Worship Boxscore – June 24, 2007

Call to Worship – Psalm 121 – Responsive Reading

Songs of Worship – Forever (Tomlin); Lord, I Lift Your Name on High (Founds); Hosanna (Tuttle)

Invocation

Song of Worship – O God Our Help in Ages Past

Prayer

Offering

Song of Worship – Sound the Battle Cry

Worship Through the Word

Benediction

Deborah: God’s Man for the Job?

Today we have a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Some of you are probably familiar with the game Clue. For those who aren’t, here’s how it goes. At a manor out in the country, there has been a murder. You know who has been killed but it is your job to find out who was killed, by what weapon, and in what room in the manor. You have to use your deductive reasoning skills to figure it out. In order to win the game you must state who killed whom, how, and where. Today’s adventure has four characters; Deborah, Barak, Sisera, and Jael (spelled Jael). Two of our suspects are male and two are female. Our adventure is found in the book of Judges, chapter 4 and 5.
Before we get to that, let’s set-up the background to the story. Our adventure is set in the time of the judges, hence the reason it’s found in the book of Judges. The time of the judges, follows after Joshua. Two weeks ago we looked at Moses and how he led the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, stopped at Mt. Sinai for God’s laws. Moses was the leader of a difficult people. I’m sure Moses felt like he should have resigned many times. Because of the Hebrews disobedience, they were forced to wander in the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula for forty years. At the end of the forty years, they were ready to cross into the promised land of Canaan. Because of Moses disobedience, God told him he would not enter the Promised Land. That job was for Joshua. Joshua led the Hebrews into Canaan and subdued the people in the land. The people promised to follow Joshua like they followed Moses. I would have been afraid, because of the difficult people called the Hebrews. But instead of acting like they did with Moses, they did as Joshua and the Lord said and they experienced great success in conquering Canaan. Joshua passes away at the ripe old age of 110 years. Then the trouble begins. Judges 2:10 records, “After that generation died (the Joshua generation) another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember they mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight…They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt.” They turned to idols and worship them instead of worshiping God. In Judges 17:6 it’s recorded this way, “In those days Israel had no king: all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eye.” We often like to think that our generation is the most evil generation known to humankind. I really don’t think so – men and women have doing evil in the eyes of God for thousands of years. All we have to do is look at Noah, Moses, and the generation that followed Joshua. There were seven judges during this time. When Israel had a judge they followed God and without a judge, they didn’t. Here’s how it goes; Israel forgets the Lord; Israel gets conquered and oppressed by neighboring nations; Israel cries out to God; God appoints a judge to straighten things out; they live in peace from forty to fifty years and then go back to forgetting the Lord and the cycle starts all over again. This happened fourteen times in the time of the judges. The four most famous judges are Gideon, Samson, Samuel, and Deborah. Today we want to look at the only female judge or for that matter, the only female leader in Israel’s long history and that is Deborah.
Deborah comes to power after Shamgar. Shamgar followed Ehud, who was a good judge. After Ehud’s death the Israelites again did evil in the sight of the Lord. Because of this God turned them over to Jabin, a Canaanite king. We are introduced to the second player in our drama. Jabin had a general named Sisera. Sisera was responsible for oppressing the disobedient Israelites. We are told he had 900 iron chariots. After the Israelites got tired of all that, they cried out to the Lord. The Lord responds by appointing Deborah.
We need to understand that this is highly unusual. Why? For one, Israel, like many ancient cultures was paternally governed. The food chain went like this servants, children, single women, married women, young men, first born men, married men. In this culture women where a little bit better than servants but not by much. We’ve already looked during this series where God calls us to go against the grain of culture. In this culture first born boys were the most important. However, think of the number of men who were not first born, who rose to power. To help you out, they are Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon. None of these great Hebrew leaders were firstborn, which is amazing considering the mindset of the culture. As I already mentioned women were not considered to be much more than property or servants and yet the Bible points out many important women; Miriam (Moses’ sister), Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Bathsheba, Tamar and Mary (mother of Jesus). God uses whom He chooses, (man, woman, boy or girl) not whom we choose. Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary are all listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. Something that is highly unusual in this worldview.
So we have a woman judge whose name is Deborah. Not only is she a judge but we also learn that she is a prophet. This makes her rarer still. There are only two woman prophets in the Old Testament; Deborah and Miriam.
