I just read an [older – Jan., 2007] article about the whereabouts of John James , former lead singer of The Newsboys. This is a sadly painful story on one hand, yet his redemption will leave you feeling great joy and in awe, once again, of what the Lord can do. I pray you’ll take time to read it, if you haven’t already seen it.
I know an article over a year old is not ground-breaking news. However, there was a point in the article that really got to me. John speaks about the adoration, cheering, worship of the fans. The CHRISTIAN fans. And it got me to wondering how that can happen. How we, as Christians, can come to a point where – like the world – we idolize the musician or group instead of enjoy the worship of the One it is intended to honor?
My family has been to a number of concerts featuring Christian artists. We’ve “met” many Christian performers. We walked a table line for Audio A, Rebecca St. James and a few other big names in Christian music. Been there, done that, have the T-shirts. But I think the most memorable times, for our family, were the times we truly got to spend with these musicians and band members – talking about what God is doing in their lives, and in our lives. My kids spent hours with Pigeon John, Riley Armstrong, and Red Cloud at LifeLight one year. And these performers talked to these kids about God, about where they stood with His Son. We’ve spent real time with Jeremy Camp, the guys from [now defunct] OC Supertones, Scott Kirkpayne. We worked the merch table with Chris and Matt of Sanctus Real – and had wonderful conversations with these guys. When Morgan Cryer came to town, my daughter went to lunch with the pastor’s family [her bff’s dad!] and Morgan. He even fixed her hair ribbon – stopped it from ravelling. I remember her saying, “Mom – he’s a real person just like everyone else!”
And that’s the point – these are real people, just like we are. They are fellow brothers-in-Christ. They need the same edification, love and accountability as everyone else. They do not need us to adore them for what they do. They need us to love them for who they are. Now, I’m not saying that every artist and every venue will allow for you to spend time with these people. But where there is opportunity, meet them – love them as brothers. Unless you are a journalist covering the concert, I’m pretty sure you will find they love to talk about things other than their music! That’s what we’ve found.
I love to worship. I love worship in song. I’m not a great singer, but the Bible assures me it’s all a joyful noise unto the Lord. That gives me license to really belt it out!! There are some songs that just bring my heart to such a great place of glorification of the Lord that I literally cry. Like a baby. Every time. One of those songs is Amazing Grace. Another is one we sang today in service, it’s called Mercies Anew. Read the lyrics below and I suspect you, too, will be moved.
Every morning that breaks,
There are mercies anew.
Every breath that I take
Is your faithfulness proved.
And at the end of each day,
When my labors are through,
I will sing of Your mercies anew.
When I’ve fallen and strayed
There were mercies anew.
For you sought me in love
And my heart you pursued.
In the face of my sin
Lord, You never withdrew,
So I sing of Your mercies anew.
And Your mercies, they will never end
For ten thousand years they’ll remain.
And when this world’s beauty has passed away
Your mercies will be unchanged.
And when the storms swirl and rage
There are mercies anew.
In affliction and pain
You will carry me through.
And at the end of my days,
When Your throne fills my view,
I will sing of Your mercies anew.
I will sing of Your mercies anew.
For the believer, God’s mercies are new every day. This does not mean that, as a believer, I can continue to consciously sin and God will just nod His head and “POOF” sin forgiven! As the Apostle Paul would say, “May it never be!”. It does, however, mean that those days I repent of the sin I have failed to mortify through the Holy Spirit, I can be renewed in His mercies.
I cannot think of a better position to be in than to be a joint heir with Christ.
‘Father, I cannot thank you enough for Your mercies. There is nothing I have ever done – or can ever do – that will allow me to deserve all You have done for me. I praise You that you have drawn me to You. I praise You that I have been written in The Book of Life. I praise You that I will spend eternity at the feet of Christ in worship. There is nothing else I need. There is nothing else I desire. I long for the day of His return and for His kingdom, on earth, to begin. May it be soon. May Your will be done. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.’
