11am somewhere

Psalm 113

To pray without ceasing is a way of understanding our communion with God. We don’t always pray with our eyes closed and heads bowed. The people who say they don’t need to be in church to pray are right. You can pray anywhere at anytime. And learning to pray all the time is a delight to the soul.

Worship, too, is an ongoing wonder. Unfortunately, our sense of going to church may have warped our notions of worship. As if true worship really only happens in a building one hour, once a week. Not including announcements, of course.

Like with prayer, you don’t need to be in a sanctuary to participate in heaven’s worship. All liturgy is liturgy of the heart. So, it doesn’t have to be printed in the bulletin. Your less-than-perfect singing voice is your faith’s cantor. Use it often. Our corporate gatherings of worship and prayer direct our attention to the praise of God. After that, we also learn what it means to worship when we leave, too.

A.W. Tozer said it this way, “If you’re not worshiping God on Monday the way you did on Sunday, perhaps you’re not worshiping him at all.”

The psalmist said it this way, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). I guess you could say it’s 11am somewhere.

And another saint offered this prayer: Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.

Instruments always need tuning. Your instrument needs tuning every time its played. Our hearts are instruments of praise. So, they need tuning everyday, too. Not so we can get our worship right. So that we can worship in spirit and truth. The worship we experience on Sundays gets us ready to worship the rest of the week. And the worship we experience the rest of the week gets us ready to worship on Sundays.

Stay blessed…john

The main attraction

Psalm 139:13-18

To know Christ and to make Christ known.

That’s a familiar mission statement for churches. And I love it! It encompasses two important aspects of what it means to follow Christ. The first is to know Christ in a way you can understand more fully who he is. What made him tick? What ticks him off? 

Maybe you’ve heard people say they hate religion but love Jesus. That’s an unnecessary division for me. 

It’s true you can be religious without actually knowing Christ. Sometimes it feels like the church’s struggles stem from that. But you don’t need to hate religion. How you live out your faith in Jesus is, by definition, your religion. Ensure your religious practices help you know Christ.

The second aspect is the good-news-to-tell-you approach to life of Christians. We want to make Christ known. It’s engrained into who we are. Yes, at times we’ve taken the wrong approach to that. Some of that relates to the first problem. If what you preach doesn’t align with what you practice, who wants to listen to you?

Over the years, I’ve taken a more subtle approach to how I make Christ known. In church ministry speak, we call it the attractional approach to ministry. Build it and they will come, so to speak. That’s what most Christians today are familiar with. To be fair, that technique worked for us for a while. And I don’t mean to suggest we shouldn’t invite people to our events any more.

But how many of us feel bombarded by advertising and media? The noise of culture is loud. Focusing on making Christ known through attractional models only comes with a risk. We just might lose the substance of what it means to lift high the cross. 

So, knowing Christ remains our first priority. As a people of God, that’s how we both know Christ and make Christ known. Who we are as a result of knowing Christ becomes the attraction. In today’s brief passage, the psalmist offers three ways to do that. There are others, of course, but the first is praise. Put aside your worship preferences. Seek to know Christ fully through your daily worship. And know the difference between that and merely “going to church.” 

Also, reflect on how you experience God’s presence. What moments in the day, what words of scripture or answers to prayer speak to your heart? Think on them. As you ponder God’s goodness, you fuel your praise. Rinse and repeat.

Finally, as God’s people and as a believer yourself, choose to keep following Christ. Make choices that shepherd spiritual maturity and greater understandings of God’s grace. When you awake each day, the new mercies of God are already with you. Make it your desire to remain with God.

Stay blessed…john