Tag Archives: Hosea

Barriers to Church Growth. #1

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 this barriers.

“Churches aren’t concerned about God’s glory, believing the church is just for them (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).”

I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. – Isa. 42:8

For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. – Isa. 48:11

When we read the above verses it should be very clear to us that God is not interested in sharing His glory. Yet, too many times we rob God of the glory that is due Him by seeking it for ourselves. We do this in many ways, including the reason many of us go to church.

Lest we forget, “it’s not about us.” However, if you polled the majority of church-goers, I believe you’d find that the reasons for attending congregational worship are more selfish than we’d like to admit. To many believers, church is about what one can get, as opposed to what one can give.

The Tale of the Hymns

Have you ever stopped to listen to the words of those old-time hymns many of us grew up with? You may have sung them all your life, but stop and think about the following: “This world is not MY home, I’m only passing through. / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…;” “I’ll Fly Away;” “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop;” “All I Need.” What is the common denominator of these lyrics and titles? “Me, me, me.”

If the Church Hymnal (© 1951,1979) was used as a tool to determine what we think of church, stop and think about this: there are 80 hymns with a title that starts with the words, I, I’m, I’d, I’ll, I’ve, or My. In contrast, less than 10 contain the word glory. Those that do include “Glory Hallelujah In My Soul” and “I’ll Live in Glory.

I think it is pretty obvious that many of us come to church to get from God, not to give to God. He deserves our worship and our praise. He deserves all the glory because His is God, and not man (Hosea 11:9). We deserve nothing, yet His grace and mercy bestow upon us all the treasures we enjoy. Why do we come expecting anything?

Surely our churches would grow if God was glorified. Imagine a congregation of people who came together to lift up praise and adoration to Jesus for His glorious love. Imagine a group of folks who set aside all their own desires and petty differences in order to lift up holy hands unto the King of Glory. What did Jesus say? “If I be lifted up…I will draw all men unto me.”

So, what do you think? How could we do better in giving the glory to the One who truly deserves it?

Related Post: Un-“Christian” Ministry?

6 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, God, Uncategorized, worship

A Flirting God?

The following is Part 3 of a 3-Part series of controversial posts first published in Sept. of 2013. I hope this one’s a blessing.

Don’t Be Shocked

I know that the title may come as a shock to many of you, but don’t be too shocked, at least not yet. I have been talking about men and women flirting over the last couple of days, but as I told you, there was a method to my madness.

You might be saying, “And if you say God is a flirt, then you are truly mad, you crazy fool!” But please, hear me (or read me) out. “Flirting” might not be the best word, but what about “wooing”? If not a flirting God, surely He woos us all the time.

Background

Now, just in case you think I am crazy, let me share with you one of my favorite verses from one of my favorite books in the Bible, Hosea.

I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” – Hosea 11:4 KJV

With metaphor God explains to the prophet Hosea how He has gone the extra mile to win over His people’s love. That, after all, is the message portrayed by Hosea’s pursuit of Gomer (that’s his wife’s name) as she runs from lover to lover. God would much rather win our love than divorce (judge) us.

When I think of the first part of that verse, the words “cords of a man” become “heart strings.” In other words, in order to win our affections, God is doing everything He can to “pull our strings,” or at least the emotional strings of our hearts. Cool, huh?

Signs of Wooing

As with the last two posts, I’d like to consider some ways in which God might “flirt” with us. In other words, God might be wooing you if…

  • You wake up earlier than you wanted, but see the most beautiful sunrise of your life.
  • You decide to give up on life, only to have an email pop up showing someone worse off than you.
  • It seems that there is no meaning in life, but then you hear a baby cry, or your child says, “I wuv you.”
  • In the dark, late at night, you find yourself crying, but a warmth you can’t explain wraps around you, cradling you to sleep.
  • You find yourself feeling like a failure, worthless and dirty, then from out of nowhere comes a verse you learned in Sunday School: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son…”

Do I need to go on? Is He pulling the strings of your heart? Will you respond to His advances?

He does love you!

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Filed under God, Love of God, salvation, self-worth

A Flirting God?

Don’t Be Shocked

I know that the title may come as a shock to many of you, but don’t be too shocked, at least not yet. I have been talking about men and women flirting over the last couple of days, but as I told you, there was a method to my madness.

You might be saying, “And if you say God is a flirt, then you are truly mad, you crazy fool!” But please, hear me (or read me) out. “Flirting” might not be the best word, but what about “wooing”? If not a flirting God, surely He woos us all the time.

Background

Now, just in case you think I am crazy, let me share with you one of my favorite verses from one of my favorite books in the Bible, Hosea.

