Jun 14, 2017
Performed by: Martha Christian
Written by: Martha Christia, Josh Wicker and Jeremy Vincent
Dec 28, 2016
Aug 8, 2016
All that I know when you are with me
You are all that I want, You are all that I need
All that I know deep within me
You revive and You restore, You are mine and I am Yours
Shepherd of my Soul
Early let me seek Your favor
and early do Your will
Blessed Lord and only Savior
in Your presence I am filled
Jesus, Jesus Your love won’t let me go
Jesus, Jesus, Shepherd of my soul
Music and Words by: Dorothy Thrupp and Josh Wicker
Redjacket Drive Music. July 2016
This song was written for the series "Good Shepherd" by Levi Lowry at Grace Church.
Watch here: http://gracegnv.org/the-good-shepherd/
Jul 1, 2016
It has been an honor and a joy to serve with Christ Church these past 6 years. We have gained lifelong friendships and shared so many wonderful memories. God has done so much. You have all made an impact on our lives and in the lives of our children. We will miss everyone dearly.
Thank you for the wonderful reception following the Sunday School hour and the beautiful time of worship, prayer, memories and blessing during the 11 o'clock service. We were touched by the outpouring of love that morning and later that evening as well from our student ministry. Even now we are thanking God for each of you and missing you already.
We look forward to all God has in-store in this next chapter for both Christ Church and our family as we move to Gainesville, Florida to join the work God is doing at Grace Church. It is with great confidence in the love and faithfulness of our good Father that we follow his ever present and guiding Spirit looking back with thankful hearts for all that He has done and looking ahead to all He has yet to do. Thank you for sharing the journey with us, we love you Christ Church!
May God bless you and keep you and may His face to shine upon you.
Apr 30, 2016
Last Sunday I finished preaching a four part series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous”.
Below are the message titles, main points and links to listen.
**CLICK** a title to listen.
Dare to Dream Audio (God sized dreams) was taken from Joshua 1:1-10.
The Big Picture: God has a God sized dream for His people.
Zoomed In: There is a specific piece of the dream God is entrusting to each of us.
The Point: When God speaks His word is His provision, His word is His promise, His word is His plan. It is all you need.
Three spiritual principles
1. God believes in you.
2. God has given you everything you need to win.
3. God wants to share the journey with you.
The Take Away: we have no idea what blessings lie on the other side of obedience.
Dare to Trust Audio (God with everything), was taken from Joshua 4
1. God is good
2. He loves us
3. We can trust Him
The message handout provided a place to fill out the following statement:
I do not trust God with________.
The Point: we dare to trust God because a cross stands in the middle of history and screams in every direction, “I love you this much”.
Our Prayer: “Jesus, I want to believe; help my unbelief.
Dare to Ask Audio (God for the impossible), was taken from Joshua 10
The Point: dare to trust God and ask for the impossible.
The Take Away: the only thing that limits God in my life is me.
The Final Thought: James 5:17- Elijah was a man just like us and he prayed and it didn’t rain for 3.5 years.
Dare to Choose Audio (whom you will serve), was taken from Joshua 23-24.
The encouragement: Be strong. Obey. Hold Fast.
The Warning: God is a jealous God.
The Next Step: Choose today whom you will serve.
There were three faith facts taken from Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
1. You cannot stay where you are and go with God.
2. You cannot play it safe and please God.
3. You can have faith or you can have control but you can’t have both.
There were serveral books that were powerful in shaping the content. I highly recommend:
Steven Futick's Sun Stand Still
Craig Groeschel's Christian Atheist
Jim Cymbala's Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
Andy Stanley's Choosing to Cheat
Lee Strobel's Case for Christ
C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity
Nov 30, 2015
Story behind the song:
A few Decembers ago my pastor introduced me to an old hymn called Love Came Down at Christmas, by Christna Rossetti. It was a Tuesday morning as I recall full of meetins and planning so I carved out some time later that afternoon to sit down to take a look at the lyrics. Immediately I felt inspired creatively and moved emotionally as melodies and fresh thoughts started pouring in from the truths of that old hymn.
An hour later my wife came by the church to pick up our daughter from preschool. I was excited to show her what I had come up with and as I played it for her I remember harldly being albe to get through the song without tearing up. It just felt so special. It felt like a gift. She loved it so I recorded it with my cell phone before I could forget the melody.
The next evening at our midweek band practice I showed it to our worship team. We played it for the first time that Sunday. It seemed to find its' way into everyone's hearts that day, and our pastor asked us to play it agian on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
That was December 2011. The song has since been recorded on two CD projects and just this month Red Tie Music has released it. It has been a blessing to our church and I hope it will be a blessing to yours.
