In early September of 2005, I traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to work with a disaster relief crew following Hurricane Katrina. We spent ten days preparing and delivering meals to survivors, those whose lives and possessions had been ravaged by the wind and water.
As an Iowa native, I’ve seen what weather can do. We’re no strangers to tornadic destruction. But the aftermath of Katrina was unlike anything I’d ever seen in person.
As we worked that week and then returned home, the words of Job stuck in my head (Job 26:14): “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Continue reading “Worshiping God After a Hurricane”
It is no secret that the end of the year can be a depressing time for some. The holiday parties and family gatherings are over—leaving us to say goodbye to loved ones or remember those who departed this year. The decorations and lights come down. The days are dark and cold. The trees are brown and the fields are barren. A year draws to its end, perhaps with reminders of unaccomplished goals and the speed with which life progresses, and we wonder if the next year can bring anything different. For some, the world and the future appear bleak. Continue reading “Hope and The Last Rose of Summer”
At the center of the Christmas story is the miracle of the incarnation—the eternal Son of God becoming human, fully God and fully man. We find the creator of all things in the form of a baby, dependent upon a mother and father to carry and clothe and feed him. This theme continues throughout his life, as the one who is the source of all creation trusts in his Father to provide his needs. He who is the life-giver is executed. He who will be given all authority in heaven and on earth submits himself to the will of God.
In 2004, as a young pastor, I read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Excellency of Christ.” This sermon from Revelation 5:5-6 discusses what Edwards calls the “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ.” It is an extended meditation on the “meekness and majesty” that meet in Jesus Christ as described above. That sermon inspired me to pen a hymn so that I could worship Christ in song for these “diverse excellencies.” Continue reading “Singing “The Excellency Of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards”
“Vocation” — Today, this word is often used synonymously with “employment” or “occupation” to refer to what you do to make money (or what you do for no pay, as the case may be).
“Calling” — In the modern church, this word is often Christian-speak for one’s “spiritual service” or what “God has called you to do.”
It is unfortunate that “vocation” and “calling” have come to have two different meanings. “Vocation” comes from the Latin “vocare,” which means, “to call.” Your vocation is your calling. Your calling is your vocation. And if what occupies your time is not what you believe God has called you to do, you might spend some serious time considering the disparity.
This week’s song — “All Things Good” — is written to help God’s people celebrate his goodness in our vocations, reminding ourselves of how our various vocations glorify God. Continue reading “Your Work Matters to God”
The season of Advent is incomplete without the singing of Christmas carols.
This week’s song— “How Beautiful the Mystery” —is based on a Christmas carol I wrote in late 2000 as the text of our Christmas card. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) I set the original text of this song to the existing hymn tune “Manoah.” Ten years later, my friends David Ward and Jeff Bourque would write a new tune, for which we added a chorus and additional verse. Continue reading “A Christmas Carol”
Naomi is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. Her story is told in the book of Ruth (which, in my opinion, is misnamed—Naomi is clearly the main character).
This week’s song— “A Sweet and Pleasant Providence” —is a hymn based on the story of Naomi. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) Continue reading “When the Worst Thing Happens”