Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Worship or Service

I’ve been thinking more and more about worship lately. Perhaps it is because of where I am at in my current ministry. What I have been pondering (struggling?) with is the term worship service. Should we call it a worship service any more? We may need to refocus the way we look at worship. Service entails doing something. There are times, I think we have lost the fact that worship is not about us, myself included. We come to worship on Sunday mornings or on Saturday nights, and we expect something out of it. We focus on whether we like the songs or not. We focus on how well the pastor preached the sermon. We focus on what was done or not done; what we did or did not get out of the worship service. Suddenly we seem to have lost the meaning behind why we are there in the first place. If we are going to use the term service, we need to be reminded that we are there in response to the goodness of what God is doing in our lives. Worship is about God, not us. But if we can’t get passed the service being for us and not for God, then what do we call it? We call it Worship. Or worship gathering. If I recall, worship service is never used in the Bible, but there are many references to a gathering of people FOR worship. Perhaps just by switching the word we use, maybe we can begin to get back to the heart of what worship is about. God...not you, not me. Not the people across from us. Not the people there or not there. It is about God and God alone! Worship...the focus is...God!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We Are The Tree

Sing with me now: Zacheaus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see. We all know the song, and we all know the story of Zacheaus climbing that tree. How often we forget about the tree. It’s not a great song without his journey up that tree. We often think about the crowds, Zacheaus, and Jesus, but we hardly ever think about the tree. I’m reminded each week I work in ministry that what people seek is a viewpoint so very different from our own. Without the tree, their quest is impossible—and this song is not as much fun to sing. We are the tree. Too often we think of ourselves as Jesus in the story and the world around us as the crowd blocking people’s view of Jesus; but if we think about it, we are really the tree. We are all called to be trees. Those who haven’t heard Jesus’ words, those who aren’t a part of the church, they are longing to climb a tree so that their viewpoint may change. Many are at the bottom and are trying to look up and over the crowd that continues to block their view. Our job is to help lift people above the crowd to see the approaching Savior, not to be the crowd that blocks them. So often our churches become so cluttered that many people are simply busy doing church instead of being the church. Our challenge is to be guided by the sycamore metaphor. Not as a formula for success or steps to a healthy ministry, but as a way to understand the role —our roles—in the kingdom.

(based on thoughts from Pastor Otto)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is My Faith Strong Enough?

Starbucks is a wonderful place. This week I have had another "by chance" meetings at Starbucks. I'm preparing music for worship at Starbucks and had to made a phone call for National Youth Gathering stuff. Well, when I hang up, the person at the table next to me stated, "I heard you say the word, God." I responded with "yes, I did". Then the conversation continued with "how do you know if my faith is strong enough to receive salvation?" I'm floored by this question...why, I wasn't expecting this question nor was I planning on a spiritual conversation at another Starbucks. So we got on a conversation about salvation.

Is my faith strong enough for salvation? When you doubt that your faith is strong enough for you to be a child of God, it's a clear indication that you misunderstand the nature of faith. Faith in God doesn't involve certainty, nor does it imply the absence of doubts. What a torment, what a terrible burden, to believe that faith must be perfect before God will respond to our need! If we believe that our faith must be perfect, we have established an unattainable goal and enslaved ourselves to a new form of works-salvation. Rather than basing our faith on God's goodness and Christ's completed work of love on our behalf, we base it on our own achievement-our own perfection. People who think that their faith must be perfect before it will be acceptable to God ignore dozens of scriptural examples of people whose trust in God was imperfect, yet their faith was still accepted by Him. Moses, Abraham, David, Jacob, Elijah , Peter and Thomas are some of those people in scripture. In fact, all the disciples had moments like this. These examples show that it isn't the perfection of our trust that matters, but the perfection of God's love and forgiveness. As sinful people, we will at times doubt the strength of our faith. We will sometimes doubt our salvation, but because of the Grace of our Lord, we shouldn't worry. His love, His death, His resurrection, His forgiveness and mercy gives us that assurance that we can and will receive salvation in His name. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Being a Carrier

This past week, I had the opportunity to talk with a past college friend who is now a pastor. What a tremendous conversation we had. We talked about family, old college stories, and other random thoughts. Then we got serious...we started talking about why we are involved in the church. We shared thoughts about ministry and mission. We shared scripture and ideas. We talked about many aspects of each person's role in the church, but we both failed to share about the power of the Holy Spirit.

You see, we all get so involved about what we are doing in the church. He talked how he preached and how he leads bible study. I talked about how I use music to enhance the message and how music really speaks to me. Those things aren't bad. In fact they are good, but is that really our purpose. We sing, we preach, we read scripture, we pray, we sing. All those things are great, but our purpose is to share the wonderful saving message of our Lord and Savior. We are the carriers for God. It isn't about us...it isn't because of us, but because of Him. His Spirit works through all of us in all we do...from the smallest thing to the biggest. It is His work...it is all about Him. Our purpose is all for Him. We are His carrier...we are His messenger...we are doing His work.

You can hear Jared Anderson's song "Carrier" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIxfnGY8bSk

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Love Is Here

Isn't it amazing how one thing really speaks to you on a certain day. Well, today was one of those days. I was working on preparing music. As I was working and going through scripture, the word 'love' kept popping out. Love...such a powerful word. I love my Lord. I love my wife. I love my family. I love cool temperatures. I love being part of ministry. The word 'Love' has so many different uses. So strange that this word...this one word kept coming to mind. The word 'Love'...such a great name for our Lord. So as I worked, the word 'love' kept coming to mind.
Tenth Avenue North has a song titled "Love Is Here". What a powerful song. Love is here...Love is now...Love is pouring from His hands, from His brow. It is all "Love"...It is "Love" that saved us. It is "Love" that continues to forgive us. It is "Love" that will always listen to us, look for us, hold us in times of trouble. It is all "Love"! God spoke to me today. I will never look at the word 'love' the same way. I will still say that I "love" things or people, but what a comfort it is to know that 'Love' is here...yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

You can see Tenth Avenue North's video to their song "Love Is Here". Go to www.livword.net and click on the link.