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Jon Groves: Why don’t men worship?

Written by Staff on August 13, 2019 – 12:08 pm -

Jon Groves: Why don't men worship?Men aren’t worshipping. You probably have noticed at your church that ladies tend to be more active in times of musical worship than men. At first, I thought it was just because most worship songs sounded like a love ballad from a girl to her boyfriend… But turns out, there’s more to the story.

At one particular church, I was feeling the pressure to not engage because no other man was. But after turning my attention toward heaven, I began to notice a phenomenon. Other men followed. And others followed them.

So I started to ask these questions: What kind of worship is for men? Is it a particular flavor? Is there some sort of biblical example for how men ought not only to look but how they ought to participate in worship?

Let’s go to the Word:

Worship Like A Man

Recently, I was standing on the front row of an affluent church in the south as the worship leader began the service. I usually sit on the front row, especially when I am going to be speaking. One contrast to itinerant ministry vs. pastoring is the lack of consistency stylistically. Having become accustomed to a particular culture and energy, it can be a bit off-putting at first to stand in an entirely new and different context.

This particular Sunday, not only was I standing in a less enthusiastic environment than I might have expected, I had also come through a rather tiring week. All to say, I simply wasn’t feeling it that day.

My affinity for the front row has much to do with the ever-present distractions that latecomers and new parents provide combined with my ADD. Knowing this of myself, my habit is to face forward no matter what I hear behind me. But what I was about to see this Lord’s Day would retain my dumbfounded attention for the next two worship songs, including their 17 bridges: I saw men. Hundreds of men. Standing. Silent. Hands clasped together in their front like they were groomsmen or secret service agents at an auspicious event.

This simple hand gesture that was unanimously embraced by the men of this church revealed so much, not only of their church, but of the culture of worship in the United States.

Hands clasped together at our front, especially for men, is a subliminal message we do not even realize we are sending. It protects a weak area while signaling that we recognize this isn’t the time or place to cross our arms in a display of aggression or defiance. This posture reveals a timidity, discomfort, and feeling of vulnerability without a word ever being spoken. Some were singing. Most were staring. All were signaling: this praise and worship isn’t for us.

Look at David

As a man, I love studying the life of David. He was a brilliant military mind and was not afraid to pick a fight. This king was strong. He was brave.

Yet, even amidst the many monikers of manhood and kingship, the hallmark of his life, my favorite title is that he was a “man after God’s own heart.”

David was a passionate worshipper and seeker of the face of God. He was a skilled harp player. David was a multi-platinum recording, best-selling psalm writer. Maybe that’s why he was uniquely qualified and gifted to teach men about worship and demonstrate his teachings in the process.

The life and reign of David is nearing its end in 2 Samuel 24, and David is about to step into some extraordinarily dangerous waters. He has demanded that the people and armies of the nation of Israel be numbered.

We take censuses and polls all the time, but David is balking against an Exodus 30:12 principle that basically states that you only number things you own. And since God owns the nation of Israel, you don’t need to count them, you need to count on God.

David’s numbering of the people and armies before his death was an act of pride in an attempt to credit his own leadership or possibly discern, apart from seeking God, whether he had the power to accomplish one last military feat against a neighboring nation. Regardless, David is overtaken in pride.

But what I love about this man is that just as quick as he succumbed to the temptation of Satan, his heart was broken in sensitivity toward God in his awareness of sin. (Man after God’s own heart. Not perfect. But prayerful.)

Skip toward the end of the chapter when David heads out to the threshing floor of Arauna to offer sacrifices on an altar to God. Though Arauna tries to bless David with free land and free sacrificial animals as a gift, David’s response is what makes the story: “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord that cost me nothing.”

