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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

A need for Community and Worship

July 28, 2011 1 comment

After a long time, I am finally back writing again. This summer has brought a busy schedule and not much time for writing, or thinking for that fact. However, as things are slowing down, I was glad to have the opportunity to start writing again.

This week in the social network realm of reality, a friend stated something to effect of “back from an amazing retreat, now back to real life.” After reading this, I became concerned.

You see, what my friend expressed in 140 characters, was quite a statement. It was something that I have struggled with for years. Ever since my first retreat in high school, I have wondered when a person arrives back home from a week away, why we feel as though we have arrived back into reality. This is very troubling for me because I know that “reality” is and can be what ever you want it to be. Don’t worry, I am trying to be metaphysical or anything like that. I am not trying to convince you that their chair your sitting in, isn’t really there. What I am trying to convince you of is the fact that the reality we experience in a retreat can be realized in the reality once back at home.

After years of processing this, the answer finally came clear to me. Their are two primary reasons that retreats give the exhilaration of a high. While there are many other reasons that people latch on to, it all boils down to two reasons. These two things are something each of desperately need. These two things are some God designed us for and meant for us to experience in our daily life.

Most kids come back from a retreat thinking that the media had something to do with coming close to God. Maybe it helped, but I doubt this was the primary reason. Some kids believe that the smoke and lights brought them close to God. Well, again, not likely. While some may have inhaled too deeply and experienced some kind of enlightened feeling, it wasn’t one of the two core reasons.

God created us for two primary reasons. These two reasons can initially be found in the book of Genesis in the garden, and then through every book and every chapter of the Bible after that. These two things are: worship and community.

We were created for worship. God created us to worship him. It’s in our being. It wasn’t until that first sin when this became a challenge for man. Worship is at our core and when we enter into worship with others, we feel it. Worship is like coming back home. It gives you that peaceful feeling that not much else can give to you. So, when these retreats are filled with worship, its no surprise that these people are on a high because they feel that closeness with God.

The second purpose is community. Community is also found in the very beginning. Once man was created, the first thing that God said of man was “It is not good for man to be alone.” God spoke truth. We were never meant to be alone, to live life alone, or to walk with God alone. He created us for community. These retreats provide a week away with peers for and gives one a heightened sense of community. From Adam walking with God in the garden to Jesus meeting with His disciples in the other garden, we were meant to be with one another.

So when my friend thinks that after experiencing a week of worship and community he needs to get back to real life, I think that he is actually leaving real life. Most of us live in a world of busyness and avoid worship and community on this level. What if we made the commitment to experience worship and community on a weekly basis like we do when we are away? Worship and Community aren’t two complicated things, they are the two primary needs that God designed us to have. So when we don’t experience these on a daily basis, we are running away from what God intended for us.

In closing, I want to challenge my friend (and you) with this thought. Don’t look at returning home as coming back to reality. Look at it as a challenge to continue in reality. Reality is what you make it. God intended our reality to be filled with worship and community. Gather with friends and make it a point to walk with God and worship Him with all you have. The lights and the video, while cool, are not what brings you close to God. It is walking with Him just as Adam did in the garden and the disciples did in the other garden. So from garden to garden, let’s actively participate in worship and community and truly experience what reality is!

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Simple Beginnings

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

What would it be like if life were still simple? Isn’t that a question we all ask? Things would be different, no stress, no breaking sweats in mid day, no worrying about what is next. It would be easy. I think that might have been what it was like for the early church. When I read through the gospels and through the book of Acts, I feel as though Christ himself alongside with the early apostles were preparing us for something not necessarily big, but simple.

The early church didn’t make themselves so busy they could barely get a decent nights sleep, they organized their life around the church and made sure their priorities were straight. I feel as though we too easily fall into the trap of organizing our life around things that don’t last. We organize our lives around the kids basketball and volleyball games, we organize around the overtime we need to make the next round of bills.

