Friday, May 30, 2008
Matthew 7:13-14 (Message)
I love both of these guys!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I attented the Shift Conference at Willow Creek and after one of the sessions I made my way to the prayer room. After a few minutes of prayer, I got up to leave only to be stopped by one of the prayer volunteers there. She asked me if I needed prayer and I was like... uh sure! I've never been one to just turn down someone if they wanted to pray for me unless they have really perfect hair, a big bible with a "KJ Only" sticker on it and a crazy look on their face.
I'm not going to say, "Man, that lady prayed good!!" But she was just connected with God in a way much differently than most people I know. She sat with me, talked with me, and prayed with me even though she didn't know who I was. When I was about to leave she looked me in the eye and said, "You need to find a prayer partner. Someone who prays specifically for you on a daily basis." I felt her sincerity as if she was saying it with a knowledge of who I am and what God desires for me.
So, as prideful as it sounds to ask someone to pray for me daily, I'm going to do it. I've had this person in mind for a while, but just haven't asked them... And it's... YOU! No, just kidding. This person has to be someone that I can trust. :) We'll see how it goes. They may not want to pray for my sorry butt every day.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I think the message that a fellow staff member, Watty, gave this weekend pretty much sums up the purpose and importance of a journey like this in my life. He talked about the dangers of drifting. His point was, if we are not careful, we will find ourselves on the edge of danger because we have not taken the time to be anchored in God's ways, in our relationships with others, etc. It is not something that happens overnight, but it is a gradual drifting away from those things that are foundational to our lives. Pretty soon, we are at the edge of dangerous waters and, seeing it ahead of us, we look around in confusion wondering what happened. How could we have drifted so far?
This 21 day journey is about making my way back to a place close to God and putting down anchor. It is especially important to me, because the true success of my leadership lies in a healthy relationship with God. I guess anyone could say that, but I was a worship leader who had drifted away from worshiping God on a regular basis? Who are you? Are you a pastor who has drifted away from your own personal hunger for God's Word? Are you a husband or wife that has drifted away from your spouse? What have you drifted away from? This journey is about being re-centered on Christ. The 21 days doesn't bear any significance except that "experts" say it takes us that long to develop a good habit. It was my worship journey, but it could be your journey of growing closer to your kids or recommiting to your job. There is nothing super-spiritual about it except that this commitment will hopefully help you realign your priorities and get you farther away from dangerous waters.
So, what are you waiting for? The next 21 days could change your life!! OK... or they could just get you back on track. Who knows what it could hold for you? There's only one way to find out.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I Just long for the people of our churches to practice worship in their lives. I long for them to read the psalms and internalize God's works. I long for them to meditate on what it is that God has actually done for them. I want all of us to never tire of praising God. Psalm 145 says, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond discovery." I hope for myself and for all those who call themselves Christ followers that we would seek to know this greatness. If it is true that we can never know all of His greatness, then today we can learn something new about Him and turn to praise Him for it.
Oh Great God, help us to know your greatness and never tire of praising You. You are truly beyond discovery, but teach us more and more about Yourself. Let Your people hunger to understand how You are working in their lives. Keep us from the snare of self-confidence and pride. Make us aware of who You are. I long to worship You continually and I long for Your people to do the same. Oh Father of all secrets things, reveal Yourself to us and we will turn to praise You. Together we will praise You when we gather to meet. Together we will make sure that Your name is heard on our lips and Your songs in our sanctuaries. Jesus, fill our hearts with brokenness for our sins and with a revelation of Your love. Then we will be like David and Your praise will be on our lips day and night. In Your great mercy, show us yourself Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Friday, May 23, 2008
A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men. (NKJV)
In most translations this verse refers to something like a bribe. In other words, when you pay someone off it can bring you before great men. NKJV is the version that I grew up reading and I memorized the scripture this way. To me it has always meant something a little different. I don't think it's at all out of context, but it communicates a little different perspective. The gift is a little different. I believe that God uses our gifts to bring us before people great and small; our talents and spiritual gifts that is. It makes me think of Joseph being brought before Pharaoh because of His gift of interpreting dreams. God used this to raise him up.
