Category Archives: worship

Addressing iWorries With iPraise

First of all, I have no photos to upload and post.  If you want to call and talk about it, forget it.

Secondly, I am looking at a computer screen with 1 1/2 times the letters I’m actually typing.

Thirdly, the weeds are still there.

Fourth, I’m an emotional bag of nerves.

Will this be an inspirational post? I don’t know. It all depends. If you have a wonderful life where nothing out of control stresses you out, then you may think to yourself, “Man, I’m glad I’m not that guy.”

On the other hand, you may be in Zimbabwe and might think to yourself, “I wish my problems were as few as his.”

Nevertheless, here’s my story.

iProblems

Last night I went to bed and was going to set my alarm on my phone. When I plugged it into the charger, the charger port was broke. How/when did that happen??! I have no clue, but that has to be fixed…today!

I had photos I was going to upload for a post, but now I dare not turn on my phone and run down what charge I still have. Should there be an emergency, I will need to make a call. But now my wife can’t get ahold of me, and that’s a big problem – as you will see in just a second.

iBlind

And if the phone problem wasn’t enough, my glasses broke yesterday. I mean, I literally took them off my face and the dang things just fell apart! We’re not talking a loose screw, or anything – the frame broke!

If you want to know why that’s a big issue, let me just tell you the brand name of the frame: Silhouette.  Another expensive fix.

iNearly Cursed

Before my glasses fell apart in my hands, something else decided to up and die – the new lawn trimmer.

Look, I don’t have to mow the lawn surrounding our church, the fellowship hall, and the house we live in; someone else does that. However, that someone is a little bit older and has difficulty getting on and off his riding mower, not to mention trimming the grass around three structures and parking lots. So, in order to help out, while at the same time give me the satisfaction of doing something outside, I broke down and purchased a new trimmer.

Keep in mind, I might be 5+ months past shoulder surgery, but pulling the crank on a lawn trimmer is still not easy. So, after about 50 pulls I almost let loose a string of profanities, but I didn’t. Well… maybe a word or two.

iMiss’em

Then, on top of all that, my wife and youngest daughter just drove around the corner and out of sight as they are on their way out of town for 3 days. They are going to a conference in Knoxville, TN.

What’s wrong with that? Well, I absolutely hate it when my wife leaves town, especially with one of the girls. Why? Because they are out there somewhere and I can’t protect them. I’m also pretty clueless when my wife isn’t around to manage things.

It’s sorta kind of crazy, I guess. It’s no big deal for me when I leave town for something, but when my wife leaves town I can’t even sleep at night.

iPraise

So, as I was writing down all my first-world problems, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scripture passage – literally, it came to mind as I stepped away to let the dog out to pee:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

No, that doesn’t mean I should be thankful my glasses, iPhone, and weedeater broke. But what it does mean is that I should be thankful that even in the middle of all this brokenness, Christ has a plan for me. Yes, even when things like these break.

I must remind myself that God ordains my footsteps, and it might just be that He needs my witness at a repair shop or return counter. If a broken iPhone allows me to talk about Jesus, wouldn’t that be great?

Then, right after I thought of the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, another verse came to mind:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 CSB

No, I can’t always be there to watch over my wife and daughters, but God is there. They are in His hand. He can watch over them far better than I can.

If I keep that in mind I might just get some sleep.

 

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Filed under Faith, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

The Magnificen Fifty: Foundations of Faith (New Hampshire)

Concord, New Hampshire (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

New Hampshire Constitution, Bill of Rights, Article 5 (1784)

Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God…and no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained…for worshipping God.


To read the introduction to and purpose of this series, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under America, Apologetics, community, Culture Wars, God, politics, The Magnificent Fifty, worship

Are You Glad?

I am!

church glad to go

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The Magnificent Fifty: Foundation of Faith (Pennsylvania)

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

Constitution Preamble (1776)

We, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance.


Folks, is there no such thing as irony? The men and women of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) make bold claims about a “godless” Constitution and the godlessness of our Founding Fathers, yet the words above seem to stand in stark contrast to their claims. Again, the “wall of separation” as defined by the modern “intellects” was nowhere to be found in 1776.

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The Magnificent Fifty: Foundation of Faith (Kentucky)

Frankfort, Kentucky (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

Kentucky Latin Motto (2002)

Deo gratiam habeamus “Let us be grateful to God”

A group of Lexington homeschoolers with the help of the bill’s sponsor, Tom Riner (D-Louisville), wrote and were involved in the passing of HB 857.

