Tag Archives: worship

I’m Trying to be Perfect…Again

This Texas “fall” is killing me, y’all!!

It was seriously over 90 degrees yesterday – on November 2!

Getting 3 kids in and out of the car multiple times, helping with buckles, answering questions, meeting delays and demands, school pick-ups, errands, playground, HEAT!

Ugh! I just don’t have the patience for it anymore! I get super duper grumpy when I’m hot and am staring down the sun whilst children do what children do. I need to move to Alaska to be a better mother!

Trying to be perfect

Don’t I?

No, I think I’d complain about being cold… Hmmm.. ok California then! The weather there is perfect year round (so I’ve heard!).

Nah. Too expensive. Then I’d have to work more and commute more and yuck. Those are on my “least favorite” list.

Colorado – I love Colorado!

Nope – they actually have real winter for almost 6 months. I’d love the other 6. That’s it – I’ll become a snowbird!!

Hmmm, then I’d lack community and family and stability for my kids.

Ok, ok, so maybe I’m just not a great mom and it has nothing to do with my circumstance!

Once that air blasts me in the car, I’m all of a sudden smiling and engaging my kids in the “good mom” way again. I’m praising God – but what about before? Yuck!

I know God covers my sinful moments with His grace. I know it – but I want to be perfect! I don’t want to mess up.

…I’m idolizing myself, aren’t I? I’m trying to be God again instead of letting Him be who He is and transform me at His pace and worship Him. I want to be worthy of worship instead.

And I’m barely worshiping these days as it is, but in my one reading I made it to this week, was this:

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 14:42b-44, NIV)

I know God will fulfill the desire to cast off this nature in Heaven, and in the meantime and for eternity, I want to turn the worship of myself all to Him who is truly worthy!

In those difficult moments, I need this reminder that Jesus is the resurrection of the dead – He is the king. He’s greater and more worthy of worship than any comfort or convenience or strength that I have.

How are you trusting in God’s word today?

Joe Paterno, the Idol

Let me admit: I’m not really a football fan (gasp!). I can watch it live, but on TV? It’s not really my thing.

But this is Texas! And you can’t just get away with not hearing about, absorbing, and talking about football. Here in Austin, it’s all about the Cowboys and Longhorns. But mostly the Longhorns (hook ’em!).

However, I know several Penn State fans. I mean, how could you not? They’re all over the country.

And one thing that fans comment on over and over again, besides the talent and success of the Penn State football team, is Joe Paterno. Fans I know don’t usually mention his coaching skills first (although they are undoubtedly good). What I am used to hearing is something like this: I like Paterno because he has integrity. He’s a stand-up guy. That’s why he runs a good team.

And now, Paterno is in the works to leave his long tenure at Penn State amidst allegations that he ignored evidence about another staff member abusing young boys.

Here’s the thing: we want so desperately to see a real person who is perfect, does no wrong, makes wise choices.

Why? Because we are made to worship. And we would much rather worship the created than the Creator.

They  exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:25, NETBible)

I know because I do it, too. As an actor, over the years, I have selected my choice actor. “I like him. Not only is he a brilliant artist, but he has stuck with his wife for 30 years/is a Christian/doesn’t do gratuitous sex scenes/whatever.” And then what happens?

They let me down. Every.single.time.

And they always will. Even Paterno. Even me. Even your pastor.

I hope that we will look at the men and women in our lives that we hold up on a pedestal and realize that “for you are dust, and to dust you will return” (Gensis 3:19 portion). Only the Creator remains forever. Only He deserves our worship.

 

The End Game of the Christian Faith

I have a friend whom I’ve known for about 2 years now. Her son is Samuel’s age, and we get along with all of them so well. They are intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and fun. The schedules of a toddler’s family only allow so many get togethers, but we’ve been able to make several happen over the past 2 years.

Through this time, as we do with most of our relationships, Brad and I have been praying for this family to see Jesus for who He is – the savior of the world. The savior to them.

When we begin praying like this, we have no idea where our friends are spiritually. We have no idea if they walk closely with Jesus, if they are hostile towards the gospel, or if they’re just not seeking anything spiritually.

As we got to hang out with these friends more and more, conversations about God would very easily present themselves, and I found out something that fascinated me. My friend, who describes herself as agnostic at this point, has been seeking out spiritual answers for at least 3 years. What I mean by “seeking out” is that she’s been looking for a church, if you will, that she feels comfortable enough to even check out what they believe. Checking out websites, keeping her ears open, staying interested. I applaud my friend for this – she’s really doing something on her faith journey –  she’s really trying to figure out what’s true. That rocks.

We’ve been dialoging recently about a sensitive topic and what the Bible has to say about this issue. It’s been such a great experience to really be able to listen to what she says and respond – in faith – with the truth of God’s word and His big ole’ love.

In one of our correspondences, she asked me what the “end game” was. This had to do particularly with the sensitive matter we were discussing, but I really liked her wording, so I’m asking her permission to steal it today. 😉

The end game of the Christian faith is always always to glorify God more. To fall more in love with Jesus. To worship God more than any created thing.

I think we forget that. We forget it when we’re on the road and someone in front of us is traveling annoyingly slowly. We forget it in our politics. We forget it when someone wrongs us in a painful way. We forget it when we have a difficult decision to make. We forget it when a debate around the water cooler comes up.

The Christian faith is not about a life lived by a set of rules. It’s not about a political agenda. It’s not about having a big house. It’s not about being the best mom or having the smartest children.

It’s all about worship. It’s all about glory.

Discarding worship of ourself. Discarding glory of the world.

Instead, casting all of our worship on the only One who is worthy.

Answer This

What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?

No, for reals. I really want to know. And you need to ask yourself this question. You’ll find that the answer to this question can show you what you are truly worshipping.

Take me, for example. I am a doer. For several years now, I have been extraordinarily productive, efficient, and motivated. At what? Pretty much everything. And to be honest, I became really, super efficient when I started following Jesus in college.

The question is why?

My first answer is: because I like to get things done. I enjoy accomplishing things. Having my lists checked off is satisfying to me.

This answer is not good enough because it does not get to the root of this behavior.

So I ask further – Why do I like to get things done? Why do I enjoy accomplishing things? Why does checking off boxes on a list satisfy me?

My first thought is that maybe I like to please people – maybe my idol is what other people think of me. And yes, that’s true. I do like worshipping others through people-pleasing. I do get bent out of shape when I think someone doesn’t like me or doesn’t approve of me. Approval is certainly an idol.

But that doesn’t completely answer the question – many of the things I do nobody sees. They’re dumb things, like cleaning out junked up cabinets, or baking a cake from scratch, or organizing data until it makes sense. Things nobody has asked me to do; things nobody expects me to do; things nobody rewards me to do. So approval is not the be all end all for me.

So I have to refine my question. The question is still Why, but it’s now more specific: Why do I feel satisfied when I finish something – even when no one else knows about it?

It took me a long time to realize the answer to this question – in fact, I just came to this conclusion a few months ago. Yes, by the grace of God, I now know the idol to whom I always go – begging for solace from a pitcher with holes:

Comfort.

I want to be comfortable. In fact, I long for comfort – not just comfort, but I lust for a life of ease. I know it seems a little counter-intuitive, but all of the things I do? I do them because I want them to be done – gone – never to return. I think, If I just get this one more thing done, I’ll be able to relax!

I love having a clean house – but when a crumb gets on the newly cleaned floor? That’s when my idol starts to mock me: It will never be done this side of heaven. When I triumphantly return to real life after a fog of doing – there is something else on my list. And there always will be. And many of those things will need to be done again and again.

Life is not comfortable. There is no such thing as heaven on earth. Until Jesus returns, I could do, do, do and worship the comfort that I will never gain from doing.

Instead, I want to worship Jesus. And He wants me to worship Him and Him alone.

To find out what you’re worshipping right now, ask yourself the same, iterative questions until you get to the bare bones of what you really desire. Crave. Yearn for. And replace it with Him.

Whose Praise Do You Want?

I would say that generally I’m well-liked. I have this annoying need for people to like me. But when I don’t feel liked by someone, I get really stressed and analyze all of the things I might have done to turn that person off.