Jon Groves: Why don't men worship?Today I write to the men, both young and old. I write to those who are raising men. I write to the churches that are hemorrhaging men. A relationship that does not cost you anything is not worth anything. And just like the costly box of spikenard poured on the head of Jesus by the woman, men are likewise compelled to an authentic worship that may cost you something (but will reveal your everything in Christ.) Since real men are wired to pay, I want to reveal your opportunity to work on your worship, as David reveals what it may cost you:

1. Worship will cost you everything.

2 Samuel 6:14: “And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.”

No reservation. No hesitation. David gives not some, but all of his might to God in worship. I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a dancer. I didn’t grow up dancing. I’m not good at dancing. And I’m not saying you necessarily have to do backflips across the room holding your worship flags and balancing the offering plates. But I am suggesting that authentic worship, even for manly men, is going to require some energy.

David’s linen ephod is historically a form-fitting garment. Not much is hidden here. And rather than encourage all men to adopt the painted on skinny jeans accompanied by smedium shirts from the Baby Gap, I’d encourage us to adopt this concept metaphorically. Real worship is not the absence of insecurity and vulnerability, it is preoccupation with the presence of God. For worship or the lack thereof, men will one day pay. You much choose whether you will spend your energy now willingly, or spend eternity wishing you had.

2. Worship will cost you your heart.

Psalm 54:6: “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.”

Notice David’s offering is “freewill.” Meaning, he brings it to the Lord of his own volition.

As a former worship pastor myself, I remember the struggle of feeling like I had to do two or three fast songs just to get people’s attention. There were the freewill few on the front row who would have jumped, clapped, and sung, were I leading with a kazoo. But my goal was to usher the frozen chosen on the remaining rows into the throne room of an awe and awareness of God’s presence.

I’d instruct, “Clap your hands.” “Lift your hands.” “Sing out!” “Focus on these words!” Eventually, you’d get a few of the deacons or second row leaders who would begrudgingly (at first) participate in musical worship (after a few moments of awkward direct eye contact with me).

And once you have the men on your team, you have the whole family. Wives, sons, daughters, and other men follow the men’s lead.

So, what if we had some men who God designed to be family leaders, decide to be worship leaders from their place in their row? What if men’s seeking and response to the presence of God was freewill and not forced? The church would be turned upside down. Our families would be turned upside down.

Men, I know you’re strong and tough. But by yourself, you’re not strong enough. God would love to help you keep your home, but first He must conquer your heart. The worship account will be filled by something or someone. Without the investment of worship in your family, you open up their future to a gamble with Satan.

3. Worship will cost you the spotlight.

2 Samuel 6:20–22: “[20] And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, ‘How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows uncovers himself!’ [21] And David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD. [22] I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes…'”

I know this is the one every man was excited about. If you are not a clapper, singer, dancer, or hand-lifter, you cringe at the thought of a spotlight. You avoid those things to keep people from looking at you. Well, I have good news and bad news right now. But it really is a matter of perspective.

Bad news: People are going to look at you. In fact, David shows us that when we abandon our pride in pursuit of God’s presence, people may very well misunderstand and mock us. Worshipping God will illuminate others to your presence as a single light in a room of darkness.

Good news: David says we get to grow deeper in this thing…more and more. Because it’s not about us. “It is before the Lord.” And if our worship is real, it may cost us our anonymity in the congregation, but when people look at us, the spotlight will really be on the reason for our worship: Jesus.

In our 2 Samuel 24 passage, let us not forget that a threshing floor is a high, visible place. It is where the wind catches the chaff and whisks it away, much like worship serves as the platform for God to get rid of the flakey stuff in our hearts and lives. Oh, and small little detail: The threshing floor where David now stands is in the neighborhood where Abraham would offer Isaac in worship, where David would provide for his son to build a temple to worship, and where God would offer His Son so that you can worship.

Real worship is a product of the price Jesus paid for our sin. And the more we realize how much we do not deserve to worship, the more passionately we will worship. Men who do not realize that worship is not about them do not participate in it.

The participation and presence of men in worship speaks volumes.
Likewise, the absence of men in worship speaks loudly.

