Practical Worship

I read an article today by Rick Warren on the Purpose Driven website about 4 characteristics of worship. You can read the article here.

Basically, Rick said that there are 4 characteristics of God-pleasing worship:
It is Accurate – based on the truth of Scripture and reflecting who God really is (not just who we think He is or want Him to be).
It is Authentic – 1 Samuel 16:7b “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It is Thoughtful – “If worship is mindless, it’s meaningless…You must engage your mind.”
It is Practical – God asks us to give Him what we have. He doesn’t require more of us than we can give.

The last one reminded me of something we talked about on Sunday. We were studying the story of the widow who’s husband left her deep in debt and her debtors were threatening to take her children as slaves to pay back the debt. She went to Elisha and asked for help. The first thing he said to her was “What do you have?” All she had was a small bottle of olive oil. He asked her to gather as many bowls or pots as she could from her neighbors and family. Then he told her to pour the olive oil into the bowls – there was enough from that small bottle of olive oil to fill all the bowls she had gathered.

The part of this story that I was reminded of today is where he first asked her “What do you have?” When we come to God wanting to serve and worship Him, but feeling that we are not equipped to serve Him. He first asks us – “What do you have?” then shows us how to use what we already have to serve Him. It doesn’t matter if we’re not good at speaking (think Moses) or if we have a terrible past (think Paul). Everyone is usable by God. God wants practical worship – he doesn’t want you to try to be something you’re not. Who you are is exactly who He intended for you to be.

What do you have? What can you do? What are you good at? Start there. God will do the rest.

What it’s all about…

Tony Morgan had a post today about the incredible weekend they had at Granger Community Church. I was moved to tears looking at the pictures of the 400 people they baptized yesterday. 400 PEOPLE! That’s it. Right there. The whole reason I’m a part of Compass. 400 people now know God that didn’t before they came into contact with Granger. Those people have experienced a life change – they will never be the same. I pray that the communities in the Alliance, TX area will come to find something different at Compass. That we, as individuals and as a group, can lead them to the One that can heal, the One that cares, the One that can change EVERYTHING! That’s what it’s all about. Changed lives. I am just so grateful to be able to be a part of it – to give testimony of my own changed life. I know that we can make a difference. How could I not get excited about that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for choosing Compass Airlines…

Most of you know that I am part of a church plant in Roanoke, TX. We’ve had a number of challenges over the last couple of years, most of which have turned into major advantages. Check out Johnny’s post for specific examples.
I’ve been thinking alot lately about the upcoming months and how we will design our services to really make an impact in our area. I’ve come to some conclusions:

I read an article about how before we put together our services we need to know who we are – personalities, etc. I think that up until now we’ve been trying to figure out what will reach people – what people will respond to. Well, if we first figure out what WE respond to, that will help us communicate with passion, excitement and actually reach the people God means for us to reach. God put our personalities together for a reason – and it’s not so that we can do church like we always have. I think we are supposed to play on our strengths, passions, preferences, and styles and then – ONLY THEN – will we reach the people God is calling us to reach. Lets design a service – or Weekly gathering – that WE would be able to get excited about – and want to invite people to. Let’s take the church goggles off and dream a little. We CAN have fun with this. Church is supposed to be fun – it’s supposed to be creative – it’s supposed to be different. People will respond to us if we’re genuine and real – we’ve talked about this a million times. I think that it’s time to put our worship service where our mouth is. It will take major dedication, creativity, excitement, passion, time – but we can absolutely make it happen.

It’s like all of the sudden my eyes have been opened and I see things not for what they were or what they are, but for what they could be. It’s the DUH moment. Actually I’ve had a lot of DUH moments over the last couple of weeks. I feel so stupid that it never occured to me before. God chose us – who we are – our personalities, etc. for this area at this time. We don’t have to wait and see what God will do. HE’s called US to do something. To reach out in an exciting and real way to the people in THIS area and tell them about Him. When we’re obedient to do that – He’ll move in a mighty way. It all seems so simple, now. God has given us the opportunity to be creative – to get excited – to be passionate and to have a blast at the same time. I’ve been saying that I’m learning what a privilege it is to be in ministry and to be a part of God’s will.
It’s like my first airplane ride – I expected something really cool. I knew that it would be great. But when the wheels of the plane left the ground for the first time and I realized that I was FLYING – Words couldn’t express how I was feeling. My mind was expanded at that moment – suddenly the world was a lot bigger – and I was a lot smaller – and it was WONDERFUL! I finally saw a glimpse of the Big Picture – and I will NEVER BE THE SAME.

That’s where we are as a church – the wheels are leaving the pavement. Just like in the airplane – I held on a little tighter to the armrest as the nose of the plane pointed toward the sky and the ground got farther away – we need to do the same now – hold on tighter. There is a natural excitement that we’ll feel just knowing that the plane is going higher and higher and pointing more and more toward the sky – and the higher we get, the looser our grip will be on the armrests. The higher we go – the more we will trust the thing that is holding us up. The higher we go – the more of the picture we’ll see. I’m so ready to fly. I’ve never been more ready.

Input vs. Output

I’ve discovered today that my good intentions mean nothing to God. You’ve heard the old phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, well I’ve decided that is not far from the truth. Although, as a child of God, I’d have to say the road to disconnect is paved with good intentions. Or the road to discontent or distraction. I have been completely distracted over the last week, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how it happened. I’m sure I can give a big fat list of excuses, but the truth is I allowed myself to get distracted. My intentions were good. I am thinking all the time about scripture I’m memorizing or prayers I need to pray, or even how great God is. I’m getting a lot of spiritual input, but no worshipful output is happening on my part. God doesn’t want me to just learn all I can, memorize His word, listen to sermons and “be fed”. My purpose is to worship God with my life. My goal is to live my days in a way that brings glory to His name. I’m not sure I did that this week. I will make it my focus today.

