Ascribe: what I taught my girls about thunder

drogoToday in Sacramento there was an actual thunder storm. As someone from the Midwest, I can say 'real' thunderstorms are rare in California. Today, though, my girls were eating their breakfast and I was making coffee in my aero press when, in a matter of two seconds, the power went out and there was an enormous clap of thunder that set off my car alarm. I smiled with delight. Haddisen (3 years old) was shocked and then smiled. Bryleigh (4 years old) put her hands over her ears and cried.

I calmed the situation and then explained what thunder really is. I explained that it is one of my favorite things.

I also told them the story of Nikola Tesla, the brilliant inventor, engineer, and designer of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, who was known to sit near his window during a thunder storm. He would sit and wait until the next thunder clap when he would rise to his feet to give God a standing ovation.

Pslam 96:5-8 says: "But the LORD made the heavens Splendor and majesty are before Him Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. ASCRIBE to the LORD, O families of the peoples ASCRIBE to the LORD glory and strength ASCRIBE to the Lord the glory of His name."

"Ascribe" means to attribute something to something or someone else. We are to attribute great and powerful and beautiful things to God. The LORD does and provides these things; they are not coincidence or simply natural reactions. God is to be ascribed these things.

The girls loved this idea and for the rest of the morning we all three clapped for God with each thunder roll and clap. Haddie would even copy me each time saying, "Dadda, how cool!!!"

Far be it from me

"No! I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing." 2 Samuel 24:24 My worship and my very life is a sacrifice (Rom. 12) offered to God. This verse is one of my favorite reminders that we are always to bring out best to God. It ought to be a sacrifice. It ought to cost me something or it is not a sacrifice. If it cost me nothing it is too comfortable to be called worship. It is too easy to be called sacrifice.

Far be it from me to keep coming to each Sunday with worship I am not even invested in. Far be it from me to keep living a life for Christ that cost me nothing.

Liturgy of the Mall and issues of personal value

SONY DSCI walked the halls of the mall and sat to watch the liturgy around me. Liturgy means "work of the people". There is a liturgy at hand wherever we go. I sat to pay attention to how the 'congregants' enter. How are they prepared to work and worship in various ways? What is worshiped in this 'temple'? What do the congregants come to seek? What satisfaction do they find? I also wanted to see how the liturgies of the mall are similar or different from the liturgies of the church. What should be the same or different? Here are some of my reflections.

* People wait for the doors to open. They are anxious for the gates to open. * We are made to move and browse here. Anything you want can be found. If you were stranded, you could have nearly anything you need. * What seems to be worshiped are things and material goods, but I think that is only on the surface. I am worshiped here. I will be adorned by anything I want. I will be given anything I want to look and appear better or more acceptable. I can think of very little here that I really need. * I define my own ritual here. I only go to stores I wish to go and disregard the others. * Congregants are addressed and pushed to purchase things they do not need or want as though they are missing their opportunity. But they are addressed with learned techniques. "How are you doing sir?" "That is jacket is nice!" "Are you happy with your current service?"--all this in hopes I will engage enough to see and hear about a product I never needed in the first place * Interesting that young people are taught to do this in flawless form. * Aside from fulfillment of its congregants, what about its 'priests' and 'ministers' who wait with eyes wide open at the doors for the next pitch and hook? Are they fulfilled by the sell and the hook?


In Matthew 23:37, Jesus looks over Jerusalem and says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

I sat and imagined what the heart of Jesus might pray over this mall: ----------- O people, I have loved you and desired to give you peace and fulfillment you can only dream of. All the things you think you need are attempts to fill a sinking boat with more things. I have longed to fill the holes that take on water so your life will be truly full, so your heart and soul will feel and BE safe. have longed for you to recognize your value instead of trying to create it.

Your are unwilling. You are distracted by so many other pitches and slogans and hooks, that you have neglected my invitation. ------- Then I heard the still small voice: "PC, in this 'church' today, hear my prayer over you as well.

Barely scratching the surface on connecting with God in spirit

* This is a very humble wondering and searching, and not a perfect scholarly approach. Proceed! Parts_Of_The_Person_res300_sm

Recently I have read a few amazing books on prayer that have challenged me.  It challenged my view of God.  God is a spiritual being, and he is not flesh like us.  We are flesh, but God created us flesh and souls with spirits.  I cannot be theological enough here to say I know how that all works out (the diagram above is created by Dallas Willard, and has served me greatly).

