Tag Archives: God

Thankful

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Two of the reasons I’m a lucky, lucky man.

I struggle with the holiday season.

I’m not going to make the same assertions as many cranky sourpusses, insisting that each holiday season is a fabrication of marketers and Hallmark, but there is little doubt that the holidays have a sinister side.

Traffic is worse — drivers become angrier, riskier in their maneuvers, and uglier in the gestures. Feel like going to the store for some batteries or a 12-pack of soda? Well, I hope you enjoy waiting for 30 minutes in a line full of comparably impatient people, all of whom appear to be ready to ram their shopping cart through the hip of the elderly woman in the front of the line, taking 12 minutes to write her check.

For the church workers among us, mid-November through New Year’s is the busiest stretch on the calendar. Parties, special services, social Gospel events, musicals, practices, youth events, and more leave our family with fewer than three free evenings until 2013. I’m not complaining — that’s just part of the job.

And yet through all of the stress and anxiety, the holidays give us some of the most special moments of the year, namely two large chunks of time spent almost exclusively with family. As I type this post, my son lies asleep with his foot literally propped on my computer keyboard hand rest. Just in the hallway, two of my nephews are playing and laughing. Two rooms over, my dad, brother-in-law, brother-in-law’s father, and two dogs are resting with their own legs propped up, recovering from the incredible meal we consumed like ravenous hyenas (with equal amounts of laughter). The ladies stepped outside for a bit to run an errand, but they’ll be back soon, and we’ll all be worn out from doing very little.

Yes, the holidays are expensive. Yes, they are stressful. Yes, I’ll kind of be relieved when they’re over.

But then I’ll start waiting for the all over again.

In this season of excessive complaining, I must admit: I’m still thankful.

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“The Words” – Misunderstood Love

I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Jackson, Tennessee, and I’ve been reading a book that touched on some topics that have greatly pained me over the previous few months. For whatever reason, the most appropriate response seemed to be to hop onto my computer and write about it.

I think this will be fairly easy to understand, as my poetry always lacked subtlety, which is probably why I’ve mostly abandoned it.

Anyways, I hope this means something to someone else. I just felt strongly to write it.

Thanks,
Ryan

 

“The Words”

I’m sorry, I can’t apologize
As I stand before one billion eyes
The words aren’t mine to write
But they’re surely mine to keep

It’s not hate that brought me here
Nor misplaced anger, guilt, or fear
The words brings healing power
And their power must be shared

I cannot deny what you feel within
But if right exists, then so must sin
The words have never changed
But our watchmen fell fast asleep

So the hated turned to ones that hate
With no pretense that we’d negotiate
The words are said to expire
And the faithful pushed aside

I’m sorry, I shall not apologize
Because if truth exists, then so must lies
The words stand as our beacon home
And we’ve all been swept to sea

So find your way to loving arms
Not just His, but mine, and the rest of ours
The words we’ll share bring hope
To the broken and forgotten souls

I’ve never been one to doubt a heart
That breaks to find a brand new start
The words are not your chains
They’re the royal robes of perfect peace

So take my hand and follow me
Waking up to truth won’t end your dreams
The words have all the answers
To those questions of irresolution

I hope you see loved has paved the way
And in the end there’s too much to say
But the words will do the talking
Through the subtleties of grace

I’m sorry, I’ll never apologize
Please join us as we turn our eyes
The words must shift our focus
And our focus must be Him

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The Half-Hearted Church

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Every preacher, worship leader, musician, and/or singer has felt it before: a church that has collectively checked out of a service. Those in platform ministry can exhaust themselves, raise their voices, sing until their vocal cords can’t take it anymore, and yet nothing works — every member of the congregation seems content to follows the pattern:

  1. Walks in 1-5 minutes before/after service starts.
  2. Claps their hands lethargically during worship.
  3. Refuses to alter their expression.
  4. Sits through the preaching with an invisible force field surrounding.
  5. Stands when the preacher says stand.
  6. Offers obligatory 3-minute prayer at altar call.
  7. Rushes to a local eatery.

The Word of God asks us to not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” but merely attending church is not the point. We are to worship together, to learn together, to pray together, and grow together. How can this be accomplished if, through their body language and actions, much of the membership shows itself to be bored with church itself?

As Pastor Dean has often stated: WE DO NOT TAKE CHURCH SERVICES OFF!

Attend service with this understanding: in all likelihood, someone is experiencing your church for the very first time. I know at POBC, we have first-time guests each Sunday morning. Are we letting them down? Do they walk in expecting an apostolic, power-packed environment, but leaving feeling underwhelmed?

If we believe God’s Word, and that He “inhabits the praises of His people,” then our WORSHIP and INVOLVEMENT during a church service is crucial to creating an atmosphere in which God’s presence can work at maximum effectiveness.

Is God dependent upon us to move? No.
Are the emotions and desires of man affected by his environment? Yes!

If it was your sibling, your parent, your friend, or your co-worker who was attending church as your guest for the first time, would you worship differently? Would you hope that everyone else worships, investing their whole heart into THAT particular service? Would you do everything within your power to create fertile ground for the seed of God’s Word and Spirit? Would you walk to the altar with purpose, or would you linger back, just hoping that the service comes to an end in time to beat the other churches to your favorite restaurant?