With all of what we just looked at in mind, we come to our story. God has appointed Deborah, to take care of Sisera. She calls for Barak. Deborah tells him to 10,000 warriors and take them to Mount Tabor. The Lord will call out Sisera and his army and his chariots to the plains of the Kishon River and the Lord will give you victory over Sisera.
Barak isn’t too sure about all of this. Here’s the irony; Barak’s name means thunderbolt – which suggests that he is summoned to be the Lord’s flashing sword. I don’t know of many people who don’t have a healthy respect for lightning. Instead of taking up the challenge, Barak says to Deborah, “I’ll go, but only if you go with me.” This did not please the prophet, so she says, “I’ll go with you, but you will not get the glory, and to top it all off the glory for the Lord’s victory will be at the hands of a woman.” Ouch! The so called warriors of Israel were incapable of a united action until a woman summons them to God’s battle. Barak’s timidity was typical throughout the land and was due to a lack of trust in the Lord. Deborah rebukes Barak severely for this and he will not get the glory for winning the Lord’s battle. That will go to a woman.
So the stage is set. Deborah and Barak will go against Sisera. Barak’s men are poised on Mt. Tabor, safe from an attack from the iron chariots of Sisera. There is one more detail we need to set up this battle. A man named Heber, a Kenite, sets up his tent near Kedesh.
Sisera finds out that Barak and his men are ready for battle to he takes his army of 900 iron chariots down the plains of the Kishon River and toward Mt. Tabor. Deborah tells Barak, “Get ready, the Lord is about to give you victory, because the Lord is marching ahead of you.” Barak and his 10,000 warriors rush down the hillside toward Sisera and his army. It just so happened that the Lord sent a rainstorm at this time and Sisera’s iron chariots get bogged down in the mud. This throws Sisera and his army into a panic and they abandon their iron chariots. It puts them into the hands of the Israelites. They chase the warriors all the way back to home base, killing everyone of them, except Sisera the General. What happened to Sisera. Remember Heber the Kenite. Even though he was a descendent of Moses, he was on friendly terms with King Jabin. Sisera flees to the tent of Jael, Heber’s wife and since ancient Near Eastern custom prohibited any man other than a woman’s husband or father from entering her tent, Jael seemed to offer Sisera an ideal hiding place.
Sisera takes up Jael’s offer to come into the tent. She even covers him up with a blanket. After some time, Sisera asks for a drink of water. Instead of giving him water, Jael offers him a drink of milk from a leather bag. Being that this was the Middle East and there was no refrigeration or pasteurization, it was probably warm and was more like a liquid yogurt. When people are having trouble sleeping, they like to fix themselves a cup of warm milk. Something helps us fall asleep. After drinking the milk, Sisera requests that Jael, keep watch and keep him safe. Sisera is soon fast asleep from the milk and from exhaustion and now the story turns interesting. She takes a hammer and a tent peg, proceeds to place the tent peg on his temple and drives it through his head with the hammer, killing Sisera. I would imagine it was a quick death.
Not long afterward, Barak comes looking for Sisera. Jael comes out to meet him and says, “Come, look what I have for you.” She takes Barak to the tent and show Sisera lying dead with his head nailed to the ground. So the answer to our murder mystery is Jael killed Sisera with a spike in her tent. Judges 4:23 records, “So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king. And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.” After this there was peace in the land for forty years.
I remember the shock on the faces of the ladies at our last church, as Pam and I taught this Bible story. They had never heard such a thing. Maybe this is your first time hearing this incredible story of how God saved his people through a woman.
What can we learn from all of this? If God calls us to do something, we better do it. We do see many times in the scripture where God grants grace and mercy to those who question his call as in Moses and Gideon, but in this case Barak is told to go to war, he questions God and does not end up with the glory. It doesn’t matter who you are. What is God calling you to? Like I said earlier, the scriptures challenge us to go against the culture. When it comes to the call of God on a person’s life, I like to go to Galatians 3:26-29, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” Is God is calling you into full-time Christian service? Are you following his call? Or are you running from his call? Barak was called to war and yet did not want to go on his own. His disobedience resulted in the glory going to someone else. Perhaps God has called you to a ministry that only you can do and God wants to see you get the glory for it. If you don’t someone else will get the glory.
Another thing we can learn is that we need to start right where we are. Jael won the victory simply by being there and making the most of an opportunity. I remember that’s how it was with my call. Instead of going to school immediately, I began exploring what God wanted me to do. If God had laid his full plan in front of me, I’m sure I would have went running like Jonah. But he didn’t he prepared me, then revealed more, prepared me and revealed more. Make the most of every opportunity to serve the Kingdom. You’ll never know when you’ll end up being the hero of the battle.
Let me ask again, “What is God calling you to do?” What is he calling you to join? There’s a place for all of us to work in his Kingdom and no one is excluded. It’s everyone on the playing field.

Proper 7 – June 24, 2007

I Kings 19:1-18; Psalm 42; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39

I don’t know that I can pull all these together. I’ve included a few extra verses to finish the thought that leaves us in supense if we stop at verse 15.

Elijah was at a low point of ministry. As usually happens it followed a huge victory. Elijah had just won the battle of the gods on Mt. Carmel. Following the victory, he slew the prophets of Baal, which didn’t make Jezebel too happy. She says, “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” Elijah runs and hides in a cave. Even though he had a great victory, he was depressed at the news. God comes by asks, “What’s wrong.” Elijah replies, “No one is left to follow you.” God says, “Let me speak to you.” Then God sends the fire, wind, and earthquake, but He is not in them. Then God speaks in a small voice. God reminds Elijah, all is not lost. Go and anoint these prophets for there are still 7,000 faithful who have not bowed a knee to Baal.”

In ministry, I often find great depression follows great victory. I can’t explain why, but I know it’s true in my life. The psalmist David remembered leading worship in the tabernacle and then asked, “where is God? Why am I discouraged? Why am I sad? I will put my hope in God for I will praise Him again.” These are the things we need to remember when going through the valley after the victory.

Paul’s writing should be an encouragement to us as well. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Some would love to emphasize our differences. Paul reminds us that in Christ, we are all the same. The ground is level in Christ. Many years ago the banner of the Pilgrim Holiness church was, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, and in all things charity.” What do I consider the essentials that make us brothers and sisters in Christ? Orthodox Christians for centuries have recited The Apostle’s Creed. I consider this to be the essential beliefs of the faith. Yes, I have brothers and sisters in the faith all over the world and we are one in Christ Jesus.

Some Random Thursday Thoughts

  • Tonight, our family used our $25 gift certificate at Ryan’s. It was a unexpected gift from our Mosaic staff at Preston. Pam and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The food was great tonight and I discovered that they now have steak every night on the buffet. Our family enjoyed the treat.
  • We had a good night at Mosaic last night. Mosaic is our ministry to students K-12. We had 21 students last night. During the summer, we scale back and try to do fun things. Pam and Rebecca taught the fruits of the Spirit to the elementary using various fruits. The middle school girls cooked our meal, consisting of fried chicken and gravy, mac and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies. The high schoolers and middle school boys went putt-putt. A very different night but a change of pace.
  • The next few days will be interesting around here as we baby sit two young boys. It’s been a long time since we’ve have had young children in our house for any length of time. Our youngest is 10 and we haven’t baby sat for quite a while. Mom said she’s interested to read my comments when she gets back.
  • As I write my girls are watching “One Night with the Queen.” It’s a story of Esther. We are currently in a series called Adventures in the Old Testament and I preached this story a few weeks ago. It will be interesting how the movie matches the biblical story.
  • I think that’s about all I have for now. Time to see how many times we’ll be woken up tonight.

