Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36, NIV)

This is called The Doxology. Doxology means it is a formal, liturgical praise to God.

It speaks of God’s vast greatness. It truly is beyond description, but Scripture writers and all authors have been trying to describe it for millenia. God’s greatness is really beyond description. It is beyond measurement. God Himself is beyond measurement or description, so to worship and praise Him within liturgical restraints seemingly doesn’t make sense.

However, Paul wraps it up beautifully in verse 36. “From him.” “Through him.” “For him.” “To him.” Graceful poetry to describe it all.

I heard my friend James Spruill preach on these verses once, and in his wonderful wisdom, made it so simple…

“From him”… God is the source of all things. He created all things. He gives us all things. He is The Source.

“Through him”… God is the power. In our weakness, he shows himself strong. Without him, we can do nothing.

“For him”… God is the purpose. The first sentence of The Purpose Driven Life finds its origin right here. It’s not about you. It’s all about God. It’s all for him. Living completely for him brings the abundant life that you and I read about in John 10:10. It’s what this world so desperately is searching for.

“To him”… Why do we live “for him”? To bring him glory. For all he’s done. For the living hope that is ours. For this great salvation that is ours… all the glory is his. So others might come to know our wonderful God!

A little bit of liturgy does the soul good.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

I was meeting with a guy some time ago who said he wanted his spiritual life to grow. He wanted to get serious about his spirituality but felt stuck in neutral, so to speak. He was frustrated by his apathy and wanted to take following Jesus to the next level.

My mind immediately began to go into action as he was talking, thinking of ways he could increase the intensity of his devoutness (is that even a word??). I thought of ways he could pray more. I thought of ways he could dig into God’s Word. Maybe a Bible-reading plan would help? I thought that sometimes the best way to break out of a funk is to serve others… how could he do that? Thankfully, in that flurry of thought, I caught myself.

I told him first, “Cut yourself some slack. I’ll bet you are very hard on yourself.” He said he was. It stemmed from his early years in his childhood church and how he learned to follow Jesus growing up. I continued, “God knows your heart. He knows right now that you’re talking to me about knowing Him more deeply. He knows you have that desire. I know He is smiling about that right now. You are not as apathetic as you think or you wouldn’t be having these desires. Cut yourself some slack.”

All of us so easily fall into a trap of measuring our own righteousness. We measure it by how much we pray. We measure it by how much we read our Bibles. We measure it by our behavior day-by-day. We measure how we talk, what we drink, and even by how much or what we eat. We measure ourselves against others. But when we measure, by definition, we are self-righteous. We become legalists. We become like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

Our righteousness is found only in Christ. It is not found in what we do, it is found in what He has already done. As God’s Word says:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6, NIV)

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)

That is why we need a Savior.

As our meeting ended, I asked my friend to read a book that set me free from this trap. It’s by Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian. It’s called “One Way Love”. It has been eye-opening and life-changing. I highly recommend it.

The Gospel has come to set us free from the trap of performance-ism. We don’t have to work to please God. When we think upon Him, even just desiring to know Him more, I know it pleases Him.

I know He smiles.

(To find out more about this transforming encounter with God’s grace, read “One Way Love”, available at your favorite bookstore or at HERE.)


I came home from work two days ago and Sharon was playing a worship song off a new album she had purchased. As soon as I heard it, I knew I would like it, but I really didn’t get a chance to really listen to it… until yesterday.

Driving home from Harrisonburg, I played that song and REALLY listened to it. The song is “Who Can Compare?” By Jesus Culture. It’s a very simple song with a very repetitive chorus and even repetitive verses. (Warning: the video containing the song is over 7 minutes long. Watch/listen to it when you have time and a quiet place to focus)

That’s one of the criticisms of modern worship music: it’s too repetitive and there’s no depth to the lyrics. The critics refer back to the hymns and their depth. But as I listened to the song and allowed it to saturate me, I began to sing the repetitive chorus and as I sang it over and over again, I found myself lost in worship to my God and King.

I nearly had to pull over to the side of the interstate. I was totally enraptured by love for God and His love for me. Honestly, I wept. As I continued to play this song over and over again, the repetition of the lyrics continued to bring me into the presence of the Lord.

I later reflected on that experience and I truly beleive that the repetition is DESIGNED to do that… to bring me in the presence of the Lord. The more I sing it and the more I repeat it, the more I believe it and the more my spirit connects with the Spirit of God. Rather, the more the Holy Spirit inside me testifies with God’s Spirit. It’s hard to explain. It seems impossible to put in words. But that’s how I get lost in worship.

I know that everyone has different tastes. And that’s okay. Regarding contemporary worship music, I’ve heard some say, “It’s just soooo repetitive. Over and over and over! I get tired of singing it over and over.”

It reminds me of this:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they NEVER stop saying:
“ ‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is,
and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(Revelation 4:8-11, my emphasis)

Yes He is.