Tag Archives: heaven

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A Word on Worship Styles

Note: From the start I want to clarify that when I use the word “style” I am not referring to words, or lyrics. By the word “style” I mean varying instruments or sounds, as well as the posture or outward appearances of worshippers. Words, particularly words of truth that honor God, matter immensely, but that is a whole other topic.

Few topics can get Christians more heated up then worship styles. Some churches pride themselves most emphatically and almost solely on having “great worship.” If they visit a church that doesn’t use drums and the worshipers don’t raise hands, they might say something like “the sermon was great, but it’s too bad the worship is dead.” Or even “It’s really too bad the Spirit’s not there.” You might think I’m joking but sadly I’ve heard it with my own two ears.

On the other hand, organ only, hymn only, Psalter only (etc, etc) church goers can see concert clips of people jumping up and down, hand raising, clapping (etc,etc) and think there’s a lack of reverence and nothing happening other than an ecstatic, hyper-emotional, rock fest.

I guess the question we should all ask ourselves is this: Does God want us judging one another’s worship styles? Should we dissect the way, or style, in which another person offers praise and thanksgiving to God, specifically in song?

I don’t think so. Here’s why: Continue reading

death

Abide With Me: A Hymn For the Dying

When I search my mind for a favorite hymn “Abide With Me” rises quickly to the surface. CyberHymnal.org gives us this information about the circumstances surrounding the writing of this hymn by Henry Lyte in 1847:

Lyte was inspired to write this hymn as he was dying of tuberculosis; he finished it the Sunday he gave his farewell sermon in the parish he served so many years. The next day, he left for Italy to regain his health. He didn’t make it though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks after writing these words. Here is an excerpt from his farewell sermon:

“O brethren, I stand here among you today, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to impress it upon you, and induce you to prepare for that solemn hour which must come to all, by a timely acquaintance with the death of Christ.”

I know of no greater hymn which so honestly puts into words the experience and struggle of those dying under the curse of disease, a thing I have not experienced but have seen. The lyrics in full may be read here, and below is my favorite rendition of this song. Please take time to listen and to read the words.

You might wonder why I would love this hymn so much, when its’ topic is dying. But it is not just about dying- it is about dying in and dying for the Lord. “If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8).”

Jesus can “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:15).” He did this “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14).” “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (1Corinthians 15:56);” He has removed that bitter sting and broke that power which stood against us, condemning us, and He gives and will give us victory over these things. The bible testifies that a day will come when death will be destroyed, and resurrection life will be ours. For the Christian, death needs not be a topic of dread, but of anticipation.

Yet for all the good death will bring to us, anyone who has witnessed death knows- it is usually not as glorious as Hollywood makes it out to be. Disease has no pity; It has no respect for human dignity. It is a cruel tormentor, ugly and stealing from its victims, wasting them, and crippling with pain. Not always, but surely this is often the case. It is not so much the death, but the dying that can surely cast a Christian low, even in agony. Continue reading

A Soul Satisfying Endeavour

Evangelism doesn’t always make me feel happy- but it usually does. There have been times when the seemingly impenetrable condition of someone’s heart has left me deeply grieved. The most vulgar individual I ever met was a Pastor’s daughter. I turned around after witnessing to her and immediately burst into tears, feeling shocked, mortified, and spiritually drained. But most often, my experiences haven’t been too difficult. Continue reading

Part 8: How Can You Refuse Him Now?

I hope you have come to see that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, and is infinitely worthy of our love, our praise, and our lives.  Reflecting on His love and worth one day I wrote:

“Who has loved me more than Jesus, when He bore my sin away?  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my transgressions from me.  Oh what a Saviour!  Mighty Redeemer is He!  He took my shame and bore God’s wrath to set this captive free.

And now what friend do I have like Jesus, who at sun down watches over my sleep?  He keeps account of my tossings; He puts my tears in His bottle, are they not all written down?  Who knows my frame like the Lord does?  He remembers that I am but dust.  He does not keep His anger forever, or treat me as my sins deserve.  What rest I have in Jesus!  He who keeps me in the palm of His hand will never leave me or forsake me.  If I am faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

I love You so my Jesus, who hears my every prayer, who treats me with compassion, who covers me with care.  Even in the darkness His word is a lamp unto my feet and I know that He is working out His perfect will for me.

Who gives hope for the future like Jesus?  The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.  Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, but blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Jesus Christ, my friend and Lord, I know that He is coming swiftly.  Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.  He who has overcome death is coming; He who destroys the power of sin is coming, and He who has loved me from the foundations of the world- He is coming.” 

Psalm 73:4 “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”

Have you seen how wonderful He is?  Has His mercy towards you astounded your heart?  Have you yet forsaken your sin and your life so that you could find new life in Him?  If not, you must come to Him while you still have today.  If you put off Jesus Christ you risk being lost entirely.  Hearts that leave Him behind again and again, although warned and enlightened grow increasingly hard.  Jesus Christ must be sought out as a treasure, and once found be most precious to you!

