Saturday, August 14, 2010

What is Worship?

It seems as of late I have spent an unusual amount of time preoccupied with "Worship." When asked what worship is, most peoples' minds would immediately fill with images of darkened churches, PowerPoint presentations with lyrics, bands playing the latest praise songs, and perhaps clapping or raised hands.

True worship goes far beyond the sanctuary- it extends past Sunday from week to week. Worship as God prescribes it is a heart attitude, a motivation behind every action, and a desire to glorify God in every action. It is a desire that is directed towards a known God, and is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end- the Creator of the universe.

Worship is my response to the Creator, it is me treasuring the things of God so highly that I will give everything I have in exchange for them. It’s an attitude that says, "whatever it takes for me to know and experience God, I will do."

Worship isn't about the music only (most of us think this is where worship begins and ends). We can worship God in prayer, in studying of His Word, in service to others, while listening to the sermon on Sunday morning, we are able to worship while we hang out with other believers and just fellowship with them, we can even worship while we give our tithes and offerings. So worship can literally take place at anytime and any where.

True worship isn't confined to the 20 minutes we give on Sundays with our four songs, true worship takes place all week long, all day everyday.

Sunday morning should be absolutely the best hour of our week because we are able to come together and corporately worship the Father. What really excites me about doing this is the promise... "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20. This means as we worship God through Word, Prayer, Service, Song, and Fellowship on Sunday (or whatever day you gather), He is there with us! Now that's exciting!

This is a worship video from ORU. I heard this performed live while I was on the campus and wanted to share it with you, hope and pray you enjoy it as much as I have.


video

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Give Thanks

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name
of the Lord Most High.
— P s a l m 7 : 1 7

From the very beginning of the book of Psalms, David gives thanks. Of all people in the Bible, David knew what it meant to experience trials of every kind. Remember he will be tempted with and fall victim to adultery, lying, and eventually murder. But he knew that one day he would be king of Israel. But while he was waiting to take the throne, he was a walking dead man.

King Saul, the current king of Israel, had a hit out on David. Even though Saul had watched David defeat Goliath and save the Israelites from the Philistines and was soothed by David’s skills on the harp, Saul knew that the Lord had rejected him as king and that David was to be next in line (see 1 Samuel 16:1).

So David hid. In mountains, caves, enemy towns, and any place that Saul’s men wouldn’t find him. For me, this means no BlackBerry service, no laptop, no cushy job, food to eat, Starbucks, or warm place to live. Can you imagine? And yet David still praised Jesus and still became the next king of Israel.

Today and every day start by giving thanks. The same God who spared David’s life can and will spare yours too.

Just simply pray this prayer:

Dear King Jesus, You are worthy of praise. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Help see us through our trials from the moment they make us hide to the moment we begin walking in freedom again. By the power of your name we pray. Amen.

To Read Further: Psalm 30:12; 75:1

Monday, July 5, 2010

Skipping Church

Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer. (Hebrews 10:25)

Here's a question for you: what do you call a person who calls him/herself a Christian, yet isn't involved in church?

Well I don't know what you'd call that person, but here's my answer:

(Most likely) an unbeliever...(as in: not going to heaven, never really trusted Christ.)

Isn't that strong? Yes. Harsh? Perhaps. Biblical? Absolutely.

In New Testament times there was no such thing as a Christian who wasn't involved in church. It was just understood that if you were trusting Christ as your only hope of salvation, there was an overwhelming desire to be with people who also were born again, and serving Jesus with their gifts and talents.

Oh yeah, but we live in America...proud makers of rugged individualism and instant gratification. It's fine here to declare allegiance to the King, but avoid meeting with His subjects because of...whatever.

What is whatever? Well, whatever lame excuses people use to stop going to church...like:

Sports

I'm tired

Need to mow the lawn

Homework

Hypocrites

Bad preaching

Bad Worship

Color of the carpet

Too big

Too small

Your excuse here _____________.


Am I saying you have to go to church to be saved? NO! And if the church you attend teaches that, it's time to leave as soon as possible. What I am saying is that if you have truly been saved and entered into a relationship with Jesus, it should be hard to keep you away from church. It is your one chance during the week to join other believers in worship, partake at His table, be shepherded by your pastor, and a thousand other things that are permanently unavailable at any other event in your life.

The bible tells us "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." This means you are in the very presence of the Father when you are at church! This is something you cannot experience by yourself or worshiping in the privacy of your home.

Not only that, when you skip church over long periods of time, you make yourself an easy target for Satan to take you out.

Does God love you more if you go to church? Nope. But the point is that you are the one that needs to worry about loving Him more as time goes by, and dropping out of church is a sure way to freeze your affections for the Father.

What does God call His children who decide to "worship God in the privacy of their homes"?

Deserters. Take another look at Hebrews 10:25...basically what you need to know is that Christ is supremely concerned about you being involved in a local fellowship of believers.

Why?

