Apathy and the Wilderness

Image

Luke 5:16 (ASV)
But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed.

Apathy is the death of man’s spiritual relationship with God.  It happens when we stop caring, or find ourselves at a point in our lives where we are unfeeling.  Have you been there before?  It can be both terrifying and silent because we are often very good at faking it.  We are often quite good at acting the part even when the heart isn’t in it.

I don’t mean to cast any doubts your way today or cause you to feel down…because there is hope in all of this!  Sometimes this pathway of apathy leads directly to the wilderness.  What do I mean by the wilderness?  I don’t mean an empty lonely place full of strife and pain.  When I say wilderness I am implying that there are times in which God is longing for us to draw closer to Him.  If we are aware of this apathetic pathway we can take steps in the right direction.

Image

Why did God lead His people into the wilderness in the first place?   Through this dry and thirsty place God showed His chosen ones how they could fully rely on Him.  He was present for them.  He was (and still is) in love with His people.  When they were in this barren wilderness the total acknowledgement that they needed help became completely apparent.  Stepping onto this pathway of apathy is dangerous, but it can also lead us back to the wilderness and back to a right relationship with God.

Are you unfeeling today?  Are you simply  going through the motions in life right now?  Sure the routine is somewhat rewarding but somehow you’ve lost that passion you once had.  Perhaps it’s time to take a step into the wilderness once again and get reconnected with the Almighty.  Apathy might be the death of man’s spiritual relationship with God…but it doesn’t have to be!

Image

Taking time to stand before God without distractions of all kinds is absolutely necessary!  If Jesus had to get away and commune with the Father what makes us think that we can simply ‘go it alone’?  The truth of the matter is we cannot!  The wilderness is calling…will you go?  Will you take the time that your spirit and heart crave?  Will you sacrifice some of your schedule in this day and give it completely to God so that He has your undivided attention?  It’s not so much for His benefit but rather completely for our benefit and His renewal that we do this.

Go into your wilderness and meet with The Father, and over time you will find that every motion your body makes, every schedule that you keep matters to Him as well.  He wants to be included in it all, He wants you to bring glory to Him in all things.  But it begins with our time in the wilderness before Him.

Image

Authentic or Fake? (Igniting the Passion Again!)

Image

 

 

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

–Genesis 5:24

 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:20)

 

Is there meaning behind what you do in your worship? 

How is your heart?  Is it still in it?  Are you in love with God?  These questions may get to the heart of the matter.  We are called ‘Children of God’ (Gal 3:26) and yet at times we act like we are mere acquaintances of God.   I will admit that there have been times when my heart just hasn’t been in the worship service that I am attending.   Have you been to that point? 

 

Setting the stage

You get up and prepare for the Sunday Morning Service.  You put on your ‘church clothes’, comb or brush your hair…and make sure everything is in place.  On the way out the door you grab your Bible, which may have been resting in the same spot since last time you went to church.  You get in your car or van and race to the church because you are nearly late…someone cuts you off on your way to the church building.  Then you get to the church and find all the ‘good parking spots’ are already taken.  So you finally reach the front doors of the church building in a huff, slightly irritated and just a little bit disheveled…but you still have your Bible in hand. 

 

When you finally sit down in the pew as the service is about to start, you suddenly realize you didn’t eat breakfast…great one more thing to think about during church.  You stand when they tell you to stand, you sit back down when they tell you to sit, and all the while you are staring at the clock thinking about what you will do with the rest of your day.  You barely hear what the pastor preaches on…the first joke in the introduction was funny but after a while the sermon just becomes the mumblings of that teacher on the t.v. show ‘Peanuts’…”Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah.” 

 

The Heart of the Matter:

Hopefully your worship doesn’t look like that!  But if truth be told I would almost bet that you have had those Sundays.  My question to you is “why even go to church then?”  If we aren’t emotionally, physically and intellectually there in the first place, why even show up? 

 

There are a lot of people out there who go to church but fail to actually show up.  It’s unfortunate, I’ve been there, and it happens.  It makes me wonder sometimes if we aren’t acting a little like the Pharisees of old.  We’re all about the ritual of worship…we all know the right songs to sing and the right ‘Amen’s’ to proclaim at any given time in the service, but our hearts are just not in it. 

 

Dare I prod us all for a moment:  If we just show up for worship on Sunday mornings (or whatever day we attend church) but we aren’t really there…aren’t we a little like the Pharisees that Jesus talked about that were all about cleaning the outside of the cup but not too serious about cleaning the inside? (Luke 11:39)  Now I’ve probably stepped on a few toes with that one…but I have to confess…I’ve done it too!

