Friday, October 22, 2010

October 2010 - How can I worship?

Definition of worship: to be devoted to and full of admiration for; reverent honor  paid to any object regarded as sacred.

What is worship
Not just singing
The way we live our lives
Thoughts, words, actions, time alone, how we take care of our bodies
What do your words, actions, thoughts, etc show that you are worshipping?  Is it God?  It’s easy for me to begin to worship, at least in part, my own dreams and desires, or another person I seek to please.  God is the only one worthy of worship though!

Recount some of the things He has done – miracles, provision, past and present, promises of the future (Biblical examples and personal examples)

Sometimes we do what we don’t want to do because it is right.  Drive the speed limit, don’t say to another what you feel like saying, fix a meal for your family, clean the house, get out of bed, etc.  But it is right, so we do it.  The same is true of worship.  It is right, so we should do it.  The rewards for choosing to worship when we don’t want to far outweigh the rewards of all those other things.  And they far outweigh what we think we’ll gain by not choosing to worship.

Why don’t we feel like worshipping God after a loss or during grief?
Do we blame Him?  Do we feel abandoned or betrayed?  Do we need somewhere to place our anger or despair?  Do we feel we had a right to whatever we have lost?  Are these feelings rooted in truth or lies?  The only way to combat lies is to soak them in the truth.  The truths of God don’t change with our circumstances.  Even when – and perhaps especially when – things don’t make sense, the truths of God remain.  We don’t have to understand them for them to be true.  Do any of us truly understand how the internet works?  Yet we use it often without question.  Do we truly understand how all matter is made up of tiny molecules, some forming gases, others forming liquids, and others forming solids?  Yet we breathe air, drink water, and sit on a chair – trusting it to hold us up.  So why do we buy into the faulty thinking that we have to understand God before we worship Him?  Why do we think we need to make sense of what He has done, given, taken, or allowed before we worship Him?  He is, after all, God.  Without Him there is nothing.  Certainly no good thing.  And even in the midst of excruciating loss there are still abundant blessings all around us deserving of His worship.

That’s one angle.  Here’s another angle.  In times of grief, what else is there to do BESIDES worship God?  Has anyone ever come up with a true solution besides worshipping Him?  Without Him there is no peace, no joy, no fulfillment.  Other fixes may be great in the short run, but in the long run each and every one will fail.  Worshipping God is the opposite.  Sometimes it feels effective immediately, but most of the time it requires time and repetition before it reaches the deep places of our hearts most in need of His healing touch. 

We must worship because He IS.  We must worship because He commands.  We must worship because we have nothing else we can do. 

Something in us is healed when we worship.  And that should not surprise us; doing things God’s way always brings blessing and wholeness.  There is a power in worship, perhaps even more so when that worship feels sacrificial.

Part of our battle plan in grief must be worship.  Singing is one of the easiest (though sometimes hardest) ways to do this.  While stages of grief are normal, natural, even God-given, getting stuck in a stage may indicate that there is a spiritual battle going on inside your heart.  The enemy would love to steal even more from you than he already has.  Worship, specifically praise, is your best weapon against his attacks. 

Is it a lie to sing when you don’t feel like it?  No, because what you sing in worship is the truth.  There is a book about marriage called Love is a Decision – we are not to love our spouses only when we feel like it.  We are to love them all the time.  We are not to worship God only when we feel like it; we are to worship Him all the time.  Just as loving your spouse in the tough times is the main thing that will restore your relationship, worshipping God in the tough times is what will restore your relationship with Him.

The Psalms are full of songs to God that begin with anger or despair.  It is ok - even right - to express those feelings to God.  But at some point the psalms turn to the truth of God's promises.  The lament turns to praise.  Some people expect that Christians will always exude joy, even in tough times.  While it is true that we have the joy of the Lord in our hearts, that does not mean that on the surface we must always have a happy face and be ok with our situations.  Perhaps today you are in the first half of a psalm, in the middle of a heart-wrenching lament.  Hang on.  With each step you take toward God, with each minute-by-minute decision to trust Him, you are getting closer to the praise part of your psalm.  