I have such a strong desire to be a self-aware, G0d-aware, and humble person, but I feel that this scripture is part of what God is doing in my life. I don't know what it will look like, but I want to be ready to seize the opportunity to share His message with whomever I am given an audience. I want to be ready in season and out of season like Paul encourages Timothy to be.
God, thank You that You are always simultaneously preparing me for the future and using me in the present. Keep me focused on Your voice today while still hoping and seeking for the future. Give me boldness to speak to people small and great about Your name. I will worship You before any gathering, before any assembly, before any audience. Above all else, let Your will be done in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Selfishness is the great enemy of true worship. The problem is that we are all prone to be selfish. No one is exempt from this struggle, because it is at the core of all human nature.
1 Peter 5:6-9
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
God, give us the boldness to live selfless lives. Keep us Lord for Your glory and for Your name. In every decision help us to look to the future, to look to You and see how we should act; what direction we should take. All of this is so that You would be glorified in us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Just like God desires our consistent life-long devotion over our sporrattic tossed by every wave commitment, He also desires that we care about things that are about long term instead of instant gratification. Our economy, issues of pollution, and a myriad of other things that go along with these are all about quick fixes and the selfish pursuit of what will work for "Me" without concern about tomorrow. Take for example, factories using outdated dirty technologies to continue making cheap products filled with toxic additives that can cause unknown diseases that our own children chew on and bathe in... think about it...
Is that God honoring?
Are we worshiping God by catering to lobbyists and pharmaceutical companies that have no concern for people beyond the money that they can take from them?
Does this have anything to do with worship?
When we buy products that are cheap to us only because the resources were stripped from some third-world country and produced by grossly underpaid mistreated workers, are we honoring God or dishonoring Him? Or does it even matter?
These are questions that we need to be battling with, not whether or not this or that specific thing is wrong or right in our own eyes. We should be asking, "God, what do you think about this? Does this kind of stuff honor You or dishonor You? The traditional Christian response is that we should not be worried about these things when there are souls out there to be won, but here is the truth...
Empty souls are dying every day because of these things. We are killing ourselves everyday with the stuff we put in our bodies. We are acting without regard for the souls and lives of future generations who will be living in a world on the verge of catastrophe in the wake of our gluttony and irresponsability. And worst of all, we are robbing ourselves of the wonderful adventurous God-honoring life that we could be living if only we would care about what He cares about and live out justice, mercy, and God-honoring stewardship.
God, merciful Father, please explode us out of our apathy. Open our eyes, unstop our ears, let us see the devastation that we are part of causing. Oh God, we are so sorry for all that we are supporting and funding. Please forgive us and give us a clear picture of what we can do to change. Your honor and Glory is our top priority. Help us to worship You with our words, our actions, our money, our habits, with everything. You are worthy and Your plans go far beyond this generation! Oh Jesus, help us to prepare the way for the next generation and the generations to come. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Just to the right of this dirt is a huge hole that looks like the makings of two olympic sized pools. They're taking the old dirt out and putting layers of better dirt that will serve to support the foundation of the expansion of our new building. I thought that dirt was dirt and you could just slap some concrete and rebar on top of it and voila!! Wrong!
God, I would rather have a good foundation for You to build your work in my life upon than to have instant success and fame built on unsettled ground. You have told me that You are tilling up the soil in my heart, so please, by all means, continue; as if You had to have my permission. But I submit myself to You and Your plans, Your views, Your thoughts, Your desires, and Your will. Take as long as you want to cultivate me. I worship You because this is where I belong... wherever You want me to be doing whatever it is You want me to do. I belong in Your hands. I belong to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Success is more than money.
Success is more than numbers.
Success is alignment with God.
Success is being broken.
Success is full of surprises.
Success is not easy.
Success is closer than you think.
Success is a daily journey.
Success is full of failure.
Success is not a solo venture.
Success as a Christian begins with relationship.
My only hope
My only prayer in this life
Is in You
I trust in You
I trust in You
With more than words
I love You God. Thank You for shaping my view of success. Thank You for loving me enough to change me. Today, let me shut up and worship You. Amen.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
We did an acoustic set today with just two guitars and three vocals and it was a great way to recenter ourselves on God's initiative of being glorified instead of being so focused on our pseudo-rock-n-roll initiative. I love worshiping with a full band, but I guess it's just nice to remember that we can worship with an orchestra or a capella and still bring God just as much glory.
