The Lord Giveth – the Lord Taketh Away-Blessed Be the Name of the Lord
The passage from Job 1:21, that includes the oft-referenced phrase, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord,” follows the horrible news for Job that he had lost his whole household including his sons and daughters. Understandably his response included his tearing his clothes and shaving his head, though the last act in the series recorded in scripture was that he bowed down and worshiped.
Losing some of our fine worship music ministers hardly compares to Job’s difficulties, but I admit I find myself quoting from this passage in response to the news that men I have come to love and appreciate are leaving our state to serve elsewhere. As we contemplate our last year in our present building at TBC I cannot help but reflect on these past twelve years, especially as I thumb through photo albums and pick up framed pictures of TMC or TLC in places like Rio de Janeiro, Wales, Iowa, Montana, singing at an annual meeting or local church concert, and I see faces that are no longer among our ranks. Some are serving in other states, some in other positions than worship music, some on the mission field in other lands, and at least one who has graduated to the heavenly choir. Instructive for all of us is Job’s final response in his series of actions of Job 1:21, in that he ends up worshiping and giving praise to the Lord.
You who serve as worship music ministers certainly do not “belong to me.” Despite your numerous jokes and good-hearted (I hope) kidding, I really am not the “bishop for worship leaders in Tennessee.” I have prayed with some of you through transition processes as the Lord has led you away to another state, and have offered praise when the Lord made clear His plan that included departing Tennessee for other lands. In praying I have always asked the Lord to be sure (as if He could be anything less) if He was to take one of you away. Such has been the case with Joe Ziegler, Minister of Music & Worship at Red Bank Baptsit Church in Chattanooga who has resigned to accept the call for the same position at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Joe will be departing our state very soon, and I admit that I hate to lose him just as so many others who have escaped the state line.
My best effort at effecting worship renewal in our Tennessee Baptist churches (your churches) has been to try and build strong relations with you who serve in those churches. I seek to be about that by example through our shared ministry of the Tennessee Mens Chorale and Ladies Chorus, by teaching and conferencing in settings where that is appropriate, and more personally, through opportunities for personal ministry and sharing with each of you; praying with you about your families, your ministries, your relationships with your pastors and people, and personal needs or concerns as you reach out with those to me. It is honor beyond description, and I thank the Lord at every opportunity and challenge of those. As is always the case in ministry, in the course of praying, sharing, ministering, caring, I grow a fondness for you rooted in Christ that is the essence of brotherhood. The Lord has assured me that my hurt at the loss of any one of you is acceptable in His sight, and has even given assurance that He is at the root of those relationships. Obviously, that has not changed His direction or plan, but it strengthens my faith as I recall others who have departed our borders, and while I, at the same time, consider those new who are joining our ranks. I join Matt and Beth Redman’s paraphrase:
Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the Name of the Lord, Blessed be the Name!
Please know that you are the heart of my ministry with Tennessee Baptists, seeking to help you any way I can to nurture healthy worship practices that glorify our Triune God, center on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and build up the body of Christ, His church. Sharing that journey is a high joy of my life.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day(J) until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is rightfor me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chainsor defendingand confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testifyhow I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your lovemay abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ 11 filled with the fruit of righteousnessthat comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)