Sunday, June 08, 2014

Do We Really Love? (Part Three)

CHARITY . . . HOPETH ALL THINGS (I CORINTHIANS 13:7)

According to Thayer, the Greek word elpizo (translated hope in the above verse) means, "in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence."  This kind of hope encompasses the idea of assured expectation of a future event.  True, Biblical love, then, views the most impossible situations with the eyes of faith.  It looks upon the seeming hopelessness of surroundings and sees an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.

Some time ago, I considered what a different place this world would be if we would see advertised
upon the road of life billboards displaying products for a Heavenly Kingdom.  One such company I envisioned was Faithwear.  Its commercials might go something like this: 

“Put on Faithwear’s glasses and change your perspective!  You’ll see the world with much clearer vision.  Not only will every blade of grass and each twinkling star magnify the Original Designer, but so will your daily tasks be transformed as you encounter a fresh view of God.  Look upon your every task and each relationship and perceive our glorious Creator, Who has revealed Himself in each aspect of His creation. 

“Mothers, see those children to whom you minister as strong in God’s service.  Working women, see those frustrating moments in your daily schedule as opportunities to praise God—to rejoice because God’s mercies are better than life itself.  Children, see every rebuke as a correction of love, offered to you from heaven, borne from God’s own throne.

“Our new brand of hearing aids assist you in perceiving with the ears of faith.  Mothers, hear not the crying infant nor the complaining child, but the voice of the Master saying, ‘I was in all points tempted as you are, yet without sin.’  

“You’ll be amazed at how our products transform the senses.  So try some to day! And the fantastic part of all our specialty goods is that they will cost you nothing but a willing mind, a broken spirit, and a contrite heart.  Pay no money, but offer yourself as a living sacrifice, willing to enjoy God’s perspective.  Faith comes by hearing (hence you must have the right heart attitude), and hearing by the Word of God.  So, once you’re outfitted with the right spirit, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Investigate His Word, meditate upon it, live it, and you, too, will be transformed by Faithwear! 

“Faithwear.  Don’t live life without it.”

But instead of Faithwear, the sight perspective, the sensual, crowds upon our lives, drowning out the message of faith, the perspective which truly satisfies.  When I see with the eyes of faith, I note not the Peter who doubted Christ nor the disciple who denied him but I see instead the martyr who hung upside down upon a cross, meekly offering his body, refusing to die in the same way as his Lord and Master.  Every student of mine I view, not as a discouraged, discontented, or rebellious teen but rather as a vibrant, victorious Christian, slaying the enemy in daily life by the sword of the spirit, which he grasps firmly in hand. 

I look past the difficulties of this turbulent world, the sea upon which heaps of discarded, wasted lives have been cast—and see that beautiful potential which Christ has for every life, a pathway of peace, which He desires for each of His own.  Facebook searches occasionally yield discouraging realities of the direction individuals have chosen, but instead of being overcome by the unbiblical decisions of people to whom I once ministered, I can view all with the eyes of faith.  The hopeful sees that, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”  She understands that if Christ’s best earthly friend denied Him, I too have the possibility of doing so and likewise realizes that the flesh is strong, for even Lot himself vexed his righteous soul from day to day, living among the sinners in Sodom.  The one whose hope is steadfast in God is satisfied—ultimately, from God Alone—realizing that no sensual feeling can replace the solid relationship of a walk with the Almighty. 

When Discouragement rears its misshapen head, when Defeat casts down its deathly gaze, when Despair tears in, tantamount to her temper, the one infused with agape love eats, satisfied, at the table of Wisdom.  Christ has furnished His table, mingled His wine, and set abundant provisions for those who recognize their need to dine there!  He has built His house and prepared an abundant spread for His hungry guests.  His bread and beverages satisfy, contrasting with the fodder of fools, the taste of which leaves only a mouthful of gravel. (Prov. 20:17). 

