Worship

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Worth

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

captured

A lot of people talk about worshiping God but really have no clue what exactly it is. Too much of what is called worship is actually self-worship. We sing songs that do not elevate the Father but ourselves. Proclaiming God’s worth, lifting Him up for adoration, is the goal of worship. Worship is not about us feeling good. It is not about “this is what I want” unless it is craving the presence of God so you can adore Him.

I’m presenting the following thoughts from Isaiah 58 this Sunday:

  1. Let worship not be about you. [Verse 3]. We cannot have everything we want. God is not a hobby- Someone we run to when we want to waste a little time or when things get really bad.
  2. Let worship be with an attitude of peace. [Verse 4]. The Israelites were fasting but were fighting while doing it. Some of the nastiest fights are not on a foreign battlefield but in the church parking lot.
  3. Let worship be more than a surface act. [Verse 5]. Anyone can raise their hands, shed tears, sing and look sincere. But God is not concerned with externals. Worship must be from the heart.
  4. Let worship be all about freedom. [Verse 6-7]. Freedom from chains of the past. Freedom from chains of the present. Freedom from chains of the future. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from bondage.
  5. Let worship be focused on Christ. God made us so we would reflect His glory back to Him. His purpose for our life is not to make us happy; it is to display Him.
  6. Let worship bring results. [Verse 8]. We were never meant to go through worship and not be changed. A person who says, “I didn’t get anything out of that today” is saying as much about their heart as they are the worship event.

I would appreciate your prayers as I try to bring some clarity to this idea of God’s worth. Thanks.

Beholding is Becoming

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

This past Sunday, Peter, the keyboardist in our worship team made a statement I have heard many times but find myself reflecting over…mainly because I read it again. Peter said, “We become what we behold.” I read it again Monday as I was reading Jefferson Bethke’s new book, It’s Not What You Think.  Jefferson put it a little differently but said virtually the same:

“Whatever you behold, you become like. Whatever you worship, you turn into. Whatever you turn your gaze to, it rubs off on you.”

He made that statement in a chapter on worship. (DUH!) But the deeper part was his discussion of us being a society of sexual fulfillment. Some scary statistics to consider:

  • 2.5 billion e-mails per day are pornographic
  • 1 out of every 4 search engine requests is porn related
  • Sex and porn are among the top 5 search engine terms for kids under 18
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic

To many sex is a god. But then again, so is Fame. Fortune. Status. Stuff. The list goes on. I go back to that original statement: “We become what we  behold.” The one who thinks they are untouched by constant screen staring is delusional. The one who thinks they are unfazed by the almost insatiable hunger for fortune…or fame…or status…or stuff is only kidding themselves.

It’s a hard lesson to learn when your idol lets you down. When the sex wears off. When the fame is fleeting. When the fortune disappears. When the status is forgotten. When the stuff breaks.

There is only One worthy of worship…and it isn’t me or yourself or any individual or any thing.

Unforgettable

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

One of the things “us older” people will remember from church or (even today) if you come from a more traditional denomination  is a thing called Responsive Reading. The pastor or leader would read something, then the whole congregation would read something in unison in response to what he just said.

Silly me! It is just like what we find in Psalm 136.

“His steadfast love endures forever.” 26 times it appears. They are in response to the 26 affirmations about God.

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving should be an every day occurrence. It would be if we could keep in mind the powerful truth: HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.

This Sunday I plan to explore this psalm closer. There are actually 3 things we can be thankful for:

The Wonder of Creation

The Wonder of Salvation

The Wonder of Steadfast Love

What a powerful truth to remember each day. That, and more, is the reason we need to have heart of thanksgiving.

Now you can break out in song.

Identity

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

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I wear an ID bracelet on my wrist. Actually it is a RoadID bracelet. I also wear a FIXXID and a SportID as well. (Just go here to see what all three are). I wear them to identify myself in case of an accident on my bike and I’m unable to respond. I know that scares the heebie-jeebies out of Jo but the IDs are a safeguard just in case. The motto of RoadID is “It’s Who I Am.” Each ID gives my name, contact info (Jo), medical information and I include a saying.

My sermon Sunday is entitled “Its Who We Are.” We are celebrating our 11th anniversary as a church community and I feel it is necessary to remind ourselves who we are. That simply means restating our Mission and Vision so people (the veterans and the newbies) know who we are and why we exist.

Without vision, there is rarely direction. Without direction, there are no goals. And without goals, there is no progress.

It is going to be a big day for us. I’ll be preaching the bulk of the message and during the Vision part, Ryan will be contributing on how the youth are also involved in fulfilling the Vision.  I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week.

Vertical

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

http://media1.razorplanet.com/share/510709-7413/resources/church_alive_rebuilt1315338843.png

Here is a quote worth thinking about (if you are involved in the church in any way):

Most middle class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot. Gordon Dahl

That phrase “play at their worship” struck me. Worship is perhaps one of the most misunderstood words used in a church setting. And yet, it is one of the most vital elements of a church.

Worship does not have to be vertical.

Take Nazi Germany for example.  Adolph who?

Take America for example.  Status? Fame? Fortune? Athletes? (You get the picture)

Take the church for example.  Rock star pastors. Buildings to rival the Taj Mahal.

In the church’s case, worship is honor and adoration directed to God. (Least it is supposed to be).

Authentic worship always begins with God.

Always. It does not begin with us. It is a response to God’s calling upon us. And contrary to popular opinion, it is not “about me.” When someone says, “I didn’t get anything out of that” they are telling more about themselves than they may think. That is another topic for another time.

Worship is vertical. It is not about us. We become what we behold. My series on Church Alive will (obviously) be taking a look at worship this week. Your prayers are much appreciated.

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Note: I left for Pennsylvania Tuesday to visit my dad in the nursing home/hospital (whichever one he is in at the time) and then plan to stop off in Ohio to celebrate a certain grandson’s 9th birthday. I’ll okay the comments when I have time but please don’t look for a reply.

Triumph

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Is there anyone who doesn’t know or hasn’t any idea what the significance of this coming weekend is?

The atheist? No. He knows. Just doesn’t believe it.

The agnostic? No. He knows and wants to see it proven.

The deist? No. He knows and isn’t sure what to do with it.

The part-time church goer (Christmas and Easter to be exact)? No. He knows and makes his appearance.

The Christ-follower? No. And he rejoices in its significance.

There isn’t any need for me to go into a long blog post about the importance of the Resurrection. It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether we have a weekend/Sunday set aside or not. To me the Resurrection is important every day of the year. As a Christ-follower I am to live each moment in the light of Jesus’ Resurrection. It is supposed to be my motivation. My light. My hope.

My sermon Sunday takes in the final saying of Jesus on the cross (“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”) and the trust it requires to do that. Jesus totally trusted His Father to raise Him from the dead. Fairy tale? No. Too many witnesses for that. Too many facts to back it up.

We will be moving our worship to the historic Tivoli theater this Sunday. It was a decision made three weeks ago by the leadership, one which surprised me. But one I am definitely willing to go along with. 🙂 If you are in the area and are reading this, you are invited to join us at 10:00. If not, you can hear it online. Or I’d like to encourage you to spend time at your place of worship celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus.

Reader

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Product Details

 

Since I wasn’t sure what my weekend would bring, I thought I would write about something I am using and have been using for close to a year now: the ESV Reader’s Bible.

If you read the Bible at all, or are at least somewhat familiar with it, you know it is filled with chapters, divisions, verse numbers, often notations, and a host of other things (i.e. helps which turn into distractions). This Bible is different. When I first saw this I wondered about the wisdom of a Bible like this…and whether I would ever use it. But one day last year I decided to buy it…as quirky as it seemed.

I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I HAVE ENJOYED USING IT!

Late last summer I embarked on a journey. I began reading Galatians through Colossians in preparation for my 2015 sermon series on Freedom. Along with that I continued my practice of reading the Psalms and also Proverbs (every other month). My most trying leg of the journey though has been to read the whole Old Testament no matter how long it took. To date, that leg has me in I Kings 10. Yeah…long journey. 🙂

But I have thoroughly enjoyed just reading the Bible. No verses. No chapter headings. No notes to be distracted by. Just reading it like a novel. It doesn’t work as a study Bible. Nor will you want to take it to worship to use as the pastor preaches. But to just read the Bible like a novel? This is it!

I’d like to suggest you invest in one. I know of only one style (check out the link above for more information). I honestly believe your Bible reading will be enriched by it and you will find the Bible coming alive. Oh…be careful though: it just might change your life! 🙂

Benefit

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

thefi5thgospel

In chapter 3 of his book, Bobby writes this: “God doesn’t exist for our benefit. We exist for His glory!” (p.59)

In my morning devotions today (Tuesday) I read these words: “Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

In the last post about this book, I talked about the cost of following Jesus. The basic idea is we have adopted a consumer mentality when it comes to serving God. We present to Him our never-ending shopping list. It is like God is our magic genie in the sky.

The hard truth we have to come to realize is we do exist for His glory. Our My main purpose was never supposed to be promoting Bill. The moment “I” become more important than Him, and in seeing His name “in lights,” is the moment I have lost my focus and am trying to steal His glory. The Bible is very clear on God’s thoughts on that scenario. He says, “I will not share my glory with another.”

Long ago I came to the point of saying to myself, “Bill, you’re a hog, a glory hound. You may say you want to lift Jesus up, but those tend to be just words. Words & life go hand in hand.” I won’t lie and say I have that conquered. The old man in me still wants to have the preeminence. But as I grow in Christ, I also am learning to relinquish more and more control of my life to Him. As I do that, the chief by-product is He gets more glory. 🙂

Do you have trouble with wanting the attention and accolades?

Sense

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Have you ever had that “feeling” where you sense God is trying to get your attention? Not in a bad way. Like He was drawing you to Himself? Let me explain:

Back in August of 1999 I felt God drawing me to worship. I had never had that stirring before. I was visiting another church Sunday evenings, learning to worship with a freedom I had never experienced before. It was like this big magnet was pulling me to Him. From August through December the church I pastored grew like it never had before. But within 3 months of the new year I was out of a job-beginning in June. I still believe God was preparing me for that valley.

I say this carefully: I “sense” God calling me to that place again. Not that I expect something bad to happen. It may. It may not. It may be Him simply saying, “I want you near Me. I want your affections. I want your total love. I want to be your all.” That is why yesterday’s post and song was so important to me.

Recently my listening has been with other “forms” of music. Not that they are wrong. Certainly not vulgar stuff. 60s (Tommy James and Frankie Valli) and modern rock (Stryper, Disciple, and others). But I am sensing a calling away from that for a time. So I went out and bought some worship music (Chris Tomlin) and Martin Smith (formerly of Delirious?). It is from the latter I heard this song for the first time this past Saturday and it totally rocked my world!

Have you ever had that sense something was “up”- that God was drawing you to Himself?