The life that Jesus taught to His followers was a simple life. Put God first and his purposes to follow. The early church filled their schedule not with busy activities, but with opportunities to worship. They met together daily to break bread, fellowship, and worship. They spread the message of the gospel to others out of worship. They met met daily giving up of themselves and their possessions to glorify God with their whole being. They weren’t stressed about this, they did what they did becuase that was all they needed to do.

What would it be like if we could get back to that place of simplicity when all that mattered in our week was how we would worship God? If Jesus were to look at your calendar for this week, what would he say? Would he say that you are worshiping him or something else?

Take some time to think about the simple beginnings the church had and how every need was met. Wouldn’t it be nice if our every need was met?

It’s not the goal

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been corrupted. It’s true.

I’ve bought into the idea that my happiness is somehow a primary concern to God. I’ve been sold on the idea that this life is about me. I don’t know how it happened, but it’s true. I can’t even begin to trace back when the transition occurred from God-centered to Me-centered. I am sorry its happened though. It’s affected my ministry, my marriage, my friendships, how I read the Bible. It’s effected everything.

I was challenged yesterday with the idea that what God wants for and from me is my heart and worship. Honestly, if he doesn’t have that he doesn’t care about my happiness. It’s not in the Bible. You can search, its not there. It’s through my worship that happiness may be a by product, but its not the point. Its as much a by product as contentment, as security.

Have you been corrupted? Take a long look at your life. How has  this thought of your happiness superseding the worship of God affected your life? I wonder if as a Christ follower I can stand up for truth. This is one of those areas I believe Christians are duped nine times out of ten. We are suckers for this worldy theology and its driving us apart. We begin to introduce this stuff into our marriages, our workplaces, our church and its creating division between all of us.

What happens when our worship begins to take precedent over our happiness? What happens when we set our eyes on God and nothing else matters. How dramatically does this change our world?

Over this Christmas season, I challenge you with this idea. Are you like me? Have you fallen for this too? What can you do to put God in first place?

Categories: Worship Tags: , , ,

Monday Response – July 26th

Sunday’s worship time was great! I was really moved by one of the songs we sang which spoke of giving up everything to God. That is sometimes really difficult. In Sunday School, we spoke about that a little. It’s easy to give up the big things in life, but not always so easy to give up the everyday things.

As I was reading through Revelation 7, I was moved by how people worship. Scott’s point about sometimes you may just need to be on your knees with your face down in the dirt really hit home. All too often I want to keep my issues to myself and not give them up to God, but when I come to Him in worship, I need to give everything to Him. If I don’t then I am not truly worshipping.

God wants so much more for us than we allow ourselves to have. The freedom that is found only in Him is unlike anything else we could find. So, what is your response to Him today? What will you do beginning today to bring everything to God and not hold anything back?

It’s time to get off our horse and follow Him. The final verse in chapter 7v18 really says it all for me. “For the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Are you letting Him lead you this week? That’s all you have to ask.

Monday response – July 19th

Sunday services bring a lot to the table. One thing that I find from each service is that worship should bring some kind of response. Beginning today, I am creating an opportunity for a Monday response.

I have found so often that a missed opportunity to respond to God can create a hole that needs to be filled. If God is calling you to get plugged into a support system, but you avoid the call, the void will become even greater throughout the week.

So ask yourself, what were you prompted to do as a result of yesterday’s service? Have you found a place to plug in yet? Are you needing to serve as an act of worship? Do you need to sing a new song? Whatever it is, God is calling. It’s up to us to pick up the phone and answer. If you need a place to plug in, so that you may draw closer to God through fellowship, community, prayer,  and study, now is your time. Don’t avoid God’s call to a greater life in Him.

Here is a link to a simple form you can fill out to get plugged in: http://www.thirdcitychristian.org/index.cfm?i=5501&mid=26&fid=522

Or feel free to call the church office! Now is your time!

