Posts Tagged ‘Worship’

One of my favorite things to say about wine is:

“Don’t be intimidated, remember wine is just agriculture”

It is simply the process of harvesting, preparing and bottling up the fruit of a farmer’s hard work, the soil of a particular location grapes of a specific plant. There is nothing magical or mysterious about it… which is probably why it is so magical and mysterious… it seems so simple

But I guess I have to concede that wine also has an arcane poetry in this understated alchemy. The bottling of the earth in which the plant grew, and the wind and air that rustled through its vines, the water which rained or flowed to the roots to nourish and develop berries basking ‘neath the fire of a distant glowing sun.

But remember: don’t be intimidated.

And here I stumble upon the tension that I experience. I want the simple explanation; to reduce everything down to a manageable pocket-sized nugget. But my heart is often far more significantly emboldened when I get lost in the terrifying wonder and intricate magnitude of what God wove and fashioned with the deceptively simple, spring-loaded…

“Let there be light”

…don’t be intimidated

And so I sit with a glass of wine, staring deep into the redness, wondering at what is wrought within.

It is not just something to be consumed, but to be experienced.

So I sit. I still myself. I swirl the wine.

The light reflects and shines through the redness, the tidal waves contained with a hemisphere of glass; a sea of colorful and flavorful organic compounds dancing and playing. Amid the tannins, the flavinoids, the esters and sugars I am reminded… “This is my blood that was poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins… do this in remembrance of me.”

And in the stillness, I am confronted with the sobering truth: “Don’t be intimidated” is TERRIBLE counsel.

Because deeper than the agriculture, more mysterious than the alchemy, more beautiful than the refractive hue is the deeper truth, the fuller wonder and the realer realization. Within and without this glass, everything points to the beauty and terrible majesty of the body broken and blood split, to the good glory of God’s great gospel.

But, oh, how easy it is to overlook, and how quickly the cross is presented as a concept, a symbol, an icon; reduced to a manageable nugget. Because of this, I invite you to join me in observing lent starting on Wednesday. Lent? wait you were talking about wine, isn’t lent about depriving yourself? It isn’t about not eating chocolate, it is about being disciplined and approaching Easter with a desire to wonder. Join with me and take forty days to intentionally prepare, remove obstacles and to examine the cross in its fullness. (What is Lent?)

And the next time you pick up a glass of wine – be intimidated, it is much more than just agriculture.


Oh, Have I Messed Up

Posted: 07/15/2011 in Personal Walk, Worship
Tags: , ,

Over the past week I have been studying through Psalm 51 preparing for a sermon this weekend. I have been aware of this Psalm and been able to recite a good portion of it for years, but this week it has been cutting to deep places in my heart.

I have looked at repentance and thought about forgiveness in a way that glorifies me far more than it glorifies the wondrous cross. I have spent the past week looking deep in my heart and I live out and advertise the “pretty places” the easily admirable. Now I know that I am seen as fully righteous, not out of my own merit, but becuase what was fully accomplished by Jesus… but I spend my time trying to prove to God and to others that I was a “good and worthy investment”.

So, today at work, over more coffee than I would like to admit, I have been praying through what Paul wrote to Timothy as he was encouraging him toward leadership:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (ESV)

This might be a strange connection to Psalm 51, but it is where God has been taking me. I look at what Paul says and the statement “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service” seems like it would be a perfect and ideal appeal to authority. Of course Timothy should take him seriously… but then Paul messes it all up, becuase of what he says next… “though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.”

WHAT?!?! Paul what are you doing? And then I realized he is standing in the mercy of the cross and saying “I don’t deserve this!… please know that. This is about grace. Its about the cross. Its all about God and HIS great, glorious, Gospel.

And returning to Psalm 51, sitting with the Holy Spirit, I see David, a murdering, lying adulterer talk through so much, pleading for God to do a restorative work and then he gets to:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
  and uphold me with a willing spirit.
 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
 and sinners will return to you.

David is not content to be forgiven, clean, elect, to have a right spirit, by… I am blown away, because David, a man after God’s own heart, is not content UNTIL… his brokenness… heals others.

I look at my sin and I have wrestled with: “My sin, my past it disqualifies me from being used” or “I’ve got to be totally triumphant until I have a witness.” Often my prayer is for God to erase those things so I may never have to talk, or think about them again.

But David (and Paul) have passed through such horrors, and their plea is… if you could remind me of my salvation, you could use this so that sinners would know and glorify God. To put it another way it is as if David in this Psalm is praying:

“God, I know I have messed up. Oh, have I messed up. I have killed, and raped and my baby is dead… God, would you cause people to come to Christ… through my messed up, broken life.”

And here is my prayer: God, help me to be consumed with the scandalous beauty of the cross, to sing loudly of your great glory and profess with boldness and brokenhearted joy the awesome redemptive work you have done in my life.

This afternoon, after spending time thinking about bugs, I took a walk and was blown away about how much nature points to the glory of God.

Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote about nature and said:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

There certainly are some days that I am oblivious to the awe due to the creator of such an amazing world. But some days, like today, I feel like the holy spirit opens my eyes and everything around me seems to radiate with worship and point to the awesome power and creativity of the God we serve.

I don’t mean to delight in bugs, or in nature as a whole, as an end. I mean to savor what God has made as a reminder of who He is.