Oh, to seek the Lord at His table each day, to recognize our inadequacy, our inability, our insufficiency!  This recognition is part of that hopefulness which is part of love, for the one imbued with such hope realizes she has no strength in herself and thus seeks the Lord, finding Him satisfactory.  After dining at His table, she notes that the fruits of folly look less attractive.  The delicacies of the devil appear as they are—not delicious, but deceitful.  That sinful thought is smitten by recalling a personal feast at His table, and praise daily perfumes her breath as those moments with her dear Savior linger in her memory, for she has dined with Him, her Satisfaction. 

Dear Sister, is this your state?  Do you revel in God’s meditations?  Do you find yourself often encouraged by His Word?  Like the psalmist, can you pray, “Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou has caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, for Thy word hath quickened me” (Ps. 119:49-50)?  Upon what word is your hope today?  This abundance of wisdom is available to you.  Feast at the Savior’s table.  Let your hungry soul be satisfied.  How your heart will live forever when Christ is your daily Bread! Your heart, sound in God’s statutes, will live; you will be unashamed when you stand before Him if this feast is your daily reality (Ps. 119:80)!

And this love, which hopes all things, will emanate from a heart saturated by the One Who is Eternal Love!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do We Really Love? (Part Two)



The house was barren, stripped of all furniture except a small table lamp that illuminated the living room.  It was December when my husband and I walked through the antiquated home for the first time, thin orange carpet, loosely laid, gathering and folding with many of our steps.  The place would need a lot of work, and we weren’t actually considering purchasing—not seriously, at least.  But a month later, it was a done deal.  The day after we closed on the house, we began the work of gutting out that orange carpet, painting the dulled walls, and transforming the place into the vision we had for it.

When we first saw it, that home off Main Street in our little town felt empty, devoid of human spirit and personality.  Sure, the remnants of homemade curtains still hung on certain windows.  And wallpaper hinted at the taste of the daughters who had selected it.  But those people were all gone now, or at least had moved on to another place.  After purchasing the house, it was our joy to spend time making it a home once again.

That house before inhabitants reminds me of the emptiness which can occur in the lives of believers.  It’s reflected in lifeless hymn singing, dullness to hearing God’s Word, and an apathetic ministry with others.

Lifeless Christianity is an oxymoron, for Jesus is a risen and living Lord Who affects the spirit of those He indwells.  Jim Eliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  A passion that consumes us, a wisdom that balances us, a love that enlivens us—such spiritual vitality can resonate from our souls when we are in love with Jesus Christ. 

But that is the rub.  To be in love with Him is essential before we can in any way be effective in loving others.  And yet, too often our ministry can be a sham, for it is not sourced in His love.  God wrote the Manual on Love.  How our ministries must reflect that love!  How that agape kind of love must perfume every relationship!  How this selfless love should envelop all our service, so that we are merely stepping in the footsteps of the One Who is Love.

When we fail to follow Love’s leadership along the path of life, we will feel the emptiness, the hollowness.  We will begin to doubt God’s perfect love for us and question the service He has sanctified for us.  In turn, that faithless focus will affect others.  Living in unbelief will quench the fires of love for others, turning our ministry gaze to focus upon the sin, meanwhile failing to adequately view the kind of love God has for the individual sinner.

But living in the reality of Him—that is where love begins and continues, for every act performed from a heart of love never fails but rather brings forth eternal fruit.  He is All-Sufficient, my source of wisdom, my strength in weakness, my Savior from woe.  How intimately do I know Him?  Obey Him?  Does He have my waking moments?  Does He have my time?  Do I freely give Him all things, as He freely gave for me? 

Withholding minutes from the One who gave His life for me screams “Insensible!”  Claiming my rights when He yielded up His own entirely shouts, “Illogical!”  Failing to love others wholeheartedly when He loves them absolutely yells, “Insensitive!”

False fronts gone, stripped of all our own ways, in step with the Spirit, we can be the channels of love which God originally intended.   Rights in hand, time our own, failing to abide in God’s Word and spend moments reveling in His goodness, we will block the Love which God desires to send through us to others--from Him! 

Oh, let us not be weary in continuing our daily time with Him, in spending seasons of prayer alone.  Let us not fail of God’s grace in this fellowship with Him.  In due season we shall reap a harvest brought about by God alone.  Faint not, Christian!  Your All-Sufficient One has love enough for you!  
--Heather Ross

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do We Really Love? Part One


Having grown up in a pastor’s home and seeing young people in the throes of decisions, homes in the heat of the battle, and individuals daily, weekly, monthly embraced in decision-making that will affect the rest of their lives, I submit this first article in this series as a specific question directed to members of IFB churches.