I’ve been just as guilty of showing up for Sunday service and said all the right things and gone through all the right motions and yet my heart has not been in it. 

 

This isn’t some sort of guilt trip that I want to lay on you today.  I don’t want us all to think that we’re awful people by any means.  But what I do feel as if God wants from us all is not our ritualistic church attendance.  Or our ritualistic methodology…or even our ritualistic uniform/church clothes that we wear so that we fit in.  What God wants from us is our hearts.  He wants our worship, our undivided attention.  He wants from us authenticity in the songs we sing, the scriptures we read and in the sermons we hear or the sermons we preach.  HE DOES NOT WANT OUR LIP SERVICE!  He never did!!! 

 

He wants to make us holy, set apart people for Him!  We can’t just settle for cleaning the outside of the cup and keep up appearances of something that isn’t true on the inside!  God wants us to be real, to be vulnerable people before Him.  He calls us all to genuine fellowship with Him.  The kingdom of God begins within our authentic worship of a God who has poured out His unmerited favor on us.  How can our hearts NOT be in on that? 

 

To the pretenders out there STOP PRETENDING!  Either get on with real worship and adoration of God or just get out of the way!  To the luke-warm believer: MAKE UP YOUR MIND!  Don’t settle for a skim-milk type of passion.  Don’t stop at just being a ‘ok’ in your faith…we all have to grow and mature!  Get on with it!  To those of you who are ON FIRE FOR GOD: Don’t let your flame go out!  Keep burning for the rest of us so that we have something to aim for! 

 

RECAP:

Don’t fake it.  Don’t settle for mediocrity.  Don’t suffocate your fire with distractions, worries and things that have no eternal worth! 

 

REMEMBER: Have passion, clean the inside of the cup daily, and walk with God…He longs for you to do so! 

 

 

 

Misunderstood or Humorous Church Song Lyrics

Image

I love music.  I love to sing and play music.  It’s a real passion of mine.  Frequently I will have a lyric or two in my head throughout the day.  Recently a conversation was struck up on one of those social networks about this very topic.  It quickly centered on funny lyrics within songs.  Most of the time these lyrics were written long ago or even recently and the implication or meaning has either been lost or was simply written into a song without much thought.

For example here is one such Meme out there from David Crowder’s ‘How He Loves’

Image

The truth is though that when we sing these songs sometimes we just accept them for what they are but do we consider what perhaps new comers might think or interpret these songs to be?

In the very same song by David Crowder he penned these words, which were later edited:

And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.’ Ha!  The first time I read that I had to laugh out loud!  Did he really write that?  Now I know what he was trying to say and I’m not criticizing him for it, he’s done some amazing worship songs.  But I do often wonder what new comers think about these lyrics.

Here are a couple of others:

Song: Come Thou Fount – “Here I raise my Ebeneezer”  most don’t know what that is and some like me think of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens when we sing that second verse.

Song: My Jesus I love Thee – “And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow” …more like death eww…Not sure I’d be able to sing that with a straight face, however I do know that this was a poem before it was a song.

Song: Word of God Speak – “…and the funny thing is, it’s okay!”  Is it really funny?  Is it really okay?  I don’t know it just seems like a silly line to me.

I know there are other songs out there…and if you know more please share.

Then there are the other misunderstood church hymn lyrics, for example:

“Bringing in the Sheets (Sheaves)”

Amazing Grace: “That saves a wrench (wretch) like me.”

In the Garden: “Andy Walks with me”  (who is Andy?)

“While shepherds wash their socks by night”

I say all of this with tongue firmly planted in my cheek, so I hope I don’t offend anyone out there.  I think it is important to consider what we are singing though before we sing it.  We should also understand that there might be some misconceptions out there and also consider what new comers might be misinterpret from these songs that we sing.

Image

Church Practice…Mission & Vision

Image

Gonna step on some toes, some sacred cows and maybe a few egos.

Here goes…Why do we do what we do in Church?   Is there significance in the standard things we do in church on Sundays?  Do we continue various things in our services because that’s how we’ve always done them and that’s just how church is done?

Questions to consider:

the bulletin…is it necessary to print one every Sunday or do we just like to have a check off list to go by?  Is it because we like order?  Is there something sacred about that piece of paper that we glance at and then collect and toss in the trash after the service?

the sermon…is there an altar call at the end?  A call for repentance?  A challenge for the week to consider and chew on?  Does it necessarily have to be at the end of the service and right before lunch?

four praise songs and only four…with tongue firmly place in my cheek, is four the magic number when it comes to praise songs?  Or is it just the knowledge that this is the maximum songs any number of generations represented in the congregation can stand?  When it comes to the song selections do we intentionally theme the music to coincide with the message or are they just thrown together because we like the songs?

