Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Offering of Worship

Magnificent Holy Father, I stand in awe of all I see, Of all the things You have created, But still You choose to think of me.

Who am I that You should suffer, Your very life to set me free, The only thing that I can give You, Is the life You gave to me.

This is my offering, dear Lord, This is my offering to You, God And I will give You my life For it's all I have to give  Because You gave Your life for me.

I stand before You at this altar, So many have given You more, I may not have much I can offer, 
Yet what I have is truly Yours.

This is my offering, dear Lord, This is my offering to You, God And I will give You my life For it's all I have to give  Because You gave Your life for me.

What a beautiful surrender to God Almighty!  To worship Him by giving Him my life.  It's what I give to God outside of being gathered at church.  It's easy to put on a front to others while singing "Lord I lift Your name on high".  It's easy to smile "I'm doing great, how are you".  It's easy to raise my hands as "I give my life to the Potter's Hands". 

Remember when Samuel went to Jesse's house because God had chosen a king from Jesse's sons?  Samuel looked at Eliab and said "Surely the Lord's anointed one is before him!"  But the Lord said to Samuel, " Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  (I Samuel 16)  

For so many years, I have looked at this passage and just saw the contrast of my looking at someone's physical appearance, but God actually looking deeper into their heart.  But, I've learned over the past several weeks that this passage goes deeper than just the "outward physical appearance".  There's only but so much that I can truly "see" of a person, and only so much someone else can see of me.  But yet, God sees everything.  He sees my life outside my church, my thoughts, my heart, my motives ... yeah, He sees my everything.
My life is my worship to God.  It's my words, my actions, my thoughts, my attitudes, my very most private moments ... every little detail of my life is my worship to God.  I only have one life that God has given to me.  This is the life that I worship Him with --- not just in song, but in every aspect of my breathing.  

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You Jesus.
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, 
When it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Heart of Worship


When the music fades, And all is stripped away And I simply come
Longing just to bring Something that’s of worth That will bless your heart.

I’ll bring you more than a song For a song in itself Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within Through the ways things appear You’re looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship And it’s all about You All about You, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it When it’s all about You It’s all about You Jesus.
 
Have you heard the story behind The Heart of Worship?  I encourage you to take time to read it and imagine yourself as a member of the Soul Survivor church in Watford, England.  What would you do if there were no music in your church services?  If your pastor told you that something has been missing from worship – and it’s your heart

I remember several years ago a former worship leader asked this question:  What would happen if we actually lived out the words we sing at church on Sundays?  Only trust Him, Only trust Him, He can save you now, And He will surely give you rest by trusting in Him now.  Or how about Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. 

For many years now, the ‘debate’ has been growing about singing hymns in church versus singing contemporary worship songs.  Some people think hymns are the ‘only’ music that is appropriate to worship God.  Others want more contemporary music to relate to their life in today’s society.  My stance on hymns versus contemporary music is this … it really does not matter if you sing a hymn or if you sing a contemporary song.  I do not believe God has a preference to which style of music you sing to Him.  What He is concerned about is our heart attitude.

Let me make a clear statement – I love hymns and I love contemporary worship music.  I really do not have a ‘preference’ as to which style I sing.  I do not think there is a more beautiful image of God than in Amazing Grace how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now am found Was blind but now I see.  Or in Just As I Am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me And that thou bidst me come to thee O Lamb of God, I come, I come.  

But how much thankful for the gift of salvation than This is my offering dear Lord, this is my offering to You God, I will give You my life for it’s all I have to give because You gave Your life for me.  Or to anticipate His Coming For His returning we watch and we pray We will be ready the dawn of that day We’ll join in singing with all the redeemed ‘Cause Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.

Each song is so meaningful in its own message.  I cry every time I hear them.  I would quickly run out of space in this post if I copied the lyrics to all of them.  But you know something, if my heart isn’t in the right place, even these most beautiful lyrics will be worthless.  I can sing to the top of my lungs, close my eyes, lift my hands … but if my heart isn’t right with God, the words coming from my mouth are for nothing.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s a hymn or a contemporary worship song. I may be able to put on a front to others around me … but not to God.  He knows me inside and out … better than I know myself. 

But I still feel like I’m missing something … is there more to worship than just my singing songs to God on Sundays?  I already know the answer, but that’s for another post. 

God is not interested in my lip-service ... He's interested in my heart-service.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Inside or Outside?

When I began "blogging", my main purpose was to write for Lucy, my granddaughter ... to give her something tangible to read from her Granny ... to give her a glimpse into her family history ... to give her life lessons that she can take with her and pass down through her generations.  This blog touches on one of those life lessons.  It's a subject that I truly hope and pray that she doesn't experience -- from the inside or from the outside ... a subject that can bring hurt and distance even to the strongest of people ... a subject that we see too often in our various communities (whether family, friends -- businesses, churches -- schools, neighborhoods -- children, adults).  I'm writing tonight about cliques.  

Dictionary.com defines a clique as "a small, exclusive group of people" and gives its synonyms "circle", "ring".  Taking a look at the word "circle" -- have you ever thought about making the shape of a circle?  The letter O is a circular shape.  Where is its beginning point?  Its ending point?  And what about the synonym "ring"?  It's impossible to define the beginning and ending on a ring.  So, I'm putting these together as "a small exclusive group of people within a circle."

I have seen many cliques in my lifetime, as I'm sure you have too.  Imagine a little boy who may not have the greatest athletic ability but hopes that one day the other boys will ask him to be on their team at recess.  Or a middle school girl who sits alone at lunch everyday, and looks at the table full of other girls whispering and making sleepover plans for the weekend.  What about the teen who tries to join in at a youth activity, but no one will even acknowledge he's in the room.  Or the new lady at the office who just moved to the area and doesn't know her way around the city?

