Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just Words

“I hope the worship’s good today. I hate it when we sing those songs I don’t know or they’re too high. And I get distracted by the clothes some of the singers wear. Oh, and I hope they do a video. I love those. Unless they’re totally cheese. Who’s preaching? Last week it was that guy that talked real fast and I don’t even remember what it was about. Wonder if we should sit upstairs or down. Where will the crying baby be this week?”

Do these thoughts sound eerily familiar? Maybe on the drive to church a few have run through your mind. After dressing, getting the family ready, loading the dishwasher, letting the dog out/in and heading out the door for worship, your brain may be in overdrive. You’re on your way to worship. To...worship.


The other day, I felt I needed to spend some time in Psalms. It’s been a while since I read some of those. I get bogged down when I hit the ones that focus on enemies chasing and the depression of the writer dwelling in the pit. Now, there have been times when those psalms speak to me and I’m thankful for them, but I also like to read praises about God and his providing for us. So, I grabbed a Bible a friend had given me. It’s a version I’m not familiar with: The New Century Version by Thomas Nelson. I flipped through to the first psalm that opened up. Psalm 48. It begins with accolades about God’s city, his Mount, his power. Great stuff. Reading the first eight verses makes you feel like that kid who boasts “This is my Dad!” Yeah, this is my God! So, I’m reading along when I get to verse 9:

God, we come into your Temple, to think about your love.

We come into your temple. first thought is my church. Of course, as a follower of Christ, I’m well aware of the scriptures about the temple. (My body’s a temple for the Holy Spirit. Christ is the cornerstone.) But, if I’m thinking of a physical place where I go to worship, I think of my church. The sanctuary I rush into. Within YOUR temple, O God. Not the temple where the worship team rules, or the videographer, or even the speaker. God’s temple.

To think about. Not sing, not clap, not shake hands, not be entertained. Thinking. It means really pondering something. Not just your quick thought. You have to invest some time on that one. Chew it over. Another version I looked up uses the word meditate. That word seems to have a stop sign attached to it. I don’t meditate when I’m running or doing. I have to get quiet, be still, and am usually alone when I meditate. But, even in a Sunday morning crowd, I can spend some time thinking about what I’m saying or hearing. Hello? What is the purpose for being there, anyway?

Your love. I know there have been times at church where I’ve been able to wrap my thoughts around his love. Communion is designed for that - when I’m focused. Sometimes, while singing, I can block out distractions and offer him praise. Occasionally, a time is built into the service for reflection. And, if you tear apart most messages, they’re all about how much God loves us. Four letters, little word, unfathomable concept.

A small verse tucked inside a great psalm is packed with some meaty stuff for me to think about today. And on Sunday. When I enter HIS temple to THINK about HIS LOVE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Time for a Change?

"Same old, same old." he answered to my question "What have you been up to?" I nodded with understanding and maybe a bit of agreement. It can feel comfortable doing the same old thing every week, every day. I don't have to worry about knowing how to get it done or what to expect. It feels safe. Routine. Just settle in because, yep - it's all the same.
And, it's all boring. I'm reminded of the movie "Groundhog Day"with Bill Murray. It's touted as a comedy and he's always good for a few laughs, but while watching it, I noticed a sobering lesson. Day after day, he reruns the same 24 hours. Same people, same comments, same outcomes. And, after a while, it didn't feel safe and satisfying. It became boring and frustrating. His actions and words became mindless. He was on auto-pilot. The jovial comic expression on his face became sleepy, blank, emotionless.
We all enjoy the comfort of stability and routine at times. I admit to owning a worn out fleece robe that just feels good. It's my grown-up "blankie" of sorts. It's been washed for more years than I'll admit here and looks like something you'd bag up for donation. But, I love it. I have other robes that I wear, but this my go-to when I need comfort wrapped around me.
My husband, Mike, thrives on routine. For some 28 years, he's started each day with pretty much the same exercises. He does them at home and on the road. He's done them in Israel and on camping trips. (I sit with my coffee mug and encourage him!) As a pilot, he's trained to run a "check list" and that's certainly something we passengers are thankful for. Routine can be a good thing in lots of circumstances. The question is, when does it become a road block? When is it time to change?
Change. The word can cause some to begin sweating. "Oh, I don't do well with change." Who really does? How many of us now enjoy standing in the lines at the airport with our bare feet on cold dirty floors anticipating a pat-down? How about watching the stock market play ping-pong with your life savings? Ever had a child? Enough said. It's a fact: we're surrounded by change and we're trying like crazy to avoid it at all costs.
Revelation 21:5 tells us that John saw He who was seated on the throne saying, "Behold, I am making all things new." He didn't say, "I made all things new." He's active - now, forever making. In the process. There's hope in that.
Have you ever used the saying, "I'm a work in progress."? Ah, busted. Do I say that and then grip my routine life? Do I offer him the chance to work in me? All things are being made new. That includes you. When I'm in a great place with people I love and life seems perfect, I want to whine, "But, I like this. I want to stay here." I probably felt that way before I lived for Christ. Would I go back to that? No way! I'm new. He made me new. Still is. I'm so glad I have examples of people changing in the Bible. Bad guys turned into heroes, prostitutes into cherished women of God, aimless wandering whiners into chosen people. Some changed instantly while others took lifetimes. No matter how long it took, the change was always better.
Seems to me that I have choices here. I can fold my arms, say no and miss the "new" that God promises to give me. I can let go one finger at at time, delay my "new" and grieve God. Or, I can take a deep breath, embrace his promise and step forward. Hopefully, when asked what's new, I can answer "How much time do you have to listen?"