Sometimes, I try relating to God awaiting the right feeling and emotion, and it always fails.  I just know that I too often try relating to God while starting with my emotions, and I fail.  Then I try relating to God with my mind, and that humorously fails. Then I just try to learn more about the spirit, and that spirit is what was made perfect and blameless by God on the cross.  Now if that is the only part of me that is blameless, I have to learn how to come to grips with it.

I do not know how to describe that, but I do know it takes a lot of trust (faith); like more trust than anything in my life has ever required before.  As I strive to learn, I do know that when my spirit is engaged (another thing I don't have space to define here), I THEN feel closer to the heart of God.  That is because he is a spiritual being and that is the only way to be relational to him.  This is why I said that when I come to him in spirit, it often forms, changes, and engages my mind, my emotions and my flesh.

There is no way I have clarified anything for you. So what say you?

Poser Worship

fake "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24

How often do I truly worship God in spirit and truth? This is the worshiper that God desires, and I wonder on a daily or weekly Sunday basis if I truly worship God in the fashion He seeks from me.

I may, if I am really on my game some days, worship God with my mind as I think about the things of God and this by no means is non-worship, but can I say I have engaged my spirit in moments of worship?

Have I allowed the very heart and core of myself be engaged to and with my worship? Have I been able to lay aside distraction and noise for even an hour on Sunday or a few minutes throughout the week for worship so that my spirit might fully engage with God, who is spirit?

Before I ever sit, stand, or arrive for worship have I prepared my heart, spirit, and will for worship? Can I pray beforehand with John Baillie, "God, grant me, I pray you, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power, and a more confident assurance of your love."

What then of worshiping in truth? Can I say I have worshiped God in truth? When I worship God on a daily or weekly Sunday basis, do I do so in alētheia (truth), more than a factuality, but in sincerity? More than fact-checking the words I say, but can I say my heart is sincere in its worship?

I desire to be the sort of worshiper God seeks. That an all-knowing God must seek anything makes the thing he seeks truly hard to find. [Tweet That]

God, may you seek and find a sincere worshiper in me. May I worship you in spirit and not only in mind or empty words. May I not wait until Sunday but know that today and with my whole life I am to give you honor and praise from my spirit to yours with sincerity and honest desire.

Machine + For the Broken Ones

I performed a combination of two pieces at The Worship Conference NorCal this past weekend. I was asked for the text of the piece. So if you are interested, here it is. He told me "We're very proud of the ministry we have here." "We have worked very hard to build a well-oiled machine." He went on to describe what I could only assume to be parts of his machine and turned to ask if could see myself as a part of his ministry, and I wish he hadn't asked.

You see, some people build ministry like a well-oiled machine. They put in all their time, money, and people in hopes that the machine will produce the right produce, the right person, the right number beware when your ministry becomes a well-oiled machine for machines have not hearts

And some people build ministry like a well-oiled machine that keeps breaking down. They put in all their time, money, and people and the machine will not produce. Take courage, my friends; it is still a machine and machines have not hearts

Machines have no need for miracles they only ask for miracles and then operate in ways to make miracles unnecessary Machines are built with big budgets and bigger buildings and I wish I could write these words in braille so someone could feel what I'm saying

You don't need God to build a machine

But worship is for the broken ones smart enough to know how foolish they are It is for those who have tried and found life lacking but are not content to confess that 'this' is all there is

If is for those wearied of wondering if our crying hearts might drown us but know that our tears are telescopes to heaven looking through trembling lenses for hope and deeper senses of home

It is for those who don't need church to be a menagerie of saints but an emergency room for sinners it is for those whose shadows are faint from finding too much light

Worship is for those who will step out onto nothing hoping to land on something because accepting that you are accepted is a perception of yourself not everyone can afford it is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who have let loose the luxury of denying a handout of amazing grace

It is for those who chose a path though straight and narrow is still rugged and beaten you are still on the right path

Worship is for phobic confessor who could never match the projections of the pious but know that perfection is a gangly wire no one could ever walk

It is for the child who holds that heaven is full of five year olds sparing themselves the futility of proving themselves to people who will never speak your language of half cartoon, half boo boo, half "Daddy, I love you." Three halves make one more than whole

Do not accept yourself as you should be but as you are because you will never be as you should be Quit rinsing your filthy rags in gas station bathrooms as if hand soap and make believe will make them believe you belong; but you belong. You belong to a kingdom belonging to people not trying to cleaner than they are You belong

