Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Music Does some Crazy Things


I love music. I love all types of music (well sort of, not into screamo, classical, baroque, or a lot of hymns) from Country to Hiphop, to R&B, to Pop, to Rock. I especially love worship music. My wife and I differ on styles of worship music that we enjoy. She is into worship music that leaves you feeling happy and excited, while I love music that leaves me feeling moved and shifted. I am madly in love with much of the worship that Hillsong Church in Australia is writing. I am also in love with a ton of Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. Some of my favorite worship albums are from bands such as Kutless and Seventh Day Slumber. I love worship that drives me to pour my heart out to God. Maybe it is because I spend a lot of time feeling spiritually deprived.

On my iPod I have several different playlist. Playlist from Pop Favorites, to Country Favorites, to Michael’s Favorites, to Short Favorites (A list of my favorite songs that is smaller than Michael’s Favorites, by about 100 songs), to Worship, to Needing to Reconnect. My favorite playlist is Needing to Reconnect. It is the list I go to when I am feeling down. It is the list I go to when I am feeling distant from God. It is the list I go to when I need inspiration. It is the list I go to when I am perplexed and needing God to listen.

Music is very powerful to me. When I am working on a project I love to have music playing. Sometimes my mood or project defines the style of music I listen to. If I am doing something with my hands I may throw on some Country or a little Skillet. If I am driving in the car I like to listen to the Pop Favorites list with artist like Lady Gaga, Tio Cruz, Ludacris,  Ke$ha, and many other artist (I know this is not spiritual in any way and most of the lyrics are dumb, but sometime I like things that have no importance attached to them). If I am mowing the grass it could be a plethora of music styles calling my name. When I am working on a lesson or sermon, it is almost always from the Worship or Needing to Reconnect lists.

I believe God uses many platforms to speak to us, but one he uses the most is music. Music styles vary depending on age, taste, and preferences. But each of us have a style of music that we really connect well with. Somewhere in there the lyrics of a song coupled with the guitar rifts, melody and rhythm really speak to us.

This afternoon I was working on my sermon for this coming Sunday. I have been really struggling with my understanding of something I thought I knew (I talked about this yesterday). In the middle of reading a paragraph the song “Lead me to the Cross” recorded by Seventh Day Slumber came on, and I completely lost focus with my reading. I put the book down, shut the door, turned off the lights in my office, and began singing. I then turned off the iPod, walked out of my office to the Sanctuary where I began an great time of prayer with God. All this happened because I heard a song.

I love what music can do. It can cause me to quit what I am doing and turn my focus to God. Music speaks to me in ways that others sometime cannot. What speaks to you? What causes you to do thing you weren’t planning on doing? How does God speak to you when you need to hear him the most?

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Beauty of Frustration

I am excited about the coming year at West Side. We have a lot of things in store for this coming year and so far an incredible line up of sermons planned. We began the year with Larry Holmes kicking off our series … “2011 Encountering Your Giftedness.” He used Rick Warren’s SHAPE principle to share that we all have spiritual gifts and that our shape defines how we use them. He did an awesome job.
Enountering Your Giftedness
Next week I have the privilege of preaching the first sermon on an individual gift, which is prophecy. This is one of those subjects that depending on the church you attend can have a different meaning. Because of that I am spending a ton of time in study. Last week I really began to dive into the study of this topic. I was speaking with our secretary and she said this topic had always been confusing to her. That left me with this response, “Had you asked me yesterday I would have given you an answer. Now after studying I am confused.”
Friends, that is the frustration of study. I have found several times that when I begin to do a thorough study of a topic or idea, before I figure it out, I get completely confused. It can be frustrating that what you thought you understood can be completely turned upside down by digging a little deeper. It makes you then begin to question other ideas, thoughts, and beliefs you may have formed off of your previous understanding. It can even open up new thoughts you never previously had.
While you may become confused, frustrated, and have things you once believed thrown out the window, there is beauty in that. You see that is what defines understanding of who God is and how you are to follow him. If you never study, but live your life according to what a preacher, Sunday School teacher, or some other person tells you, then you do not own your faith. You own your faith, you own your understanding because of your own thorough investigation of the evidence. You own your faith because you have come to a conclusion on your own merit, under your own understanding, based of what you have pieced together.
Having your understanding and faith challenged is a part of the process. The writer of Hebrews admonishes the reader to move from spiritual milk to meat. Friends, when we study, that is exactly what we are doing. And while it might be frustrating, there is beauty in it. Your faith, your understanding has become your own through the frustration. Owning your faith and understanding is beautiful.
The above image was used from a purchase made by the West Side Church of Christ from Vistaprint.com