We Worship

You ever find yourself frustrated, for no apparent or tangible reason? Ever feel confused or perplexed by what’s taking place around you? I know I have had my fair share of these feelings. Sometimes I honestly find myself in awe of just how much I simply DO NOT get about life. It’s super easy in these times to try and compensate for this feeling of “lacking” or “wanting.” In today’s culture there is an incredible amount of focus placed on looking or seeming as if you have it all under control, or have everything figured out. Why is it then, that underlying this facade in most cases, we honestly feel pressure to perform more, do more, be better and so on? Why do we tend to overcomplicate and create a sense of busyness just to meet this (often times) imaginary demand?

The fact is, this matter is far more of a spiritual battle than it is a cultural, economic or even emotional battle. Yes it’s true depending on your family life, immediate society and personal mentality, you may face very real and specific battles. However, the point I would like us to draw attention to is the fact that we all, as humans, have an innate desire within us to “do,” to perform and to impress.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these desires do not have to be viewed negatively, but it is the actions we take and the stance of our hearts as we approach these pressures that defines our character and purpose.  Let’s consider an example. If Matt enjoys skate boarding he is going to often times find himself in a situation where he feels a self imposed pressure.  Matt just stomped a perfect backside boardslide down an 8 stair, yet something within him leaves him wanting more. Now he feels the pressure to exceed this trick and improve his overall style.  I could go on and on, but the point is this, where does this pressure come from and why is its pull so strong?

The best answer I can find to these questions is worship… Simple and pure worship. The draw we feel to give more, do more, or impress more, it’s all an overflow of our hearts design to worship. When this feeling leads to a commitment that is healthy, honest and purely for the love of what you do it is actually the act of worshiping our creator. God rooted this desire deep in our hearts. This pressure in it’s pure form drives us to make ourselves better, not for selfish reasons, but to inspire hope in those around us and maximize our enjoyment of life. The literal act of doing something we feel compelled to do is a tangible and expressible act of worship. The question therefore remains, who is it we are worshiping? Ourselves? Our friends or peers? Maybe our bosses or neighbors? Or is it our creator?

I would encourage you this week to take notice of when this feeling of want or desire arouses. Does it leave you feeling negative or depressed? Or does it leave you inspired and hopeful? If your honest answer is not the second I would encourage you to dig into the reasons you are doing what you do. Think of what or who it is you would most like to please in your actions and consider the hope that comes through the simple recognition that what you do, all you do could actually be done as an act of worship. Let your worshipping actions inspire hope and encourage your heart. Don’t over complicate or frustrate yourself on the things you can’t understand. Rather enjoy the things you can and know that your creator is very pleased and happy to be recognized in your ability to grow and improve. God is afterall an intimate friend that desires above all else to be your friend and to see you joyfully mature and press forward! Acknowledge God in all you do and through that style of worship, frustration and confusion stand no chance.

“Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with All your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, but in ALL way acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Advertisements

It. Is.

It’s hard to put into words. 

At least for me anyways. 

Because for me it’s not the words that bring about my understanding of it.

For me it’s in the nature, images and metaphors. 

It’s in the subtle, simple and symbolic scenarios that take place moment by moment. 

It’s seen understood and observed differently by each individual in a completely unique perspective. 

It’s the brushstroke placed perfectly on a grand canvas.  

It’s in the way words tend to fail a man in the presence of beauty.

It’s the sunrise coming over the spruce laden hills, reflecting its light like a mirror on the still glassy water of the morning bay. 

It’s the gentle salty breeze climbing its way over the boats edge and up ones nostrils to seek shelter in the brain. 

It’s the cool fresh air that breaths life into ones soul, body and mind. 

It’s relaxed and care free like the sea otters floating comfortably on the water, feet up and feasting on clams.

It’s the mother whale feasting on feeder fish with her giant baby by her side learning the tricks of the trade. 

It’s in the waves crest crashing down upon the bare back of a boy gliding on glory.

It’s in the satisfied, slippery, sliding sweat pillaging across ones face on a hot desert day.

It’s in the balance of eating right, exercise and escaping from the expectations of a “so called social norm.”

It’s in the decorating designs of dirt on display of those who live outdoors and play.

It’s in the flaunting of freedom at the feelings of fear and failure.

It’s in the variations of vast, voluptuous life that continues unseen with valor and virtue despite victories seen.

It’s in the way no camera can capture what is seen and experienced by the eyes.

It’s in the windy waters of weather beaten rivers raping their way through canyons of colorful life.