What Wesleyan’s Do Well


My good friend Mark Wilson, published this post in response to another blog and I thought I would share his points and then expand on some of the thoughts and maybe add one or two of my own. Visit the above link to see Mark’s comments. My comments will be in the blue.

What do Wesleyans DO well? From the vantage point of a lifelong Wesleyan, I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

1. Wesleyans do Stewardship Well.

2. Wesleyans do College Well.

As I shared in my last post, I am a product of the Wesleyan university/college system. So is my wife, although the college she attended has been closed for over 15 years. While my college degree is not in Christian Ministries, I have great respect and loved the teaching of many of the religion professors at Indiana Wesleyan. Dr. Bence, Dr. Lennox, Dr. Williams are some of the great professors I did have at IWU. Like I said yesterday, I owe a great deal to my music profs who took the raw clay of talent and molded it into the musician I am today — Dr. Guy, Dr. Lessly, Dr. Maher, Dr. Kindley (now semi-retired), Prof. Rickey and Dr. Bell (who is now at Olivet Nazarene.) This fall we will be sending our oldest daughter to Southern Wesleyan. I enjoyed our visit there last fall. Reminds me of IWU 12 years ago. I have heard great things about all of our colleges and universities.

3. Wesleyans do Latin America Well.

4. Wesleyans do Children’s Homes Well.

Like Mark said, we only have one, but Hephzibah is a quality organization. I was quite impressed with the latest issue of their ministry update. They are making a difference and they are living out missional ministry. It is amazing to see Wesleyans from all over the United States and Canada support this ministry.

5. Wesleyans do Non-Traditional Ministerial Education Well.

I was responding to Mark’s blog, when I realized my comment was as long as his post, so I decided to come back over here and take up my space. Not only I am a product of Indiana Wesleyan, but I received the bulk of my ministerial training at FLAME. My good friend Wayne heads up this program. I was a student at the third FLAME and was so impressed. I had a revival in my own heart just by being there. Those early FLAMEs were quite different, but in a way the guiding principles that made those early FLAMEs so powerful are still part of the process. Where else can you get Dr. Melvin Deiter (Mr. Wesleyan Church History) to teach your class. He taught the Wesleyan Church History part of my class at that first FLAME. The man didn’t need any books or notes. It was amazing. I had great professors like Pat Bennett, Phil Bence, Jim Dunn, Lenny Luchetti, Lloyd Moore, Mark Weeter, Jerry Pence, Kerry Kind, and Mike Walters. Somehow, I never had a Mark Wilson class — which now seems like a mistake!

In addition to the great academics, there are the awesome times of worship, fellowship, and prayer. The first FLAME did not have the worship aspect, but the fellowship and prayer were awesome. Not only did I play supporting roles in the FLAME worship bands, but several FLAMEs in I started leading worship for FLAMEs as a student. Now as an alumni, I invest back in FLAME. Several alumni are doing this, serving in various capacities.

Can you tell I’m big on FLAME? Thank you Wayne for your vision and friendship!

6. Wesleyans do Youth Conventions Well.

7. Wesleyans do “The In-Between” Well.

8. Wesleyans do “Safe Haven” Well.

9. Wesleyans do “Autonomy” Well.

This one depends on who you ask, but I believe Mark is on the right track. The local church has a great deal of autonomy to minister as it sees fit in the local community. Our District Superintendents aren’t looking over our shoulder at every move. I appreciate that we don’t have cookie cutter churches. The local congregation makes the decisions how to minister in its community.

