God is at work, even when we don’t see Him

Do you ever wonder if you’ll get to the end of your hardship?

Disappointed, I thought I missed it. Turns out, I was just in time. The building was not completed on the expected date. Neither is my journey, or yours, but I know God is at work, even when I don’t see Him or hear Him. He has a plan.

2 Corinthians 4:16, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” NLT

DROWNED OUT BY NOISE

Tomorrow is a special day for our church. We will worship in a brand new sanctuary. In preparation our members have taken shifts to read the word of God – all of it. As I sat in the balcony waiting my turn, I saw men God at work.

The soft voice was barely audible and I couldn’t make out her words from the book of Matthew over the hissing, whirring, roaring and clinking; not exactly the sounds you expect to hear in the sanctuary. While I strained my ears, my eyes were riveted on the altar; the very place I knelt and wrote a name with a Sharpie pen a few weeks ago. The hidden name is now covered but forever engraved in the sanctuary.

Deuteronomy 6:9, “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” NIV

MEN AT WORK

A man stood with a white tank in one hand (like the ones filled with propane for the grill) and in the other hand he held a nozzle attached to a long hose. He sprayed something and it looked like important work though it didn’t make sense to me. In the far aisle, a group of men in hard hats huddled around one who waved his arm as he gave instructions to men who seemed eager to follow them. Two men walked around testing chairs, tightening a bolt here and tapping with a mallet there. Sunday these seats will be filled with people for the first time, so it’s a probably a good idea not to let worshipers collapse into the floor. Most amusing was two men who used a shop vacuum to clean their clothes. Apparently, they got dirty while they worked.

2 Timothy 3:17, “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NIV

ALMOST READY

Tomorrow a crowd will reverently enter the new sanctuary with awe; every seat tested and strong, the finishing touches on the altar complete and the mess cleaned up. And that name written on the altar will not be visible to anyone but God. Most of our members haven’t seen any of the hard hat clad workers, seen the foreman directing or heard the noises of construction. But the evidence of their labor is clear.

Nehemiah 8:3, “And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. An the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” ESV

CONSTRUCTION ZONE

God is at work in my life and yours too. It may not be obvious, it may not make sense, it may even feel messy, but He is preparing a place for worship. He doesn’t mind the noise or getting dirty. You may have to strain to hear the whisper of His gentle words, but He is there and He is at work, even when we cannot see Him or hear Him.

Our lives are under construction by capable, loving, eternal hands.

Hebrews 11:10, “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” HCSB

 

Our lives are under construction by capable, loving, eternal hands #GenesisProject… Click To Tweet

Do you need a prescription for anxiety? Part 3

prescriptions-foranxiety

Anxiety crowds out peace.

Circumstances, real and imagined, disconnect us from the Prince of Peace. Jesus deserves our attention, reverence and whole-hearted adoration. We need to return to worship.

Ever notice we often skip what we need most?

I quit going to church. Probably not a good idea, but for a season I stayed home on Sunday mornings. Don’t judge me; you can ask me about it later. Now, I am attending a new class with some unfamiliar faces and I don’t sit in my “normal spot” with my usual people in the sanctuary. After twenty years of active membership, I’m tempted to fill out a visitor registration card. Maybe it’s just me, after all, I am different. Now I’m one of those women, you know those women, who cry through the whole service.

The salty waterfall on my face isn’t sadness, God already bottled those tears for me.

Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” NLT

The cascade is uncontained emotion, which if you know me, is radically different. It’s an overflow of pure adoration.

John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” NKJV

I swipe the trickles sneaking off my chin and down my neck, but otherwise, I let them flow.

Luke 7:38, “As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” NIV

Prescription for anxiety

Rx: Worship

Fortunately, I wrote hundreds of prescriptions for anxiety for others before it unloaded full-force into the middle of my own chest. If you missed any of the posts in this series on anxiety click:  Intro, Part 1, Part 2

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

Technically worship is adoration. Practically it is so much more. For sure it’s not just a designated portion of church service. Thanks to my Facebook followers who helped me describe worship.

Is worship MUSIC?

Ever get a song stuck in your head? Music is a perfect filler for the brain rut that grows deeper with each anxious thought. A melody is a far better place to get stuck than the quicksand of anxiety. Clearly music is part of worship and an effective anecdote for anxiety. Tune into K-Love or download uplifting music on your phone.

Ephesians 5:20, “Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” MSG

Is worship PRAYER?