It’s in the way a trout is tricked by a floating fly passing bye.

It’s in a crafty game of cribbage played with people you love.

It’s in the creative cracks that split their way up and down a colorful canvas of rock.

It’s in the awe inspiring autumn leaves, awakening the spirit of change.

It’s the smile on a child’s face as he sprints along side of his joyous mother.

It’s the peace of mind in a patient man that knows no need as he waters the seed.

It’s in the clarity that comes only from the creator of what is.

It’s simplicity found in silence by those who surrender to a savior beyond them self.

It’s carved into a kingdom that is coming. 

It’s in the cross that carries our crimes.

It’s viewed and shared with all things big and small. 

It’s understood by each only in part no matter how simple or how smart.

It’s fully known only by the one who created and craft it. 

It’s intimate nature and implicit design is comprehended completely only by the divine.

It’s far more than what’s been said.

It’s hope that’s risen from the dead.

It’s polished, perfect and pure.

It’s absolutely astounding atonement.

It. Is. ART.

Facing The Swell

Facing The Swell

If you’ve ever looked out at the ocean you know the feeling.  The awe, the wonder, the hope and the confusion. It’s not exactly easy to put into words. You know its far greater than what you can comprehend.  You desperately want to wrap your head around it, but you know from your perspective you just can’t. I’ve been seeing life through this metaphor in a profound way lately.  Here I am, on the beach, surfboard in hand, looking out into this ocean. It’s life. It’s too big for me to understand but what I do know is this, I don’t want to just stand here and look at it.  I want to be in it. I want to actively be involved in this ocean.  

Now, I’ll tell you straight up, I’m a novice surfer. I want so badly to be a great surfer. I struggle and wrestle with the cold hard facts of what needs to be done for me to become one.  We live in a world of instant gratification. You know?  I just want to be a great surfer, like I want my technique dialed and want to be able to just catch any wave and rip it.  But that doesn’t just happen. Standing on the beach, looking out at the ocean, I can see others catching waves in a way that looks so effortless.  I also see people just getting wrecked and I know from my own experience that I’m going to get wrecked. I’ve been thrashed, let me tell you but this is where the metaphor takes shape. I believe in a God that knows how to face the swell, that’s done it. I know that to become a great surfer I have to practice. I have to paddle through some waves. I have to be focused and actively refining my technique. I don’t want to just get thrashed by every wave that comes at me. I need to learn how to dive efficiently. I need to learn how to pop up in a balanced way. I need to ride more waves to get a true understanding of what it feels like to be brought along with the power of the wave itself. That takes time. That takes resilience that quite frankly I don’t have much of by my own strength. I believe in a God that promises to be with me through all of it. Every good ride. Every good dive. Every wipe out. Every thrashing. God is with me, helping me refine my technique. Too often I have found myself trying to take on every wave by my own strength.  It’s a big ocean and there are some powerful waves out there. I don’t want to spend my life trying to master the ocean. That’s an impossible feat. I want to take one wave at a time. I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is with me every single second.  Every single wave. I don’t need to conquer or comprehend the ocean to catch a good wave. I just need to be present and active in the practice and perseverance it takes to ride the next wave better than the one before.  God promises to be with me, with us if we let him. He is our board, our lifeline. Don’t get me wrong, I dig body surfing and swimming and all that but I want to surf. I want to be a great surfer so I need a board. I want to ride my board with patience and persistence. Practice is necessary and perfection cannot be attained instantly. Will you join me in the pursuit, board and body in the ocean, actively involved in facing the swell?  

James 1: 2-4 & 12

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

12Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Let It Fall

Orange, yellow, red, burgundy and brown leaves are now all around. The smell

of doughnuts and apple cider fill our nostrils and leave us smiling in the sun with

a joy that simply cannot be expressed in any other way than the release of a

fresh breath of crisp cool air. The breeze carries with it the sounds of children

laughing and families talking while walking together down the orchard rows.

Pumpkins the size of beach balls bask in the light of their last remaining days

before being brutally mutilated and gutted into what only some may actually be

allowed to call art. Yes, it is indeed autumn and the season that for so many of us

represents a spiritual time of reflection and reverence. The summers speed and

activities wind down and the scorching heat of the fiery sun subsides. We are

finally able to kick back and relax just enough to process the previous season

and begin to prepare for the one ahead. We find the time, in the present to

prepare for the future.

