Where are the flags?

6 Jul

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Yesterday before the worship service, I was stopped by a longtime member with a very concerned look, “Where are the flags?”

For years the American and Christian flags stood at the front of our worship center. During a renovation project they moved to a protective closet home… and have stayed there.

Here’s why.

Most people of our church gather together for about an hour and fifteen minutes a week to worship God – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, awesome, great, powerful, loving, wonder-working, merciful… God. He is worthy of worship! And He is the only one worthy.

Over the Independence Day weekend people from our church attended family parties, lit fireworks, watched parades, and celebrated our country’s birthday in all manner of ways. I figure I spent about 10-12 hours engaged in activities like that. (And this was a light 4th for us due to other obligations.) To be fair, some of the events allowed for great fellowship with believers and wonderful connection time with those who don’t follow Jesus yet. However, the reason for the gatherings was to celebrate America – to sing her praises and be thankful for the freedom we enjoy. I could have been busy all weekend (and even the weekend before!) celebrating red, white, and blue.

Yesterday, the body of Christ met for an hour and a half.

Please understand– I’m not complaining or foisting a guilt-trip on anyone for partying all weekend, but I am making the case for why we didn’t recite the Pledge to the Flag yesterday in church– that hour and a quarter we are together is so short and incredibly precious! Every minute counts!

Why would we give up even one to look away from Jesus?

I am grateful to live in the USA! I will cheer loudly and stand as the color guard parades the flag down main street. I belt out The National Anthem at sporting events. But I fiercely protect the time we gather to worship God.

It is holy – set aside for Him and His Church.

It is pure – for Him only, for none other.

It is a sacred trust – that I will continue to guard.

Because the God of the universe is the only one worthy of our worship.

13 Sep

cloud photo

Good Morning! It’s a beautiful day in America’s midwest. The sun is shining and skies are blue with white puffy clouds. It’s a great day to praise the Lord!

Over the past few weeks, I have been sensing the Lord asking me to take a break from this blog. For several weekends, I’ve writen anyway. He is so wonderful, awesome (in the correct sense of the term), good, powerful, loving, and so much more, I could go on writing a post on Saturday for the rest of my life encouraging us to worship Him. There are times when God’s direction seems harsh – like a parent saying, “Do not cross the line I’m establishing!” This is not one of those times for me. His leading has come with gentle nudges to lay this blog down.

So, for now I am saying that I’m taking a break. He may be redirecting me to another opportunity, or just asking me to step back for awhile. Right now I’m not sure which.

While we wait together, the archives are here for you. Looking back over them, I became aware that even through a blog about worshiping Him, God has been faithful! I had no idea I’d written so many posts! And, honestly, I’d forgotten many of the points in posts I’ve written! How like God to give clarity, and then give it again at a later time!

Thank you, dear fellow-worshiper for your encouragement and trust. And most of all, for worshiping the God of Gods and King of Kings. He is matchless and completely worthy of our worship.

At His feet with you….

Slow Down

6 Sep

All week I work hard and fast because Sunday comes every seven days with unrelenting regularity. I scan and answer email quickly; I make sure meetings start and end on time; all with the goal of providing an atmosphere in which people can worship God and hear from Him collectively.

Part of my responsibility is to check and maintain our church’s Facebook page. While scrolling through lots of statuses, a video caught my attention. As it played, I felt my soul slow down and rest as others prayed… FOR ME! So much of my week is spent caring for others, and although those praying have no idea who I am or that I exist – God knows me intimately. He knew that I needed to rest for five and a half minutes while prayers of other worship leaders washed over my soul.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Can you sit still for that long and allow the Holy Spirit to calm, empower, and encourage your heart before leading others tomorrow? Whether you are the worship leader, on the team, the pastor, or have some other role during the worship service tomorrow, you will benefit from quieting your heart in preparation.

WD’s Best Of: Heaven Meets Earth

30 Aug

Today did not go as planned! So, since I’ve been writing this blog for a couple of years, and many of you are new followers, I went back into the archives for one of my favorites. Click on the link for this week’s re-devo.

Next week I hope to write about what’s in my head and heart concerning Victoria Osteen‘s exhortation for people to worship– for themselves… because God wants them to be happy. My thoughts will probably surprise you!

See you next Saturday.

 

Ultra Sonic

23 Aug

10608590_831490100573_8387665045652513522_o A baby will come into our family this December. The ultrasound images of our little one give us shadowy glimpses so life-like that our arms ache to understand why we can’t hold him/her. On the screen we have seen ten perfect fingers at the end of two flailing arms. Two little feet– every bit as active as the hands– each have five nubby toes. But we are most captivated by the wee little face.

We have seen the baby!

When God was knitting our kids together in my womb, ultrasounds were expensive and not routine. We spent nine months wondering if the baby was OK, whether we would have a boy or a girl, and who he/she looked like. By a miracle of technology, this week we got to see our first grandbaby swimming and wiggling via ultrasonic waves.

