Monthly Archives: March 2007

 

Mar

31

2007

Trevin Wax|6:53 am CT

When Christians Pray…

“When Christians have meetings, the devil smiles.
When Christians make great plans, the devil laughs.
When Christians pray, the devil trembles.”

- Corrie ten Boom

See more Quotes of the Week

 
 

Mar

30

2007

Trevin Wax|6:51 am CT

In the Blogosphere…

Someone has put up a webpage that features dozens of blogs from Southern Seminary students. Add this to your Favorites list and see what Southern students are talking about. 

Tim Challies writes a compelling article about Abby and Brittany Hensel, twins conjoined at birth. He talks about the “gray areas” in black-and-white terms.

Legos are banned at a Seattle school. Find out why here.

If you haven’t seen this John Piper video on YouTube, now’s the time!

Top posts this week for Kingdom People: “How Saving Bellevue is Destroying Bellevue” and then the follow-up “How Saving Bellevue is Destroying Bellevue: Take 2″

 
 

Mar

29

2007

Trevin Wax|6:43 am CT

Book Review: God's Big Picture

God's Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible

David and Goliath. Daniel in the lion’s den. Jesus’ feeding of five thousand people. Too many of us know the stories in the Bible without ever understanding the Story of the Bible. Vaughan Roberts’ book God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible (IVP 2002) provides a remedy to this problem by giving a terrific overview to the entire Bible in less than 150 pages.

Roberts interprets the Bible with “The Kingdom of God” as the central motif. Each chapter progresses through the Bible, showing how the Scriptures are united around God and His rule. Roberts takes us through Creation, Fall, Israel, the prophets, the exile, Jesus, the Church, and the coming Kingdom, all the while showing how the Bible itself tells one story – the story of our world.

This book is similar to Graeme Goldsworthy’s Gospel and Kingdom, but a little more user friendly. Roberts does a good job of summarizing biblical doctrines within the overarching metanarrative that the Bible provides. Though the book traces the Bible’s story at a rapid pace, there are times when the writing seems to drag. But overall, this little book is a helpful introduction to the Bible’s big picture.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Mar

28

2007

Trevin Wax|6:05 am CT

Youth Worship 4: Approaching God and Authentic Worship

43431980_71100f03c0_m.jpgThis is my final post in a series on youth worship services. 

1. Approaching God
One of the aspects of worship that intrigued me in Romania was the way people approached God when they entered the church. When people walked into a church, they would kneel at the back pew, or they would take their seat and then pray a silent prayer before the service. There was reverence and anticipation in that act. The person was acknowledging that they were entering the house of God and coming to meet with Him. They were also asking for a word from God.

We have lost this reverence in most youth worship services. There is a fallacy out there that pits reverence up against fun, as if contemporary automatically assumes irreverent. I do not think this is the case. I believe that we can attend church in casual dress, can sing current, popular music styles, and adopt new cultural expressions in our worship. Casual attire, yes. But there is no such thing as casual worship. We do not approach God casually.

One way that some churches seek to instill this awe and reverence for God back into our worship is by beginning the worship service with a few minutes of silence. Bible passages appear on the screen, with some instrumental worship songs playing in the background. The stillness in the sanctuary, as those who enter realize they have stepped into God’s presence fosters an atmosphere in which students can see themselves in God’s house, and become aware of that reality.

Another aspect of worship used by some youth groups seeking to sense the awe and majesty of God is the inclusion of a time near the beginning of the worship service to ask for forgiveness. They do this through songs like Michael W. Smith’s “Lord, Have Mercy,” or the Newsboys’ “You Are My King,” or Matt Redman’s “The Heart of Worship.” There are many ways we can restore the awe to awesome when we worship. These are just some ideas.

2. Authenticity
 During my time tutoring middle-school students from unchurched homes, I came to the realization that none of these kids had any expectation whatsoever from a worship service. When they visited churches, they didn’t expect to be entertained, to hear a stand-up comedian, or to hear the music they liked. (After all, some of them liked rap, and I haven’t ever been to a church that used Rap as their main style of worship). They were just curious. They wanted to know what a true Christian worship service is like. Why do we do what we do? Why do we pray at certain times? Why do we stand when we read the Word? Why do we sing? Why do we read Scripture? What are we doing with the bread and the wine?

