Songs in the Key of Life

Our next Worship Series at Northside Church is entitled, “Songs in the Key of Life.” A 1976 Stevie Wonder album inspired the title.

Songs in the Key of LifeDuring July, we are exploring the Book of Psalms. The Psalter served as Israel’s hymnal, containing songs of faith written by various authors in different times and circumstances.

The Psalter expresses the spectrum of human emotion and experience—heights and depths, joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, faith, and doubt. Songs in the Key of Life is an apt description of the Psalms. The hymns play every note of human life.

As a part of your devotional practice, join me in reading and praying a Psalm each day over the next five months. There are 150 Psalms, so we can complete the entire Psalter by Thanksgiving. I have read the Psalter multiple times in the past, and I promise that the spiritual discipline will bless your life.

This Sunday we begin with Psalm 122, which declares:

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,

Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Join us this Sunday for online worship at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 through FaceBook or the church website at

May God grant us the grace to sing a new song to the Lord!

To Do List

During a recent  sermon, I shared an old preacher’s story.

An apocryphal tale describes a self-pious man who loudly prayed, “Lord, if you’re there, then please tell me what to do!”

A voice from heaven answered, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the lonely, proclaim the Gospel.”

Taken aback by the response, the person replied, “Oh, well. Just testing.”

God said, “Me, too.”

If we ever wonder what to do, God’s Word offers a clear answer. Listen to the words of the prophet Micah:

 God has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Once we’re done with this “To Do List,” then we can come back to God for more directions.

Circle Logic

A meme recently appeared in clergy social media groups. The image featured a middle circle labeled, “PASTOR.” Seven circles surrounded it, representing congregants’ opinions about returning to church. Examples included:

  • “We need to open the church building immediately—what are you waiting for?”
  • “You cannot open the church building. It’s a huge risk, and you’re wrong if you do.”
  • “It’s all a big hoax and conspiracy—click this link to get the truth!”
  • “Here are 25 things to do before reopening your buildings.”
  • “My family member or friend just died of COVID-19.”

In reaction to the meme, many pastors commiserated with each other, bemoaning how tough we have it.

Call me insensitive, but I have little patience with clergy who complain about the demands of ministry. EVERY vocation involves challenges, pressure, and stress. Crying “Woe is me” because “Reverend” is in the job title feels a bit self-indulgent.

Having said all of this, WOE IS ME! 🙂

Whether someone leads a church, nonprofit, business, or other group, the past NEVER trained us for such a time as this. We are navigating unknown waters without a compass or guide. I keep recalling apocryphal stories of ancient maps declaring, “HERE BE DRAGONS!”

Here’s my simple suggestion. Assume that people are doing the best they can. We do not have to agree with the decisions others make, but let’s cut each other a little slack.

I also recommend someone with artistic ability redraw the meme. Put “GOD” in the center circle rather than “PASTOR.” Even if we find ourselves with polar opposite opinions, drawing closer to God means that we also draw closer to one another.

Sail on!

These Three Remain

It has been a chaotic year. Five months ago, no one had heard of COVID-19. Today the Coronavirus pandemic is our new reality. People have learned a second language with phrases like “shelter in place,” “social distancing,” “Protective Personal Equipment,” and “N95 masks.”

We grieve our losses during the pandemic, mired in the depths of depression. We brood over lost opportunities, including events, reunions, worship, fellowship, baptisms, weddings, funerals, graduations, trips, vacations, and more.  The pandemic has reduced our lives to the most basic elements.

As I planned the June worship series at Northside Church, I repeatedly returned to the question, “What remains?” As the current crisis changes our lives, what stays the same? When the storms wash away our elaborate sandcastles, what bedrock remains?

The Holy Spirit kept bringing to mind Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“These three remain: faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.”

Therefore, our June worship series is entitled “These Three Remain.” We are exploring the fundamental Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Much has been lost, but what’s essential can always be found. Join us each Sunday for online worship at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 as we claim and proclaim, “These three remain: faith, hope, and love.”

These Three Remain

The Game of Life

The Game of Life invented by Milton Bradley in 1860 was America’s first popular board game. The modern version we grew up playing debuted in 1960. The game has changed over the years, but the basic concept remains the same.

the game of lifePeople drive plastic cars with pink and blue pegs, representing players, spouses, and children. Participants choose paths for “College” or “Career.” Spins of a plastic wheel determine each move. A bank provides money and loans.

The Game of Life first introduced me to the concept of insurance. Players have the opportunity to purchase auto, life, fire, and homeowner coverage. As a young consumer, I disliked paying for policies that I might never need. However, one accident quickly convinced me that the premiums were a wise investment.

I later learned three important principles about insurance:

  • Insure what you cannot afford to lose.
  • Insurance is always a balancing act between what you need and can afford.
  • Buy enough insurance to sleep well at night!

Northside Church just finished a May worship series entitled For the If in Life. We explored how our faith insures us FOR—not FROM—whatever may occur. Christians live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. However, God’s grace is sufficient for anything we might face.

There’s not a song in the hymnal entitled, “Blessed Insurance!”   However, there is a familiar hymn entitled, “Blessed Assurance.”

Our faith insures us for the IF in LIFE. We sing with confidence, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O what a foretaste of glory divine.”