An ultrasound image is created from sound waves pitched too high for our ears to hear traveling in two directions– toward the baby, then bouncing off and returning back. Ultrasonic waves are exactly the same as those within our hearing range, just pitched much higher. As the sound returns to the ultrasound device, the sound waves are translated into an image by an computer interface. We are seeing sound.400px-Sonar_Principle_EN.svg

 

Creator God spoke. “Let there be light,” and there was light. “Let there be sky, and water, and dry ground. Let there be plants, and day and night, and moon and stars. Let there be creatures in the deep, and birds in the air, and animals on the land. And let us make mankind in our image.” And it was so, and God saw that it was good.

Sound translated not just into an image, but into physical reality.

Jesus said, “I chose you,” and “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do,” and “It is finished.”

Sound translated into spiritual reality and relationship.

Hi words wash over us and are reflected back to Him. All He sees is the blood of His Son.

The ultimate ultrasound.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

That God sees me through the blood of Jesus which has fundamentally changed my nature, grabs my soul… and my knees collapse under me in utter amazement and profound thanksgiving. This single truth causes me to worship Him (without having to think of any of the myriad of reasons).

Today, as I was looking at the ultrasound image of our grandbaby above, I imagined the ultrasound waves going between this little one and his/her Creator as the knitting continues every minute of every day until the time for birth is right. Then I thought of us, His followers, and imagined more sounds waves coursing through the air – “I created you and love you with an everlasting love” – “My Lord and My God” – “I see you, perfect and righteous, completely cleansed, new, and beautiful” – “There is no one like you, perfect in love and beauty” – Back and forth, God speaking from His Word, and each one of us answering in worship.

On Sundays it may be easier to hear what has been happening all week.

———-

Bonus Question: If an ultrasound device emits a sound in a forest and no one with a receiver is around to hear it, does it make a sound? (Sorry… I couldn’t resist!)

Needy

16 Aug

Driving at 70 mph for a day and a half gives me time to think. A LOT of time to think about the previous week spent with a very dysfunctional family that doesn’t follow Jesus.

My heart aches for them to know Him. My soul feels so helpless… and worn out. I read the Word and prayed in the morning and in the moment constantly. I’m not sure whether I’m beat from the hard work of praying so much, the constant interaction of so many who need Jesus, the very, very long roadtrip… or maybe the combo. In any case, I need the family of God.

While driving I was also thinking about getting ready for Sunday.  Man, am I ready! I am needy. Having been in the fray all week, I need the fellowship of kindred hearts like all these cars going in the same direction have. I need perspective like the hawks have hovering above the tangled strings of highway. I need the family of God.

During the week I have not been apart from God. I have had to be close to Him. But I have been alone with Him.

I need to lift up His name with those who also love Him.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Sometimes I take worship for granted, or at least I value it more at times. This week is one of those high-value, can’t-wait-for-Sunday kind of weeks. How about you? When was the last time you deeply desired to worship God with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Why?

I can’t wait for Sunday! Until then, this is on… at 11!

 

 

 

 

The Crowd

9 Aug

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Driving by the corner store by the high school I felt free. The crowd around the store was made up of students, and I was now a college freshman. But being a graduate wasn’t why I felt free.

For the first time in my entire K-12 school career, peer pressure had no hold on me. It didn’t matter who my friends were or what group of kids invited me in to their closed circle. I laughed out loud when I realized that none of the important social complexities mattered to me anymore. Not one little bit!

I couldn’t believe how different it felt to be on the other side of graduation from the way I felt just a couple of months earlier. Regret followed that feeling almost immediately. Much of my time, energy, and emotions had been squandered on petty and trivial concerns that dissipated quicker than the cigarette smoke rings being blown out of the pursed lips of those in the cool crowd hanging out on the corner.

This memory revisited my heart earlier today as I read chapters 4-8 of Revelation. God gave John a glimpse through the doorway to the throne room in heaven. In response to being in the presence of the One seated on the throne…

The four living creaturesday and night… never cease to say,

‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!’”

The twenty-four elders bow before him and cast their crowns at His feet saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

They were joined by “many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!'”

After that, John heard “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'”

Not a single one of these beings thought about any of the concerns that filled my day. Instead, they were filled with the presence of the Lamb, and they fell down and worshiped Him.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Very soon we will be on the other side of the ultimate graduation and will understand how little of what we are giving our hearts and minds, time and fortunes, devotion and experience to really matters.

One thing that will remain is the worship we give God now. Like an eternal echo that continues, never losing intensity or volume, the worship I will give God tomorrow will join the worship in heaven that will continue forever.

This I Know

3 Aug

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For the last few hours (and I do mean hours) I have been caulking the crack between the new countertops and the freshly painted wall.

