When I Sat Down During Worship

Earlier this year I went to a youth conference for Junior and Senior High Schoolers. I sat in on a few of the sessions and was super impressed with the story telling and communicating of biblical narratives told by the speakers. Also I had forgotten how crazy/energized teens are! I mean, college students are pretty wild too, but junior/senior highschoolers at youth conferences are a whole ‘nother breed of human.

Gotta love ‘em.

Anyway, there was a really cool indie Christian band playing worship for the senior high students. Skilled musicians. Super hipster. Great combo. We stood and began worshiping through singing and I was immediately sort of rubbed the wrong way when the lyrics were so artists and cryptic that I wasn’t quite sure what we were talking about. And though I think that style of music might not be best for corporate worship, I understood the gist of what we trying to say and so onward we went. The next song/songs where very basic with few words and even less depth. I didn’t want to be frustrated or a “worship snob” so I quickly reminded myself how I love simple hymns like “God is so good” which isn’t wordy or theological, but simple and true. This is the same sort of thing. But as we sang another song with simplistic, one-sided, me-centered choruses, I thought to myself,

“This is so vague and gospel-less. I could easily be a Buddist singing to Budda asking for blessing, or an Islam singing to Allah of his greatness, or a Mormon singing to my nontrinitarian god about my desire to feel him. And I would barely need to change a word.”

And so I sat down.

As that thought entered my mind, I was so angry at the idea that hundreds of young people who could be worshipping God, but learning nothing and singing nothing exclusively about Him. I started feverously journaling about my frustration with the lyrics and the deep need to be teaching songs rich with many truths about God. In high school these students are studying psychology, and physics, and philosophy, and trigonometry-we stretch their minds in all sorts of ways scholastically, but when it comes to theology all we can have them sing is an indie version of Jesus Loves Me? They can comprehend so much more than that! We need to give it to them.

I let my thoughts roam a little bit. I sat there with my legs and arms crossed and after writing a while checked my phone, probably facebook, and looked around. I saw students with their hands raised high, and their voices raised higher, I saw some disengaged, but most had their eyes fixed on the words on the screen.

I realized I should probably pray.

So I learned forward, elbows to knees, to pray. I’m not sure what I was going to say, probably something about God working in hearts in the midst of milk-like theology, but I didn’t even get a chance to get the words out because I was immediately convicted.

This thought came to my mind:

“You know who God is, you have the ability and opportunity to worship Him in song, and you are deliberately choosing not to.”

I instantaneously stood to my feet.

After standing there for a second I began thinking about/processing what I had just thought. How dare I stop worshipping God. All truth is God’s truth and worship is such a matter of the heart. My focus on what I would change, instead of the God who has changed me is (another!) clear reflection of my foolishness and immaturity.

Though, it was NOT wrong to think those things of wanting the songs for corporate worship to have more depth, its timing was misplaced.

I thought about my amazing earthly father. What if someone where to stand on stage, boasting of how sweet and kind and gentle he is. Would I get annoyed, or outraged and say, “That is not even the tip of the iceberg! How dare you only talk about those things! He was also fair in the way he punished us and showed us what righteous anger looked like. He has loved my mother so well, and is selfless to her-not just to you!” Wouldn’t that be ridiculous? Isn’t that not the place or the point?

My desire for worship lyrics to most wholistically and reverently represent the triune God of the Bible is not wrong, but my desire to stop worshipping Jesus Christ and complain about it was wrong. I know I could have still worshipped, and after my stubborn heart was revealed to me I did!

I praise the Lord that at both the college I work at and the church I attend, our leaders do a great job of mixing songs of “childlike faith” with songs lyrically rich to help us grow in our understanding of the gospel of Christ. But next time there is a worship song that is played that is not heretical, but simply shallow, I’m not going to have a seat. I’m going to engage my heart and mind, even add words of praise of my own, to worship the only God who is worthy of all adoration, praise, thanksgiving, honor and glory.

