The Inaugural “Throwback Thursdays”: Psalms 73 and a Word from Toby, Mike and Kevin

 

Today is the beginning of a new blog series called “Throwback Thursdays.” It will, appropriately, run every Thursday until people get tired of the Internet.

So, what is “Throwback Thursdays” all about? In theory, it’s pretty simple. In reality, it’s pretty awesome. On each post, you can expect two things:

 

  1. An impactful teaching plucked from the Summitview teaching archives
  2. An old-school Christian rock/worship song that somehow ties in or connects with said teaching

 

It’s the best of both worlds: sound and practical preaching of God’s Word coupled with songs that will conjure up a wide variety of reactions, from, “Did I really used to listen to that?” to “OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS SONG! I HAVEN’T HEARD IT IN 12 YEARS! LOOK AT HOW AWESOME THOSE CLOTHES ARE!”

For today’s throwback teaching, we’re going to the not-so-distant past of March 2012. It’s a John Meyer classic on Psalms 73 entitled, “Don’t Let the Ending Surprise You.” It deals with the issue of where we find refuge and approval in a world that constantly pushes us to walk away from our faith in God’s good boundaries. Here’s a link to the audio, and here’s the video.

 

 

Today’s music selection is a golden oldie from the pinnacle of Christian rock in the late 1990s: “My Friend (So Long)” by DC Talk. (GIDDY SCREAMING!!!)

 

 

We’d love your suggestions on teachings that have had a lasting impact on you and what retro groove would go well with it. Email your teaching/music pairings to trevorsides@summitview.com, or just comment on the post.

Happy listening/viewing!

The Best and the Most of the Best

 

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

 

I am thankful we sang this hymn last Sunday morning. It is one of my favorites. I love the line, “Thou my best thought, by day or by night,” and here’s why:

I am selfish. I want the best. Growing up, I remember many a sibling rivalry over this very matter. I would race against the others to snatch up the biggest piece of pizza and then I would hurry to eat that piece because as soon as you were done with your first piece, you could grab one of the limited seconds. The manipulative older brother came out when I would try to convince my little sister to trade cleaning jobs for the week. “Oh yeah, I’m sure that cleaning the bathroom is more fun than dusting, I just don’t want to hog all the thrills, so that’s why I’m going to give YOU the privilege of cleaning it this week.” Whatever the specific choice was, the underlying principle remained: I wanted the best and I wanted the most of the best that I could possibly have.

I have grown up a little, but the same tendency remains. I still want the best and I want the most of it that I can get. That’s why I love this hymn so much: It actually appeals perfectly to my selfish nature.

“Thou my best thought.” If I really believed that the greatest thing I could possibly conjure up in my imagination were thoughts that revolved around the glory and person of God Almighty, I wouldn’t want to think of anything else. If He truly is the best, all else is less than the best. No matter how good another thought may be, it would pale in comparison with the best thought. Do you want $1,000 or $1? What kind of question is that? Do you want God or something else?

The problem is I so often get deceived at what actually is best. There are so many things fighting for my attention and time and life and many of them look very appealing. Of course Satan has to lie and blind eyes. If he fought fairly and both options were seen for what they really are, God’s way versus any other way, it would be a no brainer. God’s way is perfect! It cannot be improved upon in the least. The one who follows hard after Christ, forsaking anything in the way of knowing Him more, will regret absolutely nothing.

This is reality. Knowing God is the best! Hands down, no competition, the greatest thing we as humans can accomplish with our lives as a whole and with each individual day is to know God better by the end of it.  

 

For a day in Your courts is better

    than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

    the Lord bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does he withhold

    from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts,

    blessed is the one who trusts in you!

(Psalm 84:10-12)

 

May we be a people who fully trust in Him. He is the standard of all that is good. Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing Him. It is eternal life. May we be a people who say with all that is in us, “Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.”

 

In His Image: Questions about Abortion and the Value of Life

 


I turned on the TV this morning to catch the weather and ended up sitting through three commercials in a row blasting certain political candidates for their “antiquated” views on women. Though eloquently speaking of freedom, family, and choice, these advertisements revealed their bottom line: Don’t mess with a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. 

My emotions got involved a little quicker this morning because a couple of days ago, my little 1-year-old girl suddenly stopped breathing for a few minutes and we ended up in the emergency room. We’re still not sure what happened, but she’s fine now, and all tests have come back normal.

Things come into clarity in moments of crisis. Take a breath and hold it. In 20 seconds your chest starts rising automatically, seeking air. After 45 seconds, you start getting lightheaded. Your body declares crisis, you must breathe. If you don’t, you’ll be unconscious soon, and eventually die.

In my daughter’s moments of unconsciousness I was acutely aware that her little life is precious and I would do anything to save it, even to the point of sacrificing my own life. I know I’m not alone in this awareness. Our culture values life so much that we’ve created incredible safety nets and systems to keep life going. In our case, the paramedics arrived to help in less than two minutes.

I’m not writing this to make a political statement. There’s no money involved, nor am I particularly attracted to or endorsing any particular candidate. However, I think the commercials I watched this morning reveal a logical inconsistency in the thinking of our society, including many Christians. In that context, I have a few questions to ask:

What is the difference between my 1-year-old daughter and an unborn child?

At what point can we clearly state that any particular life is not worth enough to be alive? 

Is the distinction that one is inside a crib, and the other is in a womb? Weren’t you at some point in your mother’s womb? Were you alive? If not, when was it that you became a person? Was it at 7 weeks when your parents heard your heart beating? Was it at the 20-week ultrasound, when they saw you sucking your thumb? How about when your mother went to a concert and felt you kick in response to the sounds you were hearing? Or was it the moment you traveled a few inches down the birth canal into the air? 

