worship


Excerpts from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

A number of years ago I read an article in a Psychology Today magazine titled Whistleblowing (by Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer, August 1986 issue). This article resonated with me (which is why I held onto it). It seems that when I was young I was endowed with an absolute inability to tolerate injustice, oppression, and dishonesty. To complement this, I was not endowed with an ability to keep my mouth shut. Due to this combination of characteristics, I have been a whistleblower my entire life and, believe me, this has not won me a whole lot of friends. What it is has given me though is a clear conscience and an ability to tolerate opposition.

The article contained words of advice from more than twenty resisters. I found most of the advice to be solid and worthwhile. One word of advice that I did not agree with, though, was “Don’t tilt at windmills; don’t waste your strength and courage fighting a battle you know you will lose. There are more than enough fights around that offer a chance of winning.” Rather than agreeing with and heeding this bit of advice, I agree with the following statement made by Martin Sheen’s character in the movie An American President :“Don’t fight the fights you can win, fight the fights that need fighting!”

In addition to getting this article out and periodically reading it for encouragement as I wrote this book, I read the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. Sacred Pathways is about spiritual temperaments. Our spiritual temperament, or our sacred pathway, is “the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him.” Of the nine sacred pathways Thomas identified, two of them (sensate and activist) describe how I draw near to God.

Thomas says that Christians with a sensate spiritual temperament “…want to be filled with sights, sounds, and smells that overwhelm them when they worship. The five senses are God’s most effective inroad to their hearts.”

In describing someone with an activist spiritual temperament or sacred pathway, Thomas says, “They define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. These Christians often view the church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice. . . . They find their home in the rough-and-tumble world of confrontation. They are energized more by interaction with others, even in conflict, than by being alone or in small groups.” Other statements he made regarding the activist sacred pathway are as follows:

• “It can take some time for the enthusiasm generated by the activist mentality to be tempered and seasoned by maturity and foresight.”
• “Every activist must learn that faithful obedience doesn’t always result in immediate success.”
• “Activists will never be satisfied playing it safe. They need to experience the exhilaration of seeing a miraculous God come through in miraculous ways.”
• “Activism is one temperament that, while it tends to spiritually feed many Christians, can also exhaust them.”

For many, many years I did not like my tendency to be a whistleblower. I wished I wasn’t like that and I tried to change it. I tried to be oblivious or tolerant of injustice and oppression. It never worked. I tried valiantly to keep my mouth shut about injustices and wrongs I saw. I failed even more miserably at that. When I read Sacred Pathways and realized God had wired me to be an activist, I finally relaxed about that part of myself and actually embraced it. I do wish, though, that my tempering and seasoning had happened a bit sooner. I might have made a few more friends if it had.

The more I studied it and thought about it, I realized that the activist temperament is my primary sacred pathway and the sensate temperament is my secondary pathway. I have felt that spiritual exhaustion when I am absolutely running on empty both emotionally and spiritually. When I am in a worship service where the music is excellent and the worship leader is worshipping, not entertaining, I can engage in authentic and meaningful individual worship. I then feel spiritually nurtured and energized and ready to take on the world. I realized that when God wired me to be an activist he knew about how exhausted and depleted I would get, so he wired me with the secondary pathway of sensate so I could be replenished and energized. Isn’t he a wonderful God?!

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Those of us who are Christ followers remember today the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles. Tomorrow we remember the torture and death he endured for us, and Sunday we remember and celebrate his resurrection from the dead, thereby defeating death forever.

Phillips, Craig & Dean – Revelation Song (Live)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdvgEGlZ_UI

Excerpts from When Religion Isn’t Enough:

From the beginning of time, God invited the human beings he created to be in relationship with him. His intention was never to give religion to the human race. His intention was to offer human beings a relationship with himself that was personal and intimate. God wants a relationship with us. God is love, and he wants to shower that love on us. God always has and always will be available to be in relationship with those who choose to respond to his invitation for a relationship. He rejoices when one of his children responds to his invitation and enters into a relationship with him, becoming part of his family.

Those of us who are human parents give our children rules to live by because we love them. The rules provide needed boundaries for our children, protecting and guiding them. In turn, we want our children to follow our rules because they love us and value the relationship they have with us, not because they are afraid of us. The same is true for our heavenly parent. When God gave the Israelites, his chosen people, his family, rules to live by he was taking care of them, protecting them. He never meant for the rules to replace the relationship he had with them. As a matter of fact, God gave the Israelites rules to highlight the relationship he had with them. He wanted the Israelites to be set apart from the nations surrounding them. He wanted them to live by a higher standard than the people around them and to be identified to other nations as his people, his family.

Somewhere along the line the Israelites got the idea that they had only to follow God’s rules to be acceptable to him and to become part of his family. They forgot that though God had sent them into exile, he had not ejected them from his family. He continued to be their Father. He was merely disciplining them for their misbehavior.

God did not want the Israelites to follow his rules so that they could become his children. They already were his children. God wanted them to follow his rules so that the world would know that they were his children. When people started misunderstanding the purpose of God’s laws, and then started acting off that misunderstanding, religion was born.

Important Note: When I speak of religion, I am not referring to any particular denomination. I am referring to Bruxy Cavey’s definition of religion which is “any system of rules, regulations, rituals, and routines that people use to achieve their spiritual end-goal.”

As a result of this misunderstanding, the Jews shifted their focus from their relationship with God to the rules God gave them, putting their trust in the rules and in their own ability to follow the rules, rather than putting their trust in God. Their view of God as a loving parent who would take care of them was replaced by a view of God as an angry parent who would punish them if they disobeyed him. This is understandable in light of their experience of having been sent into exile. They moved from being dependent on God to being dependent on selves. This is the very essence of religion. Bruxy Cavey puts it this way: “Religion offers a system that promises to lead to salvation one day. Jesus offers salvation as a gift, now. Everything after that becomes a joyful opportunity to express what is already ours, a celebration of salvation, not the method of it.”

When Jesus came to earth, he was coming to restore what had been lost: a personal relationship with God.

Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus was continually trying to tell people that the way to God and to eternal life was not religion (a.k.a. following rules), it was relationship (believing that he was who he said he was, the Son of God, and following him).

When an individual decides to follow Jesus thereby becoming part of God’s family, all of heaven rejoices. Angels are Dancing, Sunday Shoes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSUq099PZhk

This is another one of my favorite songs. It also conveys the basic message of my ministry.

Fernando Ortega – Give me Jesus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1O_Jf_fdkI

I heard this song for the first time during worship this morning.

Casting Crowns – The Well (w/ Lyrics)

As I listened to the lyrics it occurred to me that this is the message I am trying to convey through my writing and speaking. That is, there is an emptiness built into each one of us, whether we are aware of it or not, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. We try to fill it with accomplishments, possessions, relationships, money, power, influence, whatever the world has to offer. None of this quite fills it though, because the emptiness is a God-size hole that only He can fill. He is the only thing that is ENOUGH.

I watched Charles Stanley on TV this morning while I was having my coffee. He preached on the prodigal son. Reminded me of this song. It’s one of my favorites.

When God Ran, Phillips, Craig & Dean http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5TATkbJSBk

To each individual who follows this blog – I wish you a happy and blessed Easter.

Give Thanks (With A Grateful Heart )

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