Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Un-Thanksgiving Day

Imagine a world where we don't take off two days from work, don't gather and cook food to give away to the less fortunate, don't travel vast distances to be with our families, and don't fight voluminous crowds to get good deals at stores. What if we stopped celebrating Thanksgiving?
I heard a collective gasp as readers of this Blog placed their hands over their mouths in horror at the mere suggestion of the above paragraph. How un-American! How un-Christian! How un-Pilgrim! Stop celebrating Thanksgiving? Off with his head!

Why do we take one day a year to stop and be thankful for the wonderful things God has provided for us? Why do we take one day a year to give to the needy? Why do we take one day a year to cherish our families?

Allow me to ask it another way: Why aren't we thankful the other 364 days of the year? Why aren't we accumulating food and giving it to the poor regularly? Why aren't we cherishing our families every day?

Take a look at this: I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It seems to me that the biblical lifestyle presented here to Christians is to not wait until the fourth Thursday of November, but to always rejoice, to always pray, and to always and in everything give thanks. These aren't simply nice suggestions to add to our already crowded lives, but they are mandates for Believers to have as core values for their lives.

A bonus: For those who are truly seeking God's will for their lives (and I hope all Believers are), the above verses are God's will for our lives.

If we were always and in everything thankful, Thanksgiving Day would be just another day for us. Or rather, every day would be Thanksgiving Day. If we were always rejoicing, then we wouldn't have to wait for something good to come our way to cause us to have joy. If we were always praying, well imagine how powerful and effective our lives would be!

Imagine a world like I just described... Happy un-Thanksgiving Day! Lead Well!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Truth About Worship Wars

Worship Wars. The very mention of that term causes Lead Pastors to sweat, and Worship Pastors to think about updating their resumes.
It may have only been coined as a term in the last few decades, but Worship Wars have been going on pretty much as long as people have been worshipping God.

Worship Wars. May I ask us to step back, and not define it as a conflict of musical styles (modern vs. traditional, old hymns vs. new praise songs, loud vs. soft,  pipe organ vs. Hammond B3, piano vs. band, etc.). Instead, may I suggest that instead of using the term Worship Wars, we use the term Pride Wars. (Please read on. Don't allow me to offend your pride at this point...)

Almost every conflict over musical style is based on personal preference. And almost every conflict over personal preference is based on... personal preference: What I Like vs. What You Like. And if we are honest, when I chose what I like over what you like, I am choosing me over you. And that translates into Pride. My way is better, My choice is better, My opinion is better.

This conflict based on personal preference which is ultimately rooted in Pride is not limited to musical/worship preferences in church. It is usually the root of any conflict between people. Cain and Abel conflicted over which type of sacrifice was better (My way is better). Gosh, even Adam and Eve conflicted over what to eat (My fruit is better).

Back to Worship Wars. Be honest: If you don't like a particular style, song, instrument, leader, etc., isn't it you who don't like it? (I can see you right now creating a mental list of others who agree with your preference). Your preference drives your likes and dislikes, but admit it: It is motivated by you and what you like or don't like.

I know of people who have gone to great lengths to find something to criticize about a particular church, ministry, or even songwriter simply because they don't like a style of a song(s) coming from that church, ministry, or songwriter. ("Hey! Let's gossip, slander, and bash someone because we don't like them. After all, that's what Christians are supposed to do, right?")

Worship Wars. Notice I haven't given my preferences about musical styles, songs, instruments, or leaders. Why? Because I want to make sure that my preferences don't bleed through because of my pride. I seek to offer biblical support of my theology of worship (then it becomes God's words, not mine). But I am simply asking us to look at personal preference and pride here.

Personal story: When I was being interviewed for my current Worship Ministry staff position (which I absolutely love), I was asked what my favorite style of music was. The smart answer was, "I like all styles." Instead I answered, "I believe the correct question is, 'What style of music will help a congregation to have freedom to intimately and passionately worship the Lord?' That is what we should be asking." (I got the job, so I guess that was a good answer.)

Then there's the question: How do we reach the next generation in our churches? Look at Galatians 5:13: You my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. If musical style is about our desires (pride), and we are not setting aside our preferences to reach others, we won't reach them. Period.

Worship Wars. The next time you find yourself disliking a particular musical style, song, instrument, or leader, ask yourself: Is this about making me happy, or is it about bringing honor to the Lord? Also ask: How can I lay aside my personal preferences and pride, and find a way to help someone else find the Lord, and help someone else worship Him intimately and passionately?

Lead Well!

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