 

“Use this special colored caulk,” they said.

“Simple application. Just squeeze to apply,” they said.

“Easy clean-up with water,” they said.

My “squeezing to apply” shoulder has a cramp, my hands are water-logged, and my patience is out in the garage with the plain white caulk. The line between countertop and wall is blurry and wiggly, and the new paint has lots of little bits of primer peeking through where I had to do some “easy clean-up with water”.

Trying new things intrigues me. I decided that this new caulk would be fun! White can be boring, after all. If I had stuck with what I know, however, I would be in bed now. I understand how to apply the white stuff with a caulking gun, and all mistakes are easy to hide under paint. One of my greatest joys in home renovation (I know this sounds a little crazy) is seeing a nice straight line – where wall paint meets ceiling, between wall and trim – any place two surfaces join. The result is clean, neat, and refreshing after living with a sloppy job from previous home owners. I am now that homeowner.

At least for my efforts I am ready for Sunday. While applying, cleaning, and reapplying dark brown caulk, I’ve had lots of time to think about the white caulk just steps away in the garage and how all this relates to leading others in worshiping God tomorrow morning.

What I heard God say through my frustration, is to think about what I know– what I know about Him. I don’t have to get all fancy and look for trendy ideas or interpretations. Returning to basics is not boring, it’s refreshing and comfortable. To get ready for tomorrow, to refocus from my kitchen fiasco, all I need is to remember what I know about God.

He is good. All the time.

He sent His Son to this world in an act of love to us before we loved Him.

He provides everything I need and all I have.

He knew me before my parents were born.

He is the beginning from eternity.

He is truth and cannot lie.

He is the King over all.

He is my Savior, my God, my Lord, my Father, and my friend.

He loves me… this I know.

Now I am ready for Sunday.

 

More than Enough

27 Jul

This week I don’t have a compelling Scripture or a coordinating photo.

All I have is the thought that if everyone in the world was to be in the same room with Jesus, we would all see Him a bit differently through our need. Some would see the Mighty Warrior through their desperation. Others would be in the presence of the Prince of Peace because their lives were spinning out of control. Still others in the midst of grief would know Him as the Comforter. And some would simply be captivated by his glorious beauty.

The same God revealed, but seen through individual situations, perspectives, and longings.

In every one, and altogether, He is more than enough.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

I will be in that room this weekend– with individuals gathering together with independent needs, but we will be united in task and purpose: to glorify the One who is more than able to care for all of us and all of our distinct needs. He is more than enough for all of that.

Though we will each worship a slightly different facet of who He is, we will be united because He is the unifying reason that we gather.

He is more than enough for each and all of us. And more.

Two Sides

19 Jul

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I like to clean. Or, rather, I like a clean house when I’m done cleaning. Everyday I touch most of the doorknobs in our home several times (more than ever right now since we have a puppy and leave doors closed to keep her out of certain rooms). I don’t look at them or give them a second thought. My brain is engaged in more important task of remembering what I came into the room for in the first place.

But when I clean I do notice doorknobs. They don’t discriminate. Everyone turns them, whether their hands are clean or dirty. When I clean, I see the dirt, and I remember that touching them spreads germs. The rest of the week, I don’t notice the dirty build-up, but when I take the time to look, there’s no denying that a good cleaning is needed.

Several passages in the Bible hit me the same way. Or maybe they don’t hit me. Common passage that we all have memorized disappear in the text, hiding in plain sight.

This week I read through Revelation 2 and 3 – the Letters to the Churches. You probably have Rev 3:20 is addressed memorized: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Those of us who attended Sunday School as children remember a teacher holding a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking, while she told us how to ask Jesus into our hearts.

But that’s not what this verse means.

Looking at the context, we see that Jesus said this passage to a church, not an individual. Because the letter is written to a church, the implication is that individuals in the Laodicean church had received Christ. So why is Jesus knocking on the church door? If not for salvation, for what?

Because of their unrepentant hearts. The church had become proud, not needing anything. Not even Jesus. He was standing outside their church, knocking to be let back in. They didn’t realize they were poor, blind, and naked. The emperor had no idea he had no clothes. But Jesus did.

The church has the power, the ability– and the prideful audacity– to leave Jesus out in the cold, to adopt an SOP: of self-reliance, doing ministry out of its own human resources without the wealth offered by Jesus.

And so Jesus knocks, giving us the choice: do we invite Him into our church, opening the door with humble repentance, and enjoy sweet fellowship around the table?

Or do we leave Jesus outside?

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

What if I substitute “worship team” for “church” in the above? Is Jesus inside or outside the door of our worship team? Do we lead out of our own resources? Or is our leadership humble, repentant, and reliant on Him?

The wonderful promise we have in Jesus is that although His resources are costly, He gives them freely:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.”  Isaiah 55:1-2

 

 

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