Praisebook for God’s People

summer-psalms-web1Worship is a daunting task.  For that reason, God gave us the Psalms – a praisebook for God’s people.  The Psalms could be titled God’s Book of Common Prayer.  This collection of hymns and petitions are strung together by one thread – a heart hungry for God.

Some are defiant.  Others are reverent.  Some are to be sung.  Others are to be prayed.  Some are intensely personal.  Others are written as though the whole world would use them.  Some were penned in caves, others in temples.

But all have one purpose – to give us words to say when we stand before God.  The very variety should remind us that worship is personal.  No secret formula exists.  What moves you may stymie another.  Each worships differently.  But each should worship.  The book (the Psalms) will help you do just that.

Here is a hint.  Don’t just read the prayers of these saints, pray them.  Experience their energy.  Imitate their honesty.  Enjoy their creativity.  Let these souls lead you to worship.  And let’s remember.  The language of worship is not polished, perfect, or advanced.  It’s just honest.

–Max Lucado, The Inspirational Study Bible, “The Introduction to the Book of Psalms”

Summer of Psalms

summer-psalms-web1This summer, Jim will conclude our Undivided sermon series preaching from 2 Samuel and the Psalms.

As a family, we decided to read through the Psalms together and wanted to invite you to join us.

In order to facilitate reading the Psalms, we divided the book up by the weeks in the summer.  So, if you feel led to join us beginning on Sunday, June 2, following is a schedule that will allow us to read the entire book of Psalms over the summer:

June 2-8:                                  Psalm 1-12

June 9-15:                                Psalm 13-24

June 16-22:                              Psalm 25-36

June 23-29:                              Psalm 37-48

June 30-July 6:                         Psalm 49-60

July 7-13:                                 Psalm 61-72

July 14-20:                               Psalm 73-84

July 21-27:                               Psalm 85-96

July 28-August 3:                     Psalm 97-108

August 4-10:                            Psalm 109-118

August 11-17:                          Psalm 119-126

August 18-24:                          Psalm 127-139

August 25-31:                          Psalm 140-150

Bookmarks with the reading schedule are also going to be available at church so that you can take the reading plan with you this summer.

In addition, we want to use the blog to post quotes and pictures that bring some of the Psalms to life.  Also, since the Psalms is known as the Bible’s songbook, we hope to post lots of different songs from a variety of genres that show how the Psalms continue to be the basis of the church’s praise to God.

Looking forward to our summer in the Psalms,

Jim and Lisa

Shine Like Stars

Last Thursday at the Shine Like Stars Volunteer Gala, the staff honored some of the many, wonderful volunteers that make all the ministries at Calvary Church possible.  Volunteers began the evening walking the red carpet, then they were treated to a gala presentation followed by delicious desserts.  Most importantly, we had the opportunity to laugh together and celebrate what God is doing at Calvary.

Thank you to everyone who gives of their valuable time to honor God through their service at Calvary.  It is a blessing to serve alongside you.

Jim and Lisa

Is God Male?

undivided
During the sermon on Mother’s Day, I made the point that God is neither male nor female. Therefore, it is appropriate to think about the things we receive from the Lord that we often associate with mothers – things like tender loving care, compassion, understanding and sacrificial love.

While most people agreed with this point, the comment that God is neither male nor female raised a few questions. Let me try to answer a few of them.

The Bible describes God in masculine terms, using the designation “Father” and “He” to refer to God. However, “masculine” and “male” are two different things. A woman may have masculine tendencies but that does not make her a male. Likewise, God is described using masculine language, but that does not make him a male.

Because God is not human, he is neither male nor female. Male and female are categories that apply to humans and animals, not to God. They are distinctions based primarily on differences in our physical bodies and God does not have a physical body. This is why Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God’s image is equally reflected in males and females because he is neither male nor female.

So while we say that God is described using masculine language, we do not think that He is a male.

But what about Jesus? Here the answer changes. When the Bible refers to God, it is usually referring to God the Father. So when I say that God is not male nor female, I mean that God the Father is not male or female. Jesus, however, in his human nature is very truly a male. And because his human nature and his divine nature are one, it is fair to say that God the Son is a male. However, this does not make God the Father or God the Spirit males anymore than Jesus being a human makes them human.

But how did Jesus become a male if God is not male? When the Holy Spirit came on Mary, he did not impregnate her in the way that men impregnate women. He formed Jesus within her womb, using her DNA as part of the process. But it is not as if Mary contributed the X chromosome and the Holy Spirit contributed the Y chromosome as if somehow the Holy Spirit was the male in the process. Rather, Jesus was created male just like Adam was created male. In order for Jesus to become human he must be either male or female and God the Father chose for Jesus to be incarnated as a male and so the Holy Spirit caused that to happen – just as happened when Adam was created as a male person apart from God contributing any DNA to the process.

I hope this helps clarify some of the questions raised by my statement that God is neither male nor female.

Blessings,
Jim

My Heart In His Hands

The following letter was written to John and Rebecca Hasseltine to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage:

I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from the heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

The year was 1810, and Ann Hasseltine and Adoniram Judson desired to get married and serve as some of America’s first overseas missionaries. Amazingly, the Hasseltines allowed their twenty-year-old daughter to decide what God was calling her to do. She said “yes” to Adoniram and life on the mission field.

51jvVk7tIIL._SY320_[1]This story is just one of many amazing episodes in the life of Ann Judson, as written in the biography My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma by Sharon James. The Judsons initially set out for India but became trailblazers of the gospel in Burma, now called Myanmar, that had fruitful results although they waited six years before seeing their first convert. Ann was an dedicated and amazing woman. In addition to sharing the gospel, Ann wrote a catechism and translated two books of the bible into Burmese. She also holds the distinction of being the first Protestant to translate any of the scriptures into Thai.

Because her letters and journals were published in the U.S., Ann and Adoniram were well-known in the 19th century church, inspiring countless believers. However, until recently coming upon this book, I had never heard their story.

This biography is strongest when the author quotes from their letters, journals, and other writings. While I wish that the entire narrative was stronger, I highly recommend this book. It serves as a good reminder of the sacrifices men and women have made for the sake of the gospel. It also details the life of a missionary in the 1800s and provides a beautiful account of a missionary couple that worked together accompolishing significant work to further Christ’s kingdom.

My Heart in His Hands was my first introduction to Ann Judson, and I am thankful to know her story.

All is well,
Lisa