Getting Ready for Worship

Dads, as you are helping your kids in getting ready for worship, are you helping their minds get ready also?

Andy Harrison wrote an article earlier this year on “Leading My Family in worship.”  He made this observation, “Worship is not a place we go or an experience we have, it is something we do.” He quoted a passage from Genesis 22 regarding Abraham and young Isaac.

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).

Getting Ready for Worship.

Just like Abraham and Isaac, we are taking our family to worship. And just like Abraham and Isaac, there are preparations that need to be made before worship. We don’t have a “turn-on-worship-mode” switch in our minds. Keeping that in mind, what is the spiritual and emotional climate of our family leading up to that time of worship?

Here are some ideas that will help:

  • Wake up earlier. That may mean you go to bed earlier on Saturday. If you stay up so late on Saturday night watching TV, and then you are dragging out of bed on Sunday to worship God…that’s a problem.
  • Listen to hymns or audio Bible. Listen to something to help get your mind ready. Again, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that we can just show up at the church building and “prang” the worship switch comes on.
  • Have a conversation with the family. Emphasize the importance of what we are all about to go and do. Lead the way, dads.

Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalms 29:1-2).

Some kids’ humor for today

Here is a collection of some kids’ humor for today. I thought a laugh this morning would be beneficial for us all.

A little boy was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps, stop, and turn to the crowd. While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar. So it went, step, step, ROAR, step, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle. As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, “I was being the Ring Bear.”

One Sunday in a Midwest City, a young child was “acting up” during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”

One particular four-year old prayed, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”

A little boy was overheard praying: “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.”

A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, looking at the old pages as he turned them. Then something fell out of the Bible. He picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that has been pressed in between the pages. “Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out. “What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked. With astonishment in the young boy’s voice he answered, “It’s Adam’s suit”.

The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike, and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform, jerking the mike cord as he went. Then he moved to one side, getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again. After several circles and jerks, a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”

Six-year old Angie, and her four-year old brother, Joel, were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough. “You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.”

My grandson was visiting one day when he asked , “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo, while I asked, “No, how are we alike?” “You’re both old,” he replied.

A ten-year old, under the tutelage of her grandmother, was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible. Then, one day, she floored her grandmother by asking, “Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? The virgin Mary or the King James Virgin?”

Hope these make you smile and laugh just a little today. Laughter is like a medicine, Solomon once said.

What it means to visit

James 1:27 tells us to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, but what does it mean to visit someone? We are going to look briefly into how God visits us, and it will help us learn a lesson on what it means to visit others.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

How God Visited us

God is praised by David in Psalm 8 for “visiting” mankind. David asked, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of (visit) him?” This is quoted in Hebrews 2:6 to show that God cared for us and “visited” us by sending us Jesus.

Our Lord examined us with His loving and divine eye, and knew that we needed redemption. He saw the need and took care of it, at great cost to Himself. He did not look at humanity and say, “Boy, those guys are in bad shape, somebody should do something about that.”

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people…” (Luke 1:68-69).

This Greek word for “visit” is used in many other places in the New Testament to praise God for visiting us with a Savior (Luke 1:68,78; 7:16; Acts 15:14).

What it means to visit

I remember being taught this concept by an elder in Columbus, Ohio, named Jeff. He told us about how the word “visit” means to scrutinize with the eyes. Jeff took us with him on visits and he showed us how to visit. For example, you go visit a widow who is struggling. You see that she can’t pay her bills. Her lawn mower is broken down and she can’t mow the yard. She has very little food in the fridge. You turn around as you are leaving and say, “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” Have you “visited” in the Biblical sense of the word?

The word “visit” in James 1:27 means “to look after; examine with the eye; or to go see.” So why would we go see an orphan or a widow and “examine” them with our eyes? Simply put, it is to see how we can help them.

Look at Jesus’ parable of separating the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25). What made the difference between the sheep and goats? Did they “visit” the sick (Matt. 25:36,43)? Meaning, did they look out to fill the needs of the least of the brothers of Jesus?

