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Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord)

The final Psalm (150) exhorts everything that has breath to praise the Lord. And again, “Praise the Lord!”

Let me be up front: praise and worship is not all about music. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts or simply know my heart (or your bible), you know this to be true. Worship is a lifestyle, not just a musical genre. However, I am going to focus more heavily on music within this blog post as I reflect on the events of this past week. I was blessed to, once again, attend Sing! (Getty Music Worship Conference) in Nashville, TN and boy did we sing… a LOT!

Keith and Kristyn Getty have been resourcing the church with solid worship songs, both in theology and musicality, for multiple decades as they lead modern hymn-writing efforts. They desire for God’s people to be a singing church as God has created, compelled, and commanded us to be. If you want to know their heart (which I also share) in a nutshell, read their book Sing!

The Getty’s aren’t the only people producing modern hymns for God’s people. Among the vast and growing number of song-writers for the church, are worship leaders Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. Both the Getty’s and the “Matt’s” premiered their latest albums during the conference and I fell in love with their exciting new hymn, Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord). Read the following excerpt from Matt Papa about the new hymn.

The book of Psalms beautifully and famously shows the breadth and depth of human emotion. It helps us “feel” our faith. in many of our songs in the past we have explored the reality of our sorrows, but with Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord), we wanted to emphasize the power of how the book of Psalms culminates – in overwhelming joy and praise! I think in 150 being the final Psalm God is teaching us something – that sorrows are real, confusion will happen, the journey is long – but it all crescendos in praise. There is an exclamation point! Joy is where we are headed. The world knows it. The seas know it. The mountains know it. And we can get in on it. ~ Matt Papa

As a worship leader, I love passages such as Psalm 150. It’s one of our “go-to” Psalms as we call God’s people to worship Him. So excuse me as I geek out over this new hymn that expounds upon this final Psalm. (Not to mention it has a modulation at the perfect place in the song and the tag at the end just gets me every time.) This song helps us to rightly focus our lives on who God is, what He has done, and the promises that He’s made and kept. When we come to the end of the Psalms, we come to the end of a journey filled with an array of emotion and we arrive at the beginning of our forever as believers: worship of the Lord. One day it will be in His glorious presence.

As Matt Papa said above, we can get in on this now! Spend your days praising the Lord. He deserves it. I encourage you to use the video below to help you get started.

Pink Elephants and Tomato Sandwiches

Hello CBC! I hope this post finds you well! My name is Tommy Austin. I am the new student pastor here at Coats Baptist Church. If we have not met before I look forward to the privilege of meeting you in the near future.

Have you ever tried to control your thoughts? It is extremely hard. Some might even say it is impossible. The classic example to demonstrate this is the pink elephant example. (If you have already heard this, please indulge me for a moment.) As you read this sentence, I would like for you to think about a pink elephant. Do you have a picture of a beautiful pink elephant in your mind?

Ok. Good.

Now, I want you to stop thinking about this pink elephant. How did that work for you? It probably didn’t. Most of you reading this still have an image of a pink elephant in your mind.

Why does this matter? Have you ever had anxious, worried, angry, or fearful thoughts cycling through your mind? I’m sure you have. Many times they are so hard to get rid of. We try to not think about them, but just like the pink elephant, they do not go away. These thoughts have great ability to steal our peace and rest. Therefore, as someone that struggles with an overactive mind, I would like to spend some time sharing a few verses that God has used to bless me and give me peace amidst anxious, worried, angry, or fearful thoughts.

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

First, I want us to see what this text is not saying. This text is not telling us to “stop thinking about sinful things.” This is important to understand. Paul is not commanding the Philippians to empty their minds into a tranquil state of peace. No, Paul is not commanding that at all. It seems that Paul understands the principle behind the pink elephant illustration. He seems to understand that mental discipline is not as simple as an on/off light switch. It is much more complex than that.

Now let’s turn our attention to what Paul is truly instructing the Philippians to do. In verse 8, Paul says, “think about these things.” This is the first command we see in these two verses. On the battleground of the mind, the Christian is not expected to have the ability to empty his/her mind. No, Paul desires that the Christian fill his/her mind. Peace in the Christian life does not come from lack of thoughts. Peace comes from a mind filled with the right thoughts. Therefore, what are these right thoughts?

