Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Flubbed My American Idol Audition!

Just kidding!

But it sure felt like that.

By God’s grace, Gabe – our Worship Team lead guitar player and recording genius – isn’t Simon Cowell.

At worship practice on Tuesday, we were recording vocal tracks to a song for a project we are working on. The guitars were already recorded and both the lead singer and soprano had already recorded their tracks when it was my turn, so I had the benefit of almost a full band, minus the drums, to pull me through.

I put on the headphones and got used to how loud everything was going to sound in my ears (sort of) and then started a run-through without recording. I opened my mouth to sing and that’s when it all fell apart.

For the life of me, I could not find the notes!

Grant it, this is a fairly new song for us, but it’s not one that I struggle with when we play it during worship services. For some reason, I was just not able to figure out my place in the verses even after I got the chorus going.

Patiently, Gabe replayed a verse over and over… and over for me, but after about eight or seventeen tries (I lost count), he finally decided to cut me a CD of the tracks to take home and practice with so I can try again next week.

I don’t know if it was a memory problem, a case of the jitters (standing there in front of a professional recording microphone with someone really listening to me sing), or the fact that I’d eaten before practice (I don’t have great control on a full stomach), but I just couldn’t accomplish the task.

Whatever the problem was, I know for a fact that Satan tried to use it for his own evil purposes. How do I know? Because of the lies that started rushing into my head:

“This isn’t going to work.”

“You can’t sing anyway, why bother?”

“You’re wasting everyone’s time.”


Today I’d like to publicly address those lies to Satan himself.

Devil, it is written: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This will work and be for good because I love God and am called according to His purpose to be on the worship team!

Devil, it is written: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13) Besides, I’d rather listen to the voice of God and the many voices of my friends over your one puny voice. I don’t have to be perfect, just obedient with what I have.

Devil, it is written: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to [all], that [they] also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3 – word changes mine) Every member of the worship team has a passion to testify of Jesus Christ through the ministry of music. We are a worship team and no one’s time is wasted because the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes!” (Romans 1:16) Again… it is written!

Whew! I feel much better now.

And for the record... I popped that CD into my player on the way home from worship practice and sung it pitch perfect first time through. ;0)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Romans - Chapter 1:1-17

The first half of Romans Chapter 1 is the apostle Paul’s introduction of himself to the Christians in Rome.

Paul really knew how to write! Or he really knew how to be Spirit-led in his writing. He so clearly represents Jesus and presents the gospel in this epistle (letter) that many scholars have called Romans the greatest epistle of them all.

Right away in verse 1, we see that Paul pulls no punches and gets right to the point in just a few words. Paraphrased: “Hi, I’m Paul. I’m a bond-servant of Christ and God set me apart as an apostle to preach the gospel.” Boom!

His humble reference to himself as a “bond-servant” was in clear contrast to the Jewish religious leaders’ title of Rabbi, which means, “my master.” Both Jewish and Gentile Christians of that day would understand that Paul’s position was to serve them on Christ’s behalf rather than lord over them.

Citing his apostleship meant that Paul claimed he was not called by any man to preach the Gospel, but by Christ Himself. Luke supported this claim by recording Paul’s Damascus Road encounter three times in the book of Acts. (9:3-5; 22:6-8; 26:12-18)

(Interesting reading on apostles if you have the time:

In verses 2-4, Paul declares his knowledge of prophecy and Scripture, which influenced the Jews, and verses 5-6 affirm the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s plan. Verse 7 unites both groups under the same pronouncement of God’s love. Talk about knowing and appealing to your audience!

This is followed up by a wonderful word of encouragement for these believers (vv. 8-10) – Paul, an apostle of Christ, praises them for their faith! Remember, Paul had not yet been to Rome to see them. He’d heard about them because their faith was being “proclaimed throughout the whole world.”

I don’t know about you, but people can tell me all day long that I’m doing a good job at something and I just take it with grace, offering a sincere thank you for their praise. However, it makes a big impact on me when a leader in my life tells me I’m doing a good job at something. Suddenly, I realize that important people are noticing what I’m doing and I’m SO glad that it’s not for the wrong reasons!

