The Gospel is the Good News

By Steven Shaw 

I really want everyone to understand the gospel truth as simple, yet detailed as possible. Here’s my attempt.

In the Beginning:

This story starts with no beginning. Let me explain. There is a Creator. He has no beginning, He has always been and He will be forever. We don’t know what he has done with all His “time” but he decides to create an existence. He starts with creating the full expansion of time and space, and then he creates the world unique. He creates life on only this one planet because he’s got a special plan for it. He is so overflowing with love and glory that he wanted to share it. The rest of the galaxies and worlds all work together to hold this one little planet in an organized working function. He creates life in the world, both animal, and human life. He creates man special. He makes him in His image. Man possesses some of His qualities include love, hate, jealousy, passion, creativity etc. He wants a relationship with his creation. He desires to live in fellowship with man for all eternity. He is their God and wants to be glorified rightly. He creates man with free will, another grace from God. This allows us to love God with all our hearts, might, and soul. He creates man to live forever in perfect fellowship with Him.

But God sees that man was not complete. Even with his perfect creation, God sees how he can make it better. God creates a suitable partner for man. God creates woman! A perfect, God ordained match for man. Man and women equal in right but different in duty. Man was now complete. God himself knew the importance of fellowship, as He is 3 in one. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God in Three distinct persons. He has shared fellowship with Himself for all of eternity and blesses man with the same treasure. Now all three, man, woman and God living together in perfect fellowship. But it wouldn’t last long. Man wanted more.

The Rebellion:

God has given man the entire world to rule over under His authority. They can eat anything and enjoy everything but one tree God has forbidden. God puts this option in their midst to know if they trust and love Him enough to obey. So what does man do? Deceived by Satan, they eat of the fruit of that forbidden tree. Now sin has entered the world, the sin that will curse all of mankind from now on. Man wanted more and that’s what they got. The very thing God was protecting them from is what man ran straight towards. The “more” we desired was the knowledge of good and evil. The evil that man previously had not known. Now there is a major disconnect between God and man. Man now deserves judgment and death. A perfect God that can’t deny Himself, demands perfection and must punish sin. There is no option B. He could have wiped out Adam and Eve and started over. But God knows best. God cares most about His own glory. And redeeming a fallen, rebellious people will bring Him the most glory, and show His love in the most spectacular way.

The New World:

Not only man is cursed by this rebellion, the whole world/universe is heading towards death. Now man sees his own sin. They feel shame and a distance from God they never knew, a distance that God never wanted. They chose their own path, and now they are under the wrath of God. Could God just have forgiven them? Only in his right and perfect way. Could He have wiped them out and started over? He could have done whatever he wanted, but he chose to save them instead. To give them salvation they didn’t deserve. God is perfect and can’t do evil. He can’t deny Himself, meaning, he can’t do what isn’t right. What does that mean? Simply, when you have a perfect God that can only associate with perfection, He cannot be around imperfection. Just as light and darkness can’t be in the same room at the same time, God can’t be anything but perfection. And whatever is not perfect cannot be with Him.

Imperfect Sacrifice: 

God gives man chance after chance to love and trust him, yet they fail and fail. God makes covenants to prophets of old and promises to his people. Now because of sin, there must be an atonement made. There can be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, but God doesn’t leave us to die, he offers a way to not be destroyed by Him. Sacrifice. He gives us priests to go before and offer animal sacrifices, he must take innocent spotless lambs to make a sacrifice for us. They are killed for our sin, not a pretty site. Bloodshed is not pleasant any way you slice it, but it must happen. God needs us to see the seriousness of sin, that’s with bloodshed. And endless death from imperfect priests sacrificing imperfect animals.

So What?

“Why are you telling me this?” because this is the point of the whole story. We are all in the same boat as the people of biblical times. We deserve wrath because that’s the righteous way for God to deal with sin. From birth, we are of a sinful nature. Sin being anything that is this perfect and holy God. God must destroy us. He has created us and now must destroy us because we chose ourselves over Him. We chose death and spat on life. We chose to make ourselves God, how petty. But God being rich in compassion and love decides to save us from Himself. That’s right, He saves us from Himself. God must punish sin, and we all have sinned. From lust to greed, to adultery and murder. It doesn’t matter, all sin must be punished. So what does he do? He sends His Son to this world in human form to live the perfect life we can’t live. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity. Jesus both God 100% and man 100%. Then He will take out His wrath on himself for us. Jesus comes as an innocent sacrifice, the Lamb of God. The sacrifice that could never be fulfilled through the blood of animals, must be fulfilled through God Himself. Christ living the life that we could never live. To save us and display His great love for us. By this, He will receive the most glory, which is His biggest priority. Jesus lived a life we would never choose to live. Our hearts and minds are so hungry for personal glory and pride that we would never live up to God’s standards. But Jesus did. Being tempted in every way, yet without sin. And because Jesus is God and lived the perfect life in human form, He was the only One that could take the wrath of God and satisfy God’s wrath. So God as man dies in the form of Jesus. Now those who call Jesus Lord, find salvation and forgiveness with the holy and perfect God that created them.

