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Which is better,being perfect or being anointed?

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A week or so ago my wife and I were asked to sing a song at the new church we’ve been attending for the past few weeks. Being thrilled for the opportunity, we gladly accepted the Pastor’s invitation. We chose an older song that was both familiar to us and one that my wife thought would bless those in attendance.

After practicing the song a few times at home we were ready by the time the mid-week service rolled around on Wednesday. The only music was me on the guitar, and due to some issues with my guitar’s pickup I wasn’t able to amplify it but had to play through a microphone. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but in this case I was not able to hear it clearly while we were singing.guitar sunset

To make a long story short, I stumbled a few times both while singing and playing. The worst was when I tried to play and sing a particular note but because I couldn’t hear it well enough, my fingers went one way and my voice another. Huge embarrassment right there!

Anyway, we got through it and took our seats. Much to my great surprise a lady whom we didn’t know came to us and shared that that particular song was exactly what she needed to hear. Soon, others also expressed their appreciation for our heartfelt song.

Meanwhile, in musicministry-v3spite of all the wonderful comments, yours truly was none too happy over his poor performance. Which brings me to the thought behind this post.

I beat myself up for several days because I was embarrassed at not hitting the right notes, so much so that the resident Princess reminded me that being perfect seemed to be more important to me than ministering to someone’s need.

Ummm…OUCH!

I knew exactly what she was getting at. Rather than permitting the Lord to work through us to minister to a hurting heart, imperfect as our song was, I wanted instead to display perfection in our capabilities. Did you get that…OUR capabilities?

Now, don’t get me wrong,  I believe we should do our best no matter what avenue of ministry we’re working in. To be sure, our version of the song that night would not win any contests, but what it lacked in perfection, it made up for that in that it touched someone’s heart.

When you get right down to it, isn’t that what ministry does? It reaches the heart and does the work of the Holy Spirit, a work that we ourselves cannot do. It is only when we yield ourselves to the Spirit that He is able to accomplish what needs to be done.The-Ministry-of-the-Holy-Spirit

All of us have been called to minister in one way or another. In fact, Peter tells us that “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God“.   1 Peter 4:10

My prayer is that I will get out of His way and permit Him to do what He knows needs to be done. If that involves a sour note or two, what does it matter so long as the end result is someone being strengthened in their walk with the Lord?

Have a blessed day!

Ron

 

How would you worship if you knew today was your last opportunity?

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Would you change anything? Would you do anything different?

Would you notice the crying baby, or the fussy children?

Would you notice what the person next to you was wearing?

Would you take extra care in picking out what you would wear, or take no thought at all?

Would the volume of the music bother you as much as it usually does, or not at all?

Would you care that your favorite song wasn’t sung, yet again?

I’m jotting all of this down very early Sunday morning as I’m waiting to start getting ready for church. I woke this morning thinking, wondering, is there anything inhibiting my worship? And how would I worship if I had advance notice that this would be my last opportunity?

Worship

To offer Him praise and thanksgiving for all He has done in our lives,to take the time to express our gratitude to God for His many blessings. Isn’t that why we assemble on the Lord’s Day?

As I thought about all of this, my mind began to drift to the different types of worship we read about in the Bible.

Ritual Temple Worship

From the priestly worship inside the Temple we find the descendants of Aaron offering up animal sacrifices as an act of worship for the people: sin offerings, trespass offerings, guilt offerings, and on it goes.

Sacrificial Worship

The people often traveled great distances to worship, and let’s not forget that travel then was very hard and dangerous. Still, they went onward, determined to worship.

We see a man by the name of Elkanah going up yearly to the Temple to make sacrificial worship offerings. Year after year his wives went with him, and God received the worship of his wife Hannah, who was blessed with a son who you might remember was Samuel.

Emotional Worship

And how could we forget David, warrior king of Israel who danced in worship before the Lord with all his might?

Holy Worship

In the New Testament we read where there is worship in heaven, glorious, other-worldly worship where twenty four elders cast their crowns at the feet of God while crying Holy, Holy, Holy.

Whenever we find worship mentioned in scripture we typically find God responding to it, because we are told that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalms 22:3)

Knowing all these things, the thought of “what if today was my last day to worship God” is front and center in my heart. Would we permit anything to inhibit our worship,if this was truly the case? Would all the things that we get hung up on now really matter?

As I continue working on this post, church has been over for nearly three hours. During the service today this topic was never far from my thoughts. Whether during the music portion, receiving the offering, or while being taught the word of God, I purposed in my heart that I would focus only on Him.

I couldn’t even tell you if anyone had a doughnut in their hand!😉

How then should we approach worship? Is there a right way to worship? Should our worship be limited by what our particular denomination allows, or considers acceptable?

Should our worship be traditional or contemporary? High Church or Cowboy Church? Quiet or loud, exuberant or solemn? Last time I checked, the Lord wasn’t handing out style points, but was looking for sincere hearts.

I don’t pretend to be able to answer those questions for you. I can, however, offer up this thought. I believe God expects, no demands, our very best worship. And what is “best” is different for each of us.

