"Scripture is full of exhortations to God’s people to sing and make music to the Lord. Our God has been gracious to give us this means to worship Him. But it is important to understand that music in our worship is for two specific purposes: to honor God and to edify our fellow believers. Unfortunately, many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scriptu...Keep Reading
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“What did you think about the sermon?” That’s a question you will frequently hear if you attend Grace Church. Perhaps you heard it from the preacher after the Sunday morning service or from one of our members. If you are a member, then this is not a strange question to you. You look forward to both hearing it and asking it, and you delight in the conversation that follows. But if you have never been asked this question, you may treat it as a social courtesy, and feel compelled to say something polite. It is possible that if you have the unbiblical notion that the gathering of the saints in corporate worship is all about ‘customer service’, then you might interpret that question as our desire as ‘service providers’ to know whether you as a consumer of spiritual goodies, were satisfied with the Sunday morning ‘experience’ or not. This is not our intention. This question, while intentional is not our way of assessing whether you will come back next week or not. This is a matter of deliberate discipleship....
The matter calls for our attention. For Christians are, first and foremost, a hearing people (Deuteronomy 6:4; Romans 10:17). And how we hear will determine, over time, whether the word we hear is devoured by the devil, scorched by trials, choked by cares, or nourished by God into abundant fruit (Mark 4:1...
Criticizing the church can come easily, especially in an age like ours. Though many of us are aware of the dangers of consumer Christianity, few of us escape its influence entirely. I know I can find myself slipping into an attitude of detached critique, rating sermons, music, and small groups as if I were reviewing a blender on Amazon. Alongside our consumerism, we live in a time when criticizing the church is fashionable. A subtle contempt, even in some Christian circles, garners respect. We are the jaded and disillusioned, those who inwardly roll our eyes at Christian clichés and anything that smacks of churchy strictness. When unbelievers share their grievances with “organized religion,” sometimes we offer little more than a sympathetic nod. Whether it arises from consumerism or cynicism, however, such a critical spirit toward the church of God appears nowhere in the New Testament....
The words of Scripture are trustworthy words. To hear scripture is to hear God. And His words are spirit and life (John 6:63). To walk away or neglect the regular meditation of the Word and the fellowship of the Word-speaking community is to cut yourself off from your very life-source and identity in Christ. It is a faithless abandonment of what a Christian is called to do...Keep Reading
Most people don't enjoy conflict. We tend to avoid it if we can. I suppose there is something healthy about this fact. We certainly don't want to enjoy conflict. However, there is something that is lost, particularly for Christians, when we avoid biblically handling necessary conflict. We could rightly say that in this case there is an unhealthy avoidance of conflict....Keep Reading
If you are single today, the portion assigned to you for today is singleness. It is God's gift. Singleness ought not to be viewed as a problem, nor marriage as a right. God in his wisdom and love grants either as a gift....Keep Reading
The Christian that knows only to bemoan the state of society is the Christian that will succumb to silence. Love for God and love for others must conquer our fear. We must not assume that our unchurched friends and neighbors are hostile to our faith. When we believe the myth that everyone hates us, we tend to retreat to our closets where we hide our lamp under a bowl. W...Keep Reading
Kindness, rightly understood, is a Christian virtue, a manner of being that is shaped by love. We are kind when we treat one another the way we want to be treated. We are kind when we lend a sympathetic ear, when we bear with others despite their faults, when we respond to conflict with empathy and gentleness. But kindness and love are not the same thing, and whenever w...Keep Reading
The Old Testament can be disorienting. God reveals himself in clouds of fire, in a whirlwind, even in person. He brings people to mountaintops and speaks to them. He wrestles with Jacob. Isaiah sees him high and lifted up on the throne. It was so in the beginning when Adam and Eve walked with their Maker in the garden. God appeared to Abram (Gen. 17:1), Jacob saw him fa...Keep Reading
The passion narrative is a familiar story with familiar elements: chief priests, Golgotha, two thieves, Pilate, the crowd, the cross, the tomb, and of course, Jesus. But there is a central piece we tend to overlook. According to Matthew, the temple is an essential part of that fateful week. Matthew mentions the temple 16 times over the final eight chapters. It's no a...Keep Reading
What if church members began their own form of sermon preparation? For countless decades, we have heard about the role of pastors in sermon preparation. The number of hours they need to prepare. The priority of preparation. The role of prayer in sermon preparation. But what if church members prepared for each sermon they heard? What if they believed their roles as re...Keep Reading
At the heart of habit is the brilliance of our Creator. Making decisions takes time and energy, and habits keep us from having to make the same decisions over and over again....Keep Reading