Month: March 2014

Guilt, Shame, and Conviction.

What’s the difference between guilt, shame, and conviction?

I was asked this question today.  One of the young men in my church said that after the lesson yesterday, he felt so bad about how much time he was spending at work, rather than going to church.  He kept saying, “I love our church, and I love being there.  I just can’t make it sometimes.”  We spoke for several minutes about how much he loved the men in our church and how much they have taught him to be a better father, and husband.  Eventually, he stopped me mid sentence and said, “You know, I think I feel so bad about this because I don’t have to work on Sunday, I choose to work on Sunday.” 

Now that’s a different story. 

I wrote in my book, Checklist Jesus, that there is nothing that signifies that Sunday is in some way more special than the rest of the days, the commandment to observe the Sabbath is about obedience and rest to refocus our lives on the Lord Jesus.  I, for one, cannot take Sunday as a Sabbath due to the work that I do for my church.  However, it is vital for my life to observe the Sabbath. 

My friend and I began to discuss the idea of conviction from the Holy Spirit and how sweet it is to know that God is interested in us to the point that we are called to new action, rather than being disregarded due to our sinful nature. 

He asked a great question as we finished our conversation.  He asked, “How do I know if I’m feeling guilty for the sins I’ve already confessed, or when I need to do something else about it?”


I gave this explanation as a way to help him decide.

Guilt – It’s a fact. I’m guilty of all the things I’ve ever done.  Good and bad, I am guilty of all of them.  Feeling guilty should be sobering, not sad.  Knowing that there is a truth about your action also helps us to understand the value of God’s justice and mercy. 

Shame – This is a lie.  Shame is the idea that Satan plants into your mind that inspires you to assume that your sins are too big for Jesus’ blood to cover them.  If Romans 8 is true, then shame has no place among the people of God. 

Conviction – This is the spiritual urging that entreats us to leave the bondage of sin, and return to the freedom of serving the Lord.  The Holy Spirit Convicts in order that we will alter our behavior.  This is not done to make us righteous, Jesus already did that through the cross, the behavior modification is to return us to freedom in Jesus and service to His kingdom. 


What do you think?

No Such Thing as ‘Worship’ Music

The question was asked of me yesterday, “Can there really be music that is ‘Worship’?”

I was immediately excited about the question, because it helped me to raise a better question.  “Is anything Sacred and is anything Secular?”

The student immediately recited something they heard in 4th grade Sunday School class about certain things being permitted in the old temple, but their response didn’t even scratch the surface of the truth.  The question asks if there is anything that the Lord created that is innately evil, or innately holy.  Or, is every element of existence simply neutral in its existence, and therefore available to be used for either God’s glory or man’s glory. 

Music, being neither sacred nor secular, means that music is simply an element of our existence and can be used for God’s glory, or can be used to glorify man.  That being said, my student asked, “What about our worship on Sunday?”

“What about it?” I asked.

The presence of music in a church does not make it holy, nor does the singing of songs in a church mean that a congregation is worshiping God.  Music, even that occurring on a Sunday morning, in a church, by people who claim to be Christians, can be an act of worship to the people who are presenting the music, not to the God of the universe. 

Interestingly enough, even a congregation who is worshiping the Lord can be led by a minister who, because of the pressures being placed on him by men, is bending to the will of man, rather than being led by the Lord. 

What must we do then?

We must determine within our own minds that the things we do can be used to glorify the Lord.  Also, we must engage the Lord prior to any act we hope to call worship, and beg Him to inhabit the activity.  We don’t need Him to inhabit a hymnal, guitar, or amplifier; we hope that he inhabits us, as his people.  We pray that he inhabits the praise of his people, regardless of the earthly activity being used to promote His name. 


For more on this subject:

Checklist Jesus – Jeremy A. Walker

Is Your Worship Music Being Driven by Complaints or Mission in Context? – Ed Stetzer

The Low Down on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) – Dusty Ledbetter

Keeping Up

About ten years ago, I began a Myspace page for my youth group.  At the time, it was the best way for me to get information to my students.  I had previously been using a product called Xanga, but my students thought that was a bit too old for them.  Then there irrupted a phenomenally more powerful social media site which brought Myspace to it’s knees and my students to it’s feet.  Facebook was born, and all the world groveled at it’s feet.  I struggled to get acclimated to the new format, but found that all my friends were already on the new site, and my students shortly followed. 

