Thursday, August 19, 2010

God's top 10 list of True Worship

True worship?

Lights... Camera... Action...

I remember being caught in the trap that worship was a 45 minute light and sound show.

Now I could probably use a swing back in that direction. Corporate “worship” (aka singing worship songs) is far from worship.

There’s some health to that and some sickness.

With that said, here is a lost of what God says true worship is: (Isaiah 58)

        1.) Free those who are wrongly imprisoned
        2.) Lighten the burden of those who work for you
        3.) Let the oppressed go free (remove the yoke)
        4.) Remove the chains of blind people
        5.) Share your food with the hungry and shelter the homeless
        6.) Give clothes to those who need them
        7.) Do not hide from relatives who need your help
        8.) Stop pointing fingers and spreading viscous rumors
        9.) Help those in trouble
        10.)Keep the Sabbath Day (do not pursue your own gain for one day per week)

Wow! Sitting in a nice building with lights and sound and fog machines and cool guitars sounds great!

This stuff is hard.

I just returned from my annual trek from the Alaskan Bush and this is the scripture that God worked in me.

I made a table that looked like this...

Worship                                 Home                        Work                Community

Underneath each of these I listed what each of the top 10 “worship styles” looks like in my life regarding what I do at home, at work and in my faith community and my geographic community. It was an eye opening exercise. Try it, you’ll have a very different perspective of worship, I promise!

What I found was that each of these required a death to self and some form of discipline.

Corporate experiences is certainly an important part of worship, but we miss the fullness of worship when we fail to put it in the context of giving ourselves away for others.

6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I'm a Desperate Man..." Andy Gullahorn

Anxious.  Restless.  Can't sleep.

I was sitting here tonight with a restless heart.  Don't know why.  I feel like I need to sleep, but I just didn't feel ready to put a lid on the journey called today.

So I've been sitting... thinking a little.

I downloaded Andrew Peterson's new single (Purchase Here on iTunes)

After AP's song finished Andy Gullahorn was next in my iTunes line-up.

These lyrics grabbed that restlessness and tackled it to the ground:
I know I just display my foolish pride
When I try to be an island to myself
You must be tired of all the stuff that I still hide
Because I just can’t seem to trust anyone else
It’s a lonely way to live
Such a lonely way to live

I’m a desperate man
I’m in desperate need
Of your saving hand
To come and rescue me

You’ve been more than patient all this time
If it were me I would have given up long ago
The first time that you pulled me from the mire
And I brushed you off to dig another hole
It’s a sad way to live
Such a sad, sad way to live

I’m a desperate man
I’m in desperate need
Of your saving hand
To come and rescue me

I used to be the strong one
The self-sufficient fool
I thought I needed no one
But the plain and simple truth
Is I’m a desperate man

I’m a desperate man
I’m in desperate need
Of your saving hand
To come and rescue me
<Purchase Desperate Man Here>    <Purchase Entire Album Here>

I had to share it with you!

Peace at last!

Let's put a lid on it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This fires me up!

From Scott Hunter's Facebook Page:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who actually is in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strived valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again and again because there is no effort with out error and short coming; who does actually try to do the deed; who know the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." [from Teddy Roosevelt]

Brennen Manning's Thoughts on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure

"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field." (Matthew 13:44)

This is taken from Brennen's book, Abba's Child, pages 116-118

Buy it Here!

This parable focuses on joyous discovery of the Kingdom. Biblical scholar Joachim Jeremias commented,
When the great joy surpassing all measure seizes a man, it carries him away, penetrates his inmost being, subjugates his mind. All else seems valueless compared to that surpassing worth. No price is too great to pay. The unreserved surrender of what is most valuable becomes a matter of course. The decisive thing in the parable is not what the man gives, but his reason for doing so - the overwhelming experience of their discovery. Thus it is with the kingdom of God. The effect of the joyful news is overpowering; it fills the heart with gladness; it changes the whole direction of one's life and produces the most wholehearted self-sacrifice.

Let's transpose the parable of the treasure into a modern key. On July 10, 1993, Leslie Robing, a thirty-year-old high school teacher from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, won $111,000,000 (yep, one hundred eleven million dollars), the largest lottery jackpot in US history. Immediately he flew from Wisconsin to Lakeland, Florida, to regroup with his fiancee Colleen DeVries. In a newspaper interview Robins said, "The first two days we were probably more scared and intimidated than elated. Overall, things are beginning to die down enough where we were comfortable."

Would it be presumptuous to say that Leslie and Colleen have been "affected by" their good fortune and that the winning of the Powerball prize awakened passion in their souls? The identical passion of the peasant in the parable?

