3 Worship Songs God Hates

tredWe must tread lightly here, for to insinuate that we know the mind of God is dangerous territory.  However, what we know of Him and that of human interaction with the Almighty, there are certainly forms of worship God hates.  Do you think the term “hate” is too strong?  Does God hate?

There are many scriptures that describes the displeasure of God.
One prime example of this is Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

So with that being said, are there things that God hates?
I believe the answer is YES!

Can we then describe moments in worship and in song that could displease God?  Absolutely!  I should also clarify that the term “Worship Song” could be anything we do as we sing to God.  It can contemporary, it can be traditional, or somewhere in the middle.  Are there other things in “worship” other than song?  Of course, but just for this discussion, we are zeroing in on the topic of “Song”…

Here are 3 Worship Songs God Hates: 
Allow me to preface this with the following statement: If you were looking for specific names of songs that God possibly hates, sorry…that’s not what this particular blog post is about.  Again, sorry to disappoint you, I won’t be roasting the latest Chris Tomlin song here today.

But here is what I think are 3 Worship Songs God Hates and why…

1  Songs Sung Out Of Obligation
Have you ever gotten up on a Sunday morning to lead worship and the songs you have selected aren’t really resonating with you?  Sometimes it could be that we are just out of sync with our walk with the Lord…there are certainly seasons of life, and not everything is flowersgoing to be peachy.  But I believe God hates obligatory worship.  Imagine if I were to give flowers to my wife simply because it’s the right thing to do, not that I want to, but rather because it’s expected.  How do you think she would feel if, as I gave her the flowers, I said; “Here’s you weekly obligatory flower arrangement dear!”?  Do you think she would enjoy them and feel loved in my gift of those flowers?  Of course not!

In a way, when we sing songs of worship and adoration to God because we feel obligated, it’s like giving Him flowers that mean nothing to us and are given out of ritual not love and appreciation.  God doesn’t want our obligatory worship songs and our meaningless attempts at worship – He wants it to mean something to us, something that aren’t just meaningless utterances of lyric lines and memorized scriptures.  God hates obligatory praise!

2. Songs Sung Out Love For The Song
Which do we worship, God or our favorite song?
I’m not saying this happens all of the time, but sometimes those worship songs (or even hymns) we sing can become a false idol of our worship.  We just don’t “feel” it when we aren’t singing just the right songs…but if that all time “fav” comes up – we are rockin’ and rollin’ with our hands raised high.  hands

Let me ask a question – is it God that we worship or the song that we sing?
I would hope our answer would be “God”, but there is a danger of placing our favorite song on a place of worship instead of God himself.  God hates the worship of idols – He is truly jealous for our worship and that of us.  He wants all there is of us, not a portion – but our EVERYTHING!  I fear at times, we place the love for a song over the love for God.  Our worship cannot simply revolve around our emotions and how WE feel…We are to worship Him REGARDLESS of how we feel.  Perhaps that is the toughest thing to do, yet through discipline and perseverance, we can!

3. Songs Sung To Display Talent (The Concert Performance)
worshipWorship leader – beware!  Worship was never about how good YOU sing or how Awesome your Guitaring or Piano-ing is… Seriously, if all we do in worship is try to emulate a Hillsong or Jesus culture/David Crowder concert, then we’re going about it all wrong and we need to stop!

Jesus called the Pharisees praying loudly in the streets so that everyone could hear and see them – Hypocrites or Actors.  He certainly had a lot of harsh words to say to those kinds of people – people who knew better.  He even went so far as to call them a brood of vipers.  God abhors actors, fakers and hypocrites.  hypocriteOur worship of God ought not to be a circus displaying our vast array of talents for the world to see.  Real worship isn’t about a concert or our aspirations to be the next big thing in the Top Ten CCLI Worship Leaders.  All these things are earthly desires – as we strive for human accolades and praise.