Lately I’ve prayed ugly prayers, not irreverent, just gut-level honest ones, but some prayers worsen anxiety. Yes, you heard me, prayer can actually feed anxiety and fear. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Dear Lord, please take away my anxiety. Help me not to worry about _____. My fears, my anxieties, my worries, my frustration, my problems., my, my, my

Prayers focused on me and my problems spotlight me and my problems. Instead of praying about our worries, what if we were captivated by the only One worthy of our attention? In my book on forgiveness, I call it praise therapy.

Psalm 150:2, “Praise him for his mighty acts. Praise him according to his excellent greatness.” ASV

Is worship PRAISE?

Waiting on biopsy results last year, I let the “what ifs” drive me crazy. I prayed for peace about the possible cancer, but still couldn’t sleep. Setting my burden on the front row of my mind all day and through the long nights consumed me with worry. Memorizing and quoting Psalms built faith in my awesome God instead of my concerns. Speaking the names of God out loud, I discovered the refueling power of worship to survive the wait. Finally, I got to know the Lord as a Rock and I learned to breathe.

You will never know God as a Rock, until you need a rock #SolidRock Click To Tweet

Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” HCSB

Worship is LOVE.

No matter what difficulty you are going through, God is in control. Camp in His perfect love while you weather the storms of life that produce anxiety.

Psalm 90:1, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” ESV

Come let us adore Him!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on worship.

 

I should have killed the mike

 

no one cared I was off key
no one cared I was off key

My ears perked up. Sitting in the next to last row I heard a voice singing behind me – a voice which undoubtedly belonged in the choir. Except she can’t be in the choir because she sits with her precious granddaughter, whom she is raising. The child isn’t be more than nine years old, but she has the range of an adult. I’m talking she can seriously belt it out. She sings with exuberance despite the tragedies in her young life. The joy of Jesus flows like fresh living water out of this child who recently emerged from the baptismal waters, not long after she emerged from fire. We were singing a song way out of my range. Okay, let’s face it, I don’t have a range.

Psalm 95:1, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” KJV

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT PITCH AND KEY ARE

No one ever sat in front of me and thought I belonged in the choir. Instead they likely thought their ears were under aerial assault. So really, I should have killed the mike. Instead I sang. Do you hear me? I sang. With a live mike. On purpose.

For the first time in my  life I sang in harmony. Not musical harmony mind you; spiritual harmony.

John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” NIV

NO ONE CARED

I don’t even think they noticed I was off key or pitch or whatever I am supposed to be on. At least if they did they didn’t care. Because it wasn’t about me, it was about worship. So I sang into the live mike,

Oh How I Love JesusThis is my story

And it was a little taste of Heaven.

Revelation 7:9-10, “I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there-all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!” MSG

TRUE HARMONY

Recently I have had opportunities to speak at several events among diverse denominations. Singing a capela around the campfire the pleasing blend of coordinated melodies rose with the smoke like an aroma of worship ascending toward Heaven. And God was there. The previous night, I soaked in uninhibited praise with arms raised and bodies swaying in front of the altar. The Holy Spirit was there. The week before, I bounced up and down with a vibrant band at an interfaith conference. The presence of the Lord was in that place too. How we worshiped didn’t matter, what mattered is that God showed up.

Revelation 19:1, “After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God.” HCSB

HALLELUJAH

With the exception of small spelling variations Hallelujah is the same in nearly every language. My personal favorite is  the Japanese translation ハレルヤ Hareruya but I think it’s because it sounds like what the Jetson’s dog Astro sang in Chris Rice’s silly song What if Cartoons got Saved.

Maybe we all need to get out of our comfort zones. I love my church and I love the way we worship mixing traditional with a sweet spirit,  but it was pretty amazing to experience women locking arms and dancing a criss-cross pattern through the sanctuary while singing:

Hava nageli, hava nerenena

I’m not sure what it means but I think it’s the language Jesus spoke.

In the spring I visited my local Catholic church and received the ashes on my forehead. I think I accidentally broke protocol but I hope they will let me return this year on Ash Wednesday. The ceremony was meaningful because God dealt with my heart and that is precisely where worship begins.

Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” ESV

So worship. If you find yourself in need, worship. If you find yourself with plenty, worship. If you want God to show up, worship. If you are wondering where God is then remember, He inhabits the praises of His people. Worship with all your brothers and sisters in Christ. Not by protocol, not by tradition, but in spirit and in truth. Worship the One worthy of praise.

Be bold and leave the microphone on too.