Finding God on Your iPod

Well on Sunday we are launching a brand new series here at church: Finding God on your iPod. We are going to be looking at songs that reveal truth, and have impacted my relationship with God.

Some of the songs you might know, some you might not. But the beautiful thing is that God is all around us and ready to speak to us through so many ways. And we hope to find one way that God speaks to us on Sunday is through music.

I’ve found that at very specific and important times in my life God’s spoken through a song.

So we want to explore some of those over the summer.

But before we get there, what about you? What songs has God used to speak to you? How did he reveal his truth or a thought to you? I’d love to hear what songs God has spoke to you through, and who knows maybe I’ll use one!

god on ipod series

Worship…It’ll eat you alive

I read a quote recently that really got me thinking. It’s from David Foster Wallace, the novelist and writer, and he said this:

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship…The compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
And I think he’s really right especially the last line. That anything else you worship will eat you alive.
The biblical word for this is idolatry. That’s when you place things before God, or in God’s spot. And while we do this sometimes either out of naivety, rebellion, or from a mistake, it never ends up well.
Think about it. Greed is essentially the idolatry of money – and greed will eat you alive. Pride is the idolatry of the self – and pride will eat you alive and any relationship you’re in. Position and recognition is the idolatry of power – and it too will eat you alive if you worship it.
Because the truth is what you worship is what will own and direct  you. And with every other single thing we worship other than God, leads us to a place of hurt, difficulty, and pain. Or in the Biblical language – destruction. Or in David Foster Wallace’s language you’ll be “eaten alive”. Chasing after money, pride, power, position, or anything other than God never brings health and freedom.
The trouble with worship and idolatry is that we often don’t realize what we worship until it’s too late. Until we’ve been “eaten alive” – a relationship fails, our identity cracks, or we hit rock bottom. The point is that I think David Foster Wallace is right – everybody worships. The question is what are you worshipping? Is it bringing you health, life, and freedom? Or is it slowly eating away at you? At your hope, meaning, and purpose?

Advent Reflection: Worshipping Jesus during Christmas

1371540_95553958On Sunday we looked at one last response to Jesus. We’ve already looked at how we wait for Jesus’ arrival, we are to respond with willingness when he shows up, and yesterday we saw how we are to respond with worship.

We looked at the story of the wisemen or the magi. In it they do something remarkable. They actually fall at Jesus’ feet and worship him when they find him. This is quite amazing because these are professional men, these are wealthy men, these are probably powerful men. And their response to a little boy in a hovel of a town, in the shadow of Herod’s third largest temple, fall on their face in adoration.

This is the response that we are to have towards Jesus Christ when we enter into his presence. We are to adore him. The magi do not fall at the feet of Jesus because of what he has done for them. They do not fall at his feet out of gratitude, because Jesus hasn’t done anything for them at all. They fall at his feet because of who he is. And this is a central part of worship. We need to worship Jesus not just for the good things he does for us, but we need to worship him for who he is.

Because he is King.

Because he is Good.

Because he is the Messiah.

Because he is God.

So we landed on one question from this story. When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen did? When was the last time you entered into Jesus’ presence, fell at his feet and really worshipped him?

I think this is an important question because Christmas is to be about Jesus. And if we want to put Jesus at the centre it means to focus on him and worship him. I know when I asked that question, that for me, it’s been too long since I’ve just worshipped Jesus.

So we left with this challenge for this week: Christmas will soon be here, so find time to worship Jesus fully this week. Carve out time to worship him. For you that might be painting, walking, praying, singing, dancing, sitting silently, writing or whatever else. The point isn’t how you worship Jesus, but an invitation to actually do it. So Christmas is here in a few days so why not take up that challenge. If we truly want to bring Christ back into Christmas I think it begins with bringing him back in our lives with a focus on worshipping and adoring him. Because he does deserve it.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to worship Jesus fully

Take Aways…

  • Advent should be a season of worship
  • They “Fell down before him and worshipped him”
  • To be prostrate is to be in a position of submission
  • The magi fall at Jesus’ feet out of adoration
  • Adoration differs from other forms of worship such as supplication (asking for things), confession of sins, and offering thanks, inasmuch as it consists in devout recognition of God’s transcendent excellence – Catholic Encylcopedia
  • We need to worship Jesus fully
  • Our response to Jesus in this season, needs to be to worship him fully.
  • When was the last time you came into Jesus’ presence and fell at his feet like the Wisemen?