Such things do not attempt to elevate the name of Jesus, but rather promote our name to the masses.  In the words of U2 “Then they put Jesus in show business, now it’s hard to get in the door…” (God Would Send His Angels, U2)

God hates performances by actors and hypocrites that should have been about who He is, not who the performers are.  Where is the depth of worship here?  I’ll tell you – it’s about an inch deep and a yard wide.  Do our best?  Absolutely!  But if what we do is called “Worship” but it’s not God we are adoring but rather the music and our abilities on stage, then perhaps it’s time to reassess and realign our motivation and goals once again.

Well, we have strolled lightly here today.
The Bottom line, God doesn’t want any substitutes or consolation prizes – He wants our hearts and our attention.  Are there times when we worship with a divided heart or mind?  Are our motivators God honoring or human praise seeking?

What do YOU think?
Something more to ponder today.
God Bless You!

Should Christians Share Their Political Views?

godI’ve been pondering long and hard on this topic of politics and what it means to be a Christian during a presidential election year.  One thing I will say before starting in on this pondering is that it’s going to get worse – the slander, the malicious attacks, the hateful dialogue and mud-slinging.

The amazing ability of social media is that you can share almost anything and within minutes, even hours thousands of people will view it.  This opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities: e.g. – evangelism, supporting a cause, raising awareness for something important, getting started on your craft business, book writing, radio/podcast…etc.  The sky is the limit to this platform.

boxThere are negatives though to social media.
Trolls actually exist…(not the green ugly type, just ugly to other humans)
Bully pulpits.
Slander.
Inconsistencies in faith – words / action…

We literally are putting our lives under the microscope and in full view of the world around us – both friend…and not friend.

Putting this aside, let me tackle the elephant…er donkey…er large object neither politically aligned that is in the room right now….(at least in mine, maybe not yours).
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I am not sure how we can be Christians who are to show love for others around us and yet descend into brutal knock-down, drag out fights with other so called “Christians” and even non-Christians over which candidate they may or may not be supporting for the upcoming presidential election.  It is truly disparaging to see people of proclaimed faith engaging in such low displays – whether it’s slamming or smearing a candidate they can’t stand or disagree with or slamming and calling people studid or fools if they don’t agree. AND I DON’T CARE WHICH SIDE OF THE ISLE YOU ALIGN YOURSELF WITH!!!
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I might upset a few of you today, I’m sorry – that is not my purpose.
I am NOT saying don’t have a political opinion or view, I’m just saying either temper it with forethought or don’t share with others that you know will incite a fight…and I sit back and quickly click past your post because it just exploded into another prime example of Christians engaging in some very questionable disagreements.

My personal opinion – 
God is on the throne and He is Lord and holds ultimate authority over this earth.
I choose to keep my political opinions and views to exactly that – MY personal and private opinion.   Someone might argue “well, if you don’t stand for something…” or “well, you have to take a side...”   I would answer, just because I don’t publicly share my views doesn’t mean I don’t have them…but for the sake of my sanity and harmony of my friendships, I will keep them private.  After all, I don’t bring my friends into the voting booth…that might seem a little odd if I did (and probably illegal).

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I look at the political posts sometimes out there on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s sarcastic, it’s mean a meme or opinion, and I wonder (no matter if they are posted with humor in mind or not) how God-honoring these social activities and posts truly are ?   Because I wonder what non-Christians, who are looking at these kinds of posts – posted by “Christians” think about it.  I would just like to peer into the window of that exchange for a moment.  Because I don’t see acceptance – I see rejection.  I don’t see compassion – I see divisiveness, bitterness, rage, envy, malice, harmful dialogue…I see spite and hatred…and I just cringe when I think of the damage it might be doing to our reputation and that of Christ, who we’ve aligned ourselves with by name.

I’m really not in a place to judge – I am certainly not any better than anyone else, and I still make mistakes.  I just wonder if we as Christians are still so invested in our political parties that we have lost sight of the bigger picture?  Because no matter who is elected president this year, I recognize that all authority comes from God (good or bad) – He has the power to appoint and He alone has the power to take away.