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8+ Reasons Why Smaller Churches Are Better

The Survey

In a recent study conducted by the survey pro’s at TheRecoveringLegalist.com, pastors from both large and small congregations shared why they thought a small church could be better than a big one.

The survey sample was made up of pastors from various denominations, from different parts of the country, and consisted of men from my personal contact list – and my wife. It was VERY scientific – sorta.

The Question

I had my own thoughts, but I wanted to know what others thought, so I asked a question. The question I posed to other pastors went something like this:

“I’m doing a quick, non-scientific survey for a blog post (no names will be mentioned). Can you give me 1 or 2 reasons why a small church could be better than a big church?”

Within moments I received multiple replies through text, email, and Messenger. It took them very little time to respond, like it was something they didn’t even have to think about, and the answers they gave were practically the same.

The Answers

If the answers from the pastors in the survey I conducted mean anything, it would seem that smaller churches are the place to be if you want to be:

  1. Known by name;
  2. Have intimate relationships with others;
  3. Have a pastor who misses you when you’re not there; and/or
  4. Experience more accountability.

Other answers suggested that in larger churches it is harder to keep track of what is being taught in “small groups,” while in smaller churches everyone is more on the same page. But overall, the most common reason given for smaller churches being better than bigger churches was knowing and being known by others in the congregation.

As a matter of fact, what the pastors in my survey said echoed the hopeful and encouraging words of Karl Vaters’ article “Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing.” Speaking of Millennials, he said:

“[There’s] growing evidence this new generation will bring the greatest opportunity for small church ministry in 2,000 years.

Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worshipwhat small churches do best—will matter more to them than it did to their parents.” [emphasis added]

So you see, even though larger churches offer a lot – unlimited numbers of ministries in which to get involved; professional-quality childcare; servant pastors for every niche; and the best technology money can buy – many people are coming to understand there’s something special about the community of a small, loving congregation.

But There’s MORE!

Should you surmise that intimate, supportive relationships, accountability, and being able to talk with your pastor without an appointment are the only qualities that make small churches better than bigger ones, think again. There’s more! Much more!

The following are 8 more reasons why small churches could actually be better than large ones, at least for some people:

  1. Parking Spaces. Why should one have to search ten minutes to find a parking place within walking distance to the trolley you must ride to get to the front door? Small churches have plenty of parking, usually no further than a hymnbook’s throw away.
  2. No Auditions Necessary. Forget having to try out for the choir, the praise team, the annual play, the children’s musical, or the worship orchestra. If you can sing, play an instrument, or read a line – or even if you can’t – there’s always a place for you in a small church, at least in the choir.
  3. No Training Necessary. So, you want to run sound? You want to operate the lights? You think you have a desire to operate the recording equipment? Well, you’d better have a resume and a list of references if you want to do any of that in a big church. Seriously, they can’t let just anyone with a desire operate a $25,000 camera or push the buttons that link to the network satellite feed. But in a small church? HA! There’s always a need for someone to flip the cassette or press “record.”
  4. The Best Seating Anywhere. If you come in late to a service at a big church, no kidding, you might need binoculars to see the holes in the pastor’s jeans. But in a small church, well, the back row might as well be in the reserved section! Compared to a mega-church, the back row in a small church is practically within spitting distance of the preacher.
  5. Genuinely-Experienced Childcare. Do you have small children? Do you care about them? Why let Buffy or Bianca watch your crumb cruncher while you worship? Why not trust them to the experienced, floppy-armed grannies who’ve raised more kids than a champion goat farmer? Who better to make sure you young’ns act right and learn about Jesus than a few ladies who’ve washed out more than a few mouths with Ivory soap? [Disclaimer: Washing out mouths with soap is no longer approved]
  6. Free Interactive Technology Museum. Bigger churches are all about the newest, most advanced technology. Smaller churches, on the other hand, rarely have the funds for regular upgrades to sound equipment, etc. Therefore, where else can you go to find working 1980’s (if not older) sound equipment still being used? Small churches are like free interactive technology museums where everyone can listen to both the preacher AND the local radio station at the same time!
  7. Food, Food, and More Food. Go to a large church and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to eat. They have Wednesday night meals, socials, finger foods, and all kinds of stuff before Sunday School (morning Bible study). Some large churches even have coffee bars and sit-down restaurants on campus! But seriously, how does any of that compare to what a bunch of ladies can whip up for a homecoming dinner on the ground? Believe me, when you’re sick at home and can’t fend for yourself, those small-church ladies can keep you well-maintained with cornbread, beans, fried chicken, and homemade stew.
  8. It’s Your Community. If nothing else, your typical small church is made up of people from your own community. Large churches – the ones with huge TV ministries and social programs – are made up of people from all over the place; small churches are filled with your neighbors. It’s in the small, hometown churches where people learn to shoulder up with each other through a community’s hard times. It’s in the small church where a pastor attends your daughter’s graduation, the funerals and weddings are no charge, and someone always notices when you’re not there.

