Friday, September 23, 2011

What Do You Give A God Who Has Everything?

I love to learn about worship. I love to listen to the latest worship music and hear about the creative ways that churches use to incorporate worship into their identity. I've read many books on worship leading, listened to teachings & sermons on worship, traveled to different churches to watch what they do. I've studied the history of worship in churches and denominations around the world. I love talking with people about worship, because talking out what I think helps me solidify my beliefs. Living in our wealthy culture, there are resources upon resources available to me to enhance my understanding of worship. There are more than enough viewpoints and orders of service out there for me to think about and get my hands on.

But all of those things I just mentioned are mere supplements to the true knowledge of worship. In reality, there is one thing I need to learn about worship...and I need to learn it well. Interestingly though, many of the supplements I listed above do not take me to this one thing. They take me to creating song lists, how to work with your pastor for Sunday mornings, how to deal with musicians - to audition or not audition? That is the question, etc. Where can I find the newest sound equipment? They take me to creating a 'worship atmosphere' that is comfortable for the congregants and welcoming of people of all varying walks and situations. They teach me about the importance of enhancing my musical talent and how to sell many of my own worship CD's. They ask me to question how much of my song lists should be rehearsed versus spontaneous. Yet, with all these topics, it is still true that there is only one thing I need to learn about worship...and I need to learn it well.

One thing.
One resource.
One way.

I need to learn the One that I am worshiping. I need to learn the object upon whom my worshiping affections will be cast. I need to learn the One, inside and out.  I need to learn the One I am worshiping. I need to know Him. I need to know His thoughts. I need to know His dance moves, His emotions. And...I need to know what pleases Him.

What do you get for a God who has everything? What makes Him tick? What can I possibly bring that would please such a perfectly beautiful being?

I have no money, no fame, and many mistakes, yet, daily I can bring Him this question:  "Father, what do you desire from me today?" Our Western culture consistently ingrains in us the drive for self-gratification. This drive has spilled over into our churches and into our approach to the King of kings. Worship is relationship, not a great musical performance or expression. Worship is not lights, projectors, smoke machines and drum's not even my Roland keyboard that I love with oh so much of my heart! A "good" time of worship has NOTHING to do with how tight the band was musically or whether the songs played were my very favorite. Worship is Other-mindedness. It is every day. It is covenant partnership...a love relationship. It is sacrificing my desires to prefer what my Significant Other adores.

How do we know what pleases Him? Ask Him. He speaks. He speaks well. He speaks so well that when words are uttered from His mouth worlds come into existence. He speaks so well that all of the created order is sustained by His voice. We have a 66 book manual of His preferences and the things that bring pleasure to His heart. It's the Word. He is the Word. Read it. Know it. Do it. Know Him. Learn Him and proactively surprise Him with what excites Him. Daily. Right now. Abide in Him and learn His likes and dis-likes, His opinions and pet-peeves, His joys and delight.

I do not need one more worship leader conference or book on how to create a song list. I need to know One thing and I need to know Him well. Out of that knowing will spill the Great the Commandment, a love for Him that encompasses and requires every part of my being...a true worshiping heart.Welcome to "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer", through death we will never part. Welcome to my life's pursuit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Kind of Love This...

All fear is but the notion that God's love ends. Did you think that I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough? But I am infinite, child. What can end in Me? Can life end in Me? Can happiness? Or peace? Or anything you need? Doesn't your Father always give you what you need? I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end. Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough. In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends. If My goodness towards you end, I will cease to exist, child. As long as there is a God in heaven there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace. ~God

I love that AND the very warm chocolate-chip cookies I just pulled out of my oven. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

God's Word Cuts Deep...1 Thessalonians 5:18

NASB:             "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
ESV:                "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
MESSAGE:    "Thank God no matter what happens. This the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." 
KJV:                "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Holy Spirit, I need your help! Thank You that You are the Helper. 

If it is God's will for us to give thanks in every circumstance, that means that there are things to be found in every circumstance to be thankful about. This is a partner verse with "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) If it is God's will for us to rejoice (re-joice = to joy again) in every circumstance, it means that joy can be found in every circumstance. I believe this is true and I am challenged. Too often I look for the wrong things in circumstances - worry, unbelief, fear, bitterness & disappointment. I even find that I live on edge, bearing down, waiting for these things to emerge. WHAT?! What Kingdom do I live in? God is ever joyful, never worried or despairing. God is ever delighting and rejoicing over us (Zephaniah 3:17). I think it is true to say that God is thankful for us...humbling. I want to be like my Father.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 is where God has my heart centered right now and I am in no hurry to leave. I want a thankful heart. I want my natural response to my daily life on this earth to be, "Thank You, Lord." I want to be thankful for others and toward others. I want to have a heart that seeks out treasures of joy and gratefulness that are hidden in every situation of my life. I am thankful for this pursuit, and I also recognize how much my heart needs to be transformed. My mind needs renewed. My habits and patterns need to be changed. 

1 Thessalonians me, O God, and find all ungratefulness within me. Transform me by the renewing of my mind. You are the Good God. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Right Now

I'm being challenged by thankfulness. I'm challenged by my lack of it and I'm challenged by the raw power of it. I'm challenged by how quickly thankfulness humbles me and slaughters my pride and stubborn heart. I'm challenged by how God's love language is a thankful heart. It must be. Thankfulness is the only thing I find in Scripture that is the doorway to His presence, His nearness.

Thankfulness makes right now a sanctuary for God. It's an invitation to the Almighty One to enter this present moment...and now this present moment. It's a glorious intrigue that pulls Him to invade my very thoughts, circumstances, failures, blue skies and dreams. Thankfulness is powerful enough to stop despair in its tracks and replace it with peace and joy and newness.

Too often I spend my thought-life thinking and chasing after the future. I'm driven to experience the next best thing. What I have obtained and am currently experiencing is on the less green side of the fence. There's always something better on the horizon if I can just strain hard enough to get there. Thankfulness puts me in my present place. It's a gift that allows me not to miss a moment of joy over what God is doing this split second in my life. What is spinning around me right now? I hear the crickets singing outside my window which reminds me that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. He is sovereign over creation and He is sovereign over me. I sit in a beautiful apartment which reminds me of His tenacious provision for me. If I only live for the next best thing, I miss the thousand moments that He has tried to reveal Himself today. If I only  live for the next best thing, time flies and I don't know where it went. Thankfulness stops the rapid advancement of time. It causes my mind to pause and reflect on the glory of God all around me and in me. I am a work in progress in the hand of my Maker. The progress is happening right now...and right now.

Jesus gave thanks. When Jesus gave thanks in Scripture, it was usually in the middle of the most mundane activities - breaking bread, cooking fish. But just a few words after His thankfulness, incredible miracles took place, like when 5000-10,000 people were fed on a hillside or at an evening supper the night before He saved me through His torture and death. I believe thankfulness carries the power of heaven and ushers that power into right now.

I want to be a professional thank-er. Thankfulness is a lifestyle of worship.