Author Archive for

30
Dec
10

the song never stops

Christmas 2010 is in the books, and the tree at my house comes down tonight. It seems like a lot of work sometimes to go by so fast. However, I was reminded today that the song sung at Christmas started long before Christmas 2010 and will go on long after the year 2010. After attending quite a few Christmas services this year where traditional carols were sung and then even just shopping in stores or listening to the radio there is no telling how many times I heard the song Joy to the World this Christmas season. There is one line in the first verse and one line in the second verse that took on a little bit of a new light for me today after reading Psalm 148. Verse 1 of the carol ends by saying, “and Heaven and nature sing,” and then it repeats the line again. Then as if to say PLEASE DON’T MISS THIS the verse ends repeating that line again, “and Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing.” Verse 2 then follows up later with the line, “while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.” Then it goes through the whole repeat the line twice deal too. Nature singing? Fields, floods, and rocks repeating a sound of joy? Really? While to many this may sound like the writer had had a little bit too much fruitcake, I would argue that songwriter Isaac Watts was not a weirdo artist guy but instead he got it. He completely grasped the cry of creation. He fully lays out the heartbeat of Psalm 148.

David, a songwriter himself, writes in Psalm 148, “Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above (v.1) Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him all you shinning stars (v.3) Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths (v.7) lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds…(v.8) you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars (v.9) wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds (v.10)” David was convinced that all creation from cedar trees to sea creatures are praising the name of the King of Creation. All of creation understands what David wrote in Psalm 148:6, “He set them in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away.” Therefore, creation is completely in tune to the idea that the Creator is worthy of all praise, and 24/7/365 creation is worshiping the Creator and displaying the glory of God. The rocks, hills, floods, birds, and mountains believe that God is faithful and that His decree will never pass away. They have never doubted from the time they were created and so the song never stops. God never doubts whether He is receiving honor from creation.

The problem in creation was when man rolled in with the opportunity of free will, and we begin to forget about the Creator. We doubted or forgot the promise that His decree would never pass away. We decided in our minds and begin to reflect it with our lifestyles that the praise of the Creator could wait or it just really wasn’t that important in the first place…and we tried to stop the song. However, just as Jesus told some Pharisees in Luke 19:40, “If my people keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” You see, creation is absolutely enamored with the worship of the God of the universe, and they will echo the song regardless of the heart of man. So the invitation for us is to simply join in with the song of heaven and nature, to repeat the sounding joy, to continually sing the song that only the Creator is worthy of, and to participate in the song that never stops.

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18
Nov
10

the not so comfortable gospel

I like air conditioning and heat. I like big screen TV’s and steak dinners. I like laying on the couch for an afternoon and watching football. I like a big warm bed and I like being able to get my email or update my Twitter on my smartphone. I like being able to go home from my job everyday to my safe home. I like all these things and more, and recently that’s what has begun to bother me. Am I getting too comfortable? While I completely understand that I am still a man made of flesh and my default is “me, mine, and what’s best for myself” I am being stirred and reminded that I have never been called to be comfortable.

I read in Matthew 16:24-26 where Jesus, the Savior of the World says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

I have scanned this passage over and over looking for something in it that felt comfortable or soothing to my selfish desires, and I am coming up completely empty every time. I mean maybe it is just that there wasn’t the technology and comforts in the time Jesus walked the earth as there are today, so Jesus wasn’t necessarily directing this at those of us who would live in a day where we could pause and rewind live high definition TV….or was He talking about us too? It seems that if I want to receive the salvation that came from Jesus dying on the cross then I would also have to follow the uncomfortable commands to daily take up my cross and give up my life. This is where the battle with my flesh begins…”but I enjoy this” and “I have plenty of money to get that” or “this makes me comfortable.” However, I am reminded in this passage in Matthew 16 that Jesus’ idea of investing isn’t what this world would normally call successful. Jesus says, “whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” What? Are you serious? When does losing something ever cause you to find or gain anything? But isn’t that what Jesus did when He left the comforts of Heaven to come to the earth to give up His life for fallen man so that they might gain eternity through salvation? Jesus gave up so that the Father might gain glory. I’m pretty sure there was nothing comfortable about the persecution, beating, abuse, and crucifixion that Jesus endured, but He demonstrated the greatest form of obedience ever known by laying aside His comforts. Hello? Does that mean anything to me? Does that even cause me to flinch or is this just another nice thought that I read or hear in the comforts of what I believe I deserve?

