Friday, November 29, 2013

Christian Worship and the Reason for the Season

The word Christmas comes from a Middle English word that means Christ’s mass.  Since a “mass” is a worship service, Christmas literally means Christ’s worship service.  The Christmas season, in its most basic meaning, is a season of worship services.  We take that meaning seriously.

We are in the middle of a yearlong emphasis on worship at Faith Center.  2013-2014 is a year to worship on purpose.  We want to put purpose into our worship.  Meaning: we worship Jesus with intention.  Then, we want to worship Jesus for purpose.  Meaning: our worship of Jesus energizes us to fulfill the mission of Jesus.  Since Christmas is a season of worship, we at Faith Center will do it on purpose.

We will be worshiping every Sunday in December at 9:00 and 10:45a.  Each week will include specials ways to worship, from silence to candle lighting to  communion to a kids choir.  Sunday, 12/08, we will host an evening of worship, including sacred carols,  worship songs, and prayer.  On Christmas Eve, our season of worship will culminate with a special candle light service.  December, 2013 will be a season of worshiping Jesus at Faith Center.

This holiday season, make worshiping Jesus the foundation of every Christmas activity.  As you do, you will find that he is indeed the reason for this wonderful season.  You will also find that He is very much worth our worship.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Worship, Mission, and the Front Lines

Some of the fiercest fighting of World War II happened in a densely wooded area of continental Europe called the Ardennes.  A young officer, wounded during the fight, left the front lines to receive aid.  As he retreated, he passed a Catholic priest who was running into the forest.  He yelled to warn the chaplain: “Chappie, what in the world do you think you're doing? People up there are dying by the scores!"  The chaplain didn’t break stride.  He yelled back, “That's precisely why I need to be there!"

I love that chaplain’s mindset.  The Son of God calls a pastor to the front lines.  So, he goes.  The tougher the circumstances, the greater the reason to go.

At the end of Matthew, Jesus’ closest disciples have that mindset too.  Jesus tells his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go…”  The disciples know it will be hard, but they don’t question Jesus.  They just go because there is a need and the one who has all authority told them to do so.

As you worship this week, remember that worshiping Jesus calls us all to fulfill Jesus’ mission.  We recognize the one who has all authority in heaven and earth when we worship.  We come to terms with his desire to meet he greatest need of the world.  Then, we go and fulfill it.  No matter how difficult the circumstances, no matter how the big the obstacle, we go.  This week, worship the Lord who sends us to the needs of the world.  As you do, you will find the energy for life on the frontlines.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Grateful for Graceful Worship

Years ago, I gave a buddy a ride to his family’s farm outside of Dayton, Oregon.   The route we took included a bunch of rural farm roads.  I drove very fast.  As we approached Dayton, I noticed some lights in my rearview mirror.  A police officer had noticed I was driving very fast too.  He pulled me over.

The officer stood at my window and described what I had done wrong.  He took my license and proof of insurance and returned to his car.   I felt horrible.  I knew I had been breaking the law.  There was no excuse.  I deserved the ticket.
The officer returned to the car with a stern look on his face.  I waited for the bad news with a sense of dread.  Then, the police officer said, “I’m going to give you a warning.  Remember to obey the speed limit.”  I said, “Thank you, officer.  I will!”

When that officer let me off the hook, I was elated.  I was so relieved that the debt I deserved had been forgiven.  I felt like shouting and dancing as I pulled back onto the road.

The joy we feel after being forgiven is an important part of Christian worship too.  We celebrate God for the immeasurable grace he has poured out on our lives.  Because of Jesus, past mistakes need not condemn us.  Missteps need not define us.  God Almighty has declared us forgiven.  That makes God’s people want to shout and dance.

As you worship this week, remember the incredible grace of God that is at work in your life.  Be free from the dread and guilt of your past.  Be elated about the favor God has given you in His son Jesus Christ.  As you do, you will find great joy in the God who sets people free. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Wonderful Change

Years ago, Leah and I visited our friends’ church.  It was a well-known church.  Lots of famous gospel musicians worshiped there.  Their choir had won awards and traveled the world.  The music was great.

At one point in the service, the choir sang a very simple song.  They sang, “A wonderful change came over me.”  They repeated that one phrase over and over and over again.  A soloist sang on top of the phrase: “You changed me!  You changed me!”  Though the music was simple, the message was profound: Jesus changes people.

That is an important message for all of us to remember in worship.  When people really worship Jesus, change happens.  We get a different outlook on life.  We begin to want and need different things.  We look at others and ourselves differently.  A wonderful change comes over us.

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Being exposed to Jesus has an affect on people.  It changes us for the better.

As you go through the coming week, invite Jesus to change you.  Pray and ask the Lord to transform difficult areas in your life.  Pray and ask the Lord to show you areas in your life where you can grow.  Make a plan and pray over it as you live it out.  Invite Jesus Christ to transform your life.  As you do, you will see the words of that simple song become reality: a wonderful change has come over me!