IFB churches and schools are regularly given harsh criticism from external sources, but within the own local church proper, no lack of charity should ever exist!  And yet, I have watched happy, contented, thankful people grow angry and bitter over time and leave within a decade (or less!) of their arrival in such a church.

We are negatively evaluated for our school handbooks, dress codes, and demerit systems.  Authorities are criticized for harshness, discipline, and a “lack of mercy.”  Again, while critics come in all forms, this post deals specifically with those within a congregation. Rarely do the preacher’s critics take seriously the command given in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without dissimulation.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

The above verse commands that members in the local church body love with no difference between those we prefer and those we don’t naturally get along with.  Hatred is never toward an individual but to evil.  Good is that to which we cleave—not to criticisms, irritation, or complaining. 

If every believer in an assembly determined to practice biblical, self-sacrificing love (as described in I Corinthians 13), that church would be a completely different place.  The local community would be transformed; homes would be restored; lives would be brought back together.  Believers and families within every assembly must practice biblical charity.

The kind of love depicted in Romans 12:9 encompasses the following:  No negative discussions at home about people at church.  No talking behind people’s backs.  No storing up frustration or anger in the heart.  The same kind of love, appreciation, and kindness evidenced to every member of that body of Christ, whether it be kindness toward the person with occasional body odor, or the woman who is overweight, or the guy who talks too loudly in the lobby.

Truth is one thing, but charity must serve as the mouth of truth:  if we speak words of criticism we must utter them from a heart of love, as described in I Corinthians 13.  Love is patient, kind, not easily provoked.  Love thinks the best of others, does not plot evil, rejoices—yes, rejoices—in truth!  It seems the loudest voices are often the critics, but that need not be the case!  God’s people can cleave to good, rejoicing because of truth.  Everything that is good and godly they can hold dear.

“If you love me,” Jesus said in His final sermon to His disciples before His crucifixion, “keep my commandments.”  Oh, how we must embrace the biblical injunctions to love, which sprinkle themselves generously throughout God’s Word, which evidence the loving heart of God!  Defining love God’s way is a task completed through His Book.  It’s an incredibly rich experience, looking at and studying these verses on biblical, self-sacrificing, agape love.  But take just one passage, John 14:15, part of Jesus’ final words to His disciples before His crucifixion, and see that love is obedience in action.  If every member of every IFB church took only one of God’s commands today and decided to live by it—just one—practicing it now and continuing in a regular, consistent manner, our assemblies would be transformed!  Consider Romans 12:10, for example:  “Be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.”

The phrase, “kindly affectioned” is used only once in the Bible.  Thayer defines it as
1) the mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands
2) loving affection, prone to love, loving tenderly
2a) chiefly of the reciprocal tenderness of parents and children. 
What an endearing, tender description this phrase offers us concerning our familial ties specifically to those within the local church assembly! This is a heart attitude—a spirit of kindness that envelops our innermost being and manifests itself outwardly toward everyone with whom we come into contact! 

Practically speaking, then, others within the church will be the objects of good words, which make the heart glad.  We will be givers, not takers.  We will be caring, surrendered, joy-filled individuals toward every believer!

“In honor preferring one another,” Romans 12:10 concludes. God says we are literally to prefer others within the local assembly to ourselves. Many critics of “standards” or “preferences” seem to indicate that their opinion is as important as God’s own Word, but that idea is not taught by Romans 12:10.

It’s so much easier to point fingers at others than to blame ourselves.  I know.  I’ve been there.  I remember literally putting tally marks on my notes paper at one time for every grammatical error a preacher made in his sermon!  My focus was on his mistakes, not on my need to embrace truth. 

In his poem , “To A Louse:  On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church,” Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, wrote words that, without the Scottish dialect, read… 
“What a gift God would give us—to see ourselves as others see us!
It would free many blunders from us and foolish notions.
What airs in dress and gait would leave us, and even devotion!”