Worship is for the sin-soaked and the broken who are loved and outspoken knowing unworthy is not the same as worthless

It is for the paupers who have made peace with their flaws It is for those who have prayed in silence but have never ceased to pray

Worship is for you do not for one second take your gift for granted make sure it is contagious because while it is yours to have it is only valuable in its giving away

be sure your every conversation leaves a sensation of love because this is where the mighty descend and the lowly rise to comprise what we all crave

Worship is standing on the lip of the Grand Canyon with a contagious tour guide tell you to "Look at THIS! Look at THAT! Look at THIS! Look at THAT!" and if the Grand Canyon is only a faint shadow of God's glory you have to wonder, "What must HE be like?"

You are not a worship singer, a backup vocalist, a drummer a guitarist, a basist, or a sound tech You are a worship leader You are a tour guide to God's glory So stand and shout for all who will listen "Look at THIS! Look at THAT! Look at THIS!"

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kEW1WRJTpM&w=560&h=315]

Affective Passion

affected The word passion means "to be affected by" [Tweet That] Think of the things you are passionate about.

You are passionate about those things you are most affected by, and that may be just about anything. When I think of the picture of my life and its passions, I want to create a picture of how ridiculous it is to be more passionate about anything other than Jesus Christ and his presence, his love, his grace, and his Spirit.

Does prayer affect me? When I pray, do I come from a place where my heart is affected and affectionate, or are they words without thoughts?

Does my time in God's word affect me? Do I read the things I read wanting to allow myself to actually be affected by what I read, or am I just reading words without thoughts?

Is my life affected by the love of God today? Not effected, but affected. The former I do not control, the latter I do. Do I allow my heart and life to be affected by the gospel? Am I truly passionate about my life with Christ? Does it affect me today? Do I allow his grace to affect my emotion, my choices, and my thirst for MORE?

These are the true questions of passion.

You cannot help it

We are all worshippers.  Truth is we are worshipping all the time.  Every place, all day long, every day, we worship.  We were made to worship.  We are wired that way.  Essentially we cannot help but worship...something.  Worship is simply an issue of value.  THE QUESTION lies in where we place it. When I am worshipping God, am I really placing value...understanding the value...spiritually, intellectually, prophetically and trustingly putting value on God the loving ridiculous Daddy?  It takes a sincere awareness and outpouring of honor.

It's just the Grand Canyon

What do we do when God seems distant and hard to see? There are those times when God seems so difficult to know. I find encouragement in Romans 1 verse 20.

“His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.”

We are able to see God in the things he has made. If we would take more time to notice these things we would come to see him and know him more clearly.

We would stand at the lip of the Grand Canyon unaffected.  A huge problem is that we have lost all wonder.  Nothing amazes us anymore.  We grow more and more numb to the amazing!  We forget how powerful God really is because none of these things amaze us anymore.

Remember being scared to death of a thunderstorm?  Remember when the Grand Canyon WAS amazing before seeing it in a million pictures?  We lose all the wonder when trees, natural running streams and crashing waves, enormous mountains are no big deal to us.  We see them every day, in pictures or as we walk outside.  But we forget the amazing things we learned in elementary school; about how trees grow, the details about how waves are created.  We forget all those things because we learn it and are no longer amazed.

We do our ability to praise a disservice!  We do God a disservice when we are no longer amazed by these things.  Praise is our amazement expressed!  The problem is that we simply are not amazed!

When less is your all

I began reading through Leviticus today in Bryleigh's Bible. All of the rules for sacrifice and offering are beginning to be laid out. There are always the typical things I remember about sacrifice and offering. It had to be without defect. It had to be offered by their own freewill. It had to be offered at the doorway since we are unworthy to enter; a reminder that we are sinners who want to be close to a perfect and pure God. That requires sacrifice and lifeblood of something without defect since we are so full of defect in our sin. 

I am thinking, though, of the progress through chapter 1. It begins with the offering of a bull, but it goes on to show if you could not afford a bull, you could continue to offer lesser and lesser animals for the same amount of atonement.

When we worship God, we must ALWAYS bring our very best. If our very best is lesser than other people, that is fine, but it must be our very best.

That being said, it is important to remember the more God does and blesses you with, the richer you are in Him. The demand for "your all" grows.