Church, Where Is Your Joy?

Joy

Today in church, we were awarded a special treat. We witnessed a profession of faith and two baptisms and a testimony. While professions of faith and baptisms are an absolute blessing to the church, this post will focus exclusively on the testimony. Allow me to paraphrase the joyful message we heard below:

After being challenged to confess her sins to God by her unchurched mother, she feels guilt for avoiding church and putting it off, so, alone with her child, she finally gives in and confesses. When she does this, she did so completely with an open mind and an open heart. To her amazement, she heard words, though not with her ears, that she had not used before this moment. The words were not hers, but they were spoken into her heart. And then, she confessed.

After her confession, since she had missed church, she found a church service streamed online. The sermon mentioned Isaiah 43:18-19.

She quickly looked up this verse in the pages of a used teen study bible someone had given to her. Within the Word of God, she read the verse, noting not only God’s answer to her confession, but that out of every verse in her used study bible, this verse was the only one marked with a highlighter. The only one. Through His Word God told her:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

While it occurred to me and many others that a wonderful thing had happened to her, later, I thought of something else. Much of what happened to this young lady we can see fits into a portion of our church order of worship.

http://network.crcna.org/worship/historic-order-worship

Some churches have a different order and may have slimmed it down to just a few headings, but in this order, we have Gathering/Praise, Confession, Proclamation, Response to the Word, Lord’s Supper, and Sending. I am, of course, paying close attention to the Confession section of worship here. Within that section we have sub-headings: Call to Confession, Prayer of Confession, Assurance of Pardon, Passing the Peace, and Response to Thanksgiving.

It occurred to me that God had lead her through part of this order of worship without the presence of a pastor, worship leader, choir, or congregation. Our Good Good Father came down to meet her in her own living room and, with Him and her baby son, she had church there. She experienced the Holy Spirit Calling her to confession through her mother. God lead her through her Prayer of Confession. God, then, Assured her of His plans for her in Isaiah 43:18-19. She received Peace from the Lord over the condition of her heart and along with that, a desire to joyfully tell others what He has done for her in Thanksgiving.

My telling of this event in this way is not to say that these things (pastor, worship leader, etc,) are unimportant, but to show that we as believers in Christ and church-goers get to follow this order of worship every week and some of us can still remain unmoved by it.  Why is that?

Unless you were there, it is hard to adequately describe the energy and joyfulness by which she had told us what God had done for her.  The room was electrified.  And why shouldn’t it be?  God performed a miracle on this woman’s heart just as He has for you and me.  I find the joyful manner by which she delivered her message to be almost as important as the Word she shared with us.  My hope, going forward, is that those blessed to be in attendance will not let this detail fade from their memories.  It is for this reason I humbly ask: Church, where is your joy?

Please pray with me: Lord, if we haven’t felt this way in a while, may this be us again.

God Bless.

Advertisements

A Good Good Father indeed

goodgoodfather

The idea to start the Good Good Father Apologetics blog came to me after hearing the Casting Crowns version of “Good Good Father” song on their live worship album.  At first, I didn’t know why the song had this effect on me.  Yes, it’s catchy.  And it elicits an emotional response.  All things good worship songs do.  But after a more careful study of the lyrics, I can see how this song was possibly designed to pull at our hearts, or more specifically mine.

See, for a few years now, I have immersed myself in the study of Christian apologetics, which, simply defined, means mounting a defense for Christian faith.  So to start out this blog, I thought I would go through and highlight a few verses explaining why this song affected me so much and, since art is subjective by nature, might affect you.

“Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like.”

One only has to acknowledge the multitudes of religions and denominations from which to choose in order to discover the many ideas (stories) of who God is.  Most, however, are in direct contradiction of others.  Which is the one true God?  Is there only one?  If God exists and wants a relationship with us, isn’t it immensely important to understand His character?

“But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of nightAnd you tell me that you’re pleased.  And that I’m never alone.”

Traditional Christian apologetics is mostly about evidence and reason.  On this blog, I’d like to include the more subjective evidence of personal experience.  After all, through the course of a Christian’s life, I suspect there have been many “whispers”.  The question is are we listening? Those who listen for Him are the recipients of some of the strongest evidence for our “Good Good Father”, even though the nature of this evidence cannot be tested in the scientific sense.

“You’re a Good, Good Father.  It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are.”

Casting Crowns frontman Mark Hall, during the message portion of the cd, powerfully claims that God is a “Good Good Father”.  That is the kind of relationship God wants with us.  He is not a book.  He is not a lifestyle or a worldview.  We cannot worship a book.  We cannot cry out to a worldview.  More people need to hear this.

“And I’m loved by you.  It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.”

Who am I?  Who are we?  My belief is that one of the fundamental problems with modern culture is that folks identify themselves by what they do and not who they are.  I am one God loves.  I am not a liar, even though I have lied.  I am not a loser, even though I have lost.  I am not any of the horrible things I tell myself I am because of my past.  See, the difference here is that all those things, all those terrible things, I could stop doing.  I mean, it’s at least possible, right?  Maybe not probable, but since these things are actions (lying, hating, hurting others), theoretically, they can be stopped.  So when I really think about it, how could I really be something that I could change?  How could that be my identity?  But the Bible tells me that “I’m loved by you (God)”.  You are too.  This is our identity.  “It’s who I am”.  It’s who you are.  That cannot be stopped, even if you tried.

“Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide.  But I know we’re all searchingFor answers only you provide.”

Sometimes those “searching for answers” settle for things of comfort like drugs and alcohol, sex, or entertainment.  Others try to find the answers in science.  A more respectful venture to be sure but unfortunately just as fruitless, since science cannot prove or disprove the presence of a creator.  It merely describes the reality of creation.  Our God is extremely powerful, immaterial, intelligent, and personal.  Such a being cannot be confined by time and space.  But science can only work Inside the physical world, while the one true God exists outside of it.  Therefore, science will always be the wrong tool for the job.

“Cause you are perfect in all of your ways.  You are perfect in all of your ways”

Simply put, if He wasn’t perfect, he wouldn’t be worthy of worship.  Though critics will constantly try to point out things about Him that are imperfect, they forget He knows the way things ought to work out.  So he is “perfect in all of your (His) ways”.  In the atheist worldview, there are no “oughts”.  The only world that exists for the atheist is one ruled by physical laws.  A world without good or evil.  Purpose or truth.  Respectfully, this simply isn’t a worldview that reflects reality.

On the Good Good Father Apologetics blog, I’ll be posting some original content but mostly sharing articles and videos that supply believers with the tools to vigorously, but respectfully, defend their faith.  For my non-believing friends, I hope to at least show that faith/trust in a Good Good Father is reasonable.

So if any of this is of interest to you, please feel free to share and like this blog.

God Bless,

Dave

 

Full lyrics to Good Good Father below.  Enjoy:

“Good Good Father”

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like.  But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night.  And you tell me that you’re pleased.  And that I’m never alone.

You’re a Good, Good Father.  It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are.  And I’m loved by you.  It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide.  But I know we’re all searching for answers only you provide.  Cause you know just what we need before we say a word.

You’re a Good, Good Father.  It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are.  And I’m loved by you.  It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

Cause you are perfect in all of your ways.  You are perfect in all of your ways.  You are perfect in all of your ways to us.

You are perfect in all of your ways.  You are perfect in all of your ways.  You are perfect in all of your ways to us.  

Oh, it’s love so undeniable  I, I can hardly speak.  Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think.  As you call me deeper still [x3].  Into love, love, love.