The fine Miss Lunardi seemed unsuitable for such a despicable visitor such as a louse upon her person, but sure enough, out from underneath her very pristine bonnet, a louse crawled.  And Burns saw it, the poor Miss Lunardi completely oblivious to such a show. While she seemed to assume she manifested flawlessness, Burns saw her inadequacies.

If we perceived the error within our own way, that our opinions are not infallible, that our criticisms may be incorrect, that our perspective is not as important as God’s Word—our demeanor would change.    Our pride would crumble.  Our love would grow.  Let us prefer our brothers and sisters within the church to ourselves, live by God’s book, embrace His commands, and show true, biblical love one toward another.  In every situation.  Regardless of our own natural inclinations.  That’s love.
--Heather Ross

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Female Fundamentalist: A Re-Introduction




It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog, but I think that, after over nearly a decade has passed, it’s about time to get started.  Not that the passage of time means something should get a restart but in this particular case, as the years elapse, my “voice” has begun to develop.  (That’s a term I heard back at a writers’ conference—that sometimes the writer’s voice inside of you needs time to develop, grow, and be nurtured before you have something worth saying.)

It’d be nice to think that I could speak more to the point now than I did when I started blogging, that the issues that troubled me then have been worked out.  In fact, grey issues have melded into closer shades of white and black and a new perspective has emerged in the several twelve-months that have separated me from this blog, but I am far from having all the answers.  However, my colleague Ricci and I will seek to post once every 7-10 days, to keep this blog a lively journey.

And so again begins our trek toward congruity, the Female Fundamentalist.

Before we continue on our journey, I find it necessary to define my terms.  By “Female Fundamentalist” I mean these posts will be authored by women in an IFB church, an independent, fundamental Baptist church. 

Historically, fundamentalism acquired its name in the early part of the 20th century when G. Campbell Morgan, R. A. Torrey, and sixty-two others wrote in defense of the “fundamentals” of the faith in dozens of essays.  That is essentially the link to the term fundamental, a term which speaks of the rudiments of belief. 

Unfortunately, this term fundamental is confusing in a number of ways.  The ultimate question in fundamentalism is: what are the fundamentals?  Several groups within fundamentalism proper will argue over which fundamentals are important and which are not, making fundamentalism more of a misnomer than an accurate depiction of our circle.  

Another confusion is the link of this term in our society with radical movements, such as radical Islam.  A “fundamentalist” Muslim believes in the fundamentals of the Koran.  A fundamentalist Christian believes in the fundamentals of the Bible.  When God says love your enemies, the Koran says, "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121).  Both the fundamentalist Muslim and the fundamentalist Christian take their holy book literally.  The problem is, the Koran and the Bible teach radically different ideologies concerning, among many other things, the treatment of one's enemies; this example merely illustrates one polarizing "fundamental" difference between the two belief systems.  Yet, because of its literal interpretation of Scripture, Fundamentalism has been bashed because secularists consider such a position extreme.  However, I would argue that everyone in our culture is a fundamentalist about something.  You must be a fundamentalist linguist to put together the rudiments of a sentence.  You must be a fundamental historian to grasp an overview of world history and cultures.  And the list could continue.  For a Christian, whose entire belief system is rooted in Scripture, what better place to be a "Fundamentalist" than about the interpretation of this fundamental book?

So the fundamentals of belief are needful, but which ones are important are argued over time and again; thus, the term “Fundamentalist” in this blog will essentially embrace those elements of Christian culture within conservative IFB churches.

“Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth,” states I Cor. 8:1.  So much has been said to bash IFB churches, and this blog is intended to do nothing of the sort.  The evaluations offered in this blog will, by God’s grace, include edifying words that seek to build up the body of Christ and fellow believers.

Opinions are offered understanding that meekness is necessary for any and every reproof (Gal. 6:1).  Personal accounts are given to illustrate the authors’ own identification with struggles within IFB circles.
                                                                                                                                     --Heather Ross

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another View from the Back of the Church

Fundamentalist thought concerning the back row can sometimes be interpreted as, “Back row means backslidden.” Teasing about the “Back Row Baptist” is fairly common. We have all wondered where that person in the second to last row disappeared to before the end of the service.