So what now?:

As we once stood under God’s wrath, now we stand righteous in front of God through the power of what Jesus has done on the cross. God doesn’t see us as filthy sinners anymore. He now looks at us and see’s us holy and blameless because of Jesus. Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to give us power in this life. Jesus took off His robes of glory, put them on us and put on our rags of vile. Now our salvation is as sure as His life. Jesus died for us, but more importantly, He rose for us. That ensures He will fulfill His promises and come back for us. Once slain by us as a spotless lamb, now returning as conquering King. Not coming for sin but to bring His people home. And deal with the people who have decided to live apart from Him. We who call Him Lord will be with Him for all eternity. We have been adopted into His family and the rest is eternity. Life with Jesus is our point to life. And the gift that was paid for by an ultimate sacrifice is offered to anyone who receives it.

What Next?

God won’t let us rebel forever. Rejecting Him isn’t a free ticket away from Him. It is a one-way ticket to the judgment seat of God. This is where you will receive the very life you have chosen, a life without God for eternity. The worst thing God can do is take His presence away from you. That is a life in hell. Hell simply put is a life without God. And that doesn’t mean party time. Hell wasn’t created for you. That is the place that God will destroy Satan and his angels. It will be no good. The only goodness and joy you’ve ever experienced are of God. Yes, even in your rebellion there was uncountable graces in your life, like breathing. Cursing Him with the mouth that He formed and sustained. You want a life without Him, that’s what you’ll receive. He won’t force you to be with Him. And it will be no life at all. With God, it’s called eternal life. Peace, joy, love, happiness, complete and utter paradise. “Life” without Him will be an eternal hell, eternal death. Think of dying forever. Sounds odd, but that’s the best way I can say it. The opposite of what’s going to take place in heaven.

It’s Simple:

If you desire to turn from your rebellion and turn to God then it’s never too late (while you’re alive) to do so. No, I’m not asking you to pray some magic prayer. And no, this isn’t something you try. You can try every religion out there. But Christianity is not a religion. You either are in 100% forever, or you’re out forever. If you truly believe and have faith, you’ll know the truth of the Gospel first hand. Trying it out doesn’t work. When you are chosen by God, there is no turning back. If you’re still unsure, you should pray for God to soften your heart. To open your mind to who He is. Belief is a gift from Him anyway. There’s no hope of truly believing without His divine choice. But if you’re ready, then turn from your sin and turn to God. How? Get involved in a Bible teaching, God fearing, Christ-exalting church. Read your bible to discern if your church is teaching the Bible. If you need a starting point and a prayer seems right then pray this.

“Father God, You are good and I’ve been rebellious. Thank you for sending Your Son to live the life I never could, and thank you, Jesus, for choosing to live and die for me. Forgive me for my sin and create in me a new heart. Give me the Holy Spirit that I may live a life submitted to You. Use me however you chose. I want to live a life dedicated to glorifying You.”

This is just an example of a good prayer to start your new life.

Contact me if you need more info or help. This blog is in hopes that you will pick up a bible and read. You need to behold the glory of God so you will fall on your face in humility and worship him. That’s the only way to salvation. Know the power of God revealed in Christ through the Bible. Leave the world behind and follow the only Truth, that is Christ.

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

www.TheShawsMusic.com

Podcast www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @stevenshaw.co @fitcore @theshaws

 

 

 

 

 

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Come and See (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. This one is from a hymn by Isaac Watts called “Come and See”.  Here is my version in full.

Come and See 

Jesus the Christ, prepares our rooms,
Well supplied with care, for all our wounds:
His Word declares, His grace is free,
Come needy sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

He left the Father, and courts on high,
Came to His world, to bleed and die;
Jesus the Lord, hung on a tree,
Come thoughtless sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

(Chorus)
Come, and see His grace upon you!

Our sins did pierce, His bleeding heart,
Till death had done, its dreadful part,
His boundless love, extends to thee,
Come trembling sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

His blood can cleanse, the foulest stain,
Can make the vilest, sinner clean,
This fountain open, stands for thee,
Come guilty sinners, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

(Chorus)
Come, and see His grace upon you!