Sometimes singing a praise/worship song feels like a lie because you don't feel like He is good or that you have even one ounce of faith in your heart.  But go ahead and sing - make the song be a prayer.  Ask God to make the song true in your life.  If we wait until we feel like doing the right thing, we may never get around to doing the right thing.  God promises that His Word will not return void.  Each time we sing praises or say verses from the Bible it is like an arrow that shoots out toward the lies that are entangling us.  We don't have to fully believe those truths in order to shoot the arrow.  If we keep feeding our minds with the lies, allowing the despair to set up camp and crown itself king, of course we will feel stuck in grief.  But if we choose to instead feed our minds with God's truths, in time those truths will set up camp and the true King will reign in our hearts.  

This is not a prescription to eradicate grief or the hard times that come with loss.  This is a way of life.  But it also happens to be the only true way to get through those super tough days.  

Here are a few songs to get you started.  Remember, you can make them your prayer if they are not yet true for your heart.

You Have Made Me Glad – Hillsong

I will bless the Lord forever
And I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all sin
And he has set my feet upon a rock
And I will not be moved
And I'll say of the Lord....
You are my shield
My strength
My portion
My shelter
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need
Whom have I in Heaven but you?
There's none I desire beside you
You have made me glad
And I'll say of the Lord....
You are my shield
My strength
My portion
My shelter
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need
You have me glad
And I'll say of the Lord....
My very present help in time of need

Made to Worship – Chris Tomlin

Before the day, Before the light
Before the world revolved around the sun
God on high
Stepped down into time
And wrote the story of His love for everyone
He has filled our hearts with wonder
So that we always remember
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be
All we are
And all we have
Is all a gift from God that we receive
Brought to life
We open up our eyes
To see the majesty and glory of the King
He has filled our hearts with wonder
So that we always remember
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be
And even the rocks cry out
And even the Heavens shout
At the sound of His holy name
So let every voice sing out
And let every knee bow down
He is worthy of all our praise
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free, yeah
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see, you and I will see
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free, yeah
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be

None But Jesus lyrics
Songwriters: Fraser, Brooke;
In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won?t refuse
Each new day again I?ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You?re sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

So when You call I won?t delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

All my delight is in You, Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You, Lord, forevermore

For who you are

Standing here In your presence
Thinging of the good things you have done~
Waiting here, Patiently Just to hear the still small voice again
Holy righteous Faithful til the end
Saviour healer Redeemer and friend
I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
My soul secure 
Your promise sure
Your love endures

Let Everything that has Breath

Let everything that, everything that,
Everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Let everything that, everything that,
Everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise You in the morning,
Praise You in the evening,
Praise You when I'm young and when I'm old.
Praise You when I'm laughing,
Praise You when I'm grieving,
Praise You every season of the soul.
If we could see how much You're worth,
Your power, Your might, Your endless love,
Then surely we would never cease to praise.
Praise You in the heavens, joining with the angels,
Praising You forever and a day.
Praise You on the earth now, joining with creation,
Calling all the nations to Your praise.
If they could see how much You're worth,
Your power, your might, your endless love,
Then surely they would never cease to praise.

 Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
 ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
 Just to take Him at His Word;
 Just to rest upon His promise,
 And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
 Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
 Just to trust His cleansing blood;
 And in simple faith to plunge me
 ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
 Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
 Just from sin and self to cease;
 Just from Jesus simply taking
 Life and rest, and joy and peace.
 I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
 Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
 And I know that Thou art with me,
 Wilt be with me to the end.

