Sunday, February 19, 2012

Purpose in Preparation

This last week, I was really feeling somewhat spiritually dry and in need of refreshment from the Lord. You know those times where it feels like obedience is a burden rather than a joy? I was pleading with the Lord to restore my joy in obedience to Him... that I wouldn't see His commands as burdensome (because they aren't). It's the difference between head knowledge and practical application. I know God's ways are always best. I know that obeying Him will always give me the fullest joy and yet I was attempting obedience on my own strength rather than relying on the joy of the Lord as my strength. It's not fun (just in case you were wondering).

There is nothing like reading the Word with a desire to learn and obey everything that He has to show us for the day. When we are reading out of obligation or just to check it off our check list for the day, it is not in any way joyous and actually, it can harden our hearts toward the Lord. I'm not advising that any of us stop reading the Word when we don't feel like it; His Word can change our feelings! But, we do need to be reading with the desire to be molded and shaped by Him. Only He can give that desire and only He can renew that desire when we don't "feel like it".

Yesterday morning, I spent some time in the Word and pulled out my guitar... closed my door and just played and sang to the Lord. No distractions... no people to please... no other things pressing on my mind... just time with Him. The Lord answered that my pleads for restoration of joy in Him. He also showed me something about preparation. You see, I have a the blessing and privilege of being able to play guitar at church. I enjoy it greatly and find that I can often worship Him with more of me when I am playing than when I am just singing. I do realize that it is a heart condition, not an action thing, but some things draw my heart to worship and playing piano or guitar is one of those things that really helps in drawing my heart to worship. One of the elders and I usually play together, but he has been taking some time off. He is extremely talented and really could have gone professional if he wanted to. He is amazing. I kind of relied on some of his amazingness and didn't feel as "responsible" to have to play everything just right. Now that I am the only one playing, I feel a greater responsibility to play well so as to not distract from worship. Let's face it... when people play or sing wrong notes, people notice and it distracts from worship.

I generally do not spend a lot of time preparing to play on Sunday. The Lord has blessed me with being able to play by ear and so I generally kind of wing it on Sunday. We have practice before church, but outside of that, I don't practice a lot. What the Lord revealed to me is this: with the increased awareness of my responsibility to play right, I was losing the heart of worship. Yes, I wanted to please Him by playing well, but in doing so, I wasn't able to focus on the words we were singing. If I had prepared better, playing would have been easy and natural and I would have been free to worship with all of me... not distracted by the weight of having to play right.

All that to say, I am so thankful for the Lord in showing me the purpose behind preparation. It's hard to spend lots of time preparing when I know I can "wing it" without a noticeable problem. The problem is when it starts affecting my heart... when my lack of preparation turns into distraction from worship in my own heart. I'd be better off not playing at all. God wants hearts that are fully His, not distracted ones no matter how "good" we sound. That's not what God looks at. He looks at the heart.

I have two big things to be thankful for this week:

1) Renewed joy in the Lord and in obedience to Him.
2) Renewed purpose in preparing to help lead His people in worship.

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Sweet Aroma

I recently had one of the most unmanly conversations ever... yes, we were talking about candles. Apparently, one of the ladies put a pineapple candle in the guys restroom at work after hours. Then, it disappeared... apparently, they wanted it back. So, we ended up having this conversation one day about the candle and how it mysteriously appeared and disappeared. I was joking with them and complaining about how the good smelling candle was missing. The next day, it was there again. haha I kind of feel bad because I was just giving them a hard time about it, but apparently they like the fact that we like the good smelling candle. It is one of the candles that has quite a strong smell. The moment the door is opened, the fresh sweet aroma from the candle fills the hallway. All that to say, the knowledge of Christ ought to be like that in our lives to those around us. Take a look 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
It is God's purpose to spread the sweet aroma of Christ to others through us... both to the saved and the unsaved. I have been reading about John Bunyan and his conversion to Christ and how God used some poor people talking about the joy in Christ to cause him to pick up the Bible and start reading. They had no idea that he was listening in on their conversations... but the sweet aroma of Christ filled the air and caught his heart.

Reading this has been a great challenge for me. How can my knowledge of Christ be used as a sweet aroma to glorify Him? You know what makes many of us like Tebow? He obviously loves the Lord and the aroma of his knowledge of Christ is a sweet one. He knows what it means to know Christ and it is sweet to his soul. That aroma of of the knowledge of Christ touching his heart cannot be contained. It is a joyous thing to know Christ... the more we know Him, the more we love Him... we can't help but love Him! He is infinitely lovely. Can I just say that Tebow is just a normal guy that God has given a big platform? I don't think Tebow would disagree. God wants faithfulness. He wants the love of Christ to touch our hearts and give off an overwhelming aroma to those around us. Oh, that they would see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. One of the things I pray for Tebow is that people wouldn't be distracted by the man, Tim Tebow, but that they would see Christ in him. God has given each of us opportunities (probably on a smaller scale), but did you know that the "Prince of Preachers", Spurgeon was saved because a normal man preached the Word when the pastor couldn't make it? God doesn't need you to have a huge platform... actually, lets be honest here... He doesn't need any of us for anything. It is a privilege to be used by Him for His glory. Let us be faithful to give off that sweet aroma in the small things and see what He might do in and through us.