Fine as Wine – SoS Saturday

The deep longings are not part of your sin nature, they are built-in by your creator. They require management, not suppression.

For your love is better than wine. – Song of Songs 1:2

What does wine say to you?

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p class=”p1″>Luxury?
Desire?
Passion?
Intoxication?
Longing?

Our poor maiden is struck with all of this.

She looks at this Shepherd King and this lowly maiden from a nearby village is drawn into the thoughts of luxury, of the lush life, of a life with the man of her dreams in royal robes and plush surroundings.

She sees his rugged handsome beauty and she wants to spend time in His arms.

One look as He passes by stirs passion deep within her.

She imagines that drinking deeply of the scent of Him would surely intoxicate her.

Her longing for intimacy with this man runs to the depths of her soul.

You know, for Christians, longings can be tricky. We feel like passion creates a problem. We try to push our longings down. For centuries longings of any kind have been frowned upon.

We find ourselves expressing our longings in ways that are destructive, and so begin to repent not only for the sin but for the longings and desires themselves.

This is a problem since God created the longings, and built them into who we are. They are deep inside, and if we live a life suppressing our longings and passions, we end up denying the very life God intended us to live, and the wonderful things He intended us to feel and experience.

Mike Bickel and Deborah Hiebert wrote a book called “The Seven Longings of the Human Heart” where they detail seven longings (there may be more, but Mike lists seven) in every person.

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p class=”p1″>A longing to be fascinated
A longing to possess and feel beautiful
A longing to be great and successful
A longing to know intimacy without shame
A longing for assurance of being enjoyed
A longing to be wholehearted and passionate
A longing to make deep and lasting impact

These longings are not part of your sin nature, they are built-in by your creator. They require management, not suppression. [tweet this]

In fact, God intends for the complete fulfillment of each of these in our lives, both here and in eternity.

Don’t forget this is the God who put in the pen of David,

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. – Psalm 16:11

This same God created pleasure. What sorts of deep passionate pleasures await us in heaven. I suspect it is more than we could ever think or imagine.

Personally, I love my life here, but I can’t wait.

Fact is, God intends for us to walk in a great measure of this pleasure and wonder here and now. As we unfold this Song we will see the joy and fulfillment of partnering with the One who created us, and designed us, and bought us, and loves us all to crazy!

BenHeadshotCome back next week!

Until then I remain yours,

Ben

Here’s a link to the Bickel and Hibbert’s book.

Note: the link below is an affiliate link.

Meek Defined

Blessed are the meek… – Matthew 5:5

By now, you see a pattern emerging. Is Jesus totally confused about what makes people happy? If we are going to believe Him, the worse off we are, the happier we should be. If I realize that I am worthless and that I have offended God at every turn in my miserable life – this is a sure source of happiness for me! God’s kingdom seems truly upside-down, and we need to get this if we are ever going to live right side up.

Meek will need some explanation. Who are the meek? When (or should I say IF) you hear the word “meek” today it is likely either an insult or a low estimation. When I think of a winner, a go-getter, a ‘get ‘er done’ kind of person, I don’t think meek. Meek is more likely to conjure up the doormat. You want to come in heresure thing–just wipe your feet on me, and in you go. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of.

Most of the more recent translations use words like humble or gentle here, and that’s not a bad thing, but I think there is a little more to it than might be conveyed with either of these terms. So rather than living with terms that either confuse us or point us in the wrong direction, I thought I would point us to a couple of guys the Bible describes as meek (or gentle or humble.)

There are two men in the scriptures who are specifically described using this word, one in the Old Testament (actually using the Hebrew word Jesus is quoting) and one in the New.

Meek Man #1 – Moses

I love this because of all the guys you could pick as a meek man, Moses does not jump to mind. This is the guy who goes before Pharaoh and demands freedom for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of slaves. This is the man who killed an Egyptian for abusing one of his countrymen. This is the man who somehow convinced the same hundreds of thousands of men to submit to circumcision as adults. This is the man who led those multitudes right up to the shores of the Jordan River.

He argued with God. He smashed tablets of stone written in God’s own hand. He made the Israelites drink the water with ground up gold from their make-shift God.

And yet…

Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. ~ Numbers 12:3 (KJV)

I need a new definition for meek.

Meek Man #2 – Jesus

Jesus tells us of himself in Matthew 11:29, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” (KJV) So here is another man among men. Jesus wrecked the status quo at every turn. The religious men hated Him and He would go head to head with them in every encounter. He protected the broken and lifted those who were crushed. When I look at the man Jesus, I do not think meek–definitely no doormat status here.

I really need a new definition for meek!

