As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Thursday, March 1, 2012
The gun sounds as the race begins. iPray eVotionals exhorts the runners on the path of a prayerful lifestyle. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn. It's for the runner who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
What do iPraise?
We are creatures of worship. It's impossible for any of us at any time to cease worshiping; constantly putting our energy out there towards what ever we might be seeing, doing or thinking about. We were made to worship.
Take Adam and Eve for example. God created them and they worshiped Him. They lived in a beautiful garden, walked freely with an untarnished body, everything in their paradise garden was given to them to enjoy. Oh wait, did I say everything? There was that one little tree that bore that one type of fruit that was the one thing God marked as forbidden. Just that one, but everything else was on-limits! Eve and then Adam were the very first to solidify our imperfect nature of worship. How quickly we can shift our energy from our Creator to other things. Enter Serpent! (AKA satan) "Did God really say that? What is He hiding? You have got to know! Go open your eyes! Eat!" How on earth could Eve take her eyes off of God who created her? All of the on-limits became out of focus as she honed in on the one thing that was forbidden. Easily deceived and manipulated; like being led to the saluter house.
CRUNCH! She dug in. CRUNCH, CHEW, SWALLOW. Of course it did not give her what she thought it would, maybe she just needed to chew on it some more. Maybe she needed a second opinion, so she shared it with her friend. "The serpent said it would satisfy our curiosity... all for one and one for all!" And just like that his eyes looked away from God to worship something else. CRUNCH, CHEW, SWALLOW. It led to exactly what God warned them it would. Pain (insert image of women giving birth), spiritual deadness (insert image of a dagger through God's heart), work (insert image of man sitting at a desk) and physical death (insert image of old hag).
They are my ancestors. Like them I let the world tell me what I am supposed to worship, what I'm supposed to put the best of my focus on every day. I can't even try to claim to be stronger than they were. They had one little temptation... today it's everywhere I turn. A consent awareness, a battle of the mind. I struggle to keep myself in check. The suggestions out there can be very persuasive for my first and best attention. Most certainly seducing me to gain my worship.
What are we supposed to focus our first and best energy towards? What am I to focus on above all else? Well of course it's my...
Just hook me up to my iV!
Might as well stick it in and let the internet go straight into my blood stream. You'd think that is where life comes from, "Come on, shoot me up some good stuff, I need my fix! I'm told this is supposed to give me hope and direction. iMap! Where do I need to go?"
We are constant worshiping creatures. Thinking that what we worship aside from God will actually satisfy our deepest needs, and it doesn't. I like to call these idols satan's iTemptations. It does not surprise me that all of my most worshiped items in my home has a logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it. CRUNCH!
"Yummmm, that taste so good, but wait. What's this. There is new software that I need to down load? What's this, my iphone says I need the NEWer, FASTERer, THINNERer, SLEEKERer modle in order to continue my worship? It requires a money sacrifice so I can continue to praise it's worthiness." CRUNCH, CHEW, SWALLOW!
Never satisfied calendar days lost in mindless worship and praise. And our creator is right here, watching us bite on anything and everything we can before we even notice or acknowledge Him.
Fewer are taking the stand to worship up rather than all around. What is your first worship "song" most mornings? Does it involve any sort of acknowledgment of who God is? I remember a commercial from a few years back. A man laid asleep in his bed while his hand was stretched across to his night stand, texting on his phone. There is a hint of truth in that for all of us. What we consciously worship will spill over to be our subconscious "song" of praise.
"You are my strength when I am weak,
You are the treasure that I seek,
You are my all in all...
Seeking you as a precious jewel,
Phone to give you-up I'd bee a fool,
You are my all in all...
Worthy is your touch screen (with all those great apps including the one that tells me the wait time for every Disneyland ride)
Worthy is your name!"
We use tools in our everyday life, but tools can't satisfy our spirit's need to worship a living God. The iPhone 4S has a voice named Siri. I can ask "her" anything and get a response. But it's not alive, so why on earth are we worshiping it like it is? God is alive! He is real. He satisfies our deepest need for relational worship and praise. We don't have to download newer software every time we turn around. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is never changing. He is the great I am. His living word is true and trustworthy. Giving purpose and direction to our lives.
