Thursday, August 25, 2011

friends . . . are we really honest with one another?

Are we really honest with our friends? Do we really want them to be honest with us?

When things are going well with our friends, it can be easy to be honest with them. When things in their life seem to be going along smoothly being honest with them does not cost us anything. And the same works in reverse. When everything in our lives is going well, it can be easier for our friends to be honest with us.

But, what about when being honest could cost something? Are we honest then?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

judging worship

Have you ever been in a church service and found yourself judging whether you like the way the band was playing the songs? Or whether you liked the songs in the first place? Or whether you thought the musical interludes were too long?

I will admit it, I have. I still do that sometimes. Although I wish I did not. And my guess would be that most people have had these thoughts (even if only briefly) at one point or another - even if they would never admit it.

Lately, I have been wondering how harmful this can actually be for us. When we are doing this, we are not worshipping God in any way. Rather, we are setting ourselves up as the authority on worship. And we are moving away from God, not closer to Him. The attitude of our hearts is in need of a change when we find ourselves doing this.

"It's helpful to remember that the world, the devil, and our flesh actively oppose our desire to give God the glory He alone deserves. The real worship wars aren't about music styles, forms, and practices. They're secretly waged in our hearts, as idols try to rob us of our passion to exalt God above everything. If we aren't aware of those worship wars, we'll have a difficult time understanding or experiencing worship that honors God, no matter what it is we're doing on the outside." (Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 3, Dec 1/05)
Satan wants to get our minds off of what they should be in worship. One of the easiest ways he can do this is to get us thinking about our preferences in relation to what the worship team is doing. Corporate worship choices may not always line up with our preferences, but we should still do our best to keep our focus on God and not get distracted by what we like or do not like about it.

If our problem with worship comes because it is not biblically or theologically correct, we need to seek the proper channels to deal with that with those in leadership. But if the problem we are having is because of personal preference, maybe it is our hearts that need changing, not what the band is doing or the songs being sung.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

why do we emphasize the emotional response is worship?

I have done and I have heard other do the same - we evaluate the worship during a church service by our own or others' emotional response to it. We evaluate worship by how much energy the music had or how many people responded publicly with a request for prayer or with tears. There is nothing wrong with any of these being a part of our worship, but they should not be how we evaluate it. God can be just as present in a service with none of that as in a service with it. And He can be just as absent from a service fill of emotion as from a service with no emotion. Our emotional response is not an indicator of how "good" a worship service was.

"Each time we meet to worship the triune God, He should be the all-consuming center of our attention and affections. His greatness and splendor should become bigger in our minds, hearts, and wills. His desires and commands should become more precious to us. Jesus Christ and His atoning work should become more glorious and amazing to us." (Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 2, Nov 30/05)
These things can involve an emotional response, but it is not required. The important thing in evaluating worship is that God was glorified and exalted through that time spent together singing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

worship in church services

A couple of week ago I wrote a blog about what worship is. That blog was in response to questions about what worship is that I was mulling over. I came to the conclusion that worship is a response to God and encompasses much more than just singing songs.

In the days since I wrote that post, I have found myself thinking more and more about the part of our church services where to do what we commonly call worship - or in other words, singing.
  • Why do we call that worship?
  • Why is singing so important to (most of) us?
  • Why have we taken a word that encompasses so much and used it describe just a small part of the time we gather as a community of believers?
I once again, do not feel like I have the definitive or the only possible answers to these questions. The following is only my thoughts and the insights I have gained from conversations with others and things I have read.

The first question of why we call singing in church services worship is the one I have had running through my head the most. I was reading some more on the Worship Matters blog and came across some attempts to answer this question that are written far more succinctly than my attempts to say much the same thing.

"But, why do we sing? Let me suggest three reasons. We sing to remember God's Word. We sing to respond to God's grace. We sing to reflect God's glory." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 6, Feb 7/06)
"Singing is meant to be a tool that help us remember those words - God's deeds, attributes, promises, and warnings." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 7, Feb 8/06)
When I think about it, I learned a lot about God and the Bible as a child from the songs we learned in Sunday School and at summer camp. Even today, I still remember Scripture better if it is in a song.

Music and singing is one way express our worship to God, but it is only one way we do so. As much as it is an important part for myself and for many others I know, I am glad it is not the only way we can worship.

Which brings me to my next question: Why have we taken a word that encompasses so much and used to describe just a small par o the time we gather as a community of believers?

To quote Worship Matters again:
"Worship doesn't begin when the singing starts, nor end when the music stops. We don't 'do worship' in a meeting, nor compartmentalize it to the singing section. Romans 12:1 clearly says that worship is about what we do with our lives." (What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 16, March 1/06)
It is easy to call the time with music and singing in church worship and it is accurate, as long as we are not limiting it to that. All of the time we are gathered together as a community of believers can be worship - whether we are singing, or praying together, or listening to someone preach, or sharing testimonies, or sharing conversation and getting involved in each others lives over food.

We must be careful to not limit our understanding of worship to being only singing by calling the music worship, when all of it can and should be worship.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

late night (or rather, early morning) thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about family these days. I spent the last two months living with them, and then they spent a day off from work helping me move and assemble my furniture. Sometimes I think I can take them for granted. I just assume that they will always be there.

But, in the last week, I have been thinking more about how short life can be. Friends of mine lost their father in an accident. This is far from the first time I have walked with friends who were facing loss or faced loss myself, but it is the first time I had the contrast of my family all being there to help me when I needed it while the news of my friends' loss was still fresh in my mind.

My family drives me up the wall sometimes - especially when I live with them - but I cannot imagine my life without them. I do not want to take for granted that they are there and that they will help me out when I need it. This past week has been a reminder that it can all change in an instant.

(OK, total change of thought direction here)

I have sometimes wondered if the emphasis on needing or wanting your own space in our culture can be a negative thing. It seems like people think you are strange if you have roommates for years and are more excited for you when you move into your own place. I have often thought that if community is a good thing and something God created us to need, then maybe this ideal of living on your own is not such a great thing despite what our culture may tell us.

But lately I have been thinking that living with other people is not required to be living life in community with others. A lot of it comes down to attitude. If our attitude is that we do not need people in our lives and we can do it all by ourselves, then maybe having a place of our own is not a good thing. But if our attitude is that we still need people in our lives and we make it intentional that we have other people in our lives, then maybe there is nothing really wrong with having a place of our own.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


So, I"m sitting in my new place surrounded by boxes of my stuff knowing that I really need to go grocery shopping before I can eat lunch and I have this urge to write a blog. I don't think I have anything specific to say today. I kind of wonder if this just seems more relaxing than anything else I need to do right now.

It has been a busy weekend. My cousin got married on Saturday and I moved yesterday. Today is supposed to be an unpacking day so that I know where all my stuff is and can relax after work the rest of this week. Most of yesterday was spent bringing in boxes and putting them in the room the stuff goes in - maybe I should have thought a little more about what I put in each box as some of them seem to have a couple items for every room - and assembling furniture that I had found on sale. Honestly, I'm not sure I ever want to move again. I'm pretty sure that it will take a lot more than a few loads in the back of my Dad and brother-in-law's trucks to move me out of this place.

Well, since I don't seem to really have anything to say and I'm not sure anyone will still be reading this, I'll quit writing and get the things I need to done.