Oct 12, 2015
Come every saint and every sinner
Come to life where mercy died
See the Light this invitation
Free to all and sealed in Christ
All around chains are breaking
At the cross new life begins
From the shadows, hope is rising
We are alive because He lives!
Christ is risen, God is with us
Praise the One who rose again
It is finished, God is for us
Now sing with all the saints in glory
Sing love’s resurrection song
Death and darkness were our story
Till the light of heaven dawned
Shouts of angels heard in heaven
Celebrate the risen one
Here on earth the bride is singing
Death defeated, love has won!
Then one day a great rejoicing
He will wipe all tears away
No more pain and no more suffering
When we see Him face to face
On that bright and holy morning
When our time on earth is done
We will reign with Him forever
Jesus Christ the Saving One!
Performed by John Logan Wood
Written by Josh Wicker and Jeremy Vincent
Red Jacket Drive Music. Copyright 2015.
Sep 2, 2015
Taken from Rick Warren’s Avoiding Leadership Traps presented at Resurgnece Conference 2012 and posted on Rightnowmedia.org.
Behind every successful church is massive pain. There is no growth without pain. There is no growth without change. There is no change without loss. There is no loss without pain. And there is no pain without grief.
A person who says I want my church to grow without going through pain is like a woman saying I want to have a baby without my tummy getting big and without going through labor. It isn’t going to happen. It’s painful to bring in new life. They don’t call it labor for nothing!
Anyone can give up. Anyone can quit. In fact I feel like quitting every Monday and sometimes on Sunday before the service.
Here's the point: In every growing church you will find leadership that is not afraid to believe God expressed in these four faith factors.
God uses the person who Dreams a Great Dream
Nothing happens till you start dreaming. Nothing happens until you get a vision.
Too often we set our goals too low and try to accomplish them too quickly. We over estimate what we can do in 10 years and underestimate what we can do in 40 years.
The point is bold church leaders will not settle for little.
Let the size of your God determine the size of your dream. And you’ve never really believed God until you’ve attempted something that cannot be done in the power of flesh.
Most people won’t try great things because of the fear of failure.
You are dead in the water if you are afraid.
God uses the person who is willing to Risk Failure.
Church leaders are either risk takers, care takers, or undertakers.
You are one of these three type leaders.
God uses the person who Expects the Church to Grow
God uses us when we expect Him to use us.
Every time God moves from heaven on earth it is because someone believed.
What is God doing in your life right now? It is exactly what you are expecting Him to do.
God uses the person that Never Gives Up
Faith keeps going and refuses to give ground.
Aug 31, 2015
Time goes by so fast. Just a couple days ago I was looking at some pictures of my children on my desk taken three years ago and I felt like I had been robbed. Time had swept in and stolen too much. It made me think about how I spend my time; realizing that just like currency, I only get so much of it too spend.
Brooklynn, my oldest daughter, reminds me of the way I choose to spend my time. Almost every day she says to me, “Ah dad, do you have to go to work? Just come play with me. Let’s wrestle. Let’s play zombies! Let’s cuddle”. Then Grayson, my oldest son sets up his toys and says, “Let’s play in my room daddy!”
It hurts doesn’t it? It hurts how little time we have to spend on the ones we love.
There’s this crazy website I came across recently that tells you when you’re going to die. It’s called Deathclock.com. You enter your birthday, gender, BMI and your general disposition towards life and it tells you when your time is going to run out. I am scheduled to run out August 14, 2054. Blah.
When I told my wife that I had almost lived half of my life she assured me that there are some variables…like if I decrease my BMI now I can get an extra year tagged on to the end…”hardly worth it” I said. She also pointed out that I can increase my optimism and gain fourteen years to which I replied smiling, “Yeah sure, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
It’s not very encouraging to see my clock ticking down but on the flip side it does bring a certain amount of focus. I realize that I don’t have enough time in life to do everything I want to do and that makes me ask myself two pointed questions:
How can I weave my short story into God’s everlasting story?
How can I better steward the time, family and health God has given me for the greatest impact?
These types of questions produce powerful thoughts because they tap into widom's current. They lead us through an alignment process. A process of holding up our little, smallish “one generation” agenda before Gods forever agenda and there He whispers in our ear, “You want to have a greater impact? You want to have more time? You want to live a life that counts for something?”
Proverbs 9:11 – For by me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you.
