Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Becoming

"We become what we worship." (Louie Giglio, The Air I Breathe)

Worship defines us. We choose what we worship, but in the end, the object of our worship becomes our obsession. Our obsession guides every decision, every action, every word, and every thought.  It's a frightening idea that we choose that which ultimately motivates every moment of our lives. And yet we choose so carelessly, without pondering the ramifications, without searching for truth. We follow society. We follow family. We follow friends. We follow celebrities. We follow emotions. We follow experiences. We follow our own accomplishments. We follow...we follow...we follow.

God did not create mankind to follow other created things. God created us for fellowship ("followship") with Him, in all His wonderful and radiant glory. Nothing else can satisfy the longing every human has to worship. Anything else, no matter how pleasant or "good" it may be is a poor copy of what is real, and will ultimately let us down. Then what?

If I define myself by my own accomplishments, what happens when I don't succeed? What does that make me?

If I define myself by my friends or family, what happens when they leave? Where does that leave me?

 If I define myself by society or celebrity, what happens when those things change? How does that change me?

Who am I when my worship and obsession leads me only to myself?  I shudder to think that my own "wisdom" is the end of all my knowledge and understanding. 

So often, though, I find that I forget the magnificent obsession that is Christ. Whatever I do, whoever I am...it is nothing if it does not bring honor and glory to His name.

 Perhaps that is part of the problem in the "Church" today. Even church leaders fall prey to the idea that accomplishment or celebrity is the desired outcome of some event or program. Tozer says it best:
The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world...testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity... (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)
Religious externals, societal externals, personal externals---these are all false gods that destroy our testimony, and ultimately define us, not as Believers, but as created beings ignoring the Creator.

I want to be totally obsessed with God. I want to LONG for fellowship with Him they way He wants me to seek after Him. I want to be defined by my relationship with Christ. I want to BECOME more like Him, so that my worship of Him is complete, unadultered, and pure.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Heart Designed for Worship

What is the essence of worship?

A.W. Tozer wonders whether "true spiritual worship" is at its lowest ebb even though the Truth of the Word is more accessible than ever. He rightly observes,
                   To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the "program." This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us. (Tozer, The Pursuit of God, NookBook edition, 3)

Ouch.  Yet how often do we substitute the word "worship" for "music" when we attend services--even at sound Bible-teaching churches. Is it really worship to stand and sing with a congregation? The type of music doesn't matter--traditional hymns, contemporary choruses, or percussion-driven bands complete with lighting effects.  It isn't worship to read lyrics from a screen or music from a hymnal.   When we limit our idea of worship to the music at a service, we may as well be at any secular concert for the good it does our hearts.

Worship isn't an emotional response, either. I think part of the reson people so easily equate music to worship is that music elicits an emotional response. God certainly designed music to promote worship. It calms us. It elevates us. It inspires us. Us. Us. US.  And therein lies the primary issue.

In his book, The Air I Breathe, Louie Giglio reminds us that we are made by God and made FOR God. The Psalmist wrote,  "Know then, that the LORD is God. It is He that made us and we are His." (Psalm 100:3) We are created by God, the Almighty One, Himself.   In all of creation, only man is made in the image of God.  Our entire beings are designed for fellowship with Him. We are made to reflect the holiness of God to the world.  Rick Warren said it best: It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about US.

How easy it is for forget that the essence of worship has nothing to do with pleasing US. It is everything to do with pleasing GOD. And because of that, worship is EVERYTHING we do. All day. Every day. In that light, the music of Sunday morning is almost irrelevant. It's not worship to stand and sing. It IS worship to sing and make music when our goal is to honor and glorify His name above all.

But it's so much more. Worship is digging into the Word and learning as much as possible. Worship is loving the unlovable. Worship is helping a neighbor. Worship is offering a shoulder to cry on or a hug to someone who needs it. Worship is feeding the poor, teaching the lost, building the Church.

Worship is silently listening to hear His voice. Worship is looking to see His hand at work. Worship is tasting to see His goodness. Worship absorbs the fragrance of His creation. Working is touching others, not because it makes us feel good, but because it gives Him glory.

Worship is everything we do. The key thing to recognize is that the essence of worship is the Holy God, Creator of all things, who alone is worthy of our every thought, actions, and word.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Big Storm of '11

5.5' of snow...and ice.  School closures, business closures, and photo ops:





Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Family Tradition and PSE9

Our family goes to Stone Mountain the day before Thanksgiving for fun and an annual photo. It's not busy and the holiday decorations are wonderful. We love the entertainment, and eventually get some good family shots, too.



 Here are the unedited photos (I had some fun...)

It was late and overcast, so I had to adjust for the lighting.

The power lines didn't add any aesthetic elements, so they had to go.

Caty Mae's sweater was more fushia than red, but Photoshop Elements 9.0 is a terrific tool! A little color adjustment and voila!  Matching stripes.
The layout itself was a challenge speed scrap at Faith Sisters. All the papers and elements began with FS products, but I tweaked and altered them until they became my own. It actually took a lot longer to choose and edit the photos than it did to do the layout.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011

Words escape me these last few days. Being a writer, having no words is like having no right hand or no voice. Perhaps I try too hard to be profound. Perhaps I'm just tired. Perhaps (horrors) I have nothing to say.


It seems a strange way to start a new year, without words. Usually I am a fountain of words and thoughts and ideas. But today, I struggle to think through deciding what is worthy to write. I could, I suppose, do a reflection of the past year, but I would rather look forward. I could (and probably should) make goals for 2011 and imagine what lies ahead. But my mind goes blank and I envision nothing.


And perhaps, that is enough. Without an expectation, how can I be disappointed? Perhaps 2011 is a respite year. One where my mind and body recharge before launching into something new that requires emotional and physical and spiritual energy. Perhaps 2011 is a year to rest in God's sovereign grace and be content.

Perhaps. We shall see.