Young people want to see what authentic Christian worship is all about. Young people inside and outside the church do not want a pre-packaged worship experience catered to their needs and desires. Instead, they are hungry for something transcendent – something bigger than themselves. They want to be a part of something big – a revolution, to know that their lives matter and that God has a marvelous plan for them.

Christian worship answers that question. Teenagers today want roots, something long-term that fills their need for authenticity. In Christian worship, we have two-thousand years of roots to choose from. Why not tell them stories of the Bible characters who inspire us even today? Why not glean inspiration from the heroic stories of the martyrs who gave everything for Christ? These young people are the next generation in a line of Christians who have been following Christ for two thousand years. We must never give them the impression through our innovation and creativity that we are the first (or most important) generation of believers.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

 
 

Mar

27

2007

Trevin Wax|6:48 am CT

Why Did Jesus Die?

isaiahwealllikesheepblackcrucifix.jpg

1. TO BEAR OUR GRIEFS AND SORROWS
Isaiah 52:14, 53:3-4

Our God knows what it is like to suffer. He is acquainted with grief. God has knowledge of suffering. He is not distant from our pain. He is not above grief. He knows what it is like to suffer, because Jesus suffered. Isaiah teaches us that not only were our sins placed on Christ, but also the implications that come from our sins – over very pain and sorrow and suffering and grief – all those things that are caused by sin, they were on Jesus too.

Night is a short book describing Elie Wiesel’s year in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Wiesel describes in horrific detail the “chimney,” – the place where Jews (even babies) were thrown alive into a blazing fire. Wiesel rebels against God. He refuses to fast on Jewish holy days. He questions the existence of God. The human evil of Auschwitz is too overwhelming to comprehend. Wiesel claims that human words cannot express the suffering he experienced.

The most disturbing scene in the book takes place when an innocent boy only 12 years old is forced to die, though he did not commit the crime for which he is punished. He and three others are placed on the gallows and hanged. The rest of the prisoners are forced to walk by and look squarely into the faces of the executed. But “the third rope was still moving. The child, too light, was still breathing… And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writing before our eyes…”

“Behind me, I heard the same man asking, ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’” And from within me, I heard a voice answer: ‘Where He is? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…’”

This account is a turning point for Wiesel. In his thoughts at that time, God is dead. Yet, as a Christian, I sense something deeper in this story. In the midst of human suffering and evil, I too look to an Innocent One dying an excruciating death. And when considering the depth of human evil and the love of a good God, I too ask, “Where is God?” and then see the form of a cross. “He is here, hanging on this tree…”

2. TO PAY FOR OUR SINS
Isaiah 53:5-6

Why did Jesus have to die? Because the wages of sin is death. If Jesus is going to save the world, he must take upon himself the punishment that should be reserved only for the guilty. The innocent man dies in the place of the guilty.

Jesus’ death pays for our sins. His suffering and death show the world just how seriously God takes sin. We do not serve a God who simply shrugs his shoulders at sin. He abhors it. He detests it. He must deal with it. And he does that by demanding a perfect sacrifice to atone for sins. Jesus, His Son, is the One who pays the price.

3. TO RECONCILE US TO GOD AND BRING US PEACE
Isaiah 53:5-6

As Christians, we have peace with God. Shalom is restored. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, the Bible says we are reconciled to God.

Before we trust in Christ, we are enemies of God. We are either friends or enemies of God. There is no in between. And our sin separates us from God, places enmity between us. As hard as that teaching may be, that is what Scripture says. Human beings are at war with their Creator… until Jesus steps in as the peacemaker. Jesus enters your heart and life and you go from being an enemy of God to being a friend of God. Peace is declared!

When we come to Jesus, we are waving the white flag of surrender! Peace has won! We go from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. God looks at our sin, our war against Him and can forgive us, because Jesus has died in our place. Jesus has paid the price for our rebellion and now we are reconciled to God.

We not only have peace with God; we also have peace with other people. It breaks the heart of God to see his church so recklessly divided, to see warring factions within churches, quarrels and catfights and gossip. To see grudges and hard feelings. After all, the church is the one place where things should be different, where peace between human beings should reign supreme! It’s not enough to enjoy peace with God, we must actively pursue peace with our neighbor.

