Thursday, January 27, 2011
When I arrived at the Blakely UMC in Blakely, Ga. for my second summer of youth ministry in that church, a new pastor was waiting. As he started his preaching ministry, it seemed that he preached only stewardship sermons. I thought it odd. He explained by telling me a story of a preacher who went to a new church and preached the very same sermon again and again and again. Finally, someone asked if he had another sermon. As the story goes the preacher said, "When you act like you have heard the first one, I will preach another!"
Recently, I have been reading the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. Actually, I should say I have been trying to read it. There are times when it seems that the Spirit directs us to certain parts of the Word and this has been one such time. My problem in reading it has not been in figuring out all the visions of this prophet. To be honest is to admit I have gotten no further than the first three verses. While I have heard some of what I sense to be the Word of Lord for my life in this passage, I still find no freedom to move on to what follows. Over and over I find myself reading these few Words with a feeling that I have not gotten it yet.
There are things about it which seem rather obvious, but I continue to be led back to it in a way that tells me there is still something more. So, I stay in place, reading and praying and waiting. Maybe I will end up discovering it is not the book of Ezekiel to which I have been led, but to those first three verses which appear to be nothing than the introduction of the prophet.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Bible trivia experts will have no trouble identifying Jubal. He is Jabal's brother. Genesis 4:21 also tells us that Jubal is the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. I interpret that to mean Jubal is the ancestor of all the church musicians of today who lead and enable the rest of us to worship. I have always been grateful to have members of Jubal's tribe in the churches which have been a part of my worship history. Sometimes they are paid staff and sometimes they are simply volunteers with music in their hearts. Sometimes they enhance what is happening in worship and sometimes they are its savior.
It happened where I worshipped as the musician shared a bit about her personal faith journey and then began to sing a song I had not heard in years. She sang, "O how I love him, how I adore Him. He's my breath, He's my sunshine, He's my all in all. The Great Creator became my salvation, and all God's fullness dwelleth in Him." The title of the song is "Down From His Glory." If I had been the preacher for the day, I would have had the congregation sing the chorus with her when she finished. I used to do that when I just had to sing a song I had heard!
Both her testimony and her music blessed me and everyone else present. I wonder sometimes if these musicians who grace us with their music realize the blessings imparted to us as the Spirit works through them. I am always grateful for the offerings they bring to worship. On those Sundays when I knew I bombed out as a preacher, I was extremely grateful for those who lifted us into the Father's presence with their ministry of music. Today, or yesterday morning, I was grateful for this blessing of God's presence brought into the room by this musician who did what she did not because she was paid, but because she was being faithful to God.