Posts Tagged ‘worship’


My Journey of Faith
Gary DeSha

The dictionary defines “journey” as “a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time.” Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of Christianity.” I believe my journey of faith began when I was born. The journey continued until, in the summer of 1972, when it took a turn and became defined by faith, that gift of God, which enabled me to trust in Him as my Savior and Lord. Thereafter, my journey has enable me to associate myself with many expressions of the Christian faith. Each one has left a lasting mark upon my soul, all of which I am thankful to God for the time and experiences.

My journey of faith has become like a Bridge. The Bridge allows me to access both the treasures of Orthodoxy and the treasures of the Reformation. So, let me tell you my story; the story of my journey of faith.

I became a born again Christian through the prayers and ministry of my father and the pastor of an independent Baptist Church in June of 1972. Shortly thereafter, I received baptism. From that day, I was discipled in the Christian faith through regular church attendance, teaching, prayer, and Bible study.

In January of 1973, while attending a worship service, I read the Holy Scripture from Joshua 1:8-9 which says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” From this verse of Holy Scripture, and what the pastor was speaking on that day, I felt His Spirit upon me, and God calling me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
From that day forth, I began deep study of God’s Word, and began a program of mentorship under very mature men of God, pastors, and leaders within the Church. In 1973, I began an active duty career in the United States Army Chaplains Corps as a Chaplains Assistant. In my career, these Chaplains were a great help to me in my spiritual growth.

In 1975, while listening to a radio broadcast by the Rev. R. W. Schambach, I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time. After this wonderful experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, I sought out a Pentecostal church that would teach me the deeper spiritual things of God. I continued to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. I received my license to preach from South Gardens Baptist Church, in Savannah, GA. The pastor (Bro. Chambliss) was a man on fire for God, a true soul winner and preacher of the Gospel.

Since that time, I have served the Lord in a variety of capacities. From ministering to the soldiers of the United States Army, to the saints in local churches, I preached and taught the Word of God to many. I have served as the Pentecostal Fellowship Pastor sponsored by the Church of God, Cleveland, TN ministry to the military. I have served as worship leader and evangelist for an Assemblies of God church in Arkansas. I have planted and pastored several churches across the country.

There came a time in my Christian life, where I was concerned about how the some churches viewed the Lord’s Supper. After much prayer, study, and thought, I discovered for the first time in my spirit, the reality of the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine served at Holy Communion. In 1995, I was ordained a priest in the Evangelical Episcopal Church. I served an Episcopal parish in the State of Georgia. In 1996, while still searching and seeking God, I discovered the Eastern Orthodox Church. At that time, I believed I had discovered the full true expression of the Christian faith in Holy Orthodoxy. I sought out a local priest and after dialogue with his bishop; in 1998 I was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church and ordained as an Eastern Orthodox Christian priest. I have since served as a local parish priest and assisted local Eastern Orthodox bishops in their divine services, and on November 15, 2012 was consecrated Bishop for the Eastern Orthodox diocese of Minneapolis and all of North Dakota.

An Eastern Orthodox bishop, depending on his jurisdiction and rank, may be called Bishop (usually auxiliary to an Archbishop); Metropolitan (head of a large city or a Diocese); Archbishop (head of an Orthodox country or capital city); Patriarch (head of an ancient or ethnic Church). The bishops of the ancient Sees of Rome and Alexandria are also called Popes. Eastern Orthodox clergy of all orders wear the cassock or riassa in public, but when participating in a church service wear the vestment of their own order and rank. The Greek Orthodox also wears a black cylinder-like hat on top of which the celibates (except deacons) wear a black veil dropping down the back.

An Eastern Orthodox presbyter (priest or pastor) is either married serving as a parish priest or celibate, generally belonging to a monastic order called “Archimandrite”.

Vladyka or Theophilestate Vladyka is the Russian or Greek Orthodox form of address for an Orthodox Bishop (the English word commonly used in the Protestant, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches).

