Worship: More Than a Song

Worship More Than a Song

Have you ever visited a church that did things a lot differently than you’re used to?

Did it make you feel at all uncomfortable?

Recently, I started going to a new church that is a lot different than what I’m used to. And I’ll admit, I felt really, really uncomfortable the first two or three times I went.

But, through that discomfort, God showed me some things about how people tend to react to those things that make them uncomfortable.

More specifically, I want to talk about one of the areas in a church service that garners the most common negative reactions; Worship.

In today’s modern churches the flashing lights, loud music and professionally developed intro videos isn’t something that takes people by surprise anymore. After all, it is the modern way to do things.

I actually used to go to one of these churches when I was in high school but decided to start attending the church I grew up in again (a different church than I mentioned above) because it was a lot closer to home…less of a drive, less money spent on gas…you get the picture!

I digress…

The difference between the music styles between these two churches were like night and day.

One was clean cut and polished to a fine, perfect finish and the other was unvarnished, and…not perfect.

And I was so taken in by the glitz and glamour of the church I had been going to that I became very unhappy with the way this other church did things.

This unhappiness led me to criticize and critique everything in my mind; “the music isn’t modern enough…it’s too slow…it doesn’t have enough beat…etc, etc…”

This went on for a few months until one day, I decided to verbalize my criticisms to my dad. And the response he gave me is one that will always stick with me.

“Kristen, no matter where you go, there’ll be something you don’t necessarily fully like or agree with. But you have the ability-and responsibility-to decide if it’s so important that you’re gonna let it get in the way of your worshiping God…”

Heavy, isn’t it?

Modern churches-and the people in them- have gotten so hung up on the music and putting on a show for those in attendance that the people have completely forgotten- or missed-the whole point of it all.

Worship isn’t about the people. Worship isn’t even about the music. Worship is about giving God the honor and glory he deserves.

What Worship is about

The original Greek word for worship is proskuneo (pronounced: pros-koo-neh-o). 

This word that they used is a verb; an action. It literally means, “I go down on my knees to worship”.

You see, the modern “worship” we practice-singing a few songs of praise- is only a small part of what true, full worship is.

Worship is pouring your entire self out before God. It’s falling before God in awe, seeking his face and his will and yes, it’s praising him in song.

There’s a song, Clear The Stage, by an artist called Jimmy Needham that says so much in so few lines that make up the chorus.

You can sing all you want to.

Yes, you can sing all you want to.

You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong…

Worship is more than a song…

One Psalmist wrote it this way,

“Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God…” Psalm 95:6-7

Maybe you aren’t used to the way a church service is. Maybe the music isn’t as fast (or slow) as you like. But what is all comes down to is this: Are you going to hold back from praising the God that created you just because something doesn’t fit “your style”?

When you think about it, it’s actually an incredibly self-centered act.

When you say “I’m not going to worship because it doesn’t fit my tastes”, you might as well be saying, “Sorry God, you’re not worthy of my worship today because I don’t like the (  fill in the blank  ).”

Pretty intense, huh?

There’s a somewhat older song most Christians have heard called The Heart of Worship that has reminded me time and time again that worship isn’t about me-it’s about him.

It says that very thing right in the song:

“I’m coming back to the heart of worship cause it’s all about you. It’s all about you, Jesus.”

Let me share with you the prayer I say when I find myself stuck focusing on the parts of a service I don’t like:

“Lord, help me push past all the stuff and help me worship you with a pure heart. Help me remember it’ about you-not me.”

A Prayer For When You're Distracted in worship

Every time I say this little prayer, God takes me into a deep, intimate worship experience.

Yes, sometimes it takes me praying this a few times, but God always answers!

I want to challenge you, next time you feel like “sitting it out” because of something you don’t like, pray this prayer-or one like it!

You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how God will show up!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

Why The Christian Life is A Lot like Play-Doh

The Christian Life is A Lot like Play-Doh

Last summer, I was at one of my best friends’ house, talking with her mom and though I don’t remember what about, I do remember saying “But I don’t like change!”

To which she replied, “Oh honey. the Christian walk is all about change. Changing from a lifestyle of sin to one that follows after Christ; Changing from living in the flesh to living in Christ!”

I’ll admit, at first, her response didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want to be “put in my place”. 

It wasn’t really until the last couple of years since graduating high school that I’ve had to deal with change.

I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. Went to the same church, same school, same…EVERYTHING! 

Change? Yeah…not really something I experienced.

I’m a planner. I’ve planned everything from my future college, future wedding, future family, future home, vacations… I. Like. Plans.

They make me feel safe, comfortable and like there’s a measure of continuity. 

Most of all, I really don’t like when my plans are changed-even if it’s just going to Starbucks…don’t mess with my plans! They’re my plans and I want it.

And then I realized that that is just the problem…

They’re my plans and the things want and then I don’t leave any room for Christ and his plan and the things he wants for my life.

 ” “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ” Isaiah 55:8-9 (Emphasis Added)

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Have you ever heard the saying “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken/bent out of shape?”

It may not be from the Bible, but it is so true!

The Christian walk is a lot like play-doh. When it’s soft, it’s mold-able; the creator can make it into what they see fit. But, if it dries out, it gets hard and the creator can’t do anything with it.

The Christian walk

When we resist change, our hearts harden like dried out play-doh and God can’t mold us into his image. But, when we are flexible, God can mold our hearts and use us to further his kingdom!

No, change isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it means stepping out into the unknown. But, it also means having the opportunity to trust Christ and that what he’s doing and his plans are greater than ours. And this, in turn, will lead to a deeper more intimate relationship with him!

Have you been rejecting the change that God has been trying to make in your life?

Take a minute and pray that God will soften your heart and help you trust him that these changes-whether big or small-are in your best interest!

XoXo,

~Kristen~

Why We Pray

Why We Pray

Over the last while, I have been trying to figure out some things. More specifically, where I’m supposed to go in life.

I was actually supposed to go to college this year however because of my severe allergies I wasn’t able to go. 

Long story short, not going made me start questioning my whole life; “Where am I gonna go to school? When am I going to go? Will I ever actually figure out what kind of schooling God wants me to have?”

The more I questioned, the more frustrated I grew. 

You may have read in my eBook that when I graduated high school I had convinced myself that everything would just fall into place because of how hard high school was. I thought God would give me an easy ascendance into adulthood…wishful thinking! 

Test after test has come and each one has stretched and challenged me more than the last. And just when I thought I was about to break, God gave me exactly the amount of strength I needed to make it through.

The crazy thing is that God almost always does the exact same thing to give me strength. He reminds me of one thing I should already be doing, but often times forget to be doing: Praying. 

To bring my heart to him and seeking him for guidance.

The first reminder came when he kept directing Jeremiah 29:13 my way. The New Living Translation (NLT) reads it this way:

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Emphasis added)

More recently, as I was sitting at my newly refinished desk, I prayed, “God, speak to me today. I’m sick of reading my Bible and feeling like I’ve not learned anything from you.” 

And, as I opened my Bible up to where I left off, I read Luke 11: 5-10

“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

As I read this, God gently spoke to me. He reminded me that he wants to guide me and to fulfill my heart’s desires, but first, I need to be relentless, shameless-as the passage says- in pursuing him and knocking upon the door asking him to guide my footsteps.

“Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”  (Emphasis added)

He doesn’t promise to give us whatever we want, cause, let’s be honest a lot of the things we want, aren’t always good for us. But, he does promise to give us what we need!

Here’s the thing, it is so easy to pray and thank God when everything is going good. It’s in the bad that it’s hard. 

Why?

I think it’s due to a couple of things:

First, because we know that God may not take away the pain.

This leads us to reason number 2: We are so enamored with the pain, so swallowed up with how bad things are in the moment, that we don’t think that God could be letting the bad happen because he’s going to use it for his glory later.

But, isn’t that exactly why we pray and seek him? So that he uses the bad for his glory? So that he can reveal himself in a deeper way to us through the pain? And, to take us into a deeper level of relationship with him?

What are some things in your life you need to seek God about?

Or, what are some things you sought after him for in the past? How did he answer you?

I would love to hear! Drop me a line (in the comments or even a personal message if you don’t feel comfortable sharing for all to see!)

XoXo,

~Kristen~

 

Why Revival Won’t Happen in The Church

Why Revival Won't Happen in The Church

Over the last several years, I have been to many churches where it’s being prought that the church needs to be ready for people-for the revival that’s coming, and, while I agree that revival is coming, I don’t believe it’s going to be in the church.

