26 Sep

Wednesday Is for Worship: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”

Well, here’s a fresh one.  It’s been on my heart for about a week now.  I’ve been singing it.  My wife’s been singing it.  My son has been begging me to use it at our AWANA worship.  It hit #1 this year on the Billboard Christian Music chart and is connecting with the hearts of worshipers everywhere.  I’m talking about “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord).”

Written in 2011 by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, “10,000 Reasons” was published through Thankyou Music.  Redman’s performance and arrangement of this song is so uplifting, drawing you into worship.  The video below, which is the official video of the song, was shot in a magnificent church in Berlin that happened to be where Dietrich Bonhoeffer served as a youth leader.  It created a special backdrop and visual to the song.

You’ve got at least 10,000 reasons to worship the Lord today, but let “10,000 Reasons” give you another one as you sing along in praise to God!

CHORUS
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

VERSE 1
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

VERSE 2
You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

VERSE 3
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

___________________

If you’re interested in how the song came about, listen to Matt Redman tell the story here.

21 Sep

That’s Not Fair!

The Lord has blessed my wife and me with four children, and the two oldest who are 6yo and 4yo have developed a strong sense of justice.  Even last night, my 2yo daughter’s growing sense of justice was shining through.  I doubt a day goes by that I don’t hear them tell their mother, “Mom, that’s not fair!” or me, “Dad, that’s not fair!”  Unfortunately, their sense of justice is often misguided.

How often have you said to your heavenly Father, “That’s not fair!”?  We say it with such raw “righteousness” in our voice.  Even Tuesday I heard a new pastor friend make the statement that “God is fair.”  Really?  He is?  Is that really what we want?  Do we really want fairness from God?

I was reminded immediately of a humorous and perfect illustration from RC Sproul on our desire for fairness from God.  Listen below:

Now, do you and I still want fairness from God?  No way!  Fairness from God, which is getting what we deserve, which would be that every human being ever would be in Hell.  Fairness for me?  No thank you!

Brother, sister, we should not be crying to God for fairness.  We should be crying to God for grace and mercy.  “God, please give me what I do not deserve and what I have not earned!”  God could be fair, but He’s not.  God is gracious!!!!  And that’s good news!

As Dave Ramsey so famously says on his daily radio program when people ask him how he’s doing, he always says, “Better than I deserve!”  May that be our statement as we relish in God’s grace and rejoice that He is not a God who is fair!!!

13 Sep

Of Garbage Dumps, Cesspools, and Outhouses: Aromas That Repel

The Bible makes it clear that those who follow Christ are to smell like Him.  No, don’t go running out to try to find a bottle of pure nard perfume to anoint yourself with (John 12:3).  God is talking about a spiritual aroma and not a physical one.  He tells us through Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?

The sweet aroma of Christ emanating from us is supposed to compel people and attract them to God, but not everything coming from us smells good.  Believe me… I was a plumber for two years.  Spiritually, we stink it up some times, which repels people instead of compelling them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that if you’ll just get more the aroma of Christ, everybody around you will get saved.  Many will be repelled by that sweet aroma.  For some, the more you smell like Jesus, the more they’ll hate you.  Don’t miss what God said in 2 Corinthians 2:16.  To some, our aroma of Christ is an aroma from death to death.  In other words, it’s putrid to them, and they’ll hate you for it.  We shouldn’t be surprised because Jesus said that we would be hated because of Him (John 15:18-21).  So, being more like Jesus will not make you popular, but for some, it’ll be a sweet aroma from life to life, and they’ll be attracted to God by you.

From our standpoint, although it’s heartbreaking for Jesus, the gospel, and personal holiness to repel people, that’s okay because it’s between them and God.  However, it’s not okay for us ourselves to be the offense, and often we are, repelling people from Christ.  When we are supposed to be putting off the sweet aroma of Christ, we all too often stink it up.

Here are seven ways we repel people by stinking it up:

1)  Lukewarmness.  We get “lukewarm” when our hearts get away from God and turn hard.  Love for God wanes.  Excitement for God is missing.  Compromise to sin is rising.  The Bible speaks against this stench in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”  A hot drink is soothing, and a cold drink is refreshing, but a lukewarm drink is just nasty, making you want to spew it across the room.  Lukewarmness is repelling spiritually because it communicates to those around you that God is really no one to get excited about, no one to give your all for.

2)  Hypocrisy.  You probably heard folks call church people “hypocrites.”  A hypocrite is somebody who says they’re one thing but acts a different way.  The Bible speaks hard against the nauseating odor of hypocrites in Matthew 23:13-33.  I’ll just quote for you vv. 29-33, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell.”  Hypocrisy is such a turnoff because it makes the whole idea of God look like a lie and misrepresents God.

