Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 65 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families)! I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wasted Worship, or Wasted Worship? Part 2

I said in my last post that it would be a good idea to take a look at worship--what it is, and its expressions. Before I do, I want to review the dictionary definitions I am working from:

[from WordReference.com Adapted from:WordNet 2.0 Copyright 2003 by Princeton University All rights reserved.]

wor-ship
Etymology: Middle English
worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship

2: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence
3: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
<worship of the dollar>

To really do #2 in my definition, my first consideration would be, what is the correct mind-and-heart-set from which all true worship that is suitable for this God flows?

To really worship, I must be on the same page with God, agreeing with Him about Who He says He is. That is the very first element of worship. To keep it from just being superficial intellectual assent, however, I must learn to know this God as Paul says in Acts 17:22-31, receive His sacrifice for me, and count His opinion about my everyday life as more important than any other, including my own. That attitude will change my whole perspective on life in general, and specifically my life, which will affect my actions and responses day by day, which will in turn affect the outcome.

If I really believe, as He says, that His ways are beyond me and my understanding, then to adopt them sincerely means first acknowledging, then laying down my ideas about everything and learning to think and feel and do as He would in any given situation. In doing this, I am actively admitting first of all that my whole life, every area, was influenced by the original fall into sin and rebellion against God. Secondly I am admitting that my whole life has also been distorted by my own personal sin. I am saying that my own mind, will and emotions, while very real, cannot follow God by themselves because I am so distorted.

On the other hand, once I've made those admissions (confessions), I am acknowledging that the picture really isn't that dark--I have hope. I am saying that my life can be different, that it can be more and more restored to the pattern that God intended and further, that this is what I want and am aiming for. Each day, moment by moment as I am giving God access to my life, I recognize that each situation that comes up is another opportunity to learn more of my God's ways and thoughts. It's another opportunity to allow Him to restore me and make me whole.

You say that way of following God (it's also called surrender or dying to self--the distorted, sinful self) sounds a little extreme? God says anything less is half-hearted, polluted worship, also called in the Bible "strange fire." In the Old Testament, the penalty for rewriting (distorting) God or His rules or principles was death (see Leviticus 9:23-10:4), sometimes physical and sometimes spiritual as with the Pharisees who chose not to repent.

In the New Testament, Jesus died in my place for my sin (He could because He was the One and Only who walked through every kind of temptation we humans have experienced and did not sin). The penalty of death has been removed if I receive what He did for me. In receiving Him and His work on my behalf, I begin to give Him access to my life.
I become no longer me-born-into-sin, but me-acceptable-and-righteous because I have turned (repented) from my ways and now want His. I receive His robe of righteousness (Is 61:10), and as I walk with Him day-in and day-out, He will change me. Eventually, if He's left to work unhindered, His redemption begins to affect every part of me. This is where eternal life starts--the point at which I receive Him--not when I get to heaven; it just continues there. God says through Paul in the book of Romans that living life daily with this attitude is true worship:

Rom 12:1-2 NLT: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? [NIV says here, "...this is your spiritual act of worship."] 2Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.

True worship begins here, with submission, total submission in heart which will eventually show in my life. I am not a robot. God will not force this kind of life on me. It is my choice, but without it, my worship is wasted, or at best very limited. But I like to imagine what my life will look like if I continually desire to walk in this attitude. As we read above, Romans 12 says I will be transformed into a new person, I'll know what God wants me to do, and I will know how good His will really is. This is definition #4 above
: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem. This is the subject of part 3--the other half of "wasted" worship.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wasted Worship, or Wasted Worship? Part 1

Tuesday, April 25, 2006: It's finally time. I'm ready to begin talking about it. "It," the thing in dispute all over the land in one way or another, is worship. This is a very hard subject for me to nail down--the whole idea is bringing me warfare in the form of confusion, distraction, and other priorities as I try to write. In my view that's one very good reason to pursue it. It wouldn't be so difficult if there wasn't something to be gained. So here goes (the rest was finished on the date above shown for this post):

Lately I've been thinking about a post on my son's blog called Wasted Worship. (By series' end, I hope to have explained my title.) Worship takes many forms--and there is always worship of some kind expressed in our lives. I believe the desire to worship is encoded in our spiritual and emotional DNA.

Today, as in every age, the act of worship is very much a battleground in the whole church, exhibited by the just-under-the-surface battle over musical preferences and the temptation to mindlessly participate, in the ever-present attack of the enemy on worship leaders to lead worship by rote (religious form over substance which dulls the mind and never gets in contact with God), or the very real battle against pride and showmanship that attacks those who dare to lead worship. Motives are all important in either winning or losing this battle--they also determine whether our worship is
given in spirit and truth, or whether we are participating in "strange fire" or "polluted" worship. That being the case, it would be a good idea to take a long look at worship, firstly what it is, and secondly its expressions.

Here is one dictionary's definition of worship: [from WordReference.com Adapted from:WordNet 2.0 Copyright 2003 by Princeton University All rights reserved.]

wor-ship
Etymology: Middle English
worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship

2: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence
3: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
<worship of the dollar>

There are many today who refuse to acknowledge (definition #2) God (the divine being/supernatural power) and Jesus Christ His Son come to earth to show us God's heart and character, how to walk with Him daily (worship?), and to make a way back so we can be reinstated in right relationship with the Father. Many others sincerely believe there is a power that we can't really know, or else that He is inside all of us, and we just have to search for that part of Him in ourselves. But the real truth is spoken very well by one of the Bible writers
well over 1,500 years ago to a culture not unlike our own in character. He leads into that subject this way:

Acts 17:22-23 NLT--"Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, (23)for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it--'To an Unknown God.' You have been worshipping Him without knowing Who He is, and now I wish to tell you about Him." (If you want to know more, there's plenty in verses 24-31--for the purposes of this train of thought, however, I will assume you already know about Him, or even better, that you have a relationship with Him.)

There are other people who claim to be Christians who worship Him only with definition #3 (a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual). Yes, it's possible to worship Him that way, for in the above verses even Paul acknowledges that the Greeks were worshipping this Unknown God. The problem though is that God (see Hebrews 13:8) by definition doesn't change--E V E R. That means the only response in our relationship with Him that will transform religious acts into real live worship is for us to get to know Him well, and let His influence over us be the influence that counts in our lives.

When we don't know God Whom we say we worship, we are dishonoring instead of respecting Him by only giving Him mental assent. To the degree that we don't get to know Him deeply, we are offering God "polluted" worship. We pollute our worship with man's ideas, trying to conform our image and worship of God to our own lifestyles and beliefs. James, another Bible writer says even God's enemies, demons, recognize His reality--but that it won't get them anywhere: James 2:19-20 NLT--Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! 20...When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?

Worship (even worship with feelings) can result in a God-dishonoring life--unless we allow Him to do what He came to do--change us into His character likeness day by day. Only then will our expressions of worship unite His people and accurately reflect God's worth (worthiness to be worshipped) back to Him.


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Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Rare Privilege

I know I was going to start some postings on worship--and they will come, Lord willing. But please excuse me, because life and opportunity and privilege interrupted.

Last Saturday (April 1) I was going to work as a "human arrow." This was an opportunity for our church to earn much needed funds, and I got the idea that it would be helpful for me to volunteer to stand in one place for about 6-8 hours (plus have break and supper) even though I haven't stood on my feet that long in years. (They are very flat, and though I am in decent shape, I'm not so sure my feet and legs would be after a stint like that... .) We were to point the way in downtown Indianapolis during the final four weekend.

But then I got an Opportunity--my son called on Thursday (end of March), asking if I'd like to go on his weekend trip with him to northwestern Tennessee. This was a heads-up to me because it was somewhat unusual. This son and I often do things together at this point in our lives, but a weekend trip? Not so much. I felt it was not just a break, but important. Most mothers of grown children will understand--when we get this kind of Opportunity it is a Privilege, and the answer is always Y E S if we possibly can. --Thank You, church, for making it possible and releasing me from my "arrow" commitment; I would have done it (cheerfully) because promise, dependability and faithfulness are priorities to me, but thanks for understanding (and God thank You for having others in the wings to step in...).

