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From Dung to Worship

March 31, 2009 Leave a comment

worship

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ ~ Philippians 3:8 (NASB)

Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ ~ Philippians 3:8 (KJV)

I have posted two translations of the same verse because each has a certain language that I would like to take advantage of in this post.  I was recently asked to provide some proof verses for what worship is all about.  There is so much wealth in the scriptures about that subject that there is no way that I could do justice in a short post on the topic but grant me a little leeway as I dump some thoughts about worship.

First

Worship comes from the older word form ‘Worthship’.  We know from our earliest school days that the ‘ship’ at the ending of the word means ‘to have’.  Just as relationship means to have relations with someone, worthship means to recognize that something or someone HAS worth or value.

To truly recognize the full worth or value of something a deep knowledge of that thing or person must be built or understood.  Think about all the stories you have heard of someone finding a priceless piece of art in a garage sale for some small nominal amount of money that is worth a large magnitude more than what they purchased it for.  The person who sold the piece in the garage sale lacked the knowledge to understand the value of the thing they were selling, otherwise, they would have never sold it for a penance.

Second

The Hebrew and Greek words that are most often translated to worship in the bible are ‘shachah‘ in Hebrew (I think of Shock and Awe) which means to bow down. The word in Greek is ‘proskyneo‘ (I think Prostrate Knee) which means to kneel or prostrate in homage.

As you can see, there is a physical manifestation that is correlated to the act of worship thus worship takes some form of action on the part of the individual recognizing the value in the thing or person to be worshiped.  The Hebrew and Greek words above show an action rooted in humbleness.  I believe this is because there is a recognition of not only the great and immense value of the thing or person to be worshiped but, also, the lowly and diminished value of the person worshiping.

Finally

When you read Paul’s words as recorded in the letter to the Philippians, you will notice that he highlights those value systems in strict contrast.  Everything that he was or had took on the value of dung in the light of the surpassing value that the knowledge of Christ exposed.

And what forms of actionable worship did Paul’s knowledge lead him to?

  • It says he counted all things loss, that he assigned them the value of offal or dung.  He took time to measure the value of every earthly thing that he could lay claim to and assigned to them their correct value in light of the glories of Christ.  In other words, he reset his life success meter to that which reflected the truest measure – he surrendered all to Christ.
  • This measuring did not come without some cost, however, because we see Paul use the word ‘suffered’ in the casting away of these things that no longer held value to him.  Worship can be found in the action of suffering that is attached to surrendering.
  • BUT, finally, we see that his final act of worship is in GAINING or WINNING Christ.  Don’t miss the importance of this statement.  We can worship in the simple act of having Christ.

Maybe that last point is hard to grasp, so imagine a man walking down the road with shackles on both his hands and feet.  While he is able to move, he still values the idea of being free from the bondage that holds him because he recognizes the weight of the chains that hold him in check.  On his way he meets a man that holds the key to his chains and the man is kind enough to unlock the shackles.  A bystander may witness two simultaneous emotions in the man being freed; that joy for having the chains removed and no longer having that weight on him AND the greater joy of knowing freedom for what it is truly is.  There is worship in the loss and there is worship in the gain.. the greater being in the gain.

Square Dancing on Round Wheels

March 30, 2009 2 comments

I wrote the following piece several years ago based on a memory of my oldest daughter and I going to an Indian Princess square dance.

Square Dancing on Round Wheels

Strange strains of music
escape
to be collected
by curious ears.

Night air,
circling,
swirling,
handing off
partnered feelings.

Clasping hands
we enter the lighted hall.

She is all smiles
in pigtails
as she watches
this dervish delight.

I can sense her yearning
to be a spoke -
a spoke
in this colorful wheel.

She is tiny
sitting in her chair.
Forever sentenced
to four wheels
of her own.

But…
not tonight.

I lift her
from mired desires.
We swing into
a dos-a-dos.

