Is Our Worship Making God Sick?

September 23, 2016

Have you ever seen or heard something that truly made you sick to your stomach? You get that lump in your gut and the longer you listen or watch the sicker you get. I often wonder it that is how God feels when He looks at us at times. Have we become so wrapped up in our own way of worshiping that we forget Who we are worshiping?

I have be reading through the book of Amos the past few days, and in chapter 5 we find God really laying into Israel about their worship, and this got me thinking about our worship and my personal worship. Is our worship sickening to God or is it truly music to His ears?

God speaking through His Prophet Amos says this to Israel about their worship in Amos 5:21: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies” (KJV). Here God is saying to them “your worship is making me sick. I despise and reject your feast days and your religious assemblies.”

Their worship had become just nothing more than a habit to them. It was more about just completing their obligation to God and not a heart felt worship.

As I look at the Church today I wonder how much of our worship is habit and how much of it is heart felt.  There are churches that have to have the service the same way every week, opening prayer, a hymn or two, prayer time, offering, announcements, sermon, altar call; and if anything disrupts this flow it is like you have blown the whole service.

Sickening worship is a shallow worship only a surface worship. No depth. More interested in tradition over truth. It is interested in maintenance then ministry. More concerned about practice then people. And here is the thing this kind of worship will never please God. He is more interested in the soul of people then anything else.

God goes on in verse 22-23 and says this: “Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.”

Sickening worship is a selfish worship. There are some churches where it feels like you are at rock concert more then a worship service. With lights flashing and the band playing louder then the singers I wonder how God feels about that? Selfish worship is all about “me”. it denies others, it deprives others and in time it will destroy others. It is a very dangerous way to worship.

In verse 24 God says: “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

Finally a sickening worship is a safe worship. When worship becomes more a religion then worship it becomes sickening to God. You see safe worship or religion allows us to do whatever we want to do and feel justified in doing it. It demands no sacrifice on our part and it has no struggling or suffering.

Jesus said in John 16 verse 33; “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

If we are going through suffering today then maybe just maybe our worship is pleasing to God. So let me ask you is our worship pleasing to God or is it making Him sick?

 

 

Are You Seeing How God Is Interrupting Your Life?

July 22, 2014

What do you do when God interrupts your life? For the past several months now I have been praying for God to interrupt my life and the people of the church that I pastor, and He has been doing just that.

But what are we doing with those interruptions? Our lives are full of interruptions; both believer and non-believer face interruptions. It is what we chose to do with those interruptions that makes us either grow closer in our walk with the Lord or turn us away from God.

Now I will say this right now, I don’t always handle God’s interruptions well. Ever since I started praying that God would interrupt me and show me His will and His leading my life has been turned upside down at times. And I don’t always react in a positive way to those interruptions.

We who have accepted Christ as Lord of our lives and call ourselves Christians are to see God’s interruptions as opportunities to grow, opportunities to share and opportunities to honor Him. However if you are like me we grumble and complain about how tough our situation is and instead of crying out to God to show us what He is teaching us we cry out “Hurry up and Fix it.” But how many of you know that God’s way of fixing things isn’t always the way we want Him to fix them?

The Bible is full of true life stories, of how God interrupts the lives of His people. Look at the life of Job, God interrupted his life in a major way. Job was minding his own business and God interrupted his life. But the Bible tells us that Job responded to God’s interruption in a very positive way, because no matter what happened to him he knew that God was still with him controlling everything that was going on. And in the end God blessed Job for his faithfulness.

I wonder what would happen if we saw God’s interruptions as opportunities instead of burdens? What would happen if we saw every person that God sends into our lives as an opportunity to reach out, share and grow?

So the next time God interrupts you how will you respond?

Saying Good-Bye

March 3, 2014

John chapter 14 Jesus says; “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (ESV)

Those are comforting words for those who are going through the process or have gone through the process of saying good-bye to a loved one. It is a promise that those who know Christ can hold onto.