10. Wesleyans do Mix Well.

I love the connectional, family nature of The Wesleyan Church. Many are surprised at the “connections” we have with other Wesleyans. I remember attending our first district conference here in Shenandoah. Our lay delegate was amazed at the number of connections we made by the first rally. We were there for about 1 1/2 hours. The Wesleyan Church is a small denomination and we quickly met friends and family of friends of ours from other states. There is a wonderful family atmosphere to most Wesleyan events. I find many of our leaders are more than willing to talk. I remember being at FLAME last November and several professors were having an animated discussion. It was so cool to be part of that discussion.

Like Mark also said, we are free to “fish” from different ponds of curriculum. Although lately I have been sticking to ponds close to my denominational and theological roots. I try to stay with what I can purchase from our publishing house. Speaking of great books — thanks to Dr. Drury for two excelent books on the spiritual disciplines. I really can’t wait for The Apostle’s Creed book.

11. Wesleyans do Max-well.

At the moment, I can’t think of anything to add to the list, but it’s getting late. Before I close, I want to take a look at two of the five comments that were the reason for Mark’s post.

What Wesleyans Don’t Do Well? Click here to see Justin’s full article
1. Don’t Communicate Well
3. Don’t Multiply Well

In the other three points that I didn’t mention, there are some valid points we need to look at as a church.

But one points one and three I disagree at least in part.

  1. Communication depends on the district you are in. At least three district superintendents now have a blog that they update on a regular basis. I know several other district superintendents, send a weekly e-mail to their district pastors. I know I have started using this blog, our church website and email updates for our congregation. I think people like feeling in the loop of information. My own feeling is I’d rather err on the side of too much than not enough information. I like to keep the congregation in the know rather than keep them in the dark.
  2. Multiplication also depends on the district — some districts like West Michigan, Southwestern, and Penn-Jersey seem like they are planting churches all the time. In other districts you barely hear of it.

There’s enough to think about in these posts, both Mark’s and Justin’s. To end this post on a light note. I have been listening to something called www.CCMmix.com while posting my comments. It’s based out of the great state of Wisconsin and plays from three decades of Christian music. It’s interesting to hear Farrell and Farrell or old DeGarmo and Key “When He Comes Back” next to “Welcome Home” by Brian Littrell or Bebo Norman. It’s time to say good night.


