Friday, February 27, 2009

center of my joy (Richard Smallwood)

Great song from Richard Smallwood. This must be the black gospel version of Bill Gaither's Homecoming videos. Now THESE I'd like to see!! :-)



and then "Journey" from Richard's most recent CD, with Kim Burrell singing the solo. One of the best jazz singers in gospel music!!



and then (totally unrelated) this cool violin solo (trio) cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida".



Happy Friday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

always smiling?

I read this several months ago, but for some reason my mind keeps coming back to this, so I thought I'd post it here.
Any study of the life of the apostle Paul requires a serious look at the subject of pain. Suffering is not a pleasant subject to explore, especially in our western culture. Perhaps you heard, as I did growing up, that, “Pain and suffering come from the devil. Since God wants His servants well and free of pain, healing and happiness are of the Lord.” That sounds great. The problem is, it’s neither true nor biblical. The devil is not always the one responsible for the pain and suffering in our lives. You may be surprised to know that there are times when pain comes as part of God’s sovereign plan to prepare us as useful servants. He knows what is best for us in light of what He’s doing in us.

UNDERSTANDING SUFFERING
FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

Our theology gets fuzzy here in these United States because of our addiction to the creature comforts. I’m not the first to observe this. Well-known pastor and theologian, Helmut Thielicke, after an extended visit to the States was asked what he believed was the greatest defect among American Christians. His answer: “They have an inadequate view of suffering.” How’s that for insightful?

I smiled as I read John R. W. Stott’s comments on the subject of suffering as he reflected on Romans 8:22—23. First, let’s look at the verses before we consider Stott’s observation.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:22—23
Explaining Paul’s words to the Romans, John Stott writes, “It is not only our fragile body (s_ma) which makes me groan; it is also our fallen nature (sarx), which hinders us from behaving as we should, and would altogether prevent us from it, were it not for the indwelling Spirit (7:17,20). We long, therefore, for our sarx to be destroyed and for our s_ma to be transformed. Our groans express both present pain and future longing. Some Christians, however, grin too much (they seem to have no place in their theology for pain) and groan too little.

The man has grown weary of the perpetual Christian grin—frankly, so have I. If you groan and allow your countenance to reflect any measure of inner turmoil, people frown at you judgmentally, as if to suggest you’re not walking in the Spirit. Don’t get me wrong. I find nothing offensive about Christians laughing. I wrote an entire book affirming that God’s people need to laugh more. Laughter demonstrates authenticity in our lives. I simply believe there’s no need to glue a permanent Cheshire grin to our faces, lest we look like we’re not living a victorious Christian life. If a fellow believer tells you he’s going through a particularly tough time, I urge you not to insist he smile. (I tell the folks at the church not to ask me to listen to one of my tapes on joy when they notice I’m feeling down.) Don’t urge people to sing along with you on some tune you think they should be singing. Sometimes we just don’t feel like singing or smiling. Matter of fact, there are times it’s hypocritical to paste a smile on your face.

Folks who know me well know I don’t linger very long in the doldrums—rarely do I slip into extended periods of depression. I’m not melancholy by nature. But frankly, I find some days pretty close to tragic (September 11, 2001, comes to mind). There are days when my heart feels so heavy I dread preaching, or writing, or doing anything else related to the work of the ministry. Those are the days I don’t grin. Yet regardless of how I feel, my responsibility is to communicate the truth—even when that truth is hard to deliver and even harder to receive. So I’ve not written these words necessarily to comfort you. That’s God’s work, ultimately.

My desire is to help equip you for what life will inevitably sling across your path. I understand you may be bearing a burden or heartache the likes of which I’ve never known. You may be living with pressures or some debilitating physical disease or emotional pain I couldn’t even begin to imagine. In almost four decades of pastoral ministry, I’ve often seen the evidence of inner turmoil surface on the faces of God’s people. It is in those times, when I feel at a loss to offer encouragement, that I am most thankful for the Scriptures. In God’s Word we not only discover His will for our lives, we find words of genuine comfort for those times when life comes unglued.

All this brings us back to Saul of Tarsus. A day rarely passed in his Christian life when he didn’t face intense pain, suffering, and/or pressure — almost all of which were related to the harshness of life and the hardships of ministry. Thankfully, he doesn’t keep those experiences to himself. He bares his soul and lets the unedited truth flow.

