At Ease in Zion

At Ease in Zion

Mediocrity, complacency, laziness. They have commonality. These are conditions of the heart that reveal the callousness of a man’s heart. His lack of care for his world are exemplified through his attitudes, and his attitudes are reflected through his actions.

Consider the Israelites. Amos addressed the impending disaster for Israel. After imploring God’s people to return to Him, Amos told them what God thought. Concerning their complacent worship, the Lord Himself said,

“I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your failings.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like and ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:21-24

Can you imagine God saying that to you of your worship? Can you imagine God saying that to you of your work? Can you imagine God saying that to you of your family life? What an indictment! And what brought that about? It’s explained in just a few short words.

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria…” Amos 6:1

Complacency does that. A student pastor once asked his youth group on a scale of 1 to 10 in your relationship with God, “How many of you are a 10–on fire for God?” A couple of students raised their hands. “How many are a 1–you couldn’t care less about God? A few raised their hands to this inquiry. How many of you are more in the middle with your feelings toward God? Almost the entire group raised their hands.

The youth leader read, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

Yes, those are the words of our God in Revelation 3.

Complacency, mediocrity–they don’t occur naturally in our lives. No, instead we are quietly lulled into that state by turning our thoughts from God to ourselves. As Dave Ramsey says, “mediocrity is not the norm.”

So how do we turn that around? Well, the Lord continues in Revelation 3 with the answer. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” You see, God is love. He is not sitting on His throne just looking for an opportunity to strike us, but as the perfect Father, He disciplines us back to good relationship with Him. He continues, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and will dine with Him, and he with Me.”

Our loving Father desires fellowship with us. But who wants a relationship with someone who is apathetic about that relationship? God wants ALL of you. If you’ve been treating Him like a foreigner while sitting back lapping up a life of self-centered luxury, turn your attention back to Him.

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Over the past two weeks, Senior Pastor Stephen Byrd and I have done what I’ve never heard of any other pastor/staff doing. We have been meeting with each of our church family members, in 30 minute segments, to hear their stories. You know, where were you born? how did you all meet? how did you come to know Christ? how can we pray for you?

To date, we have met with around 150 people. Daunting task? You bet! But it has been so worth the time and energy. What we thought would be a great time to minister to our church family boomeranged on us. I have been so blessed to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness in each person’s life. Through amazingly difficult struggles and setbacks to victory and joy through Jesus Christ, the stories have been consistent! Jesus Christ is sufficient for our needs.

At times (because we have spent approximately 13 hours per day plus Saturdays doing this) a tiring challenge, this has been a beautiful walk with the Lord. So, how about you? What is your story? So often we cross paths with our friends and family members, but we never stop to talk about all that God has done in, through, and for us. Acts 4:20 says, “for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Isn’t that the way it should be. The family of God should be sharing with each other and with our unsaved friends the greatness of God constantly! Can you imagine how many church fights and how much gossip would dissipate if our churches spent more time with each other rather than against each other?

In God’s Word, Paul told Timothy, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Never be ashamed of your testimony! It is exclusive to you, because it is the reflection of what God has done for you! In fact, you are the only one who can tell (testify) to God’s activity in your life.

Although we’re not yet quite halfway through our meetings with the family, I look forward to hearing the other stories from our church family. In fact, I can’t think of any better way for a Pastor and pastoral staff to minister to their church and show love and care than to do this. What an investment! Small group Bible studies, families, discipling groups, should all listen to each other and make the concerted effort to really know each other. For it is in this way that we can know how to pray, and we can encourage and edify the Body of Christ!

From a worship standpoint, I will never again do worship planning without remembering some of these stories and knowing fresh how God may use the songs we sing to minister to His people and to give each of us a fresh expression of praise for God through His attributes displayed.

What’s your story? Why not take a minute right now and write a few sentences in the comments section below and testify to God’s goodness in your life. You will be a blessing to countless others around the world!

Blessings!

