Do you ever find yourself singing along with an old familiar hymn, or perhaps even a new praise chorus, and you suddenly realize that you're just repeating well-known words without contemplating their meaning? It's easy enough to fall into this habit. For those of us who've been singing these hymns for many decades, the texts are so familiar that we can easily find ourselves singing them on autopilot. When we unconsciously slip into that mode, we forfeit the blessing of reflecting on the wonderfully rich messages these songs convey. We also miss out on the joyful experience of praising God with our whole being. Jesus said that we're to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As we actively engage our minds and consciously meditate on the texts of the hymns and choruses that we sing, our hearts more fully engage in worship. I suspect that in part that's what Jesus referred to when He told the Samaritan woman that God seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The next time you sing along in a worship service, let the meaning of the texts resonate in your mind along with the beautiful melodies. Let's joyfully sing His praises!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I just returned this evening from a three-day trip to Little Rock, AR where I met with about a dozen fellow senior adult ministers. I only knew one of the attendees prior to the meeting, but I enjoyed some rich fellowship and sharing with these men. It turns out that I had mutual acquaintances with a number of these guys. One had served as a music prof for our worship minister and had been a classmate of a close missionary friend from Argentina. Another had taken a mission trip to Argentina, serving alongside a former colleague there. Still another was good friends of a missionary acquaintance from Mexico. I'm amazed at times at the number of relationships and ties that exist in Baptist life when you scratch below the surface just a little bit.
We were privileged to have Ward Tanneberg of the CASA Network as a speaker for the first day and a half. I had attended an event sponsored by CASA in Anaheim last fall and found it to be encouraging and inspiring. This gathering scored high in that respect as well.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The cooler temperatures of the past few weeks offer clear evidence of the changing seasons. Fall has announced its annual arrival. I’m grateful to live in Missouri where we experience four distinct seasons. Granted, the length of these can vary considerably from year to year as well as the severity or mildness of each season. Having grown up in South Texas, spring and fall were basically non-existent for us. We transitioned from a typically mild winter to the heat of summer with just a few short days of spring-like weather. The clearest harbinger of spring’s brief appearance was the emergence of the beautiful Texas wild flowers—blue bonnets, Indian paint brush, and buttercups being chief among them. The fall months could be almost as hot as the summer ones, but their arrival signaled the start of high school football in the land of Friday Night Lights.
The earth’s seasons remind us of life’s rhythms as well. The springtime corresponds to those seasons of refreshing growth and new beginnings. Summertime suggests those periods in which we take a break from the normal routines to explore new places on vacation or to spend time with our extended families. Autumn can represent our maturing years as we reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish with the Lord’s strength and help. Winter marks the inevitable decline that we all face and our eventual departure from this earthly life to a far greater and more blessed future existence with God in heaven for those of us who know Christ as Savior.
Whatever season of life you find yourself in today, resolve to make the most of it. Cultivate the friendships you already have and seek to make new ones. As your health permits, seek opportunities to serve others, using the gifts and talents you’ve developed over a lifetime. Strengthen your relationship with the Lord through daily spiritual disciplines. Finally, enjoy and thank God for each new day He lets you experience. We are truly blessed, aren’t we?
(I shared these thoughts in the most recent edition of our monthly senior adult newsletter, The Joyful Tidings).
Monday, September 17, 2012
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Our pastor shared a link this morning to a blog by Mark Batterson, a Washington, D.C. pastor, who gave a list of 17 Leadership Laws. These are really outstanding and well worth the read. My favorite line from the piece was this one - "Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands."