Monthly Archives: July 2013

A burning in my bones

 

I have been reading through the Bible using M’Cheyne’s One Year Bible reading plan on YouVersion. It has been a great accountability help with keeping up with regular reading besides what I study for upcoming lessons and sermons. For the past couple weeks we have been going through Jeremiah, who is also known as the “weeping prophet.” The “weeping prophet” is not a popular nickname for anyone. But, regardless, that is how Jeremiah is commonly referred to. Today’s reading plan called for chapter 20 of Jeremiah and one verse stood out to me:

Jeremiah 20:9 – But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.”

Read over the verse again and think on it. Let it ruminate in your mind. Put yourself in his shoes. He is given a mission that is anything but desirable. Even today, it would be hard to find someone who would want to do what Jeremiah did, especially if you based it on this chapter alone. Jeremiah was a prophet in Jerusalem for about 40 years right up to the time of the fall of Judah and their deportation to Babylon. He most often spoke towards people who had rejected the one true God for false idols. He warned them time and again right up to the point where the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. All of that to basically say no one would want to be Jeremiah. Jeremiah 20:10-18 share his emotions at this time:

10 For I hear many whispering.
Terror is on every side!
“Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
say all my close friends,
watching for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we can overcome him
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,[a]
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hand of evildoers.

14 Cursed be the day
on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
let it not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father,
“A son is born to you,”
making him very glad.
16 Let that man be like the cities
that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning
and an alarm at noon,
17 because he did not kill me in the womb;
so my mother would have been my grave,
and her womb forever great.
18 Why did I come out from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame?

 Can you imagine coming to a time in your life where you cursed the day you were born? I have been through times where I have felt sad or depressed but I do not believe I have ever been at the point Jeremiah was where I cursed the day I was born. This provides a little insight as to why he was labeled the “weeping prophet.” However, as you read verse 9 about a “fire burning within” it brings you to a place where you need to ask if you have that fire within you? We have all been given a mission by God to take the Gospel to the world, and to share the love of God with everyone we come in contact with. We are to make disciples and to take His Word to the nations. Do we have a fire burning within us that keeps us from being silent? Or do we have no choice but to speak the message God has placed on our heart? Do we get tired from trying to hold the message inside of us? Why not?

I am praying that God will light this fire within me that will not allow me to be silent. Even though Jeremiah had a message no one wanted to hear, he did not let that keep him silent. He spoke unpopular words but they were necessary. Today, the Gospel message is unpopular, but it is necessary. May it light a fire in us that we cannot keep inside.


Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper

 

After finishing this book, it took me a couple days to actually begin writing this review. One reason is I was busy, but the other reason is I was so overwhelmed with everything this book said I was trying to let it soak in. Rhythms of Grace is a book that I would recommend every church leadership team read together. It is THAT powerful! Mike Cosper is a founding pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky where he serves as pastor of worship and arts. He is also the founder of Sojourn Music. To put it in simple terms, this is his heart and he speaks with conviction, wisdom and understanding that we in the church should take the time to listen to.

The best thing about this book is all throughout it, Mike constantly points to the center of the Christian faith and the reason why we do what we do (or should be why): the Gospel. If the Gospel is not at the center of everything a church does, what is the center? Would that church really make a difference? Or will it become so self-centered that it transforms into some sort of spiritual country club where the gospel is hardly mentioned at all and it is simply a social hub. The way a church worships should be centered on the gospel. If how the church worships does not bring glory to God, it is bringing glory to something else, which is idolatry.

The back of the book makes this statement:

“Is it singing? A church service? All of life? Helping Christians think more theologically about the nature of true worship, Rhythms of Grace shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Mike Cosper ultimately answers the question, What is worship?”

This is what makes this book so great. Mike does not just attack styles or methods but goes right to the heart and soul of worship. Why do we gather as a church? What is the purpose of the church gathered? How can the church gathered utilize its time for the greatest impact for the kingdom of God? Worship is more than just singing and he tackles that in a tactful manner that will get people thinking. Worship is everything we do throughout life, not just the songs we sing on Sunday morning. If we believe that worship is only what happens on Sunday morning, then we are truly missing the heart of worship and what the Christian life is all about. From the moment of creation to now, life has been about worship. All of creation was made for worship. We were made to worship God. Church was not instituted by God to all of a sudden be the only place people worshiped. God created people for the purpose of worship and fellowship. Unfortunately, we in the church have made it more about style and how we feel than about who God is and who we are singing to and about.

This book will challenge you and your church to worship God with all that you are and actually take a look at how you set up your worship service and why you do it that way. Worship is all about the gospel and if we do not have an understanding of the Gospel, we will not worship as we were created to worship. Because only in the Gospel can true worship take place. If the only time we think about the gospel is Sunday morning, then our hearts will not be ready to sing. If our lives Monday through Saturday do not match what we profess to believe, then our Sunday mornings will not bring a smile to God’s face either. Worship is so much more than what we the church have made it about. It encompasses all of life and that is the only way true worship happens, when it actually invades our lives. The world was created in a rhythm. Sin upset that rhythm. The Gospel helps us see the rhythm and move back towards it while restoring our hearts to the real reason for worship. From the very beginning, life has been about worship, and worship has been about the Gospel. If the church does not grasp this, then the church will not be truly worshiping.

Rhythms Of Grace was packed with quotes but I want to share a few that stood out to me as I read through this book. Maybe it will help pique your interest in this book.

“At it’s heart, worship is rooted in love.”

“Worship as an activity that’s somehow separate from the rest of life appears nonexistent and frankly, unnecessary. In the seamless perfection of that virgin world, it is all worship – a constant reflection of God’s love, glory, and brilliance.”

“When worship gets married to a particular style of music, the consequences are huge.”

“We need to lead worship in such a way that when people gather, they see Jesus.”

“Only someone with a deep background in the Scriptures and pastoral theology can make discerning decisions about songs, prayers and rhythms of grace in the life of the church.”

“A congregation is just as responsible to sing the gospel as the preachers are to preach it.”

“Because we tend to define worship as singing, we tend also to treat singing as an individualized encounter with God. Worship is a broader thing than music, and music’s purpose in the church is bigger than my personal experience. It’s not merely my song, but our song. We sing together, uniting our voices and our words.”

I sincerely loved this book and highly recommend every church leader read it. I would take that a little further and say that I believe every follower of Christ would benefit from this book as it is a refreshing look at worship and church and the Gospel in a way that is God-centered, not man-centered. May we learn from this and realize that worship is all about the gospel, the gospel is all about worship and it is a cycle that feeds off of itself and changes our lives from the inside out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review. Thanks for taking the time to read this review and feel free to leave comments or questions.