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Archive for February, 2007

Desperate


One of the definitions given for desperate in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary is as follows;

involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration <made a desperate leap for the rope>

At many times in the Psalms we see either David or one of the other writers expressing how desperate they were for the Lord to act in their lives.  At times David was surrounded on all sides by enemies. His only source of comfort was the Lord. He knew only God could help him in his situation. He desperate to see the Lord act. 

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent. Psalm 22:1-2

Understand that God has promised His children that He would never forsake us (Deut. 4:31, Heb 13:5). He is with us at all times, but there are times when it feels as if he has. David was going through one of those times. His heart was desperate to see God act. He cried to God day and night for an answer.

How many of us have felt like this at one time or another? Our world seems to be falling apart and God is so silent. Like Job we sit in an ash heap scraping our sores with a pot shard. If you are believer in Christ you will have or will face a situation something like this, but it is for your benefit, not your destruction. It’s that desperate cry of the heart that pushes us to Jesus. It’s a time of coming to realize that you are nothing without Him and He is all that matters.

At 37 I was content with life. I was happily married to a beuatiful young wife and had 2 young children. I had a good job and was a leader in my church. With in the space of a year it all came crashing down. In that year, I lost my health and required 3 major surgeries to replace two knees and a hip. Then my wife developed mental illness and as a result we separated and I lost my family. I also lost my job due to stress and finally, due to problems in choosing a new pastor for our church, I became a scapegoat and wound up leaving the only church I had ever known. I guess you could say I became quite desperate. My whole world now consisted of a small room at my mom’s house and the mattress I was lying on became my ash heap. In my desperation I called out to God as I had never done before. The Psalms became my most cherished book, because I saw that even though the psalmists were in desperate situations they knew the end of it all. That God was faithful no matter what they were facing. They knew God would not let them down. In each of those the Psalms where they cried out in desperation by the end of it they were singing a different song. They had hope. In their desperation they drew near to Him and He drew near to them. For all I went through, God used it for His glory and He changed me for the better. In my desperation I found a newer and deeper relationship with my King and it was shortly after that the calling came for me to go into full time ministry. He has restored much to me and more. You say but Gerry, you’re divorced! God will take care of that one day. It’s in His hands.

There is something that I want you to realize and it is this, God doesn’t only want us to be desperate for Him when we are facing desperate situations. He wants us to be desperate for Him at all times. He longs for hearts full of fire who long for nothing but him. He wants us to be desperate for Him in the good and the bad times. He wants our lives to be filled up with Him. The Psalmist says,

As the deer pants for the water brooks,So pants my soul for You, O God. Psalm 42:1

The Church is lacking that today. We have forgotten what it is like to be desperate. We fill up our lives with so many things and those things replace our relationship with the One who has created us. We are not thirsting and hungering after the Lord the way our forefathers used to. The church is not as it should be and God is about to change that. There is a time of persecution coming like no church in North America has ever known. It is only just starting and we sees glimpses of it now and then. There is one thing that persecution does, it separates the wheat from the chaff and makes those left desperate. This is a good thing because through it the church will grow once again and become whom she should be before our Lord returns.

Let’s get desperate now. Let’s not wait for that to happen. Desperation has to be our hearts cry not only for our relationships with Christ but for a lost and dying world that is perishing not knowing the love that Christ has for them.

Oh Lord we are desperate for you, make us even more desperate.

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
         And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
         Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
         For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
         And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
         And revive me in Your way.
38 Establish Your word to Your servant,
         Who is devoted to fearing You.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread,
         For Your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for Your precepts;
         Revive me in Your righteousness. Psalm 119

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Love; The Guidepost of the Worshipper


1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)

Worship is one of the fastest growing ministries in the church today. It is what is called one of the glamour ministries because the people get to be up front where the congregation can see them. Many churches are quick to put those with musical talent into their teams sometimes with tragic results. It requires maturity in your walk with the Lord. It requires love. We see so many people come into the worship ministry with incredible talents and yet when it comes to loving their families, neighbors or friends they have some very deep issues. We say along the lines with verse 1 above, Though I sing or play like an angel, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging symbol. If you have ever heard those things going off continually they grate at your senses. That’s what many sound like to God. There have been many singers and musicians that I have heard with incredible talent and yet I just could not listen to them and later I would find out the reason was because they had an issue with love or a lack of forgiveness. John says in 1 John 4:7-10;

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Verse 20; If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

If you are unable to love those who are here on earth with you, there is no way you will be able to love God the way you are meant to. There have been times where I struggled in these areas as well. Let’s face it some people are pretty hard to love. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have to. We have to ask God to help us to love them and see them as He does, not with our own heart or eyes because our flesh will lie to us. And if we live according to the flesh we will struggle.