Take this to heart, men. Let us first understand that we must be active in “visiting” those who are in need. But we also must understand what it means to visit…to look and see how we can be of help. God did it for us.

Like Living Stones

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5).

I was researching the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland this morning. Maybe some reading this article are familiar with it, but I was not. My computer puts these random images of nature on my screen, and one came up today about the Giant’s Causeway. Fascinating! It led me to do some research on it, and I would encourage you to do the same.

These basalt formations are amazing as you can see on any picture of the Giant’s Causeway. The stone columns are mostly hexagonal in shape, some of the interlocking columns are almost 40 feet tall from what I could gather.

According to legend, this formation was made by the Irish giant Finn McCool as he built a bridge to cross the water and battle a Scottish giant. He apparently left a “boot,” which turned to stone. There is a stone that looks like a boot there.

According to “science,” these formations were made 50-60 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity and erosion. By the way, there was an aggressive and militant push to remove any creationist explanation of these rock formations from the exhibits in Ireland. The creationist view was relegated to a traditional religious belief, not a competing explanation at all.

I look at these stones, and yes, you can call me biased, but I see the glory of God’s handiwork. How can you not see the order and design in the rocks? Various shapes are formed naturally by rocks and minerals depending on which elements make them up. Some may call that random, I call that design from the mind of the most amazing Engineer ever!

Like Living Stones

What’s the point? I saw the Giant’s Causeway as a collection of stones that make a monument to glorify the Creator. When we see the church of Jesus Christ, it is a collection of “living stones” which glorify the Savior.

You are a living stone, and it may seem ironic or weird to ascribe life to a lifeless thing. But we are building, according to Peter, a spiritual house. This house is not made of brick and stone, but of spirit-filled beings. We have been called out of darkness and death into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). He breathed life into what was lifeless.

Our existence as a church, an assembly of saved people, is a monument testifying daily to the grace and power of our Creator and Savior. If you are a Christian, then you are part of something very special, much more breathtaking than a rock formation in Northern Ireland.

Take time today to thank God for being a living stone in His spiritual house.

But whatever gain I had

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:7-11).

What have you gained? If you were to put a value on all the things you have gained, what would its value be?

According to Paul, it is all rubbish compared to the one most important thing…gaining Christ. If anyone could brag on what he had “gained” in the flesh, it would be Paul. He had quite the religious resume, and I would imagine that with his connections to religious leadership, he was probably well-to-do financially.

But the value he placed on it all was rubbish. I personally like the King James Version on this one because the word is translated “dung.” Perfect. That’s what it all comes down to, and that is the same conclusion wise old King Solomon reached in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is like those antique roadshows where someone thinks they have an incredible treasure, and the expert tells them that its fake and only worth ten bucks.

But whatever gain I had

To Paul it was all about Jesus. Take a look back at the text for today and for your personal study, look at these few verses and meditate upon how much Paul valued what Christ had to offer. This passage is saturated with it. Wring it out and see what Paul had learned to value in his life.

I would then consider taking time today to look around your office and your house, and take a red marker and write “rubbish” on everything. Start with that annoying c0-worker who talks too much. No, please don’t do that. Seriously though, my diploma, compared to Christ, is rubbish. Your resume, compared to Christ, is rubbish. What I have accomplished spiritually in my life, is dung compared to Christ.  Your status in the company and your retirement fund, is dung compared to Christ.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Let’s put all of this in perspective today, men. If you have Christ in your life, you have everything. Without Christ, what do you have?

Reaffirm your love to him

This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:6-11).

Please meditate upon this passage for today. The context here is about a brother who was living in sin. This brother was corrected and disciplined by the congregation at Corinth.  The brother had made things right, and it is all over, right? Wrong.

There is something else the brethren who did the correction need to do. What is it?

Reaffirm your love to him

  • Forgive him. To release or pardon. It is about “letting go.”
  • Comfort him. Literally to call to one’s side to reassure. A form of this word is used for the Holy Spirit in how He is our “Helper” and “Comforter” (John 14:26). Our responsibility is to call that brother to our side for encouragement.
  • Reaffirm your love to him. The word “reaffirm” here means to make valid or to confirm publicly, as you would “ratify” a covenant (Gal. 3:15). In other words, you want it to be perfectly made clear that you, without a doubt, love this person.