 

This is a sweet hymn of resting and yet being convicted of what Christ had to do for our sin on the cross. We rest in the grace He has bestowed upon us, but we are faced with the fact that our sin put Him on that cross. That it in fact what we need to be able to come and see, grace. It is also an invitation to know God and enjoy Him forever. None of Christ blood was shed in vain, therefore, those who do not live a life submitted to Christ do not reap these benefits of grace from Him. Jesus blood was enough to cover the sins of the world, but we are not covered unless we accept His invitation to “Come and see”.

 

Listen to song here: Come and See

Perfect Law (Psalm 19) acoustic chronicles

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. But this is one of the songs I wrote from Psalm 19. Here they are in full.

Perfect Law (Psalm 19)

The law of the Lord,
converting the soul
The truth of the Lord is sure
The statutes of God,
rejoicing the heart
Commandments of God are pure

More to be loved are they than gold,
Yes, then much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect law alone

The fear of the Lord, making us wise
The judgments of God are true
Let the words of my mouth,
be pure from my heart
Acceptable in Your site.

More to be loved are they than gold,
Yes, then much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect law alone

Christ came for the law,
fulfilled what we can’t
The glory of God in man
Now we stand right,
before a good God
Whose standards are
perfect and high

More to be loved is He than gold,
Yes, then much fine gold
Sweeter also then the honeycomb
Is Your perfect Son alone

 

I really enjoyed writing this song. It is unique in style and in theme. My journey of sanctification started a while ago, but the more I learn about God, the more I learn how everything He does is a form of grace to His children. Christians don’t usually think of the law, or God’s commandments to be a gift, but they were and still are today. God gave His chosen people the commandments as a way for them to know His heart, to know how to be in fellowship with Himself. God is always trying to be with His people. However, He doesn’t just show up in all His glory, (cause that would kill everyone) but also loves us to share in His work. That’s why He still calls and uses people today. He needs us for nothing and yet gives us everything. But this song isn’t ultimately about Gods law, but about Jesus. The law was given to Gods people but could never be fulfilled by us. But Jesus lived the perfect life, securing His children’s place with Him for eternity.

In this song we begin singing right out of Psalm 19. A person after God is a person after Gods law. To desire to live in a way that God can delight it. Read through the Psalm in full.

 

Psalm 19 (ESV)

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

 

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voicegoes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
     which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rulesof the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

This was written way before Christ enters the scene. But you see the David’s love and praise to God for what He has done for him and who He is. What David understands is that God deserves full praise for eternity just for being Him. But He has given us so much more to praise Him for. But He didn’t leave us here. He sent His Son, the Man Jesus Christ who gave us His life. In the last verse and chorus we go from singing about the law, to singing about Christ. I was really excited to have this tension and dynamic in a song. The glory of God is forever and perfect, and I hope this song helps capture a deeper understanding and love for Him.

You can listen to the song here. Perfect Law (Psalm 19)

For more from me about Christ visit MisfitMinistry.com

Worship Intensive 2019

In 2009, (wow that’s 10 years ago!) I felt God pulling me into a season of increased knowledge and drawing me closer towards a deeper, more meaningful life in Christ. I began with the scriptures and dove into the word of God with a new passion. I had always heard the Bible had power but never really understood what that meant. I experienced that power in a radical, personal way and witnessed God’s word transform my life from the inside out. From that point in my life I had a new goal and mission. This mission was to become a worship leader who reflected or “re-presented” Christ in a way that I had never known before. Every single person on the planet receives a gift from God, which is to be used to serve each other and glorify Him. For me, that gift has always been music. I have been drawn to music since I was a child and once I understood what it meant to live a life to Christ I was able to use my gift in a way that glorified God.

As I pursued worship in various settings I began to notice a variety of things, but what stood out the most was the ways in which worship music had shifted. Many of the lyrics I would hear focused on the individual rather than God or there was a strange mixture of singing about all of the ways God could and would do things for me and once in a while a shout of praise to God would be thrown in. I felt unsettled in my spirit and also in my Christian walk. I decided to delve into the topic of worship and that is when I discovered a book called “Worship Matters”by Bob Kauflin. The book is written with a strong theological foundation that teaches how to lead corporate worship in an appropriate and biblically faithful way. Bob discusses who Christ is and offers insight as to how we should honor Him in our times of the gathered church in song and worship as a whole. After reading the book I was inspired to know more.

Fast-forward to 2019, one day I received an email from a friend and pastor from my church. It was about a conference that was hosted by Bob Kauflin! Throughout the years I had heard many people refer to him as a loving person whose desire was to reintroduce true worship into the church. I was so excited for the opportunity to not only meet Bob but also have the opportunity to learn from a man that had inspired me for so many years. I filled out the form to attend and waited with anticipation to see whether or not I would be accepted to the conference.  A few months later I received the acceptance email and was thrilled to learn that only myself and 18 other men would be there. It would be a small group of us who would bond and take part in a time of learning, leading and also receiving input on our musical skills, worship styles and what we could improve to further the worship (music) within each of our churches.

In June of this year I flew to Kentucky and arrived at Bob’s house nervous and excited all at the same time. The conference called, “Worship Matters Intensive 2019”by Bob Kauflin. I felt excited and honored to be part of this experience and training however, that feeling quickly moved to becoming a little bored after a couple days as I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. God had an agenda and I couldn’t quite see it yet. The things Bob shared lined up with the way I had approached worship for many years now. Things like being intentional about my growth as a worship leader and leading others to pursue their gift in music had always been at the forefront of my focus and Bob was discussing these important truths at the conference. As we forged ahead I noticed that the material Bob was sharing was not “mind-focused” but rather  “heart-focused”. God’s plan was about impacting me in ways I didn’t expect.  A few days into the conference, some of the men started having emotional responses to what was being taught and shared in song.

We all had a chance to lead a time of singing and then receive feedback from Bob and the rest of the group. This was a wonderful time of growth but also a time of deep emotional interaction. I had no idea how many times my eyes could well up with tears or I could cry in a day until I went to this conference.  God used those moments to slowly tear down the stones and hard places in and around my heart. The result was a massive breakdown of my pride and also insight as to how I had gotten into that familiar place of complacency and forgetfulness when it came to remembering and living out the reality of the goodness of God and all that he has done for myself and humanity.

I was shown that all of my hard work to serve God’s people (human striving) had exhausted my capacity because deep down I didn’t feel worthy to receive God’s love. All of my energy, output and good intentions felt like work, something was missing. I remember saying to myself, “I don’t feel worthy to work on my own soul” and began to feel deep sorrow from within. In that moment God said to me, “You are not worthy of this, but my Son is”.  In all my life as a Christian I had only heard the voice of God three distinct times. When I heard God say what he said I fell to my seat and wept with my face in my hands. I had encountered and experienced God in such a way that it completely rearranged the reason I worship. How could I have forgotten such an important truth? God’s response was not a condemning one, but a gentle, loving reminder that in Christ I am made worthy to carry out and use the gift of music that in inside of me. God wanted me to remember that I was His and He is mine. He’s got me. God is so patient with me and this radical encounter with him gave me new eyes to see and a softer heart to serve.

Here are a few gems from the conference that God planted deep in my heart that I want to share with you. I included a little context and I pray you will also be blessed!

 

  • “It’s not that you’re doing too much, it’s that you’re doing too much for your own glory and out of your own strength.”

Regardless of vocation, we can quickly feel: worn out, beat down and unappreciated. As we continue to live in the truth of who we truly work for and by whose power sustains us, it will be from that place that our identity and capacity are sustained. We will live daily in victory, joy and in peace that we only find in Christ by His work on the cross.

 

  • “Feelings are a proof of faith, not the root of it.”

 The topic of feelings can be addressed in many contexts, however this was addressed in a corporate worship setting. When we corporately sing, pray and hear God’s word proclaimed our responses include a variety of things. The most important response is an outward expression of adoration to Christ.  Theologian John Piper uses the words, “seeing and savoring Jesus”. Hearing God’s word proclaimed in any form or worship (preaching, music, scripture) should never simply fill our heads with knowledge; it should also overwhelm our hearts with adoration to God. The fruit of this adoration to God always leads to action in His name and by His power.  What God does in you he will do through you!

 

  • “Don’t choose to do something because that’s what “Christian’s” are supposed to do”.

I feel like this can be the biggest trap for Christians, especially those who work in the church or have a ministry. We can easily fall into the traps of legalism and performance. Our Christian life becomes more about tasks and striving and creating the best “program”, which often leads to competition and comparison. We get caught in the maze of the things a Christian must do because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do. This is how we experience exhaustion, frustration and burnout. If we all function in our God-given gift and have deep encounters with God on a regular basis, the outpouring of love fromGod to us will be the fuel that leads to action without the elements of striving, comparison and exhaustion. Notice I always refer back to being sustained by the power and love of God; we do not possess the power on our own to carry out God’s plan. There must be more emphasis on this powerful truth in our daily living and in the worship we engage in. We sing songs, pray, serve and preach but how often are we truly encountering God in ways that are transforming our world? Yes, there is work to do, but it is by God’s power and his power alone that we can carry out the mission. Relying on our frail, human power will quickly turn into a weak religious system that is ineffective, even with the best of intentions.

 

  • “Stop loving good things that are keeping you from the best things.”