Another great struggle for us as worshippers is not to harbor unforgiveness or bitterness. Both are great poisons to our souls and separate from the love of God. They are also one of the root reasons we can have trouble to loving others. It’s amazing to me how petty some Christians can be in holding grudges against others. God has forgiven us so much and yet if someone takes our parking spot or our seat in church we hold on to it and refuse to forgive that person. This parable that Jesus told in Matthew 18:21-35 has been one that always comes back to my memory whenever I find myself with thoughts of unforgiveness.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

Unless you forgive others for what they have done to you, God cannot extend His forgiveness to you. Without forgiveness it is impossible to walk in the love the God commands us to. For the worshipper, love needs to be our guidepost in all we do. Not just in front of the congregation but as well away. If we act like an angel in church but like a demon at home, God knows.

As a worshipper, examine your heart. Has any of this spoken to you? If so you need to get on your knees and repent. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to see the love He has for others. Get rid of bitterness and unforgiveness. If you need to go and see someone to makes things right, do it without delay. Let your worship be a pleasing aroma to God and not a stench. Come to him, confess, He will never turn away a sincere heart. Go through the rest of 1Corinthians 13 and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you your own heart and allow Him to bring change in the areas that you are lacking in. Then you will truly sing or play like an angel an all of heaven will join you.

Global Warming and the End of the Age


The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
         The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
         And established it upon the waters. Psalm 24:1-2 (NKJV)

The latest hoopla in the media is global warming. We are told how man is to blame and that we have messed up this planet badly. In truth we have. We were put here to be the caretakers of God’s creation, but because of our sinful nature and greed we have messed up royally. Want the truth? The earth is getting old. It is dying. Not because of pollution, but because of sin. God designed it that way. In the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth, God knew man would fall and because of man’s fall the earth was cursed as well. Everything God created was perfect. Sin brought corruption.

Listen to what Isaiah prophesied about the last days of earth;

Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste,
      Distorts its surface
      And scatters abroad its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be:
      As with the people, so with the priest;
      As with the servant, so with his master;
      As with the maid, so with her mistress;
      As with the buyer, so with the seller;
      As with the lender, so with the borrower;
      As with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered,
      For the LORD has spoken this word.
4 The earth mourns and fades away,
      The world languishes and fades away;
      The haughty people of the earth languish.
5 The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
      Because they have transgressed the laws,
      Changed the ordinance,
      Broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,
      And those who dwell in it are desolate.
      Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned,
      And few men are left.

19 The earth is violently broken,
      The earth is split open,
      The earth is shaken exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,
      And shall totter like a hut;
      Its transgression shall be heavy upon it,
      And it will fall, and not rise again. Isaiah 24:1-6, 19-20 (NKJV)

God through Isaiah in verse 5 makes it clear why the earth will die. It is because we have sinned and broken the laws that God had set in place. Look at the perversions that are looked at as being normal right now. People think that they are open minded and progressive when in reality we sinking to depths of unrighteousness never seen before by our ancestors. and yet I believe we haven’t seen anything yet as to the depravity to which man will fall.

Jesus also talked about the end of the earth in Luke 21:7-36 As you read through this portion of scripture, think about all that has been happening recently and compare it to what He prophesies.

7So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”
8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.

A couple weeks ago I came across a news article about a man from Puerto Rico who claims to be Jesus and God. He and his followers call him the king of kings and lord of lords. His followers right now number in the hundreds of thousands with his centers of worship in at least 50 different countries. He was announcing his coming to the United States for crusades. Unless you know the Word of God and His Spirit, it is very easy to be deceived. Many are looking for a saviour. But Christ will not come until all the things He has prophesied come to pass.

