Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Directional Worship - Worship North



The compass has been around for a while. The first known compass came from China about a thousand years ago and, like noodles, Europe began using them about 300 years later. Travelers noticed that a magnetized needle floating on a chip of wood always swung around to point north. Others found that by using a piece of lodestone suspended by a thread, the lodestone, a naturally magnetic material, would also point north. People back then would believe the needle or lodestone was being moved by a magical force or by “The Great Magician”. For what logical reason would there be for it to spin around and point north?

Today, we know that the Earth is actually a huge magnet. It has two poles; one on the top and one on the bottom. But the north geographic pole and the north magnetic pole are not one and the same on the earth. The magnetic north pole is 1400 miles away from the geographic north pole. The magnetic North pole is in northern Canada. One end of every compass needle is drawn towards it.

You can make your own compass for fun! Here’s how:

Get a large darning needle. Magnetize it by stroking its entire length, 30 or more times, with the north end of a magnet bar. If you begin each stroke at the eye and end at the point, the point of the needle will be the south point on your compass and they eye will point north. The magnetic needle should be inserted into a cork… uh…

You know what?

It won’t make a lick of difference if you are really looking for True North. Remember, the magnetic north pole is 1400 miles away from the geographic north pole.

You will come up short. Always. 1400 miles short.

Unless that is what you’re willing to settle for; with that compass you’re making with your own hands.

So it is with worship.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Directional Worship - Worship South

Depending on where you are in life, in the world, heading south will have one of 2 very different outcomes: very hot or very, very cold.

One places you at the equator, the intersection of the Earth's surface with the plane perpendicular to the Earth's axis of rotation and containing the Earth's center of mass, and the other at the South Pole, the southern point of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. (the other being the North Pole; duh!)

So, how would you know how to head South? Well, it all depends on what time of day it is. If it is morning and you’ve just watched a beautiful sunrise, turn to your right and start walking. If it is evening and you are experiencing a magnificent sunset, face the sun, turn left and then start walking. But here’s the thing: wherever you’re at, if you desire to head south, you must desire a world opposite of where you are now.

If it is bitter cold and desolate where you are now, you must travel until the sun burns your body and the air is full of sound. If where you are now the heat paints every vantage point wavy and blindingly bright, travel until you can’t feel your feet. Whichever the case, you must be prepared to receive what lies in heading south.

Your choice will be a revelation.

Your fuel will be determination.

Your goal will be unimaginable.

Your past will be never be same.

So it is with worship.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Directional Worship Pt. 2 - Worship East

If I was to try to head East, you would think all I have to do is look for the sunrise, right? Sort of. The thing that is easy to forget yet remains an incredibly important fact is that you have to go through night in order to experience the awesome wonder that is a sunrise. But…


There is a beauty all its own inherent in a night environment, but we are talking about direction. And without the stars, which can be a distinct possibility, direction becomes a very difficult thing to discover. The night can be very dark on many levels and its duration can be exacerbated by the depth of darkness. Indeed, the very definition of the word “darkness” begins to modify to the elaboration of our own thoughts. Where is the East now?! Where can we find the sunrise?! Why AM I HERE?!?!

To see the sunrise.

We must continually face the darkness. Peering, focusing at a fixed mark, though only hoped for, imagined in your heart. Fearlessly, courageously search the darkness

for the first glimpse of light.

There is the East.

So it is with worship.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Directional Worship - Pt. 1

Hey friends.
The next 4 pieces I will be sharing with you is from a group of devotionals entitled "Directional Worship". I wrote these last week on the inspiration that "If you want to know where you're going, you must first know where you are." But, indeed, sometimes, most of the time, we don't take the time to focus on our feet, but usually on the few feet in front of them.
With that in mind, lets look at our direction, or should I say, what our direction should be. Go West.

Worship West

If I was to find the cardinal direction “West”, my first thought would be to find in which direction the sun would set.

Why? Because there is only one direction in which I would find a sunset!

Sounds silly, right? Of course it would be the only direction to find a sunset!

