Daily Archives: August 29, 2013

Shared Post: When Your Quiet Time Goes Silent by Kevin Sheen

Great insight by Kevin Sheen:

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When Your Quiet Time Goes Silent by Kevin Sheen

4 ways to jumpstart your spiritual growth
 
I was in my early 20’s when I became a Christian. And as a new believer, I earnestly sought to make up the ground that I felt I’d lost by spending copious amounts of time reading my Bible. 

While this was effective for me early on, after a few months, my desire began to wane. That’s when I was exposed to the idea of a daily “quiet time.” It was something that was introduced by Christians that I respected greatly and seemed like a really great idea. I mean, who couldn’t afford to carve a few minutes out of every morning to start the day hearing from God through His Word?

And the thing is, once I was aware of the “quiet time” phenomenon, I was amazed at just how prevalent it was.

Everyone was always talking about their quiet time. 

But the thing was …it didn’t really work for me.

Mornings were always rough, because I’d inevitably be thinking about all the things I had to accomplish during the day. Lunchtime was too inconsistent based on my workload. And I’ve fallen asleep reading the Bible in the evening more times than I can probably recall.

The Truth that God chooses different, unique, ways for each of us.

But even during those times when I successfully put aside my to-do-list and fought off sleep, I’d often still find my mind wandering a few minutes or even moments in. I thought maybe it was just that I wasn’t disciplined enough, but no matter how hard I seemed to try, my quiet time seemed empty.

Then one day, during an afternoon walk, I stopped to rest under the shade of a large tree and was prompted to open my Bible (I went almost everywhere wearing a satchel with a Bible in those days) and came upon the following passage from Psalm 25:

Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? 
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

As I read this, it occurred to me that, while a focused quiet time was something that seemed to work well for many of my friends, that didn’t necessarily have to be the way God guided me. In this psalm from David I was reminded of the importance of desiring to know God’s ways and paths, but also of the Truth that God chooses different, unique, ways for each of us.

And in the years since my struggle to force the paths of others to lead me, I’ve discovered that God has the ability to speak to me in a variety of different ways.

1) Nature – Engaging with God through His creation

The beauty of God’s creation surrounds us, yet we’re often so busy simply moving through that we neglect to think about how wonderful it is to be a part of it. While doing things like taking a walk during a rainstorm or traveling outside the city to gaze at the stars may seem like flights of fancy, they’re also amazing opportunities to reflect on the scope of God’s plan and consider the privilege that you are not only a unique part of His creation, but an important and valuable member of His family.

2) Biblical Interruptions – Remove Excuses

One of the chief barriers for spending time with God is the way we budget our time. I struggled with distraction during my attempts at a quiet time because the time I was setting aside was always competing with something else. So if that’s a struggle for you, I suggest finding a way to have different points of your day interrupted with opportunities to consider God’s Word. I use an app called goTandem. It sends me scripture multiple times a day, personalized for me.

 Note: As a point of full-disclosure, I’m a part of the goTandem ministry. But I have genuinely found it to be effective.

3) Exercise – Challenge your spirit while challenging your body

It’s easy to just pop in earbuds and zone out during a workout. However, I’ve found that during exercise, God sees me as a captive audience and will often challenge me to consider something important in the midst of my sweat and labored breathing. So whether you want to just read a quick section of scripture before a run, or listen to an entire podcast during your P90X routine it’s a great opportunity to incorporate time with God.

4) Meet with a Trusted Friend – Getting an outside perspective

Each of us should have a handful of people who know us well. Whether it’s a spouse, best friend, pastor or our own mother, we function best as part of a community. (Even those of us that are introverts.) And when it comes to our personal relationship with God, sometimes others seem to have a better handle on what God is telling us than we do.  So whether you’re finding yourself in the midst of a dry spell or paralyzed by a fork in life’s road, set up a time with a trusted friend to talk through it. You just might be amazed at how clear your path is when you hear how others are watching you travel it.

It’s natural to want our meetings with God to work instantaneously—the same we’d like one trip to the gym to result in a six-pack.

The challenge with these “quiet times” is they rarely turn into the life-altering meetings we so want them to be. It’s natural to want our meetings with God to work instantaneously—the same we’d like one trip to the gym to result in a six-pack. The trouble (and beauty) is that our relationship with God is a journey. It requires steps, and while they may be small, each one takes us somewhere.

So whether you’re one of those people for whom a quiet time works well, or someone who struggles to make time for God, the important thing to remember is that God is faithful.He’ll show up to meet us whenever or where ever we are. It won’t always be life-altering, but it will always be worthwhile.