This weekend I said good-bye to my Uncle Dave, he was a great man who worked hard for his family not only physically and spiritually. He was a man of great integrity.  A man that believed in the Word of God and believed in the power of prayer. He was one of my Dad’s older brothers and is now reunited with all of his brothers in heaven.

As I was sitting at his celebration ceremony Saturday, I couldn’t stop thinking about the legacy he left behind. And it got me thinking about my legacy. As I listened to people share stories of their experiences with Uncle Dave, I was thinking I hope that when it is time for people to celebrate my life they could say similar things about me.

My desire is that people wouldn’t remember me for being a preacher or because I sang, but that they would remember me because of my walk with the Lord. Over and over again on Saturday that was the theme throughout his celebration. His love for Christ showed not only in his words but in his life. 

So “Let not your hearts be troubled…” we will see them again and we will have a great reunion one day but for now we have to say good-bye.  

 

Out With the Old and In With the New

December 17, 2013

At the beginning of 2013 I was encouraged to choose a word for the year and work on putting it into practice in my life throughout the year. I chose the word “positive.” Although it has been a difficult word for me I have found that I have been more positive about things this year.

I chose as my verse for the year Matthew 19:26; “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I chose this verse because I know that within myself I can never stay positive, but with Christ the impossible becomes possible.

As I look back on the year I can see so many areas that I have improved on, however I also see areas that I still need to improve on. I have had a lot of people praying for me this year to help me achieve an attitude of being positive. I still find myself being negative in some situations and I am truly working on those areas.

My new word for 2014 is going to be “Focused.” My goal for 2014 is to be more focused on the things of God and more focused on my relationship with Him and with those around me. I am going to be looking out of the box so to speak, but not so far out of the box that it goes against the Word of God.

My Scripture for the year is Psalms 103:2-4; Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,”

There are many things that we need to be focused on in our lifetime but the most important is our relationship with Jesus Christ, and our relationship with the Church. It is important that we not neglect the fellowship of other believers and come together in worship to the King of kings.

So as 2013 comes to an end I am positive that 2014 will be more focused and because I will be more focused I will in turn be more positive for the future. And I am looking forward for God to do the work in me that needs to be done and using me to communicate His Word with authority of the Holy Spirit to those I come into contact with this coming year.  

Why Is Church So Important?

November 4, 2013

I have been thinking a lot about this question the past few days. And I know that you are thinking already. okay this is going to be a preachers response, and you would be right to a point. Most of you who read my blogs know that I pastor a small church. I love my church and my church family. They have been there for Dawn and I more times then I can count. They are loving and kind to all who enter the doors of the church. I know I’m bragging on them but they deserve it.

As a small church pastor I am often asked if I get discouraged when attendance is down, and the answer to that is yes. However I understand that life is different than it was when I was growing up and that people have different priorities today than in the past. I understand the need to want the best for our families and the try to maintain our walk with the Lord at the same time. And I understand that things come up and prevent us from attending church. But does that really excuse us from attending a local church?

Their are many good and what I would call committed Christians who would say that Sunday morning Church isn’t really that important. Attending church can’t save someone from their sins, attending church can’t get you a better place in heaven, and the church isn’t a building it is God’s people in the building, so attending church really isn’t that important. And I agree that church attendance will not save us and it will not get a better place in heaven, that is very true. So why is Church important in today’s society?

So I started thinking to myself why is it so difficult for us to see the need for a local church? I believe it is because most churches have decided that this is just the way it is in our culture and in America today. Church has become more of an annoyance than a blessing. Church has become more of a social gathering and if I miss church no one will really miss me. The local church has lost its identity and its place in the body of Christ. So what is the solution? Do we just close the doors as so many churches in our country have done?