Take the busy single mom, who after working all day comes home exhausted knowing that her day is far from over. With kids to feed and bathe, homework to help with, laundry to be done, and a thousand other daily chores that won’t get done without her, her best worship opportunity might mean bowing her head and heart in the shower during her only 10 minute respite of the day.

Or think about the business man or woman who routinely works 80-100 hours a week. The pressure and stress never seems to let up, even on Sunday mornings. The advancements in technology have made intrusions into their quiet time with God almost predictable. For them, their best worship opportunity might be fleeting at best.

As I said, I believe God demands our best worship, and I believe He will meet with us, regardless of method, place, or duration. The important thing is that we acknowledge Him as Lord, and that we connect with Him as often as we can.

So, how would you worship if you knew today was your last opportunity?

If you think you know the answer, why not try it out the next opportunity you get? After all, it could well be your last “audition”.

Be blessed,

Ron

Donuts or fat free cookies: what’ll it be?

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An elderly gentleman said something along those words a couple of weeks ago as we were visiting a new church. For some reason,it seemed he was steering me to the fat free cookies,then again I have put on some weight since I retired.cookies

I had to chuckle at this scene,the old gentleman doing his best to make us feel welcome,me on the other hand just wanting to find a seat and quietly blend in.

Have you ever thought about what really draws you to church?  

What’s the attraction?

Of course, the obvious answer is “to worship,or God”. But what REALLY draws you to church?

Tradition?  It’s the right thing to do?  You like the minister?  It’s your only chance to dress up?  It’s where we meet friends ?  You serve in one capacity or another?  We go to worship God?  Our parents drag us to church? You go to be taught the Word of God? They have the best donuts and coffee?

I confess to you that that going to meet with God hasn’t always been my prime motivation.

Sometimes,many times actually,I’ve went to church because of my responsibilities. Whether teaching a class,ministering from the pulpit,singing in the choir,after a while it can all become routine,like some part time job can become.

Plus,and I’m being really honest here now, sometimes I think it was because God was supposed to meet with me there,not the other way around. Pride does that,doesn’t it?

Funny thing about this journey we’re all on. We go to church faithfully, we support it financially, we often serve in various ministries, we try to live out our faith as best we can. We do all the right things, yet I suspect that….

knowing God

chucklarsen.com

We don’t really know God like we think we do.

We know a lot about God,but we do not know Him.

If we did,I can’t help but believe that our approach to Him would be different.

You see,I’m particularly troubled by something I’ve been observing.And no,I’m not talking about whether or not you wear a suit or shorts and flip flops. Couldn’t care less,actually. Nor does the Lord,I assume.

I’m troubled by the flippant,cavalier attitude I’m seeing in God’s house. In particular,I’m bothered by things going on around me during what is supposed to be a time of worshiping God Almighty.

How can we commune with God while perusing eBay on cell phones and tablets? Are you expecting an email from God,is that why people are checking their email in the middle of Amazing Grace? Does consuming coffee,milk,donuts,and cans of soda bring people closer to God during what is supposed to be a time of worship?

Worship of God Almighty.

This stuff bothers me. And if you say “well,you shouldn’t be looking at what everyone else is doing” you might be right. But it still bothers me. And here’s why.

Can somebody say “where’s the R.E.S.P.E.C.T.“?

respect

Is this the proper way to come before the King? In His own house?

If you were invited to Washington DC to meet a high ranking dignitary,or some other venue to meet someone very important,would you show up with a Mountain Dew in your hand? Or how about that dream job of a lifetime,think the interviewer would mind if you munched on a breakfast burrito in between questions?

If any of this would be deemed unacceptable to you,help me understand why it’s OK to do it in God’s house. Why do we reverence earthly things more than God? Does any of this seem right to you? Is this what people do who expect to meet with God? Doesn’t this say something about our perception of who God is?

I know, I know. All of this is just way too legalistic isn’t it? Some of you no doubt think ‘what a jerk. What’s up with coming off so heavy handed? Lighten up dude! It’s only coffee and donuts after all. Who are you to make the rules anyhow? At least they are in church!!’

Actually,this post isn’t really about what goes on inside a building. It’s more about what goes on inside another type of building: our own temples. But you knew that,didn’t you?

Here’s what’s really bothering me about this attitude. I think we have exceeded all expectations in bringing God down to our level. Yep,we’ve finally done it. We’ve figured out a way to treat God as an equal.

And it shows.

We treat God like He’s part of the furniture. No awe. No wonderment. No amazement. No reverence. No fear.

Just one of the guys.

We don’t really know God,for if we did we would stand before Him, in His house,awestruck at the magnitude of what He has done for us! Instead,we treat His House as though we’re hanging out at Starbucks. Or like He’s the last person we expect to show up.starbucks

If we knew God,it would show.

It would show in our attitudes.

It would show in our behavior.

It would show in our language.

It would show in our worship.

We don’t really know God,for if we did we would spend time in His Presence long before 10:00 AM on Sunday.

We cannot know someone we don’t spend time with. Did you get that?

In her book Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard described her thoughts on how we so nonchalantly approach a typical Sunday:

“Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church. We should all be wearing crash helmets.”

