Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Stepping on toes ...

This is what I read today in Mark Labberton’s book, The Dangerous Act of Worship:

“At a worship service I attended a couple of years ago, my attention was drawn to the enthusiastic worship leader. He opened our time with prayer, asking God to meet us … Then he turned to face forward, standing just in front of the first row of worshipers with his eyes closed and the band playing. He lifted his hands to God and offered a joyful noise to the Lord.

That’s when I really took notice, for as he sang … he kept stepping all over the feet of the people behind him. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly … he kept ‘tromping in the Spirit.’  No apology. No sign of acknowledgement.

He was just praising God while oblivious to his neighbor.

This illustration metaphorically and practically depicts a significant part of our problem [with worship.]

I have no doubt the worship leader would say that what he was doing was unintentional … He was just so caught up in his own experience of worship that he lost track of others.

In worship, he lost his neighbor. That’s exactly the problem.

For all of our apparent passion about God, in the end, much of our worship seems to mostly be about us. We presume we can worship in a way that will find God but lose track of our neighbor.

Yet it was this very pattern in Israel’s worship life that brought God’s judgment.

Biblical worship that finds God will also find our neighbor.”

Have you ever thought about this?

Does your worship help you find your neighbor?

Or do you worship God, all the while figuratively stepping on your neighbor’s toes?

 

Worship ...

Tonight our A Way of Life class is discussing the chapter from the first manual on worship.

This reminded me that I have Mark Labberton’s book “The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice” on my shelf. So I opened it up and started to read …

Whoa ...

I am going to share some of his thoughts over the next few days.

Expect to be disturbed, but in a good way.

Labberton is the new President at Fuller Seminary and I have loved everything I have seen from him. He has a huge heart for Jesus, for the church, and for the radical demands of the Gospel.

Here are some of his opening thoughts:

“When worship is our response to the One who alone is worthy of it – Jesus – then our lives are on their way to being turned inside out. Every dimension of self-centered living becomes endangered as we come to share God’s self-giving heart.

Worship exposes our cultural and even spiritual complacency toward a world of suffering and injustice.

In Jesus Christ, we are called into a new kind of living. Through the grace of worship, God applies the necessary antidote to what we assume is merely human – our selfishness.

Worship sets us free from ourselves to be free for God and God’s purposes in the world.

The dangerous act of worshipping God in Jesus Christ necessarily draws us into the heart of God and sends us out to embody it, especially toward the poor, the forgotten and the oppressed.”

Well now … Do you think his definition of worship might be just a tad bigger than ours?

Only one thing ...

" ... there is only one thing that separates us from God, and it is not our sin. It is our self-righteousness."

(James Bryan Smith - The Good and Beautiful God)

That one place ...

Prayer is confusing to us.

We have received all kinds of mixed messages … and often we feel paralyzed, inadequate and guilty.

I have to believe God does not want us to feel this way.

He just wants us to come to him as we are with what we have and to do our best.

One thing that has helped me to be more real and honest in prayer is a bit of writing from M. Robert Mulholland in his book “Invitation to a Journey” in which he states that …

“Our cross is the point of our unlikeness to the image of Christ, where we must die to self in order to be raised by God into wholeness of life in the image of Christ right there at that point …
So the process of being conformed to the image of Christ takes place at the points of our unlikeness to Christ, and the first step is confrontation.”

Can you see what he is saying?

That one place where you are most unlike Christ is the exact place Christ wants to work.

We are to feel free with Christ to bring that most broken of all places in us to the Father in prayer.

When we start to be  honest the blocked places in prayer break open  ...  and healing, wholeness and God’s power start to flow into us, right in the place about which we feel most hopeless.

Bring to God the stuff you feel the most awful about and see what he can do …