Since the summer of 2008, when my wife of 21 years passed away having lost her battle with breast cancer, I decided to re-look at my call to ministry, to determine exactly where God wanted me, and to take inventory of my Christian life. I discovered that I needed to be free of the Eastern Orthodox mindset I understood as being exclusive, a thought process that excluded other true branches of the Christian Church from one another. I could not accept that the traditions of men overruled the Word of God, the Bible as the final authority for faith and practice. I could not accept the fact the pagan worship practices had crept into the Church. The tradition of the Church is were useful to a point, this is true just so long as it maintains its integrity with what Jesus taught the Apostles. True church tradition is what the Apostles of Jesus Christ taught. I also discovered that I must take what I have learned from the Eastern Orthodox Church and weave that into what I learned many, many years before. God has brought me back to my first love, the true preaching, and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God. I am a student of the Word of God, and I am learning more and more each day. I must move in line with where God is taking me, and from where God has brought me thus far.

However, God did revealed to me something very wonderful. The most interesting event during my Christian life and ministry was the discovery of the truths of the teaching that came out of the Reformation of the 16th century. Almost three years ago, my journey and the process of learning as a Christian were aided by serving as associate pastor at a Lutheran Church in my local area. I served as preaching pastor for a new plant, and youth pastor for the parent congregation. During this time, I studied the Book of Concord, Lutheran doctrine, and really dove into what Martin Luther discovered. God opened this door for me to come to the knowledge of the truths of the Reformation. There were some aspects of Lutheran doctrine that I could not biblically confirm. To me, they were inconsistent with Luther’s discovery in the Word. I was confused as to why he held on to some of them. Anyway, I dove into the writings of John Calvin, and other infamous theologians and scholars. The doctrines of grace were being opened up to me, piece by piece. Some I had understood earlier in my Christian life, and then there were those things that were new to me. I had to change my thinking on some things too! The final step the Holy Spirit took was for me to read and understand the Canon’s of the Synod of Dort. God’s light shown that day, when reading the canons, and from there I have been assimilating Reformation teaching. I have determined what I must hold dear from my past and what I must depart from. What a glorious time of revelation it has been for my wife, Sue, and me. God has truly blessed us!

Therefore, I would like to reaffirm that: I believe God called me to preach the Gospel. I believe God called me to preach freedom those who are captive. I believe God called me to bring the healing power of God to those who are sick and infirm. I believe that God called me to care for the poor, the naked, and the homeless. I believe God called me to preach the full Gospel, the whole counsel of God, the true Apostolic teaching once delivered unto the saints. That Gospel is sans ritualism and formalism, yet it is complete with the understanding of what the Apostles themselves received from Jesus Christ and handed down to the churches. It is the succession of this apostolic teaching that is what I have been entrusted to uphold and guard. We measure not this full Gospel by what man has done or will do, but measure it by preaching the Gospel in the power and might of the Holy Spirit of God. We experience the full Gospel by how God uses his gifted people, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers to equip and build up the Body of Christ. We experience the full Gospel by how God gives gifts to the Body of Christ for edification and revelation.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I am a Reformed Christian who believes in the continuation of the experience of Pentecost with all of the biblical gifts and anointed treasures He has bestowed upon the Church. How can I be an Eastern Orthodox Christian, when in actuality I am not?

I would like to share my statement of faith. I believe that the most important statement of faith in the Christian Church is the Nicene Creed, the product of two Ecumenical Councils in the fourth century. Delineated in the midst of a life-and-death controversy, I believe it contains the essence of the full apostolic Gospel teaching about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Virgin birth, the Church, and the sacraments, guarding that life-giving truth against those who would change the very nature of God and reduce Jesus Christ to a created being, rather than God in the flesh. The Nicene Creed gives me a sure interpretation of the Scriptures against those who would distort them to support their own religious schemes. Called the “symbol of faith” and confessed in many of the services of the Christian Church, the Nicene Creed constantly reminds me of what I personally believe, keeping my faith on track.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
from He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead;
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets.
In one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

May God bless and keep you in His love and grace. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Understanding Idolatry in the 21st Century

Idolatry is something that all peoples have struggled with for centuries. While the worship of idols has been a part of many cultures of the world, the people of God have not done well either in this important area. The purpose of this paper is to understand some of the core issues of idolatry as well as why this issue continues to impact the people of God today as much as in the days of old.