Praise the Lord, Paul tells us what they are. At the beginning of verse 8 he says they are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy thoughts. Now this poses us with a new question, “how are these categories of thought going to be defined?” For example, you might think tomato sandwiches are amazing and commendable to everyone you see. But, in my humble opinion, I would think you are wrong. Anything with a raw tomato on it is not good. Therefore, in this silly example, we have two differing opinions of what is commendable. This is acceptable regarding a tomato sandwich, but it is not acceptable when talking about true, honorable, just, and pure things. These things must have a standard. Thankfully, Paul has given us this standard: his example and teaching.

In verse 9, Paul states, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things.” He is telling the church in Philippi to fill their minds with his teaching and his example. These two standards can be defined by gospel centrality and christlikeness. Paul’s teaching was centered around the message of Christ life, death, and resurrection. He tells the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “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….” The gospel message was of first importance to Paul. Regarding his example, Paul simply tells the church in Corinth, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul strove to live his life after the example of Christ and he called others to follow his example in doing so.

While today, we do not have Paul walking and talking in front of us. We do have something just as good: the Scriptures. The Scriptures record for us the gospel teaching of Paul as well as glimpses into his christlike life. In addition to this, the scriptures record the life of the one Paul patterned his life after: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, we see that our application from this text is to fill our minds with the Scriptures. The Scriptures point us to the one that Paul’s teaching and life centered around. This is a great time to challenge everyone reading this to practice scripture memorization. Scripture memorization is a wonderful way to shape our minds to think like Christ. As we begin to think like Christ, it shapes our lives in a christ-like manner.

After Paul instructs the Philippians to fill their minds with his teaching and example, Paul finishes these two verses with the great benefit of a mind filled with Christ honoring thoughts: the presence of the God of peace. Verse 9 ends by saying, “and the God of peace will be with you.” What an amazing promise! As we fill our minds with the truth found in God’s Word, we will begin to experience the peace of God’s presence. As Christians, we know that God is always with us. Christ promises this at the end of Matthew 28. Even so, it’s not always easy to remember that God is actively present with us. Filling our minds with the things of God helps remember  that. I like to think about it in terms of the autofill function in our texting apps. As we begin to use our phone, it learns the words and phrases we use often. Therefore, it will autofill these words into our text messages as we are typing similar letters. Our minds work in a similar fashion. When we are placed in a stressful environment, our minds will autofill our thoughts with the things we spend our time thinking about. If we are spending dedicated time thinking about the things listed in Philippians 4:8, these are the truths our minds will recall. One can see how God’s peace can be a result of dwelling on the truths of God found in the Scriptures.

While I am still a work in progress in this area, I have seen great fruit from dwelling on the truths of God (especially through scripture memory). In times of stress and fear, I have been reminded of the ever working God that is going before me as I follow Him. I pray that God uses the truth from these two verses to help you experience His peaceful presence this week.

As the Seasons Change

Over the past 2 years I have no doubt there have been some changes occur in your life. Major changes for some, minor changes for others, but still change. With change also comes new.

New job. New town. New school. New schedule. New relationships.

All of these different types of change take time and energy to become acquainted with the reality of the newness. Every change has the ability to shape and mold your life to be better or to be worse. Life is full of changes and new adventures that are unexpected and sometimes unwanted. What can we do when we are unsure what our next step should be? How do we respond when life doesn’t seem to have a clear path to take? How do we live our lives when newness and change is constantly around every corner? Hi, Im Haley King the new Children and Family Ministries Coordinator at Coats Baptist church and I am currently in that season of change. 

In the past month I have taken on the scariness of those two words, new and change, in pretty much every area of my life. On August 6th I accepted the job at Coats Baptist Church. On August 7th I got married. On August 15th I moved to a new town. The rest of the month of August I experienced new routines, new friends, new responsibilities, and a new marriage. With all of the changes and newness that has consumed my life, it is easy to let things like doubt, worry, or fear creep in as well. But I have had an overwhelming amount of peace, that I know God has so graciously provided me during this season of my life. God promises all of His children this same peace. As I talk to you today, I want to share three promises of God that I have clung to during this season of change. 