Jul 28, 2015
Today, may you find strength for the good work, clarity among the distractions, resolution despite the costs, fortitude in the fight, and courage to carry on. And may God in His loving kindness bless the work of your hands so that you, like Paul may be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day..."
Jun 17, 2015
“Heaven is God’s space. It is where there is God’s peace and justice ruling and reigning. And God’s plan is to bring that together with the life of earth.
He has made that real in Jesus, doing in Jesus what the temple in Jerusalem had already symbolized: bringing heaven and earth together. And then those who follow Jesus find that in the power of His Spirit heaven and earth can start to come together where they are as well in their lives and through their lives.
So we shouldn’t think of heaven as just some place where we might end up if we are lucky. We should think of it as the reality which can come to birth here and now. God’s space and our space are meant to work together and we can learn what that means right here and right now.”
May 20, 2015
What are the dreams closest to your heart?
We owe it to God, ourselves and the people who love us to know who we really are at our core and to share it with them. When we can look at the people we love and say “this is true about me” we give them something special, we give them something deeply personal and true.
I recently took time to put some thought into this question. I hope you will too. These are my dreams but hopefully as you read you are encouraged to do some digging and uncover the dreams closest to your heart.
My Three Dreams
My family: my first priority in life and ministry.
They are a deep source of joy and fulfillment in my life and I make all decisions looking through the grid of my first calling to my family. I believe that to neglect my family would be equal to turning my back on my faith.
My theme: point people to Christ.
When I live thematically I feel God’s pleasure on me. This is why I love being a worship pastor and why I enjoy preaching to students and young people. But thematic living is much more than church ministries. I have learned that there is no limit to the ways I can point people to Christ. Whether I have a shovel in my hands, a rifle to my shoulder or a guitar strapped to my back; it doesn’t matter – I can and will lead people to worship God in any setting He places me.
My mission: remind the Church who they are.
It’s not an easy sell to remind Christians that they have no rights and no personal property. It’s never fun to hear that everything including our next breath belongs to God to do with as He pleases. No one wants to think of themselves as just another part of the body. But that’s exactly who we are, body parts. You and I belong to God like hands and feet belong to a body.
Everything in our culture screams to the contrary and overtime the church has given in and lost their identity. We are no longer God’s people but rather “people gods”. We serve ourselves, worship ourselves and obey ourselves.
Jesus’s call to take up our cross and follow Him is uncomfortable so we ignore that command and regard the great commission as the great suggestion, mostly intended for a few people who wear microphones on Sunday. Self-service, self -worship and self-fulfillment have lulled the church into a state of atrophy and neutralized God’s most powerful weapon, the hope of the world, the church. I believe I was born to help the church shine again.
These are the three dreams closest to my heart. What are yours?
May 6, 2015
For the world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.
Our eyes are fixed on Jesus
Our hope is in the Son
His strength has bore our weakness
His love has overcome
Everything has changed for us
Death has died and Christ has won
Oh, this is not our home, this is not our home
Oh, we are not our own, we are not alone
In Christ the battle is won. Though we die, we live for the life to come
We were made to know you
And be known by you
Then through endless ages
To enjoy you God
Counting every gain as loss
Let your Kingdom come in us
Words and Music by: Josh Wicker. Red Jacket Drive Music Copyright 2014
Apr 29, 2015
Came across these pictures the other day while cleaning out the garage for a yard sale. I took a little trip back in time with the band Road To Here. Making music has never been as fun as it was back then with these beautiful people, my amazing sisters.
Mar 20, 2015
Church is a lot like family, or at least that is how it should be according to Parsley. A place where the hurting find healing and the weary find rest. Jesus embraced the messiness of life, infact the messiness of life may be the secret to a healthy church…at least in comparison to the alternative. Anything that is clean and neat on the outside doesn’t ring true, instead it feels fake and shallow.
Yes, it is messy, but churches who choose be family bring glory to God.
Mar 16, 2015
Simply a favorite of mine. Every worhsip leader and pastor should read it!
Ever since the beginning God has done everything that must be done in order for us to know Him. From creation to the cross, the relationship between God and man has always been a lopsided one. God has done all the work and we have been offered the benfits, and so we worship.
One day we will all bow before God. One day all of creation will be in right standing again. One day we will dwell with Yahwey, He will be our God and we His people. Our worship will be perfect as God is fully revealed and we are fully known and finally home. Our hearts will be free forever we will see Him in all His glory, but until that day we will trust and obey.
Dec 1, 2014
December: it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Music is in the air, laughter fills our homes, fire places are crackling, snowflakes are falling and the ones we love are with us. Everything in the world is right; except when it is not.
