Seasons Don’t Stay the Same

Seasons Don't Stay the Same

Everybody loves to love Fall. Me included. It makes it even more romantic to call it Autumn like my British friends. It’s beautiful and cozy and who doesn’t love all things pumpkin? Sign me up. As a matter of fact could I just snapshot a beautiful Fall day in New York City: clear, blue sky, temps in the upper 50s/lower 60s, Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. How many people have I heard say, “I wish everyday was like this!”

But, as soon as I say that the Winter comes. Snow, then bitter cold. Then the amazingness of Spring, and then the fun and heat of Summer. Seasons don’t stay the same and neither do I. God’s love and His nature stay the same but His plans, purposes, and Spirit and always on the move. As soon as I decide to get comfortable God has to wake me up and tell me it’s time to go. And that’s okay.

It’s good. It’s wonderful.

He is doing a new thing the ancient prophets say. They saw it then and implore me to see it today. Can you see it? Can I see it? Here comes the next season and all its glories. And then, before I know it, it’s time for the next one. It may be harder than I expect, but I can be sure that God is there. The Holy Spirit in the midst making changes and doing things I haven’t even had the capacity to dream yet.

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG)

Photo: Some rights reserved by OakleyOriginals

Crying Out

worshipWhy are there so few opportunities to worship the Lord together?  It’s so wonderful, so amazing and makes us (hopefully) more like Jesus.  As we praise we are filled with more of the Holy Spirit.  He baptizes us anew.  We see more of His fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  Who wouldn’t want more of that (especially those who live with us:)?

When I was in Illinois, there were two fellow staff members and a few others at the church that loved to get together informally and worship.  Usually around the piano and sometimes with a guitar we would just begin to sing and proclaim Scripture.  There were prayers for each other and various needs we were aware of.  We would cry out for God to move in the upcoming services.  Sometimes it could be dry and just us singing a few songs before we went about our day, but often it was so much more.

Many times we would sing, “I’m falling on my knees” from the song “Hungry” and everyone would be on their knees.  It wasn’t uncommon to glance over and see someone on their face, prostrate before the Lord.  We all looked for times when we could slip away and worship…it was such a delight to get in God’s presence and focus on Him.

So many amazing things were happening at the time in the church body and I believe this was a key to that.  People crying out to God for Him to make His presence known.

Sunday morning meetings are wonderful and I’ve known the presence of the Spirit in powerful ways during these times.  But there are so many other items that must be attended to (announcements, etc.).

I miss the fellowship and power of those intimate times with a few – two or three – singing and declaring the goodness of God.

With the current change in seasons I have a renewed longing for those times.  I long for the expectancy they produced.  Anything could happen – Jesus could do anything and He was doing it.

Lord, may it be so again in greater measure.

Rave Recommendations

I had always heard of A.W. Tozer, but hadn’t really read or heard any of his teaching. A few weeks ago someone tweeted a quote of his that floored me:

The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.

So I wanted to see if there was more where that came from…and there most definitely was!


I first found a series of MP3s from 1960 – ten sermons in a series on the Holy Spirit. I’ve listened to three and they are exceptional.

The next thing I did was to download his book The Pursuit of God.” I’ve been using the Amazon Kindle App for my iPhone to read books…it’s so easy to just download a book and my phone’s always with me. This book was only 99 cents! But it’s worth far more than that.

I’m only a few chapters in but there are already some amazing truths. Here are a few of my favorites (so far):

The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.

…but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God himself.

The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

(God said to Levi)…”I am thy part and thine inheritance,” and by those words made him richer than all the brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world.

God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.

So, I highly recommend the teaching of A.W. Tozer this week. Do you have any recommendations for me??

Even in the Everyday

I read this article recently by indie music entrepreneur Derek Sivers.  It’s about a lecture he went to where the idea of the story – the rise and fall of drama – is illustrated and explained.  He talks about how we love stories because the pendulum swings so wildly from misery to exceeding joy.  Drama is exciting.  The problem, he infers from the lecture, is that everybody wants their lives to be like this.  But, in reality, our lives are mostly mundane and, well, boring.  He gives this as the reason why people start fights and create drama; so we can live more of the stories we love so much.

I disagree with his conclusion.

My father-in-law has been Olivia’s and my pastor since we were married.  One of my favorite things that he says about a life following Jesus is that it is a great adventure (not to quote old school Steven Curtis Chapman or anything).  It’s true.  When the Holy Spirit is in you, you live a life that is not even imaginable without Him.  You do things that make the world (and even many Christians) go, “Huh?”

Scripture says, “His ways are higher than our ways” so sometimes things don’t always seem logical, but you are persuaded to go, to follow.  Jesus tells us that the Spirit is like the wind – you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going.  We are supposed to be like that.

Like I shared last week, sometimes you’re just living everyday life and God drops someone in your way, changing all your plans.