- Charles Swindoll, “Paul”, p.91-93
He goes on in "Paul" to address the thorn in the flesh... maybe some posts/quotes on that at a later date!

blessed assurance (Aretha)

Old school this Friday! Aretha Franklin sings Blessed Assurance. Now this is the way it should be sung!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

comedy and absurdity

"The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully." (Job 39:13)
Even in the best of times our world can appear, on the surface, chaotic and absurd. But comedy takes this very absurdity and puts it to work. In classical literature the device of absurdity was used to reflect the natural limitations of the human mind. Since the reality of life itself is always bigger than the mind is able to assimilate, our view of any given event is bound to be somewhat absurd. In the literature of the twentieth century, however, this truth came to be turned upside-down. To modern writers the device of absurdity usually reflects the essential meaninglessness (as they see it) of life. But this is not at all the case with Job or with any of the other great literature of antiquity. Classically, it is not life that is absurd, but ourselves. If reality seems meaningless to us, it is because we are not dealing with a full deck. (emphasis mine - DT)

In His response to Job the Lord does not supply any of the missing cards. All He does is to say, in effect, “Here is the deck; learn to play with it. Learn to live without knowing everything. What does it matter whether I give you great wisdom or only a little? Compared to all there is to know, it is still only a pittance, and therefore many things are going to strike you as preposterous or even insane. So get used to it. Get used to My absurdity, and live by faith rather than by sight. Be like the ostrich: though you cannot fly, you can still flap your wings joyfully!
- Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p.404

Sunday, February 15, 2009

a waste of time

To worship the Lord is — in the world’s eyes — a waste of time. It is, indeed, a royal waste of time, but a waste nonetheless. By engaging in it, we don’t accomplish anything useful in our society’s terms.

Worship ought not to be construed in a utilitarian way. Its purpose is not to gain numbers nor for our churches to be seen as successful. Rather, the entire reason for our worship is that God deserves it. Moreover, it isn’t even useful for earning points with God, for what we do in worship won’t change one whit how God feels about us. We will always still be helpless sinners caught in our endless inability to be what we should be or to make ourselves better — and God will always still be merciful, compassionate, and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and ready to forgive us as we come to him.

Worship is a royal waste of time, but indeed it is royal, for it immerses us in the regal splendor of the King of the cosmos. The churches’ worship provides opportunities for us to enjoy God’s presence in corporate ways that take us out of time and into the eternal purposes of God’s kingdom. As a result, we shall be changed - but not because of anything we do. God, on whom we are centered and to whom we submit, will transform us by his Revelation of himself.

To understand worship as a royal waste of time is good for us because that frees us to enter into the poverty of Christ. We worship a triune God who chose to rescue the world he created by means of the way of humility. God sent his Son into the world to empty himself in the obedience of a slave, humbling himself to suffer throughout his entire life and to die the worst of deaths on our behalf. He did not come to be “solving the world’s problems in any sense that the world could understand,” as Simon Tugwell puts it. Worship of such a God immerses us in such a way of life, empowered by a Spirit who does not equip us with means of power or control, accomplishment or success, but with the ability and humility to waste time in love of the neighbor.
- Marva Dawn, A Royal "Waste" of Time, p.1-2

Saturday, February 14, 2009

going to church?

What a sad commentary it is on our spirituality that the delight of “keeping the Sabbath day” has degenerated into the routine and drudgery — even the downright oppressiveness — of “going to church.”

In the first place, how we talk affects how we live. To say “I am going to church” both reveals and promotes bad theology. In the earliest days of Christianity, “the church” was a living and vibrant gathering of God’s people, who met together to be strengthened and then went out into the world to manifest the gospel in their actions and their very beings. Now the church has become a static place.. . . We are NOT “going to church”! We are going to a sanctuary to participate in an order of worship together with other people of God gathered in community to be nourished by all that we do there together so that we can go out into the world and be church.

In the second place, the act of worship is only one small part (though an essential one) of the whole meaning of Sabbath keeping. To “keep the Sabbath holy” means to recognize that the rhythm of six days of work and one day of ceasing work is written into the very core of our beings. To observe that order week by week creates in us a wholeness that is possible only when we live in accordance with this pattern of being graciously commanded by God....

To keep the Sabbath is not a legalistic duty. Rather, living in accordance with our own natural rhythm gives freedom, the delight of one whole day in every seven set apart as holy.

In Jewish tradition the Sabbath is loved as a bride or a queen. Deep in our beings there is a longing for completion.... Only holy time, in which we experience the presence of God, can fill our emptiness.

- Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Holy, pp.x-xv,2

Friday, February 13, 2009

amazing grace (The Clark Sisters)

Amazing Grace sung by The Clark Sisters. Amazing! Enough said!

Friday, February 06, 2009

good in da hood

Something a little "lighter" this week. :-)

Follow the link for this Friday's Video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2XYsaF_Wrw

Click on the "watch in high quality" link at the lower right corner of the video for best quality.

This is one of our family's favorite songs from the "Stand Out" project.
Check out other Tye Tribbett & G.A. music and videos. They're awesome!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

unconditional love (Nouwen)

God's Unconditional Love

What can we say about God's love? We can say that God's love is unconditional. God does not say, "I love you, if ..." There are no ifs in God's heart. God's love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God's love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God's love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God's love wouldn't be real if God didn't care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.

Let's dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love and always more love.
from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

approval

Ran across this article related to "approval of others" in our latest issue of Charisma Magazine. Here's the link to the article online.
http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/component/content/article/397-straight-talk/18380-follow-your-heart

I'm also cut/pasting it below in text format!

"Follow Your Heart"
By Joyce Meyer
Columns - Straight Talk


"To thine own heart be TRUE," the old saying goes. It remains a timely and relevant life lesson that all of us would do well to remember. When we veer off the course that our heart is advising us to follow, we can make our lives very difficult. Putting aside our own convictions and following what others think we should do will lead to an unfulfilled and empty existence.

What do you want out of life? What do you believe God's will is for you? Some people spend so much time meeting what they think their obligations are that they don't even know what they want. They never ask themselves because they've already decided it is out of their reach. I am not talking about selfish desires; I am talking about something deep in your heart put there by God. Everyone is called and equipped to do something.

It takes boldness to follow your heart instead of the crowd. When God called me to teach His Word, it was not popular at all for women to do that. I lost friends, and even some family members rejected me as a deceived and misguided rebel. I didn't have a very good reputation among the people in our community. It still amazes me that I found the courage to follow God rather than those around me.

I think I had become so weary of "life as usual" that I was willing to do whatever it took for me to feel satisfied deep down on the inside. I learned that being excessively concerned about what others think leads only to torment. Although all of us enjoy being well thought of, it is not possible to be liked by everyone all the time.

I experienced rejection at first when I decided to live to please God, but after a while He gave me new friends who were pursuing the same things I was, and together we stand against the fear of what people think. In God's economy, we usually have to be willing to lose something we have in order to gain what we really want in life.

People who are real friends will help you be all God wants you to be. They won't use you and then discard you when you no longer please them. When you spend time and energy trying to please others, you take a great risk in losing yourself. God must be No. 1 in your life. Even if everyone else walks away from you, He promises to never leave you or forsake you. I hope you understand that "never" means never.

The Bible says we should cast all our cares upon God for He cares for us (see 1 Pet. 5:7), and that includes the care of what people think. I can only live my life to please God, and if that troubles some people, they need to take it up with Him.

Life gets too complicated, confusing and frustrating when we try to please both God and people. We must be free to be ourselves. The years I struggled to be someone other than myself taught me that it is much easier to just be me and follow my own heart.

You don't have to compare yourself to or compete with anyone (see 2 Cor. 10:12). Jesus came to set people free in many ways, and this is one of them.

All God expects is that we try to be the absolute best we can be. [yikes! works???? -DT] He wants us to follow the desire He placed in each of us. Since I started doing that, I have grown by leaps and bounds. I believe the same thing will happen to you when you let God be God in your life.

Following your heart can simplify your life. There is nothing simple about ignoring the dreams and visions that God has given you and trying to force yourself to enjoy doing something you actually hate. You may think following your heart will be complicated, but the truth is, it is absolutely necessary if you ever intend to enjoy a simple life of obedience to God.

Great advice. I confess I'm not a huge fan of Joyce Meyer (I have a problem getting past her delivery), but this was a good word!

Monday, February 02, 2009

incredible national anthem!

I know it's only Monday, but watch this clip of Jennifer Hudson singing the national anthem at Super Bowl XLIII (43)

[to view in HD, click on the video while it's playing, and it will take you to youtube.com - then click the "watch in HD" link at the bottom right corner of the video]



One of the best renditions I have heard in quite a few years! (Although she lip syncs - watch the last note, and watch her breathe while she's singing... physically impossible... sorry to burst anyone's bubble - but it still is a great arrangement and great performance!)