Each service is just that opportunity for someone. Each song is a chance for the church to lift up holy hands in adoration of God. Each sermon could be the Word that someone’s guest needs desperately to hear. And each altar call could be the defining moment where someone finds God and is filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

I understand that worshipping God isn’t a scheme to trick anyone into following Him, and I know that even pop artists can send chills up your spine and bring tears to your eyes with a powerful song. But imagine we worship God with absolute sincerity, He inhabits our praises, His Spirit covers the room, and suddenly the atmosphere goes from “just another Sunday” to the Sunday that no one will ever forget. That’s what is at stake each and every week.

So my question is this:
DURING YOUR CHURCH’S LAST SERVICE, DID YOU WORSHIP LIKE SOMEONE’S SOUL DEPENDED ON IT?

Revelation 3:14-16 (ESV)
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

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Footballer Faith – A Brief Summary of Fabrice Muamba’s Story for an American Audience

Timmy-Tim-Tim Tebow isn’t the only “football” player whose faith has recently been stretched across headlines — that distinction is shared by Fabrice Muamba.

The Bolton midfielder faced an uphill battle getting onto the most prominent stage in professional football, emigrating with his family from his native Zaire at the age of 11. Muamba’s father, experiencing pressure due to his political beliefs, sought asylum in England and started a new life with his family. Young Fabrice was unable to speak a word of English, but that didn’t stop him from achieving 10 GCSEs and A-levels in English, French, and Mathematics (interpretation: Muamba is smart).

But Muamba was noticed as much for his athletic prowess as he was his academics — at 14-years-old, Muamba entered Arsenal F.C.’s youth academy, and signed his first professional contract a year later. After a spell with the North London club, Arsenal sent Muamba off on a year-long loan to Birmingham City, where he played until 2008, when he was transferred to Bolton Wanderers F.C. Finding consistent success on the pitch, Muamba became one of Bolton’s most important players.

Then, on March 17, 2012, Fabrice Muamba died.

During a quarter-final FA Cup match with Tottenham Hotspur, Muamba became dizzy and began seeing double before collapsing to the pitch. Football is sadly as known for its “dives” and feigned injuries as it is for its creativity and the unwavering support of its fans — but this was different. No one was near Muamba at the time of his fall, and the entire crowd knew something was different about it. Football crowds are known to be aggressive and creative with their taunts, but in this case, Tottenham’s 36,000 fans stood in near-silence for what seemed to be an eternity, occasionally chanting his name. Fans wearing Tottenham kits were shown on television crying or clasping their hands together in prayer. Muamba’s teammates and opponents were praying as well, particularly striking in modern Europe, which appears to be almost completely secularized.

Muamba’s heart did not beat for 78 minutes.

Many prominent footballers have died suddenly while on the pitch. In 2007, Antonio Puerta suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the age of 22-years-old. Just last week, 25-year-old Piermario Morosini collapsed and passed away. These situations usually result in tragedy — Muamba’s appeared just as dire.

Doctors would later confirm that Muamba received numerous defibrillator shocks both on the pitch and in the hospital, but they were unable to resuscitate him until 78 minutes after his collapse. Two days later, his heart was beating without the assistance of medication and he was able to move his limbs. Soon after, he responded verbally to family members. On April 16, nearly a full month later, Muamba was discharged from the hospital.

Today, Muamba speaks with reporters about the incident, and gives credit to someone else, besides doctors, the hospital medical staff, and the cardiologist Tottenham fan who rushed onto the pitch. Muamba credits God for his recovery:

In an interview with The Sun, Muamba revealed he asked God to protect him before the cup clash, which was abandoned after his collapse. “Some one up there was watching over me. What happened to me was really more than a miracle,” he said.

“On the morning of the game I prayed with my father and asked God to protect me – and he didn’t let me down.

“I am walking proof of the power of prayer. For 78 minutes I was dead and even if I lived was expected to have suffered brain damage. But I’m very much alive and sitting here talking now. Some one up there was watching over me.”

The aforementioned Cardiologist received additional praise from Muamba:

Muamba praised Andrew Deaner, the cardiologist who left his seat at the match to help medics treat the player.

“He is the reason I have been able to hold my baby son again and continue my life,” said Muamba, who is recovering at home with his 3-year-old son Joshua and fiancee after being discharged from the hospital Monday — just over a month after he suffered the cardiac arrest March 17.

“It would be great to play football again and I hope that will happen,” Muamba said. “But it’s even greater just to live life and love my family. I’m a lucky man.”

The football world was united in its support for Muamba. Bolton’s first game after Muamba’s life-altering incident:

Former teammate Gary Cahill (now of Chelsea F.C.), after scoring a goal:

The full video of the incident, along with the fans’ response, is difficult to track down in its entirety, but it was a moment when the curtain of sporting intensity was pulled back, revealing the humanity of even the most vicious fans. For a moment, everything was put back into perspective, and I for one am incredibly proud of the response from Tottenham’s supporters.

That said, I shall now resume despising them.

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Jesus(?)

The last time I checked my Bible, Jesus wasn’t a fairy.

So why do people feel compelled to make Him look like this…

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Am I the only one offended by the portrayal of Jesus as a pink and fluffy man who apparently gets a manicure every week? Just look at His hands! Look at them! They’re like a little baby’s hands!

STOP MAKING JESUS A SISSY!

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