All Posts Tagged: music

WORSHIP AND THE WIND

 

This is a long post!

 

 

“Sir,” the woman said,“Where would you get that life-giving water. It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his children and his flocks all drank from it.” Jesus answered: “Those who drink this water will get thirsty again,but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.” “I see you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said.“My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.” Jesus said to her, The time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”(John 4:24)

 

Jesus engaged the Samaritan women about worship. The woman fixated on externals: a place, a well and a mountain.

In my opinion the Western church has a similar fixation: buildings, time, liturgy, professional clergy, proper attire, convenience, musical expression, Bible version, confessional standards, denominational titles and doctrinal statements … all of which miss the mark of “true worship“.

The church of Acts provides the essential of worship (today, most would vote for the preaching of the Word). When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.” (Acts 1:8) The followers (120) of Jesus were all together in one place on Pentecost. All at once there was a sound from heaven like a powerful wind. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.(Acts 2:1-4) Did you catch it? We’re not given a full picture. However, there’s no doubt: the assembled followers were waiting FOR and ON the promised, power-full Spirit! In other words, without the presence and power of the Spirit worship is impossible … period!

It was the late ’90’s. Many from Immanuel attended an interdenominational worship conference. We returned with one conviction: the Holy Spirit is the commander-in-chief of worship! However, as regards the nuts and bolts … we didn’t have a clue! Our board agreed that I and one board member would meet for prayer prior to worship to wait on the Spirit. We invited anyone from the congregation to meet with us. Most Sunday’s there were at least four present. Gradually, the Spirit revealed to us what He wanted to do. However, there was a problem: ME! After all, had I not been trained in how to do worship? Weekly the Spirit would deal with me. However, I would dismiss his prompting! Gradually and graciously He continued and eventually won! (Note: many of the congregation were ahead of me). After that, our worship was filled with anticipation of the Spirit’s presence and power.

This is important! We would gather every Sunday in the same building and at the same time. The musicians would rehearse the selected songs. I would prepare a message. This did not change. What changed is our attitude. Though we had planned and prepared, the Spirit was ultimately in charge! What He wanted to do on any particular Sunday was THE ESSENTIAL!

Now, without accusation or intimidation I ask you: on any given Sunday IF the Holy Spirit wanted to “blow however HE wills“, would He find anticipatory reception of His presence and power in your church? Practically, would He be required to fit His agenda within the confines of your hourly, (or whatever) planned liturgy? Please, I don’t mean to be derogatory in any way! Yet, Paul said: Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. Don’t despise what God has revealed“(1 Thessalonians 5:19-20)

At the same conference we attended (early 90’s) a word was given about a congregation ((it was small and unknown at the time) in Sydney, Australia: 1) it would primarily be characterized by the free flow of the Holy Spirit in worship 2) it would produce worship music beyond that which the church has ever experienced 3) it would grow into a mega-church via lost young persons and 4) it’s impact would be world-wide. All of this has happened … and, then some! Below is a video of worship at Hillsong. Notice: 1) the young adults, 2) the quality of the music (words) and 3) the passion of those gathered. This may not be your “cup of tea”. However, remember, the Jewish religious leaders missed Jesus for the same reason!

 

 


Hospital for sinners

Jesus and His disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw Him keeping this kind of company and lit into His disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” (Mark 2:15-17) 

DylanBorn on December 9, 1969, in New York City, Jakob Dylan, the son of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, forged a career in music as well. As lead singer and songwriter for The Wallflowers, Jakob had major hits as well as Grammy wins. He commented: “People watch [reality] shows and want to see you live a terrible life and embarrass yourself. But I’ve got a life that really matters to me, and that’s because of the way I was raised. My ethics are high because my parents did a great job.”

Like his father (Gotta Serve Somebody and Saved) Jakob has written much about the spiritual condition of humankind; specifically our need for outside help. In “Hospital for Sinners” he writes about the church as a continuing demonstration of the ministry of Jesus in our sick world. Take a listen!