Have a blessed Sabbath,
…and so are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays – well, I think you get my point. I love that God chose to pour His merciful grace on me and draw me to Him. I love that I have His Holy Spirit residing in me. I love that He has placed me in the body of believers at Omaha Bible Church!
Pastor Pat was out of town last week and enjoying the newest arrival to the Abendroth family(Owen) this weekend, so Erik Raymond has been preaching a two part series on John 6. It was a wonderful study. I highly recommend downloading it, or just listening to it on the website. Erik is a wonderful speaker – and he’s from the eastern sea board, so you get to hear such wonderful words as ‘pawk’ and ‘caw’ and ‘hawsh’. The sermon is called “When Jesus Gives You Bread That’s Hard to Swallow” – I am sure you will enjoy it.
Barry and I slept in this morning and didn’t rise out of our bed until 9:30! Worship starts at 11:00 and we are about 50 minutes from church. Although we sputtered at first and were a bit negative about going, we both decided to be positive we could make it and would enjoy the worship. Although we did miss the “meet and greet” of those around you, we did get there in time to worship in song, partake in prayer in His throne room and listen to a wonderful, edifying, thought provoking sermon. God IS good – ALL the time.
I am almost finished with Chapter 2 of ‘Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers’ by John Owen. I have been making notes in my book so I can participate in the discussion going on at Challies Dot Com . We, about 200 of us, are reading through this classic together. This week Owen talks of sin abiding in us and our daily duty to mortify (remove all life and usefulness, kill, bring to death) said sin. Great reading. If you are interested, pick up a copy of ‘Overcoming Sin & Temptation’ as edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor and join us for this one chapter a week, cyber study.
Have a blessed week. SDG!
Ahhhh, Friday night worship – it IS a wonderful thing. Last night I was blessed to be able to go to see Chris Tomlin in concert with nine wonderful ladies from Omaha Bible Church . For those who have not been, a Christian artist’s concert is not like any other concert imaginable. I’ve been to many concerts, both secular and Christian, and I am always humbled by the glorification of God that happens at the latter.
Chris’s concert is the epitome of what is good about worship in song. The first half of the concert was all praise and worship music that was familiar to anyone who enters a bible believing church on a Sunday morning. With words displayed on a giant screen, the body of Christ sang it’s collective heart out to our Lord and Savior. (May it be a sweet aroma to Him! ) We then heard from speaker, Louie Gigglo, who reminded us how big God really is by speaking about just four stars in the vast universe that our God spoke into existence. After a fifteen minute intermission, we were back to Chris performing music from his CDs. Again, the words were displayed and much of the body sang, with Chris, to the Lord.
When the movie Amazing Grace was in production, Chris was approached to write a song about that subject matter. His initial response was, “No, I won’t touch that song. There is nothing I can add.” But he then began doing some research and found that the last verse we sing in church today was added to the song one hundred years later. Armed with that information, Chris wrote “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. It is a powerful reminder of what Christ did for those who believe. Intertwined into Amazing Grace is the bridge:
My chains are gone I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace
When I think on what Christ did for me on the cross, I cannot be anything but awed. Christ’s sacrifice, His desire to be the propitiation (full and final payment) for our sins, was not a Plan B for God. It was not a second-guess, last ditch effort to help a people who were off track. It was God’s plan all along. Christ came to earth – fully man and fully God – for this specific purpose. And along the way, He showed us a perfected example of a sinless, blameless man. He came as God’s Lamb; the one acceptable, unblemished, sinless, sacrafice that could ultimately give all glory to God on High.
That is the grace of God in action. And, if you are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, how can you be drawn to anything other than giving glory to the all-powerful, indescribable, God who created you? He IS worthy of our praise and worship!!
I am thankful that God provided me the opportunity to be pleasantly reminded of what my true purpose on this earth is.
May it all be for His glory and to His purpose.
Remaining in His Arms,