4. TO HEAL US
Isaiah 53:5

Sickness and dying were some of the results of sin marring God’s good creation. God doesn’t intend only on healing our souls and leaving our bodies sick. He is a healing God. Jesus’ death bought our healing. Now, we still get sick and die, but our resurrection bodies and the life of the age to come will be a life without suffering and sickness and dying. Disease and sickness will be no more.

John Piper says, “The horrible blows to the back of Jesus bought a world without disease.” Jesus took death and disease to the grave with him and that is where he left them, before going through death and emerging on the other side of death, in a risen state that is hard to comprehend. Jesus died to heal us of physical sickness.

So what do we do when we pray for healing today? We are asking God to apply the benefits of Jesus’ death to our physical ailments today, in anticipation of what He has promised to do in the future. It doesn’t mean that we will be free of all physical ailments. It doesn’t mean that God is somehow bound to heal us if we have enough faith. God is sovereign and He does what He wills.

It does mean we should trust in our God’s healing power, understanding that we can ask for healing and believe that He has the power to heal us. We also submit to His will, knowing that He may choose not to heal us. And that’s okay too, because ultimate healing is on the way in the new heavens and new earth.

5. TO ABSORB THE WRATH OF GOD
Isaiah 53:10-11

We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God. It makes God sound angry. But let me ask you what you would think about someone who saw an evil event occur and just shrugged his shoulders? What would you think about a person who saw the holocaust taking place and just said, “so be it”? What would you think about a judge who saw your baby being kidnapped and abused and said to the criminal, “that’s okay, try to do better next time!”

You would be horrified at that type of justice. God is understandably angry over evil. He has made a good creation and his creatures have rebelled against him. The world is not as it should be. God must judge sin, and he must judge ALL sin. That is why Jesus had to die.

If God did not have wrath toward sin, he would not be a just God. If God allowed His wrath to consume the whole world, He would be just. But God is not only just. He is also loving. That is why He decided to uphold his justice and his mercy at the same time through Jesus Christ.

On the cross, God was being perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He was being just by pouring his wrath against sin upon his only Son. He was being merciful by taking the initiative to absorb that wrath Himself, thus allowing us to escape his judgment.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Mar

26

2007

Trevin Wax|1:12 pm CT

How "Saving Bellevue" is Destroying Bellevue (Take 2)

Almost two months ago, I posted an article entitled “How ‘Saving Bellevue’ is Destroying Bellevue,” in which I decried the slander and gossip found on the SavingBellevue website. People continue to leave comments on that thread, many supporting the point of my article and others challenging my viewpoint.

One question has come up several times in the comment section, both from those who support the Bellevue site and those who disagree with the methods taken. “What should we do?” This comment from “Debbie” sums it up best.

What would you suggest someone should do if they are ever faced with this problem in their own Church? I think this is the best question of the Blog and really the next point of value after dealing with both sides of the “Saving Bellevue” site issue.

I understand the deep desire of getting the truth out to people in your church, when the church has taken a left turn that you either perceive as unscriptural or really is unscriptural. You want the truth known and the church you love protected from the guaranteed attack from the evil one (who would love to destroy a church), or from the wrath of God as he chastens his shepherds for deceiving or harming His sheep.

We could all agree that the people in Bellevue went to leadership and weren’t heard. Let’s assume that was true. The question is then, what is the next right thing to do? I’ll assume a lot of prayer went into the decisions made – even those to create the website, must have taken prayer. So I’m not arguing about the site topic, but I do want to discuss what God would want us to do.

So again, what would you suggest someone should do if they are ever faced with genuine deception problems or other severe sins within the leadership in their own Church? Would you make this a new topic for discussion?

Well, here’s a new topic for discussion. What should one do if at odds with the leadership of a church? Leave? Stay and fight? Compromise? Ruin the pastor’s reputation?

 
 

Mar

26

2007

Trevin Wax|6:48 am CT

How God Gets the Glory

hol_pa1.jpg“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.”
- Jesus, praying on the night of His betrayal (John 17:4)

As Jesus prepared Himself and His disciples for the time of trial quickly approaching, He prayed that God would keep His followers united and that the Father’s will would be done. In those moments of anguish before His betrayal, Jesus told the Father that He had glorified Him on earth by accomplishing the work that had been given Him during the time of His earthly ministry. Jesus specifically equated obedience to the Father’s will with the Father receiving glory!