This December a mom is in the hospital again, a young teacher has cancer, a dad can’t find work, a sister’s marriage is unraveling, a friend won’t stand up for herself and sanity in the world appears to be holding on by a thread. Evil has infected everything. There are diseases, beheadings, dictators, bombs in synagogues and good people doing nothing. Sometimes everything seems exactly wrong.
“Let there be light.” The first recorded words of God were uttered into nothingness and darkness, the opposite of life, the book of Genesis tells us. Into that great darkness God spoke, “Let there be light”. When God SAID to the darkness, “Let there be light” THERE WAS LIGHT!
Since the dawn of time God has spoken light into darkness. Into our darkness the Light of the World came and continues to come. We see it in these very first words of God. “Let there be light”. Do you see what I see? It’s the Christmas narrative unfolding.
“Let there be light” was the first foreshadowing of Immanuel, it was the first telling of the Christmas story. It was the first time God told us that He would make all things right. And get this; it was the first thing He ever said on our account. God delights in bringing light to dark places. He loves bringing life to dead things. That’s what Christmas is all about.
So yes, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Music is in the air, laughter fills our homes, fire places are crackling, snowflakes are falling and the ones we love are with us. And yes, it is true a mom is in the hospital again, and a teacher we know is dying of cancer, and a dad still can’t find work, and the sanity of the world appears to be holding on by a thread. And yes, evil has infected everything. Circumstances be what they may, it is the most wonderful time of the year because at creation and at Christmas God said “Let there be light.”
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”
May we shine
Jun 23, 2014
“The foundation of our faith as Christians is not the bible. The foundation of our faith as Christians is not a book. The reason we believe what we believe is not because of what is contained between the leather of the Old and New Testament.
People can poke holes in the infallibility of the Bible all day long and it does nothing to diminish the significance or the truth of what we believe as Christians.
Christians take the Old Testament seriously because Jesus took it seriously not because it is a part of the bible.
Objection: since the Bible is the source of what Jesus said, aren’t you using the Bible to prove the Bible? Isn’t this just circular reasoning?
The word Bible comes from a Latin term that comes from a Greek term that means “books”.
There are 66 ancient books that are part of the bible – all of them existed before they were bound in the book we call the Bible.
Before we had the Bible someone compiled the ancient texts that comprised the original Hebrew Bible.
The Gospels and the Old Testament were documents all of which existed before the Bible.
Christians don’t believe the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are reliable because they are in the Bible. Christians believe the Gospels were included in the Bible because they are considered reliable.
The Gospels are considered reliable because of who wrote them and when they were written.We believe in Jesus and His resurrection not because the Bible says so – it’s better than that. We believe in Jesus and the resurrection because Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James (Jesus’ own brother) and Paul said so. That’s why we have hope in Jesus. That is why we have chosen to follow Jesus.
We love the scriptures and we love the Bible but the Bible is not the foundation of our Christianity. A single event is the foundation of our Christianity - the resurrection. The resurrection is why we have hope.”
Taken from: Part II of "Prepared" http://preparedseries.org/
May 7, 2014
In Isaiah 1, the prophet tells the people that God has had enough. As we read the chapter we see the peoples’ vain worship and God's invitation back to true worship. The event unfolds beginning in verse 11.
“What are all your sacrifices to Me?” asks the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle;
I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats.
When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you— this trampling of My courts?
Stop bringing useless offerings.
Your incense is detestable to Me. New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies—
I cannot stand iniquity with a festival.
I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals.
They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with them.
When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you;
even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
“Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from My sight.
Stop doing evil.
Learn to do what is good.
Correct the oppressor.
Defend the rights of the fatherless.
Plead the widow’s cause.
“Come, let us discuss this,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.
But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
The sinfulness of the people and their disregard for God's ways had earned them an impending judgment. They were living in open sin WHILE they continued to go through the motions of worship and God was offended by it telling them their worship was disgusting and their hands were covered in blood.
They were a manipulative people, wanting both the blessing of God AND the sins of the world. God would not have it. Their worship was vain and yet in His mercy God invites them to repent, tells them how to repent and then offers the promise of right standing and blessing if they change their ways.
True worship cannot be separated from true obedience.
Apr 7, 2014
***CLICK ON TITLE TO PLAY***
As we walk together through these days leading up to Easter our hearts are turned toward the cross. Above all the noise in our lives we are once again reminded of the mystery of God’s love; unable to explain this strange design, that God would become one of us, that the Immortal would die for us and that we would be invited to experience relationship with Him. Easter truly does change everything.