Robins had 180 days after the drawing to claim the prize. However, let's suppose that these two Wisconsin natives are rabid sports fans. They get so engrossed in the Milwaukee Brewer's chase for the American League pennant and the Green Bay Packers run for the Super Bowl that they forget to claim the prize. The 180 days expire, and they lose the $3.5 million (after taxes) annually for the next 20 years.

What would our verdict be on the young couple? Foolish?

My response would be the same, though tempered with understanding and compassion. I have done that very thing. Their blind servitude was sports; mine, alcohol. I can relate to their foolishness. They forfeited a fortune for the Brewers and Packers; I forfeited the treasure for bourbon and vodka. During those days of sour wine and withered roses when I was stashing whiskey bottles in the bathroom cabinet, the glove compartment, and the geranium pot, I hid from God in the midst of tears and under hollow laughter. All the while I knew the whereabouts of the treasure.

It is one thing to discover the treasure and quite another to claim it as one's own through ruthless determination and tenacious effort.

The paltriness of our lives is largely due to our fascination with the trinkets and trophies of the unreal world that is passing away. Sex, drugs, booze, the pursuit of money, pleasure and power, even a little religion, suppress the awareness of present risenness. Religious dabbling, worldly prestige, or temporary unconsciousness cannot conceal the terrifying absence of meaning in the church and in society, nor can fanaticism, cynicism, or indifference.

Whatever the addiction=be it a smothering relationship, a dysfunctional dependence, or mere laziness - our capacity to be affected by Christ is numbed. Sloth is our refusal to go on the inward journey, a paralysis that results from choosing to protect ourselves from passion. When we are not profoundly affected by the treasure in our grasp, apathy and mediocrity are inevitable. If passion is not to degenerate into nostalgia or sentimentality, it must renew itself at its source.

The treasure is Jesus Christ. He is the Kingdom within.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spiritual Awareness: Excerpt from AW Tozer

Excerpt from "The Pursuit of God: A 31-Day Experience" by AW Tozer:

If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive
of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated
fact of the world? The patriarch Jacob, “in the waste howling wilderness,” gave the answer to that
question. He saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I
knew it not.” Jacob had never been for one small division of a moment outside the circle of that allpervading
Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is ours. Men do not know that
God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew.
The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one
without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as
we are aware of His Presence. On our part there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work
it is to show us the Father and the Son. If we co-operate with Him in loving obedience God will
manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life
and a life radiant with the light of His face.
Always, everywhere God is present, and always He seeks to discover Himself. To each one he
would reveal not only that He is, but what He is as well. He did not have to be persuaded to discover
Himself to Moses. “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed
the name of the Lord.” He not only made a verbal proclamation of His nature but He revealed His
very Self to Moses so that the skin of Moses’ face shone with the supernatural light. It will be a great
moment for some of us when we begin to believe that God’s promise of self-revelation is literally
true: that He promised much, but promised no more than He intends to fulfill.
Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us.
The revelation of God to any man is not God coming from a distance upon a time to pay a brief and
momentous visit to the man’s soul. Thus to think of it is to misunderstand it all. The approach of
God to the soul or of the soul to God is not to be thought of in spatial terms at all. There is no idea of
physical distance involved in the concept. It is not a matter of miles but of experience.
To speak of being near to or far from God is to use language in a sense always understood when
applied to our ordinary human relationships. A man may say, “I feel that my son is coming nearer to
me as he gets older,” and yet that son has lived by his father’s side since he was born and has never
been away from home more than a day or so in his entire life. What then can the father mean? Obviously
he is speaking of experience. He means that the boy is coming to know him more intimately
and with deeper understanding, that the barriers of thought and feeling between the two are disappearing,
that father and son are becoming more closely united in mind and heart.
So when we sing, “Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,” we are not thinking of the nearness
of place, but of the nearness of relationship. It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for
a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an
absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.
Why do some persons “find” God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His
Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian
experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household.
All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies
not with God but with us.
Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let
them be Bible characters or well known Christians of post-Biblical times. You will be struck instantly
with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be
positively glaring. How different for example was Moses from Isaiah; how different was Elijah from
David; how unlike each other were John and Paul, St. Francis and Luther, Finney and Thomas a
Kempis. The differences are as wide as human life itself: differences of race, nationality, education,
temperament, habit and personal qualities. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of
spiritual living far above the common way.
Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God of no significance. In some
vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity.
Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting
anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and
that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the
average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired
the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David
put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I
As with everything good in human life, back of this receptivity is God. The sovereignty of God
is here, and is felt even by those who have not placed particular stress upon it theologically. The
pious Michael Angelo confessed this in a sonnet:

My unassisted heart is barren clay, That of its native self can nothing feed: Of good and
pious works Thou art the seed, That quickens only where Thou sayest it may: Unless Thou show to
us Thine own true way No man can find it: Father! Thou must lead.