The Scriptures address idolatry many times beginning with the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:4 (also seen in Deuteronomy 5:8) where we read:

Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”

Some view this second commandment as an extension of the first commandment, which reads:

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Early in God’s relationship with His people, He makes it clear that He is looking for an exclusive relationship that would exclude all other parties. Israel starts off on that track but it only takes 12 chapters and Israel is out of sync with God’s expectation.

Exodus 32:4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

Aaron’s leadership here is dreadful and Israel would pay dearly for this rebellion. God speaks to Moses in the harshest of terms.

Exodus 32:8, 10 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

The discipline results in a great loss of life as Moses speaks the words of God.

Exodus 32:27 Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.”

God has always called the people of God to worship and to the rejection of idolatry. After the initial idolatry of Israel in Exodus, the people of God remain faithful, for a time. Throughout the Scriptures, we see an ebb and flow of idolatry (2 Chronicles 11:15, Jeremiah 44:15, Ezekiel 6:4, Hosea 14:8, Revelation 9:20).

Why are you downcast, O my soul? (Psalm 42:5)

A Scripture passage that addresses the central issue of idolatry is found in Romans chapter one. There we read:

Romans 1:21-25 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Here we read that they knew God, but did not honor Him or thank Him. Instead, they exchanged the glory of God for images. This is followed up by the statement that they exchanged the truth for a lie. Written in parallel fashion, we read that they worshiped created things rather than the Creator.

That is the heart of the issue. Idolatry at its core is about a very bad exchange. People exchange the glory of God for the glory of wood, stone, metal, food, fame, and sex. This represents a very poor substitute. To make things even worse, God permits people to do just that. Romans goes on to say:

Romans 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.

Yes, God will allow people to forgo the glorious for the mundane. He will allow us to choose it and He will allow us to suffer the results from it. The result is a downcast soul.

Consider this word downcast for a moment. Divide this compound word and you have “down” and “cast”. The picture we see is that of a person who has experienced loss. The person is walking along a secluded path with puddles along the way. While the sun has already burst through the clouds above, the person continues to “look-down” as he walks along.

By contrast, we read in Isaiah 51:6 “Lift up your eyes to the heavens” as well as in Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?” God is calling us from a downcast glance on the created things of this world to an upward gaze of His glory.

Do you find yourself downcast at times? Why? Are there things in this created world that capture your attention? Perhaps you are looking for life in the created things around you. We can look to food, fame, sex, Christian service, power, ancestry, knowledge, and/or drugs for a sense of well being. While we may be able to state that these things don’t give life, we can still go after them unconsciously looking for just that.

The Great Exchange

If Romans chapter one points out a pathetic exchange of God’s glory for the created things of this world, many times in the New Testament we read of a great exchange.

1Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (emphasis mine)

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (emphasis mine)

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (emphasis mine)

Time and time again, God has taken the death and brokenness of our lives and exchanged them for life and wholeness.

Idolatry or Life?

We have seen from the above discussion that we can take the glory of the Creator and exchange it for a downcast view of created things. We look for life from those things that do not have life and can never give us life. In the process we forgo the only source of life, the Lord Jesus Christ and find barrenness instead.

What is the solution? I would suggest the solution of old: Recognition and repentance. Our only hope to find life is to respond to God in recognizing our tendency and pattern of idolatry. This recognition comes as the Holy Spirit shows us our wayward ways.