Paul didn’t keep the news about their faith to himself either; he told others as he went about preaching the gospel. He was proud of them, he thanked God for them, and he prayed for them. He also prayed that he could meet these faithful believers face to face.

His desire to share with them a “spiritual gift” that would help “establish” them is found in verse 11. When a preacher ministers the gospel, God imparts gifts to those who receive the message. Whether it is hope or healing, knowledge or salvation, grace, peace, or comfort, God wants to share His gifts and Paul was eager to bring to the Roman Christians whatever the Lord would share with them through him.

He knew that a spiritual gift from the Lord would help make them even stronger and more stable in their faith, establishing more firmly in their hearts their belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul also knew that being together with them would encourage his faith as well (verse 12).

It seemed important to Paul to let the believers in Rome know that he’d been thinking about them for some time (verse 13) and, had there not been other things to prevent him, he would already have come. He looked forward to ministering there so he could “obtain fruit” among them, possibly salvation of souls, encouragement of believers, and other “fruits” that come of laboring for the harvest. While he loved his fellow Jewish-Christians, his mission was to the Gentiles.

Verse 14 distinguishes “types” of Gentiles that Paul was obligated to preach the gospel to, so that none would think themselves above the others, nor beneath the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

According to John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, either the Greeks (who were Gentiles) called all others not of their nation Barbarians, or Greeks represented the more cultivated nations of the world while Barbarians were the ruder, more uncivilized parts. Either way, Paul knew to make reference to both groups. He also was clear that he preached to both the educated (wise) and the uneducated (foolish). The gospel is for everyone.

So far, Paul has summed up his credentials, his audience, and his purpose, all of which compel him to be “eager” to preach to the Christians in Rome (verse 15). He knew that God had called him, he had a passion for those God told him to preach and minister to, and he was confident in the gospel he had to share. Paul was “good to go” as soon as he could get to Rome!

Many people today wish they could have the faith to preach (evangelize) like Paul did. What was his secret? Why was he so bold? Did God give him an extra portion of the Holy Spirit or did it have to do with the fact that Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus Road? Surely, we’d have more faith had we been knocked off our high horse and blinded for three days!

If it had anything to do with the latter, how do you explain the lack of faith in some who actually walked with Jesus and saw Him perform miracles? Throughout history, man has denied Jesus Christ even when they come face to face with Him.

I am convinced that it had to do with the fact that Paul actually listened to what Jesus told him and then had a conversation with Him. Paul developed a relationship with Jesus right from the beginning that he never let go of!

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul walked and talked with Jesus every day. It was this experience of a personal relationship with Christ that led Paul to boldly declare, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘but the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Verses 16-17)

We can all have that!

Every man, woman, and child on the planet is invited to experience the power of salvation – “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 – italics mine)

God does reveal His righteousness – “The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations.” (Psalm 98:2)

The longer we spend time with Jesus the more we experience with Him so our faith grows. He shares more and more over time taking our faith from one level to another with each revelation of His righteousness.

Paul spent time with Jesus. It’s that simple. His faith was great because his relationship with Jesus was great. It was important to him and he worked to maintain it. Knowing Jesus so well is why he was eager to go wherever and to whomever the Lord asked him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Oh, that I should desire to know the Lord so well, that none who cross my path should pass without a seed being planted!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Romans - Introduction

Bible study is greatly enhanced when we take time to look at the scripture’s background – the who, what, where, when, and why of the words recorded for our teaching. It places what we read into context so we avoid the errors of guesswork and injection of our own ideas.

With as great care as possible, scholars have used clues in scripture as well as other historical references to determine as closely as possible the necessary details to give us a picture of what was going on at the time each book of the Bible was written.

Not everyone agrees precisely on those details for every book, so I’m asking that you resist the temptation to nit-pick the details and look to the spirit of the purpose of the message. In other words, don’t miss out on spiritual growth because you’re hung up on a minor point!

God is not bound by time, place, or person. His word is His word no matter when it was given, where it was given, or to whom it was given. The Biblical framework presented by those who have studied the specifics of scripture is adequate to our understanding of God throughout history.

