Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bring It!

Snuggled in my recliner, perfectly comfortable in every way, I confessed aloud - breaking out of my own denial of the inevitable - "I really need to get up and use the restroom."

*several more minutes of cozy lounging come and go*

(Speaking of "go" ...)

Philip soon lets down the foot rest of his recliner and stands up, so I tease,
"Hey, while you're up, could you run to the bathroom for me?"

He rolls his eyes while my sheepish smile admits the absurdity of my request.

There are a lot of things that other people could do on my behalf. They could cook supper, they could make a phone call, run errands, refill my drink, get me a blanket, substitute for my teaching ... the list goes on. But there are some things that ultimately cannot be done by anyone but me. Going tee-tee in the potty (as my toddler likes to say) is one of them. No one else can do that job but me.

I wonder if there is something to be learned from this phenomenon.

What else on this earth can only be done by me?

Well, MY worship.

Sure, we all worship. We all do stuff to serve God. We help one another and work together. But He has asked each of us to offer our SELVES as living sacrifices.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1

There is an element of our praise that we can only offer individually. No one can offer it for us or in place of us or upon our behalf.

Amanda Singer writes it this way:

"You knew me before I was born.
You made me special in Your eyes.
You taught me how to sing Your praise.
You listen when I call Your name.

No one else can bring my praise but me.
No one else can give my offering.
You have put a love song deep inside of me.
And no one else can bring my praise but me."

Within the church, I see abuse and neglect stemming from this truth.

There are folks who seem to be cozied up in the recliners of their lives - and their prolonged inactivity seems to invite friends and family to "go" for them.
How many "members" are chronically absent - physically, emotionally, spiritually? How many people sit in a pew for 62 minutes and call it a week? How many ministry fairs will it take for each person to embrace the one position that God has intended especially for them?

Other people are so busily distracted by their lives, that - like a toddler playing too long outside - they relieve themselves in the most inappropriate of ways and places.
How many Sundays are spent honoring self? How many hours each week are offered in the pursuit of recreational happiness apart from the One who re-created us for eternal happiness?

And then there are the large-and-in-charge types who cannot find restful satisfaction in the fullness of their own praise. They scurry and worry; make schedules and cover bases; perceiving the imbalance, but striving to fix it with more of themselves.
How many jobs will we give that one, overworked, spread-too-thin, talented people-pleaser who can't say no? How many people feel under qualified and unnecessary because of the omnipresent over-achievers? How many people are being drawn to say "yes", but need a little extra encouragement?

Every member of the body has a job.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 14:26

When our kids publicly acknowledge their friendship with God - made possible through Christ's sacrifice - we encourage them to immediately find a special place to serve in the Body.

As a 7 yr old, Landen accompanied our pastor to make home-bound visits. It took conversational pressure off the pastor and acclimated Landen to one-on-one encouragement.

Luke enjoyed sharpening pencils for all the classrooms and pews twice a month.

At our larger church, the kids are sort of bound to their age-appropriate ministries. So all the girls take their roll as worship leaders through MP3 very seriously. As a pre-teen, Ardyn was thrilled when she finally met the age requirement to help with her brothers during children's worship. She also enjoys volunteering at the food pantry. Mari takes monetary and resource offerings VERY seriously. It is important to her to be a part of giving financially to others, and she is very sincere in her prayers for others.

Theses are all vital ministries. God has gifted each of us - children and adults - for a specific contribution for the common good.

When I served as lead worshipper at our former church, I showed up every Sunday with songs and scripture ready to share. After moving on to other  - less visible - areas of ministry, I realized I wasn't preparing for worship any longer. I just drove to the church house and showed up. 1 Corinthians convicted me.

Worship happens alone in my closet, and together with my family. When I meet with the Body, I bring praise - I share in the overflow. I bring a song or a truth or a scripture. Perhaps the Lord has not prepared a public platform with a microphone, but He has pre-planned a purpose. Whether it is to serve as confirmation for someone's revelation, or to encourage with Truth, or to simply join in the spiritual fanfare for God's goodness through corporate worship, I come prepared.

Some days, I remain silent, but the Spirit and Truth are present and praise is presented ... offered. Some days, I talk too much. My words are soaked in selfish intent or stained by insecurities. And many days, I feel the joy that comes from shared, surrendered lives ... gathering to offer ourselves to the One who is worthy.

Last Sunday, I involved myself in a hasty, careless decision. A little child wanted terribly to participate in worship, and I sent her away. Not maliciously. I thought I was de-escalating a last-minute crisis and providing safe passage for a potentially embarrassed mom. I didn't have time to think through it fully, and I made the wrong decision. Fortunately, symbolic of all the second chances God gives us, our church offers a second worship service. An hour later, she was offered another chance to bring her praise.

And she did so beautifully. I pray she will enjoy a lifetime of offering herself privately & publicly -to the One who made her and taught her to praise and who put a love song deep inside her soul. I pray that God will help me encourage others to bring their praise and not discourage their participation based on silly traditions of men. Let us all realize we have been gifted by God for the purpose of returning those gifts to Him.

Next time you see a pulpit or a recliner or a toilet ... I hope you'll smile and remember:
"no one else can bring your offering" ... so bring it!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!" -Psalm 150