The UnMaking of a Worship Disorder

Good grief! What a week this has been! Topsy turvy, stressful, conflicted, heavy. I struggled to get a grip on my thoughts, my choices and emotions.

And there it is…the making of a worship disorder. I was so focused on the stressful situation to an exaggerated point that it began to consume my mind, will and emotions. That is a worship disorder.

Before you can understand what a worship disorder is, you  need to answer this question first, “What is worship?”   I like how Tim Keller defines Worship:

“Worship is an act of ascribing ultimate value to something in a way that engages your entire being.”

Obviously, I had ascribed to something of “value”… but in a very negative way, so much so that it was palpable in my home environment. I had amazing support, faithful prayers, and words of affirmation from my family but it wasn’t until I purposefully and with intentionality transferred all of that which was robbing my joy over to God that my entire being became filled with peace and equilibrium.

Psalm 95:1-11 is the coach that got me moving out of a worship disorder

Verse 1 of that Psalm spoke to my emotions: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”  It requires emotion to sing, to dance, to shout joyfully because God is the rock of my salvation. And God gave me a song.

Verse 6 spoke to my will: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” This took a humble volition, a choice to come, bow, and kneel before the Lord.  This act was the surrender.

Verse 8 spoke to my mind: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart…”  This meant I needed to actively listen to truth and choose to hear God speak through his Word. This is experiencing peace. This is experiencing forgiveness. 

Bit by bit by bit the more I worship, the more it changes where my  heart looks for peace and satisfaction.

The worship of the living God gives us peace and equilibrium to face the troubles of life. Worship engages our entire being in adoration and brings us to a sense of joy in God’s ravishing beauty. ~Tim Keller

 

FOUR Ways to Make Your Personal Worship Habit Forming

Kickstart Personal Woship

Photography by Donna Harris :: Remember the Year

Kickstarting a personal worship plan typically happens at the start of every new year. And I do this quite well the first month of the year. The rub is the remaining eleven months!  Here are FOUR things I do to keep me in the habit of daily personal worship. Surely I can manage four things!

Personal worship is the daily time you spend devoting your attention exclusively to the glory of Christ and receiving the satisfaction he gives. That is why it is sometimes called “Devotions”.  ~Randy Pope

1.  Decide on a time: There is no right or wrong time but whatever time you decide on, do schedule it on your calendar and set a reminder alarm if necessary. You will be more consistent if you view your time with God as an appointment to be kept on your daily schedule. I’ve become a “morning person” after years of practice and have found that morning devotions {personal worship} strengthens me prior to the stress of the day. Try to find a morning time if you can. You’ll probably need a minimum of 20 minutes. I found this article about how to become a “morning person” by  Michael Hyatt very helpful. Check it out.

2.  Decide on a plan: It is important to have a plan for daily reading of the Bible. And there are hundreds of options to choose from so take time to discover what works for you and stick with it for the year. For me, reading the Bible in a year has always been a challenge, therefore, my new plan is to not to continue with my old plan which was the, “Reading the Bible in a Year for Three Years” plan.  Check out YouVersion for a reading plan that fits your style. I’ve been using “Eat this Book”…I do hunger for more!  You may find that you need a daily reminder, if so sign up for email prompts from Bible Gateway. This year I chose “Table Talk Devotions  for the purpose of reading “on the fly” while waiting for an appointment or waiting for the crossing arms at the railroad track to raise. It’s refreshing to receive an email that compels me to step away from the harried pace. With a smart phone or tablet, you can access any of these plans with ease and flexibility to fit your rhythm of life.

3.  Use a translation you can understand:  My vote is to use the English Standard Version.  “nuff said.”

4.  You Do What You Want To Do:   “You do what you want to do”…words of wisdom that my husband shared with our children over the years and continues to say today. I do what I want to do…I have time to work out, to play, to eat, to watch TV, to be on the internet, to write this post…I do what I want to do. Is God Lord over what I do? Have I committed to spending time with the One who gave His life for me? Where would I be without His grace, forgiveness and freedom from addictions? (I hate to think of the options.)  To borrow from Nike…Just Do It! Make the commitment to spend time in God’s Book for 21 days. If you miss a day just start over. You will be more than encouraged after 21 days of personal worship!