Yes indeed.

Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t look at us as we sit in our seats,minds a million miles away,coffee in one hand,cell phone in the other and say to Himself “do they really not know who I am”?

So to answer the question “Donuts or fat free cookies:, what’ll it be?“, I think I’ll pass this time.

Seems I have a bigger question to settle.

the_light_end_tunnel

Worship is What?

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I used to have in my library a book that was titled “Worship is a Verb”. It’s been long ago donated to someone else and I have forgotten many of the particulars of the book,however the gist of it was that the act of worship was about doing,not merely showing up.What got me to thinking about this was a recent article I read that attempts to deal with why congregants are no longer singing,or participating in the worship service.

A lot of the comments have drifted to the weary argument of hymns vs. choruses,mood lighting and fog machines vs. traditional services. Young vs.old. You get the picture.

All the while the Savior must surely weep at our pettiness!

There seems to be a strong case being made that the reason people aren’t singing or participating in worship is because they haven’t prepared their hearts to meet with the Savior.Which to me over simplifies the situation and attempts to assign blame,or fault to the person who may simply be struggling with life itself.

I mean,have you ever desired to worship but just couldn’t? Have you been so overwhelmed with the problems of life that the best you could do was throw yourself at His feet?

Which,by the way,is true worship!

Funny how no mention or thought is ever given about how ludicrous it is to think that someone,anyone,could lead a congregation into the presence of the Lord when they themselves have spent no time in private worship with Him prior to that service.

How can you lead me to a place you’ve never been to?

Could it be that the church has lost sight of the object of our worship?

Ever hear someone describe their church by saying something like “wow,do we have awesome worship services at our church!!!” Or “you should hear our praise band”!Those statements beg the question to be asked;”what exactly is the object of our worship”?

Is worship of a Holy God all about making me feel a certain way?

Is true worship about dimming the lights in order to create a certain mood?

Is worship more about the guitar solo than my heart communing with the God of Heaven?

If by cranking up the volume so loud that I cant even hear the person next to me try to sing,is that worship?

Honestly,none of that is true worship.Intentionally creating a circumstance or situation to get people to react in a predetermined way is not called worship.It’s called manipulation.

It’s used as a counterfeit for the Holy Spirit. A pitiful,weak,abysmal substitute. It’s used to elicit a reaction from the carnal man.

It’s used because the church has prostituted itself with the spirit of the world.

“…and my people love to have it so”   Jer. 5:31

“Father,help us,revive us,redeem us from the clutches of the world that have ensnared the church in this hour.Help us to break the bonds and  chains of worldliness that are ever tightening their grip on us”.

“Look upon us once again and see our plight,that we are blind,and naked,and filled with this world’s goods,yet we know not that we are destitute in our sins,lukewarm and good for nothing but to be vomited out of your mouth”.

We only have ourselves to blame

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We only have ourselves to blame

For neglecting to educate this generation of Christians on the necessity of calling upon the name of the Lord.

  • instead,we have shown them that the church can be self sufficient
  • we have implemented one program after another designed to enlighten them to a mistaken reality that they can do anything for God while ignoring Him in the process
  • in short,we have become the Laodicean church of Revelation 

We only have ourselves to blame

For the church adopting the world’s viewpoint that the differences among generations is so vast that they must be afforded their own special status…

    • Mature/Silents

    • Baby Boomers

    • Gen. X

    • Gen. Y/Millennium

    • Gen. Z/Boomlets

In reality what we have done is create a culture in our churches that mirrors the existing culture in America,that all are special and therefore all require special needs in order to succeed. Indeed,the church has created it’s own fractured sub culture of generational divide. Which begs me to ask the question “how did the church ever survive two thousand years of history by just simply being the church”?

We only have ourselves to blame

For creating an “atmosphere of worship” in which our children have never personally witnessed the power of God demonstrated…

  • audio/visual presentations have supplanted the moving of the Spirit
  • personal prayer and fasting have become “seasonal” or special event promotions instead of guidelines for daily living
  • prayer for the sick and subsequent healing have all but disappeared

We only have ourselves to blame

For failing to impart the knowledge of the Lord to those coming up behind us…

  • we no longer mentor the next generation of church leaders,instead neglecting this time proven method in favor of techniques more suited to the secular world
  • our Christian universities and colleges are virtually indistinguishable from those of the world and are Christian in name only
  • we have provided learning environments where our children are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth

We only have ourselves to blame

For the apostate condition of the church today. We have found our scapegoat in Satan himself! It has become all too convenient to blame our spiritual woes on the devil while the church slumbers and sleeps in it’s bed of complacency. All of this while the lost are leaving this world dammed for eternity.

We are drunken with the victim mentality of the world. It’s not my fault-others are to blame for my actions! Our spiritual senses have become dull, our ears no longer hear “what the Spirit says unto the churches”. We all like sheep have gone astray….

We only have ourselves to blameWe only have ourselves to blame

May God shake us from our slumber and cause us to see the condition we are in.

May He have mercy upon those of us who know better,yet disregard the pleading of the Spirit to repent of our sinful ways.