ENGAGE: Commitment to the Ministry

ENGAGE: Commitment to the Ministry

“Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night.” — 1 Chronicles 9:33

The singers, members of the Levites, were engaged in the worship ministry 24/7. Because of their commitment, they were released from all other duties. This really is a great indication of the importance of their role in kingdom work. So it is with the choir in the church today. Often, many other activities clamor for our attention. Many of these things are really good things too. One must remember to follow the Lord to the best things–that is, paying attention to the things that God has called us to and being faithful in those things.

Proverbs 37:3-5 states,

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Trust, Delight, and Commit. That’s what these verses tell us. Trust in the Lord, and mimic His faithfulness. Delight yourself in Him. Stay in close fellowship with Him through the Spirit and the Word. Commit your way to Him. Follow and obey Him and He will do it! What a promise. But just what does that look like in Worship Ministry? How do I apply this?

Here are some helpful guidelines for committing yourself to the Worship Ministry:

1. Commit to be regular in rehearsal attendance.

Attendance is important. We cannot skillfully sing without rehearsing together to learn the songs and to interpret them together. Being regular in attendance means not only showing up, but showing up on time and ready to rehearse. Being alert in rehearsal is part of regular attendance. That means marking your music, singing–Engaging in and not being spectator to rehearsal.

2. Commit to Home Worship.

What happens publicly on Sunday should be the overflow of what has happened privately during the week. Are you spending time with God during the week? At FBC Mableton, we have provided an incredible resource to all our worship team. Planning Center Online is a great tool to not only look at the worship plan but to listen to the audio files of songs and view the charts to practice. Using those songs in your quiet time is essential to worship growth and leadership in the church.

3. Commit to Being Present in Worship.

Part of the Worship Team’s ministry is visual. Before a word is spoken or a note sung, the atmosphere of the worship service will be set by the fullness of choir, worship team, band, and the demeanor of each member as they step on the platform to minister. A half-empty choir loft tells the congregation, some of us skipped out today because this service isn’t important today.

Conversely, a full choir loft, all band in place, and vocalists in place translates –Wow! God is about to do something here! Everybody is here, so they must know what’s about to happen. They’re excited about this!!


Here’s a little review for you. Think about your service over the past year. Take some time to scrutinize your commitment to the Worship Ministry. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much help were you to the choir?
  • When did you put a little extra time in to help the director prepare for a major event?
  • How regular were you with your attendance, both rehearsal and worship?
  • How often were you prompt?
  • How often did you support the choir with your sincere prayers?
  • What an awesome privilege God has given to those who serve in Worship Ministry! Will you commit yourself and ENGAGE in ministry?
Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be
the will of God.”

Jehovah

The LORD - I AM

The first name of God upon which all the other compound names are founded is Jehovah. This name is the most common name for God in the Bible and is taken from YHWH. This name is used more than 6,800 times in Scripture and is derived from the verb that means “to be”. Any time you see the name LORD, it refers to the name Jehovah. The name Lord, refers to Adonai, which has to do with God’s ownership and rulership of everything.

The name, Jehovah, teaches of the substance of God. Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.'”

“He is the ever-Living One, the only-Living One, the self-existent One, and is dependent on no one or nothing outside Himself. He is self-existent and self-sufficient.”

All the other names of God that I will present in this blog will be formed from this name. They are all covenant names because of how they relate to us in showing how Covenant God deals with His covenant children. Remember that a covenant and a contract are very different. Contracts are based upon distrust of the parties involved, and covenants are based on trust.

For instance, the name Jesus means YHWH saves! The all-sufficient One, the self-existent One is the One who loved us and gave His Son Jesus to die for our sins! That is the New Covenant!

Our Great God is mighty in power, has always been and will always be. He is the great I AM!

For the next few days, spend some time in prayer, and ask God to show you what it means for Him to be I AM to you. Trust me, if you do that, He will answer you with power and truth.

In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish hearts are mended
In the presence of the King

CCLI Song No. 16204 © 1983, 1985 Meadowgreen Music Company | Songchannel Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) | (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) Becky Davis | Geron Davis For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights Reserved. http://www.ccli.com CCLI License No. 1128662