Thursday, February 17, 2011

lift your hands! lift your voice!

Listening to Jesus Culture’s latest album…  And the worship leader is crying out “God we want to know you in a deeper way.  Lift your hands.  Lift your voice”…  And there’s really nothing wrong with those words.  It’s expected song-transition, worship leader cheerleading.  I’ve done it.  It’s part of the gig.  But it got me thinking… 

Are we teaching people that the way to know God deeper is to get in a corporate setting, lift your hands, and raise your voice?  Is that biblical? 

It seems to me that the road to knowing God in a deeper way is quiet, personal communion with Him, and obedience to what he’s already revealed.  At least that’s where I’m at right now.  My response to my hunger for God is not to find a loud room with lots of people that I can scream praises to with…  and I don’t want to teach people that. 

Though I love loud rooms with people to screaming praises to God together.  But those meetings aren’t as much about intimacy and discovering God as CORPORATELY PROCLAIMING praise to God.  Saying to God and the community around you that we are united in our faith, our confession, and making it a point to get together and affirm that.  It’s also a time of mutual encouragement.  A time to hear God’s word preached.  To be encouraged in your race of faith.  To be uplifted.  To feel the love of God through community with his people. 

So in a way, we do know God in a deeper way.  Maybe a different way.  There are benefits to corporate assembly that are unique to it…  I guess the issue I have is the idea that the apex, the highest form of God-seeking is corporate gathering.  Because the corporate gathering is only as good as the individual-divine relationships that make up the gathering.  If we never seek God outside of our corporate gathering, then what good are our corporate gatherings doing?  If we have nothing to offer one another, then why get together?  And if the Pastor is the only one with a relationship with God, we can receive what he offers us, but that should produce individual growth in us… if we really receive it.  And if that teaching isn’t producing that, we’re either not listening right, he’s not teaching right, or both.  If church is only a commercial for church, then it’s not what church is supposed to be.  Because the assembly itself is not just about the act of assembly. 

The assembly is a structure that should be a weekly accountability, coaching session, faith-builder, that provokes us to love and good deeds.  If love and good deeds don’t mark your church, what the heck are you getting together over?  Do you really think raising your hands and your voice really takes you to some mystical, ‘deeper’ place OUTSIDE of a daily, living, breathing relationship with God? 

Even more scary to me as a worship leader…  Is the STRUCTURE (not words, message, mission statement, printed material)…  Is the WAY WE STRUCTURE a worship service, and the nuance of what we say…  the thoughts that are communicated along with the words that we carefully craft…  Are we…  AM I misleading people with a false corporate roadmap to God?  If so, is it time for restructuring?  Do I need to change my tone?  Do I need to say something else?  Should we do something else? 

Do people know the amazing secret of the prayer closet?  Of personal relationship with God?  DON’T SETTLE FOR CORPORATE RELATIONSHIP!  Don’t believe that if you haven’t found fulfillment once a week that Christianity doesn’t work!  Don’t believe that if you haven’t found God here, you never will!  This is just the weekly pit stop!  The race is happening every day!  If you’re driving backward on the track but making all the prescribed pit stops, you’re still going to lose the race.  You’re still losing ground.  Those pit stops will help.  Good rest.  And slow down your horrible losing streak.  But never achieve the goal you’re expecting them to fulfill.  Just because your tires are wearing down, and the miles are going up, doesn’t mean you’re going in the right direction.  Turn around.  Repent.

So my friends, (and my soul)…  If you want to know God in a deeper way, go ahead…  lift your hands, raise your voice…  But don’t stop there.  Please.  You’ll never find the joy and satisfaction of a personal walk with Jesus, and may just be deceiving yourself into a counterfeit faith that has no positive future for you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

audio bible aspirations shattered...

As a part of our churchwide focus on spiritual disciplines in 2010, I have almost finished reading aloud and recording the bible in digital audio format.  The last month or so, as we near the end of the year, I've been thinking about possible uses of the audio I've recorded, since the year is coming to a close.  So I contemplated the idea of putting them all on cd and making them available to my faithful podcasters, or family etc...

Which I still could.  But a really frustrating little happenstance:

The NIV version, the version I've been reading, has been updated.  The 2011 revision of the NIV is set to be released in print sometime in March, I think I read somewhere, and has been online since November.  So the good news is, I got two months (most of the new testament) of the new revision recorded.  The bad news is, that my little audio bible is a hybrid of two 'versions' of the NIV version.  Gr.

Oh well...  I've been contemplating another year of podcasts.  We'll see.  Still, a little frustrating, no?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

fantastical night one

I am sitting in a hotel room in Waco, Texas tonight for a "Fantastical Church Music Conference" put on by the David Crowder Band.  Night one did not disappoint.  Some interesting, very enjoyable music.  Welcome Wagon, which I can only define as The Swell Season with Norah Jones on the piano (but the piano player is actually a larger white middle aged dude, so it's a sonic reference)...  Then Gungor played later, and were very impressive with their instrumentation, arrangements, skill level...  A LOT of talent, coupled with heart and creativity.  I'm a fan. 

But the highlight of the night wasn't musical.  It was Francis Chan.  He's a passionate, young(er), very authentic in front of people guy.  And almost every word he said resonated deeply with me.  The scriptures he quoted and preached from are scriptures that have been rolling around my head/heart for the last week or two... maybe longer.  So it was amazing and very impacting to me to hear him share them to a room full of worship leaders.

The main one was out of the book of Amos, and we read in our twenty-ten reading last week, I believe.  Amos 5....

18 Woe to you who long
       for the day of the LORD!
       Why do you long for the day of the LORD ?
       That day will be darkness, not light.

 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
       only to meet a bear,
       as though he entered his house
       and rested his hand on the wall
       only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—
       pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
       I cannot stand your assemblies.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
       I will not accept them.
       Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, 
       I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
       I will not listen to the music of your harps.

Wouldn't that be a striking word to receive from the Lord?  But so important for all of us to remember.  God's perspective is not man's.  Just because your singing, doesn't mean He's listening...  

He also mentioned the verse in Matt 5:23/24 where Jesus tells us to let our sacrifices wait, until we reconcile with our brothers.  Another one on my heart this week, as a reminder I need to give as a worship leader (and remember as a worshipper).

And I'm not quick to endorse people who sit around and point out flaws in the church.  Scolding, negative tones...  Cynicism and pious accusations...  That's easy to do.  I always wait for the solution.  For the challenge.  And his was great.  Would your life fit in His Book (the Bible)?  Would it seem normal, in a truly biblical paradigm?  Apart from cultural differences...  Your level of commitment, your level of faith, the way you handle your relationship with Christ in your life...  Would it be able to be listed in Hebrews 11, or alongside Peter, Paul, Elisha, Elijah...  They were all human too.  Would your story even be worth recording?  Good thoughts...

Even made me write....  inspired, kind of flow of consciousness poetic scribbling.  Felt really good, and really uncomfortable and challenging at the same time.  If I get the guts, I might share some of the scribbles.  later.  For now they stay in the notebook...