Thursday, May 24, 2007

Getting away

Tomorrow my family and I leave for a much needed vacation. I am so pumped! One week with no cell phone, no computer, no nothing...except for my beautiful bride and my kids. Good stuff!

So I'll be checking out of the blogosphere for the next week. I do want to get something out of my head that I've been sitting on this week though. I've been reading a book called For the Audience of One by Mike Pilavachi. What an amazing book! But one thought I want to throw out for you to chew on for the next week is this: worship is to be a reflection of life.

Here's what I mean...too often in our worship we put on our "best", regardless of how real or authentic it is, because we think that's what we're supposed to do. Or, quite frankly we just don't want to be real. But think on this...if we don't present ourselves to God, our whole, messed up selves, we make worship about anything but God. God doesn't want your Sunday best. The bible makes it clear that our best are filthy rags to God. So why even try to impress Him?

God wants us to bring everything we are to Him. Then, and only then, will He reveal Himself to us so that we can respond with adoration and praise.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Facedown - the afterglow

Just finished meeting with the Facedown team to debrief Sunday. Wow! What an amazing evening!!! My gauge for whether Facedown was good or not is if we met with God, I believe with all my heart that we a major way.

I've heard some great feedback from those of you that were there. Some say, as some always say after Facedown, is that it was the best ever. I do believe it was amazing! The coolest thing for me was to see people humbly come to the cross and fall facedown. That's what it's all about...forgetting about our surroundings and bringing ourselves- our whole, imperfect selves- to the feet of Jesus.

There's no better place to be.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Day 10: Hungry

I know I had this posted a few weeks ago, but it really speaks to my heart so much. I hope it does the same for you...

Lord Jesus, we are hungry for more of You. Fill us with Your Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Day 9: The small things

Here's an excerpt from a post Louie Giglio made on his blog a few months ago that is a tremendous reminder for all of us. Enjoy...

We shouldn't be surprised to know that God is a part of every aspect of our lives. He's not too busy (He doesn't sleep), uninterested (He's here with us), high and mighty (He's a servant-King), overloaded (He knows the names of all the stars) or ambivalent (He gave His best for us) to be connected to the small stuff. While He is a "big picture God," He's "intimately acquainted with all our ways." Psalm 139:3.

God is specific (check out all the genealogies and lists in the Bible). He is into microscopic things. He first split the atom. And there is no detail in your life today too small for Him to know and care about.

Father, it's amazing that You see and know us all. Teach us today to pray about the smallest things. For Jesus' sake, who was the specific answer to hundreds of promises (details), Amen.

“All this” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.” Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished." 1 Chronicles 28:19-20

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Day 8: The Coming Hope

Just a short entry today...

I read in 1 Thessalonians 4 yesterday about the return of Jesus. Paul tells of how the dead in Christ will rise to meet Jesus in the sky and then those that are left, those that are alive, will go up to join them. And the last verse, verse 18, says "Therefore encourage one another with these words." That really got me thinking. What an incredible day that will be when Jesus returns to take us home. I cannot fathom it, to be honest. But here's what else God showed me...your current circumstances are so small in the grand scheme of things. They are just a blip on the radar when you force yourself to step back and look at the big picture.

I know there is a lot of pain, stress, and uncertainty out there. But hear this: the coming Hope, Jesus Christ, will return one day to take us to our true home with Him and our Father God. That's something to celebrate!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Day 7: Seeking God

Facedown is only 5 days away!!! I cannot wait. This edition is going to be awesome.

Something I will say that has been ringing in my ears lately is a story Steve told the staff after a recent trip. A pastor friend was telling him that they had an Easter service years ago that they spent a lot of time and energy preparing for. It was an outdoor event that they had rented top of the line sound and lighting equipment for. They spent tons of time praying that God would hold off the rain and for lots of people to show up, but, he admitted, they didn't spend time praying for God to show up. That is my biggest fear for Facedown...that we would be so focused on making Sunday night happen that we forget about God. He is the only reason we do this. I ask that you would join me in praying for Sunday asking that God would fill every inch of the high school campus with His Spirit.

You will seek me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Day 6: The Sound of Silence

I've been reflecting a lot on silence and what its importance is in our relationship with God. Silence is not a discipline we practice much in our society today, with all of the distractions coming at us. With our iPods, cell phones, computers, televisions, and many other things, we have made it very hard for ourselves to escape the noise of life. Even children's toys make noise...very irritating noise at that! Often my kids have come to me with toys that aren't designed to make noise asking me to fix it because it's broken!

So why is it so important? Why should we practice it? Here's a post I did last year on this very topic...