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Think through this advent season and simply reflect on where your focus has been. Has it been on Jesus or other things? How can you shift your focus to Jesus this week? When was the last time you worshipped Jesus like the wisemen? How might you worship Jesus fully this week? What activities or practices draw you closer to him? Set aside some time this week to spend with Jesus.

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about the real reason about Christmas – how it’s about Jesus. Talk to them that its about worshipping him. Ask them how they might want to do that. Maybe they want to dance, maybe they want to give some of their toys to others, maybe they want to draw a picture and talk with Jesus. Whatever it may be why not actually do it with them.

Challenge for this Week Worship: Jesus fully this week

Advent Reflection: Where’s Your Focus?

1373026_24335944On Sunday we are looking at one last response to Jesus in this season of Advent. We’ve already looked at waiting, and being willing to follow and on Sunday we are looking at worshipping. We will be looking at the story of the three Wisemen and their response to Jesus. We’ll be covering a lot of territory including a fight I had with sequined shorts trainer Richard Simmons…not once but twice, the meaning of adoration, and what Christmas is all about. But this post isn’t about Richard Simmons but about Jesus.

So the point is this: Christmas should be about Jesus, so why not make it about Jesus? Why wait till we talk about worship on Sunday, why not find ways to worship Jesus today? Why not make him your focus right here and right now?

If we truly want to bring Jesus back into Christmas I think it begins by bringing him back into our lives. The wisemen’s first reaction and response to Jesus is to fall at his feet in worship, and I think we can learn a lot from that. I think what we can learn is to follow in their example. I know, for me personally, I think about Jesus a lot, I talk to him a lot, I spend time learning about him a lot, but I’m not sure I could say I worship him a lot.

For me this realization isn’t something to feel guilty about, it’s simply something to change. So that’s what I’m going to try to do today – I’m going to try to worship Jesus as fully as I can.

What about you? How can you focus on Jesus and worship him today?

Its a good question to think about, but it’s an even better question to act on.


Thoughts on the Church after Coldplay

Last night I went to see a concert with my wife, mom, and my brother in law and sister in law. The concert was pretty amazing. Here’s a clip.

It got me to thinking though. In the midst of all those people I was easily caught up in the whole thing, I wanted to dance, I wanted to shout, wave my hands (which had cool blinking lights on a wrist band you see in the video), and sing along.

And the concert was amazing but it also reminded me that gathering as God’s church matters.

I know it’s odd that a Coldplay concert makes me think of church, but this is the life of a pastor. Everything makes you think of God’s people and sharing grace.

What I thought about was this: gathering together, whether with thousands, or two or three, matters. When we as God’s people, his church, gather together for a common purpose, whether to worship, to serve, or then to go out and bless the world, something special happens. In Hebrews we are told to not give up gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). Because it is together in the presence of one another that transformation can happen, we can get swept into something greater than ourselves, we are reminded that we are in this together.

An old proverb says this, “The individual Christian, is no Christian.” You can’t follow Christ alone; it’s no solo journey. This is what that concert reminded me of. That gathering together for a common purpose matters. So who are you gathering with to worship God? Are you being intentional about joining something bigger than yourself? Who are you partnering with to reach your neighborhood?

We aren’t meant to do it alone. So gather with some friends this week to serve, to celebrate, dance, reach your neighbours, give grace.

And in case you are wondering – yes those bracelets are amazing…and no, unfortunately we won’t have them on Sunday 😉