God, may our church do everything we can to steep ourselves in You and not in our own selfish ambitions. Father, teach us to lead them in that way. Show us the path to bringing more glory to Your name. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I look at the children of Israel and the miracles that they witnessed, but, being so self-absorbed, they missed it. They turned to their complaining and idolatry. Are we not a society just like theirs? Do we not tire of things so quickly that every new thing turns quickly into "old news"? Why would God want to do miracles here? Wouldn't we just turn and forget Him just like the Israelites?
I don't know. On one hand, I long for God's supernatural intervention via physical miracles of healing and restoration because good people are hopeless and dying every day (physically) without them. On the other hand, I long so much more for us to trust in God and love Him whether we are sick or well, rich or poor. It's so easy for me to say this because I am well and, while I'm not rich, I am well provided for.
Oh God, I long to see miracles because the people You love are hurting and groaning for Your intervention. They have been given reports from doctors that are hopeless. They have reached an impass with their spouse and can't get through it. We so desperately need You and Your power here and now in our lives. But, Father, help us to make a different mark than the Israelites, to chart a different course. Let our longing for relationship with you supercede our desire for healing and restoration in our bodies. We need You, in everything You are, in every way! But God, first, we need You as our Master, our Leader, and our Lord. Be worshiped today by our submission. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
OK, now forget everything I just said except for the last four words. Isn't that where we get hung up most of the time when God asks us to do something? Especially when we feel Him leading us in our daily lives as we walk through a store or drive down the street. Most of the time we... I don't immediately obey Him because of those four words.
What I forget though is that God is omniscient... He knows absolutely everything and He's using me to accomplish a small part of His universal will. So when God speaks to me, He's not only leading me to accomplish His will in that small situation, He is also putting this work in sync with a long line of things that are masterfully woven together in His universal plan. So, who am I, with such finite intelligence and understanding, to utter the words, "It doesn't make sense"?
Here is the key to all of this:
God always speaks in the context of HIS knowledge.
I think about Acts 9 when God tells Ananias in a vision that He is to go and baptize Saul. His first response is something like, "God, it doesn't make sense. Do you know who You're talking about? This guy has done so much harm to Your people." But God is speaking to Ananias in the context of His knowledge, not only of that moment, but also of what He knows Saul will do and become. God was calling Ananias with all of the people in mind that Saul would ever reach. He even knew that one day we would be reading his epistles and be encouraged and challenged by his words. God spoke in the context of His knowledge and thankfully Ananias believed that.
If we live and walk with that understanding, then those four words, "it doesn't make sense," will hopefully turn into these six words... "even if it doesn't make sense."
God, You are so smart and I rarely give You the credit and respect You deserve because of it. Father, continue to chip away at my human reflex of distrust and my need to understand. Let my spirit's reflex to Your words dominate and my response to you be immediate... even if it doesn't make sense. In Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I wanted to keep "worshiping"! I just wanted to keep singing that new worship song I like. I wanted to tell God how awesome, great, mighty, and majestic (any other commonly used adjective) He was, but I couldn't shake it.
The problem was that at the very beginning of my prayer time today I asked God to shape me. It was an innocent prayer and lacked profoundness, but nonetheless, effective.
Jesus says something so relevant to this in Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice ["worshiping"] at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God."
Ahh, there it is again. Make it right because your sacrifice means nothing without obedience. I think it has become our... my habit to sweep offenses small and great under the rug, step into our worship time, and pretend like God doesn't know that something is awry. This is a dangerous habit to get into! This is where empty self-fulfilling self-honoring dishonest worship begins.
And we wonder why our worship is dry... why we have lost our sensativity to the Spirit.
Leave your sacrifice! Go make it right!
God is using this to humble me, mold me, and shape me. I can't complain though because it was my prayer to begin with.
Father, thank you so much for valuing me enough to see that I am changed; that the empty self-fulfilling self-honoring dishonest worship stops in my life. Oh God, forgive me of my sin against my brothers and sisters. I am in dire need of You, because, on my own, I'm unfit to be called your son. Keep me Lord, even if it means that I am broken... Keep me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I spend so much energy seeking God's will and His plan for my life asking Him to show me the next step. All along though, He is telling me to come to Him. Seek Him. Know Him. I have a principle that I learned long ago, but have yet to live by. It goes like this:
If you stick close to God, then you will be where He has called you to be.