But, indeed there is a secret to finding the sunset. Because, believe it or not, you CAN travel west and NEVER see a sunset.

That’s right. If you were to travel the same speed of the earth’s rotation but in the opposite direction, and start before noon, you would never reach a sunset.

To see the beauty that is a wondrous sunset, you must stop.

You must stop and wait.

You must stop and anticipate.

You must stop and prepare yourself.

And above all else, you must continue to face West.

So it is with worship.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


What makes Saturday different?
I grew up a Seventh-day Adventist, went through the whole educational system. Learned everything there is to learn about the 7th day Sabbath. But one thing, one of the many things, I could never answer was what did Jesus do differently on Saturday that He didn't do on any other day? How did He make Saturday special? I can only surmise His actions by what is recorded in scriptures; I wasn't there.

So did He heal more God-like on Saturday? No.

Did He preach more vehemently on Saturday? Well, there was that one time in a Synagogue where He read from Isaiah, and said that that Scripture was then fulfilled. But what He said to the money changers in the Temple was pretty "strong" and I don't think that was on a Saturday.

Did He stop working on Saturday? Probably when He was younger, like I did. And His dad more than likely didn't do any carpentry on Saturday, so if He worked with him, chances are He didn't work either. His heavenly Father, however, worked everyday, so when He was about His Father's business, it didn't matter what day it was.

That would make one think that Jesus didn't do anything different on Saturdays than He would on any other day. My humble opinion is this:
Jesus' life and work was not affected by the Sabbath, for Jesus is the Sabbath.

In Him is found all our rest from every possible weariness.
In Him is found Sanctuary from every possible enemy.
In Him is found restoration from every possible devastation.
In Him is found worship beyond any possible thought.

Every day. Always.

When I realized that, the sound of chains falling was deafening.

No more bound to the chains of time; hours... minutes.
No more bound to the inadequacies of my own strength, my own memory or my own conscience.
No more faced with the guilt of what I am not and what I cannot do.

My freedom, my hope, my salvation, my all is in Christ.

My Sabbath is every day because Jesus is my rest every day
My Sabbath is every day because Jesus has conquered sin every day.
My Sabbath is every day because Jesus is Lord every day.

The physical has been transformed into the Spiritual, retaining it's eternal importance, while opening our minds to the Father's heart.
Like the Temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Circumcision. (Romans 2:29)
Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8, 11:28)
Worship (John 4:24)

When Jesus is your sabbath, this war-torn world filled with weariness, stress, and hopelessness is constantly faced with the fact that you are constantly worshiping, communing, and resting. But not just you.

You, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, and your stranger who is within your gates.

Are you able to keep the sabbath day?
Are you able to keep Jesus?

Only one of these choices will save you.

Chose well and rest.

PS: For any of my Sabbatarian friends, please understand that I am not saying that worshiping on Saturday is wrong. It is not. If the gathering of the saints that you associate with gather then, good. Let that be your reason for gathering, not your reason to worship.
I am with Christ, worshiping Him fully on one day as well as another. My worship spills out constantly. I am not sinless, but I am always at the altar.
I feel that binding oneself to a 24 hour structure that is holier than any other day has the potential to lead one to think that Christ is somehow closer or more powerful at that time, which has no Biblical foundation. Or that holding to that day is a magical talisman that will thwart and prevent evil.
Christ is Lord always. The limitations are ours, mostly in our minds and mostly set by our own hands.
But Christ desires to be our Lord without limitations.

*Photograph property by Joanna Polevia of JP Photography http://www.fotographybyjp.blogspot.com/

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Last Nail

How many times will we kill Him?
How long will the shouting go on?
He died only once, but will we
strike Him again
'till the blood on our hands is gone?

Guilty is guilty.
Guilty must pay
for the death of an innocent lamb.
We were the murderers but we got away
and into our churches we ran.

And there's no way that we can deny it.
No one can say it's a lie
We snuffed out the light
and could've sworn we were right
but we had nothing to swear by.

Don't let us do it again.
Don't let us go through it again.
We were so wrong, so guilty
we couldn't pretend.
And all these wounds that we cannot mend.

