The Intoxicating Word of God

By a word You created all that there is.
By a lying word the serpent deceives all.
By Your Word of hope You redeemed creation.
By Your Word of promise You sustain my life.

Therefore oh God…

The taste of Your Word is sweetness in my mouth.
The sound of Your Word is music in my ears.
For the power of Your Word defeats evil;
Giving hope, peace and life to a sin-stained soul.

Your Word is a delicacy that’s unmatched;
the value of which that can not be measured.
It is a treasure that is beyond all worth.
A gift in which, “Thank you” is just not enough.

So to consume Your Word is a daily feast;
A feast that my heart can never get enough.
Your Word, oh God, is so intoxicating,
That is keeps me coming back for more and more.

People of Prayer

 

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This picture says it all for me this election season. Those who know me well, know that I have been bringing this theme up over and over again, but I don’t think you can bring it up enough. We need to be people of prayer. November 8 is fast approaching and as Christians, we cannot lose hope over who is going to be elected president or be dispassionate. We MUST be involved.
Voting? YES.
Praying? ABSOLUTELY!!!
And then we must keep at it; remembering that no matter what, Jesus still reigns. No worldly president or ruler can or will be our savior. God has set up all leaders and will bring about his glory through them. They are nothing but pawns in God’s grand design and plan. So don’t fret and don’t fear. God is sovereign. He’s got this.

The Pastor -|—

The Morning

The scene
A quiet house
The sound of chirping birds drifting in through an open window
The words of Scripture marinating in my soul
And a good cup of coffee to top it off

God’s blessings to start the day
God’s presence to renew my soul

The prayer
Oh God,
Your mercies are new everyday
Your blessings abound
Your love is wide and deep
Your grace is unending

Your Son, Jesus, is Lord of all
My Savior, Jesus, died for me

Renew my faith this day
Embolden my witness
Bless my words
Guide my decisions

May Your mercies and blessings;
Your love and grace
Be evident to all

Glory and honor be unto
You
Oh God
This day and always

Amen

The Pastor -|—

For the Sake of the World

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [Acts 2:42, ESV]

And isn’t this what the church should be about:
Diving into and learning scripture,
Spending time with other believers,
Worshiping and communing together and
prayer?
It seems to make sense to me. Sure there are other things about being a church, for example, it’s not about being with believers ONLY, but sharing the Word of Jesus with nonbelievers.

Basically…

This verse in Acts 2 lays out a church on fire for Jesus.
This is a church wanting to be closer to Jesus.
This is a church who is excited about the hope they have.
This is a church that looks to the needs of others.
This is a church who gets it.

This is not a magical formula for success, but rather the activities that flow from the assembly out of their faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. When a church lives out Acts 2:42, the church is doing the very thing that should come naturally, like breathing. If these activities are laborious then something is wrong. You can’t force anything of those activities and you can’t fake it. You are either verse 42 or not. If your church is not, then go back to the beginning: Devote yourself to scripture.

To having any real and lasting hope; for the church to make an impact in the world; for the church to be a beacon of light in a dark world, verse 42 needs to be present. Because believe it or not, people need and want to be part of verse 42.

Only God can make a difference. Only God will bring the increase: And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. [Acts 2:47]

Let’s be an Act 2:42 church that glorifies God almighty for the sake of the world.

The Pastor -|—

One-liners

Who doesn’t like a good one-liner?

I, for one, have never been very good at coming up with one-liners on the spot and therefore I have much respect for those who have a quick wit. Most of my “on-the-spot” one-liners are thought of moments after the moment has past and thus my one-liner because irrelevant.

One-liners can be funny or destructive. They can draw people in. One-liners can emphasize a point, but whatever the case, they are not meant to be deep and necessarily thought provoking but rather meant to pacify a moment and then move on. That may serve a purpose for a short time but if you want something deeper you need a longer conversation with that person. You need more than just one line.

For those who are friends with me on Facebook and Twitter, you have grown accustomed to me posting “one-liners” (a.k.a short Bible verses) on (nearly) a daily basis. Lately I have gone away from that; not because I am not reading my Bible but because of a Facebook post from a friend that I read a while back about “one-liners”. The post went something like this:

Never read just one verse in the Bible. Read a bunch of them. Read a paragraph; a chapter or more.

The idea of that post is to communicate that by reading only one verse you can lose important context. And as many of you know, you can take nearly any Bible verse and twist it to mean something completely different if you pull it out of it’s original context. Therefore you need more information.

So…

I am doing something a little different now on social media. I am not ceasing my one-liners but rather giving one-liners based on my reading of a whole chapter of the Bible and then directing people to that chapter to “verify” and/or read the context themselves. For me personally, this has proven to be a great spiritual discipline as I reflect on a chapter and then formulate a summary in my head to share. Instead of a scripture one-liner I am sharing a chapter one-liner. My attempt is to be more biblical faithful.

