Self-Consciousness

Have you heard about the woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years, who touched Jesus’ clothes and was instantly healed? Jesus felt power go out from Him and asked who touched Him. Jesus was a Jew, and she would have known that according to Jewish law, her bleeding made her unclean. She probably didn’t want to draw attention to herself, but there was no alternative: She had to own up and face the consequences. I’m not surprised she was shaking. Self-consciousness is rooted in fear, but the humiliation never came. Instead, Jesus reassured her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

I wonder if sometimes my worship of Jesus is stunted because I’m too preoccupied with what others might think. Jesus’ words to the woman set her free, and I’m sure He’d want that same freedom for us too. I can’t promise you’ll never come up against negativity. When Jesus was worshipped extravagantly and perfume poured on Him (Mark 14:3-11; John 12:1-11), people protested that the perfume could have been sold for more than a year’s wages. Judas Iscariot was so incensed, he decided to betray Jesus, but Jesus (who deeply loved Mary) said: “She has done a beautiful thing to Me. … Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

As Hebrews 12:28 says, let us worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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Tuesday at Ten: Time

Well, I’m quite pleased because I can give a bit of a shout-out to not one, but two people through this post. Today is Tuesday, which means Karen’s back with her Tuesday at Ten linkup. This week, her prompt-word is: Time.
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So I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine, and how she spends her time. Alex has always been a quiet person one-to-one, but put her behind a microphone and she speaks with real authority, so I’m thrilled she’s using that voice of hers for God’s glory.

Alex spends three hours on a Wednesday, 6-9 pm here in the UK (that's 1-4 pm Eastern), playing music to praise God to on her radio-show – Worship Unlimited. I plugged her show when she first started broadcasting in 2011, and now three years later, you can find her on ACB Radio Interactive. This Internet radio-station showcases blind DJs from around the world, but Alex is listened to by people of all ages with very different musical tastes. One request might be a children’s song for a girl in her local church, the next a hip-hop song popular in Germany, or perhaps Alex’s personal favourite – Christian country. As long as it glorifies Jesus, she’ll play it.

Worship Unlimited now has a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, giving you plenty of ways to connect, so why not spend a bit of time tomorrow night listening to Alex on ACB Interactive? Let’s see if we can make this a community, and not just a three-hour show.

Concern for Justice

A fountain is something I’ve wanted for myself as long as I can remember.  I used to live near a friend who had a conservatory with a fountain just outside it.  You could sit there listening to the birds singing and the water bubbling …  I joked that for me, the commandment:  “Do not covet your neighbour’s house” should read:  “Do not covet your neighbour’s fountain.”

 

I love water-features, in garden-centres or in formal gardens, and here God talks about justice flowing like a river, and goodness like a never-ending stream.  He repeats His displeasure at the oppression of poor people, and assures Israel of His presence with them if they would do good.  Any worship-rituals the Israelites performed were worthless to God while there was no love of justice in the land.

31 Days of Song: “What can I Do”

Like Matt Redman last week, Paul Baloche is another who writes some really good songs.

 

Shall I tell you 2 things I’ve always wanted to see?  A sunset, and the stars.  I know I don’t need to see them, but it would be nice, and both are sort of mentioned in this song:

“When I see the beauty

“Of a sunset’s glory,

“Amazing artistry

“Across the evening sky:

“When I feel the mystery

“Of a distant galaxy,

“It awes and humbles me

“To be loved by a God so high.”

 

Beautiful words and so true.

31 Days of Song: “Jesus Saves”

Today I wanted to include a song by Jeremy Camp, so I could tell you about his book “I Still Believe”.  It came out on Kindle in January and if my Kindle software still worked (which it hasn’t for over a year), I’d buy it straightaway and start reading.

It talks about his first wife (Melissa) and how, after their honeymoon, they found out she had just a few months to live.  I don’t know how I would have coped with that in my early 20s, but here’s what impressed me.  Jeremy was sitting with Melissa after she died and felt God saying:  “I want you to worship Me”, so he picked up his guitar and worshipped.  It reminds me so much of Job in the Bible the day he lost his ten children (Job 1:20-21) – how he praised his God who gave and took away.  He worshipped too.

I think anyone who chooses to do that is someone with real integrity, who deserves respect.  I haven’t heard many of Jeremy’s songs, but I do like this one.  Jesus saves!  He’s there to save us from a life of bitterness and bring us into God’s good plan for us.  Will you be a part of letting the whole world know His name?

31 Days of Song: “Endless Hallelujah”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know about Matt Redman – an author as well as a songwriter.  I enjoyed his book “The Unquenchable Worshipper”, and there’s another by his wife Beth that I’d like to read too.

 

Matt’s most famous song is probably “Heart of Worship”, which is about offering Jesus not just our songs but our hearts.  I haven’t chosen that one though; I’ve chosen one of his newer ones for you to listen to.  I heard it first when we sang it at church, and when I looked at the words beforehand, they really touched me.  My favourite lines are:

“No more tears or broken dreams,

“Forgotten is the minor key –

“Everything as it was meant to be.”

 

Enjoy this beautiful song about heaven, and I like the piano in it too.

5-Minute Friday: Worship

It’s 5-minute Friday time again, where we write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right, and this week Lisa-Jo’s picked a prompt that’s close to my heart:  Worship.  I enjoyed writing this, and if you want to join in, you can too.  You can either write a post (like me), or share in the comments over on Lisa-Jo’s blog.