3)  A Holier-Than-Thou Attitude.  This stink is given off when Christians come across as thinking they are more spiritual, smarter, or better than others.  I once had a youth leader in a church I was working in tell me that he was concerned about the type of kids that were coming to our ministry events.  He didn’t want his girls to be around those “type” of kids.  His family struggled a lot with a holier than thou attitude, and man, did it reek!  Jesus ate with and ministered to the dregs of society (Mark 2:15-17).  Jesus let a prostitute, who was turning to Him in faith, wash His feet with her tears and hair (Luke 7:36-50).  The Pharisaic owner of the house was appalled that Jesus would allow such a person to touch Him, but Jesus wasn’t holier-than-thou.  A holier-than-thou attitude repels people from God because it communicates to them that the Kingdom is not for them, that they are too dumb, dirty, or deviant to follow Jesus.

4)  Legalism.  This ideology says that you can earn heaven if you’ll just follow the rules.  What those who put forth this disgusting scent are missing is that while the Law of God is good, for us sinners it leads to nothing but death (Romans 7:5).  When we heap Law and rules on people and tell them to swim, we sink them to the bottom of the ocean.  This stink repels people because they say, “I can’t do that.”  The truth is that they are right.  They can’t do it, and legalism falls short of saying what the glorious gospel says, “But you don’t have to.  Jesus did it for you.  Trust in Him!”

5)  Traditionalism.  We humans are creatures of habit and quickly come up with traditions.  Traditions are not necessarily bad, but they so easily become man-made laws that repel people from God as Jesus demonstrated in Mark 7:1-8.  He declared in verse 8, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”  This stuff still happens all the time today.  For instance, I know one family where the girls were made to wear long skirts and never cut their hair, and the boys were made to wear pants and always keep their hair short.  They were told to do this to please God.  That teaching is nothing more than a tradition of man and is not found in the Scripture.  It’s perfectly fine and within their Christian liberty to dress and groom themselves that way but goes way wrong with that style is equated with righteousness.  Unfortunately, many of the kids in that family to this day reject God because they equate that teaching with Christianity.  That’s why it’s so dangerous.  It confuses what God has said with what some fallen person has said and becomes a stumbling block on the way to God.  Woe to those persons who lay those blocks in the path!

6)  Arrogance or A Know-It-All Attitude.  This one is really similar to the holier-than-thou attitude, but it’s a bit more specific.  This stink is emanated from those who really think highly of themselves.  They’re proud of what they’ve done while forgetting that every good thing comes from God (James 1:17).  God bursts the know-it-all’s bubble in 1 Corinthians 4:6-7, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 7 For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  The arrogant are too busy making themselves look good to try to help others see that God is good.  Shew-wee!

7.  Complaining.  Christians who complain a lot repel people from God.  Nobody wants to be around a negative person who always sees the bad in every situation.  God tells us through Paul in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”  Too often Christians engage in fussing at God because they wanted this instead of that.  It says to the watching world that God is either not as loving as He could be or is not able to do what He’d really like to do.  What an odious odor!

Sniff… sniff… sniff.  Is there hint of spiritual stench coming from you?  Run to Jesus so that you’ll have His aroma before you repel those that Jesus wants you to compel!

12 Sep

Can Christians Vote for a Mormon?

Are you struggling with whom you are going to vote for in November?  Are you being tempted to simply just stay home and not vote because you can’t vote for the incumbent, and you can’t bring yourself to cast a ballot for a Mormon?

Yesterday, Baptist Press ran an excellent article summarizing the crucial conversation held at yesterday morning’s chapel at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The panel was called The Mormon Moment?: Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election, and the article on it from Baptist Press was called “Panel asks: Can Christians vote for a Mormon?”  The actual panel from SBTS is below for you to watch.  Please watch it!  I’ve also included the entirety of the Baptist Press article below in italics.  Please, please read it!!  If you only have time for the video or the article, read the article.

 

“Panel asks: Can Christians vote for a Mormon?”

–Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, with reporting by Craig Sanders of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.–

Addressing an issue on the minds of many evangelical voters as a Mormon runs for president, a Baptist seminary panel said Tuesday that evangelicals must jettison — for the good of their faith — the idea that the White House occupant must be a “religious mascot” for Christianity.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the panel discussion, less than two months before American voters will choose between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who is Mormon.