In the rhythms of life we can get distracted from the amazing love God has offered in His Son, but the days leading up to Easter refocus us. We are recaptured by a cross on a rugged hill outside Jerusalem’s gates, a cross standing alone in history broadcasting the heart of God across generations and continents all the way to us today. And so in our hearts we bow one more time at the foot of the cross and we are washed again by the endless streams of mercy flowing from Immanuel’s veins. Such amazing love and to think it changes everything.
A few years ago I wrote “The Love of Jesus” with a good friend and song writer Adam Lewis. It was our intention to capture something that can’t be contained in four minutes and thirty seconds of lyric and melody. We set out to show off God’s heart displayed in Christ’s love. An unfathomable love that the King of kings would choose to serve us, that our judge would become our advocate, take off his Court Robe and bear our sentence. An unbelievable love that he would die for us and that his death would become our salvation, our way, our truth, our life.
I hope that when you hear “The Love of Jesus” you are moved to worship God and to re -live Christ’s love for you one more time. And as we walk together in these days leading up to Easter I pray that it reminds you of the cross and invites you to bask in your freedom and embrace the relationship with the One who created you to know Him and to enjoy Him forever.
Over Christmas vacation my family went to see the movie Frozen in the theater. My wife, Allison and I have two kids, Brooklynn who is five and Grayson who just turned destructive (aka two). As you can imagine we were all pretty excited. We all walked out of the theater that day happy and singing two songs together. The same two you walked out singing, “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Great songs - Love those songs.
Almost every night since, the Wicker family builds a snowman. We go through our typical night routine, finish reading the bedtime books and then we start singing Frozen songs ending with “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”. Kneeling beside Brooklynn’s bed, I fold my hands for prayer and plop’em down on her pink quilt making the base of the snowman. Allison folds her hands and places them on top of mine, making the mid section and then Brooklynn will follow suit forming the head. We have to coax Grayson to stop jumping on the bed, fold his hands and put the hat on the snowman (Grayson loves hats – so we tell him his hands make up the snowman’s hat. Sometimes it works).
When everyone is in place and the snowman is built one of us will pray something like this: “Thank you God for today, it was a fun day and you are so good. Thank you for mommy and daddy and Brooklynn and Grayson and for Griswald (our schnauzer). We pray for Pops and Gigi, Memaw and Papaw, and all our family, we pray for Pastor David and Pam, Miss Patty (our children’s pastor) and our neighbor Mary. We pray for all the people in Bowling Green who need Your help tonight, if they are hungry or scared, hurt or lonely; they all need Your love and they all need Your church. Please help everyone, and China (Brooklynn always adds China) in Jesus name, amen”.
I love our snowman prayers. I love how close they make us feel. I love how they make the kids happy to pray. But mostly I love listening to my children pray. Children’s prayers melt daddy’s hearts because they are pure, untangled, and as big as God. Last night we built our snowman and this time Brooklynn who just turned five a couple weeks ago prayed, “Dear God, thank you for today, please wash away all the sins of the world and come into every body’s heart. Amen”. That snowman prayer melted this daddy’s heart. Then she turned to me and asked if that was a good prayer. I told her it was a wonderful prayer and that God loves her prayers.
Our Father loves praying with us. I think His heart smiles at how close prayer makes us feel. I think our Father enjoys us enjoying Him, but mostly, I think our Father loves coming through in the freedom that prayer gives Him to work. Prayer is meant to create a joint effort between God and man for His purposes. Through prayer God gets done on earth what He can only do through man. So God loves it when we pray. I think if you listen, you can hear Him too, He is singing over you an invitation to pray, “Do you want to build a snowman?”.
Apr 1, 2014
Easter changes everything! In our culture, Easter and Christmas are the only days of the year that many people will even consider the idea of going to church and God has placed you in someone’s life for the sole purpose of introducing them to Him. Who are the people that God wants you to invite to church? He is going to change everything in their life and He is depending on you and me to be a catalyst of His grace. Let’s start praying now for the folks we are going to invite to church Easter Sunday!
Our friends and co-workers may take issue with the creation vs. evolution theories, or the inerrancy and relevancy of the Scriptures today – and that is okay; there are some pretty difficult things to accept as true in the Bible. I think Jesus is cool with us working through those difficulties and asking those tough questions. But, ultimately the real question is not, “What does one think about the Genesis account of the beginning of the world or the relevancy of the bible in our life today?” but rather, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”.
