Minor Prophets with a Major Message: Amos

One of the reasons God sent Amos to the northern kingdom of Israel was to rebuke them for their disregard for genuine worship of God.

We can’t fool God.  He knows the difference between a fact and a fake.  Genuine and pretentious.

It is easy to skim over the biblical passages citing God’s abhorrence of fake, ritualistic worship. But we should heed them with great fear.  In Amos 5:21, God thunders,

I hate, I despise all your pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.

One scholar offered commentary on why God used both “hate” and “despise” to describe his disgust for pretentious worship.  He states:

Two Hebrew words here combine to express the attitude more forcefully than either could by itself.  The result can be translated, “I reject with utter hatred.”

May our worship of the Almighty be always humble and sincere.  nw

 

 

 

Pause – And Think About That…

The Hebrew word, “selah,” found repeatedly in the Psalms is thought by scholars to be an ancient musical term used in the Hebrew psalter meaning, in essence, “pause and think about that.”

The following is worth  pausing and thinking about.

In the first century, the church had no spot-lights, smoke machines, electric instruments or sound systems. Not once is it remotely suggested the leaders were concerned with fashion or creating an “atmosphere of worship” by dimming the lights. I could go on.

But, somehow – void of all modern-day trappings of Christian worship – and under horrifically intense persecution – the church exploded in growth and influence.

No soapbox here. Just an observation. nw

The Power of Praising God

“About midnight (after having been illegally beaten and imprisoned), Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25-26)

When life goes an angering, painful, or maddening direction – it’s the last thing we want to do.

But the power of praising God (especially in pain) is undeniable.

When we praise the wild, untamable Lion of Judah all heaven breaks loose – our perspective begins to shake and quake, doors that once imprisoned our minds fly off their hinges, and the bondage brought on by living in this corrupt world falls at our sides.

The Lion has roared.

David wrote, “You are holy, enthroned upon the praise of Israel.” (Ps. 22:3) God sets up the very throne-room of His Kingdom in the center of our praise.

Recently, I read the following quote: “The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of the pain, thanking God during the trials, trusting Him when we’re tempted to lose hope, and loving Him when He seems so distant and far away. At my lowest, God is my Hope. At my darkest, God is my Light. At my weakest, God is my Strength. At my saddest, God is my Comfort.”

A song written in the late 70’s says it best: “When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams; And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes; And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fear; Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear….Praise the Lord.”  (YouTube Link below)

On May 13, 2013, my son took his life. But I stand before you this day and proclaim: God is still God; God is still good; God is still trustworthy; Blessed be His Name…Praise the Lord…

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

A Very Brief Theology of Christian Worship Music

One question I like to occasionally ask myself (and our lead team) as we lead the musical portion of our worship services comes from theologian, John Frame, who asks, “Does what we sing help our people think more – or less – theologically?” After all, I have no interest in our folks leaving thinking, “Wow! What great music!” My goal is that they leave, almost off-balance, due to a head-on encounter with Christ, hence thinking to themselves, “Wow…what a great God.” Music, in and of itself, won’t change anyone. Christ, on the other hand, sets people free.

All of that said, my friend, a friend of mine sent me the following quote from a resource of his regarding the rich history of hymns: “Did you know, by the way, that the hymns of the church throughout history were intended primarily for that purpose — to teach and reinforce sound doctrine? … These songs weren’t just to dance to. They were to learn from.”

Singing has been a spiritual discipline used to know God and His Word on a deeper, more mature level since ancient times. In Deuteronomy, God instructed Moses, “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for Me…” (31:19) Jesus (God with skin on) closed the Last Supper by (you guessed it) singing a hymn. (Mark 14:26)

I definitely believe it’s possible to dance a little while, at the same time, having your heart & mind engaged with sound doctrine & theology. But, nowadays it takes a lot of sifting through the “chaff” of what has become a behemoth of Christian Worship Music to find those songs that best make this possible.

Just my opinion, nw