“We are going to have to give up — on both sides — the idea of president as religious mascot.”
–Russell Moore

“I heard someone in recent days say, ‘I would never vote for anyone who is not an authentically professing evangelical Christian,'” said Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary. “Well, if that’s the case, then as far as I can see, you have about three candidates in the last 100 years or so … that you could possibly vote for: William Jennings Bryan, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

“The question is not John 3:16 in terms of reading the regeneration of the person’s heart,” Moore said. “The question is Romans 13: Does this person have the kind of wisdom to bear the sword on behalf of God’s authority that He has granted to the state? And can I trust that person to protect society? That’s the fundamental question.”

American Christians too often, said seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., have seemingly assigned a “priestly role” to the White House, hoping the president will represent and promote the Christian faith. But that is a uniquely American idea, Mohler said, and unhealthy for Christianity.

“I had a pastor say to me, ‘You just can’t be faithful and vote for someone who represents such things or believes such things [as Mormons believe],'” Mohler said. “And I said, ‘What if you’re a Christian in Utah? Do you just not vote? What if your decision is between two Mormon candidates?’

“Throughout most of Christian history, folks haven’t struggled with this question because they didn’t have the luxury of struggling with it. … The separation of the priestly role from government is something that has to happen in the minds of American evangelicals,” Mohler said, warning against viewing government as an idol.

Moore agreed, saying U.S. Christians have been guilty of trying to Christianize American history.

“So many evangelicals want to go back and claim Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and John Adams as orthodox, evangelical Christians,” Moore said. “The problem with that [is that] Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were great men who did fantastic things for our country, but once you start claiming them as orthodox evangelical Christians, you’re not elevating those men, you’re downgrading the Gospel into something that fits whatever they happen to hold. And you wind up with [modern-day] politicians who learn the language of evangelical faith in order to use it, in order to manipulate people into supporting them.”

The four-member panel said Americans on multiple occasions have elected candidates who did not hold to evangelical beliefs. Among them were Unitarian William Howard Taft and Catholic John F. Kennedy.

“We went through this back in the ’60s with John Kennedy,” said Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Seminary. “They thought, ‘Oh, if we elect a Catholic, then the Pope will just have a hotline and tell him exactly what to do.'”

The panel, though, said evangelicals still face tough questions about potentially electing a Mormon for president — mainly whether a Mormon president would boost the image of Mormonism around the world.

“How do we think of that in terms of world missions?” Mohler asked. “How do we think about this in terms of missions on Third Avenue in Louisville, Ky.?”

Greg Gilbert, pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., said it’s a “difficult question.” Mormonism clearly isn’t part of orthodox, historical Christianity, panelists said.

“It may not be a kind of atomic moment where the whole nation wakes up and thinks, ‘Oh, I like Mitt Romney’s tax policies; I’m going to take a look at the Mormon church,'” Gilbert said. “I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.”

Instead, Gilbert said, a Romney president would give Mormonism more “respectability.” In that scenario, Gilbert said, it would become “increasingly important” for Christians “to clarify” the differences between orthodox, historical Christianity and Mormonism.

Mohler said he hopes Christian voters will think with deep theological concern and receive guidance from their pastors to help them make sound decisions.

Said Gilbert, “This is an educational moment for evangelicals, and it could turn out to be a healthy thing for the church if they can learn to think more carefully about how to agree with a person’s policies while disagreeing with his theological beliefs.”

Moore said the Bible includes multiple stories of how God uses non-believers for His good. Among them is Persian King Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to return to Israel following their captivity.

The question Christians should ask, Moore said, is: “Between these two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — who is going to do the best for the common good and in protecting the United States of America and all the other questions that we’ve got to keep in mind.”

Moore added, “We are going to have to give up — on both sides — the idea of president as religious mascot.”

An Obama-Romney campaign, Moore said, is a “good thing for American evangelicals.”

“It enables us to simultaneously honor the king,” he said, alluding to 1 Peter 2:17, “and to boldly proclaim the Gospel — in a way that we see happening all through the Book of Acts. We are able to love and pray for President Obama while we disagree with him on life and religious liberty and marriage and some really important things. …

“And if a President Romney is elected, we’re the people who ought to be able to say, ‘We respect and honor this man as president. We’re able to … serve with this man as president, and we’re the people who are willing to — if we’re invited into the Oval Office — say, ‘President Romney, here’s where we agree with you; here’s what we like about what you’re doing. And we sincerely want to plead with you to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Closing out the discussion, Mohler reminded attendees: “Above all we have a Gospel responsibility, that we are first and foremost citizens of the heavenly Kingdom and our concern is that others will become a part of the Kingdom through the proclamation of the Gospel.”

To read the article at the Baptist Press site, click here.

____________________

I’m really interested in what you think about this whole thing.  Please feel free to log a comment below so that others may be helped in how you are thinking this through in your mind.  May you vote and vote well!