Once we recognize our downcast idolatry, we can find hope and life, as we look to the Creator and the glory that is His alone. We can then begin and continue to walk with our gaze toward Him. The result is life. If we look for life in creation, we will never find it. If we look for life in Jesus, we will always find it.
Things to Ponder

1. When you look back on the times when you have been downcast in spirit, is it related to an experience of taking your eyes off the Creator and focusing on some aspect of creation?

2. What is your preferred object of creation? What is it that is most likely to grab your affection?

3. How do you celebrate the glory of God?

~ by Rick Mann, PhD


What’s a worship service supposed to look like? I’m sure if we polled everyone, we’d get lots of different opinions – and strongly stated ones at that. But I think that a lot of us approach church a lot like going to the movies. It’s sort of a spectator and consumer activity to a lot of us.

Think of it like this: You go to the movie and buy your ticket. In church, that’s like the offering. Then you get your popcorn. In church that’s like the bulletin. So you settle into your seat in the theatre and listen to the music and passively watch those trivia questions on the screen before the show. In church, that’s like the prelude music and reading the bulletin while you’re waiting for the service to start.

Then, back at the theatre, come the previews for upcoming shows. In church, those are the announcements and for some of us, that’s the category that the music fits in as well – preliminaries – stuff you have to get through to get to the show you came for. And then in the theatre, at last, the movie comes on. In church, that’s the sermon. In the theatre, we had hoped to be entertained. Maybe we were moved, or maybe we laughed, or maybe we were scared.

And when the movie’s over, either we think it was a great or maybe it was a dud, and we let everyone we came with know what we thought. In church, we tend to have the same expectation, and we sort of give our assessment of the sermon in the same way. “That was a great sermon. That was a boring sermon. Man, pastor was meandering today, wasn’t he? I didn’t like the songs they picked this week, etc.” Then, after attending either venue, we go home and come back looking for a good show the next week.

For many of us, church is a weekly show we go watch. We pay our offering, as if we’re buying a ticket, and so we expect the kind of results we want. Our mindset is that we’re going to church to receive something. And certainly that’s an okay expectation on one level.

But ultimately, is that what a “worship service” is all about? I don’t think so. You see the very nature of the word worship, in all of its New Testament and Old Testament variants, is that it’s verb. It’s something we do. And that thing we do is never defined as simply “showing up” at a service called a worship service. If you’re going to be in a real “worship service,” it’s going to have to involve some people choosing to worship God.

Biblical words for worship have definitions such as “to kiss towards,” “to kiss the feet of,” “to bow down,” “to prostrate oneself,” “to ascribe worth to,” and “to serve.” Biblical worship is described as singing, shouting, bowing, kneeling, clapping, making joyful noises, dancing, sacrificing, giving offerings, and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. These are very active, physical sounding definitions and descriptions that don’t come close to sounding like “show up and receive something.”

Worship isn’t a passive experience. Worship is a response to who God is and what he’s done in light of who we are and what we’ve done. And when we really start to grasp that truth, we will find ourselves, bowing and kneeling and lifting our hands and singing with our whole hearts and giving our offerings as sacrifices to the one who sacrificed his all for us. Just showing up and listening doesn’t look anything like biblical worship.

If you’re looking for good entertainment or just want to watch a show, maybe it’ll be worth your eight bucks to go the local theatre. But if you’ve gotten a taste of who God is and what he’s done in light of who you are and what you’ve done, I’d recommend heading to church and let God be your audience for a while. He’d love to listen and watch and he’s worthy of every expression of worship we can offer him!

~ by Dan Adler


“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  Job 1:20-22

1.  When Adversity comes to us:

a. How do we react?

b. What do we do?

2.  The Heidelberg Catechism asks in question 28: “What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?”

Answer: “That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.”

3.  Acts 17:23-31 says, “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”

4. If we have the spiritual knowledge of God’s sovereign providence that enables us to be thankful when things are well or if adversity befalls us, we will know this, not because of the pain in and of itself, but because we know the Lord is working in it for His glory and our good.

