For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, October 10, 2014

So you know....It's October...In a Good Way

Here in Texas, we generally have three seasons: Summer Hot, Summer Cooler, and Cold Windy. Summer Hot and Cold Windy are not the easiest times to work outside. Summer Hot runs the risk of heat stroke. Cold Windy is just miserable. So, if you want to get work done outside, Summer Cooler, like right now when it is only in the mid-80s, is the time to do it or wait until Summer Cooler around March and April when it could also be monsoon season with tornadic interruptions .

I'm going to try to take advantage of Summer Cooler in October and as far into November as possible, so my posting may be erratic. I'll still try to post at least once, hopefully 2 or 3 times, a week, but just in case I don't, I want you to know that, yes, I'm not posting because it is October, but in a good way.

If you don't want to check back daily, you can subscribe by email to get posts directly to your box or like my Facebook page to see posts there.

Y'all be blessed, and I'll see you next week!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When It's October

The temperatures dip lower, but the trees haven't caught the drift yet. Leaves still cling green, and grass still requires my mower's attention. It's a beautiful time of year in Texas.

It's also the hardest time of year, and I think this just hard.

Last week Mom had been gone four years. Not something I dwell on. Not something I mention to anyone. The tombs is not where I dwell, but last week I had a stomach virus and really wanted comfort foods that might stay down. I was craving chicken and dumplings, so I reached for the phone to call Mom and get the recipe. It got worse because then I remembered she had given the recipe to Rob one time when I had the flu so I needed to call him...but neither had written it down. How do you let people die without getting your favorite recipes from them?

Over the weekend I was walking in a clothing store when I saw the perfect, non-Virginia Tech shirt for Rob. Right style. Right fabric. Right color. He had one in every color he could find. I have often regretted giving those away with the rest of his clothes, but probably just as well because I would probably wear one, and really, how lame is it to wear the shirt that smells like the husband who didn't want to be married to you anymore?

As I was saying, I was walking down the aisle of this clothing store and saw the shirt, so I stopped my shopping cart, picked up the sleeve, and stopped just before I put it to my nose and breathed deep. Needless to say I felt stupid expecting it to smell like him.

Now it is football season, and I miss hearing his yells of ecstasy and agony as he watched Virgnia Tech football, and I miss his laugh.

Isn't it weird how I don't miss being married to him, but I miss familiar pieces of him?

Tonight I stood at the sink and washed dishes, and big tears fell.

For whatever reason, the thought, "Thanksgiving is next month," came through, and I just put the dishes down and let the tears fall hard into the sink of sudsy water. I don't like Thanksgiving. I don't like Christmas, and I would pay someone to stay at my house and pet sit so I could be anywhere but here.

I breathed deep and kept washing. Like walking away from a sink full of dishes could make it better anyway.

Three movies come out this month that I want to see, and I can go see them by myself. I've done it before. It's just, for some reason going to a movie alone screams lonely to me. Movies should be enjoyed with someone, but then, I think most of life is meant to be enjoyed with someone.

Yesterday was my youngest brother-in-law's birthday. He hasn't spoken to me since the funeral. I don't have his phone or address or email and wouldn't know what to say even if I did.

And last week I wrote Rob's dad and told him we wouldn't be making the trip to see them. In all honesty, I am sorry. I have great compassion for his dad. When his dad and I talk, I always end the call with, "I love you," and I do. But some who are involved in the family fallout still struggle with trust or have simply seen too much to want to make the effort. I'm not judging, and I won't say they are wrong. I'm just infinitely tired of living in the aftermath of someone else' bad life choices. If anyone needs proof lies will blow a family to pieces, the damaged relationships Rob left in his wake say it all.

And I think this October is harder because this is not where I expected to be "four years later". Mentally and emotionally I think I "reached the other side" awhile back, but this is not the lifescape I had envisioned.

Sunday on the way home from church, we discussed God's faithfulness, and in course of conversation, it became obvious I'm not the only one struggling with feeling disillusioned, trying to trust God but wondering what in the world He is doing. As my son said, "Mom, hearing people say God is faithful is like the parent who says they'll get you a toy but not today, so when you mention it next week, there's another reason why it isn't that week. Three months later, there is a reason why it isn't then, and eventually, they say they'll get that toy for you so long that it is no longer even relevant." I understand the feeling.

Then I think of Abraham and wonder if he had an October. Maybe his or Sarai's birthday when the age went up and still no baby. I wonder about Joseph. How many Octobers did he think of his dreams and his brothers while he sat in a country not his own without a family of his own?

I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us a lot, except for one moment with Abraham. God visits Abraham and tells him He is going to pour out blessings so big Abraham can't imagine, and Abraham, this man we know as righteous because he believed God, answered, "What's the point? What does it matter? Who cares if you give me the world if I don't have an heir?"

I love this. Oh. My. Lands. I love this.

"Yeah, um, that's great, and I appreciate the thought, but, God, here's my heart."

Then there is the moment when Abraham's honesty could have slipped past the line and God could have gone fire and brimstone on this ungrateful piece of mud called human.

But He doesn't.

Instead, He speaks right to Abraham's heart. "I know. I promise. I've got this. I've got you. I've got your heart."

Isn't that beautiful gone stark raving mad?

Instead of seeing a man dissing the promises, God saw a man sitting right in the middle of October.

And this is what I have to believe.

I have to believe God sees me right in the middle of my October, and He sees my dreading Thanksgiving and Christmas. He sees me swallow hard when I see a VT shirt because He knows the laughter I'm talking about. He knows I miss Mom's perfume. He knows very well I'm not the only person who doesn't dig "alone." He knows. He sees me. He's right in the middle of it with me.

I don't have the promises Abraham had or the dreams Joseph had. What I do have is a God right in the middle of October with me, and since I am trying so hard to be brave and healed and all things faithful and faith-full when I'm honestly sad and kind of confused but really, what do I say about the fact it is four years later and something in me finally realized my mom is gone and who could can remotely grasp anything to do with...Rob? And right now when I feel like no one could possibly understand any of it, the fact He understands it all gives me a place to breathe. It gives me a place to talk, to process, to navigate October.

The peace isn't in knowing all the promises that will come someday. The peace is knowing He sees me now. He knows me now. He has me now....especially when it is October.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Love When Truth Just isn't Enough

She is utterly indignant that someone could ever question the similarity between Christianity and Buddhism. How could anyone put the two in the same sentence little less suggest they are truly similar?

So I ask, "How are they different?"

She looks at me and says in a hard, pointed tone, "Christianity is the truth, and everything else is a lie."

I wait a moment and then ask, "And that is supposed to be enough for me to embrace the Cross, fall on my knees, confess my sins, and find salvation?"

Her breathing goes shallow, and her eyes look at me as though she can't believe I have the audacity to take up oxygen. "It's the truth."

"And that is it? That's the best you've got? Because if I am anything other than a Christian, that means nothing to me. If I am anything other than a Christian, I think I know the truth, and that whole God killing people because He's having a tantrum thing is not going to cut it for me."

She leans forward. "Just because they refuse the truth doesn't make it untrue."

"They aren't refusing the truth. You simply aren't telling them the truth."

She is disgusted with me and my abandonment of God's truth as the absolute truth. I'm not very impressed by her either, but, I've been her, and there is hope for us both.

Honestly, I haven't abandoned God's truth as absolute. If anything, I am more convinced of it than ever, not because someone told me it was truth and said not to question it but because I went rogue and questioned everything.

I started singing my own wild version of Berean Rhapsody and came out the other side with an understanding of Christ and His heart. I gave up the law that had been drilled into my head and embraced the love that was trying to change my heart. I studied topics such as baptism, hell, sin, salvation, the Holy Spirit and how it functions, along with gifts and fruits and holiness. Now when people want to have a conversation about Christ and the Bible, I can speak to their questions, not just regurgitate rote "truth".

