Prepare for worship

For every faith, there are rituals used to draw the participants into the worship experience. For those in the evangelical Christian church, we have very few rituals. During worship services, there is music, communion, and a message. What I’m about to say is going to make me sound very old, but I’m going there. The contemporary Christian churches are building the worship music performance to the point of concert status. The loud music, lights flashing and waving, the imagery on the multiple screens do not help prepare hearts for the word of God to be shared. They don’t. It’s just a reminder of the craziness of the world we come to church to escape for a few hours. Psalm 46:10 is my go-to-prepare-my-heart-for-worship verse, Be still and know that I am God. God of creation, transcending time and space. He is bigger than all our worries, we should come humbly to Him.

One Sunday a few months ago the electricity went out in the sanctuary. The worship team didn’t have the lights or screens. They just had their voices and the words of praise. It was wonderful. They led us in a couple of songs, and the voices of believers were raised to the rafters praising God and inviting Him into the worship hour. As the last note echoed out of the sanctuary, we were calm and ready to receive the blessing of the message.

I heard a preacher, Alister Begg, once say that your church experience for Sunday morning begins Saturday night. He asked if we went to bed at a reasonable hour like we would throughout the workweek, so we can wake up refreshed, or are we up late, and partying? Do we get up on Sunday and go to church with prepared hearts for hearing God’s word and how it applies to our life, or do we scramble out the door fussing and arguing with our families about the issue of the morning?

Walking into the sanctuary are we intentional about leaving our to-do lists outside? Set our hearts on things of God, and pray for an open mind and ears to receive what He would have us learn about Him or ourselves in the passage the preacher shares. Are we ready to be attentive?

Don’t misunderstand, music is a wonderful form of worship. If you see me singing in my car, it’s probably worship music. But have we let the music in our churches become so much of a performance, we’ve forgotten about its purpose in preparing our hearts for God? Where is the quiet reverence of coming to the foot of the cross?

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2

There is plenty of Biblical talk of singing, and use of instruments, but nothing of performing, and flashing lights. We are to be distinctive from the world, and this worship style is not the way to do it.

It’s just my thoughts.
KK

#worship #christianchurch

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Holy Week

Holy weekThis week is considered Holy Week, or Passion Week. It is the week leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. While I’m not one to do anything for lent, I do think this week and the events it leads to is worth a pause and consideration. I do believe that Christ came, lived a perfect life, and died as the final blood sacrifice for the redemption of all people. He did not hang on the cross looking down and choosing people out of the crowd so as to say, “I’m dying for you, but not your neighbor.”

The parable of the lost sheep tells us that even if His sacrifice was needed for one lost soul, God would have still sent Him. But we all needed His death, and more importantly, His resurrection.

Christ was dead, wrapped in burial cloths, closed into a tomb, and guarded. Daytime went dark, and the earth shook with distress. He who was the purest of truth, love, and peace, was dead.

While there is speculation about what happened to his soul during those three days, perhaps he did descend into hell to do time for those he had died for. Those who would accept Him as their Savior, by-passing the hell they deserve. I don’t really know. The bigger point is that three days later, He walked out of His grave. He beat the one thing man can’t do on his own-a final death.

This Holy Week, may we live expectantly. May we live a celebration over our own final death, and the joy that we will someday walk with our Savior in paradise.

All the best,

KK

#holyweek #passionweek #resurrectionsunday

Farewell dad: July 20, 1925 – June 30, 2018

I had no idea what to expect. For once in my life, I had slowed down enough to really hear what was being said. “You need to come; sooner, rather than later.” It wasn’t convenient. I had just returned from a work trip, I didn’t want to leave again. But the words stuck, “you need to come now.” Within 48 hours of returning from Minnesota, I was on a plane headed for Florida. She had only said that he had been sleeping a lot more lately, and not eating much.

Dad was 92 years old. To be honest, over the last few years, I noticed him slowing down; the walker, the hearing loss. At the end of each of our last few visits (over a couple of years), I would wonder if it was the last visit. Truly hearing her words were a blessing, “You need to come now.” So, I went.

I had three days with him. Not knowing much about how this end of life stuff worked, I didn’t realize that these were three of his last seven days. He did sleep a lot. But when he was awake, we shared some extraordinary moments. We had conversations about spiritual matters, about my work and my son moving to college. There were times in our conversation when he, like many other times, was strong in his opinion. It was good to see the spark still come from a weakened 90-pound man. He was still in there. Months ago, his distinctive voice, that I pray never leaves my memory, diminished. His deep but friendly voice carried the spirit of what he believed in his heart.

Dad was kind-hearted and believed in helping where and when he could. He believed in getting a good education and being productive. He shared often that everyone has something to contribute. He had a big spirit, but a humble heart. I remember him telling me once, “if you have something you don’t need, but someone else does, you should give it to him. That thing isn’t doing you a bit of good but could make a difference to the next guy.” Dad was full of what he called his little “sermons.” While probably too many times in my life I didn’t listen, sometimes I did and would decide for myself if that was a belief I would adopt.

