Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worship Thoughts

Chris and I had an interesting conversation the other day that I wanted to put down on paper (or into the blog world I guess!). He met a guy who attends another church in town. In the course of their conversation this guy very openly stated that he attends this other church only for the 'worship.' This statement got us both to thinking about what he was referring to and whether or not this is a very Biblical reason to attend any one church.

By 'worship' we were pretty sure this individual was referring to the music. Musical worship is a part of most religious services, no matter what faith they represent. For Christians though, probably particularly evangelical Christians, it seems that music has become of great importance and this guy's statement reflected that, and saddened us. Chris and I see in God's Word that the ultimate act of worship for the Christian is obedience to God's Word, which comes from a careful study of God's Word, which is highly helped by listening to good teaching from God's Word.... thus in our church service the most important part of the service is the teaching and application of God's Word, not necessarily the singing. Now please, don't misunderstand me, musical worship is an important part of our services and it's important enough in God's Word that the whole books of Psalms is a book of songs of worship toward our God, BUT it's just a part of the Bible, and not necessarily the most important part.

This whole mentatily of 'worship' being of such importance to some Christians is concerning to me on a few levels:

1. I think that for some people singing brings about an enjoyable emotion and is some kind of an emotional 'high' if you will. Singing powerful songs with hundereds or thousands of other people is fun, it's one reason why people attend concerts. But musical worship shouldn't even be for us. It's for Him.

2. I think that for some, singing worship songs replaces fighting sin in their lives. By this I simply mean that possibly the emotions that come about from singing praises to our God make some Christians feel like they've done their weekly Christian duty and it makes them feel just good enough so that they don't have to do the hard work of being a Christian, growing in righteousness. So they walk out of their weekly church service unchanged by the power of God's Word.

3. It seems to me that we are demonstrating our love of our Savior on a much deeper level when we hear God's Word and obey it and with that will come some songs of praise out of our hearts! It's a natural overflow!

Please don't get me wrong. I love good 'worship' music and I enjoy hearing and participating with it often! But it should never be our driving motivation to attend church. We should go to church to hear God's Word taught, so that we can apply it to our lives, fight our personal sin, and grow to be more and more like our savior. When we do that we'll sing out of a pure heart!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Starbucks & Philippians 1:3-11

Today started out horribly. I had to wake up extra early as we are back to having one car, I realized that I had forgotten to put in the fridge/freezer the breastmilk I had so diligently pumped yesterday and it all was soured, then I couldn't find my keys anywhere. Ugg. We finally got out the door and I got to work very early with no keys. So I made a little trip to Starbucks where I purchased a 1/2 caf double shot over breve with white mocha and peppermint syrup in it (Yum!) with a gift card that had been ever so kindly given to me and took it back to my office where I sat in my car waiting for my boss to get there and open the door. While sitting I cleaned out my purse and decided to take the extra time on my hands and spend a few minutes in the Word. I read through Philippians. I love this book and have plans to work on memorizing it. I'd like to study it diligently, but for now I'm just gonna share a few thoughts.

Verses 3-11 brought me out of my morning doldrums immediately. As I read these verses I felt connected to Paul in a small way. He had ministered to the people at the church in Philippi, spent time there teaching them and instructing them and it was a joyful time for him to write to them because he had invested so much and knew that they were following what he had taught them (vs. 5). They shared in the same grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In that moment I thought about the teenagers that Chris and I worked with in Tulsa. We spent 4 years there with that group of students and joy floods my heart as I think about where so many of them are today. Two years later they are still following Christ, being faithful to their local church, and seeking to grow in their walk with the Lord. This summer I had the privilege of spending time with a few of the girls and received a letter from another and it was so special to me to hear about their walk with Christ, how they were studying God's word, and learning and growing in so many ways. They have grown into such beautiful young women. I say this not to boast of anything that I did, but just to glory in the way God has worked in their lives and to thank the Lord for allowing me to be a part. I kind of feel the way I think Paul did as he wrote this book. It was a letter to group of people that he loved and had invested much into and he was just encouraging them to keep going. Vs. 6--'And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.' I can think of nothing more encouraging to share with my former students! What God began so many years ago at your salvation (conforming you into the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-29), he is continuing today, and it WILL be completed! This encouraged ME so much this morning because I know I am sinful. I have seen my sinfulness more clearly than ever in recent months (why is it that getting married, and then having children, does so much for our sanctification?!). And to know that someday this process of becoming like my savior will come to an end, and it will not be left unfinished made today make so much more sense! All the trials of my morning were part of the process of my shaping and molding. They had a purpose. They had a reason. They were for my good.

As we read through the rest of this small passage we see Paul's love for this group of believers. He 'yearned' for them with a deep affection and prayed that they would grow in their own love for each other more and more, but that it would be marked by discernment and knowledge. What a pair are these two?! Knowledge and discernment. I pray that I would be a woman marked by these two traits. Knowledge comes though study. It's why I started this blog. I want to learn. I want to know God's Word. And I hope that with that knowledge comes a small dose of discernment to understand the difference between truth and untruth. For it is in that discernment Paul states that we can understand what God views as 'excellent' and so be pure and blameless before Him, our lives filled with the fruit of righteousness that only comes through Christ and brings God glory! (You like my paraphrase?! I need to do a little more study on this passage to dig out the meaning of some of these words, but my paraphrase helps me get a general idea.) I love it and I want to be a girl like Paul is describing!

Beginning Thoughts

So here is (finally) the beginning of this blog. I'm pretty excited about it as it's a place that's mine to think in. I used to journal a lot as a young woman, but I find that hand writing out all my thoughts has become tedious in my old(er) age. I hope that this is a place where I can do that and if you desire to read along you may. I plan to use it mainly as a place to share what I'm learning in my personal Bible Study and quest to live out Biblical Womanhood, but I'm sure pictures of my son and other thoughts running through my brain will find their way in as well, after all, it's all part of the being a Biblical woman part. Thanks for joining me in this beautiful journey!