Men, worship is hard work.
But it’s worth it…
Your family is worth it.
Your church is worth it.
JESUS is worth it.

Jon Groves and Alivia Lopez

Jon Groves and Alivia Lopez

____________________
Thank you for making it this far in the content. The fact that you’ve entrusted me with a few moments of your day means the absolute world, and I never want to take that for granted. There is a Facebook Group where I, along with some amazing others, are posting some phenomenal, custom content that would help jumpstart your day.

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Kristen Stanton: My Everything

Written by Staff on July 23, 2019 – 10:58 am -

Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton: My Everything

Psalms 18:1-2 “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my strength, in Whom I will trust; my Buckler, and the Horn of my Salvation, and my High Tower.”

Have you ever wondered why David, in writing this Psalm, used a laundry list of descriptors in his praise to God? And have you ever stopped to think about what each of them meant?

Information is important. As an attorney, knowing the facts is crucial. For example, in a custody case, people will parade through the office with their version of “he’s a good dad,” or, “she’s a good mom,” but the other information may not be relevant. What is important is what the child has to say – and how he refers to his father or mother. It speaks of the type of relationship he has with his parent.   

David is showing what type of relationship he had with his Heavenly Father. He understood who God is, but yet he also understood who God was in relation to him.

God was his Lord – He was the Master, the Ruler, the One in command.  When we submit to God as the Master, we recognize that not only is He in control but that He will always take care of us.  A servant submits his will to his master. When we understand that, we will then also know we can run to him for everything.

David then described God as his strength, his rock, his fortress.  David knew that he would have movable moments – those times when he couldn’t go on without God there to uphold him with His hand. And he knew there would be times he would need a place to fight from– his Fortress; those instances where he needed to feel secure – his Rock; and the only One who could defeat the giants he was facing– his Deliverer.  

God was David’s buckler. I’ve loved that descriptor since I first understood what it actually meant. A buckler was a small shield worn on the forearm into battle. Think about that image. Going into battle, the buckler would always be in front of the warrior. It would be the first line of defense. A buckler would never be tucked away behind a warrior or hanging to the side as if it served no purpose. It was there to defend.

If God is our Buckler, we can rest assured that He will always go before us. And if He always goes before us, we know that He will be our first line of defense against the enemy’s attack.

David also recognized God as the horn of his salvation and his High Tower. In other words, God was the author of his salvation. And as a warrior, David also knew the importance of a high tower– that vantage point where you could see the paths into and out of battle, the location of the enemy, and where all of the pitfalls on the journey would be.  

God sees it all. He created us. He called us by name. He knows exactly where we are. Yet in those two verses, David recognized choices that he had that we all also have.  We still need to choose to love Him. And we need to choose to trust Him.

Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton

In the end, David used a lot of words to say one thing: “God, you’re my everything.” Is He yours?

By Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton is a dynamic singer, speaker, and writer. From discussions on Facebook, to live concerts on any stage, Kristen’s main focus is to share her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She says: “I was saved when I was four years old. I’ve been in church my whole life. I went to a Christian college. I don’t have the experiences of walking away from God and how He brought me back. But I do have the experience of how God continuously reveals Himself to me… of how He answers prayer. I want people to understand who God is so that they can be more of a reflection of Him. My goal is to help others see God in a way that meets every need in their life.”
Following a trio of No. 1 songs from her debut project, “Destiny by Design,” Kristen recently  released her second solo project, “Love As Jesus Loves” and is currently writing songs for her new album. Kristen is also an Attorney-at-Law, serving clients in Northwest Ohio.

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Kristina Cornell: No Other Name — Healing

Written by Staff on July 18, 2019 – 7:30 am -

Kristina Cornell. No other name. Healing

Kristina Cornell

NO OTHER NAME — Healing

What is the difference?  If you had a favorite item and you could take it and have it repaired, OR, if someone could revitalize, remake the item, using the same structure, what would you choose? 