Why?

Because many churches now-a-days are more concerned with their image; making sure they’re “cool” and “hip” and with getting money.

Over the course of the last several years-eight to be exact-I have went to several churches. Let me tell you a bit about my experiences.

It was brought to the attention of one church I had gone to that an attendee knew of a family that wasn’t able to afford groceries and had several young children at the time. The person who knew of this family was willing to purchase the groceries with their own money-they just wanted them to be given through the church, but the response from one of the pastor’s was “we don’t do that sort of thing…” 

Another church I went to for a time took Bible verses completely out of context and twisted it to fit their agenda–I quit going to that church soon thereafter.

And finally, I’ve attended a church where I was told right out that I wasn’t wanted or needed. That my dreams would never come true.

Here’s what I’m getting at; Why does the institution of the church think people are going to flock to them when they are continually turning their back on and/or are verbally beating down those who are there?

One statistic I found says that 80% of young people who have grown u in evangelical churches leave the church by age 29 because of how they are treated.

Please note: when it says they leave the church, it isn’t meaning they leave the Christian faith, it literally is saying they leave the institution of the church.

Churches seem to think that in order to get people into their doors, they have to put up a big, flashy show, have coffee shops with all sorts of fancy drinks and foods and all these different gimmicks, but I think that what young people are really wanting, is to know that they are wanted, needed and valued-that they aren’t just another number in a statistic of the capacity the church has reached.

Today’s young people are committing suicide at unprecedented rates because they feel like they aren’t wanted and that they’re just a burden to the people around them. This includes an equal amount of young people who have grown up in the church as those who haven’t.

How do I know? Because I was one of those young people who thought all of those things what I was in junior high just a few short years ago.

Growing up, the church I went to had a sign over the inside of the door that read,“You are now stepping into the mission field.” as you walked out the church doors.

The institution of the church has gotten to the point where they have convinced themselves that people are eventually going to come to them, so they just sit and wait and preach flowery things that make them feel like cotton candy and unicorns on the inside. 

There’s a song that I just love called “If We are The Body” by Casting Crowns that speaks volumes. The chorus reads:

“If we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way, there is a way” 

The song goes on to talk about a man who is traveling away from home who comes to a church but leaves because the people were snubbing their noses at him and that “The weight of their judgmental glances Tells him that his chances are better out on the road.” 

The first verse talks about a young woman who goes to church but the other young girls make fun and laugh at her right where she can see.

This song speaks exactly what many churches have turned into: a bunch of fluff and no substance.

In the Bible, when “The Church” was mentioned, they weren’t talking about a building or institution. They were speaking of each individual person.

“Do you not know that YOU are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”     1 Corinthians 3:16 (emphasis added)

People sit and listen about reaching out to the lost. They go to church and have these massively emotional experiences and yet, when they go home, once the emotions have worn off, they do nothing to follow through and actually reach out.

Ladies.

Gentlemen.

THIS is why I believe that when revival does come, it won’t be in the buildings we call churches.

Let me be clear, there are many good churches who do reach out and care about the people that walk in their doors, unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the many churches that don’t.

There is coming a day -and to a small extent it’s already happening -where people are going to tire of the show that many churches put on, and they’re going to be searching or the truth. But it won’t be in the churches.

If you look back in history at any of the great revivals is North American history, you’ll see that they didn’t occur in the churches. They occurred in fields in the open elements, make-shift shelters, and/or tents and later on in the mid-1900’s in stadiums. Places where people weren’t worried about how they’d be treated or looked at. Places where people were accepted as they were-no matter what. Everyone was there for the same reason, to seek the real, unvarnished truth.

Another song by Casting Crowns is called “Does Anybody Hear Her?” 

It’s about a young woman who is looking for help, hope and acceptance so she goes to a church but everyone turns their back on her because of her reputation and how she is dressed.

This is exactly what is happening to people who go to churches today. The church has hurt and turned away so many people because they didn’t fit a certain standard.

In the end, what it comes down to is people no longer see the church as being full of warm-hearted loving people, but of judgmental hypocrites who won’t accept them as they are-despite what is being prought about on a regular basis.

That is why revival won’t occur in the church.