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Entries in Worship (2)

Sunday
Mar212010

Crazy Love and Peaceful Nights: A Big View of God Makes a Difference

I am in the middle of reading Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. It is a powerful book because it begins with an important premise: how you see God really does matter. In my own life, I see, over and over again how my sad little view of God’s power actually prevents me from trusting him and truly following him with every part of who I am.  God is so much bigger and more risky than what I can hope to understand in my highly scheduled and strictly controlled days. This is an understanding of scale.  And I believe in our highly mediated and highly synchronized culture, it is especially difficult to gain a realistic and life changing view of a holy, omnipotent, eternal God.

I especially like how Francis Chan begins his book.  He acknowledges how our way of doing things demonstrates an inability to process God’s power.  For instance, think about how we tend to approach interactions with the creator of the universe. “Solomon warned us not to rush into God’s presence with words. That is what fool’s do….we are a culture that relies on technology over community, a society where spoken words are cheap, easy to come by, and excessive” (p. 25). What we need is to spend time worshipping in a way that communicates our weakness and inability to articulate.  The thing is, it makes a difference.

Let me share a very personal and current example. I have recently been faced with some soul-wrenching decisions and unknowns about where my 20-year old son will live when he leaves the hospital. I feel my heart break every time we meet with the social workers.  So how have I slept at night when I could lie awake worrying? How have I continued on with my days when I could be completely eaten up on the inside? Well, at first I tried praying through every possibility.  I tried pleading for wisdom. I tried confessing my sins. I tried prayer chains and sharing my distress with my small group.  While all of those things were probably good, you know what has carried me? Worship. I have spent hours in the Psalms, on walks, and in solitude.  I gave up trying to formulate the perfect prayer. I just started worshipping and meditating on the powerful God I serve. And you know, the bigger my view of God becomes, the less I worry. The more I see his majesty, the more I see his hand at work. And the more I acknowledge his power, the less I agonize about my options.

How we see God really does matter. I would challenge you to, right now, to spend some time worshiping our amazing God. You might be surprised at how it might change your entire world.

Saturday
Jan302010

holy holy holy: an unmediated approach to worship

This past Sunday I was watching as my worship leader sang a beautiful song of praise.  At the end we all sang "Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty" It was nice.   My church delivers a very complete worship package.  I can sing along with my leader on the screen, who is beamed to me from a location somewhere far away.  He usually has lovely pictures of doves and clouds scrolling behind him.  During the interlude, I pause as I watch the electric guitar guy really rock the old hymn. My emotions swell along with the drummer's beat.

As nice as this pre-processed worship experience is, it dawned on me that worship--true worship--probably can not be mediated. Just watching moving pictures or listening to electrified music is not worship. And just like the technology that is put between me and my pastor mediates and changes our relationship, so is my worship experience changed when it is mediated by someone else doing the worship work for me. Real worship happens when I enter in.  When my entire body, mind and soul becomes engaged in praising God, that is when I catch a glimpse of the awesome power of God--that is when I catch a glimpse of a God who is overwhlemingly bigger than any problem or hang up I might have.

Unfortunately, those true worship experiences don't happen that often.  I tend to get caught up in the technology and the experience that has been pre-processed for me.  It makes me lazy and only involves part of my being.  But every now and then, I let it go. I remember why I am really there--not to be entertained but to participate--not to have someone else bring me to the throne of God, but to enter in myself.

So, I think this Sunday, I won't think so much.  I won't worry about what everyone else is doing.  I won't wait for the billowing clouds or the musical interludes.  I will be committed to humble myself and enter into the presence of the Almighty God.