Mental Health Monday—Christmas anchor for the mentally wounded

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm  34:18)

The Holidays of 2015 are here! The turkey has been devoured! The busiest traffic day has been navigated! Black Friday and Cyber Monday have inundated the shopping malls and internet. Decorations are being launched! Everywhere Christmas music is heard 24/7! Calendars are jammed with celebrations. Family and friends capture our attention. And perhaps, we will remember that it all began unpretentiously with the birth of a Baby in a smelly stable located in a hick town called Bethlehem!

However, for most in the world that Father sees, it will not happen this way. Rather than looking for presents under a tree some will be scavenging for “food” in garbage dumps. Others, like Joseph and Mary, will be walking, mile after mile, looking for shelter, a safe place to lay their heads. Some Christians will only remember Christmas 2014, their homes and church buildings now demolished by war. Still others will be in hospitals, receiving little help because there is little medical equipment, little medicine and few trained professionals. Walls and bars will encapsulate many, both the guilty and innocent alike. The battlefield, airplane or nuclear submarine will be the residence of thousands. These are some of the world that will cause Father to reflect on the reason he sent His Son on that first Christmas.

But, I’m thinking of yet another type of person. They may be in your family; part of your circle of friends, neighbors, business associates, clients, and church attendees or, any stranger that you meet during the season. Most likely you will not recognize the turmoil brewing under their façade of Christmas cheer. Unless, of course, YOU are such a person!

I’m speaking to us suffering with mood disorders—a.k.a. mental illness. “One in four adults—approximately 61.5 million Americans—experience mental illness in a given year. One in 17—about 13.6 million—live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder” (according to the National Institutions of Health). According to years of research the holidays for us can be extremely daunting. I’ll leave it to the professionals to explain the causes. As one who walks “the edge” now and then, my purpose is to simply draw attention to the first step of healing: coming out of hiding.

Genesis records: “Immediately Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard God strolling in the garden, they hid from God in the trees of the garden. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid.” Since the Fall the natural response of humankind is to cover-up and hide because we fear exposure. This is our default reaction!

Now, those of us with mental illness become experts at covering-up and hiding. Mental illness carries a heavy social stigma. People will accept any dis-ease as “normal” except mental illness. That’s beyond the comfort zone of most! In such an environment we feel deeply frightened! So, not wanting to be ostracized and/or rejected we cover up the dis-eased thoughts and feelings in our spirits. As best we can we attempt to play “normal”! Only, as things spiral downward the game becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. To top it off we become increasingly lonely. Mother Teresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness!”

The first step of AA is: “We admitted ….” And so it is with mental illness. There is no healing in hiding! We must acknowledge the reality of our torturous inner world. The spigot of our spirit must be turned ON even though we will be ravaged by a tsunami of fear! At that point your Creator Father speaks these tender words: I am near to the brokenhearted; I rescue those whose spirits are crushed.”

As a chronic depressive I’m encouraging you to take this first step of healing.  Go to a quiet place with no distractions (that means no cell phone!). Listen to the song below entitled “Anchor Me!” Let the words slowly simmer in your wounded spirit. Let them become your prayer to a loving Father. If you become agitated or afraid, return to Father’s word: “I am near to the brokenhearted; I rescue those whose spirits are crushed!” Don’t be surprised if the Enemy tempts you to abort the effort. Remember, he wants to destroy you. So, persistently return to the process until you begin to take ownership of your thoughts and feelings. Don’t worry about the time! Father is extremely patient! What I can promise is this: eventually you will be enabled to embrace your thoughts and feelings without fear in the presence of one person: your Creator Father. He is the first step of healing!

Check out the lyrics for Anchor Me by clicking here.

Homeward bound

“There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. I’m on my way to get your room ready.” (John 14:2)

CAUTION: SUICIDE ALERT!

C. S. Lewis made this observation about human desire: “The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’Paul agreed: “The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better.” 

In brokenness the human heart longs for wholeness in FATHER’S HOME! For the suicidal the voltage of “going home” is greater than the power to remain on earth. I would not presume to supply a rational explanation for such reasoning! My only proof is this: Jesus arose to prepare a home for the broken! Beyond and outside of that Gospel fact I have nothing to offer!

Jesus’ program remains firm. He saves losers and only losers. He raises the dead and only the dead. And He rejoices more over the last, and the least, and the little than over all the winners in the world. The Gospel is the announcement that God finds us not in the garden of improvement but in the desert of death. It’s precisely from death that we are brought home.” —Jason Goroncy, in Hope And Homecoming

This parable (Luke 15) is about coming home. It speaks to us about the nature of lost-ness, and about the necessity of experiencing lost-ness if we are to experience homecoming. As one writer put it, ‘Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful, He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.’” (Goroncy)

In Luke 15 we are given a picture of the nature of such a God, an insight into the purpose of history, and a glimpse of how history ends—of how your life ends and of how my life ends, and how the lives of those we love and of those who have made life hell for us, will end—with celebration, with a banquet, with the extravagant joy with which God welcomes the found and eats with the, … with homecoming.” (Goroncy)

Here’s a song that expresses what I’ve attempted to communicate—

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red,
If you find it’s me you’re missing if you’re hoping I’ll return,
To your thoughts I’ll soon be listening and in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.
Bind me not to the pasture; chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing I’ll be homeward bound again!

My father’s son

If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. (Romans 8:14-16)

(NOTE: this post is obviously not PC correct. Get over it! I’m focusing on humankind!)

Without a doubt Brennan Manning, an ex-Jesuit priest, has been the most influential author in the last ten years of my life. Why? He speaks candidly of his own brokenness. I am a broken person, to say the least!

In Abba’s Child Manning begins by beckoning Christians to come out of hiding, the place to which we retreat out of shame or guilt in the misguided belief that God is berating us as harshly as we are berating ourselves. In that place of hiding, we further nurture our false self, which Manning calls “the impostor.”

Our masks, our pretenses, our hypocrisy, our outward displays of saintliness, Manning contends, rob us of the thing we crave the most: intimacy with God the Father. It is only when we shed our false identity and accept the unconditional love of our Abba—our heavenly “Daddy”—that we can experience the passionate love relationship with Him that we have long craved.

Manning’s gift as an author lies in his often brutal honesty about his own failures. That’s what sets his works apart from those of so many other Christian leaders, the ones who preach authenticity but admit only to their prettier and pettier and less frequent “mistakes.” Manning is unafraid to expose in print his own sins, including those that are ugly, major and chronic. As a result, he has earned the right to speak into the lives of people who need to be equally transparent with God about the ugly, major and chronic sins they try so hard to keep hidden.

Those who have come face to face with their own brokenness—and those who need to—will find both comfort and hope in ABBA’S CHILD, particularly through its many memorable anecdotes and illustrations. Saturated with the themes of God’s grace and love, ABBA’S CHILD is one of those treasured books that manages to be profound, challenging, convicting and delightful, all at once” (from the book review by Marcia Ford).

If you are broken as I, here’s a song that perfectly reflects the Scripture above as well as Manning’s interpretation. My prayer is that you will find healing as extravagant as Papa’s love!

I was young when I was told
Take a chance before you’re old
Live a life you’re proud to share
Don’t look back and don’t be scared
Say your prayers and don’t be late
When in doubt, just keep your faith
Learn to walk before you run
And soon you’ll be a man, my son
Now I am right where I belong
I hear your voice and I am strong
I will carry you with me to journey’s
I’ll always be my father’s son
My father’s son
He left me lessons all around
And keep your feet on solid ground
Let your words and honor be
The truth and strength for all the world to see
Now I am right where I belong
I hear your voice and I am strong
I will carry you with me to journey’s
I’ll always be my father’s son
My father’s son
Find the one, don’t let her go
In your heart, you’ll always know
Raise your boy to love his mom
And soon you’ll be a man, my son
Now I am right where I belong
I hear your voice and I am strong
I will carry you with me to journey’s end
I’ll always be my father’s son
My father’s son