Something that is very important, but takes a lot of practice, is being still in God's presence. It’s very unnatural for us as humans in today’s society to be quiet and still for more than half a second. We are busy creatures with busy schedules.

Practicing stillness is learning how to listen to God. So many times we go to God and talk His ear off, telling Him how we see life. How often do we ask Him how HE sees life? Believe me, I’m the worst on this! I’m ashamed at the number of times I go through the “drive-thru” with God. I place my order and then go on with my day. How I wish I would take the time to listen to Him.

The awesome thing is that when we start listening to Him, He does an extraordinary thing…He reveals Himself to us. The scripture says “Be still and know that I am God.” We begin to encounter the Creator of the universe as He gives us a peak at how great and phenomenal He is. And that is where worship starts…it starts with revelation from God. Then we can’t help but respond with all out praise and adoration.

God- teach us how to be still before You so that we can see You in all Your glory. Teach us how to listen to Your voice. Reveal Your glory to us so that we can respond with highest praise and honor! Amen.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Day 5: Living out

Have you ever been somewhere that was so cool that you had to tell people about it? Last year our family went to the new children's museum in Columbia, called Edventure. Our family had such a good time in such a cool place that we immediately became evangelists for Edventure. We told all of our friends and family what a great place it is to take their kids. Think about that place for you. Where is it? How did you feel when you were there? And who did you tell about it?

That's what goes on with worship. You enter the presence of God and He reveals His glory to you. You discover it's the best thing you've ever experienced. But why is it, as Christians, that we keep it quiet? I'm very guilty of this. I'll encounter God in a big way and get all excited, but then I just keep it to myself.

When we worship God, our worship should overflow into our lives.
It is something that should go with us every day of the week, every minute of the day. Which leads to a cool thing...worship reciprocates. It starts with God and ends with God. The revelation often begins in our personal relationship with Him, which leads us to hunger even more for that relationship.

So Facedown is a little more than a week away!!!! I will see you on Monday as we continue our journey together!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Day 4: Inside Out

Every Thursday for the past month I've been meeting with our Facedown Team. I am so pumped every week to meet with these guys and gals to dream and discuss what God is leading us to do. It's going to be absolutely amazing! You won't want to miss this edition!!!!

This week we've been talking through the progression of worship, that it all starts with God revealing Himself and His glory to us, and then we respond in our hearts through emotion. So today, we're going to look at how that worship goes from the inside out.

Have you ever wondered why people raise their hands in worship? What about seeing those few dedicate souls who like to jump up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs? And there are those who like to fall to their knees...what's up with that? These, and others, are the outward expression of what is happening on the inside. I'd like to take each of these and try to explain what each means...

  • Raising hands. This is the most common expression of worship. To be honest, raising my hands means a few different things to me. First, it's a sign of respect. Sometimes it will hit me what an amazing God we serve and creates in me a since of awe and wonder that I raise my hands and say, "God, You are great and powerful and I am completely amazed by You." Other times I just want to reach out and touch Him. The song we've done recently called "The Hand That Holds The World" by Starfield even says "I want to stand before the King, join in the song that heaven sings, I want to hold the hand that holds the world." It's a longing to be with our King. And lastly, when I raise my hands in worship, I'm submitting to Him and His reign over me.
  • Making noise. What's with all this noise stuff? You hear us sing about it and talk about it, but do you know why? There are numerous places in the bible, especially in the psalms, that tell us to make a joyful noise. You see, shouting and yelling is the overflow of a joyful heart. You're excited. You're pumped up! And it's all in celebration and adoration for Jesus Christ, our risen King!
  • Dancing. Now, before you write this off completely, it is biblical! If you don't believe me, go to Bible Gateway and do a word search on "dancing". You'll see about 10 different references. Just like making noise, it's joyful, it's celebrative. I know there are many out there that are like me. Born with two left feet and you wouldn't even dream of being caught dancing. But you can jump up and down, right? I dare you to let loose sometime without a care in the world as you worship Almighty God with reckless abandon.
  • Kneeling. This is a drastic change from the expressions above. It's pensive. It's meditative. It's stopping for a moment to really think about what God has done for you and how much you love Him.
  • Falling facedown. This is a worship expression that is far more rare than dancing, in my opinion. In the book Facedown, Matt Redman describes it as this:
Facedown worship is the overflow of a heart humbled and amazed by the glory of God. Facedown worship always begins as a posture of the heart. It's people so desperate for the increase of Christ that they find themselves decreasing to the ground in an act of reverent submission. When a soul is so captivated by the Almighty, to bend low in true and total surrender seems the only appropriate response.
The thing about each of these expressions is that you cannot care what the people around you are doing or what they think of you. You get to the point where you are so intensely focused on God that nothing else matters. If you've never let go in any of these ways, maybe it's time to show an undying passion for Christ, even at the risk of looking and feeling foolish. Doesn't He deserve at least that?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Day 3: Responding with emotion