Jesus has not once called us to comfort but He has called us to radical obedience. Does God provide us the opportunity to experience comforts on this earth? Yes, but the moment that I become so locked into my comforts that obedience to God becomes an option rather than the unquestionable standard I have got some serious self-checkin to do. I am learning that I have a long long way to go in order to be in-line with the obedience that I believe God is calling me to, but if I believe God is who He says He is and the path He is calling me to walk is the only true way for my life, then I will be willing to neglect what I call comforts and respond with obedience to the not so comfortable gospel.

15
Nov
10

in the unpredictable

I recently heard a statement that said, “If you can fully explain what’s going on in your church, God’s probably not in it.” Being an over-the-top detail and planner guy myself, I had to step back and chew on this statement.  Not being planned? Are you serious? Is there anything wise about that? The more I thought about this statement and processed it by thinking back through my few short years of church ministry and my two decades of being a Christ-follower the more I agree with it professionally and personally. I have often thought how one of the incredible things about God is that we will never totally figure Him out, thus we are left to continually seek after Him. So much about God is unpredictable, but I believe that’s just the way He designed it.

For me personally this truth has become incredibly even more true recently. God is leading and directing the path of my life through the unpredictable, and it has left me in a place of seeking His face like never before in my life. There is a direction that He seems to be leading me that was never on my life map. It wasn’t a part of the big picture that I had planned and laid out for myself, my marriage, or my future family. It’s not something that I ever saw myself doing. It was never something I would have signed up for. It is completely unpredictable…yet it is so right and so true. God is making me so aware of my dependency on Him. My first gut reaction is to respond by saying, “But I’m not wise enough, old enough, experienced enough, or anything enough!” God promptly responded to this statement, “You’re right, but I’m enough.” He has put in front of me the true reminder that if I wait to act in obedience until I get wise enough, old enough, experienced enough, or whatever enough there is a good chance I will no longer need Him because I will feel competent enough on my own…which I am completely not.

I am reminded of David’s journey in 1 Samuel 16 and 17. David is nothing but a boy in the field tending to sheep when he gets called in to stand before Samuel and is anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Then before David knows it he is called in again to King Saul to become one of his armor-bearers. Next in chapter 17 he is sent on a meager mission to deliver food to his brothers who are at war, however, he does more than deliver food. David by the end of the chapter has slain a 9 foot giant with a slingshot and a stone that the rest of the Israelite army was afraid to fight. I’m not the brightest guy but I am sure that David didn’t have this whole plain scripted out while he was sitting in the field chillin’ with the sheep. God was working a plan in the unpredictable for His glory, and David simply responded with obedience. It didn’t make sense to David’s father, his brothers, Goliath, King Saul, the Israelite army, and especially not to David, but it was just the way the Father drew it up.

Please hear me say that I fully believe that God has given us wisdom and logical minds to make mature and smart decisions. While I know God longs for us to take wise steps in a cruel and dangerous world, I am more convinced at this point in my life than ever before that if I really believe God is who He says He is, and if I really believe that I will stand one day before the King of the Kings to be judged for my obedience to His call on my life, I cannot face the unpredictable with fear and caution but with a reckless abandon because I follow and serve the Savior of the World.

27
Oct
10

man up

This is one of the best messages I have EVER heard about biblical manhood, especially within the context of marriage. The message is entitled “No Matter What” and is part 2 of the Man vs. Wife series from Newspring Community Church and Pastor Perry Noble. The thing I love about Perry is that he preaches the truth in a practical way with no reservations. This message will challenge any husband or guy who dreams of one day being a husband. So I’m warning you don’t click on this link unless you are ready to man up and be challenged by the truth of God’s Word.

Listen to just the audio by clicking here…

No Matter What

or check out the video by copying & pasting this link…

26
Oct
10

embracing the grace?

Titus 2:11-12

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Paul writes to Titus explaining that it has happened, God has poured out the depth of His grace and sent salvation to man through the gift of Jesus. Never before had man seen this grace but God being rich in mercy and grace decided that it was time for man to have salvation and experience grace. Paul writes further that this grace did not just come to save but to teach Christ followers to reject the ungodliness and passions of this world and to pursue self-control and godliness. The idea of the Father was not for believers to just say no to things but to reject the things of the world by pursuing righteousness. The Father is filled with grace for those He loves. This grace when fully received produces self discipline in our lives. This is the self discipline that coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit allows Christ followers to choose righteousness over worldliness.