Teachings… do we intentionally share scripture and testimonies with the edification of God and the encouragement of the ecclesia in mind?  Teachings aren’t necessarily reserved for the sermon time.  These can be present in worship song sets, traditional congregational songs, and scripture readings, dramatic performances, prayer/testimony times.  Is there intentionality with these moments of teaching?

Collection of Money (Offerings)…scripturally the collection box was located in the back of the temple, why do we bring it into the forefront of our worship?  Don’t get me wrong, if done correctly it can be another teaching moment, but is there a perception (even wrongly so) that all the church is interested in is our money?  Do we teach that our tithes are a spiritual act of worship?  That what we are doing is declaring that we place everything even our finances in the hands of God?  Money can be a sensitive subject in church and to church members…yet do we instruct our members of not its value but its subjugation to the Creator and sustainer of all things?

Churchy Lingo…things like “washed in the blood”, “we’re bible believers”, “CSM”, “DC” “Corps”, even words like “worship”, “testimony” (I know I used it already), “Give God Glory”…and many more of these types of churchy lingo can be confusing to first time visitors.  That doesn’t mean that we ought to “dumb it down” (not to be offensive here) or even to talk down to visitors…but what does an outsider see when they come to your church for the first time and hear this foreign lingo?  Sometimes we might as well be talking a foreign language.

Traditions are important in that we know where we have come, but don’t mistake tradition for heritage.  By that I mean, one holds us back (Tradition), keeps us looking back to the “glory days” and doesn’t consider where we ought to be going (Mission/Vision/Goals).  Whereas heritage says, we have a richness of saints who have paved the way for us…we owe it to them to keep our mission and vision clear and set our sights on what is ahead rather than what we have already accomplished.

In your church why do you do the things that you do?  Is there significance or are you simply going through the motions?  When a church has lost its significance, its mission and vision and has instead is simply plodding along through the motions watch out!  A church without mission is a church on the brink of dying away.  My hope and prayer is that each and every church evaluates its mission and vision so that though denomination may guide them in the large spectrum and doctrine the local church knows where it’s going, how it’s going to get there and why they meet as a body to worship together.

Coming tomorrow: tools to help restart your church and reinvigorate its mission and vision.

tune in tomorrow as we continue this dialogue.

Image

Worship…not just reserved for Sundays

Image

 

This song has been running through my head all night and all of yesterday.  We sang this song on Sunday, but it has just stuck with me.  For me, music speaks…for me not a day goes by that I don’t find myself breaking out in some sort of song.  It’s just my temperament I guess.

But singing songs of praise isn’t the only form of worship to God is it?  Music is a very easy conduit that brings us into worship though doesn’t it?  It can transform a humble chapel into the very throne room of Heaven, and connect with in ways with the Savior.  Worship is so much more than just the songs we sing though.  Mere words cannot express who God is, and how we are called upon to bring Him glory.  But that doesn’t mean we ever stop…after all the creatures before God in the heaven are singing His praises never ending (Rev 4:8).

Our worship is all about God and what He has done for us.  If it becomes mere performance and we lose the emphasis of authentic praise then we ought to re-evaluate our intentions in His sanctuary.  When our songs become anything less than praises to Him, they become empty words that only edify our old selfish spirits.  That may sound harsh, but that is the reality of things.

Worship isn’t just for Sundays:

Truth be told, we come on Sundays to get reconnected to God, but we shouldn’t  unplug ourselves from Him as soon as we shake the Pastor’s hand and exit the building.  In fact His praises should be evident in all that we do, through-out our week!  Worship takes on other forms in the work place and on our drive to work.  How we relate to others around us can be evidence of our Worship to Him.  How we respond when others attack us or cause us difficulties is also further evidence of that same worship of Him.

Why Worship in every aspect of our lives?

Because if we believe in a living and active God who created everything and wants to be apart of our lives then shouldn’t we also invite Him into our work week and into our homes? When we do so, we begin to see the full spectrum of the kind of worship that is required of us.  Don’t just hang up your worship with your Sunday suit and tie, only to sit there until the next Sunday morning.  Take His praises with you every day!  He wants that kind of love relationship with you!  He deserves so much more than just an hour a week!

Worship…is not just reserved for Sundays…worship is reserved for everyday!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