If Jesus did rise from the dead He has power over death and life and that makes Him God.
If Jesus did rise from the dead, what He says really matters.
If Jesus did rise from the dead His promises are trustworthy.
If he did rise from the dead this world is not your home.
If Jesus did rise from the dead what He believed about the Old Testament should shape what we believe.
If Jesus did rise from the dead then Easter changes everything.
I believe Jesus did rise from the dead and that there is ample evidence for the skeptic to lay down their defenses and consider the possibilities. Perhaps my favorite evidence for the resurrection is Christ’s power over death displayed today in the gospel movement he started over 2,000 years ago. Think about it, no one and nothing in 2,000 years has been able to stop the movement – namely the spreading of the good news that Jesus is God, He was killed for our sin, He came back to life and He offers His life to all who believe.
Rome couldn’t stop it. Jewish religious leaders couldn’t silence it. Nero couldn’t stamp it out. The rise of church to political dominance couldn’t dilute it. The dark ages couldn’t smother it. Fatalism couldn’t extinguish it. Nazism couldn’t defeat it. Communism couldn’t do away with it. Atheism has never come close to killing it. Capitalism can’t replace it. Humanism can’t substitute it. Modernism couldn’t disprove it. Postmodernisms can’t ignore it and Satan in all his efforts throughout the ages will one day burn forever separated from it. That is powerful evidence for a living Christ who is living inside you today.
This Easter there are people in our lives who need us to pray for them. Will you pray? There are people in our lives that need a better understanding of God. Will you step outside culture’s comfort zone and ask better questions about God? There are people in our lives that need us to invite them to consider Jesus. Will you invite them? Easter Changes everything and there are people in our lives who need us to be catalysts of grace. May the love of Christ compel us!
Feb 24, 2014
As worshippers we were invited to join God in His mission of bringing people back into right relationship with him. “Missional” is somewhat of a buzz word these days... but I love it and want to unpack some of what it means to be a church who is on mission.
The Church is the people of God, on mission with God, empowered by God to bring glory to God. We believe God’s glorification is the chief end of man. We also believe that scripture taken in its entirety reveals the workings of a mission oriented God who is inviting His people to join Him in bring everyone to Him. So we ascribe glory to God by pointing people to God. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of God and reenergized by the gospel for the gospel’s sake. God’s mission is understood best in the context of the great commission and the great commandment. When our worship leads us to obedience God displays His heart through us for the lost to see.
By locking in step with God’s mission we not only bring glory to God but we also enjoy living in tandem with God’s movement. His glory engulfs us and becomes the glory for which we live. It is here in our joint endeavor His joy becomes our joy and our strength. It is here His peace and grace fills us with all hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we become more like our Father we not only see the beauty of His heart expressed in His mission, we also get to experience His love transforming our own love for people. We begin to love the way He loves. We begin to forgive the way He forgives. And soon those whom we are doing life with shape the context of our mission, for we have put away all malice, ill will and personal agenda and have replaced them with the love of Jesus; a love that willingly meets people where they are. His humility humbles us and his cross calls us to die for those He loves. His mission becomes our own and in this mission we find life, He receives glory and the world sees the love of the Father. This is the role of a "Missional" church.
For more on this topic consider reading "The Great Commission To Worship" by Vernon Whaley and David Wheeler.
In part I of Worship and Witness we looked at the dynamics between the Church's biblical world view and its mission to effectively reach the Postmodern. We concluded that our worship is our witness. In part two we will see that the opposite is true as well - our witness is our worship. For more on this discussion consider reading The Great Commission to Worship by Vernon Whaley and David Wheeler.
For eternity past and eternity future, among all the other qualities of His nature, God is first a Father who loves. He has always existed in relationship among the Trinity and He never changes. His impulse towards us, His reflex response if you will, is first from His relational nature as Father. He created us to know Him and to enjoy Him forever. As our creator, Jesus only wants one thing: to be our everything. So He gave everything for one thing and this one thing is relationship.
A cross on a hill outside Jerusalem’s gates has broadcast the heart of God across generations to the furthest corners of the earth. Here we catch a glimpse of the reckless holy love at the center of God’s heart. His love will not be refined or tamed and its extravagance invites us to experience something beautiful: the holiness of God and the love of God changing everything by restoring/”finding” that which was lost. God’s heart is for the lost.