 I also read about other religions so I could have respectful conversations with those believers. Love is respectful, right? Love values the other person, right? I'm not saying I have to value the theology, but I need to value the road that person took to reach that destination. Only in understanding their road can I understand and speak to the ways Christianity is different and how it would have handled something differently.

I looked at my friend and stared at the arrogance she robed herself in, an arrogance I was all too familiar with because after all, I had it right, and those heathens were...heathens. In that second, I could have been the arrogant one because I know the truth about the differences. I know Christ, not just Christianity. I could have rolled my eyes, let her be disgusted, and rationalized my silence. Instead...

I said,
"There are two major differences between Christianity and any other belief system.  
One, every other belief system is built around the idea that a person can earn a better afterlife through self-perfection. All the work is on that person to get better, do better. They are a save yourself system. Christianity is the acceptance that we can't save ourselves, that we can only be saved through Christ. Everything we really need has to be done for us because we are helpless to do it ourselves.  
Two, in the other religions, you may get 'enlightenment' from some source, but you are on your own to make it happen, to make your life happen, to be the person you want to be. In Christ, you are never on your own. God is always reaching. We just have to realize how desperately we need to be found."

 The difference between that Buddhist and me? I saw the hand reaching for me and took it. They either haven't seen it or haven't taken it, but God is still reaching. Who knows but that I am the one He is reaching with. I'll never reach them, though, if all I have to offer is a swap from one law to another. If I want to reach them, I need more than a law. I need love. And that is the absolute truth.

2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

God's Sense of Humor

Some folks are unaware that God has an interesting sense of humor. Remind me to tell you about "Joshua, Remember Jericho, and Thick walls," sometime. But today, I'll stick to God's sense of humor this morning at church....during worship...

Believe me, I tried to find some kind of play on words for that because...well, you'll see.

Last week and yesterday, I wrote about worship. I was honest about my struggles with worship at the church we've been attending the last few months. As I said, love the people. Pastors are solid. I'm just struggling with worship.

I rarely know the songs. I can't follow the words on the screen very well because I don't know the tunes. It's just...been a challenge.

But, I don't want to be like I used to be and make it a big ridiculous deal because that is just immature, petty crap. The songs are good. People are worshipping. It's just me, BUT, God is so faithful to use trials to build character and mature us, and for me, not being able to participate well in worship is a trial.

I've also shared what I've learned from this trial. I've learned worship isn't about what I sing or how I sing it but the One I choose to sing for and to.

Worship is a response to God reaching out to me.

Even music I "don't get" can get me to God if I have the right heart to find His hand in it.

I told you about the two boys on the front row who took pleasure in their worship and how I could feel God's pleasure in them. That is beautiful worship. Seriously. It does not get better than that.

Today I went to church, and before I ever reached the sanctuary, I saw the worship leader. I like him. He's a good worship leader. As we chatted, he mentioned that he read Friday's post on worship. He was very complimentary and asked if he could post some of it to the worship blog for the church.

Are you laughing? At least chuckling? It gets better.

First, I have to say that the order of the service was rearranged to the "traditional" order of service, which totally threw me. While I have no reason to think my blog had anything to do with that, I did mention that last week in one of my posts. If you will recall, I said we do worship after the sermon. It was different, but we left church singing, which I like.

That's at least worth a smirk, but the really belly laugh...

I knew all but one song we sang this morning. ALL BUT ONE SONG.

In fact, I knew them so well, I could sign most of the words.

Even better?

One of the songs we sang is EXACTLY what God has been saying to me all week long.
If I am with you, nothing can stop you.
What do you think could ever come against you that could nullify my promises?
Nothing can stop my Word.

Maybe you've heard the song before. Maybe you need to hear the words right now.
We sang it this way:
If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, what can stand against?

And you'll have to wait until later to hear about the whole sermon thing, but for now....

I'm shaking my head. I hope you are laughing. Isn't that just so God?

And, yes, I do believe God was laughing through the whole thing, nudging whoever was close, saying, "She is going to laugh so hard!"

And I did...and am.

