Easter People

I read a great article the other day regarding Christ followers.  The writer was describing our world in which we live as a Good Friday world; a world of death and betrayal, a world of suffering and shame.  He went on to ask the question, “How is it possible to live in such a world?”  The answer, “We are Easter people!”  Easter people live with hope.  We know that Friday brings sorrow and pain, but we can hold on because Sunday’s coming!

Are you living like an Easter person?  Am I?  Do we live with hope and joy, in spite of our difficult circumstances?  None of us could, if it weren’t for Jesus’ journey to the cross and the resurrection.  Jesus bore the sorrow and shame for us, so we don’t have to.

Are you feeling shame today?  I have been reading a book by Craig Nakken.  It is a secular book on addiction, so his worldview is not coming from scripture but I think he makes an interesting contrast between shame and guilt.  In his book, “The Addictive Personality” he states, “With shame, there is no forgiveness, and nothing is ever forgotten.”  With shame, there is no avenue for healing and recovery.  But what we should experience is guilt.  Guilt means we have committed an action that was wrong, but we can repent, correct the mistake and be forgiven. 

So let me restate my question, “Are you feeling shame today, or guilt?”  As Christ followers we experience guilt that drives us to repentance.  That is a good thing.  That is the Holy Spirit moving in our lives to confess, repent and find wholeness and health.  But if we choose to live in our shame, we will never find healing, because we will never feel worthy enough to confess and repent.  We are choosing to live in our sin.

I leave you with the lyrics from Matthew West’s song, “Only Grace.”

There is no guilt here, there is no shame,No pointing fingers, there is no blame.What happened yesterday has disappeared.The dirt has washed away, and now it’s clear. There’s only grace, there’s only love,There’s only mercy, and believe me, it’s enough.Your sins are gone without a trace;And there’s nothing left now, there’s only grace.

Who Needs to Rehearse?!

I’m starting to get a complex!  I know, you’re thinking, “starting to get a complex?”  Don’t you mean, continuing your ongoing complex?  Yeah, I suppose it is an ongoing complex.  But I find it so interesting that when I feel the least prepared to lead worship, that’s when I get such positve response about how great worship was.

This past week I was in Phoenix.  Woohoo, Phoenix, 70 degrees and sunny, Phoenix, woohoo!  Sorry, I got distracted.  Anyway, I wasn’t at rehearsal last Wednesday night since I was out of town.  Woodchuck who usually covers for me couldn’t make practice at the last minute.  The vocalists were late getting there or had sick family to attend to, so that left the guys in the band.  Well, they looked at the charts, played a few chords and called it a night.  They weren’t there longer than 30 minutes, not that I blame them.  So anyway, we all showed up Sunday morning and had our warm up and it was like, well, that went well, on to the next song, and that went ok too, let’s keep going.

All of that to say, I got more comments about how great worship was Sunday.  And I’m like, well, thanks, that’s what we get for not rehearsing.  So I’ve been thinking about this and wondering what makes worship great?  I know there are a lot of factors.  One of the main ones that impacts our “performance” is the sound mix.  We couldn’t do this with out our sound guys giving us a good mix.  Also, we are blessed to have great musicians.  Our band has got some great guys who love to play and they play well.  They also love the Lord and I know that makes a difference in how they “perform.”  We are also  blessed with some great vocalists who are also intense worshipers.  Now, I’ll take intense worshipers over great vocalists anyday, but we just happen to have both!

But I think the main reason why we tend to get great comments about great worship on the Sundays we feel the least prepared, is because when we are least prepared, we are more prayerfully dependent on God and not our own abilities.  (Okay, that was a long run-on sentence, but you get my point!)

So my ongoing complex is really a healthy one when you think about it.  I realize it’s not about me, but it’s about the power of the Holy Spirit working through me.  I don’t cause great worship to happen because I’m a good musician or I’ve rehearsed enough.  Great worship happens when I allow the Holy Spirit to take over.