Friday, February 27, 2015

Abba, Father


Growing up, my dad was someone who, no matter how impossible a task might seem, could figure out a way to accomplish it.  He would never become discouraged and would always be very positive when working it through.   If something was broken or wasn't working, I knew my dad could fix it.

He was really a man ahead of his time.  In one such instance, he fashioned all of these "niceties" for our family's pop-up camper that made our camping trips comfortable - which now actually come standard in today's pop-up campers!  I saw my dad as a protector that would keep us safe and comfortable.

My brother and I still laugh about a time camping with our family when we were kids.  My dad had built a roaring campfire.  A sudden thunderstorm came up with gusty winds, fanning the flames toward the camper.  My dad looked at my brother and I and said, "what should we do now?"  I was thinking huh?? , "What should we do?!  Your the dad!"  lol.  My dad was just teasing us as he knew exactly what to do.

When I was first married, my husband and I moved four hours away from our family to a new home, new job and new responsibilities.  I can remember those first nights sleeping in our home that even though I was with my husband, I felt uneasy and missed my dad's "protection".   It's not that I lived in a dangerous area growing up or as a young married wife by any stretch, but the safeness I found with my dad was ingrained in me.

On a funny note, one such experience in our early married months happened when my husband and I woke up to these horrific, other-worldly sounds coming from inside our fireplace chimney.  My husband was quite startled too! lol.  I called my dad and immediately he knew the sounds I was describing were an opossum and a raccoon fighting in the chimney.   He then told us how to safely remedy the problem.

I must say that once I adjusted to married life and living far from my family, I certainly saw my husband as my protector and problem solver.

But even now, there can still be times that I will call my dad to ask for his advice on how to accomplish a task...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As believers, Abba Father is our ultimate refuge, hiding place and fortress.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous man runs into it and is safe.  Proverbs 18:10

I learned this week that "Abba" means father, but with an emphasis on the affection of a small child to his daddy.  The words Abba Father are used only three times in the Bible and is associated with crying out to God.

I am struck with the similarity of my childhood relationship with my earthly father, and the way God designed our relationship to be with Him.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

If moment by moment I would remember that my Heavenly Father chose me before the foundation of the world to be His adopted child, His treasured possession,  there would be no more fear.  I would simply live Loved with childlike faith.  Living Loved yields a life of obedience.

I hope the following analogies will be of encouragement - illustrations to remember when doubts creep in concerning our worthiness before God or in those moments when we are afraid.


  • When speaking to a group of young mothers, I shared my own experience as a young mom of those exasperating days when my children were misbehaving.  But yet, after they were fast asleep, I would check on them and seeing their sweet faces, peacefully sleeping, all the disobedience of the day was forgotten, and I would be overcome with love.  
If we who are sinful can love our children this way, how much more does our Heavenly Father who is perfect love us!

When we have "misbehaved" and fallen into our old sinful ways, God still loves us.  It is that Love that says, you are forgiven,  "as far as the East is from the West, so far does He remove our transgressions from us."  Psalm 103:12,  and then quietly, that "still small voice" will "speak" and "your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, 'this is the way; walk in it'."   Isaiah 30:21

(The next excerpt I once heard in a sermon illustration.)
  • There was a train that had lost control and was barreling down the tracks.  A little girl was sitting in one of the train seats, happily singing, seeming to not have a care in the world.  A fellow passenger who was frightened by the perilous situation asked the little girl, "Why aren't you afraid?"  The little girl replied, "I'm not afraid, my daddy is the train conductor.  He always keeps me safe."  

Oh, to have childlike faith like that!   In trials to "sing" and trust that Abba Father will keep me safe in the "shadow of His wings".

Abba, Father! We approach thee
In our Savior's precious name;
We thy children, here assembled,
Now thy promised blessing claim;
From our sins His blood has washed us
'Tis through Him our souls draw nigh,
And thy Spirit too has taught us,
Abba, Father! thus to cry.

