What is God? It is only a subject that has inspired some of the finest writing in the history of Western civilization—and yet the first two pages of Google results for the question are comprised almost entirely of Sweet’N Low evangelical proselytizing to the unconverted. (The first link the Google algorithm served me was from the Texas ministry, Life, Hope & Truth.) The Google search for God gets nowhere near Augustine, Maimonides, Spinoza, Luther, Russell, or Dawkins. Billy Graham is the closest that Google can manage to an important theologian or philosopher. For all its power and influence, it seems that Google can’t really be bothered to care about the quality of knowledge it dispenses. It is our primary portal to the world, but has no opinion about what it offers, even when that knowledge it offers is aggressively, offensively vapid.
And this ending…
And when an adolescent asks us about God? We can at least answer in the negative, by holding up our phones and saying, “It’s not this.”
We started off Monday with my encouragement that we consider what it means to serve one another. I wanted to get practical on that admonition by exploring Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5-7. This is the blueprint, the epitome of how we are to live our lives as believers – as followers of Jesus. Even more so as members of a team called to lead His people in worship. Let’s look at how the Sermon on the Mount teaches us to serve and love one another.
Let’s start with the Beatitudes. An introduction of sorts to Jesus’s sermon:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Eugene Peterson, who wrote “The Message” translation of the Bible says he wanted to use the word “lucky” instead of blessed because it connected more to our contemporary understanding of the Greek word in this passage. His publisher wouldn’t go for it in the end, but you get the idea. These are preposterous statements in the eyes of the world. Our culture rewards the powerful, the winners. #Winning is a thing, right?
But Jesus says to count yourself blessed, outright lucky – to have won the jackpot if you are poor in spirt or meek. You are highly favored if you mourn or hunger or thirst or if you’re persecuted for righteousness or even insulted because of Jesus. Peterson translates that last bit like this:
“You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.”
If we’re going to serve one another on our worship team, in our church body, in our families, jobs, schools we must learn to recognize and see what heaven applauds. Maybe get our minds out of Facebook likes and Twitter mentions and learn to value what God values.
The Beatitudes is a pretty good place to start. Count yourself lucky if you make that list.
I’m on my back from a family reunion in South Alabama. It’s rainy in Atlanta so I’m delayed a little while.It was a great trip and I’m so glad I was able to come for the reunion and my grandfather’s surprise 80th birthday celebration.
One of my favorite moments was when my grandmother told me her favorite part of the chicken when she was growing up was the feet. She said she doen’t eat them anymore because they’re too dirty. When her Mom cleaned them she know they were clean.
She also told me how she was the worst of her brothers and sisters (10 in all) at ringing a chicken’s neck. “It would just drop to the ground, get up, and walk off.”
Just a few hours left of 2009 here in New York City. We’re going to celebrate with friends in Queens. I was thinking today as I drove back from the church in Syosset how many things changed and happened this past year.
When the year began we had only moved to the city a couple months earlier. Neither Olivia nor I had a job yet and our savings were pretty much gone. I had interviewed at on church, but it didn’t work out — all we could say was, “Lord, do what You will.”
Olivia got a job at a doctor’s office almost right away. I interviewed with another church (that one wasn’t it either!) and got ready to do some temp office work. In the meantime I walked pretty much all the neighborhoods in New York just praying and trying to hear what He was saying for us. (This was one of the most wonderful seasons yet in my walk with the Lord:) I finally got a temp job at an office and then another at the NFL.
Olivia found a new opera coach that turned out to be a great help to her as she gets ready to go to the next level in her career.
I went back and forth as to what the Lord wanted from me…did He want me leading worship in a church?…did He want me to go back into songwriting?…did He want me to pursue business at the NFL and lead worship part-time?
Towards the end of 2009 the Lord revealed what He had here for me. I was called as the worship pastor of Shelter Rock Church on Long Island. I started a couple weeks ago and He’s already doing wonderful things.
So, here comes 2010. I’m beginning to see that I need to stop making all these elaborate plans and just follow Jesus. The Spirit will order my steps. He will lead me on a an adventure that I could never come up with on my own.
Lord, I give You 2010. It is Yours, I am Yours. I rejoice in Your presence and Your ways.
(Check out the archives for more details on all our happenings!)
I hope everybody’s ready for a great weekend…I am! This has been a long week…
Just wanted to update everybody on what’s going on these days and ask you for your prayers.
If you follow our journey, you know that I have been seeking a new position as a worship leader at a church. While I’ve been waiting on the Lord, I’ve had a temp job at the NFL. It’s been such a blessing and a lot of fun, but it’s coming to an end sometime in November, so I’ve been asking the Lord what’s next.
I’ve interviewed with a church in Long Island and am going to lead worship at one of their campuses this Sunday. In addition to the possibility of the position, I’m also just excited about leading worship in a corporate setting…it’s been awhile.
There are a couple of other possibilities if it’s not the right place, but I would appreciate your prayers!
Olivia and I are also trying to decide whether to move closer to Midtown. It’s a long commute to her current job (in which she was just promoted!!) and, if I get the LI position, I would need to be closer to Penn Station for the train.
This obviously involves moving (which is always a big deal) and paying more in rent. So we’re just laying it all before the Lord.