I believe the key to this character trait is directional. Both Moses and Jesus clearly live with humility toward the Father. They stand in fear of no man, but they walk in submission to the voice of God. Moses leaves the known universe of his life on the back of the desert to take on a role that would seem crazy to anyone else.

Jesus said it of Himself over and over.

My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. – John 4:34

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.John 6:38

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. – John 5:19

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.John 12:49

Jesus only did the will of the Father and taught us to pray this same thing.

Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10

There it is. This meekness we are called to is no doormat status, but rather complete and radical submission to the will and voice of our Father. This is the way to a truly blessed life, a life filled with satisfaction in God’s favor regardless of the outward situation. [tweet this]

Are you getting anything out of this study of the Beatitudes? I know I am. We’ll be back next Thursday with more.

BenHeadshotSo glad you came by.

Walk in the light!

Ben

Raise A Hallelujah – the rest of the story…

A few weeks back, for WorshipWednesday, I shared the wonderful “Raise a Hallelujah” and there was a little bit of the story behind the song in the video. But it never really gave the final testimony.

Here’s a video with the full story. Grab a tissue (or a box of them) and hear – “the rest of the story.”

My Worth Is Not In What I Own – #WorshipWednesday

Keith and Kristyn Getty perform a new (as hymns go) hymn of the faith. Keith is one of our generations great hymn writers. It saddens me that hymns are virtually unsung in much of the Church today. But the Getty’s give me hope.

My Worth Is Not In What I Own

Keith and Kristyn Getty

My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross

My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross

I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross

I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Graham Kendrick / Keith Getty / KRISTYN GETTY

Worship…

True worship marks us and moves the Lord.

The following is an excerpt from a project I’m currently working on, and it seems fitting for a Sunday morning.

Enjoy…


What is it with Christians and all that singing?

Most churches have a component of singing which they call worship. In fact, nation-wide radio networks and TV channels dedicate themselves to 24×7 worship music. Today we’ll think about worship and figure out what place it has in the life of a Jesus follower.

First, let’s talk about the music, since most church people mean the songs we sing in church when they say worship.

Why do we sing in church? This singing does a number of things. Some songs we sing in church, serve to remind us of who we are in Christ. Others bring praise to Jesus for who He is and for the wonderful things He has done. This second group falls into the category of Praise and Thanksgiving.

A great songwriter from the past, David the shepherd king, wrote long ago,

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. – Psalm 100:4

He also said this about praise in another of his songs,

Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. – Psalm 22:3

Or as the old King James version declares,

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

These verses teach us that our praise brings us into the presence of the Lord. This is why we talked about beginning our times of prayer with praise and thanksgiving. When we honor the Lord with our words of praise, it prepares our hearts to receive from His hand of blessing.

This is why we take the time to sing before the preaching of the Word in a church setting. If God comes and inhabits, or sits enthroned in our praise, and the psalmist’s metaphor teaches us, our hearts will be ready to receive the word like good seed in a garden.

But can we rightly call this worship?

Yes and no.

Much of what wears the worship label, consists more of praise or encouragement, and yet it can be part of worship.

Some would make the distinction that music becomes worship when its focus is more intimate. That worship is the beyond praise when we stop talking about Jesus and start singing directly to Him.

Jesus said, to a woman He met in Samaria,

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. – John 4:23

In her song Dove’s Eyes, Misty Edwards, a worship leader out of the House of Prayer in Kansas City, wrote,

I don’t want to talk to You
like You’re not in the room,
I want to look right at You,
I want to sing right to You.

This captures the heart of worship. Worship does not talk about God to others. When we worship God, we set aside all the distractions of life, and focus our affections, all our attention on Him.

The Old Testament model of worship gives us a picture of what worship is supposed to look like. The sacrificial system of putting animals on the altar and sacrificing them to the Lord represents the laying down of our lives and giving ourselves into the service of the Lord.

So, worship in one sense could involve music and singing, and prayer and time spent with the Lord. But in the broader sense of the word, it’s about laying your life down before the Lord and saying I’m all in. I consider myself dead to my agenda and fully at your disposal.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1

One of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible of worship comes in the last days of Jesus’ life. He sat at a dinner table in the house of some good friends, and in came a woman with a pretty bad reputation. She carried an alabaster box of ointment, worth a year’s wages at the time. She poured the ointment on His head, and weeping, she began to wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. Anointing His feet with the ointment, kissing His feet, and generally making quite a scene.

The others at the dinner, His disciples and His host included were upset by this display, but Jesus received it and honored this woman as the only one to treat Him as was fitting.

