Saturday, May 28, 2011

Navigating Controversy


Since January of this year I have been enrolled in a distance learning course called "Leader Development Program". The course is from Bethel Church in California. Each month we deal with a particular theme. Interestingly our theme for May is "Risk and Faith".

I was on staff under Roland Buck (Angels on Assignment). I will never forget the first Sunday he shared about the Angelic visitations. He was so transparent. God was asking him to lay down his years of reputation in the community, with his denomination, with his family... to be ridiculed, scorned, even to the threatening of his own life. He was a man who walked between heaven and earth, in the cloud of glory, a local pastor suddenly thrust onto an international platform. He was not an outstanding orator, not a super spiritual giant, not a polished packaged professional. Just a loving faithful spiritual father - targeted by heaven for a message that is still rippling across the nations. Roland used to tell us as staff, "What the Holy Spirit has given us is so precious, I won't waste my time in argument or defense. But I have all the time in the world for honest questions from hungry hearts." I have thought about that statement many times. It's the same attitude the Father displayed with humans struggling to understand the mystery of his plan and their part in it. From Moses to Mary, the patience and understanding of God is evident to hear the questions from hungry hearts. I try to filter that in my own life to be sure I do not give time to a spirit of defense and argument, but always have time for the hungry of heart.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our gift in Worship

The concept of Worship is packed with such an incredible variety of blessings, benefits, power, deliverance and advancement. I have always loved to worship - but I grew up with constraints on what that looked like. I bound my worship in commonly held views - none of which were actually about God, all of which were about me. Some constraints in my worship were "I don't know the song, I don't like my voice, if I dance or raise my hands people will look at me, I don't like that style of music..." Well, you get the idea.

Worship as I have experienced it in the past two years is so different now. First I have to say I experienced personally the power of worship to deliver. I had been struggling with an oppression of spirit (see "Refreshing" blog entry) for almost a year. I found myself at a conference where my desperation was about to be encountered by the Tsunami of God's power. It was literally "live or die" time! As I stood to worship, I threw up my arms and lifted my voice to join with the first note of the worship leader's and the power of God hit me. A sound came out of me like a note/groan/yell and it seemed to go forever. I've never had an experienced like it. I didn't know I could push that much air out of my lungs for that long. I had no idea what was happening. I felt the pain break, the chasm fill, a new foundation literally form in my chest, incredible joy. But that was just the start.

As the worship continued, I began to receive downloads of visions like a backlog of email. Worship changed forever for me.

I no can longer worship about God. I have totally lost this ability!

I can only worship TO God!

What is the difference? There is an instant intimacy that was never there before. There is a complete disregard for my needs. There is a total abandonment of "self consciousness" replaced by "God consciousness".

Lies we believe:
Worship is 3 fast songs and 3 slow ones.
Worship is the responsibility of the song leader to bring us to the place where WE feel God's presence and can then give him our attention for the sermon.
Worship is songs we are comfortable with.
Worship is based on my feelings and circumstances.
The shorter worship is - the better, because the real purpose of church is the sermon and the fellowship.

Wow, the list could go on and on...

But what IS worship?

Worship is simply our gift to God. What do you get the CREATOR who has everything, eh?
You give Him worship. It's all about Him. It's never been about ME!
So if it's about Him, about focusing on His Presence, I am irrelevant! It's the response of the awareness of His Presence that is true worship. The celebration and encounter of His Presence is the purpose of our gathering together!

In His Presence is our deliverance, healing, intimacy, peace, joy, in fact there is so much packed into the Presence of God we could not begin to list it all!

There are thousands of testimonies of spontaneous healing in the Presence of God without one person laying hands on the sick.

When we throw away our "list" and go into intimacy with the Father, we realize He already knew the "list" and He has just taken care of it!

One of the most impacting things about WORSHIP I've heard was about a form of worship we could only do here on earth - not in heaven. It was to give Him Praise and Worship in the midst of disappointment, struggle, challenges or lack. Why can we only do that here and not in heaven? Because there are no struggles in heaven, no lack, no disappointments. So to lift our voices, to sing, to shout our love, to embrace Him when all of our emotions are reeling from discouragement, grief or despair and confusion is in fact a sweet fragrance to the Father that silences the Angels of heaven. This is a worship they can observe but never know. This is a worship in which even the great cloud of witnesses are in awe. They may remember it but their time of that offering is finished.

But we, here on earth, have a gift which we can give Him. We raise our voices celebrating His Goodness, celebrating in the midst of mystery His Love.

This is WORSHIP!