Thursday, April 14, 2011
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12 HCSB
I wasn’t prepared for a fight, but I had offended the fifth grade bully. When school let out, I walked home paranoid. Every sound made me jump. Suddenly, I heard a noise in the bushes behind me. I turned and saw the bully standing two feet away. Not knowing what to do, I ran home as fast as I could. There was no way I was going to let Elizabeth Zenkman lay a hand on me!
I escaped from the fight that day, but there’s another fight that Christians encounter daily. Satan, the enemy, wants to destroy our lives. He wants to steal our joy. He wants to kill our Christian witness at any cost. We must realize that he is looking for every opportunity to launch a spiritual attack against us.
We must be prepared for these attacks. We must realize that Satan wants us to conform our thoughts and our actions to those of the world around us. We must clothe ourselves in the armor of the Lord.
Father, help us to daily prepare for the attacks of Satan.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 HCSB
I like the show The Biggest Loser. It features teams of overweight members, competing over a series of weeks to see who can lose the most weight. What I enjoy most is not the competition, but the stories shared about the transformed lives of the team members after their involvement in the show. Most often, the bodies of the participants have been radically altered because of the positive diet and exercise habits they have developed.
As Christians, we should strive for a different form of transformation. The change that we need comes from the daily renewing of our mind. The actions we take, whether positive or negative, are first conceived in our minds. If we want our actions to be more Christlike, our thoughts must be more Christlike. The Holy Spirit certainly helps us, but this renewing process also requires discipline in our thoughts, not accepting anything ungodly, but forcing ourselves to think like Jesus thinks.
Lord, help us to think like You. Help us to renew our minds.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 HCSB
Recently, I was invited to facilitate a class on living a life of worship. Before the class began, one of the participants nervously raised his hand and asked, “Do I need to be a musician in order to take this class?” I assured him that he did not.
Worship is not about music. It’s not about being contemporary or traditional. It’s not about whether your choir wears robes or if you even have a choir. It’s not even about whether your pastor preaches an expository or topical message.
Worship is not about doing something. Worship is about being someone. We don’t just do worship. We are worshipers. We are worshipers when we commit ourselves to the Lord with all of our hearts. This way of life is a daily choice that we must make in order to totally ascribe worth to Him. When we make that choice, God is pleased.
Lord, we want You to be pleased with us. Help us to daily present ourselves completely to You as an act of worship.
Friday, April 8, 2011
The band is ready. The sound check is complete. Visuals are a go. Joe, the worship leader steps out on stage and begins the set. Hundreds, maybe thousands of congregants, either sing along or at least bob their heads to the music. Everything planned is presented flawlessly. However, as the worship team leaves the stage and the pastor brags on the musical presentation, Joe realizes that worship never really took place.
Determined not to have another bad experience, Joe throws himself into the planning and preparation for the next week. He programs the lights, checks and rechecks the lyrics, and broods over his song selection. The next corporate worship time passes with no change and he feels like a failure.
Joe attends a few worship conferences, updates his song list, and learns a few really cool guitar rifts. Sadly, after implementing what he has learned, none of these things help Joe feel successful in his worship leadership.
After a few months, Joe decides that he must not have what it takes to be a good worship leader. He meets with his pastor about his internal struggle, intending to resign at the end of their conversation.
After listening intently, the pastor leans toward Joe and asks, “Are you having the same trouble in your times of personal worship?”
A wave of realization sweeps across Joe’s face as he admits to his pastor and to himself that his personal times of worship have been virtually nonexistent.
“Joe,” said his pastor, “You need to consistently practice the presence of God. There is no other option if you want to be a good worship leader.”
Joe’s pastor is correct. If we are going to be good worship leaders, then we have to be good worshipers. This is more important than our musical ability, than our song repertoire, than our physical appearance, than our knowledge of all things technical, and even more than our personal charisma.
In John 12:26, Jesus said, Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.
As worship leaders, we are tasked with bringing people into the presence of God. In other words, we are to lead people to where He is.
If we are going to lead people into God’s presence, we must know the way. That means that we have to be worshipers of the Lord personally, when we’re not on stage, when no one else is around, when we’re alone with the Lord, and when someone else is leading worship. We have to be worshiping disciples of Jesus.
We can’t lead people somewhere we haven’t been. There’s no corporate worship GPS system that will guide our congregations of people to encounter and experience God other than us. If we haven’t been in His presence, it doesn’t just affect us. It affects the weekly spiritual walk of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.
We’ve practiced our instruments. We’ve practiced the songs. Now, let’s practice the presence of God.