This paints for us a beautiful picture of worship. This woman, who had been forgiving much, poured out the most precious thing she had at the feet of Jesus–her life in effect. When she walked away from this encounter with Jesus, He smelled of the perfume of her life, and she smelled like Jesus. In reality, a couple days later, as He hung on the cross, somewhere, lingering in the air, amid the smells of blood, the sweat, and the tears, would have been the fragrance of that ointment.

True worship marks us and moves the Lord.


Here’s Misty Edwards singing “Dove’s Eyes.”


cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by

Worship Him today,

Ben

Your Kiss is On My List – SoS Saturday

Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End. ~ Granpa (Peter Falk) – The Princess Bride

Ah the Kiss – Do you remember when Jacob kissed Rachel? Check this out – I bet we will see this on Hallmark Movie night in Heaven.

Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. – Gen 29:11 NASB

In Psalm 2 we are told:

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. – Psalm 2:12 NIV

The maiden has two great and repeating requests that run throughout the song and here is the first. At this point, she is an admirer of the Shepherd King. She may think that He doesn’t even know who she is. But she is smitten!

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! – Song of Songs 1:2

Ok – I know, I told you that the maiden was going to be each individual believer, and we start right out of the gate kissing on the mouth. You ladies may be ok with this, but I might be losing the guys in the second verse.

Let me suggest that we read this as “May He kiss me with the kisses of His Word.” There – I know I feel better already.

We are going to spend a lot of time over the next weeks and months (Lord willing) applying word pictures and metaphors, and here is our first.

Since, for our purposes, we are going to consider this Shepherd King to be Jesus, a kiss from His mouth – would be His Word.

When we look at the mouth of the Lord in the scripture we are usually looking at His Word and His speech. For example

…For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:20, 40:5, 58:14 NIV)

Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it. – Jeremiah 1:12

The Word of God is food to us. In Matthew 4:3,4 Jesus tells us man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. In Matthew 6:11, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus asks God to give us each day our daily bread. God gives us bread not stone as a good Father in Matt 7:9. Matthew 26 shows us that the broken body of Jesus is the broken bread of communion and we understand that healing is the children’s bread from Mark 7:27. So this divine Kiss is the favor and healing and complete salvation that God offers.

Join me in asking the Father for the kisses of the Words of Jesus. O Lord kiss us today with the kisses of your Word.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for joining me today.

Come back soon.

Ben

Jesus’ Warning – Hey Ben, what are you thinking?

I came across this passage in Matthew 16 early in the week, and I’ve not gotten past it. It keeps rumbling around in my head.

The Pharisees and Sadducees continue their testing and harassment of Jesus, this time by demanding a sign from heaven. In effect–if you’re the Messiah–prove it! (Matthew 16:1)

Jesus, in the next three verses, shuts them down culminating with a strong rebuke,

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” – Matthew 16:4

Next Jesus and the boys get in the boat, and the text tells us that the boys forgot to pack lunch. They are thinking about lunch, but this last encounter with the religious leaders continues to bug Jesus.

He turns to the guys and gives them a pretty strong warning.

Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” – Matthew 16:6

The boys miss read this warning and go off trying to wiggle out of trouble with Jesus for forgetting lunch, but that is not what Jesus was warning them about.

What struck me is this warning.

It’s akin to then warning He gives about the danger of riches after His encounter with the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10,

And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”Mark 10:23

When Jesus is hanging out with sinners and prostitutes, you don’t even hear Him warning the boys about bad company or the dangers of sexual sin. But this religious temptation is serious, and He knows it’s the life these boys will face every day going forward.

You see, this attack from the religious men poses a real threat. Their challenge temped Jesus. Remember He was tempted in every area that we are. And when He experienced this temptation in the flesh, He felt compelled by the Father to warn these future leaders of the Church about religious temptations.

What temptations show up here it this little confrontation?

1) Manipulate your gifts and callings for your own gain. It’s easy to want to use that which God gives us to make a name for ourselves, to “grow our ministries” and to impress people. It feels good to hear the praise of men, and feel the rush that comes with man’s approval.

2) Prove yourself to men. It would be so easy for Jesus to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to these men that He is the Christ, but these men need to open their hearts to Him before they will ever learn such a thing.

It is right here in Matthew 16 that Peter comes out with this very revelation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) and Jesus affirms this understandng can only come directly from the Father.

I’m sure we could dig out more aspects to this temptation, but I want to keep this brief. Suffice it to say, Jesus takes relationship with the Father and with us seriously. It is not something to be trafficked.