Romans 8:28-30 declares, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

How many times have you asked why? Is there something missing in your life? Does the guilt of your sinful behavior weigh mightily upon you? Would you like to experience God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness? Jesus said I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10b The Bible says to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Here is how:

5. We must Repent – It is a command

6. We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ – this is how we obtain eternal life

7.  Why?

a. We are sinners – we are born that way

b. We are due punishment for our sin – “for the wages of sin is death.”

c. We face inevitable judgment – because of our disobedience

7.  There is hope! God, through His Son, Jesus Christ is calling you today; completely trust Him with the life He gave to you.  Repent, that is, turn away from your sin and unbelief, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart….and you shall be saved.

Rest assured, everything IS in God’s hands!

*Authors note: The following is the sermon I preached at my father-in-law’s funeral.

We are here today to honor and remember the life of Fran Dahlberg.  It may seem strange to speak about worship, especially since, to some; our prayers for Fran did not prevent his death. In particular, we find our attention drawn to the many good things about Fran, which only makes the matter of his death more painful to us. How is it that we should worship God in times of tragedy? The answer, I believe, can be found in the first chapter of the Book of Job.

We know from the first chapter of the Book of Job that he was a righteous man, a man who was blameless and who feared God and turned away from evil (1:1, 8). We know also that he was a man blessed by God, he was rich in the goods of this world (1:3), and he was blessed with a family of ten children (1:2).

We know, as Job did not, that God had chosen to use Job as an example of a faithful man. Satan, however, protested that anyone would worship God when God prospered him for doing so. “Let his life turn sour, and then see what becomes of Job’s piety,” Satan challenged. This scene in heaven is the backdrop for all the tragedy that is to follow.

I do not want to focus on Satan’s folly, however, but on Job’s righteousness in a time of family tragedy. The biblical story of Job tells us that wave upon wave of announcements of tragedy quickly were thrust upon this godly man. One messenger reported that all of Job’s oxen and donkeys had been stolen, and the servants were killed (1:14-15). Then another came to convey the news that lightening had destroyed all of his sheep, and those who tended them (1:16). Then another came to report that a band of raiders had stolen his camels and killed the servants who cared for them (1:17). The most devastating report came last. A wind had struck and collapsed the home of his eldest son, where he and all the other children were gathered, and all perished (1:18-19).

Satan was certain that Job’s faith would collapse, like the roof of the house of his eldest son, crushing his devotion to God. In addition, there was good reason, in Satan’s mind, for such anticipation. After all, Job was a righteous man. Why should God allow tragedy to strike not only his possessions, but also his loved ones? Even beyond this, we have been told that it was Job’s habitual practice to intercede for his children, asking God’s special care on them. The tragic death of his family was surely contrary to Job’s righteousness, contrary to his prayers, and contrary to his faith–or so Satan reasoned.

Some of Job’s responses were predictable. He tore his clothes and shaved his head–all signs of mourning and grief. But what he did after this is the key to our comfort in the face of grief–Job fell to the ground and worshipped God (v. 20), and these are his words:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

In these words, we find the reason why Job could worship God, even in the greatest tragedy he had ever known–the loss of his loved ones.

As I point out the reasons for Job’s worship, I want to be clear in saying that Job’s grief was not inconsistent with his faith in God. Job worshipped God with a torn robe and with a shaved head and a tear-stained face–all genuine tokens of his grief. However, in his grief, he did not lose sight of God. Indeed, it was in his grief that God become ever more real. I do not want you to think that grief is inappropriate this afternoon, for it is altogether right. However, in our grief, we will only find consolation, as we are able to worship God in the face of tragedy. There are two truths revealed in these words of Job, which were the basis for his worship.

First, Job was confident of the greatness of God.