What do you think? Right response? Wrong response? Additional thoughts?

Remind Yourself of Truths

The first Saturday of every month I meet with some wonderful ladies for a Bible/book study. This morning was such an incredible blessing. We were able to be transparent and vulnerable, and really shared some deep heartaches with one another.

One of the conversations that came up was about how often we don’t feel God’s peace and presence throughout our day. Sometimes we spend time in the morning with our awesome God (often times we do not), but it does not seem to carry through our work day-we still feel anxious, frustrated, and peace-less. We do not want this to be the case! We are prone to wander,  prone to forget the God we love. How can we bind our wandering hearts to Him?

A practical suggestion that arose (among many!) was to choose a song, or a passage of Scripture to meditate on throughout the entire day. So instead of just reading in the mornings and forgetting what we read by dinner time, we were challenged to choose something to constantly be thinking about and chewing on throughout the day. It may be a word, phrase or concept from the passage read (or didn’t read!), or it could be a song that magnifies the truths found in Scripture. Write it on a post-it note, whiteboard, or put that song on repeat!

So I wanted to encourage you to do the same. Try and meditate on a truth about our wonderful, glorious, gracious King via something! Anything! We need to remind ourselves of truth continually! We are weak and forgetful! At least, I know I am! We need to have truth echoing through your mind and heart at every twist and turn of your day.  Because it is easy to believe the lies thrown at us (or that we tell ourselves!) so continually in our days, but we MUST train ourselves to immediately run our Source of Truth and cling to His goodness, justice, perfection, and love.

Read His word to know Him.

Obey His word to honor Him.

Believe His word to trust Him.

Thoughts on Mackelmore’s “Same Love”

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Though it might surprise, shock, or befuddle  you-I really like rap music. Now, not all rap of course-I don’t like anything degrading to women or void or morality or musicianship-but there is much Christian, and secular rap that I respect and enjoy. There are many intellectual modern theologians who can weave truths about the gospel and theology into rap songs and I love it! Mackelmore is a secular rap artists whose giftings are  easy to appreciate and enjoy in recent chart toppers such as “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”.  He seems to be a young man full of insight and talent, and in many ways I see him as the voice of our generation.

In his well-crafted single, “Same Love” Mackelmore has packed much truth into a 5 minute song. He rightfully condemns homophobia, hate, and oppression whilst promoting love, equality, and acceptance.  I will stand by him in telling Christians that we need to remember to love ALL people, as Christ does and I agree that “If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed. That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned”. I wholeheartedly believe that we have “become so numb to what we’re saying” in matters of confronting sin. We need to remember the value that each human being has, and the respect that each human being created in God’s image deserves- especially in matters concerning our speech.

Unfortunately, there is much about “Same Love” that I disagree with as well.

First off, the very premise of the song is paradoxical in nature. The chorus is: I can’t change/even if I tried/even if I wanted to/I can’t change, yet the entire song is asking me, as a conservation evangelical Christian to change. Though I don’t think BEING homosexual is a decision, I DO believe living a homosexual lifestyle is a decision. You want me to change that. I do think it can be “cured” (I use that term loosely) by “religion” (again loosely) in the sense that the gospel changes your desires from sin to obedience when you get to know Christ. You want me to change that belief as well? I can’t change. Even if I tried. Even if  I wanted to.

Though I know many have been hurt by so called Christians manipulating and poorly representing Scripture. I and many of my other brothers and sister do NOT “paraphrase a book written thirty five-hundred years ago”. We CAN give you exact quotes from the New Testament that articulately and lovingly explain why we believe that God would call you to not act on your homosexual tendencies for His name’s sake.

Lastly, I cringed at the phrase, “Whatever God you believe in, We come from the same one”. How is that possible? Gods from each religion known to man have MINIMAL similarities at best, and MASSIVE essential, fundamental differences.  We all came from the same One, yes. But we all are not believing in the same one.

What do you think?