Now, there is a passage that God has been illuminating much like the

surrounding leaves this fall. From a season of lush green, God has brought new

color to a scene about his Son and his Love for us. For those of you who have

read it before, we pray you look to it now in light of this imagery. What once was

green, may it now be gold. And for those who may have never heard about or

read this before, may it inspire you like the fresh air of autumn to see the

beautiful, colorful, and deeply intimate heart of our creator.

This story can be found in two separate places, written by two separate people,

found both in Luke 22, and Mark 14. For the sake of time and space we will

simply display the prior here. Contextually, this story takes place just before

Jesus is arrested.

“39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and

the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them,

“Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them

about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are

willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And

being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great

drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he

came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,46 and he said to them,

“Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

So we see a few very profound things happening here. For starters we see

Jesus’ emotions. They are very real and very human emotions. He is anxious. He

knows all too well what he is facing. He understands that not only will it be

excruciating but it will also require him, for the first time in his life, to be separated

from God.

This was a choice God made, yet also a sacrifice. This paradox is crucial for us

to face. Why, if the leaves around are seemingly so beautiful and full of life, must

they die and fall to the ground? Why must the leaves change? You see, a chosen

Love, not a forced love is the Love of God and it is the kind of love we all long for.

It is most noticeable in autumn as the leaves fall, that while beauty can be found

in each season, death is a crucial aspect to life. We often find ourselves

questioning free will, questioning pain. Why is it that we must feel pain or witness

destruction? The answer, though we may never fully understand, lies in the

contrast.

Free will, as it allows for pain, evil and death, also allows for a kind of love that is

unmatchable and unfathomable. Though the reality of it is painfully difficult, in the

sorrow Jesus felt, we as humans can relate and begin to regognize true beauty.

It is in his bloody tears and his pleading. It is his willingness to die. It is

acceptence of the struggle and seperation at hand. The anxiety he feels in this

raw and exposed moment, is so real to us, yet so foreign and quite honestly,

terrifying.

We want control. We all do. Even when it seems as simple as being in control of

what we eat that day, or what job we take or where we live. In one way or

another we want control. But here in this passage, in this moment and

experience we see how honest and pure surrender is actually the key component

in experiencing true love. This love, once played out breaths true freedom. So

how? How do we understand this? How do we surrender? Isn’t that the question

we all find ourselves facing at one point or another if we are truly honest with

ourselves? I want to trust you God! I want to believe you are good and strong

and able to see me through, but how?!

Jesus says, and he shows us that God’s strength is what allows his will to be

done, on earth as it is in heaven. Much like a tree’s leaves, ultimately, love is

expressed in the act of letting go. Dying to yourself. Letting your leaves and the

beauty you believe they represent fall off. We must let them go to the grave with

the lord. For only in that act, can the tree continue to grow. Jesus says in

Matthew “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his

cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever

loses his life for my sake will find it” This truth is so difficult to grasp because it

means exactly what we are most afraid of. When it all boils down to it, the

thought of letting go makes us anxious. It may not make us sweat blood,

thankfully, but it does scare us, all of us. Not one person, regardless of what their

facebook or instagram page looks like, could honestly say, the thought of

surrendering full control isn’t intimidating, if not downright insane and

incomprehensible.

So back to the same question right? How? Still how? We have to understand the

reality at hand. We face opposition. We live in a world of free will, with sin and

lies and deceit. We have an enemy that seeks to distract and tempt and destroy

us. The surrounding events at play in this passage are imperative. Why do the

disciples, his friends fall asleep when he needs them most? Why does an angel

appear to strengthen him? We have to look at this clearly. There is an enemy of

God and he seeks to separate us from God. Jesus knew it. This is precisely

where his love and strength show up for us. He warns us, his friends to stay

awake and alert. He begs us to pay attention to what he is doing. He begs us to

see the beauty around this autumn and remember that in this world the leaves

must fall. Our control must fall. Our hearts must be attentive and awake to his

love. Be present.

His love is stronger than death. He rose from the grave and he is with us. He will

teach us every day, every season, how to understand, how to let go. We must

accept the realities of what is happening around us. We must be awake with our

friends. We must be willing to let go of the beauty we think we have and look to

the beauty of who God is and what he is doing for us. It is OK, not to have every

answer. Give it time. Give it to God. Let it fall from your tree, let it die. Just as the

seasons continue to change, we will continue to grow, and we will continue to

love as we have been loved. We are not alone and our saviour understands us,

better than we understand ourselves. So take courage and take heart. Soak in

the beauty around you this season and know that you too are growing, just like

the trees and friends around you. Take up your cross, drop your leaves and

worries at the creators feet, and trust our empathetic and powerful God to lead

you in grace and strength!