These words will repay study as the deep and serious testimony of a great Christian.
Important as it is that we recognize God working in us, I would yet warn against a too-great
preoccupation with the thought. It is a sure road to sterile passivity. God will not hold us responsible
to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest
way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou
knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying
into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.

Receptivity is not a single thing; it is a compound rather, a blending of several elements within
the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it
may be gathered that it can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more or less, depending
upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and
irresistible force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one
which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it
was given.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do You Know Who Gave You That Balloon?

Today was a day full of fun with my two oldest!

Grace is 7 and Gabe is 4. Daniel is 2, but today he was sick, so he stayed home with mom.

That left Grace, Gabe and me to spend the day together.

The plan? A birthday party and a church event.

The birthday party was a blast! Monkey Park is a favorite kids destination and party venue in our town.

When we arrived, we made our way to Pavilion #1 where the party was underway. Turns out there were two parties in Pavilion #1. The mom from Party B had reserved the pavilion and arrived after Party A was already set up. Party B's party leader graciously allowed Party A to use the left side of the pavilion while they partied it up on the right side.

Turns out Party B had the coolest balloons. Lime green with party hats and streamers drawn in white and a big "Happy Birthday" printed in a really cool font. Not only were they cool party balloons, but they were cool party balloons filled with helium!


... and loved them so much he couldn't stop bugging me about wanting one!

Those of you who have fathered a child may understand what it feels like to hold your little one in your arms knowing that you haven't the ability to give him the one thing that would wipe away the tears. I stood there with my boy in my arms as helpless as a fireman trying to explain to a child that he can't retrieve her favorite pet from the burning house.


Then there was the church event. MISERABLE... at least for the children. A 2.5 hour recital of the book of John completely from memory! It's true... all 21 chapters (4,146 verses)!!

Pretty cool if you are an adult, but imagine what it would be like if you were 4 and 7 years old.

For those of you who know me, you know that we've chosen to be missionaries where we live and we are no longer connected to the traditional church structures. My kids know God, but they're not too familiar with the institutional church.

The first question Gabe asked as we sat in the unfamiliar pews in the overwhelming sanctuary was, "Hey, what are these books? It looks like they have music in them." Then as I passed some change to them and instructed them that it was for the offering plate, Grace piped up with, "Dad, what's an offering plate?" As you can imagine, heads turned from every direction. Humiliating!

The icing on the cake was that we were with a group and there was no hopping in the car to relieve the kidos.

Two thirds the way through the recitation I decided to take the kids for a walk downtown to give them some time to reboot their systems.

There we were in downtown Columbus, GA, 35 miles from our earlier birthday party venue.

As we walked a block and a half down 12th Street and crossed over 1st avenue, I couldn't help but to question my spiritual parenting decisions. Had I made the right choice for my family to step out and live missionally? Should they be in a traditional church at 11 AM on Sunday mornings? Shouldn't they know the difference between a hymnal and an offering plate?

Just as I was wrestling over these questions Gabe yelled out (in a typical 4 year old hyper boy way) "Hey, there's my balloon!" I looked up and I kid you not, it was a lime green balloon with party hats and streamers drawn in white and a big 'Happy Birthday' printed in a really cool font!! The exact same balloon in the guarded possession of the Party A master leader.

Tears welled up in my eyes. "Do you know who gave you that balloon Gabe?" He said in his innocent little boy voice as matter of factly as if it came with absolutely no surprise, "Yep... God did."

I needed that balloon more than Gabe could ever need it! God spoke deeply into my heart and said, "Chill out Kevin. Obedience modeled to your children is more important than a perfect attendance certificate in the best Sunday School class in the whole wide world. You have chosen well!"

There I was all worried about the fact that my kids didn't know what an offering plate was and God showed up on 12th and 1st to teach my little boy one of the greatest lessons of his life.

They may not know what a hymnal is for, but they can worship with the best of them. They may not know what to do with their 75 cents when the plate passes, but they know what it means to give to God.

My little boy knew where that balloon came from. And for that, I am grateful!

Quote from the John Eldredge Video Below

When you lose heart you can’t love.
When you lose heart you can’t worship... you can’t serve.
When you lose heart you lose the wellspring of life within you.
It is the greatest loss a human being ever experiences.

Psalm 109:21:
"But You, Sovreign Lord,
help me for your name's sake;
out of the goodness of your love,
deliver me.

For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.
I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.

My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.

Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to your unfailing love.
Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, Lord, have done it.