The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: May, 2014

A Year Ago Today

A Year Ago Today… my third child Talitha was born. What gift can a father give to one whose existence is a gift to him? I give you my heart little one… and a small expression of the joy that filled it on May 20th, 2013.

A Year Ago Today (For Talitha)

10541_10100885639164368_537370369_nA year ago today
Your mother woke me from my sleep
She told me you were on your way
And that brought me to my feet

We hurried from the house
I cranked the van and closed the door
Your mother climbed into the back
I pressed the pedal to the floor

1374177_10101076839527308_22319920_nA year ago today
I broke about 100 laws
Lakeshore was my racetrack
And I, a rebel with a cause

I gave stop signs no heed
Red lights looked green to me
As we rushed along to Brookwood
Like a cop to a crime scene

10313437_10101434521205358_2269208210684613729_nA year ago today
We skipped the hospital red tape
No paper work for us
No line, no stall, no wait

They took us to a room
The nurses rushed around like mad
Your mother could barley say a word
The pains were coming on so bad

310272_10100871534989248_1925503268_nA year ago today
The doctor barely came in time
He caught you, and they cleaned you
Then they told me you were mine

You wrapped your tiny fingers
Around my man-sized thumb
So small, so fragile, still I could see
You looked exactly like your mom

10341404_10101432787819078_3931128330214472219_nA year ago today
In my heart, you cut out a place
You made it yours, yes yours alone
To fill, to keep, to grace

I’m always yours, your always mine
No matter what you say
You have my love from that time forth
A year ago today

 

*Here is a blog I wrote last year about the unique experience of Talitha’s birth: click here
*Below is a short video I made last year when Talitha was born…

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A Poem for All Women Today…Whether Celebrating or Suffering

*I’ve never reposted a blog before, but it just seems appropriate today. Below is my blog from Mother’s Day 2013. I find my heart feels the same this year as it did the last…

My father was an orphan.  His mother passed away when he was two years old and he grew up in a children’s home in Corsicana, Texas.  I cannot imagine growing up without a mother, but truth be told, neither can he.  While he had no biological mother, he would be the first to tell you that so many women became mothers to him throughout his life.

No mother, yet many mothers.

Because of this, I am always conscious that mother’s day is about much more than just women who have birthed babies.  It is a celebration of all women who have poured into the lives of so many around them.  Dear ladies, you have comforted, loved, cared for, treasured, taught, led, cried with, rejoiced over, and mothered so many…most likely even many of whom you are unaware.

Gift-BoxI know that mother’s day can be painful for many for a myriad of reasons.  So this mother’s day, I wanted to give a gift to all the women I pastor at Shades Valley Community Church.  I wanted to honor and love them, no matter if Mother’s day is a day of joy or of pain.  Most of all, I wanted to point them to Jesus, for he is the one who empowers motherhood within all women who know him.  Mother’s day is ultimately about Jesus, because he upholds all women and strengthens them to pour into those of us who so desperately need them.

So dear lady, whether today is filled with joy or with pain, may you know the presence of Jesus.  Here is my small, feeble gift to you…a simple poem I wrote to remind you that Jesus is with you wherever you are…

Silence and Cries and Why
The silence broken by a baby’s first cry
Celebration of life, the holy, the why
Jesus is present in your joy, in your smile
New mother he loves you, he gave you this child

The silence is broken by a mother’s heart cry
Precious life has been lost, and we wonder why
Jesus is present in your pain, in your loss
Dear woman he loves you, felt your pain on the cross.

The silence is broken the house rings with cries
Crazy parenting life, we’re both asking why
Jesus is present in your angst and frustration
With us as his kids he understand irritation

The silence isn’t broken, there’s no child’s cry
Wishing you were a mom, and you’re left asking why
Jesus is present as you weep and you pray
He holds you even when there’s nothing to say

The silence is broken, with joy-filled cries
Kids once who were homeless don’t have to ask why
Jesus is present as they become your own
He too was adopted, made the world his home

The silence is broken, by your own cries
Your children rebelling, and you don’t know why
Jesus is with you while they’re far from home
He is also with them wherever they roam

The silence is broken, with laughter you cry
Watching them grow, you are blessed, and why
Jesus laughs with you amidst those moments of joy
When you’re so thankful to parent your girls and your boys

The silence is broken, with a full heart you cry
Life without your own mom, you ask how and why
Jesus is with you, you’re not alone in your fear
He will hold you up and he will catch all your tears

The silence is broken with a grandbaby’s cry
The struggle of parenting and now you know why
Jesus is present in your empty nest
Through grieving and joy he will be your rest

The silence is broken with heaven’s own cry
All joy and all pain, we all now know why
We will be present with Jesus and we shall see his face
Every woman there shall be crowned with beauty and grace

No matter how you experience silence or cries
No matter the reasons your heart wonders why
Jesus is with you, dear lady, he never leaves
Find your joy in his love, and to his glory ever cleave

Organic, No Hormones, No Antibiotics, Grass-Fed, All-Natural Preaching (Part 2)

hormonefreeYesterday, I tried to begin unpacking the problems with quick-and-easy application that seems to dominate the landscape of preaching today (at least in the western world). You can read that post here.

That blog concluded with me giving 5 out of 10 thoughts which help me to personally think through what it looks like to experience organic, no hormones, no antibiotics, grass-fed, all-natural application in preaching. Below, you will find thoughts #6-10. 