Religious sin is as bad, or worse than sexual sin or a covetous heart. The only sinners Jesus really ever “got after” were the righteous ones, the religious leaders. The unrighteous he wooed, the righteous, he slammed.

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by today,

Have a great first day of summer.

Ben

Not just a Comfy Chair

for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Comfort is a misunderstood commodity.

Often when we think of comfort we think of someone patting us on the knee and saying, “there, there, it will all work out all right.” So when we think of the Holy Spirit, our “comforter” we fall into this trap. We think that the job of the Spirit of the living God is to whisper platitudes to us when we are feeling sorry for ourselves. That could not be further from the truth.

Yes, Comforter is one of the Holy Spirit’s names and descriptors. The Latin behind our word comfort combines com–with and fort–strength. To comfort is to come to the aide of one in need with the strength required to bring success. Big difference, isn’t it?

The Holy Spirit is not the one who takes the role of nursemaid, He comes beside to give strength and help in time of need. It looks nothing like that “poor baby” picture we can easily conjure up. The Greek word here (parakaleō – same root as Comforter or Helper–paraklētos–in John 14) carries the idea of a tug boat coming alongside a huge ship to guide it through tricky waters. The Tug though small is very powerful, and has complete expertise in navigating the tricky waters ahead.

In like manner, the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, comes alongside us as we enter the tricky waters of repentance and ensures that we reach safety, free from the shipwreck of worldly sorrow.

Those who mourn over their sins will find that the Holy Spirit comes alongside, and gives them the strength and direction they need to walk out true and complete repentance. There is a comfort and confidence that comes from this victory over sin.

Are you feeling blessed yet?

cropped-BenHeadshotOh, we’re just getting started.

Keep the light on!

Ben

Be Enthroned – #WorshipWednesday

I love this! Hope you do too.

Be Enthroned

Verse 1
We’ve come to join the song
Sung long before our lives
To raise our voice along
Heaven and Earth alike

We’ve seen Your faithful hand
Your mercy without end
A king who bled and died
A God who sacrificed

Chorus
Be enthroned upon the praises of a thousand generations
You are worthy Lord of all
Unto You the slain and risen King we lift our voice with Heaven
Singing worthy Lord of all

Verse 2
All through this life we lead
And on to eternity
Our endless praise will cry
Jesus be glorified
Jesus be glorified

Bridge
Highest praises Lord of all
Highest praises Lord of all
(repeat)
(play this line when going back into the chorus)
Highest praises You are worthy Lord of all

Chorus (Alternate Chords)
Be enthroned upon the praises of a thousand generations
You are worthy Lord of all
Unto You the slain and risen King we lift our voice with Heaven
Singing worthy Lord of all

written by Hunter Thompson, Kalley Heiligenthal, Jeremy Riddle, Brian Johnson
© 2015 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Thanks to Bethel Music for these lyrics. You can find them here.-

This is the House That Jesus Built

He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. … but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. – Hebrews 3:2-3, 6

God’s house–it’s not a box in a tent anymore.

Sorry, Indiana Jones. If the nazi’s ever found the ark of the covenant and opened it, they would not find some face melting, flesh-eating, God of Israel trapped inside, waiting to escape. They would just find a cobwebbed old house with dusty sheets covering all the old furniture. The inscribed stones of the law may still be hanging on the living room wall, though a bit askew from the fall off the ox cart. Aaron’s rod standing in a clay pot in the parlor, still in bloom. A couple golden tumors hiding under an overstuffed chair. And the table still set for a mana dinner. But no terrifying presence.

God moved out two thousand years ago.

He relocated to a new dwelling place.

He moved in before construction on His new place was completed. The plain truth is, it’s still under construction. As any man or woman declares with their mouth, “Jesus is my Lord,” and set their trust on Him, He’s adding on. Each addition a pristine new room, perfectly suitable for the Holy Spirit’s presence.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22

The gospel, it turns out, is not about you going to heaven when you die. That’s just a side benefit. Jesus never said He was the way to heaven. He said,

no one comes to the Father but through Me.John 14:6

Our destination is the Father, and we don’t have to die to reach Him. [tweet this] The Father adds new rooms every day, not as folks die, but as they trust and confess Him as Lord.

Later in the same chapter, He continues,

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. – John 14:23

You and I, my friend, comprise the house of God, a house of His own building. And somewhere, down that long hall in the eastern wing, at the far end of the prophet’s corridor is Moses’s home. And God’s in there with Him right now!

But don’t worry. He’s in your room, too. He’s there to meet with you right now. Take some time to hang out with Him today, will you?

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by!

See you again soon,

Ben

Need to catch up with our gleaning through Hebrews? Here’s a page with all the links.