I recently started riding a bike. To clarify, it is my bike, but I recently got it and started riding it. The desire to have it and do this started as I stared out our hotel room window during Hurricane Irma. I felt cooped up, stifled, and wanted to do something freeing – to feel free. So I found a couple of really good bikes for my wife and I in an online marketplace at a great price, and now I find myself riding around our small town early a few mornings each week.
This morning I started to notice something I hadn’t really paid attention to on my previous rides… signs. Signs in parks and along bike paths, near picnic tables and fishing spots. All of them were negative… No Swimming, No Climbing, No Jumping, No Pets, Warning: Stay Off.
Now, I get the need for boundaries and safety. Rules are important, without them people do sometimes stupid stuff and get hurt. But I started to think about all the children that pass those signs and read them. They are all in places that are supposed to be fun and freeing, but they are all telling those same children they can only have fun or be free with limitations. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
In Genesis 3:11, God asks Adam and Eve a very specific question… “Who told you that you were naked?” They had just disobeyed Him by eating from the tree in the middle of the garden – the one He said not to eat from. I don’t imagine He posted a sign next to the tree… He simply told them. “You can eat from every other tree, just not that one.” (emphasis mine) Now He comes to walk with them like He did every evening, and they are hiding. From God. In a bush.
God had created them and clothed them in glory, given them the command to be fruitful and the awesome charge that they were to have dominion – to be in charge. Adam had named every animal and became the caretaker of this glorious place God had created for them to live. And then in the desire to satisfy their own curiosity or fill the lust of their flesh, they ate the fruit of the one tree they were told not to… and they lost it all. That one act has had a lasting impact on every living thing – man or beast, plant or seed.
It’s early Saturday morning in Washington, D.C. The sun is just beginning to rise over the U.S. Capitol, and the mile of National Mall between the Capitol and Washington Monument has been buzzing with 57 tents of worship that started at 10pm the night before. 50 humble-sized tents are filled with representatives from every state. Even at these early hours of the morning, there are small crowds around tents, people dancing and clapping to the Lord.
From October 6–9th, an estimated 30,000 people from all over the nation converged on the National Mall to give the Lord an offering of love and worship for 56 hours non-stop. Gathered not around a speaker, or personality, but around the presence of the Lord, these worshippers gave it their all.
I’ve been leading worship at the house of prayer here in Tallahassee since 2008. We’ve had many great times of worship, but also plenty of awkward sets where we felt we really missed the mark. Whenever we feel as a worship team that we had a bad set, it brings to question what makes a time of worship good? What makes it successful?
These tips are by no means exhaustive. But I’ve found them to be very helpful to keep in mind as a worship team.
First and foremost, worship is a matter of the heart. When a life is surrendered to Christ, worship is always the overflow. A worship set is always personally successful when your heart is sincerely worshipping the Lord.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure (sincere) heart” (Ps. 24:3–4, emphasis and parenthesis mine)
Humanity didn’t deserve the Cross. We weren’t entitled to it. Nevertheless, God’s big plan was to redeem the world, to set the world right. As we think about salvation, sometimes we only think about that big picture. Our part may be small, but it is comforting to feel like even a small part of the big plan, as this earth barrels forward in its transition toward the end and beginning of all things.
But there is a deeper layer to the story, something much more specific. There is a passion in God’s heart, and it is for people. It is me. It is you. It may be difficult to imagine a personal Savior who cares about being close to you, but that is exactly why Jesus came to earth. Jesus loves you. Jesus likes you. It is the consistent, never-ending attitude of his heart. Here are five verses that prove it:
“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” Gen. 1:31
Before you physically existed, you were a thought in God’s mind. He formulated you. He designed every detail of you. He loved you. In His words, the creation, your design was “very good.” When God Himself uses the word very, we should take it seriously!
On May 4th, 2017, hundreds gathered on the 22nd floor of the Florida State Capitol to join together from different influential aspects of society to honor God, humble themselves, and pray for God to intervene in America.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. The following excerpts are from that proclamation:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.”
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