Blog Archives

A Prayer to Jesus from the 1400’s: Be Everything to Me, Lord!


lifechangeSoul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.

Within your wounds hide me.

Permit me not to be separated from you.

From the wicked foe, defend me.

At the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to you

That with your saints I may praise you For ever and ever.

Amen.

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Bible Study Resource Alert: Verse by Verse Commentary on the Gospels by The Early Church!


The Golden ChainThe Catena Aurea (also called The Golden Chain) is a tremendous resource for any pastor or believer who desires to know how the early church understood scripture.  It is a verse by verse commentary on the four Gospels by the church fathers that was compiled by Thomas Aquinas.

For each of the four Gospel writers, the Catena Aurea starts by indicating the verses to be analyzed, then phrase-by-phrase, provides the early Fathers’ insights into the passage. It includes the work of over eighty Church Fathers.

The four volume set will cost you about $150, but thanks to Catechetics online, you can read these works for FREE!

Here is a sample of their commentary on John 3:16-19

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  18. He that believes in him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Read the rest of this entry

Inspiring Lives From Church History: Perpetua, Felicitas and Their Companions a MUST Read account!


perpetuas victoryPeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is Read the rest of this entry

God Doesn’t Need Our Worship….We Need It!


nada-zip-zilchNothing

Zip

Nada

Zero

Zilch

Nil

That’s how much our worship of God adds to God.  Our “worship” doesn’t enhance Him and our lack of worship doesn’t take anything away from Him.  Put another way, God doesn’t need our worship.  In fact God doesn’t need anything from us:  our money, our time, our dedication, our service.

Theologians refer to this as God’s Independence:

“God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy.”  Grudem, Systematic Theology.

The New Testament states it this way:

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  Acts 17:24-25

Is God An Egomaniac?

Think about this:  If God does not need our worship, why does he require that we worship him and him alone?

Is it because he is the ultimate egomaniac?

Is it because he loves to hear the sound of his own name on the lips of his adoring fans?

No.  When we look at God’s acts in history that is not the picture we see.  It must be something else.

We All Worship Something

Humans are pretty predictable.  We are the ultimate evaluators.  We evaluate everything in life and prioritize them according to what we think is best.  For example, I highly value guitars.  But I value my wife and children more.  There is really no comparison; I rank family higher in importance.  What do I value more than family?  Whatever the answer to that questions is, I may value something even more than that.  I can keep going up the ladder of importance until I finally reach that one thing  I esteem more than anything or anyone else.

Whatever that thing or person is, that is what we worship.  We all worship someone or something, even if it is ourselves!

God Doesn’t Need Our Worship…We Need It!

I submit to you that God doesn’t need our worship; we need the worship we offer him.  I think that is why God demands our devotion.  There is no other thing or being more worthy of our ultimate devotion than Him.  It has been said that we become like that which we worship.  God, in his mercy, created us to become like him.  If that is going to happen, then we must actively place him at the top of our Top Ten List of Things I Value The Most.

Looking at worship this way means leads us to conclude that worship, though directed at God, is truly meant to serve humanity.

We are to worship God, not ourselves.

But God demands our worship, NOT for himself but for the good of his people.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

On a side note, that is one of the reasons I am so passionate and often critical about corporate worship.  It has the potential to truly shape us, but we often squander those opportunities because we don’t understand what worship is and why God demands it of us.

Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday


top10Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday

#10 We have the best worship team in town filled with young, uber-talented musicians and singers.

#9 Our worship team recently recorded a cutting edge worship CD (You can buy it for $13).

#8 We have state of the art sound and lighting systems that allow you to hear and feel the worship, as well as experience worship in a way you can’t at other local churches.

#7 Worshipping in song is the best and highest form of corporate worship. We do it with excellence and we do it a lot! If you like music, you are going to love our worship!

#6 Come as you are. You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. People wear everything from business casual to jeans and T-shirts

#5 We have GREAT coffee drinks (for sale) and you can bring the drinks with you into the auditorium.

#4 We have free wi-fi available throughout our facility and it is available at all times

#3 Our services are short! Each of our 3 services is only 70 minutes long

#2 Our pastor is an incredibly gifted speaker who is VERY funny. Each week you will hear a short inspirational talk based on our pastors life experience  or the experience of others that is always relevant to your life. There is usually a Bible verse or two sprinkled throughout the talk to help inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

#1 Our services are FUN! We have eliminated the old school, boring liturgical stuff from our worship which many of the other churches in town still utilize. We won’t ask you to stand or sit or kneel. There are no corporate readings or corporate prayers or communion. Just cutting edge worship and inspirational words.

What’s missing?

I have compiled these “reasons” from church websites and church advertising in my area. Before you write to correct me, realize that this post is a joke. The sad part about it is that they are real reasons that actual churches have given. Well, I have added my special touch to the reasons. Nevertheless, the gist of them is spot on.

Some will object to the competitive nature of the post. The “Our Church is Better Than the Rest” idea is abhorrent, I agree. However, that idea is rampant in our church advertising. It is sometimes subtle, sometimes over the top, but often present for anyone to see. At least I see it.

Some will see nothing wrong in the Top 10 Reasons I have listed. Others, will be able to spot what is missing easily. Still others, will have to look harder until they see what is missing. Feel free to throw daggers, share thoughts or comment as you see fit!

Thanks for visiting us here at http://www.NotForItchingEars.com

 

Inspiring Lives From Church History: James, the Great Martyr of Persia


martyrs for ChristPeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is Read the rest of this entry

Does God Care More About Our Character OR What We Do In His Name?


