The Cross in the Exodus

Michelle Lesley:

A re-blog in honor of Good Friday…

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

jesus-christ-cross-0204_phixr

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment.
I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.
You will know that I am Yahweh your God, 
who delivered you..
Exodus 6:6b-7a

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Never Forget…

Michelle Lesley:

A re-blog in honor of Good Friday…

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

9-11neverforgetNever forget.

We will remember.

The words jump off the page, off the screen, from our lips. A haunting breath whispering of unspeakable tragedy and heart rending grief.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 did something to this country. It changed our history. It changed us.

It was a despicable act of cruelty. People innocent of any crime against their executioners were brutally slaughtered in service to a god who demands the death of infidels.

It was egregious. Horrific. Abominable. And we will never forget. Nor should we.

Do this in remembrance of Me.

The words lie quietly on the page, beckoning us back to another day. A day dusty with the passing of centuries. But it changed our history. It changed us.

It was a despicable act of cruelty. Jesus, innocent of any crime, was brutally slaughtered by executioners serving a God who demands the death of infidels.

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Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Tone

Ladies, do you believe in woman’s intuition? Do you have it? I’m not talking about premonitions- having a feeling that some future event is going to take place- I mean intuition. Being able, for example, to sense from a friend’s tone of voice that she’s having a bad day, noticing from the body language of two people who are “just friends” that romance is brewing beneath the surface, or discerning the tension between two people who are seemingly cordial to one another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe men have this “super power” too, but I’ve noticed it more with women. I believe it might have something to do with the way God has hard wired us. Nothing against men here (y’all are awesome in your own masculine way), but we women generally tend to be more sensitive to and concerned about other people’s feelings, we listen “between the lines,” and we hear and analyze tone of voice more. It’s one of the great things about the way God has created us that helps us as we nurture, comfort, and care for others.

But lately, I’m noticing that this “super power” of ours can also be a super problem.

Our sensitivity to tone (of voice, of writing, someone’s demeanor, etc.) is a hindrance rather than a help to us when we refuse to evaluate the content of what someone is saying to us simply because their manner of speaking, writing, or behavior has offended our sensibilities. This is especially harmful when that content is biblical truth.

I have recently observed several instances of this, all involving women who, at best, found it difficult (with some outright refusing) to put aside their feelings of offense at the writer’s or speaker’s tone in order to compare the content of his speech or writing to Scripture to see if it might be true. (And, by the way, the speech and writing I’m referring to here are sermons, commentary, and articles, not someone writing or speaking to these women personally.) I can sympathize. It’s happened to me plenty of times.

Often, when we hear a fellow Christian put biblical truth bluntly in black and white and it rubs us the wrong way, our first reaction is to quote part of Ephesians 4:15 and chastise him for failing to “speak the truth in love.” But is that the only point of Ephesians 4? Let’s take a look at it in context:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (emphasis, mine)

MH900442219When I was in elementary school, one of the reading comprehension tasks we were often assigned was to find the “main idea” of a piece of writing. So, what is the “main idea” of this passage in Ephesians 4? I’ll even make it multiple choice (my favorite!).

Is the main idea of the passage:

a) Teachers and preachers should speak the truth in love so that they will not offend anyone.

b) A discussion of the different types of leadership roles in the church.

c) Christian leaders are to equip church members to grow to spiritual maturity which builds spiritually healthy and unified churches.

While the passage touches on some of the ideas in a and b, the main point is c. We’re to grow up. We are to listen to preachers, teachers, and writers who rightly handle God’s word, even if we come across one every now and then who steps on our toes with his demeanor or tone. Look, I know it’s hard. There are people out there who offend me sometimes, too, but persevering through the offense will grow us into mature women of Christ and make our churches healthier.

Statistically speaking, more women regularly attend church these days than men. And when I say “more,” I mean 61% women to 39% men. Can you imagine the impact it would have on the health of our churches if all of those women were pursuing spiritual maturity through biblical truth and sound doctrine?

Instead, we are often like a little girl in a burning building. The fireman is vehemently insisting that the little girl come with him to escape, and she refuses to move because he hasn’t said it nicely enough.

Ladies, I say this to all of us (including me) in love, because true love is desiring what’s best for someone:

It’s time for us to grow up. It’s time to stop taking our dollies and stomping home from the playground in a huff every time somebody speaks or writes strenuously. It’s time to stop crying about our hurt feelings, put on our big girl panties and be women.

Discerning women. Berean women. Women of God’s word. Women who can handle having our feathers ruffled and come out on the other side stronger for it.

9283e86a7bd7185b880df318c7681846Too often, we make the mistake of equating a soft tone of voice and a sweet disposition with “love”.  But many of the people who speak with this kind of “love” are not speaking the truth. They are smooth talking, charismatic con men selling snake oil for our souls.

If we’re not careful, we can become people who “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), or “weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6b-7), or even “children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say…“Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,” (Isaiah 30:9-11).

We forget that our Master, the perfect embodiment of love, didn’t always speak softly and act politely when the gospel was at stake. Because there are things out there that are much more important than our feelings, and biblical truth is one of them.

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Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-13-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 14 ~ Apr. 6-12
Judges 19 – 1 Samuel 17
The King and I(srael)

Up until now, Israel has been under the leadership of Moses, Joshua, and a string of judges, including current prophet/judge, Samuel. But some of the elders have decided it’s time for a king. Why? Let’s take a look.

1 Samuel 8; 10:17-24

Why did Israel demand a king?

The cycle of the judges:
Israel was in a cycle in which: they would have a judge for several years and everything would go smoothly for them. throne1God would give them victory in battle (or peace), their harvests would be bountiful, etc. Then, the judge would die, Israel would get into idolatry again, things would go badly for several years, they would cry out to the Lord, the Lord would raise up another judge, and the cycle would start all over again.

Israel likely thought it was the lack of succession from one judge to another that was the cause of all the turmoil, and that if they had a kingship (with built in succession) the chaotic years would cease, and things would go smoothly from there on out. What they failed to realize was that it was their obedience to God that brought peace during the lives of the judges, not a seamless changing of the guard.

The appearance of strength:
Another reason Israel may have wanted a king was that it gave the appearance of strength to other nations. Without a king, neighboring nations probably viewed Israel as weak and vulnerable, leading to more attacks. Of course, this would lead Israel to depend more on the Lord, and that’s exactly what He wanted.

“Everybody else is doing it”:
Finally (8:5), they wanted a king “like all the nations.” Whether this was because they admired the other nations’ structure of government, economy, large armies, etc., or, because Israel wanted to look more prestigious (or stronger- see above) in the eyes of other nations, they were blind to the fact that they would have had things so much better under God’s Kingship.

 

Why didn’t God want Israel to have a king?

God was already their king.
Israel didn’t need a human king. God was far more capable than any human king of winning battles, providing for them, ensuring a good economy, establishing and enforcing law and order, etc.

God wanted Israel to look to Him for everything.
We tend to look to the President and Congress for worshipgovernance, the grocery store for food, our jobs for paychecks, our doctors for healthcare. God wanted Israel to look to Him for every aspect of their lives: government, provision, health, food, everything. Because He is sovereign over all that happens on earth and in heaven, He wants us to recognize that we should be looking to Him for these things as well. He wants us to realize that we are completely dependent on Him.

Israel’s desire for a king was another rejection of God, which brought Israel ever closer to severe judgment. (Isaiah 28:21, Ezekiel 18:23,32, 2 Peter 3:9)
Even though Israel deserved judgment for her many rebellions against God, judgment is a last, undesirable resort for Him. Isaiah tells us that judgment is God’s “strange work”. Ezekiel reminds us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Peter writes that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Small rebellions can lead to bigger rebellions. A loving parent knows this and tries to keep this from happening by disciplining his child. With a small rebellion, we might start out with a small discipline, such as taking away dessert. As the rebellions get bigger or more frequent, bigger discipline, stock_scales_justice2such as spanking or grounding might be appropriate.

