Thursday, June 19, 2008

Joyful Noise

I'm getting ready to do my part for Vacation Bible School (August 4-8) here at the church.
I work with the kids on the music for the week.

Last night I received the CD and the book of songs. This weekend I'll begin to learn it.

Yesterday I was praying for VBS. And I was dreaming:

- Dreaming of a room full of loud kids who are excited about God

- Dreaming about adults who are learning the stories and songs with the passion of a child

- Dreaming about a God who enjoys people learning about Him

This scripture came to my mind:

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100:1)

That's from the New International Version.

The old King James Version I remember reading as a child translates that first phrase this way:

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD...

A "joyful noise".

What are joyful noises you hear?

A baby cooing.

A group of friends laughing.

An engine starting. (If it didn't start before, that would be joyful, wouldn't it?)

The "SMACK" of the baseball off of a wood bat.

Your favorite song.

A babbling brook or waves against the shore.

Apparently God enjoys our praise of Him in that same way we enjoy our favorite noises.

So I invite you today to make a "joyful noise" in your car, or your shower, or your favorite chair. Use your ipod or your voice. Do it in silence or at full voice.

But either way, make a joyful noise.

Grace & peace

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

God on the Move

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)

Sometimes it feels like the light is passing and the darkness is dominating.

But this passage tells us just the opposite: the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Are you looking for those places?

Here's one.

I have a friend named Todd. We lived in the same area for a short time. While he was here, Todd shared his story and mentioned he had cancer. The prognosis wasn't particularly good. The cancer was difficult. It wouldn't be easy to operate on because of its structure. In fact, Todd was told it might not ever be possible to operate at all.

Todd and his family moved away last year. But he recently sent an e-mail updating us on his story.


Dear Pastor Jeff,

In your recent email you asked for testimonies of what God is doing in our lives. Please share with your church my testimony. The chemo that I have been taking for the past year has greatly reduced my cancer. My oncologist says that it is time for the surgeon to take a look and see if they can remove surgically what was before inoperable! This is a tremendous answer to prayer. I will let you know when I have a date for surgery and of course let you know what the results are. PTL!



I wonder how many of us are tempted to think, "God's not doing anything like that where I live. I don't see Him working."?

Is it possible that He IS working, we're just not seeing Him? Is it possible He IS speaking, we're just not listening?

There are several ways we discipline ourselves to see Him and hear Him: prayer, scripture, meditation, worship, fasting, and meeting with other seekers are just a few.

Have you built these disciplines into your life?

Maybe you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of adding all of them.

Why not pick one of these areas and begin to build it into your routine.

Not sure which one? Ask God to make it plain to you.

If the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining I want to be a part of it, don't you?

As a matter of fact, God's promise is that we will be: its truth is seen in him and you!! God will make the light shine in and through us if we're willing to cooperate with Him.

Grace & peace

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lost in Translation

Language is a funny thing. We can speak, but does that mean we said what we wanted to say?

Language is intended to communicate. But if the hearer doesn't get the message we intend, our communication wasn't successful.

Add on top of that talking to someone who speaks a different language. Communication gets difficult.

Scripture is sometimes like that.

Here are several examples of translations of Philippians 4:5:

"Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand."
(King James Version)

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
(New International Version)

"Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand."
(Revised Standard Version)

Which of those translations communicates best to you?

The word that is translated "moderation," "gentleness," or "forbearance" can also be translated "yielding," "kind," or "right-minded" depending upon the context (according to Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). According to Strong's Concordance it only occurs one time in Scripture.

As I was reading about this word, the thought struck me:

- It is our task to find a way to translate the Gospel into language our friends and family can understand.
- It is our calling to live the Good News so that they hunger and thirst to know God.
- It is our privilege to show Christ through our attitudes, actions, and words.

What will people hear from your communication today?

May God help us today not to let anything get lost in translation of His Spirit to our world.

Grace & peace

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Where is God at Work?"

I've spent the last 2 weeks at the Nazarene Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. The topic of this 2 week seminar was discernment, or "How do we sense where God is at work?"

The whole two weeks, I had this phrase running through my mind:

He who has an ear, let him hear (Revelation 13:9 and seven other places earlier in the book).

I came back excited to hear what God has to say to us.

Then Sunday came...

At one point in our church gathering, I asked if anyone had wanted to speak about God's activity in their life. (I remember the "old-timers" at churches where I grew up calling these "testimonies".)

We tend to be a pretty quiet crowd during worship. Sometimes when I ask questions like this, no one responds.

But yesterday, before I knew it, a number of people talked about how they have experienced God at work in their midst recently. It was a great time of sharing and realizing that God is moving among us.

Then I asked people to pray about something.

"Would you pray about being a part of a prayer gathering this Wednesday? I'd like to see those of us who have an ear...hear what God wants to say and do."

I have no idea how this will go or how people will respond. But it's an attempt to see if God is up to something, and how we can get in on it.

Grace & peace