Archive | Devotions

Worship Leaders & Pastors – I-MAGnify Who?

Every leader of congregational worship dreads those meetings when everything seems to be going wrong. Vocals are out of tune, strings break, everyone but the drummer finishes the song, you forget the words, sing the wrong verse, or play the wrong chords…the list is endless. Last August at the WorshipGod06 conference, we presented the skit I-MAGnify to encourage everyone who has encountered or someday soon will encounter that situation. We watch a struggling worship leader receive instruction from his “alter-ego” about how he can get people more involved. Ironically, the song he’s attempting to lead is “Receive the Glory,” based on Psalm 115: Not …

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Sin and Temptation

Worship is about gladly giving God the glory he alone deserves and is worthy of. God is the only being in the universe whose glory is intrinsic. All other glory is derived and second-hand. God is absolutely committed to his glory above all else, especially through those his Son has redeemed. I found that out the hard way in 1994. I had helped start a church in Charlotte, NC in 1991, and was serving along with the senior pastor, Brent Detwiler, in various capacities. Things were going well in the church, but not in my soul. In January of that year I experienced what is often called a “nervous breakdown.” It began at a friend’s house, where …

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Monday Devotions – On Sabbatical

Last week, while on a three day retreat with my care group, we talked about my priorities. It was everyone’s perspective that I needed to cut back to two days a week on this blog, to spend more time finishing my book for Crossway, due Jan. 1. I agreed. It made sense to stop doing Monday Devotions for a while, as I have to do it on my day off, and there are so many other books already available that can stimulate our hearts towards knowing God better. Let me recommend one here.Seeing with New Eyes by David Powlison is a collection of articles he’s written over the past number of years. Every chapter is filled with insight, biblical truth, and relevant …

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Monday Devotions – Unite My Heart

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;unite my heart to fear your name. (Ps. 86:8-11) I’m on a retreat right now with my care group. Five couples have pulled away for three days to examine our lives and hearts, care for each other’s souls, pray together, and experience the joy of fellowship.  At one point I read a portion of Psalm 86 to begin our time. This psalm is a precious  …

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Monday Devotions – I Want to Be a Fool

There are two kinds of fools in the Bible. The first is found in Proverbs, and is characterized by a lack of discernment, a distaste for discipline, and a pervasive unteachableness. From God’s perspective that person has no hope and is headed for trouble, difficulties, and eventual judgment. Proverbs admonishes us in the strongest language to do everything we can to avoid being labeled a fool.But there’s another kind of fool that God esteems. I’m speaking of the person that the world labels a “fool” because of their commitment to the Gospel.Yesterday morning, our former senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney spoke from 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:5, which begins:Let …

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Monday Devotions – The Fear of Man, Hopelessness, and the Gospel

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the newest Sovereign Grace church plant, Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick (Maryland), led by Chris Silard. They’re only 6 weeks old but had about 180 adults in the main meeting. It was a joy to see how God has blessed them not only numerically, but in so many other ways as well.I shared from Galatians 2:16 on The Gospel and the Fear of Man. This is the passage where Paul confronts Peter for his hypocritical actions:For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party (Gal. 2:12).Paul points out …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – The Trap of Comparison

Throughout my life, one of my greatest temptations has been to compare myself to others. I hardly have to work at it. It just comes naturally. I see someone else leading a congregation in worship and one of two things happens. Either I start to criticize his singing, playing, leading, song selection, content, or looks (if I’m really desperate); or I feel sorry for myself because he’s doing something better than I would or could. The only worship that’s taking place in my heart at those moments is directed towards me. Today and tomorrow I have the privilege of speaking at the Seminars4Worship event in Pittsburgh, PA. Paul Baloche, whose …

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Monday Devotions – Remembering What Lies Ahead

