Why I didn’t raise my hands, even when the worship leader told us to…

I’ll be honest, I’m all about people raising their hands in worship.  And I really wish I could.  When I worship God alone, I do raise my hands.  And if it’s really, really dark, or I’m on the back row, or some glorious combination of the three.

I am the guy that closes his eyes and gets one hand up, but always stealthy-like, most of the time over my heart.  Almost never out to the side of my body.

Again, I really wish I could.  Why can’t I be the guy that raises my hands and dances around? Here’s an approximate play-by-play of what goes on in my head:

“Oh Lord, I love you, you are awesome” (hand begins to raise) “See that, lady in the row behind me?  I am so holy.  I am like the coolest 20-something you’ve ever seen.  Hey, guy beside her, check out how I raise my hand right on the profound part of the chorus!  Speaking of profound—someday I am going to write a book on how to be the perfect campus minister, or at least a book on a subject that is so profound that people will think I am the perfect minister, or husband.  Speaking of husband, I need to remember to pick up the loaf of bread I left out at lunch before Jacq sees it… what song are we singing now?

I mean, I know when I really think about it that the folks around me are most likely not thinking about me and how holy and awesome I am.  But regardless of that truth, the fact remains that every time I raise my hands, I am immediately not worshipping.  My fickle, self-consumed heart tries to pimp God’s glory.

One of the most encouraging things for me in corporate worship is to see others raising their hands.  I mentally raise my hands with them, every time.

I can’t wait for heaven.  I’ll get to worship God with all of my heart.  With no mixed motives.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

If you wouldn’t say it on a job interview…

… you might not want to say it online.

I’ve noticed a trend on various social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  I’ll call it “hide-behind-the-keyboardism.”

It seems students (and others, including myself) are willing to say some things online that they would never say in person, or in certain contexts.  If it’s too crude to say to your mother, you might not want to post it as a status update on facebook, or as a Tweet on Twitter.

In reality, and for all intents and purposes, you can’t delete something from the internet.  As soon as it’s out, it is out.  Sure, you can remove the tweet from Twitter, but it’s already been cached and saved somewhere.

The reason I call it hiding behind the keyboard is that it is awfully easy to say something snarky and sarcastic about the guy on stage when you are a safe distance from him.  And you come off sounding like a real tough guy. “I like that Ben Meredith… he’s not afraid to tell it like it is…”  …when in reality I would be petrified to say what I posted in my status if I were standing face-to-face with the guy.  I like a reputation as a straight shooter, without the pesky side effects of shooting straight.

So let’s all agree to not say things on facebook, in our blogs, or on twitter that we wouldn’t say to that sweet old lady at church, or to someone’s face.  Don’t use the internet as a crutch.  That way, as an added benefit, you don’t have to sit through the painful awkwardness of a job interview where they read aloud and have you justify the 15 tweets you had 5 years ago describing in detail your trips to the bathroom.

Who’s Cutting off your Passy?

Two nights ago, we did it.  We stopped feeding our son’s addiction.  It’s his earliest addiction.  We posted about it over a year ago, and as of two nights ago, he was officially a junkie.

We chopped the end off of all the pacifiers in the house, and forced him (and to be honest, ourselves) to go “cold turkey.” (which, by the way, I’m interested to know where that phrase came from)

What amazes me about the whole thing is how similarly i react when my idols are taken away.  If LB could talk in complete sentences, we’d make a lot of money on the TV deal, and he’d probably have told you two nights ago that there’s no way he could make it two days without the passy.  It was his best friend, his comforter, his midnight rescuer.  He can’t possibly make it without it.

My pacifiers are things like a bank account in the positive, one vehicle per adult in the driveway, a sense of control over situations, etc.  Take one of those away, or even threaten to, and I panic.  Like my son lamenting and wailing over the loss of his passy, I am convinced I’ll never make it.

And like I did by the side of his crib, God patiently calls out “It’s going to be OK.  I am all that you need.  Find your rest in Me…”

Like a good Dad, Jesus frequently cuts off the end of my passy, to help me see that He’s all I need.

Stuck in the Not Yet.

I just got introduced to the song “You Hold Me Now” by Hillsong (thanks, Caleb) as I prepare the music for our Fall Getaway.  What a beautiful song to sing as we are stuck here in the “not yet” of our salvation.  We live in a unique era, as those between Christ’s coming.  On the one hand, we’ve got all the promises, the fact that Jesus has already, once and for all taken care of our great enemies of Satan, sin, death, and hell.  The victory has already been won.  It is finished.

But on the other hand, there is still much brokenness in our world.  Much still needs to be made right.  How we long for the day when the not yet becomes truly made the now.  “Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll!”

On that day when I see all that you have for me
When I see you face to face there surrounded by your grace
All my fears swept away in the light of your embrace
Where your love is all I need and forever I am free
Where the streets are made of gold
In your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven rise to you alone

No weeping No hurt or pain
No suffering
You hold me now, you hold me now
No darkness No sick or lame
No hiding
You hold me now, you hold me now

Verse 2:
In this life I will stand through my joy and my pain
Knowing there’s a greater day. There’s a hope that never fails
Where your name is lifted high and forever praises rise
For the glory of Your Name I’m believing for the day
Where the wars and violence cease
All creation lives in peace
Let the songs of heaven rise to you alone

For eternity
All my heart will give
All the glory to your name

Your Kingdom come
Your will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven

Stockholm Syndrome.

Derek Webb is not scared of controversy.  Here’s a line from his latest censored album.  (this is the uncensored version, so if language offends you, now would be the time to click the “funny” link to your right)

“Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit about 50,000 people that are dying today.”

Here’s another:

“You say you always treat people like you’d like to be, I guess you love being hated for your sexuality…”

And my favorite:

“…’cause if you really believed what you say you believe, you wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak.”

His record label wouldn’t let the song make it out of the gate, so he released it on his website.

I love this song.  The title of the song is “What Matters More,” and the controversy that has ensued has proven the words to be nearly prophetic.  A segment of the Christian community has freaked out more about the words of the song than the content of the message.  It is far more reckless to marginalize one group of sinners (homosexuals) while welcoming others than to use the word “damn.” What does matter more?  The gospel, or a social agenda?  The fact that people are dying and going to hell, or that we avoid saying the word “shit?”

If you’ll permit me, I want to step in in defense of Derek, and say that he is not saying that only the gospel matters, and so we should just walk around using the same language as the culture, with no regard.  He’s just saying that if he had to choose what matters most, it’s not going to be language or targeting homosexuals.

My prayer for this song is that it will make it to the ears of listeners who will actually be shocked by it.  I have been around Derek’s music for long enough to not be shocked by him using a “bad” word.  But the concepts he hits on in this song are something that the American church needs to deal with.

Here’s the (very well done) video for the song in question.