We are so sorry, Lord.

How many times will we kill Him?
How long will the shouting go on?
He died only once, but will we
strike Him again
'till the blood on our hands is gone?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What If You Had a Resurrection and Nobody Came?

Well, actually nobody did come.
I mean a Roman guard came, but that's because he had to. (Matt. 27:65-66 NIV) And the next chapter says "Guards" so at some point there was at least one more added, it doesn't say when. (Matt. 28:4 NIV) Maybe it was his relief. If so, bad timing, because they would soon be scared to death!
But, of course, they couldn't be scared to death, because there was so much "Resurrection" power right there at that very moment, or as my Springfield, Missouri friends say, "Holy-Ghost-Pre-Pentacost-White-flame-Fire" Power, that if they did, they'd be immediately resurrected. And depending on how long that process took, how long the earthquake lasted, and how scared they were each time they came to, those guards would probably hold the worlds record for "most consecutive revivals".
So if they "saw" anything, what exactly did they see?
Well, there was an earthquake, so they maybe saw things get shook up. I don't really know what that looked like. I've seen what my hair looks like in the morning, but that's not scary, it's just funny.
to me, at least.
But the Bible does say this in Matt. 28: 2-3:

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

It doesn't say that the guards saw Jesus come out. So they didn't actually see Jesus resurrect, not that they could see anything. I mean, the text says the angel's appearance was like lightning.
I don't think that he was all strobe-light-y or anything, but my opinion is that his was an intense brilliance that cast a light unlike that from the sun or from a fire. And because they weren't used to it, it probably temporarily blinded them.
BUT they might have heard the angel.

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

The women then took off to tell the other disciples, but ran into Jesus before they reached them. The guards, though, were still dazed and confused at the tomb. The bible doesn't say what happened to the angel; he might have still been there ominously hovering over the stunned guards whilst atop the tombstone, like a live, Victorian gargoyle.
However, I like to think he was just sitting there smiling, and as they came to their senses and slowly got to their feet, he motioned to the tomb, now empty, and then slowly motioned to the path that led back to the city.

11While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' 14If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."

Now, the soldiers that were dispatched to the tomb were soldiers under Pilate's authority, the Governor of Judea. But although he was a Roman, these auxiliary soldiers were locally recruited soldiers; possibly Jews. If so, they knew of the prophecies of a coming Messiah, and may have been familiar with the teachings and life of Jesus in relation to the then known scriptures.
When the priests and the elders told them that they should lie about what really happened, the huge sum of money that they gave them would be for their forthcoming unemployment. Pilate wouldn't waste time punishing useless Jews anyway, since there were so many other locals to choose from. So the guards went back to their lives. Uneventful, unfortunate.
But things were different now. With some of the guards.
Remember, it says:

"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened."

Only some.

Some witnessed the completion of the sacrificial ceremony and atonement for the sins of all mankind.
And it hits them hard.
As hard as the stone that the angel of the Lord sits upon in front of the tomb.
And as their comrades run off toward the city at the invitation of their magnificent, shimmering visitor, these few turn their gazes toward the direction of a group of Jewish women who run with the same burning desire of truth in their hearts.
A hope against hope that this may indeed be a risen Messiah.
That the Hope of the Ages, the Lord Mighty to Save, now walks the path, a few step hence, to Galilee.
What would keep them from running after Him?
What could possibly fetter their feet?
What chains could hold their hearts?
What would stop them?


They are no longer there. They have all made their choice whether to go to the city or to follow Him to Galilee.
When the women, and later the disciples, saw Jesus,
"they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him."

Where are we in our worship? He is only a few steps ahead.
What would keep us from running after Him?
What could possibly fetter our feet?
What chains could hold our hearts?
What would stop us?

Unfortunately, my list of answers to these questions is long, I'm afraid. God help me.
We are coming the end of the Lenten season; Easter. The Resurrection. I hope to have a shorter list by then.
Maybe no list at all.

And I pray I run to worship Him.