12 Sep

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

A blessed Wednesday to you!  It’s a good day to arise and praise the Lord, especially as the feel of fall is strikingly in the air.  Today I’m going to take you back… way back to 1742.  In that year, one of the finest hymns was put to paper called “Arise, My Soul, Arise.”

Charles Wesley (the brother of the famous preacher and founder of Methodism John Wesley) wrote this hymn in his native country of England.  He was a prolific hymn-writer with over 6,000 songs to his credit.  Absolutely amazing!  The melody was composed by Lewis Edson, an American in New England, in 1782.

I have been greatly blessed to sing the Wesley/Edson version of this song.  I pray you will be as well!

VERSE 1
Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

VERSE 2
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

VERSE 3
Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

VERSE 4
The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

VERSE 5
My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

____________________

If the original is a little bit too high church for you, then I’d highly recommend Kevin Twit of Indelible Grace’s version.  It’s very celebratory and offers a chorus more inline with our modern singing.

Sovereign Grace also has a great modern version composed by Eric McAllister, which is a bit more meditative than the original but has a bright and awesome Christ-centered chorus!  You gotta hear it!

06 Sep

Discerning Minds Want to Know: Sharpening Discernment for Our Trying Times

In the year 2012, discernment is golden.  To be honest, it’s always been that way.  The ability to decide between truth and error has been needed ever since God created mankind and placed them in the Garden.  However, given the current trying milieu of multiculturalism, multi-religiosity, and postmodernity, it just seems like discernment is needed now more than ever.  Mark Twain once remarked that a lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is putting on its shoes.  If that was true in the 19th century, then it’s most certainly true today with mass and social media.

Discernment in its simplest definition is the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong, even best and better. It’s akin to wisdom, and they go hand in hand.  One who discerns well is wise, and one who is wise discerns well.  So, just as one can grow in wisdom (Ps 19:7), one can also grow in discernment as God through the writer of Hebrews alludes to:  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil, (Heb 5:14).

It’s important to note here at the outset that discernment is listed as a spiritual gift in 1 Corinthians 12:10, but it’s not just a spiritual gift.  It’s also a spiritual discipline.  Some by the supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit have the ability to easily and quickly perceive whether something or someone is from God or Satan.  However, those who do not have this gifting can work at developing discernment through exercise, and even those that have the gifting can better the gifting.  As Hebrews 5:14 tells us, we can train our senses to discern good and evil and should do so.  Romans 12:2 reiterates the same thing, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Discernment is so crucial for the following reasons:

1.  We are faced with potentially life-changing choices every day.  It’s not every day that we make “big” decisions, but every day is filled with seemingly insignificant choices that have the potential to completely change our lives.  Therefore, discernment is as crucial to Christians as the steering wheel is to a car.  Without them, you’ll easily go in the wrong direction and perhaps even off of a cliff.

2.  We are bombarded with messages contra to God’s revealed will.  God has revealed to us in Scripture what pleases Him, but everywhere we turn, we see images, info, and ideals that run contrary to biblical insight, which can with little trouble draw us away from God and His desire for our life.  You’ve probably heard that if you hear a lie enough, you begin to believe it, and that’s still the case today.  It’s an all-out blitzkrieg on our minds and hearts.  Therefore, discernment is needed to navigate to spiritual safety in the dangerous world we live in.

3.  Wolves wear sheep’s clothing.  Spiritual danger is not always obvious as God through Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”  The angel of darkness and his servants masquerade as angels of light so that we might be sucked in and then devoured.  Discernment helps us see through the disguise, keeping us safe.

4.  It’s an indicator of growth.  In the verse just prior to Hebrews 5:14, which we’ve looked at twice already, we read, For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant, (Heb 5:13).  That is followed up with, But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil, (Heb 5:14).  These verses talk about moving from infancy to maturity, from liquid food to solid food, which is nothing more than growth, and growth is evidenced by having trained our senses through practice to discern well.  You know you are growing if you are getting better at discerning.

5.  We who follow Christ want to please Him.  If you are a follower of Jesus, your greatest joy should be the thought of His smile, that He would be pleased with what you have done.  But, in order to do the things that make Jesus smile, you must first know what those things are.  Therefore, discernment is the key to blamelessness before God, as God through Paul tells us in Philippians 1:9-11, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  If you’re going to please your Lord Jesus, you must grow in discernment.

Now that we’ve established what discernment is and why it’s so important, let’s turn our attention now to how to grow in discernment.  I want to share with you eight principles to sharpen your discernment.