So I began to think about what the Bible has to say about the subject and the first place I was drawn to was Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The writer of Hebrews is saying that collective and corporate worship is a vital part of our spiritual life and growth. Being a part of a local church is what helps us to maintain our walk with the Lord. Because the Church was designed to be a place to come and get encouragement from one another. A place to come and to realize you aren’t alone and that there are others who are dealing and struggling and have overcome some of the same issues that you are facing in your life. The Church is where we come together as the Body of Christ to fulfill God’s vision for our lives.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:5; “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one to another.” Just as the body is made up of different parts, so is the Church made up of different parst. If we are to a true Church than we have to realize that it takes all of us to make God’s vision for His Church come to pass.

So when we make church attendance a back burner issue we are not just hurting ourselves we are hurting the entire body of Christ. We are saying that we are devoted to Christ and to God’s plans for our lives but we want them on our terms.

I think we in America have put our wants and desires before God’s wants and His desires for our life and we are so comfortable with where we are that we forget the sacrifice that Christ calls us to as followers. We have made excuses for so long that we no longer look at them as excuses but as a way of life. It is a priority issue.

The Church was and is a place where God meets His children to receive their corporate worship and a place to grow stronger as the Body of Christ.

**all scripture is from the ESV**

 

 

Being Positive in the Storm

March 5, 2013

Being a person who has been diagnosed with Anxiety I try to watch for signs that trigger my anxiety. One of the things that make me anxious is when I feel trapped and alone because of the weather.

For the past few days now all I have heard was about the snow storm that is coming. I have to admit it has my anxiety level up, but I am trying to remain positive even though I know that I will be alone during this storm because Dawn will be at work when the storm is supposed to hit.

I keep thinking of what the Bible says about storms and how Jesus responded to storms. We see in every instance that the disciples found that they were in a storm and called on Jesus He calmed the storms.  

For example in Matthew 8 Jesus had been teaching to the crowds and it came time for Him and the disciples to leave so they all got into a boat and headed out. While they were on the sea there was a great storm that came up and tossed the boat from one side to the other with waves coming over the boat. The disciples feared for their lives and called for Jesus:

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” (Matthew 8:24-26)

The first thing I notice about this story is that Jesus doesn’t worry about storms. He looked at His disciples and asked “Why are you afraid?” I realize that when I am in the midst of a storm all I need to do is to call on Jesus because He is asking me “why are you afraid.”

Storms are going to come there really isn’t much we can do to prevent them. The key is to be prepared for the storms and to always call on Jesus to help us out of the storm.

Paul closed out his first letter to the Thessalonians with hope for those of us who suffer with anxiety from the storms. He wrote: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance….The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:16, 18)

There are three things about this peace that we need to remember:

  1. This peace is Divine. It is a peace that can only be given to us from God and we will not find it through any other means. But to call on Him.
  2. It is a Gift. God freely gives us the peace that we need no strings attached when we call on Him.
  3. It is always Available. God never sleeps or takes vacations He is always waiting and ready to hear us call out to Him and will always answer our cry for help.

In Psalm 46:1-3 the Psalmist sums it up for me: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”

I used to sing a song called “Peace In the Midst of the Storm” the chorus goes:

There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life.
There is an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon.
Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm.
He gives me peace in the midst of the storm

So I am going to do my best to stay positive about this upcoming snow storm and lean on Christ as the snow falls knowing that when I call on His name He will come and be with me in the midst of my storm.

Staying Positive in the Ruts

March 1, 2013

As I have been trying to re-evaluate my life the past few weeks I have found it difficult to always stay positive. There are things in my past that I am not proud of and thing in my present that need worked on and as I look to the future I can’t see past my present.

Paul must have seen this in the Church of the Philippians when he wrote in Philippians 3:12-16: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”

We all want to be perfect and positive all the time, but the truth is that isn’t really something that any of us can achieve. However it is something that we should all strive for.

So how do we do that? How do we turn the page and move on from where we are?