There are so many things about God that leave me in silent awe. He is just so beautiful, so wondrously, can't take Him all in, beautiful, and one of my very favorite aspects of Him is His sense of humor. I love that enjoys having fun and just enjoying mine and His relationship--us. I love that He has given me His sense of humor. Some say it is vicious, in a maybe not-so-good way. I think it is God-size fabulous. It's just so very Him.

Last week, I didn't mention laughter as a means of worship. It never even crossed my mind, but funny enough, today, it's my absolute favorite kind of worship.


2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Monday, October 6, 2014

When Worship Gets Personal

I really like our church. The people who attend are beautiful, and I really enjoy them. The heart of the church is great. In fact, for the church's birthday, we are splitting up and doing community projects as a way to celebrate. Actually, this church is the most community involved church I've possibly ever attended. Seriously. This is a wonderful church.


Worship drives me a bit nuts.

I rarely know the songs, and they are a bit more...not Casting Crowns...than I'm used to. Really, it's just not my style, and I have a hard time getting into it.

In the past, this would have been a big deal for me. Like BIG deal, but I am infinitely sick and tired of listening to people whine and grip about the parts of church that offend personal opinion but are not life altering issues. I sat in a church planning meeting once and saw the leaders of the church go into banshee tantrums over whether the church needed a middle aisle or not. I've listened to too many friends who are pastors who are exhausted, not from the needs of people, but the pettiness of people who are so focused on the order of service or the number of songs or how communion should be served. I don't want to be the problem. I've been the problem, and I don't want to be anymore. But I can be. I have my preferences. I have my comfort zones. I like comfort!

And doggone it. I like worship that allows me to participate!

One morning we were in the midst of worship, and I was feeling musically lost, and I prayed simply, "God, I need you to help me with this."

Two things happened.

First, a simple thought: This is worship music. It was written for the purpose of praising God. It sets an atmosphere for connecting with Him. If you aren't connecting, it's your fault. Not the music's.

Instead of being annoyed that I didn't know the words, I just stood and read the words. They were words of praise declaring God's faithfulness, His goodness, His mercy. I still couldn't sing the words because I couldn't figure out the tune, but I could sing the my own personally way. I stood where I was and quietly began to praise God for how faithful He had been to me that week. I recalled His goodness and His mercy. I recounted them quietly, but aloud, to Him and gave thanks for the detailed way He loves my family and me. My heart was in tune, even though I didn't know the tune.

I worshipped with the music I didn't know by letting it remind me of what I do know.

I know God is good. I know I need Him desperately. I know He is generous and blesses me wildly. Sometimes I need to be reminded, and a song I didn't know did that for me.

Would a song I knew by heart that I could sing without giving it a thought do that for me? It can, but a song I had to think about made me think about the One I am singing to. That is what worship songs should do.

Second, when I stopped singing, I could hear them. The two little boys on the front row. Hands clapping. Feet moving. Pouring out pleasure...not just praise, but they worshipped their Lord. I sat diagonal from them in the back row, and above everyone in between us, I heard them, and their voices were so beautiful. That has got to be the sound of heaven. These two precious boys pouring all they are into the praise of the King. Seriously. The sound was so beautiful. I just closed my eyes and listened. I could only imagine God the Father breathing in the worship from His babies. What amazing joy He must have felt. What deep pleasure He must take in them. The Bible talks about "a pleasing aroma unto the Lord." These boys' worship has to be it.

As I watched, I realized this music that just didn't do it for me did wonders for them. This was their worship, their connecting. This was their Daddy saying, "Boys, I adore you. Come spend some time with me so we can enjoy each other." And they did. Oh my goodness. They did.

I don't remember singing anything else that day. I simply remember thanking God for how He loves each of us and makes roads into each of our lives and finds ways to meet us according to how He made us.

Raise a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. -- Proverbs 22:6

God's version: Reach a child according to the way you made them, and when they are older, they will still be reaching out for You.

I watched God reach that day.

And those boys reached right back.

