Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Made to Worship

I stole the title from Chris Tomlin's song. I haven't written in a while. I didn't know what to write about. And I haven't had much time to write. Busy-ness with work and other stuff has kept me from blogging lately. I've mostly been working on my book, so the thought of writing in addition to that seems undesirable. But last night was different.

I went to a worship night at the NW campus. There was no sermon, just worship time. It was a small crowd. I sensed that this was a room of people hungry for something. For some, it was acceptance. Others needed to release fears or unforgiveness. Many had burdens to lay down at the altar. I was there to worship. To spend time with God. To offer him my imperfect voice. Regardless of the reasons why people came, I felt a sense of unity. We all needed something.

I recalled reading about Gideon. He brought his offering and set it before the Lord. The angel of the Lord touched the offering with his staff, and fire consumed it. As we offered up songs of praise, I imagined God soaking up our worship in a brilliant fire. The words "God is a consuming fire" never seemed more real. I couldn't help but smile. God loves it when his children cry out to Him. Sometimes it's in desperate and painful situations. Other times it's when we're rejoicing or thankful. But He always wants to hear from us.

I heard a pastor say that God never listened to one of his sermons and said, "Wow! I never thought of that before." We can't present any new wisdom to Him. Our good deeds are like filthy rags. But worship is one of the few things we have to offer.

A few months ago, I picked up my guitar and started to play a worship song. Quietly, He whispered, "Are you just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal?" Ouch. I was more worried about the chords and the strum pattern than actually worshiping the Creator. He doesn't want lip service. He wants a relationship. We were made to be in fellowship with Him. We were created for His glory.

Worship is not just singing or playing music. It is an act of love or devotion, to give something worth. Often, I've had to ask myself this question: what does my life reflect? That I worship God or the things of this world? Our time on this earth is fleeting, and I want to live to make every second count.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

As a child, hearing about the Holy Spirit (aka Holy Ghost) was always something that freaked me out. I used the movies Ghostbusters and Casper to try to process what the Sunday School teachers were telling me. But I had no real concept of this third person in the trinity.

When Christ died, he didn't just save us from our sins. But he unleashed the power of the Holy Spirit on every believer. Sadly, many believers don't understand what that means nor care to understand it. We're cool with God and Jesus, but this Holy Ghost weirds us out. So, with most things we don't understand, we push it towards the back and try not to think about it.

I didn't start caring until recently. So I began digging into the Word to learn more. Through scripture we see that the Holy Spirit acts as a Counselor who guides you into all truth, helps us in our weakness, and intercedes for us. It testifies that we are God's children. We are "marked in Christ with a seal (the Holy Spirit) ... a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession."

When Adam and Eve sinned, God covered them with garments of skin. When the prodigal son returned home, his father covered him with a robe. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the crucifixion, he said that soon they would be "clothed with power from on high." The Holy Spirit covers us. It covers our sinfulness and brokenness. God now sees us as his children, as co-heirs with Christ. But many of us walk around like we're naked. We try to cover ourselves with good deeds rather than allowing the Spirit to fully envelope us.

Jesus gave his disciples the authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons. But why don't we see those things happening anymore? Maybe it's because we don't ask for it.

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
~Luke 11:11-13

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kicking Anthills

What happens when you kick over an anthill? The ants usually have it rebuilt the next day. They don't relocate or give up. They choose to rebuild in the same spot. Every time. In order to get rid of the ants completely, you don't just squash the worker ants. You have to take out the source.

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."
~Luke 11:24-26

I've had problems with ants coming in near the kitchen sink. I sprayed the windowsill which took out some of the workers, but other ants continued to invade my home. So I bought these ant baits at the grocery store. Here's how it works. The ants take the bait back to the nest where it then kills all of the ants. Last month I set one in the windowsill and haven't seen any live ants in weeks. It worked!

The same scenario is played out in our lives. We kick over anthills. For example, we make New Year's resolutions that maybe last a week. We go on diets or exercise programs, buying all this equipment, only to give up after a few attempts. We have good intentions to help someone, but get overwhelmed with our own agendas.Or we decide to stop a certain sin, but we can't seem to cut it off completely. Sometimes our failure discourages us from even trying again. And the ants march on.

The problem is that we fail to take out the source. God has equipped us with everything that we need to succeed. But many times we don't know how to use it. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

The question is, do you really believe Him? In the next few days we'll look at how to use the gifts God has given us. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Unmerciful Servant

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells this story about a forgiving king who canceled the debts of a servant who owed him millions of dollars. But the servant then went to a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks. He choked the guy and then had him thrown into prison. When the king found out what his servant had done to the other man, he had him thrown in jail and tortured until he paid back all of his own debts.

I've always viewed this as a story about forgiveness (and it is!), but last week God showed me a new take on it. I was recently blessed financially. When this unexpected blessing came, I was so excited because I knew it was from God. I had lots of ideas about how I wanted to spend the money. The next day I was planning on buying a swimming pool. I had hunted down (via Internet) the perfect one, stalked it on the shelves of Walmart, and was almost ready to purchase. But I decided to have my brother come with me to get it, so he could help load it in the car and unload it when we got to my house. While I was waiting on my brother, I checked the mail. Bills, junk, and an organization asking for money. I've already given enough to them, I thought. But it seemed like a thorn stuck in my side. I have my own mission trip that I need to pay for, I reasoned. The thorn dug a little deeper. "What God?" I asked aloud. But I already knew the answer. "But I really want a pool!" I whined. So I decided to compromise. I would give to the organization later, but I would get the pool now. I picked up my brother, and we headed to Walmart. He started asking all these questions about the pool. "Where are you going to put it? Is it level? Can you store it?" Umm, I guess I hadn't really thought it through. "I'll figure it out later," I quickly answered. A sagging feeling hit me. The pool would not be there. Sure enough, we arrived at the store and every box was gone.

Most of my life I have been money-hungry. I remember counting my coins repeatedly as a child. Too often I put my trust in money and security rather than God. I always think back to the movie Ghost, when Whoopi Goldberg has to hand a check over to the nun. I can relate completely! God hands me money that wasn't even mine to begin with, then He asks me to do something, and I throw a mini-tantrum. One thing I'm learning (and relearning) is that you probably won't lose something when you have a tight grip on it, but you cannot receive anything more when you have a closed fist. God, help me to have open hands to receive what you have for me, but also to give what you want me to give.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can You Relate?

I've been reading through some Old Testament stuff, looking to dig in rather than glaze over. Here's one story that stood out. King David had a son named Adonijah. I like to call him Donny. Or maybe Don. Anyway, his dad is getting really old. So Donny decides that he will be king. He ignored the fact that David had many sons and he wasn't really next on the list to be king. Donny organizes a parade and invites only the people he knows will support him. He sacrifices animals and throws a party so everyone will see that he is going to be the next king. However, his pride catches up with him, David names Solomon to be king, and Donny is put to death because of his deception and arrogance.

Unfortunately, I can relate to Donny. There are many times when I try to work things into my favor, even in times when I know I shouldn't. I don't want to listen to others who disagree with me. My selfishness takes over. I don't want to wait on God's timing. Sometimes, it seems He takes too long. Other times, He prompts me to do something, and I have to "pray about it" (when actually I'm stalling because it's an inconvenient task). I get ahead of God or wander off the path into trouble. No wonder we're compared to dumb sheep in some verses. I want to learn how to live in step with God. Not in front or behind. But right beside the loving shepherd.

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified its sinful nature. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Galatians 5:24-25