God receives glory from our lives when we do His will. As the sovereign Planner of this universe, He has given us each a work to do and a purpose to fulfill. We have not been put on earth to waste time, but to seize every opportunity to accomplish the Creator’s design for us. The Bible says that King David died, only after fulfilling God’s purposes for him in his generation. In the same way, for such a time as this, God has placed each one of us in a certain location and has charged us to further His kingdom.

Glorifying God on earth means more than just singing, attending church or praying. The worship that truly brings glory to God springs from obedience to His commands – carrying out His kingdom plans in full devotion and humility. The act of true worship comes through doing the work He’s called us to do.

Jesus could boldly say that God the Father had been glorified, because He had finished the master plan that had been set out for Him from the beginning of time. We, in turn, must not relegate our worship to a passive, once-a-week event that makes us feel good. Instead, we must exemplify the lifestyle of worship that has at its center, the will and purposes of Almighty God, who has loved, saved, and regenerated us “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

 
 

Mar

25

2007

Trevin Wax|6:49 am CT

The Deeps

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin, a dread of its approach.
Help me chastely to flee it
and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone. 

Give me a deeper trust,
that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee,
the ground of my rest, the spring of my being.
Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself
as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King.
Give me deeper power in private prayer,
more sweetness in Thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.
Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until Thou alone art seen in me,
Thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee,
no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself,
no wealth but that Thou givest,
no good but that Thou blessest,
no peace but that Thou bestowest.

I am nothing but that Thou makest me.
I have nothing but that I receive from Thee.
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.
Quarry me deep, dear Lord,
and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.

 
 

Mar

24

2007

Trevin Wax|6:54 am CT

The Gospel Assumed

 ”The gospel assumed is the gospel denied.”

- Robert Preus

See more Quotes of the Week

 
 

Mar

23

2007

Trevin Wax|6:55 am CT

Youth Worship 3: Worship Bands and Song Choice

worship1.jpg

In previous posts, I wrote about how youth services should be Word-centered, God-focused, and how the service should involve all the young people, not just the ones who like to sing. Today, I’m writing about the use of worship bands and also the type of songs we choose to sing.

1. Worship Bands
I prefer to be cautious with worship bands, because I have seen how sometimes they can so drown out the worshippers that the congregation begins to accompany the band instead of the band accompanying the worshippers! This danger is found in many churches, regardless of worship style. (Some organists are just as guilty.) When this happens, God is used to display man’s talent instead of man’s talent used to display God.

I am also cautious about the youth themselves leading worship. This may seem strange after all I have said about the youth serving and participating in worship, but I would prefer a college student or young adult to lead worship, instead of one of the youth. There are many reasons for this, but I’ll suffice to give you just three.

First, we should not be naïve and think that a young person is sufficiently mature to be able to stand up in front of his/her peers and perform weekly without letting it go to their heads. Dare we forget how tough it was when we were teenagers and we craved so much the acceptance of others?

Second, if the youth leading worship are at odds with anyone else in the youth group, it is much more difficult for the other teenagers to get past them and truly be able to worship.

Third, most worship bands I have seen turn youth worship services into mini-concerts.

I would rather have someone who is outside the youth group and not as easily influenced by peer pressure leading the worship band. I would also want to ensure that the worship band sees themselves as a group pointing others to God, not as a group performing for themselves.

What I am saying about worship bands can also be applied to adult choirs too! This is nothing new, and I am not picking on worship bands. The Eastern Orthodox were on to something when they began having the choirs sing from behind the worshippers in the balcony, out of sight, 1500 years ago!

2. Song Choice
There are some great new songs and modern hymns coming out today in the church. I think of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and other immensely popular singer/songwriters. The Bible commands us to sing to the Lord a new song, and I believe we should take that literally.

At the same time, I believe it is healthy for us to take a good look at new songs that are coming out and not to assume that just because it sounds good on the radio it should be sung in corporate worship. Songs teach us just as much as anything else in the worship service. Many people won’t remember one word of the sermon, but a song lyric will dance around in their heads for days after. I think we should consider carefully about what we are teaching the youth through the songs we choose.

I’ll have some thoughts on “approaching God” and “authenticity in worship” later…

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog