No more Pain!

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No more pain!

No more pain is what I expected after seeing my dentist. That finally I could fall asleep quickly and not constantly be aware of my teeth. Time to do away with the painkillers if only for a time. Who knew something so small could cause such discomfort.

While in pain we realise the weakness of these bodies that we treasure so much and see the reality of life in this world. We groan, toss in bed and cry to God whether we believe in him or not. And at that point we realise that we are not invincible despite what the world sells to us on TV. I know I’m not. 

But mostly we just want pain to disappear and stop interrupting our daily lives. Who has time to be sick in this rat race? Not forgetting how much it may cost us in time.

Pain and death are not unnecessary disruptions but reminders that all is not well with our world.

But sometimes, I wonder whether we have become so glued to the cycle of our daily lives that we have forgotten we live in a broken world. That we live in a world where people don’t always get to do what they want. That pain and death are not unnecessary disruptions but reminders that all is not well with our world. This is the world we live in: a world of pain and death.

Living in hope

But I shouldn’t use tooth pain and my headaches to generalize or undermine this matter. Many are suffering in ways most of us will never understand. The last thing they need is someone to say their pain doesn’t matter as we live in a broken world.

For us pain is not an end in itself but a reminder we are not yet at home until our Lord Jesus returns.

But without seeing the problem we wouldn’t appreciate or even understand the solution God gives in his Word. For that’s precisely why Christians long and yearn for the new world God promised in the Bible. For us, pain is not an end in itself but a reminder that we are not yet at home until the Lord Jesus returns. Then will live without pain and death in the new creation:

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21.

Some will say visit a GP and move on with life. Face life, deal with your losses and move on. Live to the fullest while you still can. But I think such people miss the opportunity that pain and death teach us about the reality of life on earth and the amazing hope we can have in Jesus. When we talk of living to the fullest in this world we must bear in mind such weaknesses. It’s a broken world after all.

What’s more, we are so busy to move on that we forget we are actually moving on to the grave. We are so quick to get on with life and tick off our bucket lists that we never stop to ask where this road is headed. If we did I think we would pay more attention to what God has to say in his word in response to this broken state of affairs.

Pain-free, yes, please!

What if there’s more? What if we can truly live, not in the momentary comfort we crave in this life but truly live without ever worrying about pain and death? What if we can have it all and much more? The Bible claims that such a future awaits those who turn to trust and wait on God:

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Isaiah 25.

What the Christian faith offers is not just what we all desperately crave but more: eternal life with the God who made us. A world of abundant blessings, peace with God and without pain and death.

Taking your life seriously 

Perhaps all we can do for now is to visit a dentist and see a GP. But before we run back to our busy life why not stop to consider the claims of the Christian faith.The offer of eternal life is a free gift to those who would turn to trust and live for King Jesus now. Do not dismiss this without further investigation, turn to him by faith or at least reconsider:

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you (Israel) did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness…Hebrews 3. 

 

Have you even considered this could be true? Not the stories you heard growing up or in religious debates. But have you thoroughly investigated the message of the Bible for yourself as an adult? You owe it to yourself to care about your eternal future.

If this is true, then pain and death is not your worst nightmare. No, you are wasting your life in a cycle of events that will be the end of you. And the worst is yet to come. Not to scare you but to tell you the plain reading of the Bible.

Pain is not purposeless when we see it from the eye of God’s Word. Let your pain count for something greater than momentary comfort.

To find out more: I would suggest going to a Bible teaching church, perhaps start by reading a Gospel account and asking questions as you read through. Let the Word convince you. And if this is something you would be interested in investigating further then please ask a Christian friend or inbox me for more details.

Pain is not purposeless when we see it from the eye of God’s Word. Let your pain count for something greater than momentary comfort.

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Worship beyond the church door!

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I recently listened to this song, My Church by Maren Morris and it got me thinking what Biblical worship means and doesn’t mean. You may need to check the lyrics and maybe listen to the song to understand where I’m coming from. I promise you will find it interesting and won’t fall away from grace.

But if you are not comfortable listening to secular country music then just read along and please tell me what you think.
Here are a few lines:

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church…

(My church lyrics by Maren Morris)

Some of us might actually struggle to realize this is not a Gospel song or a church hymn. Perhaps it would pass the test in a couple of churches. But I found the song interesting not because it draws me to worship but as it warns me to be clear what worship is and isn’t about.

Some of you may have valid reservations about listening to this. It is a mockery of what church and worship are about and could even be termed blasphemous. But bear with me for a moment and please let me know what you think in the end. Perhaps I need to be rebuked for entertaining this thought.

In this song you have everything that would make a good “worship experience”: well-played music, a choir, and a congregation to sing along and you can be sure of many “hallelujahs” to this one. But one thing is missing, the one thing that defines Christian worship, God’s Word.

Worship as we see it in the Bible is a response in total surrender, submission, and reverence to God and his Word. It’s God’s Word that cuts people to the heart and brings honor to God through his people’s lives.

It is not a one day in a week affair but affecting all of life. In Romans 12 we are called to a way of life as a living sacrifice in response to what God has said in this amazing Gospel focused letter. This is Biblical worship:

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

You cannot read those verses and think Paul has in mind just your normal church service. If so he has missed a lot that would be deemed essential for worship Sunday. He doesn’t even think about music when he talks about worship!

But far from it, the letter has bigger fish to fry. One day a week is too low a bar to define worship. He has in mind your Monday to Sunday, every day, all the time and all of life. Because a Christian is called to a life of worship when he turns to follow King Jesus.

God’s Word as the heart of worship
But it would be a big lie to assume worship is merely our response and outworking for God. As with grace, it is a gift and not something we achieve on our own even with all the right motivations to do so.

No, God produces worship in us as we submit to his word. Not even worship is our own doing but a product of our renewed minds by his word to do his will.
We see this in Romans 12:2:

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We can only worship God because of what he has achieved in us as those he has breathed new life in his Son. As he says somewhere else, Christians are God’s new creation made to do his good work:

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2

It’s because of what Jesus has achieved in us, our redemption and reconciliation that we have become worshippers, that is, Christians.

And it is the work of his Spirit in us through his Word that brings out a life of worship instead of conforming to the pagan and religious life of this world.

What about the church service?
Back to Maren Morris’ song, if Sunday is just a tip of the iceberg that is a life of worship; why do music, the service, and all the liturgy matter?
To some extent, it doesn’t matter how we organize or sort our music as long as the heart of worship remains to be God’s Word.

I must not be heard as saying music is irrelevant but that it is not the heart or even the catalyst of worship, God’s Word is. Music is very helpful in echoing the truths of God’s word to each other and in response to what God has said.

Mostly I remember the songs more than I remember the sermon outline. But if we don’t have God’s Word at the center then we are not different from Maren driving down the highway with her radio on.

Most of us would enjoy a church service that has well-played music and a good choir but if I left without hearing from God’s Word and speaking this to my brothers, then I should never claim I was in church. At least not a Biblical church as we see it in the New Testament.

Is church just about the sermon then?
God’s word is the heart of worship and yet we don’t go to church as we do a school. Back to our definition of worship from Romans 12, we know worship has life in mind and the Sunday service should have people’s lives at heart.

We are not there merely to tell each other what a book says but to hear from God, encourage one another in this truth and share this life of worship together. Everything we do including music should serve this goal. If music competes or distracts us from this aim then we should be ready to cut it down or even cut it out.

In the rest of the chapter, Paul continues to talk about how church life and the body of Christ looks like and again he has in mind more than just the official Sunday service. He has every member in mind, each of us using our gifts to fully serve and build up one another not to compete with one another.

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12.

And as you read on it becomes perfectly clear that worship life flows beyond the Sunday service in your local church to your work place and community to how you live in this secular world.

When you clearly understand this then Maren’s car or my bicycle becomes a place of worship like anywhere else for a Christian.

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