The Rocks Cry Out


What is the sound of grace?  Did you know that grace even had a sound?  It’s sound is described as sweet in the famous John Newton hymn titled “Amazing Grace.”

 

Worship also has a sound.  It can be as loud as a chorus of shouts or as soft as a whisper.  It can even include “silence” for personal reflection and meditation.  But have you ever sat in a congregation of believers during a time of silent mediation and found yourself praying and listening to the sounds of silence?  Yes, even a worshiper’s silence is audible.

Everything in God’s creation has a sound that is used to bring glory to His name.  From the crickets rubbing their legs together in perfect time, to the tree frogs answering one another’s call, to the rustling of leaves letting us know what the wind is up to, to the rhythmic grind of the ocean waves lulling us to sleep, and to the thumping of our very hearts; we see and hear the sounds of God’s creation all around us and it is just mind boggling how a Creator could have come up with such an array of sounds, let alone colors, shapes, textures, tastes and smells.

Is there anything that God has banished to absolute silence in this world?  How about the rocks?  To my knowledge, these have yet to produce a sound in and of themselves, but Jesus reminds us that the possibility actually exists.  In the gospel of Luke chapter 19, Jesus is quoted as saying:

I tell you if they (us worshipers) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  – Luke 19:40

And so we are tasked with making a joyous noise to keep those rocks from crying out for yet another day or for another generation to come.

In biblical times, God’s people made joyous noise to their creator using harps, lyres, cymbals and drums – together with their voices; and the rocks remained silent for one more second.

Throughout time we have used acapella praise, praise accompanied by the organ, instrumental praise with brass, woodwind and bells, and lately we have offered praise to the guitar, piano and drum; each one of us participating in this glorious symphony of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more minute.

We have chanted, we have spoken, we have sung our hearts out, we have wept, we have laughed, and we have groaned all as part of the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more hour.

There is a unified rustling sound as we all rise for the Gospel reading and there is a cacophonous sound at the close of our worship time together as we all place our hymnbooks back in their racks, and the rocks remain silent for one more day.

From the bombastic singing of an Easter celebration service to the quietest moments on Good Friday to the anticipatory sounds of Advent and to the babbled languages of Pentecost as worship is held across the globe in every tribe, nation and tongue – God is continuing to be praised; and the rocks remain silent for one more week.

There is a sound as we receive the Lord’s Supper; a crunch inside our heads as we take and eat and a gulp; and the rocks remain silent for one more year.

The din and clatter of change jingling, bills being ruffled and plates being passed during the offering; and the rocks remain silent for one more decade.

Babies crying, doors opening and closing, ceiling fans whirling, heating and air conditioning buzzing – these too are the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more century.

Time marches on, seconds turn into minutes, minutes to days, days to weeks, weeks to years, years to decades and decades into centuries.  Worshipers hand down their distinctive sounds from one generation to the next and tomorrow’s generation brings with them a new sound of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more millennium.

And yet, buried among these quiet rocks are a promise.  A promise for all worshipers.  An invitation to worship as we participate in creation’s symphony and yet another day without hearing even one rock cry out.

But I wonder what these rocks would say.

One might tell how a little shepherd boy named David used a small stone to slay a giant to show that we can do anything when God is with us and for us.

Another might tell how the prophet Elijah used stones to build an altar to God.  This altar was used to offer a sacrifice to God to prove that He is the one, true God.

Yet another rock might tell how Solomon had used stones to build a beautiful temple for people to worship God.

Still another rock might remind us that Jesus once told a story about a wise man who built his house upon a rock.  When the storms came, the house on the rock stood firm.

Yes, these stones might have a lot of stories to tell, but we won’t let them.  Just as the followers of Jesus lined the streets to praise their King on that first Palm Sunday, you and I are here to praise our King.  And as long as we praise him, there will be no need for these stones to cry out.

Ephesians 1 -Responsive 


M: He chose us. 
C: He adopted us. 
M: He predestined us. 
C: He gave us His grace. 
M: He redeemed us. 
C: He forgave our sins. 
M: He lavished God’s grace on us. 
C: He made known His will to us. 
M: He marked us with a seal. 
C: He guaranteed our inheritance.   
M: That, brothers and sisters, is how much favor we have with God.  

– Ephesians 1

Of course!

A Simple Prayer


God, please teach, lead, inspire and help me…

To listen intently, before I speak.

To think things through, before I write.

To earn, give, share, invest and save, before I spend.

To throughly investigate before I invest.

To forgive – always and forever.

To never gossip.

To try again before I quit.

To diligently plan before I retire.

To increase my giving as the year’s roll by and the graces accumulate.

To proofread one more time before I hit send or submit.

To pray for others, continually.

And to be always thankful for all that you have done for me, continue to do for me and will always do for me – blessings, grace, family, friends, wisdom, love, a house, a loving wife, a church, a faithful Pastor and a good life.

Amen.