Once as prodigals we wandered
in our folly far from thee
But Thy Grace, o'er sin abounding,
Rescued us from misery;
Though thy prodigals hast pardoned,
Kissed us with a Father's love,
Spread the festive board, and called us,
E're to dwell with thee above.

Abba, Father! We approach Thee, James G. Deck


You might find me on these link-ups:Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me MondayTell His StoryTitus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the BookSunday Stillness, The Weekend Brew, Spiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Women with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGive Me GraceGood Morning Mondays A Little R&R






Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Did God really say that??"


As you might have guessed, I LOVE learning from the Word of God.  I LOVE how a new insight can pop out at me even if I've read that verse many times before.  I LOVE how the Lord speaks to me through His Word - ministering to me, calming me, directing me, instructing me, healing me...

My ultimate healing came through the Word.  Although I was introduced to Christ Jesus by a new friend who led me in a study of the Scriptures, it was through my subsequent personal time spent studying His Word that the Holy Spirit quietly brought me into a true knowledge of  what Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross truly meant - when I first believed and accepted that He indeed died for me!

The Scriptures then came alive for me!  I craved studying and learning all about my Savior.  I believed His promises, and I believed His Word would never come back void!  As I've shared with you before, when I would pray scripture verses back to Him, I saw miraculous answers to prayer.   And I can't adequately describe the profound peace I have found in the midst of trials when spending time in His Word and believing His promises.

But what I like the most about soaking in God's Word, which may seem unusual, is when the Bible verses convict me.  When I study the Scriptures, I hope to learn and to grow in my walk.  With conviction comes growth.

Sadly, many of the modern day churches, and specifically some of the more popular mega-churches, don't seem to feel this way anymore...  "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate teachers to suit their own passions". 
2 Timothy 4:3

Recent trends have shown more and more Pastors who would rather shy away from delivering sermons from God's Word that convict or speak against sin, than risk offending seekers, and dare I say, effect their growth in numbers...

The contemporary church is not "guarding the deposit entrusted to them", but is instead "selling themselves out", to attract more and more people.

One such mega-church pastor was quoted as saying, "Atlanta doesn't need another church.  What Atlanta does need is a safe environment where the unchurched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sins."  Yet this Pastor is known for the controversial by-laws of his church where he is not addressing sinful behaviors, but is essentially encouraging them.

In the book of Galations, Paul reminds us that the Law came to be a "tutor" and a "guardian". It teaches us how to walk in obedience.  Indeed we are saved by faith and faith alone, but the Law also shows us that we can't possibly keep the whole Law perfectly and as such, points to our desperate need of a Savior.  Yes, as the Pastor I quoted stated, we are called to share the love of Christ, but if the church is going to avoid talking about sin, then what will the unchurched feel they need a Savior for?

"So why would the rescued just hold out hot-cross buns, pop psychology and pop-tarts to the drowning all around them -- when they could humbly hold out the actual life-line of the Cross that literally saves."  Ann Voskamp

Does a parent raise a child never setting boundaries or disciplining for fear their child won't love them?  Of course not!  The most loving thing we do as parents, is to train up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord so that they will walk in obedience.  When we walk in obedience, as Jesus promises, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:29,  our lives go a lot smoother.  The bottom line is, children ultimately feel the most safe and secure when parents show care and concern by directing them in obedience.

How much more should a Pastor who is responsible before God for His flock lead them in obedience.  "Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." 1 Timothy 4:13

The most disheartening statement made by the mega-church Pastor was his implication that churches are "unsafe".

I am a sinner.  Actually, I can feel like the "chief of sinners" at times!   But I can tell you I have never gone into a church feeling "unsafe".   Instead, when I am convicted during a sermon, I feel loved and cared for by my Lord and Savior. "For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives."  Hebrews 12:6  

I happened to see another quote today that was grievous to me and this by another popular mega-church Pastor who said when addressing gay relationships, "I think the culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2000 years ago as their best defense..."  (emphasis mine)

"The church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2000 years ago as their best defense."?!?!  I am appalled!!  He is speaking about the Word of God!

But God says...