So often I am going at 100 mph and I take it all for granted, it all seems so commonplace and ordinary.

Until I am reminded and shaken out of the stupor by great authors who look at nature and see that God is so, so, so, so much greater and glorious than we ever can imagine.

This is one of my favorite examples:

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.

People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance.

This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death.

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.

Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

G.K. Chesterton

God, great Father and awesome Creator, may you help me to see more clearly, and worship you more constantly.

This is probably a strange thing to point out, but it seems like the trend for slow motion videos is to use music by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.  The amazing thing is how effective they are at creating a mood that invites you to stop and reflect.

While I tease, here is another clip that shows the beauty and majesty of God through his creation.

Matthew Henry once wrote:

Every object we behold calls on us to bless and praise the Lord, who is great. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly shown by the things which he hath made. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus, the Son of his love, is the Light of the world.

Last night I stopped and stared at the stars and was so amazed by the sheer magnitude of creation… and how breathtaking I forget it is.

I was talking to my roommate earlier in the day about how worship is more than the songs that we sing to open and close a service. While the music is certainly crafted to bring us into an awareness of the greatness of the God we serve, the heart of worship lies in our response not to the music, but to the nature of the goodness, and graciousness, and greatness and glory of God.

An author I have always loved reading put it this way:

It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing; and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. He may be church member who keeps the rules and obeys the discipline, and who tithes and goes to conference, but he’ll never be a worshiper unless he is deeply humbled. ( AW Tozer, Worship: The Missing Jewel, 4,5).

To that end, to see in some small way the things wrought about through God saying: “Let there be…”, I thought I would put up a video of a single day of a single mountain in Iceland. Also part of Psalm 104.

Oh, that the eyes of my eyes would be opened, and the ears of my ears unstopped… that I would humbled and reminded by actually seeing more frequently and clearly the greatness and glory of God.

 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
                          they flow between the hills;
       they give drink to every beast of the field;
                           the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
                             they sing among the branches.
        From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
                             the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
  You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
                             and plants for man to cultivate,
        that he may bring forth food from the earth
                             and wine to gladden the heart of man,
 oil to make his face shine
                             and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
         The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
                             the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
 In them the birds build their nests;
                             the stork has her home in the fir trees.
        The high mountains are for the wild goats;
                             the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
(Psalm 104:10-18 ESV)

The last few months have been daunting. Only now do I realize that falling off the face of the earth with the last post being on the topic of endurance has a degree of poetry to it.

    I have not been doing very well at my endurance and this can be seen as I haven’t done all that well at keeping up on blogging… and laundry and … we’ll leave it there.

    Today I got home from work and realized that I had enough time for a nap, but instead of laying down I thought I might take the little bit of extra time to read a few of my favorite blogs and post something quickly. I’m really glad I did.

    My homepage points to and I saw the following poem about being single:

    I will wait for you

    Written & Performed by: JANETTE…IKZ

    I love this for so many reasons:

    1. How this makes my heart beat… I can’t explain this any other way
    2. The creative commitment to craft such an amazing piece of worship
    3. THE HUGE CALL to what it looks like to be a godly man & godly woman (starts at 5:30 & 6:16)

    I, as one who has been fairly confident about being single, have been thinking for some time about dating and marriage. The more that I study, the more that I journal, the more that I seek God for what this looks like, the more I realize what a high calling I MUST view the office of husband and father.

    …and I will know you, because when you speak I will be reminded of Solomon’s wisdom, your ability to lead will remind me of Moses, your faith will remind me of Abraham, your confidence in God’s word will remind me of Daniel, your inspiration will remind me of Paul, your heart for God will remind me of David, your attention to detail will remind me of Noah, you integrity will remind me of Joseph, and your ability to abandon your own will remind me of the disciples, but your ability to love selflessly and unconditionally will remind me of Christ.

    At these words I sat stunned, heart beating and jaw dropped.

    I want to be that kind of man.

    Listening to this Godly woman bravely testify to what kind of man she is waiting for, sent shock waves through the weak, lazy, self-serving complacency I have allowed to settle in my heart. I am sitting here now, actually yearning to finish this post so that I can spend time with God and in his word.

    Before I go, this next video, in conjunction with the last, is doing an excellent job at re-focusing my personal aim to what kind of man I want to be.

    For The True Man of God

    Written & Performed by: Matthew Lee

    Yesterday I admitted to being wrong and silly when it came to how a person plays the guitar.

    The day before I talked about the how God uses tragedy in our lives to draw us to know Him and love Him more fully and accurately through the story of Job.

    Thankfully, not many of us will ever have to endure the pain of losing all of our children, all of our possessions, and then go through a painful season of physical sickness. While this might seem like it renders the book of Job into a worst-case scenario, that we pray never happens to us, there are so many things that can happen in our lives that mirror the utter destruction we see in Job’s life.

    The great thing about Job is it a narrative that we can identify with. There is something to be said about our heart and our mind’s ability to engage with truth when it is lived out.  Here is a brief story about God being in control and working compassionately through what seems like destruction and loss.

    I love the line in this video… “the things that He is most concerned about, in my worship to Him, is for me to never forget that the instrument He is most concerned with, is the instrument of my heart.