1.  To realize that we all have an imperfect past.

All of us have things in our past that we are not proud of. Some of us those things are worse than others; nonetheless we all still have them. We need to remember that in order to stay positive in our walk with Christ and in life, we cannot live in the “what if’s.”

2.  We don’t have to be slaves to that past.

So many of us can’t move forward and turn the page to the next chapter of our lives because we haven’t dealt with the things in our past. One of the first things we need to realize if we are a Christ follower is, we are forgiven of our past and it was buried with Christ so that means we need to leave it there.

We need to stop bringing up things that we have done or things that other may have done to us. We need to realize once and for all that the past is just that past if we want to move forward and turn to the next chapter.

3.  No matter what our current circumstances may be, we can be positive and move on to better and greater things.

I know speaking for myself that I tend to live in my circumstances instead of looking beyond them to see what God has for me through them. God has so many more things for us that are better and greater than we can imagine.

Some of those things He may grant us here while on this earth, others we may not see until we move in to our new home in heaven. But we can be assured that there are better and greater things to come.

4.  Moving on only happens by an intentional determined effort.

We can on move forward when we intentional determine to surrender ourselves totally to God. It is only when we intentionally leave our past and move above our circumstances and turn them all over to Jesus Christ.

5.  The goal is worth the effort.

When we do that we will see that the goal is worth the effort.  There is nothing greater in life than to walk in a close relationship with Christ. Realizing that it is only through what He did for us on the cross that will lead us to our goal, spending eternity with Him.

All too often we get into the rut of life and feel that there is no way out. The good news is we don’t have to stay in the rut. We have a way out it is through Jesus Christ.

Being Positive After 50

February 21, 2013

What would you like to be remembered for after you leave this world? That is a question that I have been asking myself all week. I don’t know if it is because I celebrated my 50th birthday this week or if it is because a classmate of mine recently died, But I have been doing some reflecting on my life.

James tells us; “…You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Life is short and there are no guaranties. As I reflect on the “defining moment” of my life I see where God has blessed me beyond measure and I also see how I have come short in my walk with the Lord.

So as I was thinking of how to live out the dash in my life I thought of two principles from the life of Christ.

1.  Jesus Lived Passionately:

Jesus knew that He only had a short time to do the work that His Father had sent Him to do. So He lived His life with Passion, and so should we. The good news is that God doesn’t want us to be miserable; He wants us to live a full and abundant life.

Jesus said in John 10:10:  “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV) So the next time I get down and feel like life doesn’t matter, I just need to remember that Jesus came to give me life and that it wouldn’t just be to exist but to have life more abundantly.

2.  Jesus Loved Completely:

 John 13:1 says; “Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave the world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” (NIV)

I believe that if we knew that we only had a month to live we would do the same thing. We would want to show those around us the full extent of our love. So my question is why don’t we show that kind of love in the first place?

So it is my goal for this next chapter of my life to live out Matthew 22:37-39: “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. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We are to love God first with everything we have; than we are to love our neighbors, friends, and family as much, if not more than we love ourselves. I want to be remembered for (1)being a man of God and of integrity and (2)a man that loved like Jesus loved. How about you?

Don’t Be a Debbie Downer

February 13, 2013

It amazes me to see how God has wired each of so differently yet with ability to be so much alike in certain areas. For example, for some of us it is very easy to stay positive no matter what is going on around us. For others we have to really work at being positive.

In the spring of 2004 Saturday Night Live introduced the character of “Debbie Downer” to the world. We all have a “Debbie Downer” in our lives at some point or another. You know that person who will turn a happy, joyful event into a negative event in the matter of moments, people who just bring others down and make everyone as miserable as they are.

Maybe that describes you. Maybe you tend to lean toward the negative life. Maybe you have lost your joy, life never seems to work out for you, everywhere you look you see unhappy people and you can only see the negative side of things.

