Archive for the ‘theology’ Category

The Oratorio…

March 22, 2008

According to wikipedia, an Oratorio is “a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists”. Little did I know that attending an Oratorio would give me a picture into what the body of Christ should really look like.

In recent weeks I have had discussions with some friends about the differences in the body of Christ as far as it comes to different types of worship or different denominations. Controversy lurks in every corner of these discussions and unfortunately it is never resolved or concluded. At least not in my head.

Some may say there other Christians who are too emotional and lack the doctrine, while some may say others have plenty doctrine but they lack any emotion. In both these cases, I would probably agree and I would agree that in most cases, there are also extremes.

I will ask, is one better then the other? or is there room for both?

The answer lies in an Oratorio called “Handel’s Messiah“. One of the most famous masterpieces created by George Frideric Handel in 1741. I had the privilege of attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday (which I have thought would make a great tradition during the Easter festivities.) I am sure I had heard bits and pieces of this before but never attended a proper performance of this great oratorio.

The amazing thing about this piece of art, was that it included two dynamics that came together to portray the Gospel in its proper light. The words used in Messiah are all taken from the Bible and represent the complete doctrine of the Gospel. The music that frames these words are used to convey the emotions that this wonderful doctrine of the Gospel produces when taken to heart. The combination of the words (doctrine) and the music (emotion) are a beautiful picture of what we as the Body of Christ should look like.

Many times we are quick to learn doctrine and pretend there is no emotion that is created. or we try and manufacture emotion based upon false or whimsical doctrine. In either case you are going to hurt the entire message of the Gospel.

There is a truth (doctrine) that there is a God, and that this God loved us so much, that he has provided a way, through Christ, that we may have salvation from our sins which produces in us a joy that is overwhelming (emotion).

Remember that there should be a balance because too much doctrine can begin to complicate the simple message of grace and that too much emotion and create watered down feelings that are not supported by the Word of God.

The other thing I took away from this oratorio was the members of the orchestra, the choir, and the soloists. It is such a beautiful picture of how we all work together as the Body of Christ to present this message of the Gospel, through our message (doctrine) and through our love (emotion). We all have certain gifts and roles to play. Some are the soloists who preach and teach every Sunday, or those who share the Gospel with a friend for the first time. Others are in the choir, who volunteer in children’s ministry, or at the thrift shop, or provide financial support. Then there are others who may be in the orchestra all with different instruments and skills, what ever that may be. Watchman Nee said in his book The Body of Christ the following,
How do I live as a member of the body of Christ? The body must be taken as the unit and boundary of all my works and living. In the physical realm, when my hand works, it is not my hand but my body which works; when my feet walk, it is not my feet but my body which walks. A physical member never does anything for its own self; whatever it does is for the sake of the body. So too is this true in the spiritual realm. All the actions of a member of the body of Christ are governed by the body of Christ, not by the individual member himself. Whether God puts me in first or in last place, it is equally acceptable with me. For only the one who does not see, know, and experience the body of Christ will be proud or jealous.”

In Romans 12:3-8, it says,
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

In Conclusion, every time you listen to Handel’s Messiah, I hope you remember that first, there is a wonderful Gospel message and second, realize all of the various numbers of people that it takes to portray that message to you both in words (doctrine) and its music (emotion). We can only truly present the Gospel when we have both the Truth from the Word of God and display the Love that was shown by our Savior Jesus Christ.
PS: One of my favorite choruses of was based upon 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 and I have a version posted on here from You Tube. I have also posted the words below. Enjoy!

Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Let it Snow…Let it Snow…

January 12, 2008

Recently I saw a news article about snow falling in Baghdad. It was the first time they had seen snow in that city in at least a hundred years. For many of the people in that city they viewed it as a sign of peace and rebirth for them.

Before I go on, I must state upfront that I am a native Floridian who has never had to live, work, and drive in snow. With that said, I can now say unashamedly that snow is an mesmerizing to me. Since I have not had to live in the stuff, I really find it amazing. I suppose its a lot like how many people who live in Florida never go to the beach or disregard it while others who come down here find it amazing! Like I always say a change in perspective can change your objective.

