9 Reasons Every Church Needs to Sing Hymns

Part of an on-going discussion. I like almost all types and all can be used. Don’t like one form to be the sole medium.


Jesus Rises from the Grave

Matthew 28:1-15

Matthew’s account of the events that day, the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, varies from that of Mark and Luke, and while we can discuss that some other time, I would point out that Matthew’s account carries forward His emphasis throughout the narrative of both Kingdom and the messianic mission of Jesus; in fact, these two themes are virtually inseparable: Jesus’ messianic mission was to establish His kingdom, which is not of this world. No, I haven’t forgotten that Jesus came to die on the cross for the redemption of Mankind; rather I am asserting that He did so in order to establish the Kingdom as a present reality.

Early on the first day of the week, which is the day after the Sabbath (Sunday), the women come to see the tomb. Unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew doesn’t get into the exact purpose for this. They arrive and then God springs into action again: There is a violent earthquake, as the angel of the Lord comes down and rolls the stone away from the tomb, and sits down on it and speaks to the women.

Don’s blog can be read at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/jesus-rises-from-the-grave-2/

Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted World (Part 2)

Larry Dixon

When I was in high school my best friend Ronnie had a pair of Buddy Holly black horn rim glasses. They looked so cool. I asked him one day if I could wear his glasses at school and he said yes.

I’m not sure how to describe the effect those glasses had on me that day, but “babe magnet” would not be an exaggeration. I got more attention from the ladies that day than all my years of tricks on the elementary school’s jungle gym combined.

So, I went home (after giving Ronnie his glasses back) and said, “Mom, I think I need glasses!” She said, “Let’s go get your eyes examined this afternoon.”

I knew I was going to be in big trouble. I knew the eye doctor would do his exam (with an eye chart I hadn’t memorized) and say to my Mom, “Mrs. Dixon. Your son’s eyes are perfect. I suspect he wants glasses as a kind of, how should I say this?, babe magnet.”

Instead, he comes out of the exam room and says, “Mrs. Dixon, I’ve completed your son’s examination — and he not only needs glasses. He needs to wear them all the time.”

I immediately drew the conclusion: There is a God in heaven and He loves me!

Read the rest: https://larrydixon.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/focus-keeping-our-eyes-on-jesus-in-a-near-sighted-world-part-2/

Selections from: The Worship God Is Seeking

Passionate worship requires some skill, not in some elitist way, but because we put our all into expressing this worship to God.

Such creativity, freedom and life surely cannot be contained in just one or two songs. Such worship cannot be fully expressed in just one liturgy or style of music.

God designed worship to come to Him from every thing He created.

Psalm 33

God is seeking a worship that reflects His heart. As the truly original artist, He delights in worship that echoes the creativity and passion that He put into creation. He longs for worship that reflects not only the expanse of creation but also the fullest expression of His crown of creation: redeemed humanity worshiping Him from every tongue, tribe and nation. We need to cultivate creativity and artistic expression in our worship, not to impress God, or put our talents on display before Him, but simply because He enjoys it. This is the worship He seeks.

Our worship must move us to this kind of love if it is to be authentic and Christ centered.

Our worship does not isolate us; rather, as we draw near to God’s heart, we are stirred by His longing to see salvation visit the whole earth and to shatter the works of Satan.

Our acts of worship divorced from a lifestyle of mercy and justice create the same effect.

We are to be marked by love, and it is only in such a place that the bonds of injustice and the abuse of power can truly be broken. It is by our love that the world will know that we are disciples of Christ. It is by our love that our worship is marked as acceptable before the King of love Himself It is time for the Church to recover the worship that has love at its core. Love for God that is expressed through love for our neighbor. The worship that God is seeking is a worship that is rooted in love for each other.

– Ruis, David. The Worship God Is Seeking (The Worship Series) (p. 124). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A Hymn That Challenges All Hymns

Begin by reading this amazing passage in Philippians 2:6-11, considered by many to be an early Christian hymn.

Phil. 2:6    Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.

7 But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.

When he found himself in the form of a human,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God highly honored him
and gave him a name above all names,

10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow

11 and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Read more: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/12/26/a-hymn-that-challenges-all-hymns/

Peter has a Rough Night


Matthew 26:69-75

Quite a lot has taken place since Jesus told the disciples that they would disown Him. Quite a lot has taken place since Peter objected to that and Jesus told him he would deny Jesus three times that very night.

Jesus has been arrested, tried in a joke of a trial and been found guilty of blasphemy and condemned to die; Peter was outside listening to the proceedings. You might recall that when Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guards, but Jesus had stepped in to stop Peter, replacing the man’s ear. Then Jesus told the crowd off for not doing their foul deeds in public, and Peter, along with the other disciples had fled the scene.

The disciples had learned a great deal over the past few years from Jesus, but in spite of at least three warnings, they hadn’t quite gotten the point of Jesus’ mission as the Messiah; that He had come not to conquer the Romans and restore Israel as a Nation of the earth, but instead had come to conquer sin and death and establish a Kingdom not of this world. Jesus told the group about His real mission three times, each of which ended by Jesus telling them He was going die at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and then rise again from the grave on the third day. Yet in each instance, the disciples reacted to His death prediction and apparently didn’t notice the resurrection prediction.

Peter now knew that Jesus was about to die, but the resurrection part of the story still eluded him. Remembering Jesus’ words of earlier that evening, he now creeps of and weeps bitterly over his own rejection of his Master in front of those in and around the place of His trial. For Peter, relief from his agony was still far off, but he wasn’t the only one having a bad night; Judas, the betrayer was having a worse night.

Comment for Don’s blog and leave comments at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2019/12/26/peter-has-a-rough-night-3/

Most Christians misunderstand what Heaven really is, theologian NT Wright says


Encouraging Service in Your Church


Unpacking the Incarnation with J. I. Packer


When Your Friend Is Depressed

~ Sayable blog

This past year I discovered the writings of Parker Palmer, an octogenarian Quaker who has an impressive line-up of little books behind him. I say “little” not because they are the work of simpleton, but because they are the work of someone who, in the Quaker tradition, knows sometimes it is better to be silent than to speak. A better word for them may be brief.

The other night, after we blew out the Advent candles and let the fire burn down to its coals, Nate lay in bed with his poetry journal (in which he scribes and scribbles and crosses out and copies whatever poem he is working on) and I lay in bed rereading this selection from Let Your Life Speak. I read it weeks ago but it was still on my mind and today I thought I’d share it with you.

“It is odd that some of my most vivid memories of depression involve the people who came to look in on me, since in the middle of the experience I was barely able to notice who was or was not there. Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection—it deprives one of the relatedness that is the lifeline of every living being.

I do not like to speak ungratefully of my visitors. They all meant well, and they were among the few who did not avoid me altogether. But despite their good intentions, most of them acted like Job’s comforters—the friends who came to Job in his misery and offered “sympathy” that led him deeper into his despair.

Some visitors, in an effort to cheer me up, would say, “It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you go out and soak up some sunshine and look at the flowers? Surely that’ll make you feel better?”

But that advice only made me more depressed. Intellectually, I knew that the day was beautiful, but I was unable to experience that beauty through my senses, to feel it in my body. Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection, not just between people but between one’s mind and one’s feelings. To be reminded of that disconnection only deepened my despair.

Read more: http://www.sayable.net/blog/2019/12/24/when-your-friend-is-depressed