Friday, October 17, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dangerous Worship

Today I found myself being absolutely contrary to character. I grew up in the Independent Baptist Church; not to be confused with Southern Baptist or Missionary Baptist, of course. Basically, the Independents are what I like to call the “ultra-Baptists” and definitely the most conservative. When it came to worship you sat and/or stood in your pew, hymnal open to the appropriate stanza of Victory in Jesus, body completely still, singing ever so “joyfully” the song in front of you. Me being a kind of hyperactive child, never really like that too much, but it was the mindset with which I was raised. Naturally, that stayed with me even after entering a church as contemporary as encounter. I remember people think I was crazy just bouncing up and down to the music and I even found myself questioning if that really was worship. I never really was one to raise my hands or cry through the songs no matter how moving or powerful they really were. I was told over and over again how worship was “more than just feelings” and how it was supposed to be a serious thing. Coming to college has changed my perspective. I have a group of people who don’t worship the “right way” at all. This is what our worship looks like:

There’s Todd in the middle of the room jumping up and down and singing at the top of his lungs, a smile spread almost as wide as his arms. I can almost picture him embracing God as he sings. Nick is over in the corner journaling his prayers or poetry. I can see him breathe in the music with every beat of the drum. Lesley is sprawled out on her stomach etching something in her sketchbook. Inspiration for her can come from the smallest snippet of a lyric. A few others have their heads bowed or hands raised and I am just silent, still trying to absorb the presence of God around me.

It’s funny to me that after experiencing that kind of worship you never want to go back to the stagnant, robot-like motions of church. I found myself feeling out of place at encounter today for the first time. We sang this song that has the most beautiful lyrics; I think it’s called Song of my Heart. I just felt something spark in me. Like the words had some how twingged a deep rooted passion in my soul and I had to get on my knees before God. I walked over the side of the room and did just that. Knees to the floor, back straight, and arms outstretched as wide as they could go, I feel the rush of God spirit fill the air. After the song I stayed right where I was. I sat on the floor with my back against the wall for the whole message. I wish you could have seen some of the looks I got from people. I could feel their laughter, as if I was some silly child not knowing anything about what I was doing, simply hungry for attention. Let me tell you something friends, if I wanted attention I would have marched myself up to the center of the chairs and fell flat on my face in “worship.” You can call it what you want but the fact of the matter is my worship isn’t about you or for you any more than it is me; my worship is for the God that inspired the very lyrics I am moved by. You can call it feelings or adolescence or counterfeit faith all you want. What it comes down to is that it makes you uncomfortable. It’s dangerous to your view of worship. Good. I hope it makes you squirm a little. I hope it becomes the catalyst for change in your heart. I hope you can come to the point of authenticity and vulnerability before your God. My hearts desire is that when you see me worship you say to yourself, “Wow, God is good.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Muddy Me

I inhale with great force at relationships. I really do. Some how I find a way of messing up what I’ve worked so hard to build. It comes from being human I think, but I can blame it all on humanness. The fact of the matter is… I’m messed up. I’m broken. I’m very self-focused. I’m independent and hard headed. I’m withheld with feelings. I don’t trust easily. I’m constantly looking for some way that someone has betrayed my trust because I’m pessimistic. I lash out when I’m stressed because I don’t know how to handle it. I say things I don’t mean because I don’t think before I speak. I’m a fighter more than a lover and, yes, I know it’s wrong. I have a quick tongue and a slow heart. I’m a horrible person. I know. I want all my friends to know that too. I think some people expect perfection or for everything to go right. They expect never to get in a fight or have an argument and when it happens they walk away from the relationship entirely. I want everyone to know how much that hurts. As messy as I am, as much as I deserve it, it still hurts. I know I mess up and I know it takes me a while to apologize, but hey, I’m not perfect. This is written to apologize to every friend I’ve ever hurt, every relationship I’ve every destructed, every person I’ve ever yelled at, and every heart I’ve ever crushed. I am truly sorry. I’ve come to realize more and more all my faults. I do have a lot. I’m not sure exactly why any of you ever put up with me but for those of you who still do- thank you. I want to share my dreams, hopes, passions, worries, doubts, and fears with you but I’m slow to trust. Thanks for being patient. God is still working on me; everyday he is renovating a new piece of my heart. I have faith that one day you might not have to use quite as much forbearance with me. All of you who read this are my friends and I would go to the end of the world and back for you, believe that. If one day you find yourself needing something at the top of the mountain believe me I will be there helping you climb it. I will give as much as you will take and please never stop pushing me to be a better person. When Christ looks down on me I know he sees a muddy child desperately in need of a cleaning. True to his nature, a little mud won’t stop Him from loving me and embracing me and seeing me as his beautiful child. Take heart my friends- it’s bath time.