Testimonies exalt God, encourage believers, and evangelize the lost. Our churches need more time for personal testimonies as a corporate way to remember God’s gracious work in our lives. You can read more of my recent post at 9marks.org.
This Sunday, our church begins a four-week series on biblical manhood and womanhood. That could raise dozens of questions to answer and a person’s understanding of manhood and womanhood is applied in many ways. There’s a lot we won’t get to cover, but we’ll consider what it means to be made in God’s image, what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like, and how that applies to singleness and roles in marriage. Our church holds to the theological position known as complementarianism, and this will show up throughout the series.
In every church I’ve been at, as I meet believers from other churches, and as I interact with people in my city (and sometimes overhear conversations), I often hear a similar line of thinking from people who feel like they aren’t growing in their church. They might be involved, but they express discouragement and disappointment because they walk away each week not feeling like real growth and life-change are taking place.
“Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Many churches talk a lot about the cross, and I’m thankful for that. A steady diet of the gospel and understanding how Jesus pays for our sin feeds and nourishes our hungry hearts. But we often ignore that Christ’s death unites believers as one. It’s a reconciling, peace-making act bringing people together. It creates a real, objective unity among Christ’s people (the Church) around the globe and across history.
If the cross not only saves us but it also shapes us, then it will propel us to pursue peace and resist division.
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul tells us to pursue unity through humility. Pride promotes division, but humility nurtures harmony. He pleads with these believers to be of one mind, one purpose, and one love by laying down their personal priorities and privileges.
“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
In my last post, When Christmas Loses Its Cheer, I tried to remind us that the message and meaning of Christmas offer a deeper joy than the magic Christmas. For those walking through trials and hardship, the Christmas season doesn’t have to be a letdown if it causes us see the beauty of Christ more clearly. In this post, I want to simply point to a few Christian hymns that echo how Christ’s glory and grace shines brighter in the midst of darkness and sorrow.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16)
(In yesterday’s post I shared stories of how the gathered church singing together encouraged me when I needed it most. Today’s part 2 provides more of the biblical basis for how important singing with and to one another is every week.)
In your mind, go back to a recent Sunday morning where you gathered with God’s people in your local church. One thing you did (I hope) was sing. When you sing, who do you sing to? In that scenario, do you sing to God, to other people, or to your own heart? How do you process congregational singing? You could ask, who do you sing for? Are you singing to glorify God, to rehearse truth to yourself or give voice to your beliefs, or do you sing to build up others?
(This is a repost of a blog published a few years ago. I was reminded of it while reading about the role of singing to one another from Colossians 3:16.)
I’ll state it here in the beginning. I’m more of a preaching guy than a music or singing guy. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy music or I don’t sing, outside and inside the church, but I think the preaching of the Word normally influences my personal growth more than congregational worship. Both are vital and neither is dispensable. But as a matter of preference, I personally learn more from hearing the Word taught than singing it. I hope that adds to what I’m about to tell you and doesn’t get you singers and musicians too up in arms right away.
As a church, does our culture match our doctrine? As an individual or as a family, does our culture match our doctrine?
“Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power”