Most children learn to control their behavior through these moderate forms of discipline, but a few may eventually become so destructive, addicted, or abusive that parents have to go to the extreme end of “tough love” by throwing them out of the house or turning them over to the authorities. It’s all done in love and all in an effort to bring the child home. This is exactly what was happening with the Israelites.

This is why God did everything necessary to keep Israel from His severe judgment. He carefully and specifically laid out the Law, promised them blessings for obedience and described the consequences for disobedience in gory detail, made examples out of people who disobeyed, offered forgiveness for repentance, gave them (initially) good and godly leaders (Moses, Joshua, the judges), and performed miracles to help them believe in Him. All this in an effort to stop their slide into total rejection of Him and the consequence of final judgment.

 

One last chance (8:10-18)

Israel could never say she hadn’t been warned. In these verses God told them directly and specifically exactly what their new king would be like, how he would treat them, and the consequences that would follow: confiscation of private property, slavery, God turning a deaf ear to their pleas for help. But still they demanded a king. This king God had just described. They were at the point of no return, and they plunged ahead despite the warning. Why?


Hearts of Stone (Ezekiel 11:19, Romans 1:22-25)
Just as a small rebellion can lead to bigger and bigger rebellions, a small hardening of the heart can eventually lead to a complete hardening of the heart.

In the movie Frozen, Elsa (the snow queen), accidentally frozen-anna-elsashoots an icicle ray (or whatever you call it) at her sister’s (Anna) heart, which causes Anna’s heart to slowly begin freezing bit by bit. If Anna doesn’t receive “an act of true love” before her heart completely freezes, she will turn into an ice statue forever.

This is similar to what was happening with Israel. Their continual rebellion was hardening their hearts against God bit by bit, until they would eventually be completely hardened against Him. Romans tells us that when people persist in ungodliness despite the many opportunities for mercy, grace, and salvation God has offered them, He eventually “gives them over” to a hardened heart. He gives them what they want: life without Him.

 

What does all this have to do with me? (Isaiah 55:9)

Everything. We are just like Israel in so many ways. We’re born into this world having already been shot through the heart with Satan’s “icicle” of sin, the sin nature we inherited from Adam and Eve. We spend our lives rebelling against God, our hearts slowly hardening, bit by bit, looking for another king (usually ourselves), so we can be just like everybody else, because what the world has to offer looks desirable to us.

But God doesn’t want us to have another king, because He’s already THE King, and He’s far better and more capable than any other king we could put on the throne of our lives. He wants us to look to Him for salvation, provision, comfort, strength, everything. So, God extends grace and mercy to us in a variety of ways, some pleasant, some not, to turn us towards the cross and Christ for salvation. He does this so that we can repent and turn to Him instead of facing the final judgment of hell in eternity.

Sometimes, we also see a similarity to Israel’s demand for a king in our prayer lives. We can ask, beg, and plead with God for things He doesn’t want us to have, and even get mad at Him when He doesn’t give us what we want. We must always keep in mind that His ways are higher than our ways and that what He wants for us is always better than what we want. Let us never get to the point in our prayer lives where our will is more important to us than God’s will. Israel’s way was, “No! But there shall be a king over us!” Jesus’ way was, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Let’s take our example, not from Israel, but from the the King of Israel, King Jesus.

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Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. ~ Part 2

diverse-group-of-women

I’ve been married to a minister of music for over 20 years. My husband has served at many different churches in a variety of capacities: on staff, interim, supply, revivals, conferences, retreats, etc. Over those 20+ years and in those various capacities, I’ve observed a number of things about him, pastors, church musicians, and congregations from a unique vantage point.

Now, with a little help and a lot of input from a few sister minister of music’s wives, it’s true confessions time. Time for us to tell all, here in Part 2 of Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. 

You can read Part 1 here.

Turn Your Radio On, and Listen to the Music in The Air
The minister of music understands that there are songs we love to sing along with on KLOVE or Pandora that we’d also like to sing in church, and, in a lot of cases, he’d probably like to, too. There are a variety of reasons why the songs we like might not get sung in church:

  •  It’s a solo. Most of the songs we hear on the radio (especially contemporary ones) are written and performed as solos, and don’t work for congregational singing because: the timing is difficult for a large group to follow, there are too many spontaneous riffs and change ups, there are complicated and/or numerous bridges and tags that are difficult for large groups to follow, etc. Not every song works for large group singing.
  • tube-radio-67772_640 The lyrics contain faulty or watered down theology. The minister of music’s job is to lead us in worship. We can’t worship if we’re singing something that conflicts with God’s word or doesn’t focus on Him and His nature, character, and deeds.
  • The accompanists aren’t comfortable with it. A lot of the songs people want to sing in the worship service can be difficult for pianists and other instrumentalists whose main experience is in other genres of music. While every musician should strive to improve his skills, the minister of music doesn’t want to put his accompanists on the spot if they’re uncomfortable with the technical requirements of the music.
  • Your minister of music isn’t comfortable with it. If the minister of music is in his 60′s he may not feel he can carry off a top ten CCM song made popular by somebody in his 20′s, especially if he doesn’t have a worship band equal to the one we’re used to hearing on the radio.
  • There’s no sheet music available. Or it’s not available in the right key or for the right instruments, etc.
  • It’s “off limits”. Occasionally, and for various reasons, the pastor, elders, or others in leadership over the minister of music will make a decision that a certain song is not to be used in the worship service. Depending on the circumstances, there may not be a diplomatic way to explain this to people who love that song and want to sing it in church.

play-piano-7626_640Play Us a Song, You’re the Piano Woman
Just by way of information, not every minister of music’s wife plays the piano. I’m one of them. Sorry. I wish I could.


One Singular Sensation
sing-201027_640
Regardless of how many pop stars got their start by singing in church, the purpose of the worship service is to worship God. There are many wonderful and talented soloists who, in humility and faithfulness, pour their hearts out to God in song at their local churches and do a great job of it. There are also a few divas on their way up the ladder looking for a stepping stone to greatness. Church isn’t American Idol. Find a karaoke bar.

Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness
It’s always encouraging for a minister of music to hear that he Fool boy is waiting his girlfrienddid a great job with the choir or that you really worshiped this morning. It’s encouraging when a pastor mounts the platform for his sermon and says thank you, or I really liked that song, or refers back to/quotes one of the songs during his sermon. Little things like that go a long way, so offer your minister of music a word of encouragement when you can.

Also, if your church participates in clergy appreciation month (usually the month of October), please don’t forget your minister of music, youth pastor, associate pastor, etc. They all work hard to shepherd you, and it doesn’t feel good to be left out.

War- What is it Good For?
The worship wars (contemporary worship music vs. traditional hymns) are alive and well. Sometimes, rather than being a general in that war, our minister of music might just be a casualty of it.

Competition

Everybody has particular genres of music that we’re most comfortable with. When a different style comes along, it can be jarring. It can cause angst. It can cause arguments. But when we worship God, our focus is not to be on what makes us happy or comfortable. Often, we get so concerned about whether the worship at church pleases or offends us that we don’t stop to think about whether it pleases or offends God.

But that’s the main concern of the minister of music. Which songs, regardless of style, will be pleasing to the Lord and lead people into truth about Him? While he’s trying to do his best to sort this out week by week, he’s possibly being pulled in a variety of directions by a variety of people over style. How many people will leave the church if we sing more hymns than contemporary songs? How many people will stop giving in the offering if we sing more contemporary songs than hymns? Who’s going to accost me after church and complain? How will the pastor and elders react to this week’s order of service? It can be a lot of pressure and take his focus off of where it needs to be: what will be pleasing to God?

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the songs we don’t like might just be someone else’s favorite. What if we looked at singing the songs we don’t particularly like as a way to serve and encourage our brothers and sisters in the congregation who do like those songs?

Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me?
There’s no nice, sweet way to say this, so I’m just gonna throw it out there. Church members can sometimes be mean. thI mean, mean. Let me hasten to add that most of the time, most church members are not. The majority of church members are kind, loving, supportive, and definitely appreciated by the pastor and staff. However, the others are definitely out there. I have seen church members treat pastors, ministers of music, and other church staff the way I wouldn’t treat a dog. There’s no excuse for that.

The minister of music isn’t perfect. There may be times when he does something unbiblical or hurtful and at those times, it’s necessary for the appropriate person to talk with him, under the provisos of Matthew 18, about whatever is wrong. But there are other times when people get their feathers ruffled –even though the minister of music hasn’t done anything wrong or unbiblical—simply because their personal preferences haven’t been catered to.

It’s OK to talk with our ministers of music about things, even personal preferences, but let’s do it in an encouraging and helpful way rather than a griping or attacking way. Screaming, threatening, name calling, constant complaints, and nasty anonymous notes and emails are never appropriate, and if that’s what is transpiring, then the problem is not with the minister of music it’s with the person who’s acting that way. If we know that a member of our church is acting that way towards anyone, pastor, staff, or layperson, we must intervene and be a catalyst for making things right.

God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up, so let’s get at it! Let’s try to affirm our ministers of music (and pastors and other staff!) whenever we’re able!

 

What’s something you can do
to be an encouragement to your minister of music?

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Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-6-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 14 ~ Mar. 30-Apr. 6
Judges 1-18
Meet the Parents (of Samson)

In this week’s reading, we said goodbye to Joshua and met up with a variety of Israel’s lesser known judges. We also read about three better known characters in Israel’s history, judges Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Often, when we come to passages like this, it’s like a treasure hunt. We focus on the valuables that are in plain sight. But, if we dig just a little, we can find more gems just beneath the surface. Today, we’re taking a look at two godly people who had a profound impact on Samson’s life: his parents.

Judges 13-14

Mr. and Mrs. Manoah
It’s always interesting to me that, just as we saw last week with the two spies, some of the most faithful of God’s servants are ordinary people like you and me serving God as they go about their daily tasks. And, just as with the two spies, in many cases, we never find out their names.  Samson’s mother was just this kind of nameless, faithful servant. Though we know little about her husband, Manoah, the most important thing about him—his faith—comes through loud and clear.

Barrenness (13:2-3)
Mrs. Manoah was barren. Have you ever noticed how many “big names” in the Bible had mothers who were previously barren or who conceived miraculously? Joseph (Rachel), Samuel (Hannah), John the Baptist (Elizabeth), even Jesus (Mary), just to name a few. Things are different today, but, in manoah-wife-angel-offering the Bible, a miraculous conception was often a sign that the child would grow up to be a mighty man of God.

Barrenness was usually seen by others in the community as a curse by God or a punishment for sin (and sometimes it was: 2 Samuel 6:23). During that time in history, the only way for women to achieve status and be considered successful was by marrying and having children- particularly sons. A woman’s entire self-worth—in her own eyes, her husband’s eyes, and the eyes of her community—was at stake. So it’s easy to see why women and their husbands would have spent a great deal of time crying out to the Lord in prayer and seeking to be obedient to Him in hopes that He would grant their request for a child. We see this most clearly in the case of Hannah (1 Samuel 1), and it’s reasonable to surmise that this was likely also the case for Manoah and his wife.

Belief, Not Doubt (13:3-8)
It’s interesting that both times the angel of the Lord appeared to deliver His message, He initially appeared, not to the man, Manoah, but to the woman, his wife. Was it because she was praying at the time, or because her faith was stronger than her husband’s? This passage doesn’t tell us, so we don’t know. But, notice Mrs. Manoah’s reaction to the news that she would conceive. Did she laugh in disbelief like Sarah and Abraham did (Genesis 17:17,18:12)? Did she doubt like Zechariah (father of John the Baptist: Luke 1:18)? No, Mrs. Manoah believed. And, as a godly wife should, the first person she shared the news with and sought direction from was her husband.

Now let’s consider the reaction of Manoah to his wife’s news. Did he think her desire for a child had sent her over the edge or that she was making this up? No. He believed her without question. What does this tell us about the character, faith, and influence on her husband of Mrs. Manoah? “The heart of her husband trusted in her” (Proverbs 31:11) because she was a godly, trustworthy woman.

A Household of Faith (13)
In addition to spending time praying for a child, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah probably prayed regularly, like many other faithful Israelites, for deliverance from the Philistine oppressors, and here, we find them in prayer again.

Manoah not only trusted his wife, he had faith that the Lord would fulfill His promise. His first reaction was to believe and ask God the best way to obey Him. “And God listened to the voice of Manoah…” and answered his prayer of faith. He came back—to Manoah’s wife. Again, Manoah believed her without question and followed her out to meet the angel of the Lord.

When they met up with the angel, we see further evidence of this couple’s godliness. Though the angel had appeared and spoken twice with Mrs. Manoah, she, as a godly wife, does not take control of the situation or assert superiority over her husband. She takes a step back and, as a godly husband and leader of his home, Manoah steps up to the plate to assume the responsibility for his family and receive God’s instructions.

Manoah’s conversation with the Lord is fraught with faith. He doesn’t ask how or why they’re suddenly being blessed with a miracle child even though they’re just ordinary people. He simply accepts that it will happen. Manoah is confident that God is telling the truth and will keep His promise when he says, “When [not if] your words come true…” (12, 17). He believes God’s word that Samson will “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines,” (5) when he asks about “the child’s manner of life, and…his mission” (12) so that he and Mrs. Manoah could prepare him to do so. He trusted in the www-St-Takla-org--12-Angel-Visits-Manoah-and-His-Wifecharacter of God, “the one who works wonders,” (19) and worshiped Him as such. He and Mrs. Manoah feared and trusted in God’s holiness as they fell on their faces at His departure (20).

Without a total grasp of the situation (22), Manoah believed God’s word that, “no man can see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Only later (21) did Manoah understand that He had been speaking with the angel of the Lord (Jesus – theophany: an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – {“My name…is wonderful” (18)- see Isaiah 9:6}—this is how people could “see God and live” even though God had said, “you cannot see Me and live.” They could not live through seeing God the Father, but they could live through seeing God the Son. Also a piece of supporting evidence for the Trinity). Jesus, the true deliverer and judge came personally to announce the birth of this temporal deliverer and judge who would point ahead to Christ.

Finally, we come full circle to Mrs. Manoah’s quiet trust in the Lord. Even with a strong faith like Manoah had, there can be moments of confusion. How could God say to Moses –the greatest leader Israel had ever known, the friend of God!—“you cannot see My face, for man shall not see me and live,”—yet here he and his wife were, having seen Him, but somehow still unscathed? How could anyone understand this?

But Mrs. Manoah shows us that faith means trusting God’s word even when we don’t fully understand His actions. Yes, it was true that God had said that people couldn’t live through seeing Him, but it was also true that He had visited them and told them they were going to have a son who would be a deliverer for Israel. How could both of those things be true at the same time? She probably couldn’t understand it either, but she encouraged her husband to trust God even in their confusion (23). And God kept His promise (24-25)

Trusting Despite the Circumstances (14:1-10)
Kids grow up, and as broken, sinful human beings, they sometimes make foolish decisions despite being raised in a godly home. That’s what Samson seems to have done here. While the Philistines were not one of the seven nations the Israelites were specifically forbidden to intermarry with, the principle behind God’s forbidding of intermarriage with those other nations was the same for the Philistines: they were idolaters and enemies of God and His people.

As godly parents, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah tried to steer their adult son to a godly choice of a wife. They reminded him that he was one of God’s people, and surely wanted him, as a leader in Israel, to set a good example for the people. Once again, they were seeking to be faithful to God.

thInstead of honoring his parents, Samson chose poorly. Or so it seemed. Either Samson was operating solely on lust and God sovereignly used the situation to His own advantage, or Samson, moved by God, was intentionally trying to infiltrate the Philistines by marrying in. The passage doesn’t make this precisely clear to us.