 It is Well 
 When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,          
 When sorrows like sea billows roll;
 Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
 It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
 Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
 Let this blest assurance control,
 That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
 And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
 My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
 My sin, not in part but the whole,
 Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
 Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
 For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
 If Jordan above me shall roll,
 No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
 Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
 But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
 The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
 Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
 Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
 And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
 The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
 The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
 Even so, it is well with my soul.
 Blessed Be Your Name

 Blessed be Your name
 in the land that is plentiful
 Where your streams of abundance flow
 blessed be Your name

 and blessed be Your name
 when I'm found in the desert place
 though i walk through the wilderness
 blessed be Your name

 every blesssing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
 an when the darkness closes in Lord still i will say:
 blessed be the name of the Lord
 blessed be Your name
 bleseed be the name of the Lord
 blessed be Your glorious name

 and blessed be your name
 when the sun's shining down on me
 when the world's "all as it should be"
 blessed be your name

 and blessed be your name
 on the road marked with suffering
 though there's pain in the offering
 blessed be your name

 every blesssing 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 your name
 bleseed be the name of the Lord
 blessed be your glorious name

 you give and take away
 you give and take away
 my heart wil chose to say:
 blessed be your name (blessed be your name lord)

Corn mazes of life

We had the opportunity to visit this corn maze.  Before we went, I printed out this picture of the maze and spent some time looking at it.  I wanted to figure out how to get through it...without calling the "help" number listed on the info sheet.  As I thought about the maze, it was as if God spoke to me and said there were some important spiritual parallels between this maze and our lives.

With a corn maze, there is a most direct route through.  But is that the best route?  What would we miss by having speed or efficiency be our goal?  How much richer would our lives be if we made the journey the goal rather than the end?  As Christians, we know the end.  God can guide us through the maze, let us sit in one spot for an extended season, or decide to take us out of the maze from the middle.  Let's decide to look for God and His blessings in each moment of the day instead of striving toward the next thing.  

Are we trying to get through our grief as quickly as possible?  What if the comfort we long for comes in the very season we are trying to rush through?  Sometimes trying to get through quickly actually wastes time because we didn't experience what God had for us - we end up taking longer to get through because we have to go in circles several times before we relent and learn.  Don't be like Jonah and incur other negative consequences because you are avoiding your Ninevah.  

September 2010

Fall – a season that brings the end of a hot summer.  Cool breezes, crops harvested.  Yet it is also the beginning of the end for many plants.  Fall is when leaves begin to turn colors – beautiful, vibrant colors.  But after the colors fade, the leaves fall to the ground.  From the perspective of the leaf, this is a tragedy.  Life is over.  But we are able to see from a larger perspective.  We can see that because the leaves fall and the tree rests during the winter, storing up nutrients, new leaves will be ready to bud and burst forth in the spring.  Yes, fall leads to winter – often cold, dark, dreary.  But fall also leads to spring. 

Whatever season you are in right now, it is leading to a spring.  Realistically, every season also leads to fall – it’s a circle that goes on and on and on.  We can see the glass half full and see how everything is leading toward spring and new life, or we can see the glass as half empty and dread the coming falls and winters of our lives.  God is here with us in each season, desiring to teach us more about Him, drawing us closer to Him, showering more and more blessings upon us.  But we must look up, to the sky, rather than down to the ground where the leaves will find their final resting places. 

This fall, as you see leaves changing colors, remember God’s promises to you.

Leviticus 26:3-5 (New International Version)

 3 " 'If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (New International Version)

 13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Galatians 6:9 (New International Version)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Season in the Bible: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 
Immortalized in song and poetry, this passage teaches that there's a time and place for everything. On the one hand it's a sobering reminder that nothing lasts forever; but it's also encouraging to know that difficult times will eventually but inevitably be followed by times of peace. God is in control of it all. 
1 There is a time for everything, 
       and a season for every activity under heaven:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die, 
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, 
       a time to tear down and a time to build,

 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
       a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

 6 a time to search and a time to give up, 
       a time to keep and a time to throw away,

 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, 
       a time to be silent and a time to speak,

 8 a time to love and a time to hate, 
       a time for war and a time for peace.