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How busy are you? Do you have time to answer?

I’d imagine that most of us would answer this with the word very! In fact we’d maybe even go as far as to say I haven’t got time to answer that I’m far too busy. Busy, busy, busy, doing what? Achieving what? Sometimes its difficult to tell!

I’ve used a sermon series called ‘Margin’ with our homegroup over the last few weeks and Craig Groeschel (lifechurch.tv) gives some fantastic insight into our busyness, what causes it, what impact it has, how we can get past it. This is the basis for my thoughts here as I explore the area of being busy.

How many of us particularly when it comes to God and our prayer, study and worship find that we are too busy. “I can’t fit that in today because I have to do this and that and the other” or “If I don’t make this deadline that is it”. “Must keep going!”

Or how many of us when we’re asked to do something, particularly for the church, will fill in every gap in our schedules in order to ‘get things done’ putting off study times, prayer times, time with our families and so on.

When somebody asks you to do something that seems to be a good thing to do, we begin to hear ourselves saying things like, “Oh well that’s my family day but I’ll fit it in, it’ll be ok just this once” The trouble with ‘just this once’ is that it turns into just this once again and again until eventually it stops being a family time and becomes full of other stuff. Or how about “Well I was supposed to be taking my wife out tonight but I’m sure she’ll understand just this once.” Why do we put stuff in front of those who are most important to us? We fill our time with incredible amounts of ‘good’ stuff but at the same time we neglect the best stuff! The stuff that God actually wants us to be doing, our calling, our families etc.

How many of us are doing just what we need to be doing just what God calls us to be doing?

That’s what margin is, the time we have after we have done everything we need to do! Not the stuff we think we need to do, but that which we need to do under God.

What struck me in particular was having the time to be interrupted! How often do we find when we are interrupted it is the end of the world. “Aaaargh this can’t be happening, how will I get everything done now.” Particularly poignant when it comes to our children. Do we ever catch ourselves saying, “I’ll play later I’m much too busy now” and how regularly does this line come out? Surely we should have time to be interrupted by our children, to spend time with them? What is more important, our children or the deadline?

So why does this happen, why do we get so busy? I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t want us to be so busy that we neglect our families or perish the thought our families break down, that is not what His word suggests to me. “Men, love your wife” or all the various teaching on divorce. Read song of Solomon and you immediately come across a man who doesn’t neglect his wife. Craig suggests, and I agree, that it is the culture of the world in which we live that tells us we are not successful unless we are busy. According to the world we should be doing everything we can to make as much money as we possibly can so that we have a nice house and nice things, working all the hours there are. But why bother if we don’t have the time to enjoy it, to actually spend time with those who we love, the ones we are apparently doing it all for. Look at the teaching in the Bible, the bloke who stored up his grain in his barns and built bigger barns to store more and then once he’d stored it all up he was taken and never saw the use of it. It was all a waste of time. And so much of what we do whilst maybe being a good thing to do is actually a waste of our time as it prevents from doing the best things, the God things.

We all have our own individual call from God, having recently completed the chazown course I recognise this more than ever. It is vital that we follow that call whatever it takes and don’t get distracted by the many good things we are asked to do. Never do something for the sole reason that nobody else is around to do it so it might not get done. It is better for something not to be done rather than you being dragged away from the God things you are doing. Play the part you are supposed to play not somebody else’s.

So what do we do when we’re asked to do something we shouldn’t be doing, however good it seems to be. Craig gives us some very simple advice which he learned from his wife! We say “NO” and that’s it, if we’re not supposed to be doing something we just say “NO” Its that easy! I know it is easy to say for me typing here and in practice not so easy but if we are to function properly as God would have us function we have to learn this skill. We also need to learn that actually people generally understand and are fine with it. Without doubt there will be times when people are upset by it or try to persuade you to change your mind but I guess we can’t please all the people all the time however nice that would be and our main aim should be to please God. Think about it like this. If somebody asks you to do something that you know isn’t God’s intention for you, however good it is, and they get upset when you say ‘no’ then who is it that has the problem? Interesting thought!

For me I have busy times and part of that without a doubt stems from disorganisation as well as not saying no when I should. I try to cram lots of stuff into a short amount of time and then have other times when I am reasonably relaxed and able to rest although at the back of my mind there is always the thought of all the things I still have to do. I guess I’m starting to create margin in my life. I’ve got the space for rejuvenation and spending time with God in study worship and prayer (although it has to be said I often give in to doing other things at these times and get distracted from my purpose) but I do it by making my busy times over busy by trying to do everything that people ask of me, leading me to unbelievable levels of stress. So personally my goal is to identify those areas where I am doing things that are not a part of the call on my life and begin to remove them so that I am freed up to do the stuff that I need to do whilst keeping my very important study, prayer and worship times.

As we trust God with these things and allow Him to guide our decisions we discover that it is possible to do everything He calls us to do and still have margin in our lives. So let’s get our worshipping lives in order so that we are able to discern God’s will in our lives enabling us to build margin into our day, lowering our levels of stress and meaning that we function as fully devoted disciples of Christ. My prayer is that we could all get to know God better and let Him guide the way!

Blessings

Al

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What is worship and who is it about?

So what is worship? A question I ponder and pray about rather a lot!

