Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Personal Worship

Like many men, I am extremely goal oriented in almost everything that I do. Regarding my career, I set work related goals at the beginning of each quarter and work hard throughout the quarter to achieve those goals. Regarding my physical health, I set fitness goals at the beginning of each year and strive to find the time to exercise regularly in order to meet those goals. Regarding my financial savings, I set savings goals at the beginning of each month and pinch pennies throughout the month in order to meet those goals. Regarding my personal worship, I, uh, well…
Even though my job is crafting dynamic, creative worship experiences for large groups of people, I must admit that one of areas in my life in which I struggle the most is personal worship. This disturbs me greatly because I am a Christian leader. I am called by God to make a difference in this world. I am someone who stands before people and asks them if they are sure that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And all the while, I struggle in keeping my relationship with Jesus Christ strong, pure, and consistent.
What type of goals have I set about who I worship? If I am honest with myself, I realize that I have set none. I have stood with thousands of people and sang “Lord, I give You my heart, I give You my soul, I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake. Lord, have Your way in me.”* But in my personal life, when the crowds are gone and it’s just He and I, am I missing the mark? Am I truly worshipping Him or am I living for myself? Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”** So what type of goal can I set for my personal worship? If I had to wrap it up in one word, it would be “Remember.”
First, in my personal worship, I must have the goal of remembering who God is. Doing so puts everything else in its proper perspective. Remembering who God is takes my eyes off of myself and puts them on the One who is truly worthy of my praise and worship. It lifts me above the circumstances of our lives and helps me to focus on who it is that I are worshipping. On the day that David was rescued by the Lord from all of his enemies, including Saul, he wrote, “I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:1-2).”
Second, in my personal worship, I must have the goal of remembering what God has done. Remembering what God has done helps me to stand strong in faith, knowing that the God who has worked on my behalf in the past is the same God who will work on my behalf in the future. When Jehoshaphat stood before the people of Judah as Jerusalem was about to be attacked by the combined armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, he prayed “Lord God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? (2 Chronicles 20:6-7).”
Third, I must remember that I am dependent on Him. Doing so in my personal worship shows God that I am completely dependent on Him for absolutely everything in my life. It reminds me that I can do nothing without Him. It takes the burden and worries of ministry off of my back and helps me to accomplish more. During the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me (John 15:4-5).”
Fourth, I must remember that I have a relationship with God. This means that I have to communicate with Him in order to foster that relationship. It means that I must read the Bible and listen to what He is saying. It means that I must do what is best for Him and not for me. It means that I must love Him with all that is within me. Once, a Pharisee asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment. Jesus answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38).”
Finally, I must remember to press onward with my remembrance goals. I must take the time in my personal worship to remember who God is, remember what He has done, remember that I am dependent on Him, and remember that I must foster my relationship with Him. Paul once wrote, “I want to know Christ… (Philippians 3:10A).” That statement summarizes the purpose and benefit of all that I am and believe.

*Reuben Morgan, Hillsongs Music. I Give You My Heart.
**Ralph Waldo Emerson

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