He said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (v. 21). Job understood that God was in control of His creation. Whether it is the cruel and heartlessness of a raiding army, or the forces of nature, it was, in the final analysis, God who had given him his riches and his family, and it was God who took them away. Whatever had happened, Job knew that God had allowed it, and that He was still in control.

This same is true of Fran’s death. God gave him a full life and a wonderful family, and God, in His own time, took him in death. Just as Job recognized this when he prayed for the protection of his family, so the Dahlberg family, relatives, and others recognized it when they prayed for Fran. Just as Job remained confident, though his prayers seemed unanswered, we too must be confident of the Sovereign hand of God in the sudden death of this man whom we have loved.

Second, Job was confident of the goodness of God.

God is good, all the time. It is good to know that we can worship a God Who is all-powerful, Who controls every aspect of our lives. Nevertheless, it is even better to know that God, Who is great, is also a God Who is compassionate, merciful, and good. Because of the greatness and goodness found in God, there is every reason to worship Him. Verse 31 says that Job did not sin, nor did he blame God, as though God had done something wrong.

While Job did not understand the purposes that God was working out in this tragedy, He did trust in the Person Who was in control. Thus, he could worship, even in his grief.

In the Biblical letter from the Apostle James chapter 5:10-11 declares, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast (or patiently endured). You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

What we know that Job did not know.

Knowing the greatness and the goodness of God was the sufficient basis for the faith of Job, which revealed more in his worship at the time of tragedy than at any other occasion. These two truths, the greatness of God and His goodness, should be sufficient for our worship, but there is even more for us, for we have been given additional revelation, which was not made known to Job at his time of sorrow. I will briefly mention these.

The Word of God shows us how and why God was great and good to Job. Job not only glorified God by revealing his faith, but Job grew in his faith as he was tested. In addition, the last chapter tells us that when Job’s faith was strengthened, God prospered him twice as much in the end, as at the beginning (Job 42:10-17).

The greatest revelation, however, is that of the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospels. Here we discover that the believer not only can have victory in death, but also through Jesus Christ, have victory over death.

During His life and ministry, the Lord Jesus raised the dead. In John chapter 11, we have recorded the raising of Lazarus. There, our Lord assured Mary and Martha that He was the resurrection and the life, and that those who place their trust in Him would never die.

The Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus staked His authority and the truth of His message on His resurrection from the grave. Matthew 12:38-40 says, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The Gospels continued to describe Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, death, and burial, followed by His resurrection on the third day.

In the Apostolic letters of the New Testament, we are told that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis for the forgiveness of sins, and for our ultimate victory over death, for our Lord will come to receive unto Himself, those who have trusted in Him.

I submit to you now, that in the face of the sudden death of Fran Dahlberg there is more than enough reason to worship God. You will only be able to do that when you, like Job, have placed your trust in God Who is both great and good, and Who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in your place, Who paid the penalty for your sin, and to rise again, for your salvation.

Now, today, if you never have, is the time to repent of your sin, place your faith, and trust in the great and good God, through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian, but have slid back into sin, now, today, is the time to restore your fellowship with God with repentance and a renewed faith in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Some of you may have little or no experience with what I mean by preaching. What I mean by preaching is expository exultation. (This is how I preach – took it right out of my mouth!)

Preaching Is Expository

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God’s word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.

The preacher’s job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people’s lives.

The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can’t see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God’s word.

The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will make your spiritual bones more like steel, double the capacity of your spiritual lungs, make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God, and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn’t even know existed.

Preaching Is Exultation

Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what’s in the Bible, and the people do not simply try understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.

Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That’s one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.

Preaching Isn’t Church, but It Serves the Church

Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don’t have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.

One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better.

But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That’s why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4: 1-2: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.”

What to Expect from My Preaching and Why

If you’re used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won’t find that from what I’ve just described.

I preach twice that long;

I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful;

and I am not relaxed.

I standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.

That’s what I mean by preaching. Amen!

~ John Piper