I both attended church and gathered with the church today (the latter being the more Biblically correct terminology.) We worshiped together. We prayed. We heard the words of Scripture and a stirring and challenging message from Mike about ‘staying pumped.’ He even closed by leading us in a response which involved blowing up balloons and reflecting on breathing in life from God and breathing out the life of God. His key point was that we need to keep putting ourselves in places and spaces where God can breath his life into us.
[Great visuals, Mike! The lesson here is that perhaps more creativity in church would result in a deeper connection with the congregation and people actually remembering what is preached!]
It was a most timely reminder how we need to allow God room to breathe his life into us and we need to give him the opportunity to do so by reading/reflecting on his word, praying, and putting ourselves in spaces where God can connect with us.
Now I’m home and watching Songs of Praise. I love the beauty of the old hymns (today from St George’s Chapel at Windsor in the UK). Stirring (albeit theologically questionable) Jerusalem, O Worship the King (the British version), Holy Holy Holy and O Jesus I Have Promised echo truth in my soul as well as memories of moments in my journey so far.
One unfortunate component of both our morning worship (sermon excepted) and many of the hymns on Songs of Praise is that of condemnation, inadequacy, and a general negative view of ourselves as people and as Christians.
I hear too often language that even God doesn’t use to refer to his people. ‘I am unworthy.’ ‘I am a rotten sinner.’ ‘I deserve hell and death.’ (And most often these are stated in the present tense.)
I wonder if the reason that we as a people don’t experience victory (or being ‘pumped’ as Mike would say) is that we are viewing ourselves in an unhealthy and untruthful way. If indeed God has done what he says he has done for us, then our worship should overflow with joy, exuberance, positivity, and confidence.
So while I was sitting in church today I jotted down a few thoughts with which I end this post, encouraging you (and me) to live not in the past, not in the future, but in the God-filled NOW.
You are not now condemned.
Live in confidence and rejoicing.
You are not now unworthy.
Don’t pray as if you deserve the worst.
You are not now unlovely.
Don’t look at your reflection as though it was that of a unwashed beggar.
You are not now powerless.
Don’t run away from what you perceive to be a threat as though you are weak.
You are not now deserving of anything less than the generous grace of God, for he counts you as faithful.
Live into this full assurance of blessing.
You are not now what you once were.
Live life with all God has promised TODAY.