Archive for October, 2010

Sunday’s Coming

In the first garden, the light was diminished as sin took its hold,
As darkness grew, the heavens burst to cleanse the earth
Yet even in deluge’s aftermath, man continued his rebellion
The Chosen of God heard His voice,
Yet still wandered in their wilderness
Clamoring for a King, shouting for their own way,
And then weeping over that which they had wrought.
From Babylon’s captivity the remnant flowed to rebuild the walls,
Then God’s silence in its deafening roar brought forth the lament,
“Where is our Messiah?”
“Where is our hope?”
Unknowingly asking when
“Sunday’s Coming”

Hanging in the darkening gloom on Golgotha’s cross,
Body beaten, bruised, bloodied, broken,
The King of the Jews,
Scorned, rejected by His own,
Forsaken by His Father,
Suffering horrific death.
And dying with Him
The hope of His followers,
The hope of a nation,
The hope of the world
Snuffed out as heaven looked on in abject speculation.
Yet as Satan’s minions gloat,
Truth shouts, “It is finished”
And with the tearing of the veil,
The waking of the dead,
The shaking of the earth,
God first portends,
“Sunday’s coming.”

His lifeless body lowered to a mother’s grieving arms,
Wrapped with tenderness in linen and spice,
Brought to Arimathea’s garden
Laid in the cold dark of a new tomb
Light shut off as a stone conceals the entrance
The harsh actuality of death extinguishing the parcel’s beauty
The black of night replaced by the bleak darkness of vanquished dreams,
Yet even in creation’s bereavement flickers hope
“Sunday’s Coming”

Suffering under Roman cruelty,
Seeking the overthrow of oppression,
Hope was born in this one called Jesus
But this Messiah is now dead,
This Word silenced,
Calvary ’s Lamb bloodily sacrificed for mankind’s transgression,
Embraced by death, cocooned away
And in darkness,
History moves on
Man again turns his own way
Still seeking a Messiah
Wondering when,
Wondering if
“Sunday’s coming”

Today the world remains the same,
Mankind still holding the flickering candle of hope
Seeking redemption,
Longing for truth,
Searching for meaning and messiah,
Saturday’s silence hanging portentously in the gloomy darkness of man’s device
But man does not have to stay in the murky bleak,
For in that garden 2000 years ago
As all creation stood watch with the Roman guard,
The black of Saturday’s night was dispelled
Radiant light broke forth into new day’s dawn,
The earth shook,
The stone rolled away,
Silence shattered as angels triumphantly declared
“Sunday’s Come!”

Greg Gaffney

Recently I read this quote from John Piper which has deeply impacted my thinking. “All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man… When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

Do you get it? We tend to emphasize our programs, wrapped up in fulfilling the snappy mission statements that we have created to accomplish the purpose we deem God has given us as a body. But while mission statements are good and I believe necessary if they help guide us, they become cumbersome if they become primary and God’s leading secondary.

We get caught up in the act of doing instead of responding to the Awesome Creator of the Universe. And when we get caught up in doing, we are in our own strength and will get tired. So when we emphasize evangelism, missions, Christian education, youth, etc, we do well but we get tired. All these are good and are things we should be doing. But these are not the things that were and will be. Worship is!

Before the creation of man, God was being worshipped upon His throne. After the judgments of man, God will be worshipped upon His throne.

When we respond to God’s revelation, we worship; and when we worship we move in His strength and all these other things flow out naturally, and then there is joy!

Excerpt from Rev. Gaffney’s message “Where Is the Joy in Serving Jesus”

Worship and the Football Dude

His very existence revolved around football. The day I moved in my townhouse, he stuck his head in the door and asked, while I stood amid the boxes, if I would like to play some football. When I would come home from work, in minutes he would be knocking at the door, asking if I could go throw the ball with him. If I couldn’t, he, without missing a beat, would ask if my son could play. My son was only 3 at the time! You would often see him playing with the neighborhood children. They all loved to play with “football dude”, as he allowed everyone to run with the ball or try to catch it. He would take time to teach them the finer points of the game and was always disappointed if they didn’t share his enthusiasm.

He just loved football. He played it, watched it, read about it, purchased video games related to it, listened to sports radio and frequently called in, particularly to talk about “Da Bears”. He was “football dude from Villa Park”!

But the highlight for him was every Sunday during football season. He had a week long ritual that would culminate with kickoff. The first part of each week was spent analyzing the previous week’s game. He would compile charts detailing the effectiveness of each play, compile statistics on each player and grade them himself. He would compare his results with those published in the papers. As the week went on he would compile information on the upcoming opponent. He looked at video tapes he had either personally taped or collected from other friends. Again he analyzed strengths and weaknesses, and using that information, he compiled a game plan. At the end of the week, he was studying the injury reports and analyzing the possible impact upon the game. Saturday was spent studying college players for the upcoming draft, focusing attention on the game at hand and preparing himself on home games for the journey to Soldier Field the next day. He would lay his clothes out, check the gas and other fluid levels of the car, prepare his food that he was taking, and make calls to anyone going with him to double check departure times and make sure they were as prepared as he was.

Of course, all through this process, “Football Dude” devoted his time sharing any and all of this information with anyone who would listen. He would even mail his game plan to the Chicago Bears coaches, in case he saw something they didn’t.

Sunday morning, he would get up early, read both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune for any last minute information and then head downtown for the game (He only subscribed to the Sun Times. I finally figured out why my Sunday Tribune was always in disarray when I had to leave for church earlier than usual one Sunday and caught him returning it.) He always arrived at the game early, never wanting to miss any warm-up time. Then the game was spent in active emotional outbursts, cheering, booing, screaming, arguing, and of course eating. You could always tell how the Bears fared on a given weekend without ever seeing a game. All you had to do was check out Football Dude’s demeanor. A win meant a glowing smile, a happy stride in his walk, and the desire to tell everyone he met about each and every play of the game. A loss was worse to him than a death in the family. He moped, lamented every individual Bear player by name, and cursed the Bear management for its very existence.

Even when the season was over, it didn’t end for football dude. After all, there was the NFL draft to prepare for, game plans to write and send to the coaches, radio shows to call, new friends with which to share his passion, and of course vacation to plan. He went to the same place every year; Bears preseason camp in Platteville, Wisconsin. I remember when he finally got a girl friend, we were elated. He would have to change! Then we found out she too was spending her vacation in Platteville with her new boyfriend and his compadres!

When we moved to New Jersey, there was little chance of seeing football dude again. Then, one day as a friend of mine and I were watching the Bears play, (it is a torture I still participate in – a requirement of misspent youth) we started laughing when the announcers started making fun of this fanatical fan. The camera focused in on this guy dressed head to toe in Bears paraphernalia. He was standing and screaming at the officials while everyone around him was trying to get as far away from him as possible. Imagine my surprise at seeing “Football Dude” on TV!

We all laugh at his fanaticism, but I wonder what a church full of people who would give the same worth to God that he gave to football would be like? Imagine even a single individual as sold out to Christ as he was to football, preparing for every corporate gathering with a 24/7 intensity similar to that exhibited by Football Dude. He epitomized worship! His whole being: his heart, his soul, his mind, his strength was devoted to one thing and one thing alone. His life was devoted to giving worth to football. Everyone who knew him knew what he loved. Can we say the same thing about ourselves?

Excerpt from Worship 101 Curriculum: We Shape Our Worship, Then Our Worship Shapes Us