 

So, worship:

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Worship; worth-ship.  Expressing what God is worth, but how?  Is He worth much if He’s just put in a box to bring out every morning when you read your Bible?  Could the fact that you read your Bible before the day starts be a heart-cry to the Lord:  “You come before everything else.  I want to put You first”?

So what’s your expression?  Maybe it’s singing.  Maybe it’s dancing, and maybe even respected people in the church have told you you’re a showoff, but usually the ones who think you’re a showoff only think it because they feel too self-conscious to do the same thing themselves.

So tell Him what He’s worth.  Tell Him in the songs and the dances; in the money that goes out of your bank account; in the love that spreads from you to others, and to Him.  Tell Him what He’s worth – yes, give Him your worship.

Cwmbran

I don’t know whether any of my readers are wondering about this Welsh outpouring I was so excited about.  Did it live up to expectation?  Would I go back?

 

Well, I was one of the first in to the meeting, as they allowed people with disabilities and their regular church-family in through another entrance.  I lost track of time when I was in that room, but maybe about half an hour beforehand we were asked, as the worship-team did their sound-check, just to begin to pray and give God some praise.  That’s what people came into – us praising and worshipping God.  Brilliant!  They didn’t make a big thing of starting the meeting; people just joined in as they arrived.

 

As we worshipped, the pastors felt the time had come to pray for people, and encouraged us to believe we were receiving something from God that we could take back with us.  Those wanting prayer went to the front while others carried on worshipping, and this is what they sang as I was prayed-for.

“Just one touch from the King

Changes everything.”

 

The message was all about the Israelites when they had crossed the Red Sea and came to a place where they couldn’t drink the water; then God showed Moses a tree, and Moses put a piece of wood into the water and it became sweet.  The tree was there all along, but Moses didn’t see it.  How many times is God there all along and we don’t see?

 

What the preacher said that really spoke to me was:  “You can’t live someone else’s life for them when they’re completely off their trolley, when they’ve messed up, but you can live your life … keep your life sweet, and keep the cross at the centre.”  That’s what God is doing in me at the moment – teaching me to keep my life sweet.

 

Before I went to Cwmbran, a pastor there gave one guarantee:  Not a guarantee that everyone who went would be healed, but a guarantee that they would experience the tangible presence of Jesus … and I did.  So yes – it lived up to expectation, and would I go back?  Absolutely!

 

The meetings are still going on with hundreds coming to Victory Church from all over the world.  Will you be one of them?

A-Z: Wrestling

I need to give Sue some credit for this post.  We met on the web through this A-Z challenge, and her alliteration theme seems to have wound its way in here …

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It’s been a week this week when things worked out well, but what about when you’re wistful and weepy and wondering what’s next?

 

I was talking to a friend once about someone who went through a difficult time, but instead of throwing a wobbly, he wrote a worship-song.  My friend called it an indication of his character – that he could write “Jesus, I love You Jesus”, and not a where-are-you-now sort of song.  It’s wonderful to have conversations like that.

 

What about you?  Which songs do you wander to, while you’re wrestling with feelings of hopelessness?  This one by Keith Green builds my faith and makes me want to smile, while this by Third Day wowed me enough to buy and then play it nonstop.  I love story-songs.  I know Third Day have written at least one song about people they knew, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this one was too.  It’s encouraging to be reminded in your desperation that you’re not on your own; God’s willingly come through for others and answered their prayers.  You might feel weak and wan and wilting, but remember one of my favourite promises:  “Your strength will equal your days” (Deuteronomy 33:25).  Don’t waver, but wait for the LORD.

Great Honour

Do you remember back in the summer, I wrote a couple of posts about “The Unquenchable Worshipper”?  If you like, you can read them here and here.  I said I might not blog about every chapter – well, I put it down for a while and have just gone back to it, so thought I’d write about chapter 6.

 

Matt talks about unstoppable worshippers, and some of his examples, I hadn’t heard before.  I’d like to read more about them, so I’m going to look in the notes to see what books they came out of, but here are 3 that impressed me.

 

1.  Rachel.  With the recent tragedy in Connecticut, this story touched me particularly.  It happened back in 1999, in a US high school, that 2 students went in with guns.  Knowing Rachel was a Christian, they shot her 3 times, then they asked whether she believed in God.  She said yes; they told her to ‘Go be with Him’; another shot was fired.  She put God’s honour before her own survival.  Would we do the same?

 

2.  Stephen:  He was the first Christian killed for his faith.  Before he died, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).  Every other time we hear about Jesus at God’s right hand, He’s sitting, but this time, He’s standing.  Matt points us to Smith Wigglesworth’s explanation of this – that Jesus is on His feet cheering Stephen on, for honouring Him in his difficulty.

 

3.  Jesus Himself, when He shared that Passover meal with His disciples, just before His arrest.  Apparently several hymns are sung at a Jewish Passover, the last of which is Psalm 136.  So when the Bible tells us that after they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26), it’s very likely they were singing Psalm 136.  Knowing that Judas’ betrayal and His death on the cross were imminent, Jesus could still sing a Psalm all about giving thanks to God, who is good, and whose love endures forever.  Wow!

 

Makes you think, doesn’t it?