Sitting with him at his home in Florida, I saw a very big personality, active every day, taking interest in many things, fading. He had spent his years getting up every day and doing something. They would go visit friends, play golf, fish, play cards, rock hunt, yard sale, find something to do. In the course of that activity, there was always somebody to meet, or an adventure to be had. This, of course, led to dad having more stories to tell. “We met this fella…”

Dad always had a notebook of paper and a pen. He would be doodling or designing. His mind was moving, even when he was sitting. He left the writing to me, although during the years he lived in Saudi Arabia, he wrote some of the most wonderful letters.

During our recent visit, when he was quiet, I imagine his mind was still moving. He knew he wasn’t long for this world. His health had failed to the point of having hands too swollen to hold a pencil. His eyes could no longer see to peruse books or magazines. He shared that he no longer had a purpose.

Like so many other times in his life, dad didn’t realize that even in those last seven days, he had a purpose. Three of those days at least, his purpose was to slow his “middle daughter down” in order to connect one last time, to appreciate not in some naive way, her dad. For all of his imperfection, he was my dad, he brought me into this world. He loved me. Like many other parent/child relationships, we had seasons of distance. But those seasons have faded over the last 30 years, to come to the blessing of an adult relationship. One that allowed me to appreciate and love dad for who he was and what he brought to our relationship.

Sitting in his recliner that weighed twice what he did, his eyes were crystal blue. I sat close to save his voice from straining, and to ensure I could hear him. He recalled stories of years past with such detail that I didn’t even remember. Other times, he would just look straight into my eyes. We connected without words. He was my father. And he was fading from this world into the next. He was being called home. His effervescent spirit was calm, he had peace.

The morning I left, he really wanted to go to the airport. Selfishly, I didn’t think I could handle my good-bye to be at the Delta (#deltaairlines) curb. But if he wanted to, I would get over it and enjoy the ride to the airport. After getting dressed and a small breakfast, he decided to stay home. I have to wonder if he had the same thought I did about where our farewell would take place. We held hands and I looked into his eyes unable to say goodbye, I told him I would see him again. Our conversation of spiritual matters and the Bible assured me of that. The last two words dad said to me were whispered, “Love you.”

Thank you, dad, for your spirited example of living. May our lives honor that through continuing to be life-long learners, kind-hearted people, and productive citizens.

KK

#heaven

Extraordinary Moments

Many look to the Christmas season for memory-making. We get together with family and friends, share time and some fun. The best memories from these times aren’t the ones that are made to happen. The extraordinary memories are those moments that happen organically. They are extraordinary moments that fate brings together and that leave an impact on our hearts.

Recognize an extraordinary moment by being in the moment. Go through this holiday season and all of your activities, both new and the every-year traditions, focused on the place, the people and the activity. Be mindful to not let outside distractions rob you of a memory-making moment. Enjoy the events and times you will have in the coming weeks.

One of my favorite passages in the Christmas story is Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary wasn’t distracted by the stink of the barn, or the sounds of the animals, or possibly the disappointment of having her Mary-Film-The-Holy-Familyfirstborn far from home and away from family. It wasn’t her perfect plan, it was God’s, and she rolled with it. She took it all in.

While Mary’s extraordinary moment changed the course of history, ours probably won’t. But if we are paying attention and taking in the times that have potential, they may change the course of a relationship or even our lives.

Merry Christmas (#merrychristmas) season,

KK

 

 

 

Heading: The King on the Cross

This week, many of us are preparing our hearts for Easter celebration. Prior to the ressurection festivities we can’t ignore the events leading up to it. Jesus was crucified. It was the end of his human existence. While we usually focus on the fulfillment of prophecies, consider for a moment Him being fully human and fully God. He served as the perfect sacrifice for salvation. Tonight I was enlightened to the completion of Christ’s human purpose on earth.

Jesus had earthly parents. While his earthly father, Joseph, more than likely died earlier, this left Jesus as the oldest male in his family. He was responsible for his mother, Mary. The Gospel of John recounts an endearing moment with Jesus and His mother.  While hanging naked and humiliated on the cross, Jesus is concerned about His mother. In John 19:25 – 27, Jesus entrusts the care of His mother to John (the disciple who He loved).

In the final minutes of His eternal purpose, verse 28, Jesus says that He is thirsty. Spirits don’t get thirsty. In His human need, he is given sour vinegar.

With all prophecies fulfilled, Jesus died. He surrendered His life. Just like each of us will someday do.

Jesus’ eternal purpose was more important, but what makes Him relatable, was His human existence.

Your thoughts please,

KK

Legislating Morality

As citizens of the United States we are all given rights to our opinions and lifestyles. We have the right to express our opinions in a peaceful manner. We send representatives to congress on both the state and federal level. While their jobs are to represent what is best for all citizens, it is impossible for them to create laws to change the hearts of the people.

Let’s take gun control as one example. I had a person tell me that “no one NEEDS to own an automatic weapon”. Perhaps. But that’s not the point. As law-abiding citizens, we have the right, if we WANT, to own an automatic weapon. Guns of any kind are only as dangerous as the evil in the hearts of those who hold them. No law can change that.

Sometimes I wonder about those who protest certain legislation. Does their protest really solve the root problem? Are they communicating about a change that will make a real difference? Or are you just marching, carrying signs and making a bunch of noise? Maybe the answer is yes to the first two questions. But sometimes I wonder — is there a better way to make a difference and not only change laws but turn hearts.

Think about it…

KK

#legislation
#morality
#lawmaker