 Ouch, this little gem hit me hard. It is so easy to be doing “good” things in the name of God while missing those encounters withGod. Or we can be doing seemingly good or fun things but we know it’s not the best thing. For instance: having an addiction to social media, or binge-watching Netflix, binge-spending, binge-sleeping, binge-happy-hour, partaking in those “good” (non of those are good too often) activities can distract us from God. These things and many other “good” things can steal our time, energy and wreak havoc on our emotions because we know we are missing the best things.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul tell us, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  Paul is talking about sexual purity but this scripture also applies to how we are living our lives. Our bodies include our mind, will and emotions, take a few minutes and pray, ask God what activities are not the best for you and allow God to lead you to what is best, Himself!

 

  • “We want to have doctrinal fuel for our emotional fire.”

 Again, lots of ways to unpack this but I’m keeping it in the context of worship. Church congregations can easily get swept up in an emotional experience when it comes to worship. Worship songs should be passionate, our affections should be great and our emotional responses are valid. However, it is not because of the music or the people on the stage. Our responses in worship must be based on whomwe are singing about. I have witnessed many worship teams who: strive to create the biggest show, use the best theatrical lighting, build the loudest sound system, write or tweak songs to make them more “user-friendly”, find the best musicians and create an atmosphere that can manipulate people’s emotions. Sometimes this is all done with the best intentions but lacking biblical wisdom. If it’s just smoke and mirrors we will not encounter God in Spirit and in Truth. There is so much more to say about God than just how great, powerful and wonderful His name is.

 

  • “His greatness exceeds our ability to explain it.”

 I feel like a lot of contemporary worship music has forgotten this truth. It seems like we have either run out of things to say about God or maybe it’s the scriptures have become a bore to us. Today’s worship has lyrics that highlight the name of God or our feelings towards him or the desire for Him. These are all “good” things but are they the best?  When did we shift to singing about God to merely mentioning his name? And why are many contemporary songs about what God can do for us instead of singing about his character, greatness and presence in order to learn more about him? If God’s greatness exceeds our ability to explain it, do we give up because Gods truths are inexhaustible? By no means! The key here is as we encounter God in worship (rather than encountering ourselves in worship) we will learn more about him. Although his greatness exceeds our ability to explain it, God is more than willing to allow us to see more and more of his character and nature. I believe as “worship leaders” (which is a flawed title) we need to be aware of the responsibility we have been given and have accepted because we have embraced our gift. When we sing about God (not just his name) it will stir peoples hearts more than anything else. The purpose of worship is not to make us feel better about ourselves, but is to proclaim the truths of the Bible and also to proclaim the character and nature of God and/or Jesus through song. Does this song, or time of worship help the Word of God dwell richly within me? Not just the warm and fuzzy feelings. As we encounter God, we will be transformed so that we can be used by God to effectively bring the good news of Christ to the world. If you find that the songs you listen to or songs your church sings has more words about you than God, that might be an indicator that the focus has shifted to something that is human-centered instead of God-centered. Worship is “food” for the soul, pay attention to what you are eating. It matters! And just because a song is referencing “you”, the worshiper, doesn’t mean its man focused. “In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song”. That first verse in the hymn “In Christ Alone” has a lot of “my” in it, but is completely Christ focused.

 

  • “Do-Done”

 This phrase was said by one of the participants at the conference. I thought it was a great and easy way to remember the “what” and the “why”. We “do”because the work in “done”.We don’t do things for God because God needs us to. God is complete as he is and in reality he doesn’t need anything from us. However, God wants the best for us so we do things for God as a response to the great, wonderful and powerful things God has already accomplished. His work is sufficient and complete and we as his people get to partake in the joy of working by His power and His creation to carry out His plan and work on this planet until Christ returns. We “do” because the work is “done”.

 

  • “The Psalms only say “I love you God” two times. The Psalms speak of God’s steadfast love 123 times.”

 The conference with Bob confirmed my belief that the church needs songs with more biblical truth and accuracy rather than lyrics based on human feelings alone. Many times people come to a church service broken, confused, lost and struggling. Telling them how they should feel about God coupled with vague truths about God’s name or far out and unexplained ideas will not help that person heal so they can grow in the truth of God’s love. Those kinds of songs are dangerous because they can communicate that God saves someone because of their greatness as a human being, which can leave a person with a greater sense of themselves rather than what the Bible actually says about why God had to save us in the first place.  We are saved because of God’s steadfast love not because we are amazing people. We are special in Christ alone, and the focus is still on God’s steadfast love and our place as sinners saved by His grace. This kingdom reality is what keeps false pride from rearing its ugly head and also shatters the power of idolatry. Bob Kauflin made a great point which was, “Everyone is suffering from at least one of these each week: sin, suffering and/or self sufficiency.”  God’s grace and His steadfast love is what keeps everything in check because we waiver and He is the one who steadies the boat!

