Raising Hands (Continued)

Last time I wrote, it was about raising hands in worship (Link here). At the very end of the post I said I would challenge myself to raising my hands.

I started off in just my living room, all alone. Turned on the worship music and I raised my hands. It may have been one of the most awkward things I’ve ever done. I kept thinking to myself, this is so silly! But quickly I was reminded of that verse about King David after he was caught dancing before the Lord. David says this in 2 Samuel 6:22

I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes..

Something about that encouraged me. It brought me peace and joy. In that moment raising hands didn’t even seem like it was enough anymore, I wanted to do more! I began to embrace the silliness of it, because some how it brought me so much joy that I could worship God in that manner. I could fell God’s joy taking control of me.

I was excited to do it again, but next time not alone, but with others my age in the church.

When that time came, I was perfectly content keeping my hands in my pockets. I didn’t see the point again. I thought, maybe I will in the second half of worship. When the second half of worship came, again I was perfectly content with keeping my hands in my pocket.

I thought about worship. It bothered me that I knew exactly when a large group of people could raise their hands. I could predict on the beat when it would happen. There are certain worship cues that makes it happen. Sometimes it’s the progression of the drums beating faster, sometimes it’s the progression of the band playing louder. Sometimes it is triggered through certain words, such as “fire,” “heart,” “raised hands,” and etc.

It discouraged me.

I felt like worship time almost because a performance from the bands perspective. If we just do “this,” “this,” and “that,” than we will have people raising their hands and that will make our performance successful.

I honestly don’t think that’s the case, but in the moment, that is what I was being fed. I didn’t want to be a part of that system. I didn’t want to be manipulated to raise my hands. I didn’t want others to think I was raising my hands because of the progression of the drums, the loudness of the band, or even the stillness of the band. I didn’t want to be a part of the created experience.

Pride had set up a wall to keep me from worshipping God. A wall so high I couldn’t see what worship was really about, about praising God for who He is. To be honest, I believe we most let go of control. After all, isn’t it the worship leaders job to get us to praise God? What I learned is that I need to let go of my pride, and my control, and hand it over, in this case, hand it over to the worship leader.

Let go.

It took me to the last couple songs to be reminded why I had even wanted to raise my hands in the first place, just to pray over the people. It took me a while. I kept thinking, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because I know everyone else will be.” or, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because there’s no reason to in this point of the song and I don’t want people to think I’m dumb.” Just back and forth, back and forth. The thing is, if I were to listen to those two statements, than I would never raise my hands, I would never do anything but sit back and watch everyone else.

Something promptly, and I finally took my head out of worship and I just started praying with raised hands. At first, again it was so incredibly weird. Not to mention, it takes a lot of strength to keep holding your arms up. But I did. I embraced the silliness of it. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t imagine praying any other way. As I finished my prayer, I kept my hands raised and enjoyed the rest of worship like so.

Embrace it. God is so great, the more you can let go and just let the ‘silliness’ take over, the better. Don’t hold back, let it go.

Don’t Think, Just Pray

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

This is one of my favorite passages in the bible. There are so many things that I do not understand, both inside the Scriptures, and outside. Take for example, Gods love for us. I honestly have an incredibly hard time accepting it sometimes. After reading the Old Testament I always just want to go hide in a corner from God, never to be seen by Him because I know in my heart that I am completely unworthy of Him. After reading about all punishments God placed among people in the Old Testament (largely the Israelites) for the exact same sins that I commit against Him, I have an extremely hard time believing in my heart that He could still care for me. (Even though no matter how much the Israelites rebelled against God, and how angry they made God, He always stayed with them, and He always showed His grace upon them when they asked) Thinking about relationships, if you would to love a friend (relationship or just friendship), how long could you continue to love them and be with you if they are always having affairs and doing things against their wishes? I don’t think very long, but yet that is how we are with God. His love is beyond my understanding, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. That is what makes it beautiful!

