Sunday, January 28, 2007


 I have a bad habit of settling for less than what I want and less than what I'm worth.  Maybe because I do not realize my worth.  I have been bought at a price though -- a very high price and my life was paid for by the precious and perfect life of Jesus.  That means I am worth everything and I deserve the very best.  God has the very best in store for me.  When I settle, I am showing Him that I do not trust Him to be God.

Tyler, the guy I have been seeing, is a really great guy.  He treats me really well and is pretty good to me.  He's smart, funny, and generally just a great person to be around.  But he's not what I want.   Ben was really abusive and I've been trying to determine if I'm moving slowly with Tyler or backing off because I'm scared and running or if it's because he's not right for me.  And over the last couple of weeks, a voice in my head, or maybe my heart has spoken the same words to me repeatedly.  "You are settling."  And I am.  Because you know what?  I want a man who is going to be Adventist.  I want a man who is going to serve beside me in ministry.  I want a man who is going to share in my beliefs and my passions.  I want a man who will go to church with me, who will respect my beliefs and my values and who will love me enough to see my past for what it is, and to see me for who I am now.  I want a man who will love me enough to understand, truly understand, that I need space and time.  I want a man who will love me enough to woo me gently and to be patient.

Yesterday, I was watching a friend of mine.  I don't know much about her past or what has shaped her, but I know that she has been scared of a relationship.  Time and time again, I have observed as she runs from relationships because of fear.  And I've seen her grow and give some of that to Jesus and put it in His hands.  She has been seeing a man for a few months.  He is a godly man who appears to be very much in love with her.  I was watching them yesterday and thinking that I want a man who will be to me what he is to her.  He has been patient.  He has gently wooed her and patiently loved her, allowing her to take the time she needs and move at the pace that her fragile heart requires.  Recently she decided that she was ready to take the relationship one step further and that it was time for them to "come out".  With his love, and her Heavenly Father's love, she is gaining courage and letting go of some of her fears.  Yesterday, as I observed them sitting on my couch, I heard that same voice in my head saying, "Amber, will you let me be God?"

And you know, settling isn't just about relationships.  So often we settle for sin and imperfection because we don't believe that we are worth any more than that.  But you have been bought with the blood of Jesus.  You are worth everything and you deserve the very best that He has for you.  Let God, be God.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

I surrender myself to you.  My fears, my wants, my needs. I recognize that if I am worth the blood of Jesus, I am worth the very best in this life. I'm sorry for sinning against you in my distrust. You have the very best in store for me. Be God.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Heart of Worship

Scenario One:
The prelude begins and few people are in any kind of hurry to get to their sseats. Instead they're still milling around talking to each other. Those on the platform entire with somber faces and sit at the same time. The song leader gets up and the song begins...and you realize that while the organ is playing loudly, those in the pews are only half-heartedly singing, if at all. The youth, young adults, and young at heart sigh as yet another ancient hymn is sung. One of the deacons leads out in the prayer -- one that is peppered with thee's and thou's and bible verses and all poetically strung together in the lilting voice that only comes when reading aloud. The lighting is dim, the organ is loud, the faces are somber... and it's all in the name of reverence.

Church ends. The congregation rushes out and the mood lightens. They shake the pastor's hand.
"Great sermon, Pastor."
"They're getting better..."
"Another good one."
"Now Pastor, I'm not sure I agree with..."
"A wonderful sermon as always, Pastor."

Church is supposed to be somber and serious. Some stand outside and chat about getting nothing out of the worship service. Others appreciate the reverence of the service and feel as if they were filled. Many came and left, having given nothing nor recieved anything -- it's just a weekly habit.

Scenario Two:
The guitars and piano begin to play and the praise team walks out and begins to sing "Come, Now is the Time to Worship." The congregation stands, claps with the music, and makes a joyful noise. After a string of worship songs, the song leader begins to pray and invite God into this place. After a few more songs and normal preliminary things, the sermon is preached. The preacher gets into it a few times and he gets some response from the congregation. The service is ended with prayer and everyone rushes out of the sanctuary and shakes the pastor's hand.
"Great sermon, Pastor."
"They're getting better..."
"Another good one."
"Now Pastor, I'm not sure I agree with..."
"A wonderful sermon as always, Pastor."

People begin to congregate into little clusters in the foyer and parking lot.
"I feel SO good!"
"I really got a lot out of this service!"
"Oh man, that music was great!"
"Preacher man really got fired up today!"
"I love coming to church!"
"Did you hear him sing? Wow!"
"I feel so good!"

And then, there are the others...
"Did you see how they were clapping?"
"I can't believe she had her hands raised!"
"This was the most irreverent service I've ever been to!"
"I just don't understand why these kids like this repetitive music."
"That music lacked inspiration."
"Did you hear what the pastor said? And in the sanctuary!"
"I feel like I just left a party."

You know what? We need to get back to the heart of worship. That isn't scenario one, and I hate to break it to you, but it's not scenario two either. Worship is not about what you GET, but what you GIVE. When we seek to meet our own needs and our own preferences, we lose sight of what, or who rather, worship is really about. Worship is about Jesus Christ. Period. It's for Him, to Him, and about Him. Worship is not something to make you just "feel good." Worship is also not an experience where everyone leaves empty. Worship is not an experience where there must be perfection and precision and preferences are all met. Worship is about praising God for who He is and what He's done. And that means there needs to be JOY in the house of the Lord. Put a smile on your face and keep a song in your heart. But most of all, let it come from your heart.

Let's quit pushing our own agenda so that we can "worship" according to our preferences. Let's worship according to His preferences -- and He prefers to have our hearts. He also wants us to be unified and at peace with one another. When you begin to push your preferences, you lose sight of who the worship is for and division is created. Let's get back to the heart of worship.

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the things I've made it
When it's all about You
All about You, Jesus