Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Talitha, cumi

I've been reading through Mark recently, and for whatever reason the story where Jesus raises Jairus' daughter (Mark 5) has stood out to me each time through. Matthew Henry's commentary on a specific aspect of the miracle, Jesus' words to the girl, especially hit home:

It was customary with the Jews, when they gave physic to one that was sick, to say Arise from thy disease; meaning, We wish thou mayest arise: but to one that was dead, Christ said, Arise from the dead; meaning, I command that thou arise; nay there is more in it -- the dead have not power to arise, therefore power goes along with the word, to make it effectual...Christ works while he commands, and works by the command, and therefore may command what he pleaseth, even the dead to arise. Such is the gospel call to those that are by nature dead in tresspasses and sins, and can no more rise from that death by their own power, than this child could; and yet that word, Awake, and arise from the dead, is neither vain, nor in vain, when it follows immediately, Christ shall give thee light, Eph 5:14

What in your life is dead and has no hope of life outside of Christ? In that area are you fearing or believing? (Mark 5:36b) 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Visiting the USC Navs!!

This past week I was invited by Steven, the Campus Director of the Navs at USC, to come and do worship for their Nav Nite. Because classes don't start until tomorrow at CSULB and most of our students weren't in the area yet, I was able to take advantage of this opportunity to spend time with my friends investing in another expression of the Navigators here in SoCal.

Because their ministry is a newer ministry (only re-established a year and a half ago) than ours, I went with a "shorter is better" philosophy for this set. Better to keep things simple and not wear out your welcome!

The text for the teaching that week was Philippians 1:1-11, so I chose three songs that centered around the themes of God's creative and regenerative work in our lives and our response of glorifying Him. "Cannons" embodied both of those elements: the creator God who established the world with but a breath and our response to him in the phrase "All glory, honor power is yours, amen." "Glory to God"...well, that one's pretty self-explanatory. Again, the emphasis is on our response to the Creator God giving us breath to breathe and praise his name.

Why did I choose this specific focus? Philippians 1:6 says, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" and verse 11 says that this change leading towards purity and blamelessness is to be "to the glory and praise of God." A pretty beautiful truth, no?

As a closing song, I chose one that I'd never done before: "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. I don't know about you, but sometimes I look at myself and doubt that God could use someone like me for his purposes. That's why I absolutely love the chorus of the song:
You make beautiful things :: You make beautiful things out of the dust :: You make beautiful things :: You make beautiful things out of us
If God could create the entire universe out of nothing and then make humans from the dust...well, maybe, just maybe, he could create something out of the mess that my life resembles sometimes!

Sidenote: While playing the worship set, we had all the lights except the projector (which had a predominantly black background) out: I couldn't really see my chord charts or lyrics! Thankfully 1) these are songs I'm fairly familiar with and 2) they aren't terribly complex either!

Worship Set:

1. "Cannons" by Phil Wickham (G)
2. "Glory To God" by Steve Fee (G)
3. "Beautful Things" by Gungor (C)

Does your view of  God as Creator affect your day-to-day experience? Do you have trouble believing he could do a work in your life even though he created everything in existence?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seeds of Context

As I walked past this bowl of fruit this morning, I was reminded of a quick illustration regarding context, especially with regards to the Scriptures. The thought came from the Life Group curriculum that we're using at ROCKharbor and that was developed by Francis Chan, so the OTHER reason I was reminded of this thought is that I adapted it into the introduction for the Bible study Alicia and I are co-running this semester on Acts. But the bowl was the "reminder of the reminder" this morning, so I'll stick with that!

Chan writes, "When studying Scripture, think apple rather than orange." He explains:
Typically, when you eat an apple, you take a bite out of the whole fruit. When you eat an orange, you break it into isolated pieces and then eat the pieces individually. Whenever we read a verse, we should be mindful that we are taking a thought (a "bite") from a larger story. Always keep in mind that every verse is connected to a chapter, a book, and the entire Bible.
I know I may seem like a broken record here, but to use the potentially easiest example, Jeremiah 29:11 is an amazing and powerful verse. By itself, it's a pretty tasty morsel. Let's remember that it's part of the "apple" of Jeremiah (70 years of captivity, judgement, exile) though :).

God, reveal to me the larger story that your Word paints. Open my eyes that I might behold wonderful things from your Law (Psalm 119:18), because without your Spirit illuminating it I am prone to make mistakes. Thank you for the gift of your Word-may I and others handle it carefully and accurately. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekend Setlist

This past weekend The Sunland Navigators hosted an conference for college juniors and seniors called EDGE Preview.  Over the course of the weekend many different post-college opportunities with The Navigators were presented, but the overall focus was on trusting God wherever he takes you, not just if it's in ministry and not just specifically with The Navs.

I had the privilege of leading worship the second morning for the group of 115 or so students and staff. The setup was two guitars, two vocalists, and that's pretty much it. Fun story about the morning: about half an hour or so before our set I discovered that the output jack had fallen INTO my guitar! I had to enlist one of our students with smaller hands and arms than me to reach inside my guitar (after I'd taken all the strings off!) and reposition the jack. Thankfully the screw wasn't hard to track down and we had enough time to perform the "operation" and get my guitar back into playing shape before the set! (It was still kinda crazy to have my guitar basically having open heart surgery though! Thanks Cherenda! :D)

For the set I chose to focus on God's promises, his power, and our response. "You Said" by shane & shane is about one of the most Navigator (especially Sunland Navigator) friendly songs you'll come across: It's all about claiming God's promises, uses imagery from Psalm 2:8 and Matt 9:35-38, and is all about God's glory reaching the Nations. "At Your Name" is a recent favorite of mine...there's something that just works about literally shouting "Yahweh" and dwelling on his might that's...well, powerful. And singing "Living for Your Glory" can be a powerful time of reflection and earnest prayer where we surrender again to God's will (see my friend Caitlin's blog for an example!).

1. "You Said" by Shane & Shane (G)
2. "At Your Name" by Tim Hughes and Phil Wickham (A)
3. "Living for Your Glory" by Tim Hughes (D)

What promises from God are you having trouble believing? What problem are you currently facing that is too big for him? What areas of your life do you need to surrender to him to live completely for His glory?

God, help me to believe your promises, your power, and your purposes. May I seek you and your kingdom first, before all others. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Absolute Sovereignty of God: What Is Romans Nine About? - Desiring God

I've been doing some reading up and study on God's sovereignty for NavWest recently and stumbled across an article by John Piper called The Absolute Sovereignty of God: What Is Romans Nine About? - Desiring God:

We all know the amazing promises of Romans 8: that all things work for the good of those who love God, that no one can be against us if God is for us, and that nothing can separate us from Christ's love. But have you ever wondered why Romans 9, a rather blunt and harsh (at times) exposition of God's absolute sovereignty immediately follows? I hadn't, but Piper traces the connection beautifully, concluding:

"Romans 9 comes after Romans 8 for this utterly crucial reason: It shows that the word of God’s covenant with Israel has not failed, because it is grounded in God’s sovereign, electing mercy. Therefore the promises to the true Israel and the promises of Romans 8 will stand! That is the gospel of Romans 9. The promises purchased by the blood of Christ will be performed by the sovereign power of God."

God, thank you that you have the power to back up and complete your promises! Thank you that we can cling to them because we know that you set the world into motion with a word and that you love us. May I live in light of this reality.