For the Christian the implications of God's nature displayed on the cross have a significant impact on our understanding of what is demanded of us in our response of worship. For we certainly gratitude is only the starting point of our worship response to God’s revelation. Those who are “Found” have been and are being transformed, and in the transformation process we have undergone a heart transplant (2 Corinthians 5:17 & Ezekiel 36:26) or perhaps better put, our hearts now beat as Christ’s heart beats! The very center of who we are has been re-identified/ re-purposed and re-aligned to God’s will.
If we have been given God's love for the lost infused in every heartbeat, God's commission to make disciples of every nation as our life's mission, and God's commandment to love our neighbor as our “rules of engagement”; then how can our response in worship fall short of faithful witness? In fact, for the worshipper anything less than living a life of witness is anti-worship. In light of what God has given us and what God has commanded us, true worship does not exist apart from true witness. We can gather, sing, tithe, give gifts, pray and listen to God’s word on Sundays as part of our worship, but if we are not witnessing we are not obeying and thus not truly worshiping.
Our witness is our worship.
Jan 16, 2014
After spending a long weekend with thousands of teenagers I was reminded once again of the cultural shift that is going on in our world and I would like to share some thoughts on how we are called to worship and how God’s people reach the postmodern by worshipping. If you'd like more on the subject, let me suggest a book that I recently read:Worship and Witness by Vernon Whaley and David Wheeler.
The church is called to love God wholeheartedly and love people selflessly. It is in the fleshing out of our calling that we are activated as agents of the gospel. With each generation and every unique cultural setting, the church goes first to the scriptures in search of answers as to how to meet God’s expectations for proper worship. We are given examples in the New Testament of churches that like us faced cultural gaps, similar to our own, between the follower of Christ and those we are commanded to reach. Consider Colossians 3.
Here we see Paul entrenched in a setting not unlike our postmodern culture and his remarks are replete with meaningful application. Take a minute and read it. Let’s reflect on Paul’s example. He highlights the incomparability of Christ and specifically His preeminence in our hearts. He teaches the truth “wisely” or perhaps better put – His presentation of the truth is packaged perfectly to the ears of his audience. We also see Paul telling the saints to invite those outside the faith but to only admonish those within the faith. Then he addressed the music portion of worship exhorting the church to employ: Psalms (scripture songs), Hymns (songs of doctrine), and Spiritual songs (songs of testimony). In my assessment we can learn here that our corporate worship has a threefold measure of success: the glorification of God, the edification of the saints and the evangelization of the sinner.
But these three outcomes are impossible apart from a proper relation to God in our worship. Worship is a matter of the heart. A true measure of honest worship is brokenness. We must come to God broken in spirit, will and pride. Whoever is truly master of the heart is the true object of the heart’s worship. Our heart will only have one master and a true worshiper has placed God on the throne of their heart and placed themselves on the altar.
So who is on the throne of your heart? Is it you or Jesus? The beauty and perhaps the mystery of worship is that it starts with Jesus and it ends with him too. Every need and aspect of both our personal and corporate worship is met, carried out and fulfilled in Jesus. So Jesus reigns supreme as our all in all. We find this truth clearly presented by Paul especially in Romans, but also in Ephesians, Colossians, and Hebrews. So there is no room in the heart of worship for anyone but Jesus.
Reaching our postmodern culture is no simple task but we are not without guidance and we have found that the gathered people of God, giving praises to God, with hearts honest and humbled before God is both our worship and our witness. In a culture of pantheism, skepticism, and anti-absolutism the gospel of Christ must be supreme, the mode must be wise, the reprimands are reserved for saints alone and the music must be saturated with scripture, doctrine and testimony. Then those in attendance will see the glory of God in the context of our corporate worship. As God reveals himself through his word, in his son and by his spirit, we respond in worship – God is glorified, we are edified and the sinner evangelized. Our worship is our witness.
Dec 30, 2013
God’s grace is extraordinary and it is pouring over us all! Today if God has graced you with breath He has also graced you with a purpose and a chance to fulfill that purpose. You know the strange thing about grace is that it can only be limited by one thing. Do you know what it is? It’s the capacity of your faith. It is crazy but true. God believes more for you than you do for yourself.
Did you know that wimpy faith insults God? When you think about shrinking back from the best “You” God had in mind; reconsider, and do not allow a dainty faith to be your destiny. Instead,think about this marvelous out pouring of His grace: He has never failed you.
Imagine a 2014 where instead of talking and dreaming you set out to doing. What would that look like? Instead talking and dreaming about a better world what if you took Jesus serious and loved people the way He loves you and what if you made disciples of all nations? Instead of talking and dreaming about a better marriage what if you started romancing your spouse the way every person hopes to be romanced? What if instead of wishing and daydreaming about starting that business or coaching that couple or mentoring that young person – what if instead you picked up the phone and committed? I hope you will. I hope I will.