For me its always rain, rain and more rain. But there comes a time when the temperature is just right when this rain becomes something much more special. As the temperature changes the drops of rain begin to change over into flakes all which look different then the other. The leaves begin to drop from the trees in Autumn covering the ground and in a sense they die. Most of the plants begin the process of dying by changing there colors. Even this process is unique and breath taking.

Then comes the first snow quiet and peaceful, then the second and it begins to accumulate and cover over all that which has died. Soon enough everything is covered in a white blanket that wont be uncovered until spring.

Once spring arrives, the temperature begins to rise, and the snow begins to melt and in its place life begins a new and fresh.

This to me creates a few parallels of a beautiful reminder of what Jesus Christ has done for us. The first is found in Isaiah it is talking to the Israelites about what would happen if they repent, in the first chapter and verse 18, it says ,“Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow…

And just as the snow gives way to new life in the spring, Jesus is in the business of making you New Again. The thing we need to remember is that before there can be a rebirth of life, something must die.

In Colossians 1:21-22 it says; “and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, {engaged} in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body though death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach

Because of what Christ has done you can be made New Again.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all of these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sins to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Quote of the Day – 12.19.07

December 19, 2007

“Prayer is never an acceptable substitute for obedience. The sovereign Lord accepts no offering from His creatures that is not accompanied by obedience. To pray for revival while ignoring or
actually flouting the plain precept laid down in the Scriptures is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble.”

(A.W. Tozer – Of God and Men, 52.)

Its all about who you know..

December 16, 2007

Last week, I had finally come to a point in my busy schedule of traveling around the country, where I thought I envisioned an opportunity to take a small respite. Little did I know what was about to occur. A quick 45 minutes later I had booked tickets to fly to New York City?! To be truthful my friend booked the flight and I had no idea where I would actually be staying or much of any of the details for that matter. The only thing I knew for sure was I was going to New York!

I have begun to slowly learn that when the opportunity presents it self you have to take it or you will watch it fly away. I can say that I have learned this about many things in my life wether it is with friendships, work opportunities, even with witnessing opportunities. You truly have to seize the moment and take advantage of it. Needless to say, this trip was one of those opportunities I could not let fly away.

My dear friend is related by marriage to one of the most famous people in the state of Florida. Yes folks, I am talking about Tim Tebow. To make a long story very short, my fiends’ brother is married to Timmy’s sister. Her brother and Timmy’s sister are missionaries in South Asia and were generously flown back to the states for the Hiesman Trophy presentation. The main reason why my friend was going was in order to see her brother and her adorable little niece. (which I can completely understand…see some of my previous post)

During the weekend, I had the privilege of spending a little bit of time with the Allen and the Tebow family. They are such an encouraging and faithful people who truly love the Lord and really know what its all about, proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ to a lost world. To top it off, Timmy won the Hiesman which I don’t think could of gone to a better gentleman on or off the field.

So why do I share this short synopsis of an amazing trip I took? To bring up a point that I always consider in my life and I find to be true everyday. The point that it is really all about who you know!

If I had not known my friend I would never had a chance to meet the Tebow family and because I was a friend they allowed me to take part in a few of there family activities based upon the fact that I knew this person, nothing more, nothing less.

When we stand before God and he asked us why He should let us in to Heaven the answer will be fairly simple. Its all about who you know…
Because we know Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Since we are in Christ, God has the abilitiy to look upon us as holy and blameless not because of us or what we have done in our lives because we fall short of His Glory but because we are in Christ. Because of what Jesus has done we are now made free. It says in Luke that the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Praise God for His grace and His mercy. And praise God for salvation which comes only through truly knowing the resurrected and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Its all about who you know!

The Letter

November 3, 2007

Letter

I was driving home from work the other day and I was thinking in the back of my mind how everyday after work, I look forward to coming home and seeing what I got in the mail. I think this is something I got from my father. Yes, even if I get a credit card application, at least its something addressed to me. The idea that someone had taken time to write something out, fold it, stick it in an envelope, put the postage on it and put it into a mail box in order to have it arrive in my mail box. It takes quite a bit of effort. As I was driving I was thinking how much more exciting is it, at least for me, to receive a letter from someone you actually care about and who cares for you. I thought about how much more personal and real a letter is from someone as opposed to a text message, or an email. My thoughts changed to other items on my drive like trying to avoid another crazy driver.