There are also times in your life that you are placed in difficult situations. Right now, for me, it is finals week. Maybe for you it is a relationship, a family issue, work issue, and etc. We all are/have/will be in situations that we don’t understand. Situations that are beyond our measures where we feel completely defeated. Situations that overwhelm us and begin to control us. We need to remember to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding.” The Lord is the creator of the universe. He created you and me, and everything we see! There isn’t anything He can’t do! We need to trust in Him. If He created the complex being that we are, He can most certainty help us in any situation. In fact He wants to. We are told in Philippians 4:6,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I like the added “with thanksgiving.” If you are in a difficult situation, thank the Lord of it. Why? Well for one Paul tells us to, but secondly because we have been given an opportunity in which we have to trust in the Lord.

Live your life in trust. Trust in God and don’t worry about what you think of a situation, don’t worry about how it is perceived. (Reminder of David and Goliath) Just know that the Lord is with you. Trust in Him and He will lead you and all the dots will be connected into a picture that we can look back upon.


Don’t Bother With The Ten Commandments!

Now that I just spent the last ten days on the ten commandments, I am going to tell you to stop following them! Don’t focus all your time making sure that you follow them all perfectly! You can’t follow them perfectly, and God is going to love you the same no matter how far, or close you are to following them. So why follow them if you don’t want to?  Well, I am just kidding about all that. Or am I?

The answer is yes we should try to follow the commandments, not because you have to, but because you want to. I am almost (keyword almost) tempted to say that if you are only keeping a commandment because you have to, and not because you want to, you are wasting your time. Just commit the sin because you heart is not with it.

We must know that there is nothing we can do to get to Heaven. Even at our very best we are sinful. I love this verse from the bible

Isaiah 64:6 

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

The line “and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” stands out to me. What we have translated to filthy rags, is actualy ment to be menstrual cloth (used tampon). Us fulfilling the ten commandments at our best, us being the most righteous person we can be, is at its best compared to menstrual cloth. How does that make you feel?

Romans 3:20 

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

I tend to view this as meaning that the law isn’t exactly there for us to fulfill, but to show us we can not fulfill it and that we are sinful and do not deserve Gods gift to us.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 4
So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.  And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead

I like these two sets of verses a lot. We are saved by God’s grace. “And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses.” So even if we don’t live by the law, we can still receive God’s grace.

What is the Point of the Ten Commandments?

If fulfilling the ten commandments doesn’t have to do with how I am saved, why should I follow them, what is the point? Following the ten commandments goes beyond just doing what you are told. The purpose of the ten commandments is to protect us. Look through the ten commandments, and think of the consequences in your life that happens from breaking each one of them. The reason God gave us these commandments is to protect us from the consequences. The law is there to protect us, not to keep us restricted. (Kind of like when parents give their children rules)I believe this is something we often forget about, I know I do.

A second thing to consider is the relationship side of fulfilling the law. We should fulfill the law because we want to. It’s like our relationships on earth(Spouse, boy/girl friend, family, friend, etc). With the relationships closest to us, we do our best to be righteous towards them. They do good to us, and we do good back to them in return. The same applies with God. We should love God so much that we no longer what to sin. Every sin we do pushes us a little bit further from God. We should want to avoid being pushed away, but look to be brought closer to God. It’s our love for God, that should give us the desire to fulfill the ten commandments.
To answer the opening question “Or am I just kidding?” Of course I was. Those are the lies the devil may try to manipulate to us to keep us alway from the law. The law may not be here to get us into Heaven. We may be far from fulfilling the law. But we must do our best to fulfill the law because it protects us. The law is a blessing to us.

Memory Verse of the Week:

Ecclesiastics 7:18

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes].


Shame

The Christian Atheist:

Chapter Two – When You Believe in God but Are Ashamed of Your Past

I really loved this chapter. Far to often we are ashamed of our past and limit our future because of it. We believe we are what we have done. The thought that if anyone knew who we truly are, they wouldn’t want us to be apart of our life. Pastor Craig explains in his book:

Shame usually follows a pattern—a cycle of self-recrimination and lies that claims life after life. First, we experience an intensely painful event. Second, we believe the lie that our pain and failure is who we are—not just something we’ve done, or had done to us—and we experience shame. And finally, our feelings of shame trap us into thinking that we can never recover—that, in fact, we don’t even deserve to.

