Tag Archives: God’s glory

Excellence is not perfectionism

7 Jun

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The intro was my responsibility. I strummed away and added the sweet guitar lick at the end of the phrase. The vocalists came in with sweet worship ascending to God from within our midst.

The keys came in, and everything came to an immediate dissonant end. I turned deep red, moved my capo to the correct fret, and we started again. I wanted to get away, to hide, to explain to everyone what had happened. Instead, I intentionally turned away from myself and worshiped God in my humiliation. After the service, many people commented that they had truly worshiped God.

I am amazed that when there are mistakes and glitches during a service, more people share how meaningfully they connected with God.

Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. Psalm 33:3

The word skillfully means “with excellence and great skill”. Excellence is one of our worship ministry’s top values.

Here’s why – if we are worshiping the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Father who sent His only Son to die for our sins and who adopted us, our Sustainer and Provider (and the list goes on); if this is Who we worship, how can we give Him anything less than our very best?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory.

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. Excellence takes many forms, is intentional, and includes sacrifice and includes–

  • Making personal practice a priority instead of “winging it”
  • Valuing mid-week rehearsal, being on time and staying engaged as it gets late
  • Not being satisfied with the status quo, constantly looking for a way to improve
  • Reading the equipment manual and learning new technical solutions to issues
  • Getting up really early every Sunday for a tech tun-through so that each element and its tech needs is tested and ready to go

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. If we trust God as provider, then we have to believe that he has given us everything we need to lead others in worship. We can worship him without a bass player. We can sing his praises with outdated sound equipment. He will be praised even with prerecorded music – as long as our focus is him and his glory. Envying another church’s stage design doesn’t bring God glory, neither does whining and complaining. He does not hold us accountable for what he has not given us.

Excellence is doing the best we can with what we have for God’s glory. The means, then, are perhaps more important than the end when it comes to worshiping God, because people are involved– and people matter to God. Delivering a perfect production with relational casualties in its wake doesn’t glorify God. Lost tempers, biting comments, drama and gossip behind the scenes are all sinful because they devalue people and do not honor God. Fretting over what could (or should) have been doesn’t honor him either. Soli deo gloria! 

Excellence is different from perfectionism.

Perfectionism strives for a flawless performance and is dissatisfied with anything less. My ego and reputation are wrapped up in delivering an impeccable performance. The goal is a flawless end product. There is an inherent “at any cost” mentality so that mistakes and what is missing loom larger than all else. Nothing about this brings glory to God, so why would we call it worship? And why would God accept this kind of “sacrifice”?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory!

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READY FOR SUNDAY

Much of my week is devoted to getting ready for Sunday – communication with team members, assembling the Order of Worship, setting the stage (literally!), thinking through service element transitions, and encouraging everyone involved to remember all this is simply a vehicle taking us toward God’s heart. When something doesn’t go as planned, worship is not ruined, in fact, maybe there is a greater opportunity to worship Him… in spite of ourselves.

Because He is worthy.

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God of the Shadows

14 Dec

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Seeing God in the blaze of a sunset or a still afternoon as snowflakes float straight down or in the deep, clear eyes of a newborn child is easy for me.

I think it’s easy for most people to sense God in the moments that take our breath away. Transcendent glory breaks into our existence and our spirits soar– exhilarated and enthralled– thrilled and captured by a moment so real all else seems inconsequential.

But  life spans the gamut– from peak to valley and every place in between. Most of life is much less.

Or is it?

Finding joy in the ordinary transforms common moments into divine. Again, this is attainable for most people, although it does take practice and intentionality.

And then there there are the Dark Places. Valleys so deep there are no mountain tops. Empty aches so crushing life stops, stands still without release.

“In a place of faithlessness and doubtfulness and godlessness, God gives God. The God who can reveal Himself wherever, whenever, to whomever; the God who is never limited by lack or restricted to the expected; the God who is no respecter of persons but the relentless rescuer of prodigals; the God who give the gift of faith in the places you’d most doubt. That is always the secret to the abundant life; to believe that God is where you doubt He can be.” (1)

Breathless moments wait in the shadows, too.

God is harder to see in the dark; but when my eyes adjust and He becomes visible, dark is destroyed.

And He is all I see.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

The holiday corridor from Thanksgiving through New Years is a really tough time for many people. Expectations are high. Everyone, it seems, talks about wonderful family times painting a Norman Rockwell scene. TV ads display the perfect Christmas that everyone else is having….

The distance between the darkness that some are in becomes that much darker in the presence of so much gaiety and celebration.

While I greatly enjoy the glimpses of God through the wondrous, His unmatched Glory is all I see when surrounded by dark. When I see Him where I doubted He could be my spirit flies.

Some in our gatherings tomorrow will need a reminder and help seeing God in the shadows.

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1. The Greatest Gift; Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voskamp, p. 101-02

Why Gather?

7 Sep

WHY 

QUESTION:

Why do we come together on Sunday mornings?

This is a serious question, not an off-handed, patronizing shock-question at the beginning of a blog. I’ve been asking myself this for several months.

We don’t need to be together to worship God. We can do that on our own at home, walking through the woods, lying on a beach, or riding on the subway.

We don’t need to gather together to hear the Word of God preached and taught. Again, we can do that at the kitchen table, in the forest, beside the ocean, or in a train car.

So what’s the big deal about Sunday? (And I do believe it IS a big deal.)

There are many passages in Scripture about meeting together. One of the most notable being Hebrews 10:24-25. However, what continues to hit me this week are two passages in Psalm 116:

14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.

The Psalmist desires to make good in front of God’s people– not for his own glory…

12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?

…but because God has been good to him.

Once again, in the midst of one of the most hedonistic societies in the history of civilization (though overused, “It’s not about me,” is truer in this situation than any other), can we agree that every worship service is not for us worshipers? Not for my comfort, my preferences, my senses, my edification, or my enjoyment. Not one iota, jot, or tittle. That is not to say that some of our desires aren’t met in the process of worshiping God, but they are merely side effects– not what drives the event or the goals of it.

So, why do we gather together as a church body? Simply, to worship God together and publicly proclaim His goodness.

Nothing else matters except that God is glorified.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

What if all of us arrived at our places of worship this week with an all-consuming goal and singular focus that God be glorified in all that is done, said, sung, and thought?  How would my attitude be different? What about my interactions with people would change? How would I handle distractions from this goal? Would I prepare differently today?

Writing this blog can be so humbling and convicting! I’m hoping reading it is, too. Will you join me in this? Can a revolution in our churches start with us, this week, that will change our hedonism into God’s glory as He is enthroned on our praises?

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