Category Archives: Worship

“All in a Sunrise”

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sun_burst_with_rays_form_clouds_vector_267255The chilly, clammy wind was blowing, chasing clouds across the sky. That coupled with the ocean’s ebb and flow filled my being with sound that I could feel. Powerful. The sun had just made it’s grand appearance, seemingly out of the water. The fullness of it rapidly ascending to join the clouds. The enormity of the glowing orb made feel so small. I couldn’t look directly at it. It wasn’t long before a bank of clouds came and covered it, then I could gaze on it’s splendor. There before my eyes rays of light shone from behind those clouds, creating a celestial vision. You know the scene, you’ve seen it even where you live or in magazines or on media? The cloud covered sun’s rays spreading in all directions, covered but definitely still there! I longed for the sky to split open and reveal that dazzling staircase that would lead me home. As the vision filled my senses I felt a stirring in my spirit.

I wondered if trying to look at God was like that. I could only bear to look at the cloud covered brilliance with rays reaching out. The enormity of the uncovered sun though bore down into my soul. Blinding, painful, yet filling every sense with wonder. I had no choice but to look away. I immediately thought of how often God’s glory *is described as a cloud. I thought of Moses, after he spent time with the Almighty. The people would beg him to cover his face so they could look at him. I thought of when the Tabernacle was completed and God’s glory came as a cloud filling and covering it. How when the God cloud moved, the people would move. When He was still they were still. I thought about Jesus, how His death immediately rent the veil that separated man from the Holy of Holies. Then something soaked into my soul along with the warmth of the sun. Jesus became the veil. Jesus became the cloud covering through which we can see God. Because He is God. His own mother looked into the face of God. Like Adam and Eve, the people of Jesus’ day, walked and talked with the living God. It’s mind blowing. It’s awesome.

I will never view clouds quite the same. Seeing dark thick clouds covering the sky usually mean storms and rain. Oppressing. But rest assured. Just as the sun is still there burning behind those clouds, so is God, He’s not hiding. Your troubles are blocking your view. But He’s there in the midst of your most violent storms. Sometimes clouds are just enormous, white visions that meander across the sky. Peaceful. We’re aware of the suns heat yet welcome the dimness as they drift across the blaze, leaving us able to gaze up at the Heavenly scene. And sometimes, sometimes, it’s just clear sailing! We’re totally aware of His presence, warm, shining, and bright. Praise Him!

Clouds. They come and they go. There is One I long for though. It will be used to transport Him who is the Light to gather His own unto Him.

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(Clicking on the blue underlined text in the body of this post will take you to verses of Scripture. Please, take time to read them…)

Down the Rabbit Hole

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I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland and the catch phrase, “going down a rabbit hole.” More so now that I’ve joined an online writing course called Compel Training. (Check it out at www.compeltraining.com.)  The instructors warn against going down rabbit holes when writing a piece. How accurate and easy to do! This is true of life too; it seems we all fall into one from time to time.

We fall into a myriad of curiouser and curiouser things and lose sight of the Light as we fall headlong into despair. One burrow leads to worrying about what others think, one leads to self doubt, another leads to insecurity. I promise you…these lairs are strength sapping, mind-numbing corridors to nowhere.

I’ve been vexed and perplexed by the Cheshire Cat, i.e. my own willful will, ushering me into  chaos and trouble.

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I fell prey to the Bandersnatch who sought to rob me of leadership and of my self-worth, i.e. Satan distorting my perception of who I am in God and His plan for my life.

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Awhile back my husband and I were very involved in the Church we were members of. Circumstances at that time had me stepping into positions of leadership, one facet of that service was my being on the Worship Team. I was told by a team member that, “I had found my ministry.” I was moved by that and felt maybe I had. It wasn’t long before I lost my way and fell headlong into a rabbit hole of negative thinking. I began obsessing over what others thought of me, my voice, my performance. I allowed Satan to rule my thoughts, rather than the Spirit. I began to see I was unqualified to serve in that way. I felt misguided, humiliated, used and confounded. Like my worship was a sham. I felt I had no choice but to step down and it was devastating.

Soon after that I heard a radio sermon; I was driving so I couldn’t take notes. I believe this marked the beginning of my journey out of Wonderland. The topic was on how to worship. How timely. One phrase the speaker made that stuck in my memory was that, “worship is through Christ and for God.”

This is what I took away from the sermon. Sincere heart worship is cleansed by our mediator, Christ, and made perfect before it reaches God’s ears! Isn’t that wonderful?! Our hearts should be so full of God that we can’t help but direct all praise to Him. It’s for Him alone. Judgment by man on worship performance is totally inconsequential. On the heels of that sermon, I heard someone quote author Stephen Seamands on the topic of service and ministry stating;
“The ministry we have entered is the ministry of Jesus to the Father through the Holy Spirit.”

See the connection? “Through Christ and for God.”  We can’t gain God’s favor by what we do on our own. We do what we do because of God through Christ. Anything else is equivalent to chasing rabbits down a long dark hole.

Alice ate cakes and mushrooms that made her grow tall and drank potions that made her small. The Word is our cake; we must consume it daily to grow. The more we grow the more Christ like we become. Unlike the Cheshire Cat, God won’t vanish and leave us confounded. The sacrificial blood of Christ is the potion that makes us small. It exposes our weaknesses keeping us humble before Almighty God. It places in our hearts the desire to merge our willful will’s with God’s will for our lives. We know that the Bandersnatch has no future in God’s kingdom. If you’re in a rabbit hole today, take a moment, look up, find the Light then follow it out!

Father God be with Your children. Guard our hearts and minds, guide our feet that we might avoid falling into Satan’s pit of deceit. In Jesus name amen.

Patti D. Hemphill
May 2015