The group at my church is using material from two online studies available for free use:
We are also making use of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible by James Strong, The Hayford Bible Handbook by Jack Hayford, Survey of the New Testament by Paul Benware, many resources at, and any other useful source that comes along.

All of these guides are merely supplements to the revelation that God gives to each student as we go through the lessons. Surprisingly, we’ve found that God has “planted the seeds” of Romans in our lives from our childhood and we all have experiences from the past or present that really bring home the message of Romans to our souls.

I say our souls because it is touching our minds through new knowledge and connections with our experiences, our wills through changed attitudes and renewed commitments, and our emotions through healing from uncertainties about our faith. We’re on an amazing road to victory in our lives and we’ve only just begun!

With that being said…

The Book of ROMANS

WHO: Written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome

WHAT: A letter of introduction and presentation of the gospel dictated to and penned by Paul’s scribe, Tertius

WHERE: Paul most likely wrote this letter while in Corinth, Greece on his third missionary journey. It was sent to the churches in Rome, a city of political and economic importance with an estimated population of four million at that time.

WHEN: Written in 58 A.D.

WHY: The theme of Romans is “The Gospel is God’s power to save all that believe.”

I found an excellent Introduction to Romans by Keith Sharp for further details and encourage you to read through that.

Stay tuned for Notes on our Bible study as we go along!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Music To My Heart

Ever have a song get stuck in your head? Sometimes it’s just a part of a song or a little ditty you heard on a television commercial or something, but it plays over and over in your head and won’t leave you alone until you focus your mind elsewhere.

My kids are good at starting me off on “music in my head” sessions. I’ll hear them singing something goofy or random in passing and the next thing I know, I’m humming or singing it. I’ll catch myself and try to think of something else, but before long it’s back with a vengeance until I put something else in my brain, like another song… one I actually like! Yeah, I know you know what I’m talking about here. ;0)

I’ve found that the Lord is really good at that, too. That’s why I’m writing this morning – because I’ve got part of a song stuck in my head that the Lord woke me up with and it won’t leave me alone. Now, the songs the Lord puts in my head don’t drive me insane, but they are persistent and there are only two ways to deal with them.

The obvious way is to put something else in my brain. Getting out of bed and starting my day is generally sufficient to accomplish this, since my brain immediately fills up with all the tasks on my list for the day and how best to tackle them. It is beyond me why I ever want to do this, since that list can drive me insane quicker than my kid’s little ditties!

So I’ve found a better way and it’s quite easy to do actually because the songs from the Lord are songs of worship and praise. Simply put, I embrace them.

It is a joyful thing to wake up with a song from the Lord in your mind. The things in our minds are a reflection of what’s in our hearts. The days I wake up with His songs in my head let me know that my relationship with Him is right, that I am in love with the Lord and He is in love with me.

Of course, He is always in love with me but, if I do not love Him, my heart doesn’t always sing for joy. On those days, the thoughts in my mind are far from worship and praise. They are more like grumbling and complaining about having to wake up. How much better to wake up in love with the Lord!

Psalm 28:7 reads, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

I do trust in the Lord and that is why my heart sings. It is a good time in this country for Christian music, too. So many talented artists are able to share their hearts freely through amazing worship and praise songs. Praise the Lord for that.

We have no excuse for not filling our heads with songs that the Lord can place in our hearts for His glory somewhere along the line! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, look for a KLOVE radio station in your area and tune in to some amazing love songs.

Before I end, I’d like to stick my song in your head. It’s part of “I Wait For The Lord” by Jeremy Camp and you can hear this little segment if you go here.

I wait for the Lord
My soul waits
I wait for the Lord

In His word I place my trust
In his word I rest
In His word I place my trust
For I know I must wait

Allow your soul to wait on the Lord today. Your soul is your mind, will, and emotions – willingly fix your thoughts on Him. Get into Scripture and let God’s words fill your soul with a rest you can trust in. It doesn’t come if we busy ourselves with the tasks and routines of life. It comes when we wait on the Lord.

Are you singing the song in your head yet?

Embrace it!

My kids would be proud of me. :0)