Gratitude, Day 10—The Shepherd And Guardian Of My Soul


I suppose since I’ve already said I’m thankful for salvation and for God’s kindness, it’s probably apparent that I’m thankful for God Himself. But today I’m specifically thankful for these two aspects of who God is—my Shepherd and the Guardian of my soul. I learn about these characteristics of God from 1 Peter 2:

For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Years ago I read A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. It gave me a much deeper understanding of that metaphor. The shepherd isn’t just hanging out watching the sheep graze all day. The sheep really do stray, and the shepherd really does hunt them down, steer them away from danger, rescue them from the holes they get in, check them closely for critters that get into their wool, protect them from snakebite, from predators that would carry them off and eat them alive.

The Shepherd of my soul looks out for me spiritually in much the same way.

He also stands guard, the way a watchman does from a city wall. He is ready to sound the alert because he is ever vigilant.

Consequently, I can get a good night’s sleep. I don’t have to worry or anxiously look about, wondering if the next cultural trend will irreparably harm me or my faith. I don’t have to wring my hands at the latest election results or what the new atheists are saying or the progressives who pose as believers, but are not.

Because I have a Guardian of my soul who will not let the evil tear down my faith.

It’s really peaceful to put my trust in the Shepherd and Guardian of my soul. I’m still concerned about the way the world is going, the way western culture is moving into a post-truth way of thinking. I pray for revival. But one way I know I have a Shepherd and Guardian of my soul is that just today I heard another radio sermon in which the pastor talked about praying for revival. He is not the first! Other believers, other pastors, are praying, too.

So yes, I pray. And I do all in my power to be an obedient sheep, following my Shepherd, not one of the other stupid creatures who jump at any loud sound and go running off to hide. I once was straying, but not any more. Now I want to get as close to the shepherd as I can get. I’m that thankful for Him.

Published in: on November 14, 2018 at 6:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Church Music, Again


up-front-1463389-639x478I figure if the songs we sing in church can repeat a line three times, and the worship leader can have us sing that stanza three times, then I have the freedom to write about church music again. (A couple previous posts are “Music And The Church” and “Congregational Singing”).

I’ll be honest: I’m concerned. My church has taken a stand against viewing the preaching of the word as a performance which we evaluate like we do a movie we go to see. Which is good. Very good. However, our music is nothing more than concert-like. Is there not a disconnect? If the “worship” time is all about the guys up on the stage, why would the “audience” not view it as the warm-up act for the main event: the preacher?

If we want to put on concerts, I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem when we put on a mini-concert on Sunday morning and call it worship.

A couple weeks ago, the worship leader (I have no idea who he was because we never have the same person two weeks in a row), said he was so excited because he felt there was a new freedom in our worship. I thought, How would he know? He can’t see the audience with the spotlights shining in his face and the rest of the room in total darkness, and he can’t hear anyone other than those who are on stage with him. So how is he to judge whether or not there is a “new freedom”?

Some weeks before that, I talked to the worship leader (a different guy) after our service to ask about the particular choice of songs. The words of one seemed particularly unbiblical—more in tune with the health and wealth message than the gospel. As I recall there was some line in one that said something about victory in the streets. Well, I looked around to see if I could find it, and I didn’t have the lyric right. The song is called “Build Your Kingdom Here.”

As it happens, I found it on a site that rates Christian worship songs, and they gave this particular song zero stars. Zero. According to their rating scale, “A rating of zero stars means this song is not recommended for ANY use in a Biblical church.”

Here’s the explanation of the rating for this particular song:

This is a good example of how an otherwise good topic can be misapplied and misunderstood by those singing this type of song. God is in the process of establishing His Kingdom now in the reborn spirits of men who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not establish His physical Kingdom on earth till Christ returns. He will not “heal our streets and lands” until the Millennial Kingdom. Right now we are to preach the Gospel whereby the Holy Spirit changes people who commit to Jesus Christ from the inside out. Two other phrases in this song show it is from a Dominionist/Latter Rain perspective. “Change our atmosphere” and “Holy Spirit, come invade us now”. The “atmosphere” of the world will not be changed until the Millennial Kingdom because right now it is under the dominion of the evil one. The Holy Spirit does not “invade” people, and if they are being forcibly “invaded” it is another spirit.

I don’t endorse everything the people at this site believe, but some of their evaluations were not only ones I agreed with but dovetailed with others who have written about worship music. In this song, the “heal our streets and lands” was the line that I balked at, and the invading of the Holy Spirit is wrong on so many levels—first and foremost, as I see it, that the Holy Spirit already lives inside each Christian.

But the thing that grieves me is the fact that two songs up from this one on the Worship Song Ratings list is one we “sang” (had sung to us) last Sunday: “Break Every Chain.” This one earned one star. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

[Lead:]
There is power in the name of Jesus [3x]
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

[Chorus:]
There is power in the name of Jesus [3x]
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

Songs like this that say so little really bother me. Why are we filling our worship time with such vapid fare?

We are to pray in the name of Jesus because He stands in our stead before God. He is our mediator. But the chains of sin and guilt and the law and death were broken at the cross. He isn’t breaking chains now. But of course, I’m only reading into the “chains” what I expect them to mean. I have no idea what the song writer meant or what the worship leader means or what the other people standing in the dark are thinking.

It’s simply vapid—devoid of any real substance, any real meaning. A synonym is vacuous—“having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless.”

And this is the type of song that at least one worship leader says is part of a “new freedom to worship.”

I’m sorry, but what is happening to the church?

Is our time with God reduced to empty, repetitious inanities?

I fear for the next generation. What are their minds going to dwell on when they’re stricken with cancer or facing the death of a loved one? Have they memorized Scripture that the Holy Spirit can bring to their remembrance? Do they have the words of hymns rich in doctrine to resonate with their soul?

We need revival.

Published in: on August 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm  Comments (36)  
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Evangelical Manifesto – Part 3


Short on time today (I hear many sighs of relief whooshing through cyberspace. 😉 )

I thought I’d focus today on a part of the Evangelical Manifesto I find refreshing and honest. The second section addresses purpose number two: We must reform our own behavior. Here’s one portion I found insightful:

All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of he surrounding world.

There’s more.

All too often we have set out high, clear statements of the authority of the Bible, but flouted them with lives and lifestyles that are shaped more by our own sinful preferences and by modern fashions and convenience.

And more, but I’ll let you read it on your own.

My thought is, maybe this call to reform should really be a call to repent. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had leaders like Jeremiah to stand before God and confess, though he himself wasn’t even in Jerusalem when the sins he repents of were committed. I am not saying the leaders should act like a priest confessing the sins of the people. But that example … I think it is powerful. It says, This sin breaks my heart and I can only weep before God for His mercy over us and beg for revival within the Body of believers because I love the church and I love God and do not want to see this heinous fractious behavior continue.

That’s what I think anyway.

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 1:26 pm  Comments (4)  
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