On Why I Worship, Who I Live For, and the Savior Who Rescued My Soul

On Why I Worship, Who I Live For, and the Savior Who Rescued My Soul.png 

In the midst of your pain, in the midst of your darkness, in the midst of the terrifying paths in front of us that we call the future – you’re so radically and beautifully loved. May we never lose sight of that.

 

i.

 

I sit peacefully on the porch, one leg curled under me, guitar resting on the other. I feel the cool breeze of the evening in my hair, the summer mosquitoes swarming around my feet, and I unwind as my fingers dance up and down the familiar strings.

 

And in the stillness, the quiet, the only solitude I’ve had all day, one thing comes to my mind – Worship Him. The Savior. Continue reading

Jesus at the Center of Everything // on how the pursuit of Jesus is so much more fulfilling than we could ever imagine

Jesus at the Center of Everything on how the pursuit of Jesus is so much more fulfilling than we could ever imagine

It’s funny how God speaks, sometimes.

 

I think I often expect it to be audacious and resonant, in the moment. A distinct voice from Heaven as I’m reading my Bible or writing in my prayer journal. But lately, I’ve realized that when we’re looking for Him to speak, and seeking Him in every area of our lives, we can’t help but hear His voice in the littlest things.

 

Because I’ve come to this realization, though it’s taken me a while –

 

God is meant to be at the very center of our lives, the One that guides everything we do – not just the Being we worship in some set-aside times of the week or the day – but the reason we do everything we do.

Continue reading

What Do You Worship?

What Do You Worship?

In the past year, I’ve been to quite a few churches. I’ve seen traditional services, casual and laid back services, and services that fit somewhere in between.

 

I’m not going to say whether traditions are right or wrong. I don’t think they’re inherently evil at all, just as eating food isn’t evil, but similar to food, traditions can be abused. The problem lies where we place more of an importance on tradition (or lack thereof) than on what the traditions were made to accomplish.

 

In other words, instead of using traditions to worship God, we can worship traditions instead.

 

For example, consider communion, or specific hymn- or song-singing, or certain teachings, or rules about modesty. Those things are all good.

 

The dangerous part comes in when we become legalistic about it all or we throw out the baby with the bathwater. I’ve seen a few specific examples about this in different churches.

 

Some people say, “The only real Christian songs are hymns. All the new and contemporary ones are a waste. They’re all just meaningless blabber.”

As much as some hymns are better than some contemporary worship songs, not all hymns are actually doctrinally correct, and not all worship songs are empty or shallow.

 

By placing a reverence on traditions such as singing hymns and hymns alone, we worship the creation rather than the Creator. (Does this sound like the Tower of Babel to anyone else?)

 

We can wind up worshiping songs (whether hymns or contemporary songs) and emphasizing how great our preference is, instead of using the songs to worship God. Generalizations in the name of tradition should not be made.

 

Another example that I’ve found is in the practice of baptism. So many Christians get hung up on this practice, thinking baptism the absolute MUST for Christians to attain salvation. Sometimes, we put so much of an emphasis on the idea that “without baptism, you can’t truly be saved” and that is totally not true. Baptism is a sign for believers to say “Hey! I love Jesus and my soul has been saved by Him!” and not to actually be saved by. But when we praise baptism instead of using baptism to praise God, we miss the entire point.

 

Let’s consider communion, or The Lord’s Supper. When we take it, are we really worshiping Jesus, or are we worshiping a symbol?

 

When we see God’s creation, are we worshiping the stars or the God who created them?

 

When we dress certain ways, are we putting the emphasis on the clothing, or the God we want to honor by what we wear?

 

The last thing I want to come off as in this post is “preachy.” To be honest, friends, I don’t have it all together. I’m not perfect, and I have my own struggles. I’ve never done anything perfectly, and I think we all (myself included) have put emphasis on the wrong things from time to time.

 

The purpose of this post is to make us all think twice about why we do what we do. What or who are we worshiping when we practice our traditions? Where are our motives? What is our agenda?

 

Again, I don’t want this to be a post of condemnation. All I ask is that we think. The next time we’re at church or practicing a tradition at home, we should stop, and ask ourselves, why?

 

Are we using our traditions to worship God, or simply worshiping our traditions in the name of God?

 

*aj

Living To Be Freshly Pressed (Or Not)

Writing

Blogging (and all writing, for that matter) is absolutely amazing.

I love it so much.

I can press my fingertips to the keys on my keyboard, and almost magically, words come out.

It’s my joy to sit up until midnight (or 1am or 2am) and just express myself with written words that I could never formulate in speech.

I love to write about what God is doing in my life. What I’m learning. Who I am. And who I want to be. It’s a passion and a privilege of mine to be able to use my little fingertips for the glory of God.

No matter what others tell me, I’m going to keep on journaling and typing, because that is what I love to do, and it is one of my ways that I worship God.

However, there is a very interesting feature on WordPress called “Freshly Pressed”. Basically, WordPress employees find ten well-written and interestingly-expressed blog posts (that have a unique point of view and are attractive) every day from around the WordPress blogosphere and promote them on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page. To many bloggers, this is an AMAZING goal.

I mean, who wouldn’t want five million views on their blog and potentially millions of followers because one post went viral?