I know that if I seek Him and stay close to His heartbeat, his voice, and in His presence, then I will fulfill the most important call that He has given me; to be in relationship with Him. Everything else flows out from there. The where, when, how, and what don't matter if it doesn't start with us personally submitting to His will at His feet as often as we can. That is where it begins and ends because if there is no relationship, then we are missing the point.
Worship begins with relationship. Without it, there can be no genuine worship. Obedience is only obligation without relationship. Playing and singing is only a concert without first knowing Him.
God, first I seek You and long to know You, because I understand that my primary call is to know You. Only then can I truly worship You. Oh gracious Father, thank You!
"Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift." -2 Corinthians 9:15
Monday, May 12, 2008
I fought for my worship time today amidst a number of things on my calendar. I stole a few minutes in my office listening to a couple of songs from Delirious and Desperation, but I couldn't seem to shake my tired eyes and mind. I got up and put my "in session" sign on the door (it's kind of a musician wanna be's version of do not disturb) and I sat down in the corner of my office trying to focus my thoughts on God. About the time I felt like I was making some progress, one of our sound guys arrived to help me with the sound board. An hour and a half, a guitar lesson, and three or four other tasks later, it was time to meet up with my beautiful wife... God would have to wait. :)
I had some time alone on the way home because we had driven seperate cars and I thought, "I'll get that last ten minutes of worship in now, while it's just me and God." I tried singing some songs, but the same distractions came up. I just didn't seem to be in the singing mood. So I quit doing that and just began to pray about my soon to be born son and my wife and my family. Then, out of nowhere, this thought came to me, "What am I doing? I'm supposed to be worshiping and dang if I didn't get distracted by prayer. OK, what song could I sing?"
Right there, God put the brakes on my thoughts and spoke so clearly.
"What do you think you are doing when you pray? What do you think worship is? Is worship not giving time and attention to what is most important? Is worship not obeying My commands? Is worship not thinking ahead and organizing your day so you can spend time with Me? Is it not building a relationship with a man who serves Me by fixing sound problems? Is not teaching a middle school student guitar lessons so He can play music that glorifies Me? Is it not putting aside other obligations to have dinner with your wife and spend quality time with her? What do you think worship is? Today, I have been worshiped more than you even know, because you took the time tend to my flock. I'll take this any day over songs and melodies from your lips."
1 Samuel 15:32
What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
God, today and every day I want to glorify You with my obedience. With my life I honor You and my hands and feet sing Your praise.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
And our worship echo in empty canyons
Let the glory of our God be know in every dark alley
And His name be shouted from every mountain
When we sing, let our voices be heard
When we cry out, let Your justice roll down
Let your Spirit pour out
Use our lips to spill words of life
And our songs to pull back the night
Leave no heart unturned and no life unchanged
Leave no hurt unhealed when we speak Jesus' name
Let hungry mouths be fed and children loved and claimed
Let all that's lost be found when we speak Jesus' name
God, we long for our worship to be so much more than words and melodies.
Oh kind and patient Father make us the vessels You want us to be
Send us with Your praise on our lips
To every dark corner
To every broken village
To every penthouse suite
To every filthy port city
To every lavish palace
To every dreary bar
May our worship not stop at their thresholds
Or thanks be shut up inside our walls
But let us take it to where the hopeless are
To where tired eyes go to cry
To where broken hearts go to die
We are bondservants of Your glory
And muses called to tell Your story
We will not hold it in
Holy Spirit we breathe out
Let them breathe You in
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Think about it it though like a solar system instead of like a list. Our lives are made up of a series of concentric circles and Jesus is at the center. When we worship Him, everything revolves around Him; He is the main priority. He, like the sun, gives life, energy, and light to the rest of the things in our life.
Our worship doesn't end with placing Jesus at the center though. It only begins there. We can bring glory to Him by the way that we align the other things in our lives around Him. Priorities are nothing more than a way of expressing value and unfortunately what we say we value is not always what we value with the substance, time, and energy of our lives. Priorities are spoken and put into place with actions, not words. Everyday, we have to be working to align these two priority systems; what is spoken and what is reality. I can't tell you how true this is in my life.