I can sense the walls going up. "I don't sing to my iPhone Michelle!" I have never sang to it myself. But we might as well be when that is where our heart is. The answer is not throwing every iGadget out the window. (Reference to the book: Goodnight iPad) None of these iThings are wrong to have around. The answer is a matter of our heart. If our hearts are not worshiping our creator it's worshiping something else.
If it's not an iGadget maybe it's...
What kind of mom/dad/wife/husband we appear to be,
Our kid's achievements or their good behavior,
How many committees we sit on,
What our title is at work,
How clean and organized we are,
How fit we are.
Worshiping idols is anything we think about, place importance on and spend time with over God. What is your idol? There is only one God who is worthy of our praise. Everything else are idols. Why should our first and best energy be for God? Why begin our prayers with worship on our lips? Why wake up and start our day praising God rather than seeing if any emails popped up overnight? Jesus taught His disciples to start each prayer with praise. Jesus said, "This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed (Honor as Holy) be your name..." Matthew 6:9. Worshiping Him is our appropriate response. It exalts God and gives Him the glory. When we praise Him our awareness of His presence is heightened; our eyes are lifted from the battle to the victor Jesus Christ, leading us to look up rather than all around. When we worship God we are changed; our faith is built up and our adversary is brought down. Even in the hardest moments it results in a peaceful heart, soul and mind.
How do iPraise?
Warning! (Insert 20 seconds of warning beep tones along with static) This is a test from the Emergency Praise Alert System! iTemptations may distract you! This is only a test. If this had been a true Emergency a message would have followed on how to get back to Praising God First!
As you start with praise the struggle to stay focused may hit you in the face.
Skit of Michelle Starting her morning with Praise:
I yawn as I wake up. I start to turn my thoughts toward Him. After just a moment I feel myself thinking about my to-do list. I remind myself that my iPhone is a tool I can use as iWorship; it has plenty of worship songs, a list of God attributes and scriptures copied to my iPhone notes and a great Bible app. Like Eve my mind easily starts to wonder and the iTemptations take over. As I pick up the iPhone I notice my mom texted me in the wee hours of the morning and I better see if it is important. It's not. Next my iPhone alerts me that if I don't play a move right now on Words With Friends then my game will be forfeited. While I'm at it I see if my daughter's teacher emailed me back about the homework question. As I check the email I need to delete all the advertising that invaded my inbox over night. But what is this? Good thing I checked my mail, a mom wants to know if I can take her place helping in my son's class this morning. As I tell her I can I see an email that someone has responded to a picture I posted on Facebook. I log in quickly to see what was said. I "like" the comment. I see that my friend is going into surgery and I need to pray. Pray! I go straight to praying for my friend. I took my eyes off God just a few moments earlier while we were spending time together, maybe He was about to tell me something. I'll never know because I just walked away and came back when I wanted Him to do something for me. Even if it is a good thing I'm asking for, what happened to my praise and worship? Then my reminder sounds. It's time to wake the kids up for school. I never made it to my music to play a worship song. I never even glanced at a God attribute I could honor Him for. I never made it to my Bible app to look up a scripture to support my praise prayers. Time spent chewing on the apple instead of my God. This tool to help me praise my God just took the place of Him. CRUNCH!
Warning! (Insert 20 seconds of warning beep tones along with static) This is not a test! iTemptations just distract you! This is a true emergency. Stay tuned for a message on how to praise God from the Emergency Praise Alert System!