My Musical Worship Journey – Part 6

The Indiana Wesleyan Years
Indiana-Wesleyan-University-LogoToday, I continue on the journey we started several weeks ago. When we left off, Pam and I had packed our two girls and left for the flat land of Indiana. This is where we would spend our next five years. We felt that God was calling us into a full-time worship ministry and attending Indiana Wesleyan would fulfill the training I needed. The plan was to get a Bachelors of Science degree in Church Music. Three years later, I graduated with that degree. That’s the short story.
The longer story goes this way. We moved into a small house just off the campus in Marion. In addition to being a student, I would also have to continue being the bread-winner. When we first moved, we tried to have both of us working, but after one year, we discarded that experiment. God was faithful to us over the five years. What I didn’t realize at the time is that studying music is a time intensive discipline. In addition to the 15 hours of class work and study time, a music student is required to participate in other one or non-credit classes, such as class piano, ensembles, and voice lessons. Piano required 45 minutes of practice a day and I really needed it. The ensembles also required rehearsal time and practice time if you didn’t know the music. Voice lessons also required rehearsal outside of class. When I look back, it really is quite amazing that I graduated in 3 years.
I know of digressed here, because this is supposed to be about music and worship influence. IWU would be a source of influence as well as the churches we attended in our hymnal-for-worship-celebrationfive years in Marion. The first church we attended was College Wesleyan Church. While not the official church of IWU, there is an unofficial relationship. The music “program” while we were there was excellent for musicians. The church was beginning to explore “blended” worship. Unfortunately, it really didn’t satisfy most. We used “The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration” and Word Music’s “Songs for Praise and Worship.” This was the first church we attended that would used worship choruses as part of the worship on $_35Sunday morning. We had concurrent worship with Sunday School. That means those participating in worship missed part of Sunday School whether you attended the first or second session. I participated in the choir and worship band, (bass guitar, trumpet, and (for a few months, french horn)). Beginning in the second semester, I also joined the Chi Alpha’s Prime Time Praise band on bass guitar. Prime Time Praise was a Wednesday night worship service using “contemporary” praise and worship songs and was headed up by Chris Eads, the collegiate pastor. At the time it seemed cutting edge. Now, it really seemed quite traditional. At the end of my second semester, I was approached to lead Prime Time Praise. I accepted which meant in addition to all of the above, I added more to my plate. Prime Time used a heavy dose of Hosanna Integrity’s music and Maranatha Music. It was my responsibility to pick the music and rehearse the band. I also transistioned us from transparencies to slides (hey, we were really high-tech) In addition, during that year, Chi-Alpha started a new ministry called “Friday Night Live.” It was loosely based on several late night shows and included at house band (which I again led.) We used a combination secular and original segue music.
41X-j0p0+kL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_After two years at College Church, I got an offer from my choral professor to come and assist him at his church. This was a paid position as opposed to a volunteer position and for a college student that is a great thing. I accepted the offer and our family moved to Lakeview Wesleyan to assist with the music program. This was a great move for us. The church treated us like family. What were my musical influences here? For one, working under my mentor and choral professor Prof. Guy. I really got to see the inner workings of how things are put together. We put together several big concerts and each year we were there, there was the Christmas Pageant “From Heaven’s Throne.” I learned quite a bit on the technical end at Lakeview. We had the expertise of Ray Boltz’s lighting tech and a former sound tech for the Gaithers. I was also exposed to video projection for the first time and was involved in putting the weekly worship together as well as putting together special slide shows. We used the hymnal, “Hymns for the Family of God.” It was during these years I began to lead worship from not only bass, which is difficult, but guitar and piano. If I led worship without my bass, it was at the piano. It will be several more years before things change and we will get to them. I have fond memories of both College and Lakeview churches.
One of the great experiences we had in Indiana was to attend The Wesleyan Church’s General Conference. Prof. Guy led the worship and the choir for the Sunday rallies. It was a great experience. I ended up with several offers to go and lead worship at several churches afterward. None of them worked out, but it was cool anyway.
26_A_2_d_liveagainThe music at college was different. I had never really been exposed to classical music until I got to IWU. The music program is classically based and I am glad it is. I received a solid musical education. I am indebted to my professors, many which are still at IWU. Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and others were names I got to know. I learned how to sing properly and learned the in’s and out’s of music theory. My second year, my choral prof. made me assistant director of University Singers. I was introduced to the music of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I was also the band director for this group. Not only did we sing BTC songs, but we also performed several classical programs. Toward the end of my college career, I also ended up in basketball band, which at first I played trumpet and then moved to bass.
I graduated in three years, but God had plans to keep us in Marion for two more years. We spent the last two years ministering at Lakeview church, learning more in the process. I had no idea when God would move us from Marion, but after those two years, God started moving and we felt that we were being called to Flint, MI as the pastor of worship and fellowship. More on that next week.

Learn to Partner

Here’s a great article from Chuck Warnock. Chuck pastors a church not too far from Martinsville in Chatham, VA. Their church and town has experienced many of the things we have and are experiencing in Martinsville. This is some of what we were discussing at our board meeting last week. I’m printing the full article for my board for further discussion.

Our church members realized we couldn’t do it by ourselves. Our manpower and resources were limited. If we were going to engage our community and have the kind of impact we desired, we needed help. Our church members were already stretched with traditional programs like Sunday school, choirs, and committees. We realized the work of engaging the community had to include the community.

It’s amazing to see what happens when we look around and see what God is doing and join His team.