All Scripture is breathed out and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for corrections and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  
Timothy 3:16-17

But He answered, it is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'."  
Matthew 4:4

This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. "  
Joshua 1:8

I read the following passage this morning that reminded me of the trend of the contemporary church.

"About that time, there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.  For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.  These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, 'Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.  And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.  And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.  When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'  So the city was filled with the confusion."  
Acts 19:23-27 

The contemporary church may not be "making gods out of silver with their hands", but it would appear that they are making a god out of  "unity", avoiding church discipline and talk of sin, in order to attract the unchurched and populate their mega-churches.  An ideal that is appealing to more and more of the smaller churches as they are seeking to implement this model and "grow" their own churches.  I know, as I've experienced it at the local level.

But God says:

"You shall be Holy to me, for I the Lord am Holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine."  
Leviticus 20:26

If the contemporary church doesn't start trusting the Word of God to do what the Lord promises it will do,  "It is the same with my Word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.  Isaiah 55:11 NLT, and continues to, in essence, say as the serpent said to Eve, "Did God really say that??", not only will the world continue to be filled with chaos, but so will our churches...  The end result, unbelievers will not sense their need for a Savior, and the church will look exactly like the world.

I recognize there are still many churches who faithfully preach with conviction from the Word of God, holding the Word in high esteem, and I thank God and Praise Him for those churches.  I myself attend a "mega-church" in its own right for the area we live in which is centered upon God's Word where brothers and sisters in the Lord are grounded in the Scriptures, full of discernment with incredible servant's hearts to reach the unchurched WITHOUT feeling a need to compromise the Word of God.

I pray the contemporary church stops "believing the lie" and starts trusting in the Word of God once again.

"Do not try to make the Gospel tasteful to carnal minds. Do not hide the offense of the Cross, lest you make it of no affect."  Charles Spurgeon

"Avoid a sugar-coated Gospel.   Seek the Truth that rips up, wounds and even kills, for that is the Gospel that makes alive again."  Charles Spurgeon

Otherwise, as God said to the church in Laodicea, "So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."  Revelation 3:16

It has been almost a week since the martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians, who stood firm in their faith, invoking the name of Jesus in full joy as they were beheaded for the Cross.  In light of this, it makes me heartsick to see more and more churches "becoming like the world and standing for nothing."

Thank you for allowing me to share what has been on my heart.  I wanted to honor God by defending EVERY Word that proceeds from the mouth of God in His Holy Word.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-up, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, Titus 2 Tuesday Link-up



 


Saturday, February 14, 2015

"You are out of your mind!"



"So Peter was kept in Prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church...  

  Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shown in the cell.  He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, 'Get up quickly'.  
And the chains fell off his hands...

...they came to the iron gate leading into the city. 
 It opened for them of its own accord,
 and they went out and went along the street...

He went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.  And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer.  Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate.  They said to her, 'you are out of your mind'."

Excerpts from Acts 12

"You are out of your mind..."  How many times have I said or thought something similar, not in so many words, but certainly the implication was there, more out of disbelief, when I have heard about a "miraculous" answer to prayer.   

Why the disbelief?   

As we read in Acts 12, the church had gathered specifically to pray for Peter, "So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church."   

I wonder what the church in Acts was specifically praying concerning Peter's imprisonment. Did they limit their prayers to his comfort and protection or did they pray boldly that he might be set free? The people's response of "you are out of your mind" when Rhoda told them Peter was at the door, would appear that they were NOT praying for Peter's release.   

Or were they?...

The very fact that the church had gathered to pray about Peter's imprisonment and were still praying when Peter arrived at their house would indicate to me that they were indeed praying for his release.   

Believer's prayed.  God moved in a miraculous way!

But yet they didn't believe that Peter was at the door even while praying!

When I was first pondering this passage, I was most struck by the very connection between the church's earnest prayer and the astounding miracle of Peter's chains falling off  resulting in his subsequent freedom.

This brought me great encouragement as I have been praying for someone in the throws of addiction - chains of bondage in its own right. 

