Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heart of Worship

Worship: The adoration of that which I honor most. It is a personal pursuit requiring that I individually take time to routinely still...and listen. Tuning my ear to hear the voice of God above all others. It involves the sacrifice of anything that threatens to ascend the steps to the throne of my heart - a place we must reserve for God alone.

We have been made to worship and we must understand that we all worship something. Christian and non-Christian alike...we all worship something. Every man or woman has something or someone in their life that they adore. Something that gives their life purpose and meaning. But God is the only one worthy of our wholehearted devotion. He alone has the power to save. We live to the praise of His glory. Chosen by the Father, Redeemed by the Son, Sealed by the Spirit. (Eph 1:3-14)

Grace upon grace lavished upon us in order to make worshipers out of rebels.

As we consider the how true biblical worship concerns the whole of one's life and has its prime significance in the context of daily living, what are some of the characteristics of a life of worship? Here are just a few:
Random Acts of Kindness: Just this morning, I received a note from a friend telling me I was on his mind and that he prayed for me this morning. A short and simple note with a powerful impact on my life. Have you ever received one of those gestures of kindness? If so, you know what it feels like to be loved in this way. This is one of the attributes of a life of worship. A willing response to the prompting of God to care for others through random acts of kindness. We don't ask why, we don't over evaluate. We just simply take the initiative to tell someone - you were on my mind.

Sharing the Hope within You: When we live a life of worship, we become more and more sensitive to the heart of God. We see what He sees. And not only that, we respond to the prompting to engage with someone in the midst of our day beyond the cursory, "Hi, how are you." Instead, we are willing to sit down and invite a deeper conversation. "You seem down today. Is something on your mind?" When we live a life of worship, very often these are conversations God has prepared well in advance and they are designed for those of us who believe to share the hope that is within us. A life of worship leads us to these conversations.

Disciplines of the Inner Life: Not because we have to, but because we want to. A life of worship creates within us a desire for silence, solitude, prayer and meditation. It's as if we have a fuel gauge on our soul and we know when it is time to stop and allow His Spirit to refresh, restore and renew our passion to follow Christ with all our heart, our soul and or might. Without a heart of worship, in a rush to go to the next task, we drive right by these invitations for renewal and many times we run so fast and so hard, we wake up one morning and we are empty, dry and discouraged. A life of worship keeps us fresh and leads to the disciplines of the inner life - because we want to be there, like Mary, sitting at His feet and listening the words that give life to our soul.

Simplicity: A life of worship gives us clarity in the chaos. It protects us from being conformed by the world. It transforms us by the renewing of our mind so that we have vision to see that which is important and we are undistracted by lesser things. (Rom 12:1-2) We all know how easy it is to get caught in the rat race of the world. We have experienced the prison of living according to the expectations of others. But a life of worship leads us to a simple life and gives us both the clarity and the motivation to live with margin - a space created for the unexpected. A space that allows random acts of kindness, messages of hope and disciplines of the inner life.

Take some time to examine. Do you demonstrate these attributes of a life of true biblical worship? Begin praying today, as will I, that these attributes will be evident in your life because your life is centered on worshiping Him.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Moment of Reflection

I took some time today for silence and solitude. Before you are impressed, you should know that I have been talking about doing this for 2-3 years and, up until now, it was never important enough to make it happen. Some may wonder about the purpose of a day outside the normal routine. For me, it is a decision to put everything aside and tell God, “You are most important and you have my undivided attention.” It’s not all that different than having a meaningful conversation with my wife. If I really want to connect with her and listen to what she is saying (and what she is not saying), I need to eliminate distractions. Some people can focus on multiple things happening at one time but I am not one of those people. If the TV is on in the background, the dog is whimpering and the computer sounds an alert for a new mail message…you’ve lost me. I know, we men are most handicapped in this way. Thus the reason I feel it is important to take time away and I only regret that I don’t do it more often. Even in the midst of the routine. No agenda. No sermon prep or Bible Study. Just prayer, silence and a listening heart.
One reason this discipline is important is because I believe we notice things during times like these that we might otherwise miss. Let me give you an example. I took a walk near a stream. Because we have had quite a bit of rain lately, the water was moving pretty quickly. However, as I sat there, I realized that although the water was moving at the same pace, there were some parts of the river that were noisy and others that were quiet. As I stopped to consider this, I noticed that those areas of the river where the water was boisterous usually had one of 2 things happening. It was either shallow or there was an obstacle in the path of the water. Yet, where the water ran deep, it was almost silent.
This caused me to consider my own life. When I am anxious and the current of my life is disturbed, what I witnessed in nature is often true for me as well. The noise often results from a shallow place in my life or an obstacle in my path. Perhaps I am trapped in busyness and over commitment. Maybe there is a sin issue in my life I refuse to confront. In either case, the shallow place or unyielding obstacle create a disturbance and my heart loses its peaceful tranquility. Believe me…I know when I am in this place. I bet you do to.
Yet, at the same time, if my time in God’s word has been meditative. If I have been submissive to the Spirit so that I walk in response to His leading and avoid the need to run ahead and ask Him to join me. If I have ears to hear and eyes to see what He has prepared beforehand so that I may walk in His ways. Then the river runs deep and my heart has a peaceful flow. I notice, like in the river, the pace of the water can be very quick, circumstance can be difficult and heavy – but a river that runs deep is a river that runs quiet.
I believe it is important for each of us to take the time to stop and worship. That really is what silence and solitude is. We worship that which we recognize as the center and purpose of our existence. And for that person or thing, we sacrifice so that it can be elevated to it’s rightful place of glory. We all know, this person we worship should be God. And yet, we are very familiar with the idols that so easily distract us and how easily our lives become cluttered, shallow and noisy.
Sacrifice some time and agenda items on your task list in order to be silent and listen. And when you see me again, ask me if I continue to do the same.