Once there was a young man who could not stop pointing out the sins of others. The following is a fairly close to word for word account of a conversation he had with the preacher where he was attending services (or at least that is what I read).
He approached the preacher one Sunday after the worship service and said, “Preacher, I won’t be going to church anymore.”
The preacher responded, “But why?”
So the young man said, “I’m glad you asked. I saw a sister speaking bad about another sister. I saw a brother who engages regularly in ‘shady’ business dealings. I saw one of the deacons living wrong. Yesterday I saw someone looking at FaceBook on their phone during your sermon. And I could go on...but you get the idea.”
The preacher replied, “OK. But before you go, do me a favor: take a full glass of water and walk three times around the church building without spilling a drop of water on the floor. Afterwards, you can leave if you want to.”
Well, the young man thought to himself, this is too easy!
So he went and got a full glass of water and walked around the church building three times, just like the preacher had asked. When he finished, he went back to the preacher and said he was done.
And the preacher asked, “When you were walking around the church building, did you see a sister speaking bad about another sister?”
“Well, no,” was the reply.
“Did you see anyone looking at their phone?”
“Do you know why?”
“You were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t tip it and spill any water. It’s the same with our life. When our focus is on our Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others.”
So, where’s YOUR focus?
This coming Sunday night is our first “Fourth Sunday Night Singing.” I know that sometimes we think that since we are not the “best” singer, or we really don’t see the point in services like these, etc. that “it really doesn’t matter if I go or not.”
I want to encourage you to avoid having this type of attitude. To not attend because it is “just singing” is close to saying that a direct command from Scripture is not important.
I want to share with you an article from the blog “Radically Christian,” written by Wes McAdams in McKinney, TX. The title is “Do you know why the church is supposed to sing?” (I included a link to this article on the Radically Christian website at the end...he has a lot of other really good articles that I would highly recommend for your perusal.)
It may seem strange to many people that we gather up on Sundays to sing songs. They may think, “I don’t particularly like to sing.” Or, “I’m not a good singer; I can’t imagine singing in public like that, where other people can hear you.” Actually, we’re not supposed to sing because of a particular fondness for it or because of a talent for it. Here are some of the reasons the church is supposed to sing.
We Sing to be Filled with the Spirit. The apostle Paul gives two commands in Ephesians 5:18-21. The first is to not get drunk with wine. The second is to be filled with the Spirit.
How do you accomplish those commands? It’s pretty easy to know how to accomplish the command not to get drunk with wine, but how do you accomplish the command, “Be filled with the Spirit”?
Paul is talking to Christians, who of course were given the gift of the Holy Spirit when they were baptized (Acts 2:38). So, what does he mean by giving them this instruction, be filled with the Spirit? How can they accomplish that command? How can we accomplish that command?
The next few adverbial participles tell us how to accomplish the command to be filled with the Spirit:
1. by speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
2. by singing
3. by making melody to the Lord with your heart
4. by giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
5. by submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Apparently, we will not receive from the Spirit everything He desires to give us unless we speak to each other in songs and make melody to the Lord with our hearts. And being filled with the Spirit isn’t a tingly feeling that comes over you when the church sings your favorite song. Being filled with the Spirit is about gaining wisdom to know how to live (see Ephesians 5:15-17).
We Sing to Let the Message of Jesus Dwell in Us. In a very similar passage in Colossians, Paul gives the command, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). The phrase, “word of Christ” means Christ’s message, His story, His Good News, who He is and what He has done. Paul tells the church to let this message dwell in them richly.
In the same way that he instructed the Ephesian church, Paul tells the church in Colossae how to accomplish this command:
1. by teaching one another in all wisdom
2. by admonishing one another in all wisdom
3. by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God
We sing to rehearse the Good News story of who we are in Christ Jesus. And we do this to glorify God and edify the church. It isn’t about the melodious sound we make (or don’t make), but about the words we sing. We are rehearsing our story, “with thankfulness in our hearts to God.”
What Our Singing Is Not
Though it’s often turned into this, our singing should never be a talent show, where we show off for others. Our singing should never be an entertainment venue, where we come as consumers. And our singing should never be a legalistic way of trying to justify ourselves; thinking we are right with God because we sing.
Our singing should be more about education than entertainment and more about unity than preference. Our singing is about identity formation and even character formation. The congregation shouldn’t be watching performers perform, but should be participating in something that is designed by God to fill them with the Spirit and let the word of Christ dwell in them richly. When congregations move from participation to performance, they rob Christians of spiritual blessings.
So lift your voice in song, so that you may be filled with the Spirit and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
To view the above article on its original website, visit:
Shortly after we moved to Siloam Springs our new orthodontist looked at Jamie and began to prepare us for her to have jaw surgery. It was a couple of years away, but she would need to have it at some point.
So last year, it was decided that it was time. Unfortunately the insurance that we had would not cover any of the surgery...at all. So her surgery was delayed.
At the beginning of this year we found insurance that, allegedly, would cover one of the two procedures she might need. Well, when it came time to schedule the surgery, the insurance said they would not be covering anything. The also said we could appeal this decision after the procedure was done.
Since the insurance was not going to help, we took out a “health service loan” from a company the surgeon works with and they sent the approved amount to the surgeon. The surgery was scheduled and happened three weeks ago today (which is Wednesday, July 12).
The good news was that Jamie only needed one of the procedures; the bad news was it was the one that was not listed as covered by our new insurance.
This past Saturday we got a summation of benefits from the insurance company that looked like it was pretty good, but the language was one that neither Monica nor I actually speak, so we decided that Monica should call the surgeon’s office on Monday.
She did and, to make a long story short (too late!), Jamie’s surgery WAS COVERED by our insurance. In fact, we received a fairly sizable refund check from the surgeon’s office, since the medical loan had been paid to them. They said we could use it to start paying back the loan, or to cover the hospital, or for whatever we wanted.
By the way, we (and many others) had been praying throughout the process for the surgery to be successful and for our appeal to be approved by the insurance company. Jamie’s surgery was successful (both the surgeon and orthodontist couldn’t be more pleased) and, well, there is no need for the appeal.
We hear it so often that it sometimes doesn’t mean what it should to us, but God is GOOD all the time, and all the time God is GOOD. He has everything under control, even when from our perspective they seem to be spinning out of control.
Don’t ever doubt that!
Well, once again it is a beautiful week at Green Valley! I’m going to assume that those here are having a great week.
This week we are in “Boot Camp: Basic Training for Christ.” Sometimes we can get so caught up in “advanced things” that we forget about basic things. When this happens to an athlete and the result is nearly always a slump. And nearly always the coach tells a player in a slump, “Get back to the basics.” But athletics isn’t the only place this can be applied.
The past couple of years, camp has gotten pretty “deep” and, well, “meaty.” This week we are focusing on some basic principles with regard to our faith. Many times our faith begins to wavier because we don’t have a solid foundation of the basics. That’s what this week at camp is about.
The writer of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 5:11-14:
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The problem the Hebrews had was that they had not been “properly fed” when they were young Christians. As a result, they had not grown spiritually like they should have. So the writer says, “Take a break from the steak and potatoes and get back to a diet of milk.”
Don’t misunderstand, they didn’t need to stay on the “milk diet” for very long. But they needed the milk (basics), so they could mature and move on to solid food.
So this week we’re getting our “milk mustaches” on and learning/being reminded of some of the basic principles of the faith.