6) Application begins with worship.
The central character of the Bible is God. The central purpose of the Bible is to lead us into a worship-relationship with God. Therefore, if application does not first and foremost drive you to worship… then we know our application is misguided.

I recently preached a series on the book of Job. As we applied our lives to this amazing text, we found that this story is first meant to give us a grand view of who God is! He is revealed as the sovereign Lord over all, the God who sees, the God who is with us, and the God who wins! Before we look at ourselves, we are drawn to gaze upon God and find ourselves in awe of him! It is only once we see these truths about the character of God that we can properly begin to think through our own suffering.

Application always draws us first to God in worship and changes the way we think and feel towards him… leaving us awestruck. Application is not merely after your actions… no… it is foremost after your affections!

7) Application continues in your actions.
thApplication changes what you do by first changing who you are! When your heart has been drawn into deeper worship and love of God, then you are ready to see how you are to act upon the truths you’ve learned.

In walking through Job and seeing the character of God more clearly, my congregation and I were able to see how and why we should trust God amidst suffering. We were able to affirm his goodness and stand upon the truth of his character to worship when it would normally seem like worship would not even be possible. We were more equipped to comfort those who are suffering. You see, because our affections had changed our actions followed suit.

Let me be absolutely clear that application does affect our actions! It does! But, as we have seen, that is not the place application begins… nor is it the place that application ends…

8) Application is not complete if it ends with you.
Part of the reason our current approach to application has contributed to a self-centered Christian culture is that it assumes the point of a sermon is me and the betterment of my life. We’ve already talked about how e are not the beginning point of application, God is, but nor are we the ending point of a sermon, mission is.

Everything Jesus taught his disciples was not merely for their personal benefit, but it was for them to pass on to others through preaching, teaching, and discipling. The same is true for us. Every time you listen to a sermon, you should listen (and take notes) as if you were going to have to re-preach it the next day… because that is exactly what you’re supposed to do.

Take what you learn from preaching and pour it into your kids. Have conversations with your friends about it. Discuss it with your family. Teach it to a younger believer. Application is not complete if you simply implement truth into your own life… no… it is only complete once you pass that truth along into the life of another. (For more on how to effectively listen to sermons click here).

9) The specifics of application are not the responsibility of the preacher, but the listener.
Even in small churches, a pastor cannot possibly apply the truths of Scripture to the specific situations in every listener’s life. The job of the preacher is to bring out the implications of the truth and demonstrate how they apply by way of example(s), but there still remains work for the hearer! We each must wrestle with the truths of Scripture within the context of our own lives. This part of what walking by the Holy Spirit looks like!

th-1For instance, what should a Christian do with their wealth (if they have any)? Should they give it all away? Should they keep it all? Should they use it to help the poor, the sick, the homeless? Should they focus their help heavily on one of these groups or spread it thin to all people? Should they live in a small house so they can give away more money or should they live in a big house and let other people live with them? These questions of application are endless and there is not a one-size-fits-all answer.

A preacher can take truths from Scripture like money should not be our god, we shouldn’t be lovers of wealth, and we shouldn’t use our wealth for self-centered self-glorification… and tease out the implications of such truths, but concerning specific application… we each must hit our knees and seek the Spirit for how these things play out in our lives.

The only other option is for the pastor to create a new law which leads to legalistic action. “Ok, everyone, you must live in a 1000 square foot house or less to be obeying what God says about wealth.” In the short-run, that seems much easier. We can do that, check it off our list, and feel like a “good” Christian. However, such application is not being faithful with Scripture or with the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. No. It is time for us, the listeners, to do the hard work of application by praying, weeping, seeking, listening, and obeying as God applies his truth to the specifics of our lives.

10) There is nothing more practical than eternal transformation.
173-how-to-be-a-practical-person-5-tips-on-being-practical-in-life-400x252We live in a culture that desires things which are practical and useful. I’m afraid this is what has led to many of our abysmal application practices in preaching because we have gone to our culture and asked them, “What do you think is practical? What do you want to hear?” And we use such consumer-information to determine what we preach and how we preach it.

Instead of this, we need to reclaim the truth that God actually knows what we need! He knows what is most practical! We need to go back to the Bible where he has revealed what is most relevant to our lives… himself!

What is more practical/useful… temporary self-improvement or eternal transformation? That is not a difficult question. There is nothing more practical than being changed forever and such change does not come from centering on self, but from centering on God!

In order for our use of application to change… our goal of application must change! My wife seeks organic foods because her goal is not to find what is quick, easy, and cheap… but, to find what is healthy, lasting, and good. Likewise, our goal should not be short-sighting self-improvement which glorifies the self, but eternal transformation which glorifies the God over all!

So… Pastors… let’s not serve up junk food that looks good today, but lacks any lasting nutrition. Let’s give the pure-organic-hormone-free milk of the Word… the all-natural-grass-fed meat of Scripture.

And believers… may we all develop a taste for that which feeds our souls. Let’s yearn for application that leads us to worship, fuels our affections, so that we act out of loving obedience… and then pass on what we’ve learned. May we all become a hippie, crunchy, granola Christians when it comes to application and long for that good ol’ organic, no hormones, no antibiotics, grass-fed, all-natural preaching.

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