Reminder: Praise and Worship of God is stating what is true about Him, acknowledging Him for WHO HE IS. Thanksgiving acknowledges God for what he has done or can do for us, confession acknowledges our position and the fact that we need a savior and supplication is laying our concerns at His feet and asking according to His Will. But Jesus asks us to start with Praise, which is honoring God just because He is God. Praise and Worship of our Lord is the process of taking our eyes off of ourselves and every iTemptation and onto Him by proclaiming truths about God that can never change. Life moves through seasons, God stays the same. He gives and takes away but his worthiness of our praise and worship stays the same. Therefore praise and worship of our God is a deliberate attitude of our heart that honors God for who he is. It should be constant, putting Him in His rightful position as God Most High. Regardless of our current life circumstances praising God is recognizing, declaring, proclaiming and confessing who He is in His nature and power. If you get distracted and let iTemptations get in the way, don't fret! The Emergency Praise Alert System can help you get back on track!
Simple Steps from the Emergency Praise Alert System:
1. As you start your praise, remember that it is God's time and not our time. Shift all of your attention onto Him. Psalm 86:12 is a wonderful example of how to do this. "I will praise you. O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever."
2. Then state truths about God by proclaiming His attributes. Remembering that these true attributes are never changing and focus on WHO GOD IS rather than WHAT HE DOES FOR US.
3. Finally, use song and/or scripture in your prayers. King David used song and dance over and over again to honor God. (See most of the Psalms and 2 Samuel 6:16). Jesus himself powerfully refutes satan's iTemptations by quoting scripture. (See Matthew 4:1-11) Scripture is God's living word. Every truth about God is backed up in His Word.
These simple steps may be hard to do if you are not use to it. To help you get started here are a few tools:
Songs: You can turn almost any Psalm into a song. iHeart Radio is an app where you can play any radio station. You can have a few favorite worship stations saved for easy access. Another great option is to download a few worship songs from iTune (most costing about $1) you can have at your finger tips. Most phones can hold songs now. Need a few suggestions? Chris Tomlin's How Great Is Our God, Nicole C. Mullen's On My Knees and Spring Harvest's Be My Everything from the album Our God Reigns and my own cousin, Tifani Wilson, has a song called If I Don't Have You; a perfect love song you can use to love on God. As the day goes along you might find yourself not being able to get a tune out of your head... in a good way.
Here are song links:
1. The church my family attended and served at for 17 years has a worship leader named Josh Kauffman. His group, Kepano Green, has a song called Miracle that worships God for his Love. You can listen to it by clicking here:
3. Brenton Brown, who is the Artist in Residence at our family's current church has written several worship songs. One of my favorites is Adoration. Here is a link to his album where you can preview Adoration:
Scriptures: I have modified a tool provided by the ministry Moms in Prayer. To help you along my modification turns a list of God attributes and their definitions into short 1-3 sentence praise prayers. The scriptures that support each God attribute then follows each prayer. As you start with praise simply choose one of the attributes each morning, praise God for it and look up one of the provided scriptures to support your praise and worship of God and continue to chew on it as the day goes along. Remember that praising God is an attitude of our heart and it takes just a moment to shift our attention upward.
Here is a link to 13 God attributes with scripture and a praise prayer for each one:
It is not necessary to use all kinds of drawn out and fancy wording to worship God. The song I'll Worship sung by Tifani Wilson passionately sings "O God I'll worship You" for about 4 minutes. As God's Spirit leads, you may find your praise taking flight! These tools I gave you are simply that. They show you how you can stick with simple sentences, a scripture, a song along with a praiseworthy attitude to place our full attention on God alone; an attitude that should last all day long.
This concludes the message from the Emergency Praise Alert System.
Our days go fast, praise and worship to our God helps them not just become calendar days, one by one... gone to a mindless zone of worshiping idols. Starting with praise enhances God's presence in our life, in our home, in our conversations, in our challenges, in our blessings, in our parenting and in our everything. It helps us stop focusing in on the "apple(s)" that give us momentary satisfaction but leaves us empty where it matters most.
Dear Lord, You are a Holy God and are worthy of our praise and worship. Hear our Praise and Worship... "Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary." Psalm 96:1-6. iPray that every person who has read this iPray eVotional will be encouraged in their prayer life today, may we all start everything we say and do with praise and worship of You, and You alone! In Jesus Name!