I have a pair of black leather boots. They are my favorite. They fit me perfectly, they are flattering with everything, and they are 10 years old. I wear them so much that the soles wear to nothing. They are leather so they get a little scratched here and there.

Early on, I would try and fix them myself. However, I decided to take them to a shoemaker. He removes the heel and sole, he conditions the leather, then polishes it. He replaces the sole with a new one.  I have had this process done twice. They look brand new every time he restores them. He actually calls it that. He does not call it a boot-repair, he calls it boot-restoration because he takes them apart and remakes them. 

No Other Name Like Jesus: The Tenth Leper

There is no other name that brings healing, but the name of Jesus. Isaiah prophesied of the Savior, Jehovah. He wrote: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed.”  Isaiah was shown by the Father that the Messiah would come to save the world. Last month was the first part of this series, and it was No Other Name – Salvation. This month we are doing No Other Name – Healing.  Jesus came to cleanse us from our sin and save us from an eternal removal from Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. He also came to save us from hurts and pains, from brokenness and sicknesses, from diseases and depressions.  

In the Gospels, the recollection of Jesus life on earth, we have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Luke was a physician and offers a different perspective on a lot of what was recorded. This is one of my FAVORITE stories in the Bible, and we find it in Luke 17:11-19.  Verses 11-14 set up the situation:

“11 As He went on His way to Jerusalem, it occurred that Jesus was passing along the border between Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as He was going into one village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.

13 And they raised up their voices and called, Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us!

14 And when He saw them, He said to them, “Go at once and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cured and made clean.

Oh my goodness, when we get to verse 15, it starts to get good.

15 Then one of them, upon seeing that he was cured, turned back, recognizing and thanking and praising God with a loud voice;

16 And he fell prostrate at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him over and over. And he was a Samaritan.

17 Then Jesus asked, Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

18 Was there no one found to return and to recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien?”

Every single time that I reach verse 17, I get butterflies in my stomach. I cannot imagine being one of the other nine. Jesus was disappointed. I could not imagine disappointing Jesus!  Of course, I also am so emotional and such a words driven person, I thank Jesus when I find an extra piece of gum in my purse. I cannot imagine being cleansed of leprosy and just going on my merry way without saying thank you. 

We really do not have a lot of information on those nine lepers that continued on their way. but we do know that number 10 was a Samaritan. Jesus called him an alien. There was nothing special about him. As a matter of fact, he had a mark against him for being a Samaritan, as they were not a good match with Jewish people. They had a long history of animosity toward each other.

This man was not high society; he was a have-not. He had no etiquette or training; he was a Samaritan and Jewish people called them dogs. Jesus was not affected by his title. Jesus was not affected by his status and by his disease. Jesus was affected by his heart. Jesus proved the greatest love that day. He loved others above all, and He selflessly cleansed these unclean people.

But the tenth leper…

Verse 19 says it all to me: “And He said to him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith (your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God) has restored you to health.”  All of the lepers were cleansed, BUT the tenth leper was restored.  He was not fixed; he was made new.  

On, the blood of Jesus, that washes white as snow. He poured out His blood for us, for our salvation and for our healing. By His stripes, we are healed. We can claim victory in our lives today because of who He is.

The tenth leper’s faith in healing is not what made him whole. The tenth leper’s faith in Jesus is what made him whole.  

No Other Name — Healing

You do not have to hold on to things in your life.  Let go and let God have His way. When He cleanses you, praise Him; when He delivers you, praise Him; when He heals you, praise Him…

Restoration will come into your life when you trust in Jesus. Trust that He has the best plan for you. If He does not take the sickness away, He will use it for your good and His glory. If you are afflicted at the hand of another, it is not God’s fault, it is their free will.  But God can take anything and “work it together for good, when we love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Will we face difficult challenges in our lives? Absolutely. Can Jesus still cleanse us from our uncleanliness?  Absolutely.