Well, there are many reasons, but let this poem remind you of just a few:

Empty churches and well-filled jails,
Empty churches and mankind fails;
Empty churches and liquor flows,
Empty churches and evil grows;
Empty churches and sin's in style,
Empty churches and youth goes wild;
Empty churches and wasted lives,
Empty churches and Satan thrives.

Empty churches and prayerless hearts,
Empty churches and Christ departs;
Empty churches and homes are sad,
Empty churches and men go mad;
Empty churches, no Pentecost.
Empty churches and souls are lost;
Empty churches and drunkards die,
Empty churches and orphans cry.

Empty churches and revivals cease,
Empty churches and crimes increase;
Empty churches and gamblers meet,
Empty churches and wrongs defeat;
Empty churches and war clouds roll;
Empty churches and no control;
Empty churches, forsaken pews,
Empty churches and bad, bad news.

Empty churches and nations blight,
Empty churches, O sad, sad sight!
Empty churches, men hate and kill,
Empty churches, and much ill will;
Empty churches, O sad the truth,
Empty churches, defeated youth.
Empty churches, it's bad to tell,
Empty churches, men go to hell

(W. E. Isenhour )

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two Dudes and a Urinal

I know the title of this blog is enough to make anyone stop and go "uhh." But let me explain...

We just got back from our annual trek to Pensacola, FL and we were welcomed back to Oklahoma with snow. I know Saturday was the first official day of Spring but it would seem as though no one told Oklahoma it was now officially Spring. From 75 and white beaches to 30 and snow, wow is all I can say.

So on with the two dudes and the urinal...

If you have ever been on a long road trip, then you can understand the term "pack light". This is a term, I have recently learned, that teenage girls are not able to understand. I said "pack light" and they heard "mwa mwa mwa mwa mwa mwa", you know the sound that Charlie Brown's teacher made every time she talked. So before we can even get on the road I spend the first "official" two hours of our vacation playing a game of tetris with our luggage on top of our car.

So with luggage packed, a stack of DVD's for the passengers, my trusty itouch, and a full tank of gas we start our journey almost mid morning last Saturday. The trip, in-spite of the rough start, was uneventful and everything was going great. We stopped every couple of hours so we could stretch and walk around have a few laughs and keep moving towards Pensacola Beach, a vacation at last, no phones, no worries just a stress free drive to the coast...

The scenery was great, the conversation was good, and the weather was warming a little at each stop the further south we went. We said to ourselves, "this is amazing, this is great what could go wrong..." Have you ever asked a question, that after looking back at it you wish you could take it back? Yeah, me too and that one was it.

So we make a stop in Bunkie, LA for drinks, restroom, snacks, the usual stuff. We all head in to the store and go our separate ways at the door, each of us on a mission. My mission was the bathroom because of a 6 shot Americano from Starbucks. There were a lot of people at this place and like the women, the men were taking turns in the bathroom too. When all of a sudden there are two guys to my right yelling at each other over who's turn it is to use the urinal. It would seem one came in with what was an "emergency" for him cutting in front of another guy. I'm thinking that this can't really be happening, can it?

So everything escalates, from a few harsh words to a full yelling match and then it happens... "THWACK!" The older guy hits the younger guy and I'm thinking to myself, "this really isn't happening is it?" But it is. I try to get out of the way, thankful for once that I'm not a part of or the the cause of this.

What I didn't know was my whole family who were in the store heard all of the ruckus and they came running towards the bathroom to try and get a glimpse of the guys at each other thinking the whole time is was me at the center of it.... again...wow...

So this one little event would mark a week full of other little events that I would sit back and look at with one simple thought.."wow, really?...."

But God used all of this during the week in my bible study and He kept bringing me back to this same verse in Habakkuk 2:20 "But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."

No matter what was going on around me,
God was still in control.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Living in an out-of-control world

As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, That's enough for now! You may leave. Acts 24:25

Paul went all over the Roman Empire preaching the grace of God and the salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus. He was quite emphatic about God’s mercy, both in his arguments and in his letters. We are saved by grace alone. So why, when defending himself to Felix, did he speak of righteousness, self control and the judgment to come? Why didn't he speak of grace?

Maybe Paul meant to portray himself as a lawful citizen, not a troublemaker who would stir up Felix’s territory. Maybe he was trying to tap into whatever moral sentiment had attracted Felix to his Jewish wife. But a likelier reason one that is very relevant to our times is that Felix was a Roman, largely unacquainted with the law and satisfied with the options of the Roman pantheon. The empires religion had numerous patron gods to pick and choose from, most with their own easy morality. In such a lifestyle, grace means nothing. Conviction must come first. Righteousness, self control, and judgment must be taught.

What does grace mean in our society? Our generation? In the minds of those who are convinced of their sinfulness, it is like a refreshing oasis of relief from a dry spiritual desert. But for those who have embraced a fuzzy, relative morality the 'whatever you like' ethics of our age, grace means nothing.