More on Success

Here’s an excerpt from another daily devotion that I read –

There is a distinct difference between the believer who operates based on living in the Promised Land versus the one who operates in Egypt. In Egypt, the believer sweats and toils to generate an outcome. The final objective is foremost in their mind. Outcome is everything. In the Promised Land, we learn that obedience is the only thing that matters.
We are called to execute, and leave outcome to God. Sometimes that outcome is very positive, yielding a return. In other cases, we may not yield a corresponding return. We may even get a negative outcome. The difference is that we know that we have been faithful to what God has called us to and we yield results to God. God may call each of us to be obedient to situations that may not yield immediate, positive results. It is in these times that our faith must be obedience-based versus outcome-based. What if Jesus had considered the immediate ramifications of whether he would go to the cross? Based on the immediate outcome, the decision would have been an easy one. Who wants to die on a cross? However, for Him there was a higher purpose in that obedience. We are called to this same kind of obedience. This means putting our own flesh on the line daily, dying to our own self-will. This is what it means to be faithful. Pray that God will make you faithful today.

More cool stuff!

What is Success?

I’ve struggled with this question many times during the last couple of years. Mainly because of my part in a church plant. In the beginning of my relationship w/ North Point (soon to be Compass Church!!) I didn’t really know what a church plant was, and I most definitely didn’t know what I was getting into. I DID know that God was giving me an opportunity to get involved with what He is doing by being a part of this new venture. Throughout our church’s journey (see our story here) we’ve asked ourselves many times how we define success. I think the closest I’ve come to a definition is “Being obedient to what God has called me to do” – that’s success. I must be obedient to God and the success of my efforts is up to Him – isn’t that comforting? – God is in control of the success or failure of the mission.

I found a verse today that I had read before, but not from this perspective – “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ .” 2 Corinthians 1:21.
Here’s a quote from the bible study:
“The lesson I have learned from my failures is that I don’t have to succeed. I have to do the right thing under God’s guidance, and leave success or failure in His hands.” – isn’t that cool??
My part in God’s plan is to stand firm in Him – to be obedient, to do the right thing – He’ll take care of the rest.
I love this verse because it helps me to concrete in my mind a kingdom mindset, or a Big Picture perspective – I am not even able to stand firm in Christ apart from His guidance. I cannot even obey on my own. However, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” – with God’s guidance – I can do my part! I can stand firm! My success within this church plant is dependent not on my own talents, abilities or hard work – but on God’s abilities. My part is to be obedient and to always do the right thing according to God’s guidance – and His plan will succeed.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (New Living Translation)
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

Very cool stuff indeed!

Bumper Testimony

Okay, so I know you’ve all heard it before. I know you probably all agree, but I have to vent anyway. I work downtown, and therefore see my share of traffic every morning and evening. Well, this morning on my way to work I got on the ramp, and attempted to get on to the freeway. As is the case more times than not (pause and reflect on the hugeness of that statement), the person to my left sped up and got right behind the car in front of him so that I could not get on the highway. Did we learn this in elementary school when we didn’t want anyone to cut in front of us in the lunch line? What’s the big deal?? Did he really get where he was going any faster because he didn’t let me in? Okay – we all have these opinions about freeway drivers. BUT, here’s what prompted me to post this blog: On the back of his truck he had a bumper sticker.

SIDENOTE: I am pretty much completely opposed to bumper stickers as a whole. 1st, the person who puts the bumper sticker on the vehicle is not always the one driving which creates confusion in the minds of the lookers on. 2nd, it is rare that the person who put the sticker on (assuming that it is the same person as the one driving the vehicle) actually believes what they have stickered. I think bumper stickers are like personalized license plates, tattoos, piercings (which I’ve had – and therefore can comment on w/ authority), flourescent colored-hair (which I’ve also had) , and other such things. They are used to get attention – nothing more. They are rarely a statement of belief, passion, character or anything other than “hey, look at me!”

Now back to the story: The bumper sticker on this truck made me angry, sad, confused, ashamed – all kids of feelings. You’ve seen the sticker – I know you have. Some of you probably have the sticker on your car (I still love you). It said: “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter.”
I know what you’re thinking: “He might not have seen you.”, “It’s not like he flipped you off, or cut you off.” “What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is really a HUGE deal. This man for some reason decided he wanted to be associated w/ Jesus Christ – and so he put a sticker on his car. Well, now everyone that he refuses to let on the highway, or cuts off, or looks at funny will know that this man is a self-proclaimed representative of Jesus Christ – and look at how he treated me. It’s similar to when you go to a restaurant and at the end of the meal you leave a gospel tract for the waiter/waitress to read, but alongside it you leave a pathetic tip (or no tip at all) – I know this goes on frequently, I used to be a waitress. What does all this say about Christians? That we’re cheap? That we’re the most important car on the road? That we don’t care about your safety in your vehicle or the safety of your kids who are with you? That perhaps we just think we’re better than you and deserve more road space???

I’m a little perturbed. I will admit. I also have to admit that I am not a perfect driver. But I do try to realize that w/ or w/out a bumper sticker (I choose to go w/out) I am a representative of the most caring, loving, giving, patient person that ever walked the Earth – Jesus Christ.
Oh my goodness, please STOP THE MADNESS!!! Ditch the stickers! Let the other guy in! Tip your waitress! PRACTICE KINDNESS!!! People ARE watching you!