So dear Christian, be mindful & be careful how and what you post…perhaps this will fall on deaf ears today…then again, perhaps not.

Something more to ponder today.

 

(Fluffy) Dessert Christianity…It’s Deadly!

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” 1 Peter 2:2

I have a confessions to make…are you ready?
Here goes:   I.  Love.  Dessert.

Dessert:
There I’ve said it.  Phew, I feel better already.
Even though I love dessert I know that dessert alone is not going to be enough nourishment for my diet to keep me going throughout the day.  Dessert is just sugary goodness…it’s fluff with little to no nutritional value.  It tastes amazing (depending on the dessert) but when it’s all said and done it doesn’t help you maintain your goal weight or provide you with the right kinds of good proteins and vitamins your body needs.

What am I getting at: 
I think that sometimes we as Christians are settling for Fluffy sugary, watered down religion instead of the real tangible stuff that grows and challenges us spiritually.   ankleI’m not saying it’s all bad, but sometimes it’s so shallow I can’t even get my ankles wet…if you know what I mean.

Mainstream Christianity: 
By and large, whether it is on television or radio, many times the quality of the “good news” of Jesus Christ is watered down, saturated and made palatable for the consumer.  It’s safe.  It’s kinda lame…it’s just fluff.  A lot of picking and choosing of scripture (many times out of context of the original intent and audience) takes place within this dessert Christianity.  This is why I wrote about “Christian Music” a while ago and why I stopped listening to it…fluff
We need to be away of dessert Christianity.
It doesn’t really challenge us to grow, in fact it kind of stunts our growth.  Dessert Christianity keeps us right where we are at feasting on the sugar and fluff and it’s dangerous because then we don’t have to confront the tough passages where we are called to love our enemies, and the call to be holy; and the call to live sacrificial lives to the point of offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1).   Most of time this surface type of “Religion” sugar coats the scriptures and gives us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

No offense to many of you out there, but I don’t need another wishy-washy video bible series study as a Christian bookstore prostitutes Jesus for money (and now I’ve gone and done it and upset the apple cart…sorry).

osteenI don’t need another Joel Osteen sermon either.
I don’t need some guy in trendy jeans in front of a cool backdrop on a stage preaching sermons that water down the Bible and wedge his own interpretations either.
Gosh, a lot of times this style of “Religious” Christianity just comes off as fake and hokey.  It sure sounds good to our ears but lacks complete spiritual depth and accuracy as real life Christians are living in the real world.

We don’t need anymore dessert, can’t you see our spiritual bodies are craving something more?
Perhaps some new believers are still on spiritual milk today, and that’s fine…but I do hope and pray someone can come along side these new believers and disciple them into deeper (less fluffy) waters.  Get off the fluff and onto the stuff that matters, that challenges, that grows us!
The time to grow up in our salvation is now.  Stop making excuses, don’t waste your time…do it

Something more to ponder today.

(I want to thank my wife Shanais Strissel for the countless conversations that has sparked these ponderings…you are my spark!)

Ponderings on Je Suis Charlie Masacre…

Words that come into my mind amidst this recent tragedy –
Sad.
Freedom.
Terrorism.
Murder.
Criminal.
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I keep thinking of Charlie Hebdo’s final words: “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees!
Talk about bold.
Talk about defiance in the face of certain death.
Talk about bravery in the midst of a cowardly attack on unarmed innocent people.

afraidMuch discussion has taken place this week as to who is to blame.
Was it the artist’s works of satire?
Was it the media’s fault?
Was it extremists?

Much like the US, there is the freedom of the press in France.
The United States is even partially modeled after the French model of government.
Some have asked if there are consequences to be paid for freedom of expression?
Should there be consequences?
While others have said, that the works of extremists and terrorists will not repress such expressions and the liberty to do so freely.

I keep coming back to Charlie Hebdo’s final words;
I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees!
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My point: 
I abhor violence of any kind.
Violence upon unarmed innocent people equally abhorrent.
Violence for the sake of any religion – intolerable and wrong.
Repression of anyone’s freedom of expression – wrong as well.