I have to admit, there are times more often than I would like to admit, where life can make me a little melancholy and see the glass as half empty, rather than half full. However I am encouraged and I want to encourage you as well that with God’s help, we have the ability to change our outlook.

Romans 12:2, says that we should be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.”

Paul continues in Ephesians 4:23: “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes

Abraham Lincoln once said, “A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.”

Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you more than you.”

So the question is: How can we become more positive in our lives? Here are a few keys in choosing to be positive.

1.  Ask God to help you:

God is always waiting to hear us call on Him for His help. And we know that if we call on Him that He will be faithful to all of those who believe on Him. We can say something like:

Dear God:

I’ve done all right so far today.
I haven’t lost my temper or said anything bad about anyone.
I haven’t be a gossip or grumpy, nasty or selfish.
But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed and that may all change.
So I am going to need a lot of your help today.

Life is difficult. We all have problems, we all have our battles, God is there to help us through all of them if only we ask.

2.  Start your day off with the right mindset

Every morning my mother would wake up and recite Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Even on the days that she felt the worse during her battle with cancer she would say, “This is your day Lord and I am your servant.”

3.  Focus on What God has given you in your life (Blessings)

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.”

We all have something that we can be thankful for.

  • A roof over our heads
  • Enough food and water
  • We have friends
  • We have the freedom to worship without fear

The list could go on and on. However we still tend to be “Debbie Downers, instead of being thankful for what we have in Christ.

4.  Do things that lift you up

We need to all get in the habit of doing things that make us happy and brings us joy.

5.  Finally LAUGH!

Proverbs 17:22, “A Cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones…”

Do things that make you laugh! Go to a funny movie, go visit the funniest person you know or find humor in the life around you.

All of us can truly be positive if we allow God to have each and every minute of our day.

Being Positive In the Midst of Anxiety

February 4, 2013

According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), there are about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older that suffer from Anxiety Disorders in a given year. That is about 16% of American Adults. I am one of the 40 million. But how can that be I am a Christian and a Pastor, I shouldn’t be having these feelings of anxiety.

After all if I believe that God is control, why do I feel the need to be in control? If I believe that God has a plan for my life why do I think my plan is better than His? Where is my faith? Who do I really trust in? These are just a few of the questions I ask myself quite often.

Anxiety is very real! It is usually related to an unfounded fear—so overwhelming and so overpowering, that it clutches a person’s heart and makes them feel completely unable to cope with anything in that moment.

Paul wrote to the Philippian Church; “Be anxious for nothing, but in supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV). But sometimes that just seems to be impossible when you are in the middle of an anxiety attack. And it is impossible without Christ.

This winter has been one of the worse winters for my anxiety. I really don’t know what makes this year any different than any other, but it has been very difficult.  I have done everything that I can think of to prevent them and to change my way of thinking to avoid them, but they still seem to catch up with me.

I thought that choosing the word “positive” as my word of the year would help me deal with this and to a point it has. However it is very difficult to be “positive” when you feel so out of control. Then I remember I am not supposed to be the one in control. If I am really going to defeat this disorder, I am going to need to be totally surrendered to God.

I need to be surrendered in my thoughts, surrendered in my actions, surrendered in my words, surrendered in everything. Now I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that is too hard we can never be totally surrendered. We can never live up to all of that. And you would be correct in thinking that, because we will never be totally surrendered if we aren’t pursing Christ with our whole heart.

It may take a while for me to get through an anxiety attack and it may be hard for me to see how God is working things out, but what it comes down to is not giving up, remembering that I am a work in progress that God isn’t done with me yet and that He will not allow me to fail. He will not give up on me. He will never leave me.

Yes it is hard to deal with my anxiety at times, and yes I feel like such a failure at times, and yes I feel so all alone sometimes, but I’m not and neither are you! We can stand on the promise of Psalm 91 which says: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  … “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (vv. 1-2, 14-15 NIV)

So we can be positive in the midst of our anxiety!