Personally, I think that is as beautiful s worship gets.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Picture Perfect Worship

I've spent this week talking about worship, but one of my issues with the church is we give a lot of intangible answers for what something is not, and I wonder if I have done any better. I honestly don't know.

To worship something means to declare it is worth your attention, time, and energy.

What is worship? Responding to God.

It seems so simple, and yet, it feels so complicated, especially when we try to dig it out from under religious tradition, which a lot of us are having to do.

So what is worship? Really? I don't know if I can really tell you, so let me show you.

Now, I know, it is our tendency to skim what we already know, but I would ask you not to skim because if we are having to really look at worship, we really don't know it. So let's learn from some folks who do.

2 Chronicles 5

Then Solomon summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. And all the Israelites came together to the king at the time of the festival in the seventh month.
When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the Levites took up the ark, and they brought up the ark and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The Levitical priests carried them up; and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
11 The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. 12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
    his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
Luke 17
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Matthew 8
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."

Luke 18
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 7
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them...
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

In each story, worship is the personal response to the way God responded to each person. Even in 2 Chronicles, the Temple was for everyone, but the promise of God was personal.

The centurion's faith that Jesus was a man of authority in a kingdom he only saw through shadows was personal.

The pleas for forgiveness from a man whose desire was to faithfully serve a God he continued to fail was personal.

The faith of a woman who had no words but only tears, who couldn't look at His face so she washed His feet, was personal.

Worship is personal.

It is a personal faith response to a God who responds personally to each person, who they are, where they are, and what they need. It is an acknowledgement of His ability and willingness to be exactly what I need because I realize what I always Him.

THAT is worship.

And it isn't because the music is right, not because my mood is right, not because everything went well this week. It's for one reason and one reason alone.

Because He's worth it.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved


Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to Fix Bad Worship

People complain about the music in church with the excuse it somehow prevents them from worshipping. It isn't comfortable for them, and it messes with their rhythm, and don't change the words or inflection because it makes it hard to follow and they can't sing it mindlessly like usual, and plus, they sound dumb when they get the notes wrong, and how one worship when they are afraid of getting it wrong?
Okay. Okay, so it's not just the generic "people". *I* have been known to complain about all of the above. It completely ruined my worship experience. Except worship isn't an experience. It's an expression.
It isn't something that happens to us. It's something that comes from within us.
And some of the worst worship experiences have shown me it isn't about having the right music. It's about having the right heart.
First of all, "The music just isn't right for me to be able to worship." Unless the music is so loud it is actually painful, this is bogus, but it does say something about our mindsets concerning worship. It says we have the attitude things need to be just so-so for us to worship. What we really mean is things have to be so-so for us to feel a certain way. We want an emotion, a warm fuzzy. We want to leave feeling better than when we arrived, but that is just an emotion. The point of worship is not to conjure emotion; it is to express our recognition of God's worth. It isn't to get a warm-fuzzy, it is to give glory to the only One who is worthy to receive our praise. Emotions are fleeting and easily altered. We don't need an emotion. We need a heart that is steadfast
If I have to have music a certain way to tell God He is amazing, then you know what? I probably need the rest of my life to be going a certain way to think He is awesome, too, and that is a selfish, not spiritual, way to live.
Something else I've learned. Worship isn't about being comfortable. It's about being Christ-like. Christ didn't focus on Himself. He focused on others' needs. Christ got out of the religious comfort zone of the day so others could find the Father. Maybe those teenagers I wrote about two days ago need more connection today than I need Kari Jobe. Oh, I know. I could dig in my heels and say they could adjust and meet God where I am, but maybe the Christ-like thing is to meet them at their well instead of waiting for them to come to my Temple. Worship isn't about my being comfortable. It's about people connecting with Christ.

And by the way, we all know songs are supposed to be sung a certain way, and people shouldn't go changing words or rhythms or inflections. How in the world am I supposed to sing when it's always changing? Plus, do you know how stupid I sound when I get the notes wrong? Honestly. We know worship is really about getting it all right!


Is that what worship really is?

About doing things a certain way?
About being intolerant of others?
About getting it "right"?

