From a Christian point of view, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the center of time, for from Christ we look backward toward creation, the fall, the covenants, and God’s working in history to bring redemption. But from the event of Christ we also look forward to the fulfillment of history in the second coming of Christ. For this reason, time is understood from the Christian point of view in and through the redemptive presence of Jesus Christ in history.

-Robert Webber, Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith

Spoken Word from Psalm 8

Did you know that the book of Psalms is the most quoted book in the New Testament? In other words, the Apostles were inspired by what they read in the Old Testament because it pointed to Jesus. I want to share today (and every Sunday for the rest of the month) a spoken word poem that highlights Jesus as the “son of man” who was made a “little lower than the angels”, but now is crowned with “glory and honor”!

The principle purpose of worship is not to teach but to worship God…

God is praised as Creator, Redeemer, and Judge. The worshiper praises, magnifies, and glorifies him not only for who he is, but also for what he has done in providing life, redemption, sustenance, hope, and many other blessings. In this way, worship becomes an experience of God. The worship is carried through an experience in which the opportunity is given to make a fresh commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

-Robert Webber, Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 129.

Easter is not a single day; it is a season…Every event of the Christian year flows into Easter, even as all the events of the Christian year flow from Easter.

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 142-143.

My Life in Haiku

Part of my “rule of life” for 2020 is writing at least one Haiku poem each day. These short Japanese poems (3 lines with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 again in the 3rd) come out of my life. So hopefully, they give you a small taste of my life and encourage us all to see God’s wonder in our lives as we follow Jesus…

Prayer Experience: The Names of God

This is a prayer experience based on the names of God

New Song: Goodness of God

It’s easy to say, “God is good,” when your life is easy.  But when you are facing serious disease, loss or death, it becomes a lot harder.  So many people end up in the desert of pain and suffering and cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When we lose a job or face a life crisis, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious disease, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When a loved one dies, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

The answer is “yes”.  God is good.  Let me give you three reasons…

  1.  God is good…in his being.  He is not evil.  He IS the definition of goodness.
  2.  He shows us his goodness in the way he gives and sustains life.  He shows us his goodness in the good gifts he gives.  He shows us his goodness in the way he showers us with mercy that we don’t deserve.  He would still be good if he didn’t do these things, but he chooses to show us his goodness.
  3.  Not only that, in the midst of pain, God comes close.  Charles Spurgeon once wrote that God is good because in the storm of pain and suffering, he comes closer to us than the storm could ever be.

Because of that, we can sing these words.  We might have tears running down our face, but we can still sing these words.  The first verse comes straight from the psalms and looks back at our lives so far…

Verse 1
I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never failed me 
(I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. -Psalm 116:1)
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
(Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. -Psalm 31:5)
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
(I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. -Psalm 3:5)
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
(I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13:6)
The chorus, also from the psalms, expands the theme musically and names God as the FAITHFUL one…
Chorus
And all my life You have been faithful
(Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. -Psalm 36:5)
And all my life You have been so, so good
(For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100:5)
With every breath that I am able
(Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.-Psalm 150:6)
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
(I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13:6)
God is not silent.  He has spoken through his Word and now uses the Holy Spirit to illuminate his Word to apply it to our lives in dark times…
Verse 2
I love Your voice
(The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.-Psalm 29:4)
You have led me through the fire
(When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. -Isaiah 43:2)
And in darkest night You are close like no other
(Your hand will guide meeven the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. -Psalm 139:10, 12)
I’ve known You as a Father
(Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…-Matthew 6:9)
I’ve known You as a Friend
(You are my friends if you do what I command…I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. -John 15:14, 15)
And I have lived in the goodness of God.
So is God’s goodness pursuing us, like the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son?  Or, is God’s goodness following us like it says in the 23rd Psalm?  I think the answer is yes.  It’s both.  God’s mercy is pursuing us and His goodness continues to follow us when we know Him.  What this bridge shows me is that this goodness, this mercy demands a response.  Am I willing to lay down my life for my christian brothers and sisters?  Am I willing to give up everything for Jesus?  Am I willing to do that because of his great goodness to me?
Bridge
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
(…While [the Prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20)
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
(Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23:6)
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now
(This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. -1 John 3:16
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.-James 4:7)
I give You everything
(Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.-Luke 17:27, 33)
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me.

Like I said before, it’s easy to sing about God’s goodness in general terms, but after living through some hard stuff, I can say, “yes” I want to lay down my life and sing about the goodness of God that is running after, running after me…

A Living Hope for 2020

I ended up watching Netflix late last night.

Again.

I wasn’t going to do it.  But then Netflix showed me a new show, an action thriller with spiritual themes…so I watched the whole, first episode.

I’m hopeless.

And while my back is feeling better after straining it, the new Soni-care tooth brush that Sara got for my birthday gave me a headache.  I was excited about it because it’s supposed to be good for gum-care. I need better gum-care, at least that is what my dentist says.  But, it gave me a head-ache so I guess it’s a choice between receding gums and a headache?

I’m hopeless.

I also spent most of yesterday installing a new DIY alarm system from RING.  I love doing this kind of thing and Sara has been wanting a better security system w/ cameras for awhile now.  The camera doorbell works amazingly well and the whole system syncs with the Alexa.  In fact, I just asked Alexa if the back door was closed and she responded, “Back-door is closed”.  Ironically, I still have two magnetic sensors that won’t work.  It’s the simplest part of the whole system and I can’t get them to work!

I’m hopeless.

However, the biggest part of the New Year so far was the four word text from my Mom.  It read, “Aunt Dottie went home” . By “home”, my mom meant heaven because my Aunt Dottie has been fighting ovarian cancer for 6 years and fell asleep in the Lord on the first day of the year.

My Aunt Dottie and Uncle Ray were the family we always stayed with when we went out to Philly to visit the Scott side of the family.  Aunt Dottie was short, even by Scott family standards, but she was always ready to laugh, hug or encourage.  She regularly wrote my wife, Sara, encouraging her to keep writing.  A little over a year ago, Aunt Dottie messaged me about a new song we were singing at Emmanuel called “Living Hope”.  She loved the lyrics that come from 1 Peter 1:3-4.

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

This year, we are going to focus on the theme of hope.  We are going to learn that “Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised…” As Peter writes, we have a living hope in Jesus, who rose from the dead.  That is our confident expectation.  That was my Aunt Dottie’s hope in life and in death.

Later, I cried while listening to Coldplay’s new song, “When I Need a Friend”.  I cried for me and for my Mom who just lost her sister.  But they weren’t hopeless tears, they were hopeful tears.

Maybe I’m not so hopeless after all.

Christians shaped by the (new heavens and new earth when Jesus comes again and makes everything right) vision of worship seek to bring that vision to bear . . . in the world.

(For example, stand up for human rights, oppose injustice and oppression, work out of a clear sense of honesty, take care of widows and orphans, support the battle against the destruction of the environment, and engage in various activities that uphold the vision of a new heaven and a new earth where all wickedness has been put away forever)

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition