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Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Thoughts

As I start a week of Greek here in Minnesota, I thought I would share a few random thought of the last few days-

Saturday night we had the privilege of hearing LifeVoice, a vocal group from Crown College in Minnesota. They led us in worship during our church service, and put on a short concert afterwards. My three-year old daughter Alyssa was downstairs in Kidsville during the service, but came up for the concert. When the music started and the group began to sing, I looked over at her and she was beaming. She had this giddy, gleeful smile on her face and she was laughing with joy. She looked at me and said, "Dance, daddy!" And then she began to "dance" in the aisle. You've never seen anything like it- a little girl waving her arms, jumping around, and just loving the music. I, of course, began to think about the people behind us being distracted, and so I leaned over to tell Alyssa to sit down. As I did, I couldn't help but think about which one of us had captured the true heart of worship. It wasn't me.

Last night I had the opportunity to "practice what I preach." This weekend I spoke about our need to invite God into every situation and go God's way in our life. The flights themselves went fine, but after that things fell apart. The trip from the airport to Bethel was filled with detours and road construction. Our 20 minutes trip took nearly an hour. I got to my room and found it to be missing many items that I would want as creature comforts- a lamp, hangers, an alarm clock, a kleenex box, sheets that fit the bed, etc. It was late. Very late. I was tired and hungry. And I was grouchy. Every thought in brain was a complaint. And then I heard, "Invite God in." I did. I didn't want to be, but I did. I'm not sure it led to a miraculous change of heart, but something about it felt like a better alternative than continuing to grumble and complain.

This morning, our chapel speaker talked about how all of our language surrounding "abiding" in Christ tends to be the language of "striving." We use phrases like "do" devotions, "carve" out time, "seek" Him in prayer, "make" time for God... Why is it when we try to abide we're still busy striving? The observation she made was that perhaps a better way we can abide in Christ is to "notice"- notice the presence of God in our world, notice the grace of God in another person, notice the goodness of God in our lives. Rather than an active project we undertake, we can allow our abiding to be something we observe and are drawn into by the grace of God.

On your journey, may you worship as a child, seek God in all situations, and notice His presence at all times.



Stephen said...

When I read your comment about how there is nothing like watching a little child dancing and capturing the heart of worship I was able to relate. When I see that happening rather than being distracted I am usually drawn further into worship. I especially think of when Jesus tells his disciples to let the children come to him. However I am sure that when I have kids of my own and they start dancing in middle of a service it will be much harder for me to focus my thoughts on God (much easier without the responsibility).

Pastor Nick said...

I did hear recently that this one reason Jesus said we must become like children to enter the kingdom. Children really don't care what others think- who's looking and who's noticing them- they just do what is on their heart. I do believe this is the kind of response Jesus wants from us in worship. Too often I am dictated by how I believe others perceive me. Our job, I think, is tune that out and to tune in to how our heart is leading us to respond, whether it is sitting in silence, kneeling, singing at the top of our lungs, or yes, even dancing.

Lori said...

Nick, I am reminded of a worship service I went to in Portland a few years ago with a friend. She was singing and playing her guitar on stage and I was enjoying the music and worshiping in my own inhibited way. I had NEVER seen this before, but other people were dancing in the aisles, dancing with with big and small banners and ribbons and some were face down on the floor not moving...this, at first, was shocking to me but soon I realized that everyone worships the Lord differently and some are very uninhibited. I soon found myself, not dancing in the aisles yet, but dancing were I stood, raising my arms, clapping, singing and drawing nearer to God as these people were. Everything was OK, I was NOT in a place I didn't belong, I was NOT scared anymore...I got close to Him that evening, and it was good. Thanks for the comments and little words of wisdom, it makes me feel like you are not so very far away.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Nick...most people find children's actions (especially at that age) very cute. But I can't say I'd have done any different. What would you have done at home with Alyssa? Would you have danced with her as she asked? Sometimes you worry what people will think of you when you act in such a way, but I can guarantee you that there are others hoping you will let loose and dance with your daughter. As a leader, you are a little bit (not totally, of course) responsible for "setting the tone" of worship. Don't think for a second we don't see you sitting up front and notice how you worship...(well, maybe it's just me...I happen to notice just about everyone if they are in front of me) Not to make you all paranoid or anything - hehe :)
Ah, to be a like a child in our worship and hard that is :)