 

  • “When we meet together, we are called by God to meet together. To revel in the gospel, in Jesus and to encourage each other. “

 God commands His people in Ephesians 5 and Hebrews 10, to meet together to encourage one another and remind each other of the glories in Christ. This is why I believe there is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger” Christian. We are designed to be in community and we cannot survive this life if we are isolated from other believer’s. “You and God” on your own is not a biblical concept. We are transformed in community and relationships help to grow our capacity for life. Not only that, but one of the biggest gifts we have from God is the correction of a loving friend in Christ. 

 

  • “Lead our people with everything, humbly, theologically, pastorally, patiently.”

This was a great reminder to leaders in the church. Those given a place of authority in the church have the greatest responsibility to shepherd God’s people faithfully. That doesn’t mean we are in an elevated position or that we are more important, special or in need of constant accolades. In fact, it is the opposite. Those given the call to be in leadership have a greater responsibility because they will be the one’s to give an account for those they had the honor to shepherd. This responsibility begins with the head pastor of a church but many who are called to serve within the church must take the responsibility of shepherding seriously.  To lead humbly means no pride, to lead theologically means we have a solid foundation and understanding of the scriptures in which we lead from, leading pastorally means we shepherd and take care of the sheep and leading patiently means we operate in grace, love and once again, Godly humility. All for the purpose of knowing God, making Him known, making disciples for His glory and our good!

 

  • “Skill enables us to think about the right things.”

 I found this to be such a simple idea that makes a world of difference. Work on your skill (gift from God) so that when the time comes to minister or use your skill, it won’t feel like a lot of work or seem unnatural or not genuine. Example, when I’m leading a worship song that I am really comfortable with and don’t have to look at my iPad, I am much more able to engage with the people I am leading in song. This results in drawing the congregation into a deeper time of worship because I’m not distracted with not knowing my music. Of course, this is not about perfection, the Holy Spirit is not hindered by our lack of skill nor is He able to work better because of our amazing talent. However, God has given each one of us the desire to serve Him and it is biblical to do it skillfully. When God called His people to build the tabernacle, to play music or to go to battle, he used skillful and/or trained people to carry out the task. We too, have the awesome honor and opportunity to do the best we can as we rely on God for His power used in us.

 

  • “We need people to walk out of each meeting knowing there is no one worthy of glory except Jesus Christ.”

 When people gather and are constantly being reminded of this truth they will leave the service with a bigger view of God, instead of a grandiose view of their individual selves. Isn’t this the main point of gathering as the Body of Christ? It is to glorify God and to remind us that we are utterly dependent on Him.

 

  • “The Gospel should always be clear, consistent and compelling.”

Many churches struggle with this. Proclaiming the Gospel needs to be clear, consistent and compelling but similar to worship many churches tailor the sermon to be “user-friendly”. The topic of sin can easily offend people so the sermons amount to a weekly “pep-talk” or a psychological feel good message about how God is going to bless us for our faith and this is why we see a lack of powerful churches that are changing the world. The truth of Christ needs to be taught simply and yet truthfully, without being sugarcoated. We must always recognize our need for a Savior and the only one worthy to save is Jesus. May we all remain in prayer that God would help us to return to the clear, consistent compelling message of the Gospel.

 

  • “Root and ground people in the unchanging reality of the Gospel and who Christ is.”

 Today, we see a world where people are seeking their identity and looking for truth anywhere they want to find it. So much so, that many are allowing themselves and others to make up whatever identity they want and follow whatever “truth” they choose. Thank the good Lord that the Gospel is unchanging and God remains the same, even as the world is in constant flux. Our faith remains intact no matter what the swirling haze of change is around us because God, the church and the Bible have all stood the test of time for centuries. God’s people need to rejoice in that reality every time we come together as the Body of Christ.  There is power in numbers and when we gather and share the same faith, this is part of the glue that keeps the church together, our faith! Our worldly circumstances will change continually and not always for the good. We must continue to encourage one another and redirect everything in our lives towards Christ as we live in God’s solid, unchanging and unchangeable truth, amen!

 

  • “No one loves you more than Jesus, and no one deserves love more than Jesus. His love doesn’t mean we are the “object” of His affection. His love reveals to us that He is so loving, that He could love sinners like us.”

 It is a common theme these days to be empowered and encouraged as a Christian, strictly for who we are as Christians. I have heard comments and seen memes on social media that say things like, “God loved me so much He thought I was to die for.” I guess this could be something that brings encouragement or perhaps it’s a cute way of making a person feel special.  However, it leaves truth lost in translation. The truth is Jesus didn’t die for you because you are special. He died for you because He is so loving, patient, perfect and gracious. As Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 1:4 remind us; we were still sinners and He came to die for those who were called since before the foundations of the world were laid. This means Christ planned to save His children before they ever had a chance to be “good, bad or ugly.” You see, the only thing special about you or me is that we are His. There is nothing special about being a sinner; the Bible makes that clear in numerous places. It is the Holy Spirit who is alive within His children because of the work of Christ on the cross.

