As worship leaders, as worshipers, we do the songs over and over. We practice and perform and, though the words still mean something to us, we no longer submit to them.
“I am free to run…”
Do we run in Him? Do we dance? Do we see the blind healed, the dead rise?
“My foes are many, they rise against me, but I will hold my ground…”
Do we hold our ground in the face of attacks from the enemy? Do we fight fearlessly against the war that he brings? Do we take the fight to him?
I don’t want to sing the songs and not live the life. I don’t want to call people to the feet of Jesus and stand at a distance unmoved. My heart needs set on fire. My life needs to change, to grow.
I want to believe, to know that nothing compares to His grace. I want to be humbled by His majesty. I want to have all I need in His unending love.
Do you ever laugh at yourself? I do.
Today, as I got out of the shower, I thought about the day ahead and wanted to prepare myself. As I usually do, I went through putting on the armor of God, and then chuckled. There I was with nothing on except the armor of God.
Ah, but isn’t that how it should be?
My t-shirt will not clothe me in His righteousness. My sneakers will not carry His gospel to my broken world. My sweat-shirt will stop no fiery darts of the enemy.
And, spiritually speaking, my clothes are not worthy of consideration. Even if I was dressed in battle fatigues with flak-vest and kevlar helmet, it would not protect me in the realm where I do daily battle. But satan and his forces quake before a man (or woman) of God clothed in righteousness, armed with God’s word, shielded by faith.
And God notices too. If I was dressed in Armani, He could not send me where He needs me. But, armed and ready, He can send me anywhere.
Just so no one gets worried. I did put clothes on, too.
It’s a game we all play. We go to church, work our job, do our thing. But it’s just a game.
I was reading a clip pluggedin.com that was talking about Christian bands that aren’t Christian anymore. I don’t remember the statistics but a large percentage of kids that are raised in the church, when they leave home, turn their backs on Jesus too.
A lot goes into this, freedom of will, making their faith their own the temptations of the world. But at its core, there are elements that rest solely in the lap of the parents.
Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” There is inside of us a call to more than just survive our days. We remember the days of our youth when we thought we could change the world. Then life seemingly teaches us that we can’t. We believe the lie that we are too weak, too small, too whatever and then choose to just get by.
Our children see that we won’t lay our lives on the line. They take note of our lack of faith, our unbelief. If God were real, they rightly reason, my parents would follow Him differently, more completely.
I do ‘t want to die this way. I want my children to see me live out my faith, truly live out my faith. I want them to know that my faith is more than candied words, syrupy songs to sing. I want them to see me at war.
So I must choose.
Leonard Bernstein, the great conductor, composer and musician was once asked what the most difficult instrument was to play. There had been a debate, that may continue even now, as to whether the violin or horn or some other instrument was the greatest challenge to master. His response was particularly inciteful, second fiddle.
For those who are unfamiliar with the colloquialism, to play second fiddle means to be less important, or be in a secondary role to someone else.
Today I got out of the shower and God told me to write about being a second fiddle. Then I read in Ezekiel about the temple that He showed the prophet. It is a long description of each of the rooms, the steps, the tables, the courts, everything. It is God’s plan for what the temple should look like. I couldn’t help but think, “God doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone.”
But then it hit me. How often do I wish He would be secondary to me? How often do I wish He would just give me what I want, do what I think is best, make my way clear and easy. But He doesn’t. He will not yield His throne to anyone, certainly not to someone like me. And that is good.
I don’t understand. I don’t know why. Sometimes it hurts and hope feels so far away.
So I will rosin my bow. I will brace the chin rest with my chin. And pray that my harmony matches His melody.
I’ll have to pray also that I can let Him be God, let Him be in charge. He just happens to be good at it. I am not.
This is a question from God.
Guilt appears to be a poor motivator toward righteousness. Shame and fear are equally bad at getting us to do the right things. That seems to be counterintuitive, but we tend to repeat actions that bring those responses. Our sin reminds us that we cannot defeat sin, which in turn renders us helpless in the fight against sin.
But this question is from God.
I have known friends who were living together, not married. They would come to church, listen to the word of God, and go right back to their sin. I have chosen to allow sin in my life because I knew I couldn’t stop. I pursued God, wanting all that He had for me, and yet never dealt with the demonic influence that had set up residence in my brain.
Once again, I hear the question from God.
God didn’t look down look down from heaven, searching for ways to make our lives miserable, no fun, no freedom. He tells us what will make us fulfilled, content, joyful. I must choose to believe that He is God, that His love for me is beyond my ability to comprehend. I must choose to live.
I will hear voices all around me, voices of guilt, shame, fear, sin. I think I’ll just listen to His voice.
I think I’ll choose to live.
I know that many of my readers are not married and are not males but I have a word for you guys out there. And this is a word for me, the “chief of sinners” in the area I am about to discuss.
Stop picking on your family!
I hear stories of husbands and their elaborate schemes to terrorize their wives. I have said and done some mean things to my sons and daughter, all in the name of fun. I am constantly being sarcastic and rude, all with the idea of being silly, being “cute”.
Here is the challenge laid before me. Does my family feel safe in my presence? Do they trust me? Is their guard up when I am around?
My wife should feel safe to say anything, and I mean anything, without fear of insults, correction, belittling or sarcasm. She should know, without a doubt, that I will always protect her, that I will cover her blindside, that when everyone falls away, I will still be there. My children, though they are adults, have a place, a person that they can go to and be completely themselves.
We laugh at their screams when we jump out and scare them. We tell them we only pick on the ones we love. We think we’re so funny. I think I am so stinking funny.
But what price have I paid?
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30
We see it coming. We can tell by what is happening in the world that Jesus is coming soon. We wait with eager anticipation for Him to take us to heaven and end our misery, end the suffering that our whole world endures.
But, He isn’t here yet.
People love to go to church and listen to music and here a good preacher. I think some people seem to even like the conviction of to Holy Spirit, the guilt of their sins and bad choices. It leaves us with the idea that we can do better. Kind of like owning an exercise video, it’s good to see it there and promise ourselves that one day we’ll start.
And then I see God saying He can’t find anyone. He looked and there was no one who would build up the walls of protection, no one who would stand in the gap, sacrificing themselves to save others. I hear His voice calling out to me, inviting me to be that man.
I don’t need guilt. I don’t need encouragement. I don’t need another “Holy” moment. I need to fight for my family. I need to be in prayer for broken and abandoned families. I need to come against the powers and forces of evil that are destroying men, destroying marriages, destroying this country.
I need to be chasing after my Savior with reckless abandon so that, were He to inspire this passage again, He would say, “I found one. I found one…”