What if this year is an extraordinary year not because of the things that are going to happen to you, but because of the things that you are going to happen to? What if God has given us grace not only for our consumption but all the more for its distribution?
May 2014 be a year of great grace and faith filled dreams.
Dec 21, 2013
This is Advent, a reliving of the great anticipation of our Deliver, the one who set His people free. It is a chance to allow our hearts to breathe in and breathe out the glorious impossible: God with us, who in the ever-deep of our darkness, came as a million suns; who in the wastelands of our plight, came as a rushing water; who in the death of our spirit, came as a righteous revival. Hope split the starlit sky one silent night and our healer walked among our dead bones and He reattached tendon to muscle and flesh to frame. He said to these dry bones "You shall live again". Advent is the unfolding of a deliverance; a victor for the vanquished. It is the telling of a rescued lover in a one sided love story.
The first Christmas present was given by the hands of a loving Father to His children and the gift cost Him everything. He broke the bank on this gift; He went all in, and everything changed. That was over two thousand years ago, yet today we live in the need of a personal Advent of sorts.
The “Savior of the World” can be too big for me to identify with. I need a personal Savior this Advent. The Jesus who is stepping into the obscurity of me. The Deliverer who is arriving in my heart ache and doubt as my healer and my provider. I need a God who changes futures and fixes broken things like no man or religion can.
Do you need a rescue? What if your deepest recesses of need, your driest desserts, and your crippling darkness are the retelling in your soul of the story of Advent. What if they are Advent happening for you now? What if they are the void that Jesus longs to be born into? Every rising hurt, every enduring pain: a calling out for Jesus to be God’s best in you. Every tear you cry, every night of the soul, every sting of the foe: a Christmas Story, a point for Jesus to be born again.
Advent in me is the aching for all things to be made right and to know the beauty of Jesus born again in us this Christmas.
Dec 6, 2013
I wrote this song a couple weeks ago for my church as we approached Thanksgiving. I loved getting to play it for my family and especially my grandma, "Nanners" over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you Rick Winquist for your help putting the finishing touches on it.
A couple months ago I saved a melody idea and some lyrics on my phone that shaped the framework of this song. When it was time to start looking for songs for our worship set list in November I was having a hard time finding a song that said what I felt our church needed/wanted to say. So I pulled out the idea and started working on it a little here and there. At some point in the process the song began to take on a gravity of its own and pulled me in as both a writer and a worshiper.
I hope that the song captured the context of our story and I hope it gave us a tangible expression of something our hearts are already saying: We are thankful!
We have gathered here, to praise the name of Jesus
We have come as one, to shout the name that heals us
In Your presence Lord we remember all You’ve done
We are thankful, thankful
As we bow our hearts before the throne of mercy
We will lift our song only for Your glory
With the saints of old we rejoice in all You’ve done
We are thankful, thankful
You have done, for us, what only You could do
You have proven Your love, there’s nothing we could do
We are thankful, thankful
We have gathered love where we have not sown
We have tasted grace what we could not know
At the cross of Christ the Father’s will was done
We are thankful, thankful
We will count the cost and lay our lives before you
We will take our cross and climb the hill behind you
For the cause of Christ we gladly give our lives
We are thankful, we are thankful
Dec 2, 2013
Everything is a buzz and Christmas is in the air. What an exciting time of year! As we spend time with family and enjoy the blessings in our lives we are reminded of just how much we have to be thankful for. Every year, we get the chance to pause during the holidays and look back. And every year it fills my heart with worship to our great God, when I remember His amazing love and favor. He has been faithful to us. He has been good to us and when we stop to take an account of all that has happened in the last year we do indeed have so much to be thankful for.
It is with a heart of gratitude for all that God has done this year that I would encourage us; as we walk together as the Church through the weeks leading up to Christmas, that we live in anticipation of a coming Savior and in remembrance of Jesus' birth and finished work. May the words on our lips and the thanksgiving in our hearts tell the story of Christ’s blessings as we share life with our family and with our neighbors throughout this season. Let us encourage one another in the faith to be about the work that God has given us to do and may we thankfully rejoice with all the saints of the ages in the will of God being accomplished one Christmas morning two thousand years ago when God came down to man.
Merry Christmas to all! … (and to all a good night)
Nov 2, 2013
My best friend married me 10 years ago this coming weekend.
It is hard to believe how fast time flies.
I wrote and recorded this song to her back then, but it is truer now than ever.