The following warning in Hebrews is for people who have come to understand the gospel message, and have even taken outward steps towards following Christ, but in the end have chosen to turn away from Him.  Don’t let this be you.

Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

When Christ comes back there will only be two types of people, those who are saved and those who are not.  Those who are children of God and those who are enemies.  Those who go away into everlasting punishment and those who enter into the rest of their Maker.  There is a terrible day coming for many.  Jesus said “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).”  I cannot think of anything more devastating than standing before Jesus Christ, no longer veiled but in His full Glory, and upon His face as He looks at you is open shame.  Oh Lord, spare men from such a fate.

But there is a glorious day and eternity for whoever would confess Jesus as Lord no matter the cost in this life.

1Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Revelations 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What an awesome God, that He would reach down into the miry clay to scoop up us sinful creatures and bring us near to Him.  He takes a broken vessel and transforms it into a temple for His spirit and at last He will transform our lowly bodies into Heavenly bodies.  What an extravagant King, who would make His Kingdom an eternal home for little people like you and me.  He will not cast us away the one who trusts in Him, but one day will draw so near that He Himself will wipe away each tear and walk alongside us.

I end with these words from “How Can You Refuse Him Now?” by Hillsong.  I pray that no one who has taken the time to read this article would refuse to bow down to Jesus Christ.  Come to Christ today.

There’s a story old that has often be told

Of how our Saviour died

As they nailed His hands, He cried

“They don’t understand”

As the blood flowed from His side.

As He hung there on the tree

He prayed for you, He prayed for me

There was no one His pain to ease

Before He died He faintly cried

“Father forgive them please.”

How can you refuse Him now?

How can you refuse Him now?

How can you turn away from His side?

With tears in His eyes, on the cross where He died

How can you refuse Jesus now?

Part 4: How Does Jesus Make Entrance Into His Kingdom Possible?

Matthew 19:23-26 “And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

It is common for Christians to make “all things” mean “whatever I want God to do for me.”  What many people miss out on here is a much greater and stunning truth.  With man salvation itself is impossible, and can only be granted as a gift from God. Continue reading

An Appeal to the Modern Mind: Confronting Objections And Delusions About The Christian God

Part 1: Combating Universalism and Relativistic Thinking

There are two belief systems on the up rise today that often go hand in hand, called Universalism and Relativism.  A Universalist typically believes that each person can find their own way to God that is right for them.  They would say that most religions are based on similar truths and values, and therefore each path leads a person to God.  It might be a different rendition of God, but as long as the religion assents to a “higher power” of some kind, it is all the same thing to the Universalist.  Exclusivists who would say that their religion is the “only way,” would likely be frowned upon by the Universalist who seeks to include everyone in their view of heaven.

Yet many who think this way are also Relativists, so it is not fitting that they should get very worked up about the exclusivist, since after all everyone’s truth is true for them.  But regardless, I have come across these people and have found they can be quite distraught by the Absolutist.  He is content with every kind of truth except for that which says that there is definite absolute truth, and that kind of discussion makes him feel unnerved.  So to be clear: Relativists absolutely believe that whatever you believe to be true is good and true for you and that there is absolutely no absolute truth.  What you believe is right for you, and what I believe is right for me.

Do you find yourself confused?  I sure do.  I cannot reason how to intelligibly write about a subject that defies basic logic.  I suppose I could argue against this from a philosophical perspective, and that would be good.  But instead, I am going to address this from scripture to explain to the reader why Christianity is indeed exclusive and to what extent.  Continue reading

Jesus Looking Loved Them

Looking down He saw this earth
Where once was bright as dawn
Where a man from dust was pure at birth
Created to dwell upon
This perfect garden in the east
With God dwelling, and for a feast
The fruit of every tree but one
For by its’ knowledge comes undone
Both innocence and unity with God. Continue reading

My World (But Not My Home)

This is my world, but it is not my home.  As if constantly walking against the rushing tide, or a fearsome rage of wind, onward I press one step at a time.  Dare I not look back at all the crowds of people, who bustle about laughing, easily carried by the wind as if it was a thrill to be tossed to and fro;  They are enemies of the cross of Christ, with minds set on the things of my world, and little do they seem to know their perilous state. 

But may my eyes be fixed, steadfastly on the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Yes though it may be blurry in the distance, the rain beating wildly and gray in front of it and the devils pushing and prodding at all who walk this path; Yes, though it lies beyond a narrow gate and a restrictive road, may I fix my eyes securely on that prize! 

May I not look back, lest I be found not fit for the kingdom of God, and in so looking back prove that my desires are for this world and not for Heaven with my Lord! Continue reading

The Parable of the Rich Fool and More

May the very words of Christ change us.

Luke 12:13-21 “Someone in the crowd said to him (Jesus), ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’  And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your gaurd against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’  And he told them a parable saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this:  I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Continue reading