This feeling of shame is a viscous cycle that hunts us. We feel so guilty for what we do, we let it define us. If you want to know the truth, WE ALL do very shameful things. No one is perfect (except God). The great thing is, whatever we have done, or been through, Jesus forgives us for it.

Like Peter, we can become convinced of the truth: namely, that we are not our sins. And we’re also not what others have done to us. Rather, We are who God says we are: his children. We are forgivable. We are changeable. We are capable. We are moldable. And we are bound by the limitless love of God.

We are forgivable and Gods love has no boundaries. There is nothing we can hide from God, but at the same time there is nothing He won’t forgive us for as long as we ask for it.

If we look at David from the bible we see that he had sexual relations with another mans wife and she became pregnant. He than had her husband killed in war so that he could claim the women to be his wife. Later a prophet of the Lord, Nathan, told David of his son. Just imagine how David felt! He could have easily given up hope. He could have fallen in to the lies of shame. Instead he wrote Psalm 51

 1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I love this! Instead of David beating himself up over what he had down, he asks the Lord for forgiveness. He asks “Create in me a pure heart.” He wants to start over with a new heart. This is what we should do, not beat ourselves up over our past. Our past is our past, it is behind you. Do not let the past hinder your future.

If you have something that you are struggling with, or struggled with in the past, and you can’t get yourself over the shame of it. Pastor Craig’s church created a website a few years ago called http://www.mysecret.tv You can use the site to confess anonymously about anything and invite others to pray for you.

Nothing is to Big

I love the story of David Vs. Goliath. It helps illustrate how nothing is to big for our God. Imagine what would be going through your mind if you came up to battle against one of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s, Sylvester Stallone‘s, or any famous movie hero/villain. The odds are completely against you. What I love about David is that he didn’t care. His reaction was “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine(v.37).” David has complete confidence in the Lord. During this time David was not a warrior. All David was, was a Shepard and a musician. By mans view, he does not have the qualifications to beat Goliath. In fact his bothers and his king were urging him to go back home because he does not belong there, they were afraid for him. David insisted though. He knew the Lord had his back. Finally David won the argument with king and went to battle against Goliath. The only thing David has in the battle was the clothes on his back and a slingshot. Goliath however was fully armored and had a sword that was the size of David. The odds definitely seemed packed against David, but that does not fear him. As soon as the battle started Goliath ran at David full force with his sword pulled and ready to slice David. David however pulled his sling out and in just one shot he nailed Goliath in the forehead and killed him. Just like that Goliath is dead. Goliath, the champion warrior known for his skills in the battlefield, died within 30 seconds of this battle to the little boy David.

I wish I had the faith and trust David did. He very much knew how the situation seemed to human odds, but he also knew he had God on his side and nothing is to big for our God. I love how God can use the must unexpected people to do His biggest tasks. Over and over again in the bible, we see God choosing what seems to be the wrong people, our our eyes, to do His tasks. We can never underestimate our God. This is the God who created the universe and everything in it, there is nothing to big or challenging to Him. All He asks is that we trust in Him, give our problems to Him and He will take care of the rest. My good friend just blogged Stop Everything. We just need to be still and trust in the Lord with complete confidence like David did.

Christian Atheist

I just started reading a book that is called the Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. In order to really observe the material that is presented in this book I am going to blog about every chapter