Seriously, I have nothing against large churches – every pastor would love his church to be one. However, most churches average no more than 80 members, and they are where the majority of solid, faithful, salt-of-the-earth Christians still attend.

So, are small churches really better than big ones? Well, that all depends on where God wants you. But if you don’t want to get lost in the crowd – or in the parking lot – a small church just might be what you need.

Y’all are welcome any time! (11055 Dayton Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN)

 

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Barriers to Church Growth #4 (Hold to God)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People are unwilling to take hold of God (Isaiah 64:7).”

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” – Isaiah 64:7 KJV

Every time we heard a gospel song that had words similar to “hold on to God,” or “hold to His hand,” my parents quickly reminded us that “we don’t hold God’s hand – He holds ours.” Understandably, what my parents were referring to was salvation. In that sense, we are held and He will never let go.

But that is not what this verse is talking about. Isaiah is saying that part of the problem his people were facing was the fact that none had the desire, nor even the desire to have a desire, to grab hold of God. If that is true today, then it may not only be a huge barrier to church growth, but to individual growth as well.

Take Hold of Thee

It is interesting and revealing when we look at this phrase and compare its usage to other places in Scripture. To begin with, the word chazaq (Strong’s H2388) essentially means “to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly” (Gesenius’s Lexicon). It is a verb that is translated into English as words such as strong, retain, urgent, and caught. Here are just a few examples.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught[2388] it, and it became a rod in his hand:” – Exodus 4:4

“And the Egyptians were urgent[2388] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste ; for they said , We be all dead men.” – Exodus 12:33

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain[2388] thine integrity? curse God, and die .” – Job 2:9

Moses “caught.” Look at the first verse. Moses had been commanded by God to throw down his rod, after which it became a serpent. Then, against all logic, God told him to pick it up again, but this time by the tail (riiiiigghht!). I would have had to be seriously “stirred up” to pick up a deadly snake by the tail – it BITES! Yet, that’s what Moses did. He “caught it” by the tail.

The Egyptians were “urgent.” Next, after suffering under all the plagues, the Egyptians “were urgent” in there pushing the Israelites out of town. They had come to realize that their own lives were in jeopardy if the Jews stayed one day longer. It was imperative that they are pushed out as quickly as possible.

Job “still retained.” Now, look at poor Job. He had lost everything dear to him, including his health, and then came his wife telling him to curse God and die. She couldn’t believe that he could just sit there and hold on to his belief that God was worth serving. “After all this, are you still holding on to your integrity? What for? What’s the use? Quit putting yourself through this nonsense and just curse God and die!” Yet, he held on.

Making it Apply

When we view Isaiah 64:7 in the light of the verses above, what we have is astounding and convicting. Let’s see if we can work it all together:

1) Taking hold of God is something that we should take seriously, not flippantly. Don’t reach out for Him in a way that implies half-heartedness. Take hold like you mean it! Who do we think God is, a stick to be used by us in our own power to accomplish our own desires? NO! He is alive and dangerous. As Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, He is NOT tame. He is not here to be played with.

2) Do we not understand that without the power and presence of God we will die?In Him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There should be an urgency in our desire for Him, no less than the kind the Egyptians had to expel the Jews from their land. Do we want to live? We must urgently “take hold.”

3) We must hold on to God even when it seems insane to others. We must consider our relationship with our Heavenly Father so precious that even when Hell seems to be winning, faith tells us otherwise. Like Job of old, we should hold on to God even when we lie broken and wasted amid the ashes of seeming defeat. Our Redeemer LIVES!

The Barrier that Must Fall

If we are to see growth in our churches, not to mention our own lives, we must seek after God with urgency, intensity, and passion. He must be sought after and adhered to like no other treasure on earth. Anything less betrays our divided, adulterous hearts. God will bless and grow a people who “take hold.” No church will grow who only takes hold of God when it is convenient, fun, or fashionable.

Time is filled with swift transition
Not of earth or moon can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring
When my earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling

Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

We must cleave to Him. It IS a matter of life or death.

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