I'm Right and You're WrongIt is a simple question, really…

In your opinion, is God most concerned with character or accomplishments in our lives? In other words, does He care more about the great things we accomplish (or don’t) in his name and for his kingdom OR who we ARE or BECOMING as his followers. In this poll, you can’t say “both” because the question is which one does he car MOST about?

Inspiring Lives From Church History


The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer_by_leon_geromePeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully.  We can learn a lot from studying their lives.  Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply.   I often wonder how I would respond in such situations.  I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place.   The one thing I can say with certainty is that these accounts inspire me to live for Christ.  That is why today, we are beginning a new series.  In it, we will highlight men and women who suffered for Christ, because of their faith.  They won’t be long posts, so you should be able to read them in less than 5 minutes.  My Prayer is that they will cause you to reflect on your own life and faith, inspiring you follow Him more deeply.

Today, we will read about Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa  (361 AD)

Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of the emperor Constantine, St Mark had once destroyed a pagan temple and built a Christian church.

When Julian came to the throne, he persecuted Christians and tried to Read the rest of this entry

The Mystery of Our Faith….


cross-with-nail 2Christ HAS Died,

Christ IS Risen,

Christ WILL Come again!  Amen

Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive” Live Video


This song, was a big hit back in the day. Every time I ever heard it, it moved me! I still does today. Check out the live video of Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive” below.  I hope it encourages you this Easter weekend.

Jim

Were You There? I Was


Question mark peopleI came across this sermon back in the early 90’s.  Each month, Preaching Today send me a tape of an exceptional sermon.  When I put this one in the old tape deck and started listening, I was immediately drawn into the story of Jesus on the way to the cross and Simon of Cyrene.  By the end of the message, I had been reduced to a weeping young pastor marveling at the scene of The Cross.
 
Not many people know about this moving sermon preached in 1944.   We are letting you all in on it.   I can’t think of a better audio to listen to on this Good Friday.   Hope you enjoy, from all of us over here at NotForItchingEars.com.
 

Were You There?

With emotional brush strokes of dramatic narrative, Dr. Marshall’s gripping account of Simon of Cyrene meeting Jesus on His way to the Crucifixion puts the listener at the very foot of the Cross. After experiencing this message, there is no longer any doubt about the answer to that famous question: We were all there. (Preached on March 9, 1944)

Whatever Happened To This Message of The Cross


In honor of Good Friday, we are re-posting the very first article published at Not For Itching Ears…

The sign said, “Now serving Starbucks coffee!”

It was the late 90’s and the premium coffee craze was taking the country by storm. Everyone who liked coffee LOVED Starbucks or soon would. So it wasn’t surprising that some business would be utilizing the brand name to promote what they were doing. It made pretty good sense. It would not have fazed me a single bit if any other company was doing it. However, this massive sign was hung in front of a local evangelical Christian church. The message was crystal clear: “Come to our service on Sunday, we have free Starbucks coffee!”

With the arrival of the church growth movement and the seeker-sensitive ministry focus it birthed.. Read the rest of this entry

Holy Week Prayer: Good Friday


Lamb of GodGood Friday Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Week Prayers: Maudy Thursday


lastsupper“Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Holy Week Prayer: Wednesday


The Cross4Wednesday in Holy Week Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Christian Bloggers of the World…We Need Your Help!


help wantedI have a hunch, a hypothesis, a gut feeling.  That is, that singing in church is not as important to most of us who attend regularly.  We don’t dislike singing, and are not theologically opposed to it.  However, most of us, I propose,  don’t give it as much weight as our worship leaders or senior leadership do.

That has been what I have observed in congregation after congregation that I have visited in the past 4 years.  These polls are an unscientific way of trying to get a more objective view.   The answers to some of these polls has been rather eye-opening, and seem to confirm my gut feelings.  I will be spending time writing about what I have learned as a result in the not too distant future.

I need more answers to these questions, and so I am putting a link to our polls in this post.  Please feel free to use them in your own blog posts.  The results are available for all to see, and you can use the gathered information for any observations you would like to make.  The more votes we get, the better understanding we will have.

So here are the links:

What Are the Two LEAST Important Elements of Corporate Worship for YOU Personally?   http://poll.fm/45vog

Do You Think We Spend Too Much Time Singing In Church?  http://poll.fm/45rag

What Would You Do If Your Church Eliminated Singing from the Service? http://poll.fm/31app

What is the Most Important Element of Corporate Worship for You Personally? http://poll.fm/2hazg

What one thing would you like to see changed in the American Church?  http://poll.fm/2ga0u

What Do You Like LEAST about Your Church Service? Take Our Poll


Holy Week Prayers: Tuesday


blog-prayerTuesday in Holy Week O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The End of the Beginning is Here


It has been a while since my last real post.  Many of you have wondered out loud if I am  A) dead, B) seriously ill, C) in exile or D) just not writing.  The answer is … Read the rest of this entry

Shouldn’t Christianity Make a Bigger Difference?


“There are two ways,  one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways.”

So begins my favorite non-canonical writing from the early church, The Didache, (pronounced Dee-Dah-Kay). If you have never read it, find some time to.  It is well worth it.  You can find The Didache here.

This opening phrase has been occupying my mind of late.  Like an Ipod stuck on repeat,  playing the same song over and over again.  I wake up in the middle of the night to find it still echoing in my mind. The part that grabs me is the ending phrase, “…and there is a great difference between these two ways.”

Is there really?

One could argue that the entire history of God’s people in both the OT and the NT illustrate the truth that there are two basic categories of how to navigate life:  a life with God and a life without Him.  Jesus described this life in Read the rest of this entry