The question is, why does the back row have such a bad rap? Why such stigma and stereotype?

As my fellow blogger humorously elaborated upon, there are multitudes of distractions when you sit in the back. You can see every sleepy head nodding. You can see every moment of a parent’s disciplining. You can see, and maybe hear, those two teen girls whispering and giggling.

And all of these things are taking place between you and the pulpit. According to Ephesians 4:11-12, God has given His church pastors to perfect the saints and edify the body. These ministries of the pastor are certainly going to be hindered if the saint cannot focus on Word of God that the pastor is faithfully proclaiming. If that believer cannot block out all the activity going on in front of him and sincerely pay attention, it will certainly limit his spiritual growth. This giving and receiving of the Word is part of true worship. Worship can become more like work when one chooses to sit in the back.

Speaking of worship, have you ever tried to sing in the back? It is terrible. You can only hear yourself. It seems like no one around is singing at all. And for me, that is a very bad thing. Put me on the third row, left hand side, aisle seat, and I can sing praise to God with the glorious sounds of a congregation that loves God surrounding me.

But wait, that beautiful sound comes from behind me. So herein lies the problem. Not everyone can sit in the front four pews. Someone, unfortunately, has to sit in the back. Right?

The stigma and stereotype come from the people who choose to sit in the back. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you saw young people goofing around in the second row of the church? No, the ones who want to cause trouble sit in the back. If you want to sneak out during the invitation, where are you going to sit? Fourth row by the window? Nope, the back. If you do not really want to hear what your pastor has to say, it is much easier to ignore him from the back of the room. Part of fundamentalism is that we believe the Bible teaches that what is going on in our soul, in our spiritual life, is going to reflect itself in our actions. One of the actions that just might be affected by our spiritual condition is where we choose to sit in church. Maybe we should each examine ourselves to see if we are in the right seat.

The solution to the problem of the back row is this: everyone in the whole church building should behave as if they are sitting in the front row, even if they are sitting in the very back. All, young and old alike, should join together in a joyful sobriety that would make all seats in the house equally desirable. And then maybe, just maybe, we could all change seats every once in a while. But then we might have to give up “our pew.” Horrors! What if someone steals it while I am away! I know some would think that way, but really, if the whole congregation, from front to back and side to side, had the same earnest spirit, no messing around, no passing notes, no slipping out early, there would be no problem with the back row. The stereotype and stigma could be cast off, and all pews would be regarded with equal status.

But, this will not be accomplished without organization. Therefore, I call for a committee to revolutionize seating in the fundamentalist world. It will not be easy, but the battle for Pew Rights must start somewhere. Let it start with me. I call for all serious fundamentalists to remove themselves from the third row, left side, aisle seat (Where all good fundamentalists sit. It is a myth that they sit in the front row.), and go sit in the back! Maybe not the very back, but venture towards the back. And when you do so, behave yourself. And sing. And pay attention. And encourage others to do the same. Let The Pew Revolution begin!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Culture of Praise, Part Two

"The Sea of Joy": What Grace Sees and Where Praise Abounds

The grace of God, extended to the humble soul, makes such vistas as what Spurgeon calls the “sea of joy” daily and vital parts of our worship. Ephesians 1:11 reminds: "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's and Christ is God's.”

“Reach the bottom of Christ's sea of joy,” Spurgeon wrote in his Morning by Morning entry on this verse, “and then hope to understand the bliss which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Overleap the boundaries of Christ's possessions, and then dream of a limit to the fair inheritance of the elect.”

The Ocean of Joy: an Allegory

Jedediah swam on, passing estuaries laden with spawning fish; crossing uninhabited coral reefs glistening in the sunlight; and making his way amidst underground mountain ranges, their virgin rock jutting with magnificent carvings. This ocean’s undeniable splendor spelled victory for the young boy, who had searched high and low for some degree of imperfection. Though he had scoured the ocean floor, square inch by square inch, exploring night and day, regardless of weather conditions, Jedediah’s quest for equivocation ended in emptiness every time.