That model of social media sustained our group for almost six years, until I began to dabble in Twitter.  Not really knowing the purpose of twitter, I just started posting and finding interesting people to follow.  Then, day by day, the share of my students on Facebook began to dwindle.  It’s not that they canceled their profiles they just stopped using it.  I began to notice their activity ramp up on Twitter and this new addition called Instagram. 

Instagram, I thought at first, was a redundant format that added no practical value to the social media experience.  So when Pinterest popped up, I had no desire to get involved. 

But this morning, my idea of practical value got a major overhaul.  The recipient, not the sender, determines the value of the platform, and the information that we put on it. 

Just as important as the Bulk Mailer of the pre-internet era, the value is only measured by those who find the information useful.  Also, the necessity of the platform is determined by the degree of interest maintained by the.  If the information presented is also only valuable if people see it. 

Information that is worth sharing is worth presenting on whatever format your audience prefers.

Granted, there are more social media sites than these, but I’ve only got ten fingers…


Yet to Come…

Yesterday, I sang a song in church entitled God of This City by Aaron Boyd, Andrew McCann, Ian Jordan, Peter Comfort, Peter Kernoghan, Richard Bleakley. 

I was primarily drawn to this song because of the chorus of the song because the words seemed so true for our church.  

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things have still to be done
In this city
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things have still to be done here

The thought that the Lord has more in store for us than has already been done is an exciting prospect.  So many times, churches assume that they may have more days ahead of them than are behind them, but will there ever be a pastor like ______________?
Or will there ever be a church member like __________________? 
Or, nobody will ever do ___________________ like ___________________!

The exaggerated nature with which we discuss our past makes today tedious, and tomorrow a tragedy.  It is true that yesteryear was valuable, and it is even true that we could not be who and where we are today without those who came before.  However, I serve a God who is timeless.  Therefore, the work that is being done by the Holy Spirit is not tiresome to Him.  He will never grow tired or weary.  He will not take a day off.  He does not reminisce fondly of the glory days of His church.  He is concerned about today, and is building up His people to accomplish things that have never been done. 

My church will accomplish more in the coming years, than in the combined total of what has already been done.  I know this because in the coming years, we will stand upon the history that has been provided for us, and stretch out our hand toward the day when our Lord returns.  Our hearts will not grow tired, because our rest and our strength will come from the Lord.  Our enemy will not prevail against us because He who is within us, is greater than he who is in the world.  Not even the death of the Saints will diminish our resolve to share the love of Jesus to the world around us, because they will have provided an enduring testimony for those who come after them.  A testimony that declares before all men that Jesus Christ is worth living for!

Decide who’s you are, and to what purpose you have been adopted.  He calls us all to be a part of His story.  Greater things have yet to come!

Can the Church be Graceful?

The worse a person felt about [oneself], the more likely [he/she] saw Jesus as a refuge.  Has the church lost that gift? Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome among his followers. What has happened? – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Getting into this new book got me thinking about the opinion of the church by people who are outside of the church.  This question has plagued me my whole life.  I wonder why it is that people don’t want what the church has to offer, and/or they reject the premise that a loving God exists. The only explanation I have is that the Church has not shown people the kind of Grace that Jesus showed the people that met him. Shame needs Grace

From elementary school through high school, from youth ministry to counseling, I have been confronted by the pain that many people feel.  It seems as though when pain is experienced, or even self-imposed, that people who subscribe to the idea of a loving God react as though there is a safety net, below which they cannot fall, whereas, those who do not believe, react as though the glass ceiling has fallen ever closer to crushing them completely. 

I have to believe that the church could make a difference in how people experience pain, and shame.  I think the difference between the church that shares grace, and the one that hides grace under lock and key, is that some have experienced grace, where others have not. 

I am not implying that some who call themselves the church are not saved (well, I am, but that’s not the point right now), I am suggesting that some have had their sins laid before the world, and have had to wallow in their own debauchery.  Their sin, and shame have taught them the value of grace and mercy.  They are able to share real grace, because they are recipiants of real grace.

It’s like the Prodigal Son.  In the foreign country, broke and broken, the son found himself shamed by the food for which he hungered.  It was that conviction that allowed him to recognize the error of his ways, and return to the father. 

The father accepted him, but the elder brother did not. 

What can we do to make the contemporary church look more like the father, and less like the elder brother?