Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Thoughts From This Heart...

I heard one of the truest statements yesterday I think I’ve heard in a long time and it’s a thought that has been mulling around in this brain for some time, especially since I have been long removed from a corporate worship setting that is able to be “uplifting” in the ways I’ve grown so accustomed to. Because of that, it has caused me to think so much about what my “worship” to God really is and what it is that He expects of me in what we so commonly refer to as worship.

Heard yesterday in a conversation with someone this statement and to the best of my knowledge it went like this…”I don’t believe that our moments of truly awe-inspiring, God honoring worship usually happen within the walls of a church building.” I’m coming to believe that myself.

So why is it that we spend 90% of our budgets on doing things that happen within those walls and 10% on anything happening outside?? Why do we have well decorated, luxurious church buildings with starving people living 2 blocks away, and what does that say to a world about the Jesus we serve?

All fingers pointed at me here with the rest of any of us who have sat on our padded pews, who have come expecting “worship” instead of bringing my worship with me when I walked through the door. All fingers pointed in the direction of this heart, who expected a great song leader, a power packed sermon that lasted 30 minutes and no longer that affected change in my life, and every program that a church budget and it’s leadership could muster up to fit me right where I am in my life and “entertain” me into a worshipful state.

Shame on me for not noticing until I was 30 years old that I could kneel beside a bed of one who is hurting and pray there from the depths of the heart God gave me for a child to be healed and realize I had just “worshipped” in spirit and truth. Forgive me Father for not realizing that even as I go about my day with each person I encounter that I am given the choice to worship as I see you in each of them. Help me God to know that my Monday through Saturday is every bit as important as my Sunday from 10 am to 12 pm…and help me to live like I mean those words, instead of just saying them.

God would you raise up an army of your people, and will you please start here, who will give up the idea of a “perfect” worship assembly that meets our needs. God will you help us to remember that You invited us into Your family and took our every flaw away through the blood of Your Son, and will You help us to remember that we worship because You deserve it. Oh Father forgive us for making it something it was never intended to be…we are so human and somehow it always becomes about us.

Could you open our eyes to see the opportunities for true worship…not on a mountain or in Jerusalem or in our own temples we’ve made with our hands…but God would You help us to see every single one of them that You mark as holy ground and a moment and place for worship. Would you turn us into true worshippers that bless Your heart please?!

May this life be worship, as it seeks to love and serve You instead of myself.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Well Hello There...

I know, I know, it's been forever, as my like a brother Tony has so faithfully reminded me. Nagging me is his "big brother" job I suppose. I apologize. Feels like I do that alot on here. Tell you how sorry I am that the updates are getting fewer and further between.

Allow me to give you a few updates. We have a team here right now from a church outside Beverly called, Faith Joy Fellowship. They have been an absolute delight. They came in with such humble servant hearts willing to do anything that was needed and so it has been so easy to work alongside them. They have been a tremendous blessing to our hearts as well. We've said before that the past month or so has been one of the most difficult since I've been here and I was in a season where I felt like I could not "feel" God's presence. Don't know if you've ever been there, but it was horrible. I felt like I was screaming and I could not hear Him answer. Now that being said, I didn't doubt that He was still there helping me or that He was still my Father wanting what was best for my life. His word says it and so it must be true, it's just that the nearness that I have grown so used to experiencing with Him felt like distance. Now don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of times that I have felt distance from Him, but usually I've known exactly why...I was being rebellious or blatantly sinning and God would not allow my heart to rest near Him until I cleared that up. I am not being dishonest when I tell you that I racked my brain for sin in camp and things that would create distance and I could not come up with anything. (Ok that being said, there's some sin in camp every day, because I'm still living on this earth, but I'm talking about a blatant sin with a rebellious spirit behind it.) Just distance, a heart feeling distant. I've decided I'd rather die than not feel His presence.

Perhaps part of the reason for this month or so sabbatical from feeling Him right beside me was because I had NO idea how accustomed I had come to walking so intimately with Him, talking to Him throughout my day, relying on His wisdom with these kiddo's, just all of it. Maybe I took that in part for granted because of it. Maybe God was increasing my capacity to love Him because I realize that I never ever want to be "away" from Him and I'll do anything that I need to to make that not happen. Maybe it just happens because He promises to refine us and maybe this was part of that. I have NO idea. Don't pretend to know the mind of God.

This team however has walked among us for the past week and been Jesus with skin on. They've served us, prayed over us, encouraged us, and they have seemed to be the tool God used to release this heart from feeling distant from Him.

With tears in my eyes, I tell you that there may be a time again in my journey when God removes His presence for a time to teach my heart something, and I will walk it out because I want Him to mold this heart and change it in any way that it needs to be changed, but of all the things that God has used to refine me, through challenges and struggle and those types of things, this one...has perhaps taught me most and yet been the most difficult.

I have to be near Him. I've learned that. I have to hear Him speaking to my heart. He is my life, and just in case I needed a reminder, this month has been one.

God I need You, I desperately need You, near me, holding me, and so I'm asking now Father, if there is any other way to teach me the lessons You need to teach me, I beg You to do it. Give me a heart that will listen, before You must withdraw Your presence. I don't pretend to know all the reasons for this, but this one thing I know, I am lost without You. Everything is sweeter when I feel You walking it out with me. I thank You for times that we must trust what we know even though we cannot feel, there are lessons in that in huge ways. I'll trust Your perfect provision for my life. I will. You have not failed me, You promise You won't. I rest there. I love You so much. Thank You for reminding me just how much.