Sometimes He tells you to give someone a call, or a hug, or money.  Sometimes He tells you to move across the country, or the world.  He’s always working in people’s lives.  He’s always orchestrating His plans and He wants to use you.  He wants to use me.

Sign me up.

Because I don’t want a storyless life.  I want to know God and I want to see Him move in amazing, supernatural ways in unbelievable places with fascinating people.

Even in the everyday.

Definitely Not Boring

{I started this post as a response to the question, “What is worship?” posed by Stephen Simpson at the CSM Forums. Check out the site for some great conversation.}

I hear so much talk these days about how just singing some worship songs and hearing a sermon has gotten stale, boring. How we need to expand our creativity in services and come up with new ways to experience God. And while I think it is valid to seek to be creative (God is the most creative Being of all), I think we miss the point of worship. I think we could all agree that the worship life of the early Church in Acts was vibrant and definitely not boring. But we see from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church that it was very simple: Chapter 14 talks about gathering, singing a couple of songs, having words of prophecy, tongues, etc.. This is so simple. You don’t really need a producer for it. Do we need special lighting* for the Holy Spirit to come in power and heal broken hearts?  When He comes – how could that possibly be boring?

So what is worship?

There are so many “right” definitions of worship that you can read in so many amazing books. But my favorite way to discuss worship is to talk about what happens when I worship. What happens when I come into the presence of the living God and see just a glimpse of who He is. So often I can’t even stay on my feet. I have to fall to my knees and then that’s not even good enough. I’m on my face. He is so great, He is so wonderful, that nothing I could say or sing or do would even be close to enough. All I can say is, “You are worthy. You are worthy.” That is the place we truly worship and that is the place I want to be as much as possible. If more believers (and unbelievers) could have those encounters, disagreements over style and music would take a backseat to the main event: His magnificent presence.

Definitely not boring.

*I don’t have a problem with “production” as an avenue for someone to use his or her gifts, but these elements become the focus too often.

So I Have This Theory

So I have this theory.  The simplest way to begin to explain it by using songwriting.  I feel like songs are “in the air.”  I, as a songwriter, reach up into the air, retrieve and assemble them, and voila: you have a song.  That’s not to say it’s easy.  But it is to say that the song is there — waiting to be written. (One of my all-time favorite lines from a song is by Darrell Scott: “A good song never comes to those who chase / it comes to those who listen)

That’s the start of my theory, but it expands to other areas.  Prophetic words, for example.  One line of thinking says that God gives a word to a person to give to another person.  If that person doesn’t deliver it, then the message is not given — at least in that manner.  My feeling (totally mine, I don’t know of Scripture that explains it) is that the word was “in the air” (more specifically “in the Spirit”) around that person.  What it needed was a person with a prophetic bent to pick it out of the air and deliver it.  It may even be possible that more than one person could hear the word.  God may just be looking for someone to hear it and have the guts to deliver it.  I think of Jesus with the woman at the well in the Gospel of John.  He had a word of knowledge about her (she had had five husbands) and it radically changed her life.  I imagine that knowledge, that word was there in the Spirit as a revelation from the Father because he knew it would be a sign to the Samaritan woman.  Jesus heard it in the Spirit and delivered it.

I believe that God, at the appointed time, releases things into the Spirit.  These can be creative (songs, books, dance, art, etc.), spiritual (prophetic words, theological understanding, apologetics, etc.) or scientific (inventions, cures, discoveries, etc.).  Even business and political realms are wide open.

This is just a little idea that God has been sparking in me, but I was quite surprised to come across this article from New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell recently.  He argues that the geniuses we herald so much (Einstein, Bell, Edison, etc.) were actually geniuses at deciphering what was “in the air.”  Almost every major discovery of the modern era was simultaneously made by several people (the telephone, calculus, oxygen).  Gladwell goes into detail about the scientific / cultural / educational reasons for this, but I was struck by the spiritual implications.  This is exactly what I had been sensing!

So, once again, it’s just a theory, but I will be listening like crazy to hear what the Lord is saying.  I want to hear.  I want to discover.  Help me deliver.

Jeremiah 33:3 (New International Version)

3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Proverbs 8:12 (King James Version)

12I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

(I was turned on the Malcolm Gladwell’s writing by Bob Lefsetz.  I read a few New Yorker articles and was hooked.  So I got his first book, The Tipping Point and must say it was great.  He’s written three books and I’m working my way through all of them.

What strikes me the most about Tipping Point is the discussion of teen suicide in Micronesia and how it became the cool thing to do after a particularly charismatic teenager took his own life.  Gladwell argues that there’s a tipping point because the teens that follow suit have been given social permission for the behavior they’ve only fleetingly considered.  I would add a spiritual dimension to it: it’s the Satanic imitation of God.  Satan is releasing evil in the spiritual realm and there are people who are susceptible to that particular influence.  They grabbed it “out of the air” and acted on it.)