 I admit, though, that when I was praying, feeling the hopelessness of the situation surrounding this person's addiction, I was "talking" to God saying "I know you can do anything., but..."    But??  How did I allow that thought to come into my mind?!  Jeremiah 32:27 says, "I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  Is anything too hard for me?"    Well, I'll tell you how... Too often I predetermine the will of God in a given situation.  I will assume that "my desire" is not His will.  This is not because I see Him as a "harsh Father", but because I truly don't know "His plans" concerning that which I am praying.   It could be that the given trial is necessary for the growth of the person or the growth of me.  This is not to say that I don't earnestly pray for the trial to pass, but regretfully, doubts can surface as to whether I think they will be answered the way I would hope.  

But God says... 

 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work within us."  Ephesians 3:20

 I am not called to presuppose the will of God in any trial, I am called to pray!  

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."  Colossians 4:2

"...the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."  James 5:16

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

When the Israelites were in the dessert being led by God through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and where God provided water to drink and manna to eat, the Israelites STILL had doubts about what God could do.  I've often said I am just like the Israelites in the desert.  Despite seeing God working miracles in my life and answering prayers which FAR exceeded my hopes and expectations, I could still be found doubting His provision! 

In one such situation,  it looked like the answer to many fervent prayers was going to be a resounding no.  The die had been cast...  What I was praying would not move forward was indeed set to begin... And suddenly, at the 11th hour, what seemed like a "done deal" was reversed in a turn of events that shocked me!  There it is! my "You are out of your mind" moment! Why was I shocked??  I had been fervently praying that the situation would be blocked and it was!!  This middle-aged woman, on the phone in a stairwell at work, upon finding out the answer to her prayer, was jumping up and down like a child with excitement and praising God!

Instead of doubting an answer to prayer for a situation that seems "hopeless", I must do as the Psalmist and "...remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old."  Psalm 77:11.  My life is full of examples of God's goodness to me, and the Bible is replete with examples of His great and mighty works.

The above verses from Acts 12  have spurred me on to pray boldly,  ESPECIALLY in situations that seem impossible, and to always look EXPECTANTLY for the answer.   

No longer will I say,  "You are out of your mind.", but instead I will say  

With God, all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home Intentional Tuesday ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up





Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Too much knowledge



The title of this blog post may seem odd coming from a blog called "Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge.  I hope to explain...

I absolutely love to research things that matter to me whether it be personal or in my walk as a believer.  It is incredibly easy and fast with the use of the internet!  There is so much information out there!  

A few months ago our Pastor shared some statistics to illustrate how much information we process between the TV, internet, social media and email.  In 2011, it is believed that the average person processed the equivalent of reading 174 newspapers a day!!  I am not a mathematician, but just four years later I'm sure that number has increased quite a bit!  This is astounding to me!  

As I mentioned earlier, I like to research things, and that can sometimes be a stumbling block for me.  If there is a situation effecting someone that I love, I will do as much research as possible (I do draw the line at looking up medical symptoms - lol.).  It somehow brings me comfort to know everything I can about a situation and is how I process.  But what I am really doing is trying to anticipate how God is going to work the situation out OR that I will somehow change the outcome by just "knowing".   I can't help but think I am being like Eve wanting to "gain wisdom" and "be like God". 

It boils down to my issues with control and not trusting God...  the root of most of my sinfulness... and most of my anxiety...  

I love to read my Bible and I have also ready many books on the Christian life, spiritual disciplines and biographies about the great saints from the past and the present.  I will dog-ear many pages and think, I will do what it says and "finally change" and "walk obediently".  And sometimes, I will for a while, but then I fall back into my old sinful ways...  The problem wasn't with the books, the problem was with me!   I was taking in all this knowledge, but was misguided in my processing and application.

As I study the book of Galations with my church, I am realizing more and more that I am unwittingly conducting myself in a works righteousness manner!   Every day I walk around feeling guilty that I have failed God - yet again...  Especially in the area of quiet time, prayer and Bible reading.  When I walk in a manner of defeat, then I  just spiral into all of my besetting sins.

