Worship has been something I’ve loved since a kid. I remember going to summer camp, at the age of 9 or 10, and being so overwhelmed during worship that I would drop down in my seat (and sometimes to my knees) to just cry. I was overwhelmed that the God of this Universe wanted to hear the song coming out of my mouth.
Tim Keller describes worship, as: “Seeing what God is worth and giving Him what He is worth.” And as a kid, somehow I got that. I understood that God has infinite worth, and I had the privilege to show Him a glimpse of how that infinite worth impacted my heart through worship. I had the privilege to give His breath back.
A little over 15 years later, and I still get overwhelmed in worship. I’m thankful my understanding of worship has grown though. I’m learning it really isn’t about giving God my worship, because in reality He doesn’t NEED my worship... but good gosh do I need it. I think 10 year old Caitlin thought God needed to be reminded of His goodness and glory, and I wanted to be the person to remind Him. But man was I wrong, because God doesn’t need to be reminded of His awesomeness... that would require Him to change based on His worshippers, and my God never changes. But I’ve experienced (definitely within the last 10 months) when I worship, I change.
I become free. I become free of distractions. Free of the busyness of life. Free from my fears. And through that freedom, I am able to be undone before the Lord. I can get buck-wild for My Savior. I am able to be unveiled, standing before God face to face. In the place where I get to “contemplate the Lord’s glory” allowing Him to transform me more into His image (2 Corinthians 3:13-18).
This is why I believe in worship. That’s why I need it more than ever in my life... because it makes me more like Jesus.
I read once, “The more we get on with celebrating who and what we are in Christ, the less consumed we will be by chaos and the more committed we will be to Christ-likeness in the world and for the world.”
I don’t know about you, but I always want my life and my attention to be centered on Christ. Not only does it mold me into more of Christ-likeness, but it gives something this world so desperately needs... Jesus.
I don’t know where you are at in life right now. If you are finding it hard to worship God or if you find yourself wrapped up in it 24/7. I don’t know if you’ve lost your dance moves or if you get jiggy in His Presence every day. I know for me, I’m learning. I'm learning to dance again before the Lord. I’m learning to be undone in His Presence... and not really care what people think.
I want to be a woman who when faced with turmoil and trials in life, I turn to worship. I worship the God of unwavering peace... and come away with that peace.
I want to be a woman who when in need of wisdom, I turn to worship. I worship the God of infinite wisdom... and come away with wisdom.
I want to be a woman who when faced with the difficulties of loving the unloveable, I turn to worship. I worship the God who IS love and allow His love to become mine.
So friends, get to dancing. Get to worshipping. Find a place to be undone before the Lord.
I’m learning as a parent how little control I have with my kids as they get older. I can tell them all sorts of things but I’m not with them 24/7 so it’s up to them to make good choices. So the best thing Julie and I can do as parents is pray early and pray often for our kids. Which brings me to the topic of this blog.
“Shame on you!” Have those words been spoken over you, maybe as a child? Have you spoken those words to someone else? Whether or not we heard those 3 words spoken, we all have felt shame in our lives. Shame is: painful humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person.
Let’s look at what God does with shame. In the book of Joshua in the Bible, we see a leader who is struggling. Seven times God tells Joshua to be bold and courageous in his leadership. (It’s pretty obvious that he struggles with fear and timidity.)
But in chapter 3, Joshua tells the people of Israel that it is time to cross the Jordan River. Finally, after 40 years, they are going into their Promised Land. In chapter 5, something remarkable happens. It begins with the circumcision of the people (verses 2-3) which is significant because verse 4 tells us that no one had been circumcised since they left Egypt. A few verses later, God says this to the people, “Today, I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” (NLT translation)
These people were ashamed of being Hebrews in Egypt. They still had a slave mentality 40 years later. But God declares that on this day, He had removed the shame of their slavery. Part of their shame was being a slave, but the other part was enduring the insults they heard from other nations who mocked them for taking 40 years to make a 16 day trip from Egypt to Jordan River.
Let’s apply this to our lives:
Begin removing the shame of your past -- your years of slavery and wandering -- by believing who you are as a child of God. Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKv9eiFoBms for a video of Scriptures that speak truth to how God sees everyone who accepts what Jesus did for them on the cross.
Take this list and step towards what God tells you is true. Cut away sinful nature. Live differently. God still rolls away shame for every child of His!
Today, I went to a Mosque.
I have been in a church planting workshop all week. It’s a small group of people from all around the United States learning principles and tools on how to plant churches. Funny thing, the workshop was in Texas and the Texans were outnumbered. Many of the church planters there were from large cities that are very culturally diverse. One afternoon, the workshop group took a field trip to a local mosque. A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. Our instructor had arranged for us, a group of evangelical pastors, to meet with a local leader of the Islamic Association of Fort Worth, in a mosque. As we drove up, two Islamic men met us in the parking lot with smiles, handshakes and even a hug. As we waited for the rest of our group arrived, we talked about our families and the crazy Texas weather. Soon the rest of our group arrived, and we went into the mosque (it was not during a prayer time). After removing our shoes, we were escorted into the prayer area. Where we found a table overflowing with fresh fruits and cookies setup for our eating pleasure. Our Muslim host introduced himself and his friends, and then spent the next 45 minutes calmly explaining Islam tenants, history and their religious traditions. He told us stories of his childhood, playing with kids of different faiths and it never being a big deal. He told us about his journey to Mecca and what it meant to him. Then he told us a more recent story of being in a local McDonalds drinking coffee and being told by one of the other customers how much he hated him and all Muslims. Our host explained these words from the other customer surprised him so much, he didn’t even know how to respond. He has been in the USA for over 20 years and no one had ever personally told him face to face, he was hated for being a Muslim. My heart hurt for my Muslim host. We ended our session with a question and answer session (more later)… I will admit I enjoyed meeting these gentlemen and learning more about the Muslim faith.
Now what? What do I do with this? Obviously, blog about it – haha. How do we as the church engage our culture, start new relationships with people who do not think like us, believe like us and who we have been told frankly don’t like us? If we look at the life of Jesus, He certainly didn’t just make friends with Jews (who didn’t like Him or think like Him), He engaged the Gentiles frequently (thank goodness!). Paul stepped up and loved Jews and Gentiles. So, the pattern appears we are to love others, even when it’s not comfortable and maybe not even socially acceptable. Does my love trump the fear I’m feeling? Does my love for others, regardless of their culture, background or situation overcome my fear of what could happen if I take a step forward? Should I love them only if they start to believe like me, think like me and act like me? Again, the Bible has much to say about loving others. So, as you can see, the day I went to a Mosque has challenged me. I’m not sure what God is going to do with this event in my life, I pray He uses it and myself for His Glory alone!
What three better things to combine... food, fun, and friends.
Community is sooo important to me. Over the course of my 9 months on the Race, I’ve lived community 24/7. I’ve shared a bathroom with 6 other girls. I’ve had no personal space, whatsoever. I’ve had deep conversations in some capacity, pretty much everyday... and some of those conversations have happened around the table.
Conversations with laughter and with tears, conversations of God’s goodness and one of questioning if this Christian life is really what it is cracked up to be. Some of the tables have been wooden, some have been metal, and some have even been sitting on the floor. But what I have learned is that it doesn’t matter what the table looks like, or even where it is located... what matters is the faces around the table.
God designed community to look like this... a life around the table. Because around the table, life is able to happen. Stories have the opportunities to be shared. And you start to love deeply those surrounding you. If we look in the Bible, God connects His people through feasts and parties and wide tables set with bread and wine and honey. Even one of the last things Jesus did before his death was sit down for one last meal with his disciples, his people. Jesus saw the value of life around the table. And I believe it’s because around the table deep conversations happened.
I’ve had more sanctifying chats around the table than I’ve had inside the doors of a church. Now I am not saying that is always the case, because I have been transformed through the grace shown in the church. What I am saying is, the table is a place where people can feel seen. You have the opportunity to see into the depths of people’s souls. We bring the mess of our lives to the table, learning what it looks like to share our burdens. We tell stories and share joys, celebrating even the smallest things.
The tables in my life have become some of my most sacred spaces. The tables of unassuming coffee shops and kitchen counters and beautiful dining rooms... they all have become spaces for encountering each other and more importantly encountering Jesus.
And yes, life around the table is messy. It always is when you get food and sinners involved... but even in the mess, there is so much beauty. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, on and off the Race.
Around the table, my cup runneth over.