It’s Monday: What does worship look like today?

For too many protestant, faith driven people, Sunday marks the end of weekly worship. We throw all of our eggs into this basket. It’s our day of rest, and by rest I mean, let’s get all the yard work done. It’s our day of service, and by service I mean let’s help in the nursery at church. It’s our day of prayer, and by prayer I mean just sit quietly while the preacher is closing in prayer. It’s our day of sacraments, and by sacraments I mean lets down the the little biscuit and juice cause I didn’t get breakfast this morning. It’s our day of worship and by worship I mean stand up, sing two songs, sit down and sing two songs.

Does this routine sound familiar? If it does, than you’re not alone. There are a lot of people today who carry on like this week to week. Packing our Sunday’s with a “checklist from God” doesn’t mean that God likes what we are doing.

Scott made a great comment last week regarding worship. He said, “worship has been going on for eternity, we are merely joining in.” While our worship may all too often hinge on a our calendar, worship exists as long as God exists.

So, it’s Monday. What does worship look like today?

Worship today is being thankful for your first breath. It’s praising God for the rain! Worship is letting a coworker have the last cup of coffee in the pot. Worship is listening to a friend who is in a hard time. Worship is joining with your LIFE group to pray with and encourage one another. Worship is sharing a devotional time with your family before bed. Worship is needing God.

Worship can be so many things. I read this quote last night from AW Tozer, which I just love. He says, “God doesn’t need anything nevertheless He wants worshipers.” Next time you try to stuff your Sunday with all your worship, remember, you have six more days that God is wanting your worship.

Categories: Worship Tags: , , ,

Worship: Not only for Sunday mornings

Worship is often misunderstood.

Many think that worship happens on Sunday mornings. They think that worship is that time in church when you stand up to sing a song. Some say, I’m looking forward to Sunday so I can worship!”If you fit into one of these three categories, take a step back and consider what scripture says about worship.

I asked last week if you worship within your groups, some of you do, some of you don’t. Worship can happen every day. It’s not solely reserved for Sunday mornings. Through the Old Testament, primarily through the Psalms, we read of the heart of worship. David displayed his heart for worship through his writings. This is what stirred his heart on a daily basis. The mere thought of a great and glorious God was enough to send shivers down his spine as he would fall to the floor in reverence.

I often think that today we lose sight of God’s grandeur, not that we could ever hope to know exactly how big God is, but that its much easier to place God in a box and carry Him around like a poodle in a purse. Worship was never meant to be a once a week occurrence but a lifestyle. The word worship, or shachah (Hebrew) means to fall down prostrate on one’s knees. Think of Psalm 29:2 which says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Or in the New Testament worship or proskyneo (Greek) is similar, but means “to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence”.

Our worship is far more than even singing. To use the cliche saying, it’s a lifestyle. A part of who we are as Christ followers is expressed in how we cope with situations, who we are when no one is looking, and who we desire to be. David was always expressing the fact that he desired so much more than what he had. He wanted more God.

So when we join with others for worship, if we are bringing in a lifestyle of worship, it almost becomes an expected part of our group. If we are worshipers seven days a week, and not just Sunday, our worship is never ceasing. It flows through us, a day without worship is like a day without breathing.

There is a relatively simple passage at the end of the book of James. In 5:13, we read “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

These simple instructions are for the worshiper. Consider them guidance through this life. James tells us to pray, to sing songs of praise, to ask for forgiveness, to confess, and to be prayed for. All of these are characteristics of the life of a worshiper.

So, as an encouragement to you, if you are living a life of worship, why not bring worship into your group meetings, why not sing songs of praise to the God who is worthy? Pray for and with one another, confess and ask for forgiveness. Let God be God.

The last remark from James is one to point out too. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Even in those times in which we tend to drift away from the truth lean on those around you. Your LIFE groups are more than just a bible study, they are the church.  Let them bring you back to the truth.