Just…Please…Don’t miss the next step…

Praise Him even when everyone else leaves, even if you feel like you’re a lesser-than and unworthy. Praise Him when everyone else wants to go tell others what happened instead of giving thanks. Praise Him even when you think He may not listen because you feel that you don’t deserve His grace or mercy.

Kristina Cornell. No other name. Healing

Kristina Cornell

Jesus hears us. He recognizes us. He restores us.

There is no other Name for healing, but the name of Jesus.

By Kristina Cornell.

Kristina Cornell is a regular contributor to SGNScoops website.

“…I have been delivered so many times by the hand of God that any creativity that I have I only want to give back to Him. I really have nothing else to say, as I have learned that I have nothing of significance to offer of myself. I am just like everyone else, in need of a Savior. I write from my heart, I write devotionals, stories, songs, messages, even starting on a book, and all I have to offer is Jesus and what He has done in my life!” — Kristina Cornell. Visit her website at www.tellthemministries.net.

You can find out more about Kristina on Facebook HERE.

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Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Written by Staff on July 16, 2019 – 11:55 am -

Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Cheryl Smith: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

A mother of four returns home from church to find her husband’s mangled car, just a block from home. As she enters her house, the phone is ringing. It is the hospital telling her to come quick, that her husband has been in an accident. She asks, ‘How bad is he,’ only to have the nurse on the other end of the line insufficiently cover the receiver while asking another nurse, “Shall I tell her?” At that moment, she knows he is gone. She struggles, wondering why he wouldn’t stop drinking, how she will tell her children their daddy is gone, and how they will ever make it through.

***

After the ending of a tumultuous relationship, a sweet, kind-hearted girlfriend takes him back just one more time. She gives him everything he asks for, including the money in her purse, only to have him return a few hours later to ruthlessly and repeatedly stab her face and body, leaving her lying in a pool of blood. She is found, arms folded, eyes turned heavenward, dead, on her apartment floor.

***

I stand beside my mother’s/her great-grandmother’s casket as the young girl in front of me pours out her heart. Addiction, abuse, and bad lifestyle choices have caused her to lose custody of her three children, and the only way she could attend the funeral was by obtaining a special pass from rehab. She tells me how she has made up her mind to change, and I tell her how proud of her I am. Just a few weeks later, she is released from rehab and everyone thinks she is finally turning her life around. Then someone makes an offer she can’t refuse, and she decides to go back for one more fix. Something goes terribly wrong, and her daddy finds her dead the next morning, lying on his bathroom floor.

***

This stuff isn’t made up. This is real life. Each of these is true and have touched my life and the lives of those I love in a deeply personal way. My mother was the young widow with four children; my niece, Victoria, was the kind-hearted girlfriend; and my great-niece, Ashley, was the young mom in rehab. I could go on and on. There are plenty of stories. You could probably share many of your own. The human condition is something we all have in common. Everybody hurts. We all cry. Things touch our lives, and we are left reeling, sometimes to never fully recover.

So, the question is, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Why does God look on while such things happen? How can a loving God allow such pain to be inflicted upon His creation? We hear of horrific happenings every evening on the nightly news, and we find ourselves asking the age-old, still-unanswered question again and again: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

In spite of the frequency and number of times it has been asked, the question remains unanswered because to answer this question one would have to be able to see into, know, and fully understand the mind and reasoning of God. We know from Scripture that God is high above us, and His thoughts and ways are beyond what we have the capacity of comprehending.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him?” I Corinthians 2:16

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:1-4

From these verses, we conclude that we can never fully answer the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people, but as we look at a broader view of Scripture, we can see that God’s original and never-faltering nature is and always has been purely and entirely good.

Our hearts cry, “Why, God?” when bad things happen because deep in each one of our spirits, we believe that God is good. We believe He is sovereign, that He is in complete control, and that He can prevent bad things from happening. So, why doesn’t He?

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