1.  Ask God for it.  I know that sounds simple, right?  But, it’s fully biblical.  God tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” and then again in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to “desire earnestly the spiritual gifts.”  If we couple these scriptures with what God tells us in James 4:2, which says “You do not have because you do not ask,” then you need to desire to grow in discernment and ask God to give it.  Seriously, ask the Giver for the gift!

2.  Read the Word.  We need to have a steady diet of Scripture going in to us, which means we need to regularly read the Bible.  Simply reading through the Scripture at even a surface level will give you a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible and help you become acquainted with the Bible so that your discernment will begin to be sharpened.

3.  Study the Word.  While simple reading of the Bible will help you, you also need to dig deeper into the Word.  Again, as Hebrews 5:14 points out, “solid food is for the mature.”  Studying the Bible gets at that solid food, which will in turn train your senses to discern good and evil.

Before we move on, let me point you to a very dangerous but common pitfall when it comes to discernment.  Instead of studying the Word so that one might know truth from error, many people depend on their feelings, their gut, their spirit their heart to guide them.  I have had several folks tell me, “That just didn’t agree with my spirit,” and my usual response back is, “But does your spirit agree with the Word of God?”

Never just trust your heart.  Let me say that again louder:  NEVER JUST TRUST YOUR HEART!  The heart is a terrible guide because it so easily gets messed up.  As Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”  I don’t want to completely disregard the role that our feelings, gut, spirit, or heart can play.  These things might be the beginning of your discernment.  The things might be the warning buzzer that raises your discernment antennae, but they cannot be your final measure because your feelings, gut, spirit, or heart can be untrained, poorly trained, or misguided.  You need knowledge of the Word of God, which comes through study, to prepare you to discern rightly.

4.  Acquaint yourself with false teachings.  An important tool in the discerner’s tool box is being familiar with false doctrines and philosophies.  When you begin to understand what’s out there, you can more easily spot the error when it pops up.  Being a student of history is also helpful in this area because it’s likely that some Christian somewhere has had to deal with the false teaching you’re facing.  However, we must still heed God’s word to us in Romans 16:19 “to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.”  In other words, get acquainted with false teachings, but be better acquainted with truth!

5.  Test the spirit and teaching.  You can’t just accept things at face value.  God tell us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world,” (1 John 4:1).  Whenever you hear something, go straight to the Word of God, and make sure it’s in agreement.  That’s what the Bereans did with Paul and Silas in Acts 17:10-12, “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”  They tested the spirit and the teaching against the Word, and you should as well.

6.  Develop relationships with discerning, godly people.  Discernment like most other things can be caught as much as taught.  Therefore, you should surround yourself with people who discern well so that you can imitate them and be sharpened by them.  Might I throw in that the best place to do this is the local church?  Oh, I just did.  Get connected to the local body for these relationships!

7.  Seek the counsel of discerning, godly people.  More than just learning to do what they do and to think how they think, discerning, godly people are a great resource for you.  If you are having trouble discerning or are unsure of your discernment, get their input.  God gifted them with their ability to discern for the benefit of others (1 Cor 12:7).  So, let them fulfill God’s purpose by seeking their counsel.

8.  Guard your heart against a critical spirit.  God wants you to be discerning, but Satan loves to take a good gift or discipline and use it against you.  As you develop your discernment, you must constantly check your heart against pride, which manifests itself in a critical spirit or a holier than thou attitude.  Do not seek growth in discernment without seeking growth in humility as well!!  Too many do not and become a blemish on the church instead of a help to the church.

May your discernment become razor sharp for the pleasure of God and the good of yourself and others!

05 Sep

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Shout to the Lord”

It’s Wednesday once again.  Are you ready to do a little shouting?!  A shout of praise, that is.  There’s a lot to shout about, and today’s song will help you along.

“Shout to the Lord” was written in 1993 by Darlene Zschech and published through Hillsong Music Publishing.  It is by far the most popular song Zschech has written.  In fact, here in 2012, it still remains on the CCLI Top 25 List, which charts the most-used worship songs as reported monthly by churches.  That’s 19 years after it was published!  I’d say it now a classic and here to stay.

It’s easy understand why.  The lyrics are wonderfully Christ-centered and Christ-exalting, and although the lyrics are simply one verse and a chorus, there’s a lot to feed the soul on as you praise the Lord.  I’ve been worshiping the Lord with this song since 1997 when the Lord saved me and to this day, love to give the Lord a shout of praise with this song.  Why don’t you do the same today?!!

VERSE
My Jesus, my Savior
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

CHORUS
Shout to the Lord
All the Earth, let us sing
Power and majesty
Praise to the King
Mountains bow down
And the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work
Of Your hands
Forever I’ll love You
Forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares
To the promise I have in You