Be Persistent

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

I recently bought the devotional book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones to give to my children to encourage them as they establish a rhythm of family devotions with their kids. This is a remarkable devotional book with profound spiritual truths from the Bible told in a conversational tone. I greatly appreciate how theologically rich it is and yet so easy to understand. I think the grown ups reading the book to their children may love it just as much or even more than their kids.

I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite out of the 101 devotions, but what prompted me to write this post was when I read the title of Devotion #65 (Page 146) that simply says, “Nagging God.”  It’s about praying…constantly talking to God…never stopping. The author poses a question and then gives us the answer…

“Is it okay to nag God? And pester him? God says we MUST!”

I have a friend going through a very difficult and challenging time. Whenever she asks me for advice, I encourage her to be persistent with praying to God.  I can’t solve the problem or purchase a quick cure-all solution, but I can be persistent with my encouragement, mercy and care for her while gently reminding her that God is never tired of listening to her. Our problems are not bigger than God. And while we are being persistent with finding a right and just solution, God is even more persistent with rescuing us and pouring out more grace in our lives for his glory. I’m reminded about The Parable of the Persistent Widow:

 1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1–8 (ESV)

The widow persisted beyond what is comfortable yet she did not lose heart. If an unjust judge finally grants the window’s “prayer,” how much more will God, who is all and completely just, hear our prayers? God will not and cannot grow tired of us constantly talking with him. He is a big God, a good God and He is a King–
“–and Kings love to do marvelous, powerful things.”

So yes, my friend, it is okay to nag and pester God. Please do so! Be persistent. God is always there and he loves it when you ask him for great things!

I think I shall give my friend a copy of this book. It will encourage her heart to sing.

There is an affiliate link on this page. If you purchase the book using that link, I will receive a small stipend.

A grand and messy Advent Eve

Gosh, I was excited for Saturday to arrive! I had been anticipating the arrival of Advent for weeks and weeks! I couldn’t wait to place our Advent wreath on the dining room table and light our first candle. I couldn’t wait  to pick out a tree with my husband. We had set aside Saturday, Advent Eve, to do this. And it was going to be a great day preparing for Advent. Even pulling boxes and boxes of decorations out of basement storage and hauling them upstairs was going to be fun.   We went to sleep Friday night with happy hearts…

We woke up Saturday morning with the grumbles…well, that’s not completely accurate…I (not we) woke up with the worse case of grumbles.

I knew what was waiting for me in the basement. Those boxes and boxes and boxes of Christmas stuff.  You see, I’ve been collecting Christmas decorations to deck the walls and halls and bathrooms and children’s rooms and family room and kitchen and…there are a lot of boxes.

How many little Christmas trees with tiny lights does one family need? I counted 12.  (It is a nice number…Jesus had 12 disciples. I happen to have 12 trees.)

And the grumbling and irritation increased with preparing for the glorious start of Advent.

There packed neatly on the basement shelves, was a large box of gold ornaments. Gold ornaments of all sizes, shapes and design. There was a box of red ornaments…and ditto what I said about the gold ornaments. And a box of  blue and purple and silver and white. Plus beads and ribbon to drape gracefully around the tree. A variety of tree skirts, too. Unfortunately, I also have plastic holly bushes, plastic holly vine, twigs with fake sugar glued on to give a sparkle to those plastic holly bushes, fake poinsettia and I can’t overlook the gold angels…wire sculptured angels and some ceramic angels with their wings opened over the overstuffed snowmen, which were guarded by wooden toy soldiers. I have a few metal reindeer, too.

(sigh)

And the grumbles just grew worse as I became buried under the debris of Christmases past. I seriously needed to get my heart in gear about Advent!

To wrap up this story in a neat little package, we did rummage through all of the stuff collected from years past and picked out the ornaments to use this year.

The grumbles began to go away as the lights were placed on the tree and the magic of Christmas was there. Right there in the beauty of that eight foot tree with the lovely beautiful glass ornaments and sparkling glass ice cycles hanging gracefully from branches mingled with the sweet smell of a fresh Douglas Fir.

“What a beautiful tree! I just love the beginning of Advent!”, I said happily to my sweet husband.  The grumbles had begun to disappear as I gazed at this creation. I was also quite proud of myself for deciding to unload, I mean “give away”  all of that extra Christmas stuff, plus I decided to be content with just one tree. I told God that all of  that stuff was going away and I would be content with just a little bit of stuff, such as those gorgeous beautiful glass ornaments hanging on one Christmas tree.

“Yes, now my heart is ready for Advent.” So I thought.