Who am I? – A Responsive Reading


Who Am I?
If you read through the Bible and try to answer that question, you will find the following (put into the form of a responsive reading):
M: You are all children of God:
C: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. – Romans 8:16 
M: You are all God’s handiwork:
C: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10 
M: You are all forgiven:
C: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. – Ephesians 1:7 
M: You are all a new creation:
C: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 
M:  You all have been reconciled:
C:  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18 
M:  You are all heirs of eternal life:
C:  And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. – 1 John 5:11
M:  You All live by faith:
C:  For we live by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7 
M:  You are all co-heirs with Christ:
C:  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  – Romans 8:17 
M:  You are all blessed in the heavenly realms:
C:  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. – Ephesians 1:3 
M:  You are healed:
C:  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 
M: You are all strong:
C:  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13 

“You may not have ever realized this before, but your story is written somewhere in the Bible.” – Cherrie Hill

I’ll Begin


I think my brother nailed it with this one…

I’LL BEGIN

I’ll BEGIN the hour in silence
I’ll begin with God so near
For in this realm of solitude
God is surely here

I’LL BEGIN the day with meditation
I’ll begin the day with prayer
For there is beauty, praise, and wonder
When his presence is truly there

I’LL BEGIN the month with worship
I’ll begin with depth and length
For outside of three dimensions
The joy of the Lord is my strength

I’LL BEGIN the year with singing
I’ll begin the year with glee
And I’ll bask in his presence
In each year of jubilee

Smile More – A New Year’s Resolution


Smile More – A New Year’s Resolution
😇 Smiles are universal
😀 Smiles diffuse tension
😃 Smiles create trust
😄 Smiles have trans-formative powers
😁 Smiles tear down barriers and form connections
😅 Smiles make people happy
😂 Babies sometimes smile while they sleep
🤣 Smiles are transferable 
☺️ Smiles give a quick energy boost
🙂 Smiles cost nothing but give a lot
😌 Smiles foster goodwill in businesses
🤗 Ladies, your smile has a magical effect on us guys
😀 A smile improves your looks
🙂 Smiling lowers your blood pressure
😃 Smiling helps relax your muscles
😁 Smiling has therapeutic effects
🙂 Make smiling the first thing you do when you awake
😌 Smiling feels good
🙂 Smiling makes you look more friendly and easier to approach 
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. – Proverbs 15:30

His Eyes


What did the baby Jesus think when he first opened his beautiful eyes?  This was the inspiration behind the poem titled “His Eyes.”

HIS EYES

His eyes first saw Mary
And her enlightened face
Then they looked at Joseph
And that primitive manger place

He’d grow to see the villages
Of Nazareth and Galilee
And yet He’d seen them before
Somewhere before; in eternity

His eyes would see the lilies
And the sparrows when they call
The mountains, seas and forests
For He created them all

He also saw the people
And came to set them free
And somehow in His foresight
His eyes, they looked at me.

©2014 Robert A. Brown, excerpted from “Seated Above, Looking Below”, Used with permission

You are encouraged to reprint this poem in your church bulletins or newsletters or set it to music!

Links to Bob’s Books of poetry:
1. Seated Above, Looking Below 
2.  The Deep Calls to the Deep

3. Spiritual Passion 

Sing to the Lord a New Song in 2017


Every year, around this time, I offer a list of contemporary song selections for the upcoming year based on the lectionary readings. Here is a link to download my list for 2017:

Download Link

Enjoy!

This is an excerpt of what the file look like:

Sing to the Lord a New Song in 2017

 

Contemporary Song Choices for 2017 based on the Lectionary Readings
Date Song Title Writer Scripture Ref
Jan 6 Epiphany Mighty to Save Reuben Morgan Isa 60:1-3
One Small Child David Mecce Mt 2:1-12
Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) Chris Tomlin Mt 2:9-11
Jan 8 The Baptism of our Lord One Small Child David Mecce Isa 42:1
Jan 15 Epiphany 2 Jesus, Son of God Chris Tomlin Jn 1:29
Hear the Call of the Kingdom Keith Getty Acts 13:47
Jan 22 Epiphany 3 Whom Shall I Fear? Chris Tomlin Ps 27:1-3
Children of Light Stanfill, Reeves & Ingram Isa 9:2
Children of God Mac Powell 1 Jn 3:1-2
How Great is the Love Paul Baloche 1 Jn 3:1-5
Glorious Day Mark Bird 1 Jn 3:2
Jan 29 Epiphany 4 Speak O Lord* Keith Getty Mic 6:8
God of Justice Tim Hughes Mic 6:8
Lord I Need You Matt Maher 1 Cor 1:30
Unwavering Matt Maher Mt 5:1-12
Feb 5 Epiphany 5 Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) Chris Tomlin Isa 58:6
Here I Am Lord Dan Schutte Mt 5:14-16
Hear the Call of the Kingdom Keith Getty Mt 5:16
Feb 12 Epiphany 6 Beautiful One Tim Hughes 1Cor 2:8-10
The Same Love Paul Baloche 1 Th 4:7
Speak O Lord Keith Getty 1Cor 2:8-10
Feb 19 Epiphany 7 Living Stones Michael Schmid 1Cor 3:10-14
Your Grace Finds Me Matt Redman Mt 5:45

A Toolbox for Worship Leaders, Pastors and Musicians

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