What makes someone a human being?

Why is it not OK for me to dispose of my 1-year-old daughter? What if I lost my job and couldn’t provide a good lifestyle for her? What if paying her hospital bills from a few days ago means I can’t afford a cancer screening for myself and I die earlier than I should have? What if she’s simply a lot of work and makes life harder for me? Do I deserve the choice of terminating her life? Why should I end up in jail if I made such a choice? Wouldn’t that be in violation of my right to choose?

What gives her little, helpless 1-year-old life such immense value that you recoil in horror at the thought of her being murdered? Why doesn’t an unborn child get the same value?

Who gets to choose to declare certain rights for some and not others? The government? A majority of the voting public? If so, could they choose that my life is less important than my neighbor’s life due to my race or gender? Could they kill me and cut my heart out so my neighbor could have a heart transplant?

When is a person worth something?

Just a few questions to ponder next time you see an advertisement critiquing “antiquated” concepts. 

 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13)

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

 

A Case of the Mondays

 

It’s Monday morning. That is all I need to say about how I feel about life right now. I’m tired and sluggish; beat down by all of the things that are unfinished in my life and not looking forward to starting a new week and compiling a whole new set. 


As I rolled out of bed this morning, the Spirit brought a thought to mind (as well as several verses): “Just get started.” I have felt this way many times, but I have never been so convinced that this is really the gospel waging war against my flesh. I can let so many things bog me down when I am facing Monday morning (or most weekdays, for that matter). Why is it that on Saturday I can bounce out of bed and get started enjoying the day? What stops me from getting started on a Monday?

I need to remember two things. Firstly: 


Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)


I do not need to know everything or have everything put together. I just need to get started. Saturday morning is the day that I forget what last week was—a week of short-sightedness, forgetfulness, failures, and stress. On Monday morning it all comes flooding back and my flesh says, “Just give up.” This is where the second lesson comes in:


For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13

 

I am so thankful that the Spirit lives in me and reminds me of these things. When I have a case of the Mondays, I am living according to the flesh. This is dying, not living. Today God reminded me how the gospel empowers to get started on the week.

The Spirit encourages us to press on to the prize, forgetting our failures and burdens. By the Spirit’s power, I want to live like I am looking forward to the day that I will stand in the presence of the King, and his glory will be so enthralling that I forget myself entirely. He bought that for me. 

I pray that the gospel will meet us every time the alarm goes off, because the glory of Christ is the only true prescription for a case of the Mondays.

You Can Smile Now

 

I've been thinking about joy recently: Finding true happiness in God, no matter the circumstances. I write as an eager novice in the area of joy, not a seasoned expert.

My wife and I recently watched an episode of Jeopardy! featuring kids. Check out this clip, especially the last 30 seconds.

I can tell you what I would be doing if I won Jeopardy!: jumping up and down, hands in the air, smiling and laughing! As I watched the young winner's composure and lack of visible elation, and heard Alex Trebek say, "You can smile now," it reminded me a bit of what we can be as the church. We know inside that we have the most amazing news possible in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances, and yet we tend to refrain from showing elation in God. Maybe it seems more mature to hold back displays of joy. Maybe we don't always tap into the reality of the joy in God that is constantly ours through renewed mind and heart in the gospel.


I recently read a quote from Martin Lloyd Jones, a famous British preacher from the 20th century, who said this about the Church's display of joy:

 

 . . . the greatest need of the hour is a revived and joyful Church. . . . Nothing is more important . . . than that we should be delivered from a condition which gives other people looking at us, the impression that to be a Christian means to be unhappy, to be sad, to be morbid, and that the Christian is one who 'scorns delights and lives laborious days' . . . Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and lack of freedom and of absence of joy. There is no question at all but that this is the main reason why large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity. (When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper, page 80)

 

He is basically saying that our lack of joyful display to the world is the primary reason why non-Christians have lost interest in Christianity.  

I don't know about you, but it is very easy for me to be devoid of any joy despite feeling very joyful, content and peaceful in God moments earlier. It is sobering for me just how quickly my eyes move off of Christ, and onto merely horizontal things. Just the slightest change in circumstances throws me off.

I liked this commentary note from Matthew Henry, a 17th century Bible commentator, which expands on two famous passages on joy in God (Philippians 4:4, Psalm 37:4):

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice” (v. 4). All our joy must terminate in God; and our thoughts of God must be delightful thoughts. "Delight Thyself in the Lord" (Ps. 37:4). . . . Observe, it is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service.  There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst of circumstance on earth. . . . Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it.

 

For me I need continual reminding of Hebrews 12:1-2:

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Cliff notes: For sustaining joy, I keep my eyes on Jesus, who kept His eyes on the Father to sustain His present and future joy.

I'm encouraged by the way this concept of joy in God is captured in the lyrics of a song called "Beautiful One," by Steele Croswhite, a pastor, songwriter and musician from our sister church in Salt Lake City, Utah:

 

You’re the author of all that is good in life, the reason for all my joy

You’re the maker of music, the victor of death, the reason for all my joy

You’re the hope of all men, the marvel of angels, the reason for all my joy

Yes, You are . . .

 

You can listen to the entire song here.

Next time you check your spiritual pulse, and don't feel joy pumping from your heart, remember to set your eyes on God, the reason for all our joy in all circumstances.

And don't forget, Christian, you can smile now.

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