Chapter 1: When You Beleive in God but Don’t Really Know Him

Did you know that 94% of Americans believe in God? That is 9 out of every 10 people you know. But how many of them people truly share an intimate relationship with God? We often don’t really know God, we just know of Him. We know that He died for us and that we should be a witness for Him and do works for Him but that sometimes is the end of it. Our relationship with God sometimes is like our relationship with your favorite celebrity. You may know everything about that person, but do you actually know that person. Do you share an intimate relationship with that person? The same often results with our relationship with God. We know everything about Him, but we don’t have a relationship with Him, yet alone even strive for one. Craig talks about how he would like to compare our relationship with God like we do with a boy/girl friend, spouse, or someone that you may like. With these people we strive to get to know them more and more. We constantly think of them and want to be closer to them. We know what they want and what they don’t. Just the mention of their name can drive your heart wild. We all know these feelings, and we all know know this list goes much longer. The point is, our relationship with God should be like one with the person what we like/love. We should constantly be looking to communicate with God and strive to know Him better. The best part is God is always available to talk to us and if we want to be closer to Him, just ask and we will come running to you like the prodigal son(Luke 15:11-32).

David described his relationship with God in Psalm 63:1-4. It is truly a beautiful relationship. The words speak for itself.

Psalm 63:1-4

 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Dance

The last few days I had planned to write about New Years resolutions today(Jan 1st). Write about how instead of looking for earthly resolutions that just we just lose track of in time, that we should just simply focus on keeping our eyes on Jesus. However as I was pulling up my wordpress blog, the song ‘Dance” by the Newsboys came on, and a phrase of words from that song caught my attention. First off if you haven’t heard the song, I recomend you listen to it quick on youtube.

These words really caught my attention:

Dance like no one is looking
Sing like no one can hear
Love like you’ve never hurt before
Live like there’s nothing to fear

I was thinking about them words, and what they really mean, as well as where I can find each of them lines in the bible, and how it strengthen my relation with Him. So lets look at it one line at a time.
Dance like no one is looking
If we look in 2 Samuel Chapter 6 we find
….[Michal] saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD….
…[Michal said]How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!
…[David, in response, said] I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes
This is the kind of dancing the song is talking about! David is rejoicing before the Lord! I try to think of myself as doing such a thing but it seems like such a preposterous thing to do! But is it, is it really? God has given us everything we have ever needed and more. He went so far as to have His Son suffer hell for us! Yet we constantly disobey His will. We constantly set ourselves apart from Him. But He is always there just waiting for us to ask for Him back! I guess the sound of a love so great as that really does make you just want to dance!
Sing like no one can hear
Singing can be found all over the bible, most oftenly in use of praise to our Lord. I want to look specially in Acts 16:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Looking at these verses and in their context, Paul and Silas are in imprisonment because of their commitment in following the ways of the Lord rather than the people of the town, as well as casting out a spirit from a woman from the town, that was being used to make money by predicting peoples future. In short, because of their faith, they have been punished. While they are in jail, instead of being a normal person and complaining to the Lord about being in jail, asking why me, and even questioning ones own faith, these to men sing to the Lord! This singing to the Lord proved to be so powerful, that God freed them from the prison!
Love like you’ve never hurt before
When we sin, we hurt our Father in Heaven. We tell Him that we have more important things than Him. Despite how much we hurt Him, He still loves us the same. In Romans 5:8 it says,
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Lord loves us, a lot! We continue to sin daily against Him though, no matter how much we tell Him “Not now Lord,” “I’d rather do this,” “I don’t think that will work for me Lord,” “I don’t need you,” “You’re not powerful enough,” and so on, He is still right there for us. He still loves us just the same throughout all of it. Yet, if someone one thing wrong to us, we throw a fit, and have a hard time trusting in them and being their friend. Jesus told us to love our enemies though, as found in Matthew 5:44,
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
So lets learn to love all those who persecute us, after all it is through their persecution that we have to learn to lean on God more, and trust in Him. For that, I can do nothing but showing love and thanking those who persecute me! Besides, what better revenge is there than showing some love?
Live like there’s nothing to fear
The last line of this phrase of words, is what ties them all together. Live like there is nothing to fear. This means to Dance, Sing, and Love for the Lord, and be even more undignified than that!
Romans 8:31
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 118:6
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
With the Lord by our side, we have nothing to fear! Let’s live like there is nothing to fear!
Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
With that in mind, lets do what the song says!
  • Dance like no one is looking
  • Sing like no one can hear
  • Love like you’ve never hurt before
  • Live like there’s nothing to fear