Last week, I wrote a post called "Change is Change". It's amazing how a week confirms that, and now I find myself in a place - on a cozy Friday night - feeling compelled to pen my thoughts about church, about worship ..
Last Sunday was PB's final Sunday ... and the service was really well done. The music was a tribute to the past, and a push for the future ... PB spoke with a "father's heart", with encouragement to his congregation of 25+ years. He is going to be a brilliant Evangelist, because he already is. It's a perfect fit for him, and he will certainly be missed. Very much.
But here's the thing ... it was never PB's church. The amazing things that have happened in the 25+ years, have not been because of him - but because of the Lord.
And all glory is GOD's; PB made sure to emphasis that point.
Those words are what I walked away with, last Sunday. And they are a comfort to me this week - as more changes will certainly be coming our way. How true it is - that we are not to follow man, we are to follow the Lord. Following a man will always lead to disappointment, because ... he's just a man. And a church is not a Pastor, or a worship leader, or a this or a that ... it's the body, the community, the congregation. Leadership will change, directions will change, style and focus may even change ... but the church - it's us. Oh, I get it - we choose which church we attend based on styles of preaching, or music, or children's programs or its community involvement. FOR SURE. But the "church" ... it's not programs or leadership - it's still US.
I say that with butterflies as I have been preparing to help lead worship for this Sunday morning's service. Oh, how my heart yearns for God to direct and show us, the "church". To lead us. Transition time is difficult - and our body hasn't really ever had to go through this before. It could be a long time before leadership is chosen and direction is presented, but I remember the words of a visiting pastor a couple of months back who said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "what are you doing while you wait? I wish in my times of waiting - I had WORSHIPPED." Oh, how perfect those words were for our congregation, as worship has been such a pivotal part of who our church body is. And as I've been preparing for Sunday, my heart is excited for worship. But here's the thing - I've been reminded that "moves" of the Holy Spirit come when three things happen:
1. We repent and be humble.
It's first and foremost, "create in me a clean heart." And can I be real here? How often do we do that? Get ourselves ready to actually BE in the presence of God? Think about that. In the presence of GOD. How SERIOUS do we take that? Is a worship service simply enjoying (or not enjoying) the music chosen, or are we prepared to encounter the living God who promises that He is there when two-or-more-are-gathered? I know Sunday mornings are busy, I'm a mom of three. I know - it's chaos. But ... a heart of repentance, a heart of humility, a heart of expectation, a heart of reverence, a heart of preparation - they're all the first step to encountering the Lord.
2. We wait.
There's only so-much-time. Always. People are in a rush ... but as in every relationship - how are you to grow, to learn, to commune without having time? How do we expect to be changed in the presence of God and HEAR from Him, if we don't give Him the time to speak to us? Some of the most powerful times in worship for me, personally, have come in the silence - in the waiting. I've experienced His voice in those times - I know He comes when we wait.
3. We respond.
During a service - moving to the isle to worship, going to the alter, lifting hands, getting on your knees ... when we ACT on the move of the Spirit, something happens. It becomes contagious - it stirs freedom. When one person responds, usually many follow - because it goes back to humility and not worrying how we look. It's about laying it all down. We all want the freedom He gives, we all want to leave changed ... but it can't happen if we don't choose to respond.
Wow. I've really gone out on a limb here ... but it's where my heart's at this evening. I feel the urgency to write this and I'm believing that someone is supposed to read it. I want for us to be prepared for our service on Sunday ... because there is no "secret recipe" to being in the presence of God. It's actually very simple ... repent, wait, respond.
What's the point of all of this? Well, it's really for the lost, no? Our focus isn't on what we have to gain for ourselves in a worship service, it's quite the opposite - but we know that a move of God CHANGES people. So, if we've already been changed, if we know the truth ... then it would only make sense that our preparation for a worship service that brings miracles and change, would be for those who don't know the Lord ... no?
So as we worship, may we begin with ourselves ... maybe we prepare, and expect God to move - so that we can be ready for the masses who still don't know the Good News.
Have a great one xx.