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Source: Here

Shared Post: The Modern Worship Music Wars by Stephen Miller

“The old church debates about hymns and choruses have taken on a new, more subtle tone.”
 
“Ours is a generation marked by war.I’m not referring to a war with guns and tanks, though we have certainly seen our share of that as well. We are a generation that grew up witnessing the church fight over the very thing that was supposed to unite us: the worship of Jesus.

The Good Old Hymns vs. Modern Worship Choruses.

Organ & Piano vs. Those Demon Drums.

Few of us emerged from these consumerism driven worship wars of our younger years unscathed. Their impact has been profound, both personally and corporately.

Fast forward a decade or two and, at first glance, the worship wars that once plagued the church seem to have died down. So it might be easy to chalk it all up to a problem from a bygone era.

Until we walk out of a church service that didn’t meet our own standards.

We have become professional critics of corporate worship. We complain about everything.

The volume is either too loud, or not loud enough. The lighting is either too bright or not bright enough; too showy or too bland.

We grumble about song selection, saying things like, “They introduce too many new songs,” “Why do we keep doing the same songs over and over,” or “I hate that song.”

From key signatures to instrumentation; from the worship leader’s fashion sense to vocal tone – it’s all fair game for our consumer-driven critique.

We are the fast food slogan-slinging generation of “Have it your way.”We are American Idol’s panel of expert judges.

We don’t know how to shut up and we don’t have to because social media gives us constant platform to speak out about anything and everything we love and hate.

We tend to assign spiritual value to our preferences.

Everything about our world tells us that we are the king (or queen) of the castle.So as humans, it is impossible to avoid having our own personal preferences. Our distinct opinions shape the way we approach every area of life, including how we connect in corporate worship. As such, we tend to assign spiritual value to our preferences.

For example, if we gravitate toward a more stripped back, rootsy corporate worship experience, we exalt that as the most spiritually helpful, while demonizing a corporate worship experience that is more produced. We employ abstract, vague descriptors like, “That felt like a show – it just didn’t seem authentic.” All the while the person on the platform may be a genuinely godly person who has put much thought, effort, and prayer into using his or her own stylistic musical talents to lead in corporate worship as excellently and effectively as possible.

The modern church has spearheaded all new creatively contextual expressions of corporate worship. We have everything from Traditional church to Seeker church to Cowboy church, Biker church, Surfer church and everywhere in between. We have Jazz, R&B, Funk, Gospel, Pop, Rock & Roll, Country, Rap, Hair Metal, Classical, and more.

We must see the beauty in that …and the danger.

The vast variety of expressions of worship to our ever-worthy Savior is an incredible opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and express praise in new and fresh ways. But these tools ought not become the deterrents from or objects of our exaltation.

When we gather as the church, we are not coming as critics. We are not talent judges from The Voice who get to slam a “worship button” whenever we like what we’re hearing. We are not entitled to make the call on whether or not we feel like worshiping God and building up his church. His glory does not wait for us to like the music before he becomes worthy of all our worship.

We dare not approach the throne of an objectively great, timeless, unchanging, and holy God with a consumer mindset that says we can only worship him if our subjective preferential demands are met. That mindset only robs God of the glory he is due, robs the church of the encouragement it needs as it fights the true war of faith, and robs us of being encouraged and shaped by the truth of God’s word as we sing it.

We gather to preach and sing the good news to ourselves, one another, and those who don’t yet know that a sovereign God loved us enough to give us his only Son to rescue us and give us eternal life. We sing that Jesus came willingly as to redeem and adopt us, defeat sin and death, and give us the Holy Spirit to liberate and empower us to repent, believe, forsake our comfort, take up our cross, and follow Christ.

Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences.

We gather to serve one another because we have been served by God himself.It shouldn’t take the perfect circumstances for us to see the beauty, glory and wonder of our great God. If we have tasted the beauty of grace, it should be easy for us to stand in awe, utterly captivated by that incredible, glorious truth that transcends all preferences of all people in all cultures for all time. But we have to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto him.

Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences. We must turn our energy towards killing the selective, prideful nature within us. We must fight to put to death anything in us that would hinder us from pursuing Christ with all we are. We must fight to worship him with a joyful adoration that cannot be contained.

So the next time you go to church and the music is too loud, or the leader is singing that song you don’t like, go to war. Fight against the sin at work within yourself. Fight against consumerism and disunity. Fight for a grateful heart. Fight for the truth to captivate you in a way that music never could. Fight to stand in awe of a mighty God who rescued you and graciously sings over you.

Fight the true war of worship.”

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Source: Here