Tell me, who doesn’t want to be popular?

This presents a slight problem. See, I can almost assure you that people have blogs dedicated to “trying to make their posts go viral”. If you know anything about modern media, well, you’ll know that it doesn’t happen that way. You can’t produce viral content purposefully, but I suppose that people don’t really understand that.

At the same time, I think we forget this point that should be so obvious to us in life.

So many people live their lives for show. They live to be cool and popular. (Sounds to me like another way of saying ‘viral’ and ‘Freshly Pressed’.) But really, does that make a lot of sense?

Let me put it back in blogging and writing terms.

Every Monday and Friday night, I stay up late doing what I love. I eat chocolate (shh, don’t tell Mom and Dad…just kidding) and listen to instrumental music (good for the brain) and wear away my laptop keys in the beautiful silence.

And not only do I love doing it, but I write for one main reason: I do it because I love the One who saved my soul, and my life is dedicated to Him.

I don’t write to make my post popular, though high stats days are definitely nice. But see, if I were to write for being Freshly Pressed only, well, I think that would alter my content.

Hypothetically, I wouldn’t express my faith so openly.

I’d probably side with the secular world when it came to issues like marriage and politics, relationships and worldviews.

I would probably use explicit language to “blend in” with everyone else.

And honestly, to me, that sounds miserable.

I will either write to please God, or I will write to please the world.

Do I really want to write words that pacify a bunch of little mortals, or do I want to please the Almighty God of the Universe and hear Him say “Well Done”?

I’m going with the latter.

And I believe life is the same way.

As a Christian, do I want to hide my faith, act like everyone else, hold the views of the secular world (that the Bible is clearly against) use inappropriate language, and ditch the Bible for temporary popularity?

UM, NO WAY. Never in a million years.

I have made my choice that I do not need the approval of the world to live my life. I already have the approval of the Creator of EVERYTHING EVER, so what more do I need?

Am I going to live to be Freshly Pressed, or live to please my Lord and my God?

Am I going to change my lifestyle to be popular according to the world’s standards, or live to serve my Maker and Sustainer?

I choose to live in freedom. I am free from the mold that the world has set upon me to be popular and cool, and I am going to live for God.

And if no one else does? Well, I still will.

*aj

Worthy of Praise

 New Hampshire Mountain and River Square New Hampshire Mountain Panorama New Hampshire Rock and Train Tracks

It’s just breathtaking.

Currently, I’m wearing away the keys of my laptop from a cute little motel in the middle of the gorgeous mountains of New Hampshire.

(Maybe I should be saying ‘last night’ not ‘right now,’ for I’m not writing at 6am. Anyway, just think of this in terms of Monday.)

I’m sitting on my bed with my computer, filtering through all the lovely memories of the day.

Here I am, driving in and out of the mountains. To every side, I see the splendor of cloud-covered mountains. The wind blows through my hair, and I simply breathe in the mountain air. The mountains are solid rock combined with greenery; too high and deep and wide for me to fathom. The breathtaking view is just too much. Peace mixed with awe; serenity mixed with wonder.

And that’s not all.

To all sides of the roads, rushing waters flow for miles. Over rocks and sand, under bridges and through streams, rushing rivers run. The water is clear and crisp. The most beautiful flowing water I’ve seen in such a long time. It winds through the mountains and steals the air from my lungs.

It’s stunning. Lovely. Gorgeous. Dazzling. Brilliant. Resplendent. Awe-striking. I have no words.

Besides this amazingness I witnessed today, there was more.

Because all of this pulchritudinous (yes, that’s a word!) craftsmanship cries out one thing: “I have a Creator, and I glorify Him!”

Psalm 19:1 says,

 

The heavens declare the glory of God,

    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

 

I love this, because today I saw this firsthand. It was so amazing and inspiring! God’s creation is real. It’s not copied-and-pasted all around the world. It’s not a black-and-white world (like it was in the olden days, of course), for we live in vivid color. We live in the majesty and the uniqueness of God’s amazing handiwork!

Psalm 95:3-7 says,

“For the Lord is a great God,

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

    the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,

    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For he is our God,

    and we are the people of his pasture,

    and the sheep of his hand.”

 

Let us worship God for who He is! Let us bow before our Maker – not because we “have” to! No! Look at everything He has done! He’s created this entire world with such craftsmanship and beauty. He cares for us. He doesn’t have to. He created us and loves us, and has a purpose for all of us. And I’m overwhelmed by it all! Isn’t it INCREDIBLE?

Because all this creation, well, it’s breathtaking.

And all I can say is WOW. The pictures, well, they do NOT do it justice. Not in the least.

The majesty of God is displayed, reminding me of the Hope that I have. Reminding me to fall to my knees in worship, of my God, who cares so much about me. Reminding me how much I love Him. Reminding me how thankful I am to Him who has rescued my soul. I love my Lord, and these mountains and rivers are just a glimpse of His glory.

And a glimpse for now is all I need to blow me away.

I am blown away, and oh, how I want to worship Him in everything I do. Every breath I breathe, every song I sing, every word I pen, every word I speak, everything I do, I want to bring glory to Him in. In all things, He is worthy of my praise.

*aj