I read a quote today from Dick Kaufmann that directly speaks to the pattern of my Christian life:  "Christians think that we are saved by the Gospel, but then we grow by applying biblical principles to every area of life.  But we are not just saved by the Gospel, we grow by applying the Gospel to every area of life."  

It was then that I realized the Apostle Paul could say the following to me!  "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"  Galations 3:3

My motives were pure, but my methods were attempts in my own strength.

In Tim Keller's book, Galations for You, he states, "The way to progress as a Christian is continually to repent and uproot seeking control of our lives through systems of works-righteousness by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of Christ's saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete ourselves. We must go back again and again to the Gospel of Christ crucified, so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what He did and who we are in Him."  

I know, I know, this may seem like I've found another book with another "method".  But have I??

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  1 Corinthians 2:2

When I trusted in Christ as my personal Savior, I trusted in Christ's work on the cross to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.  But I  have failed to remember hour by hour and day by day that "He has reconciled ME...  to present ME Holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1:22.  Not only am I not remembering, but I am not applying Christ's saving work on the cross to every situation or every sin in my life.

My efforts to control were the means I was using to feel comfort.  To borrow a phrase from Tim Keller, it was a "functional savior".  But it wasn't "saving me" or bringing me comfort at all, but rather was leading me down a road of sin through bitterness, anger and anxiety.  

I hope to grow in my walk with the Lord through vividly meditating every morning and throughout every day upon Jesus' cleansing work for me on the cross.

When I have sinned or a sinful thought or action seems imminent or when a situation arises which makes me anxious, angry or feel "out of control", I must go back to the cross to see my Savior hanging on the tree and see myself as He sees me.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."  Isaiah 1:18

"Near the cross!  Oh Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o'er me."
Fanny Crosby, Jesus, Keep me Near the Cross

By constantly turning my thoughts to the cleansing blood of the cross, vividly picturing Him "looking down at me" and always remembering "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed MY transgressions from ME."  Psalm 103:12, I will walk in obedience with my Lord and Savior.  Not in my own strength, but by the Grace of God.

"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
Isaac Watts


"Growing in knowledge" of our Savior through His Word brings us into a closer communion with Him.  Reading extra-Biblical books and biographies can redirect us, mentor us, and hone our discernment skills.  All very good things.  

I, unfortunately, was using much of the knowledge I was gaining from extra-Biblical books as a "how to guide" of what "I could do" to live a life in obedience to God.

When I first titled the blog and pictured what "Growing in Grace" would look, I was thinking in terms of extending more and more grace to others.  But now I see, "Growing in Grace" is to hourly remember the finished work of the cross which declares me "not guilty" and to let God's grace shape my thoughts and actions.

The more I see myself as God sees me, Holy and blameless, my Christian walk will naturally become one of obedience by His grace.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me MondayTell His StoryTitus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays





Monday, February 2, 2015

What about us 'old people'?...





A question my husband will tell you that he hears me often ask is, "What about us 'old people'?..."   To clarify, I don't consider myself "old".  In fact, I think a person can be 90 and still feel young at heart!  But when it comes to my "preferred" worship style of singing hymns, the modern church would say that I need to "get with the times"; worship must be more palatable for the younger set.  

But what about us 'old people'?...

I hadn't planned on addressing a controversial subject early on in my blog history, but something happened during the worship set at my church this past Sunday that really caused me to confess, search my own heart,  pray, reflect and search out God's word on the matter.

My husband and I go to a wonderful, extremely Word centered church that lives out Christ's love.  They esteem God's Word with emphasis on teaching and discipling.   The Pastor's sermons are convicting, but are always shared in love pointing to a Savior that saves us from our sinful ways.  

The church service is held in a new facility where the gym is currently being used as the sanctuary complete with a sound stage that could rival any concert hall and praise teams that could rival any professional Christian band.  Some of the praise songs are loud and exuberant giving a concert feel. 