She giggles
as we spin.
Shining eyes
illuminate
my darkest reaches.

Little hands
play the air
touching the notes,
composing her own symphony.

The joy of the dance
belongs to her.
She is grace
as she directs its
crash and ebb.

The music slows
and the caller is silent.
I give her a final dip
and we stand
center of the circle.

I am her legs
but she is my heart.

Holy Holy Holy

March 29, 2009 3 comments

I am reading RC Sproul’s book on ‘The Holiness of God’.  He is making me think and he is helping me learn.  I love books like that.  I want to highlight two things that I picked up from the second chapter of the book tonight.

The first one is this:

How do you describe the Holiness of God?

You would probably have to start with defining the word Holy which, in and of itself, is a hard thing.  Just to keep it simple we will use the definition of  ‘set apart’.  God is set apart from humanity in His righteousness, goodness, loving kindness, or any other attribute that you would use to describe Him.  He is set apart.

So how do you describe the degree of His holiness?  Maybe you have heard two children measuring the amount of their love for their parents.  The first one may state that they love their mommy to infinity.  We know that there is no number bigger than infinity because it describes an eternally large number… a number that we could NEVER count BUT that is not a deterrant to the second child.  That second child will non-chalantly state that they love their mommy infinity times infinity thus stating a degree of infinity that their affection reaches.

God’s holiness is described in much the same manner but instead of limiting it to only one repetition of the degree we can go to three degrees of His holiness as we see in Isaiah chapter 6.  God is Holy Holy Holy.

The second thing that I want to highlight is the last couple of paragraphs from that chapter:

I cringe inside when I speak in churches about the holiness of God.  I can anticipate the responses of the people.  They leave the sanctuary convinced that they have just been in the presence of a holy man.  Because they hear me preach about holiness they assume I must be as holy as the message I preach.  That’s when I want to cry, “Woe is me.”

It’s dangerous to assume that because a person is drawn to holiness in his study that he is thereby a holy man.  There is irony here.  I am sure that the reason I have a deep hunger to learn of the holiness of God is precisely because I am not holy.  I am a profane man, a man who spends more time out of the temple than in it.  But I have had just enough of a taste of the majesty of God to want more.  I know what it means to be a forgiven man and what it means to be sent on a mission.  My soul cries for more.  My soul needs more.

~ RC Sproul “The Holiness of God”

Those are a couple of good things to end on today.

Back to Basics

March 27, 2009 1 comment

I sit here tonight musing.  The toughest thing about my musing is trying to discern how to translate my thoughts into a tangible communication that lacks an accusatory undertone.  There is hope that the last sentence has the reader intrigued enough to read on and discover what has me perplexed.

Instead of preparing a lengthy discourse in order to explain my quandary, I will simply lay this hypothetical situation before the reader.

A teacher stands before a class of students who claim belief in the Christian religion and poses the following questions:

  • Describe the role of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in your life.
  • What does it mean to be Holy as God is Holy?
  • How important are the different aspects of Salvation (Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification)?
  • What does a Christian look like?
  • Why do you believe the way you believe?

I could go on but I think the point should be made with just those 5 questions.  But just in case, let me juxtapose the same situation with a different set of questions.

  • Who are David and Goliath OR Noah OR Moses?
  • What are the ABC’s of salvation?
  • What is your life verse?
  • What church do you go to?

What kind of responses are going to be received for each class?  Here is something to muse, which set of questions should be answerable by those who say they love Christ and want to do His will?

Part of Christ’s great command was this:

teaching them to observe all that I commanded you

Paul mentions in 2 Timothy that ALL scripture is profitable for preparing the man (or woman) to be adequately equipped for every good work.

If I boil down my musings to a simple one-line sentiment, it would be this – have we focused on the important aspects of discipleship?  Maybe its time to get back to basics.

Church Worship

March 25, 2009 1 comment

I hit CNN this morning and this link (http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/03/25/cleveland.catholic.parish.closures/index.html) was the highlighted story.  Two things immediately stuck out at me:

  • The article title – “Faithful losing spiritual homes”
  • This quote – “But the building is being closed, something Martens likens to ‘losing somebody in your family’.”

OK.. so a third thing struck me.  Read the articles and then look at the pictures of the building – internal and external.  I could have written a lengthy post on this topic but instead I have created an image that asks all the questions that I could think of.

churchworship

What are your thoughts?

Categories: In The News Tags: , , , ,

On teaching Missions

March 10, 2009 2 comments

I am involved with the discipleship of our older teens at church and this year I have been focusing on what Missions really is.  Its easy to think about the person we send across the ocean to work with natives in a foreign land as a missionary, but in actuality, missions is so much more than that.

As I build my case for for what missions means, I have to start with the involvement of the Holy Spirit in that work.  This is my third time teaching the class this year and God has put it on my heart to spend some time digging into the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how that impacts us in our walks as Christians.  I think we ignore, take for granted,  or misunderstand that aspect of our faith.

This past Sunday we did a community object lesson.  I made some chocolate dipping fondu and brought in various fruits and things to dip into the chocolate.  The chocolate that was in the pot was shared by everyone present and we were connected by that breaking of ‘bread’ moment.  I expressed to them during the discussion that just as the chocolate that covered their selected treat was the same as the chocolate in the pot, the Holy Spirit that is present in each of our lives is no different than the godhead from which it proceeds.  And, just as the food that enters their body impacts their health and energizes them, the Holy Spirit is doing a similar thing in their spiritual lives.

There was a lot of material discussed that evening about the Holy Spirit so I sent an email to them the next day high-lighting some of the information.  I am going to capture that data here in my blog so that I have a reference to it in the future.  Who knows, maybe it will springboard some discussion here as well.

Hello Missions class!

Last night I left a question kind of hanging out there – which is more real, the physical or spiritual world? Beau had answered the spiritual and Kalya had offered up some insight to the physical.  They are both right in that they are both just as real.  God gave us a real physical body to respond to this real physical world around us. At the time of our salvation, He gave us the Holy Spirit as a means to deal with and understand the spiritual influences in our lives – namely, Him and His kingdom.

In the light of eternity, we will spend but a brief flash concerned with this physical world.  So we could ask the question, “which reality has the most impact?”

I know I threw out a lot of information at you guys last night, so let me step back and give a ‘brief’ overview of where I was trying to take the material.

God/Christ/Holy Spirit = All aspects of the same God.  Not different gods, not parts of one god.  All are God.  They each share the same attributes.  God has chosen to reveal Himself in this manner so that we might more fully understand who He is.  You might be thinking that it really confuses the matter and you would be right in that we should recognize that God is bigger than what our imaginations can even understand.  That is a big statement so let it sink in.

You were created in God’s image.  When God formed man, He stopped and had a conversation with ‘Himself’ and said,”Let US make man in our image.”  This is a representation that their is a unity of purpose within the Godhead.

That purpose included you before the world was ever created – He has been concerned and working toward your salvation.  In His Godhead, He predestined a purpose of His will that you would one day have the ability to have a relationship with Him.  In order for that to happen, He knew that He would have to make a way for you to be redeemed from a fallen state and, stepping from Heaven, He became man in the form of Jesus.  Christ’s death provided the redemption (the payment needed to set us free) that we could not accomplish on our own, and finally, it was necessary to provide Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit in order to draw, convict, and indwell us so that He could become the guide and power in our lives.  I say all of this so that you have some understanding of how Loving God is toward you.

When God created Adam and Eve, He breathed life into them.  They were designed for eternity but their sin caused death to enter into creation.  God had told them on the day that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil that they would die.  Their rebellion brought judgment on all of mankind.  We are all born under a sentence of death.

Before Adam and Eve rebelled, God had walked with them in the Garden of Eden.  He had a close, intimate relationship with them.  So their sin not only brought death, but it also broke that intimate relationship that they once had.  For them and for their offspring.  God desires for us to know Him because of His great love for us, so we see in the old testament how He dwelt among man in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle.  Only the high priest could enter that place and only one time a year.  God’s glory was represented inside the Holy of Holies in the form of fire.

Why is this important to know?  Remember that the building of the Tower of Babel, a monument to man’s glory, was stopped when God confused their language so that they could not understand each other.  They no longer had unity.  The day of Pentecost, as recorded in the Acts chapter 2 shows us God at work to repair the relationship and the unity through the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Christ’s death had purchased the redemption that was necessary to re-establish that intimate relationship that Adam and Eve had known with God.  Before our salvation, we were dead spiritually and just as God had breathed life into Adam and Eve, the Holy Spirit came upon those in Jerusalem in the form of something that sounded like a rushing wind.  God breathed life into spiritually dead people through the baptism of His Holy Spirit.  The Holy of Holies moved from the tabernacle and into the very lives of those men and women who were present on the day of Pentecost.  God displayed His glory through flames of fire above the heads of those present.  Just as He had displayed His glory within the tabernacle.  And then those people started speaking in the languages of those that were around them, languages that they had not known before, witnessing to them of God’s glory and grace.

  • God had reversed the curse of death.  While we may die physically, we will know eternal life in His new kingdom.
  • He had re-established an intimate relationship with mankind.
  • His glory was displayed in power and grace.
  • And He provided the means by which we can have unity.

John 15:5 captures these words of Christ, “I am the vine and you are the branches, if a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.  Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Christ indwelling you in the form of the Holy Spirit is the only way you can be empowered to do His will.  His Spirit brings life, purpose, discipline, unity, and so many more things to the true believer.  That’s why it is important to understand the Holy Spirit in order to fully appreciate what Missions is all about.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witness both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

So, what are your perceptions of the Holy Spirit?

Girl, you’ll be a woman soon

March 5, 2009 5 comments
Brianna and I at Rock City

Brianna and I at Rock City

My youngest daughter, Brianna, is only 11 but she has already outgrown her mother in height.  She is also more mature for her age than a lot of her couterparts.  That may be because she has been part of the process of taking care of her older sister, Lauren.  A task she never chose but one we chose for her when my wife and I decided to have a second child.

Brianna is going to be a lot like her mother and I when it comes to temperament because she is showing the signs of a strong and independent will.

She is growing so fast.  It won’t be long before she will be doing all the things that her sister never had an interest in; dating, driving, make-up & hair, college, and of course, more dating.  One day she will bring that ‘Mr. Right’ home for her mother and I to meet.  Then who knows, maybe a grandchild or three will be visiting Heather and I.

Some may think that I am starting too early with these thoughts but I would counter that it was just yesterday that she was laying on my chest with that new baby smell tickling my nose.  I can’t tell you how much I miss being able to hold her like that but I wouldn’t trade it for who she is today and the relationship that I have with her.  My point is that time moves so quickly.  Its also important to realize that this period of her life is where I can have the most impact in shaping who she will become in the future.

Its such a conviction and a blessing to know that she needs her daddy right now.  One day she will ‘cleave unto another’ and, while she will still be my daughter, she will be influenced by someone else that has a more intimate relationship with her.

God, help me be the daddy she needs today so that she can be the woman you desire her to be tomorrow.

We as parents have so much influence that we just throw away.  What’s our excuse?

I spoke with my wife a couple of nights ago concerning Brianna.  The gist of the conversation was that I think its time to start having ‘father-daughter’ dates with her – time that I carve out of my schedule to make her feel special because she IS special.  As her father, if I don’t do that, someone else will and it may not be the influence that I want in her life.

My wife’s response to the conversation was simply, “Its about time you listened to me.”

Yeah, she is the smart one that’s why I love her.

How about you fathers out there – you got some advice for me that you have learned raising your daughters?

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