Sure, there may be certain verses that speak to you and ones that are worthy for further reflection, but do so in context. Reflect on your verse but read the paragraph and/or the chapter that contains that verse to make sure you don’t miss the intended meaning. Get the context and by do so, you will be more faithful to scripture and more faithful about your spiritual growth.

One-liners can be good and grab attention, but make sure your focusing attention on the right things.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

God, Help Us and Have Mercy

Holy and merciful God,

ALL of scripture is breathed out by You.
ALL of scripture is inspired by You.
ALL of scripture is authoritative.
ALL of scripture is useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness.

ALL of scripture is life-giving and holy and blessed, but yet, as Your Church, we don’t run to and grasp Your holy Word as we should. We more often than not toss Your Word around as just a tagline or a sound bite or as an arrow to be fired off in an argument/debate. The awe of Your Word is more times than not, lost on us and thus we are lead to actions and thoughts and words that are anything but glorifying to You, oh God.

For this I confess on behalf of me and the Church, but only I can declare my intent to repent and receive Your Word as Your almighty, authoritative Word. My hope is that the Church would too, so I ask that Your Spirit may be sent into Your Church. Bring about repentance and a deep desire to speak Your Word of truth with passion and conviction and honesty and boldness; yet doing so out of love for ALL of our neighbors.

Oh God, have mercy.

May we flee judgmentalism
May we flee idolatry
May we flee hate
May we flee worldly passions
May we flee cultural acceptance

May we see the way of Jesus as our way; fearing nothing but You, oh God. And as curves and bumps and deadly ravines appear along the way, may we cling to Jesus.

We do not live in heaven on earth, far from it, but Your kingdom is coming. May we look with longing expectation for that Kingdom; proclaiming this truth and calling all people to repentance; ALL people.

May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven and help us to see this through Your most holy Word.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

THE Authority

This is an old German Bible, from 1905, that has been in my office for a long time.
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It’s tattered, delicate and well-used. Beautiful, isn’t it? Don’t ask me what page I opened to since this is all Greek German to me 🙂

The reason I  have this Bible close by, on my desk, is to serve as a reminder of Salem’s past (an old German congregation) but also of a past that seems to be dwindling away. I look at this Bible and I think about those people 110 years ago reading this and I wonder if they ever imagined a day when the Bible would not be the sole authoritative source and norm for faith and life for many people. I wonder if they ever imagined a day when the Bible would be picked apart for “errors” in order to support a certain belief or way of life. I wonder if people 110 years ago imagined a day when the Bible would become just another authoritative source among many others. I wonder if they ever imagined a day when experience or cultural majority or feelings would trump the Word of God.

And it saddens me to think about such things. How have we gotten to such a point? I know Bible scholars and theologians can answer that question better than me but no matter what is said, it’s not going to help.

So i’ll just say it straight, right now, in case there is any doubt:
I believe the Bible to be THE inspired Word of God; inerrant and authoritative. It is THE sole authority for me. If any outside “authority” conflicts with the Bible then the Bible wins out. Holy Scripture is not to be tampered with. Sure, there are parts that I don’t like or understand but it is the Word of God and I except them. I understand that fallible human beings copied manuscripts over and over and over again but since this is THE inspired Word of God, I believe God would have never allowed errors to be repeated over time that would lead people away from the Truth. Now some may call me naive to hold such a view but that’s fine; I can handle that. For me, the Word of God tells me what I need to know for salvation and to bring glory to God; everything else flows from that authority.

So with this high view of scripture, I approach the Word of God with fear and trembling, but also with excitement, because think about it:
Those words are God’s words.

GOD

The Creator of heaven and earth

The Almighty

The Sovereign

GOD

If that doesn’t give you goose bumps go back and read that list again and this time pay attention. Holy Scripture contains the very words of God and they are given to you and to me. No other authority can trump it.

As Christians we need to cling to the Word of God tighter than ever before and not allow anyone to demean it’s authority. We need to read and study this Word and then read and study it some more. We need to pray and then listen to this Word; and then pray some more and listen again. We need to confess our shortcomings (and God knows I am far from perfect) and seek the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you worship a book but rather worship the One whose words are contained in this book; listening and obeying.

The Bible is THE Word of God. Period. I know I fall short in so many ways; I’m a sinner after all. I know I don’t always treat the Bible the way I should. I know I don’t always appeal to it’s authority as I should. But I ask God to grant me the faith to trust His holy Word as THE Word of Life. So let’s not mess with it but rather read and listen to it and live by it’s words.

God’s Word is life and salvation, so commit yourself to the reading of it (private and public) and take it’s words seriously.

Holy Father, it awes me to think that You have given us Your holy Word in such a way. May we never take these words of life for granted but rather let us be shaped by them. May the Bible hold authority for Your people in this dark and evil world. Holy Father, speak to me that I may speak. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—