 

And finally here is the last gem:

 

  • “Does this help the Word of Christ dwell richly in me, or those hearing”?

This was the most important take away from the conference for me. This question should be asked whether one is preaching, choosing the songs for the worship set, or simply living life. It is similar to asking the question, “Is what I’m doing honoring God?” or “Can I glorify God through what I’m about to do?”In the context of worship, we talked about the songs we choose and how we lead worship. Too often we choose songs we sing well, haven’t played in awhile, or songs that we are excited to introduce to our people. Sometimes leading worship can be like putting on a show, this is where we must take notice and ask the questions above. If for one moment we know that what we are doing is based on human ascent or human glorification then we need to change course. It’s challenging because the popular way of worship is all about performance and worship is performing in front of hundreds perhaps even thousands of people. There is a fine line here and for me the only way I can stay on course is to continue to position my heart towards Christ as I eagerly await to hear Him speak to me again and again. As I hone in on my skill (gift) and start to feel prideful, I will take that to God. If I am feeling competitive, I will take that to God. If I am feeling exhaustion from striving and under the weight of perfection and performance, I will take that to God. The only way I will know how to navigate, as a worship leader is to be tracking with God at all times. Knowing the scriptures and relying on the Holy Spirit to give me those “red flags” when something is off or presented in error is my only chance of knowing what direction to go. And again, the correction of my godly friends and pastors is invaluable as I/we try to lead our church more faithfully in song, to glorify the One who deserves all praise, honor and glory!

I do hope you enjoyed reading this blog; these were my takeaways from an intense week of deep transformation. I pray this blessed you as it has blessed me. Please never hesitate to contact me with questions, as I love to talk about God!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Contributing editor credit: Lisa M Johnston, Th.M. and Pastor/sozofreedom.com

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Mindset of Christ (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. But this is one of the songs I had the pleasure of writing the lyrics to with some friends of mine. Here they are in full.

Mindset of Christ

The fullness of God dwells in Jesus the Son
Equal in substance, divine Three in One
Glorious union! In love always be
Selfless and pouring forth in humility

Christ is the King who, chose not to seize
Not pressing advantage, but emptying
Taking the form of a dust-covered slave
Almighty God in the shape of a babe

(Chorus)

O Lord that we, O Lord that we
Would have the mindset of Christ
Mindset of Christ

 

The Fullness of man dwells in Jesus as well
Obedient to the Fathers will, true Israel
Holy and sinless, fulfilling the Law,
Doing what we couldn’t to please our God

Christ is the God man who stooped far below
Hung on the cross to reap what we sow
Taking the wrath that we all deserve
Judgment borne in our place so justice was served

(Chorus)

 

The fullness of Christ vindicated by God
Raised with the Name that is far above
All will bow and know “Jesus is Lord”
All for the glory and honor of our God

(Chorus)

 

This song is full of biblical referance. The first verse speaks of God the Father and all He’s done for sinners. Theme continues into who Jesus is and what He has done. The chorus longs for, even prays for a mind like Christ’. Why do long for a mind like Christ? Because Jesus was 100% man and yet without sin. He is what Christians look to for ultimate and perfect picture of what to strive for in this life. Although we will never achieve this perfection in this life, Christ promises a new and perfect life when we join Him forever in heaven. The second verse continues with the theme of glorifying Christ for His amazing work for those who would love Him. The last verse is speaking of the glory that is and is to come for our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Listen to song here! “Mindset of Christ”

By His Offering (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. But this is one of the songs I had the pleasure of writing the lyrics to with some friends of mine. Here they are in full.

By His Offering

In the beginning God created all

Man sinned and lost hope, darkness in our soul

We can not rebuild, what we have broken down

So God in all mercies, smashed His Son to the ground

 

(Chorus)

By His offering, we’ve been set free

 

It starts with Jesus, the Word of God released

Destined to suffer, the Fathers wrath appeased

God thee incarnate, Son of God was He

Lamb to the slaughter, set the captives free

(Chorus)

Bridge:

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Three and yet One, perfect God

Father is awesome, Son who is worthy, Spirit who’s holy, perfect God

 

(Chorus)

 

When we set out to write a new song, my friends and I thought, “What better topic to write about than the gospel?” Jesus, “God”, come into human flesh and save those who would love and believe in Him. Those whom He has chosen in fact. So, we wrote a Gospel song. The first verse focuses on the reality of our depravity. We have fallen short of God’s glory and there’s nothing we can do to reconcile us to God. The chorus focuses on the fact that Christ alone has saved His people from their sins. The second verse is a simple verse that glorifies Christ for His sacrifice for sinners. The bridge glorifies the Trinity in the fact that they are all One and yet distinct.