Promise number one, God is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (ESV) states “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”  This verse reminds us to hold fast to our heavenly inheritance, without giving way to any doubt and fear that the changes in life might threaten us with. I’ve always found such peace in the assurance of my salvation and the faithfulness of God that comes with it. God promises us that He will be faithful in our lives no matter what, so what do we have to fear? 

Promise number two, God will give you wisdom. This is the promise I have to constantly preach to myself daily. It is so natural for us as humans to beat our selves up and let the devil creep in to tell us we are not good enough or smart enough to do what God has so clearly put before us. But God gives us a promise that tramples that fear. In James 1:5 (ESV) it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God’s promise to you is that he will equip you with the wisdom that you need in order for you to accomplish the task or role He has placed you. This applies to anyones life, not just people in the ministry. God will give you wisdom to handle  a difficult boss, a toxic friendship, your marriage, your kids, a family member, or maybe a personal battle. Our all-knowing God promises to give you wisdom to handle anything life throws your way, all you have to do is ask. 

Promise number three, you can trust God with your life. If you are anything like me, I struggle to trust people. Sometimes it is hard to trust whether someone has your best interest in mind or their own. God promises us that his intentions and desires for our life are pure. In Jeremiah 29:11 He tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jesus Christ has an overwhelming love for you and desires nothing more for your life than to prosper. In order for that to happen though, we have to give up the reigns and trust Him with our lives. 

God’s word is full of promises that He makes to His children. So how do we answer the questions asked earlier? What can we do when we are unsure what our next step is? How do we respond when life doesn’t seem to have a clear path to take? How do we live our lives when newness and change is constantly around every corner? Every single promise of God does more than answer these questions. If you truly live on God’s promises that He has given to every believer all of those questions will turn to statements.

I will trust God when I am unsure what my next step is.

I know God is faithful even when life doesn’t seem to have a clear path to take.

I will ask the Lord for wisdom for the newness and change around every corner.

It is inevitable that change will happen in your life, but it is up to you in how you choose to respond and navigate that change. I encourage you to choose to live on Christ’s promises. Let God work His promises out in your life. He is so trustworthy to keep them. 

When the Music Stops

In the children’s game of musical chairs, when the music stops, we compete for space … for seats. It’s a strange game in which everyone loses except one. Ironically, in this childish game, it seems that after being declared the winner, that person is somehow thought less of by those who lost their chair. Rarely would you hear someone who lost saying, “Yay, someone else won!”.

I had a love : hate relationship with the game. I was reasonably good at it because I could muscle my way into a chair, but I quickly learned that “winning” the chair meant socially losing the moment.

There is another way, but only if those in the game cooperate. If players circle up, come in close to help each other, they can all win. The entire group can sit down at the same time on the knees of the person behind them. No chairs taken away. Everybody wins. No losers.

Games aside, for every one of us, there will be a day in which the music stops. The day will come in which our position before the Lord is finalized. Each and every one of us will die unless Jesus returns beforehand. Because of illness, some know that it’s coming quickly. Others don’t. Regardless, when the music stops, we must have already prepared; we must know whether there is a place prepared for us in heaven or whether we will be forever cast out.

Scripture makes several illustrations of God preparing a place for us. “You prepare a table before me … I will dwell in the house of the Lord”, proclaims Psalm 23:5-6. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself …”.

Will you have a chair at God’s table, or will you be forever separated from God’s presence, alone in your sin and regret? If not, there is hope in Jesus and Jesus alone.

If your place in heaven has been secured by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, will you help others find their place at God’s table?

The world would have us compete, but God tells us he has chairs for everyone … come to my table. In the family of God, we’re not competing for space. We can – we must – invite others in. There’s more than enough room for everyone.

It is our job, as part of the mission of God, to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ so that they can live in peace with Him, forever. It is our obligation to come in close, and help others find a seat at the table of the Lord.

On September 25th, from 9:00-12:00 in the Fellowship Hall, we want to help you become better equipped to invite others into God’s Kingdom. Please plan to attend this Evangelism Training to learn and practice methods of sharing the gospel in today’s culture. While the music still plays, we must help others find their seat.

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