The question must be are we truly embracing this limitless grace with the lives we are living? Are the daily choices of our lifestyle utilizing the power of this grace or simply sliding it to the side as we fill ourselves with the comfortable passions and desires of this world? Are our lives living proof of the power to say no? God has given believers an all-access pass to the fullest extent of grace that we will ever need but are we embracing it?

The reality is that the voice of the world is constantly screaming at us to spend more, get more, live life comfortably, and do what makes you happy while the grace of God that will ultimately triumph all of these sits by never forcing itself on our lives yet containing life-transforming and perspective-altering power. However, every time that we choose what we want or what’s comfortable for us and reject the prompting of the Holy Spirit we are failing to embrace the fullness of the grace given to us.

18
Oct
10

overanalyzing the gospel

Being an OCD detail guy I overanalyze everything. Sometimes I can even overanalyze taking out the trash. Should I take it out now or wait until we throw out this old food? Is there a need to empty the cans in the rest of the house or should I just wait until company is coming? Do I need to go ahead and take it down to the street now to beat the rain or is there even rain in the forecast? Seriously, I have these thoughts sometimes…ok, maybe almost every time and maybe I need counseling. Too often I am an expert overanalyzer.

In the last 24 hours though, I have been slapped with the question of do we overanalyze the gospel? I read in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 where Paul writes to Timothy and says, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” Paul challenges Timothy to guard with his life what has been entrusted to him, the treasure of the gospel. Then Paul steps on the toes of believers for generations by warning Timothy not to engage in “godless chatter” but instead refers to these conversations among believers as opposing ideas falsely disguised as knowledge. Hello! Could it be that what we have held so strongly to for so long and labeled as knowledge is ultimately only a comfortable lie that we have grown to believe? Paul even explains that many many have believed in and professed in this “godless chatter” and as a result of it have “wandered from the faith.” The Message translation states verse 21 like this, “People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.” Simply stated, these people have been charged with too much talk and overanalyzing the gospel.

As I sit here in my office at my church job with my nicely framed seminary degree on my wall, I must raise my hand and say yes, guilty as charged of overanalyzing the gospel. I am left asking myself whether sometimes my Christianity and my seminary degree make me a professional “godless chatterer” or an obedient follower of Christ. Christ calling on me was simple in His last words on earth, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Bam! There it is as clear-cut and as simple as He could make it for me. Go and make disciples. Don’t talk about it forever just go. God has put us on mission to share our life with others and make disciples, but if I spend more time talking about how good following God is rather than living out my faith and actually following God, I can be guilty of missing the whole mission. No doubt we are called to sharpen ourselves in the Word so that as we disciple we are able to speak from a knowledge of the truth, but the moment that we allow our self-sharpening to make us “knowledge-gainers” rather than “disciple-makers” we are blowing the mission that we have been given.

11
Oct
10

radically normal?

I just got back from an incredible conference of young Christian leaders where I was challenged and sharpened by some great truths from some awesome leaders. However, there was one particular thought that stuck out from one of the speakers that stemmed from 1 John 2:6, “Whoever says that he lives in God must live as Jesus lived.” (NCV) He posed the question of what if we lived a life that was more congruent with the Word than with the world? The speaker explained how living a life of sacrifice, generosity, compassion, love, selflessness, and faithfulness that was perfectly modeled by Jesus is now viewed as weird. People roll their eyes at you and think you are some kind of a crazy freak because you are definitely not what the world would call “normal.” However, if what the Scripture says in 1 John 2:6 is true, living a life that is modeled after the characteristics of Christ is not weird, but instead it is completely normal. The problem is that we have been deceived for so long by Satan and the ways of the world that normal has become weird and worldly has become normal. Living a life that is more like Jesus and a whole lot less like the world is a radical almost seemingly ridiculous thought. However, if we believe what we say we believe that Jesus is who He says He is, this idea is not optional but is the radically normal life we are called to live.




About me…

My name is Bryant May. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to the most beautiful and God-fearing woman I know, director of production at Pinelake Church in Brandon, MS, an Alabama football fanatic, and an OCD organization/clean freak.

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