I want to blame it on my sensitive nature; I’m the person who will come up to you at a party and try to make you feel comfortable (because I know how it feels to be that person!). But is it really that?

News Flash to Stephanie: Nobody needs you to like them!

During the month of March, I’m blogging on Fridays at Some Girl’s Website. Read the rest of this post here.

My Who-I-Am

I was standing with my arms folded, not feeling very connected to the worship that was going on around me. Although I had had a good week and even a good and full weekend, I was feeling bitter. You see, it was a preaching week for my pastor husband.

Preaching weeks are always tough for me. Brad is the spiritual formation pastor at our church, which means he has a nice, full schedule most weeks. When he is on the schedule to preach, none of his other duties  or responsibilities go away. Plus, he takes preaching God’s word with a very real dose of the sacredness of his calling. He wants to spend the right amount of time letting the Word affect him and making sure he’s not communicating anything that isn’t truth.

He gets up early and  also spends extracurricular time working on his sermon. He also tries to do his usual thing with us – spending time hanging out on his half day and Saturday, helping with the evening routines, etc. And he makes it all happen, but mentally, he’s in that place. It’s a place that says:

  • this is a huge responsibility
  • people’s thinking about God is at stake
  • you are not good enough to communicate this

That last one is a lie, and he knows it. He knows that the Holy Spirit will do His work. But he struggles with letting this weigh him down mentally. And when I can tell he’s not connected with us in mind, I get even more selfish than usual and start to pout. Because he isn’t paying attention to us like I want him to.

So there I was, pouting during worship, and I sang the words, “Everyone was made for You [Jesus]”.

And it hit me. My identity is not in my husband. It is in Jesus. And what that means is that my need for attention should be a need for attention from the Father – which equates to time with Him. How much time have I spent with Him lately? Not enough.

And then later, Brad (who by the way, is an excellent preacher), preached on this very idea – that our identity is in Christ:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7, NIV, emphasis mine)

for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16, NETBible, emphasis mine)

See how we are identified with Christ’s burial and resurrection? That’s where my WHO-I-AM comes from. Not Brad. And as much as I love him, I’m glad for this truth.

What can be better than having the God to whom I was an “object of wrath” choose to beckon me to Himself so that my sin can be crucified with Christ, and my life can be a resurrected picture of his grace?

Looks Can Kill

This song really doesn’t have anything to do with my post, and the lyrics are quite confusing, but it came to my head when writing, and I felt I must share. So here’s The Look by Roxette (1988):

Our obsession with beauty will be our destruction. And when I say “our”, I mean our culture’s – which means I can also replace “our” with “my” since I so often adhere to my culture. Thus, my obsession with beauty will be my destruction.

Why is that I can be worshiping the Lord in church – singing, praying – and when I open my eyes and notice so-and-so to my right, I’m all of a sudden aware. Of me. What I look like. What I’m doing. Do they know I’m wondering? Have they seen me?

I’m not sure why I have this preoccupation with my appearance and how others perceive me, but I feel sure I’m not alone (I’m not, friends, am I!?!). This egocentric awareness bubble is a disgusting sin of mine. It’s a sin where I have bought into the lie that my beauty is worth something: worship. For me.

Any beauty we have is all due to the Creator, and it’s His beauty that shines through us, so why am I trying to take the credit for his handiwork?

I am like the King of Tyre, who was so awesome that he considered himself a god.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor. I threw you down to the ground; (Ezekial 28:17, NETBible)

Did you notice the second clause – “you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor.” Basically, you were so absorbed with your attraction that you became stupid. Is that me? It seems pretty dumb to be wondering if anyone noticed my new haircut, my favorite jeans, my scrubbed-off wrinkles, or my once-a-year-painted-nails. Doesn’t it?

I firmly believe that the Spirit helps us fight sin using God’s word, so when I find myself infatuated with me, what if I proclaim this instead?

I have asked the Lord for one thing –this is what I desire! I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple. (Psalms 27:4, NETBible, emphasis mine)

His beauty is worthy. Not mine.

I Like My Wrinkles

I am not ashamed to admit that in a few short months I will be turning 30. Now, some of you are thinking 30!? You’re young – just wait until you’re 50!

What is it with age and our culture? When did getting older become a bad thing? Why are we as women in particular so obsessed with not just our age but looking young?

It started with some “gentle” exfoliants to slough off dead skin cells and “harmless” night creams that plump up the skin. Then it went to plastic surgery, and of course we cried out – No! Plastic surgery is bad! So instead we developed methods where we inject ourselves with plumping chemicals and scrape our skin off with sandpaper to reveal the “young” skin underneath. And I go right along with it.

You know, I’ve never really worried about getting older – or at least, that’s what I tell myself. But then, in conversation with other women, I find myself purposefully making comments about age, like, Well, I’m a lot older than you, so I need to hurry up and have more kids. Of course, older is drawn out so that it’s almost three syllables. Or there’s the derisive What are you, 23? I used to roll my eyes and disdain these comments! When did I fall into the trap that says God didn’t mean for us to age!?

Although I’ve been wrinkling since I was in my early 20s, I felt so awesome I didn’t care. And my family has these baby faces that never look “old” (seriously, my mom still gets carded). Giving birth must have an effect on facial skin, though, because I aged rapidly in the few months after having Samuel. Or maybe it was the 4 hours of sleep I got every day. Either way, I looked in the mirror as a new mom and thought, “Woah. Wrinkles. Discoloring. The Works.” And just the other day, I looked in the mirror and noticed my eyelids are starting to droop over my eyes. And it got me thinking, This should not bother me. But it does bother me on some level – and it’s absolutely…

  • Not important
  • Not Godly
  • Not Biblical!!

I have to say, I really love King Lemuel’s mama. She says a wife “of noble character” is more valuable than precious rubies. This wife is a hard and shrewd worker, she’s up all night (got that one down), she’s strong but compassionate, she’s well dressed (better work on this) – but her clothes are “strength and honor” (yeah, still need to work on that). And mama concludes with:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. (NETBible, Proverbs 31:30)

Even worse, focusing on looking young (or thin or pretty or tall) takes away from our true devotion – worshiping God. As a Christ-following woman, I need to be an example to my culture. When other women are talking about being old, instead of joining in, what about reminding them that God created us to age on purpose? Or that their husbands still think they’re the most beautiful woman on the planet? Now this is particularly for Christian women who have Jesus at the center of their worldview. For women who don’t yet follow Christ, can I be an example? Can I share with my neighbor the struggle I’ve gone through with this? And that God created her exactly how He wants her? I hope so.

Share in the comments how feeling the need to look a certain way has impacted your spirituality.

Amazing God, You are the creator of beauty. You created me exactly how you want me, and you intended me to age and for my body to change. Help me to reject the lie that says I’m not beautiful in Your eyes – and that I need to constantly be doing something to improve my external appearance. Instead, God, will I open up my soul to you? Will I allow You to scrub off the dead to reveal the newness that You bring? Direct me in this way.

Desire Part 3: God Wants Glory

I know what God wants, and it is glory. Does that sound strange to you? Does it sound selfish? I mean, isn’t God here to serve me? No. NO. NO!

In fact, He is not here for a reason. HE just IS. But we – we are here for a reason and a purpose.

This alone absolutely floors me. The One True, can’t-even-look-at-His-fabulousness God created me because He wanted to! He created you because He wanted to! Wow.

So Why???

  • Purpose: To worship Him.
    • for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. (NETBible, Colossians 1:16)
    • Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he gave the command and they came into existence. (NETBible, Psalm 148:5)
    • everyone who belongs to me, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed – yes, whom I made! (NETBible, Isaiah 43:7) 
    • But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. (NETBible, Numbers 14:21)

We are here not merely to be happy. But to fall on our knees as we must before Him and to revel in who He is.

I love how John Piper says it, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being dissatisfied with the things of this earth. I’m tired of being dissatisfied with religion. I’m tired of being dissatisfied with my idols of comfort and family-worship. I’m going to the throne to find The One who truly satisfies.

Here I am, Lord, dragging myself to You again, empty and exhausted from valuing everything but You. I am humbled to see that You want me! You are my Creator-Father. And You alone are worthy of glory.