And, it wasn’t clear to Samson’s parents, either. So, perhaps thinking that they could influence the girl’s family or hoping Samson would change his mind, they went along with his decision and accompanied him to meet the new in laws. Once again, though the circumstances were worrisome and hard to understand, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah trusted that the God who had already worked so many wonders in their lives could handle this situation. They had faithfully obeyed what God had asked them to do and raised Samson in a godly home. Now, they had to sit back and watch God take care of the rest. And He did. Again, God kept His promises.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
 for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

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Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. ~ Part 1

four-women-walking-in-a-line-holding-handsI’ve been married to a minister of music for over 20 years. My husband has served at many different churches in a variety of capacities: on staff, interim, supply, revivals, conferences, retreats, etc. Over those 20+ years and in those various capacities, I’ve observed a number of things about him, pastors, church musicians, and congregations from a unique vantage point.

Now, with a little help and a lot of input from a few sister minister of music’s wives, it’s true confessions time. Time for us to tell all…

Sing, Sing a Song…
Singing is often the only opportunity church members have (besides the offering) to take an active role in worship. Let’s all take advantage of it!

congregation-worshippingThe music portion of the worship service is just that: worship and service, but sometimes we can slip into thinking of it as “filler time” before the “main event” of the sermon. If we’re spending the music time chatting with our friends, checking Facebook on our phones, knitting, or clipping our nails (sadly, yes, I’ve seen all of those happen) aren’t we robbing God and ourselves of the precious few hours per week we set aside for worship? Is it fair to God to spend the time we’re supposed to be worshiping on these kinds of distractions? God commands our worship and God deserves our worship. So, let’s give God our full attention and worship Him!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to your minister of music.
The minister of music doesn’t just roll out of bed on Sunday morning, jump up on the platform, and wave his arms around for thirty minutes. He works hard during the week to plan a worship service that honors God and grows and trains the aretha-franklin-respect-1967-3congregation spiritually. He often does so amid a number of challenges: the varied talents of his accompanists, a hymn request by the pastor or a church member, bugs in the sound system, musicians going out of town, the choir soloist getting the flu. He rehearses with the instrumentalists, the praise team, the choir, and others. When he stands in front of us to lead the music, he deserves the same respect we give the pastor when he preaches or a teacher imparting knowledge or someone at work who’s making a presentation: our attention.

Someone To Watch Over Me
Singing in the choir or on the praise team kinda goes hand in hand with being a minister of music’s wife, so we’re often up on the platform near our husbands. I need to tell you a little secret:

We can see you out there.

It is incredibly encouraging to see people who are focused on Christ and engaged with Him as they’re worshiping. It’s obvious they’re communing with their Savior and thinking about Him as they sing. It makes the minister of music feel congregation-worshippinglike he’s been successful in helping them connect with the Lord in worship.

On the other hand, it’s very discouraging to see people with their hands stuffed in their pockets, not singing, or, conversely, mindlessly rattling off lyrics, and with a countenance that says, “I’d rather be at the dentist.” I once saw a televised worship service where the congregation was singing the hymn, “All that Thrills My Soul is Jesus.” It would be difficult to describe just how unthrilled most of them looked. The word “corpses” comes to mind.

Jesus said to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we engage all four of those areas in worship, we’re not just pleasing Him by our obedience, He’s growing us into stronger, more mature Believers. And that’s the best encouragement of all for our minister of music.

Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow
We minister of music’s wives are blessed that our husbands have, for the most part, worked under pastors who are supportive and set a great example for their congregations. Pastors, you have an enormous influence on your congregation even when you’re not aware of it. And one area in which you may not be aware that church members are watching and emulating you, even when we’re not aware of it, is during the music portion of the worship service.

Your congregation can see you during the worship time, whether you’re sitting on the stage or in a pew. What you convey with your own behavior about the importance of worship, we will absorb and reflect. If you are engaged and sing heartily to the Lord, we will get the message that you hymn_singingthink God is worthy of all of our worship and we will follow suit. If you spend the worship time engaged in other activities, we will get the message that worship time is more like the coming attractions before a movie than a time to join in and commune with the Lord through what we sing.

Additionally, when your congregation is actively engaged in worship, it gets our hearts prepared to soak up the message you have for us in your sermon. So, when you’re worshiping with gusto, you’re not only setting a great example, you’re also getting people right where you want them: ready to drink in God’s word!

Part two of this article is on its way next week!

What are some things you appreciate about your
minister of music or worship leader?

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