How Great is Our God

Several year ago, Amber & I got to see the live performance of the now classic Chris Tomlin song, but with an amazing twist.

Ok.... Here is a link to go watch it. Do that and come back to read more.

How Great Is Our God

Pretty amazing isn't it. Languages from all over the world, singing the same song to our God. His sovereignty put on display with voices he created. I'm moved every time I hear it. What a beautiful picture of the church global that will sing the praises of God in unison.

It reminds me of the amazing scene reveled to John in Revelation 4&5. There are four winged creatures circling around the throne of God singing:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!

Then the 24 elders add their voices to the praise

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Then John begins to weep, because God has the scroll in his hand that will bring the end of the age and the redeemed creation will come, if only someone could break the seals. No one in heaven or earth is worthy. What is to be done?

And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.

Jesus walks up to the father seated on his throne, in an amazing picture of the mutually submissive relationship of the Father and Son in the Trinity, and takes the scroll. Like a lamb who was slain, who paid the price for the salvation of his image bearers, he opens the scroll..... And Worship erupts, dripping with the prayers of the saints whose every tear was collected by their Heavenly Father, for this moment.

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

And then all of heaven joins in this new song

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

And then all of creation joins in this new song

I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!

As I type this in Uganda, surrounded by many different language and dialects from all over East Africa, I can't help but be moved by God's Revelation that King Jesus will come for his bride and redeem all things.

Until he does, I will listen to this version of How Great is Our God and weep because it is a mere foretaste of that great day.

The Need for the Word

I wrapped up teaching my first day, and I'm excite and exhausted at the same time. A bit excitausted if you will. (If Stephen Colbert can invent truthiness, then I can make up this one)

Today I introduced the class to Hermanutics or Inductive Bible Study if you fancy that better. We began with the writing of the scriptures: the who, when, where, how, of the divine inspiration of our inerrant Bibles. Stories were shared, favorite passages studied through new lenses, and often mishandled texts like Jeremiah 29:11 brought into the light of context.

It was awesome!! Not just the time in God's word, but watching students begin to open up to the intense and important task of systematic study of scripture. Washing away the years of shared "knowledge" and letting the very word of God speak instead of opinion, is of utmost importance. These students love Jesus and want others to know him too, but they need a firmer foundation to lead and love their congregations well. That doesn't happen outside of the right teaching of God's word. You can care for people and lend some comfort, but eventually that runs out when the world is shaken.

The core of the Gospel is that Jesus saves up through his work on the cross, and we know that because of the scriptures. Paul restates this fact twice here:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Without God's word, you can't begin to understand the depths of His love for you.

The work that TLI is doing here and around the world is eternally important. By strategically sending pastors to train other pastors, the theological and gospel spreading impact is exponential!! What a blessing to each nation that gets newly trained and equipped pastors to spread the name of Jesus.

Well, I'm so excitausted that I need to head off to get some rest. I will leave you with this illustration I got from Grasping God's Word. It's the core principle we are using this week for each passage, and a great tool to keep handy if you are diving in deep.

Global Purpose

If there is one thing getting out of the United States teaches you, it is that the world is much bigger than you imagined. From roaming around airports teaming with people from all over, to sitting on the plane next to a guy from Eastern Europe, or just looking out over the campus of ARU, you begin to understand that God has a global purpose that is beyond our little individual lives.


We must all come to grips with the reality that life isn't about us. This is a hard pill to swallow, since I was the apple of my mom's eye since birth. (and my brother Chris too, of course:) Our mission in life, the very purpose for our breath, is to bring Glory to God and enjoy him forever. This sets us on a path that bends and twists wherever our Lord pleases, for his Glory and for our joy, with him right by our sides.

When I look back upon my life, I am amazed at what God has taken through and gotten me through, often at the same time. High school rebellion, grace poured salvation, college intellectual challenges, getting married to Amber, becoming a teacher, leaving being a teacher, Eli, my first step of becoming a pastor, moving my family to WV, Savannah, developing amazing friendships, more education, called to leave, moving to Wyoming, leading a church, developing amazing friendships, snow drifts, Uganda, etc. At every step, God was directing my path, holding my heart when I was scared, and ultimately He got the glory from my obedience and my trust that He is good.

However, if you just read that whole list, it's very specific to me isn't it. That's the beauty of God. All our lives tell individual stories, but they all point to our one King, Jesus. We are all part of a global church, chasing after the heart of a global God, who has a singular purpose, His Glory.

This morning, I was blessed to attend the church plant meeting here at ARU. We worshiped through music and expository preaching, we clapped, we sang, and we enjoyed the knowledge that wherever we are in this world, we are part of a global movement of God's children falling more in love with our father in heaven, through his word.

Tomorrow class begins and the course I'm teaching here is Biblical Interpretation. Pray for me. Pray for my students. This course is the foundation for everything else in ministry and in life..... How to read and understand the scriptures.

It is a global imperative that all God's people are rightly taught the truth of scripture. This is often done through the preaching & teaching of God's word, so equipping pastors to handle the text is essential for deep and abiding affection for Christ to flourish in the life of the church.

