Hello Brothers & Sisters,
I hope this letter finds you resting in the peace of Christ. Whether your week is going well or it has already turned out to be rather challenging, I want to remind you that God is present. I encourage you to order your life in such a way that this truth is always before you.
I have two reminders of this in my study. One of them is sitting on my desk facing the door. If you’ve ever stopped in for a visit, you may have seen it. It’s a simple frame with the words “The Lord is doing stuff” in bold letters. I apparently said this once and it greatly encouraged a friend of mine. So he decided to frame it and give it to me. I thought it was a little silly at first, but now my own words remind me that God is always on the move. He is always up to something. That’s worth all of us remembering.
The second reminder is a painting I can see from my desk. It’s an original work of art that was gifted to me from an aunt (an artist in her spare time) back in Texas. The picture is of Jesus walking on the water in a raging storm. You can see the disciples in the boat off in the distance, hanging on for dear life. I’m sure you can imagine the powerful message this picture communicates to me. It also serves as a reminder of my calling and how God has worked in my life. My very first sermon was about Jesus walking on the water and calling Peter to step out and join him.
We need things like this in our life to stimulate our imagination and help us experience the reality of God’s presence. I also find that listening to music, lighting candles, or even opening a window to hear the sounds of nature all do something to the soul. It has the power to enhance our faith if we’re intentional about it.
As I said last Sunday, a healthy, holistic faith recognizes the need for right-brain activities and exercises. That is why worship arts is so vitally important to our congregational life. If you missed the message, Worshiping God (3 of 10), you can listen on our website or via iTunes. I shared a theology of worship and where I believe the Lord is leading us in the days ahead.
People are different, that is for sure. For example, I’m an aesthetics guy. I can’t stand fluorescent lights. I don’t think they’re warm or welcoming. I’m convinced it effects my mood, especially in a meeting. But I do understand some folks could care less about the lighting, the furniture, or the smell in the room. However, all of these things have proven to effect people. We’re simply not always aware of it until it has been brought to our attention. Many times the light-bulb (pun intended) doesn’t come on until we’ve actually experienced the difference.
I think the same can also apply to worship. Some of us prefer things simple and solemn, others like it expressive and epic. But the truth is, we need both.
People will always have their personal preferences, but the important thing is that we recognize that entering into God’s presence together through music and the arts is a necessary part of our faith experience. As we read in Revelation 5, the jukebox of heaven is always playing. If it’s so important that heaven is always engaging in worship, it makes sense that we should value and invest a great deal in our main event, the worship service.
While church is much more than a weekly service, we must see that it’s from our worship that everything else flows. If we’re worshiping well (that is the key!), we will encounter God, hear his voice, and be compelled to act on everything else that God would have us be about as a missional church. Understood this way, giving attention to our worship isn’t self-serving, it is Christ-serving. If we worship well, we will be driven by the Spirit to build up our ministries and be ministers of reconciliation to those within our sphere of influence.
Finally, remember that we do not engage in worship as if we’re somehow conjuring up the Spirit of God. We engage and enter into worship so that through the quickening of our soul we might become aware of God’s presence. We worship in order to meet the God who is always present in Jesus, who is already among us. We worship so that our eyes are open to see the King (Isaiah 6:5).
I want to encourage you to think about this through the week as you follow the Lord. May we all come to worship with pliable hearts that are prepared for the partition between heaven and earth to become thin. It’s my prayer that everything we do in our services will help us encounter the Lord together, so that we might be changed for his glory.
See you this Sunday as we reflect on our next core value. We will be addressing the topic of discipleship in a message entitled, Following Jesus (4 of 10). We will also be taking communion at the end of the service. Please join us for worship and don’t miss out on all that God is doing in our congregation.
Grace & Peace,
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