At the boy’s request, Jedediah’s father had even sent out search teams—parties of ten to twelve who left every hour on the hour—to examine this amazing phenomenon of nature. They, too, arrived at the same conclusion: this ocean was magnificent, abounding in perfect bliss, where any of the Master’s servants might come to refresh themselves in its flawless splendor.

The ocean, over-laden as it was in wondrous beauty, had its counterfeits, masked behind all sorts of lovely facades, which tempted unwary ocean-going travelers, causing them to wonder about the ocean’s own authenticity; hence, Jedediah’s search. The boy now passed another swimmer and yelled, “Imagine, this is all ours, for our Master owns it!”

The other swimmer gave him a thumbs-up, saying, “I got a little hung up in that crazy lake back there.”

Jedediah looked back to where the young man pointed. A green lake, sparkling like a thousand diamonds in the sunlight, with the most lovely of plants at the water’s edge, offered refreshment, like the ocean. Jedediah squinted to read the sign posted in front: “Come and enjoy the Lake of Luring,” it read. “Don’t battle giant waves! See for yourself this wonder of nature.”

“I was very attracted to the sweet-smelling flowers outside the Lake,” the boy said. “And I really liked the part about not fighting giant waves. Even though I’d heard there were counterfeits in these parts, I didn’t expect any to be so close to the Ocean of Joy. This one seemed real, so I tried it.”

“What happened?” asked Jedediah, who was now treading water.

“A lot,” answered the boy, pushing wet hair back from his face. “The sweet smell seemed to lull me to sleep while I was swimming. Before I knew, it, I was gasping for water, choking for air. That’s when I cried to the Master of the Seas. Before I knew it, He had deposited me back onto dry land, and there I sat for what seemed like hours pulling out of my arm jelly-fish tentacles and sea urchin needles that my enemies had left behind.”

“Those animals were--in a lake?” Jedediah asked.

“Hard as it is to believe, yes. It was really a salty sea, you know.” Here the boy showed Jedediah the damage that had been done to his arm. There was no doubt: something very real had attacked him.

Jedediah’s new friend continued: “The sweetness I smelled actually led to poison tentacles in my arm, but the Master saved me from complete ruination. You know, as I was sitting on the beach, pulling out those prickly things, I looked up into the sky and noticed the Faithfulness Stack—you know when all those clouds pile high, one on top of the other and remind us of how our Master is just waiting to shower His servants with blessings? Well, it was just the encouragement I needed.”

“The Master encouraged me today, too,” Jedediah said, as he and his new friend walked across the sandy shoreline and sat down. Slowly, Jedediah opened his closed fist. The sunlight above caught a reflection of the glistening gem he held and scattered its beauty in several directions.

“The pearl of perfect peace!” his new friend exclaimed.

“It was in a clam I located just outside the coral sands,” Jedediah said. “If you want one, you can get as many as you like: there were several more where this comes from.”

“Isn’t it awesome to think we have such riches available to us at all times?” Jedediah’s new friend, whose name he learned was Jacob, said. “We can be right near Luring Lake”

“Or Desert Depression—“ added Jedediah.

“Or Vanity Valley,” said Jacob,

“Or Faithlessness Fort,” they said, looking at each other knowingly, “And simply call to the Master in humility."
Within milliseconds, we can be right here, basking in the glory of the riches of His grace, claiming His promise of the Ocean of Joy,” Jacob finished.

“Yes, thanks for the reminder,” Jedediah said. We’re only a fraction of a second away from what is rightfully ours, through Christ. What riches are ours because of our inheritance in Christ!”

“Well, let’s go get those pearls!” Jacob said, heading for the ocean.

“Make it there first!” Jedediah challenged.

And they were off, diving into the Ocean of Joy once again for yet another glimpse of the riches of the glory of their inheritance as saints in Christ.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Culture of Praise: Part One

Praise: An Overclouded Issue in Fundamental Christianity

So often we in fundamental Christianity are viewed as “problem-spotters.” I suppose this is the case because we are known to take definitive stands on many issues. Because of a very “black-and-white” approach to what is truth, fundamentalists can tend to disagree with many people. This tendency can turn into what is viewed as contentious behavior. Whether “contentiousness” is a label or a tendency, it seems that this description often overshadows the culture of praise among fundamental Christians.

