forget yourself in worship

Last week, I smiled with eyes closed at the woman sing-shouting several rows behind me and across the aisle at church. Her honest, lung-filled offering grated on me at first – silently wishing she would find her place in the worship chord and slide in a little less loudly.

Then, I smiled. Her sharp, wide-mouthed notes didn’t irritate me less (growing up a musician’s daughter has its drawbacks), but with eyes closed I imagined a different worship setting.

I imagined a crowd of people of all shapes and sizes and colors and tongues flooding a throne with an uproarious and joyful noise. I imagined new chords and instruments and I imagined that no individual voice could be identified. Every noise jumping out to make the song got swallowed up in the glory of the sound and there was a distinct awareness on the faces of the worshippers that the sound wouldn’t be as beautiful if every single person was not singing.

I smiled because that prideful irritation got planted in me but Christ, in His grace, could uproot it and He did.

This morning as I was reading this reflection by Tony Reinke, my thoughts drifted back to that moment. Why do I guard the Sunday morning experience as if the music is for me? Not that the offering should not be excellent (like I said, I am a musician’s daughter and it is not intolerant to say good music sounds different than bad music), because we should strive to make the best, most beautiful and joyful noise unto the Lord. Our praise offerings should be excellent.

But the Sunday morning experience, the behind the steering wheel radio experience, the living room stage experience and the robed choir experience should all make bold proclamation that the music is for a King seated on a throne. It might, but it doesn’t have to please me.

I’ll admit there are times when I have no audience but the cold air in my Civic, but I’m secretly more interested in my rendition of the Gungor song than I am in its object.

After showing several places in Scripture where Jesus sings, Reinke writes,

God is worshipped around the globe as a result of the all-sufficient work of the resurrected Christ. In this way, Jesus is the Perfect Worshipper of his Father. And from heaven he fulfills the role of Chief Worship Leader of the global church.

We are led in worship in the auditoriums and living rooms and driver’s seats of cars by Christ who directed all praise to the Father.

What song is in your soul today?
How is Christ leading you to join with Him in song?
How can you forget yourself in worship?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

a delight that purifies, protects, and perseveres

After reading this post by Tony Reinke at Desiring God, this excerpt from Robert Murray McCheyne’s letter is rumbling around in my soul,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9. Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief! Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms . . . Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.

He is altogether lovely.

Oh, and how grateful I am that we can know this love! How ready I am to “live much in the smiles of God” and “bask in his beams.” This kind of delight in the Lord not only purifies, but it also protects and perseveres.

When all our delight is found in the One whose love and joy can never be exhausted, we are always safe and always secure. We are swept up into celebration and nestled into the friendliest nook – in the cleft of the Rock. When all our delight is found in Christ, we dance as David – unashamed and giddy with praise in front of the Lord. When all our delight is in the Lord, all our despair and defeat are drowned out.

And, you’ve never seen such perseverance as Christ-drenched delight. Christ, the image of the invisible God who holds all things together and in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1), has made a way for me through the blood of the cross. I can never run far enough to forget this delight – this deep gladness of rescue and this gift of new life. The delight chases me with thunderstorms and children’s smiles and the taste of a homemade, family dinner.

This delight pushes out from every corner of my soul and expands it, leaving no room for sin or folly or Satan. This delight perseveres to consume a life, even the life where wickedness once reigned.

This delight that purifies, protects, and perseveres is as steadfast as a one hundred-year-old oak tree. Today, I’m resting in its shade with thanks enough for one hundred years.

Even with all its mysterious jumble of branches, it still looks so inviting.

why words will never go out of style

In the beginning, God spoke; at Mount Sinai, God wrote.

God’s relationship with humanity has always been understood through words. God very intentionally used language to communicate who He was, what He required, and the consequences of disobedience.

He did not merely paint a striking sunset followed by an unsettling thunderstorm.
He spoke.

Yes, His words carried the weight of canyons and oceans and galaxies far, far away. What came out of his mouth was not paintings, but real, vivid, breathtaking landscapes. God’s words wove intricate molecules together and held them there.

And then God reached his finger down and wrote a book, etched on two tablets. He did not draw a picture or send an instagram photo to the people of Israel who had just been rescued out of slavery. He wrote words.

What gives?

Words, it seems, are going out of style.
My generation is being romanced into image-only relationships where words are subliminal (if a picture is worth a thousand, why write at all?).

It is not that images or photographs or illustrations or cartoons are poor ways to reflect our Creator. Au contraire! This is exactly how we reflect God, because he’s given us the desire and ability to create in a way that points to His perfect Creative hand.

But God did not leave us to figure out His plan for redemption by viewing only his perfect and miraculous creation. He spoke to the people. He wrote out the law.

The redemption story jumping out from Genesis to Revelation is not a mystery because God used language to explicitly communicate His plan for salvation. We are not left standing in front of an abstract piece to interpret its meaning. He gave us Creation – beauty beyond belief – and then He spoke to us and explained the significance of our existence, the despairing end of our freely chosen separation from Him, and the hope of restored relationship in Christ.

He wrote it out.

And that is why words will never go out of style.
God speaks with words.

Are we listening?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

These thoughts come from my reflections on the book Lit! by Tony Reinke. Check it out for yourself if you want to understand why reading is so important.