It is very much like this in our worship through songs and music. It is a vocal expression of our ordered priorities, but does it truly reflect the state of our hearts. Is Jesus the center? I think this method of worship can serve as a reminder, a checkpoint, in our lives to help realign us, but that's not all. If Jesus is the center, then He also dictates the order of the other things in our lives. This is why it's so easy to take Him and put Him in orbit around our own desires, because then He doesn't have control of everything else. This is what dilutes our worship to Him, because our priority systems are not in line.
Worship of God is not only putting Him at the center; that is where it begins. Bringing glory to God is putting your marriage orbiting around Jesus with nothing spinning between. Singing His praises is maybe putting "loving your neighbor" just beyond that. If our worship in song serves to realign our priorities and reposition Jesus at the center, then the the worship of our lives should be to align everything else according to His will.
Oh God, may the words and worship of my mouth be reflective of the true state of my heart. In this I know that I will be worshiping You with sincerity and integrity. God, You are worthy of that. Holy Spirit, speak to me and be keeper of my priorities. Jesus, be the center. In Your name, Amen
Friday, May 9, 2008
God, knowing that you desire me brings me joy. Knowing that your are listening and attentive to my prayers. Jesus, knowing that you are my advocate, my liason, brings me joy. Knowing that your love and sacrifice is for me. Holy Spirit, knowing that you are near, with and in me, brings me joy. Knowing that I have the very presence of God living in me and going before me.
Joy creates energy
Joy brings help to hope
Joy helps people perservere
Joy makes a heart light and not heavy no matter what the circumstance
Joy heals hurts
Joy guards from bitterness
Joy is rooted in security
Joy is knowing and trusting the God of all creation
Joy is birthed as God reveals Himself to us more and more
God, help us to never turn our eyes from You. We want to see all that You, God of infinite wisdom, want to show us. You have our attention. You have our senses. Show us Yourself and in that we will know Your way.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
But whoeer has this world's goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
God, help us to all be full of love like this. Your sacrifice is worthy of this, that we love our neighbor and our brother. We worship you with this love.
Oh God let us worship not in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Song I was listening to today:"How Sweet The Name" Album: Kingdom of Comfort Artist: Delirious
Check out this video I saw yesterday of Jon Foreman singing a song he wrote out of Isaiah. Much needed message about worhsip.
It's called "Instead of a Show"
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Oh God Your love has put
Eternity in my heart
You've given me a song to sing
Eternally for You God
As I was singing, I began to pray that God's kingdom would come and that the kingdoms of this world would pass away. Sometimes I am so frustrated with the tunnel vision and short-term mindset of world powers including the U.S. I long for God's kingdom because it is completely eternally minded and centered. Everything is done with eternity in mind.
May Your everlasting kingdom come
In my time, Through my life
May the kingdoms of this world
Pass away, pass away
God, this love You have placed in my heart is the only eternal thing I possess. It is the only eternal thing that I can give away in this temporary life. Help me to be about the business of giving it away, so that in small ways Your kingdom comes and Your will is done on earth, through my life, everyday, as it is in Heaven. Your kingdom is beautiful in your people.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
I need You here. Come speak to me. Holy Spirit fill me up
I have begun 21 day journey with a friend of mine. We’re putting aside at least a half hour each day just to worship and get closer to God. I know it sounds like something that a worship leader should be doing all the time, but it is just not true; at least for me. All too often, I find myself flying through the day without stopping and really being still before God. I mean, I catch a worship tune here and there and join in on the ride home or during the day just randomly, but I’m talking about dedicated time between God and me. Come on, this is stuff that I’ve been learning since I was a kid and stuff that I teach our middle and high school students. I want to be re-centered on what God wants from me personally and in leadership.
One other facet of this particular journey is that I have committed to write zero songs during this time. I’ll probably jot down some phrases here and there just to get them out of my head, but so many times, when I finally slow down to worship God on my own, I get distracted by songwriting. Unfortunately, I have built a habit of looking for lyrics in everything. No songs right now though… they’re just too distracting. I end up getting off course and quit worshipping God in order to write a worship song. Go figure… idiot! Talk about someone who’s missing the point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to what’s to come.