You can listen to song here. By His Offering

 

Living Water (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. This one is from a hymn by W.V. Miller called “The Well of Living Water”.  Here is my version in full.

Living Water

Oh this well of, living water springing up within my, soul

Gives me blessed, satisfaction while the changing seasons, roll

And in Jesus, love rejoicing still a song of praise I, bring

For the blessed, gift of Heaven for this ever-living, spring

(Chorus)

For this well of living water

That is flowing now for me,

Songs of praise and adoration,

Blessed Lord, I bring to Thee.

 

The depths unknown, is so flowing from the depths of Jesus, love

It was purchased, by the Savior gift divine from Heaven, above

He alone can, give this water, “Whosoever will may, come,”

Quench his thirst from, this pure fountain and from Jesus never, roam

(Chorus)

 

So the blessed, news I’m spreading of this dear life-giving, spring

Ever pure and, free is rushing as my Savior’s love I, sing

It is flowing, ever flowing in this grateful heart of, mine

And my tongue shall, tell the gladness of this matchless grace, divine

(Chorus)

 

This is another theme that we don’t song a lot about but it’s a beautiful illustration that Jesus Himself uses to describe His coming salvation. A couple verses that reference this theme, John 4:4-6, John 7:37-39. But what is being talked about is a theme throughout the entire bible. Jesus isn’t saying that once you become a Christian you’re not thirsty anymore, or that you won’t need drinking water ever again. Christ is comparing the importance of our physical need for water and how it brings life to everything that is living. Jesus takes it a step further and says, “the water I am offering will give everlasting life”. Not just the temporal hydration we receive here in this life but a symbolic eternal life giving drink. Jesus Himself drank a cup, sacrificing Himself for the world that believes in Him. Now He is able to offer a different cup to anyone who would receive it. A cup that is acceptable to God and when you drink, you are saved and alive forever! I pray this song helps these truths reach down into your heart and soul to worship God more.

Listen to song here: Living Water

 

Illuminate Within (acoustic chronicles)

I recently released a new album (acoustic chronicles) and wanted to give everyone a breakdown of what these songs mean. They are all very deep and biblical so I wanted to make sure and explain them so I have a place for anyone who wants to know all the meaning behind them. Most of the lyrics are old hymns that I revamped to fit my melodies. This one is from a hymn by Charles Wesley called “I Want a Principle Within”.  Here is my version in full.

Illuminate Within

I want a life within of watchful, Godly fear,

A sensitivity of sin, a pain to feel it near.

And when I begin to feel these most, prideful wrong desire,

To stop the wandering of my will, and stomp the starting fire.

(Chorus)

Illuminate within, the fear of my own sin.

Illuminate that fear, and keep me drawing near

 

I want to stray from You no more, no more Your goodness grieve,

Grant me the loving awe, I pray, the tender conscience give.

Be quick to act in my mind, O God, my conscience make;

Awake my soul when sin is near, and keep it still awake.

(Chorus)

 Bridge:

Awake my soul when sin is near and

Keep it still awake.

 

Almighty God of truth and love, to me Your power impart;

The mountain from my soul remove, the hardness from my heart.

O may the least excluded pain, my reawakened soul,

And drive me to that blood again, which makes the woundedwhole.

(Chorus)

 

I heard about this hymn from a sermon I was listening to once. The pastor referenced it, read a few lines from it and then said, “I wish we could hear words like these being sung in our worship services more”. After hearing those words, I agreed. It is very unique lyrically and very biblical. It is a prayer that every Christian needs to pray each day, a constant practice of purity and sanctification. We can find this theme throughout the entire bible but here are a few scripture references. Proverbs 4:27, Proverbs 7:2, Acts 24:16, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Timothy 3:9.

So what does all this mean? We are asking God to make big, the sins in our life. From the biggest to the smallest sins, we need to be aware of and sensitive to, in order to be able to put our sins to death through the power of the Holy Spirit inside those who believe. There’s an old saying, be killing sin or sin will be killing you, and that’s true. This isn’t a legalistic action of attempting to reach salvation from our works, but reacting to Christ’ work on the cross with a life honorable to Him. We are called to action and it must start from within. Jesus put death in it’s grave when He rose from the dead. Now His children will never taste the sting of death, but instead, will begin to truly live when these temporary bodies fade away. Justification is a one time thing, of Christ making us right, or Just before God, and sanctification is a continual thing happening each day and every moment. I pray this song helps these truths reach down into your heart and soul to worship God more.

Listen to song here: Illuminate Within