On the subject of faith:
My mind is drawn to many places in the world where Christians are executed based solely upon their freedom (or lack there of) to express their faith.
Places where public murder is allowed.
Places where any expression besides the prescribed expressions by the majority are forbidden and punishable by death.
If religion = violence.
If religion = repression.
If religion = death
If religion = the strong prevailing over the weak…
then I don’t want anything to do with religion.
I don’t want to live in a world like that.
I don’t want others to die in a world like that.

              I would rather die standing, than live on my knees.
And yet, I hear the words of Jesus in the back of my mind –
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”(Luke 9:23)
In other words – in my defiance to these things, I will live on my knees in utter humility.
I will pray for both victim and foe.
I will long for the day when violence ceases in all corners of the world.
I will kneel in this life and not attempt to become greater than others by stepping on them and silencing them.
How far will this take me?
To the foot of the cross.

5 Myths About Christianity…

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There are preconceived ideas floating around about what a Christian is and isn’t.  I am most certainly not the end all and be all of answers here, but from my experience and knowledge of what a Christian should and shouldn’t be, let me make a list of a few myths for everyone today.  I am sure this may spark some conversations and hopefully help to clarify this thing we call “Christianity”.   These aren’t in any specific order, just placed as I write them now…so here goes.

Myth #1 – “Salvation saves my soul and after conversion there is no need for further repentance or spiritual growth.”

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Let us be clear. 
Salvation is just the first step towards spiritual growth.  Without Salvation we are lost, but at the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit begins this transforming work within us.  To say that we only need repentance once and that growth isn’t needed is foolish and closes the door to a deeper, more fuller relationship with God.   We should also look more closely at the need for further repentance.  Repentance is crucial in our continued growth as Christians or Christ-followers.  As Spiritual maturity takes root in our lives so must we come face to face with lingering or flawed recesses of our hearts, souls and minds.  These are fragments of the old life still living within us.  The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us towards Holiness which is the image of Christ, but we cannot fully realize this until we are willing to repent and surrender these lingering fragments.  Continued repentance is crucial for our continued spiritual growth.

Myth #2 – When you become a Christian you are no longer allowed to have fun

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This may sound funny to you, but I’ve heard it said of Christians that once you become “saved” you have to stop having fun.  Sorry to tell you this, but some of the craziest (by crazy I mean funny) people I know are Christians.  I believe God has a great sense of humor (afterall He created you and me didn’t he?)  and so did Jesus.  I can almost hear even a sense of sarcasm in some of Jesus’ words at times.  Humor is vital to life.  We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and revel in the frivilous from time to time.  The fellowship of believers shouldn’t only be about serious content and plastered frowning/pious faces, we should also seek to have fun in this life as well!  I seriously think that many people who are not Christians think we all wear funny clothes, and sit around singing hymns in latin.  If that was the case, perhaps I would seriously think of heading for the exit as well.  But I know Christians who are just plain down to earth people.  These same people have a very humorous, sharp sense of humor.  When people become Christians and embrace faith in Christ they do not (or should not) lose their sense of humor.  Humor is not only refreshing but many times intrinsic to a person.  It is almost like a fingerprint and is essentially tied into the identity of that person. 

Myth #3 – Christians are just out for YOUR money.

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Let me just say how much I despise certain types of Televangelists who prey on the false hopes of the weak.  These charlatans will tickle the ears just enough to score another buck from the naive and the hurting.  This type of Christianity is more parlor trick than it is an accurate reflection of a real Christ-follower.  I usually stay away from churches that essentially beg for more and more money.  There is a big difference though between the discipline of tithing to the Lord and supporting a ministry that uses much of its funds to empower and provide luxury to the pastor/televangelist.  One should consider the fruits of the labor within those “religious” entities and look very closely at where the funds go. 

Christ certainly didn’t go around asking people to give Him money.  He did ask of a Samaratan woman for water and He did ask His disciples to do extraordinary things, but money was not in the asking.  Jesus did talk a lot about money and possessions but it primarily centered around the questions of “what possesses you?  What are your idols?  Does your material wealth and pursuit of such earthly riches consume all of your time?” 

In the same way, we are to emulate Christ when it comes to earthly possessions and the uses of riches.  Money can be a resource to help us provide for our families, to put food on the tables and to support missions of a loving and caring church.  Christians are not…(or should I say) should not be all about the money, money. 

Myth #4 – Christians are hate-mongers

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I at times bristle at this accusation.  In the same breath though I know that there are those segments of the Church (like the Westboro Baptist church – sorry to name names) who have made it a mission to condemn and judge any and every people group that they deem worthy of their condemnation.  This is NOT the Christ that I know, and If Jesus had lived this way while on earth I doubt I would have followed Him.  The harshest words that Jesus ever spoke were directed at the teachers of the law, the “religious” people of the day who knew better but certainly DID NOT live as they demanded others to live.  Jesus’ message was one of hope and love and restoration.  He breathed this into His disciples who in turn continued that mission throughout their lives regardless of the consequences (even death).  

Jesus actively engaged Himself within many sub-cultures of His day even the outcasts who  the “Religious” teachers despised.  He went to the homes of tax collectors, he healed lepers, He talked with women of questionable backgrounds…His message was of love not hate. 

Salvation doesn’t come to us by shoving Heaven and Hell down someone’s throat, but rather through real genuine concern and love.  Any church out there that relays Christ’s message any other way other than love has misplaced His purpose for coming in the first place.  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10

There is a difference between preaching repentance within the realms of Salvation and preaching hate and condemnation.  Christianity, if lived out in the hearts of the genuine Christ-follower, should reflect and possess the same aroma of Christ in His love for the sinner and the saint regardless of where they’ve come from.

Myth #5 – Christian are all hypocrites and gossipers

There’s a funny sign that reads:

ImageUnfortunately the truth may hurt a bit at times, but there are no perfect people in church.  The church should be a place where both sinner and saint come for Spiritual triage and are not judged or condemned by the “righteous”.  Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one…” 

Truth be told, it would serve the church and the church member well to bring this verse to mind when considering other children of God. 

Can I say that the church never has this problem with hypocrites and gossipers?  NO!  In fact this may be the only myth that I think hits too close to home sometimes.  BUT if Christians can be humble, truly humble and loving towards everybody who chooses to enter the church doors, what a real opportunity that would be!  Think of the difference and what may transpire if  this one small issue was completely eradicated from the Christian heart?  How would lives be changed and transformed?  Think of the opportunities to save souls!? The Church is NOT full of Hypocrites and Gossipers, although we certainly have our fair share. 

These are just five myths about Christianity.  There are many more, but for now this is enough. 

For the Christian: 
Consider what it means to truly be a Christ-follower.  How you might be perceived (right or wrong) by those who have yet to make a decision for Christ.  Be open minded, full of grace and purposeful with friends, family and neighbors who aren’t Christians.  Remember we are not the judge, God is.  Just as we are in need of His love and grace, so too are others who live in this world as well.  Real evangelism doesn’t begin with a tract or a bullhorn, but with a handshake and a hug of compassion and genuine love.  Get to know people.  Spend time with them.  Tear down these false perceptions by the way that YOU live and conduct yourself.  There isn’t enough lip service in the world that can out-do faith in action! 

For the questioning soul out there:
The Church should be a place of safe harbor to ALL people.  Christ was the only perfect person who ever lived and He came to save us all.  Don’t’ judge the merits of Christ by what you may have experienced (most likely bad experiences) in a church setting.  Imperfect people exist in and out of church.  People make mistakes, even Christians.  I am not apologizing for all Christians, but I am saying this: be open minded and perhaps, just perhaps some of these myths might be debunked.

Thanks for allowing me time to share these thoughts.