For the past few months I’ve been reading through the Bible along with Mark Dever’s one volume commentaries on the Old and New Testaments. He devotes one chapter to each of the 66 books of the Bible, and adds an overview of the Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Each chapter was originally given as a message to Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Mark serves as senior pastor. Rather than read straight through Scripture, which I’ve done other times, I’ve divided the Bible up into three equal sections of 22 books each. I started in Genesis, then read Isaiah, then Romans. Then I went back to Exodus, and continued to read the …

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The Down Side of Controversy

Some people live for controversy. I’m not one of them. However, I’ve come to realize that controversy has many positive aspects. Foundational doctrines of orthodox Christianity have been fashioned through the fires of opposition and disagreement. We can see the truth more clearly when someone says something that flies in the face of the biblical evidence. The nuances, perimeters, and shape of our faith become more obvious to us when placed against the backdrop of falsehood. Most of all, God’s truth has had opposition from the Garden of Eden. Controversy often arises simply from a desire to make clear what God has actually said. However, not …

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Monday Devotions – Hearing to See the Glory of God

Recently I was browsing through a copy of the Time book, “Eyewitness: 150 Years of Photojournalism.” Within moments I was reliving many of significant events captured through the lens of the camera. I better understood the brutal tragedy of the Civil War, the jubilant celebration of victory at the end of WWII, the aching misery of the poor throughout the world, and the fragility of the human condition. As it’s been said,  “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Do you ever wish the Bible was in pictures? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to watch a video of Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai, Jesus healing a blind man, …

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Monday Devotions – Keeping the Cross Central

Yesterday morning at our Sunday gathering our senior pastor Josh Harris spoke on 1 Cor. 2:1-5.And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.This passage is one of many that reveals Paul’s commitment to live a cross-centered life. In illustrating …

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Monday Devotions – It Is Not Death to Die

Recently, a godly wife, mother, and servant in our church, Kathy Bowers, finished the race and went home to be with her Savior. More than 500 people gathered to remember how God had been glorified in her life, and now through her death, after a long bout with cancer. Although death seems to have won at this time, death does not have the last word for those who belong to Jesus Christ. At the beginning of the memorial service, I had the opportunity to sing this song. I adapted it from a poem by George Bethune. It is not death to die, to leave this weary roadAnd join the saints who dwell on high who’ve found their home with GodIt is not death to …

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Monday Devotions – Am I Being Stupid?

“Stupid” is a word that we discouraged our children from using as they were growing up. That was because they typically used it when they were fighting with a sibling or responding to a decision they weren’t too happy about. But God doesn’t hesitate to use stupid to describe some of the ways we act. He tells us in Proverbs 12:1: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. I’ve had fresh opportunity to apply this verse after the WorshipGod06 conference. While the overwhelming majority of the feedback we’ve received has been positive, there are some who were disappointed or strongly disagreed …

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Corporate Confession at the Worship God Conference

At the WorshipGod06 Conference on Friday night, we read through a public confession of sin, based on a number of the ten commandments. The purpose was not to “grovel in our sin,” but to heighten our awareness of and gratefulness for what Jesus accomplished at the cross. We followed up this confession with Scriptures and songs that celebrated the full forgiveness provided in the substitutionary sacrifice of the Savior. In essence, we preached the Gospel to ourselves. We excel at justifying, minimizing, psychologizing, and denying sin and its effects. But regardless of how we try to avoid it, we can’t escape the reality that every sin is an act …

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Monday (on Tuesday) Devotions – Pleasing God

I attempted to post a Monday Devotions thought yesterday, but never quite got to it. However, I had a great time on my day off doing errands with my two youngest daughters and going out on a date with my wife. I’m currently immersing myself in preparation for the WorshipGod06 conference, which starts tomorrow. In the midst of planning and praying, I have a deep desire that everything that takes place over the next few days bring pleasure to God. The fact that we can please God is a never ending source of amazement to me. Of course, when it comes to justification, nothing we do can please God sufficiently for him to accept us. But as his …

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