Why would a generation that has defined its own easy standards need a merciful God? What is there to forgive? That's why we must live in a way that conveys Gods purity not holier than thou judgment, but a radical, sacred, change of lifestyle. Instead of fearing that our friends will respond as Felix did, we should rather fear a generation that has lost any concept of sin. Self control is a foreign idea in our society.

Live in a way that makes your friends, family, and co-workers want what you have. Live in a way the your life will stand apart, and your world just might see its need for God.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Walk by faith, not by sight....

I was finally able to take a Sunday evening off (even if it was because of the super bowl). We decided that we would have church at 4P super bowl Sunday so everyone could be home in time for kickoff.

While everyone was watching the super bowl and trying to bust the halftime-low-tide-myth I decided that it would be a great night to finally relax and watch a movie at the theater (if you are from anywhere south of I-40 it is pronounced theee-ate-er). If you know me, this is something I rarely have time to do, so I always try to pick a movie where at the end everyone dies in a nuclear holocaust. So this movie pick was no different than all of the other movies that I choose to watch. So, off to the movie house we went already having chose to watch The Book of Eli.

The Book of Eli is the story of a man on a journey across our country side after a near apocalyptic event has left most of the people and landscape destroyed. The man is Eli (Denzel Washington), or at least that is what we seem to discover well into the movie. He is a man of mystery, a man of few words, but armed with a shotgun, and a blade; he is a deadly weapon. He is similar to Clint Eastwood’s nameless strangers from the old westerns.

This is a very complex film about Faith and Humanity. It is so thought provoking, with so many lessons in it, that I can't wait for it to come out on blue ray so I can see it again. I truly believe all should see it at least once! One would be hard-pressed to walk away feeling anything but introspective. At one point, the main character turns to his friend and states, "I have been so focused on the task at hand that I forgot the main point was to treat others as I would want to be treated." What a thought, I believe, do unto others as you would have them do to you. If we treated everyday as a celebration of love, this world would be an even more incredible place to reside!

"Walk by faith, not by sight."- Denzel Washington, The Book of Eli

And this has to be one of my favorite lines of the movie. I, myself, need to paint this on a wall, so often I forget the importance of faith and am so easily distracted by all that is going on around me. I need to stay focused on what is important, I need to walk more by faith! All the time I waste with worry and anxiety, I was reminded today that the worry and stress does nothing to change the end result, it only makes it a more difficult journey (see Matthew 6:27)!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Day


Every 2nd Sunday we all get together for a church lunch. This month was a little bit different. Our awesome youth cooked the adults lunch and even served us all. It was a wonderful time for fellowship as always.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nobody Loves Me...

"I have loved you with an everlasting love..." (Jeremiah 31:3)

Re-read that verse and focus on the wording...

Do you see the way it is worded? It's not "I will love you" or "I'm going to love you"...it is 'I have loved you'- meaning not only has God loved us a long time; He has actually loved us before time was even invented!

Maybe you thought that when the doctor held you up as a brand new baby, God looked down and said "How cute! I think I'll love that little bundle of joy forever!" Or maybe you were under the impression that Jesus didn't smile on you until you trusted Christ as your only hope of salvation? Well I'm sure His smile got a little bigger that day, but His love was coming your way before you even came your way.

So how does that make you feel?

I don't know about you, but that blows me away. God's love for me is the most constant and unchanging thing in the universe. In fact, it will still be going long after the universe is gone!

You know what else? Stop worrying about the security of your salvation. You are God's precious jewel...is He so irresponsible that you would be dropped and lost? You are the apple of God's eye.

If there was ever any possibility of God losing His affection towards you, it would have happened a long time ago, because He's loved you for a long time. But don't worry, because the opposite is true- He grows crazier about you each day, and the engine of His emotion does not have a reverse option!

If we could only let just a little bit of that truth sink in, it would change our lives completely -

-We wouldn't worry about "being good enough"

-We wouldn't care as much about what people think

-We wouldn't stress out about whether anyone likes us

-We would always know that Someone cares

And so on and so on.

In the days ahead, try focusing on this truth, and see if it doesn't help you have a "lovely" day!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Church Sunday the 31st

Due to the "blizzard" Church services are cancelled on the 31st of January. Hope everyone stays safe and warm, have a wonderful week!
The rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish. Isaiah 55: 10.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wealth and Happiness

Our Sunday School lesson for today was from Ecclesiastes 2:5-10 and dealt with the meaning of wealth and happiness. Solomon was a selfish man for much of his life building gardens and acquiring harems, but nothing filled the void he had in his heart. He was missing something, his life was meaningless and without God his monetary wealth was nothing. As 20-somethings, sometimes it's difficult for us to separate our goals and objectives for adulthood from making money and having material possessions. It's important to remember the importance of God, family, and the blessings that may not produce a flat screen T.V. and a new car. As you go through this week check yourself for holes in your heart and remember the blessings you receive with God's love are the true measure of wealth.

P.S. During the sermon today a video was played that truly touched us. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA