Category Archives: Uncategorized

when.to.stand

OK, I have to admit – I picked this title because it might catch the eye of someone engrossed in too much politics.

But, this is not about politics.

It is about worship.

It is about my journey of understanding worship.

Once upon a time I worshiped with order – standing when the leader said “please stand,” sitting when he said “be seated.”

I liked this a lot – it was easy.

Then I visited another church – it was chaos.

People sat, stood, walked around – ran around – screamed and shouted.

I did not like this – it was strange.

Then my bride and I were privileged to lead a youth choir.  I watched them worship.

I did not like it – it judged me.

Now don’t get me wrong – they did not judge me – but their worship did. I saw in their faces – with closed, tear-streamed eyes being lifted towards heaven – relationship – pure, childlike, innocent love for God.

They communed directly with the Holy Spirit – as He communed directly with them – an intimate spiritual dialog.

As He spoke to them, reminding them of His love for them, some would raise a hand – ever so slightly. Others would sway – with eyes closed – in perfect, unscripted, oblivious unison with each other.

Some would fall to their knees.

I did not like it – it drove me to covet.

How could I have this intimacy too? How could I engage in such intimate worship too? What has this spiritual “pro” missed that they have not.

As if a heavenly hand came forward towards the stone wall of my mind’s eye, the words of the Holy Spirit wrote on my heart.

“Know me, and you shall know yourself.”

True worship can only happen when we realize just how great God is – and how much we are not. Then the enormity of His love can be felt – not understood – but felt. Then the heart can sing out in thanksgiving and praise – in intimate communion with God.

Move me, Holy Spirit, to respond in worship to You alone – not the example or judgment of others.

Let my love for You cause me…

to weep…

to stand…

to raise my hands…

or even to fall on my knees.

 

experience.vs.engagement

lazy-1I’ve been alive long enough to know that for everything with which we involve ourselves, we can estimate what our experience will be by looking at the quality of our engagement.

In other words,  we can expect a great experience if our level of engagement is strong.

I know this to be true by the judging my own pursuits.

If I am actively engaging in a club or interest group, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “just one more thing to do.”

If I am actively engaging a book I am reading, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “suffering through it.”

If I am actively engaging my Bible readings, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “let me get this over with so I can so something else.”

You and I could extend this relationship between engagement and experience to MANY examples -including relationships.

One more note – the amount of effort is not necessarily the same thing as the quality of effort.

God said to love Him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Whether we are “dipping our toes,” “wading waist deep,” or “jumping in” – we can expect an experience that corresponds.

embody.the.faith

“Defending the faith” is a futile exercise, as the battle is fought with those who are convinced to be your enemy. The better route is to “embody the faith” as it is the surest “weapon” against the unbeliever’s heart, and thus towards winning their mind.

I am thankful I learned this lesson a very long time ago, when I used to battle atheists on religious forums, resulting in much energy and time redeemed for other purposes.

Also, Romans 12:17-21.

to.the.fallen

To you who have fallen
for the cause of freedom
no words or gestures
are adequate enough
to express the gratitude and humility
that ought be felt by a people
whose security has been bought
by grit and suffering and blood
– but as tiny a voice it may be
in the shadow of your great
and final sacrifice,
I speak “thank you”
with the voice of my words
and I hope the same is said
of the voice of my works.

-Herb Halstead

post for strivefromaturity – stack.of.stuff

You may not believe the amount of mail that churches get. Of course some of it’s junk and deserves an immediate introduction to “file 13” (know what that is?). But some of it – OK a lot of it – can be truly useful. The problem is that I rarely have the time to read and react to all the good mail that comes in. So, I place it on a corner of my “desk” for later review. You may be guessing it already, but that pile builds up. It starts with a few relatively thin postcards, and ends up a mountain of postcards and envelopes, threatening to crash onto my poor dog laying below.

I really had good intentions. I intended to read every one. But I just let it stack up.

I promise, I am not a pack-rat, but I let these stacks pile up over the place – including my marriage. Seemingly innocuous things – little things – stack up and become problems.

Sometimes, I forget to say, “I love you,” as I leave for the store. Sometimes, I forget to say “thank you, that was amazing,” when she labors over a meal. Sometimes, I forget that the blog post I am writing can wait – she’s trying to talk to me. Sometimes I forget to open the car door for her. Sometimes I forget to carry that box from the children’s worship center for her. Sometimes I sit and watch her work. Sometimes I forget that I am just as capable of washing dishes as she is.

If any of these things happen as an isolated occurrence, there’s no big deal. But, when I stack all these things together, I look like a terrible husband – she might see me as a terrible husband. It’s not like I intentionally took advantage of her, or overlooked her, or took her for granted. But the stack of stuff threatens to topple over – and it’s intimidating. What can I do about it?

Unlike that stack of mail, this stack does not require tearing through each individual item and reacting to it. All I have to do is be intentional about making another stack. I must purposefully create a new stack of things done just for her.

I can send her flowers for no reason at all (trust me, as much as they gripe about you spending money on something fleeting, they still LOVE to get flowers). I can plan a birthday party at her office for her and her friends. I can prop her feet up on my lap on the couch and massage them for her. I can surprise her with dinner (home-cooked or not!). I can hold her hand as we walk from the car to the store. I’m sure I can think of more.

Here’s the thing. I can’t do anything at all about that stack of bad stuff that I’ve created in our marriage. But, as I build a stack of good stuff, I notice that she’ll throw away gobs of that bad stack – all on her own.

Let’s start building that “good” stack. (1 John 3:18)

guest post for taterhouse

When my daughter was in the first grade (she is now 22), I decide that I should get involved in her spiritual education. So, I volunteered to be an assistant teacher in her Caravans class (a Christian scouting program). The guy who taught the class, Gavin, was amazing and really loved the kids. I really began to respect him highly and wanted to be as helpful as possible to him in these classes. A couple of times, he asked me to fill-in as teacher when he could not make it during work. I enjoyed it an discovered that I do pretty well at teaching kids.

Every year they have a award ceremony where they award the kids the various sashes, patches, and badges that they’ve earned during the year. It really is quite an event and parents even invite family members who don’t normally come to that church to share in cheering the kids on. It’s really cool.

That year, Gavin called me minutes before the ceremony to tell me that he was going to have to work late, so he needed me to stand up i front of all those people and lead the kids in the various recitals they had to do to get their awards.

The problem was that I get absolutely horror-stricken when it comes to speaking in public. I just can’t do it. I get physically sick and I actually nearly passed out that night from anxiety. Thankfully, the director of the program took pity on me and led my groups part of the ceremony for me.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Today, I get up in front of a crowd every Sunday and pour out my heart as I preach the Word of God to my closest friends. I have no fear. In fact I am pretty euphoric before the hour arrives. I am 180-degrees the opposite of what I was back then. God took a pretty unremarkable person and equipped him for His purposes. He put power where there was fear. He put strength where there was anxiety.

By His grace and power I can do what He called me to do. He will do the same for you. Go, follow his calling for your life, and lean on Him to get it done through you.