9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Peter in 2 Peter chapter 3 also warned us concerning the end.

1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Are you ready? Global warming is just another sign the Christ is returning soon. It cannot be reversed no matter what the edia may tell you. Most things that have been prophesied are in place. He could return at any time now. We must watch and pray. God has promised those who remain faithful a new home. He has given us a promise as Peter says in verse 13 above. God will create a new earth and new heavens. A place where sin will not abound. A place of rest.

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev. 21:1-8 (NKJV)

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:12-17 (NKJV)

Yes Lord, come! Maranatha!

The Place of a Worshipper


I am the LORD, that is My name;
      And My glory I will not give to another,
      Nor My praise to carved images. Isaiah 42:8
 
Something has been nagging at me for quite a while now. I am not to sure I am comfortable with the direction contemporary Christian music is taking. Not all, but there are those that in my spirit when I hear their CD’s or hear them in concert, that seem to more interested in giving people a good show and instead of Christ being exalted it is them.

I remember the concerts I used to go to during the 70’s and early 80’s at the old Montreal Forum. They were all about sound and show. Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Queen and Supertramp. You could always be sure you would get quite a feast of sight and sound. Of course not much of our hearing would be left afterwards, but we were wowed. They were our idols and they exalted in being so. They loved the glory their fans would give them.

I see today many Christian bands and artists doing the same things. They have become prima donnas. I remember attending a music conference down in Pennsylvania one year. They had some pretty big name Christian artists coming in to do concerts and workshops. The problem was that the promoter had a hard time getting people out to this conference and had to settle to having it in a smaller facility. A few things from that conference stuck in my mind. One of them was seeing John Starnes in the parking lot talking with the promoter and telling him he was waving his fee for being there because of the situation. That impressed me as I know that John flies his own plane to each event. He told the promoter he believed what the promoter was doing was worthwhile and not to get discouraged. Another image was of this top Christian group that everyone wanted to see driving up in a huge tractor trailer with the name of the band emblazoned on the on the side. They took one look at the facilities and where they were to perform and freaked. They refused to do their show. They said without their stage show it they couldn’t perform. It was all about the show. When asked if they could scale it back a bit, they were insulted and left. We later saw that they had booked into the same hotel I was staying and were spending their time playing pool. The next day the Imperials showed up with and equally big stage show. For them it was no problem to scale back and perform and they were very gracious about it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a good show. The problem arises is when the medium becomes more important than the message. When people focus more on the performer than on the message they are supposed to be conveying. It makes me really squeamish when I hear young girls screaming as they used to at Beatles concerts at Christian concerts. What bothers me even more is to see these performers soak it up instead of telling them that it is Christ they should be worshipping.

I also have trouble with many of the young female singers that have come on the Christian music scene. Many of their vocals are breathy and sensual. I find little difference between the way they sing and those that are in the world.

It is not easy. Many of the Christian labels are owned by secular companies which put pressure on them to sell CD’s. Contemporary Christian music has become a very lucrative market. It is very easy to become caught up in the glamour and attention you get. You need to be strongly grounded in the Word and your relationship with Christ to stand strong. So many of the singers out there started off singing in churches, but the pull of the world was too strong for them. Research for yourself where Brittany Spears, Whitney Housten, Beyonce Knowles, and Jessica Simpson got their starts. Where is their faith today and what kind of answer will they have to give to God for the way they used what He gave them?

In 1986 I made a recording called "All For Him". I enjoyed the attention I received. I loved hearing my music on the radio or seeing my name on posters or billboards. In reality it was not "All For Him" as much as it was "All For Me". Nowadays I’d rather run and hide then take any kind of glory from my Lord Jesus Christ.

Worship alone belongs to the Lord and we never should give that worship to something that is created. Not even the angels will accept worship and we were created just a little lower than them. Ask John what happened when he tried to kneel at an angels feet.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Revelation 19:10

If you are a worship leader, a musician or a singer, remember He is the one who has given you your talents. He gave them to you to glorify Him. Never your self. Don’t let others exalt you. Always point to Christ. He alone is worthy of glory.