Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Why precisely are we here?
To create an authentic Christian community? Yes.
To effectively reach out to unchurched people? For sure.
To express love, acceptance and forgiveness? Of course.
To draw people into the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship. Obviously.
But those are just reasons with a small “r”. There is a much greater Reason we are here. To bring glory to God. His glory is the reason behind all reasons.
Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.
These words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world, or ministry:
· For my own name’s sake!
· For the sake of my praise!
· For my own sake!
· For my own sake!
· How should my name be profaned!
· I will not yield my glory to another!
What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in everything. The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. Throughout scripture there is no mistaking…it is ALL ABOUT God’s glory.
1. God chose his people for his glory: Ephesians 1:4-6
2. God created us for his glory: Isaiah 43:6-7
3. God called Israel for his glory: Jeremiah 13:11
4. God rescued Israel from Egypt for his glory: Psalm 106:7-8
5. God raised Pharaoh up to show his power and glorify his name: Romans 9:17
6. God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show his glory: Exodus 14:4,18
7. God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of his name: Ezekiel 20:14
8. God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of his name: 2 Samuel 7:23
9. God did not cast away his people for the glory of his name: 1 Samuel 12:20,22
10. God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of his name: 2 Kings 19:34
11. God restored Israel from exile for the glory of his name: Ezekiel 36:22-23
12. Jesus sought the glory of his Father in all he did: John 7:18
13. Jesus told us to do good works so that God gets glory: Matthew 5:16
14. Jesus warned that not seeking God’s glory makes faith impossible: John 5:44
15. Jesus said that he answers prayer that God would be glorified: John 14:13
16. Jesus endured his final hours of suffering for God’s glory: John 12:27-28
17. God gave his Son to vindicate the glory of his righteousness: Romans 3:25-26
18. God forgives our sins for his own sake: Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 25:11
19. Jesus receives us into his fellowship for the glory of God: Romans 15:7
20. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Son of God: John 16:14
21. God instructs us to do everything for his glory: 1 Corinthians 10:31
22. God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify him: 1 Peter 4:11
23. Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God’s glory: Philippians 1:9,11
24. All are under judgment for dishonoring God’s glory: Romans 1:22,23; 3:23
25. Herod is struck dead because he did not give glory to God: Acts 12:23
26. Jesus is coming again for the glory of God: 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10
27. Jesus’ ultimate aim for us is that we see and enjoy his glory: John 17:24
28. Even in wrath God’s aim is to make known the wealth of his glory: Romans 9:22-23
29. God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory: Habakkuk 2:14
30. Everything that happens will result in God’s glory: Romans 11:36
31. The New Jerusalem will be lit by the glory of God: Revelation 21:23
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Lead singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. His response is worth pondering.
“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.
The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.
Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.
None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.
I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.
We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”
Foreman mentions the Christian "box" that many people want to stay in, and put others in. I agree with Foreman that this box is particularly limiting when it comes to art. So go out and create something - something beautiful, something wonderful - and do it to the glory of God.