Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Song of Creation

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4)

The past couple of weeks we have been blessed with sunshine here in the Northwest and in that time I have experienced some incredible worship. What did I do? Nothing, really...mainly just sat and gazed and watched God's creation worship Him.
- I have seen huge mountain peaks covered with snow, glistening in the sunlight,
- I have seen a wild animal, a rare "brown coated black bear" staring at me with wonder,
- I have journeyed to the San Juan Islands, watching eagles soar and otters swim
- I have gone to the top of the highest mountain in those islands and seen my town of Bellingham from a whole new perspective,
- I've seen flowers bloom, beautiful in their splendor, their glory remind me how much God cares for me,
- I've seen and heard rivers overflowing, waterfalls cascading, creaks bubbling, frogs singing, listened to the spring rain, felt the heat of the sun, and eaten some of the best food. And all of this leads me to these conclusions,

1) Creation truly sings a song of worship that never ends; our world is alive, like a Narnian paradise
2) As good as it is here, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, how much more will the new heaven and new earth display the glory of God? After all, we live on a cursed planet...
3) For me, whenever I feel distant from God, all I have to do is take a long walk outside and allow the worship of Creation to re-ignite my passions...

In his book Facedown, author and songwriter Matt Redman titles chapter 6 "The Song of Creation." In this chapter he writes, "In a loud and clear voice, creation proclaims the works and, ultimately, the worth of an incredible designer. The more we delve into the beauty of nature's design, the more we hear it reverberating with the splendor of the Creator."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Close Encounters...Bear!

So first, this post has little to do with worship or with any kind of devotional...but I had to post it anyways. God's creation is truly amazing!

Julie and I took some friends of ours up to Mt Baker on Sunday and wouldn't you know it, on the way down Julie sees some people pulled off to the side of the road and just as we were speeding by, she yelled "Bear!" So we put the car in reverse, backed up and spent about 45 minutes watching this Bear at extremely close range. For most of the time the Bear was about 30-60 feet away, but at one point we jumped back in the car and the Bear came within about 10-15 feet of our car. If you want to see a few more pictures, click on the image and it will take you to the album.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Great Devotional

A member of our church sent me this devotional today and it really struck a "chord" (pun intended) in my heart;

Inward Remembrance, Outward Adoration: Many years ago a number of skylarks imported from England began to breed and dot the American landscape. One day, a man who studied birds sat listening with solemn interest to the song of the immigrant birds. Nearby, an Irish laborer - hearing the song of the bird he'd heard in his mother country - stopped, took off his hat and turned his face skyward. A look of awe and joy washed across his face. His inward remembrance and love of country produced an outward response.

Although the Israelites expressed an outward worship, they didn't possess an inward love of God. Sure, an observer might believe that they worshiped God inwardly. But in truth, their hearts secretly served other gods. "In their secret chambers of idolatry and imagery." said Clarence Macartney, "they bowed down before the grinning images of Baal."

Today, as we express our adoration and worship of God, we can either be like the student of birds or like the Irishman who responded emotionally to their song. The observer simply admires what takes place, but experiences no feelings of love and devotion. However, the true worshiper - upon hearing songs about God and words of his heavenly home - feels his heart beat faster, thinking of a glorious hope for the future. And all of us long to feel this beat, because it makes our hearts come alive.
Anyone can go through the outward motions. But we can't worship by just playing a role. We have to make it the aim of our heart. When we offer our heart to God in love and adoration, he, in return, washes awe and joy across our soul.

[Mike]: this devotional made me pause and consider my own worship; is it outward motions or is it from the heart? As the author puts it so perfectly, we can't worship by simply playing a role...worship must flow from a love relationship with God and this must be our aim and our goal.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hosanna

So, we've been singing this song called "Hosanna" written by Paul Baloche. I love the song, I love the word; "Hosanna" literally means, "please save" or "save now." The lyrics to the song simply say "Hosanna, you are the God that saves us, worthy of all our praises, Hosanna, come have your way among us, we welcome you here Lord Jesus."

It's also cool to remember what the crowds shouted at Jesus as he entered Jerusalem; "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." In essence, the crowds are saying "Hosanna, please save us now, son of David." How true; it's exactly why He came. Next time you sing a song with the word "Hosanna" in it, think about what you're singing; "please save us now."

- Amen -

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Greatest Gift...

Mother's Day is approaching and obviously, I have very mixed emotions as I sit here and write. This will be the first Mother's Day since my Mom passed away. I've been reflecting a bit and have concluded that there is one thing I miss more than anything, and it's the greatest gift that a Mother can give...what is it? Unconditional Love.


Nobody loves like a Mom. Think about it; whether I was physically sick or love-sick, she was always there. When I would lose hope or motivation, or just simply lose my way, she was believing in me. She always thought I was "special" with "special potential" which, of course, she believed not just about me but also my brother and sisters. If she were here today she'd tell you that she always knew I'd be a pastor. She came to all my games and concerts, always supporting. In short, she provided wind in my sails. So it is with all Mothers! They always believe their child is extra smart, extra gifted, that God has a "special" plan for them.

I'm not trying to sound sentimental or pretend that there was never any tough times, but as I look to fill the hole in my life that she has left, this is the hole that I've identified...and nobody can fill it. It's a special place reserved for Mothers. There is much strength that comes from someone who believes in you that much...and again, not to sound cliche, but it's the same way our heavenly Father believes in us.

In the beginning God created both Adam and Eve and there is a piece of Him in both men and women. I believe that through my Mom, God taught me and continues to teach me that He too loves me unconditionally; that He believes in me, has a plan for me, and no matter how many times I blow it, He will be there.

Thanks, Mom for teaching me and showing me God's love; I miss you. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get out...into the Wilderness













"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16)

If we take God seriously, and if we take our relationship with Him seriously, then it follows that the most important priority in our lives must be to build this relationship with God. How? The first and most important ingredient in building any relationship with anyone is to spend time with them. There is no shortcut, no substitute; God has called us into "fellowship" (literally, "intimacy") and as a result, our response must be to pursue this relationship with Him at all costs.

I recently preached two messages on "A Father's Heart" (you can find them here). I challenged our church at the end of the 2nd message to "do as Jesus did" - get out into the wilderness and be with God. Why? Look at that verse up at the top - three things jump out at me right away;
1) "often" - this was a regular occurrence
2) "withdrew" - Jesus would literally "retreat" to find solitude away from distractions
3) "lonely places" - location matters..."lonely places" is translated as "wilderness" in many Bibles. Why the wilderness? The wilderness is often the place that God brings His people in order to refresh His relationship with them

Implication: if Jesus, the Son of God needed to do this regularly, how in the world do we think that we "mere mortals" would need anything less? Question: have you made your relationship with God the most important thing in your life?

Now you've read this blog and the challenge goes for you as well; make "wilderness" time with God a regular part of your life. Pursue Him! As A.W. Tozer said, "God waits to be wanted."

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