This responsibility is not on the part of the sinner, but on the part of the ones doing the correcting.

Why? Paul tells us why.

  • Lest perhaps someone be swallowed up with too much sorrow. What is possible? Someone can be overwhelmed and consumed with guilt and grief. It is more than they can bear. They don’t need anymore help in feeling bad for what they did.
  • It is a test as to whether we are obedient in all things. Being obedient is not just about correcting the wrong, it is about restoring the brother who is heartbroken over his sins. We can feel justified in stamping out the sin, but if we do not restore the sinner and the relationship, then we have not been “obedient in all things.”
  • Lest Satan take advantage of us. How can Satan take advantage of us? By jumping in after the correction and discipline to create a situation where a person cannot even lift his head because of guilt. Satan’s “devices” are not just about getting us to sin, they are also about destroying us after we have sinned, even after we have come to God for forgiveness. He is the master deceiver and the father of lies.

Is there a lesson here for Dads?

Today is Tuesday, and our MDB theme for Tuesdays is about dads. The above concepts apply to all Christians, but let’s think about applying this as fathers, too.

Fathers, when you correct your children, do you…
  • Forgive them? Do you release it and let it go?
  • Comfort them? Do you call your kids to your side and encourage them after the correction?
  • Reaffirm your love to them? Do you reassure them with the strongest terms possible that your love for them is unchanging? They need that. You needed it at some point, didn’t you?

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)

Once and for all

Sometimes it is said that we are going to sit down and deal with something “once and for all” in a relationship. Whatever the issue or problem is, we like to think that we can have a one-and-done discussion and we never have to revisit that issue again. The problem with that mentality is, life just doesn’t work that way.

Even if you think you work that way in your own life, you don’t. Let me ask you, does God have to revisit things with you?

Once and for all

Think about Gideon in the book of Judges. He constantly came back to God for reassurance, and God in His mercy continually gave it. You might think that the first time God promised Gideon, “the Lord is with you,” that Gideon would have had all the reassurance he needed. But Gideon kept asking for more signs and more proof that God was with him. God didn’t say to Gideon, “I dealt with that once and for all, you don’t need any more reassurance.”

A second example is Simon Peter. After denying Jesus and being corrected by Him, Peter should have “once and for all” been put on the right path. By our “once and for all” logic he never would need correction again. He never would stumble again. However, even as an apostle, Peter played the hypocrite and needed to be rebuked face to face by another apostle, Paul (see Galatians 2).

Husbands, in our relationships with our wives, we must consider the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ that was given to us. God has to constantly revisit things with us that He shouldn’t have to revisit. So then, why would we be in turn be frustrated and impatient if we have to revisit things with our wives? What if our wives need reassurance on an issue, and we think, “We’ve already dealt with that!” Wrong. God didn’t deal that way with Gideon, did He?

Relationships take lots of time, growth, reassurance and longsuffering.

There is a “once for all” in the Bible, however, and it is tied directly to the cross of Jesus. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Let’s keep this in mind as we grow in our relationships.

Saying Amen

Jonathan, our six year old, had been taught about saying Amen. He learned that when you say, “Amen,” that it means you agree with what someone just said. Later, he was thinking about that, and said, “So, when I say ‘Amen’ at the end of my prayer it means that I agree with everything I just said.”

Yes, Jonathan, that’s just about right.

The word “Amen” is a pretty universal word across the world, and it means “truth,” or “so be it.” Jesus used the word a lot when He preached, except we don’t see it as “Amen” in our Bibles. It is translated “truly” or “verily,” and it is used at the beginning of a lot of Jesus’ sayings. In other words, Jesus was saying “Amen” before He ever spoke, because He knew what was about to come out of His mouth was the truth. The book of John has many occasions when Jesus said this word twice in a row as an emphasis. “Truly, truly, I say to you…” (John 5:24).