I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” – Hosea 11:4 KJV

With metaphor God explains to the prophet Hosea how He has gone the extra mile to win over His people’s love. That, after all, is the message portrayed by Hosea’s pursuit of Gomer (that’s his wife’s name) as she runs from lover to lover. God would much rather win our love than divorce (judge) us.

When I think of the first part of that verse, the words “cords of a man” become “heart strings.” In other words, in order to win our affections, God is doing everything He can to “pull our strings,” or at least the emotional strings of our hearts. Cool, huh?

Signs of Wooing

As with the last two posts, I’d like to consider some ways in which God might “flirt” with us. In other words, God might be wooing you if…

  • You wake up earlier than you wanted, but see the most beautiful sunrise of your life.
  • You decide to give up on life, only to have an email pop up showing someone worse off than you.
  • It seems that there is no meaning in life, but then you hear a baby cry, or your child says, “I wuv you.”
  • In the dark, late at night, you find yourself crying, but a warmth you can’t explain wraps around you, cradling you to sleep.
  • You find yourself feeling like a failure, worthless and dirty, then from out of nowhere comes a verse you learned in Sunday School: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son…”

Do I need to go on? Is He pulling the strings of your heart? Will you respond to His advances?

He does love you!

6 Comments

Filed under God, Love of God, salvation, self-worth

“This is all for you.”

The Video

I had never heard of Mobbed, but then my daughters showed me the video I am going to share with you. They said, “This is the best video EVER!”

I sat down with my dinner in front of my computer and started watching. It wasn’t long before I was crying. My daughters and wife were snickering and pointing at me (which is typical), but they had no idea why I was really crying.

Please, watch this video. It is truly a wonderful thing to behold, and you may tear up, too. But after you watch it, please read what I have written below.

Reasons for Tears

As I was watching this video with my wife and girls standing behind me, my initial thought was, “My gosh! I wonder how much that cost?…Oh great! What am I going to do for our 20th anniversary in just 10 months?!”

Then, as the bride-to-be was walking down the make-shift isle, the groom-to-be said (10:00), “This is all for you.”

I literally wept. Oh wow!

My memory immediately recalled Hosea 11:4, “I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love…” Then I remembered the message of other passages…

“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us…” 1 John 3:16a

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Stop and think about it!

We are the Bride, and God has done it all. He has paid the highest price; surrounded us with a “cloud of witnesses;” guided us when we didn’t know where to go; and surrounded us with beauty and surprises at ever turn. All of it was planned long before we knew what was going on, and He did it all…all for a “yes.”

One of my daughters said, “Wouldn’t it have been horrible if she had said ‘no’?”

Yes, it would have been. But just think of how many do it every day? How horrible! How sad for Him!

If nothing else, this video made me love Jesus even more.

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, God, Love of God, worship

Barriers to Church Growth. #1

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 different barrier each week.

“Churches aren’t concerned about God’s glory, believing the church is just for them (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).”

I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. – Isa. 42:8

For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. – Isa. 48:11

When we read the above verses it should be very clear to us that God is not interested in sharing His glory. Yet, too many times we rob God of the glory that is due Him by seeking it for ourselves. We do this in many ways, including the reason many of us go to church.

Lest we forget, “it’s not about us.” However, if you polled the majority of church-goers, I believe you’d find that the reasons for attending congregational worship are more selfish than we’d like to admit. To many believers, church is about what one can get, as opposed to what one can give.

The Tale of the Hymns

Have you ever stopped to listen to the words of those old-time hymns many of us grew up with? You may have sung them all your life, but stop and think about the following: “This world is not MY home, I’m only passing through. / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…;” “I’ll Fly Away;” “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop;” “All I Need.” What is the common denominator of these lyrics and titles? “Me, me, me.”

If the Church Hymnal (© 1951,1979) was used as a tool to determine what we think of church, stop and think about this: there are 80 hymns with a title that start with the words, I, I’m, I’d, I’ll, I’ve, or My. In contrast, less than 10 contain the word glory. Those that do include “Glory Hallelujah In My Soul” and “I’ll Live in Glory.

I think it is pretty obvious that many of us come to church to get from God, not to give to God. He deserves our worship and our praise. He deserves all the glory because His is God, and not man (Hosea 11:9). We deserve nothing, yet His grace and mercy bestows upon us all the treasures we enjoy. Why do we come expecting anything?

Surely our churches would grow if God was glorified. Imagine a congregation of people who came together to lift up praise and adoration to Jesus for His glorious love. Imagine a group of folks who set aside all their own desires and petty differences in order to lift up holy hands unto the King of Glory. What did Jesus say? “If I be lifted up…I will draw all men unto me.”

So, what do you think? How could we do better in giving the glory to the One who truly deserves it?

Related Post: Un-“Christian” Ministry?

20 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, God, Uncategorized, worship