I was no longer mumbly grumbly.  And after a long day of “preparing my heart” for Advent (all of the above)…I was exhausted. Evening had come, a warm fire was glowing and our family room illuminated only by the glow of the fire and our beautiful tree gleaming with hundreds of white lights reflecting off of shiny glass ornaments. My husband had fallen asleep on the couch and I was enjoying the peace of gazing at our Christmas tree and thinking how sweet it is to welcome the first day of Advent. Our tree is beautiful!

And then it happened…

CRASH!  The tree fell over!

I SCREAMED!

Don was jolted out of a peaceful sleep and bolted off the couch.

Yep, it was a mess with those beautiful glass things shattered on the floor, fragments of glass imbedded in the couch (the tree nearly fell on Don) broken glass and broken branches and lights hanging off and water saturating the carpet…

Don and I stood there looking at the mess and staring wide-eyed and speechless at each other. (sigh)

I spoke out loud to God and said, “I get it, God. I get it! It’s all yours! Advent is all about JESUS. This tree is not what it’s all about. Those beautiful glass ornaments do not reflect your glory.” And I began to laugh.

The messiness of Advent Eve brought my heart to a true place of worship and repentance.  Advent is celebrating God keeping his promise to send a savior, Christ the Lord. God is a covenant keeper.

“Our God in heaven, thank you that you did not remain there. You could have justly condemned us for our guilt, our devotion to idols, our constant self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing lives. But you did not. You came.” ~Tim Keller (from 843 Acres, The Devotional Blog of The Park Forum: Advent: The Feet That Bring Good News.

By the way, a friend told me about some families that were unable to have a decorated Christmas tree…they do now!

Advent Eve Story

Overcoming Stress

Denver, CO

I am so thankful that God lavishes his love and grace on me and continues to turn my affections toward him. More Grace!

This is one of my favorite quotes.

“I would propose that we sit down, often and for longer periods of time, and let Jesus shine a light in our hearts on the idols we harbor. His love, kindness, and desire for us to be whole will reveal what lies deep within and does not belong. He will haul these idols out and turn our affections toward him.”

“Is our Stress Rooted in Invisible Idols” by Greg Gelburd. Resurgence.

“Supper’s Ready!” family dinner devotions

“Supper’s Ready!”  I loved hearing my Mom or Dad shout those words to us. Besides being hungry, dinner became a great highlight of our day because we were all together, enjoying a meal, listening to each other talk about school and friends. We laughed a lot and we bickered too, but inevitably after dinner, my father would direct our attention to listen to scripture being read…either by him or Mom and sometimes one of us kids would take a turn reading. We would talk about the verses or passage of scripture and my parents would help us to see an application that was relevant to our situation. They would explain the meaning of words, doctrine, theology and the bible stories were always full of adventure, intrigue and alive with God’s power and love for us. We would pray for each other and pray about anything and everything. Our family devotional time became a tradition. However, it wasn’t always easy to keep up with, due to schedule conflicts or the tyranny of urgent mingled with different attention spans. Nevertheless, my parents continued to persist. Even though we were very involved in our church programs and ministry, my parents took full responsibility to disciple us. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Psalm 78:5; Proverbs 1:8-9; Ephesians 6:4) This spiritual legacy has been passed down from my parents to us and to our generations that follow.

Family worship and devotions became a rhythm with my husband and I when raising our children. It’s a beautiful thing to see God’s promises fulfilled in our next generation as we watch our grown children teach their very young children about Jesus.

The following are suggestions and simple steps for beginning to incorporate a tradition of family worship and devotions.

Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly.

Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion.

Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for.

Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to
pray aloud.

Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went.

Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age-appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the
Bible, and assign a portion to read aloud while everyone is eating and listening.

Step 7. Parents should note key words and themes in the passage and explain them to the kids on an age-appropriate level.

Step 8. Ask questions about the passage.  You may want to begin with having your children summarize what was read—retelling the story or passage outline.  Then, ask the following questions:  What does this passage teach us about God?  What does it say about us or about how God sees us?  What does it teach us about our relationships with others?

Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them.

Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too.  This demonstrates gospel humility to them.

Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you.

Step 12. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable.

For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other—thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world.

Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor, so make sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories. Discussing the Scriptures is a wonderful way to see into the heart of your children, and to reveal your heart for them and Jesus’ heart for you all.

What you do for God beyond your home

will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home   

 ~Timothy Paul Jones