Yesterday we looked at how worship starts with God. We can't worship God without God first revealing Himself and His glory to us. So then what? Just like with any thing in life, you feel emotion inside before you do anything else. When your child takes their first steps, you are overcome with pride on the inside before you congratulate them with hugs and kisses. When someone you love gives you something that you've wanted for a long time, you feel love well up inside you. These are just two examples of a wide range of human emotion. My point is that, before you respond to anything externally, you have to respond to internally.

Here's what I'm trying to say...emotion is a very important part of being human. God made us to be emotional creatures. How we respond to God's revelation is very much emotional. I know there has been a school of thought for years that you must remove all emotion in your relationship with God. I say that is tragic! How would a marriage be without feeling love? How would a celebration be without feeling joy? It's the same thing in our relationships with God. If we remove our emotions and approach it purely intellectually, we risk exchanging the life-changing power of God for a bunch of facts...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Day 2: It starts with God

There is a very basic yet very profound definition of worship that I stumbled upon a few years ago. I've actually used it on this blog before. That definition is this: worship is our response to God's revelation. It's that simple. However, there is a lot of stuff packed into that seven word phrase.

Let's look today at where it all starts. If you have your bible (man, I've always wanted to say that!) turn to Colossians 1. For those of you who don't have your bible, the words are on the screen. (Alright, now I'm just getting carried away!) Here are verses 15-20:

He (that is Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Here's my interpretation of this passage. God was before all things and He created all things. He holds everything together, literally. So, logic tells me, that nothing is possible without God. We can't even worship God without God. Look at the Facedown passage in Leviticus 9:23-24. God showed His glory and the people responded. Another place to check out is Matthew 17:1-8. Here Jesus showed three of His disciples (Peter, James and John) a glimpse of His glory and they ended up facedown. There are many, many more examples of God revealing Himself and people responding with facedown worship.

You want to know something cool? God wants to show us His glory. He actually thinks about us, even though we are such small, insignificant parts of His creation (Psalm 8:3,4). It absolutely blows my mind that God knows the number of hair on my head (Luke 12:7) and every other detail of my life. He cares deeply about me and you. That's our God!

There is one thing I want to say in closing. God doesn't reveal Himself only on Sunday mornings at church. Actually, I've found that God doesn't reveal Himself nearly as profoundly on Sundays as He does in my daily life, especially in my time alone with Him. If you're depending on Sunday services to see God, you are missing out in a big, big way! If you're not really involved right now in a daily quiet time, I would encourage you to try it out these next two weeks as we prepare for Facedown. Pick a short book in the new testament to start with (I recommend Colossians, James, Galatians, or Ephesians) and read through a chapter a day. If you need to read them again, do it. Take your time. Pretend you're eating the best steak dinner you've ever had...savor every single bite! And pray. Here's a simple guide to prayer that I learned years ago: ACTS. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication. Adoration is giving God praise for who He is. Confession is, as Hebews 12:1 says, throwing off everything that hinders you and the sin that so easily entangles your steps. Thanksgiving is thanking God for the blessings He has poured out in your life. And finally, supplication is presenting your requests to God. This is your chance to pray for stuff in your life, as well as others. It's that simple, but very powerful. So I hope you'll accept my challenge over these next two weeks and see what happens.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Journey to Facedown: Day 1

Facedown is getting closer and closer...and I am so PUMPED! If you think that past editions were awesome, you haven't seen anything yet. God has inspired some really cool ideas that, in my opinion, will be unforgettable.

Today starts a journey to Facedown that I hope will prepare all of our hearts to encounter God that Sunday night. This week, I want to look at the natural progression of worship. That progression is this: we see God, then we respond in our hearts to that revelation, which leads us to respond outwardly. I want to spend time on each one to help us fully understand what this thing called worship is. It's more than a song. It's more than an hour every Sunday. It's something that we carry into every minute of our lives. Worship truly is a 24 - 7 lifestyle.

So I hope you'll join me each day over the next two weeks as we draw closer to Facedown!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's Coming...

Facedown is almost here. I am so pumped! This is one you will not to miss!!! As I've done in the past, I will be starting a journey to Facedown on Monday. What is that you ask? For the days leading up to Facedown, I will post a daily thought to prepare our hearts to encounter God the evening of May 20. I encourage you to check in often!