Truth is a very important aspect to biblical Christianity. We cannot forego aspects of the truth and “compromise” just to get along. But a very vital part of standing for this truth is practicing it, living it out in our daily lives. One truth that seems to be eclipsed in fundamental Christianity today is the command to praise—given literally hundreds of times in the Word of God. I wonder how many of us that term ourselves “fundamental Christians” could be viewed as those who regularly and habitually offer praise to God?

The Bible makes clear that praise is important to God. Hebrews 13:5 states: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” I find it interesting that praise is considered a sacrifice. Fundamental Christians often hear much about self-sacrifice and surrender (of our bodies, the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, for example). While surrender is profitable, we cannot forego the sacrifice of our spirits (attitudes), which are God’s, as well.

Our attitude may say, “Forget it.”

Praise says, “Embrace it.”

Our attitude may say, “No thanks.”

Praise says, “Thanks.”

When I praise God, I am sacrificing my right to myself to respond how I FEEL like responding and am instead submitting to the way of God, which is “perfect.”

One of the numerous praise psalms in the Word of God is Psalm 113, which begins with this rousing call: “Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.”

In his commentary on Psalm 113, Matthew Henry says, “This psalm…is designed to promote the great and good work of praising God.” In the next few paragraphs, then, I’d like to take a moment to discuss this “great and good work.”

Imagine making the “work of praising God” an integral part of our moment-by-moment experience with Him! The old hymn says, “Sing praise to God, Who reigns above, the God of all creation…” What a testimony we could be to the world, simply by embracing the attitude of praise!

Matthew Henry discusses another beautiful result of praising God when he states: “…Those who are much in praising God themselves will court others to it, both because they find the weight of the work, and that there is need of all the help they can fetch in (there is employment for all hearts, all hands, and all little enough), and because they find the pleasure of it, which they wish all their friends may share in.”

Praise God for His Humility

The psalm reminds us that we should praise God because of Who He is. “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.” The psalmist rhetorically questions: “Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” Our high God, Creator of Heaven and earth, humbles Himself to look upon us, to attend to all that is in Heaven and earth and many times over, too! (See Psalm 40:5.)

Next are articulated our God’s humble acts: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”

The fact that my God should so humble Himself as to behold my life reminds me of the principle from James that God gives grace to the humble. It’s a simple principle so hard to embrace for the carnal mind. When God gives grace, we, in turn, get His perspective. When we have His perspective, we are enabled to see EVERY aspect of life as emanating from His own gracious hand. We are suddenly enlightened to see His humility in working in divine providence on our behalf. We quickly remove “Chance” or “Self” or “Humanism” from the pedestal and replace “Jesus Christ,” the only true God, as Lord of our every moment. As at salvation, we crown Him the Lord of each second of the day, and He supplies continued grace to walk with Him as we habitually humble ourselves before Him.

Grace: The Means Whereby We Can Praise

At salvation was the first extension of God’s eternal grace to my soul. Now I can live experiencing this grace daily as I moment by moment humble myself before the Great God of Heaven, Who humbled Himself to come to live on earth and die for me, the Great God Who humbles Himself to look at things in my life, Who blesses me above measure and delights in fulfilling the desire of the righteous!

Note the reason He helps the poor and needy (seen in verse 8): “that He might set them as kings and princes before His people.” This is so beautiful! Every salvation experience is a “rags to riches” story, for in humility, we recognize our fallen state, make Christ Lord of our lives, and He lifts us up to be kings and priests with His own dear Son!

We deserve nothing so amazing and should hence show forth His praises at all times! Look around! We are kings and priests with Christ! We have ALL of the riches of His grace! May we as fundamental Christians glory in His indescribable, priceless treasures that are available to us each moment!

Claiming to live and practice all of the Bible, to defend it, to uphold its words and commandments, fundamental Christians should find as an integral part of our lives this aspect of praise. Not only are there hundreds of commands to praise God in the Bible, but praise is the [super]natural response of regeneration and the evidence of God’s sanctifying grace in our lives!