I know that there's times when we may not even realize that we are right in the middle of a clique.  We have our 'circle of friends' around us, and we are quite content.  But what happens when another person comes along and wants to 'join in'?  Are we open to accepting a new person into our little group, or do we shut the person out?  I've seen people within cliques even go so far as to say "I can't be seen talking to so & so. What will the others say?" And even "I've got the people I want around me.  I don't need anybody else."  

What are we missing out on when we close our circle?  Who is it that maybe God wants to come into our lives, but we aren't open to it?  Have you ever been on the inside or the outside of a clique?  I am so very thankful for my Mother and my Granny who taught me at a very young age not to shut anyone out.  My Mother would ask me "How would you feel if you were the one who was sitting by yourself, or not invited to join in?" 

And what about on social media?  Someone may say that cliques cannot exist on the Internet.  I would have to disagree.  Do we find ourselves 'visiting' social media only from those who are within a certain circle? (I'm not talking about the immoral or illegal -- I avoid those too!) Do we find ourselves 'avoiding' social media from those who are on the outside of our circle?  Are we 'antsy' that "someone may see my name on this person's friend list" or that "I'm following this person on twitter/linkedin ..." and the list of 'excuses' can go on.  This may sound a bit far-fetched to some people, but in reality it happens.  It's unfortunate ... but it happens.    

I have been on both sides of cliques -- the inside (unfortunately) and the outside (fortunately).  And you know, I have learned that actually being on the outside is more open than being on the inside. I said earlier that I hope Lucy does not have to experience the cliques in her life, but I know that she will.  My only prayer is that she will follow her Great-Grandma and her Great-Great Granny's advice to be open to other people coming into her life.  They may just turn out to be her dearest friends in this world. 



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cheese ... Change ... Huh???

Have you ever put something off because you would rather not deal with the 'topic' at hand? Well, I've put off writing this post long enough. The topic is one that I believe I deal with fairly well, but ... well, change is a funny thing. It's necessary for growth, yet we can experience quite a bit of growing pains as we deal with it.

         Important note before I really get started: There are some changes in our lives that can blindside us, leave us devastated and are impossible to foresee.  I am not saying that we can see what the future holds. Although this book reveals in ourselves how we deal with change, I do not take it as "this is how you need to deal with the earth-shattering occurrences in life". There is no better 'reference' than God's Word for any aspect in life. However, I believe that God can and does use other sources to guide us along the road of life. 

So now the question: what in the world does cheese have to do with changes in my life? I'm so glad you asked.  Now, let me tell you ... 

          Once, long ago in a land far away, there lived four little characters who ran through a Maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.
          Two were mice, named "Sniff" and "Scurry" and two were Littlepeople -- beings who were as small as mice but who looked and acted a lot like people today.  Their names were "Hem" and "Haw".
          Due to their small size, it would be easy not to notice what the four of them were doing.  But if you looked closely enough, you could discover the most amazing things!

Each morning the two mice and the two Littlepeople all go out into the Maze in search of cheese.  They get set in their routines to the point of taking their "station" for granted:  Hem & Haw gather and stockpile their cheese and brag to friends "We deserve this cheese ... We certainly had to work long and hard enough for it."  Then arrogance and pride set in.  They don't see what is happening.

Meanwhile, Sniff & Scurry carry on their routine of getting up early each morning and finding their cheese for the day. They had noticed the cheese supply dwindling, so weren't surprised one day to find there was no more cheese at the station.  Thus, they set out in search of New Cheese. 

Later that same day Hem & Haw go to the same station.  To their surprise -- NO MORE CHEESE! They were taken aback -- how could this have happened?  "Who moved my cheese?" Hem hollered. "It's not fair!"  Haw reacted a bit differently.  He just stood in disbelief ... shock ... unprepared.

          While Sniff and Scurry had quickly moved on, Hem and Haw continued to hem and haw.
          They ranted and raved at the injustice of it all.  Haw started to get depressed.  What would happen if the Cheese wasn't there tomorrow?  He had made future plans based on this Cheese. 
          The Littlepeople couldn't believe it.  How could this have happened?  No one had warned them.  It wasn't right.  It was not the way things were supposed to be. 


Hem & Haw thought of Sniff & Scurry -- how were they reacting to this situation?  had they seen this change coming?  Haw thought the two Littlepeople needed to be more like the mice, but Hem wouldn't hear of it.  "We're smarter than mice ... We should be able to figure this out."  But Haw rationalized that "Things are changing around here, Hem.  Maybe we need to change and do things differently."   Still, Hem wouldn't hear of changing ... he believed the Littlepeople were 'entitled' to the Cheese.  To his logic, he held fast that since someone else had caused the situation, he and Haw should at least get something out of it.

Well, the story continues -- the two mice and the two Littlepeople in search of New Cheese.  Hem waiting on someone else to put his Cheese back ...  Haw analyzing that the waiting game would not benefit him but could worsen the situation ...  Sniff & Scurry searching for a new way to bring joy to their uncomplicated lifestyle.

The story doesn't end here.  But my synopsis does.  I've been stretched, pulled and tugged by re-reading this short book today.  I like to believe that I identify with one of the characters the best in The Story, but I would be kidding myself if I thought I identified ALL of the time.  What if:  I took notice of The Handwriting on the Wall and actually anticipated change?  I had a more open mind when change occurs and "roll with the flow"?  I learned from my past to better plan for my future?  

I do hope that everyone who happens to read this post will go out and buy Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD (also author of The One Minute Manager).  We actually have two copies of this book in our house -- one for me and Granddad, and the other for the 'Joe's.

  "The only thing constant in life is change."


It's how we deal with it that makes the difference.