We also see an occasion where Paul teaches the Corinthian Christians about the need for each one in the assembly to understand what was being said in a prayer. This is so we can all say “Amen” to that prayer (1 Corinthians 14:16). How can we say “truth,” or “so be it” if I don’t understand what was said?

Saying Amen

Now, back to Jonathan’s statement. When you pray, do you really agree with what you just said?

If you prayed for God to forgive you, do you agree with it? Meaning, do you believe the truth and promises of God’s word that He will be faithful and just to forgive you of all your sins (1 John 1:9)?

When you pray for God to “be with you,” do you agree with it? Are you living in agreement with God’s word that Jesus promised that He would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)?

As you are praying for wisdom, do you believe in and agree with that request? James says to ask in faith, meaning you believe in God that He will grant you wisdom. You say “Amen” to that pray, because you believe the truth of God’s promises (James 1:5-8). Don’t waver.

So, if you are going to say “Amen” at the end of your prayer, then believe in and agree with what you asked. Have faith.

If every scam was this easy to spot

My phone was ringing Wednesday, and I looked at the caller ID, and it said, “Illegal Scam.” Of course, I did not answer the call. However, I instantly thought, “Wow, if every scam was this easy to spot!” I took a screenshot of that incoming call to use for this article.

Warning! Illegal Scam!

Even shampoo bottles come with warning labels, telling us that it is intended for “external use only.” You have to tell people this? But people don’t walk around with warning labels. No one has a sign on his forehead saying, “I’m a scam artist…don’t trust me.”

As men of God, we must be always on the watch, for the Lord warns us that wolves come in sheep’s clothing. Their “Caller ID” says “Completely harmless and docile,” but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15, see also Acts 20:28-32; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

This makes it critical for men of God to be on the watch. We are to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). It doesn’t mean that we are to be constantly critical and distrusting of people, but we are not to be naïve and gullible, either. Since we don’t have a clear warning label, Jesus said that we will all be known by “our fruits.” Over time a person will display his true ID (Matthew 7:20; 2 Timothy 3:9).

We also must commit our minds solely to the truth in God’s word. The light of truth will eventually sort out sheep from wolves. It will expose the pure hearts and good motives as well as the sinister.

If every scam was this easy to spot

That is Wisdom

“And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding'” (Job 28:28).

What is wisdom? How do you get it?

Today’s passage is in the context of a speech by Job. In the midst of his suffering and agony, Job’s mind is directed to the wisdom of God. Job 28 is beautiful and poetic as Job talks about all of the precious things in the earth for which mankind mines and digs. Silver. Gold. Copper. Iron. Precious gems.

As a side note, it amazes me personally that God hid all these treasures deep in the earth knowing we would go searching for them!

Think of the effort that man has gone through to extract all these valuable and useful things from the earth. Job describes that effort very well. We overturn “mountains by the roots” (28:9). Channels are dug, water is dammed up, we go boldly where no man or beast has gone before (28:3-4,7-8). Men have risked their lives and many throughout history have given their lives in the quest for the treasures deep in the earth.

Where do you find wisdom?

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?” (28:12)

Mankind knows the value of gold and silver, but Job said we don’t know the value of wisdom. Nowhere on earth, beneath the earth, or above the earth has a mine for wisdom.

Wisdom is “hidden from the eyes of all the living” (28:21). Just as God hid gold and silver deep in the earth and we have to dig for it, the same is true for wisdom. We must search it out. God created it that way.

We will not find wisdom, however, if we go searching in the wrong places. The source of wisdom, plainly stated by Job, is God.

For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens, to establish a weight for the wind, and apportion the waters by measure. When He made a law for the rain, and a path for the thunderbolt, then He saw wisdom and declared it; He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out. And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” (Job 28:24-28)

That is wisdom!

Job said here that wisdom is to fear God and depart from evil. We will have no wisdom at all until we have a reverence and awe for the Creator. Start there! Fear the Almighty God and commit to do whatever He says. Then you will begin to plumb the depths and hidden treasures of the mind of God.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).