Eventually I arrived home and checked my mail box like I do everyday. To my delight I had one letter with no return address? Who could this be? Maybe just a credit card application? maybe another bill to pay? Since it was handwritten I figured it probably was not a credit card offer and most likely a letter from a friend…I was thrilled. Upon opening it and reading the enclosure I couldn’t help but smile! Then I began to think about the thought that I had just a few minutes ago as I was driving home. After reading the whole package I kept smiling for quite awhile.

There is just something about a letter that can never be truly matched by any other form of communication or technology. In our culture today we have many convenient ways of communication whether its by way of a phone call, typing an email or sending a quick text message. All of these are great and well intentioned and they serve there purposes very well, but the one thing they lack is a personal touch. They lack an authenticity that can not be found in a phone call, an email or a text message.

Take for instance a book, now days you can get the book on tape, read books online, etc. Again the same holds true for this cause that nothing can truly replace the feel of pen on paper and holding that book in your hand and turning the pages as if you were walking down the same road as those in the story.

The amazing thing about it all is that we have been sent a letter from someone who loves us completely and unconditionally. Keep in mind that it has taken a very long time and some blood, sweat, and tears to write. Everyone has a copy of this letter probably just lying around their house. This letter talks about how much you are loved by this person, how much they desire a relationship with you; how you can be find favor in their sight. It has been delivered to you and I challenged you to read it. It is real and authentic and is the complete Word of God.

I Know You Love Me…

November 1, 2007

“I know that you love me..” Those were the words which were uttered from my little nieces mouth to my sister upon her arrival home from work the other day. Earlier in the day my niece was spending time with her grandma and had touched the hot stove top even after having been told not to many times before by her mother. Fortunately she did not hurt herself bad but it was enough that she knew she had done something wrong. When my sister arrived home from work, my niece was asked by her grandma to tell her mother what she had done today. So she began to tell her mother that she had burned her hand on the stove and she finished the sentence with the most amazing that anyone could ever say. She finished that sentence to her mother with these words; “…and I know that you love me because you didn’t want me to get hurt.”

How amazing is that! I reminded my sister that she may want to record that and play it back to my niece when she turns sixteen just as a reminder that as her parent her goal is not to ruin her fun but motivation is out of love and out of a desire not to see her get hurt.

The other thing that crossed my mind was how much we are just like my niece when it comes to our relationship with God. How much better would we be if we truly took her words to heart and understood them to be really true in our lives. God has given us commands in His Word in order to share with us His Love. He is our Heavenly Father and He loves you and He loves me and I know that he loves you and He loves me because he doesn’t want you or me to get hurt. While this applies to a lot of the commands found in the Bible of do’s and don’t, the ultimate consideration of this comes the thought that because of our sins we must be punished but God sent his Son to pay our penalty, to get hurt so that we don’t have to. In Isaiah 53:5 it says:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

There Is A Time…

October 22, 2007

To me one of the most annoying things people can say to me when I ask how they are doing and they respond with any of these words, “I’m Alright, I wish it were Friday”, or “Good Its almost Friday!”, or “Great, today is Friday!”. This may just rank up there as one of my biggest pet peeves ever. I suppose that most people think of this as a good thing because the weekend has come, or they know that Friday means payday. They don’t like when I point out that once Friday is here, that means there are only two more days till Monday! You can’t just live your life for the weekends. Surely God has given us both the weekdays and the weekends. …or have you ever noticed when watching the TV News and the weather folks come on during the first cold spell of the winter and the news anchor makes the comment about, “when is it ever going to warm up???” then you can remember this same news anchor make the comment when we had the first really warm and humid day of the summer with “when is it going to cool down??”….or can you recall back to a time when people didn’t start decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving dinner had cooled off? Now we are lucky if we can get past August without seeing Christmas trees in Walmart!

Now, recently an op-ed piece was done in the L.A. Times (yea I know…I actually agree with something in there!) and it took on this topic with a lot of sense and I wanted to share it with you.