Pray that God's Love Letter to His Children comes alive in their hearts and that they are equipped to lead their families and their people well.

From Passion to Uganda

Several years ago, Amber and I took a group of students to Passion in Washington D.C. They had decided to do several regional gatherings over a few months instead of one huge event in Atlanta. It was a model for the big news they announced that year.... A Global Passion Tour.

The prayer was to use each U.S. gathering as a catalyst for a corresponding global gathering. The church here praying for and sending leaders to the global church. It was a beautiful vision and the subsequent world tour of God name and his renown being championed had eternal consequences in many lives.

Serval years prior to this Passion, I had attended Passion in Nashville. It was 2005, I was teaching high school, but was being clearly called to full time ministry. The call to help others see the truth in scripture, instead of floundering through it or being completely mislead by charlatan "pastors", became the beat of my heart.

Fast forward to today, living in Wyoming with the same fire in my heart, and an opportunity to help equip leaders leaders in Uganda through Training Leaders International happened. I will be teaching Hermeneutics (fancy word for how to read and study the Bible) for two weeks at African Renewal University. This journey is going to be hard and exciting for so many reasons.

However, the one thing I know for certain, is that God ordained this years ago. This card was given to me at that Passion gathering 8 years before.


I carried it in my backpack for years, and then it ended up in the top drawer of my desk. Honestly, I haven't seen it for a few years, but the other day while cleaning out that drawer, it was found again. I'm so thankful that Jesus is directing my path instead of my cluttered nature.:)

Sometime tomorrow, I'll land in Ugnada, praying the passion for truth would ooze from my soul to my students.

Pray for me.
Pray for my family while I'm gone.
Most importantly, pray for the truth of the Gospel to be put on display and carried to the nations.

Gift of Perspective

For over a decade, I've grown more in love with the mountains.  This began the first time my wife and I treked to Winter Park, Colorado to ski fresh powder instead of the ice found in our midwestern home state.  

I'll never forget that view.  Standing above 10,000 ft, and then plummeting down the frozen, hard packed snow at the top, only to take a breather when we enter the fluffy stuff in the trees.  Multiple trips have been made back to that spot, and many others like in in the Rockies.  Each time we are seeking that rush, but for me, that moment of standing on the top, with my tips pointed down, brings everything back into perspective for me.  

We no longer live in the midwest, making Wyoming our home, with the mountians a constant view from our front door.  Each and every day, like John Muir so elequantly stated, "the mountians are calling, and I must go."  

Last weekend I answered the call, and the one to chase elk too, and spent several hours quietly making my way through the trees.  I saw signs of the elusive ghost, but no meat was put in my freezer.  It could have been a frustrating morning, except for the gift of perspective found in the view.  

25 miles away from where I stood and 3000 feet lower in elevation, is my home.  My wife, my kids, the church I shepherd, the community I love, and countless individual stories that are all part of God's overarching story of himself.  Sometimes I forget that I'm not the center of the universe and that all things aren't about me.  

God gives me the gift of perspective each time I'm in the mounatians.  

Jesus often withdrew to pray and rest after long days of entering into the story of his rebellious creation.  He was constantly seeking to connect with his father in Heaven, and to regain perspective.  

Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed

John 6:15 Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Where do you gain perspective?
Where do you connect with the father who loves you more than you can fathom?
When do you feel the deepest connection to the story Jesus is writing through you?

My prayer is that you'll stake a claim on the life giving place that grants God Glorifying Perspectibe to your soul.  

Go there.
Be with God.
Let the overflow guide every step.
Then return often until the final day is upon you.

Thanksgiving Matters

I'm sure we are all full from our festivities of Thankfulness. Turkey naps have been taken, shopping is all done, and the Christmas tree has been cut down (or taken out of the box).

But do you feel thankful? Really thankful?

Paul tells us in Romans 1 that our thankfulness matters. It is the key to Obedience. It is the key to Joy. It is the key to Eternity.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things -- Romans 1:21-23

A heart filled with self, is a recipe for a dark and foolish heart. This has led to the greatest tragedies in history and the saddest personal days in all of our lives. We weren't created to be focused on anything other than our creator and being stewards of all that he created.

C.S. Lewis wrote often about this heart issue. The last paragraph of Mere Christianity summarizes the biblical truth of giving up our lives for the truth of Jesus.

The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and the death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.

It is not in our self-interest to be selfish. Rather, self-denial is in our self-interest.

In Lewis's classic sermon The Weight of Glory, he poses this same dilemma of wicked and sad selfishness. In that context, he gives what has become my favorite Lewis quote:

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, sex, and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Are you Thankful that your savior loves you?
Are you Thankful that you have breath?
Are you Thankful that you have been created for a purpose?
Are you Thankful to the point of living life with open hands and paper thin agendas?

Thanksgiving matters not just once a year, but each day. Our Thankfulness is the key to really living and the source of all our Joy.

Happy Thanksgiving Today and I Pray EVERY Day