Reign of Christ

reignofchrist1Reign of Christ Sunday

November 23

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

This Sunday finishes our annual journey through the church calendar.  This week is Reign of Christ Sunday.  While here in the US, many will celebrate it at Thanksgiving Sunday.  It was interesting as I put the worship set together.  It is a combination of themes, both of the reign of Christ (All Hail the Power of Jesus Name; God, You Reign) and Thanksgiving songs (Great Is Thy Faithfulness and 10,000 Reasons)

This is a capstone Sunday of sorts.  In some traditions, Reign of Christ Sunday reviews the church year and the incarnation, life, and reign of Christ.  Some year I would like to try a service like that.  I do think it falls quite in line with thanksgiving.  One of the verses we looked at last night in Bible study was this.  Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift.  Christ has an amazing love for his children.  So this week as you prepare for worship, remember Jesus – his incarnation, his life, his death, his resurrection and his forever reign and be thankful.

On Giving

“We don’t give because God has needs. I repeat: God doesn’t need our cash. He doesn’t come to us, hat in hand, sheepishly asking for funding for His mission. We don’t give because God needs it, but because in giving we declare His value to us and our love for Him. Jesus told us that if want to know what a person really loves, we should follow the trail of his [or her] money…Do you see your resources as yours to benefit from, or as opportunities to be generous to others? The world, of course, finds it absurd to be this open-handed with our resources (I earned it, I deserve to benefit from it!)…When was the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity?”

J.D. Greear in “Three Ways the Gospel Changes our Generosity” blogpost on 19 November 2014

HT to Jim Rathbun – Director of Generous Giving for the Wesleyan Church

Refocus and Routine

refocusandroutine

Last week I was in a group study and one of the illustrations that our leader used to illustrate a point was that of a golf coach who works with elite level golfers. This golf coach teaches them to always REFOCUS before every shot and to rely on their ROUTINE as they take a shot.

As worship leaders, I believe that there is something in this disciplined approach that can benefit us week to week as we pray, plan, prepare and play our worship sets.

An elite golfer doesn’t just go up and carelessly hit a shot. They don’t allow the surrounding crowd, as quiet as they may be, to distract them. They don’t haphazardly approach their shot and wail away like Happy Gilmore on every tee box.

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On Fear

“Fear is that dark stranger that comes often knocking at our door. We can be afraid of so many things: afraid of losing our health . . . afraid of losing our wealth . . . afraid of losing our loved ones. In fact, sometimes it seems we can be afraid of life itself. Certainly there are a lot of frightening things out there in the world today. Violent crime is at epidemic levels. We wonder, Will I get on a plane and have it blown up by terrorists? Will I keep my job? Will I be robbed walking down the street? Will I contract a terminal disease? Will I get well from a terminal disease? So how do we deal with our fears? How like sheep we are! Sheep are timid, fearful creatures. Because of their very makeup, it’s almost impossible for them to lie down unless they are free from all fear. An entire flock can go stampeding off into nowhere because a rabbit jumped out of a bush. Sheep are always in need of a shepherd to lead and care for them. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will protect you and stands as your representative before the throne of God. Only Christ can calm our fears and give us access into the presence of God. As the Scripture says, Jesus is the One “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12). We have boldness and authority, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. Jesus is our strength. He is the one who gives us boldness. That’s one more reason why we never want to stray from His side! Instead, we want to stay as close to Him as possible.”

Greg Laurie

10 Ways the Enemy Gets the Upper Hand In Church

number-ten

via Thom Rainer

By Chuck Lawless

Let me start this post with a clear caveat: Satan will not ultimately win as he attacks God’s church. Jesus broke the powers through His cross (Col. 2:15), and the enemy will eventually be cast into outer darkness (Rev. 20:10). In the meantime, though, the devil strategically attacks us. Consider these ways he seeks to get the “up”per hand.

  1. He wants us to mess up in sin. The results of our sin are numerous. Our witness loses credibility. Our prayers are hindered. Our joy wanes. Relationships often suffer. The world looks at us and sees no difference– and the enemy temporarily wins.
  2. He wants us to cover up our sin. He did it in the Garden of Eden, and he still does it today: if we sin, he wants us to hide like Adam and Eve did. That way, we never confess it and turn from it. Likewise, the enemy wants the local church to ignore the sin among its members.
  3. He wants us to get hung up on difficulties and discouragement. “You’ve served God faithfully,” he says to us, “but what good has it done? You’re still struggling and lonely.” He delights when we cower in the cave like Elijah (1 Kgs 19), forgetting God’s previous blessings and focusing on only the trouble at hand.
  4. He wants us to clam up in evangelism. God has only one plan to get the gospel to our neighbors and the nations: believers tell the story to others (Rom. 10:9-16). It’s the enemy who points out reasons for us not to share the gospel. Maybe you’ve heard messages like “You’re going to lose your friendship” or “You really don’t know enough to do evangelism.”
  5. He wants us to bow up over position and power. The enemy who himself sought the throne of God is pleased when we guard our turf and protect our positions in the local church. “You’ve served in that position for years,” he reminds us, “and why should you give it up? Nobody can do it as well as you can.”
  6. He wants us to break up. This strategy, too, started in the Garden, where Adam turned on Eve and blamed her for his wrong. From the beginning, the enemy has sought to sever marriages, families, friendships, and congregations. He knows the church will hardly make a difference when we shoot each other in the back.
  7. He wants us to build up our own kingdoms. He does not mind when we talk about the kingdom of God as long as our real focus is our own kingdom. “Serve God,” he says, “but make sure others know just how much you’re serving Him. In a ‘humble’ way, be sure to get the word out about the size and influence of your ministry.”
  8. He wants us to cloud up the message. Without question, the enemy rejoices when the gospel message is decidedly and clearly forsaken. At the same time, though, he is pleased when the message is subtly changed so the gospel disappears while still sounding like a biblical message. The cloudiness of the message thus keeps non-believers from hearing the truth.
  9. He wants us to give up on prayer. He points out unanswered prayer, reminding us that God has at times not heard us in the past. Why would we then seek God’s presence and power today?
  10. He wants us to get puffed up with ego. In fact, this strategy is the root of the rest of these strategies. When we reside on the throne of our lives, the enemy is at least temporarily winning.

What other ways have you seen the enemy get the “upper” hand in a church?