Here is the question the Spirit asked me, "Whose way of worshipping me is right?" My son shows his love by drawing me a picture. My daughter shows hers by writing lyrics to a song. Whose love is right? Could it be if both have the right love, then the way each expresses that love is also right?

A friend of mine likes spicy foods. REALLY spicy foods, but when we go eat at her house, she tones it down for us. It's still food, just with a different flavor. Could it be that worship with a rock beat is simply love expressed with a different flavor than love expressed in a slow 3/4 time?

If worship is responding to the love of God, isn't the only "right" response love? If I try to make others fit into my worship music box and dance according to the tune I determine is acceptable, is that loving them like God loves me? If I pray for God to meet me as I am where I am, isn't the right thing to let Him reach others as they are where they are? Who am I to find God in a gentle cello but tell others they can't find Him in a bass guitar or slamming drum? And let's be honest. If we make this a right and wrong issue, we have to entertain the idea we could be wrong. If we make this a winner take all situation, are we willing to lose everything? We could. Oh, I know. We aren't wrong, so it doesn't matter...except it does matter...because any time I tell someone they have to find God the same way I do in the same things I do, I am wrong, and I don't care what musical genre you paint it into, it'll never be right.

You know what the real issue is, though? When we worship, we don't want to have to think about it. We want it to be effortless, and we don't like boat rockers who change that.

Any time worship starts becoming a thoughtless action, we are no longer giving thought to God.

Worship cannot be effortless unless we make no effort to notice the greatness of His love, the magnitude of His generosity, the immensity of His kindness, the freedom of His forgiveness...and our absolute lack of deserving all of the above.

When we reach a point when we are just saying words, we are no longer hearing what the Word has to say.

The only way for worship to become mindless if for us not to mind if our God has no worth.

Worship isn't a musical process we get right. Worship is getting our hearts right so we can respond to Him.

Worship isn't about creating an emotion or cautiously not rocking the boat. Worship is a conscious choice to respond to a God we know is good even when the boat is rocking.

If the songs or the service order or the number of times a chorus is repeated makes it absolutely impossible for us to worship, something is definitely wrong, but it isn't the music. And no one else can fix it, but me.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Worship May Not Be What You Think

Our worship at my church messes with my head. I told you a little bit about it yesterday. I don't know the words. The genre isn't my style, and who puts worship after the sermon?

I'm not the only one with worship issues. Lots of people have them.

People complain about the music in church declaring how it makes it impossible for them to worship. It isn't comfortable for them. It messes with their rhythm. And do NOT change the words or inflection because it makes it hard to follow and they can't sing it mindlessly like usual, and plus, they sound dumb when they get the notes wrong, and how one worship when they are afraid of getting it wrong?

I'm not exaggerating when I say at some point every statement in that paragraph has come out of my mouth, and the saddest part is I thought I was right in being indignant about such things because worship is important after all, and I need to worship. Worship is where I connect with God. It's the soul-melding of the spiritual life.

And it really has nothing to do with music.

Let me explain. I love music. I love to sing. I love the whole expressive experience of music, but it isn't worship.

Worship is declaring the worth of something.

When I worship God, I'm responding to Him and the goodness He has poured out on me.

My response may be joyful excitement because He has heard my prayer, and I may express that with boisterous clapping or dancing.
My heart may be broken, and I may feel crushed, but I know He is till good, so I respond to that with my presence, even though I have no words.
I may respond in awe at how amazing He is. I may respond with humility because He is so good and I deserve nothing from His hand.
Maybe I am simply overwhelmed by the bigness and wonder of Him, so I raise my hands to acknowledge that He alone is worthy of my praise.

That is worship.

Music offers an avenue for expressing those responses, but it isn't worship. If I stand in a church service and find fault that the worship doesn't cater to me, that's says a lot more about my heart than the music.

And instead of making demands for how the music needs to be done right, it's a good time to stop and ask God how to get my heart right.

Drop by tomorrow, and I'll tell you How to Fix Bad Worship.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved