship. When you do, the raw material of your time and talents, combined with your skill and personal relationship, makes it a valuable love gift to God.

Like my desk, the value is far more than the simple combination of raw materials because it’s given as a demonstration of love to God who can multiply it until it has eternal significance.

Now that’s a gift worth giving.

Lloyd

 

 

My Picks for Monday 11-23-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Possibly the best article I’ve read on the refugee crisis…

Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis-David Crabb
Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis“Do you see the enormity of the possibility here? We have spent years plotting and praying to get missionaries into some of the most difficult places in the world. Now, four million hurting and broken people from at least eighteen unreached people groups are coming to the West. ‘Is it safe?’ sounds like a question a government would ask. And it should ask; a government should seek to protect its people. But Christians ask, ‘What is God up to?'”


On a related note, it might be helpful to remember who some of these refugees really are. “Photojournalist Magnus Wennman traveled around Europe and the Middle East, capturing these children of war as they tried to find some rest in a frightening, uncertain world.” These are some beautiful and moving photos…

Syria’s Lost Children -Magnus Wennman
Where-the-children-sleep-refugees-09


7 Signs It’s Not Really A Team -Ron Edmondson
power meeting from above“Those are a few clues which tell me it’s really not a team. There are certainly others…You can call it what you want – could be a group, or an association, or even an organization. But it’s not a team…

It should be noted. There are times when we don’t need a team. We need a leader who will stand even if alone and lead people to places they can’t yet see but where they need to go. I have found those times to be rare when I have a healthy team. This post addresses teams – and we need them more often.”


Don’t get bogged down in this one. Just keep reading to the end.
Our God is an awesome God…

Why Fractals Are So Beautiful-Joel Bezaire
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/64988.jpg?w=1600“…when I study the amount of complexity in a fractal—zooming in closer and closer, yet never losing any resolution or altering its appearance in any way—I am reminded that the same painstaking detail went into God’s plan for my life. I break out in praise. And then I want to zoom in a bit more.”


The “human whisperer”?

http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/bz-panel-11-17-15.jpg
Dan Piraro

 

 

A Hymn of Grateful Praise

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01552/sky2_1552774i.jpgFor the joy of ear and eye,

for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love,

brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
For thy church, that evermore

lifteth holy hands above,
offering upon every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

DSC_0950For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

-Folliot S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

 

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.)

 

 

Remember when we used to _________?

remember-when2

“Remember when we_______________?”

“Man, that was great.”

“How come we don’t do that anymore?”

Have you ever been part of a conversation like that? I was a worship minister for 30 years. I’ve had that same conversation approximately a billion times. The blank has been filled in by different things at different times over the years but it was the same conversation. Here are a few of the things that have been inserted in the blank:

Had a Sunday night church service.
Did a Living Christmas Tree (Remember those?)
Had a handbell choir.
Used an organ.
Wore choir robes.
Wore ties when we served. (BTW-Research has proven that the first century Christians never wore ties.)
Did Broadway-style Christmas productions.
Sang the old songs.
etc.

The blank varied but the insinuation was always the same.

The implication was that what we do now is inferior. We think that the church has lost its former glory. We remember the way things used to be, the important place some of those things had in our lives and in the life of the church, and we have trouble seeing the wonderful things that are being done right now, and the way God is moving in our people and activities right now.

Maybe we need to open our eyes, and hearts, to the possibility that God has something in mind that we can’t imagine.

The Israelites were in captivity for 70 years in Babylon. When they were finally released and allowed to return to their homeland they undertook the huge task of rebuilding the temple. There were some older folks who were alive before the earlier temple was destroyed and they remember what it was like.

Ezra 3:10-13
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

“He is good;
his love toward Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.

There have been times in my ministry when it seemed like the same thing was happening. There were people who would be moved in powerful ways by the things that God was doing through our church while others could see nothing but things that upset them. The shouts of joy and the sound of weeping were occurring simultaneously. The celebrants couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand the complainers and the complainers couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see what the celebration was all about.

Maybe we need to open our eyes, and hearts, to the possibility that God has something in mind that we can’t imagine.

God had something BIG in mind for the new temple. Listen to this:

Haggai 2:3,6-9
‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Maybe we need to open our eyes, and hearts, to the possibility that God has something in mind that we can’t imagine.

Lloyd

 

My Picks for Monday 11-9-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

“Nobody knows who the four evangelists were, but they almost certainly never met Jesus personally. Much of what they wrote was in no sense an honest attempt at history. . . . The gospels are ancient fiction.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

If Dawkins is correct, one might imagine Matthew, Mark, Luke and John enjoying a couple of drinks together and having  the following conversation…

If Richard Dawkins Is Right -Bernard N. Howard


The Atlantic has an interesting article here and refers extensively to Al Mohler‘s approach…

Hating Queerness Without Hating the Queer–Emma Green
“It’s a somewhat novel approach to being an evangelical in public life: engaging debates about sexuality on their own terms. As Mohler himself admits, this hasn’t always been the case. ‘While Christians were secure in a cultural consensus that was negative toward same-sex acts and same-sex relationships, we didn’t have to worry too much about understanding our neighbors,’ he said. ‘We did horribly oversimplify the issue.’ Now that norms around LGBT issues are changing, evangelicals can no longer afford that kind of glibness, but it’s tricky to balance civility with steadfastness. Mohler said he’s not ‘trying to launch Culture War II,’ but he also doesn’t want evangelicals to back down on their beliefs. ‘Christians have not had to demonstrate patience, culturally speaking, in a very long time. The kind of work and witness we’re called to—it could take a very long time to show effects.'”


There is a delicate balance that every worship pastor and every creative type person involved in church ministry needs to keep constantly in mind. It’s very easy to get the balance off in either direction…

The Question Every Local Church Creative Team Needs To Ask -David Santistevan
Thequestion“As we approach the Christmas season, we worship pastors are thinking about special music, productions, songwriting, and bigger and better creative elements than last year. The last thing we want to do is fall in love with our own creativity and miss the point.”


Apologies to my millennial friends, but this did make me grin…

Merit Badges for Millennial Life Achievements

Take Off Your Shoes

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IGDYAhMvvaQ/VGQgEMwEhDI/AAAAAAAALVU/heizLMZdcH0/s1600/holy-ground.jpg

“If your local church is doing things right,
it will be seeking to provide a spiritual environment
for your growth predicated on God’s terms—which is to say, not yours. Let’s not neglect to approach that holy ground,
and take our shoes off in reverence when we get there,
even if it means shoving one of them in our mouths.”

–Jared Wilson


From his excellent article, What We Talk Like When We Talk About God

My Picks for Wednesday 11-4-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

I can often relate to how she feels…

Thoughts Lisa Spence
Lisa Spence“I once thought thoughts. You know, deep and meaningful thoughts, thoughts I pondered and wrestled with and deliberated over and contemplated and, well, thought and sometimes wrote about, sometimes not. “I don’t think stuff anymore,” I told my husband awhile back…”


http://www.mazapoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/love-and-marriage-quotes.jpg
I’ve always felt uncomfortable with that sentiment. Here’s why…

My Spouse Is My Best Friend -Mark Jones

“It seems weird to me, mainly because my wife belongs in a category that goes beyond friendship. How does a man compare his wife with several of his male friends, as if she is first but there is a second, or third best friend behind her? He doesn’t. He shouldn’t. We take away something from our marriages when we talk in this way, and we take away something from our friendships with people of the same sex when we speak like this.”

Seven Myths of Contextualization-Bob Kauflin
shutterstock_184172318_Fotor“In the past few years, much has been written, advocated, and modeled to help us understand why we should be concerned about leading services in ways that people actually comprehend what we’re doing and saying so that they are impacted in the right ways (Mike Cosper’s Rhythms of Grace is one example). That might mean changing your music accompaniment, liturgy, communication methods, and more.

But I’ve seen contextualization misapplied at times. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind when thinking through how to connect with people…”


If the opportunity ever comes up for a retired worship minister to visit the ISS, sign me up! Some amazing photos here.

International Space Station: 15 Years In 50 Pictures…
“As of this week, humans have spent 15 continuous years living off the Earth thanks to NASA and the orbiting International Space Station…. “It [ISS] has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 17 countries collaborate to advance shared goals,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.”