As a worship leader I often am approached at the end of a service by people who will say to me “Wow that was a fantastic time of worship, I got so much out of it!” This has set me to thinking as to whether there is a hidden because in there and who do we say worship is about. This regular comment seems to suggest its about the person and what they get out of it which I guess would make it a feeling. Other comments I’ve had following a service I went to where the ‘normal’ pattern wasn’t followed were “Well, that wasn’t worship!”

Both these statements lead me to, amongst others, the following questions:

Who is worship all about?

Whose responsibility is it to worship?

We’ve all been to services and worship events where the music perhaps wasn’t very good or it didn’t suit our style but does that mean it wasn’t worship? Who made the decision that it wasn’t worship? Isn’t really easy to blame the worship leader “They didn’t choose songs I like!”, “They didn’t play very well today!” or “I prefer the other worship leader!” or maybe we blame the atmosphere or perhaps its that bloke three rows back shouting loudly or the lady near the front dancing etc. etc. We come up with so many excuses and reasons that something wasn’t worship and we seem to base it on what we get out of it.

Without wishing to be controversial or judgemental which planet are we on?!?! Because the last time I looked worship wasn’t about me it was about God but increasingly I seem to be faced with crowds of people who have come for the experience and what they can get out of it rather than for God and what they can give to Him! People seem to be buying into consumer church where it is all about the customer and the customer gets what they deserve! As a slight aside if we got what we deserved we wouldn’t be in the fantastic and most amazing presence of God with salvation and eternal life beckoning we’d be burning in a fiery pit!

I wonder whether perhaps we are caught in the myth that singing is worship when actually singing is singing!! I love the quote I read from Nathan Fellingham which basically (in my words) said music isn’t worship it is an amazing gift from God that helps us to express our worship.

We are human beings created by God! Why were we created by God? To worship! Every single one of us worships, the difference comes in what we worship. If we look around this world we see all sorts of people worshiping all sorts of things. Money is a massive object of worship the need to have more of it and then I’ll be happy, to have the bigger house, the better car, the next new fangled gadget. We do all kinds of things to get money and ‘make our life better’. It becomes our focus, what drives us, what we put our hope in and we can begin to see the parallels now to Spiritual life with God. Money in this case begins to replace God, as these things take place our energy goes towards that and we forget the need for God until it all goes belly up! It’s not just money there’s alcohol, food, friends, pornography, the internet, drugs and the list goes on and on and on. On differing levels we start the slippery slope of sidelining God.

So what do we do, where do we go from here? Well I guess basically we need to stop serving our own needs and start looking to serving God. Stop thinking about the experience and what we can get out of it but rather what we can put in to it, what we can give to God. Rather than being consumers we need to become servers, servers of God and the call that He places on our lives.

A couple of experiences pulled this up in my life. My first visit to Spring Harvest a few years ago being one of them. I turned up and went along to the big top with massive expectations of an amazing experience and all the things that would happen to me in this huge corporate worship. Half way through that first evening I sat down and thought well this is not what I was expecting, I’m not getting anything from this. The music was fantastic, there were dancers, people painting, loads of people doing various things in worship. I was completely distracted looking around at all the things that were going on and getting nothing from it. At that point as I chatted with God, He said to me don’t you realise it’s not about you. It’s not what you get out of it, what are you giving to me? I realised I was waiting for something to happen (I’m not really sure what) and in that waiting everything was taking my focus! I steered my focus to God and at that point everything else receded and my worship of God began. This lead me to a place a few years later where I was at an event and in honesty the music really wasn’t my cup of tea. But rather than sitting out and getting upset that I couldn’t worship I turned my focus on God. I didn’t sing, I didn’t know the songs, but I did worship.

These experiences along with my walk with God have led me on the path towards achieving Romans 12:1-2 being a living sacrifice for God.

And this is all just in corporate worship. We then get onto personal worship and I think perhaps this is where the problem really lies! We can sing the songs and give an appearance of worship in corporate times but in our personal worship what does it look like? Do we have times when we worship God outside of church? Isn’t all of life supposed to be worship?

That is why we need to be living sacrifices, singing is just one aspect and we all know we should pray and study even if we don’t always do it! But it goes further, our life should be worship, everything we do should be to bring glory to God. So our work is worship! We need to follow what God wants with it and as we serve Him in worship we begin to better be able to discern His will and as we walk in His will, as we answer His call, we serve Him in more and more of our life and that too becomes our worship. We stop doing it to gain money or recognition and so on and do it because it is what God is leading us too and for His glory. This then transfers into our corporate worship, we begin to worship more authentically seeking to serve God rather than ourselves and do you know what very often He blesses us with incredible and intense times when we know His closeness, when the Spirit fills to overflowing and these are beautiful times because we are all about God but He demonstrates the grace and love that He has for us in the blessings He gives.

So my challenge to you would be:

Who is your worship about?

Why do you worship?

What do you need to change?

What can you do in your personal worship to enable you to worship God in a corporate setting?

Start today, make the decision to focus on God in all things, seek His guidance, worship Him and see how different your perception of worship becomes. Don’t do it for what you will or would like to get out of it but rather think about what you can give to God and do it for the glory of the one who created you and loves you as His child so much so that He gave His only son that you might have life and the freedom to enter in to the privilege that is worship of God!!!