Slow down, people!

”Back to school” in July? Christmas cards on Halloween? Why do we live so fast?
August 14, 2007
By Andy Cowan

In this year of 2008 presidential politics, when it”s only 2007, I”m finding it more of a challenge living in the “here and now.” Society seems to focus more on the “there and then” down the road. As the theme song of the first Clinton running for president exhorted, I won”t “stop thinking about tomorrow.” But a half a year from tomorrow is where I draw the line. Now Iowa may be moving its caucuses to December. Why is everybody in such a hurry?

New car models used to be introduced in October. Now it”s as early as January. This rush to the future instantly devalues the present as well as the future. An ”08 car in January ”07 makes ”07 already sound as old and tired as ”08 will seem 12 months hence. The new model year is hardly the big deal it used to be because we don”t really buy into it. Next year”s versions aren”t trumpeted the way they were in, say, 1968. That”s when a cloth over a new car would hide the future from us until we were good and ready, even eager, to lay eyes on it.

We may be too jaded these days to believe that a measly year will make our lives any different. But our cynicism might also derive from the fact that the future is being shoved down our throats to the point at which the future itself has lost its mystique. On July 1, I heard someone on the radio already calling it “midsummer.” It seems like midsummer by July 1 because since late April it”s been previewed and advertised in hopes of snatching our pre-summer dollars. By July 15, the dreaded “back to school” phrase slithered onto the airwaves. Pity the poor kids whose “how I spent half my summer vacation” papers are about the therapy sessions needed after listening to that incessantly. Whether school is on the horizon or in our distant past, August to September is still the most traumatic month transition there is, so why rush into it?

Not long after it actually is back to school time, the greeting card manufacturers would have us believe it”s Halloween. You can tell when the real Halloween is over when Christmas cards start reminding us that yet another year is nearly shot — an even scarier proposition. More radio stations play only Christmas music as early as Nov. 1. But Christmas music on Christmas? By midday Dec. 25, like the needles from the soon-to-be stale pines, it”s already swept aside. And before you can say “happy new year,” card shelves switch from St. Nick to St. Valentine. Hallmark should just cut to the chase: “Happy We”ll All Be Dead Soon Day.”

With all of this said, the important thing to remember is that each day is precious that God has given us. Every season of life we go through is important. We all have a tendency to spend way to much time rehashing the past and almost always spend to much time planning for our futures. This is not to say that remembering God”s faithfulness or learning from our mistakes is bad or that planning and looking ahead is bad, these are good things. What we have trouble with is the fact that we never seem to just enjoy the present and be content with what God has us doing right now. It says in 1 Timothy 6:6:

But godliness {actually} is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

it goes on to say in verses 7-12,

For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance {and} gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I was mentioning to a friend about this article and how in our lives we seem always be setting our selves up for the next accomplishment instead of enjoying the days along the way. We are a society that likes to ask scripted questions based upon the time of life we are currently living. As a child, we ask them what do they want to be when they grow up? Poor kids don”t even have a chance to enjoy the joys of not worrying about a thing. Then as they as graduate high school and head off to college they are asked when they are going to graduate? Then once they finish there education sure enough they will be asked when will you be getting married? Once you get married, almost immediately after the first dance, people will begin to ask you, when are you going to have a baby?? Then right after the first child, the question comes up (and this happened with my sister) people will ask, “when is the next baby coming?” Eventually life goes on and people begin to ask question about your kids and but don”t fret they are not done asking you questions. Really there is only one more question to ask and that i, “When are you going to retire?” Soon enough you will retire and then….die! After that no one will ask you any more questions, at least on this earth. When, not if, we die, we will face a few other questions. One questions is why should God allow you to be in heaven? Is is based upon your good works or some other temporal thing? If you have put your faith and trust in Christ Jesus that he is your Savior you will be saved and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That leaves you with the other question that will be asked of you. As a disciple of Christ, we will be asked what we have done with the gifts, talents and the time we have been given here on this earth.