When I found out that Friday morning that I could go, I packed-in-a-hurry and went on to work. My son picked me up at the end of the day, and we were off on an adventure. Now I love traveling, and I love being with any of my three sons. This adventure was to start with a treat of spending an uninterrupted five hours in the car with him. I love doing that because we talk about all sorts of things--silly things, ideas, philosophy of life. We don't always agree, but I think for me it is getting easier to agree to disagree and let God change each of us than it used to be. I certainly get stretched from our talks and end up with a lot to think about. (Please let's not stop.)

Last weekend I got beautiful spring scenery, warm temps, and a chance to share in my son's world and broaden mine. I had never known people whose ministry revolved around an army base where they were regularly deploying soldiers. We were on the Clarksville, TN side of Ft. Campbell, KY, visiting a good friend of my son's. I also had the privilege of entering her world. It was wonderful to see her again. Last time I saw her was when she was at the edge of flying from the nest. She is now out there, Abraham-like, transplanted into a place where God sent her, and becoming a strong, beautiful, obedient, courageous woman of God. Her sharing reminded me of something very important --if I really think some prompting I have is of God, I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. The ways God has blessed her have really reminded me of the blessings of obedience.

Additionally, I got the privilege of seeing a neat Body-of-Christ-gift in operation. I saw a couple who was able to invite a group of people over for supper and the evening. What's so "gift-like" about that? Well, these guests from various walks of life were from many different places, both geographically and spiritually. But with this gift in operation, even I was comfortable enough for a change to get in there and interact with people from backgrounds extremely different from mine. This was "lifestyle evangelism" and "loving people and letting God do His thing" at its best. From what I can tell, this couple's version of this gift enables guests to feel extraordinarily at home with each other--it was a "safe" place to venture out.

I also learned during that evening to feel much less guilty about the calls in the Body for lifestyle evangelism. I think those I've heard (and rightly so) may strongly have that gift operating that way, because their description is similar. But I usually fall flat on my face trying to fit into that mold.
I realized I am not a klutz, dumb, unspiritual, uncaring, unloving, or any of the other things the enemy accuses me of when I know I can't pull off an evening like that myself--it is just not the way my gift is expressed. How liberating if I will remember it! So I can continue to do it in my own way, and can from now on feel okay about it. - Wow! A chance to meet new friends and learn too--this trip was great!

We also had three time changes--TN was an hour earlier than we were, then there was their April 1st daylight savings time change, and thirdly, the new Indiana daylight savings time on our way back. I almost felt like a time-traveler by the time I was done leaping backward once, then forward twice. My son explained how easy it was for him to change time zones (even when he went overseas). I tried it and it worked till Tuesday. (My son said, "Till Tuesday? You got back to work on Monday." My comment, "See what I mean? Time-travel--delayed reaction." Actually I meant to say Monday... :) )

As if all that excitement wasn't enough, we also got back to my house ten minutes before all the serious Indiana weather that took out the windows on 12 floors of a corner of a downtown building. The storm was about 5-10 minutes behind us, sirens soon were going off all over the city, but we had a beautiful, uneventful trip back, though the storms hit down through the whole corridor of our travels. I'm grateful (very) we weren't driving during that time.

So... thank you, son, for the trip and chance to enjoy you. Thank you for letting me into your life. Thank you for all the ways on this trip that you considered me and that said you were glad I was along for the ride. It was special. Thank you all in Tennessee for letting me into your lives and homes. Your hospitality was a real blessing, and ministered to me. Thank You, Lord, for watching over us, letting me see once again Your beautiful work in someone who allows You to grow her, the chance to see You in operation in a situation from today's headlines (people involved in the war on terror), and the opportunity to see how Your gifts spread Your influence, life, and hope so graciously in this world through another neat committed Christian couple. Thank you all for the gift of this adventure.

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