Would you preach till your vocal chords gave out?

40 years of passionately loving a church and faithfully preaching the Gospel.

I get to travel a lot for work (Logos Bible Software) and this week I’m at Hillside Christian Church for the Jud Wilhite God of Yes tour.

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Best part, my dear friend from college Erik is the tech director. As he gave me a tour of the facility I got to hear the story of the church. The story that stuck out was about the last senior pastor who transitioned out after 40 years preaching from the pulpit. In fact, today, he has to get injections in his vocal cords to be able to whisper. It makes me consider the amount of passion and drive that motivates someone to such lengths.

What motivates you? Do you believe in something so passionately?

Ohh, as we were touring that same pastor was walking around the office loving on the staff at the church. Really makes me consider what kind of legacy I will leave…

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Jesus – Grieving Over the Religious..

Was Jesus ever angry?

Mark 3:5

“And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart,”

One of the most important things to me is that my boys know who Jesus is. Part of knowing who Jesus is requires us to study and dive into what he did in the scriptures. What we find is a Jesus who is committed to the work of the Father. In Mark 3:5 we also see Jesus responding to the Pharisees that highlights his humanity. One of the great mysteries of theology is that Jesus is both fully man and God. This mystery should lead us into worship of our great God. In Mark 3:5 we see that Jesus feels two common human emotions “anger” and grief”. Jesus has human emotions, and feels deeply. Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 7.39.57 PMDiving into the Greek text (thanks to Logos 5 for the research help!) we see that the Greek word “Syllypeo” is being translated as the word “grieved”. This word literally means to feel sympathy. When referring to anger, the greek word “Orge” is being used which refers to relatively strong displeasure with a focus on the emotion anger.

In this one sentence we see Jesus expressing two seemingly opposite emotions. Jesus was angry with the Pharisees for their insensitivity to suffering while also grieving over the condition of their hearts. Jesus’ anger and grief teaches me the following.

  1. Don’t forget the Gospel – While these religious leaders are consumed with hatred for Christ and waiting for the opportune moment attack, they miss their calling. As the religious leaders it is their responsibility to represent God. To do His will and care for others. It’s easy for us to get consumed with things that pull us away from Gospel.
  2. Do good – Jesus asks if its right to do good or harm, to save or to kill. In the very next verses Jesus answers this question with an action. He restores the mans hand. It’s simple, do good. Start with your family, your wife, husband, children, mom, dad, and siblings. Do good in your community (including the neighbors you try to avoid cause they annoy you). Be a reflection of the Gospel of Christ.

Do You See Jesus When You Worship?

Worship

I get the opportunity to travel some for my job. I wrote this post sitting in the balcony of Calvary Baptist Church in Lancaster, PA. Just a heads up, the pronunciation for this city is closer to “Lancester”. I offended someone at a local pizza place.

This is probably one of my favorite conferences. They have three locations and I am at the first one for 2013. The topic of Worship holds a  special place in my heart for a couple reasons.

  • I’ve served as a Worship Leader
  • I’ve served as a Worship pastor
  • I’m a musician and love music

Needless to say, I love talking about and discussing all the various components of worship within the context of a local church.

  • Music
  • Theology
  • Organization
  • Technology

My favorite topic, however, is that of theology. Our understanding of theology and the implication of how we read the Biblical text play’s out very practically in the songs that we write or chose to sing. While at the conference a pastor named Steve Berger spoke for a general session. While the overarching theme of the conference is worshiping in spirit and truth, pastor Berger made one statement that caught my attention. He asked everyone, “When we worship, do we see Jesus”?

In all honesty, I’ve found that many times leading worship I didn’t see Jesus. I thought about Jesus, I was focused on Jesus, I wanted other people to see Jesus. However, I did not make it a habit or practice to ask myself if I saw Jesus when I worshipped. There are some common issues, challenges, and fear’s that most worship leaders face. Possibly the most prominent or popular is pride. Worship leaders are always working towards humility, ensuring that they are not getting prideful, and working hard at being a humble servant. I wonder, if these things would be reconciled if we just saw Jesus when we worshiped. As I think about the implications of seeing Jesus when we worship, I think the following will occur.

  1. Our desire for approval will be satisfied – We are always looking for approval. Typically, this comes from the lead pastor, the church congregation, or our musicians and band. When we see Jesus when we worship, his approval of us is ultimately satisfying. The best part, is that his approval of us is not based on what we did, but what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
  2. Our songs become more theologically sound – When we look to Jesus and focus on him, our preparation for worship in song choices will reflect the personhood of who Christ is. Simply, the songs that we write and the ones that we choose become centered around Christ.
  3. We are able to lead more effectively – When we see Jesus during our worship, we are inevitably drawn to him. As we draw near to him, it becomes our goal and heart’s desire to point others to him. As we point others to him, we become satisfied in his exaltation.

I would also encourage that we expand the definition of worship beyond singing songs during a worship service. We worship God or have the capacity to worship him during every second, of every minute, of every hour. Our worship of God is a result of a heart that is postured to honor, exalt, and glorify God. So, do you see Jesus when you worship?

Why Memoirs To My Kids?

To be very honest, the thought of writing a blog is not something that is incredibly appealing to me. I love theology, leadership, and discussing various philosophies of ministry. Writing blogs is not in that list. During some sermon preparation two years I ago, I started to see a consistent theme among pastors, theologians, scholars, and teachers that I valued and respected. They all wrote consistently. Some of my favorites like Charles Spurgeon, C.S Lewis, and Jonathan Edwards kept consistent journals and wrote to those that they loved. Hundreds of years later, there disciplined approach to writing left us with the ability to learn and grow from their thoughts.

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Liam (left) and Levi (right)

17 months ago my son Liam was born and one week ago my second son Levi joined us. As I was praying I felt an overwhelming compulsion to start writing specifically to them. I wanted Liam and Levi to be able to read my thoughts and see how the Gospel was actively transforming their incredibly flawed and sinful father. I wanted to be able to provide them the opportunity to learn from my experiences, successes, failures, and hardships. With the desire that they would experience the incredible power and refining of the Gospel, even beyond what I have.

Liam and Levi are an absolute joy, and I pray that these posts would encourage others that stumble upon this blog to experience the beauty of the Gospel and grow in their affections for Christ.

My next post will be Levi’s story and how God showed us his Glory through some challenging moments these last 9 months.

– Joel