Up until this point, the churches my husband and I have attended or visited through my husband's ministry of pulpit-fill have been the typical protestant church buildings where hymns were played on an organ or piano.  ...a setting we were very comfortable in.  Where the rich theology, doctrines and scripture verses of the hymns drew us into the presence of the Lord bringing conviction, comfort, encouragement and praise.

This Sunday - a realization came to me...  because of my formative Christian years spent in traditional church settings, singing the traditional hymns,  I was not entering my current church's modern setting in a "posture of sacrificial worship to my God", but instead, for me personally, I was becoming distracted by the music.  When this conviction happened, I then found myself watching the praise team and began looking around at the congregation, the many people with hands raised high and truly "coming into the presence of God" through these praise songs and wondered, why am I not affected the same way?  

I confessed to the Lord and prayed and asked for His help on how to reconcile this "problem", as this is my home church.  Then as the praise verses were being repeated again and again, the Lord prompted me to use that time to pray and "talk to Him and thank Him" as my "spiritual sacrifice of worship".  This helped me personally not to become distracted, but to focus on worshiping God in a way that "brought me into His presence".  

"LORD Jesus, be thou with us now,
As in thy house in prayer we bow;
And when we sing, and when we pray, 
Help us to mean the words we say,
Help us to listen to thy Word
And keep our thoughts from wondering, Lord"

Edith Florence Boyle Macalister, 1873-1950

It is okay that those who prefer singing hymns are "drawn into the Lord's presence" by traditional means, and it is also okay, that those who sing praise songs are "ushered into God's presence" by modern music.  As long as whatever worship setting a person finds themselves in, whether it be their style or not, they find a way to worship God in the moment "despite the music" and not become distracted.

On the ride home from church, I told my husband about my "revelation" and I did ask him again, but "What about us 'old people'?...  

In my personal opinion, I do feel that we are underestimating the "younger set" by not exposing them to the richness of many of the wonderful hymns.  I understand that many modern churches today do incorporate some of the "popular" hymns with a more upbeat tempo so that the words are being sung and learned by younger people which is good.  But - there are entire hymnals of songs that are wholly God-centered, rich in meaning, scripture and doctrine that teach about our Lord and Savior.  As I listen to some of the modern praise songs, they seem to be more "me-centered" and not rich in content.  I want to clarify that I certainly understand there are modern praise songs with very meaningful words that are extremely edifying, and I am by no means broad brushing the entire genre.  

As I was seeking insight from the Bible on this matter, I found a verse that certainly supports modern praise songs, "...singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts". Ephesians 5:19 NLT 

Barnes' Notes on the Bible says of Ephesians 5:19, "The Psalms of David were sung by the Jews at the temple, and by the early Christians, and the singing of those psalms has constituted a delightful part of public worship in all ages. They speak the language of devotion at all times..."

I would certainly say that modern praise songs definitely seem to emphasize devotion to God with the lyrics and repeated choruses expressing just that.

The following verse supports the doctrines of the hymns, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

Matthew Henry's commentary says of Colossians 3:16, "But, when we sing psalms, we make no melody unless we sing with grace in our hearts, unless we are suitably affected with what we sing and go along in it with true devotion and understanding. (This portion certainly speaks to my convicting experience at church on Sunday when I realized I was not "suitably affected" in "true devotion" by the praise songs which conviction led to my "singing with grace in my heart through prayer".)

Matthew Henry continued his commentary of Colossians 3:16 by stating, "Singing of Psalms is a teaching ordinance as well as a praising ordinance; and we are not only to quicken and encourage ourselves, but to teach and admonish one another, mutually excite our affections, and convey instructions. All must be done in the name of Christ." 

In our childhood years, many of the basics are best taught through song, such as the ABC's.  And... we learn lyrics to songs so easily because of the melody. Just think of the rich doctrine and scripture verses that can be learned and hidden in the hearts of those who sing the great hymns!

With the trend of the modern church's view on worship style and the virtual elimination of hymns, I am concerned at what cost will this come to us "old people" and even the youth...



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