The reason I bring all of this up is to tie this all together. Yes we are good at bring up the past and always looking ahead to the future but what is most important is that today you will have the opportunity to do as it says in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14;

“…Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Remember that you cant just live for Fridays or for the weekends and truly live. God has given us ever day! Every day make sure you serve the Lord in what ever you are doing and enjoy the opportunities God has given to you. Reminds me of the song I sang growing up that said, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Who Says Nothing In Life Is Free?

October 12, 2007

Yum

I went to dinner with a few friends the other night and we found new favorite place. Are attempt that night was to find a new place that we had never been. That brought us to Mimi’s Cafe. At first, we were not sure what to expect when we walked in and saw on there special board “Lobster and Mac & Cheese”. I ordered the Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad mainly because I knew that with this salad came a Seasonal Muffin. This muffin is there seasonal special called the Pumpkin Muffin. It came out right away, which at first seemed strange which quickly went away when I began to look at this amazing site. The scent had an aroma of pumpkin and spices, it was warm to the touch like it had just been taken out of the oven, and it looked like the perfectly shaped muffin. In any case, it tasted as good as it looked! Following this came the salad, which in my eyes had the perfect ratio of Lettuce/Dressing/Chicken/Crutons or as I like to refer to it as the “CDLC Ratio” of Caesar Salads.

The amazing part of this meal came at the end. As we were receiving our checks I asked if they sold the pumpkin muffins to go. Without answering my question the waitress says hold on we have a surprise for you! I thought to myself this is a weird way to answer that question? About five minutes passed when all of the sudden another lady came out with a to go box with four delicious muffins for each of us. How incredible is that. She explained that for their first time guest they like to leave them with a little reminder to make sure they come back for more. How great is that. A business that cares about its customers returning and really doing something nice for them for a change. Not to mention providing a quality product. That goes a long way to forging a good relationship with its customers.

So I am glad to say that there are still a few thing that are free in this world. It also reminds me of the fact that if I can get so excited over the fact I have just received four free delicious muffins. How much more excited should I be over the free gift I have been given so graciously. The gift of eternal life which is only found by faith in Jesus Christ.

Now That Is Confidence!

October 1, 2007

Alana

My parents have just arrived home from a trip to Erie, PA. they were able to visit with a lot of family including my lovely, talented and beautiful (..did i mention wonderful) niece Alana! And yes, she can now spell her name…(did i mention smarter then your niece) My sister gave them some photos from this past month that were great! During the trip one of the family members went up to Alana and said, “you are such a pretty little girl” and Alana replied very confidently, “Yes, I know…” Reminded me of the confidence that we should have. No, not in our looks, but in our hearts. We all have sinned and fallen short and our hearts are ugly towards God but because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, and only because of that, our hearts are now viewed as white as snow, or that “pretty little girl” if you will. And we can be confident of that not because of us, but because of what Christ has done for us!

Just Beyond The Clouds

June 5, 2007

Sunset

I love to go out to the beach and take shots of the sun as it sets in between the clouds. Two things that I always think of when it starts to rain or the clouds may start to come in to view. First, the clouds are usually allowed by none other then that which is covering the sun from our view. and Second, the sun which is being covered is going no where it is always there, just beyond the clouds. Remember that this is the same in life. Storms may come our way that God has place in our lives for reasons that may appear mysterious to us. Just remember, God is the one that has allowed it. He is Sovereign, and he is able to calm the storms just as He did when He was in the boat with the disciples and said, “Peace Be Still.” Also, do not forget that God is always there. He is unwaivering, unflinching, unchanging. There are times when we see God so clearly, yet other times when we are going through the storm when we begin to question His existence. Don”t lose heart, God is unwaivering, unchanging, and unflinching. Just as the prodigal son made his way back home, God is there waiting for you…just beyond the clouds…a song that comes to mind…

Unwavering written by Bethany Dillon

Blessed are the poor
The kingdom is theirs
Alive in the promise
To be dead to the world
Blessed are the meek
In awe of You, Father
The word of Your right hand
Spirit of Truth

Unwavering is Your voice
Unwavering is Your hand
Unwavering is the heart that bled for the sins of man
Unwavering is Your will
Unwavering is Your plan
The Fount of Salvation on which we will stand